I have been in love with Stromness for as long as I can remember what it feels like to be in love.
When visiting cousins in their home in the town, something about this enchanting place wove its way into my four-year-old heart. It has held fast, a crush lasting decades and showing no sign of weakening.
Like most Stromnessians I know, it's the town's quiet charm and the warmth of its people that is to blame for our over-the-top loyalty. If you’ve been there, you will understand. If you’ve seen photos, you can kind of get the idea. But there's nothing like being at the heart of the town to really get to know how it can move you. To take the time to walk along the street, to peer in shop windows, to smell the air as you walk past the cafes, to hear the sound of a lively pub session as you head on your way.
It's in the little details too…the drystone dykes, the lines of clothes drying next to the sea, the cobbles, the weathered benches, the town reflecting on the sea from across the harbour, the fishermen tying up their boats, the casual chatter echoing from pub doorways, the bookshop with its grandiose claim to be Scotland's only drive-in.
It's the freshest bread from the bakery, the hidden lanes that weave like a network of tunnels, the painted shop doorway so narrow you have to enter sideways, the old men in boiler suits passing the time of day, the babies in buggies, the windows showing off glistening displays, the cats eyeing outstretched hands, drivers skilfully manoeuvering the narrow main street, the playpark with an ageing Postman Pat mural, the rows of terracotta chimney pots that frame the horizon against the looming hills of Hoy.
It's all of this, plus the fresh sea air that fills your body as it pushes its way up the street and into your lungs.
It's also the feel you get when you walk by a group of revellers sharing a beer, their laughter reminding you of slower times and simple pleasures. And what's Stromness without the bouncing light on the water as the MV Hamnavoe sparkles at night, an exit to leave this magical place should you wish.
I feel sure you’ll be back.
The Digital Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020