During the past 10 years Orkney has appeared at the top of many quality-of-life surveys which stimulates the curiosity factor of many. Unpolluted atmospheres with an abundance of fresh air, breath-taking landscapes without motorways, factories, high-rise buildings, multi-storey car parks and stories of human longevity all provide and an additional stimulus for traveller’s curiosity. Yet this natural countryside haven is not stuck in a time warp. Orkney’s rich cultural heritage developed from a close-to-nature lifestyle of fishing and agriculture blends seamlessly with facets of modernity. An avant-garde theatre, a swimming pool and Health Centre Complex many London boroughs would be envious of, modern school buildings and soon-to-be a new build hospital facility blend seamlessly into a small town nestled around its 870-year-old cathedral.
All of this is surrounded by rich pastureland, ocean views, Island collaged horizons, terrestrial skies and sprinkled with quaint hamlets and villages with old world charm. Magically, archaeological artefacts burst through the surface of the earth to form a visible and touchable direct link to Neolithic and Palaeolithic forefathers.
Combination of physical surroundings and the culture of Orcadian people create an intrinsic value to the quality of life on these beautiful islands.
In 2016, during the summer tourist season Orkney plays host to no less than one hundred and twelve cruise ship landings. They will be pouring tens of thousands of ‘have to see it all in one day’ tourists into long lines of coaches, all heading for the same list of ‘must see’ places. Cruise liner visits.
Eastward House provide guests with specialist briefings
reflecting people’s individual interests with the single aim of helping them to maximise the benefit of their time in Orkney. A principal feature of these briefings is “how to avoid tourists”.
Staying outside of the key day-trip tourist tracks is a great start. Drive over the Churchill Barriers that span Scapa Flow, dip into tourist spots then return to calmness and relax with excellent cuisine and good company. Touch Real Orkney.
For a list of cultural events that feature many great experiences which are often not on the ‘must see’ lists of cruise line passengers please click here
Each year we celebrate the traditional Japanese Setsubun festival (as part of the Spring festival) on February 3rd marking a Seasonal Division. Setsubun is thought of a New Year’s Eve and features a ritual to cleanse away the evil of the previous year and drive away evil spirits for the year to come. The ritual called is mamemaki (豆撒き) which means ‘bean scattering’.
And so it is that we gathered with a few goodly friends from Pure Orkney and the Blue Lobster Bar to ward off evil spirits from Eastward House. In the cold night air we chanted Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! whilst throwing roasted soya beans as a command for demons to leave.
This was followed by devouring uncut maki sushi roles in one continuous munch whilst facing that particular years lucky compass direction as defined by the particular zodiac symbol of the year.
Here are a few seconds of people frightening away demons!
Naturally grown in fresh water mountain streams, wasabi stems are cut and shipped to be freshly grated into an aromatic, slightly pungent and unique flavour. Wasabi that is processed into a powder or paste for convenient shipping and usage is but a pale suggestion of the real thing. Typically in the Western world, it is generally an imitation product made from horseradish and food colouring.
In many Japanese places a chef will rub, pound into a paste and serve minutes before it is going to be eaten. This preserves the unique flavour and smell that awakens our nostrils and enlivens our taste buds; the peak of this aroma and flavour diminishes within 15 minutes of being prepared. So if you have never eaten freshly prepared wasabi then you truly have never experienced the real, scintillating sensation.
The plant is a member of the brassicaceae family which includes mustard, cabbages and horseradish, although, either individually or combined none of them can replicate even a hint of the true wasabi taste.
Pictured here are three stems of culinary excitement at Eastward House from mountain streams in Nara prefecture, Japan.
"This church had 134 years of weddings, blessings and Sunday school; it must be Inculcated with love, the walls must exude happiness and joy." Keiko Yamaga-White November 2007