Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Odiogo

It has come to my attention that the Odiogo service was discontinued at the end of 2014, and that any podcasts, although still available, do not cover blogposts entered after 15 December 2014. If you used this service, just remove the Odiogo-gadget from your sidebar, and the links will disappear from below your post header on the blog.

Awaiting spring



I think today's high winds were probably the last gale of winter. Winter has been hard on all, not just here in Lewis, but elsewhere, with a nasty bout of flu doing the rounds. Spring will arrive after winter was eclipsed in next Friday's solar eclipse - got this faint hunch that we may get favourable weather to view that. March has come in like a lion, and I'm now awaiting the lambs. Maybe I'll head out into rural Lewis, wander among the crofts and see if I can discern the bleating of newborn lambs. I'm looking forward to the arrival of spring.

Anne Frank

Anne Frank died 70 years ago this month in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She became one of those names and faces that came to epitomise the horror of the Holocaust. I'm told you have to queue and not tarry when visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. A place which I therefore duly shall not visit. Neither, for a totally different reason, shall I ever visit the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland. I could not cope with visiting a site where over a million people were murdered as an industrial proces for no valid reason, if such a justification ever existed. Below is an image of the Westerbork concentration camp (http://www.kampwesterbork.nl/en/index.html#/index), from where Anne left Holland for the final time in this life.

"Anne Frank died 70 years ago this month in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She became one of those names and faces that came to epitomise the horror of the Holocaust. I'm told you have to queue and not tarry when visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. A place which I therefore duly shall not visit. Neither, for a totally different reason, shall I ever visit the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland. I could not cope with visiting a site where over a million people were murdered as an industrial proces for no valid reason, if such a justification ever existed. Below is an image of the Westerbork concentration camp (http://www.kampwesterbork.nl/en/index.html#/index), from where Anne left Holland for the final time in this life."

Churchianity

I'm trying to make sense of the tangle of churches that make up the Protestant Church in Scotland. I am in danger of getting lost in the web of splits, unions, schisms and mergers that has left Stornoway with at least 17 different church buildings. It was prompted by an appeal from St Columba's (Old Parish) Church, Stornoway for its congregation (I'm not formally a member) to join a Covenant Fellowship which desires that the Church of Scotland should revert to the teachings of the Scriptures. That in turn was prompted by the current controversy surrounding clergy being accepted into the Established Church who are practising homosexuals. This issue has already caused a schism in the congregation at the High Church (Matheson Road). Personally, I have no problems with people being gay; as long as I don't notice it. Do I want a gay vicar preaching about men and women cleaving together in holy matrimony where he has cleaved together with another man? Some people dislike the notion. I am not interested in someone else's private affairs, and as long as they don't make a huge song and dance about it in public, I don't care if my vicar is gay or miserable.

Friday 13 March

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Beautifully sunny day, hardly any wind - just the one shower during lunchtime. Not very warm, and neither will it warm up over the next few days. 8C / 46F will be the order of the day.

Thursday 12 March

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Very wet today and a tad windy. Force 6 from the southeast. Down in the Uists, it's blowing a severe gale, force 9. Once this dies down, through the afternoon, it will be the last gale for a while. Forecasting is usually not done for more than 5 days. The five tropical cyclones I reported yesterday are still around; Olwyn will now strafe the entire west coast of Australia from Exmouth to Perth - with heavy rains. Winds will gradually decrease as the system sinks south. Pam is blasting the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and will peak at 140 knots.

Wednesday 11 March

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Morning all, well the gale duly arrived and it's also lashing down with rain. However, it's not as bad as Monday's storm and we'll see the end of this blow by the end of the afternoon. Another gale will come to see us later tomorrow, but that should hopefully be the end of it. For now. Lashing it down in Stornoway, galeforce winds over at the airport, increasing over the last hour or two. Back-end of the rain, and the promised windshift, in sight on radar, but probably still a few hours away. For a while in the afternoon, Cromwell Street was closed to all vehicles and pedestrians from North Beach Street to Bayhead, including Perceval Sq. There was an awful lot of windnoise, and Cromwell Street was acting like a windtunnel. Later on, the winds abated and the ferry was able to make a delayed run to Ullapool. Only one more gale to go!

Tuesday 10 March

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Monday 9 March

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10:10 Pouring with rain and rising winds. Should peak at 60 mph, gusting to 80 mph, this evening. Ferry went out at 7 am, and won't be back until this storm is over.
Notice that there will be a 48 mbar jump in barometric pressure over the 24 hours from 6pm on Monday (978 mbar) to 6pm on Tuesday (1026 mbar). Think that should adequately serve to explain the storm we are about to experience.

12:00 Easterly winds veering south during the morning in Stornoway (low pressure to our south!), with spells of rain. Winds reported force 5 (20 mph), but we're due far worse.

