Sunday, July 27, 2008


When I wrote about the 1919 Iolaire disaster two or three weeks ago, I was aware that many families on the island had been affected, but had no idea that someone from my own house had been lost that night. Looking around the Internet a few days ago, I came across a detailed list of victims with addresses and photographs of their graves. One of those men was a 20 year old Leading Deck Hand in the Royal Naval Reserve, who had survived the First World War intact and was about an hour away from being reunited with his family at this house, when the Iolaire foundered. He is buried in a lovely graveyard a few miles from here, in a beautiful position overlooking the beach and sea. This place had always been owned by the same family until I came here a couple of years ago and looking at the age of the sailor who died that night, I think he may have been the Great Uncle of the man I bought the house from.

An army of Octopuses has invaded the waters around the Outer Hebrides and we're all doomed. Fisherman all round the islands, but particularly on the Westside, have found huge numbers of Octupus turning up in their lobster creels in recent weeks. They seem to be attracted by either the bait used in the creels or by captured lobsters, which octopus like to eat. Scottish Natural Heritage have said that the beast concerned, the Curled Octopus, is prone to occasional population explosions and the current invasion is probably nothing to worry about, unless you are a fisherman of course. Other experts, including a body called the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership, fear that the arrival of all these animals is a firm sign of increased water temperature caused by climate change. Whatever the truth of this, there doesn't seem to be a local market for Octopus, but I'm more than willing to help out with a frying pan, a little oil, garlic and black bean sauce.

Another rare bird, a Rose Coloured Starling, turned up here this week, causing some interest. It's a starling, with a rosy pink coloured front and back.

The MV Muirneag leaves Stornoway harbour at about midnight every evening to take and collect freight from the mainland. It plays an important part in keeping the islands stocked with food and the other needs of daily life. On Friday morning, the Muirneag crashed as it was about to berth at Stornoway pier on its return journey. It apparently hit a reef and is now being examined for damage. It's not thought to be a serious incident, but the boat has been grounded until at least Monday and this may lead to a temporary shortage of meat, vegetables and milk in the co-op and Tesco's. Well, providence smiles. We can always fall back on Octopus to survive on.

The tiler tells me he really wants to finish the work here, but repeatedly fails to turn up. He's had a succession of problems with housing and his car and helps to support his family in Poland, so I'm loathe to sack him. It may come to that though because the work has to be done soon.I can't find an alternative tiler though, so maybe I should just stick with the current one.

Good news about the ceilings though. I managed to find a decorator and he's going to paper the ceilings and fit coving , while I'm working away this coming week. He seems enthusiastic and reliable, so I'll come home on Thursday evening with anticipation and a look of joyous expectation on my face. If the ceilings are done this week, I can then get on with painting the walls downstairs and look for a joiner to fit the wooden floors.

It's a beautiful warm, clear and still day today. One of those summer days that make it a joy to live here. I have a compulsion to get my strimmer out and do some gardening, but it's the Sabbath and I don't feel like upsetting neighbours just yet.

1 comment:

Hyde DP said...

Any old excuse to blame global warning seems par for the course. More than likely the creelers will survive a temporary invasion of octopi else create a new local delicacy.