View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Friday 25 July

Another sunny and warm morning in Stornoway, with the mercury merrily cruising up the Celsius scale: currently at 23C / 73F. We could well clock up another mid- to high-20s day - the last one for a while. Although it has been very dry, the wind has not been strong, so I'm not too worried about wildfires. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, and we'll back in the high teens.

Russian paper Novaja Gazeta is offering a front-page apology for the crash of MH17. A page-sized photograph shows a cortege of hearses driving down a motorway. The caption, in Dutch and Russian, reads: "Forgive us, Holland".

Novaja Gazeta is one of the few independent newspapers in Russia, and does a lot of investigative journalism. Russian opposition is among its readership.

Another 75 coffins from #MH17 have landed at Eindhoven AFB in the Netherlands. By tomorrow, when 38 are due, the total number will have risen to 227.

So Hamas is lobbing rockets into Israel. That doesn't help.
So Israel is bombing Gaza. That doesn't help.
Neither protagonist has an attitude conducive towards resolution.
Civilians are the losers, and the numbers of dead will only harden attitudes. I totally despair of that bunch of idiots on both sides of this senseless conflict.

Thursday 24 July

Last night, the Commonwealth Games opened in Glasgow. I thought the opening ceremony was crap. Cheap tat. A disgrace to Scotland, and I wasn't anywhere near in the mood for the papier-mache ceremony we were being bored with.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS reports that tomorrow, Thursday, at least 74 bodies will be brought to Eindhoven AFB, to be transferred to Corporal Van Oudheusden barracks in Hilversum. The ceremony will be identical to today's, and a government minister will attend.
Profoundly moved by the dignity afforded to the 40 victims of ‪#‎MH17‬, who were flown into ‪#‎Eindhoven‬ AFB this afternoon. A group of eight servicemen carried each coffin from either plane to a hearse. The cortege of 40 hearses will travel to a military barracks at ‪#‎Hilversum‬, 65 miles north of Eindhoven. The A2 and A27 motorways will be closed for 3 miles either side of the cortege as it moves north. The same process will be repeated for all the coffins when they come in from Ukraine.
Wall to wall sunshine, and although it's just 10.15 am, the thermometer has already crested 70F or 21C. I imagine we'll easily cruise into the high 20s this afternoon - in fact, we reached 26C / 78F.

A very warm visit to Gress cemetery, 9 miles north of Stornoway. The adjacent beach was well frequented, and quite a few people were in the sea. The temperature of the sea here is about 14C / 57F, so it's not too cold. I didn't go in myself, as I didn't have time until the bus back into town.

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Wednesday 23 July

Very warm in Stornoway today - 22C / 72F and rising. The mainland could get 27 or 28C (around 80F), and we're probably not going to be very far behind. A cruiseliner in today, the good ole Marco Polo. She is a regular, and knows better than to be swinging around on its anchor chain, unlike the Adonia yesterday.

The new MV Loch Seaforth will not come on service now until October, due to delays in fitting out at Flensburg.

A transport plane is heading west from Charkiv in Ukraine to Eindhoven in the Netherlands, carrying the bodies of about 200 victims of the MH17 aircrash. Another 100 are still unaccounted for, and some may never be found as they could well have been obliterated in the rocket strike. Sorry to be so blunt. It has been established that the downing was not intentional, but the idiots in eastern Ukraine obviously didn't have the brains to operate a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system.

At 3pm this afternoon, the plane carrying the remains will touch down at Eindhoven. It will be met by King Willem-Alexander and various other high-ranking officials, amidst a day of national mourning in the Netherlands.

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Tuesday 22 July

There was no broadband service today, due to a fault in the BT exchange at Gairloch, on the mainland. All telephone and broadband service is provided to the island via microwave link, which seems to have failed.

I paid another visit to the Eye cemetery, where I chatted to the gravedigger about my own activities. He pointed me to another stone I had missed previously, and told the story of a village boy of 14 who went to join up in Inverness during WW1. He managed to persuade everybody he was 18, until he met the recruiting sergeant. He said to him in Gaelic: "Go back to school, I know fine you're 14. You're my neighbour's son".

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Monday 21 July

Quite a nice day, with plenty of sunshine, but with a slightly chilly breeze. We still managed 21C / 70F, would you believe.

Only goes to show how wrong your impressions can be. One of my local internet contacts (not on Facebook, but on Twitter) was up in court on Friday, accused of possession of indecent images. Haven't heard from this person in ages, and their blog is now private, but I still am not a happy bunny about this.

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Sunday 20 July

A few years ago, I attended an island funeral. Last week, the ceremony was enacted when the remains of a ferryman, who had unexpectedly died, returned to Stornoway.

Mainly overcast today, so not much else to comment on.


