Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 24, 2008

If this is Tuesday it must be Orkney (pictures added)

[Click thumbnail images to see full-sized images.]

We are covering a lot of ground here and are in the rural areas with less Internet access, so my postings will be a mixup of time and space. We arrived late Monday on the ferry from northern Scotland (Gills Bay) to Orkney (St. Margaret’s Hope). Yesterday and today we’ve been on Orkney (actually an archipelago of islands). This place is loaded with history. Yesterday (Tuesday) we learned a bit about Orkney’s role in World Wars I and II. One little tidbit was a quonset hut turned into a beautiful little Italian Chapel Italian Chapelby Italian prisoners of war who were put here to construct causeways to protect British ships in the large bay (called the Scapa Flow) from German submarines. They were, unfortunately, closing the barn door to late, as the causeways were built in reaction to a German U-boat that snuck in past scuttled ships and sank a large British warship. The Italian Chapel itself is filled with optical illusions. What appear to be beautiful brick walls and intricately carved stonework is simply paint on flat walls. Very impressive!

The tour group took off in the afternoon to visit local artisans, but I took a break from the tour to wander around at my own pace. I spent an hour chatting with a native Orcadian in the 11th century cathedral here and became aware of the significant Norse influence here. This area did belong to the Norse at one time, but was given to the Scots as a dowry when the two countries were united by marriage. Just as many place names in California are of Spanish origin, many of the place names here are of Norse origin. The guide also told me of the connection between Orkney and the Hudson Bay Company, which employed many Orcadians.

I wandered around back streets and found a cafe habituated by locals, not tourists, where I had a cup of coffee and a mincemeat pie while writing a few more post cards. I was curious about the cafe’s name, the Pomona Cafe, as I lived for a time as a child in Claremont, which is next to the City of Pomona in California. She didn’t know what the name meant, explaining that she had only been here five months, having just come from Poland. I had heard a week or so ago that many of Britian’s new immigrants are from eastern Europe, particulary Poland, so this provided me personal evidence of the changes now taking place here. I did just look up Pomona and found out that my vague recollection of it being the name of a Greek or Roman goddess is correct. Appropriately for me, with my interest in agriculture, Pomona was the goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards. Which leads me to a big score for me in my quest here for urban agriculture…



  1. Bob, I’m enjoying reading about your adventures. Sounds like you’re having a great time! (Thanks for the etymological tidbit–it’s pomaceous. It sounded reasonable, knowing that pome is apple in Latin. Then think pomegranate.)

  2. I’d misplaced your blog link and just finally caught up! Your trip sounds absolutely delightful. If you’re still having trouble getting photos posted, give me an e-holler.

  3. Pomona is an old, incorrect name for Orkney.

  4. Fiona, thanks for the info. I love words; in fact, I’ve already made up a list of about 50 words and phrases that are slightly different here than at home.

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