Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Monday, 23 October 2017

Monday 23 October

The mid-term holidays are over, the Royal National Mod has taken place (in Fort William this year) and the weather has been decidedly autumnal for weeks now. The bus timetables have lost their summer additions as of this morning, so we're into winter mode now. The weekend weather was in fact not too bad, with plenty of sunshine. Not so today; at time of typing, there was just a very heavy downpour. Another indication that summer is gone is the ferry ships going in for their annual overhaul. Our ferry, the Loch Seaforth, has headed off for dry-dock in Leith (near Edinburgh). Her timetable commitments are being taken up by the old Ullapool-Stornoway ferry Isle of Lewis, and the small Hebridean Isles which takes freight back and forth. The Isle of Lewis is slower than Loch Seaforth, taking 15 minutes longer to cross to and from the mainland. Other ferry routes will have similar modifications over the winter months. Daylight hours are becoming short, with sunset at 6pm. This seems to have caught out some walkers, who got lost on the Clisham (our highest mountain peak at 799 metres) and had to be airlifted off by the Coastguard helicopter. Finally, we had an unseasonably late visit by a cruiseliner, the Hebridean Princess, on Friday.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

B8060

The South Lochs road in Lewis is named B8060, and runs the fifteen miles from Balallan to Lemreway. It starts from the main road linking Stornoway and Tarbert, and keeps close to the shores of Loch Erisort for the first 7 miles or so.




The roadsign lists all the villages in South Lochs. The district has a permanent population of a few hundred. Cromor and Marbhig are located off a side road, which branches off at Eishal junction.


Loch Erisort


The village of Balallan stretches for 2½ miles along the north shore of Loch Erisort


The road goes ever on and on - I know each and every outcrop


Kershader with the war memorial in front of the Ravenspoint Centre


Loch Erisort between Kershader and Garyvard


Lilies in the pond at the Caversta turn


Loch Erisort and Garyvard from Caversta

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Summer's over

Here in the Western Isles, summer ends in August. Although we have not had many gales yet, they will definitely put in an appearance in October. The other indicator that the equinox is nigh is the dark mornings. Got up at 6.30 am, and it was only just getting light. Similarly, by 8pm, daylight has almost gone. In five weeks' time, the clocks will go back and that'll be us in true winter mode.


A lorry went on the ferry yesterday afternoon, filled with hundreds of sheep destined for the mainland. September is the time farm animals are bought and sold in the auction mart on Simon's Road. The animals on the lorry were silent, as if they knew there was no point bleating about their impending fate. They looked nice and healthy, and one can only hope they will be put out to pasture on a mainland farm - before ending up on someone's plate. Sorry.



Another indication of the advent of autumn is of course the turning of the leaves. This acer tree, outside the An Lanntair arts centre on Kenneth Street, was blazing when I came down Francis Street - which crosses Kenneth Street just outside An Lanntair. I have not been into the arts centre since Grinneas nan Eilean (the Beauty of the Isles amateur exhibition) closed at the end of July. Not taken with much of the stuff they put up there, and neither am I a cinema buff.



What is also a blaze of colour is the fuchsia. It got smashed by a gale earlier this year, but has pulled itself together to give us its usual bright red of countless pendular blooms.

Monday, 11 September 2017

9/11 - 16 years on



This tribute is published on the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, under the auspices of Project 2996.

Jeffrey Dwayne Collman

Image: Family photograph, via http://guy-at-judson.blogspot.com.

Source: Aurora Beacon News, Aurora IL 9-23-2001
Jeffrey Dwayne Collman, age 41, of Novato, California, formerly of Yorkville, IL, a flight attendant for American Airlines, died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:45a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Jeffrey was a 1977 graduate of Yorkville High School in Yorkville, IL. Jeff was formerly employed, for over 10 years, at All-Steel in Montgomery, IL. He had then worked, for a brief time, at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California before attaining his dream of being a flight attendant with American Airlines. Jeffrey loved his job and traveling to other countries around the world. He also loved to play and watch tennis. Jeff was a true people person who enjoyed visiting with and getting to know others. He became a flight attendant in 1997. Two years later, Jeff received the American Professional Flight Attendant Award and was considered a spirited and dedicated flight attendant. He liked to entertain children on his flights, and he was fond of playing tennis and traveling, friends said.

He is survived by his parents, Dwayne and Kay Collman of Yorkville, IL and Beverly Sutton of North Aurora, IL; his close companion, Keith Bradkowski of Novato, Ca; his brothers, Charles Collman of Fort Meyers, FL and Brian Collman of Las Vegas, NV; his sister, Brenda Sorenson of Aurora, IL; his step-brothers, Steve (Linda) Gengler of Yorkville, IL and Chuck (Lakshmi) Gengler of South Orange, NJ; his step-sister, Susan Bohan of California; a god-child, Marlene Wakelin; his half-sisters, Laura Kries of Brooklyn Park, MN, Caroline Sutton of Joliet, IL and Vickie Michel of Aurora, IL; several nieces and nephews, many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Jeffrey will also be missed by 100 other flight attendants.

He is preceded in death by his grandparents and his brother, Mark Allen Collman.
A memorial service was held on Monday, October 1, 2001 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Yorkville, IL with Pastor John Leaf officiating.

Father’s thoughts
Dwayne Collman's imagination gets the best of him when he thinks about the final minutes of his son's life on American Airlines Flight 11. He's filled with horror thinking about what the 41-year-old flight attendant from Yorkville went through as terrorists with knives steered the plane into the first World Trade Center tower. Collman knows his son received safety training in flight school, but he doubts it ever could have prepared him for the challenges he would face on the morning of Sept. 11. The grieving father is sure of one thing about his son, though, even if the details about his death are not certain:
"He would have fought like hell."

Jeffrey Collman, an American Airlines flight attendant for five years who grew up in Yorkville, died Tuesday morning when his hijacked plane, destined for Los Angeles, crashed into New York's famous landmark at 8:45 a.m. Though his body has not been recovered, his parents knew he was gone when he didn't call within a few hours after the tragedy. He had sent his stepmother, Kay, an e-mail the night before, telling her he would be flying from Boston to Los Angeles the next morning.

"I knew he was in that accident because every time there was something going on with airplanes, he would call and say, 'Hey, I'm all right,' " said Kay Collman. "So I knew that, when he didn't call, he was on that plane."

His parents [...] say Jeffrey Collman wanted to be a flight attendant because he loved to travel and meet people around the world. After working for years at Allsteel in Montgomery, he moved to California about five years ago to pursue that dream. Lifelong friend Dolores Humphrey, who went to school with Jeffrey Collman at all grade levels in Yorkville, said she feared he was killed when she heard the news because he often flew early-week flights from Boston to Los Angeles.
She said Collman never lost contact with his friends, even though his job took him around the world.

"Every time he got into town, he would call anyone he knew to meet for breakfast," said Humphrey, who last talked to Collman [5 days before 9/11]. "He would talk for a couple hours, then have to go fly somewhere else."

His stepmother said Jeffrey was the type of person who could "sit down next to someone on a plane and walk away knowing their life story." His father said Jeffrey loved tennis and flew around the world to watch professionals play. Kay Collman says her stepson never went anywhere meekly, and he loved his job so much that she's sure he didn't back down in the face of terror. "He took it seriously," she said, "and he would not have let anyone walk on him."

Humphrey said Jeffrey talked of flying even when he was a child, and his dream came true when American Airlines gave him a job. He was never afraid to fly, she said, always asserting that he was safer in the air than anyone on the ground. Collman's parents have begun to realize how their son died, and that he will always be remembered as a victim on one of the saddest days ever in the United States.

"It's completely different than just someone dying," Kay Collman said. "We'll have the pictures forever. We'll always see where he died. It's part of history."

Seattle Times, 17 September 2001
His partner, Keith Bradkowski, said Collman was courageous and safety-conscious. "He was so focused on safety," Bradkowski said. "If there was a threat, he would have done anything in his power to prevent it." He didn't normally work the Boston-to-Los Angeles route but made an exception to get vacation time at the end of the month. Collman grew up in Yorkville, Ill., and besides Bradkowski left behind four brothers and a sister. (Seattle Times)

Further information: the fate of Flight 11.

