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Birsay, Orkney

The parish and village of Birsay lies at the northwestern end of the mainland of Orkney.

Just off the mainland is the Brough of Birsay. Brough means island:-

Brough of Birsay, Orkney

A causeway allows access to the island at low tide. You can just see the causeway under the water’s surface to the middle left of the photo. The island has a Stevenson lighthouse on it.

Rocks and a standing stone at Birsay:-

Rocks at Birsay, Orkney

More rocks and a small bay at Birsay:-

Rocks and Bay at Birsay, Orkney

The remains of the Palace of a notoriously harsh Earl of Orkney are the main attraction in Birsay itself.

From road in:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, from Road in.

Reverse view:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney

Interior 1:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney Interior 1

Interior 2:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, Interior 2

Interior 3:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, Interior 3

We did wander round the graveyard of St Magnus Church, and took a walk down to the beach behind it.

Ahoy, Hoy!

Ahoy-hoy was the suggestion of the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell for the greeting people should use when answering the telephone. I couldn’t avoid thinking of it as we approached the island of Hoy across Scapa Flow on the ferry crossing from the terminal at Houton to Lyness.

Hoy from ferry:-

Hoy from Ferry across Scapa Flow)

Approaching Lyness:-

Approaching Hoy from Ferry across Scapa Flow

Plaque at Lyness Ferry Terminal commemorating the salvaging of ships from the scuttled German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow. Apparently the metal from the ships found use in the space programme as it was uncontaminated by radioactive fallout:-

Plaque at Lyness Ferry Terminal, Hoy, Orkney

Old Fortified Building on Hoy seen from Lyness Naval Cemetery. This must have been to do with either or both of the World Wars:-

Old Fortified Building on Hoy

The Hoy Hotel. Art Deco/Moderne style. We met an Australian photographing the building. He had come to Hoy as that was his surname:-

The Hoy Hotel, Hoy, Orkney

Photo in the Lyness Naval Museum of the Garrison Theatre, Hoy, built by the Royal Marines. Now no more except for the foyer:-

Lost Art Deco on Hoy

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney (i)

The first day we visited Kirkwall, Orkney’s biggest town, was quite rainy, which was why we chose to go there as we hoped to be able to nip in and out of shops as necessary.

St Magnus Cathedral, Britain’s most northerly, was built in memory of St Magnus and to hold his relics.

It dominates the skyline of Kirkwall and is impressive from close up:-

St Magnus Cathedral

This angle shows Kirkwall’s War Memorial arch to the left:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Cathedral from churchyard behind:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, from Churchyard

Cathedral side door:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Side Door

The interior is also impressive, monumental but somehow on a human scale.

Ceiling and window behind altar:-

Ceiling, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Stained glass window above main entrance:-

Stained Glass Window, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House is Orkney’s biggest mansion house. It overlooks the Bay of Skaill and in its grounds were discovered the remains of the neolithic village of Skara Brae (see earlier posts.) Since the ticket for Skara Brae also conferred entry to the house we had a look round.

Skaill House from path from Skara Brae:-

Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House Entrance:-

Skaill House Entrance

Skaill House, cartouche above entrance:-

Skaill House Cartouche Above Entrance

Skaill House Library:-

Skaill House Library

Skaill House Library circular window. This is the window you can see in the rightmost part of the house in the first photograph above:-

Skaill House Library Circular Window

Skaill House Library, books:-

Skaill House Library, Books

Skaill House, framed crest and flags. The flag and naval ensign surmounting crest of Imperial Germany:-

Skaill House Framed Crest and Flags

Skaill House Armada Chest. Many of the ships from the Spanish Armada made their way up round the top of Great Britain (and Orkney) and were wrecked. Some settled in Orkney:-

Skaill House Armada Chest

On one of his voyages Captain Cook’s ship landed at Stromness, and he was entertained at Skaill House. His dinner service from the Resolution was acquired later by the house and can be seen in the press (cupboard) to the left in the photo below:-

Skaill House Captain Cook's Dinner Service

One of the house’s past owners had a model of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, built for him and it sits behind glass in a bedroom:-

Skaill House Model of Saint Magnus Cathedral

A son of the house was involved in the British intervention in Russia after the second Revolution of 1917. Photographs and other memorabilia:-

Skaill House Memorabilia of Russia

Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Skara Brae (see previous posts) lies beside the Bay of Skaill which has a lovely scenic beach.

