I can’t out in to words how delighted I was to be asked to return to the Orkney International Science Festival this year. I am developing a serious Orkney addiction. What is it about these islands off the North coast of Scotland that makes them so wonderful? I am not sure if I can find the words but the stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, friendly people, amazing music, fabulous myths and go getting attitude of the inhabitants must count towards it.
This year my friend Toni and I got to visit Stromness and I was impressed by the Pier Arts Centre with it’s collection of Hepworth sculptures and prints by Anish Kapoor. I know what you’re thinking Anish Kapoor has made prints? It is true I saw them with my own eyes!
One of the more geeky sights we took in was the Stromatolites at Yesnaby. It was a perfect day out for a Microbiologist and a Geologist. Stromatolites are the fossilised remains of bacterial mats that once flourished on the floor of shallow seas.
We took a late night trip to the Ring of Brodger and saw the green glow of the Northern Lights with the sound of geese honking on the lake in the background. Then it was off to The Reel for too many whiskeys and great live music from local musicians and Andy Munroe (also known as Mr Boom).
I managed to check out a potential new home on the beautiful sandy bay at Evie. It is a bit of a “doer upper”.
On the Saturday we took part in the family day at the Kings Street halls. The Family day is always bustling with lots of activities covering all sorts of topics from particle physics, bees, fair trade coffee to 3D printers. We had great fun and really enjoyed chatting to our participants about life in Orkney.
The we headed off to the island of Westray where we spent the day at the Junior High in Pierowall to make lanterns with the children there.
We got to check out the local wildlife too. We saw 23 seals on the beach, some one the beach and others frolicking in the water.
The following day we took the ferry to Stronsay where we made lanterns with all of the children in the school from P1 to S4. When I designed the Illuminating Geometry Workshop I wanted it to be a flexible as possible and I think we met the needs of all the different classes we saw that day.
We spent the last afternoon on the beach at Roithisholme, a beautiful sandy bay strewn with shells . Turquoise water lapped the shore with gentle waves and Toni and I swam until we were in danger of missing the ferry.
Unfortunately all good things come to and end and before we knew it, the time had come to get the ferry home.
I hope to see Orkney again next year.