Every place has it’s traditions and ways. Some cool, some a little weird. But they are unique to the area where they began and some easier to explain than others. In Orkney there is a 70-year-old tradition called Shopping Week and My son, Tech Support was involved in this. He told me he was stopped daily by tourists and congratulated on his wedding and in the end, he gave up trying to explain the tradition. It was easier just to smile and accept the good wishes and carry on. I can understand why as I will now try to explain the tradition. But first, a picture of Tech Support looking like he is attending a wedding (and mother of the groom)
Stromness Shopping Week originated after the war when money was still scarce. The idea was to entice people to have some fun and begin to rebuild their lives. Street acts were introduced, bunting hung and a week of celebrations began pulled together by a huge team effort. It was such a success that it continued year after year and there quickly became the introduction of the Shopping Week Queen. This was a girl from the school of around 16 or 17 who was voted and given a white dress to wear, she sat on a ‘throne’ was crowned and had two attendants as well as page boys and a flower girl. ( I admit, I’m not alone in finding it a little weird to be honest, but at the heart of it is something lovely) As things have evolved they now take part in many activities including visiting care homes, judging competitions, and attending many of the events that take place during the week, all dressed in their finery. They are known as the Royal Party and being voted to take part, I’m told, is a huge honour. For the 70th year it was decided that males should be introduced and this is where Tech Support and his friend come in. They were chosen to be the first male attendants and this caused quite a ripple in the community. People wrote in complaints to the radio and voiced their opinion on social media. Some simply didn’t want change and these two young men were caught in the cross fire. Disappointing though it was to see such narrow mindedness from some parts, the majority were extremely positive about the whole thing and delighted to welcome them on board. The young men themselves rose above the comments and showed maturity and dignity. They looked absolutely fantastic and so smart in their kilts we couldn’t have been more proud of them as they went about their duties without complaint. Tech Support has gone from refusing to have his photo taken since he was about 12 to having it taken about 150 times a day. They slipped into their role so seamlessly that many people commented it was as if there had always been male attendants in Shopping Week. Well done to the trailblazers on keeping a tradition going and bringing it forward into the modern day. *gush gush*
After arriving on the lifeboat the Royal Party are piped into the stage ready to take part in the opening ceremony. (press play)
On the last night there’s a parade with more pipe bands, hilarious carnival floats and the royal party smile and wave as they pass by. They had fantastic fun and huge thanks go to the Shopping Week committee for a fantastic effort to pull the whole thing together.
Of the many events, it was amazing to see the sheer effort that goes into making floats, carts, rafts and costumes. A new event this year was the SoapBox Derby. A Whacky Races for Orkney. Every cart made for the event was absolutely brilliant and it was a fantastic event and extremely well attended.
The whole week is finished up with fireworks and street partying. Fabulous!
If I wasn’t at work or attending one of the many events that took place for Shopping Week you could find me in the garden with my new best friend. When we visited Miss Lashes and NotPhil last week we used their chiminea in the garden and really enjoyed it. So much so we immediately bought one and couldn’t wait to get using it. One evening I lit it and sat out in the garden from 6pm until 10pm. Drink in hand, book in the other and Orkney Beef refueling and poking the fire as often as he could get away with. It was absolute heaven, I felt thoroughly restored. Unfortunately, it’s damp and foggy tonight so not chiminea lighting weather. Whilst the rest of the UK boils alive, we have flicked on the heating to give us a quick boost. ( I’m not complaining I promise!)
We are gearing up for a big change in this home and I have been trying to get my head around the fact tech Support is leaving home soon and joining the big wide world. Not only is it a big change, it feels bigger because I will no longer have any children at home. It’s led to all sorts of complicated feelings for me, especially as single parenting was such a struggle. This weekend my emotions burst their banks completely and I could not stop crying. Maybe seeing him all week in the parades and feeling so proud, maybe I’m more tired and emotional, maybe it’s just my age, maybe I’m over thinking things, maybe it’s a combo of all. But I cried solidly for an hour on Friday night and Orkney Beef handed me an entire toilet roll in the end. A couple of tissues just didn’t cut it. If anyone has any tips for beating empty nest blues please let me know. I’m sure he’ll be fine, I just don’t know if I will be. The countdown is on….
Have a great week everyone. Whatever it brings, I’m sure you can handle it. You’ve made it this far. 🙂