Beach from Skara Brae:-

Beach at Bay o' Skaill, Orkney,  from Skara Brae

Panorama of bay and beach:-

Bay of Skaill, Orkney, Beach Panorama

There was a colouration difference under the water here:-

Beach at Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along the beach we spotted a fairly picturesque ruined building, perhaps once a croft:-

Ruin near Skara Brae

The abandoned agricultural equipment in foreground bolsters that assumption:-

House Ruin, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along still we found this fantastic rock formation, layers on layers of sediment:-

Rock Formation, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

You can see the slabs lying in the foreground. Lots of buildings in Orkney seemed to be made from slabs of stone like this.


Honfleur is in many ways a quaint old town. I liked the contrast with this old (and, to me, Spanish looking) building at the corner of the harbour and the yellow motor bike:-

Old Building, Honfleur

We found this fantastic iron gate (one of a pair obviously) at a side alley:-

Ornate Iron Gates, Honfleur, Normandy, France

The side alley:-

Side Alley, Honfleur

A typical narrow street:-

Typical Narrow Street, Honfleur

But there were some open spaces:-

Tree-lined Square, Honfleur

And it wouldn’t have been complete without a touch of old France. A Clochemerle style outside toilet. (The grey hut behind is an inside toilet):-


Honfleur, Normandy, France

The final stop on our cruise trip last year was the fishing village of Honfleur in Normandy, France; across the River Seine from Le Havre.

This is a panorama from the ship’s berth on the River Seine.

Honfleur and Port Tower from Ship's Berth

At the extreme right above is one of those modern buildings we seemed to encounter at nearly every port. View from dock:-

Port Tower, Honfleur

View from town side of tower:-

Honfleur, Port Tower from Town Side

Honfleur itself is a delightful village in the old style. Panorama of harbour from the direction of the River Seine:-

Honfleur Harbour

Honfleur harbour from the town:-

Honfleur Harbour From the Town

Harbour buildings:-

Honfleur Harbour, Buildings

Honfleur Harbourside


The first four were in Brug Square.

Judging by the flags this first is a local authority building:-

Second square

This seems to be the Provost House:-

Second square

Two aspects of the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Hard to photograph without other tourists in the shot:-

Second square

Second square

St Salvator’s. Impossible to get in one shot from nearby street level:-

St Salvatore

St Salvator's Bruges

An old almshouse:-

Old Almshouse, Bruges

Statue of painter Jan van Eyck:-

Jan van Eyck Statue, Bruges

Art Deco in Bruges

There isn’t much Art Deco in the centre of Bruges, of course, but in the approach to Smedenpoort we saw this. Good rounded balconies and column, porthole windows:-

Art Deco Style, Bruges

And that building to the left has an interesting feature – a gold figure of a seated man:-

Gold Seated Man, Bruges

This one was a bit nearer to Smedenpoort. Rounded balcony, pillar, rule of three in windows, projecting canopy:-

Bruges, Art Deco Style Again

This doorway was striking:-

Art Deco Door, Bruges

I photographed this pair on the way back to the car. Note canopy over central bay on the one to the left:-

Art Deco, Bruges

It had a good doorway too:-

Another Deco Door, Bruges

And that greyer one had strong banding and a projection from its roofline. Pity its eyes have been “poked out”:-

Art Deco in Bruges


For our trip to Belgium and the Netherlands we took the ferry from Hull across to Zeebrugge.

At Hull we got onto the ship, examined the cabin, no room to have a cat never mind swing one, then went up on deck.

Hull was surprisingly green but with some industry too.

Over the dockside rooftops I spotted what I thought might be a football ground with what appeared to be the word KCom on a stand. Was it the KCom stadium, the home of Hull City AFC (and Hull FC, one of the city’s two big Rugby League clubs) I wondered? But it looked too small.

It turns out that it was KCom I had spotted but it was KCom Craven Park, the home of the other Rugby League club, Hull Kingston Rovers.

KCom Craven Park

KCom Craven Park 2

In this zoom shot the end S of “Rovers” can be seen on the far stand’s seats.

KCom Craven Park 3

Some modern architecture in Hull:-

Building, Hull

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