View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Saturday 9 March

Overcast initially, but with a few sunny intervals during the afternoon. Although it is still only 5 or 6C, the east wind appears to be abating a little, so the cold is not quite as penetrating. The easterly wind is wreaking havoc with the ferry schedules, as the Muirneag (our freight ferry) cannot sail, and the main ferry, the Isle of Lewis broke down yesterday and is being fixed. The Clansman had to come haring up from Oban in the night to take up the run. The result is empty shelves in the supermarket, and as supplies now have to come through Skye, this means that a resupply will not be in the shop until 8pm tonight.

The recent attack of a sparrowhawk on our colony of sparrows has had a devastating impact - the starlings appear to have disappeared for good, and the sparrows themselves are very nervous around the feeders. These hang out in the open, under the tree.

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Friday 8 March

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Well, what else can I say? More of the same. A cold easterly wind, no rain, pale sunshine. March appeared to come in like a lamb, but it has shed its innocent wool and is now behaving like an ill-tempered lion. Winter has gone, for all intents and purposes, but March is holding on to its tail. Whew, that wind is cold.

The ferry is not sailing today, due to serious technical problems. The Isle of Lewis has only recently come out of dry-dock and should have no problems. Instead, she is not able to move and her replacement, the Clansman is having to relocate up from Oban. Worse than that, the Muirneag is once again cancelled due to the easterly wind, but nonetheless, the shelves in the shops were not empty. A lot of people forget that their supplies all come by ferry. I never cease to be amazed on the day of the force 11 when folks come into the shop, stop dead in their tracks and exclaim "This shop is empty!!!".

Thursday 7 March

Weather is pretty static at the moment, with a persistent easterly breeze at force 6 and temperatures not much above 5C / 41F. That makes it feel bitterly cold, and is not much of an enticement for going out. I just nipped out for the newspapers. Thursday is the day the Stornoway Gazette is published, but it was not available. The reason being the cancellation of the freight ferry Muirneag, which is unable to safely dock in easterly winds. Easterly winds blow her away from her berth, and have been known to drive her into the Castle Grounds here in Stornoway.

I am reading a couple of books at the moment, one of them being Lewis in the Passing, by local historian Calum Ferguson. About 15 years ago, he spoke to a number of people who were born between 1895 and 1935, about their lives. One story in particulary, from a lady born in 1896, really shows the changes that have occurred in this island over the past century. Much has changed everywhere, but it has been even more noticeable in Lewis. Last year, I transcribed a report from 1912, by Sir John A Dewar. It vividly described conditions, from a doctor's perspective.

Wednesday 6 March

We now have a persistent and very cold easterly breeze on the go, which is whipping up considerable waves in the Inner Harbour. It made it feel very cold. In the afternoon, I went out for a stroll in the Castle Grounds, as far as Strawberry Hill, where they are building new tracks. Maybe it will be possible to stroll out to the Lochs Road, I'm not sure. I'll keep an eye on this.

I have also been busy with my local history project, venturing into the wilds of Uig, in the west of Lewis.

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Tuesday 5 March

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Another strange day, weatherwise, with occasional spells of brightness in amongst a half-hearted veil of midlevel cloud.

Today, it was recommended to me to read The Stornoway Way by Kevin Macneil, a local author. I purchased an e-book, which I went through in a couple of hours. The book is highly acclaimed, as a reflection of local - culture? No, I don't call it culture. Even if I ignore and omit all the F-words (I'm used to swearing by the way), I still cannot find anything worthy of acclaim. If that is supposed to be a reflection of Stornoway life, well, I'm sure that would be accurate in parts. But it is nothing to be proud of. Goodreads does not allow me to award negative stars, else I'd do it.

Part of the main BBC news was taken up with the fact that a teen popstar, Justin Bieber (19), had failed to turn up for his performance on time. He was two hours late, leading to ferocious complaints from parents. Bieber is popular with young teenagers and children, and some of them had fallen asleep by the time he turned up on stage. Further more, this being a backpost, am I interested in his near-punchup with some paparazzi? No. Am I interested in his near-collapse on stage? Well, I hope he got over it, but it does NOT merit front page news, thank you.

Monday 4 March

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Strange weather today, with a pale sun trying to shine through a vale of midlevel cloud, like through frosted glass. This is usually an ill omen, but in this instance there is no immediate bad weather in the offing.

The local council has announced that it intends to scrap the subsidy on the air service between Benbecula and Barra, further south in this chain of islands. The planes are not well subscribed, but are essential for transporting patients to and from hospital, as well as emergency supplies. A petition has therefore been launched to protest against these plans. The Comhairle has banned the petition from Council premises, which is apparently quite in order, but leaves a very bad impression. This does not affect people in Lewis (being a couple of islands away), but those in Barra and the Uists are not happy.

Back posting

Look at that. For the first time in more than 8 years of blogging have I neglected my blog for a week or so. I have been very preoccupied, which has shown itself on Facebook once or twice. However, no further excuses, and I'll put up postings for the past six days or so. Can't not blog.