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White Light

We travelled to St Margarets Hope spending the hour or so on deck. I was very moved by the abandoned houses on Stroma, the island looked so strange. A fellow passenger was also strangely moved after sliding across deck cos the idiot Paddy ( our friend) was hollering about spotting a whale..needless to say no such creature was visible. We saw plenty of puffins though.
We were lodged at Birsay with good views of the Brough. I thought I'd miss the trees but I didn't; I missed their shelter though. We were blessed with bright days on the whole & the wind cut through like knives; the old woman whose cottage we stayed in said she didn't notice it anymore.
Straight out to Stenness, Barnhouse, the Ring of Brodgar & Scara Brae. I've seen these places so often on the telly & in photos but what can't be properly captured is the wild, wild surroundings. The water everywhere is wonderful. The big big sky. I cried at Stenness cos it didn't feel real; they're like a modern sculpture reaching for the heavens. The settlements ground me with their beds, hearths, alcoves & cupboards..layouts that feel so familiar.
(What's with the trapezoid like stones? There's one at Stenness, one at Brodgar & one at the Clava Cairns.)
The Ring of Brodgar has some preservation work going on so we couldn't full circle. It's surrounded by mounds; one of which is overrun with rabbits. There's really well chiselled graffiti on some of the stones; also at Stenness & Unstan burial chamber. There were lots of folk about; coachloads of Americans.. I do admire their enthusiasm, but boy can they yatter, mind you Paddy saw a few of em off spouting his usual half baked bollocks. I loved the lonely Comet stone & the huge witchy stone as I saw it; I couldn't get near to kiss it though cos of aforementioned works. We walked round & round, sheltering behind the mounds. We gazed at Maes Howe across the landscape. It was glorious.
At Scara Brae the guide/ guard showed us the drains..drains! He explained that the rectangular boxes were watertight; that the beach had been a fresh water loch untill the sea encroached. He was a good lad but looked slightly blue; it was freezing in that wind.
The Maes Howe tour was ok. A lovely guide called Sharon. The carved out platforms are larger than I'd realised & so exact. The chamber itself is smaller than I'd thought. I impressed the Yanks by declaring that the Vikings came through the roof. Paddy waffled on about about blocking stones shielding us from the underworld much to their bemusement; our embarrassment & Sharon's irritation.
Next we visited Unstan; these chambers are set out like stalls in a stable, with little hidey holes. Paddy sought to frighten me by crawling in first but I could see his feet sticking out; still he was quiet for a bit as he waited to strike out. Small mercies.
The situation of Cuween is spectacular; the views from here & Wideford Hill are spectacular. We only drove to the top of Wideford Hill; not visiting the chamber. When we stepped out to explore I was literally blown sideways & some driving rain set in. There was a chap arriving back to his car from the direction of said chamber with various digging implements who looked like he'd been to hell & back. I didn't ask him what he was up to cos I couldn't move my lips. We resloved to go back but didn't. A regret.
Off topic but I found a sea glass beach at Stromness & spent a happy couple of hours adding to my collection. Sea glass to me is precious.
Next to the Broch of Gurness where the fog set in & swirled about. We spent a happy hour discussing all things past with the brilliant guardian here. The enthusiasm of most officials encountered on Orkney is great. The brochs are marvellous, they shout out solidity, safety & status to me. We saw two seals here out to sea, their heads bobbing up & down.
Next to South Ronaldsey of course; the Tomb of the Eagles.I have some splendid photos of Nick & Paddys arses as they crawled in & out. I chose to slide in on the trolley lying on my back. Much hilarity on my part ensued as Paddy "assisted" Nick out of the tomb. What a pathetic display.
Anyway the tomb itself is grand, with the "stalls" & it's situation. The talks prior to the actual visit were informative but perhaps a little overdone? I don't know, I just got a bit impatient. Two young girls who spoke to us were very impressive though. There was a chap who kept asking questions about craniotomy & tethering poles who grated somewhat. His wife was allergic to milk & various other foodstuffs we discovered later when they plonked themselves at the table behind us at Skerries Bistro. What a waitress! The grub was scrummy.
Here we met Hamish who told us the full saga 're the Tomb of the Otters. He's awaiting DNA results from the bones of the inhabitants. He said we would be able to boast about having visited the tomb on the verge of game changing discoveries. This is a dark wet place but amazing inside. It was stated that Ronnie ( the finder of tomb of the eagles) wasn't called Fox for nothing! Hmm!
So, Orkney my lasting impression, wild, bright, beautiful & haunting.
Stopping briefly at Inverness we got to see the Clava Cairns which are magical. Lots of cupmarks. The lovely little round cairn with its pink quartz. The stone pathways to the middle cairn. A trapezoid stone again. Some trees..yeah. Up the road another standing stone & cairn. Some suspicious stone jumbles in surrounding gardens & the ubiquitous Paddy informing some Outlander trail Americans that our ancestors on Orkney lived with & amidst sea otters in blissful harmony.


