View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 20 October 2014

Friday 17 October

Some of you may have heard of the custom of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) in Holland, Flanders and parts of Germany. In Holland, this festival, held on 5 December, was an innocent celebration, marked by the giving of presents. Ostensibly by a man with a white beard, red robes, a peaked hat and a crozier, assisted by black men scattering sweeties around.

Monitored the approach of hurricane Gonzalo to Bermuda through the afternoon and evening. The highest windspeeds occurred after midnight (UK time). It was interesting to see the weather deteriorating at an incredible pace.

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Thursday 16 October

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Meanwhile here in sunny Stornoway, it's actually quite a bright morning, although with substantial amounts of mid-level cloud about. A major weather system is inching in from the Atlantic, bringing rain to points south. We should escape the worst of it. However, next Tuesday could see the arrival of the remnants of hurricane Gonzalo. This storm, a category 4 hurricane, is homing in on Bermuda. After passing that island tomorrow, the system will head for Newfoundland. It will transform into a normal autumn storm, which could bring gales to the UK - but 5 days is a long time in weather forecasting.

The SNP demand to be included in the "leadership" debates for the 2015 general elections. I don't think so. They, according to leader-in-waiting Nicola Sturgeon, can't wait to be out of the United Kingdom. Clamouring for yet another referendum on independence. I dislike those "leadership" debates, look who was included in 2010 and got into government, although his party lost seats? And now Farage, heaven help us, will be there - so can we expect him in government if there's a hung parliament again? OK, let's be fair. UKIP only have 1 seat in parliament, so the SNP (with 6) should be there. Really? Would they be part of a coalition to the UK government?

Wednesday 15 October

Brilliantly sunny day in Stornoway, with hardly any cloud. A moderate to brisk easterly breeze, with the mercury propped up to 13C / 57F by the sunshine.

Had a very interesting talk with someone from Edinburgh University about a project called Scotland's War, which aims to record the contribution made by the people of Scotland to WW1; not just those soldiers and sailors, but also the people at home. As most of you know, I have compiled a large amount of information on WW1 casualties and combatants from the Outer Hebrides, hence the approach to myself. My input can be accessed via this link.

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Tuesday 14 October

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Morning all, it's quite a bright morning here in Stornoway, with a bit of an easterly breeze. Mercury at 11C / 52F, which is not bad for mid October.

I'm pleased to note that the MV Loch Seaforth will not become a bargaining chip in the negotiations to save the FSG shipyard where she has been built. So, in the next few weeks, our new ferry will arrive. Without having a suitable pier to dock at. Instead of berthing trials, she'll have anchoring trials. Very necessary, as the construction company at the new ferry terminal can't drill piles into the seafloor - maybe a new seam of diamonds has been found there?

It is 75 years ago today since HMS Royal Oak was sunk in Scapa Flow, Orkney, south of the islands' main town of Kirkwall. 834 sailors, many of them just boys, were lost in the sinking. Royal Oak was torpedoed by U-47, captained by Günther Priem, which had sneaked into Scapa Flow, past the blockships. Earlier today, HMS Bangor, in Orkney for the commemorations, lay a wreath at the site where the wreck of the Royal Oak now rests at the bottom of the sea.

Monday 13 October

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Bright day in Stornoway after a chilly night. It didn't get colder than the 3C / 37F I mentioned late last night, but it was nippy. The mercury has bounced back up to 11C / 52F, so no complaints here. I was concerned to hear of a gas explosion in North Bragar yesterday, which left a pensioner with burns in hospital. It would appear his cooker had a gas leak. Without casting aspersions on the gentleman concerned, it should serve as a reminder to have gas appliances checked on a regular basis. Certainly at this time of the year, when we start to use our gas- or oil-fired central heating boilers again.

Can somebody explain the discrepancies in the news on the MV Loch Seaforth? News reports from Germany in late September announce the deal between the Flensburger Shipyard Ltd (FSG) and Siem Shipyards of Norway, to stave off bankruptcy for FSG. The BBC, ten days later, announces that the deal is not a certainty. If it falls through after all, the MV Loch Seaforth (according to STV News) might never come to Stornoway.

Sunday 12 October

Lovely five mile walk in the Castle Grounds this afternoon. It was quite calm today, hardly any wind. That made the 10C on the mercury feel slightly less cold than it was. Walked the length of the Creed River, almost as far as the main road - I do realise the river itself stretches another 7 miles or so into the centre of the island. The most remarkable aspect of the walk were the autumn colours, almost at their best.

I am thoroughly disgusted with those people who are not prepared to accept the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum of 18 September. The rules were plain - a majority would suffice, and clause 30 of the Edinburgh agreement (which enabled the referendum) says that the outcome would be accepted by all parties. Hope over Fear? The fear is that Scotland is going to waste another two years talking about independence, followed by another two years of campaigning. It's been called the Neverendum.

What is that strange, unpleasant sensation that is pervading the house through cracks and crevices this evening? It prompts you to turn up the heating, don more clothes, crouch in front of the fire and shiver uncontrollably. Let's check the outside thermometer (at Stornoway Airport). 3C / 37F? OMG that's cold. Ah, so that's what it is. It's cold tonight Strange thing is, though, that Flesherin records 8C / 46F - because that weather station sits high up on top of a cliff. Cold air sinks. I'm on the seafront in Stornoway, at the lowest point in the town. The airport too sits very low down, nearly at sea-level.

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