LOCH SEAFORTH, BOWGLASS, ISLE OF HARRIS
What a week. Was stranded on Barra when the ferry didn't sail because of poor weather at sea. Only got back this morning. Got my first puncture in many years whilst in the wilds of Harris. Nothing but sheep for miles and the wheel nuts were on so tight I couldn't undo them with my wheel brace. A number of tiles have come off the house roof in recent gales - The roof was not replaced during the renovation - just patched up to save money. The shed roof is leaking and the gas bottle supplying the hob ran out, so I couldn't cook until a replacement was obtained. My electric shaver has broken down - stress I expect - and the manual razor has brought me out in a rash. We've had horrendous weather, with particularly high winds in the last few days and my metal gate has blown off down the croft.
This computer has been playing up, hence the 3 weeks since the last blog. Other than that, all is well here at the Chateau. The house is lovely and warm, I finish work for two weeks from Monday and I've got family coming to stay for Christmas. I'm usually a bit of a grump about Christmas, but have tried hard to enter into the spirit of it all this year by putting up a tree with lovely twinkly lights on it and I've made a Christmas cake for the first time ever. It's so full of brandy that I've pinned a drink drive warning on it. The cake looks ok covered with marzipan and icing , but is a testament to the idiot proof quality of Delia's recipe, rather than any skill on my part. The cards are sent, presents purchased and wrapped and the turkey is in the freezer. A side of venison managed to hurl itself into my car boot whilst I was in North Uist and by a route I'm not entirely sure of, I've become the proud owner of a whole salmon the size of a small whale. My sister and brother in law are going to have to do some serious eating whilst here over Christmas.
Good news. Number one son and lovely grandaughter are coming to visit for a week in February, so very much looking forward to that.
Mixed fortunes on the island this week. Lots of jobs lost at Woolworths and the salmon factory, and multiple arrests made following the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine by the police. There is not a significant problem with heroin on Lewis, but cocaine and cannabis seem plentiful.
There has been a hare brained plan by the EU to close the entire West coast fishery, which would have meant that hundreds of island prawn fisherman would have been out of work, causing an economic disaster here. Fortunately, common sense has prevailed, the fishery has been reprieved and a lot of fishing families will have a much happier Christmas.
The Harris Tweed industry has been going through the mill recently and a year or two ago, it looked as if the tweed might disappear completely as the factories encountered financial difficulties. One of the mills closed down with the loss of 70 jobs, but has now reopened with plans for rapid expansion and is going to open a visitor centre soon to show tourists how tweed is made and to sell cloth to them from a shop in the mill.
Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year.