Thurso to Kirkwall (Scottish mainland to Orkney)

I'm very far behind, because I didn't have my laptop with me on some of the most recent travels. So here's one of a series of short catch-ups that won't begin to do justice to what I've seen and done. I actually prepared a lot of photos for this next bit, but we'll hit the high points in order to have a bare chance of getting to today, perhaps by next week some time, if I'm both diligent and lucky.

Thurso is at the far north of mainland Scotland and a ferry for Orkney leaves from nearby Scrabster. This is the early morning view from my hotel window—the Press and Journal opens up before dawn. (That is, of course, a reflection of part of my hotel room. I'm enjoying many of the inadvertent reflections I'm capturing as I photograph frequently through glass, due to timing or weather.)


Their sign says why:


Breakfast in the hotel set the tone for the day: relaxed and very good. Sorry that the next photo is blurry. The poster was behind a wooden pillar in the hotel lobby, right next to the reception desk and hard to miss but also a little hard to photograph, especially because I was not quite awake. It advertises the Cast03-Thurso_3557 Ewe Ceilidh Band. The event is tonight, although I'm now in Shetland and won't be able to see what it's about. (Those who have caught any of my blog posts about our Border collie will know that her name is Ceilidh. It's pronounced KAY-lee.)

The ferry crossing was fairly short, and it was extremely windy out on the observation decks. Note the other passengers' elbows braced on the railing to keep a photo moderately steady. That's the Orkney island named Hoy.

04 ferry 3572

That pillar is the rock called the Old Man of Hoy, taken from inside the ferry:


The soft morning light disguised the Old Man a bit. To get a stunning photograph would require different timing and location.

Later, as we were pulling past Hoy, the conditions shifted.


Our arrival point on Orkney's Mainland was at the town of Stromness. (On this trip, there are mainlands in (1) Scotland, (2) Orkney, and (3) Shetland; they are all islands, although the Orkney and Shetland ones are more obviously so.)


It's a pretty place, which we zoomed through in the interest of getting settled over in Kirkwall, although we came back to Stromness later.


I'm taking a lot of photos through the car windshield (windscreen), and that reflection on the right side is a permit for parking.

I'll pick up a few of those later Stromness photos now, out of concern that I won't get back to them later.

There's lots of stone building (because stones are here and trees, for the most part, are not), and it tends to be a soft sandstone, so gets weathered. A lot of Stromness is being either refurbished or revised.


Looking down narrow passageways while walking along the main street reveals interesting vistas, large and small . . .



. . . leaving me with questions about who has created and who tends some of the unusual and charming combinations.

J. L. Broom, Bookseller, is a wonderful shop. It's small, but the selection has been made by a proprietor who loves books.


"Displayed face out" is, for the most part, not an option, because there are too many books. It's a browsing sort of store and spines are adequate. The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook was there, as was Donna Druchunas' Ethnic Knitting Discovery.


Some of the shelves added commentary.


That bit advises:

Turn unwanted hair into
Coats for the family

I saw books that I have read and like—a clue that others selected by the proprietor are likely to be interesting. Yes, I bought a book or two. . . .

The owner said that The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook is a regular seller (friends had spotted it in the window of the same shop last year) and referred us to the Northlight Studio, just up the street, as being owned by someone who had recommended it to him.


What another gem! This is Ros Bryant's personal studio, where she also teaches classes. On display were two exhibits, one of Ros's recent work (photo in a moment) and another of a group of small tapestries produced through a challenge called "Sea Journey," where each weaver took the same photograph as inspiration. The contributors came from a number of different countries. Some worked in parallel, meeting during the process, while others worked independently. The techniques and visions produced a collective show composed of purely individual creations.

Here's the introduction to the show:


Some more of the delightful pieces:


On a side table, several notebooks offered insights into the independent creative processes:


Another wall displayed some of Ros Bryant's own work from a recent series of explorations:


As someone who loves textiles, graphic design, words, letterforms, and calligraphy, I was most taken with the pairings of the pieces. And I didn't get a photo of the slate carving that I liked the best of all: yet I liked it best, perhaps, in the context of the others. I would love the whole wall of these. All. Together. To live with.

Also, the array of colors (working materials) along the shelf below tantalized.

We found an excellent lunch at Julia's, right across from where we'd arrived on the ferry from Kirkwall.


That corner of a yellow and blue sign is the readily recognizable indicator that delicious Orkney ice cream is available nearby.

And I was amused to note the font Papyrus engraved on the window, viewed, in this case, backwards.

One of the things I immediately appreciated about Ros Bryant's lettering is that it is informed by a well-grounded knowledge of letterforms and typography, and yet is not limited by any constraints that might come from that knowledge. Her work in the multiple media displayed (but did not in any way flaunt) a deep understanding of craft and the ability to launch from the foundations and produce fresh combinations and insights.

She's nice, too.

And has a splendid dog, Millie.


An excellent day becomes perfect when it includes a superb dog.



6 thoughts on “Thurso to Kirkwall (Scottish mainland to Orkney)”

  1. I had meant to ask you if you had met Ros! She used to live in Hebden Bridge, on a narrow boat. She took tapestry classes with Sue Lawty at the same time as I did, but she took it and ran a very long way with it……we have a little piece that she did of Hebden roofs and chimneys. I love the textile world and it’s connecting threads!

  2. Love the textiles in the gallery! It would be great to see them up close — lucky you! Carry on… it all sounds wonderful!

  3. Such familiar places, though I haven’t seen the Old Man for a while – we usually take the Pentalina crossing to the Hope. That bookshop is fabulous – I always get a few lovely books there.

  4. I am so envious, Deb! I have a “Sigurd the Mighty” in my Malcom III lineage and would so love to go to Orkney to research that part of me. 🙂
    Have fun and keep dry! I am loving your sharing your trip with those of us not lucky enough to be there!
    Hugs, Kathy & the Sheep Thrills Mob!

  5. I can hardly wait for the lecture presentation when you finally get home–Avenir, mayhap? Your posts rejuvenate me from there to here.
    So very glad you have found a series of excellent dogs to cheer your way. The A-team says WOOF!

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