Dandy Fellows, An eclectic, convivial, meeting place and Glasto. . .
A day in the life of a rural retreat; indeed a peaceful haven of agriculture, fishing and human life with a low crime-rate might sound routine and possibly boring to some. But you never know what to expect in Orkney. Whilst shopping in Kirkwall we met these fine dandy fellows and seemingly a lady of good repute tarrying in the high street. They looked more bewildered by us than we did by them, for we always expect the unexpected in Orkney.
The quaint village of St Margaret’s Hope is the centre of community life for South Ronaldsay (the happy island) which is also the most southerly and therefore believed by its inhabitants to be the sunniest of all the Orkney Islands. Also, there are neither policemen nor a police station on the island as they are not needed. So the likelihood of being arrested for public nudity when you’re caught skinny-dipping on the beach on Sunday is extremely low.
St Margaret’s Hope is also gateway to Orkney with the shortest sea journey courtesy of Pentland Ferries.
We stopped in the village at Robertson’s, hitherto a local family business dating back from 1836 which traded as G Robertson and son from 1878.
When last we saw the premises it had been a general store. But in another step of welcome evolution the enterprise had metamorphosed into an eclectic and convivial meeting place.
By day a pleasant and peaceful licensed tea-room with an array of home-baked delights.
A collective of local folks contribute to creating the freshly made temptations. How delightful to find a purveyor of good food without factory made, processed, prepacked, microwaved nasty’s in sight!
For the hungry passers-by there are savouries including Robertson’s, ploughman’s lunches, scampi and chips and Williamsons brilliant burgers.
This transformation from one business to another also heralds the generational introduction of Jenna whose vision inspired the development of this ‘coffee hoose’ bar and meeting place. Her happy smiling persona is definitely an added attraction.
By night the business turns into a colourful inn, with local luminaries, sometimes with live music and sometimes an eclectic cocktail bar depending upon the evening.
The atmosphere is enhanced by décor that displays artefacts from a bygone era as objet d'art.
There is an element of social enterprise about Robertson's which is continuing the family tradition of providing advice and guidance to Orkney visitors together with a travel centre area for the provision of maps and local interest leaflets.
There is also an element of social consciousness demonstrated by the provision of one of the best disabled adaption washing and toilet facilities that we have discovered. Well done goodly people!
Robertson's: What a welcome, delightful and happy addition to the village and certainly one more very good reason to Wake Up in South Ronaldsay.
And finally, to end our day, more evidence that you should expect the unexpected in Orkney when we discovered that many people had gone to the Glasto festival which was staged in the neighbouring village of Burray.
"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