View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 31 May 2014

A few days with a cat


For a few days, I thought there could be a cat around. The cat I termed yellow eyes in my previous two posts appeared to have come back from the dead - although it hadn't. Took it in, spoiled it, fed it, enjoyed its company, whilst we got to know each other. Was worried when it didn't turn up, pleased when it did. And the cat itself was more than pleased to see me. The only thing was that my appeal for knowledge about the feline resulted in someone claiming ownership. So it was NOT going to be my cat. Well, I still see it around the neighbourhood. We still say hello to each other, and remain friends. Just not going to move in with each other.

On this blog, as in the rest of my internet output, I do not mention those people that are around me here in Stornoway. Their opinion of internet social networking is unprintable, which is a great pity. Tomorrow, 1st June, I shall update this blog further with entries from May 21st to May 31st.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Yellow eyes - still alive

This is the oddest of stories, but the fringe of sadness remains.

Yesterday, Saturday 24th May, I was sitting on the seawall waiting for the runners in the Stornoway Half Marathon to pass through. What came running across the road towards me but the black cat I thought had been killed by a car the previous Tuesday. It was all over me, and in the end I decided to let it inside. It was very cautious, very friendly, didn't do anything silly and ended up going to sleep on a kitchenchair for no less than four hours. Upon returning from a shopping trip, it was ready for going outside, so it was fed some goodies that were bought in the shop, upon which it resumed its rounds in the neighbourhood.

At around the same time, I had a message from a lady up the road, who had been missing her cat since last Tuesday. That had been a female cat, but she thought the one I had been picturing last Sunday was hers. No, the cat that is all over me is actually male. I had to break the news that her cat is most likely dead and gone. Very sad.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Yellow eyes

On Tuesday (20 May) at 4 o'clock, I happened to look out of the window and saw something black lying in the road. A car was pulling in along the pavement and a man came out. He lifted it up. It was a cat.

I dashed outside and quickly walked the 150 yards to where the body of the cat had been left on the pavement. It was plainly dead. It had yellow eyes.

The driver, a young man, was visibly upset and didn't know how to deal with the situation. He told me he had been unable to stop, and I suspect it had dashed out from the seat by the Coastguard Station access road. Even when you only do 25 mph, you still take more than 10 yards to stop. I said to the driver that I'd ring the SSPCA and not to worry. The SSPCA told me that they would not come out for a dead animal, and to ring the council to have it uplifted. The council said that would have to wait until morning (it was now about 4.30pm). However, twenty minutes later, a car with SSPCA markings drew up at the spot and a man briefly checked over the cat's body before wrapping it up and disposing of it.

It was the friendly little cat that had been hovering around the area for the last five weeks. I am gutted and actually griefstricken. Even as I type this, two days later, I still have to actively not think of what I saw on Tuesday. It wasn't anything bloody or gruesome, but the transformation into death was awful.

I'll never forget those yellow eyes, as they gazed into the sunset last Sunday. Its obviously pleasure to see me, and to come running, calling all the way. I feel guilty that, even though I could not take it in, I didn't ring SSPCA earlier to come and pick it up, and get it a good home.

However, its death came mercifully quick, and I suspect it didn't really know what happened nor feel any pain.

What also comforted me was the response on a local Facebook page, where two employees of a company in the next street had also been wondering who the cat belonged to, thinking it had hitched a lift on a bus out of the district of Uig. They too were upset, and quite a few people in the area had noticed it as well.

Yellow eyes, I won't forget you. I'll meet you again beyond the Rainbow Bridge, alongside the two family cats that passed over there in 1988 and 2004. I'm sorry I didn't think to help you when you asked.

Tuesday 20 May

Fog was slow to lift this morning, it closed the airport until about 11 am. It didn't prevent the helicopter flying in the Earl and Countess of Wessex, here to attend to some youth-related activities in the town.

At lunchtime, the wee black cat came running out at me from across the road, and jumped on the gardenwall along the street. It followed me to the back door, and evidently wanted to come in. I couldn't allow it.

Later on, I went into town to view progress on the harbour works for the new ferry. I was quite surprised to see the wee black cat again outside the fish smoking place on Shell Street, a quarter of a mile from where I last saw it, some three hours previous. That was the last time I was to see it alive.

Monday 19 May

I have resolved the mystery of the friendly black cat that's been featuring in my pictures over the past few weeks. It turns out he lives in one of the houses up the street, but goes up to everybody that happens to walk past. One of the other neighbours also owns a black cat, but with green eyes and not quite as friendly. However, at one time he found a black cat at his door and let it in, thinking it was his. Only to go into his sitting room to be confronted by TWO black cats!

