Header Photo:

Travel-ted on the summit of Burnswark Hill, Dumfriesshire. 2015 © Lucy Gibbon

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Travel-ted and the Secret of the Gloup

One day Ethie and Travel-ted visit the Gloup at Mull Head in the East Mainland of Orkney.
A gloup is an opening in the roof of a sea cave. They walk along the path until they come to a walkway that overlooks the gloup.

Travel-ted leans on the fence and looks down into the chasm. He throws a stone and it takes a long time to splash into the water below.

"That is very deep." thinks Travel-ted
"Hang on", said Ethie, "I'll take a photo of you."

Ethie walks back down the path and turns around to take the picture. Travel-ted is now balancing on the top rung of the fence by himself.

He looks a bit vulnerable, so Ethie shouts, "Be careful T-T!"
            "I'm fine" said Travel-ted. But then he spots something down in the chasm.
                               "Ooh, I wonder what that is?" he says and leans over the fence to get a better look.

"Watch out! You're going to fall", shouts Ethie. She runs back to the fence, but is too late! Travel-ted slips off the fence and falls down into the deep dark chasm.

Ethie doesn't hear a splash, so she knows that he is not in the water.  But she doesn't know what to do. The chasm is too steep to climb down and the only entrance is by sea, so she has no way of getting to him. 

"Help!", comes a far off voice from down below. It's Travel-ted. Ethie is so relieved he is okay.

"I can't see you", shouts Ethie, "where are you?"

It is so dark, Ethie can't see him.
"Help", shouts T-T again. "I'm stuck on a ledge"
Just then, Ethie hears louder shouts from the chasm. "What's wrong, has someone fallen in?" The louder shouts come from birdwatchers in a small boat who have come to look for seabirds.

"Yes", calls Ethie, "my teddy. He's trapped on a ledge. Can you see him? He's wearing a blue jumper"

"Wait, yes, we can see him."

Ethie watches as one of the people in the boat reaches out to the side of the chasm with a long pole. The pole is taken back into the boat with something blue on it.

"We've got him", they shout. "We'll send him back up to you."

They throw a rope up for Ethie to catch and she pulls Travel-ted up to safety.
Ethie pulls Travel-ted up with the rope

Nearly there.

"Thank you so much", shouts Ethie down to the boat. All the birdwatchers cheer and clap. Ethie throws the rope back down to the boat, then she and Travel-ted watch as it heads back out to sea.

Ethie gives Travel-ted a great big hug. "Oh, I'm so glad you are fine, I really thought I'd lost you this time. You have to be more careful!"

"I'm sorry", says Travel ted, "it's just that I saw something interesting. So...can you lower me back down?"

"What! No! Why?" Ethie is shocked to hear this.

"Well, because there is a box down there on the ledge. I want to see what is inside it."

"Hmm," says Ethie, "oh all right then." She also wants to know what is in the box.

She walks to her car where she finds another piece of rope and some twine . She then ties the rope to Travel-ted and lowers him back down into the gloup.

Ethie slowly lowers Travel-ted down the side of the gloup

And on to the ledge again
He finds the box and ties the twine around it and shouts to Ethie to pull it up.

The box is heavy

There are definitely things in it.
It jangles as it hits the side of the gloup

Nearly at the top
Ethie then pulls up Travel-ted onto the safety of the wooden walkway.
"Now for the moment of truth", says Travel-ted and opens the box.

"I bet it's just a load of old junk", says Ethie. 


 "Er, no it isn't," said Travel-ted, "come closer, look at this!"

"This is definitely NOT junk."

"Oh! How exciting, that is not junk. That is treasure," says Ethie. "I wonder why it was down in the Gloup?"

"We'll need to investigate this. Let's take it home." says Travel-ted.

Ethie drives them both home and they get some tea. The next day they both go to the Orkney Room in Orkney Library & Archive to look up the Gloup and lost treasure. Travel-ted reads some old books but he can't find find anything on lost treasure at the Gloup. All he finds is tales of a strange green light that is sometimes seen there at night.

So he looks up pirate books instead. "It must be pirate treasure", says Travel-ted. It says in this book that Pirate Gow and his shipmates raided the big houses of Orkney. He was captured at Eday, but they never found any of the stolen property. 

