Title picture: Big skies, Stornoway, 19 February 2015

Monday, 23 February 2015

Arnish Fabrication Yard

In the days of yore, I wrote posts like this on my local blog "Arnish Lighthouse". As that became defunct in July last year, I'm moving my rants to Atlantic Lines. Enjoy.

The Arnish Fabrication Yard in Stornoway faces closure once more. Over the decade that I've followed events in our wee town, the AFY has gone from offering "3,500 jobs in the renewables industry" to being closed for months. In 2005, the proposed North Lewis Windfarm would see "the diaspora flocking back to the island", as it would bring "400 local jobs". Well, the NLW never came to be. The Eishken and Pairc Windfarms are moribund, awaiting an interconnector that nobody is prepared to commit themselves to. It will require nearly £1bn and a large number of on-shore windfarms to be made economically viable. Windfarms only, as industries developing other sources of renewable energy, wave- and tidal power, have effectively been killed off by the Scottish Government. The same Scottish Government that wants to have 20% of the Scottish energy requirement coming out of renewable energy by 2020. The same Scottish Government that put all its eggs in the basket of the oil industry, which is now going into a slump as the oil price is nosediving. And it's that slump that's threatening to close the Fabrication Yard. The revolving door is closing again. Heaven knows when it will swing open again.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bliadhna nan Caorach

The Chinese New Year occurred this week, heralding the Year of the Sheep. It's the sheep that features heavily in the history of the Highlands and Islands of the last two hundred years. It was the humble sheep that took the place of people and communities the length and breadth of northern Scotland. Not the fault of the sheep. But the fault of those who used its low cost to justify removal of people from land they had inhabited since time immemorial. The fault of a government who committed the ultimate folly in getting rid of its most precious asset - people - by permitting these clearances. Sheep still litter the Highlands and Islands, not to great financial benefit to their owners.

In history, there was another Year of the Sheep, the one referred to in the Gaelic title to this piece. The year was 1792. More information here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Thursday 19 February

P2192900 P2192904 P2192906 P2192908 P2192913 P2192915

Wednesday 18 February

P2182899

Tuesday 17 February

P2172896 MV Loch Seaforth leaving at 7 am
P2172898

Monday 16 February

P2162871 P2162876 P2162879 P2162880 P2162883 P2162886 P2162888 P2162893
Today, the ferry terminal was taken into use today after being out of commission since last May for the refurbishment. MV Loch Seaforth is now taking up the sailings to Ullapool, with MV Isle of Arran in reserve. Ferry traffic queues on Shell Street, before allowed to proceed to the marshalling area. Some finishing work is currently undertaken by the workboat C-Salvor.  It has been a long, long wait, but we're finally back to normal. For now.

Sunday 15 February

P2152860 P2152862
Flaming sunrise this morning, followed by strong winds and rain

P2152864 P2152865 P2152866

Saturday 14 February

Valentine's Day - don't forget that there are 364 more days in the year to express your feelings to that special person in your life.

Nice day today, not a cloud in the sky for the first time this year.


P2142848 P2142849 P2142853 P2142855 P2142854 P2142857

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Copenhagen

Following the appalling attack in Copenhagen last night, the Israeli prime minister has called on all Jews to come home to Israel. I'm not happy with that statement. If Mr Netanyahu wants to help in the fight against islamist extremists, he should place his country's considerable expertise in the field at the disposal of the world community. Calling on all Jews to come home will only fuel the flames of the evil that is anti-semitism. I took exception to the events in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last month, when the four dead from the supermarket attack were whisked away to Israel for burial - because they were Jews. I am also not happy with those who will not accept criticism of the Israeli PM. He is a man who should be severely censured for several of his policies, some of which indirectly exacerbate the problem of islamist extremism. If Barack Obama has leverage with Mr Netanyahu, he should use it. Extremism (justified through religion) should be rooted out - now.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Friday 13 February

Loch Seaforth did its first crossing to and from Ullapool this morning, with about 200-300 passengers on board.

P2132842 P2132843 P2132844 P2132845

Thursday 12 February

Today, the new ferry Loch Seaforth had an open day. Three thousand people thronged down the linkspan and explored her passenger accommodation. Car parking in the town was at a premium. I'll reserve my final judgment on the ship for after I've made a crossing in her.

P2122778 P2122781 P2122782 P2122783 P2122786 P2122790 P2122791 P2122793 P2122796 P2122798 P2122803 P2122806 P2122822 P2122827

P2122837 P2122839

Wednesday 11 February

P2112763 P2112765  P2122772
The ship pictured above brought wind-turbine components for a wind farm between the Pentland Road and the Lochs Road.