Lewis Lines introduction

Lewis Lines contains all the diary entries from the former AOL Northern Trip blog. This edition shows the entries for 2006. Northern Trip was discontinued on AOL in October 2008, and moved to this site on Blogger.

The diary is presented in reverse chronological order, but the first entry can be found here.

Saturday 19/05/07

Wind dropped away late last night and the day dawns reasonably bright. Showers commence around midday. It is actually very windy, as I find out when I go out for the papers at 2 o’clock. There is one cyclone around, typhoon Yutu, which is blowing winds of about 110 mph. Speak to old Tom about his travels down to the metropolis of Tarbert, Harris. Share some pics of Ness. He didn’t go there because it’s very windy today. Ness is sadly lacking in amenities and shelter. After supper, we wait for sunset at 10pm, before admiring the conjunction between the Moon and planet Venus. A rainshower at midnight blocks the later stages of the phenomenon. Andrew brings a pal for a sleepover – on the floor.

Friday 18/05/07

A very windy day, with strong winds which gradually increase to galeforce. Heavy rain through the morning, which gives way to sunshine and very heavy showers. It is not very cold, about 12C. Our Australian guest is very worried at the prospect of crossing the Minch in a force 7. Our other guest, a man of 78, is off on the bus for a tour of the Westside. D calls in for a chat, and we have some salmon for lunch. It needs eating. I go into town at 1.50, as I booked the library scanner for 2pm. As I walk up the road, the ferry leaves its berth with its bowdoor not fully closed. The library very kindly allows me 2½ hours, which permits me to scan more than 600 portraits. By evening, some very heavy showers come barrelling through, and the wind reaches a crescendo. During a clearance, just after 8pm, I venture out to the Coastguard Station to take pictures of waves. It’s actually a great sight, but on leaving the seawall I do get a dousing from a playful wave. F’s kids are here to stay until Monday evening, whilst he himself travels down to Norwich to collect a new car.

Thursday 17/05/07

The two horrible women bog off and the 5-nighter goes to Uig on the postbus. By the time his bus is due, 12 noon, the rain starts. Another guest turns up from Australia. He has been round the Westside, determined to take a better look than in 1989, when he had one look at Stornoway and hopped on the ferry. Finish the transcription project in the library, but book time for the scanner tomorrow, when I hope to have some pictures in. There is a steady drizzle when I leave the library at 4pm. Tonight’s supper is sweet and sour. Although there is a clearance around 7pm, it clouds over and the drizzle starts again at 9pm. Two tropical cyclones around: Yutu in the western Pacific and Pierre in the South Pacific, off Papua New Guinea.

Wednesday 16/05/07

Arose a bit earlier than normal, at 9 am. Had a panick when I tried to take a picture of the Alexander von Humboldt cruiseliner. I could not focus the camera. Went through the entire rigmarole of finding out repairs, arranging for it to go back to the shop where it was bought – only to discover that it was on a setting which did not allow me to zoom. Weather pretty wet and awful. One guest arrived on the midday ferry. Two others were already in the island and behaved as if they left their wits at home. How do you open a sliding door? Sit outside in your car, ring the house and ask for it to be opened. Next thing, I play the keyboard at 8.45pm, and they come down in their pyjamas to complain they cannot sleep. Cripes. Anyway, went to the library to process more of the 1,200 names. It is very busy there with people wanting to use the internet for free to research their genealogy. Trying to pinpoint a Donald Mcleod from Stornoway is a very tall order though. Mrs B prepares a very nice lamb roast for supper.

Tuesday 15/05/07

Quiet day, but overcast and quite cool. Drop into a Radio Scotland news bulletin, which mentions a school where exams were disrupted by an infestation of ants. When I go into town, I find Russian cruiseliner Professor Multanovskiy tied up. This ship cruises the Arctic, and is due to leave for Iceland. Continue my mission of cross-referencing the plaques at the War Memorial with the Roll of honour. I do two hours a day at the library. A lady asks the librarian to act as a doctor, by asking her to put her symptoms into the computer. You get all sorts in there. Pop into Somerfields on the way back for the usual. We’re having a ready meal for supper.

