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16 October 2014

Claremont - July 2007

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Fletcher Saga 27 July 2007

This edition of the Saga is a bit late because on Wednesday afternoon I returned from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after having some minor elective surgery on my nose. I had to arrive in hospital on Sunday 22 July which meant leaving Stronsay on Saturday afternoon, staying overnight in Kirkwall, catching the Sunday afternoon flight to Aberdeen then getting a taxi from the airport to the hospital. The treatment in the hospital was, as usual, quite superb. I was allowed to have "high tea" on Sunday even though my operation was scheduled for the following day. The only small problem was the non-arrival of the taxi ordered by the charge nurse to get me from the hospital to the airport at 7:15 am on Wednesday. Since I got back to Stronsay I seem to have spent most of my time either sleeping or feeling tired.
The annual Stronsay Gala was held on 23 June and this year it was opened by Alastair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland. The weather was fine and reasonably warm but there were no floats this year. The Stronsay Fire Brigade (all volunteers) put on an impressive display of their fire-fighting capabilities and a pipe band from mainland provided musical entertainment throughout the day. We entered Surrey (our white-furred, green-eyed cat) in the Pet Competition. It was her first trip away from Claremont (apart from her annual trip to the vet) so we were a bit apprehensive when we put Surrey in her cat box and took her up to the field. However, Surrey took it all in her stride and was much admired and photographed; she did not flinch when people took flash photographs nor did she blink when the pipe band struck up just a few feet from her cat box. However, imagine Maureen's delight when she got back from buying some marigold plants and discovered that the judge - a vet from Kirkwall - had awarded Surrey the first prize. I decided to do my bit for "men's lib" and entered the Gala's "men's baking" competition; my "snow cake" was awarded second prize whilst Colin (the only other entrant in the category) took the first prize. Surrey's rosette and mine are now proudly displayed in the kitchen at Claremont.
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra were in Orkney for the St Magnus Festival and on Tuesday 26 Jun a string quintet from the orchestra spent the day at Stronsay Junior High School then gave a concert in Stronsay's kirk. Thanks to the kirk's excellent acoustics all present heard and enjoyed music by Dvorjak and Borodin together with an arrangement of "Jealousy" and a modern, jazz-like piece including sections of improvisation by all the players. The first piece of the evening was a short piece in which the quintet were joined by the school's musicians. Driving back to Claremont after the concert I drove through torrential rain and saw a truly spectacular rainbow over Papa Stronsay.
July began with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) day on Sun 01 Jul. The RNLI depends wholly on voluntary contributions and enjoys extremely good support throughout the United Kingdom, particularly so in Orkney. Stronsay has not had its own lifeboat since 1973 but Orkney is well-served by the lifeboats at Kirkwall, Stromness and Longhope. The Kirkwall lifeboat (Margaret Foster) visited Stronsay on the RNLI day and, after a short pierhead service lead by Reg Kent from the kirk, the lifeboat was open for inspection all afternoon. Later in the day several people were fortunate enough to experience a short, high-speed trip in the lifeboat. Although the weather was windy & wet with fog later in the afternoon & evening I took some pictures on the day here's the album.. Stronsay's community centre was the venue for the usual magnificent lunchtime buffet (with a choice of at least 30 main dishes) as well as a variety of fund-raising stalls. The latest figures I have heard are that after deducting the minimal expenses incurred Stronsay managed to raise about 2,500 pounds (5,000 US dollars) on the day. For more information on the RNLI see this page.
For those who like to see what Orkney looks like or check on the state of the Orkney weather, the webcams here.
are now much improved with larger images
A wedding was held in the kirk on 07 July. Sadly the weather did not behave itself and it poured with rain nearly all day. However, this did not seem to dampen the spirits of the happy couple or their guests; the kilt-wearing groom is the newly-appointed harbour master on Stronsay.
Two ferry strikes were due to take place during July but they have been "suspended" whilst talks take place. A work-to-rule still continues. Speaking of ferries there is an item on Orkney Island Council website that will be of interest to all Orcadians especially those living on the North or the South Isles. Items discussed include the new ferries, possible fixed links between islands and a new location for the Stronsay terminal. The full article with links to several important documents each aimed at a different island (Stronsay, Sanday, Westray etc) is here.
If anyone reading this Saga is interested in chatting with Orcadians about Orkney then the Orkney Forum is open again here.
Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney
Posted on Claremont at 20:12

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