View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tuesday 30 September

Apart from a brief glimpse of sunshine around noon, the day has been nothing but grey. It started wet, and judging by the misty outlines of the hills, rain is not far off.

Monday 29 September

I remember something called Scottish Islands Network, which was active in the late 90s, early 00s. It brought together the Argyll islands, Eilean Siar, Skye, Orkney and Shetland, to pool resources and knowledge to tackle common problems. It ceased to operate after the only local authority to back it financially, Argyll & Bute, withdrew its funding. I'm pleased to see something like that being set up - but seeing is believing. However, Mr Carmichael is an islander himself, so I'm fairly confident that something positive will ensue.

Sunday 28 September

Just read my way through a copy of DER SPIEGEL [The Mirror], a prominent publication in German. It obviously focuses heavily on German affairs, but also looks at other European countries. The edition of 15th September had a lengthy and disturbing feature on the child-abuse scandal that has rocked Rotherham in recent times - why did I have to get the full rundown on this atrocity in a foreign publication, and why was this snowed under by the effing referendum here in Scotland?

Another interesting snippet from DER SPIEGEL was on the tiny islet of ‪#‎Tromelin‬ in the Indian Ocean, some 350 miles west of Mauritius. A French ship came to grief there in the 18th century, leaving hundreds dead - illegally transported slaves - and probably leaving the survivors to resort to cannibalism to survive. It took 15 years for them to be rescued. It left one species of bird extinct on Tromelin. Nobody lives there - it is little more than a scrub-covered sandbank.

A new tropical depression in the Pacific (where is Chuuk, anyone?), a dying tropical storm southeast of Japan and a fading hurricane southwest of Mexico. Furthermore, the Atlantic has an attempt at a tropical disturbance (don't hold your breath), and the Eastern Pacific is breeding system #19.

The Council want to paint more double yellow lines (that means: no parking, for my US friends) in a town that soon won't have a traffic warden left to police them. Why don't we just ban cars from the town centre, inside the triangle formed by Matheson Road, Bayhead / Cromwell Street, and South Beach / James Street. JOKE, OK, JOKE.

When I went through a medical for my national service, back in the year of our lord 1982, I had to undergo a spelling test. The word "chauffeur" featured (it's the same in Dutch), and I was told that your average male manages to find 36 different ways of spelling that. Now go through this article on Hebrides News and count the number of different ways of spelling the Gaelic words Comunn Eachdraidh (historical society).

Saturday 27 September

The Council have announced that the accommodation at Lews Castle is to be managed by the company Natural Retreats. The article in the Gazette shows its a contentious subject, and a whiff of self-serving attitudes about those who are complaining against the award of the Lews Castle contract to Natural Retreats. There is insufficient accommodation in Stornoway during the summer months, and I cannot understand why anyone would want to complain against getting more beds, other than perceived competition against their own interests.

Power went off at 2pm for half an hour. However, the supermarket had to close for a full hour before their computersystems were back on.

By the end of the evening, the weather took a turn for the worse - rain all evening. Temperature never shifted much off 14C / 57F all day. Spent the evening talking German to some visitors. Have to stop myself now from capitalising all Nouns.

Friday 26 September

Quite a nice day here, except for the strong wind - from the west at force 7 (30 mph). Sun is shining in between the clouds (see previous photo-post), but the mercury has taken a tumble from 15 to 11 C.

This morning I was in a radio studio at the BBC on Seaforth Road to record a voice-over for a documentary about the Lewismen who were interned at HMS Timbertown during the First World War. The producer wanted an English speaker with a Dutch accent - well, it seems I fit the bill. Didn't take long. The piece I spoke dealt with a funeral of one of the internees in the city of Groningen. The coffin was draped (and I quote the newspaper article from 1 March 1916) in the English flag. Before everybody shoots me down in flames, I should add that in the Netherlands all the British home nations are referred to as "England", and they smile about that silly rivalry between the English and the Scots. After many a moon observing life in Scotland, I do not regard the issue as a laughing matter.

Autumn has descended on the northern hemisphere, and the hurricane season is at its height. Well, in the Eastern Pacific at any rate, the Atlantic season is a bit of a dead duck. However, what cropped up in my tropical disturbance update at 4 o'clock: disturbance 91S, in the southern hemisphere. It is a heavily sheared system, meaning that the winds at different levels in the atmosphere are not blowing at the same direction or speed. For a tropical cyclone to form, shear needs to be low, and that system has considerable problems. Nonetheless, we'll see more southern hemisphere systems through our winter, starting in November.

Remember that play from the 70s or 80s? The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, black Oil? Well, with all the to-ing and fro-ing about Scotland's oil I've decided to rename it: The Cheviot, the Stag and the Red, red Face. Whichever side you were on in the independence debate, neither came out smelling of roses at the end of it - unsubstantiated, hyperbolical claims about all sorts. Glad it's OVER.

Thursday 25 September

Our new ferry, the MV Loch Seaforth, will now arrive even later than previously forecast. Her initial date for entry into service was July this year, but it is edging ever closer to 2015 at this rate. Now it is an engine upgrade that's causing the delay.

Today's (Sept 25th) printed edition of the Gazette contains a
horrendous howler on the front piece article about the No vote in the islands. The leader of the Better Together campaign in the Western Isles is referred to as former Labour MSP Alasdair Allan, whereas his surname is of course Morrison; we all know that Alasdair Allan, our current MSP, led the Yes campaign.

Great evening at the Battery Memorial guns at Battery Point this evening. It got very windy, so after singing psalm 23 in Gaelic, holding a two minutes' silence, offering up prayers and the laying of the wreath, the company went to the community centre in Seaforth Road. There, Sandy Matheson (Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles) and Malcolm Macdonald of the Stornoway Historical Society told stories about the Battery. The evening was concluded with some lovely tunes and songs, and tea and cakes.

Late in the evening, the wind increased further, blowing at 32 mph, force 7. It is set to increase to galeforce in the night. It is quite mild at the moment (midnight), 15C / 59F, not much down from the daytime high of 17C / 63F at lunchtime.

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Wednesday 24 September

It's quite bright but a tad cloudy here in Stornoway. When the sun does come out, it gets quite warm. A nice breeze is blowing, making it a pleasant autumnal day.

Joint Warrior is on again from October 7th for two weeks. This will involve jamming of GPS, which will only take place at set times. Those who need to know have been notified.

On a foray into town, I noticed the (slow) progress on the refurbishment of the ferry terminal. In future, you can walk to the ferry terminal from South Beach along a sheltered walkway.

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