Sunday 11/02/07

A very late start to the day, but at least the wind has dropped. Watch the Landward program on BBC1 at 11.30 a.m., which is full of bull. Indeed, the bull sales are on at the auction mart in Perth. Some of them fetch 17,000 guineas, that's £17,850. One guinea = £1.05. The ferry comes in at 2.45pm, unusually for a Sunday, after it had to stay overnight in Ullapool. The website for HMS Timbertown has now been updated, and I'd recommend it for review. It is cloudy today with a bit of sunshine. Supper tonight is spaghetti bolognese. During the evening, I host the J-land chat, which was an absolute hoot.

Saturday 10/02/07

The day started with the Coastguard helicopter flying slowly over Goat Island at low level. It is very windy, an easterly wind force 6 to 8, which makes the 4C feel even colder. Big hoohah about turkeys from the farm in Suffolk, where birdflu was found, entering the food chain. The sea looks very choppy, bearing in mind it's an on-shore wind. Head for the shop to get a few bits and pieces, but the wind is absolutely freezing cold. Dinner tonight is a microwaveable chicken tikki massala. Watch some TV and win nothing on the lottery. David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, is criticised for not denying or admitting to taking cannabis whilst a teenage student at Eton. He says it's a private matter. Up to a point.

Friday 09/02/07

Been making late starts this week, and today is no exception. The weather is nice but cold. Ian Richardson, the actor who played the lead role in "House of Cards", a political thriller, in 1990 has died. The birds have discovered the feeders, and like last year the starlings are ruling the roost. Go into town just before 4 to get a few things for mrs B. It's fairly quiet in the streets. Review the AOL Journals Alerts before sitting down for supper: pork fillets with vegetables and apple sauce. Mors snow in England, but none expected up here. Cyclone Enok has popped up in the wake of Dora, which is drifting into the Southern Ocean. Here in the islands, the wind picks up during the evening.

Thursday 08/02/07

Fair bit of local news today [see entries made on the day]. The weather is quite pleasant if cold, 5C, in contrast to the 10 cm / 4 inches of snow in England and Wales. It causes a lot of disruption on the roads, railways and in airports. A couple of thousand schools are closed. Up here, the council aims to relocate the landing of oil and gas to Glumag Harbour. The Environmental Services committee of the Council has decided to back the windfarm for North Lewis. Nip out for a bit of shopping, including the weekly papers. Mrs B and I hang up the birdfeeders in the backgarden, but the wind gets very cold. Some of the seeds end up on the ground after one of the feeders falls apart. Supper is fishfingers and chips.

Wednesday 07/02/07

Cold night, which saw the moon out very brightly. At the moment, the sun rises at 8.15 a.m. and set at 5pm, which means we've gained 2½ hours of daylight since Christmas. A layer of ice, 3mm thick, sits in a watering can outside, bearing out the overnight low of -2C. A chemicals tanker, the Keewhit, sits stationary off Holm Point for a few hours, until she sails off at 3.30pm. AIS stated her destination as Stornoway, but she did not dock. Snow is set to affect England overnight. Mrs B and myself hang out birdfeeders, because the ground is now frozen. Supper is chicken curry. Watch an interesting program on the cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia, which happened in 1883. This killed 36,000 people in tsunamis up to 30 metres (100 feet high), which reached as far as the English Channel. Flows of ash which had a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius scorched the neighbouring coasts of the islands of Java and Sumatra. The soundwave of the explosion of Krakatoa was the loudest noise in recorded history, and circled the world seven times. The ash and fumes from Krakatoa caused a temporary reduction in temperatures around the world, for more than 20 years. They created weird optical phenomena, such as green sunsets. I rate it as the worst natural disaster in written history.

