View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

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

GU30 7JT

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

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.