It has been a weird summer for all of us this year, no matter where you live! In lots of ways, here in Orkney we are very lucky. It is a wonderful place to be in lockdown, the wind still blows, a summer breeze at this time of year, our grass is lush and the wildflowers are more wonderful this year than ever. Our local council gardeners haven't been able to cut the roadside verges during lockdown which seems to have encouraged all the wildflowers. The black Aberdeen Angus cows fill the fields and the cliffsides at Marwick head and Yesnaby have been covered in carpets of sea pinks.
The poppies have gone and been replaced by the heather ,now in bloom, in all the shades of purple and pink flowers appearing more stunning than ever. Our puffins and terns have now left The Brough of Birsay to fly back out to sea to feed on fish in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
Yesterday I visited Waulkmill bay in Orphir, the tide was in and the turquoise and blue sea glittered in the sunlight. There is an abandoned garden at the far end of the bay where previously foxgloves grew in all their glory, now rosebay willow herb or loosestrife fill the falling edges of the cliff garden interspersed with large daisies and bright red montbretia blowing in the breeze. Out at sea were ducks and gulls bobbing along the waves. Swallows dived and swooped above the heather. Some brave people were swimming out in the bay which is relatively shallow. Maisie, my chocolate labrador, bounced through the wild grasses and heather, all the time watching out for her mother in case she wandered too far from her side. I have recently bought a new camera with which to take bird and close up photos of nature so I was keen to try it out! Orkney summers are short but the days are long and on this day the sky stayed bright till midnight ending with a glorious red and yellow sunset.
Of course lockdown has been hard for Orcadians too, especially for those who have lost loved ones and the many folk who have been shielding from the virus. We have been lucky here, not many lives lost or infected cases, perhaps living on an island helps. The main downside has been the loss of business, Orkney is very dependent on tourism and many people here have lost their jobs because we have very few visitors. We hope you will all come back another year so that we can share our beautiful Islands with you once again so you can indulge in another Orkney summer.