Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hurricane update - 28 January

The southwestern Pacific is currently the scene for tropical cyclone Nisha, which is headed for the Southern Cook Islands, east of the dateline. Galeforce winds and higher will be moving in through the early hours of the 29th (it is 12 hours later than GMT there). Those resident there should monitor the output from RSMC Nadi (Fiji).

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The lost parcel - a map



Click on any of the blue markers to see the name of the place they point to. These are:

- North Uist
- South Uist
- Uig, Isle of Skye
- Isle of Unst (Haroldswick), Shetland Isles

Monday, 25 January 2010

The lost parcel

Although I'm currently in Holland, I am posting this story on Atlantic Lines, as it is firmly an island story. A blogger in North Uist posted an image of a parcel on her blog the other day. It had arrived in her home after an epic journey through Shetland and the Uists. The sender, a man in a small town in Germany, had misspelled the name of the island of Unst, calling it Uist instead. After the parcel had gone through nearly all the three postal code areas in the Uists (HS6, HS7 and HS8), the postman left it with someone sharing the same surname as the addressee. And she decided to enlist the help of the global community, of which I am (with everybody reading this) a member.

I looked up the sender's address and found a telephone number in an on-line German telephone directory. I rang it, and fortunately the man answering it spoke English, better than my German which is exceedingly rusty. He told me that the packet was in fact intended for a Shetland family. For reasons of privacy, I cannot go into details, but I managed to find full address details and a telephone number. These I forwarded to the lady in North Uist and the package should be on its way to Shetland by tomorrow.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Journey update

Currently at Edinburgh airport, suffering one delay after another. The plane from Stornoway left nearly 2 hours late because the aircraft needed de-icing: which they did (1) using an ice-scraper and (2) using a warm hanger and (3) using the sun.

Presently at Edinburgh, where the onward connection to Gatwick is delayed by an hour, jeopardising my connection to Amsterdam. I only have 90 minutes at LGW, making it very dicey. Will update further on the Shell Gallery.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Friday pics


Evening notes

Went on the bus to Aignish this afternoon; Aignish is a small village a couple of miles east of Stornoway, a mile or so past the airport. Been there a couple of times before, and was back in the cemetery to take photographs of gravestones that had not come out very well on previous occasions. At one time, in late November '07, the light was very poor. No such problems today - the sun was shining brightly, there was hardly any wind and it almost felt warm. The report put us as high as 9C / 48F; at the moment the clear skies have allowed the mercury to nosedive to freezing. I am currently uploading pictures, and will post some of them a little later.

Tomorrow, I shall once more be wending my way across to Holland. Once there, I shall resume posting on the Shell Gallery. Those that follow my blogs through Facebook should see those entries appear there. Blogging on Atlantic Lines will resume on Wednesday 3 February.

Friday 22 January

What a difference a day makes: bright sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky. Only the fact that the ferry had to stay in Ullapool overnight is indication that yesterday was not a good day. It is still not a good day in the Highlands, where several accidents have occurred on the A9 between Inverness and Perth, attributable to drifting snow.

Windows is now installing a security update for Internet Explorer, which should patch a hole previously abused (allegedly) by the Chinese authorities to tap their opponents' gmail accounts. I haven't used IE for yonks; I only use Firefox these days. Apparently somewhat safer and decidedly faster than IE.

More later

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Euthanasia

The Scottish Parliament today started to debate a Bill on Assisted Suicide. It was launched by MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) Margo Macdonald, who is a passionate believer in what she terms assisted suicide. I think it is a good thing to have a debate on this very difficult issue, and party leaders at Holyrood have promised that members will have a free vote on the issue, once the time for that arrives.