14:20 A sign of things to come - Malin Head reporting 53 mph gusting to 74 mph. Metrically speaking, this is 85 to 118 km/h. Barometer dropping like a stone - 5 mbar/hour at the airport. Winds at North Dell now heading for 70 mph. Buses cancelled tonight, schools in the Southern Isles closed (early). Hatches battened down - here comes the storm. Anemometer is flying: 80 mph in North Dell, and we haven't even begun to approach the peak of this storm.
 
16:46 Blowing at 89 mph in South Uist, that's 142 km/h for the imperially challenged.

18:30 An 8 mbar pressure gradient across 45 miles of sea. Aultbea reporting 987 mbar, whereas Stornoway has 979 mbar. Still wondering why we're having a storm??

19:30 Winds have abated since reaching a peak around 4pm, but still a full gale blowing. And still a chance, once the low pressure centre moves off, of the 60 mph stormforce winds that are currently strafing the Uists. Barometer has started to rise from a low of about 977 mbar in Ness. Expecting resumption of stormforce conditions.

21:30 As the westerly winds jump back up to severe gale force, Broad Bay is providing shelter to fishing boats and a cargo ship. Although we'll get a reprieve tomorrow, Wednesday will see another severe gale, as will Thursday into Friday. The Atlantic has certainly got the conveyor belt going! Stormforce winds 56 mph, gusting to 77 mph, at Stornoway airport at 9.20pm. Lights flickering, but thus far kept power.

In Memoriam

This week we remember those lost with flight MH370 on 8 March 2014. Lost - and never found.

This week, we also remember the earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of Japan 4 years ago on Wednesday. Unbelievable images that you can't easily forget, if ever. Another tsunami, with even more devastation, passed its 10th anniversary last Boxing Day.

Let us not forget the innocent lives lost on flight MH17, when it was downed over eastern Ukraine last July, under circumstances that are less clear than you might surmise.

Sunday 8 March

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Although the day started bright, cloud is rapidly covering the sky as an area of heavy rain moves in from the Atlantic. Around midnight on Monday into Tuesday, we can expect a spell of stormforce winds, which can reach up to 65 mph sustained (that's force 10-11) over the Uists; the forecast for Stornoway quotes force 10, 55 mph.

I have no time for "talent" shows like The Voice, Strictly, Britain's got (NO) talent or the X-(rated) factor. So I'm going to relay a bad tweet I happened across yesterday. "Farted on the bus today. Four people looked round. Felt like I was on The Voice". Sorry.

Saturday 7 March

The gale died down in the night, but it caused problem in the An Lanntair arts centre, which had to close due to an electrical fault, attributable to the inclement weather.

It's musical ferries in the Minch. Today, the MV Isle of Lewis left Ullapool at the unusual time of 12.30pm, to accommodate traffic that was due to have left Uig (Skye) for Tarbert today - the Uig-Tarbert service is cancelled all day today.

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Friday 6 March

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Wet and windy, 36 mph from the south southwest and a lot of rain. This is but the start; by evening, winds will rise to 50 mph (that's approaching stormforce), with gusts to 70 mph. Meanwhile, the MV Isle of Lewis returned at 1 am, carrying the passengers that the MV Loch Seaforth could not take. An engineroom fan had broken, so the ship could not sail. The engineroom is a confined space (as in, very difficult to access). The fan was fixed and the Seaforth returned to Stornoway at 3 am. Both ferries are lying idle today, on account of the adverse forecast.

1.45pm: Winds have now risen to galeforce, sustained 44 mph gusting to 55 mph. We should see a severe gale, and possibly stormforce conditions (force 10) later this afternoon, if sustained windspeeds exceed 55 mph. Gusts are not measured on the Beaufort scale.

9.15pm: Severe gale tonight, with gusts in excess of 70 mph. Rainfall total about 3/4 inch (18 mm). And it's supposed to get even worse later tonight? Well, we'll just have to hunker down again, keep those hatches battened down and yield to mother nature for having superior power. It has, for sure, been a very rough winter. Not because of extreme cold or big dumps of snow, it's just the incessant high winds. However, spring will come. Crocuses are coming out (a month late) as are the daffodils. Nil desperandum, folks.

Thursday 5 March

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Spring is on its way, but you wouldn't tell by the weather. More wind and rain, more ferry cancellations. The phone never stops beeping with all the disruption messages from Calmac!

Wednesday 4 March

The mercury has suddenly shot up to the dizzying heights of 8C / 46F. Been a while since we were there (omitting the midnight 10C a few days ago), and it's quite welcome. A few light showers about, but I think they're fading now. Better take advantage of the nice day; rain and high winds from Thursday onwards. Lovely sunny day, but the clouds drew in and a little rain followed between 5 and 6pm. And that was the end of the nice weather. It still felt cold in the wind, but at least we had a decent dose of March sun. That was sent to tease us, because it's going to be charlie romeo alpha papa for the next few days.

I visited the Grinneas nan Eilean [Beauty of the Isles] open art exhibition in An Lanntair this morning. A credit to all who submitted work, varying from photography to painting, from sculpture to pottery and more. It is all a question of taste, and some pieces I liked and others I loathed. Pity it isn't being held in July, when there are far more people about than in early March. Suggestion for 2016?

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