View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 31 October 2008

Dormant blogs

The dormant blogs have not been transferred - my dedicated account contains no blogs to date. I'll leave it into next week to make a formal statement on the matter (along the lines of the rant two posts back), but in the meantime, I'll make efforts to upload them to Blogger myself. I'll keep y'all posted.

Aberdeen Airport

It is 3.45pm and I'm at Aberdeen Airport, awaiting my flight to Amsterdam at 7.20pm. Bought myself an hour's airtime on the laptop and have gone through my emails on Gmail. I'm glad that everybody agreed with the tenure, tone and content of my rant and I'm not retracting a letter of it. I just went to my old journal and got met by a bland screen, saying AOL journals, hometown and ftp had been shut down. I am now going to check my other Gmail username to see if the dormant blogs are there.

Journey so far has gone well. Left Stornoway at 7.15, and had an uneventful crossing to Ullapool. Bus journey passed through a snow-flecked landscape to Inverness, after which the train took me to Dyce station, which is allegedly close to the airport. Well, it took me an hour to leg it there. Fortunately, I'm carrying a rucksack, so no problems there. When I return next Wednesday, I'll shell out on a cab.

Ever seen anyone with iridescent pink hair? I did today, on one of the railway stations I passed through. Said town shall remain nameless - my blog is being read in Scotland.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


I am now away for 6 days, until I return on November 6th.

< .r a n t. >
Just want to put on record that I am appalled at the way we have been treated by AOL Journals Team. They knew since late July this year that their product was going to be 'shuttered' 'sunset' or in plain English closed down. Why the bloody hell they could not start working with us on solutions for shifting our blogs here, I don't know. They have been making solutions on the hoof over the past 4 weeks, without really addressing the major problems encountered by countless people. Most prominently Donna [nightmaremom] and Jeannette [jeanno43]. I was sickened by the simpering platitudes that were meeted out to us "oh we were so sad to work on your demise whilst not being able to tell you". Why the f*ck couldn't we be told? Yes, I am really not going to hold back here.

We have been treated like so much shit by America Off-Line, and having wasted 4 years of subscription money on that bunch of losers, I think it is time they were sunset themselves. Don't get hit by the door as you go out.

Corporate America can go to hell, and I hope the lot of you go down with the current financial crisis, brought on by yourself and your own immeasurable greed. You don't care about people. Only about your own wallet, which is already too bloody fat.

< / r a n t >

See you all next Thursday,

Picture Links

All my pictures are on I'll set up a separate journal for them.

The transfer from AOL Pictures to Pixum looks like a disaster in progress. 56 out of 1184 albums have been transferred - with nil pictures in each and every one of them.

So, here's another dose of AOHell graphics to express my disgust.


I am in the process of shifting my email from AOL (pharmolo (at) AOL (dot) com) to Gmail (adb422006 (at) gmail (dot) com). Any emails sent to pharmolo will be transferred automatically to my Gmail account.

New links

Here is a list of my blogs here on Blogger. A number of them were transferred from AOL, but others already existed. I finally published the last of the 4798 posts of Northern Trip this morning, wallowing my way through a steady flow of 502-errors. Crapola.

Northern Trip (17 November 2004 - 8 October 2008)
Northern Trip (The Start) (11 August - 16 November 2004)
Atlantic Lines (this blog)
Call for Support (current)
Call for Support AOL (archive)
Tropical Cyclones (July 2007 - now)
Tropical Cyclones (2006 - July 2007)
Jokes off the seawall
The Shell Gallery (Dutch journal)
Recipe Book
Mod 2005 Stornoway (Royal National Mod)
St Martin's Storm 2005 (Hurricane force winds in November 2005)
Hurricane Ivan at Madagascar
J-land 5th Anniversary
Faces from the War Memorial (Tribute to the Fallen from Lewis)
Harris War Memorial
World War II Tribute for Lewis (Tribute to the Fallen from Lewis)
Iolaire Disaster 1919
Heather Isle Views (pictures of Lewis villages)

Isles FM

We just had a hailshower, and it nearly drowned out the presenter at the local radio station (just up the road from me), where the stones were clattering on the roof of the studio. One heck of a racket!

