This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Orkney Islands, A Very Special Place - Aug 20, 2019

There is something unusual about this photo. First it's not raining and second notice how calm and placid the water is. We had to look around to make sure the boat had actually docked in Scotland. Bad Bob.

Jeff, of Jeff and Val, our winter neighbors, traces his ancestry back to the best part of Scotland. That is where we are today, the Orkney Islands, or as I like to tease him the Ornery Islands. Double Bad Bob.

A photo of our local guide who was anything but ordinary. The have really been blessed throughout this trip with only one exception having local guides that are far far above the norm. It's not just having local knowledge it's how you impart the knowledge that makes a guide special. As far as local knowledge, her family had actually lived in this area for some 400 years and it was only in the last 50 years that their form had been sold out of the family but that didn't mean they still didn't live here. It turns out the population of the island's are fairly constant as some of the younger people decide that life away from the islands is not nearly as enticing as they thought which means they move back and live life to its fullest.

And that's is going to be by far my word he used commentary today as the count of photos is very high, I don't know whether that's good or bad but it was just one of those days when we couldn't stop taking a photo of everything we saw. Well not everything but before you reach the end of this post, if you actually do, it's probably what you'll think. Wordy Bob.

It's called the Italian chapel, for the simple reason that it was built by Italian prisoners of war who had been captured in the North Africa campaign and were brought from that hot desert area up to these cold rainy windswept islands. They asked permission of the camp commander to build this chapel and the result has been preserved for over 70 years.

The reason it is barrel shaped is because how it was constructed was by placing two Quonset huts in the end then lining the interior walls with wallboard. Everything on the walls and on the front piece was painted on. Other items were made from salvaged materials. The two windows flanking the altar look like stained-glass, but they are actually hand-painted on the glass.

It looks three-dimensional but it is actually just paint on wallboard. There was a time not too many years ago when the interior had started to deteriorate. Many people from Italy come to visit. During a tour a young woman commented that she would like to come and spend a week or two doing restoration work on the interior. The locals were not sure at all that they wanted someone to touch this magnificent place even though it was deteriorating so they asked her did she have any experience with this type of work. Upon hearing her reply, that she was one of the restoration artists for the Sistine Chapel, she was given the go-ahead to do whatever she wanted.

A magnificent sculpture of St. George and the Dragon outside of the chapel. Remember I said everything had to be used from salvaged materials, in this case the internal structure was small pieces of barbed wire and figures themselves are of concrete as concrete was available in great abundance..

The reason the concrete was available and also why the I tell you in prisoners were here. In 1939 a German U-boat crept into Scapa Flow where the British Navy had a huge contingent of ships, thinking they were safe from attack. The British battleship, Royal Oak was sunk with a loss of over 800 lives. Winston Churchill at the time was First Lord of the Admiralty, and he devised a barrier system between these closely linked islands to prevent any U-boat from entering again. The barriers were called Churchill Barriers and later these nice roads were built atop the connecting the islands.

They are simply constructed of huge blocks of concrete, hence the really availability of concrete that was used to construct the statue mentioned above.

The remains of ships which were sunk after the end of World War I in an attempt to provide a barrier and prevent any future enemies from entering Scapa Flow, something that gave the unfortunate fall sense of security that it did in the loss of life with the torpedoing of the Royal Oak.

Linda holding up a piece of traditional fudge. Let's just say the locals have a very sweet tooth.

For those whose proclivity nice towards liquid refreshment, the symbol of the local Highland Whisky.

One of those, it just begged for a photo instances.

Linda does what to do when we see a cemetery.

Watermelon carving that the greeted the lunch buffet.

Life lived on a different level than the hustle and bustle of the big city. Money and status are not everything. I also have to think that these extremely contented cows give extremely contented milk. Bad Bob

A farming settlement that is over 5000 years old.

The details in the buildings were phenomenal. There were not only nooks and crannies in the walls but this is said to be a dresser where things were stored. Our guide pointed out that if this was merely a village of subsistence farmers then there would have been no time to build anything like this and no need, as all waking hours would have been towards acquiring enough food to live another day.

The buildings would have had roofs.

The Walden stone structure to the left was a bed

As you might imagine Linda wanted to acquire a rock from the beach area. Over the years she has acquired the nickname when it comes to clambering around, of, "mountain goatless." As you can see her tottering, tipping dissent acquired quite a group of onlookers. Really Bad Bob.

There is something about the setting, colors and the "softness" of this photo that really appeals to me. It truly speaks of what the islands are all about.

Everywhere we looked the Heather was blooming.

Linda took it, so I know I better post it. Smart Bob.

Another Linda photo. She showed it to be as we were walking along. I know when to make sure I post your photos. The color of the lichens are awesome.

The harbor was still placid upon our return in the late afternoon.

Well, mostly placid.

We stopped and talked to this fisherman and learned that this was the day's catch. However it is not going to be eaten locally but rather is going to be exported to China. He said they go out six days a week and this was a typical days catch from their traps.

As we pulled away from the dock to say goodbye to these wonderful islands we were nearly in tears listening to this wonderful pipe and drum band.

Every evening after dinner there is something special that takes place in the bar area up on deck four. Tonight it was the liars game. An actual word is selected, one that is not known, and the guides each spend time explaining how the word came about and what its definition is. This is our guide Tony, who prefaced every definition by saying I'd never lie to you, then proceeded to tell us a definition that wasn't. I won't say he lied, but ....

Another of the words.

Let's just say that the most inventive and creative definitions were applied to this word.

Our wonderful musician who supplied just the right mood music for the occasion.

I guess sometimes the mood wasn't as lively as at other times. In Big Trouble With Linda Bob.

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