Just then one of the Archivists gets a phone call. It's the Orkney Museum, they've found something interesting. You'd better come with us to have a look.

Ethie, Travel-ted and the Archivist walk round to the Museum. The museum curator waits for them in the Groatie Hoose in the gardens at the back. The Groatie Hoose is a folly supposedly built from the ballast of Pirate Gow's ship.

The curator shows them a poster she found in the Groatie Hoose.

"Oh no!", said Travel-ted and Ethie together, "what are we going to do?"

"If you know about this", the curator says, "then we should call the Police". When a policeman arrives, he does not believe the story at all. But he agrees to meet the Travel-ted, Ethie and the curator back at the Groatie Hoose at midnight with the box of treasure just to see if anything happens.

Just before midnight comes, they all gather in the garden and put the treasure box in the Groatie Hoose. Then they hide inside the museum and keep watch out the window.

On the stroke of midnight in the simmer dim, they see a strange green glow moving through the garden. The glowing light moves around the old folly.

Then they hear a gravelly voice shout out, "Ha-Harrr! It's here!" The glow then forms itself into the shape of a man. A tall bearded man wearing old-fashioned clothes, just like pirates from the books. He stands for a moment looking right at them and holding the treasure box. Travel-ted shivers. Then the pirate runs off through the garden.

The policeman is startled but intrigued now and says, "Right. Let's follow him!" They find it hard to follow the pirate as he runs very fast. Soon though, he turns back into a glowing light and shoots off into the night. "Car. Now!" shouts the policeman. They all pile into the police car and follow the light. The light eventually leads them back to the Gloup where it vanishes into the darkness.

"I'm not giving up now", says the policeman. He calls for the coastguard to come and they all search the gloup with ropes and torches. Not an easy job in the eerie light. Eventually close to the ledge where Travel-ted found the box of treasure, they hear voices inside the cliff. They find a narrow opening. It is too small for the coastguard men, but not too small for Travel-ted.

"Off you go little bear", they say. "Be careful" says Ethie. Travel-ted edges along the narrow tunnel following the sounds of the voices. Soon he reaches a large cave full of pirates all cheering and laughing.

"Ha-harrr! We fooled them and got our treasure box back!" Travel-ted watches as the big tall bearded pirate tips out the contents of the box onto an enormous pile of treasure. Gold, and silver jewels, goblets and chains. But also framed pictures and fine furniture too. In fact the cave is full of many fine things. "It's the lost treasure of the old houses of Orkney" realizes Travel-ted. He inches his way back out of the cave towards the lights of the coastguard and policemen and tells them the news.

By Thursday of the following week, the Orcadian newspaper's front page story is all about the recovery of the lost treasure of the old houses of Orkney and how Travel-ted found them.


All stories written by Lucetta Gibbon
Disclaimer - no bears were thrown into chasms during the making of this story. 
All photos were taken by LG and PB, except the boat in the Gloup which was taken by Pauline Wilson. Many thanks to PB for his help with the photos on a very blustery day.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

On Tour

Visiting friends. The Flowerpot, Lockerbie my favourite gift shop.

Monday 6 February 2017

Travel-ted and the Moving Stones of Orkney

Travel-ted and Ethie are exploring the islands of Orkney. There are lots of old standing stones, stone circles and stone buildings in Orkney. 
The Broch o Gurness

One of the stone buildings is called Maeshowe. Maeshowe is a special place.


The entrance is a long low passage which opens up into a stone room. In December every year the setting sun shines along the passage and lights up the stone room.

One year something unusual happens. Overnight a very large stone appears in the field opposite Maeshowe. No-one knows who put it there. All the people think it is amazing and go to have a look. The archaeologists all come and take measurements and dig all around it, but find nothing else. Here is T-T next to the large stone.

As they all stand looking at it one man comes rushing across the field, shouting, "You have to move that stone! You have to move that stone!"

"Why?" everyone replies.

"Because it is blocking the view. It will stop the sun from reaching the passageway into Maeshowe. Look I've worked it out."

He shows Ethie a page full of lines, circles and sums. She doesn't understand any of it.

"How can we move it? It's huge! Too heavy to lift. Maybe a tractor could push it over? "

They asked Ethie's friend Bob if he would try pushing it over with his tractor.

