View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tuesday 11 February

A breezy but cold morning, with intermittent showers. The sun has come out, but we should expect snow showers, particularly after dark. A touch of winter. We had sleet and snow showers this afternoon, and this bitingly cold wind. At one point, the mercury dipped to zero celsius (32F). At the moment, the moon is out, but we could always get snow in the night. If so, it is likely to settle until the sun rises around 8 am.
I'm checking whether I missed any Isle of Lewis casualties from the Great War by doing a focused search on the CWGC website, using the keyword 'stornoway' and First World War. Up come 772 results (not too bad), of which (to date) 6 have nothing to do with the town. The majority I have on file, but four are not, although the CWGC information states that they were the son of someone living in Stornoway, or elsewhere the island. Found one with Gearrannan connections. The name was not on the Carloway war memorial, and upon checking locally, was told that he was born and brought up away from the island (Govan). Would he merit inclusion in the ranks of the island war dead? I was told - be wary of inadvertently opening up cans of worms...

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Wednesday 12 February

A cold grey morning in the Western Isles. Far more of note is the red warning for 80-100 mph winds in west Wales and northwest England later today. We will just about miss the worst of those winds, although the Highlands will get a dumping of snow.

The curse of the Muirneag strikes again as MV Hebridean Isles slammed into pier number 1 yesterday. We now do not have a freight ferry, although the Heb Isles is supposed to be fixed this afternoon.

A rescue was going on this morning, the final outcome being that the fishing vessel "Fearnot" (from Peterhead) was taken into Stornoway by Stornoway RNLI lifeboat Tom Sandersen. Here the two vessels are pictured in Glumag Harbour.

Checking the weather reports, and the deep depression that is going to bring very high winds to Wales and NW England is currently over Sligo, Ireland, with a pressure of 955 mbar. Meanwhile, a gust of 91 mph was measured at Shannon Airport, and 110 mph off the south coast of Ireland. Gusts in excess of 90 mph are also being recorded along the west coast of Wales. And we have snow amidst a moderate easterly breeze. I don't envy the people in west Wales their hurricane force winds, Aberdaron was getting 81 mph gusting to 107 mph in the last hour.

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Thursday 13 February

After a very wet night, the sun is starting to peek through the clouds. No, we did not have any strong winds to speak of, being at the centre of the low pressure system that wreaked devastation across northern England and Wales. Things did brighten up in the afternoon, but we never lost the showers. Could have been so much worse, though.

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Currency union

So, having watched the Daily Politics programme, I can only conclude that an independent Scotland would continue to use the pound sterling, without a formal currency union with the remnant of the UK. In the programme, Andrew Neil grilled Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the issue. Ms Sturgeon declared that the decision by the three main party leaders at Westminster to refuse to go into a currency union with an independent Scotland was a 'bullying tactic', and would not elaborate as to plan B. I'm beginning to get seriously concerned about the economy of an independent Scotland, something I have always (for many, many years) regarded as the Achilles heel issue. Rather than playing the silly card of bullying, I think it is time for the SNP to wake up and smell the coffee, in other words, realise what it means to just use another country's currency. I'm not an economist, but judging by what I'm hearing, it leaves Scotland seriously exposed, also to the risk of losing investments, industry and jobs. Scotland would become the banana realm of western Europe. What's plan B? The US dollar? That's freely being used by countries around the world, who are not in a currency union with the USA.