The Cunning of a Fox, the Smell of the Wind & the Lips of a Fish....

I might also add, the Light. The light on Orkney is white light, apart from when the fog, sea frets are blowing through. The wind makes sure I'm awake at all times. I've never known wind like it; not even on top of the White Horse. My senses have been battered. It's absolutely beautiful.
The landscapes of Scotland are stunning. Driving to Ullapool ..Well I'm used to Yorkshire moors, but the mountains, the water ..Glencoe. I struggled to comprehend the majesty. The absolute majesty. The water is the deepest blue, like a sapphire. Water everywhere.
The trip over to Lewis was good; laughing like schoolkids as we rolled with the boat. Callanish in the sunlight, white light, wild wind. What do I think? Beautiful glittering stone.; a cist so precise it could come from Ikea; bewilderment (I like bewilderment), & more water. I started to see the hill woman; when we got to Achmore I saw her get pregnant.
Callinish two & three, four or whatever.. great traipses across the land; major Callinish always in view. I don't have sufficient enough language skills to describe this place.
My first broch..I mean, come on. Dun Carloway. Seriously one of the most beautiful, awe inspiring situations & buildings I've ever seen. It stands so proud. The staircases , the thickness of the walls, the spiralling of construction, it's outlook.
Next, going back, the Hill of many Stanes. I loved this a beautiful garden with stones instead of flowers;The Grey Cairns of Camster ..whoa, monster stuff. I loved the boardwalk; crawling/ crouching through narrowing passages made me feel a bit anxious & I wasn't sure about the juju. Idiot.
Anyway.. Orkney. I'll attempt that tomorrow. Still here, still being battered:)



I feel compelled to post about this very special place. It's our 3rd day in beautiful Aberdeenshire & we visited yesterday. Now isn't it strange & wonderfully thrilling when some stones knock you sideways.
We have seen some stunning places already & have more to come but Tyrebagger stopped us in our tracks & my itinerary flew out of the window. This means that we'll lose out on other sites due to time constraints but what the hell, it's about here & now ain't it.
We struggled to get there; there's a lot going on construction wise in Aberdeenshire at the moment isn't there. Ugly gashes across the landscape etc etc, but what do I know? nothing that's what! We drove up a private road & tentatively asked a resident householder if it was ok to park up & search for the circle. He was graciousness itself & said it was fine, but didn't know where it was. He lives not 10 minutes away, how can this be. Anyway he was smashing. It tickles me how most people react when I ask about stones. I find that they most often glance sideways at me with a knowing smile twitching about their lips & their eyes follow you as you march away. Anyway am blathering as per.
I immediately felt blown away by Tyrebagger. I felt altered, my being expanded, my brain chatter ceased & I worshipped; now I don't use that word often. I also nearly broke my bloody ankle on the hidden stones underfoot. I started to march around the circle but gave up & sat with my back resting on the carved tree ( somebody's carved "fuck", I mean what the fuck!)
My bloke has a loud voice & I noticed an echo. I got him to shout & the echo was astonishing. It felt as though that shout would be heard for miles & miles. Much further shouting ensued; a herd of sheep came to investigate. The echo only seemed to work when we stood opposite the recumbent stone. It truly amazed us. Will the new road ruin this?
Eventually he quietened down & I sat with eyes closed. I felt a bit dizzy with exhilaration. Suddenly I smelt a strong whiff of perfume. It wafted around me for a few seconds & was gone. I couldn't identify it;it wasn't either of us & nobody else was there.
I'm not given to flights of fancy, I believe something shifted at Tyrebagger; something encircled me. I'll be ringing bells next!
We stayed for hours & the sun shone.
Sorry nothing about the actual stones which are of course magnificent. I'm glad we got to experience this place before new road starts roaring. I hope the rumbling doesn't render them unstable. A new favourite; thank you ancestors:)