Tuesday 06/02/07

Fair layer of snow on the ground by sunrise, and temperatures around freezing. As the sun gets to work, only the snow in the shade remains, indication of the cold weather. Maximum temps 5C today. I go to the shop for the usual and make supper. After nightfall, the mercury nosedives again. In the Indian Ocean, Dora hangs on as a tropical storm, and northern Australia copes with cyclone Nelson. A vet who worked on the turkey farm in Suffolk where 160,000 birds had to be culled because of bird flu falls ill, but not with that particular ailment. I noticed a large increase in attendance at my tropical cyclones blog, particularly from Mauritius and Bulgaria. I eked out the chappy from Bulgaria by inviting all readers to sign the guestbook. Mauritius is in the firing line from Dora, but she's too far away.

Monday 05/02/07

Monday dawns cold with the odd shower. There are moves afoot to extend the Cairngorms National Park southwards into Perthshire. Snow affects roads in Aberdeenshire. In the southern hemisphere, the hurricane season continues apace. Up here, it's just plain cold: +3C. Later in the afternoon, the rain turns to sleet and snow. It's not nice going outside, and a sleetshower catches me on the way back. After supper, soup with rolls, snow falls and leaves 1 cm / ½ inch on the ground. Temperature sinks towards freezing by 10pm.

Sunday 04/02/07

Another reasonably nice day, but the temperatures are taking a tumble. Our long-stay guest has to return home, South Uist, to attend to the funeral of a relative. Now that the full moon is past, the Chinese are celebrating their New Year. It'll be the Year of the Pig. Over in America, they're getting ready for the Superbowl. In the north and centre of the US, temperatures are falling to between -15 and -20C - in the daytime. Down here, we have two light hailshowers during the evening. I spend the afternoon uploading 1,400 pictures to FlickR, which leaves me with a wee job in terms of annotation. Mrs B cooks me a nice dinner, in the shape of a Greek pastabake.

Saturday 03/02/07

Quite a nice day, in spite of an increase in cloud. Am horrified to learn that a policeman was killed at a football match in Sicily last night. All football matches in the whole of Italy are postponed indefinitely. H5N1 birdflu has struck a turkeyfarm in Suffolk, and 160,000 birds have to be culled. Exclusion zones are set up around the place, which employs 2,000. The carcasses will be destroyed at a plant in Staffordshire, 200 miles away. The Indian Ocean has a category 4 hurricane; northern Australia is threatened by two developing systems. Head into town for the papers and find the centre bombed out with kids. Supper tonight is chicken tikka massala for me and a chicken madras for mrs B, accompanied by a glass of Rivaner Black Tower wine.

Friday 02/02/07

Wake up to blue skies, which makes for a pleasant change. A teenager was killed on a level crossing west of Invergordon this morning, when his car slammed into the early morning train from Inverness to Wick. Two others in the vehicle were injured. In Russia, snow fell which was yellow in colour, oily to the touch and foul by smell. I go out for a walk round the Creed. I need to check my Walkingworld walk, revise the instructions and take new pictures. It's a pleasantly cool day, with the sun giving no warmth. The sun is low in the sky; combined with the pale greens that abound makes a strange hue. A tree that fell along the path in the 2005 hurricane is now reduced to just a stump. Gorse is in flower, a full 4 weeks earlier than last year. Pop into Somerfields on the way back to get the necessary. Mrs B is also out shopping and she returns at sunset (first pic above) at 5.30pm. Spend the evening watching rubbish on TV.

Thursday 01/02/07

Cloudy day, with occasional chinks of sunshine, temperatures like yesterday up to 10C. Ferry is its usual 30 minutes late. Rain commences very gradually as I go out for the papers. A new monthly paper is out with a lot of features on regional news. A ferocious debate is raging about the statement by the RSPB that the number of jobs that the proposed windfarm would bring is lower than suggested by the developer - 70 rather than 233. The Free Press is strangely all in favour of the windfarms, even though 90% of the people in the island are against. However, its founder, Brian Wilson, has a stake in the energy industry. The motto of the Free Press is "The Land, The Culture, The People". Well, I've written a letter to them before now, saying that they're betraying their own principles. They even published it! The row continues about air traffic controllers at the airport. Just before 8pm, we observe a virtual black-out for 5 minutes to draw attention to climate change. It rains through the evening, but there is not much wind.