Thursday 30 October

Quiet morning, with the odd shower and some beautiful cloudscapes. MV Muirneag (shown above) was late coming in this morning. Muirneag is our freight ferry, which leaves at 11.30pm each evening (except Saturday) to take lorries back and forth to Ullapool on the mainland. She normally returns at 8 am, but was an hour late this morning.
Muirneag is named after the hill shown below; it lies 5 miles west of North Tolsta, in the centre of Lewis.

Our usual ferry, the MV Isle of Lewis, carries out two sailings each day (except Sundays), leaving at 7.15 am and 1.45 pm. It takes 2 hours 45 minutes to make the 45 mile crossing to the mainland. Once there, Inverness is 55 miles away; 80 minutes by bus. The image below is how I see the ferry leave each afternoon just before 2 o'clock.

I shall be on board her tomorrow morning at 7.15, as I leave for my trip to Holland. It will take me about 18 hours to reach there, travelling via Inverness and Aberdeen before flying into Amsterdam. I'll be blogging on the Shell Gallery until my return to Stornoway on November 5th. I shall resume blogging here the next day.

Meanwhile, I'll probably find something else to write about before today is out.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Hurricane update - 29 October

There are no tropical cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons to report anywhere in the world. We are in the transition between the northern and southern hemisphere seasons. As a result, my Tropical Cyclones blog is currently headed by an Inactivity Bulletin.

A few days ago, tropical cyclone 03B moved ashore in Yemen, in the extreme south of the Arab peninsula, dumping 8 inches there. They have an annual rainfall average of only a few inches. As a result, 180 people died in flooding, and 9 deaths resulted from lightning strikes. This tropical depression (with winds of less than 35 mph) is the 4th deadliest cyclone of the year 2008. Cyclone Nargis claimed more than 145,000 deaths in Myanmar / Burma in April, Typhoon Fengshen capsized a ferry in the Philippines, killing 1,400, and hurricane Hanna killed more than 500 in Haiti. (data courtesy Jeff Masters blog, don't scroll too far down the entry).

Australia, Fiji (and surrounding Pacific islands) as well as the southern Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion, Mauritius and Madagascar will be on their guard from 1st November onwards. The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30th.

Wednesday 29 October

Nice quiet day in the islands today, if feeling a little cold at 6C / 43F. No snow, no wind, no rain. That has all moved south; Wales and Northern Ireland are getting it in the neck, if the Met Office are to be believed.

What I cannot believe is the amount of time it has taken the BBC to take action against two radio presenters who overstepped the mark last Friday. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand telephoned actor Andrew Sachs (most famously the waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers), spouting obscenities and claiming to have had sex with Sachs' granddaughter. This was aired on BBC Radio 2, but should have been axed in the first instance. Both are now suspended, following a nationwide outcry from Prime Minister Gordon Brown downward. I disliked Jonathan Ross at any rate, and Russell Brand sank the moment he walked off the set of a television show to go to the toilet - on air.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I have added a playlist with my choice of music on it. It does NOT start automatically, but you can have a listen yourself; the player is located just below my Facebook badge in the sidebar.

Open Office

Over the past 2 weeks, I've been trialling Open Office 3.0, and I'm not too impressed. It can only accommodate 256 columns in the spreadsheet function, although it suggests far more are possible. The search-and-replace function is disappointing, not being able to replace or search for formatting codes like a paragraph-mark or tabs. Macros are a disaster, as they cannot be linked to a keyboard shortcut.

Open Office comes as a free if huge download (about 120 MB), and is the free counterpart of Microsoft Office. I'm sorely tempted to shell out the money required to get the fully functional MS Office.

Tuesday 28 October

Awoke to a nice cover of * snow * this morning, which is only melting very slowly. Temperature is suitably low, +2C / 36F. No ferries today; although the wind is only force 5 to 7, the swell generated by the northerly wind would be too much for our boat to handle. Anyone desperate to come or go can use the ferry from Tarbert to Uig (Skye). Tarbert is the main town of Harris, and is 37 miles by road from Stornoway. Don't want to think what conditions would be like on the Clisham, where the A859 rises to 600 feet / 190 metres above sealevel. On Saturday, a bus had its windscreen smashed by flying debris out there.

