View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Wednesday 11 December

Quite a nice day today, with the mercury reaching 13C / 57F at lunchtime. The sun came out for a while. The wind remains a steady force 7, around 30 mph, from the south. The winds will increase by weekend, with stormforce conditions once again likely.

Tuesday 10 December

Greetings from Windy Nook, known in local parlance as Airidh na Gaoithe [Windy Sheiling]. It's doing a steady 35 mph from the south, and I didn't fancy the chap his job who had to go up the transmitter mast at Eitsal (outside Achmore) this morning. The mast stands a trifling 800 feet tall, starting 700 feet above sealevel and 350 feet above the village. I've been up the hill, but I get uncomfortable at ten feet above the ground, let alone that height... It's now 3pm and getting dark. Sunset at 3.40pm.

I was very pleased indeed to find that the WW1 Roll of Honour for the Isle of Lewis is now available for download on-line on:

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela died on Thursday evening, 5 December, at the age of 95. Mandela, who was incarcerated for 27 years between 1963 and 1990, was a towering figure in the world, and the figurehead of the movement that finally brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa. He stood out for not being vindictive against the individual white people, or even them as a group, for jailing him, but for fighting the system. Nonetheless, Mandela was a fallible and in the end mortal human being. I am typing this a week after the event, and am not exactly pleased with the vast media coverage, and all the international politicians seeking to jump on his bandwagon - whilst not belonging there. Anyway, rest in peace Nelson, you did well and you did good.


This is the name of a pub in Glasgow, on which a helicopter crashed last Friday evening. About 120 people were inside, enjoying the band Esperanza, when a police helicopter crashed on its roof. In the end, the three people on board the chopper and six in the pub lost their lives. The aircraft did NOT catch fire, which would have led to a much greater loss of life. The friends and relatives of those lost, and those injured as well as the good folk of Glasgow remain in my thoughts this week.

Monday 9 December

An overcast and breezy morning. It has remained very mild through the night, with the mercury not shifting from 12C / 54F. It will remain mild and windy this week, it would appear.

I was thinking today was going to be another boring, grey, drab December day. But fortunately, the sun was sympathetic to my plight and put in a brief appearance. This is the land of cloudscapes.

Sunday 8 December

Overcast, grey, wet and windy. An hour and a half till sunset. Has it gotten light today? I'm surprised the streetlights haven't stayed on all day... Tomorrow's another day.

Completed the WW2 listings from the Southern Isles.

Barra & Vatersay: 55 (51 served in the Merchant Navy).
Benbecula: 6
Berneray: 4
Eriskay: 5
Grimsay: 3
Harris: 62
North Uist: 30
South Uist: 41
Total: 211 (there is a degree of cross-over between the islands)

1939: 4
1940: 44
1941: 36
1942: 25
1943: 19
1944: 20
1945: 11
and 4 died in 1946 and 1947
There are 48 casualties on whom I have very little information.

Of the 211 casualties:
121 were in the Merchant Navy
55 were in the Army, of whom 28 in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
13 in the RAF
19 in the Royal Navy or Royal Naval Reserves
4 were women

Saturday 7 December

It's gotten quite windy again, force 6-7, and we're in double figures this evening. December is certainly turning into a seesaw - which is common for this part of the world. The Atlantic won't readily relinquish control over these islands. Have been busy this week with the WW2 casualties of the Southern Isles, closing today with the listing from Barra. Of their 55 casualties, 51 served in the Merchant Navy.

Friday 6 December

Nice layer of snow outside with the mercury around the freezing point. The sun is trying to peek through gaps in the cloud. However, another change is on its way in from the Atlantic, and it will become milder tomorrow: 10C. As the day wore on, the snow slowly melted. And as it's now within 3 weeks of Christmas, I decorated the Xmas tree.

Thursday 5 December

Was woken at 4 in the morning by a lively thunderstorm, accompanied by heavy rain, driven along by stormforce winds. Eoropie, near the Butt of Lewis, recorded a gust of 116 mph (185 km/h). This was followed by a marked drop in temperature, and bright skies with occasional snow showers. A layer of wet snow on the ground, and a layer of slushy ice on water-filled buckets. The bins fell over, so just been out to gather up all the stuff blown around the back.

Barometer has shot up 20 mbar in 8 hours, showing the pressure gradient giving rise to last night's storm. I notice that a storm surge is forecast for the east coast of England, and storm warnings flying for the northern islands of Holland. Be careful. Snow shower in Stornoway at midday. Temperature just above freezing, so the snow settles in shaded spots. Ice floating on water-filled buckets. Very cold in the strong wind. By evening, a more substantial fall of snow caused problems on the roads.

Wednesday 4 December

So we're going to get 90 mph winds tomorrow, combined with a high springtide (5.3m / 18 ft) at the height of the storm. Small wonder we've been issued with a flood alert. Westerly wind, force 6 (24-30 mph), and occasional showers. This morning, at 6.30 am, there was a very heavy hailshower, and there are still pockets of ice in secluded spots. Eoropie Tearoom, near the Butt of Lewis, is already recording sustained winds of 45 mph, gusting to 70 mph. Berneray is reporting a powercut this afternoon.

At 10pm, I ventured out for a couple of minutes, wind blowing at force 7, feeling like force 8 in exposed locations on Stornoway seafront. The rain was belting down.

Tuesday 3 December

Although today started very wet, the sun went down just over an hour ago under blue skies. It is noticeably colder today (6F / 43F) than yesterday (which went up to 11C / 52F in the evening), but with little wind. That is but a pre-amble to Thursday's stormforce conditions. Spent the last few days sorting somebody else's computer problems, which in the end boiled down to a faulty Ethernet cable.

Monday 2 December

It's been one of those typical December days, grey, dark, windy and mild. Had to have the lights on from before 3pm. Worked on the WW2 tributes for Benbecula and South Uist; will carry on with the WW1 tributes for South Uist tomorrow - they entail a lot more work than the virtual C&P exercise for WW2. The latter is mostly a case of putting the information in a better presentation. You may have noticed that my websites are all Blogger based; works very well for this sort of purpose. That explains why I have 70 blogs on my account!