Holiday People - the Road to Orkney

Like most of us when I’m on a holiday or a break or just a walk I take pictures and mostly they are of the places I visit. So shortly before we set off on our trip to Orkney in May/June 2022 I thought I’d shoot some different pictures. This time I thought it would be interesting to shoot some of the people we interacted with on our trip. I didn’t want to allow it to dominate the holiday so I decided to only ask those we had had a good conversation with. It turned out to be very rewarding and over the nearly three weeks of the trip only one person declined and that was in Scotland not on Orkney where one of the best things about the islands is the people.

Rob co-owner at Hartfell House Hotel and Limetree Restaurant, Moffat

#1 Rob - Moffat

We were still unprepared to fly and the train took 18 hours just to get to Thurso with a ferry trip still to go. So I planned a drive with two stops on the way and Moffat where I had stopped once before on the way to Inverness 40 years ago seemed a good first day trip leaving two shorter days before the ferry. And Hartfell House turned out to be a great choice. Rob and his wife were very welcoming and the food was fantastic. When we returned on the way back South Rob had trimmed his beard right down but I caught him in his full hipster version.

Lorraine at the shop at Branklyn Gardens, Perth.

#2 Lorraine - Perth

One of the advantages of driving was seeing lots of Scotland and choosing some places for stops. One of the best was Branklyn Gardens a National Trust Scotland property. A small but beautiful garden that used to be a family home. We chatted to Lorraine about the novel Shuggie Bain, had a walk round followed by wonderful scones straight out of the oven and then I was able to photograph Lorraine as she came off her shift.

John and Irene outside their B&B Clune House in Newtonmore.

#3 John & Irene - Newtonmore

Another friendly welcome awaited us at Clune House B&B in Newtonmore in the heart of the Cairngorms. We got there in time for tea and flapjacks and a chat with John. I’m not sure our politcs aligned but hey we were on holiday! From Clune House it was a very short walk to the Balavil Hotel where we had spectacular fish & chips with fresh fish straight from Buckie.

Rebekah co-owner at Saintear café in Pierowall on the island of Westray

#4 Rebekah - Pierowall

Orkney is a very particular place and this was our first visit. The land is mostly low-lying and treeless so it’s beauty is rugged and wind-swept. After a few days getting our bearings we did a side-trip to Westray one of the Northern Islands – another hour and a half on a ferry. Fortunately I had booked pizzas to go from Saintear in the main settlement of Pierowall and the evening light was perfect to photograph Rebekah who said: “Winters are very harsh – the wind blows – but if you get a day like today there’s no better place.”

Jonathan – the Papa Westray Ranger leading a tour of the island.

#5 Jonathan - Papa Westray

When you get the ferry to Orkney Mainland you immediately notice you ar on a smaller island then you go to an even smaller one – Westray and finally a really small one – Papa Westray. As Jonathan the Ranger says: “When you live on an island you can’t afford to be insular – you need wider connections.” The brilliant tours he leads cover the Neolithic, the amazing array of bird life and more modern history of farming and community. If you go on a Wednesday like us you’ll even get a chance to go to a local coffee morning whichwas just one of the things we experienced that demonstrated how important community is on the islands.

Kevin – steering the Papa Westray ferry back to Gill Pier.

#6 Kevin - Papa Westray Ferry

We just did a day trip to Papa Westray – the trip over and the morning was wild, rainy and windy but by the afternoon it was beautiful again. Kevin was one of the few people we saw wearing a mask because his wife was due in Aberdeen for an operation the following week. That’s 200 miles or so as the crow flies – the only practical way is by air. We were on was a temporary replacement for the ageing Golden Mariana which was itself supposed to be permanently replaced by a newer boat from Norway – the Nordic Sea which has been plagued by problems after an expensive refit. One look at its rather top-heavy and narrow-hulled form makes you think it’s unsuitable for such challenging waters. But of course the decision makers failed to listen to those with local knowledge.

Michael and Teenie who run Chalmersquoy B&B, Hostel and Camping.

#7 Michael & Teenie - Pierowall

We stayed in Michael and Teenie’s Hostel – The Barn – in an en-suite room. Michael is local and Teenie is from Shetland. They have completely re-modelled the farm into accommodation over the years and are just recovering from the pandemic. “it’s nice to see the Barn back in use after Covid – it’s been a real struggle.”

Tall Paul who runs the Richan’s Retreat café in Rapness, Westray

#8 Tall Paul - Rapness

Paul is a “Ferrylouper” (incomer) who moved here from Manchester 19 years ago. His small café is a bit of a step back in time so it was a cups of tea and Tunnoch’s Tea Cakes and Caramel bars. Like so many islanders he has a portfolio of jobs – as well as running the café he works as a Fireman at the Airport when planes are due, as a relief Harbour Master for the Ferry and is also responsible for the boiler room at the school.

