View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tuesday 30 April

Today, the Netherlands got itself a new monarch. King Willem Alexander took over from his mother, Queen Beatrix. She had reigned for 33 years. After the instrument of abdication was signed at 10 am local time today, he swore the oath of allegiance at 2pm, thereby formally becoming king. He is the first male monarch in the Netherlands for 123 years. His eldest child is a girl, so if things go as planned, a queen will once more rule in Holland later this century. The celebrations were closed by a water pageant on the IJ river, just outside Amsterdam, earlier this evening.

Here in Stornoway, meanwhile, a cold wind blew up into a gale this evening. The overnight freight ferry Muirneag is once more not running. This will mean no supplies in the shops until well after lunchtime. We should not complain, however. The lifeline ferry to Orkney, MV Hamnavoe, is laid up with a broken crankshaft, which will put it out of action for at least a month. The Shetland ferry, MV Hjaltland, calls into Kirkwall four times a week, but is a lot more expensive, as it sails from Aberdeen. The alternative is a smaller private ferry, the Pentalina, which runs from Gills Bay in Caithness to St Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldsay, Orkney. Coming at the start of the tourism season, the Orcadians are crying blue murder.

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Monday, 29 April 2013

Monday 29 April

A day of sunshine and heavy April showers, but these abated as the day wore on. 7C / 45F is rather below par for late April, but the strong sunshine made it feel rather warmer than that. We are stuck in cold conditions for the foreseeable future, with a gale in the offing for Wednesday.

In recent weeks, there has been no end of problems with the ferries in the Western Isles. One of the ferries to Orkney, the MV Hamnavoe which plies between Scrabster and Stromness, has broken down and it may take a month or more to fix it. That has presumably also been in drydock earlier in the year.

Tomorrow (April 30th), the Netherlands will celebrate the coronation of King Willem Alexander, who turned 46 a few days ago. He takes over from his mother, Queen Beatrix, who will abdicate tomorrow at the age of 75. The event will be livecast on the WWW, but commentary will be in Dutch. Just enjoy the spectacle if the language is beyond you.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sunday 28 April

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Saturday 27 April

Went for a 3-mile amble around town in the afternoon. It has been quite changeable of late, and today was no exception. The brightness of the morning soon gave way to ominous greyness, and rain began to fall by late afternoon. I walked round to Anderson Road, Plasterfield and Sandwick, returning through the cemetery and along the foreshore.

In the early hours, the nearly full moon made quite a spectacle.

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Friday 26 April

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Thursday 25 April

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Wednesday 24 April

A bright day, with good sunny intervals but a keen wind. Went out for a drive to Point, visiting the harbour at Portnaguran, 10 miles northeast of Stornoway, and the beach at Bayble, 5 miles to the east.

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Tuesday 23 April

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Monday 22 April

Once more, the news is dominated by ferry woes. The MV Hebrides, which served the ports of Uig (Skye), Lochmaddy (North Uist) and Tarbert (Harris) has broken down, and its repairs have thrown the timetable into disarray. Worse than that, the newspapers for Uist were left stranded at Uig for longer than normal, so people down in Uist were left deprived of their daily reads.

At the moment, NATO is holding a military exercise in the Minch, which involves the use of fighter jets, warships and the jamming of GPS signals. The latter is of significance to mariners, who are therefore having to rely on traditional methods of finding their way around. The RNLI lifeboat went out in early evening, responding to a shout to Loch Grimshader, 5 miles south of here.

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Sunday 21 April

Started the day by watching the London Marathon, in which 37,000 people participated. It was run in sunny, and, later warm conditions. As always a colourful and uplifting spectacle, particularly in the light of the awful events at Boston 6 days ago, when two bombs killed 3 and injured nearly 200. One of the culprits has since been killed, another seriously injured.

Here in Stornoway, it was bright and sunny, but with a number of showers around.

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Saturday 20 April

It was wet and very windy, a marked contrast to yesterday's warm sunshine. After breakfast, I checked out of the hotel and went on the bus to Berneray. At the ferry terminal, I marched on board the MV Loch Portain, which duly carried me to Leverburgh. At one point, it encountered a bit of swell coming from the Minch, but we reached Harris without incident. The bus took me north to Tarbert, where I had to wait for an hour in rain and wind, having a bite of lunch. The sun came out and I completed the journey to Stornoway by 2.30pm.

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Tarbert War Memorial / North Uist from the Sound of Harris ferry
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Sound of Harris crossing (in reverse order)

Friday 19 April - picture post

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Near the Hut of Shadows, Lochmaddy

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Ewe with triplets / Church of Scotland, Lochmaddy

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On the Sound of Harris ferry

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RNLI 12-36 at Leverburgh / West Harris

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An Empire of Stone / Loch Seaforth