Friday 29 July 2016

I Beg Your Pardon...Do You Garden?

Gunnie Moberg:Double exposure images made in the garden at Don. These ones date between 1996 -2003. The scans are made from Gunnie’s test prints.

We complain about the weather a lot on this blog and typical Orkney has provided plenty of grist for our grumpy mill this year with thunder, torrential rain, heat-waves and icy winds. Sometimes all in one morning.

The mood is definitely more Summery now though and we have had a lot of lovely days. We should probably do our gardens but we will probably just lie around eating twixes instead. (Other chocolate bars are available... like wispas....or snickers.... or, oooh, the yorkies with raison and biscuits in... mmmmmm)

It has been over a year now since Rebecca Marr left the Gunnie Moberg Archive but her lovely blog about the process of cataloguing the collection is still active and it is worth taking a look at this post on Gunnie's beautiful Stromness garden if you are feeling gardeny yet lazy.

You can look at Rebecca's own photographs here.

Sunday 17 July 2016


This article in the Guardian reminded me of this post from 2012.

I have just about recovered from the shock of discovering James and Bari's alarming depictions (what ARE they of???)  and my therapist thinks I'm about ready to look at the doodle again... here goes...



Friday 15 July 2016

Farewell Patsy!

Today is the sad day of our Bookbug coordinator Patsy's departure. Patsy has spent over a decade singing, dressing up and crafting with the babies and toddlers of Orkney and, more importantly, making fantastic homebakes for our tea room.

Join us in a weep as Patsy pulls on her spangly Christmas tree hat, grabs her broom, straps on her pirate pantaloons and sails off to pastures new...

We have added a cup of tea and a bun to this lovely pic of Patsy as everyone loves a cup of tea and a bun (RIGHT?) and she must be pretty thirsty after all that singing.

We'll miss you Patsy!

Thursday 14 July 2016

William P. L. Thomson

William P. L. Thomson, OBE, MA, M.Univ., Dip.Ed., FSA Scot.

It was with great sadness that we learned of Willie Thomson's death last week.

A former rector of Kirkwall Grammar School and greatly respected author of many books on Orkney's  history, Mr Thomson was a regular researcher here at the archive and we hold all of his works in the Orkney Room.

His books include The History of Orkney (1987) which was revised in 2001, The Little General and the Rousay Crofters (1981), Kelp-making in Orkney (1983), Orkney: Land and People (2008), and Orkney Crofters in Crisis (2013). There is a small display of these in the Orkney Room today.

We also hold some of his essays and lectures in the archive as well as a recorded interview which covers the kelp-making process.

We have turned to his tomes time and time again when answering enquiries on Orcadian history. Mr Thomson was always a pleasure to speak to and we will miss him very much.

His funeral is today.

Monday 11 July 2016

Orkney Ghostbuster

The re-boot of Ghostbusters opens today after months of outrage at the very idea that ladies with lady-parts are playing the four lead roles. What next? Ladies presenting prime-time shows like Strictly and Bake Off? Lady prime ministers?? Ladies on the actual street just walking around and stuff and saying things and not staying in the kitchen???

Now that's scary.

Ernest Walker Marwick, the wonderful collector of Orkney lore gathered together many examples of Orcadian ghost stories.

There is the story of the young lad in Copinsay who, when his parents were away took the opportunity to exhume a grave (AS YOU DO),known locally as the Reekiknowe, upon which a ghostly spectre begged him over three consecutive nights to 'bury me bones, bury me bones' with increasing intensity until the lad did so. (D31/3/4)

A miller and his family from Swanney all saw a huge, black dog bound across their floor and disappear under the bed. The next day the miller was found drowned at the shore and his cat drowned in the mill stream.  (D31/3/4)

Ernest Marwick was also told about the Swanney loch ghost which looked like 'a sheep standing on it's hind legs' and was seen running across the road and then disappearing. It was also described as a floating ball of white steam.( D31/1/5/14)

My favourite is the crying baby of Deerness who had been terrorising people by following them through the darkness for years. The child had apparently been illegitimate and had died unnamed. This was finally put a stop to when a local man shouted 'Hadd away wi' thee bare arse.' The child apparently disappeared, content to finally have a name. The name bare-arse. (D31/1/5/15)


Saturday 9 July 2016

Wimbledon Final. Calmly.

We are NOT going to get overexcited this time.

 Yes, Andy Murray is in the Wimbledon final tomorrow and yes, we may have gotten a touch over emotional about it in the past. There may have been heartfelt songs composed when we should have been working but we've got a hold on things this year and, with the help of a professional therapist, we shall watch tomorrow with an air of zen-like serenity.

Here are some Orcadian tennis players from the past to wish Muzza good luck:

'Good luck Andy!'
Good luck indeed beuy!

2,4,6,8, who do we appreciate? A,N,D,Y, tomorrow we'll be flying high!

Yoo hoo! Good luuuuck!

 Look into my eyes... no, not around the eyes, INTO my eyes. You SHALL win Wimbledon Andy, It will be...

Photographs taken from the Orkney Photographic archive and Orkney Archive Reference D70/9/10

Friday 1 July 2016

Orkney at War - Stanley Cursiter at the Somme

In July 1916 Stanley Cursiter spent a short time at the Somme. After many months of training for the 7th Scottish Rifles as a private, he was given three days leave, then... "a week later I was sitting in a front line trench on the Somme".

Stanley Cursiter
Archive Reference: L7959/3
"The unit I was sent to was the 1st Battalion of the Scottish Rifles - the Cameronians - which at that time was holding the extreme right flank of the British Army. The Battalion had suffered badly in an attack on the little village of Le Transloy, and had lost almost a quarter of its strength. In a final tour of the front line, the almost continuous rain, the mud of the Somme, and flooded trenches, took a severe toll in sickness. The Battalion was withdrawn to a back area between Amiens and Abbeville, where it could be re-built with drafts of recruits. It was at this stage that I went down with a bad attack of bronchitis and asthma."
Discharge Papers
Archive Reference: D26/1/1 A
Due to ill health Stanley Cursiter never went back to the front line, but "pleaded with the presiding doctors not to send me back to England". Instead with his aptitude for drawing and lithographic training, he was discharged from the Scottish Rifles on 22nd July 1916 and received a commission on the 24th July 1916 and promotion to Lieutenant to print maps at 4th Field Survey Battalion at 4th Army Headquarters. For this work he was mentioned twice in dispatches and received the OBE.

If you would like to know more about life in the trenches, we have a copy of "Twelve Days on the Somme" by Sidney Rogerson in the Orkney Room reference 941.09. Stanley Cursiter contributed a drawing of Camp 34, Trones Wood to this book.

Quotes taken from "Looking Back - a book of reminiscences" by Stanley Cursiter, published in 1974, Orkney Room reference 759.2 Y
Other information taken from "Who was Who in Orkney" by W.S. Hewison, published in 1998, Orkney Room reference 920 Y and other documents in Archive D26/1/1A.