Saturday 26 January 2013

Dear Rest of The World, Is it Tea-time yet?

Orkney is completely connected and global nowadays. We have internet-shopping, the UHI, hats, everything; but this was not always the case.

Reading copies of the John O'Groats Journal, a Caithness paper, from the 1850s highlights how remote the Northern Isles used to be. The news updates from Orkney and Shetland are very occasional, the regularity of the mail service to the isles is referred to as 'a joke' and on the 18th of July 1851, the Stromness correspondent asked WHAT THE TIME WAS...

Friday 18 January 2013

Sheeply Disturbing

As a lily-livered, city-bred Sooth-moother, I found these photographs of sheep shearing really disturbing when I found them today:

But not as distubing as this:

Aaaaggghhhhh! And look at THIS!:


Quick! Look at this:


And this:


Images taken from the Orkney Photographic Archive:
Sheep shearing at Grain farm
Unidentified sheep shearing photo.
Two headed sheep.
Pat Cooper's monkey, 1927
D. Gorn's bee-hives in 1932.

Wednesday 16 January 2013


Regular readers of this blog may have received the impression that it is merely an excuse for us to write about the celebrity-flavoured nonsense which fills our tiny, malformed brains and to complain incessantly about the weather.

This impression would be mostly correct but it turns out that we have been helping people too! People have found things of interest upon this site and have then contacted us for further information and/or copies!

True, we generally don't answer any of their calls or emails as we are too busy dancing to this, but it feels good to be useful.

This blogpost led to a delighted relation of the servant being indentured getting in touch and receiving a copy of her ancestor's apprenticeship documents. Hooray!

Friday 11 January 2013

The Fereday Project

It is that time of year again. Again.

Every January the second year pupils of Orkney's two secondary schools complete a local-history themed project and often come here (HERE!) to research them. We cannot help but feel that this seasonal influx of new users, although very welcome, clashes badly with our desire to curl up on the ground behind the counter eating left over Christmas sweets and waiting for Spring.

Be gentle with us children for we grow older each year. Any time you are not in here being young, free and thirsty for knowledge we gently embrace each other whilst swaying along to this and feeding each other chocolates:

Thursday 3 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all our lovely followers. I hope you all had a great holiday full of laughter, singing and parties.

Talking of singing, here is a link to The Big Orkney Song Project's version of the New Year Song. Every year we have a little bit more information about this song, which was once sung throughout Orkney on New Year's Eve.

And this year all the details, words and music can be found in a book & CD which was published in 2012. It's called "Voices in Chorus Songs and their stories from The Big Orkney Song Project" by Sarah Jane Gibbon. In this book you'll also find lots of information about other Orkney songs which the project gathered from our archive collection and the Orkney community.

"the men of a district travelled around the houses performing the song. An older man led the singing, the other men joined in the chorus, and one man carried a caisie (creel) on his back in which to gather food and drink. The bounty was shared out at the last house visited, where the men held a party."

The book can be purchased here: