Month: June 2016

Brussels – not what I imagined.


We’d just finished an amazing 4 day trip to Bruges.

Brussels was on our direct route home, and since we had a few hours free, we decided to go exploring.

Early morning, we visit Bois de la Cambre, a fantastic park on the outskirts of town.


I’d been to Belgium once before while inter-railing in my 20’s.

I remember I bought a souvenir from each country I went to.

In Belgium, I bought this little Viking about the size of of my thumb, which I still have today.


This is how I normally imagine Brussels to be.

Charmless modern metropolis where an army of Eurocrats got to work and shuffle paper each day.


The reality was quite different.

Places like this, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert really capture the classy nature of the town.


Early in the day, we had burgers at this sort of bohemian cafe which played jazz music and we were served by barefoot people in dreadlocks.

Later that day I had delicious Belgian beer and a perfectly cooked piece of Steak in an up market restaurant.

Put simply, this town has everything.


We carry on exploring and see the Grand Place.

Its the very epicentre of Brussels, has a Gothic town hall, and several other amazing buildings.

It was impressive, but unfortunately, was being prepared for a large event , so I couldn’t get a real view of the whole place.

We hung around and had coffee, and the vibe and weather were superb.


We wandered down a side street to visit the “must see” sight of the Mennekin Piss or famous pissing boy.

My 2 observations:

1. As you can see from the picture above with people in it, the boy is about a foot tall, and I’d always thought he was much taller.

2. This is an internationally famous destination. Eiffel tower, Buckingham palace, The Vatican ? Brussels can do better than this tawdry gimmick and should take it down.


Off special interest to me, was the Belgian comic strip centre.

Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country.

During the school holidays as a child, my brother and I used to watch (among other things) Herche’s adventures of Tin Tin on tv on weekday mornings.

Tin Tin and his dog Snowy would embark on adventures from catching spies and smugglers to travelling to the moon.

To help him on his missions, were the hilarious “Captain Haddock” and “Professor Calculus”.

I was delighted to explore the Comic strip centre and it brought back so many happy memories.

There were loads of exhibits of Tin Tin and in the lobby, even had a model of the rocket which took our hero (and Snowy) to the moon.


A photo of Georges Remi and a statue of Tin Tin (his life’s work).

Made me think: Tin Tin doesn’t worry about the details or the danger, he just goes out there in search of adventure.

I always think its my own volition that makes me do the things I do.


We’re the seeds of adventure planted in me all those years ago, on a PYE television with dodgy colour balance and no remote control 🙂


With only an hour left, we head for our final destination on the tram.

I first found out about the Atomium, off all things on the New Statesman with Alan B’stard.

Still, it looked liked an impressive building to me, I really wanted to see it so I worked out my route and off we went…


And then, after I’d made a complete balls of it and taken us the wrong way Nikki took the lead, and we finally got there.

She isn’t perfect though, she took this photo and its pretty awful.

We had a look around, had some really nice coffee and then headed home.

Overall, a brilliant trip and a destination I’d highly recommend.

Return to Gibraltar


In 2005 I spent 4 hours in Gibraltar, waiting for a flight back to Luton.

During that time, I could have had a look around, but I was so tired after a week living in the desert that I just found a nice table in the shade and had a couple of pints.

But it had always nagged at me, and I’d always wanted to go back and really explore it.


Two of our friends are lucky enough to own a villa in Marbella.

They invited us to celebrate Derek’s birthday and since they had various business to do during the 4 days Nikki and I would be able to pop over to Gibraltar.


I’m more of a rucksack sort of adventurer normally, but I’ve spent enough uncomfortable nights to not shy away from comfort (and luxury) when its offered.

We stayed at the amazing spot in a place called Duchesa.  Three bedrooms with a beautiful veranda looking out across the pool out across the ocean. As it was very early in the season, the pool was closed.

 I hadn’t realised, but one problem is the electricity sometimes goes off in the area, so every time the villa is left, the fridge and freezer are completely emptied and the stuff thrown away.

