View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 30 August 2013


The House of Commons have surprised all tonight by voting against military intervention in relation to the chemical attacks in Syria last week. That has come as a huge relief to myself, as the consequences of such action were potentially quite serious. However, it should be borne in mind that at present, there is no UN mandate for undertaking such action. The UN Security Council is likely to see a Russian veto against any military action against Russia's ally Syria. The only one who could still mount unilateral military action is the USA, but I'm not so convinced about that happening either. Substantive measures still should be taken against Mr Assad's horror regime, but it's not clear to me what they will me.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


A few words about events in Egypt in recent weeks. It may be held that the Arab Spring there has failed, with the Muslim Brotherhood's president Morsi being deposed by the Army. The murder of hundreds of people in Cairo and other places around the country is a demonstration of appalling brutality, justified by the current military regime by referring to law and order.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not universally popular in Egypt, far from it. A large number of people are apprehensive about the Islamists, fearing the imposition of strict Islamic rule - look at Iran as to what that looks like. Since the Brotherhood came to power, people who initially opposed deposed president Hosni Mubarak increasingly expressed a longing for his return to power. Although his was an oppressive and repressive regime, it was seen to provide a degree of stability at home and abroad.

There is a huge divide in Egyptian society, and for the moment, the military have patched the gap. But for how long, I wonder.


I just want to say that I abhor what happened in Syria. Although there is no cast-iron evidence, I hold the Assad regime responsible. The Russian government, being Assad's primary backers, are indirectly complicit. Mr Putin &co are in a position to reign in the worst of the excesses of the Syrian regime. However, they have swallowed hook, line and sinker, all the lies and fabrications that have come out of Damascus over the past two years. I am not saying that the rebels are any better. They are not. Given the right hardware, they would behave in exactly the same fashion as the Assad regime would.

David Cameron and William Hague (the British prime minister and foreign secretary) are treading a very dangerous path, if they are aiming to militarily retaliate against Syria for the use of nerve gas in Damascus last week. When you engage in a military campaign, you can NEVER anticipate how your adversary will react. I'm not a betting man, but I'd be prepared to wager that Assad will react in the worst fashion possible. An attack on Israel, aided and abetted by his regional ally Iran is almost a certainty. Also, what would the Russian government do in this situation, as in, would they continue to back the Assad regime in the face of an all-out assault? At any rate, the resulting conflagration will spiral out of any control of Mr Cameron and Mr Obama may think they have before you know where you are. I would

The British parliament will debate the issue tomorrow, Thursday 29th August. The motion being debated will be worded in such a way that it its passage through the House of Commons is a virtual certainty, leaving the door open for the prime minister to act as he sees fit. Including military action. I'm not looking forward to the next few days and weeks.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Tuesday 20 August

The day started misty, but in the end the cloud lifted and let in warm sunshine. Early in the evening, the mist rolled in again from the sea and it became quite grey and chilly. Late August in the Hebrides - a distinct whiff of autum in the air.

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Monday 19 August

The men of Ness have set off for the annual guga hunt. The guga is the salted meat of a gannet chick. They are culled under an EU license to keep their tradition alive. A local wag has previously suggested they be boiled in diesel - guga is reportedly very oily. After a two week spell on Sula Sgeir, 40 miles north of Lewis, the men will return with 2,000 guga. 

Sunday 18 August

Last night was a bad night with plenty of wind and rain. The ferry had to return to Ullapool following its scheduled departure at 6.15 tonight. She finally came in at 11.30pm. Today, she had an extra sailing at 7 am; not usual on a Sunday. Ostensibly it was to take away all the rally cars that took place in the Lewis Car Rally yesterday. But there were still about a dozen vehicles to go on the ferry at 2.30pm.

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Saturday 17 August

Lashing down with rain this morning and quite windy, but not the gale we had been warned against. Ferries appear to be running normally, although trailing green smoke most of the way.

