Sailing home from the Outer Hebrides in July, we saw the profile of the Shiant Islands and I spied the only puffins of the trip, and gannet fishing.
It is eight years since I last visited Orkney, and the sea cliffs at Marwick Head. Kittiwakes nest on the high cliffs, but there has been a massive drop in numbers.
Conservation is Adam Nicolson’s focus. He aims to grow the colonies of seabirds on the Shiants as a resource to export to Scottish coast where they are depleted. His next programme will investigate the health of the feeding zones out at sea.
I recommend his book Sea Room, a history and natural history of the Shiant Islands.
My last read was his book Earls of Paradise, England and the Dream of Perfection. A study of the Pembroke family at Wilton House near Salisbury and the concept of Arcadia developed by Philip Sidney and his sister Mary, Countess of Pembroke. My particular interest in rereading was in Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke in the mid-17th century. She lived during turbulent times, when Wilton saw Civil War and plague. I had looked into her Great Book of Record to discover what she had to say about life at Pendragon Castle in the Eden Valley: one of the castles of her northern Clifford inheritance. Not a lot, is the short answer. My chamber at Pendragon looks south west. A disappointing lack of detail. She's much better on family members who were born and died in a particular chamber in her castles.