Stormy Weather & What It Produced…..Eday……

by Bernie Bell - 07:40 on 03 October 2022

Stormy Weather & What It Produced…

Friday the 30th of September, and the weather was vile – dreich doesn’t even cover it, and dreich usually is just right as a word for a certain kind of weather.   Orkney was caught by some kind of outlier of the storm that hit Florida - thrashing rain  - howling wind – dreadful. We were very grateful for our warm, dry little house.   Some rain came down the chimney of the stove and made a little pool – but that was all.  Cleared up a bit towards evening in time for Mike to go out for our Friday Chippy Tea!

On Saturday Mike went up in the loft to check that the roof tiles were OK and there hadn’t been any leaks – all was well.  I remembered stashing some bits & piece from the past up there, and asked him to see if there was anything of interest.  He found Student Union Handbooks and Rag Mags from 1974-76 – a real  blast from the past, and chiming nicely with reading Ian Marchant’s book…


I’ve sent them to old friends from those days who might like to have them - including the Editor of the Rag Mags – who now writes historical novels! 


Mike also found a cardboard tube with paintings by Ziggy (aka Dave Ives).  I’d forgotten that I have them, and they are v. good.  I lost track of Ziggy ( he played guitar – geddit?) and have no idea of his whereabouts – what’s the use of a blog if not to put things ‘out there‘ - so, if by some strange chance any reader of this knows the whereabouts of Ziggy – played guitar – groovy artist – doing Geography for one year at Lampeter in 1974/5 then realised that that was not his destiny and went to Maidstone Art College – please either let me know or let him know and he can have his paintings.

One thing in particular which I had forgotten about was that he illustrated a story that I’d written, and the illustrations were among my stash in the attic.  They are perfect – fit the story just right.

So I thought I’d post the story here, with Ziggy’s illustrations………


By Bernie Bell

Once upon a time, there was a tree.  She was young, slim and fresh and was growing up in a forest.  The trees around her were terribly grown up and austere.  They were very settled, sombre and, in a way, serene.  They tended to watch over the little tree.

In appearance they were mostly tall and grey and sprucy – but beautiful – as sometimes they seemed to have a grey mist under them - sometimes silver, sometimes green, and sometimes an early morning dancy, shimmery scattering of dew – not cobwebs.

Because, you see, though they were so very grown-up and superior they still had a sense of fun which sparkled out at times if you caught them in the right mood, at the right time.  For, you see, they were complete in character, each had their own definite spirit who lived in them and had done so for a long time.

And in the midst of these stood our tree.

Now, I’d better describe her more fully.  She was only little, not at all sprucy, more birchy, a slim, silvery stem – I know that’s wrong, but you could hardly call it a trunk – crowned by a mass of shivery, shimmering, nervous little leaves.  She fluttered continually, at the least bit of wind, and always seemed to be chattering, indeed, she seemed like a pretty silly little tree at times.  But the other trees loved her as they knew why and the cause of her restless nature.  She didn’t have a spirit.  As yet no spirit had come to live in her - which was strange, as she was a very attractive proposition! but she was a stray seed.  Her appearance gave it away and the sprucy spirits who wandered about that part of the world - though they liked her, as she was a loveable, amiable little thing, couldn’t really settle in her.  A few tried but it just didn’t work - they couldn’t fit into her or settle with her.  They’d stay for a time, but then they’d have to leave.  She’d understand and thank them for helping her for a while, and they always went away with fond feelings for her.  No bitterness on either side.

But with each one, the tree became a little sadder.  When each one came, she would feel happy for a time and think this was the one, her spirit, yet really, she knew, all the time.  Then, when they left, she went down, each time, a bit farther.

This caused some concern among the other trees.  They watched over their little charge, and were distressed to see her former innocent freshness slowly fade.  She didn’t flutter as much, hardly chattered at all, and would stand for hours, silent.

There was a pause.  No spirits came to her for quite some time.  Many of the wandering spirits would stop by to see her on their travels.  She had many friends among them, but none attempted to enter into her, as she was no longer open.  She was becoming inaccessible, they knew not to try.  So, what was to become of our little tree?  The others could do nothing but watch as, after all, it was her life, her spirit.

