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Old 29 November 2002, 07:39   #131
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Originally posted by Keith Hart


No expeditioneer will return the same. All will be different men inside, for they will have seen those lands beyond the Firth and beyond the mist.
Bl**dy hell, I've seen it all now. What a forum! We get Greeks quoting Irish poets, the Irish investigating the english psyche from within Maslovs hierarchal triangle, and now a Brummie waxing lyrical about remote Scottish islands. Wordsworth must be turning in his grave. As for the British obsession with distances, the American, Bill Bryson, says in his book, Notes from a Small Island, "we go this far for a burger".


David(Philistine)Manning
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Old 30 November 2002, 09:27   #132
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Orkney Competition - Answer

Right then, the answer – 4th December 1910, 9pm.

So, sorry folks, no one has won the prize. But anyway, here is the fascinating story of the first visit to Orkney by air……

Orkney’s first visitors, two Germans, arrived by air balloon on the evening of the 4th of December 1910 about 9pm. In doing so they did something no man had ever done before.

The previous afternoon the three men set off in their balloon from a field near Munich in Bavaria, intending to be up for 24 hours, reaching Switzerland, or maybe the South of France. However the weather took a hand. The wind veered to the south-east, piling up thick cloud. Soon darkness fell and the men had no idea where they were. In the morning they could hear the sound of the sea breaking, but what sea and where?

They came down to have a look but overdid it and hit the waves as they were throwing out the ballast to regain height. This caused them to bounce back up off the sea into the cloud again where, having re-established their equilibrium, and looking round, Herren Distler and Joerdens found they were alone in the basket – the third member of their crew, Herr Metzger, had been thrown out as they bounced. He was never seen again.

They carried on before the gale all day, failing to attract the attention of the few ships they saw. Darkness fell again over the grey immensity of the ocean. Would they see the dawn? About 9pm they did see a light, possibly Auskerry Lighthouse. Then more lights. Desperately they pulled the plug, came down fast and bounced on the sea again, probably in Inganess Bay just to the east of Kirkwall, before being dragged ashore by the now deflated balloon, finishing up on the edge of a quarry.

Making for the first house with lights, which happened to be Park Cottage in Berstane Road, the home then, as now, of the Leonard family, they asked where they were, and learned they were in Orkney, some 1,500 miles and thirty harrowing hours, from their starting point, having averaged some 50 mph over the ground and sea – an indication of the strength of the gale.

Inadvertently they had shown that the sea was no longer the only road to the isles. It may have been only a small pointer to the future, but it was a significant one.

Orkney, a land of history and mystery. Join the intrepid expeditioneers as we add our own Orkney story to the sagas of ancient times.

Keith (teller of the sagas) Hart
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Old 01 December 2002, 05:14   #133
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Orkney Factoid

Island life on Stroma (in the Pentland Firth)

Stroma was once a populous island in the Pentland Firth, finally deserted in 1962 now it's only inhabitants are a herd of sheep and various other wildlife.

The people of Stroma were very closeknit and noted on several occasions for their striking manner and self sufficiency.

"From their political situation, and the simplicity, sobriety and industry, natural to them, there are perhaps few islanders on earth happier than those of Stroma."

O.S.A- Canisbay 1793
by the Rev. John Morison
(primary source)

"Are remarkable for industry, sobriety and simplicity of life.
Sinclair's Report of Scotland Vol. 1 1814 (primary source)

"The Stroma folk, a highly gregarious and social folk,"
The Third Statistical Account Of Scotland 1983
The -Parish of Canisbay, by Mrs Margaret C. Gunn
(secondary source)

Most people lived in single storey houses which had two main rooms, called the 'but' and 'ben'. In these houses there was usually a small bedroom (called the 'closet') and a porch also. The 'but' was the living room where all everyday family life took place; the 'ben' however was only used on special occasions, like when visitors came.

Each room had box-beds, these were often closed in by folding doors or curtains. Wooden boards were covered with a layer of straw and a chaff filled mattress, both were renewed every year. The pillows were stuffed with the feathers of the croft chickens which were killed, plucked then eaten (little went to waste), blankets made of sheep's fleece were made at the mill; together this made a very cosy bed.

The 'but' held a stove and oven, along with a larder and crockery dresser. The stove and oven were the main means of heating in the croft house, all cooking, baking and mending etc. occurred in the 'but', the centre of the house. The 'ben' was rarely used, as I have already said it was only used when visitors came. It containing all the precious family objects and was extravagantly furnished, with a polished table, sofa, easy chairs, dressing table, wash stand and basin and built in wardrobe (in which the 'Sunday clothes' were hung) all placed on top of a polished wooden floor.

Any excess provisions needed that the crofters could not manufacture themselves were obtained from either the four shops that the island provided or from the 'floating shops' which came fortnightly. This service was started in 1910, then continued again for a few years after being interrupted by World War I. People were ferried out in threes and fours on a small rowing boat to the large boat. Onboard the ship they could choose from three departments, the grocers at the bow, the meal and foodstuffs in the midship and the drapers at the stern. Women would also sell eggs, fresh fish and lobsters to the crew. Clothing though had to be purchased from the mainland in either Wick or Thurso.

The Stroma community had its own way of celebrating yearly events, for example at Halloween it was common practice to shift hens to other people's henhouses and to move carts to the house of the owner's girlfriend; palm reading was also practised! At Christmas home produced chicken was eaten, and the children would hang up stockings and receive little presents. At Hogmanay the men would visit their friends and neighbours bearing a lump of coal and a bottle of whisky.


Conclusion.

From the information I have gathered on island life it is apparent that the community of Stroma could easily support itself. The people produced nearly all their own food, clothing, furnishings and tools, but they were not entirely without influence of the mainland.