Internet service to outlying districts has been disrupted by Saturday's high winds, which blew down or damaged several masts. Broadband (ADSL) is supplied by radiolink in areas where the telephone exchange is not geared up to ADSL. In one island, Berneray, the service gets disrupted at certain states of the tide, when the signal is reflected off the water...

Here are a few pictures from this morning's snow.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Another round

Told you

Dear AOL Pictures user,

In order to offer you a more comprehensive online photo service, we will be closing down AOL Pictures on 31 December 2008.

We have partnered with Pixum, one of Europe’s leading and multi-award winning independent online photo service providers, to provide all AOL Pictures customers with a free, improved and fully integrated ‘one-stop’ online photo service.

To ensure that you keep all of your photos, we recommend that you transfer your photos to the new photo service before 31 December 2008. Go and transfer your photos to our new photo service provided by Pixum and get up to 100 prints for free!*

Please note that to transfer your photos you will have to sign up for a Pixum account. By selecting the transfer option, you consent that your name, email address and AOL Screen Name are encrypted and sent to Pixum to facilitate the registration and the transfer of your photos.

Alternatively, you can download your photos to your computer.

You need to ensure you have either transferred your photos to the new photo service provided by Pixum or downloaded them to your computer by 31 December 2008. After this time, the site will be permanently closed and you will not be able to access your photos through AOL Pictures. So, do please ensure that you act now and go to AOL Pictures for continued access to your photos or to save your photos on your computer.

To have a look at the new photo site provided by Pixum, please click here.
To Learn more about Pixum, click here.

We hope to see you on our new site soon!


Your AOL Pictures Team


Have cleared Google Reader this afternoon, commented on several of your blogs. Put a handful on Followers that were not already on Followers, and am quite impressed with the way some blogs have been dressed up.

I'll try to keep up, but cannot promise.

Four days to go to AOL Journals shutdown.

Stuck to the toilet

A man was stretchered from the high-speed train between La Rochelle and Bordeaux in France, with a toilet-bowl attached to his arm. After using the lavatory, his mobile phone had fallen in, and he had stuck his arm into the bowl to retrieve it. Unfortunately, the suction mechanism had engaged and had sucked his arm into the pipework. The emergency services had to physically remove the toilet from the train, still attached to the man.


We can expect more severe weather tomorrow, when north to northwesterly winds ratchet up to galeforce, bringing snow to sealevel. Bit unusual for late October, but we're getting everything, including the kitchensink at the moment. The ferry has remained tied up here in Stornoway this afternoon, as the crossing to Ullapool would have been too rough. Judging by today's advance weather warning, the MV Isle of Lewis won't be going anywhere tomorrow either.

There is a moderate risk of a severe event affecting northern parts of Scotland during Tuesday. An unseasonably cold spell of weather will see gale force north or northwesterly winds bringing snow to many areas. Significant snow accumulations are possible over higher ground, and some snow could settle down to sea level. The strong winds will also mean blizzard conditions, especially over higher ground.

Monday 27 October

Nice sunny morning with showers passing by or over. Otherwise fairly quiet today.

Saturdays' storm caused a fair bit of disruption in Lewis. Bus services were suspended, as it was too dangerous to drive a large vehicle. A bus travelling from Tarbert to Stornoway was damaged on the pass over the Clisham. The entrance porch at the Tesco supermarket was damaged by the wind. Ferry services, as I reported on the day, were extensively disrupted.

Yesterday, both the passenger and the freight ferry did catch-up runs - on a Sunday. Wow.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Evening notes

All the competitors in the fell race in Cumbria have been traced and are safe and well. The organisers deserve a clip round the ear for not heeding advice regarding the weather. Yes, everybody coped supremely well, and I am not surprised they did. But some of the participants, speaking on BBC TV tonight, mentioned the impossible conditions.

