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Exciting times!

Exciting times for the island now! Our gym equipment arrived off the boat yesterday: we have a bike, a treadmill and an elliptical trainer, with some light weights and resistance bands on the way!

We had a good squint around the pieces last night at the RNLI sale. I’m looking forward to having a proper go on them! The wind has been howling here for the past 4 days and with the occasional shower, it’s just not been weather to be out and about. Although we did have our fortnightly movie night on Wednesday, with an even greater turn out than we normally have. If memory serves we had 9 all huddled around the projector watching Brooklyn.

Today has been the first day that the wind and rain have eased up enough to get out. I obviously wasn’t the only one thinking the same as others venture out! I was getting a bit stir crazy in the house to be honest, I’ve got a rare week off this week and I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve just started a new jigsaw, a pack of 3 (1x 1000 and 2x 500 pieces) of ‘Cosmic Dolphins’. I bought it at the RNLI sale last year. It’s about as random as it gets in terms of pictures – dolphins swimming around outer space but it’s colourful! I enjoy doing jigsaws and reading in the winter but for some reason, I still feel that there could be something more productive I could be doing with my time. Maybe it’s the islander in me – no time for frivolities! Still for this week at least I’m ignoring that and relaxing as much as possible.

We had about 30 people at the RNLI sale last night, so most of the island in attendance. It usually brings a lot of us together to raise money for the lifeboats and of course we get our Christmas cards and calendars. I also got a Philadelphia pie, and a couple of books.

Not only are we raising money for the RNLI by selling all manner of things but we also hold a raffle and auction off a Christmas cake! Then we sit together, drinking tea and coffee with some sandwiches while the wind whips around the community centre. I always think that the cold windy nights will keep people inside but it rarely does. It just highlights the importance of these nights, not only for charity but for us, like the gym equipment will hopefully be, getting together and socialising (and sweating in the gym’s case) instead of choosing the easier and lonelier option of staying inside by the fire for 6 months!

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A New Leaf

Well I’ve been really surprised at the responses to my article in the paper yesterday! My phone has hardly stopped pinging with messages of support and expressing interest in living in my little corner of the world which is just fantastic.
I think I took it for granted that my working multiple jobs on a remote island, it’s normal for me and I forgot how strange every part of island life is to most people. I didn’t realise that so many people were interested in learning about it through my own experience.
So I shall have to write more here and on my blog as well. I needed this massive boost to spark my enthusiasm again. It is easy to get lost in work and the small day-to-day worries and forget everything else. But most importantly we have to listen and be receptive when others are trying to show us a better way.
Anyway, that’s my little bit of philosophy for the day!
Thankfully, my day today is a bit easier than it has been lately – I now judge easy days as less than 3 jobs to do in a day!
Yesterday I was up for the first flight which left Kirkwall at 7:35am, by around 8:20 the plane was safely back in Kirkwall and I moved on to make breakfast for my service user on home care. Home for my own breakfast, then back up to the airport for the cargo plane – we only get one ferry in the winter so a cargo plane is put on every Tuesday (more often if the boat is cancelled), it’s still our little islander plane but they take the seats out. So we stacked the goods on the apron of the airfield for everyone to collect – during a dirty rain shower!
By about 12 the plane was in Kirkwall but I stayed to clean the airport building – not an easy task! It doesn’t look much but with so many people coming back and forth and with the wet weather, the dirty footprints really stick to the floor.
I was literally just finished mopping the lobby floor when the co-ordinator walked all over it! The plane was move forward from 5pm to 2pm for bad weather :@ Thankfully the rest of the building was dry.
So I finally left the airport at about 3pm, absolutely knackered, had a quick shower then back up to the airfield at 4:40pm for pilot training.
Each pilot has to land and take off a few times at night before they can be signed off to fly at night and the airport staff have to be on standby for them. Thankfully it didn’t take as long as I was expecting, we were back home by about 5:30pm so that was me done for the day!
Today I just have 2 flights (one of which I’ve already done) and home care (already done) then onto some studying for my Bachelors degree in English Language and Literature – this module is on the classics (poetry, plays etc.) Sadly not my favourite so it doesn’t take much for me to put it off! But I have my movie night tonight at 8pm in the community centre, we chose the movie on the night depending on what we fancy at the time then have a blether over a cuppa and biscuits so looking forward to that!

Back in North Ron

Well that’s me back in North Ronaldsay and what a way to be welcomed home than the very day of Loganair’s 50th anniversary! 

The airport was packed full of support for Scotland’s airline, from the live band, to staff – both current and former. And to top the lot, I got a great view of the iconic golden Britten-Norman islander plane.
I’d love to say that I had a relaxing time down south but alas, there’s no rest for the wicked and I must be as wicked as they come!

Despite working almost as hard down in Edinburgh as I do up here, I did enjoy myself and was doing a good turn.

