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Orkney Adventures: Finding a Feline Friend

So, something funny happened to me on my last day on Orkney.

I am an impulsive traveller, and besides booking accommodations and the tickets to take me there, I had not really planned out much of my trip. My spontaneous nature never allows me to strategize; I always want to just go with the flow. However, I quickly learned that this scheme wasn’t going to suit me very well for this trip. In the times of Covid, you need to make sure you are just a little bit more prepared than normal.

I had woken up early that morning, in the Airbnb that I was staying in, and got myself primed for the day. I was leaving that night and needed to check out of my room, so I packed everything and cleaned up behind myself before leaving the key behind. Loaded up in my rental car, which was due back at 1730, I drove to the port in Houton with plans to take the ferry across to the smaller isle of Hoy despite having not set this up in advance. Once I arrived, I found that the chance of me getting there was good, the chance of getting me back, was not so good. I had to rearrange my plans. I had already seen the Ring of Bodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. I had been to the Bay of Skaill and seen Skara Brae. I had visited and explored the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. I had hiked along the cliffs of Yesnaby. What would I do today if I couldn’t make it to Hoy and its Old Man?

I decide on a drive. I would let the road take me and whenever I came across a landmark or interesting trail, I would simply let my impulsive nature take me where it willed. As I made my way along A965 I had stopped to hike the nature reserve of Marwick Head and saw the Kitchener Memorial. I had explored the town of Egilsay, the home of St. Magnus Church, and the Birsay Earl’s Palace. From there, I followed the trail across the rocky shores to the Brough of Birsay and its stunning gold lighthouse. Read all about it, here.

An Unexpected Friend in an Unexpected Place

I’m traveling alone and alone gets lonely sometimes. I am missing my children, their touch, and the nearness of family. It seems that sometimes the universe has a way of delivering a bit of comfort when you need it most.

Simply following google maps and pulling over at each sign along the motorway that held the Scottish thistle, I found myself in a small village called Evie. This quaint wee village is home to one of the most well-preserved brochs on Orkney. It is an Iron Age complex called the Broch of Gurness which sits alongside the Eynhallow Sound across from the island of Rousay.

As I made my way into the carpark, I saw something that caught my eye. A grey cat was sitting outside of one of the other cars looking up at it as if it wanted in. I thought maybe it had gotten out of the car somehow and was waiting for them to come back. I pulled into my spot, turned off the engine and opened my door to get out. There was the cat. Before I could even stand from my seat, the cat was pawing its way up my leg and looking up at me with green and brown eyes. I couldn’t help myself, I picked him up.

He immediately pawed his way up my jacket and curled into me, even wrapping his little paws around my neck. He was warm and soft and purring loudly in my ear. I was stunned. Whose cat was this? Where did it come from? I looked around and no one else was in the carpark. I wrapped one arm up around his bottom and held him to my chest in awe. I hadn’t been hugged in a long time and holding this startling friendly feline felt amazing. I didn’t know what to do.

My head was already filling up with how in the world I might take him home with me. Unsure what to do, I just went ahead and walked onto the site thinking that maybe I might see someone and ask if they knew who he belonged to. There was a mother and her two kids who said they too had seen him but didn’t know where he had come from. They assumed he was a family cat to some nearby house. I was imagining the same as he was so well-fed and clean. Still, I felt unsure of what to do. He was in no hurry to free me from his grasp and I was more than happy to hold him. So, I simply made my way through the ruins with my new friend, my first companion in what felt like too long.

As we walked through the ruins together, I talked to him about my day and whether he was really listening to me or not, it was nice to have someone to talk to. I read the signs on the different sections in the ruins and my new friend kept me toasty warm.

On my way back out into the car park, I felt him stirring and before I knew it, he was wiggling himself free. I sat him down. He looked up and me as if saying “It was nice to meet you. Take care.” And off he scampered.

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