I'm falling behind with journals updates, do forgive me. Once again, the tally is approaching 200, and it's not going to get better. By the end of this week, I'm popping over to Holland for a few days for a commemorative service for the deceased in my home village. My mother will be mentioned., following her death on May 1st. More practical details as matters progress.

No, I'm not happy with the move away from AOL onto Blogger, but that's the way it's gonna be. Big money does not care about little people like us. Let us make an effort to stay together (see Krissy's journals directory).

Sunday 26 October

Weather is much better today than yesterday, although it's still sunshine and showers. Hope everybody has had a nice lie in this morning (in Europe), with the extra hour. America can follow suit next Sunday.

I was horrified this morning to turn on the radio and hear that 1,700 fell runners were missing in the English Lake District. A mountain marathon had started on Saturday, in which 2,500 people were going to run across the Cumbrian hills. That is no mean feat, as the Lakeland fells rise up to 2,500 feet above sealevel, and are considered serious mountains. I reported on our stormforce winds and lashing rains - well, they also hit Cumbria.

The event was called off at midday yesterday, but the vast majority of runners had to go under cover. Nobody knew how many were actually still out there, but at midday (to my relief) the total number of missing had been slashed to 44. Others had turned up, or had gone home without informing anyone. The organisers did not come up with a list of names until this morning, which is extremely bad.

The participants were hardened mountain walkers, well used and equipped for conditions, precisely like yesterday. However, a combination of high winds, flash flooding and heavy rain made conditions practically untenable.

Put your clocks back

Yes, it's that time of the year again. At 2 a.m. British Summer Time, the clocks will go back 1 hour to 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time.

The USA, as I understand it, holds on to Daylight Savings Time for another week, but will join the rest of the Northern Hemisphere in Standard Time on November 2nd.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Not endorsed

Remember this banner above the [edit: AOL] US journals as of September 30th?
Remember the addition that was always below the ads?

Ads are not an endorsement by the blog author.

Too bloody right.


Jeannette (Outside Looking In) pointed this out to me, and I'm more than happy to relay:

You will notice I have made the comment system much easier. To do the same, go into your dashboard, select settings and then select comments. Scan down the comments related page until you see Comment Form Placement. Make sure that the third option is ticked - it says Embedded Below Post. Then just press save. That is all there is to it. Much more like our old J-Land system.

Saturday 25 October

Savage day in the Western Isles, with a severe gale blowing at Stornoway and a full force 10 at Eoropie, near the Butt of Lewis. Winds have gusted up to 90 mph at Eoropie, 70 mph here at the airport. The sun is coming out now, after a morning of persistent heavy rains. Ferry sailings wholesale disrupted across the Calmac network, from Islay right up to here. The afternoon sailing to Ullapool is likely to be cancelled as well. Which may find us with a rare Sunday sailing to play catch up. There was no afternoon sailing yesterday either.

The dormant blogs, which I referred to on Magic Smoke, are going into a separate Blogger account. It is possible for blog ownership to be transferred between Blogger accounts, and anyone prepared to take one of them under their wing is welcome to do so. As far as I can tell (and if I have anything to do with it), none of those listed will be lost. If you know of any others that need salvaging this way, leave a note.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Close of day

The rain clatters, the wind buffets. Another gale on its way in, as I prepare to shut down for the night. No ferry until at least lunchtime tomorrow.

A repeat call from Vish to get in touch if you still have problems migrating your journal.

Please leave your new journal URL's on Krissy's Journal Directory.

It is now 7 days until AOL Journals disappear.

Good night


The man who was seriously injured in a car crash in Point on Tuesday, has sadly died of his injuries in hospital in Stornoway.

The Russian freighter Mekhanik Semakov is still anchored in Broad Bay, accompanied by the Coastguard tug Anglian Prince and a sister ship. Apparently, the ship was compelled to accept the tow on orders from the Government in London. Not doing so would have imperilled the coastline and people of the Isle of Skye. The ship had lost engine power and was drifting towards shore.

