Sunday 24th June.
A lovely start to the day as I met V & D for coffee – we would never have time to arrange that in Edinburgh. We were pleasantly surprised to find a coffee shop open at that time.
Then I attended the service in the Cathedral, which was just amazing – maybe the highlight of my visit. The integration of music, the festival and visitors within the community is inspiring. I am sure that there are many parts of Kirwall untouched by the festival, but not untouched by the music, I would think. Some strings from the BBB SSO played during the service; there was the usual choir and then there were pipes and trumpets. All this within a lovely inclusive service which was primarily for the normal congregation. Tea and coffee (with home-made shortbread) afterwards is almost what one expects now.
I did a bit of sightseeing and then had a marvellous cycle up Wideford Hill, from where you have a 360 degree view. I could see for miles – as far as the Scottish coast. Perhaps we could arrange management training up there … There is a 5000 year old burial cairn there which I explored, as you do … thinking “some people would think it a little daft to go down into a burial chamber on your own” – but there was a torch and no-one jumped out of the heather to lock me in, so all is well.
What a great cycle back down the hill – lucky I had new brakes put on recently … Then a little cycle down to Scapa beach, where I sat out of the wind and in the sun for ages, watching some kids pour water from a bucket into a hole in the sand… timeless activity.
Note that this was a warm (out of the wind) and very sunny afternoon -I gather that we are having better weather than Scotland, but the wind changed to the North later on.
I had a lovely sociable evening in the hostel. All the books I brought to read are still unread – I had some idea that I would have quiet time because I was on my own – no chance …
22 June 2007
Boy can I sleep after all this cycling and staying out late! I finally got up and had some breakfast. When I went to wash my teeth there was a set of dentures in a mug in the bathroom. Horrified, I hastily checked the whereabouts of mine and found, to my relief, that there were in my mouth. Phew!
A few minutes later a man who had left the hostel to get the ferry had realised that he had left his teeth and negotiated with the boat to let him come back to get them – he was suitably embarrassed.
I packed my things and stocked up with food for the day (this exercise makes me ravenous!) and headed east for Kirkwall. On the way I joined a ranger’s talk about the Ring of Brodgar, which was fascinating. She talked for an hour and a half as she walked us through the surrounding landscape. Historic Scotland and the RSPB are planting the surrounding area so as to encourage and protect a wide range of wild flowers and birds. Great information and I got a real sense of the place of the Ring in Orkney life and culture.
Speaking of culture, I pedalled on towards Kirkwall to pick up my festival tickets. This festival is a huge success and the long queues and “sold out” notices sit a bit uneasily in this faraway place. Not that it feels faraway as there are so many visitors and I met Val and Diane from Edinburgh. There is a feel of the Edinburgh Festival about it in the way that people dash from event to event. I don’t dash anywhere – largely because so many of the tickets were sold out when I got around to booking, and also because I am too relaxed to dash.