Thursday 01/03/07

Started to make diary entries in book 11 today at page 1507.
Nice sunny start to the day, but there is a threat of showers. Mrs B receives the filters for her cookerhood, so that is fully functioning. Providing the things don’t fall out – one of them got bashed in transit. The ferry is late getting in at lunchtime. The delay may have been due to the articulated lorry carrying hay, which comes every week. The lorry always comes up the back street. I’ve been asked to write a summary of my findings in HMS Timbertown for a book that the webmaster is writing about the English Camp in Groningen, Holland. Go to Somerfields for some shopping and the Thursday papers – which have not yet arrived. The shelves are also a bit bare, but then the lorry for the supermarket still needed to be unloaded. Sunset times are now close on 6pm as we move into the month of Spring. TC Gamede is on its way out, although one ship still reported 57 mph winds nearby.

Wednesday 28/02/07

Better day than yesterday, with good sunny intervals and scattered showers. A pipeband has been told to wear earplugs, because the pipes produce 108 dB of noise, and the snaredrums 122 dB. A baby aged 6 weeks has had to be airlifted from her home in Barra to Glasgow, after her twin brother died of an unidentified illness. A fisherman became unwell off Eigg. His crew sailed the Kestrel to the island, where dr Weldon administered first-aid, until the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter took him to Glasgow. Gamede is receding south from Madagascar, after battering La Reunion for 4 days. The showers here intensify through the afternoon as the weather glass sinks to 960 mabar. During a clearance, I head into town to look up the bibliography for my HMS Timbertown project. The Roll of Honour was published twice, in 1915 and in 1920. It is a sad document to read. I make supper tonight, which is Hotch Potch with beefburgers.

Tuesday 27/02/07

Quite a contrast to yesterday: pouring rain until about 3.30pm, followed by showers and rising wind. Temperatures jumped from 5 to 10C between 2 and 3pm. Gamede is finally on the move again, as the authorities over in La Reunion are blessing their luck. If their island had lain but 200 km to the northwest, they would have had 110 mph winds for 4 days. Don’t think that would have left much standing. Australia needs to watch something nasty bubbling up south of Papua New Guinea. Head out at 2.30pm to see a presentation in the Town Hall. The idea is to create one-way streets, which would free up parking spaces. Kenneth Street as a major thorough-fare? What a disaster. Lewis Street and Keith Street are residential streets as well, and their junctions with James Street are awkward. Watch an episode of Forensic Detectives with mrs B. A boy of 8 weighs 90 kg and he won’t eat anything but junk food. Not good. If his mum can’t stand up to him, well, there’s a problem. Supper was a nice madras with chicken, bit spicey. Quiet evening with nothing worth watching on TV.

Monday 26/02/07

Brilliantly sunny morning, but cloud bubbles up towards lunchtime. This gives rise to an odd shower over Arnish. Lunch was a portion of yesterday’s lasagne, after which I go to the sorting office on Sandwick Road to post a late letter for mrs B. I then take an amble around the older buildings of the Nicolson Institute across the road. The clocktower carries a commemorative plaque above the door, shown in piccies. I walk around the site for pics of other prominent buildings. Continue down Francis Street, where the Western Isles Museum stands, formerly part of the Nicolson as well. Get papers in the Baltic Bookshop (also known as Roddy Smith’s). Report into the Cumbrian railcrash states that a points failure is the most likely cause of the crash – a failure caused by poor maintenance. Smacks of the 2002 Potters Bar crash. The afternoon is cold but fairly bright. Mrs B and I refill the birdfeeders. Later on, temperatures fall to freezing after supper – which was soup and rolls.

Sunday 25/02/07

Grey weather today with occasional rain. Mrs B has a spot of bother when a rubbish sack turns out to be bottomless. The Landward programme on BBC 1 is quite gory and gruesome, talking about docking puppies’ tails and showing a man who collects dead lambs in fields to stuff them. Oh yuk. Gamede is slowly moving away from Mauritius and La Reunion, although the winds only drop down slowly. Rainfall totals exceed 1,000 mm, 40 inches. Folk in Mozambique want to know if Gamede will come their way – no it won’t. The sun comes out a few times, but a cold northerly wind drives down temperatures. Rain also falls now and again. Supper is lasagne. And during the first year, I took 5,700 pics with my camera.

Saturday 24/02/07

The Cumbria traincrash has sadly claimed one life, a lady aged 84. Rescue services had quite a job reaching the stricken train. Helicopters had to fly in to floodlight the scene, local farmers used their tractors to tow fire-engines and ambulances to the crash-site. Passengers were taken to local farms and given cups of tea amidst the cows. Initial reports say that the train appeared to hit something at 95 mph, then it swayed violently before toppling over. Up here, it’s a quiet morning with little wind. A powercut occurred at 3 am. The weather is cloudy with a little drizzle around lunchtime. Mrs B selects 20 out of my 6,300 pictures. I have picked 37 which I have printed off at the photographer’s. Mrs B goes for a flutter on the horses; I stick to the lottery. On La Reunion, an orange and later red alert is declared as cyclone Gamede approaches. Winds up to 125 mph are expected. The stream of viewers on the TC blog continues, and I relay warnings for both Mauritius and La Reunion. Head out for papers and the April edition of a computer magazine – full of Windows Vista. Mrs B entertains a relative this evening.

Friday 23/02/07

Fairly bright if overcast morning. A local engineering business collapsed on Monday, leaving 60 odd people out of work. Outstanding contracts were still being finished. There will be an open day at the Town Hall on Tuesday to view plans for the town centre’s future. There is talk of a one-way system and an increase in parking places. The Health Board has a meeting on the same day about plans for its future services. Now that Favio has gone inland and dissipated in Mozambique, attention shifts to Gamede, bearing down on La Reunion and Mauritius. I spend about an hour collating the info, and notice about 12 hits an hour on the TC blog. Go into the shop to buy the heavier items for mrs B, including lottery tickets for Saturday. Supper is a Spanish omelette, with a sherry trifle after. The ferry comes in at a canter at 7.45pm. My Walking World walks have netted me a small amount of money – apparently, 69 people have downloaded one of my 4 walks on there. The walk to the Iolaire Memorial was the most popular, with 23 downloads. Reports come through at 10 o’clock of a serious derailment in Cumbria. The 1715 train from Euston to Glasgow came off the tracks just north of Kendal. Out of 180 passengers, 48 were hurt, 6 seriously.

Thursday 22/02/07

Rainy and grey to start with. Isles FM announce that a cat, black-and-white with a red collar is missing from Seaview Terrace. Found in Bells Road, two streets away, is a black-and-white cat with a red collar. Oh? To counteract that, they did invite Tomacz Schafernaker for interview, after he cracked the wrong joke, calling the Western Isles “Nowheresville”, which our MP didn’t like. The BBC would not let the poor weatherman speak to our radiostation. Favio makes landfall in Mozambique with winds up to 120 mph. Flooding and damage result. Local officials say that Gamede is due tomorrow morning. That’s incorrect, and I advise the BBC. Threy promptly change the report, which carried this wrong information. Head into town for the papers, and after that the rain ceases and it brightens up. Chili con carne for supper, not much on TV as per usual.

