Sunday, November 11, 2007

Winter is almost upon us. It's getting much colder now and the days are very short. Go off to work in the dark and come home in the dark. The whole island feels as if it's hunkering down and going into hibernation until next Spring. Although most of the tourists have long gone, there are still a few hardy souls staying in camper vans in remote places. Before I came to live here, I visited a number of times between November and February and always enjoyed travelling about looking for unexplored nooks and crannies, with no one about except for local people just going about their daily lives.
The plane to Barra was grounded again this Thursday because of heavy rain, high winds and poor visibility, so still haven't got to land on the beach. Maybe next month- or the month after.
A clear day today, so drove over to the West side of the Island to explore. Good views of the Flannan Isles from Gallan Head and even managed to make out St Kilda some forty miles away, although not very clearly. Took number one son to St. Kilda twenty years ago and would dearly love to return. Perhaps next summer.
Work on the house continues and is progressing well. New windows and bathroom to be installed during the next two weeks. Having some problem getting a building warrant from the local authority, but hope to sort that out this coming week by throwing myself on the mercy of the building standards officer. Now looks unlikely that the renovation will be completed by Christmas, so have taken up the offer to go and spend the festive season in the South with son and his family. Any original ideas for a Christmas present for my lovely eleven month old grand daughter? The drive is over five hundred miles, but with two weeks off work, not too difficult to recover at each end. Just a few years ago, found it easy to drive that distance in one day, but sadly, am no longer possessed of the energy to do it without stopping for long periods.Leaving the Island in Winter can be an uncertain experience, because the ferry regularly fails to sail in rough weather, so fingers crossed.
The issue of Sunday Observance on the Island, always simmering, has come to the fore again in the letters page of the local paper, the Stornoway Gazette. The Presbyterian Church and the Lords Day Observance Society are fighting against any liberalisation of Sunday activities on Lewis. They believe it is theologically wrong, will have a seriously negative effect on 'the island way of life' and that the opening of the Stornoway sports centre and Sunday ferry sailings to Ullapool will be the thin end of the wedge. Their opponents say that Sunday observance should be a matter of individual choice and that those people who want to play sports, or travel to or from the mainland on the ferry on Sundays, should be allowed to do so and not be dictated to by those people who want nothing to change.. The ferry company, Caledonian Macbrayne, are not willing to provide sailings from Stornoway on Sundays without majority support, so they sit on the fence. There are inconsistencies here, because the council, whilst having the power to prevent the sports centre opening and the ferry sailing, have approved those activities in the Southern isles. It is possible to get a ferry from Leverburgh in Harris to Berneray and then another one from Lochmaddy in North Uist to Uig on Skye on Sundays, but no, the Stornoway ferry can't sail and exercise can't be taken. The council have of course, licensed the well used pubs in Stornoway to open all day on Sundays and there is a large petrol station, with an off licence to sell alcohol, which also opens.
For the time being, Sunday is a lovely quiet day here in the rural areas, which I enjoy for now. How long will it last?
Some good news is that one of the Harris Tweed Mills, which closed last year, is reopening under new ownership, with the probability that about twenty five jobs will be created.

No comments: