Posted: Saturday, 01 July 2006
The Stornoway lifeboat "Tom Sandersen" had to come out to recover the wreck of the boat, which was drifting out of the Newton Basin under the influence of the falling tide and the wind. The boat was put ashore on Goat Island and looked over by the lifeboat crew.
No further news has come through about the exact circumstances of this incident, which took place under the nose of the Coastguards in the Coastguard Station, which stands at the end of Newton Basin.
Pollution at Stornoway
Posted: Tuesday, 04 July 2006
The Port Authority told BBC On-line that it was deeply concerned about the very high levels of so-called polycyclic aromatic carbons, chemicals closely associated with oil. It is suspected that vessels pump their contaminated bilge water overboard, which is illegal. The levels of pollution found in silt from Stornoway Harbour have been found to be so high, that it may even be refused a license to dredge silt and sediment from the harbour.
Shoreline rubbish collections, which started in February, have yielded 250 bags of waste from the Inner Harbour, with 65 sacks being filled in the first week alone. Stornoway Port Authority is seeking urgent meetings with representatives of the fishermen to find a solution to these problems.
It should be pointed out that it is illegal to dump anything at sea. This applies to those who work at sea as well as to passengers on board ferries. Do not throw anything overboard, but collect it and hand it in at the first port of call.
On a related point, a reminder to vessels visiting UK ports (such as Stornoway) from an overseas port that it is ILLEGAL to bring animals ashore (such as dogs, cats etc.), under rabies prevention legislation.
Machair in bloom
Posted: Wednesday, 05 July 2006
The machair is a unique habitat found in the Western Isles. It is created by sand, which includes ground-up shells, blown onto peatland. The calciumcarbonate in the shells neutralises the acid in the peaty soil, leaving a very fertile environment. At Eoropie, a small river courses through this environment, and it boosts the flowers.
One other comment I need to make (I cannot leave comments on the Island Blogging blogs, yon error message keeps coming up - Graham, any further news?) is that I'm a bit disappointed at the state in which the Dell Fank has been left following the Dating Extravaganza. Just LOOK at it
Machair in bloom - 2
Posted: Friday, 07 July 2006
Posted: Friday, 07 July 2006
It is a deplorable sight to see the discussion of problems, besetting the health service in these islands splattered over the letters columns in two newspapers.
It only demonstrates that even communication within the NHS Western Isles Board itself has broken down. It has even gone this far, that the councillor who sits on the Health Board has demanded an apology from the Board chairman for stating that the councillor had tried to raise issues in an open board meeting "for personal and private gain".
Part of the exchange centered on the provision of medical cover to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway. The Health Board states it is unable to afford the three palliative care consultants it claims are needed to keep the hospice running, as required under new Scottish Executive guidelines. Yes, of course these were drawn up with densely populated areas in mind. But it would appear that the Board's Medical Director has forgotten about the existence of a Professor in Remote and Rural Medicine within its own organisation. He is uniquely equipped to work out a method that will allow this very small hospice (only 4 beds) to continue to operate in this remote area whilst compliant with the Scottish Executive guidelines. It would be a disgrace if it were forced to close and people in the last stages of life would have to leave the islands for the mainland.
The new press officer for the Western Isles NHS Board will be a Daily Mail columnist who was reportedly sacked from the Glasgow Herald newspaper, after stating that the infamous murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in the town of Soham (Cambridgeshire, England) a number of years ago would not have occurred if their parents had "kept the Lord's Day". Said columnist is the son of a Free Presbyterian minister who keeps a column in the West Highland Free Press, a Skye-based weekly newspaper, which is one of the Health Board's most bitter critics.
Posted: Tuesday, 11 July 2006
Arnish Fabrication Yard
Posted: Wednesday, 12 July 2006
There are days that you get up - and wish you had stayed in bed. This is one of them.
Within the last hour, the BBC Ticker coughed up the announcement that the Arnish Fabrication Yard is in financial difficulties. Its owner, Camcal, has initiated talks with its shareholders and investors as to its financial future.
Just for reference, the Arnish Yard is the place that fabricates elements for renewable energy projects. Earlier this year, segments for a Portuguese wave energy project were produced there. Towers for a wind energy project on the Beatrice platform in the Moray Firth (near Inverness) have recently been produced here. Following the completion of this project, a number of Polish workers were laid off; 90 people remain employed there.
Until September, the yard will be working on towers for windfarms in Holland and Germany as well as a small project here in Lewis.
The Operations Manager at the yard told BBC Online that it was quite ironic for the plant to be in difficulty whilst renewable energy is flavour of the moment.
It should be noted that this is about par for the course for the Arnish yard. Following its closure as an oil fabrication yard, it was taken over and asset stripped. It has opened and closed for short term contracts on a regular basis, and local workers are reluctant to fill vacancies there as they arise, as there is no guarantee for a long-term contract. This is the reason for Polish workers having to be drafted in to fill the gaps. Those that did not apply late last year for the 100 vacancies probably feel vindicated in their decision.
Although the Arnish Yard and the Lewis Windfarms have been mooted as the panacea for the Western Isles financial and economic woes, current developments are hardly encouraging for sustaining that view. A decision from the Scottish Executive is not far off regarding the North Lewis windfarm and the Eishken Windfarm. Should the go-ahead for the windfarms be given, and Arnish not there, I think Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are severely out of reckoning, as they were banking on about 400 jobs to be generated by the project, many of them over at Arnish.
An announcement is expected by the end of the week.
