Everything feels as though it has been at odds since we came home from Deerness. We were so certain that a cancellation of my Jury service would be awaiting us that we were completely knocked back not to find it so. I started emptying and cleaning the van, and we progressed itinerary planning down to fine detail in the hope that the lack of a Monday post meant that the notice would come on Tuesday. It did not. All the outline plans we had generated while we were away, for scarpering to Scotland for Mr Snail's holidays, were scuppered.
At this point I sort of lost heart with the turnaround process.
Mr Snail did his tasks with the waste and also checked underneath the van. At her MOT Brunhilde picked up an Advisory on her exhaust mountings. Investigation showed that she had lost three of her six mountings and that the remainder are in poor condition - a new set was immediately ordered. We await delivery.
We made the decision to request a change of leave dates from Mr Snail's employer and rejigged the itinerary. Then we checked availabilities and found one of the sites we had chosen to be booked up when we wanted to be there. Worse still, the club site we were heading to appeared on our itinerary just 24 hours after our membership runs out. The membership came free with Bruni's insurance last year and we do not plan to extend it as they have no sites up here. We'll join the other club.
So, we considered bringing our departure forward. Then we noticed that cases had been listed for the Wednesday of my week in court. I rang up to find out if my service was just for the Monday or for the week of that date. I was told that my Jury had been cancelled. A letter would be with me either yesterday or today.
Well, hurrah - clearly we could have maintained our original plans but having changed leave dates once, Mr L was not inclined to annoy his manager by moving them back again.
Postie has called and my letter has not arrived. We were both concerned about making firm bookings without hard evidence of my freedom. What to do? I emailed and asked for written confirmation, which has now arrived.
Which means that I had better get myself back into gear and go and make up Bruni's bed, clean the sinks and shower and mop the floor before making a packing list of clothes for myself and food for the cupboards.
Our next adventure is on.
Before we go to Scotland again I really should complete writing up our last year's trip. Only 12 months late, but who is counting.
Brunhilde's first trip away with the cat on board and I have to say that it all went terribly well.
It had been such a glorious day on Thursday, really hot and so sunny that we were enticed into fleeing these shores and heading for parts Foreign. We went to the East Mainland of Orkney for a few nights. I could have taken a hundred photographs before we ever left Sanday – the approaching cloud cover and resulting interesting light made for some stunning landscapes but as we had left home the moment that Mr Snail finished work at 4pm and had a 4:35 pm ferry departure, we just kept on going.
The sky grew ever more ominous until finally we were driven off the deck and under cover as the heavy rain and hail struck.
Luckily the rain had passed by the time that we reached Tesco, where we stocked up on provisions and then drove off to see if Brunhilde would fit into the car park at Inganess Bay [Site Report]. We had tried a dry run on our way home from Hoy last trip but the GPS had sent us the wrong way and we were still at this stage unclear whether or not the site was suitable.
There were a couple of cars parked when we arrived but there was still room for Brunhilde to tuck herself in.
Another hot and sunny day ensued and we took the opportunity to explore the footpaths that are available from the car park, taking all morning over it.
We left for Deerness with the intention of lunching at the Geo [Site Report] slipway, where in the event we elected to stop overnight because we simply enjoy being there.
It rained considerably at the Geo but cleared sufficiently for the full moon to show when it rose and I was able to take photos before bed time.
Saturday saw us heading for our original destination of Mull Head [Site Report], where we now spent one night instead of two. On Saturday afternoon we set off to do the circular walk to the Covenanter’s Memorial – a hike of 5 miles or a little more.
I left my camera behind, so there are no photographs. Some of the views were simply stunning and made me wish that I had brought the camera but overall I was pleased to have had the sense to leave it behind. What should have been a nice easy stroll over pleasantly springy turf was after our long wet summer unpleasantly wet and a continuous battle against mud, puddle and bog, causing very careful foot placement and often extraordinarily long steps. In short, it was very hard work indeed. Had I been carrying the weight of the camera and lens on one side I should have been thoroughly worn out.
We were both agreed that we should have liked to say “I enjoyed that” when we got back to the van but neither one of us could do so in honesty.
It was not a very pleasant walk overall but I am glad that we did it and Nell certainly was too.
Sunday morning we took slowly and simply ambled down the road to St Ninian’s kirk where I played with my camera in the kirkyard.
We’d had a good cooked breakfast, intending to skip lunch in favour of a late afternoon meal at Helgi’s back in Kirkwall and so we took our time getting back there by stopping off to investigate the car park and picnic site at Point of Ayre [Site Report], which we found that we liked very much and so just sat for ages, watching the view and a creel boat working, while we simply chilled out.
Teddy seemed to have a smashing time and we might be forgiven if we assumed he had always been brought up to a nomadic life. Just as when we took him up the island for a dry run he was very cool about the whole thing. He travelled mainly on my lap on his leash, though sometimes just sleeping on our bed in the sunshine. The first night at Inganess, he left us alone and slept we think on the front passenger seat but thereafter he settled on a mix of sleeping alone at first and then climbing in with us. He ate normally and used his tray with great success, wherever we chose to place it (in the shower when on the move and under the table when we were in bed) and he thoroughly enjoyed all the attention that he got from people who spotted him.
Next time we plan an extended trip, to see how it works out before we plan a long holiday. Teddy has a new folding travel carrier and a beautiful new igloo bed, the first to keep him (and us) safe, the second to make his life a little more comfortable.
Should I rename this site "Two Snails (and a cat) (and a dog)" ?
Still alone in the car park. Still in fairly dismal weather, though the clouds were less impressive than on Friday. The Horrible Hoy Midges were in evidence but by no means as numerous as when we arrived last night.
The sea appeared from this distance to be calmer and less impressive too.
Mr Snail assured me that the forecast promised dry sunny weather by lunchtime and so we strapped on our boots and prepared for the walk to The Old Man of Hoy. There was just the slightest hint of rain when we left but the anticipation of better weather meant that we left waterproof gear behind, taking only our Tilley hats as sun/midge protection.
The initial part of our route took us past a house for sale. We were already smitten by Rackwick and it would be the easiest thing in the world to succumb - well, apart from the practicalities of selling up on Sanday, that is.
We crossed the cattle grid and Nell had to go on leash due to the sheep. We set off for the hillside, meeting on the way a local who remarked on how bad the midges were today. I asked how they manage to live with them and was told that they rarely see them these days. I guess we just got lucky...
The walk to The Old Man is a 5.5 mile return journey, skirting Moor Fea and topping out at a height of about 170 metres. The path is very well maintained, especially the section through the RSPB reserve. There are wild flowers all about among the heather and Bonxies everywhere.
I was using a walking pole to assist my climb and this combined with the promise of better weather led to my leaving my camera in my backpack with the intention of taking photos on the return. I took no photos until we reached The Old Man itself.
Once there, I took plenty. We stopped on the cliff top to eat our packed lunch and engaged the attention of a young Herring Gull.
It had, until this point, remained dry. We saw the weather coming at us when we turned around to go home...
...and we got quite wet but that did not stop the camera action. I loved being up on the hill. It has been many years since I was at such an elevation. Looking down on the way home, Brunhilde was just a tiny splodge in the far distance
The route passes by The Cra's Nest, a restored turf-roof croft cottage and steading housing a Museum.
By tea time Rackwick was looking like another place entirely,
with the cloud lifting and clearing and a hot sunshine developing. A slight breeze came up and helped to keep the midges at bay so that they were far less troublesome than the evening before. We walked out with Nell to explore the bay once more and this time I took my camera with me. Unfortunately the sea was looking far more tame by now.
We were joined by a Hymer van for the night but it is a large car park with plenty of room for a decent separation. We cooked our steak supper in peace and quiet and settled down to another early night, this time with a nice bottle of run to hand.