Well, it doesn't seem like nearly a week since my last blog! And what an amazingly good time we had on our Orkney trip. I had never met any of my travelling companions before - Flora from http://www.calanas.co.uk/; Sam from http://www.outerhebridessoapshack.com/; Corinna from http://www.sollasbooks.com/ and Annettefrom http://www.diggorybrown.co.uk/ but by the end of the trip we all felt we had known each other for years!
Our B & B - the Orca Guest House on the main street in Stromness was comfortable and our landlady was a keen bee-keeper - which was an added bonus. The breakfasts were delicious.
Between us, the group shared two little hire cars and I'm afraid that navigation-wise, those in our car had big problems. I always say that one of the reasons I live on a little island is that it is difficult to get lost - and I am glad to say that amongst our group, I am not alone in this.
Orkney is so different to the Outer Hebrides - green and cultivated, gently rolling hills and lots of cattle. Orkney produce seems to cover everything from Ice-cream (delicious) to raspberries (yum) to flour made from Bere which is apparently a very old breed of wheat. There is a winery near to the Italian Chapel on South Ronaldsay (below) where we got to taste delicious country wines (I bought a fabby one made from Westray raspberries).
Everywhere you can see things made of North Ronaldsay sheep wool - the sheep are an old breed which lives on the shoreline of one of the islands and eats seaweed. This gives the meat a good flavour. The sheep come in brown and grey - a bit like Hebridean - but the wool is soft and fluffy and, when made into felt, sheds a bit. I have brought home some rovings as I just couldn't resist it! Will spin it after I've finished with the grey Wensleydale.
We were in Orkney during the annual blues festival so there was plenty musical entertainment in the evenings. Weather was excellent on Saturday but wet and windy on Sunday when we visited Skara Brae - the neolithic village - and got absolutely soaked!
But what a great place - right on the shore and looking remarkably comfy. Love the dresser!
The craft trail on Orkney is excellent - loads of different crafts from these wonderful Orkney Chairs (below) to teddies made out of fair-isle jerseys to elegant jewellery. The Orkney Crafts Association have a shop in Bridge Street, Kirkwall which stocks a good selection of crafts made by various association members and there is a Craft Trail which will take you from one workshop or gallery to the next where you can meet the makers and see how the products are made. It's really fascinating.
I'd really like to go back for a holiday sometime. Looking through the photos I took it seems that I am not only really pathetic at finding my way around, I also lack the ability to take good photos to illustrate my blogs!
However, something rather jolly happened on the way home when one of our party was reading a free magazine called "Highland Life" and found an article which included a mention of Scalpay Linen in connection with Sallie Jayne Avis who makes wedding dresses in the north of Lewis. Always nice to see your name in print isn't it?
So, now its back to work - today I worked on the yellow, brown and turquoise linen. Have also got the warp from the new Belgium linen sorted out and will start doing that tomorrow.