Wednesday 31/01/07

Today, a report was published of the findings into the causes of the sinking of the fishingboat The Brothers off Skye last June. Fatigue was quoted as the main contributory factor. Very misty and grey today, totally uninspiring. Head for the shop to get the necessary in. A couple got arrested in Bo'ness on the River Forth west of Edinburgh for the supply of base materials for the production of metamphetamine to the USA. Red phosphorus and iodine crystals are freely available in the UK, but their supply is outlawed in the US. There was also the story of the orcas in the Firth of Forth, eating seals under the Forth Rail Bridge. The report showed our tanker, the Border Heather, steaming upriver towards Grangemouth. Cyclone Dora is intensifying in the Indian Ocean, but is 750 miles from the nearest land. Of more concern is a developing cyclone east of Darwin, Australia. Whilst browsing the Net, I read the weather report from Oimyakon, Russia, which has an average temperature of -50C during the winter months.

Tuesday 30/01/07

Not a nice day, strong winds and occasional showers. An announcement is made about a supercasino, which is to be sited in Manchester. Another 16 will be scattered across the UK. Right in the teeth of the near gale, workmen are on the roof of the Coastguard Station. Head into town at 2.45, just as the Clansman departs for Ullapool. I nip into the library, to look for a birdbook - with reference to the bird pictured in the entry for last Friday, 26 January. This week will see roadshows across the island about the proposed windfarm. The announcer on Isles FM is incapable of pronouncing the name of the village Airidhantuim - you've got to know that it's "Aree-an-hime" - and founders in a shower of giggles. Spend the evening watching Forensic Detectives.

Monday 29/01/07

Our guests left on the 7.15 am ferry, as of today operated by MV Clansman. I rise at 8 am, when it isn't even properly light yet. Isles FM tells us there is no news from the island. No? How about a car crash near the airport which injured 5? Was mentioned on Radio Scotland at 7.50. The installation of new seating and lighting at the ferry terminal was news to Isles FM. Oh dear. Our haulage ferry, MV Muirneag, comes in at 9 o'clock. Mrs B goes to Somerfields for some early shopping. The Border Heather is on its way in, according to AIS; I spot the MV Isle of Lewis in dry dock in Birkenhead on the same system. Nip into town myself at 2.30pm for papers, computer magazine and a new notebook. Won't be needing that for a little while yet. Currently at page 1470, and still have about 35 pages left in it. The webcam has had more than 40,000 visitors since I set it up in December 2005. Go over to Goat Island to picture the boats that have suffered badly in the winter storms. A fishing vessel is up on the slipway. It doesn't get properly dark until 5.30 now. Apart from the odd shower, it's a fairly nice day. On exposed coastlines, like on Goat Island, a cold bwind blows. The Border Heather, our tanker, arrived at 3 o'clock.

Sunday 28/01/07

Very dreich day, with "thin rain" which can soak you right through. The ferry Isle of Lewis has left for Birkenhead for refit, and the Clansman has taken over. Five people died in the one carcrash near Crieff, Perthshire last night. In all, 14 people lost their lives this weekend. A couple arrived on Friday, who had driven up all the way from London to Ullapool, 600 miles. They had left snow in England, but they were surprised at the mild conditions up here. The two are birdwatchers, and they are out at first light on Saturday and Snday. Yesterday saw them at Aird Uig, today was a bit of a flop due to poor visibility. Nonetheless, a golden eagle is a sight not many get to see. Drizzle continued all day, and visibility remained poor. Supper was a medium curry with chicken and rice.

Saturday 27/01/07

Fairly nice day with the odd light shower. Today is Holocaust Memorial day and I dedicate an entry on this blog to that. Tropical cyclones have now disappeared from the South Pacific, but the Indian Ocean is now brewing up something nasty near Diego Garcia. Head to the shop for the last bits and pieces, including papers. Catch up with some photowork on FlickR, which has 4,500 pictures on it to date. A fair number of viewers. Sunset at 4.35pm, but not with the brilliant colours of yesterday. Have steaks, potatoes and carrots for supper. End the evening watching car-crash TV.

