Beside the Ocean of Time


Earlier this year I accepted a challenge to write a new, short piece every day for a month. This is one of the pieces I came up with. I really love this little seahorse.

With family and friends having been unable to visit Orkney for some time, I have been sending them quiz photos of out of the way places in Orkney for them to identify. This forgotten fellow stands in a disused children’s play area near the old academy in Stromness, looking down towards the holms with a somewhat bemused grin. For health and safety reasons, the area has been fenced off, which is understandable, but a shame, because he/she looks as though it is in need of a hug. A small gesture to show it the thanks it deserves for keeping the now not so young members of the community entertained for many years.

It would, of course, be easy to draw analogies from this, but from the look, I don’t think this seahorse is purely reminiscing. Like young Thorfinn Ragnarson in the book Beside the Ocean of Time by George Mackay Brown, the centenary of whose birth is being celebrated in the islands this year, it sees itself as an adventurer. Someone who truly owns the Orcadian spirit of adapting and surviving.


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