Monday 14/05/07

The weather takes a turn for the worse, with heavy showers after midday. I find out that the 1886 Napier Commission Report is available on the Web. This historical document lay at the foundation of major landreforms from 1886 onwards. It encompasses 4,000 pages, interviews with hundreds of people from all parts of the north and west of Scotland. After Mrs B goes out for shopping, 3 new guests arrive – one is fast becoming a regular. He is a music tutor. Having printed out the transcript from the War Memorial, I sit in the library for two hours to match it with the Roll of Honour to find addresses. Manage a success rate of 70% for Point. Dinner is some of Saturday’s lasagne. Heard of a man whose plans to build a house in Lewis are in the bin, once he discovers what the view with windturbines looks like. The evening turns out sunny with cumulus clouds. Another tropical cyclone forms in the Bay of Bengal, to make straight for Bangladesh. The Regional centre in Delhi issues a warning over Akash, which will strike land as a category 1 hurricane. Spend the evening watching a performance of the Barber of Seville, a famous opera by Rossini, lasting nearly 3 hours.

Sunday 13/05/07

A late start, after which I continue to upload pictures. I also carry on transcribing the plaques at the War Memorial – strenuous on the eyes. Weather is sunny but not warm. Temperatures have risen slightly. Madeleine McCann, now aged 4, remains missing in the Portuguese Algarve, for the 10th day running. She was left alone in her parents’ holiday apartment, with two twin baby brothers. Her mum and dad went out for the night – to find her gone upon their return. An award of £2.5m has been sponsored by several public figures in the UK. No word of Madeleine. Neither of BBC man Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza 8 weeks ago by an Al Qa’eda affiliated group. Supper is a very nice stew with rice. An American guest arrives, who has spent a few days in the islands. She knows the Scottish islands, and will leave on the early ferry to make for Dornie, near Kyle, to explore Kintail on foot.

Saturday 12/05/07

Fairly sunny start to the day. What also started early in the morning was the cruiseliner season. The Arielle, built in 1971, lies anchored off the lighthouse. Our Dutch guests consult me on their onward journey, which will take them through Skye to Kyle. There, they will pick up a train to Inverness, expected time of arrival there 7.20pm. Advised them to arrange their accommodation at Kyle, as the TIC in Inverness closes at 6pm. A daytrip to Orkney is not possible until June 2nd. I go into town after 10 o’clock to take pictures of the Arielle and the second liner, the Explorer. This lies tied up along the side of pier no 3, with no discernible activity on board. The Arielle ferries many of her 900 passengers ashore in tenders. No coaches are ready for them, so Stornoway is jampacked with anoraks. Several light showers com by, but on the whole, it’s a reasonably nice day. Upload all the picture of last week’s journeys which takes quite some time. Supper is lasagne. The Arielle departs for Tobermory at 8.10pm. Sun sets 90 minutes later, but there is still light in the north at 11pm.

Friday 11/05/07

One guest goes off on the 7.15 am ferry, after being out for pictures around Harris yesterday. The Dutch folk head off on the 10.30 bus to Ness to return late in the afternoon. It is bitterly cold today, although the mercury reaches 9C, actually warmer than yesterday. The sun does come out, which takes the edge off the cold. Nip out to Somerfields for some goodies on behalf of mrs B. Dinner is a medium curry with rice. Spend several hours transcribing pictures of the plaques at the Lewis War Memorial to an Excel file. More than 1,500 names of those fallen for King and Country between 1914 and 1919, and between 1939 and 1945. Have to enhance some of the pictures to render them legible on the screen, and transcription is not easy. The sun sets in a blaze of gold at 9.30, so I can’t resist nipping over the Coastguard Station to take some pictures.