But then another archaeologist comes running across the field,

"Stop! You can't damage it. It is one of the Standing Stones of Stenness. I think it has been moved. Look!"

Sure enough when they look across the fields to the Stones of Stenness, one of them, the biggest one is missing!

None of the experts can figure out how this massive stone can have been moved overnight with no evidence of digging or dragging.

"This is quite a mystery." said Travel-ted, then he has an idea. He whispers in Ethie's ear.

"Ask the experts if anything has happened around the any of the stone circles or buildings recently."

Ethie does so and the archaeologists say that a group of language experts have been studying the runic symbols at Skara Brae.

"Hmm" said Ted. "I wonder if they read any of it out loud?"

"What are you getting at Ted?" asks Ethie.

 "I'm not sure. Take me to the library! I want to look something up."

They head to Orkney Library & Archive where Travel-ted looks at the folklore books in the Orkney Room.

"A-ha! Found it, listen to this Ethie. This is the tale of the giants who used to live in Orkney, but were caught in the sun and all turned to stone. Somehow, I think, one of them must have come back to life again and moved."

"How is that possible?" said Ethie.

"An ancient spell, I think", said Ted. "Ok, now we need to go to Skara Brae stone village."

At Skara Brae, Ted sets off on his own through the village looking for the runic symbols. People are not allowed in the village in case they damage it, so Ethie just keeps watch. But Travel-Ted is so small, he can't harm anything.

"I've found it", he shouts back to Ethie, "it's on one of the stone beds."

"Ok, now we need to find the language people. They need to repeat the spell, so that the stone giant will move again. And we have to be carefull with time, so the giant doesn't wander off."

"I have an idea about that", said Ethie.

What a lot they have to organise. They find the language people at the Ring of Brodgar, and tell them the story. 

They both laugh, thinking it's a big joke, but agree to help anyway, for fun. Ethie then goes shopping to Shearers and buys a portable barbeque set, matches and some sausages.

At 4 am they all meet up at the Stones of Stenness. Behind one of the remaining stones, Ethie sets up the barbeque and soon a lovely smell of cooking sausages wafts through the air.

"Ok", said Ted, "Say the spell!".

One of the language experts reads it out and suddenly all the stones in the circle come to life.

"Eek!" says Ted.

"Run!" shouts Ethie.

"Hide!" shout the rune experts.

They all run as fast as they can to the other side of the field. Hiding behind a water trough, they peer at the amazing sight before them. A group of giants are laughing, shaking hands and patting each other on the back. Then they watch as another giant runs into the group.

"Brugott, we thought you had escaped!"

"Me too", said Brugott, "but I got stuck again over at Maeshowe."

"We're all free at last!" one shouted, punching the air with his fists, " Right. Let's go home before the sun rises."

"Wait a minute", another one sniffs the air, "I smell something tasty. Let's eat first!"

They all sit in a circle and begin eating the sausages. Giants really are a bit stupid, because as they eat, they don't notice that the sun is rising, and they all turn to stone again.

"Phew" said Ted. "That was a close one."

 "All the stones are back in the circle again and Maeshowe will light up as normal this year", says Ethie, "You've saved the day, Ted."

"You're welcome", says Ted.


All stories written by Lucetta Gibbon

Monday 2 January 2017

Hogmanay Poem

Our Hogmanay party had many bowls, with crisps and homemade sausage rolls.
There was laughter, music, stories and wine. 
The bells, whisky and Auld Lang Syne. 

Happy New Year everyone!

by EJ & T-T 2nd Jan 2017

Monday 26 December 2016

Merry Christmas

The gang is altogether and enjoying the Christmas holidays. No outside trips, as it is very windy in Orkney just now. Not a safe time for small toys to be out. Happy holidays everyone! T-T

Sunday 25 September 2016

Poem for Friends

Here is a little poem Ethie and I wrote for the Stromness Writing Group. They are really a supportive bunch, even to teddies.

Travel-ted at writing group.

At Writing Group today
Many people sit around
I watch them scribble away
There is not a single sound

While cups of tea grow cold
And cakes remain uneaten
Stories slowly unfold
Writer's block now beaten

LG 23 Aug 2016