The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 9 - Orkney Islands

Saturday, May 9, Day 95 - Orkney Islands 

Our upstairs bed rooms are very quiet and very dark so neither of us move too early. Dick is up sometime after 7AM and, once downstairs, decides to get dressed and work on the photos from recent days since Carolyn has left him explicit, written instructions about what needs to be done.

The little kitchen offers instant coffee and instant hot chocolate. He passes on the coffee in hopes of better luck with the chocolate but to no avail! Oh, well, it is hot and sort of tastes not like dishwater.

Dick wakes Carolyn in her very dark bedroom at 8:40 as we have asked for breakfast at 9AM, the latest that they offer to serve. Breakfast is OK just not memorable but we will not starve. Now for our day. We pack a lunch from what we bought yesterday and head out to see Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement dating from roughly 5,000 years ago.

On our way, we enjoy a drive and stops to see the Neolithic Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. All of these standing stones date from roughly 2,000 to 3,000 years BC. We also stop at a small, lonely stone church with some interesting moss covered grave stones.

Upon arriving at the Skara Brae visitor center, we buy our tickets and watch a short film about the find in 1850 and what is thought to have gone on here. There is a reproduction of one of the house (#7) and you get a good feel for how this buried house/village must have looked. Remember, the whole village of ten plus distinct stone houses was buried at the time it was used and the paths between the houses were covered over with stone and sod. They must have been fairly warm and comfortable for this harsh climate.

We walk the several hundred yards out to the site and make a circuit on the paved path and take many photos. The day is clear and crisp with the water of Skaill Bay showing blue and even Caribbean like with its white sand. It may be pretty, but we bet the water is miserably cold!

On our way out we visit Skaill House the home of the Lairds of Skaill, one of whom discovered Skara Brae after a storm is 1850. The house dates, in part, from 1620 and was lived in by the family up until the early 1980s and is furnished just as they left it.

Back to the car and a short drive up to Marwick Head for an in car picnic lunch. It is a little brisk to spread a blanket even if we had one to spread. On Marwick Head is a crenelated tower memorial to Field Marshall Lord Kitchener who died when his ship was sunk about one and a half miles out to sea from Marwick Head in June 1916.

Now, it is pushing 3PM and we head back into Kirkwall for another grocery stop.

Food for tonight' s dinner in hand, we head to St. Margaret’s Hope to a craft shop Carolyn wants to visit. We are side tracked as we cross over the first causeway and notice a funny little building. The sign says the Italian Church so we stop for a look. Turns out to be two Quonset huts that were put together and formed into a beautiful little church by the Italian prisoners of war held here during WWII. It is completely hand painted on the inside to look like a cathedral made of carved stone and tile.

Now on to St Margaret's Hope for a shopping stop. There is nothing of interest in the shop as it turns out but it is a quaint little fishing village so we leave with pictures only.

Time to go back to the hotel where we have some refreshment, work on the blog and pictures and plan for our day tomorrow. Dinner is the same as last night with the addition of a can of green beans; actually very tasty. We have a leisurely evening in front of our toasty electric fire!

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