Thursday 10/05/07

Today starts wet, initially windy, and cold. Tony Blair finally announces he will quit as prime minister on June 27th. A couple from Holland arrive on the ferry at lunchtime, with some fiendishly heavy luggage. They are disappointed in the weather, as they had expected sunshine. Send them to Callanish on the bus at 2.30, whilst the rain continues. Nip down to the shop for food and papers. A new edition of Back in the Day has come out, with another collection of old news from decades gone by. The Dutch couple return in early evening, and come to ask me for advice which I’m only too happy to give. They’ll probably be walking around Ness tomorrow. Bus service here is pretty good, but combining Ness and Westside is too much to ask. Continue to catch up with Internet activities, such as the uploading of pictures. Subtropical depression Andrea, the first of the Atlantic season, is stuttering around Florida.

Wednesday 09/05/07

Bit of a funny day in terms of weather. Dark clouds loom to the north, and west , but there is no rain. A subtropical storm lashes the Atlantic, east of Floriday. Rise at 11, and get up to date with Internet activities. The PC needs updates on all major programs, such as Windows XP, Java, Quicktime and AVG. Mrs B’s bookings by email get sorted, and by evening everything seems to be back to normal. High winds over the weekend have burned the young leaves on the trees. F’s boys and their mates found themselves in the caravan at Reef, bothered by gales on Saturday. Ten people were in that caravan at one point. The shop is empty at 5pm. Come across D on return, and hear his latest tale of woe at the organisational incompetence of the local NHS. Dinner was a prawn, pasta and tomatosauce dish. Sunset tonight at 9.30pm. No winnings on the lottery.

Tuesday 08/05/07

Today, our visit to Glasgow comes to an end. We take the subway to Queen Street station, and buy papers, sweets and water. The train leaves at 10.10. Although the cloud persists over Glasgow, the sun comes out over Stirling. Mrs B is trying out the mobile phone she bought at Rothesay yesterday – what is that noise in my bag? – as we reach Perth at 11.15. The Highlands close in after Dunkeld, and we traverse the lonely hills up to Drummochter beyond Blair Atholl. The railway is close to the A9, the 110 mile highway between Perth and Inverness. The train calls at Dalwhinnie, which is a tiny hamlet at the northern end of Loch Ericht, a 13 mile body of water, stretching southwest past the foot of Ben Alder. We pass Newtonmore station to stop at Kingussie. There are still flecks of snow on the mountains, particularly on the Cairngorms at Aviemore. Unfortunately, the battery on my camera runs down after Carrbridge, so I’m very limited in the number of pictures I can take. Arrive at Inverness just after 1.30pm. Mrs B goes to M&S whilst I wait at the bus station. The bus to Ullapool is due to depart at 2.35, but the double-decker coach does not pull in until shortly beforehand. It also departs from a different stance from the one on the board. Once on the coach, it duly leaves and has a struggle to leave Inverness. Showers start as we join the A835 towards Ullapool. A gentleman who appears to reside somewhere in Ness, but sounds quite English, pontificates to an American tourist, and gets it all wrong. He calls Loch Glascarnoch Loch Broom, and expects to pass a dam when we have already passed said dam. One passengers jumps off half a mile past Aultguish. We arrive into sunny Ullapool at 3.50, which leaves us some time to explore. I go to a Woollen Mill to buy a new fleece. Embark the ferry at 4.45, which leaves for Stornoway at 5.12. The first part of the journey goes down Loch Broom. We appear to hold pretty far south, and as we issue into the Minch proper, after 6pm, the northernly swell kicks in – a good 5 to 7 feet. The west coast slowly recedes as we make our way west amidst sheerwaters and minke whales. The captain asks for a doctor or a nurse on board to come forward. The islands of Lewis and Harris are wreathed in cloud and mist. Only the Shiants stand out, far south. Arrive past Point and Arnish, to dock at Stornoway at the usual time of 8pm. It is very cold, and there is evidence of recent rain. After our baggage is offloaded, Linda gives us a lift home. It is very cold in the house, as the central heating has been off all week. Have a late supper and an early night.

