Title picture: Natural arch, Pabaigh Mor, 19 July 2014

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sunday 31 August

Afternoon all, it's another bright and fairly sunny day today - better for being minus one cracking headache that left me since yesterday. Ouch. Quite breezy outside on a stiff southerly breeze, which leaves us with 16C / 61F on the mercury. In the afternoon, the rain and the wind picked up. Force 6 from the south, mercury now down to 13C / 55F. Stornoway rainfall radar is off-line at the moment, so cannot watch progression of rain in these parts.

So, there are 1179 names on the Lewis War Memorial for the Great War (1914-1919), of which some 40 I have not yet been able to match to my Faces from the Lewis War Memorial website. Some of this is due to transcription errors on my part - about a dozen. But you try to find Donald Macleod in the RNR, when there are so many of that name, even in the one parish or district. Conversely, there is the case of Captain Ian Macfarlane who is mentioned on the War Memorial. He is easily traced on CWGC, having served in the Royal Army Medical Corps before his death in 1917. He was the son of an Edinburgh minister, but a cursory glance does not immediately yield a Stornoway connection.

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Saturday 30 August

Morning all from a decidedly wet Stornoway. Although there is some brightness about, there is also plenty of rain. To quote the Met Office: "Drier and brighter gradudally (sic) conditions" developing through the afternoon - which duly happened.

On this day 84 years ago, the last permanent residents were evacuated from St Kilda. HMS Harebell took them to Lochaline on the Sound of Mull, and on to Glasgow. Their houses remained behind, but the islanders took with them a culture and heritage of 9,000 years. The Ionad Hiort/ St Kilda Centre, whose allocation to Mangersta caused such a furore in 2009, is yet to materialise.

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Friday 29 August

Fairly bright in Stornoway this morning. The easterly breeze of the last few days is still with us, but that doesn't prevent the temperature from rising to 15C already, and it's only 10.30am.

Today it is 9 years ago since hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, with the loss of more than 1800 lives. My tropical cyclone blog remembers with a simple tagline: Remembering the victims of Katrina, 29 August 2005.

Less than two weeks until the 13th anniversary of 9/11. I shall once again post tributes to Norberto Hernandez and Jeffrey Dwayne Collman on my blog Atlantic Lines, at 12.46 GMT on 11 September. That is the exact time that the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center in New York. Who will you remember? If you have a blog, but maybe not use it anymore, why not research one of the victims of 9/11 and post a tribute.

Went for a walk round the harbour and into the Castle Grounds, around the Castle. It was a sunny afternoon, and came away with some pics of lovely views.

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Thursday 28 August

The day has brightened up after a wet start, and the sun has just come out. We shall probably see some showers this afternoon. 20C? I don't think so. At the beginning of next week, we could well get a sideswipe from the remnants of hurricane Cristobal. That storm is currently north of Bermuda, and will scoot northeast past Nova Scotia towards Iceland. Its fronts will brush past us on Monday.

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Friday, 29 August 2014

9 years ago today

The hurricane in focus on 29 August 2005 was of course Katrina, one of the most devastating tropical cyclones to affect the US mainland in modern times. Although it had weakened prior to landfall in New Orleans, its impact was devastating. This entry is dedicated to the memory of those lost in that disaster, in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.


Gulfport


Biloxi



Wednesday 27 August

Morning all from a bright, sunny but cool Stornoway. Cruiseliner Silver Cloud has arrived for its visit; its passengers are luckier than the liner that will call tomorrow, which will see a lot of wind and rain.

I am told that the people of Colonsay ran out of water when they all doused themselves in cold water in aid of ALS (motor-neurone disease). I suggest that it's better to just donate for MND, without running the risk of getting pneumonia - or draining your local water supply. 

I'll just put my head on the block and say that the story about the looms for rent embodies all that is wrong with (a) Harris Tweed in the 21st century and (b) Windfarms and community benefits. People got rid of their looms when the industry collapsed some 10-20 years ago - the output today is but 10% of what it was in the early 1990s. It'll never come back to those levels, never mind how bright or trendy current products are. Fashion changes, but the demand for HT as we knew it remains unchanged.

A windfarm that has not been built cannot generate electricity, which cannot be sold to the National Grid and cannot therefore make money. So where does Muaitheabhal Trust gets its money from at the moment? Subsidies. And a lot of the large windfarms in Scotland would never have been built if it hadn't been for massive subsidies from government. Furthermore, if the Eishken windfarm ever does get built, it will be detrimental to the tourism industry, which is worth far more than the community benefit from windfarms in these islands combined.

