There are about twenty sheep on the croft just now and the only thing in life that seems to interest them is food. Their owner calls up to feed them every day with supplements, which they love. They consider all humans as great providers and whenever they see me, charge forward at a rate of knots. I can't leave the house without being followed and they can spot me from five hundred yards. Makes me feel like the Pied Piper. The sheep shown above are staring at me through the kitchen window in the forlorn hope that I will go out and ply them with whatever it is that sheep eat. It can feel quite spooky to walk into the kitchen to see this lot standing there waiting for me to appear.
There's something of the appearance of the Midwich Cuckoos about this flock.
Lots happening on the islands this last week, some good, some not so good.
The young man who went missing in South Uist on Boxing Day has still not been found and the real mystery is that there have been no sightings whatsoever of him, nor any clues to what his fate might be. The anguish his family must be suffering is unimaginable and it must be harder to maintain hope as each week passes.
Some time last year, I mentioned that there was a plan to build a wave farm at Siader, Barvas, here on Lewis. That plan has now been approved and construction will commence shortly.This will be the very first commercial wave farm in Scotland and is wonderful news. It will create about 70 badly needed new jobs and will produce 4MW of electricity supplying the needs of about 1800 homes. Lewis residents are keen to support renewable energy schemes that don't wreak havoc on the environment, unlike the recently rejected outrageous proposal to erect 181 giant turbines on pristine moorland in the North and West of the Island.
Down in Harris, at Scarista, there is a golf course sited in the most spectacular position overlooking the ocean. Golf club members have applied for a grant of £75,000 from SportScotand to upgrade the clubhouse and improve the drainage. The awarding of that grant is now at risk because the club refuses to open on Sundays. SportScotland, who have agreed the grant in principle, say they will not hand the money over until the club agrees to permit golfers to play on the course seven days a week. A spokesman for the club has said that religious beliefs prevent them agreeing to open the course on the Sabbath and they seem to be prepared to lose the grant funding as a consequence. SportScotland say they are unable to provide finance for clubs or groups who do not make their facilities available to the public every day. They say that they have responsibilities under 2006 Equality Legislation to ensure that all schemes they help to fund are accessible to all, "regardless of gender, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital/civil partnership status or social background." So there we are.
Just now, there is stalemate over this issue, but a compromise is currently being searched for.
A skellybob has been found over in Uig on the West side of Lewis. A human skeleton, thought to be 4000 years old, was discovered after soil erosion caused by one of the recent severe storms exposed a small stone coffin, known as a kist. The remains were found inside. The archaeologists have gone into raptures at this find and one of them said "when we find a burial in a small kist, we automatically think of the Bronze Age." Indeed we do.
Do you know, it is 62% more expensive to heat a house in Stornoway than in Bristol? I only know this gem because our local MSP received this information in response to enquiries he made in Parliament. It's apparently because of the wind chill factor we experience here, denied to the good citizens of Bristol. Why Bristol? I have no idea.
Every month, I get the plane to Benbecula to spend three days working in the Southern Isles. Twice during the three years I've been making this journey, the plane has turned back in mid air after developing technical problems. Those experiences make flights interesting and unpredictable and colleagues have started laying bets on the liklihood of my returning safely each time I travel. On one of those occasions, when buzzers buzzed loudly in the cockpit and red lights started flashing in the cabin, the passenger in front of me collapsed with an anxiety attack. There are no cabin staff on this flight and reassurances from me had little effect. The poor soul left the aircraft back at Stornoway a bumbling wreck and has not been seen since.
Well, last week, in my absence, the same plane was landing at Benbecula when the tail smacked the runway tarmac causing some damage, but no injuries to the ten passengers - apart from traumatising them for life. The airline has refused to comment on suggestions that the incident was caused by poor cargo and baggage loading. The plane is being repaired this week by the nice man in charge of sellotape, glue and sealing wax. Life was never so exciting in the South.
In case you want to look out for my welfare, I'll be travelling to Benbecula again on this plane on 10 February.
It's the long delayed housewarming party here on Saturday evening. Have invited mainly colleagues from work to come and have a nosy round, so looking forward to that. Most of the people I work with are sober, sensible and mature, but I'm hoping someone will disgrace themselves and provide much needed Winter entertainment.