The congregation that broke away from the High Church (Matheson Road) in Stornoway has joined the Free Church. The breakaway congregation (need to get the terminology correct) was Church of Scotland, but wasn't happy with the ordination of an overt homosexual priest, so decided to break away. The Free Church of Scotland (which itself broke away as a body in 1843) recently lifted its ban on musical instruments in worship, making it easier for members of the breakaway congregation to join. If you are confused, join the club. An additional muddying of the waters - the Lewis Presbytery of the Free Church (I am open to correction here) was vehemently opposed to the lifting of the ban on musical instruments a few years ago.

A strange lump of rusty iron was hauled up the Goat Island slipway this morning, but it would appear it is a feeding barge from a fishfarm. It is going to be cleaned up. Yards and yards of seaweed dangle from its sides.

Sunday 18 May

Very changeable in Stornoway today. Drizzle is the order of the day, sometimes restricting the visibility to only a few hundred yards. 12C is no great shakes, but then, we are not noted for getting major shifts in temperatures. Fortunately, clouds broke and the sun came out during the evening.

The young black cat put in an appearance, coming up from down the shore to greet me. It is always pleased to see anybody, running along with the girls from the Mormon Church, or trying to hitch a lift with two guys getting into their car across the way. After I had made my excuses, it ran up the road to the bench by the access road to the Coastguard Station, where it surprised a man who wasn't interested in its advances. The wee cat just sat back and enjoyed the sunshine.

Saturday 17 May

Overcast and pretty grey here this morning. The southerly wind is getting up again, force 6 in the morning. However, that doesn't mean it is getting warm - only 11C / 52F. Promptly, and as forecast, the rain arrived at 2pm. Pretty sopping wet out there now, and likely to stay so for the next couple of hours. Roll on SUNday, when there should be sunshine and showers.

Friday 16 May

Overcast and blowing a near-gale here in Stornoway. Temperatures nothing to complain about, 14C / 57F, which contrasts with the south of the UK which is set to easily crest 20C / 68F. This does serve to explain our strong winds.

A bus was stuck on the ramp, coming off the MV Isle of Lewis at Stornoway on Wednesday. It took an hour and a half for the tide to come in to allow the bus to proceed ashore.

I am very excited to announce that BBC Alba (the Gaelic language channel) have commissioned a television documentary on HMS Timbertown, which is pencilled in for broadcast in October. Its focus will be on the 100-odd men from Lewis who were among the internees.

HMS Timbertown was an internment camp in Groningen, Netherlands, where about 1,500 sailors from the Royal Naval Division were interned during the First World War.

Thursday 15 May

Overcast and very windy today, with the odd spot of rain. Was surprised to note today's high, 15C / 59F, in spite of the wind and cloudcover. Further south, the mercury will rise to a lot more than that over the weekend. I am making good progress with my Roll of Honour project, and I should finish the first third, the Parish of Stornoway, by the weekend.

Wednesday 14 May

Overcast and very breezy this morning, after a cold night dropped the mercury to only 2C / 36F. Drizzle is forecast to reach us this afternoon. After days of sunshine and relatively mild conditions, we are back to strong winds, rain and cold. Feeling bitter out there in the wind and drizzle. Oh, did I mention that the south of the UK will see temperatures into the low 20s (C) in a few days' time?

Meetings are being held in North Uist to discuss support for a community buy-out from the Earl of Granville, whose family have owned parts of the island for more than 50 years. Support appears to be thin on the ground, but local councillors intend to conduct a secret (postal) ballot to get a true picture. The meetings were poorly publicised, and many were unaware they were on. Also, there are parts of N Uist that are not part of the Granville estate.

Cruiseliner Island Sky

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Tuesday 13 May

Post #2900 on Atlantic Lines. Things have changed a lot since I first started blogging ten years ago this coming October. From one post a day as a diary, I progressed to a dozen posts a day until 2008. Then I had to move from Northern Trip on AOL to Atlantic Lines on Blogger. At the moment, I am posting on Facebook and transcribe some of that output on here, with a few choice pics.

Anyway, it was a nice sunny day, although not quite as warm as it could be. Did spend some time outside, doing nice things with plants and flowers. Another tug appeared by late afternoon, towing a large barge.

Monday 12 May

First thing this morning, a tug appeared in port with an ugly lump of rust in tow. Seems to be something for the improvements to the harbour.

Brilliantly sunny this morning, with a gentle breeze and 12C / 54F on the thermometer. Not very pleased this morning - camera has decided to give up the ghost. After it had been cleaned out twice before, it was once again developing spots on the pics; and now the lens assembly won't come out upon switching on. Fortunately, I do have a back-up camera. My normal camera did come back to life later in the day.

Sunday 11 May

Afternoon all from a bright and sunny Stornoway, if it wasn't for those ominous cumulus congestus bubbling up I'd go for a walk. However, cumulus congestus are the precursor to cumulonimbus or showerclouds - and I've been soaked already this week, so I'll just continue with my Roll of Honour project.