Tuesday 26 August

Another morning of wall-to-wall sunshine, but with a slightly chilly easterly breeze. We have the cruiseliner Black Watch in. I don't know why she isn't docking alongside, she did in the past. Anyway, between 10 and 10.30, I was watching some drama with one of her tenders which appears to have lost power off the lighthouse. Another tender came to its aid, but the faulty one continued to drift in on the flooding tide. She was abreast of the Glumag before they managed to get the engine restarted. It continued to conk out intermittently, with particularly dicey episodes off the lighthouse and near the buoy. I was reaching for the phone to ring the Coastguard, but the wee boat did manage to get back alongside the mothership eventually

A day of blazing sunshine, which pushed the mercury up to 18C / 64F. Went on the bus to visit the Doune Broch, but by golly, was that bus full. As per usual, the driver turned up at departure time (12.45), but the bus didn't leave until 1.05pm. The reason was dozens of cruise passengers who preferred to pay £6 for the service bus rather than £60 for the organised tour. They all piled off the bus at Callanish, but when we rejoined the next bus at 3.15, there they all were again. Meanwhile at the Broch, there were a few people about, some quite gushing about the stunning scenery. Oh aye, it was stunning today.

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Monday 25 August

Morning all from the land of wall-to-wall sunshine, and a mild easterly breeze. Yup, it's the Outer Hebrides with summer back with a vengeance. No, it's not vastly warm, and neither would I like it to be. 15C is enough for me. I can just about make out the Storr on Skye, located 50 miles to the south near Portree, as well as the Applecross Forest, 60 miles to the southeast. Perfect day. We were able to sit outside for coffee - the spiders have reappeared, showing that autumn is not far away now.
 
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Sunday 24 August

Quite a nice morning, with fewer showers than yesterday. A nip in the air after an overnight low of 5C / 41F, but we've since gone up to 14C / 57F, so no complaints. We'll get the best weather in the country tomorrow. Whilst hurricane Marie is headed steadily for category V status in the Eastern Pacific, surrounded by the remnants of Lowell and a decaying Karina - which nobody mentions, a huge fuss is being made over another sloppy tropical storm (Cristobal) over the Turks & Caicos Islands, southeast of the Bahamas. Granted, 4 to 12 inches of rain is not to be laughed at, but we in the Outer Hebrides get far worse winds in winter.
 
The downing of flight ‪#‎MH17‬ continues to reverberate, even in the communities in Holland where I am from. A girl of 12, who was killed along with her family, is to be commemorated by her classmates in a local secondary school; a family from another town, 12 miles up the road, was also wiped out. Nearly 200 Dutch people were killed when MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th. More than half of the victims have been identified, and the remains of those from other countries have been repatriated after identification.
 
I'm taking another look at the panels on the Lewis War Memorial. There are 23 panels, with about 1150 names from WW1 and about 450 from WW2. I'll endeavour to match names to the ones I have on my tribute sites. The stories behind those names are being gathered by the likes of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society), thereby bringing them back to life. Many's a time I was putting portraits on my Faces from the Lewis War Memorial site and people looking over my shoulder thought they recognised a face - as someone they know today. Having the stories will bring them back to life closer to home.

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Saturday 23 August

Two hurricanes and one fading tropical storm in the Eastern Pacific, its tally up to 13 tropical cyclones this season, all named. Meanwhile, the Atlantic is struggling to spawn its 3rd tropical cyclone, or second named storm. Come on, surely we won't need a caesarian here... 

It's pleasantly sunny and showery in Stornoway today. Temperature has risen to 13C, and could top 15C today. A frost is forecast for mainland glens tonight (August 23/24?), but we should get good weather into next week. Meanwhile, it's brollies at the ready darn sarf.

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Friday 22 August

I am profoundly saddened to read the notice in the Stornoway Gazette that the Royal British Legion Lewis Branch will only be able to supply their own wreath to the Remembrance Sunday event at the Lewis War Memorial in November. Everyone else will have to procure their own wreaths. I would like to ask my local contacts whether it would be an idea to mount a collection (on line?) for the Legion. The fact that their announcement comes on the centenary of the First World War makes it even more unpalatable. 

Dark shower clouds surround us, but here the sun is out. No, we're not escaping scot-free, but it's not too bad. Was in town earlier, quite busy. Bank holiday weekend is upon us - the second one this month in Scotland.

Tried to boost my laptop's performance with some extra memory. Well, the machine did recognise that there was now 1789 MB on board, but responded by not starting Windows, and even when it did start, it crashed with a very pretty blue screen with some decidedly 1980s lettering, telling me the system had been shut down. So, the memory chips are heading back to the supplier.
 
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Thursday 21 August

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Wednesday 20 August

A thorougly wet and unremarkable day. The cable-laying ship Rene Descartes departed for the Isle of Mull after finishing laying cables across the Minch. We are due to get fibre-optic broadband in 2016, giving us much faster internet access. As my camera remains unoperational, I am not having fun finding a replacement. It's called not seeing the forest for the trees.

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Tuesday 19 August

Reasonably nice day in Stornoway, with good sunny spells but also spells of drizzle. Slightly milder today, with the mercury at 14C / 57F, but continuing to feel cold in the northerly wind.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, was in Stornoway today to announce additional funding for Gaelic broadcaster MG Alba. On attending a meeting on the subject of the independence referendum, he also mentioned Harris Tweed - but I cannot find any references to that in local news output. His visit to Stornoway is part of a Scotland-wide tour, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/danny-alexander-to-take-the-case-for-staying-in-the-uk-to-all-corners-of-scotland
 
The small ship shown below is the Derenc, registered in Malta, which has come down from Iceland (Isafjordhur and Akureyri) via the Faeroes. 
 
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