View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Viewpoint Lewis

The island on which I reside lies at the northern end of the Outer Hebrides, and is actually the largest island off the mainland of Great Britain. Lewis and Harris (one landmass) stretch for 80 miles between the Butt of Lewis in the north and Rodel in the south. On a clear day, visibility extends for 75 miles, as I discovered some time ago.

The two humps on the horizon are the Red Hills by Broadford in Skye, as I said, 75 miles to the south of Stornoway. This picture was taken on 10 February, when visibility was very good. You can see from Cape Wrath all the way down to Kyle of Lochalsh; Cape Wrath is visible at night particularly on account of the lighthouse, whose flashes can be discerned from just below the horizon as you stand near the Butt of Lewis. The mountains on the mainland stand out at this time of year, wreathed in snow.

From my own viewpoint in Stornoway, I can make out the hills around Applecross on a clear day (like this afternoon), a mere 60 miles to the southeast.

Sunday 21 February

Nice and bright after a very cold night. Before midnight, towels drying on an outside line had already turned into boards, and the mercury ended up at -5C. At the moment it is above freezing, and we're looking at cumulus clouds drifting overhead.

It is a quiet Sunday in Stornoway, and not much moves, apart from church traffic. This week, the first cask of legally distilled whisky for 166 years will leave this island to be sampled at a bar in Glasgow. The spirits are not strictly speaking whisky yet (it is not quite 3 years old), but will pack a hefty punch at 65% alcohol-by-volume. The whisky was produced at the Red River distillery in Uig, 40 miles west of Stornoway.

I was shocked to see the video footage of flooding and mudslides in Madeira, a Portuguese island southwest of the Iberian peninsula off Africa. The capital Funchal was overrun by mudstreams, and there have been more than two dozen fatalities as a result.

The BBC has obtained transcripts of discussions within the Scottish Government, which show that they could be planning an referendum on the independence of Scotland as early as 30 November 2010. I would like to refer to the article for details, but I am very concerned by this head-long rush into independence by the SNP administration.