Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Day 18 – 20th of July - Kirkwall – around the Orkneys to Stromness.

I had decided last night that I would try and get a lie in so I awoke late and showered then ambled downstairs to meet Deborah and Ron for breakfast.  I had enquired last night about getting some of the honey that the hosts made to take with me as I like it on top of my porridge.  I couldn’t find my container so Deborah filled a spare camera film case she had.  I mentally decided there and then it was to precious to waste so I am saving it for my last breakfast of the trip.

I had mueseli and toast and began to pack away my kit, Debora and Ron left early leaving me to finish packing and head off, they had an appointment with a farmer in a field I didn’t enquire about what, so it will remain a mystery for me for ever.

For some reason this morning I had a touch of paranoia and I headed back to the house 3 times to check I hadn’t left anything.  At one point Dillon followed me in again so I poured a little cream out for him which he devoured and rewarded me with a roll over for his tummy to be scratched.  It was then that I realised he reminded me of the Disney character Sylvester the cat.

I headed out into Kirkwall the weather was good and I made my way towards city centre and a quick visit to Magnus Cathedral, built in 1137 and the most northerly cathedral.  I took some photos there but it was a flying visit as I wanted to make my way around the island in one day.

I headed down towards the harbour and took a few more shots, I escaped town but quickly realised I was going in the wrong direction and turned myself around heading out in the opposite direction.   One of the things about the Garmin Sat nav is its top down view that auto rotates to show every section you are travelling on as a north south orientation.  You get used to it but when you have the UK map in your head it can be disorienting.

As I cycled out around the island I spotted a boat engineering shop and thought they would have the tools to remove the cleat from my cycling sandals.  There was a built man inside obviously no stranger to heavy work!  I had gone to the toilet and came back to find him at work with an angle grinder,  ti was too late to stop him and when finished my worst fears had been realised the heat generated had damaged the soles around the cleat.   They may still attach but I haven’t had chance to test it yet, if I cant get a cleat to stick they will have to go in the bin…

My route was fairly straightforward I headed out towards Finstown following the coastal road at one point I took off my cycling top and was enjoying a few minutes of sun on my bleached European torso!  I wasn’t in the mood for photography today I was enjoying the scenery and the simple cadence of my cycling. 

Eventually I rounded the island and had to do a double back to Skara Brae, where I took some photos and went on my way, I found the stones going back in time interesting and the recreation of one of the original buildings but I didn’t stay long as it was packed with tourists and a steady stream of coaches arriving announced it was going to get busier.

I had criss crossed a couple of roads and now headed towards Dounby and the Ring of Brodgar, I enjoyed this section especially as it was open to the public and free so I could really experience it rather than as a bystander held back behind steel fences.  I met a lovely Brazilian family and we took photos of each other.

The weather had turned cold and windy so I pushed on and eventually came to the archeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar.   This was a great place to be as you could see the buildings rising out of the mud as people worked on it.

I hopped into the mobile platform/caravan they use to promote the site and raise funds to get changed into my waterproofs in comparative comfort.   As I began to strip off to change the heavens opened up with a torrent which brough other visitors rushing in to dodge the rain.  So I put on another good show for everyone!  It was cold so I bought some comfort food for the road (Orkney fudge)

They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  For a cyclist the definition of madness is cycling miles out of your why to photograph some standing stones and then thinking it was worth it even in the bad weather.

I made my way out into the weather which grew steadily worse,   I was fighting a killer headwind and even downhill I had to pedal to make way.   I was not far from Stromness but the journey took an eternity.

Doing the extra had defeated me I was 10 min to late for the ferry, I should have felt gutted but I dealt with it philosophically and simply made some phone calls home and then went in search of a B&B, there was a Co – Op I had passed but I spotted a local shop in the centre of Stromness, there was a sullen girl in there who didn’t even look at me as I entered, a couple left saying… we were looking for a specific coffee you didn’t have, she didn’t even respond to them.

I walked around and couldn’t believe the prices everything was at least double if not more what you would expect to pay…  The couple who left had obviously seen this as well and like me would rather walk up the road to the reliable prices of the co-op than be fleeced as a tourist.  I know it is more expensive to source for these shops but the prices were seriously ridiculous.

Went to co – op – met a diver from Coventry we chatted he took my details for their website!

I booked into a B&B who again wanted to charge me way over the odds for their rooms I said my budge was £30 and they agreed as I made to leave.   I was shown a bike locker and decamped into my room which was at least very light (why is it that places now install the dimmest lighting)!

The receptionist had been lovely and she when I went downstairs for a drink into the bar/restaurant area she told me to go to the restaurant and that my meal was paid for, we had chatted about my trip and why I had come to the Orkneys, she had asked if I was doing this for charity and I had explained that whilst my primary reason was for my own sense of adventure I was hoping to raise some money for Zoe’s place.   She herself was a volunteer and was travelling to Nigeria to build an orphanage, I left her my details hopefully she will send me a link so I can donate.

I tucked into fish and chips which was wonderful and then made my way to my room.   I decamped and decided that I would wake up an hour early so that I could make my sandwiches and pack away properly.   I did a little on my blog and then did as the night before collapsed into a well-earned and tired oblivion, I was so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to put my devices on charge a thought which occurred to me the next morning… so the first thing  did was put them on charge.

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