I wake to a darkened room. Thick stone walls hold a silence. I have slept well and think I will be comfortable here. It is Monday 30th October, my first day in my Stromness cottage.
I will develop a routine. Writing on waking, Radio Orkney at seven thirty while exercising, more writing and then emerge into the day around eleven to explore. My evenings can be times of writing up my journals and of stitching. I need to make a list of things I want to explore, tasks to do.
Check Lonely planet sight advice
Add Orkney photos to web site
Select Tags to use for this blog then add them! Read the tag advice
Read article, blogging a book
List craft groups reading groups and writing groups etc in a diary form
Complete writing group tasks
I want to go gather shells and buy plants to live outside my door. My first priority when I arrived here yesterday was to clear the haphazard collection of rusty iron, rock, rotted rubbish, pieces of pipe, gutter, nails, wood, fishing float, slate, old mat and weeds that embraced it all. I have sorted, weeded, cleared and made my ginnel good. Ninety minutes of clearing. Now I can enter with comfort rather than feeling a sense of neglect.
Heaving loads of seaweed back out from my slip into the harbour made me realise I am located in a small basin that has gathered and holds weed. I think at the top of a receding tide one day I may go into the water and push the weed out, encourage it to drift away. Now my slip is clear, I will be able to judge the tide, see where it reaches, read my weed water mark.
The sloping brick entry to the water is uneven, slippery and steep. Beneath mounds of weed and jumping louse, I found a solid peg and single link of chain, took thick rope I had pulled from the weed and attached it to the link. Should I need assistance getting in or out of the water it is now there, perhaps needs lengthening but is a start. I daydream that when out walking I will scour beaches for drift-rope. I would like to attach thick rope such as was at Fishing Cove in Cornwall, for that final giant drop.
Many days have passed since I recorded my thoughts. It is not because I have had none nor that I have not done things worthy of note but that I have been in the company of others. I tried but found myself dumb.
A rumble stirs me, it is the first sound I have heard outside of my body, beyond the incessant ringing sound of my usual silence. It is as though my tinnitus has found natural acoustics and increased its volume as the silence has grown. Without thought, I know the rumble to be the Hamnavoe starting her main engines and look to the time, six ten am. I think I will hear this low rumble each morning if I am awake. I know this from last afternoon when clearing, the ferry fires her main engines well before she departs. There will be a sharp horn at some point before she goes and tannoy instructions once underway.
I sense that I like living in a working harbour, at least for now I do. The sound of the giant ferry was less intrusive yesterday afternoon than the extractor fan next door. When she finally departed, I was still left with other engine noises. All is well. Should I want emptyness and peace I think I could return to Shapinsay. Maybe Shetland in January, Shapinsay February but no, I do not think I am dog safe.
Back to my list for the day,
Set radio alarm for 7.30 Radio Orkney each morning
Phone Audi about the vacuum noise. It occurs to me I might make a recording of the noise and send it. But of course I write about the noise yet you do not know my latest car saga.
I left Shapinsay on an earlier ferry than planned, the winds were gale force and whilst not of a level to threaten the ferry nevertheless enough for me to elicit mild panic and catch the earlier boat. I transgressed ferry rules, there have rarely been any cars when I have travelled as a foot passenger and I have not booked on for today. They tell me they must move the ferry closer. I half think they are teasing me and as I wait a land rover reverses behind me and then another car beside me. I find others’sense of humour difficult to judge.
I do not see the ferry move closer but when invited to do so, I will reverse on. The gradient feels a little alarming but it is only short. I must first reverse down the slipway then up on to the ferry. The car does not let me down, it is smooth and easy. the other vehicles follow.
We pull away. I see a light house with surprise, did not realise Shapinsay had a lighthouse, am disappointed and wonder how I could have missed it but I discover it is Helier Holm, not Shapinsay. I do recall seeing waves breaking over what appeared to be a causeway when I arrived, a strip of land connected to Shapinsay, nearly a causeway but not quite passable, waves broke over and over it.
Many times I forget the words I want to say. I sneeze and a shiver runs through my body and remains, holding a tingling sense of impending cold. This cold will not develop, I told it to depart two days ago and it did. There is no room for a cold here with me. My sneezes continue.
Laine and Clive welcomed me into their house and it felt as though I could have known her for years. We chattered amiably about swimming and life. Cats, maybe four, doors with cat locks, hooks at the very top so they don’t make their way into kitchen and bedrooms. Largely these cats ignore me.
Write reference for Thelma, talk about the isolation.
I want to do some exercises. This is good, I want to set myself a routine. Nobody can see into my living room unless they are passing by on a boat. I feel safe here, can exercise in here quite happily. My allotted exercise time is seven thirty, I may be early today.
Listen again, Tuesday Nine pm radio four,
I need to put that date in my diary, they are talking about exploding head syndrome. I can no longer recall the sequence of events but remember I was lying in bed, not yet sleeping, when my head exploded. I waited a while before establishing that I was in fact whole and ok, nothing untoward had happened and nothing more seemed to be happening. I wondered if it had been an aneurism and googled ‘my head just exploded’, I matched the description, no need for alarm. Later, I tried to discuss it with my doctor but she dismissed me as talking nonsense. I did not persist.
Pool and gym membership
I made a discard pile as I unpacked yesterday. Without my bike, my big bag of bike clothes, shoes, helmet, lights are all redundant. No longer here for working, I may leave them behind when I return to Norwich at Christmas. The same goes for the new smart clothes I bought for the job.
Perhaps I might return here and then on to Shetland from here when I have to leave in February, perhaps I might stay in Stromness longer than I thought. I will see how things develop. For now my old journals still sit in my car, I decided not to bring them in last night, too much to carry and no ready home for them, my first task will be to sort and label them.
Shopping list, bleach, sticky labels
Registering my address, Tesco’s, bank, library
Get my applications in for my islander card and my ADS.