Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

Photobucket

I have noticed that a large number of pictures in the sidebar of this blog have been replaced by a notice from the picture hosting site photobucket to upgrade to paid hosting for my images. That is not going to happen, and I shall endeavour to move the images to my regular picture hoster, Flickr.com. A lot more user friendly, and free in principle

Monday, 12 June 2017

Monday 12 June

As I type this, just before 9pm, a thin rain is falling on Stornoway. It is very changeable at the moment, and not all that warm. Nonetheless, in recent days I have been able to venture forth outside of town. Yesterday, I accompanied two people to the beaches of Gress, Tolsta and Garry. Last week saw me on a 115 mile trip to Harris (and back). The island retains its beauty in all weathers.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tuesday 6 June

73 years ago, the D-Day landings (Operation Neptune) were underway on four beaches in Normandy, France. It was the beginning of the end of the Second World War in Western Europe. The turning point in the east had come more than a year before, when the forces of Nazi Germany were defeated at Stalingrad, the present-day Volgograd. Originally, D-Day was to have been on June 5th, but the weather was unfavourable. Also, a decoy operation had been put in place to lure the Nazi German forces into thinking that an Allied invasion would occur near Calais. Although the invasion marked the beginning of the end, war was to continue to another 11 months in Europe and 14 months in Asia.

We remember all those who laid down their lives in the defense of freedom in Europe.

Monday 5 June

It is now nearly a fortnight since I returned to Stornoway, after a three-month absence. Much has changed, and yet so little. The town looks the same it did in February, except spring has arrived, and leaves and flowers are out. The nights are short and light, with daylight remaining along the northern horizon between midnight and 3 am, the darkest hours of the day.

P6027640

Just before I left Holland, news emerged of a terrorist attack on a pop concert in Manchester. 22 people, mainly teenagers and children, were killed. Among them was a 14-year old girl from Barra, Eilidh Macleod. Her body was repatriated yesterday, and her funeral was held today. Barra was at a standstill, and most of the islanders were to be found in or around the church in Castlebay. Eilidh was laid to rest in Vatersay, adjacent to Barra, where she was born.
I did not know Eilidh, or her family. I was deeply touched and saddened by the senseless loss of life, perhaps even more so because it involved young people, teenagers and younger. A following attack in London, last Saturday, was equally atrocious. But this loss, to such a small community, was almost unbearable. It certainly was to the islanders.

May she rest in peace. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

13 years ago this week

By the end of this week, it will be thirteen years since I put that CD-ROM into my aging PC and proceeded to install the AOL software. A PCMCIA-card enabled the access to the phone network, and my dial-up connection was up and running. My computer was so old that it was only able to manage access to AOL chatrooms, not much else. AOL chatrooms were a bruising experience, partly as a result of it being a hotbed for right-wing extremism in England. I think I have one contact left from that time. Eighteen months later, I discovered AOL journals and its J-land community. That was lovely caring and sharing community, which only lasted another three years. AOL then closed it down, not even archiving the blogs - we had to transfer them to Blogger. Although I have 70 blog sites (mostly to do with local history in the Scottish islands), I rarely blog anymore. What J-landers are left on-line mostly communicate through Facebook. Not ideal either, lengthy posts like this are a pain, and no formatting. Nonetheless, J-land continues, with the trials of life and (as we saw yesterday) death of its members. I hope it carries on for a lot longer than the 5 years it had on AOHell.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Turk and the Czar - continued

This is an extension to a post I first wrote on The Shell Gallery blog 6 days ago. 

Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan. A dangerous mix, which puts Europe in mortal danger. On April 16th, the Turks will vote in a referendum to afford the Turkish presidents sweeping powers which would turn his presidency into an autocracy. Erdogan is pulling out all the stops to get the diaspora to vote as well, some 5 million strong. His ministers are travelling the length and breadth of Europe - and we saw what happened in Rotterdam. It was thoroughly disconcerting to see the mass of flag-waving Turks in the city, turning to rioting when their minister was sent away. And some militants claiming that the city of Rotterdam will soon be theirs.

It has been suggested that Erdogan wishes to reinstate the Caliphate, which ruled Turkey until 1924. He could just as easily wish to reinstate the Ottoman Empire, which (at one point) reached as far as Vienna in the 17th century. What does that remind you of?

Vladimir Putin. He wishes to reinstate the Russian Federation to within the borders of the old USSR, abolished in 1991. He also wishes to extend his sway to the whole of Europe, made easier by US president Donald Trump. He is not too bothered about Europe, and Putin knows that.

If Erdogan gets his new powers, he could just as easily foment trouble in the Turkish communities in Europe, setting off civil unrest if not worse. Erdogan could cancel the migrant deal, that has stopped the flow of migrants from Syria and other places across the Aegean Sea into Greece and the EU. Hundreds of thousands would come across, causing further instability in Europe. And, with Donald Trump not really minding what happens in Europe, Vladimir Putin could march in to restore stability on Russia's borders. In Ukraine. In Poland. In Germany. In Holland. In the United Kingdom, where Brexit will loosen the ties to continental Europe, where Sturgeon's Scotland seeks to secede.

Why does Putin have this chance, you may well ask. Because after the abortive coup in Ankara in July last year, Western leaders were very reluctant to congratulate him. The Dutch foreign ministerwas actually among the first to call his Turkish counterpart at the time. So, Putin saw his chance. It is often argued that Turkey has so much to lose in a conflict with Europe. Erdogan may calculate that he has more to gain through being Putin's puppet than through being in NATO or friendly with the EU.

There is one other angle on this. If there is conflict between Europe and Turkey, this also means a schism in the NATO alliance. Should this really come to pass, then Putin will have achieved his aims. We should be very worried - if Erdogan gets the majority of Turks to vote Evet. Yes.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Band of Bloggers

It is 8½ years since I started to blog in Atlantic Lines. I opened this journal to carry on after AOL pulled the plug on J-land. That was a community of bloggers, which tried to make a go of it here on Blogger, but ended up on Facebook.

One of their number, Sugar Lewis, has announced that she will close her Facebook account. Sugar has provided me with most of the tags on a memorial journal, commemorating those of us who passed away. Sugar, an ordained minister, has been battling ill health for a long time, and often shared the joys and woes of her furrs. She will now retire from the internet. Sugar, you will be missed.







 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Monday 20 February

I am travelling to Holland today, to spend some time with family. I hope to be able to return to Stornoway in the next couple of weeks.