PREHISTORIC STANDING STONE, POLLARCHAR, SOUTH UIST - TOWARDS BARRA
A very satisfying week. Brother in law has been and gone, having done lots of work while he was here. He set to and completed the half finished tiling in the kitchen that the tiler left when he disappeared a month or two ago. The joiner came and the wooden floors downstairs are now fitted and looking good. The stove is burning nicely and for the first time, the house is beginning to take on the feel of a home. There is no work left that I need tradesmen to do and the next few weeks will be spent finishing small jobs and finding furniture. The only recent disaster - a small one - happened after I'd put the third coat of paint on some newly made coat rails. I was just admiring my handiwork when an open roll of fibre glass loft insulation, placed precariously on a shelf by me, dropped off and fell on to the wet rails. It made a complete mess and I've no choice now but to strip the rails back to bare wood and start again. I tried letting the rails dry and sanding them down, but they looked awful, so back to the beginning again.
A local wag has raised a smile on the island by installing furniture on a small islet in a loch near Stornoway. Somehow, the culprit has managed to get a sofa and kitchen table onto the islet, probably by boat. As a nice finishing touch, two or three wine bottles have been attached to the top of the table. A flickering candle and open fire would have made the scene cosy and homely. It's hard to tell whether this is just a humorous jape or a statement on the possible consequences of the credit crunch and mortgage situation.
Stornoway black puddings are famous world wide and particularly here. There was outrage this week when it was reported that butchers in the central belt of Scotland are selling copy cat products marked 'Stornoway style black puddings'. Hell hath no fury. The MSP for the Highlands and Islands has taken up the cudgels and plans to take on the nasty imitation puds. -- ' The reputation of genuine Stornoway black puddings must be protected. We don't want other butchers taking advantage by using the Stornoway product name.' ---- He has tabled a motion in Parliament about this issue - truly, I jest not - and now plans to consult with European Parliamentary colleagues to see if Protected Geographical Status can be obtained for the puddings to stop the evil interlopers from marketing inferior counterfeit rubbish. There are precedents for this move with Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Arbroath Smokies now having such protection.
At long last, the Government backed reduced ferry fare structure for the Outer Hebrides comes into being from Sunday. Fares to the main land are dropping significantly for an initial three year period. The Stornoway-Ullapool journey will cost approximately £90 less for a car and driver next week than it does now. I'm planning to celebrate by making a pre Christmas trip to Inverness for household goods, gifts, a change of scenery and a pint or two in a decent pub.