I copy a summary of the Bill's main points from the BBC website:

  • Person must be terminally ill or "permanently physically incapacited"
  • Request must be made to and approved by doctor and psychiatrist
  • Both must be asked twice after 15-days cooling off period
  • Assistance must be supervised by the approving doctor
  • Close friends and relatives banned from administering drug
  • Only over-16s qualify
  • Applicants must be registered with Scottish GP for 18 months
  • Bill does not apply to those with dementia or other degenerative mental condition
As you may be aware, euthanasia has been practiced in the Netherlands for more than 30 years under a similar legal framework. I should add that once death has occurred, the GP is required to report the event to the public prosecutor, and I understand that same will also apply in Scotland. Once the prosecutor is satisfied that the legal requirements have been met, no prosecution will follow.

In the UK, there have been several high-profile cases, where terminally ill people travelled to Switzerland for euthanasia. Doctors in the UK would face prosecution for manslaughter or murder, and so would anyone else involved in the euthanasia. It is time this issue is sorted out either way. I hope this Bill will start a nationwide debate in the UK on euthanasia - to place it on the statute book as accepted legal practice, or not as the case may be.

I realise that my standpoint may be incompatible with that of several of my readers, and I apologise for any upset or distress caused. However, this is an issue under debate in society and if anyone has any views on this, it would be very good to have them all aired.

Thursday 21 January

Overcast this morning with a strengthening wind. Severe gales could develop later today, keeping up our average of one gale a week. Ferry services up and down the west coast of Scotland are duly disrupted.

Australia is bracing itself for tropical cyclone Magda. This storm formed last night (GMT) and is headed straight for the coast of Western Australia, north of the town of Derby. Magda is expected to strengthen rapidly, with the Australia Bureau of Meteorology anticipating the storm to be at category 4 strength (that is a lower category of strength than the corresponding category in the Saffir Simpson scale) by landfall, late on Friday (GMT).

More later.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Promises


This suggests that spring will one day return. Needed the reminder today, wall to wall wind and rain.

Wednesday 20 January

A wet and breezy day in the Western Isles, and the wind will only increase. Tomorrow, a force 9 severe gale is forecast. Across in Australia, a tropical cyclone is forming off the northwest coast, and this could blow up into a category II system in the next few days. It is hurricane season there (southern hemisphere summer).

I am not apologising for switching my front picture, to a wintry scene from Laxay. I tend to change my front picture every couple of weeks, and as the snow had disappeared I felt a new image was in order. I realise the colours are quite bland, but that's the way it looks. It won't be until April that colours will return to this island.

Twitter just went into an outage, although I managed to put a tweet through using shortening service bit.ly.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tuesday 19 January

A cold and cloudy day, although some brightness is about. The mercury stands at 7C, but the cold wind makes it feel rather less than that. In spite of the wintry feel, I jumped on the bus to Laxay this morning to take more photographs of wargraves in that village's cemetery. The total was ten.

Laxay lies 12 miles south of Stornoway in the district of Lochs, and it is surrounded by quite a few lochs and rivers. A loch, for those unfamiliar with the regional vocabulary, is a lake or an inlet from the sea. Loch Erisort, which bounds Laxay to the south, stretches for 15 miles from the Minch in the east and causes long travel distances. The village of Cromore, for instance, lies 12 miles from Stornoway as the gull flies, but it's more like 30 miles by road (Cromore is marked on the map below).

Some pictures from the village are shown at the bottom of this post.





Monday, 18 January 2010

Visit to Carloway

As today was nice and sunny, I jumped on the afternoon bus to Carloway with the object of photographing the local war memorial. The bus trip, 45 miles, costs me a mere £4.40 and lasts for 2½ hours. Normally, it is 2 hours, but the bus picks up and drops off school children from two different schools. This allowed me to jump off at Carloway and photograph said memorial and a few village scenes.

On the way along, I noticed that there was quite a bit of snow and ice left in verges and in shaded locations.The first pic in the below gallery shows what was left in the shade of some trees at Garynahine junction. Below that, you'll see five images from Carloway.



Money for not rearing pigs

NIGEL JOHNSON-HILL,
PARKFARM,
MILLAND,
LIPHOOK
GU30 7JT

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business. In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill

Monday 18 January

Another week starts, and it's actually quite a nice if slightly nippy day. Hosed the salt off the windows, facing away from the sea. Those fronting the sea were washed clean by rain. The spray was blown in by Saturday morning's highish winds. Although the weather is calm at present, high winds are expected to return late tomorrow.