Monday 07/05/07

Mayday Bank Holiday, and day 1,000 of Northern Trip.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse, and we hurriedly hare down the M8 towards Wemyss Bay to catch the 11 am ferry to Rothesay. We make it in the nick of time. The journey down the M8/A8 is uninteresting, apart from the views across the River Clyde. The brand new Rothesay ferry, MV Argyle, takes us to Bute in 35 minutes. On the way over, it starts to rain. The Argyle sails past Toward Lighthouse, with views down the Ayrshire coast – adorned with wind turbines. Heavy showers obscure the views to Loch Striven in the north and Arran in the west. We dock at Rothesay at 11.40. We drive up to Rothesay Castle, where we visit an art gallery. Right. After that, we head down to Kilchattan in pouring rain. Lunch is taken at the hotel, but it charges exorbitant prices, such as £3.50 for a bowl of soup or a cheese sandwich, or £7 for fish and chips. By 2.45, the clouds break and the sun comes out. Alison takes us round some of the sights in the south of Bute, but it’s not as impressive as Arran, some miles to the west. Return to Rothesay at 4.20, where we’re left to our own devices for 40 minutes. Mrs B buys a new mobile. We rejoin A at the Discovery Centre (Tourist Information Office). She takes us to her flat on the outskirts of Rothesay to meet her mum, aged 87. A’s flat is adorned by severely paled furniture, scratched by a cat. Have some fun playing the piano and accompanying our hostess as she sings. Leave for the ferry at 6.30, a bit shocked at the pokey wee rooms. Sad. The ferry, MV Isle of Bute, departs at 7pm, leaving behind a town that used to be a well-known holiday haunt for Glaswegians in days gone by. Rothesay boasts of its glorious past, but only has a pallid reflection of that past left. Return to Wemyss Bay at 7.40, race for the train (£5 single to Glasgow) which takes us back to the city in an hour. Train stops at every post. Weather remains wet. A very sickly looking sun sets over the Clyde at 8.45. We have dinner at an Indian restaurant on Park Road. I have a huge korma. Upon reemerging into the street, a vile stench fills the street. We nip into the pub, but I have to decline any drinks – I’m stuffed. Meet some more of Mrs B’s grandsons.

Sunday 06/05/07

The weather has now broken, and the day starts with hail clattering against the windows. Sunny intervals also occur, but it has turned markedly cooler. We go for a walk along the River Kelvin to Kibble Palace and the Botanical Gardens. It is very green along the river banks. We pass the remains of a flintworks, which was used for making glass and china. A duck swims upriver with no fewer than 10 ducklings in tow. At the pedestrian bridge by Queen Margaret Drive, two squirrels approach, looking as if they might climb up our legs. Visit the Kibble Palace, which houses a variety of subtropical plants, as well as some carnivorous specimens. There are also marble statues. It was all restored last year, 2006. Also nip into the Botanical Gardens, with an exhibition of orchids. Stunning. After an icecream, it’s off back to Bank Street. We end up in a hefty rainshower. Some members of the island rugby team call round. At 7pm, we drive down the M8 motorway to Renfrew, to have dinner with K’s boss, SR and a few others. Starters are some fine mussels, followed by halibut, vegs and mashed potatoes. Very good. We return home at 11.30pm.

Saturday 05/05/07

The last few days were universally sunny, but today is cloudier. M and 4 of his 6 kids come to visit. T follows in their wake, and he is very excited at the prospect of a return to Stornoway. After a lunch of cheese on toast, K, mrs B and myself go in A’s wee car to return T to his flat in Drumchapel; not a nice area. He is very fond of gardening. We then make our way to Yoker to watch a shinty match. One of the teams is a Lewis 12, who play Glasgow Mid Argyll. The islanders are thrashed 6-0, but earn a useful encounter. M and partner plus his two youngest are also there. Planes fly low overhead to land at Glasgow airport across the river. We depart for the West End. Papers are bought in Byres Road, and some shopping is done in a huge Morrison’s store in Anniesland. The sun slowly disappears behind clouds and a cold wind blows. I buy batteries for K’s clocks as a birthday present. Supper, by 9.30pm, consists of a salmon starter, followed by pasta boscagnola. I download 62 Windows updates for K’s computer through the night, which takes 9 hours on a 46 kbps connection.