Postscript
Blogger Nathanael V.  found out 5 years after 9/11, that Jeffrey Collman was a neighbour's grandson.

Sources
http://www.afacwa.org/memoriam/jeffreycollman.htm
http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=jeffrey_collman_1
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5767989

and as attributed above.

9/11 - 16 years on


When this post is published, it will be exactly sixteen years to the minute that the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center in New York. The events of what is now referred to as 9/11 are only too well known.

My thoughts are with all victims, whether identified afterwards, or not. In New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

My thoughts are with the passengers and crew on the four flights destroyed. My thoughts are with the victims killed in the World Trade Center. My thoughts are with those emergency workers who lost their lives trying to save others'.

My thoughts today are with the families of those who perpetrated these atrocities, for they lost too.

But first and foremost, my thoughts are with Norberto Hernandez, whose tribute I first filed on Northern Trip, the predecessor to Atlantic Lines, in 2006. The searches for Norberto on Google are contaminated with references to the Falling Man, who was in fact another victim, Jonathan Briley. This confusion has led to much anger and anguish, something the families of both men could do well without.

Norberto, rest in peace.

This entry, as stated above is dedicated to the memory of




Norberto was a pastry chef from Elmhurst, working in the restaurant Windows on the World on the 106th and 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. After the attacks, he was reported missing for a week until parts of a torso and an arm were found in a collapsed stairwell. DNA testing and finger printing reveiled that these were the remains of Norberto. It also invalidated claims that the image of the Falling Man was that of Norberto; this was another victim of 9/11 who will be the subject of a different tribute.


At the time of the attacks on the WTC, Norberto was aged 42 and had been married for 25 years. He was the fourth of ten children by his parents’ marriage, and also had six half-siblings through his father. His parents separated when he was young. Norberto himself had three daughters, three grandchildren and 37 nephews. He was a man of Puerto Rican origins, and had hoped to spend his final days there. Instead, after 9/11, a funeral service was held and his remains cremated in Puerto Rico.

His sister Luz described Norberto. “He was quiet, kind”, she said. “He was a handsome man. Everybody loved him, you know. Everybody.” Norberto’s nickname was Bible, as he was very dependable. Together Forever was his motto.

Norberto started work in Windows on the World at the age of 17, washing dishes. He was interested in cooking, so a manager paid for his tuition at cooking school. Norberto became pastry chef and worked up to 10 hours a day. His sister Luz said that he made cakes, desserts, cookies and bread. His cakes were fabulous.

Outside work, Norberto loved sports, and was a fan of a Puerto Rican boxer, Felix Trinidad Jr. Four days before the attacks, he rang his mother and asked her to play “I would cry but I have no more tears” four times.

In the immediate aftermath of the plane striking the North Tower, Norberto called his sister Luz. “He said: ‘Yeah, don’t worry, I’m OK”.They were disconnected, and when Luz tried to call back she could not get through. Other accounts from Windows on the World tell that smoke and dust filled the restaurant after the strike, and that people lay on the floor to escape the worst of it. Air was beginning to run out at the time of the last contact.

These are the facts that I have managed to pull together from the Internet.

From the little that I have learned of Norberto, he came through as a gentle giant. Although 6’2” (1.84m) tall, he was always listening, and talked later. His family suffered a double loss, as Claribel Hernandez (his sister-in-law), a secretary working elsewhere in the North Tower, was also killed in the attacks. Norberto was close in the family and responsible, which earned him the nickname Bible. He loved his work, and by the look of one of the images, loved to impart that knowledge to others around him.

September 11th, 2001, dawned as a brilliantly sunny morning in New York. Two planes were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center, leading to their collapse within 2 hours. The destruction of so many lives was brought about by mindless hatred and madness, fuelled by religious zealotry which was not based on any writing in any scriptures in any religion.

Norberto may have heard of that on news reports, but it was probably quite far from him. He was a man that lived for his family, always there for them. A diligent worker, putting in up to 10 hours a day, loving his creations from the oven. Travelling to the WTC on the Subway every morning, his thoughts were probably far from what was to happen not that much later on that fateful Tuesday.

Two thousand nine hundred and ninety-six are known to have died that day, or in its immediate aftermath. Norberto’s ashes were scattered in his homeland of Puerto Rico. His memory lives on in his family, and in the memory of those that read this. He is deeply missed by those close to him.