Locally, plans have been unveiled to improve Perceval Square, currently in use as a carpark off Stornoway's main shopping street, Cromwell Street. In order to turn Perceval Square into a town square, the toilet block will have to be moved, leading to despairing reactions from those liable to be caught short. Leaving that to one side, the plans look like an improvement to me.

I was somehow surprised to read that every person in Scotland drinks on average 46 bottles of vodka or 550 pints of beer each year. Scots have this unenviable love affair with alcohol, and the results show in society. The Monday morning local news in Lewis tends to be full of the misdeeds of the preceding weekend, mainly drink-fuelled.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday 17 January

Today started sunny, but turned wet mid afternoon. It feels cold, although the mercury has risen to 8C.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is coming to the Western Isles to celebrate her summer hols in North Uist and adjacent Berneray this year. She has requisitioned the small cruiseliner MV Hebridean Princess, the converted ferry MV Columba of yore, to tour the islands. Anyone who had booked a cruise at the same time that HM is going to the islands has been notified that their holiday has been cancelled. 

In Haiti, a small number of survivors are being extricated from the rubble of Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns. The death toll is likely to rise into six digits, whilst the aid effort is grinding along, severely impeded by the collapsed infrastructure of the country.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sandwick revisited

This afternoon, I returned to Sandwick Cemetery, after a dismally abortive attempt to reach it last Sunday. Today, there was no problem and I covered the distance in the customary 15 minutes. As I was going through the old part of the cemetery, a heavy shower passed by, leaving a fantastic double rainbow in its wake. The sun returned as I went up the new cemetery, which made photography a bit difficult if the gravestone faced north.





Saturday 16 January


The weather today started very windy, with galeforce winds. As the morning progressed, the wind died down and the sun is now beginning to show from behind the clouds. Our ferry did not leave port for its normal 7 am sailing, but should depart as scheduled at 2.30pm.

Another collision on a level crossing today, following a crash in the far north of Scotland earlier this week. Today, two cars were hit by a train in Herefordshire, western England. Three people were hurt, two seriously. The cause of the accident is yet to be investigated, as it only occurred 2 hours ago.

As promised, I've been going through the blogs this morning and caught up with quite a few of you.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Blog reading

I think most of comments in 2010 have been something like "happy new year". My Google Reader section for blogs I read regularly now stands at more than 300 items unread, a sure sign that I need to catch up. There are a handful of you that I do keep up with, whenever you post. Others I should keep up with more diligently, I admit. Anyway, there is a bad forecast for tomorrow, so there's a fair chance you'll see a comment from me.

Community benefit?

Hebrides News has published an article, outlining the benefits to be bestowed on the community of South Lochs through the construction of the Muaitheabhal Project, better known as the Eishken Windfarm. These benefits will leave South Lochs out of pocket to the tune of £6.9m. Let me explain

Initial expenditure
Four turbine sites in the windfarm: £0
Four turbine towers: £18.5m
Contribution to Western Isles Council development fund: £11.5m
Total initial expenditure: £30m

Income
1% of income of main windfarm: £8.75m
Revenue of own turbines: £21.6m

I should clarify that it is unclear whether the above two figures are per annum or over the lifetime of the project
Total income: £30.35m

Contribution
Contribution to Western Isles Council Development Fund: £7.2m (1/3 of revenue, as above)

Net income for Muaitheabhal Community Trust
-£6.9m

Friday 15 January

A very windy night followed by a day with heavy showers and more strong winds. Our ferry did not sail this morning, due to high winds in the Minch and heavy swells. The afternoon sailings are under review as I type.

Aid is beginning to reach Haiti, but the situation is growing dire. Looting of warehouses containing food has taken place as people are desperate for food. BBC TV showed images of people constructing a shelter using branches and a sheet of fabric material. Haiti is not in its rainy season at the moment, but the tropical sun is beating down. If you wish to donate to assist in the relief effort, please only do so through reputable aid organisations like the Red Cross.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Western Isles windfarm approved

The Scottish Government has granted approval for 33 windturbines to be constructed for the Muaitheabhal project. Each turbine will stand 450 feet tall, and their combined output (118 megawatts) is reported sufficient to power 55,000 homes. That is several times the number of homes in the Western Isles.

