A peedie visit in paradise 
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 09:59
Posted by Natalie
A slightly bittersweet blog, because we have already left Orkney again and are back in our everyday lives but we’ve brought along soo many new happy memories, which make us smile! (And, we are working on a plan for another visit next year, despite us concluding last year, that we couldn’t go EVERY year.
We’re still sticking to that (especially when thinking about our bank account...) but maybe not for a few more years :o)

As we’ve had some requests (ok, only two) we thought we’d share our Orkney holiday memories with you - making them last a little longer and there is one funny story which might be worth sharing - so keep on reading!

So, let’s start at the beginning - we were so excited when we’d booked our Orkney flights and could hardly wait till April - but then we suddenly started to wonder “Will it be as nice as we remembered?”, “Will people still recognize us?”, “Will we still feel at home in Orkney?”
Of course, now we know, the answers are YES, YES and YES!

We arrived in Orkney on Thursday morning (after having left Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon - making use of the Swiss school system which lets us take the children out of school for one day only... and were greeted at Kirkwall Airport by our friends the Bremners! We went there for a cup of tea and to catch up - and then over to M&J’s house, which they had kindly agreed to swap with us again! Then we went to town for some shopping (no list, just buying all the things we remembered and missed) and on the way home we popped in to the local shop for a paper and a chat. We were greeted with “Oh, we had heard you were back home!” How nice was that! And that’s exactly what it felt like! It just felt “right” to be back!

Can't come to Deerness without going to the beach! We are all very happy there!

Then we did all the things we loved: Visiting the old stones, beaches, library and of course all the friends and neighbours we had missed so dearly!
The sun was shining (sometimes ) and suddenly we were already thinking about the things we wanted to do before we left! Half time was already over!

The watch stone

Our favourite ring!

One of our favourite walks is around Mull Head, having a picnic down in our favourite geo. So off we went! Maleah lay in the heather, which she loves and we saw some seals, built a wall and had a great time! At the end of the walk is the Brough of Deerness, another favourite place of ours. We met a tourist with binoculars, excitedly asking us if we’d seen the Orcas. No, we hadn’t! They must have swum past us at some point and we were very disappointed about having missed them. Just as he was walking away the tourist asked:
“Are you the family from that catalogue?”
“Well that family which is in the Discover Orkney Brochure!”
“Oh, yes, we are!”
“Wow, you guys are famous!”

A warm up after a paddle in the sea - only one of these two actually touched the water :o)

Can you spot Maleah?

Mull Head: One of our all time favourites!

So we walked on, smiling! Still a little sad about missing the Orcas, but happy at being called famous. We walked back to the car, seeing that the tourist was following us. When we arrived at the car, he came up to us and asked if he could take a photo of us to prove to his daughter that we were real and not models!
That made our day!

Of course, we then stopped at the airport the next day to get the catalogues - and there we were! Five (!!) Of our “brilliant moment photos” were in the catalogue!
(I had won an Ortak necklace for my photo, so we had known they had liked them, but we thought they’d just be on the website... Visit Orkney: Brilliant Moments )

That was just one of our brilliant Orkney moments from this year. Others included:

(Maleah also had another riding lesson, and got to enjoy her very first canter!)

They also both really enjoyed the cart our neighbour had lent us!

Our favourite view: Copinsay lighthouse in the sunshine

Two favourites in one: Meeting the Bremners on the Brough of Birsay!

Three climbers on a rock next to the Brough of Deerness

Another one, of course, included the children going to the school, and loving it (again) and the headmaster telling us, our children would always have a place at that school! Which was lovely! I went to have lunch with the teachers, which was great too! And we had tea (normally with cakes, biscuits or a whole meal) with so many lovely people!

Which made leaving so much harder...

But we know we are incredibly happy and blessed to have found a second place we can call home - and we are looking forward to our next visit, whenever that may be!

View from the plane - tears in our eyes but happiness in our hearts!
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Happy Orkney Moments and a trip to look forward to 
Monday, November 10, 2014, 19:39
Posted by Natalie
Dear Blog Readers
Bet you didn’t think you’d hear from us again in the middle of November - but there are a few things to tell you:
Firstly there is a website called Discover Orkney and not only have they published an small article of ours about our stay but they’ve also got a photo competition, where you can send your favourite “Orkney Selfie”.

