View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thursday 11 December

Today, I am travelling to the Netherlands for a visit lasting a few weeks, into the New Year. Whilst in Holland, I intend to blog on the Shell Gallery. Merry Christmas from Stornoway, best wishes for 2015 and hope to greet you all once more from here in the New Year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wednesday 10 December

Gale- to severe gale force winds today, with frequent hail, thunder, snow and rainshowers. These were accompanied by strong squalls, with the winds peaking at 75 mph in places. The media made much of this 'weatherbomb', but it is just a strong winter depression, carrying the usual mix of problems. Near the shore, there was a danger of flooding due to overtopping sea defences, and there were phenomenal seas battering the shoreline. There were three powercuts, two lasting an hour from 3.15 am and 7.00 am, and another lasting less than a minute around 2pm. Much was made of the 18,000 people being off supply in the Western Isles due to this powercut. The wind abated slightly as the afternoon wore on. Ventured out to Tesco, which had some very empty shelves due to no ferry for two days. Tomorrow, there won't be a ferry until late, meaning that the shelves will remain empty. Anyone for baked beans?

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Tuesday 9 December

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An early morning call from Stornoway, where it is wet and (more to the point) very windy. Current windspeed 44 mph (that's force 8), gusting to about 60 mph. The anemometer at the Eoropie weatherstation (now at Dell) has already given up the ghost.

Gale force winds up and down the west coast of Scotland, most Calmac ferries have been cancelled, some for tomorrow as well (Tarbert - Uig e.g.). It's lashing down with rain, in other words, a thoroughly unpleasant day. No ferries means no supplies in the shops, so it will get very interesting in places like Tesco and the Coop. Let's crack open the beans on toast (sorry can't resist this) and outfart the wind!

Tomorrow's storm has prompted Network Rail to cancel a number of train services across the north of Scotland. These include Glasgow to Mallaig, including the overnight sleeper service, and Inverness to Kyle and Thurso. (BBC).

The Council has issued this advisory:
All schools and nurseries in the Western Isles will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday 10th December.

In addition, all depots, libraries, museums, sports and leisure facilities in the Western Isles will be closed tomorrow.

All bin collection services for the Western Isles have been cancelled for tomorrow.

Public bus services across Uist and Barra may be restricted to approximately 11am to 6pm. Public bus services across Lewis and Harris may operate a normal school holiday service

Monday 8 December

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The sun has risen on a cold but otherwise fairly bright morning. Mercury stuck fast at 3C / 37F, and not likely to rise further. Shower clouds surrounding us, but at a distance. Stormforce winds forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday and into Thursday. 

Sunday 7 December

Morning all from a wintery Stornoway, sleet and hail showers ruling the roost. Temperature 4C / 39F, quite cold. On Wednesday we are likely to see stormforce winds - a good old winterstorm. The causative depression could well bottom out at 937 mbar, and still be at 950 mbar on approach to northern Scotland.

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Saturday 6 December

Morning all, it's windy here this morning, and that is not likely to change until Thursday of next week. The forecast is for almost incessant high winds right the way through the next couple of days. This afternoon, our new ferry, the MV Loch Seaforth will put in a brief appearance in port for 'staff familiarisation'. She cannot dock, as the quay isn't ready. The delay to that work is breathtaking: 4-6 months.

It was actually very funny in Stornoway this afternoon. The MV Loch Seaforth did three loop-de-loops in the harbour, and everybody was running back and forth to Goat Island in their cars. She went out, and everybody toddled off - only to turn on their heels when the LS turned round and came back in again. Newton Street, which leads towards Goat Island, was chockablock with traffic trying to worm its way down the single-track road to the Coastguard Station. Meanwhile, camera flashes were going off at Holm Point, Arnish Point (on the other side of the harbour) and around Goat Island, where I took the majority of my pics - whilst holding my nose against the stench of rotting fish. The MV Loch Seaforth is bedded down for the night in Ullapool - thanks for highlighting some of my pics and video. My pic, showing the boat passing the Arnish Lighthouse, got 72 likes the last time I looked.

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Friday 5 December

Beautiful day out here, broad sunshine and some clouds on the far horizon. 5C / 41F is quite cold, but there isn't much wind. By the middle of next week, we could see a very windy spell.