To Norberto Hernandez

Rest In Peace


Links
http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/terror/sep19/three_lives.asp
This link is no longer operational

I have attempted to contact the University of Columbia to use the material in this link, but have not received a reply. As it is central to the tribute, I have used it, and acknowledge the writer, Sarah Clemence.

http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/tw6/pg05.htm


This is a poem by Barbara Phillips, from which I have used some factual references to Norberto. It refers to him being the Falling Man though.

http://www.unitedinmemory.net/QuiltH/QuiltH.html

I have been granted permission by UIM to reproduce the commemorative quilt for Norberto.


http://www.queenspress.com/archives/coverstories/2001/issue38/coverstory.htm
Link no longer operational
The poster, pictured above, proclaiming Norberto as missing after the attacks, hung on a walkway of Manhattan for more than a week

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The missing man

I've had the question put to me, did I know Torsten Kulke? Did I meet him, perhaps just before he disappeared? No, I have never met him. The first I heard of him, ever, was in a news report that he was missing in this island. The dread really set in when I heard he had last been seen near Aird Uig, a village ringed by tall seacliffs. The eventual outcome, although deeply tragic, came as no surprise to me. Why did it affect the islanders, and me, so much? In a remote community like this, people look out for each other. Not just locals, but anyone who comes here to work, go on holiday etc. For about ten days, Torsten Kulke was one of us, even though he was probably no longer alive by then. We have seen a jolly image of him, on holiday in Asia (it would seem). I have seen him in a video as a senior vice president of a beauty products company. The last man that ever saw him alive drove him in his taxi the 38 miles from Stornoway airport to that lonely cattlegrid between Erista and Aird.

Torsten's family and friends remain in my thoughts at this sad time. May he rest in peace.

General Lee

Statues to General Lee, the commander of the Confederate forces during the American Civil War, have been pulled down in parts of the southern USA. Plans for such a demolition led to deadly clashes in Virginia over the weekend.

I do not believe in sanitising history. A statue to Gen Lee is, to my mind, not glorification of slavery (which he sought to defend), but a marker of history. Going on the ferocity of the clashes this weekend, the subject of racism is still very much alive in the USA of 2017. Pulling down a statue or two won't make that go away.

I shall add that the presidency of Donald Trump, who was very late in condemning the violence in VA, has not helped the situation. Rather than seeking a fight with a tinpot dictator in North Korea, he would be better advised to attend to matters at home. I thought that was the ticket on which he sought to be elected.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Putin and the Koreans

It has occurred to me that the regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea (PRNK) is no longer propped up by China. Instead, Vladimir Putin's Russia appears to be their main supporter. Following the first alleged ICBM test by PRNK, the UN Security Council was preparing to condemn these tests - a condemnation that Russia vetoed. Moscow and Pyongyang seem to maintain warm relationships, and that is something that should worry the world. PRNK is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaties, or anything to do with reducing the threat from nuclear weapons. We should take it as read that Putin can use Kim Jong-un as a lever for blackmail - anyone who threatens to do anything about PRNK nuclear weapons will face Putin's wrath and his own arsenal of nukes. We can also take it as read, if uncorroborated, that Russia will be involved in the further development of the North Koreans' weapons programme.

If it was the case that Putin was involved in manipulating the US Presidential elections of last November, then we can certainly see why he wanted Donald Trump in. Apart from being a disgrace to his Hebridean heritage, he is a danger to world peace. Whilst governing (or more to the point, feuding) by tweet, the world is going down the pan in a handcart. A weak USA leaves the door open for dangerous leaders like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Mission Statement 2017

In the past, I used to write a Mission Statement. So, I've revamped the 2007 one, headed it 2017 and here goes:

My blogging has been going for nearly 13 years.

I commenced blogging in my first journal, Northern Trip, in October 2004, two months after starting my travels around Northern and Western Scotland. In November of that year, I settled in the Isle of Lewis. Things have been on the change since then.

At first, I did a lot of walking in the islands, in all sorts of weather. Later on, I began to get more involved in the local scene, although I am afraid that this has now deteriorated more into an observer's role.

