View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday evening

The wind has picked up and is now blowing at 46 mph, force 9, gusting to 60 mph. Up at Eoropie, the windiest place in the country, the wind is gusting to 80 mph. Extensive cancellations across the ferry network in western Scotland, as no ferry will venture out in winds above force 8. The forecast, as I relayed earlier, is for a violent storm, force 11.

The Work and Pensions Secretary in the UK government has suggested that people who have been out of work for a long time could be made to do unpaid community work (like convicted delinquents) to get them used to the concept of regular work again. Mr Duncan-Smith, that is an insult.

A week or so ago, a pod of 35 whales were milling around in Loch Carnan, South Uist, but successfully made their way out again. It is reported from the north of the Irish Republic (not Northern Ireland) that the same inviduals have now beached and died. A very sad outcome to what appeared to be a story of hope.

Gamekeeper's son - WW1

Duncan Macdonald was 19 when he was killed to the east of Arras, in April 1917. It took a while for his death to be confirmed; it was not until British forces captured the territory where he was lost that they found his remains. Taking his personal effects with them, the British buried him near Fampoux.

Duncan was on my list, but only knowing that he was with the Seaforth Highlanders did not help matters much; nor the fact that his entry on the War Graves register only gives an initial "D", rather than his full name. The soldier was the son of a gamekeeper, and the article in the Stornoway Gazette that pointed me in his direction mentions the fact that his parents lived at Scaliscro, the shooting lodge some 25 miles west of Stornoway. Duncan's birth, which occurred on 5 March 1896, took place at Ath Linne, a hamlet on the Lewis Harris border some 20 miles south of Stornoway. The entry on the War Graves register refers to his parents living at Gress Lodge, 9 miles north of the town.

The chaplain wrote the message to Murdo and Helen Macdonald that their son Duncan had been lost:
[...] He must have been killed on 11th April. The ground where he fell has recently been won from the enemy. His body has been found and buried. We do not yet know which troops have found and buried our dead, nor do we know exactly where their graves are, but it must be somewhere just to the front of Fampoux, to the east of Arras.

Sunday 7 November

A bright and cold start to the day, with the mercury right down to -2C at sunrise. There was a frost on the grass, obviously. As I type this, at 11 am, the wind is beginning to pick up ahead of a violent storm which will hit us later today. I copy the inshore wind forecast for the Minch, which I overlook:
Southerly, backing southeasterly later, 5 to 7, increasing gale 8 to storm 10, perhaps violent storm 11 for a time, decreasing 6 to gale 8 later.
 This has already led to cancellations of ferry services later today, and some are on warning for disruption tomorrow as well. Never a dull moment up here.

I shall have another update later today, when it will probably look like this:

30 November 2006