September 11 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

The Orkney Club, Harbour Street, Kirkwall

“Only those can know it intimately who do something on it,” wrote Robert Rendall in Orkney Shore, “harvest tangles, catch fish, gather whelks, study nature, or even comb the beach for driftwood.” Dr Tom Rendall explores the many delights of the book while Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon reads from the writing of her grandmother Bessie Skea.

James’s woodpile at Birsay became something of a legend. It had been gathered over the years from almost daily combing of the beach and though a strictly private possession it had a general interest for everyone who saw it, local or visitor. For he not only added to it planks and hatchcovers, driftwood and other kindling, but all sorts of flotsam and jetsam: lost gear from fishing vessels, bits of iron and scrap, wicker baskets, lumps of yellow wax, fish-boxes, bottles and fragments of rope – anything that could be made use of in his simple yet richly variegated way of life. “Jeemie’s woodpile” was a forum, too, for local gossip at the end of the day, and there was always a plank laid handy so that the parliamentarians could sit down and lean against the pile while they discussed the doings of the day.

– Robert Rendall, Island Shore

We hunted shells in small sandy coves, between rock-ridges running out from the Breckness shore. Here lay rayed limpets, lined with mother-of-pearl; when I was peedie, we called these ‘lady shells’. I found a limpet with a high dome, and many little tortoise-shell limpets ridged in various sea-wet colours. There were top shells, our ‘silver Willies’, whelks, bright yellow and banded winkles. A dark slab of stone was pock-marked with the holes left by rock-borers.

– Bessie Skea, ‘A Field Day at Wharebeth’ from Island Journeys

Numbers limited: advance booking recommended.



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