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Lambing snow and groatie buckies

The beginning of April is a special time in Orkney. Spring is coming, the daffodils are coming out, the soil is starting to warm up and the evenings are light for long enough to allow for a sneaky mooch on the beach after a day's work.

And yet, as regular as clockwork but always surprising, comes the lambing snow.

On Friday I needed to clear my head. In fact I had needed to blow the cobwebs away for several days but the weather was so awful even I wouldn't head out in it. The hail stings and the winds give you earache, gloves are never warm enough and chill blains abound if you are not careful. So despite the snow, sleet, hail, wind and generally nasty weather I headed out.

When I got to the beach everything had calmed down. I timed it perfectly - no people, no wind, and a hint of warm sunshine.

As they say in Orkney, if you don't like the weather just wait 5 minutes and it will change for you. I've heard it described as feeling like you are on a small boat with the weather scudding through and you watch it from a distance, see it arrive, experience whatever it has to throw at you and then you watch it move off.

Like many Orcadians, I need the peace and quiet of the beach and I search for groatie buckies on the high strand line. These tiny cowrie shells are spread thinly enough to be tricky to find, but are not so rare that you give up looking. Finding one is enough for me, as long as I can hold that tiny form in my hand as I am walking on wet sand I am content.

On Friday I found 3. They bring luck and a contentment that is heightened by the hail, sleet and snow that chases me back to the car invigorated and chilled.

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