Wednesday 21/02/07

Brilliantly sunny day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. I’m late getting up; the tide is high again. I was told over the weekend that a 9 foot Severn Bore was expected in the Severn Estuary. This is a tidal wave, generated by the rapidly narrowing river and the incoming tide. This was taken from The Severn bore forms somewhat upstream of the Port of Sharpness. The river's estuary has the second largest tidal range in the world — about 15 metres / 50 feet, exceeded only by the Bay of Fundy in Canada. At spring tides, the rising water is funnelled up the estuary into a wave that travels rapidly upstream against the river current; enthusiasts even attempt to surf along on the wave, which can be 2 m high. In 2006, a world record surf was achieved, for the longest-ever 'surf'. Note that the Gloucester Harbour Trustees, as competent harbour authority for this part of the river, explicitly advise against this pastime. Being the onset of the flood tide it is accompanied by a rapid rise in water level which continues for about one and a half hours after the bore has passed. The Severn Bore is a natural example of a self-reinforcing solitary wave or soliton. Mrs B took a phonecall from the wife of a guest who came here twice in the period I’ve been here. He is in his mid 80s and unfortunately suffering from Alzheimers. It would seem that they’ll come over to his native Lewis one final time this spring. He originates from Portvoller in Point. In the afternoon, I go for a walk round to Goat Island. Low tide is at 3.40pm, and seaweed peeps above the water at Goat Island. It’s not possible to cross to Newton Street, as the stream is too deep and strong. I find a scallop clam, and a man is looking for cockles. A plaque has now been placed at Goat Island, commemorating the fact that it was used as a fortress during the occupation by forces loyal to Oliver Cromwell in 1638. The Indian Ocean has spawned its third cyclone – we now have Favio, Gamede and Humba. Favio is moving ashore between Maputo and Beira. Tonight’s supper is a creditable stirfry. Cloud has gradually crept across the sky, and it comes down to rain later.

Tuesday 20/02/07

Fairly overcast day, with another exceptionally high tide in the morning. Found out that TC Favio has done the nasty and turned into a category 4 hurricane. Hope the warnings get through to Mozambique. The freezer went off accidentally, leaving things a bit defrosted. A lot has to be thrown out and the opportunity is taken to defrost the freezer. We decide on the menu for the week, which commences with a stroganoff for tonight. As the afternoon progresses, the weather brightens up and a new moon pops out high in the southwest. My efforts to capture it on camera fail dismally, It is perishingly cold and breezy as I take the pictures outside. It’s still light by 6pm, so we’re now flying in terms of sunset times. In the morning, the sun rises at 7.45.

Monday 19/02/07

A cloudy day dawns, which sees the return of the Isle of Lewis ferry from refit. She comes into port just before 9 am. I go to the shop rather earlier than usual. At midday it was quiet in Somerfields, but the shelves looked a wee bit bare. The Clansman ferry continues to run the Ullapool service for today. It’s cloudy, but not cold. 8C is quite acceptable for February. Favio has now turned into a hurricane, 700 miles east of Maputo. It will pack winds of 85 mph when it strikes land on Thursday. Mrs B’s long-stay guest returns from an absence of 2 weeks, to join us for a bowl of minestrone soup. Also in attendance is one of mrs B’s grandsons with a friend. They have the day off because of the communions. These also occur in November and May. Filming the sparrows, starlings, greenfinches and pigeon doves. Rain and wind is on its way in from the Atlantic. Darkness falls by about 6pm, and a quiet evening follows. Find out on the Net that there are plans afoot to build a tunnel from Stornoway to Ullapool. Really? I think that story got garbled in transit. It should have referred to possible links between Harris and Skye or North Uist and Skye. Found a few interesting blogs which told people’s experiences in Lewis. One was by a German blogger over in Uig, the other by a guy who decided to sleep in his car at Cameron Terrace, using the road verge as his private loo. He kept driving up and down between Carloway and Stornoway, waffling incessantly about the Callanish Stones and for all I know he might still be there, beating the nocturnal trail and weeing in the verges at Leurbost.

Sunday 18/02/07

Quiet day, fairly sunny, but cloud gradually increases. Favio is still about, passing to the south of Madagascar and likely to strike Mozambique with floods, that it is already suffering from. The storm is slowly strengthening, and a category 1 hurricane is not impossible by landfall on Thursday. The MV Isle of Lewis, our regular ferryboat, shows up on AIS off the Calf of Man by 4pm, and off the Mull of Kintyre 5 hours later. She has come out of refit and is haring home at a whopping 20 knots. Anticipated ETA 12.00 tomorrow. She'll probably lay up at Islay or some such place for the night. Supper tonight is the courgette pastabake. Mrs B's son calls round with his family for showers, as his own has not yet been completed. A nice fire keeps us all warm.

