June is hope and optimism. Hope that the summer to come is great, hope that all the well laid plans for the year work, hope that the ideas for the garden that you still have to develop will become reality.


Up here the growing season is often 6-8 weeks shorter than in the south of the UK. June in Orkney can be more like a south late April or May and you may find daffodils still in their pomp, certainly bluebells freshly budding. For the visitor, June can be a very busy month, events large and small fall thick and fast.

A very good example of what characterises Orkney folk is the The Orkney Fine Wine Festival 1st-8th June (2013).

This was started in 2007 by Duncan Maclean and the Longship, part of the Gorie family business founded in the 1850s that supplies wine and cheese to restaurants and individual wine lovers. The passion and dedication of their approach to the wine trade led to the business being named UK Restaurant Wine Supplier of the Year in a Restaurant magazine/Wine Australia competition a few years ago.

The festival is a fun, informal series of events based on the best epicurean fare that Orkney has to offer– tastings, food and wine matching, talks by visiting winemakers, celebrating nearly a century and a half of this small but very well formed wine and cheese merchant. Certainly worth checking out if you enjoy good wines and great food.


If you are a golfer and wish to tick an unusual box bring your clubs and if the weather is kind you can experience teeing off at just about any time of night as the longest day approaches. All three courses on the Mainland will welcome you and for the more competitive you could enter the Stromness Golf Club Midnight foursomes Competition on June 24th, starting approx 8pm.

The prestigious and international St Magnus Festival  June  20th -27thth (2013) draws the month to a close. The St Magnus Festival is the annual midsummer celebration of the musical arts, which is renowned for its premieres and atmospheric presentations.

The now acclaimed festival was created in 1977. It was a chance meeting in 1970 between the Orcadian poet, George Mackay Brown, and London-based composer, Peter Maxwell Davies, in the beautiful surroundings of Rackwick Bay that led to Max making his home on the island of Hoy. The first seeds of an Orkney music festival were about to be sown. George died in 1996 at the age of 75. Max went on to become the Queens composer and is generally regarded as our leading living composer . He remains a commanding presence at the Festival which is often used to premier new works.

Recently the direction of the festival has been moving toward a more inclusive arts and cultural event adding the related Magfest to the itinerary, keeping the highbrow but extending into more contemporary culture.

It seems from the outside at least that this is a very good move, bringing more vitality and life in general to the Festival.

Set at the longest day, the festival’s drama, poetry, visual art, jazz, classical and contemporary music in choral, orchestral and informal performances attracts capacity audiences in the long, light maybe even warm sometimes, summer days.geranium.jpg

Over the years, numerous distinguished artists have appeared at the festival – including Vladimir Ashkenazy, André Previn, Julian Bream, Imogen Cooper, George Pauk, Evelyn Glennie, John Harle and JoannaMacGregor.

Visiting orchestras and ensembles have included the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, the Nash Ensemble, the Scottish Ensemble and Psappha.