BOTTOM OF THE CROFT - AN HOUR AGO. TOWARDS HARRIS.
When I went to bed last night, the rain was pounding against the windows and the wind was blowing so hard I fully expected to wake up this morning and find the roof off. It was a joy then to pop my head out earlier to find that it's a beautiful, still, clear and sunny day. There are times when our fierce unpredictable weather gets me down a bit, but days like today make living here all worth while.
Taking a walk down the croft to have a look at the sheep and the flowers a little while ago, I sat down on a rock to take a snap of the view in the picture and have a drink. I have a little vacuum flask and enjoy looking down the Hebrides from the point where the croft meets the sea loch, with a cup of hot coffee in hand.
Even on a calm Sunday morning, there are a variety of sounds to listen to if you sit quietly. The sheep were bleating, bees buzzing, geese honking and a distant fish farm generator humming away in the background. Gulls called raucously and rock doves were cooing . Perfect.
Most of the flowers have yet to appear, but a few have popped their heads above ground. The Thrift is pretty and a few stalks of Cotton Grass sway in a light breeze. There are no Orchids yet, but the carnivorous Round Leaved Sundew is growing strongly again this year in the sphagnum bog. The Marsh Marigolds are a lovely golden yellow, the Silverweed is out and a little Daisy like flower is cheerfully colonising the area around the house.
A very welcome new social enterprise company in Stornoway is now trading as a producer of high quality hand made chocolates. Hebridean Chocolates , operating from a redundant bakery, has been created by the local volunteer agency, Voluntary Action Lewis. The business, which has been two years in development and has involved an investment of £200,000, will aim to become a sustainable concern making chocolates for tourists, local people and worldwide sales. In addition to producing chocolates commercially, Hebridean Chocolates- http://www.hebrideanchocolates.co.uk/ - will provide training, placements and employment for 14 people, including seven adults with learning disabilities.
The new Lewis distillery - Abhainn Dearg ( Red River in English and pronounced something like 'avven jerrag' ) -over in Uig, is in action and producing whisky, although I don't think they have any ready for sale just now. They have no visitor centre or shop yet, but say they welcome visitors to their modest premises to see how the whisky is made. Go to http://www.abhainndearg.co.uk/ for further information.
The most momentous and potentially far reaching event of the week here has been the announcement from Caledonian Macbrayne ( Calmac ) that they intend to commence operating scheduled ferries to the mainland from Stornoway on Sundays, for the first time ever. Only a few weeks ago, Calmac were saying that they would not consider running a Sunday service from Lewis until the recently introduced subsidised ferry fares are reviewed in about two and a half years time.
Well, out of the blue, Calmac has put out a statement saying it has been challenged by the Equality Commission over the lack of seven day sailings to the island. The company have sought legal advice which says they are legally obliged to implement a Sabbath breaking Sunday sailing. Calmac have said that the advice they have received is that under the 2006 Equality Act, with-holding a Sunday ferry out of respect of traditionalist's views could infringe the rights of residents. Consequently, they have made the decision to run Sunday ferries and say they are now only consulting interested parties to decide on logistics and a start date.
Both of the lobbies for and against Sunday ferries are very vocal. The pro Sunday ferry lobby claim that the majority of people living here do want Sabbath sailings, while the Lord's Day Observance Society are equally adament that most residents do not want change. I can't gauge where the truth lies, but what is likely though, is that Sunday ferries will probably precede the opening of shops on Lewis on Sundays and life in the Outer Hebrides will never be the same again.
Diesel has now gone up to 114 pence a litre here.
Two Avocets have been seen in Uist and Two Common Cranes were spotted near Stornoway this week.
A Californian reader of this blog emailed me to say that the temperature is expected to reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit ( 39 degrees Centigrade ) over there today. It's warm and comfortable short sleeved weather here at 19 degrees. Can't imagine what 39 degrees feels like.
I can recommend the Jamaican Ginger Cake recipe from Levi Roots' Reggae Reggae Cookbook.
Joke heard on Radio Scotland -
Which are the only biscuits that can fly?
Answer. Wee plane ones of course.
I've lost my favourite jumper and can't find it anywhere.