View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas 2009

This will be the final posting on Atlantic Lines this year, as I indicated last night. Tomorrow, I shall be subjecting myself to the vagaries of British and Dutch weather, and hope to arrive at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport at a half-decent hour. The trip is supposed to take 9 hours from Stornoway. I won't whinge about something that hasn't happened yet, after all I have suffered delays on this journey (in either direction) before.

My postings will resume on the Shell Gallery on Wednesday (23 December). My next posting on Atlantic Lines from Stornoway will take place on Wednesday 6 January 2010. From this blog, Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year (or Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur, as they say in these parts).

Monday 21 December

This evening, at 1747 GMT (that's 1247 EST if you're in the States), we're at this year's Winter Solstice. Today, in other words, is the shortest day of the year. It is winter without a shadow of a doubt. Although the snow is thawing slowly here in the Outer Hebrides, it is an absolute shambles across the country. Flights delayed or cancelled, roads turned into icerinks and no Eurostar service. Wrong type of cold? Having checked the situation in Holland, for my journey tomorrow, the national rail operator there advises against all travel by train today. Hope the situation improves by tomorrow evening.

Fuel prices in this part of the country are among the highest you'll find. Current liter price is £1.21, which is 15 to 20p above the national average. The price is higher than that found in places like Inverness and Scrabster, which are served by the same seatanker that brings our fuel. One of the reasons is that there is only one supplier of fuel, who (therefore) holds a monopoly. The council and the MP have both complained to the Office of Fair Trading as we're basically held to ransom by a company that can charge what it likes. It bought over a competitor who had recently set up here, regaining the monopoly.

Today, PM Gordon Brown will make a speech on the climate change conference in Copenhagen last week. I don't know what there is to say about that. It was all talk and no firm commitment to action. The only positive thing was that the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the USA, got some sort of deal between them, but nobody else was prepared to sign up to it. A waste of time.