The other, even more exciting, thing we wanted to tell you about is our next trip to Orkney! We’ve managed to persuade M&J to swap with us again next spring. Even if it’s only for two weeks we’re very excited and can hardly wait! M&J would have preferred to swap for a longer period of time - so would we! But with Matt only having 4 weeks holidays a year that will probably not be possible for another twenty years. So we thought we’d take the two weeks as a starter!

We will be flying over at the beginning of April and hope that the children (and me) can visit the school for a day or two, to meet as many friends as possible - and, of course, we’re also hoping to see many of our other friends while we’re there - and the beaches! And the buffalos! And the puffins (but it's probably too early for them...)! And the amazing sky! And and and ... !
As you can see, it’s got us dreaming again!
So we will keep you posted - at the latest next spring!

Can’t wait!

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Home - although it doesn’t quite feel like that yet... 
Sunday, July 20, 2014, 11:50
Posted by Natalie
After a very long journey, including two nights in Edinburgh to catch up with our house swappers, me flying down to London, to have lunch with my parents and “hand over” the children who would be spending a few days at the beach in Kent, one lovely and calm night on the ferry to Amsterdam, and many frustrating hours in traffic jams all along the German motorways, we arrived well in Wil on Thursday night.

(us with Mim, just before we leave, and us on the ferry enjoying the beautiful evening)

Then we had set three days aside for unpacking and reorganising our house, but, luckily we also had some lovely visitors including my parents and my sister and brother and family. So it was not all work!
Also, I went shopping, which I found quite an unfriendly experience. I knew nobody at all, nobody chatted to me and nobody smiled at me! What a difference to Orkney!

Also, we have not emotionally quite arrived here yet, sometimes we can’t find things we’re looking for or they are different from what we had expected (either because it was changed by M&J, which is ok, because we changed some things in their house, too! Or we thought it would be the same as in Orkney...)
Tonight we are invited to our neighbour’s party, which will be a good opportunity to meet all the neighbours again. But everyone we see here says “Isn’t it lovely that you’re back?!!” - and the honest answer would be “No, not really, we would have loved to stay in Orkney for a while longer!” But, of course we smile and nod!
BUT I must admit, there are some things which are nicer here! First, of course, our wonderful family! It’s great to sit there and receive mudcakes from my nephew and chatter to my sister-in-law or my sister, while her son drives our cars all over the terrace. And we are also looking forward to seeing our friends again. But, there are also some material things we’re looking forward to:
Gipfeli (which are Swiss Croissants) and about a hundred times better than any other in the world!
Our automatic hoover, who will work, while I have a cup of tea
Our other hoover, which gets all the dirt when hovering the first time!
Mohrenköpfe, which are sweet delicious chocolate cakes
Delicious Swiss Pasta, which we missed dearly in Orkney
Our Pizza Takeaway - and the Chinese one, too! We do not use them often, but it’s great to know we could - and on very stressful days we do - and it’s great!
A long hot soak in our big bath!
The skylight in our bedroom! Lying there, watching the house martins is amazing!
Our figs! Yesterday we ate the first (of hopefully many) figs growing on our tree and it was absolutely delicious!

But, the list of things we will miss is equally as long:
Everyone having time for a blether, whether I’m zooming past on my bike or popping into the village store for a pint of milk
The smell of the sea
Seeing the sea
walking along the sea
making hot chocolate by the sea
collecting shells by the beach
(plus fifty other things connected to the sea, which I will now not mention no more)
buffalo burgers
Bremner’s chickpea burgers
walking through the field of buffalos for a cup of coffee and a chat
watching the Bremners in their every day life through our windows
baked tatties wherever we go
really good chips
flap jacks
going into a pub and ordering a cup of tea, well, actually, going anywhere (including a friend’s) and getting a good cup of tea...
BBC iplayer

But, I am sure we will get more adjusted to Swiss life again - and find many more things we had forgotten about and which we really love! So there will certainly be one or two more blogs letting you know how we’re adjusting...

