Some of the most memorable points of a holiday are the little things. I didn’t really see much of the The Weigh Inn Motel last night, but I woke to a beautiful sunny morning, and after having a shower and shave I sought out the dining room. The Weigh Inn was rebuilt in 2000 after a fire gutted most of the original building. It has traditional Scottish decor and charming Scottish staff.
The large dining room has a wonderful panoramic view facing north towards Scrabster Harbour, where I could see the 9.30 ferry weighing anchor to make the first round trip of the day. I would be on the next one at 1.15pm.
Breakfast was not a ‘self service’ affair. There was a wide choice from the menu, including, of course, the traditional Scottish, which included Cattle Cake, Black Pudding and Haggis. As I was expecting a fry-up from my B&B over the next 5 days I decided to go for the smoked haddock with two perfectly cooked poached eggs.
The toast arrived hot, and the pats of butter had not just come out of the freezer.
Life was good.
I took a taxi to the harbour to check-in, but was too early. I found a nearby cafe and sat on the raised decking balcony overlooking the small fishing harbour, and had another coffee and read my book for a while.
At the ferry check-in it seemed strange showing my passport, but it was only to verify by age, as I had claimed a discount on the ticket. (yes, I am over 60, I can’t believe it either).
The ferry was large and modern, with a spacious lounge bar, shops, restaurant and viewing decks. I would have happily stayed in the lounge reading for the duration, but the highlight of the hour and half journey was passing the famed ‘Old Man of Hoy’.
This is a tall formation of ragged rock which, when viewed from side-on, has the appearance of a man’s head. (or women’s if you think, old hag)
Stromness, again, is picture-postcard material. Fishing boats, sea gulls, centuries old stone houses, harbour cafes and, something you cannot get from a postcard, the smell of fish.
I took a taxi the short distance to my B&B, only because of my slightly heavy suitcase, otherwise, as I discovered later, it is only a 15 minute walk. Tom and Kate who run the B&B are very nice and very down-to-earth hosts. Tom looks as if he has been at sea all his life with his rugged tanned face and white huffy beard. The room is very Laura Ashley, and is comfortable.
After unpacking, and a siesta, (can’t get out of that habit) I planned to take the bus into to town, but Tom immediately stopped what he was doing and drove me there. Here’s hospitality!
By now it was early evening and the light was as magical as it had been the previous evening. I took dozens of photos of fishing boats and sailing boats, going out to catch the end of the day’s fine weather.
One of the customs I like about Spain is that their shops are open until late. Here of course everything is now closed, but I can’t help thinking this custom would work in tourist towns like Stromness.
After circumnavigating the town, which did not take too long, I visited the Stromness Hotel – the largest and most famous one on the Island – in search of a beer and an evening meal. The two ‘likely lads’ behind the bar were very engaging. One of them had visited Stromness last year on holiday, from Manchester, and never went home. He realised the pace of life in Manchester was not for him anymore, and from one so young, that was very refreshing
I may have mentioned one of the highlights I was looking forward to was the annual Beer Festival, held at the aforementioned hotel. I was informed this evening that it had been cancelled, as they are hosting a ball for 150 policeman (and I assume partners) from all over the country. Oh well, there’s always next year. . .
Tomorrow I join a tour party for a full days outing of the most famous and interesting sites the Island has to offer, so expect a full report. The weather forecast however is not promising, but as I told you, I came prepared.