EASTER DAY AT ST MAGNUS
I had been told how lovely the Cathedral of St Magnus in Kirkwall was, and thought how nice it would be to go to the Easter Day Communion there. I started off good and early, hoping to find somewhere to park so I could have an easy walk. Later in the day I intended to take a trip on one of the Orkney Ferry Boats so I could at least see some of the offshore islands, even if I didn't land on any, and to that end had telephoned the ferry offices to ask about times and trips, and also whereabouts I could park Thebus. They seemed very dubious about me parking at the harbour and suggested some carparks up by Tesco and Lidl, which they assured me were not far away, so I thought I could combine it with a restock of minced beef for Phoebe.
I found the Cathedral reasonably easily and the road was wide enough to park at the side without causing an obstruction, but the switch on the automatic door steps has been playing up which meant that the steps would not retract when parked up, and stayed out permanently. As Thebus is American designed they have thoughtfully put the door and step so they open onto the pavement rather than into the flow of traffic, but of course we drive on the other side of the road, so as soon as I tried to leave I could see there would be a problem, and there was not enough space to turn Thebus round and park on the other side.
I was not sure where the road ahead went, and whether I might get stuck at the top and not be able to turn round there either, but luckily a couple were just parking up nearby, which gave me a chance to ask them. They were visiting their grandchildren who lived in the house opposite, taking gifts of Easter Eggs and they thought Thebus looked great, but I explained I couldn’t let them in for a look round as I would then be a traffic hazard. The upshot was they said they would drive down to the carpark by Tesco which they said was only a short walk, I would follow, and then they could have a look round. They had a hankering to do what I was doing, but I think that as grandparents of young children they had too many home interests to allow it.
The walk back to the Cathedral was not too long, but mostly uphill, and so I had to take my time and I arrived about a quarter of an hour before the service was due to start. The Cathedral had much the same layout as those I am used to, and other than the row of (I think) Elders seated at the front who helped with the service there was very little difference, though the communion bread and wine was brought round to the seated congregation.
It was a lovely service, and the music and singing excellent. A wonderful way to spend an Easter morning. Part of the service was the baptism of a baby which added to the occasion, and they had a nice touch (for anyone interested in the the Christian church) in that as the start of the service a plain wooden cross was carried up in front of the choir as they processed up the aisle in full song, this was then taken behind the scenes, so to speak, and covered with spring flowers so when the choir and baptism party processed back out it preceded them giving a very joyful feel.
After the service was over there was coffee and biscuits with many of the congregation staying for a chat. The very pleasant lady who was seated in the row in front of me had moved to Orkney a while ago and now worshiped at the Church of Scotland, and had become an Elder herself. She dashed off to photograph the beautifully decorated cross as it was to be used as a greetings card to be sold in aid of funds for St Magnus.
Having my coffee I took the opportunity of a good look round St. Magnus and very beautiful it is indeed, with its warm red carved stone arches and pillars,
The decorated Easter Cross
which was then placed outside the Cathedral main door for all to enjoy
I had allowed myself plenty of time, which was a good job, though when I arrived I could see nowhere to sit and then I had a long time standing on the windy harbour front. Having walked down the pier and the length of the boat I was confronted with three sets of very steep steps up to the passenger deck. I nearly didn’t bother with the last lot as they looked extra steep, but when I saw the height of the storm water partition I needed to negotiate to reach the outside viewing deck I headed on up.
But having arrived at the very top I realised these boats are built for stormy weather. The windows were high up and caked in sea spray, and it was pretty stuffy, so back down the steps I went knowing that once the voyage had started I dare not tackle anything so steep and tricky.
With an effort I got over the bottom part of the hatchway and avoiding the bits of ship which seemed to be stashed there I settled on a slatted bench. I must say this trip was not the best of ideas. Fortunately the weather was fine otherwise I don't think there would have been anything to see at all, but having seen so many wonderful views of so many islands off Shetland it was not the most exciting three hours I have spent, plus by now it was around five'ish in the afernoon, and though the sun was still out its strength was failing plus the sea wind was chilly.
At the top of the south aisle was a large tomb. I have seen many carved marble memorials, some grandiose, some maudlin, and some saccharine sweet, but I don't think I have ever seen one so lovingly rendered and so lifelike. I knew nothing of John Rae, though it would seem it was he who discovered the existence of the North West Passage – not that his tomb commemorates any such thing or extols him in any way. It seems not even the artist who sculpted it is known, but what a delightful piece of work and wonderful memorial to a man who must have lived his life to the full. If you want to read more about him there is lots on the internet.
This is a link to a brief synopsis LINK TO JOHN RAE EXPLORER
Interior Views of St Magnus
just a few selected photos as there was so much beauty there
I had a good lunch in the clothes shop cum cafe opposite – fresh Orkney Crab Claws with a Spicy Mayonaisse, and Orkney Smoked Salmon Quiche and salad - then walked round the centre of Krikwall for a little.
John Rae's Tomb
Main Entrance to St. Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall
Newly Christened Baby
Finally I made it back down to the carpark where I did some restocking of our food provisions, mainly minced beef for Phoebe. My knees were feeling a bit tired by now and I wasn't relishing the walk down to the harbour, but I took a walking stick and thought if I went slowly I would be okay, and then there would be plenty of time to sit down when on the boat.
The walk was far longer than I thought, plus seeing the ferry boats I walked straight towards them and ended up on the wrong side of the pier, resulting in my have a long walk back up and then down again on the other side
Street in Kirkwall centre
Not only was traffic allowed down it
but parking was allowed as well!
The Cat that Looks Both Ways
Although it's narrow, and it's one way this cat takes no chances before stepping out, and looks both ways several times
Very wise with the speed that cars manage
to negotiate this very narrow road
I did meet and talk with some nice Orkney folk though. One lady was going back from her job in Kirwall to spend a few days with her parents on one of the outer isles, and then when we reached the farthest point and turned back a lady and dog came aboard, Apparently dogs are not allowed in the cabins, so rain or shine, winter or summer, she has to travel on the external viewing deck. She had been visiting her daughter and husband who lived on the islands, though she worked in Kirkwall and stayed during the week as it was too far and too expensive to travel back and forth each day. I could tell she was not from Orkney as asked where she had moved from and it was from Kentchuch in Herefordshire – my part the country.
The children on all of the islands, both here and in Shetland, have to leave home and become weekly boarders on the mainland once they reach secondary school age. I was chatting to a guy who was saying he had been a really picky eater as a child till he had to board, and there you ate what you were given and it you didn’t eat it there was nothing else. As he said, that stopped his fads – you had to eat to survive.
Fortunately for me when we arrived back at Kirkwall the lady with the dog offered me a lift back to Thebus. I think I would have made it through sheer determination, but I was really grateful that I didn’t have to.
We were not that far from Tingwall, so I decided to head on over, and all being well take the ferry to Rousay the next morning. As we drove over there the sea mists were falling over the hills in the sunset. Fascinating to see.
Fog rolling in over the Orkney hills