Monday, 13 September 2010

Bobby the Seal

Deciding to walk the dogs in really abysmal weather this afternoon (some wind, lots of rain, and very low very dark grey threatening clouds). I took them down to the sea at Birsay and walked along to Skiba Geo - a grassy path alongside low cliffs but with little access to beach or sea (trying to limit how messy the dogs could get).

On arriving at the small bay at Skiba Geo I noticed several seals behaving oddly, IMO. With a very deep and long swell several of the seals had their heads out of the water looking straight up at the clouds. This was about 4 out of 9. Obviously living on Orkney I've often noticed seals just off the beach, but generally looking around or watching my dogs. Star gazing or rather cloud gazing seemed somewhat unusual. By the way - what do you call a group of seals?

By far the largest very nearly had its shoulders out of the water. Bobbing around in a regular motion in the swell it suddenly reminded me of a "Roly Poly Clown" a younger cousin had one when I a very young kid myself. No matter how often you knocked it over it always rocked back upright with a ringing bell inside. It was very worn and had much of its paint either faded or rubbed off. I couldn't draw nor photograph the seals due to the weather conditions so I give you the "Roly Poly Clown" I have drawn upon my return to the warmth of home (image found on Internet, my memory isn't quite that good!)

So what were they up to?

a) Rocking about in the swell fully or half asleep?

b) Some normal seal behaviour I've not noticed before (I'm no expert)?

c) Just messing with my head? - my favorite option.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Please (don't) "Mind the Gap"

The idea was that the blog would keep me drawing -OPPS, Sorry. Work, health, employment tribunals, travel off the island, and helping Sue set her geophysical consultancy up and running all got in the way. Lets just call it "Life".
So time to start again. Having just been off the island for a couple of weeks doing survey work in Aberdeenshire (looking for a couple of 17th Century formal gardens) I give you a small corner of Castle Fraser, the first of two sites we worked on.

It was very nice, but equipment failures and poor results took the shine off a little bit. Unfortunately this was Sue's first contract as a self employed consultant. However, when the site was excavated the following week the poor results where explained - the gardens had been largely removed in the 1800's as part of landscaping for a "natural" parkland as was then the fashion. The actual castle can be seen below with Sue taking her turn at surveying, less a castle and more a fortified home, very like a French Chateau (turrets and conical tiling). All Scottish Baronial Gothic.

The following week was Fyvie Castle, much much grander and very nice and good results. They start digging there in about a weeks time, so "fingers crossed" that the results really have shown the gardens (and other features). Both properties belong to the National Trust for Scotland.
Regards the sketch in my small moleskine I cannot remember if it was my original intention but it's come out all "Grimm's Fairy Tales" looking - I like it! Don't often say that about my own stuff!