View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday 27 March

Yes, the clocks went forward an hour last night, so it stayed light until after 8pm this evening. Makes a pleasant transition from winter to spring. It was a variable day, with some sunshine and a few light showers about. It is the Hebrides, after all. I spoke to someone from the Baltic states today who was surprised that we don't get a lot of snow, and that it isn't really cold here. The Baltic states are at the same latitude as the Hebrides - but we have the benefit of the Gulf Stream.

The situation in Libya has changed dramatically over the past week, with the aerial intervention from coalition forces weakening pro-Gaddafi forces to such an extent that they had to abandon all their recent territorial gains. At present, the rebel forces are on a speed march west, towards Sirte. However, it is to be expected that pro-Gaddafi forces will possibly regroup in a major population centre to mount a concerted defence. How this will pan out in the end remains hidden in the future, and there is no predicting.

I have continued my research into the Napier witnesses, but am occasionally drawing blanks. Nonetheless, it is quite interesting to see the family life from people from 19th century Harris come to life again; even if through the drab pages of the censes of 1841 through 1901. Today was census day in the UK, and I have duly recorded myself. Reading a census from the past is like shining a narrow beacon into the dark recesses of history. For one night, we see where all those people were, what they were doing and what age they were. None of those are now left alive. As much as no one that filled out the census form today will be alive by the time the 2011 census is put in the public domain in April 2111. On Tuesday 5 April, the census for 1911 will become publicly available, but you have pay for the privilege.

Saturday 26 March

It is supposed to be dry and bright, but never trust the weather in these islands. We promptly got a handful of light showers after midday. By mid evening, the mercury had plummeted to freezing - another unexpected quirk. Daytime high was 11C / 52F, which gives no reasons for complaint at this time of year.

I spent most of the day researching aspects of local history, more specifically the people who gave evidence to the Napier Commission in 1883. This report, several thousand pages long, has kept me occupied since last summer. However, in recent times I have acquired some new skills in accessing census data (thanks Peter), which has enabled me to paint the picture of (e.g.) the Reverend Alexander Davidson, who gave evidence to Lord Napier et al on 31 May 1883. He was the minister in the Free Church in Harris, more specifically in the Bays area (the eastern side of South Harris).

At the end of the day, all the clocks had to be put forward by an hour, as British Summer Time is once more upon us. Did you put your clocks forward?