We made a spontaneous dash to Orkney to visit Tom and Rhonda Muir. Then we contrived to banish them to the wrong camera (hence no pix of them!) and ended up with shots of a hotel, a statue and a charming young couple on the steps of a classic edifice in urgent need of refurbishment (see my previous blog posts re: fund-raising campaign). We stopped in to say hello to the owner, Ivan Craigie, and whoosh! back I flashed to 1998, my first visit to Orkney, and Ivan inviting me to ride the back of his tractor to cross the rough field to the water where as a boy, in a "noust," John Rae stored his boat. What a time we had -- not just then, but today, zooming around on a Tom-led tour of cottages, beautifully restored, dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, all in aid of a crash-course on the history of the Clearances in Orkney. Except for Tom, who even knew they happened?