View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday 31 January

Not a very nice day in terms of weather, with a red sunrise heralding much wind and rain. The main problem for the next day or so looks to be the springtides. Tomorrow morning's tide will peak at 5.5 metres (18' 4''), and strong winds from the south could cause flooding problems in the centre of Stornoway. The harbour here faces south. The wind also made the 5C / 41F feel even colder than it already was. I went out at 8pm to have a look at the high tide, which was lapping just a foot under the quays at North Beach. Sandbags have been issued, with only the Chinese takeaway not yet having put them in place.

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Thursday 30 January

Quite a reasonable day today, although not warm. Following the accident with the Clipper Ranger on Tuesday, the Hebridean Isles has come up from Islay to cover the freight run.

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There is a bad forecast for the weekend, compounded by a 5.5 metre high springtide. This is prompting all sorts of flood alerts, the issue of sandbags in flood prone areas of Stornoway and monitoring of the situation at the Braighe.

I have started to revise the information with my wargrave pics, after a major revision during 2013. Other casualty info, from all the Outer Hebridean islands, was included in that.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wednesday 29 January

Quite a nice day, but with a keen southeasterly wind making it feel cold. There is further disruption on the ferries today. The Clansman is running more than two hours late through the day; I watched her coming back at 3.15pm (2 hours behind schedule), and AIS told me that she didn't dock until 10.45pm upon return from her second crossing of the day. The Clipper Clanger has left for Liverpool to be repaired, her duties being taken over by the Hebridean Isles, which has had to come up all the way from Islay.

I went out for a 7.6 km / 4¾ mile walk, to the Iolaire Memorial at Holm Point. I started out through Lower Sandwick, via Stoneyfield Farm to Holm Point, and back via Sandwick. The wind made it feel cold; but I was on time at Holm Point to see the Clansman coming in. The lettering on the Iolaire Memorial and the memorial plaque at the carpark could do with touching up; the weather has taken its toll.

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday 28 January

Quite an acceptable day, with only the odd drop of rain. It wasn't warm, 7C / 45F, but neither is that excessively cold. There was a beautiful dawn - but that was marred half a mile down the road when the freight ferry Clipper Ranger lost power whilst maneuvering into its berth. The ship carried on through momentum and collided heavily with the quay. The quay won, and buckled the stern of the vessel. This was then bounced back into the channel, and was in danger of running aground. Fortunately, the captain managed to regain control of his ship, and a safe berthing was effected a little while later. The Clipper Ranger now needs to go into drydock, but when I was having a look this evening, they were doing emergency repairs on the buckled stern section in order to make her seaworthy. The passenger ferry Clansman is now expected to go out tonight to cover the freight run.When I went out to take pics, I took the opportunity to take some nighttime images of Stornoway town centre.

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Monday, 27 January 2014

Monday 27 January

Things have calmed down somewhat since yesterday, and as the wind veers round to an easterly direction it is not immediately noticeable (inside) that it is still blowing at force 6. The ferry was an hour and a half late leaving port this morning, and did not return until 3pm. The customary second run was cancelled. Our usual boat, the Isle of Lewis, is now in drydock in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, for its annual overhaul; it's now the Clansman covering the run.

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Holocaust Memorial Day

Today it is 69 years ago since the infamous Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet forces. More than a million people, mainly Jews, were killed there during the Second World War. The process was conducted as an industrial process. To date, some of the goods left behind by the victims of the Holocaust remain on display. These include suitcases with name tags, spectacle frames, hair and shoes. I have never visited Auschwitz and am not likely to. January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering all the victims of the Nazi's policy of extermination of all those they considered to be sub-human. We must never forget. Nor the victims of other holocausts, perpetrated around the globe before and after. 

Sunday 26 January

Rain and gales sums up today. Windspeeds averaged some 40 mph, force 8 on the Beaufort scale, and gusts in excess of 80 mph in exposed locations. Windy, but nothing to write home about. There was not a ferry out of port in any of the islands, meaning we were all truly islands again for the day. Even the freight ferry, the Clipper Ranger (or Clipper Clanger as I sometimes call it) has not ventured out. I did venture out, to my usual vantage point at the Coastguard Station. The waves slammed into the coastline, creating impressive curtains of spray. Pics below.

It was reported that someone had inverted a line from the speech to the Haggis on Burns Night last night, making it run: "pudding of the chieftain race", referring to Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond. Of course, the original line goes "chieftain of the pudding race".

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Saturday 25 January

Burns' Night tonight, commemorating Scotland's National Bard. At formal occasions, the haggis (a sheep's stomach stuffed with various bits of sheep offal) will be piped in, served with neeps and tatties and washed down with copious amounts of the water of life. One of his poems can be read here, there are hundreds more songs and poems in Scots and English.

Today is a much brighter day out here, very welcome after yesterday's dreich conditions. However, it is not much of an improvement, as we have heavy showers of rain, hail, snow and thunder. At 5.30 this morning, a good booming thunderstorm moved through. We normally only get thunderstorms in winter, strangely enough. After tomorrow's gale, the weather will turn colder next week.

Went for a 5 km / 3.1 mile walk along the quays of Stornoway and into the Castle Grounds. Not much had changed there; the old Monaco is slowly being demolished and they have installed new pontoons for pleasure craft.

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday 24 January

Overcast, windy and wet. No ferry to or from Ullapool today, neither between Leverburgh and Berneray, and the Uig triangle (to Lochmaddy and Tarbert) is disrupted. Spent the afternoon clearing up the hard-disk drive on this computer, which liberated some 12 gigabytes of space. Also performed some surgery on a 10 ft tall indoor yucca, which finally could no longer keep its head up high. Have removed top bit, and put it in water. According to a certain video, it should start to sprout in about 3-4 months. We shall see. Photos? Not in this weather. I don't mind bad weather, but it's not conducive for taking pics. Tomorrow, we shall have showers, which is far more photogenic.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thursday 23 January

A cold day today, with the mercury stuck between 3 and 5 degrees C, that's 37 to 41 in Fahrenheit. The wind didn't help the conditions, neither did the clatter of hailstones or the flurries of snow that occurred at times. Nonetheless, it was showery, meaning we had some fantastic cloudscapes to enjoy, and even a sundog (parhelion) at lunchtime.

I have little time for celebrities, and now it's another teen idol in the States that has fallen flat on his face. After Miley Cyrus decided to grow up by behaving like an utter Hotel Oscar, we now have the edifying spectacle of Justin Bieber drag racing on a boulevard in Miami and spewing abuse at police officers when being stopped at 4 am. Upon arrest, he was over the drink drive limit and under the influence of cannabis. Celebrities are supposed to be role models. Both Mr Bieber and Ms Cyrus have abandoned their responsibility they had towards their young admirers, and should disappear from the scene. We can do without them.

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