We headed to a supermarket across the road to stock up on supplies. They had bottles of wine for 1 Euro !.


The small town nearby featured a nice Marina so we went out for the evening and had dinner.


I never found out the name of the place where we had dinner, but you can see how nice it is.

Our first evening out, a fantastic start to the trip.


The following morning, we get up and Nikki and I head off in search of adventure.

I’d been advised of the unreliability of the Spanish bus network.

That wasn’t the half of it !.

After we missed a bus that was “early”, one drove right past us, and we missed another because it was “late”, I just gave up.

We decide an alternative adventure strategy. Nikki’s sister Lyn, and husband Vic both live in Gibraltar.

A place called Sotogrande is roughly at the halfway point between both, so we decided to meet up there.

Just outside the complex is a nice path along the sea front and off we go.


After several miles, we can see the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance.


As we wander across deserted beaches, I see this sort of run down shack/bar.

Apparently, lots of these are abandoned during winter and sometimes when people come back to them in the summer they’ve been destroyed by the weather (it’s on the coast after all).


The last mile of the walk, were right on the coast, and clambering across cliffs and stuff like that.

sorto grande

We arrive at Sotogrande and have lunch with Lyn and Vic in a place called Ke Bar.

A classy place, it has a train running around the ceiling and I get to try Wagyu beef for the first time.


Lyn (Nikki’s sister) and her husband Vic have rather usefully brought along a car.

They recommend that we go exploring up into the hills and we get to see a mountain village called Castellar.


Unfortunately, the weather is appaling and we take shelter in a souvenir shop.


Back in Duchesa, we have drinks in this Alpine style bar.

That evening we all have dinner in Duchessa and stay over.

The following Morning its back in the car and John and Nikki’s visit to Gibraltar 2.0 begins.


We arrive at Gibraltar and show our passports through the car window to get through the checkpoint in Spain.

I hadn’t realised, but for a number of years, Spain had closed the border and people had to farcically take a boat from La Linea.

Not only that, but the boat couldn’t travel direct to Gibraltar. It had to stop of at Morocco on each leg of the journey.

The port has been open now for a number of years, but low taxation in Gibraltar has led to smuggling which has upset the Spanish government.

I didn’t do any smuggling, and I liked the board above, which showed a map of Gibraltar.


The entrance to Casemates square, the main meet up point in Gibraltar.

All the land up to this gate has been reclaimed from the sea (40,000 people live in Gibraltar, so resources have to be conserved. Every toilet flushes with salt water for example).

Winston_Churchill_Ave,_Gibraltar red-phone-boxes-gibraltar
fish & chips bar__dinning_area3

I remembered from my brief time there previously, that it’s a bit like an alter ego Great Britain with sunshine.

There are roads called Winston Churchill way, and above, traditional British phone boxes.


Lyn has taken some time out from her work to give us a tour of the area (which I kept incorrectly referring too as an Island).

We begin our tour with a visit to the Botanical gardens. The thing in the middle of a castle with 3 towers is the symbol of Gibraltar.


We wander along the path up to the top of the rock and the nature reserve.


One of the Pillars of Hercules on the way up.


From here, we left the road and headed up the mountain on a rough track called the Mediterranean steps.

It’s a favourite walk of Lyn’s and I really enjoyed it.


Nikki and Lyn next to a tunnel we explored in the rock.


The view from the top of the rock.


While I was wandering around, I remembered the opening scene from The James Bond film – The Living Daylights, filmed in 1988.

One scene where bond runs along and jumps onto the top of a Landrover, I believe was taken from this spot.


We have some nice lunch, served by a highly offensive “man” who frankly wasnt big enough to be handing out the kind of attitude he was.

However I’m here on an adventure trip with Nikki, not a weekend away with old friends from Newton Heath, so bite my tongue and thank him kindly.

Nearby we explore St Michael’s cave. There are a lot of things to see on the rock and if you buy a sort of combined ticket it works out quite reasonable.

