View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Friday 14 March

A windy morning, but the rain earlier has stopped. The sun is in fact trying to peek through the clouds. Not much change for later, or tomorrow. In the afternoon, the sun was shining, but there is this bullying west wind, making it feel cold out.

Not a shot has been fired in the Crimea / Ukraine/ Russia crisis, and no direct military confrontation has as yet taken place. However, the first casualty of the conflict has already been reported.

The truth.

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Thursday 13 March

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This week, three local lifeboats have been seen on the slipway across the bay.
Today, it was RNLI 14-16 Stanley Watson Parker, based at Portree

On Wednesday, it was RNLI 17-18, Tom Sandersen, from Stornoway
And on Tuesday, we had RNLI 17-40, Julian and Margaret Leonard, based at Lochinver

Wednesday 12 March

Day started very sunny, but windy. Since late morning, it has been quite hazy and cloud is gradually increasing as is the wind. Mercury at 10C / 50F.

The new ferry,MV Loch Seaforth, will come into service on 8 September. It will be launched on March 21st.

Not going into details, but I've been seeing an absolutely breathtaking display of sour grapes, greed and self-centered behaviour. Glad I'm not involved, standing well back!

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P3127838 Clipper Ranger, 7.35 am
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Tuesday 11 March

Quite a nice morning, once again, with good sunny intervals. A moderate to fresh southerly breeze and the thermometer at a decent 9C / 48F. The barometer has reached the dizzying heights of 1033 mbar, something we haven't seen for quite a while. Points further south will see a higher reading, as we are on the north flank of an area of high pressure over England.

There have been a flurry of complaints about our ferry service of late. The Isle of Lewis breaking down, its replacement and the bad weather all contriving to sully the reputation of Calmac. They can't help the weather.

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Monday 10 March

Quite a nice morning here, although cloud has increased over the last hour or two. Only a moderate southerly wind, and I'm not complaining about 8C / 46F. It took me about half an hour to work my way through the hurricane update, with no fewer than three tropical cyclones in the South Pacific.

My local history project continues to focus around WW1, with a steady trickle of new names from the Isle of Lewis who made the supreme sacrifice between August 1914 and November 1918 - and beyond.  I publish my findings on the Pentland Road blog.

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Sunday 9 March

A bright day, with pale sunshine through a layer of mid-level cloud. The wind has abated somewhat from yesterday, but still 30 mph from the west. This should drop down further over the next 24 hours. I have slightly modified the short story I'm writing at the moment, as I was getting tangled up with one strand of it.

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Back to 1936?

Anybody else got this horrible feeling we're back in 1936? Hitler invaded the Rhineland, which had been taken away from Germany after WW1, and everybody stood by and did nothing. We all know what happened a few years later.

The Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when it became part of Ukraine. Putin is taking it back - and nobody does anything. Ukraine was part of the USSR until 1991, and the current clashes in Donetsk and Kharkiv involving pro-Russian demonstrators is likely to be used as a pretext for military intervention there - something that Putin has asserted he will do.

Tomorrow, Sunday 16th March, a vote will take place in the Crimea that will see it returned to Russian rule, in contravention of all international law.

Tomorrow, Sunday 16th March, the closing ceremony for the Winter Paralympic Games will take place in Sochi, 250 miles from the Crimea. It will also be the closing ceremony for the period of detente between East and West that started in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, it was a phoney peace in the Cold War, as demonstrated by Russia's attitude towards Syria.

In Syria, 9 million people have fled their home, 2½ million of whom have fled the country. Vladimir Putin continues to back president Assad to the hilt. If things had really changed since 1989, he would have brought pressure to bear on the Syrian leader to step down. Putin did not. He has continued the pre-1989 policy of spheres of influence for East and West, and seeks to return to Russia's sway all the former Soviet republics. When Yanukovich fled his country and his presidency, Ukraine fell from Russia's sphere of influence. Putin is moving to take it back. Some of the other former Soviet republics are ruled by Putin's henchmen, such as Lukashenko in Belarus, and Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, both autocratic rulers.