New blogs

Krissy has set up a blog directory, which will provide a cross-reference between our journals on AOL and here on Blogger. Please call round and leave a comment, with the requested information, including

First name
AOL Screenname
Present URL on Blogger
Email address

Friday 24 October

Yesterday at 5pm, just as I was outside stormwatching, the wind went up to 45 mph, gusting to hurricane force, 76 mph. I could barely keep my footing around the Coastguard Station. Have a look at the pictures here.

This morning is still not very good, frequent heavy hailshowers, mercury down to 7C / 45F from the 13C / 55F yesterday. Wind is at force 5, but will increase through today. The Shipping Forecast warns of winds up to force 10, but we'll likely see up to force 9. Like yesterday.

Economically, the UK is heading for recession, with growth percentages in the minus to the tune of -0.5%. If the following quarter is also in the negative, recession is here. Hope this episode leads to a more sane set-up in the credit sector.

I was watching some of the hustings in the US presidential election, with John McCain accusing his opponent of 'socialist' policies, of wishing to redistribute wealth. One punter at a rally in Ohio was very upset, having worked hard to earn his money to have to give it away to those that were not working hard.

In my opinion, one of the problems of the United States is its failure to properly deal with the less fortunate in its society. Reading on-line journals (formerly on AOL, now on this forum) has taught me that. I am flatly appalled at the amounts of money people have to pay to get medical treatment or even investigations. Being in the UK, you don't have to pay much if anything at all. What really got my goad from the above rally was the insinuation that all those relying on social security (for what it's worth) are lazy good-for-nothing lay-abouts, whilst there are many, many people who cannot work through no fault of their own. That's not unique to the US, same happens in Europe.

Apart from that appalling attitude from John McCain, his choice of running-mate is a colossal mistake, in my opinion. I hear a lot of very sensible remarks to the tune of: "If he pops his clogs, do we get Ms Palin in the White House? God help us!"

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Audio entry

25 October 2004

To hear the entry, click on the link, not the button marked Listen

Thursday 23 October

Very nasty day with heavy rain and force 7 winds. A bit of a write-off. Tomorrow should be better, with a repeat performance on Saturday. The status page for Caledonian MacBrayne (our ferry operator) is awash with orange and red, indicated disrupted or cancelled ferries. The MV Isle of Lewis, which links us to the mainland, will remain tied up all day.

Yesterday, a tornado came in off the Atlantic and struck a house in the village of Barvas, on Loch Street. According to a report on Hebrides News, damage was limited to trashed fence-posts, a trampoline blown out of the garden and a gas-bottle ripped away. It was terrifying enough for the occupants of the house, including a small child. Nobody was hurt, and there is no report of (severe) damage to the house. Tornadoes are rare in this part of the world, but this is the second one reported on Lewis this year. In the summer, on was spotted over the Barvas Moor, only a few miles from this latest twister.

A three-car pile-up on the A866 road through Point has left one man critically injured and several others as walking wounded. The exact circumstances are being investigated by Northern Constabulary. The accident occurred on an incline between Aignish and Seaview Knock, 4 miles east of Stornoway on the Point peninsula.

The disabled ship I reported on last night is shown safely in Broad Bay this morning (as seen on the ship positioning website AIS). Weather conditions are poor, as I mentioned above.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

9 days to go

I am emailing the following people, but am also asking anyone else who may be in touch with them to urgently point out that their journals will be deleted on October 31st. Will copy this to Magic Smoke. Should any of the people concerned read this, please leave a note with your new URL. Thanks.

ceilisundancer / Robin /
irisheyes1929 / Kellen /
wildautumn1 / ? /
ninareade / Nina /
rebuketheworld / Raven /
cgtperkins / Carrie /
cottoncandie / Mary Alice /
sunshines612392 / Sam /
sylviam4000 / Sylvia /
ljat1 / Linda /
pookyluvsu / Angela /
andie5987 / Andrea /
bowyerlori / Lori /
rayne1123 / Noelle /
katie39041 / Katie /
jan3145 / Jan /

Transferring journals

I've got Northern Trip migrated to Blogger, but Blogger cannot seem to publish my posts. Any attempt to do so results in a 502 Server Error. Seems I'm going to manually publish four thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight posts one by one. See you in 2011...

