View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Now that the clocks have gone back, my routine is moved back one hour - the hurricane updates are always issued at the same times, 0300, 0900, 1500 and 2100 hours GMT. However, having moved from GMT+1 to GMT means that I issue the bulletins on the Tropical Cyclones blog one hour earlier by my own clock. Currently, there is only typhoon Mirinae which will hit the Philippines over the weekend. It has been a busy season, but only in the Pacific. The Atlantic is as quiet as a mouse.

The sun is now setting at a quarter to five, and this will regress to half past three by Christmas. November is not my favourite month, and don't start on that "looking forward to Xmas" lark. I was brought up, looking at Christmas as a family affair, going to church in the morning (or for the Watchnight service the evening before), then have a huge meal with the family in the afternoon. And prostrate yourself before the Holy Gogglebox in the evening. Giving presents used not to be customary in Holland. Pressies would come on 5 December for the feast of St Nicholas. I am fed up with the commercialism that surrounds Xmas, it renders the occasion cheap and tacky.

Here in Stornoway, the Christmas lights will go up in the main shopping precincts, Francis Street, Point Street and Cromwell Street around December 1st. They will be illuminated during a festive ceremony on a Thursday evening, if it isn't pouring with rain or blowing a gale. Here are a few images from 2006 - the illuminations of following years were far less impressive due to cut-backs.

Tuesday 27 October

Day 300 of the year 2009. Only two months left until Christmas, and the shops will explode with Xmas paraphernalia on 1 November. First though, we've got to get Halloween out of the way.

Today is wet in Stornoway as a large area of rain passes through from the Atlantic. It appears to be restricted to Scotland only, if I look at the rainfall radar. It's not warm, 10C. Yesterday, the birdfeeder was filled up and hung on the tree, and the sparrows and starlings did not take long to discover its delights. More than half a dozen birds flutter on and around it at any one time. The strange thing is, they tend to disappear at lunchtime.

Yesterday, the trial began at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Holland, of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Mr Karadzic refused to be present at proceedings, claiming he needs another 10 months to prepare his defence: which he is planning to conduct himself. The trial was adjourned until today, when it will be decided whether to impose counsel on Mr Karadzic (which he has already rejected). The delaying tactics by Mr Karadzic have been met with anger by the relatives of those killed by Bosnian Serbs in the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s.

The fall of Srbrenica in July 1995 was one of the worst atrocities of that bloody war, and the involvement of Dutch UN troops, who appeared to collaborate with Bosnian Serb forces, still sits very uneasily within Dutch defence circles. In 1995, I myself worked for the Dutch MoD, and know a serviceman who was at Srebrenica.