View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Afternoon stroll

Did a 5 mile walk this afternoon, through the villages of Sandwick and Steinish, and taking in parts of Stornoway. The weather was fabulous, even if the mercury did not exceed 13C.

I am quite familiar with the 15 minute walk to Sandwick, having often trodden that path on my way to the cemetery there. Only on one occasion did my plans founder - on a sheet of ice. Not so today.

Lower Sandwick

Walked up the street in Lower Sandwick, crossed the main road and continued up North Street.

This picture shows the view down North Street towards Lower Sandwick and the outer reaches of Stornoway harbour.

At the top of North Street, Constable Road turns right and winds its way through the Carse of Melbost towards Steinish. I heard a cuckoo calling, and promptly saw the bird fly off towards Plasterfield. Along the road here, you have a nice view of the airport, and one plane took off and one landed whilst I walked north.

Steinish is a one-horse town with perhaps a dozen or little more houses. Pleasant enough place, very quiet on a Sunday afternoon. It borders the Cockle Ebb, the tidal estuary to the River Laxdale.

And yes, that's my feet again. You have to wade across some shallow waters in order to gain the Cockle Ebb.You leave the estuary at Sand Street, where I heard (but not saw) a corncrake.

And finally, a twenty-minute walk through the town, north to south, leading past two remarkable gates. One to the football pitch, the other leading to the site of the old hospital.

Jane / A journey of another kind

J-land has lost another of its number, to cancer. Jane Thompson, who kept the journal "A journey of another kind", passed away this afternoon after a long battle against renal cell carcinoma.

On her blog, she described the slow deterioration in her condition, in spite of new drugs, new treatments and the valiant efforts of various parts of the NHS. She campaigned for the admission of expensive medications for use within the NHS. After a holiday in Brazil last year, Jane's condition took a sharp turn for the worse, which ended with the final result today.

Sunday 30 May

Sunny and breezy today, a welcome change from the mist and rain of recent days. Last night was the Eurovision Song Contest, which has been going for more than 50 years. The UK entry came last, and the Dutch entry never made it to the final. The voting went as per usual, less on merit, more on neighbourliness. I'll have more later today, but will close this post with a breathtaking quote from the Napier Commission Report on South Uist.

Due to sheer poverty, the people of that island were reduced to feeding their children tea, rather than milk in the 1880s. A translator, acting for the Gaelic speaking witnesses at the inquiry, had this to say on the subject.

11529. Do you find that the children are properly clothed generally 1
—Well, upon the whole they are. You meet with exceptions, but upon the whole, they are fairly well clad. Of course there are cases where clothing is pretty scanty.

11530. You don't think they are so badly clothed that it has any generally injurious effect upon their growth or health ?
—I don't think so. It is insufficient feeding that has to do with their health, as I find, especially tea-drinking.

11531. A man to-day spoke about giving tea to the children. Is it common ?
—Quite prevalent.

11532. I suppose you don't consider that good for children ?
—I think it most injurious.

11533. In the absence of milk, what would you recommend them to drink?
—Beer, if they had cheap beer; certainly anything but tea. I think it is doing a great deal of harm to the people, especially to the rising generation.

11534. [...] At what age would you begin to give beer to the children ?
—At a year or two or three years of age. I think if there was cheap beer made it would be much healthier than living upon tea.