Saturday 17/02/07

Nice sunny day, which I start quite late. Hover off into town to buy papers and lottery. Woolies has an unusually long queue, caused by customers checking out awkward goods. With regards to the windfarm, the RSPB say that the windfarm application did not conform to European legislation. Oh dear. The environmental impact study did not refer to the EU Habitat Directive, which applies to large sections of the island. Lewis sports a unique environment in the shape of a 20 ft thick layer of peat which covers the bedrock. Mrs B's nephew calls round late afternoon for a cuppa. Evening meal is a steak with chips and onions which goes down rather well. Lottery? Waste of money.

Friday 16/02/07

Very rough night with gales and rain. The bins are flying down the street in the morning. I nip out between showers to retrieve them. After midday, MV Clansman appears on AIS just off Rubha Reidh lighthouse, on the far side of the Minch, before heading across to Stornoway. The wind drops away to force 6 after lunch, but occasional heavy showers continue to strafe the harbour. Compile another photo video, this time from two walks in Glen Langadale in April 2005. Get some of this weekend's shopping in whilst mrs B gets her own bits & pieces. Supper is lemon chicken and rice.

Thursday 15/02/07

After a very windy night, the gale is blowing through the morning. The ferry is off during the morning, but sails for Ullapool at 4pm. Nip out to the Coastguard Station to have a look at the sea - which is not all that impressive, because the tide is out. Western Isles Council is debating the proposed windfarm and is likely to give consent. Which it does by 18 votes to 8. The wind dies down a little through the afternoon as I go to the shop for papers. It picks up again during the evening and MV Clansman is not coming back tonight.

Wednesday 14/02/07

Valentine's Day starts off on Isles FM with the question: "What special day is today, February 14th? Phone in the answer". Followed by a dedication to a lady in Laxdale who is being wished a happy Valentine's Day. Yeehaa!! It's a brilliantly sunny morning, which mrs B's BIL uses to hang the cookerhood, see result above. It was 4 hours of hard graft getting through the pebbles in the wall's cement. Microsoft issues 20 security patches, none of which apply to Vista. Get papers and food in, including a 2 months' edition of Events. Supper is a very nice stew, with cabbage and potatoes. As the evening wears on, the wind starts to pick up in anticipation of tomorrow's gales. Tropical Cyclone Fabio is bearing down on Mauritius, but with nothing more than tropical storm force.

Tuesday 13/02/07

Another quiet day, although a gale is forecast for Thursday. Tonight, a program will be screened about the Molly Campbell saga, giving the inside story. The Aasheim departed for Glensanda, near Oban, for a cargo of aggregate. Mrs B's BIL called round and he will hang the cookerhood, which has been languishing in a box since arriving last September. Although the sun was out this morning, a shower passes through at 1pm. Places in New York state are buried under 12 feet of snow. A quick nip into the shop for the chilli we'll be having for supper. The documentary I mentioned earlier in this post just showed a sorry family break up, which actually made very bad television. Closure.

Monday 12/02/07

Today dawns quiet with no wind to speak of. The barometer has gone down to 981 mbar, indicating we have a low pressure system sitting overhead. Gales howl down the English Channel, 600 miles to the south. They raged over the Scottish mountain tops over the weekend. This led to 5 rescue missions, which saved 7 people, although 1 did not survive. A sad and mainly avoidable deathtoll. The bulk carrier Aasheim is alongside no 3 pier to deliver a cargo of roadsalt. Go to the supermarket for some bits and pieces and rearrange the birdfeeders, to place one within the line of sight of the kitchenwindow. Tonight's meal is sweet & sour, whilst mrs B has spam on toast.