Inside the caves are lit up which looks really spectacular.


There are 2 sets of tunnels to sea on the rock.

The early one’s are called the Great Siege tunnels and in the north face of the rock.


They were tunnelling through the rock to a specific spot on the rock where they wanted to position a cannon facing the harbour.

At some point they occidentally blew a hole in the rock and realised the tunnel itself would make an excellent gun emplacement.


The Moorish castle which we got to explore in perfect sunshine.


The other set of tunnels were from WW2.

There are 34 miles of tunnels under here. Its said that Ian Fleming spent time working down here, and it may have inspired the massive “secret base’s” in the James Bond films.


Outside it was baking, but inside it was really cold.

They have generators and old kinds of stuff like that in here.


We go back to Lyn & Vic’s flat.

In an absolutely perfect spot, this is the view from the window, and you can see plane’s arriving and leaving along the runway.

The end of another fab day, I’d seen all the things I wanted to see and lots more.

Back across the border to Duchesa.


2nd to last day, we decided to do the coastal walk from outside the villa, near Casares.


After a few miles we can see our goal, the Torre de la Sal in the distance which we’d found on google earth.

A pretty mellow experience, about 7 miles but we had loads of time so stopped a few times for drinks and lunch.


We reach our destination.

Known local as Torre del Salto del Salto de la mora (Tower of the Moor’s leap).


We wander back along the beach this time rather than the path.

The colour of the ocean and the sun in the sky makes for a fantastic experience.


Disappointingly as I we walk back, I see some of the run down and abandoned villa’s on the front.

It’s such a shame to seem that derelict and abandoned.


A final evening in Duchesa with food and drink flowing.

In the morning we take it easy and while we drink coffee and pack.

On the way back I get to visit Port Banus and have lunch at Piucaro.

Day in Mostar.


I’d completed the Sonova office move, and just like when god created the world, I decided to rest from my work.

I had 5 days in Dubrovnik. There were a couple of pretty good day tours, and since I’d never been to Mostar I booked it.

On the day, a few of us pile into a minibus and off we go. Its a small group, so our driver is also our guide.


We stop of at Pocitelj.

Extensive Ottoman architecture, the fortified town only has 30 inhabitants.

It’s possible to climb up to the top, but since it was only a short coffee stop, didn’t seem worth it.

Coffee was nice.


Because of a thin strip of Bosnia that runs right to the Ocean, you actualy have to do 3 border crossings on the way out, and 3 on the way back.

When we arrive in the outskirts of Mostar you could see buildings which had been shelled during the war.


There are 2 sides to the town, connected by a bridge.

During the the war, the bridge was destroyed by deliberate tank fire. In a small museum there, it said it struck at the very heart of the town.

Certainly, a video showing the moment the bridge came down was quite emotional. Another video of a shoot out on a bridge before it fell showed me what this peaceful little town must have looked like in the middle of a conflict.

 As we walk up, there are various shop selling souvenirs.


The Stari Most (the old bridge) had stood for 427 years until its destruction in 1993. It was rebuilt by the UN in 2004.

I haven’t gone into the complexity’s of the war, as this isn’t that kind of site, and there wouldn’t be enough space here anyway.

I have however included a video of its initial destruction for those interested.


The view from the middle of the bridge and the Neretva river bellow it.


As I wandered around the other side, I saw this sign near a clothing stall that said “dont forget”.

I couldn’t decide if it meant, don’t forget the pointlessness of war, or dont forget to by a scarf.

I still dont know.


I sit down and enjoy the view.

Some coffee, traditional Bosnian food then its back to our van.


The itinerary included a trip to Medjugorje.

it was explained that in 1981 6 children had “seen” the Virgin Mary and the site had become an unapproved (by the Vatican) site of Roman Catholic pilgrimage.

Since then, the town has taken off including this enormous church with outdoor meeting hall and accommodation for the visiting faithful.

If you read this site often, you know I’m open minded, but dont normally go for that sort of thing.