Friday 04/05/07

The news is dominated by the spoiled ballots scandal. The election results show a narrow victory for the SNP – by 1 seat. Return to the city with mrs B on the tourbus. We walk to the University, where we wait for 20 minutes before the bus arrives. Cold wind blows. Tourguide is faithfully reciting all the stops. I jump off at George Square to visit the Tourist Information Centre. Then look into the City Chambers, which is done out in magnificent marble. Have a look at Glasgow Cathedral and the People’s Palace. The latter has an exhibition on Glasgow life that I can’t do credit as I run out of time. The wintergardens are a large glasshouse containing (sub) tropical plants. The tourbus takes me back through the city, which is very busy with rush hour traffic. Tonight, we are invited for supper by one of K’s friends, S, in the Oran Mor on Great Western Road. The Oran Mor is a converted church, standing at the corner of Byres Road, which now operates as a pub and restaurant. It is very busy, and the sound of hundreds of talking people is deafening. Have soup, chilli con carne and banoffee pie. Also at the table are K’s girlfriend A, who hails from Rothesay in Bute; and S’s girlfriend, and mrs B. We leave at midnight.

Thursday 03/05/07

There are elections to the Scottish Parliament today. K is due to assist at a polling station from 8 am onwards. Mrs B and myself rise at 11.30, when Kenneth brings us T, who stayed with us last September. He was very pleased with some picture prints. Went out into the city centre to buy a new pair of walking boots and a waterproof coat. The latter was reduced in price by 50%, so the financial damage was not too severe. Returned to Bank Street by subway. A little later on, mrs B and myself went to George Square, in the heart of the city to join a city tourbus. For £9 you can hop on and off at 21 stops for 2 days. As we’re on the last bus of the day, leaving at 4.30pm, we can’t visit anything. Tourguide Claire talks us round the 85 minute tour. Points visited: Cathedral, Merchant City, the Barras, People’s Palace, Whistlin’ Kirk, back to George Square and onto the West End via Central Station. We pass the Squinty Bridge, the Hammerhead Crane, the Armadillo (SECC) and Kelvingrove Park. We return to the city centre via the University and Sauchiehall Street. It grows a bit chilly by the end of the tour, which finishes at 6pm. We jump off at Hillhead subway to buy some fish & chips in Byres Road. The polls in the Scots Parliament and local elections close at 10pm, but the results are extremely slow in coming forth. The ballotbox for Arran is taken to the mainland by a boat which breaks down. The count in the Western Isles can’t take place, because the helicopter which is due to fly the Barra ballotbox to Stornoway is fogbound. It will now be taken north by ferry and road. The dominating feature is that 5% of the ballot papers are spoiled – across Scotland. That is 10 times more than normal, and due to a mixture of voting systems. It means that 100,000 people’s votes are discounted. Watch the results programme until 3 am.

