Friday, 11 November 2016

I Am Stranded on North Ronaldsay . . Or Am I?

Friday 11th November Fresh to Very strong SE-E

Sunny intervals, Heavy rain in the evening, cold 7C

The ferry timetable on the Orkney Ferries website states the ferry to Kirkwall will leave North Ronaldsay at 11:00 a.m. I feel relaxed as I pack the bike and clean the hostel. It is time for me to start the long cycle south. Time to go home.
Everything is done. The kitchen, bedroom and bathroom are all clean and the bike is as heavy as ever with the four panniers full, the tent and sleeping bag beneath The Lads and Ophelia the Orca.
I come out of the hostel.
Where's the ferry? I saw it in harbour ten minutes ago.
It has gone!
The time is 10:20 a.m. and it has gone.
I rush around to see that it is half way across the bay to Papa Westray. I am stuck on North Ronaldsay!
I rush into the Bird Observatory and check with Larissa and Samuel on the internet.
11:00 a.m. - that's what Orkney Ferries website states. No notice of any changes on the company's home page. Two weeks ago the Friday ferry here was postponed until Saturday due to the weather. That was displayed on the home page. No such changes displayed this time.
Not too happily, actually I am rather cross (!), I phone the main office.
The first lady who answers soon passes me on to another colleague. The next one does the same. The next one asks for my telephone number and says that she will ring back after consulting someone else.
By now it is ten to 11 and thinking that I will be here for another week on North Ronaldsay, I go with Larissa and Samuel to the World War Memorial about a mile away to pay respects. Remembrance Day, 11th of the 11th at 11.


Larissa reads a poem out by John McCrae after we observe the two minutes silence.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,


That mark our place; and in the sky


The larks, still bravely singing, fly


Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,


Loved and were loved, and now we lie


In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw


The torch; be yours to hold it high.


If ye break faith with us who die


We shall not sleep, though poppies grow


In Flanders fields.


A phone call from Orkney Ferries. They are sending the ferry back to fetch me. I can't believe it!
Twenty minutes later after a mad dash back to the Observatory to collect everything, I am on the ferry waving goodbye to Alison, Kevin, Larissa and Samuel. Kirkwall here I come.

Thank you Orkney Ferries. I hope you will put my suggestion on your home page in capitals:-

IF YOU SEE THE BOAT IN THE HARBOUR, GET ON IT!




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