I really enjoyed volunteering 2 days of my time to the Northern Lighthouse Board during their open days – nearly 1000 visits over the weekend. It’s just great to know that so many people still have such a strong connection and interest in lighthouses.
On my return, I found a stack of letters (thankfully none too important) and a pile of parcels – (far more fun going through them). My cat was thrilled to see me, her calm has been restored :).

Then in true Ronaldsay fashion, it was straight back to work, putting the house to rights, catching up on current events, hosting my fortnightly movie night in which I met our two newest islanders that moved in a few weeks ago. That was certainly a treat, I’m sure they’ll love discovering this island just as I did (and still am) when I was fresh off the boat!

Shearing 

My God,  I can’t express how much I hate shearing!
I managed to catch 3 in my pen but thankfully 2 of them were the worst 2 to shear. The brown North Ronaldsays are a nightmare! The fleece just felts on the skin and there’s no lift at all, no matter how long you wait! 

The brown sheep are probably the oldest of the 5,500 year old breed. It does its job and keeps the elements off the sheep’s skin but damn it’s hard going to get it off!

Can we not genetically modify sheep so they’re born with a zip on their fleece? We, or even they could take their fleece off like a jacket! That’s forward thinking!
I’ve got 4 ewes left to shear but 3 of them are grey (easy) and 1 ewe has already shed half her fleece. Why couldn’t the rest of my girls do that?? 😠
I’m not sharing a pic because those brown sheep… Nothing I’m proud of but I think I did better than last year!
I also managed to tag 4 of my youngans but there’s still not much there to castrate on my boys so they get a reprieve for a while yet!

​Exciting news!

Anyone who has ever wanted to live on a small island now has the chance to move to the unique and magical island of North Ronaldsay.

This 2 bedroom croft is a beautiful place with fantastic views and a huge conservatory to make the most of them. It comes along with a stone built barn and a huge agricultural barn.

Ever thought of trying your hand at being a farmer? There is land available with the house that could be negotiated for.
All this for £85,000! 
We desperately need new families to move to the island, preferably a young family with kids to keep the island going into the future but right now, we are struggling.

With an ageing population, the island is struggling to keep itself afloat, so to speak. The island is falling into disrepair with more and more people less able to maintain what needs to be maintained.

But who knows, this croft could be the start of a change in the island’s fortune.

I look forward to meeting whoever should buy Breckan.
http://www.lowsorkney.co.uk/p/24208#details

Spring is here!

These last couple of weeks have, without a doubt been 2 of the busiest weeks of my life! So many different jobs done that I can’t even describe what a typical day looks like because there is no typical day. The life of an islander is wide
a varied and you have no idea what you could be doing at any given moment.

This last fortnight has consisted mostly of animal work for me, from punding; the traditional rounding up of the sheep on the shore, this year in addition to holding a couple of punds last week, we made the most of the pre-lambing punds
this week. The islanders, as well as several friends and family from mainland and further south came to the island to round up the sheep. In an amazing feat, we actually got every sheep in each section of the shore into the punds, there are usually a few (sometimes
more than a few) that outsmart us humans and evade the punds completely. I can only hope they co-operate as much when it comes time to shear them!

We took this opportunity to ‘Spring clean’ the shore, since there are so few fit an able farmers on the island the size of the flock and workload is starting to take its toll. The pregnant ewes were brought inland as usual and are all now
happily grazing away at the lush grass, but the wethers (castrated males) were sorted and the fattest were shipped off to market. A horrible but sadly necessary evil but with the nature of the North Ronaldsay sheep, these wethers have lived several years of
relative freedom before meeting their end.

In addition to sheep work, I’ve been doing my usual, helping to feed cattle – cutting open the black plastic wrap of the bales then unwrapping the netting surrounding the silage. I’ve lost count how many bales I must have opened this last
fortnight but if I said 30, I’d probably be close.

Then there’s been a bit of turbine work, only a little of that though, little bit of electrical work getting the heat pump at the lighthouse up and running.

And most recently, I’ve been taking people on tours up the lighthouse, around the wool mill, through the cottages etc. The café is open for business, feel free to pop in for some fantastic brownies and ice-cream, have a browse through the
shop for souvenirs, or check out the lighthouse exhibition. Tours of the lighthouse are run anytime; there’ll be people at the café to arrange a tour for you.

 

http://www.northronaldsay.co.uk/

Busy week as Spring arrives!

This has been a hell of a busy week, from collecting the bins on Wednesday  (having a go behind the wheel of the digger), to punding on Thursday and getting ready for the boat on Friday!

There was a lot of cargo leaving the island on Friday, thank God for the boat, we would never be able to do or share anywhere near as much as we can!

The fog has started early this year – the last 2 days we’ve been completely fogged in apart from the tiniest window to get 1 plane in yesterday and one the day before. We must be into Spring/Summer – the lambs will be arriving soon, the weather is slowly getting warmer, hence the fog!