One morning, a sun-risey, clear-bluey, cloud-shifty, fresh-breezy kind of morning, the other trees shook themselves awake with a clattering of cones and a rustle and bustle, stretching, stretching – right out to their twiggy finger-tips- to find………A spirit in the tree.  She was just standing there in her own clearing, with them.  Very quiet, but somehow very self-possessed, very sure, quietly confident.  This one was here to stay, but – what was he? the others wondered – was he good?  bad? indifferent? jolly? sombre?  Most important, would he be good for her? Whatever he was, he was here to stay – he was her spirit.

I don’t know how to finish this.  I have an idea of this spirit being strong, tremendously strong; of the little tree growing, with the spirit inside her, forcing her way upwards and outwards, ’til she shadows the forest and covers the other trees which had protected her – but in a hard, fierce kind of way, not watching over the forest in a benevolent, motherly, caring way, but in a brooding, malefic way, with POWER as her centre and her life.  Though, not hers, as she ceases to exist and is merely a vessel, a container for this spirit.  And so she lives, or rather, dies.  The spirit, which was a stray spirit as she was a stray seed, and it’s tree, live, brooding……..

But…..I don’t want to end it like that, but then again, somehow, I don’t want an insipid ending of…….”So the tree and the spirit lived happily ever after.”
Though, when a stray spirit, finds a stray seed, they should do, shouldn’t they?


Our neighbour also checked his loft after the storm, where he found what looked like a bale of hay.  He hadn’t been up there since he moved in.  He contacted the previous owner who said she’d never been up there either - it could have been there for over 20 years!  He presumed that, when the loft insulation was done the people doing it must have just plonked the bale of hay back on top of the insulation.

But – what’s the story behind it in the first place?   It’s a house - not a byre - and a bale of hay in your loft looks to me like asking for mouse trouble!


Mystery solved ...email from neighbour....

"I noticed Starlings/Sparrows nesting under the ridge tiles.  Previous owner says they have been doing it for many years.

So this lunch time I bought some wood to lay across the rafters to crawl along with the intention of removing the bale.

On closer inspection it appears that there is a hole in the roofing felt directly above the "bale" with straw/hay sticking out and hanging down into the loft space.

So I think that over 11 years ( if the insulation was laid in 2011) straw has been falling down and building up in a big pile which from the safety of the roof hatch looked like a bale of hay ....in fact it was straw!  

I removed it and it is now in the compost ..... complete with feathers and a few broken egg shells! 

It was very loose and very dry which I suppose is a good thing but as it gently fell over the years it was big but very light and fluffy..... took four trips up and down to remove.

Oh well mystery solved but suppose now I need to think about repairing the roof felt and trying to stop the nesting!"

A tale...of a 'bale'....deduction worthy of Sherlock Holmes!

And...it should make good compost.


To sign…or not to sign?  That is the question.

I did….. https://www.change.org/p/no-to-the-neven-point-wind-farm-on-eday

I know folk who live in Eday, and I know that they definitely do not want this project to go ahead (I hesitate to use the word development – as – it isn’t!).  I’ll quote an exchange with my friend who lives there…

Resident of Eday…..“Whilst very much in favour of renewables, I'm ambivalent about wind turbines. My heart is in favour but my head has learned some worrying effects, environmental and health. And then there's the size, these ones are huuuggge!  Eday will be a little attachment to the bottom of 6 or 8 giant turbines. Going to their PR session on Thursday, see what the future prospects may be.....”

Me…….“I was thinking….Eday is important archaeologically - especially now it’s part of the ‘Tomb Trail’.  It might be worth bringing that into the discussion as a lot of folk come to Orkney because of the archaeology.  The archaeologists won’t be too keen on the wind turbine plans.”

Eday resident…..”Yes, they make me laugh and not with amusement, suggesting the turbines could boost tourism....  Never mind that the small number of people who visit are attracted by the tranquillity,  wildness and amazing archaeology, sense of timelessness. Not to come and gasp at giant turbines. I will gather my facts, feelings and rational arguments together and put in my halfpenny worth.” 

‘Nuff said.


A set of three that I made earlier…….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/10/07/the-old-kirks-of-orkney-part-one/





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