Two other people on our trip were religious and really wanted to go, so off we went.

There were HUNDREDS of shops selling religious artefacts, suffice to say, it didn’t really inspire me.


On our way home, we get this spectacular view of the Neretva valley.

As you can see, its one of the most fertile places in Europe.

Now, that is a miracle.

Day in Montenegro.


Continuing from my trip to Dubrovnik, we decide on a day trip to Montenegro.


Once again, we meet our minibus and were off.

Our first stop is Kotor. The weather was appalling all day, but this view of the North gate and moat were spectacular.


Wandering around, we arrive at the sea gate and wander into the old town.

In the background you can see the fortress on the hill overlooking the town, on the walls that surrounds the city.

The walls surrounding the city go up 1200 metres into the mountains. They were first started in the 9th century.

As the place was invaded, whoever was in charge at the time, built them up a bit more until the 15th century when they formed a full circle around the town.


Immediately inside the gate is this stone carving of 3 angels, which our guide said was internationally famous.


Although the weather was bad, you could see how nice the main square must look on a sunny day.

Unusually, we stop in the square and have coffee (if it had been sunny, I’m sure we would have had a pint of beer 🙂


Kotor Cathedral of Saint Tryfon is one of the more popular sites in the city.

Although a lovely place, Kotor is quite tiny and I think you could see the whole thing in about 2 hours, even if you were taking your time.


The Pima palace dominates the square.

It was rebuilt after the 1979 earthquake.


On the wall, the symbol of the Venetian stone lion.


St Lukes 12 century church.

It’s unusual, as it has 2 altars, one for Catholic and one for Orthodox pilgrims.


Having seen Kotor, we head for Budva, part of the Budva Riviera (although honestly, with the weather I wasn’t feeling it).

In the harbour were some massive boats, and an old town with lots of back streets, and a nice ale house that we found.


Budva is 2500 years old.

Until 1918 it remained the Southern most fortress in the Austro-Hungarian empire (you can see the outer fortress wall in the middle of this picture).


We continue on our way and after 6k, arrive at Sveti Stefan a private hotel on its own Island.

Unfortunately, the rules are now much stricter, and you can go onto the Island unless your staying in the hotel.

But at £30 for lager, that probably for the best.


Back in our minibus and were off again.


And amazingly, we drive past the hotel featured in Casino Royal.

Well, that’s what our guide told us, but the external and internal scenes are from a hotel in Prague.

Actually, the poison/car park scenes takes place here at the hotel Splendide in Montenegro.


And after all the excitement, we head for home.

To shorten the route back, we take a ferry across the Kotor bay, then drive back to Dubrovnik.

A wet afternoon in Zurich

I’ve been catching up on some trips that I’d done previously and never got around to putting up.

I’m doing half an hour each morning, and continuing in my lunch hour, until they are all complete.

Have a read and tell me what you think.


I previously worked for a Swiss company, and was invited to a meeting at our head office.

Never missing on opportunity for adventure, I had an afternoon free, so since I was there, I went to visit Zurich.


Having arrived at the Kloten airport, I had my first experience of Swiss trains.

The person at the desk who sold me the ticket spoke perfect English. A bit costly, but I was there on company expenses, so no problem.

Spotlessly clean, it made practically no sound as it sped towards my destination.


Unfortunately, when I arrived the weather was awful and it was belting down with rain (and being December, it was freezing).


I head straight out of the station, find some water and follow it down towards the water front.

As I keep walking, something doesn’t seem right.

I realise that instead of following the river, I’m actually following the Sihl canal.

The Zurich Hauptbahnhof is so big, that I’d walked out of the wrong entrance without realising.

A friendly chap jogging on the canal gave me directions and I’m back on track.


I decide to stop and get something to eat.

I decide on Macdonalds. Not to everyone’s taste, but ideal travel food as its: A, cheap B, usually served quick and C, you can eat it on the move.

Macdonalds look the same all over the world, so this is St Jakobs church on Stauffacherstrasse next to it.