I observe the weather, watch shipping coming and going and go walkabout around Stornoway. This is the capital of the Western Isles, pop 9,000; the islands themselves have 25,000 people. Occasionally, I'll go further afield within Lewis and Harris.

I rely heavily on Internet websites for my information, although local and national radio and TV play their part as well.

I take ridiculous numbers of photographs. Since I acquired a digital camera in 2006, I have taken in excess of 70,000 pictures. The Scottish ones are shown here.

Isles FM is the local radio station. Manned by volunteers, they mean well but their rate of trip-ups is high. To quote one presenter: "I need electrocution lessons".

Ferries: The Loch Seaforth is the main passenger ferry. She sails daily (except Sundays) for Ullapool at 7 am and 2pm, arriving back from there at 1pm and 8pm, later on Saturdays and Sundays. The weather tendsto wreak havoc with those schedules. The ferry takes freight in her nighttime crossings, leaving here at 10.30pm and returning at 5 am. I stay on the waterfront, so I see everything that comes and goes.

I have been involved in historical projects, both relating to World War One. At that time, about 6,000 islanders went out to fight for King and country. 1,000 did not return, having fallen on the field of battle or perished at sea. They are remembered in my site Faces from the War Memorial.

An additional two hundred drowned on their return from the war. They were on board HMY Iolaire, which was wrecked 2 miles south of Stornoway. Only 75 others survived. I occasionally refer to this tragedy, read more on my Iolaire page.

About 100 islanders were interned at Groningen, Holland, for the duration of World War One, after retreating into Holland following battle at Antwerp in October 1914. They were allowed home for the harvest each year, provided they returned to Holland afterwards. Which they did, to a man. That was at a time when a man's word still stood.

Some general questions and answers:

Do I work? No.
Am I going to find a job here? Maybe.
Do I have a family? No. My relatives live outwith the island.
How long am I going to be here? Dunno.

What is my blogging remit?

To relay to readers news items I think are of interest. Not just from Lewis, but from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. There is an emphasis on mattersmaritime, bearing in mind my position in a small port.

Northern Trip had as its motto:
"A view of the world from a small island
A view of the island for the world"

I take a special interest in the weather, and try to relay hurricane warnings where possible. I have also taken on a role as general blogger, commenting on everything I see fit to comment on. Or not.

Since the spring of 2006, I have become involved in the J-land community here on AOL, and try to adopt a social role, pointing out those in J-land who could do with extra attention for various reasons. If any new blogs come to my attention, I sometimes give them a mention as well.

Any questions? Send me mail, and I'll try to answer.


On a personal level, I take the following line. I have a simple motto in life, which is live and let live. People can do what they like, as long as they don't inconvenience, trouble or otherwise make life difficult for others.

Another motto is that I take people as they come. We all have our crosses to bear, and it's nobody's business what brought those on our backs. We all make decisions and choices, in good faith at the time. Whether it all turns belly-up in the long run, well such is life. But life can also take its own course, totally outwith anybody's control.

I passionately HATE judgmentalism, pigeon-holing and intolerance.

You are you.
I am I.

I cannot stand by and let somebody run themselves into the ground. Aye, we all got our own little faults, good god, I've got more than I care to think about.

If somebody doesn't like me - I cannot be bovvered. Life's too short.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Photobucket

I have noticed that a large number of pictures in the sidebar of this blog have been replaced by a notice from the picture hosting site photobucket to upgrade to paid hosting for my images. That is not going to happen, and I shall endeavour to move the images to my regular picture hoster, Flickr.com. A lot more user friendly, and free in principle

Monday, 12 June 2017

Monday 12 June

As I type this, just before 9pm, a thin rain is falling on Stornoway. It is very changeable at the moment, and not all that warm. Nonetheless, in recent days I have been able to venture forth outside of town. Yesterday, I accompanied two people to the beaches of Gress, Tolsta and Garry. Last week saw me on a 115 mile trip to Harris (and back). The island retains its beauty in all weathers.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tuesday 6 June

73 years ago, the D-Day landings (Operation Neptune) were underway on four beaches in Normandy, France. It was the beginning of the end of the Second World War in Western Europe. The turning point in the east had come more than a year before, when the forces of Nazi Germany were defeated at Stalingrad, the present-day Volgograd. Originally, D-Day was to have been on June 5th, but the weather was unfavourable. Also, a decoy operation had been put in place to lure the Nazi German forces into thinking that an Allied invasion would occur near Calais. Although the invasion marked the beginning of the end, war was to continue to another 11 months in Europe and 14 months in Asia.

