View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Friday 21 February

The MV Isle of Lewis is back on its run to Ullapool, but sailings promptly get cancelled for the rest of the day. This afternoon, the weather is poor, but this evening's crossing is called off due to technical reasons. Isn't that great? The boat is only just out of drydock, and it sounds as if it needs to go straight back in! It later transpires that the boat had trouble with its rudder.

I was horrified to learn that copies of Anne Frank's Diary had been vandalised in libraries in Japan. Japan may not have Jewish settlements, or a historical Jewish community. However, Japan has never apologised for the atrocities committed in Eastern Asia during WW2 (unlike Germany). Its emperor was allowed go evade prosecution, although he could be said to be responsible - as all the atrocities committed by the Empire of Japan were committed in his name. Deeply concerned.

Well, that was a day of mixed fortunes. After a decent start, we had a spell of heavy rain or showers, followed by a clearance towards sunset. I am pleased they reached a deal in Ukraine, under duress by the sound of it, and no guarantees for it holding.

Thursday 20 February

A wet morning here in Stornoway, but not excessively windy. Nothing new in the news either, fighting in Kiev, water leaks at Fukushima - at least there is progress in the refurbishment of Lews Castle. Afternoon improved quite a bit, after a handful of beefy showers. No complaints this end.

Read in the local paper that the island of Barra is thinking of defecting to Argyll & Bute Council (I think it's about 100 miles to the southeast of the island) as Barraich do not feel that the local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) serves it properly. This follows the rejection of an application to reinstate the airlink between Barra and Benbecula, which was severed in earlier budget cuts. I somehow do not think it is such a good idea to revert to the old Inverness-shire type set-up that existed until 1975. The southern isles were very poorly served by Inverness-shire, which was only interested in the town of Inverness. Barra has strong connections to the mainland port of Oban (in Argyll & Bute).

Wednesday 19 February

The pier bashing in Stornoway continues, with the live fish carrier Ronja Viking and the gastanker Sigas Laura joining the ranks of our illustrious ferries to collide with pier no 1.

More importantly, the travel review site Tripadvisor has rated the Outer Hebrides as one of the top 10 island holiday destinations in the world. That is a nice boost for tourism, which is the mainstay of the local economy.

Monday 17 February

Councillor Donald Crichton has expressed his concern about the ordnance that was washed up on Gress Beach last week. It turned out to be a French flare grenade from Operation Joint Warrior, which is held twice a year around the northwest of Scotland. Can I just say, in connection with this letter from Cllr Crichton, that in my view the MoD takes the issues of unexploded ordnance extremely seriously? In the firing range off Faraid Head, near Durness in Sutherland, divers go down on a regular basis to check for unexploded ordnance. Any batch of explosives is bound to contain a number of items that fail to go off. Operation Joint Warrior has been held for quite a few years off these islands, and (to my recollection) has not led to a regular appearance of dud ordnance on our shores. In other words, don't get your knickers in a twist.

Cloud has moved up from the south this morning, following a clear and very cold night. The overnight low was -2C, one of the few nights with frost we have had this winter so far.

Tuesday 18 February

Fairly bright day, with some sunny spells. Been watching the dismantling of an old fishing boat, the SY882 Flowing Stream over on Goat Island. Today, a large crane was deployed to remove the engine from the wreck.

I was profoundly irritated by the phenomenon of Google Plus, Google's answer to Facebook. After putting one of my Gmail contacts onto Google Plus, this promptly displayed my entire address book to the person concerned, who is not involved in any of my on-line activities, and does not want to know about it. The result will be that I am closing my Google Plus account on 1st March. At least on Facebook I have some measure of control over who sees my contacts.