Kirkwall is the capital of the Orkneys and has around 9,000 residents. It was founded by the Vikings in 1035 exactly, apparently. This was the only early start on the whole cruise and dressed and on the quayside by 9.30 doesn’t sound that early, but it definitely feels it. Our guide and driver, Brian and Brian, were very knowledgeable and plied us with information all the way to Skara Brae. Brian the guide then showed us around and was still quite knowledgeable, although hampered by having to answer “No one knows” to some of the questions! Skara Brae was found by a landowner and the second part of the tour was a visit to the big house, but Dad and I decided to give it a miss and head back to the shop/toilet/cafe instead, via the reconstruction of what a complete Skara Brae house would have been like to go inside. I was bent almost double to get through the entrance passage. Dad cheated and went around and met me at the other doorway! People we spoke to later said they wished they had skipped the big house as well, as they had no time for shopping or hot chocolate, both of which they felt they very much needed!
We were, I might add, pretty drenched by this time. Although the drizzle was a mere mizzle to start, it got steadily heavier as the tour progressed, and the wind picked up too, so by the time we made it into the visitor centre after our tour, we were fairly sodden. We dried out a bit and attacked the shop with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I had accidentally left my wallet in the coach, which meant Dad had to pay. Oops. Then we were taken on a tour of two sets of standing stones, which together with a barrow we didn’t have time for, make up the four parts of the UNESCO World Heritage Site here, with Skara Brae forming the backbone, obviously. Possibly the best preserved Neolithic village in the world is deserving of some kudos.
We got back to the ship bang on time and went up for a hasty bite to eat before heading into town again. Mum joined us after her excursion and we went down the (spot the theme of the cruise) one shopping street in the town (Albert Street, in case you’re ever here). I realised when I got to the till in Boots that I had euros on me, not sterling! Oops again.
My cheeks are tingling. I think I have a little wind burn again. It definitely ain’t sunburn today. Yesterday it might have been, but even when it stopped raining here (which, to be fair, it did, a few times), the wind kept going full pelt. Like I said before, humans choose to live in some really stupid places. It might be very pleasant when the sun shines and the wind drops, but, then again. I liked it, because I’m a fan of little towns, but Mum and Dad have developed a passionate dislike of the wind, so this was not a good day for them!
Am definitely in need of a sea day tomorrow. I’m pretty pooped, and think the parents are too.