Thursday 09th April 2020,
Frontiers Magazine

Browsing the "Stories from the Islands" Category

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Kill or cure

A late spring can bring feelings of malaise and tiredness. One of the tonics common to Orkney last century involved catching snails late at night, when they have a quiet feed, suspending them on a string in front of the fire, and catching the oil in a cup. Snails were used for other remedies. They [...]

June 30, 2019 Christine Muir Stories from the Islands, Summer Issue 2019 Comments Off
North Ronaldsay seals

Seal song

Every morning when I get up early and look out at the sea from the upstairs window, I see more than two hundred seals in the bay. They turn somersaults, lie on their backs in the water, flapping a lazy flipper, or bob up suddenly, whiskers dripping, like a rather pompous elderly gentleman taking an [...]

June 13, 2018 Christine Muir Stories from the Islands Comments Off

A day in the life of an Orkney Yole

In Stromness, where I grew up, the yole was used for fishing and for pleasure trips but in my grandparents’ island, Graemsay, it was also the main mode of transport. There had been a South Isles steamer for many years but Graemsay had no pier. The Hoy Head would lie off Hoy High lighthouse while [...]

July 9, 2016 Len Wilson Stories from the Islands Comments Off

Ball lightning

The Hessdalen phenomenon of hovering and flashing balls of light is fascinating, especially as there now seems to be far more serious worldwide research into what used to be widely regarded with scepticism, and connected to the realms of UFOs and SciFi. What is particularly interesting to me is that the Hessdalen lights do not [...]

June 7, 2016 Christine Muir Stories from the Islands Comments Off
Nora Thomson and Robbie Mowatt alongside the blockship Rotherford in Burra Sound

Fishing in Graemsay: Lythes, sillocks and cuithes

Through the 20th century the only commercial fishery in Graemsay was lobster, along with the occasional halibut or skate. In the main, whitefish and partan (edible crab) were for the table. The following is from my personal memory, from about 1944, when I spent much of my annual summer holiday round Windywaas and Garson and [...]

March 18, 2016 Len Wilson Stories from the Islands Comments Off
Fishermen landing at Rackwick

Fishing in Graemsay: Mackerel lines and lobster creels

The mackerel is a migratory fish that appears round Graemsay waters in July and August. It was only eaten when very fresh and the remainder were kept for creel bait. They feed on sand eels and one of the most prolific fishing grounds is the appropriately named Sand Eel, a shallow sandy area a short [...]

March 17, 2016 Len Wilson Stories from the Islands Comments Off

The Orkney Yole

Till well into the 1960s the yole played a major part in the lives and livelihood of most Orcadians. No pictures or examples go back beyond the late nineteenth century but we know from references in old papers that it had its beginnings long before that. We know that 200 years ago the young John [...]

March 11, 2015 Len Wilson Stories from the Islands, Summer Issue 2017 Comments Off

The luxury of simplicity

There were no additives in the food eaten in the island at the turn of the century. Many families had a pig or two, and there was fresh pork to roast, fry or boil, and bones to make into porky soup, with the dark green cabbage grown in circular, walled gardens near the shore, and [...]

May 21, 2014 Christine Muir Stories from the Islands Comments Off

A time to spin

We have had someone staying with us for a fortnight, who wanted to learn to spin, so the spinning wheels came into the kitchen again, along with the lazy kate, and the reel, and a sack of fleece, as well as a pile of newspapers to tease the wool on. You need room to collect [...]

February 17, 2014 Christine Muir Stories from the Islands Comments Off

Trying out sea buckthorn in North Ronaldsay

Description Sea Buckthorn is a deciduous fruit-bearing shrub which can grow up to 10 metres high in parts of the world but usually grows to around 2 to 4 metres high in Europe. The plant has green silvery leaves which are narrow and situated alternately along the wooden thorny branches. The male plant produces brownish [...]

June 24, 2013 Louis Craigie Stories from the Islands 0