I continue walking, and one thing that surprises me is this.

It’s a sort of folding scooter. That in itself isn’t unusual.

What is unusual, is that someone had left it there, and there was nobody around.

In most of the places I know, it would have been stolen.


I wander around the town and see the side streets and shops.

It’s said that as you wander around in Zurich, you are literally walking on gold.

Under the ground are vaults with money and gold in them.


The Grossmunster church and the Munsterbrucke bridge which borrows its name.


I arrive at my goal of Lake Zurich (I’d hoped for better weather)


I wander up to Lindenhoff hill.

There is a lovely park here. It had stopped raining now, so I sat down for about 40 mins to soak up the atmosphere.


The view from the park.

When I think of Zurich, I’ll probably think of this scene.


Well, the clocks ticking and I have to get to my destination, check into my hotel and prepare for my meeting the next day.

I wonder back, stop for coffee on the way, then arrive at the Hauptbahnhof.

It takes me 50 minutes to find the correct platform, then I’m off.

Long weekend in Orkney.


Apologies for not updating the site for a little while.

Between the Black Forest trip and Orkney, I’ve been home for 3 days in the last 3 weeks.

I’ve decided to write this weeks entry about Orkney. Why ?. Its a dull lonely Island in the middle of nowhere, like something out of Father Ted isn’t it ?

Well that’s what I thought it would be like, but it was completely inspiring and I got to do 2 fantastic things from my 2nd bluelist while there..

Nikki’s parents wedding anniversary. They could go anywhere they wanted, chose Orkney and the whole family went along.

I was invited as well 🙂


It actually took 2 planes to fly to Orkney.

The first plane was quite small, had propellers and flew to Aberdeen.


In Aberdeen airport, we had some breakfast and they had some art work for sale.

I saw this picture and instantly recognised where it was.

The Camasunary bothy on the Isle of Sky, with Bla Bheinn in the background.

It put me in a good mood, which was important, as our 2nd plane was like a reliant robin with wings.

Once onboard, they didn’t serve any alcohol on the flight and our right hand engine was struck by lightening :(.

I did my “dentist thing”, closed my eyes tight and imagined I was somewhere else, doing something completely different 🙂


But we arrive in one piece and are transported to our hotel.

Orkney is an Archipelago (which for those that dont know, means it isn’t just an Island, but a sort of “consortium” of small islands together).

Made up of 70 Islands of which 20 are inhabited, the area was given to Scotland as a wedding dowry.

We spent most of our time on the main Island called Orkney, and our hotel was located in the capital Kirkwall.

In fact we stayed in the Kirkwall hotel. A cracking spot with great views of the harbour.

It looked a bit rundown, but the service was top notch, our room had a bath, a friendly bar and served very good food.

The whole area was buzzing with people, there to celebrate the centenary of the battle of Jutland (more about that when I visit the Scapa Flow visitor centre).

The occupants of the Islands do not like to be called Scottish and describe themselves as Orcadian.


One thing I should mention at this point.

While away on a walking weekend to celebrate my birthday, I took a fall.

I hit my my knee, then bounced over and landed on my side. I only realised later, that my camera was in a pouch on my belt and when I landed on it, I bent the frame and destroyed it.

So for the first time, every photo your going to see on this section of was taken with a mobile phone (my Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini).


Our first morning, and we make plans for the day.

Orkney has several “interesting” Neolithic sites and we set out out to see them.

On the way I saw a unique looking military ship in the harbour and I was fixated. There’s only 1 type of ship in the British navy that’s designed that way !.

Brilliantly, as The Battle of Jutland was being celebrated, there was a Daring Class Destroyer moored in the harbour that you could go and see.


HMS Duncan is the newest of the 6 The Daring Class Type 45 destroyer’s

I’d read loads of stuff about them and I was fascinated to finally see one.

It’s the most advanced ship of its kind in the world. In simulation tests, it can outperform 4 type 42 destroyers (which it supersedes) combined.