We remember all those who laid down their lives in the defense of freedom in Europe.

Monday 5 June

It is now nearly a fortnight since I returned to Stornoway, after a three-month absence. Much has changed, and yet so little. The town looks the same it did in February, except spring has arrived, and leaves and flowers are out. The nights are short and light, with daylight remaining along the northern horizon between midnight and 3 am, the darkest hours of the day.

P6027640

Just before I left Holland, news emerged of a terrorist attack on a pop concert in Manchester. 22 people, mainly teenagers and children, were killed. Among them was a 14-year old girl from Barra, Eilidh Macleod. Her body was repatriated yesterday, and her funeral was held today. Barra was at a standstill, and most of the islanders were to be found in or around the church in Castlebay. Eilidh was laid to rest in Vatersay, adjacent to Barra, where she was born.
I did not know Eilidh, or her family. I was deeply touched and saddened by the senseless loss of life, perhaps even more so because it involved young people, teenagers and younger. A following attack in London, last Saturday, was equally atrocious. But this loss, to such a small community, was almost unbearable. It certainly was to the islanders.

May she rest in peace. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

13 years ago this week

By the end of this week, it will be thirteen years since I put that CD-ROM into my aging PC and proceeded to install the AOL software. A PCMCIA-card enabled the access to the phone network, and my dial-up connection was up and running. My computer was so old that it was only able to manage access to AOL chatrooms, not much else. AOL chatrooms were a bruising experience, partly as a result of it being a hotbed for right-wing extremism in England. I think I have one contact left from that time. Eighteen months later, I discovered AOL journals and its J-land community. That was lovely caring and sharing community, which only lasted another three years. AOL then closed it down, not even archiving the blogs - we had to transfer them to Blogger. Although I have 70 blog sites (mostly to do with local history in the Scottish islands), I rarely blog anymore. What J-landers are left on-line mostly communicate through Facebook. Not ideal either, lengthy posts like this are a pain, and no formatting. Nonetheless, J-land continues, with the trials of life and (as we saw yesterday) death of its members. I hope it carries on for a lot longer than the 5 years it had on AOHell.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Turk and the Czar - continued

This is an extension to a post I first wrote on The Shell Gallery blog 6 days ago. 

Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan. A dangerous mix, which puts Europe in mortal danger. On April 16th, the Turks will vote in a referendum to afford the Turkish presidents sweeping powers which would turn his presidency into an autocracy. Erdogan is pulling out all the stops to get the diaspora to vote as well, some 5 million strong. His ministers are travelling the length and breadth of Europe - and we saw what happened in Rotterdam. It was thoroughly disconcerting to see the mass of flag-waving Turks in the city, turning to rioting when their minister was sent away. And some militants claiming that the city of Rotterdam will soon be theirs.

It has been suggested that Erdogan wishes to reinstate the Caliphate, which ruled Turkey until 1924. He could just as easily wish to reinstate the Ottoman Empire, which (at one point) reached as far as Vienna in the 17th century. What does that remind you of?

Vladimir Putin. He wishes to reinstate the Russian Federation to within the borders of the old USSR, abolished in 1991. He also wishes to extend his sway to the whole of Europe, made easier by US president Donald Trump. He is not too bothered about Europe, and Putin knows that.

If Erdogan gets his new powers, he could just as easily foment trouble in the Turkish communities in Europe, setting off civil unrest if not worse. Erdogan could cancel the migrant deal, that has stopped the flow of migrants from Syria and other places across the Aegean Sea into Greece and the EU. Hundreds of thousands would come across, causing further instability in Europe. And, with Donald Trump not really minding what happens in Europe, Vladimir Putin could march in to restore stability on Russia's borders. In Ukraine. In Poland. In Germany. In Holland. In the United Kingdom, where Brexit will loosen the ties to continental Europe, where Sturgeon's Scotland seeks to secede.