Friday 26/01/07

After breakfast, last night's dishes are done. Mrs B heads off for a few appointments in the town. I meanwhile monitor the progress of the gastanker Sigas Laura on AIS, and it duly appears in port at 2.20pm. Mrs B's granddaughter is sick off school and spends the afternoon sleeping in front of the TV. It's a fairly bright day, although high cloud slowly creeps across. Two tropical cyclones have appeared in the South Pacific, but both Zita and Arthur did not stay for long. A trip to Somerfields brings in the remainder of the shopping for the weekend. Supper is chili con carne with sliced peaches.

Thursday 25/01/07

It's Burns night tonight, and mrs B has invited a number of her relatives round for supper. No we don't get haggis, but mince and tatties, as well as neeps and brussels sprouts. After I get the papers in - we may get a miniature railway in Stornoway, between Cuddy Point, the Waterwheel and Cromwell Street Quay, to tempt drivers out of their cars - then assist mrs B in the preparations. The first two guests arrive at 6.30pm, and the third by 7 o'clock. Some Burns poetry is recited in amongst the food, and a couple of songs do the rounds. A lemon torte and a trifle close proceedings foodwise. Spirits keep spirits high afterwards.

Wednesday 24/01/07

Bright day with sunny spells and temperature of 5C / 41F. A fair number of interesting news items, including the stop being put on looting from the cargo of MSC Napoli in Devon. People who don't report that they have retrieved goods washed up on shore are liable for prosecution and a fine, double the value of the goods taken. In the case of the BMW motorbikes, this could add up. The Health Board is still £3m in the red, our ferry services are up for review.
Go out for a walk round town at 3pm. The MV Sava Hill is discharging its cargo of coal. The lorry carting it away are being weighed at the weigbridge near no 2 pier, and they leave a lot of coalmess around. The quayside behind Muirneag is occupied by four black-backed gulls. One of them has caught a fish, but drops it from its beak nearly on to two passers-by. They throw the fish into the sea. Walk on to the Cromwell Street Quay, where a few fishingboats lie tied up. Cross the bridge outside the new YM, and carry on to the Golf Club. The greens look very - green. Pass through the Porter's Lodge to the Coop, where I get the papers and the lottery tickets. Return along Matheson Road and Sandwick Road.

Tuesday 23/01/07

Another dreich day, with occasional rainshowers. Snow in the Highlands caused a MacAskills lorry to jackknife on the A9 south of Inverness. This snow is now headed for England. The scavenging around the Devon shipwreck has greatly reduced after the authorities threaten arrests and prosecution. One family, who were retiring to South Africa, watched their possessions being looted and strewn along the beach. The Health Board has a new chairman, who is/was chairman of An Lanntair. The Health Board were forced by the people of Scalpay to keep open the health centre on that island. It appeared to have been earmarked for closure, as little had been done about its upkeep. The HB thought people could travel to Tarbert to see a doctor and pick up their medicines. No, said Scalpay. Supper consisted of sweet and sour. A cargoship entered port just before 11pm, lighting its way in with its searchlight.

Monday 22/01/07

Bright morning, but hail and sleet showers bear down from the Arctic. Tropical cyclones are developing in the South Pacific, which I'll be keeping an eye on over the next few days. The ferry is late coming in at lunchtime, don't know why. Hop off into town for papers, post-its and some food. Get a computer magazine, which is full of Windows Vista. Mrs B is doing a wholesale clean of the house, whilst I catch up on diary entries for the preceding week. After sunset, the new moon is out. Yesterday's Indonesian earthquake was feared to have caused a tsunami, but nothing happened. The Christmas lights are being taken down in the town centre. Tried out something new for supper: a Mariner's Pie. Quite acceptable.