It’s radar guided weapons systems can track 1000 fast moving targets the size of cricket balls, all at the same time.

I’d only been on Orkney a few hours and already felt like I’d achieved something pretty amazing.


We continued on to visit 2 fascinating Neolithic sites.

This is so instead I’ve put up a picture of the Orkney Brewery where we had lunch.

I’ve included links to The Standing Stones of Stenness and The Ring of Brodgar for those interested.


The RSPB gave an interesting talk on local birds.

I was more interested by local livestock. There are 20,000 people on Orkney and 100,000 cows.

I’ve always enjoyed Aberdeen Angus Burgers from Tesco.

While we passed a field, I got to see some for the first time. They can be instantly recognised, as they are black.


We continue on, and visit one of the oldest village sites in the world (older than the Pyramids, Stone Henge and the Great Wall of China) Ness of Brodgar.

It had a little visitors centre with some multimedia presentation and souvenirs.

From here you can wander outside and see the actual structures and buildings. With my bushcraft experience I could see how the buildings had been organised and constructed to compliment each other.

It was also a beautiful day and one of the staff commented it was the nicest day of the year.


This is one of the buildings with its roof removed.

You can see the fire hearth in the centre, and stone bed emplacements around it (foliage would be added for comfort, fire would provide warmth and the sod roof would protect the occupants from wind and rain.

Interestingly at the front is a sort of sideboard for storing tools and ornaments. All of the buildings had this same “cupboard design” and its been adopted as the symbol of Ness of Brodgar.

The village had ultimately been abandoned, and nobody knows why.

Included with the admission was a visit to the nearby the Skaill house.

A stately home with loads of old artefacts like military clothing from the Peninsula war, old portraits and a book case with a secret compartment.


After lunch, we drive to the other end of the Island and a place called Stromness to visit a museum there.

Like many of the museums we saw it was very quirky and with a disparate collection of artefacts.

I found them all interesting, but in honesty I felt like instead of starting with a theme and setting up a collection, they just got hold of anything they could and put it out on show.

Above for example a chap on board ship had his fiddle destroyed (he’s said to have entertained the crew with it, but perhaps someone didn’t like his music 🙂

While at sea, he had no conventional means to repair it, so made this replacement from tin.

In another section were 2 stuffed Otters which someone had run over by accident and donated !.


I was fascinated by all the stuff on Dr John Rae, a local born physician turned explorer.

he made extensive use of early inflatable boats (pictured above using a plate as a paddle).


He spent much time in Hudson bay and learned to live off the land from the natives.

His extensive books and papers catalogued various skills and resources, and here notes on constructing an Igloo.


From here we travelled to a small Island called Lambholm.

Many of the Island were connected by a causeway called the Churchill barrier.

They were constructed to limit submarines ability to enter an area called Scapa Flow, a large expanse of water in the middle of the Orkney Islands after The Royal Oak was was sunk at her moorings there.


The Churchill barriers were built by some prisoners of war (they were able to get around the Geneva convention, saying they were to assist with inter Island communication).

One set of prisoners tried to make their time as comfortable as they could. Italian, they began by constructing tables and chairs so they could enjoy meals outdoors in the Summer.

Later they asked for some utility buildings. Deeply religious, they used artisan skills to convert it into a Chapel.

Above you an see what it looks like inside, even to this day.


When shown from this angle, you can see that its basically a store room but remarkably made up like a chapel.

One thing that surprised me, was how the Italians were so comfortable there and wanted to settle in.

As the war came to an end, several of them asked to stay to complete the Chapel before they were “forced” to go home 🙂


Back to our hotel and get ready in my best Rohan Clothes.

It’s the actual evening of the 50th wedding anniversary, and everyone is really excited.

We had out to an incredible restaurant called Foveran.

Amazing food, wine and attentive (and well informed) staff with spectacular views across Scapa Flow.


Next morning, up early and onto the ferry.

We’ve decided to visit another Island called Hoy, where I’m going to pursue a project I’ve had on my mind for close to 30 years.