Wicked Stepmother

I have spent 4 days in Cornwall recently at the behest of the above; it wasn't pleasant but I managed to escape periodically to a magical land. It saved my soul. The sun shone & everything glittered, like only Cornwall can for me. I'll post my inadequate photos, but really how my eyes & senses continue to be opened.
Firstly a thankyou again for the wonderful blogs & pictures on this site. I would never have dreamed as a young girl that I'd switch off the telly & read & marvel at these places. It's soppy, & sounds over emotional ( a woman's lot - joke) but you strangers enrich my life. Ok enough of that.
On the way down to Corny, a 7 hour drive, we visited Stoney Littleton. It pissed it down. The brook was overflowing; the uphill walk was slippy; the stiles were tricky for the continuing hop a long ( hip replacement imminent) but we both breathed & laughed. First time for a while. It felt like freedom.
From then on in, escaping from a nut job of a non blood related relative became easy & she affected me not.
Most vivid memories; a group of women strategically positioned around the Hurlers with a collection of crystals placed in the centre of the biggest circle. A clamber to the Cheesewring missing Rillaton Barrow yet again. Trethevy quoit meister! Feeling decidedly dizzy in Carn Euny fougou. Not being able to brave visiting Brane too closely because of vicious looking bovine creatures ( a first for me, I'm used to benevolent cows, I live in Lancashire!) The Pipers; what! Boscowan Un, a nurturing sanctuary. Lanyon Quoit, the retriever. Men an Tol & I schleped through the hole whilst worrying about whether or not I was adding to potential wear & tear a getting a bit mucky; also whether I was doing it from the right side, & whether once was enough. Is once ever enough?
Then the Nine bloody Maidens, Stones, whatever, up the hill from Men an Tol. Yeah, found them TSC! It took me an hour. I knocked on a local farm door (no answer). I asked two delightful locals walking; they'd no idea. I then approached a scantily clad young couple who were out & about & they guided me on my way. A beautiful spot. Unassuming & magical. Like my beloved Sunkenkirk this place swims in & out of view; well to me that is. Now I KNOW where it is. All of a sudden I can see. There's stones all over the place up there, I was bewildered.
We met a lovely woman whilst on our travels called Linda, who we took to the stones, she was overcome by the "energies". I liked her, we're still in touch. She asked if I could feel it. I said I felt grounded & happy; I think that was ok, but secretly I kind of knew what she meant; I think.
To stop myself from committing step matricide, & to balance my chakras for the journey home I focused on a tiny bit of Dartmoor, which made a 7 hour journey home more like10 hours but it was well worth it. The stone rows, the Plague Market blew me away. How beautiful are they? How exquisitely beautiful. What on earth?
I'm aware I'm doing the touristy bits but you've gotta start somewhere. That bloody Plague Market.Wow:)


Learning how to see & breathe.

I've tried the field notes thing, but there's really nothing I can add other than my own emotional experience, & I'm not sure that's what field notes are about. I'm in awe of people who can photograph, measure, detail & wonderfully describe these fantastic places. Drew, please take note, how am I to learn?
It occurred to me , on holiday in Cornwall, on my last day that I chose, after all the neolithic adventuring, to devote a day to getting in the sea. In fact that is always the highlight of time spent in Cornwall. And whilst in the sea, I found myself thinking what must our forebears have made of this. How awe inspiring must this of been for them, just as it is for me & then I thought how can you leave a lasting testimony to the sea? Sea henge & the footprints at Formby Point?
Anyway the whole point of this post is that I drove home from work today & I saw the hills, & the lumps & bumps on the horizon. I watched the bluest sky & the way the sun shone through the greenest tree overhangs. The darkness & the light. The sparkling water. The red & gold turning foliage. The mist, the frost & the stones ancient or not. And I realised that this has been the gift given to me.
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