Are you still there??
I can't put it off a minute longer, I'm back... and I have to say I have surprised myself by sticking to my 'NO INTERNET' sabbatical very rigorously. I have almost forgotten where the plugs are and how to switch my wireless keyboard back on and things.
I can see you have all been having a good time while I've been away and my huge thanks to Fran for those virtual chocolate brownies and to you all for your comments.
So finally we have all been to Orkney together, to that 'foreign' land so dear to the Tinker's heart and it's not hard to see why he loves it so dearly.
Our first sighting was in the distance, from Thurso as we headed for the ferry to take us to Stromness...
and I discover there is something inordinately exciting about heading towards an island by sea. The simple and obvious fact that it gets nearer and nearer, and clearer..
I remember the televised climb of the Old Man of Hoy back in the 1960s and took rather more pictures of it than I would ever need, but along with the cliffs at St John's Head it was all so majestic, I couldn't stop clicking.
We had chosen a place to stay from a distance, but with the help of google earth knew we had chosen well and would have a beach to walk along, and this is the view of the mountains of Hoy that we woke up to each day.
Going to sleep and waking up is of course another very extraordinary thing, because now I know exactly what the 'simmer dim' is, Orkney sufficiently far north that it barely gets dark and the perma-gloaming creates another landscape entirely.
Naturally I took enough books with me to last about two years and read hardly any of them. But I did read Findings by Kathleen Jamie, half a book about St Kilda on my Kindle, a bit of The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, The Orcadian newspaper, and dipped into an anthology of writing about Orkney. All perfect reading for an island holiday.
But very best of all I discovered the poetry of Stromness-born writer George Mackay Brown, more of which eventually except I just have to quote this...
A wife must be early at cheeseboard,
Beehive, spinning wheel, hearthstone,
Not dimpling daylong upon needles and coloured wools...
I did of course buy plenty of wool and will be doing a lot of daylong dimpling with it this summer.
We also did a great deal more before we had to make our own farewells to Stromness and I'll tell you about that too gradually, and in between the usual dovegreyreader things over the next few days and weeks.