Kirkwall at dawn

I’ve just woken up in a Viking city. A city which is only part of the UK, and not Norway, because King Christian of Denmark and Norway pawned the islands and then failed to pay the dowry for the wedding of his daughter to James III. The 50,000 florins remain unpaid since 1472 and the Islands remain part of the UK, still waiting patiently to be redeemed and collected from their rightful owners.

Kirkwall at dawn - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


If I were Norway, I’d pay up and redeem my property. If I were Orkney I’d let them. Norway has fabulous healthcare and pensions and spends vast sums of its national wealth on education. Jobs have good holidays, short hours and are bursting with family-friendly policies. Some Orcadians aren’t keen because it’s also £8 for a pint of beer. You can’t have everything.

This morning there’s a developing Mackerel sky over The Shore.

The Peedie Sea (peedie means small in Orkney), or the Peerie Sea (peerie means small in Shetland) as it appears on the town map, is looking grey and moody:

Kirkwall at dawn - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


Peerie and Peedie are both Old Norse words still in everyday use here. I remember the first time I was asked whether I’d like a peedie bag in a shop and my face of obvious incomprehension.

I can see the magnificent spire of the Viking-built St Magnus Cathedral between the twin smoke towers of the electricity generating plant:

Kirkwall at dawn - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


I think it looks a little better without them in the way.

Kirkwall at dawn - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


It’s such a glorious morning and a wonderful adventure to be here. I’ve almost forgotten about sleeping in the car.

Rain on my window
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