View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Saturday 8 March

Galeforce winds are keeping all ferries in Lewis, Harris and North Uist in port today. Gusts across the Outer Hebrides reach 55 mph, with the more exposed station at Eoropie, near the Butt of Lewis, peaking at 70 mph. It is a lot milder than yesterday, 9C / 48F, reflecting the influx of milder air from the south. I am watching angry white riders marching across the harbour, under a dull, grey sky. Wind is increasing, official readings 52 mph, top end of force 9, with gusts of 68 mph. In contrast, Eoropie is doing 64 mph, gusting to 80 mph. In the evening, the wind abated, from force 9 through much of the afternoon to force 7. Over the next 24 hours, the wind will drop further. It's been a lively day, but not one for being outside. I went outside at lunchtime for the purpose of taking pics, but at one or two points I was nearly blown off my feet by the strong gusts.

Friday 7 March

Having a morning of nasty weather here. As I type, snow is falling, after a couple of heavy hail showers, all propelled by a force 7 westerly wind, which is gusting in excess of 65 mph in the southern isles. The ferry is off until at least this evening, due to adverse weather I should add. The Tarbert ferry is off as well, as is the Sound of Harris service. During a hailshower, visibility falls to barely 200 yards - flurries of snow follow. Temperature 2C / 36F. The contrast with the south of England is remarkable; a station in Oxfordshire reports 14C / 57F!

After two substantial hail showers, the sun is out - and behind glass, it's feeling quite warm. However, outside it remains perishing cold. The wind has abated somewhat, now blowing at force 6 from the west. Mercury in the south of England now crossing the 60F mark, with four locations at 16C. Here in the Western Isles, it's between 4 and 6C (39 to 43F). That temperature contrast is generating all this interesting weather. At the end of the day, there was just wall-to-wall sunshine... Strange day

Was watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Supreme irony - one of the pieces of music played is Mussorgsky's "Grand Gate of Kiev".

Thursday 6 March

The Royal British Legion pub on South Beach is closing on March 16th. That's the third or fourth pub in Stornoway that has closed down in recent years for economic reasons. My theory is that people now drink at home, using much cheaper alcohol bought in the supermarket. A pint in the pub costs more than £3; a pint in a can is only a little over £1.

Was watching the little Isle of Arran coming in (and going out) for its final call, before the Isle of Lewis takes up the run again tomorrow morning. The latter boat came in at around 2.30pm.

Wednesday 5 March

This is the image of the tanker leaving port in streaming rain.Worse than that was the wind, which caused the cancellation of the lunchtime ferry crossings - the Isle of Arran did come back from Ullapool in the evening.  The Isle of Lewis has left drydock at Birkenhead after repairs to her rudder and should be back here in Stornoway on Thursday afternoon.

Can we talk about something else but the flipping referendum on BBC Scotland please? I'm getting mighty tired of it, and we're in for another * SIX * months of that sh*te.

Things calmed down in the evening, with the wind shifting to the west and abating to force 4. Down in southern England, daytime maxima will exceed 60F over the next few days, but we are not likely to exceed 50F by very much. Don't mind, we have a very temperate climate with relatively minor fluctuations in temperatures. Saturday night into Sunday could see a brief but severe gale.

Tuesday 4 March

Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day - the last day before Lent in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. It was the day that Pope Francis was revealed to have mispronounced a word in Italian (his first language is Spanish), making it sound like the F-word.

A day of varying fortunes in terms of cloud cover. Tomorrow will be less favourable, and I won't be able to make it to the open day for the Isle of Harris Distillery. This is due to be built on the foreshore at Tarbert.  It will be the second distillery on the landmass that is Lewis and Harris, the first being the Abhainn Dearg [Red River] distillery at Carnish, Uig in Lewis.

Although the day started out cloudy, we had a bright interlude until about 3pm. That is when the cloud cover increased rapidly, to be followed by rain at 4pm. 

Monday 3 March

Turned on the TV at 10 am to catch updates on the Ukraine crisis. Instead I got continuous coverage of the trial of South African "blade-runner" Oscar Pistorius, who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend. I want to hear the main points of that, and instead wall-to-wall coverage of the crisis in the Ukrain, thanks BBC. And Sky.

Beautiful afternoon, first day of spring - at least, that's the way it felt on a 4½ mile jaunt round the Castle Grounds. Recommend the new path from the Marybank Gate to Strawberry Hill. Was standing right on the tideline at Cuddy Point - and suddenly I felt the waves lapping under, at, over my boots... Slowly, but inexorably.