Monday, October 08, 2007

Norse by North West

Waulkmill beach

The lovely sun has gone away but I did have a cooked breakfast again now that the proprietor is back on board after a tummy ailment. There's still an issue with the hired hands simply not showing up, which goes some way to demonstrating why reliable guest workers from Eastern Europe find a niche so quickly.

Hatchet on plate; Wreck herring shoal

I visited the Kirkwall studio of Sam MacDonald, a Lewis-born sculptor who produces a lot of material based on marine life. I've got a bit of a weakness for items like these, whether it be glass, ceramic or metal.

Waulkmill Bay

After taking Bondi down to Waulkmill Bay, where he was able to play with some other dogs, I finally got back on track with properly visiting the Birsay area in northwest Mainland. I don't generally like British tea-rooms, because they feel like glorified tuckshops, but the Birsay Tea Room produces tasty comfort food from local ingredients, and the view is rather unique. For me today, it was Leek and Tattie Soup, Baked Tattie with Chili con carne & Tomato Chutney, and some gingerbread. Once again, I can't fault the espresso coffee: that's 5 out of 5 venues where the staff have been properly trained.

My selection of view for the day was a wide sweep from a headland with the Kitchener memorial (to Lord K, whose ship sank in these waters), across a beach littered with seals and seabirds, over to the island Brough of Birsay with its lighthouse and the outlines of an old Norse village on its landward side. Betwixt tea-room and sea, a herd of con carnes cattle meander, sometimes threatening to crash into the neighbouring greenhouse that the kitchen draws from.

There's a path leading from the centre of the village along the edge of the cattle pasture and down to the beach. From the edge of the rock shelf I could see the seals cavorting in the water or flopped out on the rocky shores.

I learnt from the tea-room staff that there is a causeway to the Brough, walkable for 2 hours around low tide. This little detail seems to be missing from the tourist guides ( as a fellow visitor would shortly relate to me ) so I made my way over there, but unfortunately got there a little too late for a safe crossing. The path was 6" under water in places, and the tide was coming in rapidly as stragglers from the other side waded or carried children back to the mainland.

Causeway and Norse village

Fisherman's hut and Brough

I took Bondi for a final walk along the Skiba Geo path, overlooking a set of rocky beaches that acted as natural boat ramps for a few hundred yards. Toward the end there's a grass-roofed stone fisherman's hut, and at the end of the walk, a huge segment of whalebone mounted on a short pole.

Orkney Ice-Cream is delicious! Way better than most of the specialty ice-cream you get served at events around London. This stuff is sooo creamy. The first time I had it was at an Indian restaurant, served with traditional Indian dessert as Orkney Jamun.

The snack van near the causeway only had strawberry icecream left - not my favourite, but this was really creamy (did I say), and I had Bondi slavering over my shoulder while I sat on the headland demolishing the tub. Below us a couple walked their three huskies on the beach, Bondi looking down on them like a lion on Pride Rock.

We had joy, we had fun... we porked under the sun?

1 comment:

  1. Bondi,

    I love that pic of you in the sand! You are such a handsome boy! Sorry I haven't visited for a while, the stupid humamn woman has been busy and I have barely had time to blog myself!

    When do you get to go back to Australia?

    I bet that ice cream was yummy! Looks like you sure enjoyed yourself!