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Orcadian Odyssey
Fri 24th Aug 2018 to Mon 27th Aug 2018
organised by Highland Scotland

Car Count : Unknown
[ show pre-run info ]

24TH -27TH AUGUST 2018

Charles and Gillian (A.C’s)
Alan and Lois
Derek and Eleanor
Douglas and Muriel
Bobby and Debbie
Robin and Nina
Jane and Jon (Organisers)

Day one started at 08.00 with a meet up at Sainsbury’s in Nairn (Robin and Nina, Derek and Eleanor) to cloudy but dry weather. Roofs down the 3 cars departed to meet up with up with Douglas and Muriel at the car park just North of the Kessock Bridge. It was then onwards and into increasing rain to Skiach Services where Charles and Gillian, Bobby and Debbie met up with us. The heavens promptly opened and roofs that were down were hastily put back up! As we headed North up the A9 the weather slowly, but surely began to improve, and so it was that by the time we passed the Nigg roundabout, we were able to reach back and drop our manual roof, much to the amusement of the ‘posh’ folk with the electric versions!
As the weather improved and the scenery passed we began to get that breakfast feeling. Luckily Jane had taken care of this by pre-booking all our breakfast orders for a great little cafe in Helmsdale, Thyme and Plaice. Here we met up with one of our far North members, Lois and her husband Alan. A very efficiently served breakfast later, it was roofs off for the blast up to Gills Bay and the Pentland Ferry. Boarding, for those who have not experienced this ferry is and education in how to play ‘Tetris’ with cars! The ferry is, to say the least a tight fit and cars are packed on at all angles. Passengers need to get out before cars are parked up as there is no room to get out after...what fun!
The crossing was smooth, trouble free and a great time for chat and to hand out the challenge for each person on the trip. This met with some laughs and a number of baffled faces. The game involved each person being given a secret phrase that they needed to slip into general conversation without being detected. They must then guess the phrases of each of the others and write these down on the form provided, in order to win a prize that money couldn’t buy...well o.k. it could be bought on Amazon..but hey ho....
Unloading a tightly packed ferry is actually far easier than you think and the cars were soon on their way to the first stop on the islands. Brave men cried, crying men faked laughter and some simply hid, as we drove across the wonderful Churchill Barriers to the place they call Sheila Fleet Jewellery! Here we were greeted in the car park by local MX-5 members Joy and John. A lovely couple and great to meet up with such northerly members of the club! As we walked into the wonderfully converted chapel, with an excellent cafe and even more stunning display of Sheila’s handmade jewellery it became apparent that no wallet would leave undamaged!! The group was subsequently split into two, to enable Sheila’s son Martin, to show us around the workshops, where we saw how only two crafts people are involved in turning silver into exquisite works of art.
To help us recover, we regrouped and enjoyed tea and cakes in the chapel before heading to Kirkwall and to check in to the very comfortable Shore Hotel. The Shore is situated right on the harbour front, with an excellent bar (x2) and very comfortable rooms. Dinner that night was pre-ordered (nice one Jane) at The Lucano Italian restaurant in Kirkwall. We had a great time there, before heading back to the hotel for a number of drinks! Cocktails Jane, Gillian, Debbie!! The boys made an attempt to damage a number of very good whiskies and before we knew it, it was time to hit the sack....having pre-ordered our breakfast, naturally!

