View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tuesday 8 March

Feeling increasingly cold as the day went on, with a heavy snow shower in the last hour before sunset. As I type this, the mercury down at the airport shows only +1C. Tomorrow is supposed to get even worse, with a forecast layer of 5 to 15 cm of snow, the higher up the more snow we're likely to get. It is only early March, after all; I've had a significant amount of snow as late as March 22nd, 5 years ago.The other aspect of today's weather is the wind; the afternoon ferry was off, and I don't think tomorrow morning's service will fare any better.

The House of Commons has decided to postpone a debate on the future of coastguard services in favour of MPs talking about International Women's Day. Now, I find that a totally worthy cause, but I rather think that actual life saving is just a tad more important. However, it appears to me that the decisions have already been taken and nothing you are I do is going to make the slightest bit of difference. Sounds despondent? Well, not quite as bad as that - there will be a march in Stornoway on March 19th to support the local Coastguards.

Monday 7 March

Absolutely pouring with rain this morning, and it only improved very gradually through the afternoon. We are on warning for snow on Wednesday, showing that March is very much a month of transition between winter and spring. The crocuses and narcissi may be out, but we still have 2 weeks to go until the equinox.

I have continued my transcriptions of the war diaries of one British army unit, the 2nd battalion Seaforth Highlanders, from 1915. I am currently going through the months of April and May, with more than a dozen Lewismen being lost at the start of the 2nd battle of Ypres (Belgium), and several more in gas attacks. According to the entry for May 2nd, 1915, the respirators were little more than woollen strips, which did nothing to lessen the effects of the chlorine gas being unleashed by the Germans. They had to lug 5,400 canisters of the stuff to the frontline. The disadvantage of using poison gas in this way is that a shift in the wind can blow it all back in your face. We are all familiar with chlorine, it is the stuff given off by bleach, especially when it is in a toilet being used without the bleach being flushed away first.