View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Thursday evening

Today was a typical November day, fairly cold, breezy and showery. On the weather front, the most noteable feature was the barometric pressure: we went down to 954 mbar at one stage, and Barra (120 miles south of here) to 948 mbar. This basically means that a deep depression crossed over the Outer Hebrides. It also meant that we had relatively calm conditions, much in contrast to west Wales, which is seeing sustained winds in excess of 60 mph, gusting to 76 mph. The north of England is reporting atrocious weather this evening - like we had on Sunday night. At the moment, it is quite calm with northwesterly winds of 9 mph.

The broadband went off for about 6 hours this evening, but I had set up an account with a dial-up company just in case. Well, 32 kbps is nothing in comparison to the 2 Mbps I get on broadband. Websites take many minutes to load, if at all, and I just cannot imagine how we ever managed on dial-up. However, websites have become very heavy features to load, and it's not until you are reduced to snail-pace connection speeds that you come to realise that. Fortunately, at around 9.30pm, service was returned to normal.

Here in the Isle of Lewis, the electricity company SSE has announced it is deferring a decision on building a subsea cable to the Scottish mainland. This is required to transport the electricity output from the island's proposed renewable energy projects (windfarms) to the mainland; the existing link does not have sufficient capacity. This means that more than a dozen windfarms are in the doldrums, and their construction has had to be put on hold. I have always been quite vociferous in my opposition to these projects, and will not be so hypocritical as to deplore SSE's decision. The local council is furious, saying it will deprive the local economy of £2.5m per annum. A tidy sum, but in the grand scheme of things - a tiny sum. Should the projects ever come on-line, then the revenue for the likes of SSE will be a factor 1000 bigger.

Thursday 11 November

Today is the 92nd anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, when the guns fell silent after four years, three months and seven days of carnage. November 11th has since been adopted as a national day of remembrance for the UK and many other countries, who were actively involved in the First World War. The dead of the Second World War and other conflicts since are similarly commemorated on that day. Remembrance Sunday, which will be observed next Sunday (14 November) is the formal occasion of Remembrance.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my research into the war dead of the Isle of Lewis, who number 1300 for the First World War. This number, when viewed in the proper perspective, is quite appalling.

Total population of Lewis in 1911: about 30,000
Total male population: about 15,000
Total number who were in active service, including the Merchant Navy: about 6,000
Total number killed between August 1914 and November 1918: about 1100
Total number drowned in the sinking of HMY Iolaire on 1 January 1919: about 200