When we arrive, the Island is pretty much like the one in Father Ted !.

We drive around, and are able to locate our position on the map using picnick area’s as in many cases there is literally nothing there. But, the excitement is building up.


We find the spot were looking for and park up (there’s a small campsite and hostel and you can park your camper van for 7 days for free !).

The weather has improved now, and I see the first sign of the thing I’ve come to see.


We set off up hill.

Its steep at first but then flattens out onto a clear path across the hills that soon become cliff tops.


From here, the views of the cliffs and the ocean are spectacular.

I’m reminded (if it was ever needed) why I love hill walking so much.


And then, there it is.

The Old Man of Hoy, the iconic sea stack in Rackwick Bay.

449 feet high and 180 feet from the mainland (where this shot was taken).

First climbed by Chris Bonington in 1967.

I saw it on tv one Sunday afternoon when I was 13 (The famous Joe Brown and his daughter Zoe were climbing it together).

There is even a Tupperware container on the top, with a book inside for people to sign when they’ve climbed it.

We walk back in a contemplative mood (I’m especial glad I saw it, as experts say it probably wont be there in 15 years).


Places to get lunch are thin on the ground in this far flung place.

We were heading to the SFVC anyway, so we headed for their excellent 40’s themed cafe which I’d highly recommend.

They had lots of large weapons and vehicles and hundreds of fascinating articles and historical photographs.


As well as the main building, they had this massive oil container which had been emptied out and is used as part of the museum.


Inside it was lit up and like something from the X Files.

Loads of different vehicles and displays and a 30 minute video that explained the full the history of Scapa Flow and its significance in the first and 2nd world wars.

There was also an old air raid shelter that we walked around.


The battle of Scapa Flow happened in the First world war and remains the largest warship battle in history.

The circumstances beggared belief.

A ship might sink and 600 people on board would drown with only 3 survivors !.

At the end of the battle. The British had lost 6000 men and the German Navy 2000. However neither side could claim victory and the German navy stayed out of the area for the duration of the war.

At the conclusion of the war, and as a condition of teh armistice agreement the German Hochseeflotte (high sea fleet) was escorted to Scapa Flow to be interned.

The bulk of the crew were sent home and the ships remained in “parked”in Scapa Flow.

Details are unclear, but at some point, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter got hold of a copy of the Times. Realising his government had resigned and concerned that the ships would be made available to the British, he ordered the fleet scuttled.

With their Sea cocks open, 52 ships were sunk within a matter of hours.

years later, the ships were raised and the metal harvested for various projects.


During the 2nd world war, the Royal Oak sunk was sunk at its moorings by German submarine the U-47.

This damaged moral and resulted in the Churchill barriers being constructed.

The wreck of the Royal Oak was designated a war grave, but a recreational diver took its name plate without permission.

It was returned 20 years later from Canada and here it sits in the Scapa flow visitors centre.

Ferry back to Orkney, Italian for dinner and an early night after such a rewarding day.


Our final day in Orkney and we explore around the area local to our hotel.

The Orkney wireless museum has more radio equipment in it in one place then I’ve ever seen in my life.

It was amazing to see the transition of radios over the decades through valves and transistors.

The proprietor explained that radio communication in the early days had been driven by the navy for obvious reasons.

Best of all, I got to try out a crystal set. I had a go at making one some years ago from instructions in a scout anual but never got it to work.

This one worked fine, and I was listening to Amy Winehouse on BBC Radio Orkney.


I had a brief look at Orkney museum, then headed across the road to visit St Magnus Cathedral.

A remembrance service had been held the previous Sunday and there had been lots of well behaved sailors staying in our hotel.


I’m not very religious and churches look much the same to me.

However, this one featured a memorial to the explorer Dr David Rae who I’d seen at Stromness museum.

It showed him resting for the evening on the ground with his blanket and rifle at the ready


And before I know it, its 2pm and time to head back to the airport and the flying coffin that will take me home.

I have one last look at the harbour I’ve grown to love and off I go.