Meanwhile, the gale that we are being promised is beginning to materialise. Winds are now up to 30 mph (a gale is anything over 40) and likely to grow stronger. Did I mention about the tropical depression in the Gulf of Aden? Started life in the Bay of Bengal 1 or 2 weeks ago, crossed over India and is now headed for Yemen. Will give that place some much-needed rain.

Not under command

The above screenshot shows the area of sea between Lewis and the Scottish mainland. The ship, highlighted by the yellow information box, is marked as Not Under Command. The Mekhanik Semakov suffered engine failure earlier today some 2.6 miles off the Isle of Skye. Although repairs were tried, they were unsuccessful. The vessel meanwhile was drifting towards shore, so the Coastguard tug Anglian Prince took the ship under tow. As the above map shows, the combination is currently off the Shiant Isles, and is headed for Broad Bay, northeast of Stornoway, where they are expected to arrive later tonight.

A picture of the ship can be viewed here.

Wednesday 22 October

Quite variable weather in the islands today, one moment (like now), the sun is out with dazzling brightness, next moment the mamma of all showers comes clattering through. Autumn is firmly here. Temperatures are a bit better than yesterday at any rate, that was an Arctic blast and no mistake.

The root cause of the credit crunch has finally been identified as a bounced cheque for $16. Listen to the whole story on the Onion. The other root cause is of course a five-letter word: GREED.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Half an hour to dusk

Finally caught up with new entries, so I can start with a clean slate as of tomorrow. Several of you have received invitations for a Facebook group "not wanted on voyage anymore", for all of us who have been kicked off AOL Journals. Not compulsory of course, but would be nice to have everybody on board. Don't forget the journals list on Magic Smoke @ Blogger, which I update every time I come across a new journal or a comment is left with a link.

Another hailshower is moving east over Lochs, whilst the light gradually starts to fade on the approach to sunset. Have spent too much time on PC this afternoon, so will only briefly call back after 10 o'clock tonight to do the hurricane update, check Facebook, check Journals, check Emails - and be there for another couple of hours.

Tuesday 21 October

Perishingly cold in the Western Isles today, with the thermometer firmly stuck at 4C / 39F, and frequent hailshowers. We should see milder temperatures on Thursday, blown in on galeforce winds.

I think I'll have to purchase a proper microphone to make further audio-entries, as I have found the recordings barely audible, even with the Volume Control turned up to full blast.

I have been responding to some of the queries left on Magic Smoke, AOL, but I'll have to leave it to the Journals Team to deal with them, following some less than favourable responses from some of you. I am just as pissed off with AOL as the next person about the closure of AOL Journals - my journal too cannot be transferred properly.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Trip to Orkney - 6 October / Read entry

I have made an audio entry, reading the above post. A few stumbles along the way, but what the heck.

Trip down memory lane

I'm seriously going down memory lane at close of day. The above video shows the introduction to a children's TV series called "Brendon Chase", which I followed as a teenager, back in 1981.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this is the 1981 intro - but who has NOT read those Mark Twain books!

Oh well, back to October 2008...

Gale at Stornoway

I already mentioned that we had a gale yesterday. I think it was force 9 when I took the above footage outside the Coastguard Station. More stills here.

Trip to Orkney - 6 October

Time for me to depart the shores of Hoy. In the morning, I said good-bye to Derek and Helen, and I set off for the Scapa Centre near Lyness Pier. I have visited the exhibition in the past, but it had been extended.

At 12.30, the MV Hoy Head turned up to take me back to Houton on Orkney Mainland. After a smooth crossing, I found the bus on the slipway which transported me back into Kirkwall. The driver asked me if, at 1.30pm, I really wanted a Day Ticket. Yep, gotto go to Stromness twice today, thanks.