Today is 5 December, St Nicholas (or Sinterklaas in Holland). This year, there has been a discussion in the Netherlands about whether St Nick's helper, Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) is a throw-back to the bad ole days of slavery. Whether it is politically correct to portray Zwarte Piet as a serf, a servant. Well, a little while back I posted a rant to decry this misconception. St Nicholas lies buried in Spain, which was occupied by North African people who were dark-skinned. They referred to Spain as Al Andalus. Small wonder they still turn up in folklore. The Netherlands of the Seven Provinces fought an eighty-year war of independence against the Spain of Philip II, between 1568 and 1648. I think we, Dutch, should ditch the bullshit and hold on to one of the few pieces of what I still regard as Dutch culture. Not to let it be eclipsed by Santa Claus (American invention, sorry), or political correctness. Please. Alsjeblieft :-)

The Christmas Illuminations were switched on yesterday, and that means that the funfair is in town as well.

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Thursday 4 December

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The Gaelic arts body Proiseact nan Ealan has had a large subsidy withdrawn, which could threaten its very existence. PnE is the body behind the excellent Gairm nan Gaidhael project, which highlights the impact of WW1 on the Western Isles. Government body Creative Scotland is turning into Destructive Scotland.

Wednesday 3 December

News came through that jobs are at risk in a wave energy firm, which has developed the Pelamis sea-snake. This turns wave action into electricity. Although billions have been pumped into windfarms, wavefarms will not likely come into existence now. A national disgrace.

Another disgrace is the timetable on the Lochboisdale to Mallaig route. There are more cancelled than actual sailings. I think Calmac should publish a timetable of cancelled sailings, and notify us if any of them are actually going to take place.

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Tuesday 2 December

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A lot brighter today, with the sun making as much of an appearance as it can, with the short daylight hours. Work on the ferry terminal is still on-going, it is very badly overdue.

Monday 1 December

This image typified today, a dark, dreich December day.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Sunday 30 November

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St Andrew's Day in Scotland, not a bad day in terms of weather. Been catching up on old blog posts here on Atlantic Lines. On 11 December, I'm heading over to Holland for my annual Christmas stint, by which time I shall have a clearer idea of various matters that I am currently contemplating.

Saturday 29 November

Afternoon all from Stornoway, where the wind is beginning to pick up after a calm morning. Another beautiful sunrise, but we can expect rain later.

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The below image is of a (yellow) clothesline that has been grown into the tree that it was originally hung from. As the tree grows, the line is hoisted higher and higher off the ground.  The person using it (not me) is finding it increasingly difficult to reach it!

Friday 28 November

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and here is this group entitled "Turkey in the First World War". It is only the depiction of the Turkish flag that steers me away from the idea that turkeys (note lowercase) had any role to play in WW1.

Can I also say that I'm profoundly disgusted by the scenes in supermarkets across the UK on the pretext of Black Friday? It is thoroughly disgraceful that this bad custom has wafted across the pond. Thanksgiving is an American custom, only observed in the Isle of Lewis within the UK. Elsewhere in the country, it is an excuse for greedy and grabbing behaviour. Please abolish.
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Thursday 27 November

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Dry and sunny here in SY, as the sun dips further away from us, in the direction of the Tropic of Capricorn. My guess it's only a little over 10 degrees above the horizon by midday, which will decrease to 8° on solstice day. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends; Happy Thanksgiving too to all in Eilean Fhroach, as we also celebrate Thanksgiving here, purely as a religious event.

I'm not a cricket follower (barely understand the game), but am saddened to hear of the death of a player. Phil Hughes was struck on the head by a ball two days ago, and has now succumbed to his injuries.

So they're still mulling over the vexed question of the Ullapool linkspan. Put a smaller ship on the Stornoway to Uig run, which can dock at all states of the tide (including bone dry??). Postpone the revamp of the linkspan until next winter (that won't make much of a difference). Nothing, at least according to Calley Mac, will do the job better than an open-all-hours ferry service. Maybe they should advertise it as a special ferry. "See your island at hours you'd never imagine seeing it."