View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tuesday 16 October

A beautifully calm and bright or sunny day, although not warm at 11C. Went for an amble to view progress on the demolition of the old buildings of the Nicolson Institute, which is nearing completion. The machines were continuing to gnaw and grind their way through what remains of the last edifice.

I was not surprised to read that former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has denied the charges of genocide that have been levelled against him at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Karadzic, with his general, Ratko Mladic, is alleged to have heaped unspeakable horrors on the people of Bosnia-Hercegovina between 1992 and 1995, with the nadir being Srebrenica.

A walk in the moor

Overcast skies threatening rain
The long line of water dully reflects
the little hamlet on the far bank
Vehicles turn the distant corner
out of sight

The paved roadway dips then rises
Passes the gateway to lose its tarmac
The first lake looms up below
Rocks and debris litter the track

Floodwater impedes progress
Where's the road, where is the moor
Spaghnum between the wheelruts
A deep channel fails to drain from the edge

A fleece and some horns, a skull
In front of a second gate, abandon all hope
The rise ahead reveals a lake, another lake, another lake
Where can we pass - it's a narrow causeway

Distant hills reflect in the water
Doom-laden skies glower to the south
Battleship grey is the surface
A final gate, and now find your own way

Watch you step observe the plantlife
Here you can stand, there is a bottomless lake
Shrouded by virulently green watercress
Beware of the peathags, do not be hasty

One wrong move and you may not be found
Until the next spring - or next century
Feel safe on the heather, hug the contourline
Skirt the bulrushes, circle the lochan

The valley opens out, to the left lies the township
The mountains now close, blocking out the light
Guarding the homesteads, three dozen empty
Lining the shores, now home to the deer

The crossroads is reached, the light starts to fade
The fjord looms ahead, leading out to the sea
Complete, soundless silence
But in safety, back on the road