Once in Stromness, I called into the taxi office to enquire about taxi fares to Skara Brae, which is where I'm going tomorrow. There is no bus there, except at ridiculous hours. About £12 each way. After an amble up the main street, I return to the area of the ferry terminal, and watch MV Hamnavoe arrive on its afternoon crossing from Scrabster. The bus takes me back to Kirkwall, where I once again check into Mrs Thornton's B&B. Meanwhile, my travelling companion is making her way north to Scrabster - a long, long journey. I have been asked not to go into specifics regarding my companion. After a meal of fish & chips, I watch TV until 8 pm. The bus takes me back to Stromness (16 miles), in the dark this time, and I collect my companion from the ferry terminal.

Breakfast room

MV Hoy Head coming into Lyness

Mill House (right) from the ferry to Houton

Victoria Street, Stromness

Old Youth Hostel, Stromness

MV Hamnavoe arriving from Scrabster

Stromness Harbour

Trip to Orkney - 5 October

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and it looked as if it was going to stay dry. After breakfast, enjoyed in a sun-flooded conservatory, I headed up the road to the Naval Cemetery, which would keep me occupied for the next 2 hours or so. I took just over 600 pictures of gravestones and memorials there. These included a Muselman and a Parsee (presumably Turkish and Persian), as well as 16 Germans and a Norwegian. Very sad. One gravestone was for a sailor called A. Hoy.

By midday, all were snapped and I returned to Mill House for lunch. Afterwards, I went out for a walk north, but I felt so tired that I could not walk all the way to Betty Corrigall's grave. Supper was very good, a Sunday roast, and I once more enjoyed Helen and Derek's company, as well as that of their cat.

Road on Hoy

Pegal Burn

Mill House

Puss by gate

One of the more unusual gravestones at the Naval Cemetery

Monday 20 October

After yesterday's gale, Monday dawns fairly bright but still breezy. I'll post some pictures of the seas, whipped up by those winds later today.

Regarding the migration and its problems, a solution should be available later this week, so don't fully despair just yet. I'll post on Magic Smoke when I know more.

The Indian Ocean is currently a scene of some unusual activity on the tropical cyclone front. An active disturbance is approaching the Horn of Africa (Cape Guardafui) and may develop into something nasty before it reaches there. Tropical cyclone Asma is making for Madagascar. The various agencies cannot agree whether Asma will be a hurricane or hardly a tropical cyclone at all by the time it reaches the island.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sadness - read out

Previous entry, read by me, can be played back from this link.


Although I've grown used to Atlantic Lines, and am reasonably happy blogging here, there were quite some memories associated with Northern Trip. It started on 8 October 2004, as I was travelling around Scotland. Having set it up in Kirkwall some 10 days previous, I sat down at a public computer in Kyleakin and started to type in the exploits of the day. From the journeys around Skye, Eigg, Rum, Lochaber into the Western Isles, where I've stayed since mid-November 2004.

After walking practically every square mile of Lewis (bit of poetic license, but you get my drift), I moved into blogging proper by the end of 2005, helped on by the much-maligned VIVI-awards.

Northern Trip has been with me for 4 years, through a period that wasn't easy to start with. For others, the memories associated with the period they kept their AOL blog will be even deeper and more profound.

I'll be very sad to see a 404-error appear on November 1st when I put the familiar URL into my browser's address bar.

Voicing entries

The voice of the entries is an artificial voice, supplied by Odiogo. I'm sorry that it ain't me doing the entries :-)

Sunday 19 October

Very poor weather out here today, with a full gale blowing, gusting to 60 or 70 mph. The rain is lashing down, and many angry white riders out on the basin. The gusts cause a fair bit of spindrift, but not so much as in a full force 9.

The northern hemisphere hurricane season is winding down, whilst the season in the antipodes has produced its first system. This minor tropical storm (prosaically called One) is heading for Madagascar, as the first of many tropical cyclones this season. Last year, Madagascar was very harshly hit, particularly by cyclone Ivan.

Magic Smoke

The link for Magic Smoke on Blogger is

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Midnight notes

Twelve days to go before AOL Journals shut down. Most people have found themselves a new blog, and have had their old one transferred. Those that haven't, and I'm one of them, are getting a tad nervous. My old blog, Northern Trip, is safely downloaded onto my PC, but comments are not shown. I dread the response in the coming weeks and months when people return from being away - and find themselves without a blog. Worse, having lost the memories of the past 5 years.

