CALLANISH STONES, ISLE OF LEWIS- AUGUST 2007
Well, the tourists have gone, the temperature is dropping and there's a definite autumnal feel descending on the island. It's a 15 mile drive from home to work, across the moor, which has changed colour to multiple shades of brown during the last couple of weeks. Lots of people think of the moor as unremittingly desolate and boring, but I've always felt quite overwhelmed by its quiet beauty and vastness. It's one of the great remaining pristine wild spaces left in Europe, but is in imminent danger of being spoiled for ever. There is a plan to build a wind farm of some 181 turbines, each several hundred feet high, spread across a distance of about 30 miles, from Stornoway to Ness in one direction and down the Westside road in the other. The visual impact on the landscape and noise generated is likely to be substantial. If finally approved, the project will take several years to complete and will create some badly needed temporary and permanent jobs, but will also cause huge damage to the Barvas moor. Miles of concrete access roads will be built and it is anticipated that much harm will be caused to nesting and flying birds. Both the developers and the RSPB have calculated that a number of Golden Eagles, still relatively common in Lewis, are likely to be killed by the turbine rotors during the lifetime of the wind farm. Acceptable collateral damage I suppose. The electricity generated will not be used to supply the island, but will be exported by undersea interconnect to England. Understandably, there are lobbying bodies for and against the turbines, but the local council have given their approval and I will be surprised if the development does not go ahead eventually, when it has been considered by the Scottish Executive.
The work on the house is in full swing now. The outside has been stripped of render, cracks in walls and chimneys repaired and the roof patched up. I will be away visiting family and friends- including my lovely recently born grand daughter - for the next week and am hopeful that the builders will put in the new concrete floors whilst I'm away. We'll see. Not yet sure yet whether I'll need to move out for a while when the work really gets going inside.
At the end of the croft, to the east, is a ridge which leads directly on to the village common grazings. This morning, whilst day dreaming and pottering about, I looked up and saw a buzzard being mobbed by three ravens. This is a reasonably common sight but it's always exciting to see these dogfights taking place at close quarters. The ravens always win, with the larger buzzard eventually admitting defeat and disappearing over the horizon, whilst the ravens perform triumphant aerial acrobatics with loud kronking noises.
Roddy, who owns the sheep grazed on my croft, turned up yesterday to announce the imminent arrival of a slaughtered sheep as payment for the grazing.Delighted as I am to accept this gift, I only have a small domestic fridge freezer, so we have agreed that he will drip feed the meat to me over the next few months as space appears in the freezer. An agreeable solution.
Joke heard on Isles FM radio a few minutes ago
Woman walks up behind her husband and hits him on the head with a frying pan
'What's that for he cries'
'I found a piece of paper in your coat pocket with the name Betty Jane on it'
Man replies ' That's the name of the horse I put a bet on this afternoon'
Wife is embarrassed and sorry.
Wife appears again later in the day and hits husband on the head once more.
Husband - 'Why did you do that'?
Wife - 'The horse just phoned'
At the time, it seemed very funny.