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Our very last blog written in Orkney 
Saturday, July 12, 2014, 19:35
Posted by Natalie
First of all thank you all for reading our blog! We sometimes hear about people reading it but we have no idea how many people have been reading it... So if you’d give us a short feedback we would really appreciate that! Either at blog - at - gabathuler.org, or with the contact sheet on your left.

As you can see in the title, this will probably be our last blog from here, but we will give you an update once we are back in Switzerland... We are in the middle of packing, cleaning and saying our goodbyes, eating cakes, tatties and crisps while drinking tea, wine, Prosecco and Shloer...

Despite not having found a roof rack Matt has already managed to get everything we’ve had packed into the peedier car, which belongs to our house swappers. We will swap it against our larger car in Edinburgh. The children and me will fly to Edinburgh with three large suitcases - and if need be we can take a fourth on a stand by basis.
Every time I walk through the house (well prepared with a bag) I find more things we need to take home - so it will probably be chockablock by Monday morning!

Apart from having cakes and meals with friends the Commonwealth Baton was another highlight this week!
We were impressed with the organisation and all the police vehicles - especially as Nanouk and Maleah were allowed to sit on the police motor bike. Also, one of the baton bearers came over to us to let us touch it which was quite exciting!

The other really exciting thing that happened this week: The first buffalo calf was born! It’s just outside our window and we are happy that we were here to see it! Of course, we’d love to stay even longer, and see many more being born - and celebrate Russell (the buffalo farmer)’s birthday next week. But, unfortunately we will just miss it. Just as we will miss the East Mainland (and many other) Shows! And we will certainly miss all our new friends here!

The other exciting farming news (for us) has been the farmers mowing the fields and making silage! They all work together and the fields are mown and cleared in no time. Someone in Orkney made this video
(It is well worth watching till the end, as the helicopter is attacked by a gull!)

Ok, I think that’s all! More cleaning awaits me and the children are slightly cranky after so many special late nights. So let us know if you’ve enjoyed this blog (or not) and we will keep you posted about our further Orkney plans!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 14:48
Posted by Matthias
Last Saturday we finally made it to Copinsay. It's was a bit like man's quest to the moon. You see it every day and you are desperate to go there, but it's not that easy. Fortunately it is much easier to get to Copinsay than to get to the moon. We were taken with the boat of a local man and he took us all around the Horse of Copinsay, Copinsay itself and the smaller islands around it. I especially loved the view of the Horse from the East. It's absolutely stunning and rough. He dropped us off at Corn Holm. Just before we were dropped off, we saw some Puffins fly by. We really hoped we'd see a few of them here. And there was one of them swimming right next to the boat. But when I tried to take a photo it just took off. What happened then seemed to be straight out of some surreal movie. For once we didn't look out of the boat on the right towards the shore but on the left and suddenly we saw dozens of Puffins swimming right next to the boat. An amazing experience. On the islands we also saw a lot of young birds and almost stepped on some on our way to Copinsay. One Fulmar started a sick attack on us, but luckily we were not close enough. We then walked over the Isle Rough to Copinsay just in time before the tide started going over. The weather was great and at times we wished for a bit of shade. We pick-nicked at the lighthouse (which of course included hot chocolate from the Kelly kettle). And then slowly made our way back along the cliffs. All in all one of the most memorable days here in Orkney. Photos of our trip left under 'Our Orkney Photos'.

Another memorable moment was the wedding the day before that we were so generously invited to by a friend. We especially loved the dancing and even took part in one of them even though it took me some time to figure out how to move around.

Monday was out farewell party with loads of friends and acquaintances. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, while it rained heavily in the rest of Orkney. We had delicious buffalo burgers and loads of cakes and breads of which we will be eating until we leave. The rest of the week is quite busy with packing and also visiting loads of people whom we have not visited before.

Also I have injured myself slightly. Yesterday there was a long jump competition at the Athletics and since I had not used my spikes I thought this would be the opportunity to get some Orkney sand on them. My Achilles tendon started acting up even before the first jump. I still managed a fair jump and then a huge one which went over 5.60m but was just slightly over the board. I called it a day after that and maybe I should bury my spikes now so I won't get tempted to do it again. Still I was quite amazed at how well it went (aside from injuring myself ...) without any training to speak of. It really seems like doing the long jump is like riding a bicycle, you never forget how to do it.

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