Happy Mothers Day to all - in the US and on the European mainland. Those in the UK celebrated Mothering Sunday in March, but OK, happy mothers day to y'all too :-)

Went for a walk round the town centre with the aim of photographing a number of informative paving slabs. Outside half a dozen premises in Cromwell Street, one of the oldest streets in the town, paving slabs were laid down a few years ago which commemorate previous occupants or businesses. I specifically did this on a Sunday, as there is nobody about on that day of the week. The complete collection can be viewed here.

Hello puss, you're inquisitive, aren't you? Came into the kitchen for a nosey round, even meowed to get in. Like he belongs here. Well, he was quite happy to pussyfoot away into the evening. I wonder if it was the same cat that accosted two men across the road the other day, holding up the traffic as they tried to get it to move on. They finally hoisted it upon to the seawall, then dashed across to their vehicle and drove off. The cat was left in the middle of the road, looking bemused at the car disappearing into the distance. It's friendly. With EVERYBODY!

Saturday 10 May

Morning all from an overcast but otherwise bright Stornoway. It's very glary out there and the air is very clear: I can make out the Applecross hills, 60 miles to the southeast.

Right. So you turn up at the ferry terminal and are confronted with a sign, telling you that the ferry terminal is closed and to go to pier number 1. What if you are not local? And even some locals don't know where pier number 1 is. The references to the ferry on the roadsigns around town have been blacked out, but there is (as yet) no signage towards pier n° 1. Another complaint that has reached me is the gangway onto the ferry itself. This is pretty steep, depending on the state of the tide, and has these horrible steps. I don't know who to speak to about this, but hope this gets picked up by those in charge of the harbour works here in Stornoway.

Friday 9 May

Morning all from Stornoway, where it is tipping it down. Went out to take pictures of the cruiseliner Ocean Nova (tied up along the near side of pier no 1) and a downpour started just as I wandered into the town centre. I also went to the Coastguard station, where the heavens really and truly opened. My pic of the Voyager, anchored in Glumag Harbour, is decidedly unclear on account of the heavy rain. In other words, if you are getting soaked, do so in style. No, I didn't put on my waterproof trousers, because it looked so nice when I went out. Except for that curtain of grey over the Castle Grounds as I walked into town. I pity those cruise passengers huddling in the bus station, holding umbrellas aloft. Poor things.

On Sunday, it will be 111 years ago since my grandfather was born. He left us 36 years ago in August. When I think of him, I smell cigars and see the flat he and my gran occupied all those years ago. I see the 1971 VW Beetle he drove - and the woodcraft which filled his hours in retirement. I also see the smile and hear the laugh of my grandmother, who followed him out of this world 20 years ago last March. And, of course, I remember my mum, their daughter, now gone 6 years.

Thursday 8 May

Morning all from SY, where it's overcast with a chance of a shower. The ferry has made its last departure from pier no 3 this morning, and will return this afternoon into pier no 1. Ferry arrivals and departures in and out of Stornoway will now be from pier no 1 until further notice. Pier number 1 is located along South Beach, near the Caledonian Hotel, where the MV Clipper Ranger normally docks during the daytime. Just been down to pier no 1 where the ferry has made its first appearance after its relocation. The marshalling area looks very, very small, and I dread what might happen this summer, when it gets really busy.

Spoke to someone who crossed over from Ullapool this evening, who described the arrangements on either side of the Minch as less than perfect. The gangway at Stornoway is unsuitable for any but the most nimble-footed, and the marshalling area by the look of it totally insufficient. In Ullapool, bus passengers are dropped in the carpark where ferry vehicle traffic is marshalled, adding to the pressure. How this is going to pan out during the summer months does not bear thinking about. Why this could not have been postponed for (or brought forward by) 6 months, to avoid inflicting this on our summer tourist trade is not for me to answer. Let's hope my gloomy prediction does not come true.

Wednesday 7 May

Afternoon all. It is showery and wet here today, with the odd chink of brightness breaking through. Not much doing in terms of local news, except that tomorrow will see the ferry relocating from pier no 3 to pier no 1 as of the afternoon sailing. Am continuing with my digitisation of the Roll of Honour, now making my way through the streets of Stornoway - 600-odd names. On a separate, although not unrelated subject, I have been told that the villages of Barvas and Brue (11 miles north of Stornoway) will get their own war memorial for the first time - I think this year. This will not only include the Fallen from the two World Wars, but also the Boer Wars (19th/20th century). Two other memorials in the island refer to that, and to the Korean War (the memorials for Kinloch and Ness).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Tuesday 6 May

Afternoon all from a fairly bright Stornoway, with the exception of that sneaky shower around lunchtime. Although I had been posting merrily that the ferry would be leaving from pier no 1 as of today, it was docked at pier no 3 (as per usual) earlier on. However, the portakabin is up on pier 1, as is the gangway. Wonder if passengers will have to wait in the portakabin (everybody breathe OUT) when it's cold and / or wet.

P5068725 P5068729 P5068731 P5068735 P5068730