Meeting the dead ancestors

Sunday. Nearly everything is closed! So we decided to start the day by going to a couple of “stacks”, which are large formations of rock in the ocean. We went to two: Staxigoe and Duncansby Head. Staxigoe is near where we are staying in Wick. We had a nice walk down to the water at near low-tide and got to see what’s at the edge … Not as much variety of critters as we have in Oregon.

Then it was back to John O’Groats and turn right to Duncansby Head to see the stacks there. We heard a news story the other day about the first person to climb the stacks in the 1960’s. He just turned 80 and climbed the stacks again to celebrate … But this time with ropes and a harness.

In order to see the stacks, we parked the car near the old lighthouse and then walked across a field that was shared with the sheep. The views to the Orkney Islands were fabulous. The stacks are on the other side of the peninsula and the view in that direction is equally gorgeous.  (Side note:  there was a car in the parking lot with a “Bernie” sticker on it.)
Back then to see Robin and Gail again. Today’s agenda was to head over to the Canisbay Kirk (church) to see the dead ancestors. The weather was about as good as it could possibly be, with lovely sun and warmth and a few whispy clouds in the sky. The cemetery at the Kirk is located in view of the Pentland Firth and the Orkneys. The folks buried there have a premium spot to spend eternity!

We found my great, great grandparents, Helen Mowat and James Kennedy, fairly quickly as they are straight ahead as you enter the gate. They’ve got an especially nice plot in the cemetery. Then we toured around to find other Mowats and Robin shared lots of stories about all of our ancestors. He has a great deal of knowledge about who everyone was and what their lives would have been like a hundred or more years ago.

One last destination for our tour of the surroundings … The ham radio clubhouse.  It is at the end of Gail and Robin’s road in Skirza and is located in a “caravan”.  They have quite a nice set up, with a gorgeous view of the ocean, for their members!  Here’s the caravan and the hex beam.  🙂

Back to the “Roadside” (their house) for a last cup of tea and cheese scone (deliciously made by Gail). Their address is “The Store” because the house they live in used to be a store run by a relative.  They plastered over the Caithness flagstone and expanded a bit since the original construction.

They presented me with a comprehensive book of collected stories and information about Caithness. The book contains a miscellany of all kinds, including recipes, glossaries of local terms and places, remembrances written by local folks, and so on. It is a gold mine for learning more about the area and its people.

With big hugs, we headed out of Skirza and back to Wick. We decided to walk to the MacKay Hotel for dinner in their bistro. It was recommended to us by several folks, and we had a very tasty meal there. We started with gin and tonics made with the local Rock Rose Gin (the distillery we visited yesterday) and then had some local beef for dinner. We topped it off with a “Not So Sticky Toffee Pudding”, which couldn’t be beat (it looked so good when it arrived that we didn’t stop for a photo)!  

The bistro gives a complimentary taste of Stroma, the scotch liqueur made by Old Pulteney to finish. While we were enjoying that, Murray (the guy that runs the place) came over to see how our dinner was. We gave it rave reviews, and then we talked a bit about scotch. He told us to wait and not leave, so we complied … And he can back with a taste of 31-year old scotch from Old Pulteney that is bottled specially for the hotel. What a nice bonus to the end of our dinner.

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