A Scapa Surprise….Something About A Bear…. An Orkney Vole!....

by Bernie Bell - 07:45 on 21 March 2023

A Scapa Surprise…

We’ve been to Scapa Bay many times and usually park by the Harbour’s Authority building - which we did, last Sunday.  Usually, we walk along the beach a short way to the left, get stopped by rocks and the sea, and walk back along the sweep of the Bay to the waterfall by the Scapa distillery…..


Sunday the 19th March, and the equinoxial tide was right out, farther out than we’ve ever seen it. We walked to the left, and actually got as far as the pier – I like the symmetry of the boats…..


‘Unauthorised Personnel’ aren’t allowed on the pier, so we walked round behind the house and onto the next bit of beach….

We’d never been there before – all the years we’ve lived here and all the times we’ve walked at Scapa - we’d never carried on that far, due to the tide being in near the pier.

Thanks to the far-out tide, we found ourselves on a very different kind of shore to the rest of the Bay.  Lots of Interesting, colourful stones – banded and stripy….

Stones with faces in them….


A lump pf concrete had become a shore-line water feature……

Back along the sandy beach - walking near the sea – making the most of being able to walk so far out on the beach, and the different perspective that gives to the surrounding area. 

We encountered a dog digging a hole and turning up Sand eels, which her owner was rescuing and putting back in the sea. That shows how far down the beach we were - Sand eels in the sand – good to see –  as the dog’s owner said, they are “A valuable commodity” these days.  Many of the sea birds depend on them,  climate change and warmer water means that the Sand eels are moving North, and the birds don’t get enough to eat.

We then came across an old advertising sign, looking strange in that situation…..

Does anyone remember the advertising jingle…”Rimmel, Rimmel - beauty on a budget tray.”?  I’m afraid I do!  I is well-old.


And “All at 1/3”  - I’ll interpret for young persons – that’s one shilling and threepence!

Right along the Bay to below the waterfall by the distillery, with the tide starting to come in, but we were still far out enough to get a pic from further back than usual….

We noticed that the folk at the distillery have put a grass roof on one part of the building, which is A GOOD THING.


Walking back to the car we saw that someone had raised a little cairn as a memorial…..

It’s right on the edge of the cliff, so will probably go into the sea in the next winter storms.  The folk who built it will have realised that, and we wondered if part of their remembering was in the getting together to build the cairn, plant the bulbs and flowers and position shells and small stones in among the bigger stones.

As with the monument builders of the past, the process may have mattered as much as the end result.  Maybe.

We went up on the path to the cairn, read the plaque which has been placed there, and gave some thought to the woman named there-on, who loved the place, and must have been loved for folk to go and build her a cairn.

I’m put in mind of the Standing Stone to Ronnie & Morgan Simison by the Eagle Cairn, South Ronaldsay….


That will probably last longer, but I feel that the impulse to raise the two memorials is similar.



We wondered what the distillery structure with the grass roof is…and now we know… https://theorkneynews.scot/2023/03/23/the-scapa-noust-a-new-addition-to-orkney/

This looks most excellent.  I like the idea of the special whisky – but at £185 a bottle – I don't think we'll be getting one!


Something About A Bear…..

From Emergence magazine…..

"Valemon the Bear
Myth in the Age of the Anthropocene

An Emergence Magazine Production
Featuring Martin Shaw

Is it naive to say that the world as we know it won’t end if we keep telling stories? Maybe not, if we reconsider the kinds of stories we tell. Ancient stories, myths, old tales—these kinds of stories hold something powerful. Call it bone memory, call it the deep, primordial part of ourselves, call it the voice that gossips with the wild, across species and across time. If we listen, we hear it calling. If we listen, we find ourselves deep in the forest, where a large white bear holds something we all desire. What journey lies ahead if we follow our deepest longing?

Walking in the company of the trees and rocky cliffs of Point Reyes National Seashore, mythologist Martin Shaw summons one such ancient story, of a wild daughter who falls in love with a bear. With a vivid oral telling, hand-drawn imagery, and short film vignettes, this multimedia feature takes us on a confounding and perilous journey that invites us back into call-and-response with the more-than-human world."



And I thought of Jackie Morris' big white bear on last year's 'Help Musicians' Christmas cards......

"This years are now available…..  https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/get-involved/christmas-cards  and ours have arrived…….I like to see it as Iorek Byrnison leading the way… https://www.goodreads.com/characters/1156-iorek-byrnison "


An Orkney Vole!....

Neighbour-man Steve was tidying up his garden, preparing for the coming of Spring – a good thing to do at the Equinox!  When he noticed a little Orkney Vole watching him.  It was un-concerned about his presence - just, watching him - so he took a pic, sent it to me…here it is….

Always good to see an Orkney Vole!


Here’s one I made earlier…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/05/07/life-times/



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