I woke to gales and horizontal rain. Wrapped up and bleary eyed I braved the weather and caught the bus to Stromness where I was going to set up the project as part of the Stromness Spirit of the Sea Festival.
The festival was opened with some beautiful music from Barluath and despite the weather a fair number of people were enticed into the billowing marquee outside a coffee shop on the pier by the sound of pipes and Gaelic singing.
I sat and worked on the Selkie cloak as I listened to the music and chatted to visitors about my project and their experiences on Orkney. One man I spoke to, Paul on holiday from North Yorkshire, told me of his delight at seeing the seals on the beach each morning as he walked his dogs and how he had begun to say hello to them. Another visitor, a lady from Sweden, asked about the project and was extremely interested in the Selkie stories and their similarities to Scandinavian water myths. The afternoon held more interesting encounters in the form of A Good Blether at the Waterfront Gallery. Where elderly Orcadians from some of the retirement homes in Stromness came for a chat and a cup of tea and reminisced about their experiences. There were so many great stories told, from the illegal stills and breweries in peoples cellars to the mass whale stranding in the 50’s. There was also the promise of emails and more detailed chats from some of the people I met so I hope to collect several more stories in the next few days.
Tomorrow I look forward to meeting the seals on the beach and even more interesting people.