You might think that the nightlife of Hoy, population 419, would be a docile kind of thing; however you would be wrong. The 419 people of Hoy get up to all sorts of things when the great Sun goes down. Understandably, they would not want the secrets of all their night time activities divulged here; but they have given me permission to describe a few of the things they get up to.
Margaret & Penelope Vandercamp
Hailing from Eastern Austria, retired flower sellers, the Vandercamps, are often up much later than you would probably assume! Living through the second world war as children and surviving persecution through most of their lives, they feel more comfortable waking up in the afternoon and staying up through the night. ‘Blackouts were hard during the war,’ says Margaret, 92, ‘now, Penny and I love to stay up late most nights, burning candles and just enjoying the beautiful night sky.’ During the nights, the two sisters catch up on reading; play board games and reminisce about their youth. ‘The night times used to scare me, but now I cherish them.’ Penelope finds it easier to sleep during the days, a task achieved through the use of blackout curtains, sound pollution is never a problem on Hoy!
A relative newcomer to the island, Jim moved to Hoy to escape the hustle and bustle of his last island home, the Isle of Wight. Being significantly younger than the average inhabitant on Hoy, he prefers the peace and quiet that comes with older neighbours. ‘On the Isle of Wight, I could be kept up all hours of the night by rowdy tourists and teenage drinkers. I actually started to develop quite aggressive stomach ulcers from…the stress.’ Aged 42, Jim spends his evenings cooking and preparing grand feasts for the island dwellers. Tourist season is always a busy time for him; fresh meat is always hard to come by but somehow he always finds a way to get by. ‘The island dwellers are always hungry, a lot of them are old and unable to prepare decent meals. I find it deeply satisfying, doing the rounds and getting them the nutrition that they desire.’
One of the few families on the islands, the Maneatons come from a proud lineage of Hoy-based families. With no schools on the islands, all twenty-seven recorded generations of the family have been home-schooled. Adam, 55, the current patriarch leads the lectures in the family’s ancient homestead. With just under fifty members of the Maneatons currently residing on the island, the entire clan attend all the evening lectures, with senior members taking guest spots once a month. Having developed their own learning curriculum which starts with ages 2 upwards, the Maneaton elders prize obedience and tradition above all else. ‘Our ways may appear strange to main-landers, but ours is a way of life steeped in sacrifice and honour.’ The guesthouse at the Maneaton’s is much in demand during the summer months, with many tourists becoming so taken with the island, that some choose to never leave.