View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Thursday 26 May

The weather today is very cold, wet and breezy. The mercury can barely manage double figures, and coupled with a northerly wind, this makes for an unpleasant day outside.

It is also been a bad day for Ratko Mladic, but otherwise an excellent day for the rest of us. Mladic was the commander of the Bosnian Serb army in the early 1990s, when Yugoslavia fell apart in a brutal war. He is alleged to have masterminded the three-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which civilians were continually shelled. He was also present in Srebrenica, when this UN safe haven was overrun in July 1995. Subsequently, 7,000 men and boys from the town were taken away into nearby woods and shot. Mladic forced UN personnel to assist in the operation. Like his political leader, Radovan Karadzic, Mladic had assumed a false name. The cynical approach could be that Mladic was handed over to facilitate the entry of Serbia into the European Union.

The arrest of Mladic has been heralded with delight and relief across the world, not least in Holland. It was the Dutch Battalion of the UN peace keeping force that was present in Srebrenica when Mladic's forces invaded. I personally know several members of the Dutch armed forces who were there - at the time, I was working for the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Back in 1995, there was severe criticism of the commander of Dutchbat, who was seen to be meekly surrendering to the Bosnian Serbs. However, what choice do you make when offered the alternatives of collaborating with Mladic, or being shot?

Wednesday 25 May

My new camera arrived today, and I spent some time getting to know the basics of the device. My old camera finally packed in over the weekend, after more than 5 years and 31,600 pictures and videos. I also received a carry case for my GPS machine - a carry case that did not fit. It went straight back to the manufacturers for a refund.

The weather was quite unpleasant with grey clouds and occasional rain. Although the wind has died down, it remains cold.

There are reported to be counterfeit banknotes in circulation in Stornoway. Although none of the local banks have confirmed this, one shop has put up a notice saying that it only accepts cards or coins; no banknotes of any description. The police state that they have not received any reports of counterfeit money. Some shops say they lost hundreds of pounds of income, after notes turned out to be fake. It is strange that no confirmation can be obtained.