Objections from the John Muir Trust on account of visual impact of the machines have been sidestepped by reducing the number of turbines from 39 to 33. Reactions on BBC Radio Scotland Highlands and Islands this afternoon varied widely. The Scottish Energy Minister stated that this first major windfarm in the Western Isles would grant the islands their place in the renewable energy sector. Others asserted that the decision made a mockery of the recent Local Public Inquiry.

I have made my position on this issue patently clear, as being opposed. This is founded on the visual impact in combination with the effects on wildlife. It also strikes me that the Scottish Government is prejudiced, bearing in mind that one of its advisors on renewable energy is actually a high-ranking official within one of the power companies that will develop this scheme.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has hailed this announcement as a major boost for the Western Isles. In my perspective, they have fallen for the beads and mirrors flashed in front of them by the developers of the Muaitheabhal project. Yes, there will be a few million pounds a year for the Comhairle. But the major winners are the developers and the Eishken landowner.

Anyone who thinks that this will eradicate the islands’ economic woes at a stroke is seriously at variance with reality. Job benefits will only last for the duration of the construction of the windfarm, and I wonder how many islanders will be getting a job out of it. Maintaining the windfarm only requires a handful of people.The islands’ economy could arguably suffer through the windfarm, as it might deter visitors. They come here for an unspoilt wilderness, not to see an industrial estate.

I wonder what the European Union will think of this project, which will have adverse effects on wildlife; on a species of bird that are protected, and any threat to their habitat posed by such a scheme should by default lead to it being turned down. Not so, it would seem.

Once more, big money has spoken. It did so with the Beauly - Denny powerline upgrade, and has done so here. This is not for the benefit of the Western Isles. The Eishken Windfarm is a development to the islands’ detriment.

Thursday 14 January

Thirty-six hours after the Haiti earthquake, stories are coming out that justify the description "unimaginable". I can only refer to news websites like the BBC and others. For once, the Internet does feel quite inadequate for conveying the magnitude of this catastrophe, Haiti's worst earthquake in 150 years. The country, dirt poor at the best of times, is used to being at the receiving end of hurricanes each summer. I can only hope that the aid effort gets its act together in a matter of hours, rather than days. But that's a vain hope, I'm afraid.

More later.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Camera woes

Getting a new digital camera is one of the things on my list. The old one is no longer working, so I was pointed to an auction on eBay. It was for a used camera of the same variety that I've been using for the past four years. I lost it in the last 7 seconds after someone put in a rather higher bid. Never mind, better a new machine than a used one that you don't know anything about. And have no warranty over either. Fortunately, I do have the use of someone else's camera, so I'm not completely stuck.

Wednesday 13 January

Quite a bright day to start with, although the southeasterly breeze detracts a bit. The ice that has been plaguing us for 3 weeks is slowly melting away. Heavy snow is once more causing disruption across parts of England, with airports closed and some motorists finding themselves in their cars overnight. In Yorkshire, gritter lorries are reported as having slid off roads.

Haiti has suffered an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale, which was centered near the capital Port-au-Prince. It struck at 21.53 GMT last night and the US Geological Survey has reported more than a dozen aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or higher since. Devastation is reported widespread, and hundreds if not thousands are feared dead, or buried under rubble. Aid agencies are scrambling to get assets to the scene of one of the poorest countries in the world.

When you're on the run from the law, don't go and update your Facebook account, taunting the police. They may come and find you.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Tuesday 12 January

Sunny this morning, but with increasing levels of high cloud. In other words, change is in the offing. The ice on the grass in the backyard is slowly melting, and we no longer need to put out old bread for the birds. The birdfeeders are restocked regularly. For those in the UK, the RSPB is holding a Big Garden Birdwatch on January 30th and 31st, more details here. I participated in that a few years ago, but had a spot of bother when I wanted to report a cormorant around the house. They're not garden birds apparently.

