Despite the weather warnings we’ve received, so far it hasn’t been too bad – certainly we’ve had a lot worse at this time of year. The wind is and will be averaging around 40/50mph gusting to 70mph at the worst in the middle of the week, also a lot of showery days forecast. We’ve already had a fair bit hail so far. So we won’t be having a white Christmas but it will be a windy and wet one! Before long on the island, it’s far too dark to see how bad the weather actually is but at the moment it certainly sounds terrible, even struggling to hear the TV sitting next to the window but it’s not quite as bad when you’re out in it – not that I would want to be!
The stoicism of islanders is something to be admired though – most people would be terrified at hearing wind speeds of 50 to 70mph or more but it’s such a routine thing in Orkney… wind… that preparing for winter is almost a habit now. Everything that could be blown away is brought inside, the wheelie bins are weighed down with heavy stones, my car is tucked up tight against the house in the most sheltered bit. The wind turbines, for those who don’t have any involvement with them, suddenly become invaluable – a visual aid everywhere on the island showing the direction of the wind and the direction to park your car. It’s imperative that you park the car facing the wind so it’s blowing the door shut; the wind had taken many a car door, bent it flat the wrong way and left a fold down the hinge!
The weather really does rule our lives up here, we get as much work in as we can in the summer when the days are long, the wind is low(er) and the rain is only an occasional shower. During the winter months, we virtually enter a state of hibernation – never leaving the house unless it’s absolutely necessary! Hence why these get togethers are so important to us – it’s easy to become isolated, even on a small island like this but the value of sharing a drink or a meal with the nearest and dearest cannot be overstated.
And on that note, in true islander fashion, we still had our Christmas dinner at the community centre regardless of the hail stones pounding the centre as the live band played Christmas songs. With a company of around 15/20 people we enjoyed a hearty meal of turkey and vegetables, finished off with Christmas pudding and cream!