Birmingham families ship out to the Orkneys

Bustling Brum may be the country's Second City but it seems workers tired of the rat race are deserting the city in favour of the simple life on the weather-beaten islands off Scotland's north coast.

More than one in seven people who moved to the capital, Kirkwall, in the second half of last year were from Birmingham, according to new figures. Orkney Islands Council deputy leader James Stockan said he was not surprised families were tempted by the lifestyle on offer.

"Orkney has been assessed as probably the best place to live for well-being in Scotland and there has been quite a lot of migration here in the last five years, we have a very low crime rate and lots of people have come for a better way of life. The only problem we have is the weather!" he said.

Monster of the Deep

Orkney angler Peter "Jocky" Robertson won the club's three-day weekend competition with the help of a big conger.

It might not be a monster in the conger world but, at 13lb 7oz, it's still a significant fish because it is a new record for the Orkney Shore Anglers Club.

Takahiro Kondo

Acclaimed ceramic Japanese artist Takahiro Kondo's "Orkney Monolith" series incorporates his unique gintekisai ( “silver mist”) overglaze and luminous layers of cast glass. Each piece in the Orkney Monolith series stands between four and a half and six and a half feet in height and is covered with Kondo’s distinctive gintekisai overglaze.

The technique coats the porcelain surface with tiny droplets of a precious alloy of gold, silver, and platinum (representing “water out of fire”), which catch and refract light, mimicking the appearance of rain-drenched stone.

The works, which recall the ancient standing stones found throughout Scotland’s Orkney Islands, go on display in the U.S. (New York), for the first time this month.

Pentland Pull

The Pentland Firth has been called the greatest untapped source of energy Scotland has ever had, offering northern Scotland an equivalent to the Californian gold rush. 25% of the European tidal energy resource is said to be present in the turbulent waters where the Atlantic and North Sea merge.

This week the huge reserves in the stretch of water between Orkney and the mainland, and the opportunities they present, will be detailed to industry experts.

Members of the British Wind Energy Association, which also promotes wave and tidal power, are on a two-day fact-finding trip to the area, starting today. They will be encouraged to work with local firms and public agencies, and to use Caithness and Orkney as a base.

Skylarks at East Heddle

I did a couple of hours tree maintenance down at East Heddle to day, 3 Skylarks for a while, 50+ Twite passed over, Greenfinches now seem resident. 240 Greylag around all day, 34 Fieldfare feeding with the starling flock were the first i have seen for a while.