I flew to Kirkwall on Mainland, Orkney for a meeting of zooarchaeologists including a working group who work on marine shells. I was picked up from the small airport by Sonia and Terry, driven to our temporary home for the next 9 days and a cassoulet from scratch cooked by Rosemary. It is good to be reconstituted as a group of baby boomers who make it our business to send at least one week a year under the roof of a large house with a big table and a room which we can adapt to function as a lab. Our Orkney pad is hardly large. It represents an economy of living but provides adequate accommodation and a useful utility room where Bas and I can do our mucky processing of shore collectings. And a kitchen table large enough to cluster round when we are eating and otherwise occupied.
Despite atrocious weather Bas and I decided to do a bit of shelling so Sonia dropped us of at Taing of the Clett for us to work the shore and see what we might find in the way of shells cast up and living molluscs. We walked along an ebbing tide with narrow foreshore of flattish slates and slabs. Our species list was meagre with no amazing finds. We continued along to a small headland then continued along the upper shore grassy bank, passing Kirkwall airport on our left until we reached a small bay with some sands. By this time we decided that we had had enough fresh air! We walked along a road and up a small hill leading away from the beach whilst I searched intermittently for a mobile phone signal so we could summon our personal taxi. Eventually I managed to get through to Sonia who came to pick us up. We sorted through the few shells we had collected in order to make a site species list then hunkered down for the rest of the day.
In the evening there was to be a wine reception after Terry’s Plenary lecture on the subject of Islands. We ate an early Supper at The Shore. After the lecture we were entertained by three young sibling Orcadians on stringed instruments whilst we sampled a selection of Orkney cheeses on oatcakes with a glass or two.