Alison at Holm Post Office

#9 Alison - Holm Post Office

Alison runs the Post Office in St Mary’s on the Orkney Mainland.  It’s in the Parish of Holm which is pronounced “Ham” while any small island in the archipelago also spelt Holm is pronounced “Home.” The Post Office is in the Arthur Flett Builders yard who also own the Rockworks Chalets where we stayed.

Jodie and Lisa at Sheila Fleet Jewellery

#10 Jodie and Lisa - Sheila Fleet Jewellery

Sheila Fleet Jewellery is in Tankerness on the Orkney Mainland – Val has been wanting a ring from there for a while and Jodie and Lisa were very helpful and took time to really check te right size and then unexpectedly Lisa got Sheil herself to come and have a chat.

Sheila Fleet with Val at Seila Fleet Jewellery, Tankerness.

#11 Sheila - Tankerness

Sheila Fleet with her late husband first set up home here 30+ years ago. She has been one of the leading lights in the development of the jewellery trade on Orkney. Many of the newer jewellers have trained with her and the showroom is now in an ex-Chapel next to her house and in adjoining buildings she employs 60+ people in the workshop and café. We went back a few days later to have lunch and pick up the ring.

Julie and Laura at Rockworks Chalets.

#12 Julie and Laura - St Mary's

Julie and Laura who do everything at Rockworks Chalets from bookings and website to cleaning. It was a great place to stay in Orkney – close to the Churchill Barriers and overlooking the Italian Chapel. The chalets were built by the Flett family and later sold on but have now been bought back.Julie has always lived in the village and Laura has not long moved here too.

Andy in the porch of the Stromness Museum.

#13 Andy - Stromness

We first met Andy serving at the Orkney Brewery and then accidentally met him again at the Stromness Museum. Turns out he’s the Andy Hollinrake who does tours at Ness Battery and archeological ones for the Cruise Ships. When we were on Papa Westray – two people who were on the tour with Jonathan the Papay Ranger mentioned him and how good he was. He had dropped into the Museum for an ice cream after another Ness tour. He was also going to do some work on his allotment just up the hill in Stromness. His wife Fran is Custodian at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall and like Andy has a portfolio of jobs as a storyteller, tour guide, historian and writer.

Chloe and her grandmother Pauline on the Hamnavoe ferry.

#14 Chloe and Pauline - Stromness to Scrabster Ferry

In small world coincidences We met Chloe and Pauline on the Hamnavoe – the boat back to Scrabster. Pauline is from Birmingham and is the grandmother of Sam Vicary the jazz bassist based in Manchester which is a double coincidence as I’m a jazz photographer and researcher based in Birmingham.

Ian Sutherland McCook in Antlers Café Newtonmore

#15 Ian - Newtonmore

Ian is an old friend I had not seen for many decades since his days as an architect in Handsworth. He drove over from near Findhorn for a coffee and a catch up. He now runs the UK arm of Sheltersuit a Dutch charity that makes affordable shelters for the homeless. The previous night we stayed at the very nice Dower House in Newtonmore and I had my one and only refusal for this small set of pictures – and I didn’t push it – what will be, will be.

Bina in her designer shop in Moffat

#16 Bina - Moffat

Bina (Fiona) in her shop The Corner Gallery in Moffat. Bizarrely Val bought knitwear from Orkney here instead of Orkney! Bina was brought up on Moffat but then had a career in social work in Edinburgh. She now commutes back to Maffat to run this shopwich was set up by her mother 30 years ago in different premises. Her mother runs a sister shop in Kircudbright. They source stock from across Scotland and Ireland as well as elsewhere. Brexit has played havoc with their business increasing costs and making export and import from the EU difficult. On a more positive note her brother plays golf with Rob who runs Hartfell House where we had another excellent meal and stay. And then to the M6 home…


I rarely do walks, trips or holidays with my full frame Nikon cameras and lenses. I find it gets in the way of enjoying time with Val. So for this trip I took both my Fuji cameras – the brilliant little Fuji X30 which I bought second-hand. Its an 8 year-old model now and has a very small sensor but produces lovely images and has a great 28-112mm equivalent proper zoom lens.  My other Fuji is an X100F with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. I have a wide and tele converters for the X100F and took them with me but didn’t use them. So all these shots are at 35mm equivalent – the X100F using its fixed lens and the X30 zoom set to 35mm.  For those interested #1 to #6 are with the X100F, #7 to #14 are with the X30 and the final two #15 and #16 back with the X100F.