Friday was a day out to the Island where Michael was born, Sanday ( . At 19.5 sq miles and a population of about 550 it is the 3rd largest of the Islands of Orkney. We took the ferry from Kirkwall as we were taking the car, but you can also fly over. You get an excellent view of Kirkwall harbour front with the cathedral at the back as you leave the harbour. I also managed to get a good photo of Balfour castle on Shapinsay as we sailed by. Last time I was at the castle it was lived in by the family and tours were great followed by a high tea. It is now run as an exclusive 5* Hotel/Spa with shooting , fishing and as a wedding venue. It is stunning and well apt for this, but I still like to remember it as it was.

We had been invited to judge at the annual Agricultural Show our section being handicrafts which was a large mixture of disciplines from photography to woodwork. The day showed great promise and the weather was due to hold. On arriving we drove to the school/community hall and were welcomed with breakfast. Once all the judges were gathered and refreshed we began our tasks. The hall was laid out with tables covered in all the exhibits and it looked amazing. We all made our way to our various sections. Our local steward was Heather and she was great. We had a difficult job on, the standard was very high and choosing a 1st, 2nd and 3rd was not easy. All the entries were anonymous, so after we had made our choice Heather filled out the prize cards with the name of the winner and placed them in order on the table ready for everybody to view when the show opened at 2pm. After we had judged all the sections we had to choose an overall winner. This was a close run thing between a painting and a photograph and we really had to start to be very picky to make the choice, the painting it was. Finished

We had a cuppa with some friends we chanced upon and then went out onto the show park. There were cows, sheep, ducks, hens, horses, geese, tractors, sheds, tools, a beer tent and a tent smelling excellently of fried onions, bliss. Oh here comes Heather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not finished. She apologized, not an issue, and we wandered back to the hall. All the judges needed to get together and pick the best in show out of every best in section. The choices :- our painting, a beautiful hand spun and weaved shawl, homemade cheese, a HUGE sown octopus, 3 of the best looking carrots I had ever seen and a clootie dumpling (yum). We unanimously went for the shawl, but the clootie duff  was very close in our eyes.

Off into the park again and I was drawn to my roots, the horses where we stood next to the ring and watched the various classes going on. I could go back into that at the drop of a hat, but not an option I doubt.

After having a quick look to see if Cliffy (Michael’s nephew) was home (nope) we headed off for an explore. We headed to the NE point of the Island where the Start Lighthouse is. The Start Lighthouse was completed in 1806 by engineer Robert Stevenson. It is the 1st Scottish lighthouse to have a revolving light and since 1915 has exhibited distinctive black and white vertical stripes which are unique to Scotland. The lighthouse was automated in 1962 a significant year for us both, the year we were born. After parking up at the shore we headed out to the point. To cross to the Lighthouse it has to be low tide and it wasn’t so we went as far as we could and skimmed stones in the sea, getting very competitive. This continued till our arms ached and we headed back to the car. We continued our drive about and then headed up to Cliffy and Linda’s for a good old family catch up and refreshments before we sneaked in a selfie and bordered the ferry to return home.


Looking back at the cathedralBalfour castle
Show hall Show hall Show hall Winning paintingRosette presentation Display of bygone items Lap of honour Sporting rosettes Top of the class and happy Time to relax Start point Start lighthouse Woodturner at play Stone skimming Stone skimming Heading home