Day broke with a mix of sunshine and showers. The morning, until 11.30 had been designated for shopping and sightseeing time, this was to allow folk to have some ‘personal and private’ time in which to seek out the parts of Kirkwall they wished to see. As the group began to meet up outside the front doors of The Shore.....the sun came planned!!
Roofs were dropped and the convoy set off along quiet, smooth, sweeping and spectacular roads towards Birsay and the Brough of Birsay. As the tide was out...all planned you know...the gang crossed the narrow causeway to the Brough of Birsay. Some, energetic folk, Lois, Alan, Douglas and Muriel climbed the brough to the lighthouse. The rest of us explored the beautiful beach in the warm sunshine.
It was then a short hop along the country roads to our lunch stop, the wonderful Orkney Brewery. This ‘large micro brewery’ is built in a former schoolhouse and owned by the Sinclair’, not our Sinclair’s, but Norman and Christine from the Cawdor not a lot of folk know that fact! We were taken on, and enjoyed an in-depth tour of the brewery before enjoying a fabulous lunch and even more fabulous beer! At this point I must say, the ladies of the HI-5’s excelled, by taking the wheels of said cars and driving the slightly merry men to down the coast to Skara Brae and Skaill House.
On arrival at Skara Brae we followed through the exhibition and enjoyed the film show...didn’t we Charles, Gillian!! Before walking round and inside a reconstruction of an Neolithic dwelling. That’s Neolithic Bobby!! Debbie found this easier than idea why? Having entertained the tour guide lady at the intriguing Skara Brae it was time for a walk up to, and round Skaill House, enjoying its beautiful rooms and intriguing history.
Then it was time for a cross country run back along some of Orkney’s best roads (Not that there are any poor ones) to The Shore and dinner at a nearby hotel, The Ayre Hotel. Again Jane had excelled herself by ensuring all meals were pre-booked and with her list of names to meals, we were all served and eating in no time. Full of excellent food we toddled back to The Shore to help reduce their whisky and gin stocks, before retiring to bed...quite late-ish!!

After the usual great Shore breakfast, we headed out at 09.30 to The Ring of Brodgar, where we met up with local MX-5 owners Stuart and Heidi. They walked and chatted with us as we circled the Ring of Brodgar taking in this mystical and magical site. It was then time for a quick blast across the island to the Italian Chapel. This is situated just off the first barrier and is on the site of a former Italian prisoner of war camp. The old nissen hut was converted with clever paint techniques during the war to look like an ornate chapel. Such a moving little visit. From here we decided to take in some natural scenery and drove the short way across the island to the Gloup! This is a natural fissure in the cliff, leading inland, where the sea rushes in through underground passages. On the cliff tops we took in the fresh air and warm breeze, before heading back, roofs still down, to lunch at the Sands Hotel. Lunch was again, pre-ordered to ensure ease of service and was enjoyed by all. As some folk were looking a little dry, it was time to head to one of our favourite visits.....the Highland Park Distillery. Now this is something others should learn from...give folk a wee dram during the usual short film....result!  As many folk were driving, their passengers enjoyed, shall we say, more whisky than they are used to at 3.00 in the afternoon! To say the tour and tasting was fun, is an understatement. Cars were ‘Parked’ up out side...see what I did there? Oh please yaself’s...and a great group shot or two taken, before the very short drive back to The Shore, to freshen up before dinner.
Pre dinner drinks in hand, it was time to look at those secret phrases and announce a winner.....the very hairy, Gillian Sinclair...see picture, she’s not hairy really...or is she? Dinner was excellent and enjoyed by all, before yet another gallant attempt to reduce whisky stocks in the bar. I feel we all gave it our best shot or two or three or more!!

All too soon it was 10.00 and we were saying goodbye to The Shore and its lovely staff team. We took a chance and got a great little picture on the barriers (you’re not supposed to stop on them), before arriving at St. Margaret’s Hope and the ferry. It was so nice to be met there by Joy and John, who had come to wave us off.  Told you they were lovely folk! Packed onto the ferry like MX-Sardines we enjoyed another smooth calm and sunny crossing, before arriving at Gills bay.
Another great, dry and sunny drive was had down the A9 for a  late lunch at La Mirage and then it was onto drop folk at Tain, Inverness and finally near Cawdor.

Orkney was and is epic in every way. The roads are smooth, quiet, flowing and beautiful. The scenery is amazing. The food was wonderful and the drink was .........taken in quite large amounts. Gillian, do they sell gin here?  The company was the best you could wish for. We were waved at, had our pictures taken and laughed so much Jane was in tears! Would we do it again, hell yes! With the same folk? In a heartbeat!
Thank you one and all for helping make this a trip to talk about for many years to come.
Jane & Jon Lane and, of course - Betty Blue.

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Your Comments
27th Aug 2018 19:06 :: Douglas and Muriel
A huge thank you to Jon and Jane for organising such a fantastic weekend. Everything was perfect. Thanks also to everyone for their company

1st Sep 2018 22:12 :: Gillian
Event report now posted.

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