Wednesday 02/05/07

Get up at 5.45 am to be at the ferry an hour later. It is a windless morning with the low, rising sun in the east. Depart at 7.15 sharp, and pass all the familiar landmarks as far as Point. Muirneag passes us in the opposite direction heading into port. Can see right down the east coast of Lewis, and Skye is discernible on the southern horizon. It is very hazy indeed. Have bacon and eggs for breakfast. We reach the entrance to Loch Broom at 9 am, to dock at Ullapool by 10. The bus to Inverness is ready to board, and it leaves at 10.10. Drive up the glen to Corrieshalloch and Glascarnoch. There are still patches of snow high up some of the mountains. Wisps of low cloud hover in the east, and upon descending past Aultguish, these become a closed blanket of cloud. It is overcast at Inverness, which we reach at 11.25; the Moray Firth is full of mist and fog. My bag comes off the bus first; Mrs B’s is last. We buy a return ticket for the journey to Glasgow, which comes in at £20.05. We buy sandwiches in Marks & Spencer’s. An amble to the River Ness closes proceedings in Inverness. The train departs at 12.40, and takes us south through the sunny Highlands over Culloden, the Slochd summit to Carrbridge and Aviemore, our first stop. Quite a lot of snow on the tops of the Cairngorms. Continue south to Kingussie, which is the second stop. Beyond that it’s on past Dalwhinnie, near Loch Ericht, and over the Drummochter Pass. We come to a halt by a red signal. Notice a dead deer at the trackside, surrounded by a swarm of flies. We proceed south past Blair Atholl to Pitlochry and Dunkeld, where we leave the Highlands behind. A change of trains at Perth, where we arrive 10 minutes late. The connecting train departs from platform 1; we arrive on platform 7, in other words a bit of a walk on the overpass. Fairly busy on the service, which has come in from Aberdeen. In the lowlands, cornseed rape fields glow bright yellow in amongst the many shades of green – the leaves on the trees are yet young. A hideous windfarm scars the hillsides near Stirling. Stop taking pictures when hundreds of electricity pylons scar the skyline all the way into Glasgow. We pull into Queen Street station on time at 4.15pm. K picks us up, and we pile into a taxi to go to his house on Bank Street. It is rush hour, and the traffic is a nightmare. Arrive at the flat at 4.40pm, and am introduced to a myriad of rooms in the 2nd floor. The tenement was built in 1841. We go to an M&S food hall on Byres Road, by taking the subway (underground train), one stop to Hillhead Station, from Kelvin Bridge station, which is nearest to Kenneth’s home. A return costs 80p. The Glasgow subway is a circular route, with trains running frequently in both directions. We return to consume the goodies: lasagna and garlic bread.

Tuesday 01/05/07

More sunny weather. It gets light at 4 am, and the sun rises at 5.30 am. The last guests depart on the first ferry. Mrs B is travelling to Glasgow tomorrow, and I am joining her for the journey. Go down to Laxay in the afternoon to have a look in the local cemetery for graves associated with the Iolaire disaster of 1919. Travel on the 4pm bus to Tarbert, which doubles as a schoolbus. It pulls into Sgoil nan Loch at Cameron Terrace (Leurbost) to pick up more youngstgers, before heading south. Get off outside the Historical Society building at Laxay, and walk a quarter of a mile down the road, as I am uncertain about the location of the graveyard. Most sheep now have lambs at foot. Go up the steep access road to the cemetery, which lies draped over a hilltop, overlooking Loch Erisort, half a mile to the south. It’s a brilliantly sunny day, with the Lochs hills standing out bright and clear to the south. Find 3 more graves in the Old Laxay cemetery. I then go to the nearby fishfarm on the Laxay River to wait for the bus. I flag down a minibus – which is NOT the servicebus. The driver offers me a lift to Stornoway. During the evening, mrs B and myself prepare for the 10 hour trip to Glasgow tomorrow. Nip back into town at 8pm for an errand, with the air full of smoke.

Monday 30/04/07

The sunny weather continues unabated. It is not very warm, but you don’t really need that. Lorries rumble up and down to the Kielder, the coalboat, to discharge her cargo. She leaves during the evening. Jim, our guest, departs for Harris and points south. One new guest calls round to apologise for not being able to take up his booking due to a strike in the office. Two other guys do materialise after finishing their jobs. At 2.40 we go on the bus to the hospital to visit David, who is still awaiting a VQ-scan. It is warm in the ward. Meet up with David’s parents before I go forth on a walk round Laxdale. First to the monument to a Royal Visit in 1902, then up Laxdale Lane and round to the Cearns and the War Memorial. Sheep and their lambs quietly graze. I photograph the 23 plaques, which show the names of the Fallen in two World Wars. Finally, I make my way to the Waterwheel, the Golf Course and the town centre. No, I don’t need a coat today. Supper is a cook-in Spanish sauce with chicken.

