|Three reasons I know Stromness was pleased to see me
||[Aug. 1st, 2013|06:17 pm]
Our almost-week in Stromness has flown by; tomorrow we leave our home in the Khyber Pass and take the plane from Kirkwall to North Ronaldsay. But here's what I wrote soon after we arrived:
- The sun was shining
- Every other shop window was decorated wih a tribute to John Rae, who is, as I have said before, one of my heroes.
- A month or so ago, looking for something else, I stumbled over the fact that the bicentenary of Rae's birth falls in September this year, and muttered to myself that despite the passion of the media for commemmorating annversaries, this one looked likely to pass unnoticed. But not in Stromness, where the museum has expanded its habitual display about him into a mini-exhibition, where there is talk of erecting a statue and where the shop windows carry displays ranging from the seriously educational (the pharmacist's display of the historical medical and navigational aids relevant to Rae's service as a doctor for the Hudson Bay Company) to the cheerfully minimalist (the whitewashed window inscribed 'John Rae in a BLIZZARD in Stromness in summer 1833')
- They had laid on a parade to greet us.
- We had managed to arrive for the culmination of Stromness Shopping week, whatever that is, and were in time for the parade of floats. While we waited for the show, we listened to the band, Genuine Draft, working their way with gusto and some nifty fiddle playing, through an eclectic repertoire: their first three numbers were Dirty Old Town, the Eagles' Take it Easy and "an old Country song" which turned out to be On the Bayou.
The parade was another glorious mixture: there was a pipe band - in fact, two - a squad of purple robed Vikings, small children labelled 'William' and 'Kate' with a pushchair containing 'George', and elaborate floats making complex allusions to the misdeeds of Northlink ('Nolink') ferries. Later there were fireworks*, but we didn't stay for that - we came home and cooked pasta with the smoked mussels we'd bought at the Farmers'Market in Kirkwall that morning.
*ETA: in fact there weren't. This morning's Orcadian reports that the fireworks were cancelled because of the mist - so it's as well we didn't wait up.
The folk festival had a wonderful show based on the life and times of John Rae. Amazing man. There's a fun exhibition in the museum too. Northlink almost managed to screw that up too as the ferry broke down, but Pentland took up a good bit of the slack.
Shopping week started out many years back as a way of getting folks to shop in Stromness and simply turned into a lot of fun for the locals.
That,s what the NoLink float was about!
Aye, I can imagine. Orkney folk are pretty fed up with Northlink at the moment! Pentland must wish they had another cat!
Yes, I heard about the folk festival show, and was sorry to have missed it - but we wanted to come in the summer to see the dig at the Ness, so we couldn't have come for the folk festival too.
Been following the Ness dig online- we went out to Brodgar in June when things were still shut down. It seems they're already having to re write the findings yet again in light of what they've already found.
Archaeologists give historians such as I be hours of innocent amusement! :o)
They may have bits of the show on the festival website.
Edited at 2013-08-03 08:40 am (UTC)