View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 11 April 2009


In a retrospective mood tonight. Runrig's unsurpassed album Long Distance is playing in the background, which puts me back to the early days of Northern Trip. The winter of 2004/5, when I was in Kershader, 12 miles south of here (22 miles by road). It was the CD I was always listening to on my portable player in those dark evenings. I don't think any of you who read my journal nowadays were reading it at that time. The two who did (and commented regularly) have disappeared from my (on-line) life. At the time, I was staying at the Ravenspoint Centre in the tiny hamlet of Kershader, and would go to Stornoway by bus every second or third day. A journey of about 45 minutes and £3.60 return. After doing my business on the library computer I'd go for some lunch in one of Stornoway's restaurants. Having gotten whatever shopping was required, I'd go back to Lochs (the area where Kershader lies) on the bus at 12.30 if I was in a hurry to get back. Well - hurry is not a word that carries any meaning in this island. It would drop me off by the road junction in Balallan, and I'd have to walk the 5 miles back to Kershader. I would think nothing of doing that, it took me 90 minutes. A later bus from Stornoway, at 2.20pm, would provide a connection that would drop me off by the door of Ravenspoint. On other days, I'd be tramping the moors of the area through the day - making sure to return to a road by nightfall.

That is now 4½ years ago, and a closed chapter.


Tomorrow will be Easter Sunday. Three years ago, it was a similar time of April - being the 16th of the month in 2006 - when Easter came along. It was also the time that I entered the world we used to call J-land (until AOL pulled the plug on our blogs). Beforehand, I had raised my flag at the not-lamented VIVI-awards in November 2005. The passing of Pamela Hilger, who wrote under AOL screenname his1desire, prompted my full involvement in the community. I had kept an eye on her journal for a while in the weeks leading up to her death on Easter Sunday 2006.

I have found the (former) J-land community to be a friendly and welcoming crowd who, on the whole, take newcomers at face value and accords them a cordial welcome. The support element I have found to be crucial, and it has brought home to me how many folk out there are utterly lonely. And you can be lonely even if you are not strictly speaking alone in the house. Sometimes, there are issues you'd like to talk about that cannot be discussed in the home situation.

The transfer to Blogger, a mad dash in 4 weeks last October, has changed us. The introduction of Facebook and Twitter has leached a lot of journaling away from the blogs themselves, shifting it to those other sites. Although initially I found Facebook a useful addition to blogs, their recent format change has rendered their site cluttered and difficult to keep up with people.

The past 12 months have been difficult for me personally, with a family bereavement and other matters I cannot discuss on an open journal. I do hope that the Jland Community on Blogger will stay together as much as possible, and continue to draw on its strengths.

Easter Weekend

Just to wish everybody out there a happy Easter weekend, and hopefully with better weather than we've got in the Hebrides at the moment. Don't overdo it on the eggs.

Saturday 11 April

Bright but very windy day today - gusts up to galeforce. There is a "mass evacuation on the ferry" today (ignore, nothing serious) but I think it won't be just people being "evacuated".

Investigators have found that a catastrophic gearbox failure, in itself unexplained, caused the helicopter crash that killed 16 off Aberdeenshire on 1 April. There is an extensive article on the BBC website, to which I'll refer for detailed info.

Looking through the news today, I came across the footballer who was handed a yellow card for breaking wind just as a penalty was being taken. The penalty was missed - only the referee heard the noise. Suppose he handed the player a card for a fart.