Extra groceries that were needed were bought from the island shop or the 'floating shops', both of these services were comparatively new to island life, for years the islanders had managed successfully alone. This shows that as life became easier on the mainland self-sufficiency on Stroma no longer seemed acceptable; Stroma people also needed nice food and clothing. From Sinclair's Report in 1814 we are told that Stroma people were very simple and hard working, one hundred years later they were still hard working but also less self-sufficient.

See you there folks.

Keith Hart
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Old 01 December 2002, 05:21   #134
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Abandoned farm buildings on Stroma
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Old 01 December 2002, 06:02   #135
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The 'Magic' of Orkney

Magic has fled the world....

...but not completely. It has taken refuge in the few places remaining where it can still thrive.

Orkney is one such place.

A place where a black cloak of darkness almost constantly covers the islands in the winter and the island people gathered around their fires to pass the long nights with song and story.

This folklore is a vital part of the vanishing magic.


Experience the magic of Orkney for yourself. If you are still considering whether to join the expedition or not, then just think of this:

One week. Just one week. One week of your time traded for a lifetime of memories. Memories of the magic of The Orkney Islands. Memories of a 'once in a lifetime' expedition. You can't buy time. You can't buy memories. But, you can make the effort and take part. You CAN, if you really want to.

Keith (you will not regret it) Hart
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Old 01 December 2002, 11:46   #136
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17th - 24th August 2003

Right folks, here they are, the final 'set in stone' expedition dates - 17th to the 24th of August 2003. Put it in your diaries, tell your boss ('er indoors), book your holidays, do whatever you need, but make sure you can get there.

I have decided to set the dates now so that everyone who is genuinely interested in taking part can make their arrangements in plenty of time. This also means that anyone who was reading the thread on Ribnet but was waiting to see just when we were going, can now make up their minds.

Here is Brian's suggested rough itinerary.

17th Sunday-meet up chill out.
18th do Day 1 ie sib over to Orkney, rib up to Stromness overnight.
19th do Day 2 up to Pierrowall
20th Day 3 Pierrowall to Kirkwall
21st Thursday-day off/diving day/sibing day/walking/sightseeing day, or other stuff local to Kirkwall
22nd do my Day 4, Kirkwall back to JOG
23rd Saturday-I guess many peeps will need to go home to work on Monday, others either chill out/do another days local ribing/sibing (I can come up with several ideas!!) or alternatively (perhaps in my case and the Garsides) push on down south so we eventually circumnavigate the UK.

Brian has done loads of work on his amazing 'chart reading, route plotting, map drawing, all knowing' computer and he has produced a proper MS Excel work book of waypoints (the guy has worked VERY hard folks). We will distribute this as required nearer the date.

We are also contacting people on Orkney who can assist with landside support or even join us on their boats.

Just imagine this - visiting the Iron Age village at Scara Brae - by sea! Wow. How about landing at the Viking Village at Brough of Birsay, on the North of Orkney, just like the Vikings did over 1,000 years ago? Double Wow!!

I will keep up the occasional FACTOID on Ribnet and also these updates to keep you informed of the plans. Mike Garside has also suggested that I put the FACTOIDS into a booklet for each of the expeditioneers Great idea Mike.

This is going to be one helluva trip.

As I said before, everyone who goes will remember it forever, those who do not will always regret that they did not make the effort.

Remember that we will be taking our own official photographer so YOU can relax and enjoy the experience.

So lets just run over the 'Mission Statement' then. (You have to have a mission statement these days it seems, but any way it will let us all know just where we stand)

MISSION STATEMENT - The Great Orkney SIB Expedition 2003

To cross the Pentland Firth by SIB (Soft Inflatable Boat)
Have support for the crossing from larger RIBs
When across the Pentland Firth to spend a few days around the Orkney Islands exploring by RIB and SIB
To meet with fellow RIBsters and SIBsters and have FUN, talk boats, eat drink and be merry
To return safely across the Pentland Firth by SIB, with the help of the RIBs
Expeditioneers are free to join in or pull out as they wish.


There is no joining fee, there is no committee, the only rule will be safety. Everyone will make their own 'call' on each day as regards the planned trips. People can join in each day with the group or do their own thing. Everyone will pay their own expenses.
How about that?

I will co-ordinate the trip along with Brian. We will sort out accommodation at various prices. I will be going for 'very cheap and as cheerful as possible under the circumstances', Brian will be looking for 5 star luxury with ensuite swimming pools, maid service and shoe polish . So it need not cost the earth to take part. Those sharing travelling should share the fuel costs etc. Is that fair? Any comments?

So folks that's it so far. If you have any comments, please drop me an email.

Keith Hart

PS Book you holidays
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Old 01 December 2002, 11:57   #137
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Sounds good to me Keith. I shall still be taking my own camera along (need pictures for the writeup i'll be doing for narked.rib.net!).

So come on everyone, get the time booked off (I'll be on holiday anyway so no need to book!) and get up there. The more, the merrier.

Matt
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Old 03 December 2002, 03:12   #138
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Blood of the Vikings

Hey Keith, did you see last night's BBC 2 programme about Vikings pillaging about, in amongst other places, the Orkneys. Dead interestin'. I can't wait to go there!
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Old 03 December 2002, 03:37   #139
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Vikings pillaging about, in amongst other places, the Orkneys
Great idea Mike, we'll add 'pillage' to the itinerary. Cheers

Keith (what a great word - pillage) Hart
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Old 03 December 2002, 16:00   #140
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What about the word "plunder"?

You can't have pillage without the plunder. How about a motto..."All your bacon belongs to us."...
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