Why does Putin have this chance, you may well ask. Because after the abortive coup in Ankara in July last year, Western leaders were very reluctant to congratulate him. The Dutch foreign ministerwas actually among the first to call his Turkish counterpart at the time. So, Putin saw his chance. It is often argued that Turkey has so much to lose in a conflict with Europe. Erdogan may calculate that he has more to gain through being Putin's puppet than through being in NATO or friendly with the EU.

There is one other angle on this. If there is conflict between Europe and Turkey, this also means a schism in the NATO alliance. Should this really come to pass, then Putin will have achieved his aims. We should be very worried - if Erdogan gets the majority of Turks to vote Evet. Yes.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Band of Bloggers

It is 8½ years since I started to blog in Atlantic Lines. I opened this journal to carry on after AOL pulled the plug on J-land. That was a community of bloggers, which tried to make a go of it here on Blogger, but ended up on Facebook.

One of their number, Sugar Lewis, has announced that she will close her Facebook account. Sugar has provided me with most of the tags on a memorial journal, commemorating those of us who passed away. Sugar, an ordained minister, has been battling ill health for a long time, and often shared the joys and woes of her furrs. She will now retire from the internet. Sugar, you will be missed.







 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Monday 20 February

I am travelling to Holland today, to spend some time with family. I hope to be able to return to Stornoway in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Wednesday 8 February

A brilliantly sunny day, but a keen southeasterly wind made it feel cold in exposed areas. Went on a walk to Lews Castle, and had another look inside.

P2086260 P2086254 P2086249 P2086248  P2086246 P2086242  P2086237 P2086235 P2086230 P2086229  P2086227 P2086224 P2086218 P2086216 P2086211P2086209 P2086206 P2086203 P2086198

Brexit and Scexit - 9 February

Parliament in Westminster is approving the legislation that will enable Prime Minister Theresa May to commence the process for the UK to leave the EU. I find the utterances of the Scottish Government on this issue totally irrelevant. Foreign Affairs and Trade are matters that are not devolved to Holyrood (the Scottish Government), and Brexit can therefore not be halted by the devolved administrations. I would expect them to be consulted, but a special deal for Scotland is simply not on the cards. Scotland is an integral part of the United Kingdom. The "threat" to organise another independence referendum is slightly hollow, as such a referendum has first to be sanctioned by (you guessed it) the UK government.

I just wished the Scottish Government devoted its considerable energies to addressing those problems in Scotland for which they have the powers to address. Banging on about independence is getting very, very tiring.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Trump - 6 February

Since President Trump came into office, just over two weeks ago, his decree on immigration has stirred up a storm of controversy. In my postings on Facebook, I have attempted to formulate a balanced opinion on this issue. That is proving to be difficult, particularly with the strong emotions at play, emotions which resound here in Europe. In a BBC report this morning regarding the on-going battle between the President and his judiciary, one line stood out.
Public opinion on this issue is sharply divided
When a controversial figure like Trump becomes popular and gets voted into office, the first question to be answered is WHY. It almost always signals that there is an issue in society which the previous administration has failed to deal with adequately, or that a large section of society feels is not being dealt with properly. Immigration has become such an issue, and not just in America, by the way.

The illegal immigration from Latin America is something that Trump thinks he can stop in its tracks by building a wall along the Mexican border. That, many people feel, would be a way of dealing with that problem. Legitimising the many 'latinos' in the USA is not held as acceptable, and there is a lot of irritation in the USA, as I understand it, about the multi-lingual options on government phonelines.

The second aspect of immigration is intermingled with the Muslim contingent of migrants or refugees (lumped together in one category by many). Since the 9/11 attacks on the WTC in New York, there has been a lot of hostility against Muslims in the USA - and this is what I mean by high emotions - and not just in the USA. Every time there is another terrorist attack, claimed by people who say (!) they're Muslims, the flames of hostility are fanned. Trump's edict against immigration from certain Muslim countries is designed to allay those fears.

The president feels that his loud protestations that he is acting in the best interests of national security justify all means and methods. The judiciary see fit to disagree.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Friday 3 February

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A day of strong winds, which abated through the afternoon.