January weather in North Britain has certainly brought a new meaning to the term DRIVING AROUND ORKNEY, but it’s the wind that’s in the driving seat this winter. Atlantic storms have battered the coast line since November, and Birsay is no exception. Good to know then, that summer lies ahead at Annie’s Place and we will see wild  flowers and fields of barley just a few months from now.  Two recent awards, one national and one international can testify to Orkney’s attraction for the visitor: Orkney has been named among the top 50″ best places to live” in the UK …..the only one in Scotland….. and Orkney was voted best major archeological world site to visit by America’s National Geographic Magazine.

In our village we celebrated the New Year’s at Sheila Marwick’s place till 3.30 am, then up next day to do more Scottish “First-footing”at the Campbells’  till 6pm. It’s customary here for the man of the family to step over his neighbour’s doorstep with his bottle of whisky to share around (discreetly taking the last drams back home) and a lump of coal or peat for his neighbour’s fire.

For 2014, Robin also took his fiddle along to play a newly composed fiddle tune he had composed half-an-hour before the bells, for his hostess….. another old Scots custom  –  if you are a fiddler, that is.  The Strathspey tune is entitled Miss Sheila Smith o’ Links House.  Our friend Sheila  was born just 100 yards up the road at Links House in Palace, Birsay.

With the new year comes an important development for the village…..new owner’s at the village shop, right next door to Annie’s Place.  It has always been important for our self catering guests to be able to have food supplies, drinks, newspapers and petrol right in the centre of the village. Good to know that new owners Caron and Ian have just taken over the shop, Palace Stores,and will be developing it this summer for our future needs. Good luck to them –  running the farthest north-west village shop in the British Isles!  Tesco had better look to its laurels, with such competition in the market.

Yes it will be a good new year at Annie’s Place, so welcome to all our guests who have made early reservations.