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  • Writer's pictureAlistair Stewart

Chapter 5 - Orkney - A Real Love Island (part 1)

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

If you've been following my Instagram stories you'll know that I've just come back from a week in Orkney. With Kelly back at University and having a placement up on the island I thought I'd pop up and spend some time there with her.

On the journey home I reflected on my time there and decided to make a list (who doesn't love a list!) of the top 10 things I learned in Orkney so I thought I'd share it with the world.

The list was a tad longer than I expected so I've decided to split it into two parts. Here we go...

1. I Like Ferries

The first of my mini discoveries was how much I enjoyed the ferry. It had been years since I’d last set foot on one but the second I did I was emerged back to childhood memories of holidays gone past and the little rush of excitement of an upcoming adventure. Once we were sailing I couldn’t resist venturing onto the outer deck and look in awe as I was surrounded by nothing but miles of vast sea.

2. Orkney isn’t Just Fields and Hills

When Kelly first mentioned Orkney to me I envisioned a vast open area of pure greenery. I’m glad to report I was wrong. Whilst there are elements of this (just try saying anything other than “oh it’s very nice” in regards to the views) there is so much more to discover. The town of Kirkwall - with it's centrepiece St Magnus Cathedral - collects a plethora of shops with one personal standout being ‘Grooves’ a fun shop that plays hosts to numerous gifts/music/movies and pop culture memorabilia. If that isn’t enough it also connects to a lovely coffee shop with so much food and drink options you’ll need to return more than. If town life isn’t you thing then there’s some must visit historic points – this brings me on nicely to the next point.

3. History and Pondering

The historic points over Orkney really caught me surprise. Not only do they fascinate but they also engage your brain and spur on some interesting talks of theories. We visited three key sites – The Standing Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae and Maeshowe. Each are full of history but perhaps more interestingly to me they all offer food for thought over what their use was. They’re all steeped in theories of what their use was in the Stone Age. We know Skara Brae was a Neolithic settlement – but why did they leave? The standing stones of Stenness – what were their purpose? Maeshow – a chambered tomb but why is it situated prominently between standing stone sites and in perfect alignment of the sunset in the winter solstice? Questions with no concrete answers. Lets the mind ponder. I like pondering.

4. You Can’t Have a Bad Meal

The food. Oh the food. There’s a lack of photos of this for a reason – I’m permanently hungry and don’t have time to snap pics of my food. So many food highlights on this trip – from fresh pizza to the best egg sandwiches. Again I’ll link below for these places but the definite highlights had to be the little humble chip shop/Chinese (yes it was both making a hard choice of what to eat even more difficult) Willows Takeaway. A small ‘Fish and Chips’ sign illuminates next to what looks to be someone's house – you take a side path down and where you expect to see a garden you’re welcomed with a little chip bar usually packed with people. Honestly the best fish and chips I can recall having in a long time. I’m not ashamed to admit I visited here three times in one week. Worth it. Also I can highly recommend Birsay Bay Tearoom for an excellent afternoon tea and Evidale Bakehouse and Bistro for freshly made mouth watering pizza.

5. Good Times Are Better with Those You Love

I’ve been fortunate enough to have many good experiences in my life. But for some reason all these experiences are enhanced when I’m with Kelly. Okay things become good and good things become great. We’re not a hard to please couple – give us some easy watching telly, food and our cats and we’re pretty content. So whilst Kelly was away for her first week I continued this routine but it wasn’t quite the same. It’s strange how you become accustom to somebody being around and enhancing your life and when they go you feel a little lost. Like any great love story we were soon reunited in Orkney and we soon felt content again. Having someone to share these experiences with is just super special and in it's simplest term just becomes more fun. I felt right at home on the humble island not just because the AirBnBs were excellent but because I was with Kelly. The trip allowed me to confirm something about relationships or at least my own – it really all boils down to friendship and good banter. If you can laugh at each other, feel comfortable with each other and snack together until you can’t move – you’re onto a winner.

BOSH! Part 1 done. What excitement awaits in Part 2...? Stay tuned and find out!

Until next time


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