Sunday 21/01/07

After a late start we have a brunch of bacon and eggs. Catch up with the news, such as the sad case of Molly Campbell, who will now remain with daddy in Pakistan. Her mother thinks she has been influenced by the family over there, and that she is a sad, confused child. Nonetheless, she is unlikely to visit Misbah (Molly's Islamic name) any time soon, because of death threats uttered against her. Mrs Campbell converted to Islam, and converted back to Christianity on the divorce from Sajed. Louise is now concentrating on her young baby daughter Rachel, 6 months old and her partner. Her relationship with that man broke down under the strain of Molly's abduction; Molly didn't like the man to start with. The containership Napoli now lies grounded off the South Devon coast and is shedding its cargo of containers and its fuel oil under a 30 degree list. Supper tonight is pork fillets with potatoes, ratatouille and home-made apple sauce. A blackberry and apple tart topped with custard leaves us well replete. Hail and snow showers clatter down through the evening - it's very cold outside.

Saturday 20/01/07

Carry out some on-line research into the sinking of the fishery protection cruiser Vaila, the results of which feature on a separate entry. Showers pass through, leaving some great cloudscapes. One person died in the Cairngorms yesterday, the fifth to die on Coire an t-Sneachda [as reported separately]. One chap falls 1,000 feet on a mountain near Loch Treig and survives. Sends you wondering whether people are prepared or equipped for the mountains or the conditions on them at all. Today is cold: 4C. Have a microwaveable meal for supper. The lottery yields no gain.

Friday 19/01/07

Weather has turned grey and drizzly. The big storm is now causing havoc in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Big Brother row leads to its inevitable conclusion, with prime culprit Jade Goody booted out. She was met by a deafening silence, and is now fighting for her career. Davina McCall has grown decidedly gaunt and unattractive, in the 3 years that I did not watch Big Brother. I cannot sit out the program, as Jade Goody's voice and utterances grate on my nerves. The forecast for next week is wintery, with a cold northerly blast. All the weekend's shopping is in now, so I just need to nip out to get the papers and lottery tickets. Hop into town for a haircut and some other bits and pieces. Catch up with the week's puzzles from the papers. A new edition is out of Back in the Day, featuring quite a few interesting historical pictures and stories.

Thursday 18/01/07

A major storm is lashing England and Wales, with sustained winds of 45 mph and gusts up to 99 mph at the Needles, Isle of Wight. In total, 13 people lose their lives through the day. The first perished in Shropshire, when a branch fell through his windscreen. A young child is crushed by a 20 ft wall in Manchester. Others are killed by flying debris. A container ship, measuring 62,000 tonnes, gets into difficulties in the Channel when a plate works loose on its hull. The 26 crew abandon ship, and are rescued by the Coastguard. Fifteen lorries are blown over on the country's roads, with one driver being killed. When the storms move across the North Sea, they leave 140,000 people without power. In Holland, winds increase to 55 mph, blowing over a building crane at Utrecht and shutting down the rail network. Six die in the Netherlands; eleven die in Germany, which also sees its railways closed for the first time in their history.
Here in the islands, it's a bright day with only light winds. Went for a walk to the Battery, where I found the new tanks positioned behind the powerstation. Hobble down to Somerfields for the papers. It's not warm at all. Meet Mrs B at the supermarket and carry her shopping home.

Wednesday 17/01/07

Today, the new webcam arrives. Ordered it through Amazon last Thursday, and spend a few hours jiggling about with it. A huge row erupts over Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother. Ignorance and a loud mouth make a poor mixture. It prompts questions in Parliament, and almost a diplomatic incident. The wide load is taken down the street at lunchtime, in the shape of two oil tanks on low loaders. These are so wide that all parked cars have to be removed. The tanks stand more than 20 feet tall. Molly Campbell will be staying with her daddy in Pakistan, after mum gives up the custody fight. Something morally wrong there. Go out shopping at 3.30, and return at 4pm, just before a major downpour. Chat to our guest, who is here on a course at Lews Castle College, related to his job as a marine engineer.