Sunday 29/04/07

Another sunny day. A Metcheck reporter tells us that temperatures in Dunvegan, Skye, have reached 20C. Here in Stornoway we’re at 15C. We have lunch in the sun outside, with a cool, easterly breeze off the Minch. I clear up round the backyard after which I siphon a winter’s worth of rainfall out of one of the canoes. It does get warm in the sun, bees are buzzing, starlings and sparrows chatter in the bushes. Mrs B daydreams about a garden paradise. Go round to Goat Island to find a cargoship tied up along pier no 3, the ferry pier. MV Kielder is registered in Douglas, Isle of Man, presumably with a cargo of coal. Went to the Goat Island jetty across a foul-smelling slipway. The Inner Harbour is full of boats today. Mrs B's 3rd son and his wife organise a barbeque for their kids in the backyard, for their children and associated pals. They once again go into the Newton Basin with their canoes. Supper is a ready meal, after which we light a fire with cut-offs from one of the bushes.

Saturday 28/04/07

Weather remains sunny and bright. Get up rather later than Jim, who is taking my suggestion to go to Ness and back again – by return of service. He manages to get his camera fixed. How? He gets new batteries for it. I go to the shop for the essentials. An earthquake is reported from Kent, where the town of Folkestone is worst hit. Chimneys came crashing down and people ran into the road. Epicentre was in the sea off New Romney. The quake was felt as far away as Deal, but also in London, Surrey, East Sussex and Suffolk. It measured 4.3 on the Richter scale. Largest quakes in the area happened in 1382 and 1580, with a magnitude of 5.8. I apply the pressure hose to the backyard, but first we rescue 20 or 30 worms which had taken up residence under tarpaulins. Mud and moss quickly give way to high pressure water and things brighten up considerably. Frank and Linda are clearing out their caravan, which has been taking up residence in the backyard since the autumn. David is reported to be in hospital with a suspected pulmonary embolism. We go to see him after supper (clam salad). Last night, Dixie brought a bag with snapping shells along. David is even more out of breath than usual. A VQ-scan is not possible until Monday – bit dicey in my mind.

Friday 27/04/07

Brilliant morning, and I decide for a jaunt over to Ness, at 1 o’clock. Bus is full of folk from up and down the Westside. After reaching Barvas, we stop at regular intervals to drop people and their shopping off outside their homes along the road. I get off outside the shop at Swainbost, and walk down the road into the machair. Pass fields, but only past Swainbost Farm do sheep and lambs pop up. It’s a very pastoral scene. Reach the dunes to enter Old Ness cemetery. This is heavily overgrown, and affected by sandblow. Snails sit on the stones. Birds and bees flit about, whilst the Atlantic surf roars continuously in the background. Find 14 graves of Iolaire victims, then head north to Eoropie across the machair, high above the cliffs. People are surfboarding at Eoropie beach, a bit too cold for my liking. Have some tea sitting in the dunes, before carrying on to Eoropie village. I walk past the tearoom to St Moluag’s chapel – which is locked. Peep through the windows and take some pics of its interior. Walk back to the junction, where I chat to a chap from Worcestershire, who is on holiday to the islands. Bus arrives at 3.40pm full of kiddies from Lionel primary school. As we wind our way through the townships, they are all dropped outside their homes. We return to Lionel school to pick up some more teenagers. Proceed back to Stornoway through sunsplashed countryside. Arrive in town at 4.40pm. Buy some papers then return to mrs B’s. Dinner is a stew, which is also ready for our guest, who arrives by 7.30. He is hard going. Go out for an amble at 11.30pm with him and mrs B.