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I started another short story, and when I do so, I tend to have no idea how it will run. In this instance, I have the legend of St Donnan of Eigg in mind, who made the supreme sacrifice for his faith back in 617, when he and 50 followers were massacred at Kildonan in Eigg...

Friday 16 August

Thanks Yahoo for not telling me you were going to delete all emails from people whose email accounts are no longer valid. Thanks Yahoo for not giving me the opportunity to hold on to those emails. Even if the accounts have lapsed, I may still have reason to want to access those messages.

Fairly bright this afternoon, but with a bit of a breeze and occasional outbreaks of drizzle. Ah, a typical Hebridean day. Just teasing one of my friends who is currently away from the islands and enduring the big city. The Hebridean Princess put in another appearance.

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Thursday 15 August

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It's trying to brighten up here in Stornoway, with a blinding band of white along the horizon. But do I trust the weather here? Nope.
One of my current projects is researching the WW1 casualties from Harris (and later on Uist) more in depth than previously. It is an onerous task, as the primary information on Harris consists mainly of that displayed on the memorial at Tarbert. But with the aid of census returns and military databases on Ancestry, I do manage to get a decent enough picture together.

Wednesday 14 August

A quiet day, with sunshine (see pic) to start with, but clouding over later. Using the power of social media to help the owner of a young cat to find her missing feline down in North Uist. Dougal has been AWOL for a while. It reminds me of an episode here in Stornoway some years ago, when a missing cat was reported from Seaview Terrace - and a found cat answering the same description was reported from Inaclete Road. The two streets run parallel to each other...

Tuesday 13 August

A sad day for any Dutch person, and that includes me of course. Prince Friso died at home, 18 months after an accident whilst skiing in Austria. Oxygen deprivation left him with minimal consciousness and although he was brought home from hospital in London earlier this year, complications set in and Prince Friso died at The Hague. His funeral will be a private affair on Friday, 16th.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Monday 12 August

This morning, news came out that a holiday maker had died after getting into difficulties while swimming off the west coast of Harris. Apparently, the 45-year old woman from London had gone into the sea after first her son, and then her husband got into trouble. Locals tell me that they would not readily take to the water there themselves due to strong currents.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Wednesday 7 August

Went to the Carloway Show this afternoon, which was one of the best shows I've been to in Lewis in recent years. It was sunny and warm, making the outside events doubly enjoyable. It was very busy indeed, as demonstrated by lines of parked cars along the roads into the village.

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Tuesday 6 August

Google wished me happy birthday today, and I was delighted to receive various gifts, including the two cakes pictured. Had a very nice dinner, savoy cabbage special. And the weather was also suitably bright today.


Monday 5 August

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The day was bright and fairly sunny, but the clouds bubbled up as the morning progressed. The Castle Grounds continue to be burned to eradicate rhododendrons, prompting a disgruntled letter to Hebrides News. I have now finished my short story, which stretches to five pages in actual A4 print.

Sunday 4 August

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Very busy today writing a short story, which is running away with me. The weather is quite conducive towards writing, so the keyboard is rattling.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Saturday 3 August

Well, it was overcast today, but fortunately mostly dry. Only the odd light shower dampened things down. It certainly did not dampen down spirits at the Stornoway Carnival, which moved through the town between 2pm and 2.45pm. accompanied by the pipe band. There were 19 registered floats, some of which were very topical, such as the interconnector, the retiral of the Muirneag, the habit of one publican to bar more customers than average &c.

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Friday 2 August

Quite a nice day, and even warm at times. It is festival weekend, and apart from the European market (see the entry for 31st July) there is also the funfair - as well as tomorrow's carnival. The funfair attracts children and teenagers, and has a lot of thumping loud music and shouting DJs associated with it. But it brings a splash of colour to the otherwise drab surroundings of the South Beach carpark. Before reaching there, I could not help but notice the cruiseliner Hebridean Princess in port again.

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