Past Trips - Orkney 2003
Its about time that I learnt to keep my big gob shut. I only suggested that someone should be nominated or a name should be drawn from a hat on every dive trip to write a small report and everyone's finger Pointed to me. When they eventually agreed to pull the name from the hat, my name was on every piece of paper except one. No prizes for guessing. Doing the trip from Nuneaton to Scrabster via Bitteswell in one go is not the best preparation for a week long dive trip. Setting off at 5 a.m. having picked up my room mate and buddy for the week, Kevin Yeats, and landing in Scrabster some 12 hours later is knackering to say the least.
Landing in Stromness, we were amazed to see more people than you get at Lutterworth market on a Thursday morning. Apparently the famous Cameron from Big Brother had arrived on the earlier ferry with Nigel and Ian and he was having a welcome home party. Unfortunately we did not see him (Nigel got his autograph) but we did see his mother so that was good. ??
Anyway, after piling all of our gear into the boat, some of us downed our first couple of pints of 80 shilling of the week.
DAY 1. SUNDAY. SCAPA FLOW.
As we dived in Scapa Flow, we are having to drink in 'Flatties Bar' tonight, which is O.K. and they do sell a fine pint of 80 shilling but we have been here before and I like to try new and different places. A local drunk seemed to take a shine to Carl. He tried chatting him up in the toilet and splashed his feet at the urinal. Carl swore to wear shoes for the rest of the holiday when visiting the local hostelries.
DAY 2. MONDAY. WESTRAY.
Today's pub was about a mile away from the harbour. Why the hell they had to build them so far apart God knows, ridiculous. Carl, Nick and myself set off for the shop and were kindly offered a lift by a kindly local. He obviously did not speak a word of English because he dropped us off at the pub. Anyway, as we had a couple of minutes to spare Nick suggested that we try the beer so that we could let the others know whether it was worth venturing out tonight or not.
I have to say it was not bad at all and I am beginning to get a taste for it. The walk to the pub, after dinner, was a long one; it was throwing it down in typical Orkney fashion and we all got soaked. It would have been better if they had had a log fire burning to dry ourselves by but Carl was afraid to ask them to light it. We were joined tonight by Nigel (of course), Ian, Janet, Robin and Fran. I had no idea that Janet could knock the Scotch back like that. The walk back took a little longer. The weather had cleared up and a small version of the Northern Lights were on display - wonderful.
DAY 3. TUESDAY. STRONSAY.
Today was Martin's birthday so after singing 'happy Birthday' and eating all of his cake (Ian ate most of it and had the fire extinguisher ready, there were that many candles) we all hit the pub and showed the locals how not to play pool.I have never seen anyone play as badly as Fran. She may be a very bright woman but her hand/eye co-ordination is crap; the white ball shot off at right angles from the cue every time. Jon Brewis played a few good shots but he kept going for SPOTS even though he was on stripes. Anyway a good night was had by all and Janet knocked back a few more Whiskies. Even Carl and Nick have got the taste for it now. Thank goodness this pub was a little closer than last nights, but it did not open until 6p.m. Crazy. I thought pubs in Scotland were open all day. However they did buy a bucket full of scallops off us (that I de-shelled almost single hand) so we let them off. Janet wanted to spend it on Whisky but the rest of us decided that it should go in the food kitty.Just a word of warning if any of you visit the shop at Stronsay in the future. After going through the first door, the entrance to the shop is then the second on the left, not the first, as Nigel found out having walked straight into someone's living room and had to beat a hasty and embarrassing retreat.
DAY 4. WEDNESDAY. SCAPA.
Today we harboured in a place called Scapa. God knows where they got that name. After dinner we booked a couple of taxis because some serious shopping had to be done, oh yes and we had to find a pub. Jon, Nigel, Kevin and myself set off first so that we could do the shopping for tomorrow's feasts and then made our way to Boffeys Bar. Some of us decided to give the 80 shilling a miss tonight and try the Dark Island and I can really recommend it. It isn't as heavy as it looks and has a nice sweet nutty taste to it. A few tried to have a look around the town for another bar, got lost and ended up back with us in Boffeys. My philosophy is that if you find a decent beer and pub, stick with them. You can waste valuable drinking time wandering the streets and by the way some of them were dressed there was also a danger that they might have been arrested for vagrancy.The taxi drive back was a real white-knuckle ride. How we did not end up in the water I don't know. The driver took bends at 80mph and the straights at 10 mph. Good job we had downed a few.
DAY5. THURSDAY. STROMNESS.
Well at last it arrived. The day that everyone was looking forward to, when Kevin and myself took the ladle. The look of relief on everyone's faces was a pleasure to see. After four days of mediocrity, at last they were about to taste some real quality cooking that could grace the tables in any top West End restaurant. I know that we may have gone overboard with the cost, having spent a little over ?5 (judging by some of the other poultry dishes I think their budget was 50p), but it was worth it. We made sure that everyone got plenty of vitamins because, to be frank, they were beginning to look a little scurvy by now.
Although I did most of the preparation and cooking, credit has to be given to Kevin for staying out of the way most of the time. He was far too big for the galley and to be honest, a bit clumsy too. However he did a good job fetching and carrying for me. The major problem when cooking for so many people is overcoming their dietary requirements.
Janet cannot eat anything containing wheat
Jon is dairy free
Mary is Vegetarian
Carl and Nick would only drink Camp Coffee
But these problems were overcome quite easily; we ignored them and gave them everything. Someone informed me today that they saw Mary and Martin sneaking out of their room carrying an empty can of Tip Top and a few minutes later were in the shower. Janet and Robin were also making some strange noises in their room (this might explain Robins bad back, from which he had to abstain from a days diving). I do hope this is not a trend that is creeping in to dive trips, especially by senior members of the club. Some of us had left our loved ones behind and that should be respected. Or maybe it was just the sumptuous feast that had given them that bit of extra energy. Tonight was back in Flatties bar. A few more pints of 80 shilling. An amazing coincidence occurred tonight. Carl and myself had been discussing weightlessness whilst diving and I told him of a blind gentleman I had met in Goa some seven years earlier that went diving just to experience the feeling of weightlessness himself. About half an hour or so later that very man walked into Flatties Bar. I was absolutely gob smacked to say the least. Carl thought it was a put up job, but I can assure you that he was as surprised to see me as I was him. We spent the rest of the night talking about our holiday in Goa and his exploits since, of which he is writing a book, more of that later.
DAY 6. FRIDAY. STROMNESS.
The second dive of the day was literally blown out, so we ended back in Stromness at lunchtime. That old alchy, Nigel, suggested we go for a drink. I reluctantly agreed, only to keep him company and upright. As we were walking towards Flatties, a banner was unfurled announcing a 'BEER FESTIVAL.' I have never seen anyone move so fast.Ian, Carl and Nick joined us; Derek, my friend from Goa, was already there.That evening we all, including Derek, ate at the Royal Hotel and I have to say it was nowhere near as good as the feast I had prepared the evening before, but at least Kevin didn't have any washing up to do. After the meal Janet, Nick and Carl knocked back a few more Whiskies before Janet staggered down the road towards the boat being held up by Robin. Carl and Nick had another couple of Whiskies back in Flatties bar and Nigel and myself enjoyed our last pint of 80 shilling of the holiday. I then went back to the Royal Hotel to say goodbye to Derek. I must say this was an excellent holiday. The Big Brother programme makers would be far better off sticking a few hidden cameras on a boat like this for a week. It would make far more entertaining viewing.
Oh. Did I mention that the diving was excellent too?
(For obvious reasons)
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Tuesday 28 January 2020
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