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.