The last surviving member of the group who helped to hide Anne Frank in Amsterdam during the Second World War has died at the age of 100 in a nursing home. Miep Gies had supplied the Frank family with food. After their deportation to a death camp in 1944, she had retrieved Anne's diary.

Don't forget it's Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th. 

Monday, 11 January 2010

Five years ago today

11 January 2005 is one of those days that everybody who was in the Outer Hebrides at the time will not forget. A deep Atlantic depression moved past our islands, bringing with it winds of force 12 on the Beaufort scale, with gusts in excess of 130 mph. At the time, I was staying in Kershader, 12 miles south of Stornoway as the crow flies - more like 22 miles by road. At 6.22pm, the power went off, not to go back on again for 48 hours. The wind was already howling around the building. Blue flashing lights penetrated the darkness from across Loch Erisort - police cars were stopping traffic on the Stornoway to Tarbert road after a lorry driver reported a sheep flying past his windscreen. The driver of the South Lochs bus that night was mightily relieved to make it home in one piece, he told me later. Trees were downed, roofs taken off, vehicles crushed under trees - and hundreds of them toppled in the Castle Grounds in Stornoway. High tides lapped at the doors of people on Cromwell Street and Bayhead in the town. Boats were torn off their moorings and smashed into the ferry terminal. Slates became like missiles, and pedestrians blown off their feet. Some who sought refuge were denied entry; others were taken inside.

The next morning dawned breezy and bright. Everybody heaved a sigh of relief. That was a bad one, but it's only damage. By 9.20 am however, reports start to emerge from the Southern Isles. Five people are missing in South Uist, after they fled their home the previous evening at around 7pm. Rising tides had started to approach their home, and pebbles were hurled against walls and windows. They enter two cars and drive from their home at Eochdar towards the causeway, linking South Uist and Benbecula. A fatal decision. That road parallels the stretch of sea that separates the two islands. The southeasterly storm, combined with a springtide from the northwest pushed the waters of Loch Bi up; but on account of the floodtide they could not drain into the sea. The loch flooded a small causeway, sweeping the cars into the water. By morning, the five missing people are found dead. They include a mother and father with two young children and a grandfather.

A notice in the Stornoway Gazette of last week commemorated their loss. This entry is in their memory too.

Monday 11 January

As I start this post, the sun is setting. We have now gained half an hour of daylight since the solstice on December 21st. Docked alongside pier no 3 is MV Aasvik, which is delivering more than 4,000 tonnes of roadsalt, to replenish stocks which had run out completely a few days ago. Thaw has arrived in these islands over the weekend, and is likely to persist. Not that the 5C feels very warm at present, with a strong southeasterly breeze. My camera has decided to stop being reliable, and is going on the blink every now and again. Another repair will be required soon, sigh.

Northern Ireland has seen another dose of political turmoil, this time surrounding the province's First Minister. Peter Robinson has announced he is stepping aside for 6 weeks to allow the dust to settle over the rumpus over his wife's affair with a teenager, 40 years younger than herself. She had given him money, but failed to declare it in the register of members' interests - Mrs Robinson is a Member of Parliament at Westminster. Why am I hearing the strains of Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson in my mind?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sunday 10 January

A brilliantly sunny day, which has seen the mercury up to 4C this afternoon. Last night, we had rain and as the night saw a slight frost, this has turned all untreated roadsurfaces into sheet ice. I encountered that problem when I set out to visit the cemetery at Sandwick, about 20 minutes' walk from my position. To cut a long story short, I was unable to access the graveyard. The path that runs in front of it was 5 feet of slippery ice which I was not prepared to negotiate. I had to walk along the beach (not easy with the pebbles there) as the path was impassable. Quite dangerous, really. Nonetheless, I got my breath of fresh air; I'll return to Sandwick when the ice has gone. Even within the graveyard, all the paths had iced up, and I would have been unable to make my way through.


