View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Visit to Kershader

This afternoon, I jumped on the bus and paid a brief visit to the village of Kershader, 22 miles by road and 12 miles as the crow flies from Stornoway. Kershader (Cearsiadar in Gaelic) is a small crofting township on the shore above Loch Erisort, the 15 mile long inlet from the sea. It is the cause for the lengthy detour. As you come down the main road at Laxay, you can actually see the village across the water. But you still have to go down a 10 mile detour round the head of the loch!

The object of the visit was the Ravenspoint Centre, a venue that I am only too familiar with. I stayed there during the 2004/5 winter, making many miles in the surrounding moorland until conditions became too inclement. It was there that I sat through a 48 hour black-out, caused by 100 mph winds on 11 January 2005. This same hurricane claimed 5 lives in Uist, 60 miles to the south.

Today, the Ravenspoint Centre (have a look on Streetview, link provided) looks a lot smarter. The shop is now much larger; I did not look in at the hostel, which can't have changed that much. The museum is all in a small room, but held some interesting artefacts.

It helped that the weather cleared up and warmed up as the day wore on, although the wind stayed chilly.

Loch Erisort at Balallan

Pairc Museum, Kershader

Inside the Ravenspoint Shop

A year ago tomorrow

On 30 April 2009, the annual Queen's Day festivities in Holland were cruelly torn apart by a man in car, who smashed into a crowd of spectators at 60 mph. He bore a grudge against the Dutch royal family, who were seated in an open-topped bus, within yards of his car as it veered across a road and collided with a monument. Kars Tates died not long after of his injuries. So did seven innocent bystanders. A memorial to these will be unveiled this afternoon in the city of Apeldoorn, 65 miles east of Amsterdam.

I was watching the events on television in Holland that day, and it is was quite strange to see a small black car, obviously not part of the festivities, suddenly appear at high speed and crashing into a monument. Unreal. But only too real for the bystanders, and the seven who died - and their relatives. They have requested the media to please leave them alone (Google translation of Dutch article).

Tomorrow, 30 April 2010, will see the 30th anniversary of Queen Beatrix's ascension to the throne in The Netherlands. I hope it will be a festive occasion, even if the weather will be a little cool and showery. I'll keep an eye on proceedings from here in Stornoway, courtesy the internet.

Thursday 29 April

After two days of continuous rain, today dawned fairly bright, if not very warm. I'm not really complaining about 11C at 10 am, but there is a breeze going and that cools things down. I am normally a late starter, but this morning saw me heading for Sandwick Cemetery at 9 am in order to search for a particular gravestone. I did not manage to locate it (the person in question died in a  hospital in Glasgow in 1917, but might have been transferred to Lewis after death for burial). I did find 9 other gravestones that are of interest to me for wargrave purposes.

Gordon Brown had his open mike moment yesterday, when he was all smiles to a voter in Rochdale, but called her a bigot when he was safe in his car. Or so he thought, because a mike on his jacket was still working. The tape was duly played to the voter, and also played to Gordon Brown himself as he was live on air on BBC Radio 2. He was also video'd, and he knew he had dropped a clanger. The PM returned to the lady's home to apologise, but the damage was done.

The dangers of deep-sea oil exploration are becoming clearer by the minute as an open oilwell continues to leak oil into the Gulf of Mexico, following the destruction of an oilplatform. The sea is 5000 feet deep, and efforts to plug the leak by robot have so far proven unsuccessful. The oilslick on the surface is a lot bigger than previous thought, and is set to come ashore in the US state of Louisiana in the next few days. It is forecast to be the worst oilspill in history.