Tuesday 16/01/07

Sunny interlude with a few showers today. It's cold this morning, but at least we have the sun. Ferry came in early this morning, and departed at 8.30. It returns late, at 2pm. During the afternoon, cloud gradually increases on the approach of yet another depression. Winter is promised for next week. The Scot Isles is now unloading its cargo of a large tank onto a trailer. It is a slow process, which would have been impossible yesterday. The lifeboat is hauled up onto the slipway all day. Residents are once again requested to clear the street, but the wide load does not come through. Later in the evening, I go for a walk to the Coastguard Station. As I look around for a place to take a pic, I hear a cat miaow below me, and presently a familiar looking tabby jumps up from the boulders lining the basin. I fuss over it for about 10 minutes, then return.

Monday 15/01/07

Dreadful day, lashing rain, howling gale. The wide load that is due down the street today does not come, too much wind. The new webcam is being despatched today, and it should come within the next few days. Ferry crosses to Ullapool at 7.15, but does not return until 8pm. All services to and within the Outer Hebrides are off. When I go to the shop at 3pm, the winds and rain are abating. One guest was due up from the Berneray ferry, but no such luck. She'll come tomorrow morning. Mrs B gets an acquaintance in to do a few jobs around the house. The ferry leaves port at midnight, taking over from the Muirneag, whose captain is off sick in hospital.

Sunday 14/01/07

Weather not much better than yesterday. A heavy hailshower passes just after midnight, with stones measuring up to 8 mm, 1/3 inch. They take 2 hours to melt. Our guest does not show up until well into the afternoon. Keep a quiet day myself. Things begin to liven up on the weatherfront after nightfall. A gale blows up, with gusts in exccess of 60 mph; up at Eoropie they go at 70 mph. North Rona has sustained winds of 70 mph. Mrs B's son & family call round for their showers in the evening. Supper is a very creditable goulash with rice. Will the ferry be going tomorrow? I have my doubts.

Saturday 13/01/07

Cold, wet and grey today. Do not show my face outside, partially because mrs B has gone out to get my lottery ticket alongside with her own shopping. My paper, the Press & Journal, has not come today. A note is being left in the neighbourhood, advising people to remove their cars from the street on Monday, to allow a wide load to pass to the power station. Sends me wondering how they are going to squeeze through the turn from Seaview Terrace into the Battery, which is an awkward passage. Our guest goes out for the night at 6pm, only to return much the worse for wear after midnight. Weather deteriorates through the evening. Dinner is a microwaveable meal.

Friday 12/01/07

Heavy showers and strong winds, bordering on galeforce. It's binday as well, with the bins all going walkabout in the street. After the binlorry has emptied them, the bins take off. Today is the day that the management of the Galson Estate is taken over by the Galson Trust, a community run body. More than half the landmass of the Western Isles is now in community ownership. AIS shows about 10 fishermen in the Minch. The Jan Maria is discernible off Arnish just after midday, as does the Dirk Diederik. Between 11 and 1, there is a bit of a clearance. The tiling is being finished off today. This week's guest from Skye returns home - via Inverness strangely enough. The Lochmaddy to Uig ferry couldn't dock in Skye, so she ends up sheltering in Tarbert, Harris. Two days ago, our long term guest returned after the Christmas break. At 3.45, we have a powercut, which brings out candles and paraffin lamps. Electricity is restored after 10 or 15 minutes. Candles are not easily obtained, as they were sold out before the winter, when people were preparing for precisely this sort of eventuality. The Stornoway Gazette, only in today, contains a letter from a resident complaining bitterly about people racing the streets in their souped-up cars. His daughter's cat was knocked down and killed, leaving kids in the street to discover the mess left behind. The powercut leaves Isles FM off air for more than an hour. The powerstation at the Battery is fired up, and our supplies continue uninterrupted.

