View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tuesday 15 May

A cold day, with a few wintry showers. Is this the middle of May? It feels more like March, with the mercury stubbornly ducking double figures, we only managed +9 today. Nonetheless, I'm not going to complain, when I look to the Canaries and southern Spain. People are reported to be dying there in a 40C / 105F heatwave.

Went into town this afternoon, and was overtaken by a shower, which quickly turned into a painful hailshower. And the stones only got bigger as I reached the town centre. The streets were deserted, but the shop entrances were full of people, huddling to get out of the rain and the cold. Not long after, the shower cleared away to the south and the sun came back.

It was confirmed a few days ago that a major construction company in the northwest of Scotland, UBC, has gone bankrupt. 90 people in the Western Isles have lost their jobs, which is a huge number if you remember the total population in the islands, which is not far off 25,000. If a proportionately similar event took place in London, you'd be looking at 18,000 redundancies - at a stroke.

Monday 14 May

A vast improvement on yesterday, with plenty of sunshine, not much wind and slightly more elevated temperatures. We did have the odd shower, but nothing really to complain about.

The first tropical cyclone of the Eastern Pacific season has formed, a day ahead of the formal start of the season. Tropical storm Aletta is headed west, from a point 650 miles south of Mexico. The system will not see the end of the week, due to unfavourable atmospheric conditions ahead.

Spent the day looking up information for someone who is researching the second battalion Seaforth Highlanders, which lost 97 men on 25 April 1915 - including this person's ancestor. The battle of Neuve Chapelle claimed many an islander's life as well; if memory serves, about half a dozen.

We had another visit from the Ocean Nova cruiseship, which was in all day. I pictured her last Thursday. By 6pm, she headed off for the small island of Canna, about 100 miles south of here. Canna is a tiny community of about 15, where some years ago they eradicated all the rats. First though, they had to remove the Canna mice (a distinct species of mouse). Then the rat poison was brought in. The freight boat Spanish John II was carrying the big white drums out on deck when she was challenged by the USS Klakring, which was on exercises between Mallaig and Canna. The American warship did not receive or see the replies from the Spanish John II, so four torpedoes were fired at the freighter! Fortunately, they all missed. The rats were all killed off, and the mice were duly returned.