View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Pentland Road

A ribbon of black
threads across
the trackless moor
hugging contours

Distant hills
looming either side
blue pieces of glass
reflecting the high sky

Dark blankets roll away
in green, yellow, brown
and black to the horizon
waiting to be cut for fuel

The road forks
where rocky hillocks crop out
angling down along the riverbank
and coming to end at the pierhead

Thursday 15 November

Today in 2004, I first arrived in Stornoway, and in due course made the place my pied-a-terre. I started off staying at the Ravenspoint Centre in Kershader, 22 miles (by road) south of Stornoway, before relocating to the town proper a number of weeks later. I arrived in Stornoway from Berneray, in the Sound of Harris, after a lengthy tour of northern Scotland.

Berneray, 1996

Kershader, 2008

I was shocked to hear of the arrest today of Dave Lee Travis, until 1993 a famed DJ on BBC radio; I first heard of him on the BBC World Service, which he dubbed the BBC's Wild Service. I found that funny; until today. One of my Facebook contacts has lodged a police complaint against Mr Travis for alleged sexual abuse 30 years ago.

Today was a day of sunshine and cloudscapes and quite a bit of wind. The wind blew the remaining dry leaves around, causing a visiting cat to jump up in the air on all fours and trying to chase them. After dark, the cloud increased and there was a brief spell of rain - the wind has now died down.

Alcohol in pregnancy

One of today's headlines is the news that drinking one or two glasses of wine per week whilst pregnant increases the risk of lowering the IQ of the baby. This was also carried in the regional paper for the north of Scotland, the Press and Journal. The closing lines of the P&J article run as follows:

Dr Simon Newell, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We already know that an estimated 6,000 babies a year in the UK are born with problems as a result of heavy alcohol consumption by their mothers while pregnant. It is impossible to say what constitutes a "safe" amount of alcohol, so our advice is don't take the chance with your baby's health - don't drink at all".

The P&J adds an editorial which runs as follows:

So researchers are now telling pregnant women that having a glass of wine once a week could reduce their child's IQ. The difficulty with research, of course, is that much of it is intelligent supposition based on, by its very nature, limited findings. It creates confusion and mixed messages, but most women are far too sensible to be swayed by these kinds of messages anyway. We know the dangers drink can have and ultimately know that a little glass of wine now and again won't kill us. Often our bodies are the best guide one can have, not a researcher with a message to sell.

I wonder who is right...