Thursday 11/01/07

Thunder and hailshowers carry on through the night. The strong winds shift to the south of the UK, with winds of 50 mph up here. A brief powercut occurs at 10.30 am. Today is the 2nd anniversary of the deadly hurricane, which took 5 lives in the Uists. Both the local council and the Scottish Executive are accused of dragging their feet over the necessary maintenance work on the roads. My webcam has stopped working properly, as it no longer focuses. Severe squalls blow over the basin, carrying spray with it. The Harvest Caroline went out to Loch Erisort, 10 miles to the south, but quickly returned to Stornoway. Afternoon continues savage, with severe squalls continuing to blow spray over the basin. Go out to the Coastguard Station and try to take a few pics. The force 9 winds makes it difficult to walk. Head for Somerfields for papers. Get pelted with hailstones, which is painful on the very strong wind. Mrs B and myself are taken on a tour of the town and out to the Braighe. The weather caused much disruption and because the ferry was off all day, Calmac are running an extra sailing to Ullapool overnight. Trees and lorries get blown down. A comet is reportedly visible after sunset, but clouds shroud the horizon. Gusts here in Stornoway reach 75 mph at 4pm. In the evening, a cargoship carrying fertiliser loses power and drifts towards a gas platform 90 miles east off Hull. Winds of 55 knots lash the North Sea as the crew of the platform is evacuated. The engine of the stricken freighter is restarted in time to avert a disaster.

Wednesday 10/01/07

Sunny day, although quite cold, with temperatures only at 4C. High cloud moves across after 2pm, and the wind picks up as I go to the shop by 3.30. A fishing-boat is in trouble off Cape Wrath. The coastguard helicopter has dropped off pumps, as she is taking on water. The lifeboat from Thurso is standing by, as is the coastguard team from Durness, ashore. The Molly Campbell case returns to the news, with the mother now giving up the battle to gain legal custody of her child. She wants access to the girl. One of Mrs B's kitchen walls is being tiled by her brother-in-law. He is a retired joiner, and slaps on 125 tiles within 4 hours. He'll finish the grouting tomorrow. Wind increases rapidly after 6pm. The wind increases to severe gale force by 9pm, with gusts in excess of 60mph - it could get up to force 10 or 11 in the night. Fishing boats are shown on AIS, sheltering off Tolsta Head. The Harvest Caroline, a wellboat for fishfarms, comes into port. A large oiltanker, measuring 64,000 tonnes, is seen moving northeast off Skye. The wind dies down after 11pm.

Tuesday 09/01/07

Very wild night, with heavy rain and hail rattling the windows. Wind subsides by morning, as do the showers. A rainbow graces the afternoon skies. Starlings, thrushes and gulls scour the waterlogged backyard. The ferry is off this morning, although there is not much wind left. The Galson Estate will be handed over to the Galson Trust on Friday, following a successful buy-out. The formal handover will take place at Galson Farm, reception at the Linux centre in South Dell and a ceilidh in the Ness Hall. Head out to Somerfields for some shopping, just managing to dodge some showers. Because the ferry was cancelled in the morning, the shop is quite bare. Muirneag is reported on its way in at 5pm. Chili con carne for supper.

Monday 08/01/07

A wet and miserable Monday, which sees mrs B's son return to Glasgow by ferry, bus and train. Monitor the ferry's progress on AIS; also notice the tug Anglian Sovereign heading north past the Shiant Isles, to turn up here at 3.30. She departs shortly afterwards. Nip into Somerfields for some food, and keep otherwise not very busy. During the evening, the wind slowly picks up. Dinner is chicken korma, whilst mrs B has a madras, which is much spicier. Magnus Magnusson, of Matermind fame, died yesterday at the age of 77. Mrs B commences a clear-out of all the old stuff. A row blows up in Orkney after a registrar is forbidden from conducting a same-sex marriage; it can only take place in the islands' capital, Kirkwall. One of the men is the Master of the Queen's Music, and he is so annoyed that he calls for a tourists' boycott of the Orkney. OTT.

Sunday 07/01/07

Rise late, although it looks like a nice day. Mrs B and myself walk down to Somerfields to put the empty bottles in the bottlebank, but it feels cold in the wind. Showers come through on and off. The Arran ferry is shown on AIS, heading for refit in Aberdeen. A fisherman leaves port. A yacht with brown sails follows later, but returns an hour afterwards. Watch some TV through the afternoon, after which mrs B's son turns up with his family, who require the shower - their bathroom is being refurbished. Supper consisted of lemon chicken with rice.