Posted: Tuesday, 18 July 2006
one man and his dog plus a few sheep
hit the coconut with up to 3 balls
various drinkstands as well as a beertent
3 bouncey castles
several pipers + competition
a brass band
helicopter flypast plus stunts
Spitfire flypast (one of them is called Lewis and Harris)
BBC Sports Relief "Run a mile"
tossing the caber (a long pole of wood)
lifting 100kg heavy spheres of rock
tossing a bale of hay up to 20 ft high
flipping tractor wheels (the hind ones)
pulling said tractor wheels
It was very well attended, there was a free bus service from nearby Stornoway and everything appears to have passed off without a hitch. Apologies if I inadvertently omitted your event. A little gallery of pictures of the day:
Posted: Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Accusing the Vice Convener of the local council of acting against the Health Board (as Board Member) for his own personal or political gain.
Accusing the MSP of misquoting (where did I hear that before?)
Not allowing criticism, and stifling dissent with threats and intimidation.
Appointing a press officer with the views I quoted in my previous post on this issue
Sounds pretty dire altogether. I have never heard of a public service organisation so at loggerheads with everybody they are supposed to work with. This really cannot continue. MSP Alasdair Morrison has written to the Health Minister, asking him to intervene. Will he? I hope for goodness' sakes he will.
Posted: Thursday, 20 July 2006
The official celebrations took place in June, at the time that Her Majesty ordinarily celebrates her birthday. Queen Elizabeth was born on 21st April 1926, but because the weather is usually better in mid-June than late April, the celebrations are fixed for the second Saturday in June.
The Hebridean Princess, the converted Caledonian MacBrayne ferry Columba, is a regular visitor to the port. Local rumour has it that she skipped her last scheduled call, on June 20th, because the weather was quite bad at the time. The Princess can carry up to 49 passengers on cruises around the West of Scotland, has a library and charges up to £7,500 for a cruise.
Posted: Monday, 24 July 2006
People I encountered visiting the island spent their days lounging on beaches, all unique because there was nobody else on them. Fancy that, going to a beach in England and not having anybody else on it.
It's now Monday and the weather is suitably dreich. The cruise passengers trooping ashore from the liner Deutschland, hiding behind Arnish, are treated to the traditional Hebridean weather. Drizzle and cool winds. The Royal visitor is on her way round the Hebrides, and I trust the supplier of the well-known paper bags has been busy by Royal Appointment. You never know how rough the seas get.
Come Saturday, I'll be on the look-out for the Hebridean Princess and her trail of diesel and frying fat. I happen to know where the Royal Barbeque might be held, but I suppose they'll have to bang a few guns first to get the meat to put on the BBQ. Nonetheless, the area concerned is densely populated by the very creatures that might end up on HM BBQ, so I do not foresee provisioning problems.
Maybe Her Majesty could prevail upon her Scottish Ministers to finally put an end to the exercise in narcism being perpetrated at the local Health Board.
Maybe Her Majesty could be shown the plans for the windmills which just about may go up in her favourite district in Lewis. Don't think she'll want to have a BBQ there after that, unless it contains Windpylon Tower a la Eishkenaise.
Buses and Boats
Posted: Tuesday, 25 July 2006
I am going to have a scoff at our estimable ferry operators: Caledonian MacBrayne. It's a long time since I inhaled the fragrance of diesel exhaust fumes, or listened enraptured to the clink of fork against plateful of bacon butty.
In recent times, CalMac were presented with a petition for a late Saturday ferry. This would be convenient for those attending football matches in Inverness or folk going shopping there. The answer was no. There would be no connecting buses on either side of the journey on a Saturday and people would have to wait at Ullapool for 4 hours. That's not accurate.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, there is a very late ferry, departing Ullapool at 22.00 and arriving here in Stornoway at 00.45. Now, i agree that at a quarter to one in the morning, you can't expect the local bus operators to lay buses on to all parts of Lewis. But on Saturdays, there are buses to all corners at 11pm. So, why can't there be a ferry at 8pm (tweak the preceding departures a bit) from Ullapool, arriving here at 10.45, in great time for the buses out of SY?
I mean, on Wednesdays and Fridays, Citylink buses go to Ullapool to arrive there at 9.10pm, so I'm sure they could lay something on to arrive at 7pm??
Come off it, Calmac - people pay good money by necessity to go on your boats, so talk to Citylink, tweak your timetables and get it in order. Thanks.
Posted: Wednesday, 26 July 2006
It is therefore important to highlight the report on bullying within the nursing profession that is featured on BBC Scotland today, see this article. First of all, those within NHS WI who feel that they are subjected to bullying can rest assured that they are not the only ones. I would invite people to leave comments on the webpage, as depersonalised as possible if they so wish.
Second, as in any workplace, bullying affects quality of work. Within the health service this can obviously have the direst of consequences and could in the worst possible instance cost lives. It is therefore important to expose this problem and root it out.
As for the specifics of the bullying problem within NHS Western Isles, I would like to refer to the various posts I have dedicated to the subject.
Saturday 29 July
Posted: Sunday, 30 July 2006
Busy day today. The schooner Thor Heyerdahl, a German registered three-masted sailing ship, departed Stornoway just before midday on the high tide. She made a magnificent sight sailing down the harbour, before turning east.
Within half an hour, the cruiseliner Hebridean Princess came into port, carrying the Royal Family. A large crowd gathered at the ferry terminal, where the Hebridean Princess docked, to wave and cheer at Her Majesty the Queen. Unfortunately, I was not there for the disembarkation, as I had an agricultural show to go to.
The Point Show took place at Aird School, near the northeastern tip of the Eye Peninsula (An Rudha). It was an extensive affair, taking full advantage of the primary school building. Displays and entries of bakery, crafts, photography, produce as well as cattle and sheep could be admired. A barbeque churned out endless supplies of burgers, a fancy-dress competition took place, and it wasn't until 4 o'clock that the rain started. By which time the show had already started to wind down. Although there was a free bus, my timings fell outside its timetable, but I'm not complaining about £2.20 for a return trip over about 10 miles.