I've posted a huge list of blogs on Magic Smoke, and hope to add to it as comments come in. I can no longer be bothered to trace old URLs, partly because many have been deleted already. Northern Trip will remain on AOL until they pull the plug.


Found this useful journal with information for those moving away from AOL. Like us.

Saturday 18 October

Repeating myself all this week: weather is sunshine and showers, although the showers have temporarily subsided. It is quite breezy this morning.

I'm getting quite fed up with all that news about the credit crunch, a stock-market collapse and what have you. Whatever governments do, it does not appear to help the woes around. Because, put simply, they have been trying to fill holes with holes, and you're still left with nothing. Borrowing money against a collateral that isn't worth the money taken out against it is a recipe for disaster, a disaster that is now happening.

The transfer of blogs continues to hit snags. I've already highlighted the Backstreet Browser for those desperate to save their blogs on their own PC. More options are currently being explored, and I shall flag them up as news reaches me.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Entries read out

I have included the option on this blog that entries can be read out using The result is faintly artificial, but useful for those who have difficulty reading a computer screen (for reasons of visual impairment). Click the button under each entry's title, and it should run.

Friday 17 October

Another day of sunshine and showers, and not feeling too cold.

I'm intending to shift my email somewhere else, away from AOL. That is about the only thing still tying me to America Off-line, and there are rumours galore to the effect that AOL will soon disappear. How that will affect us in the UK is a total mystery, and I'd rather not wait to be confronted with another 30-day notice for shutdown of the email service.

I've been trying to put Gmail onto my Windows Mail (a Vista novelty), but blimey, isn't it a total pain. Had to search high and low on the Net to find a solution. Don't particularly like Gmail, so I may end up on Yahoo at some stage. I'm already using that, as well as Hotmail, so a bit of rationalisation is in order.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Trip to Orkney - 4 October

On awakening, the rain was pouring and the wind was howling. Dreadful morning, which I spent around St Magnus Cathedral in the heart of Kirkwall. Although I know the town quite well, they had changed it around. So, I had to pop into a tourist attraction to ask for the Tourist Office and the Bus Station, both of which had been relocated. Anyway, I found 3 wargraves outside the Cathedral (photographing wargraves is the objective of this trip).

After a cuppa in my favourite coffeeshop on Albert Street, I walked up the Old Scapa Road, by which time it was drying up. Glanced in at the Youth Hostel, which was my base during my stay in Orkney during September 2004 - see Northern Trip - The Start. Happy memories, although the place does not look terribly attractive.

A little way down the road lies the St Olaf Cemetery, where I located 125 wargraves, of whom 16 were for Norse sailors, 1 Greek and 1 German. In death, all are equal, and political and military differences no longer apply. Next, I went down to Scapa Flow to visit the memorial to HMS Royal Oak. This battleship was sunk by U-boat 47 on 14 October 1939, with the loss of 833 men.

At 1.45pm, the bus turned up to take me to the ferry terminal at Houton, some 10 miles away, from where the ferry would sail to Hoy. The weather had turned severely showery and perishingly cold. During the crossing to Flotta and Hoy, a heavy hailshower strafed the islands, leaving a thick layer of hail in the verges of the road on Hoy. I found the Lyness Naval Cemetery on Hoy, but could not find my B&B. A quick call on the mobile confirmed my suspicion that I had overshot, and a few minutes later, Helen and Derek gave me a warm welcome into their B&B. I was their very first paying guest.

Dinner was at 7pm, and I was served a very creditable pie as a main course. The light died over the sea. Spent the evening in cordial conversation with my hosts. Retired for the night at 11pm.

Inside St Magnus

A street in Kirkwall

Kirkwall Youth Hostel\

Cross of Remembrance, St Olaf's Cemetery; Scapa Flow in the distance

Exhibition on the sinking of HMS Royal Oak

On board MV Hoy Head

Derelict naval installations at Lyness, Hoy

View from Wild Heather B&B