The iced-over path


Sandwick Cemetery


View down the Minch

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday 9 January

A slight change in the weather today, after an evening and night with actual rain. The snow is still on the ground, as temperatures are still only barely above freezing. There are advantages to being close to the Atlantic; the merest westerly winds and temperatures take a lift. Elsewhere in the country, another 7 inches of snow is heading in from across the North Sea. The weather charts show no let up in the current cold spell for at least 5 days.

Locally, a cargo of road salt is currently being loaded by MV Haugesund at Carrickfergus (Northern Ireland) for transportation to these islands. Part of the 4,300 tonnes will be discharged at Lochmaddy in North Uist, for use on the roads of the Uists, the rest will come to Stornoway on Monday. Road conditions continue to be poor, with the Pentland Road (the shortcut between Stornoway and Carloway) effectively off-limits to motorists due to ice. The below image was taken in June 2006 at Achmore, where another branch of the Pentland Road emerges.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pictures

Here is a selection of pictures I took in Stornoway since my return last Tuesday.

Friday


Thursday


Wednesday

Hurricane update - 8 January

The Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of its tropical cyclone season, although it is pretty quiet. Except for tropical cyclone Edzani (formal designation 07S), which is a category V system in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean. Nearest land is Diego Garcia, 590 miles to its north, and the islands of Mauritius and La Reunion are 1300 miles to its west southwest. None of these places have anything to fear from Edzani. Although it is heading for a point to the southeast of the Mascaregnes, the storm will have weakened considerably by that time and will also be at too high a latitude to be able to regain strength.

Just a gentle reminder that winter will not last forever, and before you know where you are you'll be complaining about that stifling heat.

Friday 8 January

A sunny but very cold start to the day here in the Western Isles, after the mercury dipped to -6C overnight. That is not as cold as Altnaharra, over on the Scottish mainland, which reached -22.3C earlier this morning. Problems with snow and ice continue unabated, and there are no signs of improvement in the offing.

The birds have been fed outside, taking care to make it difficult for the seagulls to reach the seeds and bread crumbs. Anything close to treetrunks or under bushes is not easy to get for those scavengers. The starlings, thrushes, sparrows and finches are having a hard time at the moment. By 2pm, they can be spotted puffed up in any ray of sunshine that happens about, soaking up the sun and saving energy.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thursday 7 January

Good morning from a freezing Stornoway, temperature -2C. There was a nice sunrise at 9 o'clock, but snow showers are building. A seal just popped up in the basin across the road - no he's dived now. Temperatures in the south of England have gone down to -18C / 0F overnight. As high pressure builds over Scotland, we can expect overnight lows to go below -20C in the next few nights.

Supplies of grit to salt the roads in the Western Isles are expected to run out on Sunday. On Sunday, a boat with further supplies of salt is expected here. As Sunday work is frowned upon, I'm wondering if this ship will be unloaded then, or will they wait for Monday. Without gritting, the road conditions would be even more treacherous than they already are.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Wednesday 6 January

Good afternoon from Stornoway, where I arrived on time last night at around 6.30. I managed to get a lift into town. The three miles showed an increasing amount of snow the further west we came. Stornoway Town Centre had a lot of snow in it, showing the problems they've been having with gritting. Visiting Tesco earlier today was a very slushy, snowy experience, punctuated by empty shelves. There wasn't a grain of salt left in that place either, and it had all found its way to people's paths. Not their dinner plates!

Yesterday, my journey went surprisingly well. Everything flew on time, in huge contrast to today. Following snow falls of 40 cms, in places 180 cms, most of the country is struggling to keep going. When the weather settles down, overnight lows in the Highlands could dip to -20C.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Comment spam

I just spent half an hour deleting a dozen spam comments in Chinese or Japanese on all my blogs. As a result, I'll moderating all comments on this blog prior to publication, in order to ward off this nuisance. This Blogger user goes by the Latin script username of disa. Having searched Google for an answer to this problem, I've found that they have no solution in place for it.

Posting on Atlantic Lines will resume next Wednesday 6 January.