When asked what he wanted for Christmas, my husband said, ‘North Ronaldsay lamb’.
During our Orkney visit in September, we had made the journey to North Ronaldsay, the most northerly island of the archipelago. We went by plane. What a contrast to our last plane journey from Australia! The flight from Kirkwall Airport to North Ronaldsay took 18 minutes in the tiny inter-island plane. It seated 8 (I think), and we were all squashed together – no aisle, no room to move.
I was right behind the driver (sorry, pilot) on the outward journey, and had a wonderful view of the different islands as we passed over them on a lovely sunny day.
The airport on North Ronaldsay was a field, and the airport staff one lady who let us out through a five-barred gate. We found a driver prepared to show us the island, and finally came face-to-face with North Ronaldsay’s famous seaweed-eating sheep.
Orkney is full of sheep, but these are really special. As you can see, they are physically different from normal sheep. They live on the shore – there are walls to keep them out of the fields – and eat nothing but seaweed. Their meat is considered by many to be a great delicacy. My husband was immediately interested. He loves trying unusual food native to the places we visit; in France he once – but only once! – presented me with snails and frogs’ legs to cook and serve.
So I have now done what I can about his Christmas request, and found a helpful Kirkwall butcher, kindly recommended by Bruce who sometimes comments on this blog. And we will have North Ronaldsay mutton (probably, as the lamb is seasonal) for our Christmas dinner. Who needs turkeys?