Saturday 06/01/07

Cloudy start to the day, and it looks like rain after 1pm. Once again I stay in, with mrs B and her son doing the shopping. Supper is served at 7pm for mrs B's brother in law, although he is down with a cold. Meal starts with parma ham and melon, followed by roast leg-of-lamb accompanied by vegetables and potatoes. Sweet closes proceedings. We get quite a few yarns out of our guest. During the evening, it is pouring with rain.

Friday 05/01/07

Heavy rain and strong winds lash the night, but by morning, only sunny intervals remain. Heavy showers roll in by afternoon, leaving some nice cloudscapes. No tropical hurricanes left, now that Clovis and Isobel have dissipated. Don't show my face outside, the weather being not all that inviting. Supper today is fried mince, boiled carrots and mashed potatoes. Watch a number of pretty gruesome forensic science programs on Sky. We are being served by a new tanker, the Border Tartan. The usual tanker, Border Heather, is presumably undergoing repairs after it lost power off Wick over Christmas. I get the name from my AIS website. The freighter Yeoman Bridge is seen scuttling up and down regularly with cargoes of sand and rock from the Glen Sanda quarry near Oban. The crew all fell ill in September 2005 off Stornoway. Six required hospital treatment, 33 were treated on board. The waning moon is out late at night.

Thursday 04/01/07

I'll have to stop making a habit of getting up late, it won't do. News comes through of a coach crash near Heathrow airport last night, in which 2 people die - a lady from a town near Dundee, and a Chinese gentleman. More than 35 passengers are injured, out of the total complement of 69. A 9-year old girl, who has a mental age of 3 months, has undergone an operation to arrest her growth and stop her development. Weather is reasonably bright, with distant showers. Head into town this afternoon to get some lightbulbs. Bulbs do not last long on account of powersurges, and two went in the kitchen recently. I also get the Thursday papers and some food for tonight: Savoy Cabbage Special.

Wednesday 03/01/07

Heavy rain and strong winds occur during the morning, leading to the cancellation of the 10.30 ferry from Ullapool, and consequently also the 13.45 sailing from Stornoway. Many other ferry sailings up and down the west coast are also off. The Lewis windfarm will be delayed by at least 7 years as a result of a series of public inquiries into the transmission lines to Inverness and Stirling. Temperatures today about 11C, a lot higher than of late. Finally manage to split the video in three uploadable segments. I also manage to compile the 100 pictures into a video. Dinner is chili con carne.

Tuesday 02/01/07

Having caught up with some sleep, I keep a very quiet day. It's sunny with some high-level cloud. Not warm, only 5C. Head out for shopping around the 3pm mark, which doesn't take long. It's not busy. My usual daily rag, the Press & Journal, has not come on the plane this morning. The only papers within sight are the Glasgow Herald and the Guardian. A nearly full moon rises over the trees opposite the filling station. A French couple knock on the door, looking for a bed, which mrs B has not got to spare. Supper was a cold buffet, using up what was not used over the weekend. Another late night ceilidh, liberally sprinkled with wine, followed until 2.40 a.m.. And try to order a cab after 2 in the morning.

Monday 01/01/07

The year 2007 is brought in with ships' horns blowing in the harbour and the odd pop of firework. We wish each other a happy new year with a glass of champagne. The nations of Romania and Bulgaria join the EU today. Mrs B's son calls in with his kids & wife, and later on we toddle off down the road to visit mrs B's brother-in-law. On return, at 1.30, one of our guests has come down and joins in the celebrations. These carry on until about 5 am, with myself off to bed by 6, the guest at 7.45 and mrs B's son, currently here on holiday, at 11.20. Everybody is present and more or less correct by 2.30pm. The weather outside is showery with occasional hail - it's quite cold, only 4C. Great cloudscapes though. Supper is roast chicken with potatoes and sprouts. BBC4 has a meagre documentary about the Archers, the radio soap I have listened to for nearly 25 years now.