UIG, LEWIS - TOWARDS HARRIS.
Have been spared for another week, but only just. Returning from Benbecula on Thursday afternoon, the pilot was about to land the plane on the runway at Stornoway when we were caught by a fierce gust of wind. The plane hit the ground with a bang, tipped onto one side and narrowly avoided flipping over on one wing. The Captain, my hero, regained control and immediately took off again. We circled for about ten minutes before the pilot approached the runway from a different direction and landed us safely. We get used to flying in difficult conditions here, but this experience left me silent and sucking my lips for an hour or two.
The plane is not tiny. It's a BAe Jetstream nineteen seat twin prop aircraft and there were fifteen passengers and crew on it at the time of this little adventure.
I'm beginning to think seriously about taking my car and driving to the Southern Isles via the ferries in future. As well as laying bets about the chances of my returning safely from the plane, colleagues are also checking to see if I'm travelling before booking flights themselves. They seem worried that I'm cursed and unlucky.
Uist and Barra are carpeted with cheerful daffodils now, but mine have still not burst into flower yet. Barra is about a hundred miles South of here, so maybe my daffodils will emerge in the next week or two. The round blobs in the frog spawn are beginning to take on the shape of tadpoles and the lambing season is about to start.
The poor weather continues though and while it's reasonably warm and high winds have subsided, apart from at the airport, I can't remember the last day it didn't rain heavily on the croft.
Since my first and last trip to St Kilda over twenty years ago, with son and a friend, I've wanted to return and explore the main island, Hirta, and see all the places I've often read about, but never visited. Until recently, the journey there was difficult and expensive, but there are now regular reasonably priced charter trips in the summer tourist season. Well, I've got myself booked on a boat to St Kilda with an organised group in mid July and I'm quite looking forward to that. The organisation is called the Island Book Trust, which manages written historical archives about the Outer Hebrides and arranges regular talks about places and people of local interest. Of most interest to me though, throughout the Summer, they hire boats and take members to normally inaccessible small islands, like St Kilda, The Shiants, The Monarch Isles and the Flannans. I love visiting remote islands, especially if they have a past history of permanent occupation and hope to go on some of the other trips in future years.
Very sadly, Hebrides News has just reported that a body, believed to be that of a young man who went missing on Boxing day, was found in a Loch in South Uist this morning. He disappeared after a dance and there have been daily searches for him since then.