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The Foveran
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12 followers
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A few dishes from our menu"s
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3/8/17
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Our refurbished rooms
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3/8/17
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Outside views of Foveran Restaurant With Rooms
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Scrapbook Photos
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Our renovated restaurant with beautiful views across historic Scapa Flow.
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2016-06-15
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Delighted to find our prime Orkney fillet steak is included in this list. (no.16)

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The Boys Ba', as the name suggests, is restricted to those aged 15 years and below. There is no restriction on the lower age limit and small boys of sometimes as young as 5 years old can be seen around the edges, making their first tentative steps into the game. The Boys Ba' is thrown up from the Merket Cross on the Kirk Green on front of St Magnus Cathedral at 10.00.  The Boys game, like the Men's, has grown in size and popularity in recent years and the number of boys participating can number over 100.

The Men's Ba' is thrown up also from the Merket Cross, when the cathedral bell strikes 13:00. The person chosen to "throw up" the Ba, or begin the game, is usually an older Ba' stalwart, but the honour is occasionally given to some local public figure.

The waiting scrum can number up to 350 men and can be a sight to behold. Once thrown up, the Ba' disappears into the scrum and much surging play occurs while the two sides weigh each other up and determine who has the weight on their side on this occasion. 

Occasionally the Ba appears out of the scrum and someone makes a dash through the crowds of spectators. To the casual onlooker this can happen at any moment, but the seasoned Ba watcher can often see what is happening long before the Ba suddenly erupts. Breaks sometimes occur on Broad Street, but can occur anywhere where one side gains sufficient control of part of the scrum.

The Doonies  push to Albert Street, while the Uppies push up to the top of Tankerness Lane. The game may also go down one of the flagstone lanes, or down Castle Street onto the open Junction Road. Once there either side may gain the upper hand by means of a smuggle and run, or the scrum may become immobile in one of the many closes and yards.

However if the Uppies manage to enter Victoria Street, or the Doonies Albert Street, the opposition have a much harder time, due to the narrowness and the press of often many hundreds of keen spectators. All the same the Ba may be restricted for several hours in any of the many lanes and neither side ever gives up the struggle until the goal is reached.

Uppie or Doonie?
Originally the side any individual played on was decided by whether he was born up or doon the gate but when Kirkwall's Balfour Hospital was built in the 1950s, the majority of babies were born there, thus giving a heavy bias to the Uppies. This led to a swing toward family allegiances, meaning players played the same way as their forebears. This tradition continues to this day. For non-orcadians, incomers or indeed anyone with no family history in the game, and often people from the isles or rural areas, their side is determined by the route taken on their first arrival in Kirkwall.

The game has no official rules, but there is a code of honour among players whereby certain acts are considered strictly unacceptable. This code is generally adhered to extremely well by those who play the game and as result the game is self-regulating and self-policing, requiring no intervention from outside parties.

The Doonies goal is the sea, normally within the Basin of the Harbour, but so long as it is immersed in the salt water of Kirkwall Bay, the Ba has gone doon. The Uppies must round the Lang, or Mackinson's corner at the junction of Main Street with New Scapa Road, opposite the Catholic Church, which was the site of the old town gates in bygone times (The last remains of the town gates were removed in the 1950s, leaving the Uppie goal as the gable end of a house on Mackinson's Corner)

Once the Ba has been goaled Up or Doon, lengthy argument often ensues among players on the winning side before a popular individual winner is acclaimed. This winner is awarded the trophy of the game, which is the Ba itself. When the winner is finally decided, he is normally held aloft and carried shoulder-high from the goal by his team-mates in celebration, passing into the ranks of Ba winners and into Kirkwall history.

To stalwart Ba players the ultimate honour is to be awarded a Ba. To have any chance of this honour, a player generally has to have played consistently well for a long period of time (usually around 20 years minimum). Ba winners range from outstanding players in their early thirties to veterans in their mid to late forties.

There are several players who are what is known as a "double winner" in that they have been awarded both a Boys Ba and a Mens Ba during their playing careers.

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View from Foveran today, watching HMS Bangor lay wreaths to mark the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak.

On 14 October 1939, Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. Most of the 1,234 crew were asleep below deck, more than 800 men and boys were killed that night.

 The wreck of Royal Oak, an official maritime war grave, lies almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (4.9 m) beneath the surface.

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A great review of Foveran in Saturday's (4th October) Press & Journal.
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