Saturday 19 July

Absolutely magical tour by boat around Great Bernera this afternoon, from Kirkebost and Callanish in the south to Gallan Head in the northwest and over to Old Hill in the north. Although the weather closed in, it stayed dry. Took no fewer than 250 pictures - with a replacement camera, as my Panasonic is now most definitely finished.

Friday 18 July

Only half past ten, but we're already at 19C / 66F, so that promises a very warm day. Sail Hebrides is on today, with a regatta in Stornoway Harbour starting about now. One of the craft managed to run aground near the Coastguard Station. The rising tide allowed them to float free, but the yacht had to return to the harbour.

I have several Russian friends. I have several American friends. Friends from all over the world. All governments engage in, or condone, actions that others find reprehensible. That has no impact on my friendship with individuals. People who blame citizens from a country for the actions of their government are not fit to be around me, in person or on-line. Just sayin'.

192 Dutch people were on board flight MH17, which was downed over eastern Ukraine. Leaving the political ramifications to one side, I reiterate my condolences to the friends and families of the deceased - of all nationalities.

In the afternoon, I revisited the Eye cemetery to GPS the location of the war-gravestones. Went out to dinner at the Cross Inn in Ness this evening. Managed to go out on the 6pm bus from Stornoway, to return on the 9.20pm bus back. Very convivial there, to be recommended.

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Thursday 17 July

Although it's currently overcast, the sun is expected to come out later. Glad we're going to be spared the heatwave in southern England - if you're there, please take it easy.
It's gradually brightened up this afternoon, the sun is now out. It was very busy in the town centre, with the Hebridean Celtic Festival kicking off today. I am not attending anything (nothing jumped out of the line-up). I was privileged to attend a local wedding today, as I know the groom and his family quite well. I wish them every happiness, and hope their only problems will be little ones.

Terrible news, a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine, with the loss nearly 300 lives, 200 of these Dutch. It seems that pro-Russian rebels downed the aircraft using a Russian-made missile system.


Wednesday 16 July

Departing the Pol a'Charra Inn today; the hotelier very kindly ran us the quarter mile to the junction. Bus turned up slightly late, but got us to the airport at Balivanich on time. We needed to change at Creagorry, nearly leaving behind a young man who was fast asleep at the back of the bus. Once at the airport, the low cloud caused a one hour delay for the flight to Stornoway. Once in the airport, visibility was nil, and on approach to Stornoway, the pilot had to look for the runway. Bit disconcerting.

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Sunday 13 July

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That's an improvement on yesterday, bright spells rather than yesterday's rain. Tomorrow afternoon will see rain coming in from the west.

I am surprised at the number of people who come to Lewis (and Harris) and are unaware that virtually everything is shut on Sundays. Just half an hour ago I walked across the derelict Tesco carpark, only for a campervan to gingerly edge into the precinct - then back out of it, as the shop was clearly and plainly closed.

Saturday 12 July

Pouring with rain this afternoon, rainfall radar is suffering from measles - bright colours indicating heavy rain. Should ease tonight. Calmac is telling us that the MV Isle of Lewis was nearly 3 hours late leaving Stornoway for Ullapool due to a technical issue. As a consequence, she will not leave Ullapool until about 9.15pm tonight. Her expected time of return to Stornoway will be about midnight.

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Friday 11 July

They have extinguished most of the wildfire just outside the Castle Grounds, but I can see little trails of smoke reemerging from the area. Apparently, we're due rain later today or tonight, and I hope it's going to be really wet - we're needing it. Feeling warm today, 19C / 66F on the thermometer. Also quite windy, a stiff southerly breeze not helping with the wildfire situation.

In the afternoon, the wildfire seriously flared up, can see the flames from about half a mile away. Fire also appears to be spreading north, towards the Creed River mouth, at quite a rate. Fire now plainly visible from the seafront, having progressed to the last ridgeline before the river. Getting more than a little concerned about the Castle Grounds...

Thursday 10 July

Brilliantly sunny day again in Stornoway, where we managed a summery 18C / 64F this afternoon. Was invited out for lunch by the same person whom I guided round the island on Tuesday, before they went off on the plane in the evening. Person concerned seems to have caught the Hebridean bug - hope they still feel like that after 6 days of force 8, hail, rain, hail and gloom. That's the flipside of the Hebrides. A change in our weather is due tomorrow evening.

The smoke from the wildfire was plainly visible from Stornoway, just south of the Creed
River mouth.


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Wednesday 9 July

Gorgeous day - in Bosta, where dozens of people thronged the beach. Blackpool of the Hebrides? Complete with jellyfish, tides coming in and tourist boats coming to have a peep. What d'ya mean, no dogs ;-) My trip to Bosta was done on the bus, which takes an hour 15 minutes from Stornoway for £5.50 return - the distance is 29 miles one way. You need to change at Garynahine. On the way back, there was a 40 minute wait for the connecting service back into Stornoway. I'll be the last to complain about the buses in Lewis and Harris.

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