View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thursday 25 October

Last night, someone at Uig Lodge in Timsgarry (some 35 miles west of here) decided to get rid of some old rabbit poison (containing cyanide), but got into contact with the stuff. He was driven towards town, but was intercepted by the emergency services, who set up a mobile decontamination unit in the middle of the road between Achmore and Leurbost, forcing traffic to divert along the Pentland Road. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

Today saw a transition to markedly colder weather. Although we have the sun back, the moderate northerly wind made the 7C / 45F we had on the thermometer today made it feel a lot colder.

Down in the Caribbean, hurricane Sandy claimed two lives (one in Jamaica, another in Cuba) as it strengthened on passing over both islands. Maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph. The storm will now weaken, but still be a hurricane as it bears down on the Mid Atlantic states and New England in the USA. Oops.

Today's poem (Bridge to Bosta) is a reference to a true story associated with Great Bernera. I wrote it in cooperation with the lady's family, and have their permission to publish the photograph on the entry on this blog. The pic is also shown on my Facebook feed (which has restricted access), but not on the Facebook page on which I publish the poems.

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The bridge to Bosta

Two planks across the rowing boat
A motor car perched precariously
The ferryman rows ponderously
Across the narrow strait with fast flowing water

To work she came, the new nurse for Bernera
Only just on the island an urgent call came
To the house by little Tobson
A young lad lay drowned, claimed by the sea

To no avail did she work to bring him to life
The spirit of life was long gone
A sadness enveloped that house
Close by the double beach

Four times they have tried now
Ever foiled by the tidal currents
Will it work this time round
To drive the bridge’s pillars into the seabed?

The bridge is in place, its engineer proud
The ferryman’s out of a job
Cross the narrows to the Tir Mor
With dry feet and no fear of water

The bridge engineer took the nurse as his wife
And took her far far away
Over the bridge to Tir Mor
And beyond the shores of this land

Never would she reside there again
However much she yearned to one day
Cast her gaze over the wild beach at Bosta
And once more call it home

From the Southern Cross to North Star
Was her last journey beyond this life
The road ended at Bosta
Where now her spirit remains

In memory of Peggy Macleod, 1927-1989

Tir Mor is the local name for the area of “mainland” Lewis south of the Bernera Bridge, containing the villages of Lundale, Crulivig and Earshader.

Hurricane update - 25 October

Hurricane Sandy is leaving Cuba behind, having dumped more than 3 inches of rain in parts of the island. The storm passed directly over Santiago de Cuba at 0400 GMT today (8 hours ago at time of posting), with barometric pressure at 960 mbar, the official reading also quoted by the NHC. The Cuban weather service shows winds of 140 km/h (just below 90 mph) at Cabo Lucrecia, 60 miles north northwest of Guantanamo Bay.

Sandy will now proceed north to the Bahamas, which are on warning for a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.4 metres) above normal tidal levels. The 90 mph winds at Cabo Lucrecia suggest the storm has not weakened and could reintensify further en-route to the Bahamas.

The US state of Florida could get a side-swipe from Sandy as it passes 100 to 200 miles to its east.

Three-hourly updates through the NHC.