View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 19 March 2010

Forever for sale

I was once again travelling the island by Google Streetview this evening, when I decide to head down the Eishken Road. About 3 miles in, there is this ruin of a house, in a glorious location overlooking the head of Loch Seaforth. It has come down in price over the years, from about £25,000 in 2005 to £13,000 today, in 2010. No facilities on site at all. Why doesn't it shift? I mean, it would perfectly suit a hermit, a holiday home, or someone wanting to be away from it all. Well, there is the minor matter of a windfarm with 33 turbines, each 500 feet high which will be constructed on the hills on the other side of Loch Seaforth.

Leaving monstrosities like a windfarm to one side, there are other reasons why houses don't sell. The house shown in this picture, which stands in Ness, has also been for sale for at least the duration I've been here. It requires such an enormous amount of work, that demolition is probably the cheapest option. Sometimes houses are not put up for sale for years. The reason is quite often that the occupants have passed away, but there is a dispute of subsequent ownership. Or nobody knows who the owner is. I'll never forget the description of the interior of a house that was put up for sale some 14 years after the last occupant had died. Newspapers, dating back to the 1930s, were still present. The man's caps were neatly piled up, and everything was still the way it was the day he died, in 1991. More often than not, houses fall into rack and ruin.

Evening notes

It was still a bit light at 7.30pm this evening, so we're definitely heading towards spring. Although we had a gale today, it was not cold. Went into town this afternoon, but had to suffer a blasting from the grit that was blown up by the high winds. During the winter, tons of grit had been dumped on the streets of Stornoway and it had not been swept up since New Year.

Just before darkness fell, a flutter of large, whitish wings caught my attention in the backyard. It flew into the hedge, which is home to many small birds, flew out at high speed and back in again. In the end, the bird sat down outside the hedge and I could see what it was: a sparrowhawk. Small wonder the blackbird was panicking. I did not have my camera on me, and the light conditions were way too poor to be able to take pictures at any rate.

The below image shows a gull taking advantage of the force 8 conditions this morning. 

Although we have had fewer gales this winter than average, it is still a relief for boat owners that they can put their vessels on hard standing during the winter months. By 1 May, they will have to be back in the water.

Friday 19 March

The above map has been cropped from AIS Northern Scotland. The MV Wilson Dover has run into mechanical problems amidst a force 9 gale and an 8 metre (27 ft) swell. The MV Anglian Sovereign is a coastguard tug, which has come to the aid of the Wilson Dover out of Kirkwall, some 45 miles to the east, trying to tow the ship to safety in Orkney. Conditions are so horrendous that to even attempt to attach a towline is proving well-nigh impossible. STV alerted me to the rescue. The location is some 50 miles north of Cape Wrath, the farthest point northwest in mainland Britain; approximately 100 miles northeast of Stornoway.

Today has been a wild day, and the weather is taking its time in calming down. The day dawned with a force 8 gale here in Stornoway, and conditions so poor that the early morning sailing of our ferry was cancelled. The wind is slowly subsiding, currently at force 6 with winds of 25 mph, but not out at sea it would appear.