Friday, 14 February 2020

Storms

February is turning into a stormy month. Last weekend, we were hammered by the fore-runner to Storm Ciara, which left a trail of destruction across much of the United Kingdom. This weekend, it will be Storm Dennis. Last Saturday (8th), winds gusted at 80 mph. Ciara blew at 95 mph in Wales on Sunday. It was followed by snow and floods. Dennis is winding itself up in mid-Atlantic, and will bring hurricane force winds to Iceland. Its lowest central pressure will be around the 920 mbar point, which is close to the all-time low of 916 mbar, observed in 1993. On Sunday morning, the barometer in Stornoway dropped to 948 mbar. The barometer pictured below is showing 0.1 inch too low; it should be showing 28 inches.

This week also saw springtides, exacerbated by low barometric pressure (which causes storm surge) and the very windy weather. The high tide on Tuesday morning rose to 5.3 metres in Stornoway, which prompted some overtopping of quays and river flooding between Bayhead and the Porter's Lodge. It was sandbags at dawn, but they were not required to prevent damage to property.

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Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Mobile post

So I downloaded the Blogger app onto the phone and started blogging. Aye. Couple of things went wrong. First of all, when you blog through a web browser, your output gets saved at regular intervals. That did not happen in the mobile version. I am prone to hitting the wrong part of the screen, even managing to inadvertently close the Blogging app. Could I get my post back? Nope. Not a promising start.

Anyway, I went for a stroll along the harbour, using the phone for GPS and taking pics. It was one of the best days in recent times, and I covered the 1½ miles in half an hour - including photostops. I log my walks through Strava since last weekend, which is a nifty tool. Pics below.

After sunset, I discovered that the lights have been switched on at the Newton marina development for the first time. It certainly lights up the street at night. I think the project is about to enter a new stage, with the primary contractor ready to hand over quite soon. Pontoons, auxiliary buildings and boat houses due for erection in the next 12 months.

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Friday, 31 January 2020

Brexit

When this post is published, the United Kingdom will have left the European Union after 47 years. I am saddened by this, but not really surprised. It could have happened at the first appointed time, being 29 March 2019 - but politics stood in the way. Today is sad day, as one of my contacts put it. A transition period commences, which expires on 31 December 2020. That is the date when Brexit gets cemented in tablets of stone, and becomes scary. Eleven months is very little time to come to formal agreements, to take the place what is no longer possible through the cessation of EU membership. So much is yet unclear - so little time to clarify.

The European Union is a flawed organisation, too large, too bureaucratic and not fit for the purpose for which it was set up back in 1957. I hope some lessons have been learned from the departure of the United Kingdom, always a reluctant and recalcitrant member. Some people in the UK are rejoicing today; some are saddened. The three million EU nationals are anxious, as their fate remains unclear. The one million UK nationals in EU states are equally anxious, for the same reason. We'll know more come 2021.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit Day -1

It just occurred to me. This is January 30th, 2020, the last full day that the United Kingdom will be a member of the European Union. Tomorrow evening at 11pm, GMT, Brexit will occur. A bad decision, executed in an inexecrable fashion, implemented with results that are unpredictable. We'll know more in 11 months' time. Eugh...

Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, flouted the rules in the European Parliament by flag-waving in the chamber as he made his final speech. I am not going to tribute him with any positive role in the Brexit process. There is no positivity in Brexit. One line I take is that it is an expression of internecine warfare within the ruling Conservative party, the other is that it shows the dangers of weak leadership: David Cameron and particularly Theresa May are glaring examples of that. Also, although the Brexit referendum showed a clear percentage in favour, it was not binding. However, there was no way that the outcome could be anything else but: Brexit.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Auschwitz Memorial Day 2020

Today it is 75 years ago since the infamous Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet forces. More than a million people, mainly Jews, were killed there during the Second World War. The process was conducted as an industrial process. To date, some of the goods left behind by the victims of the Holocaust remain on display. These include suitcases with name tags, spectacle frames, hair and shoes. I have never visited Auschwitz and am not likely to.

January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering all the victims of the Nazi's policy of extermination of all those they considered to be sub-human.

Holocaust Memorial Day remembers all victims of genocide.

We must never forget.



Sunday, 26 January 2020

Ed Balls in Euroland

Former Labour politician Ed Balls is currently (late January 2020) running a series of programmes on BBC TV about the rise of nationalism in EU memberstates. He starts in the Netherlands, and covers the increase in feelings of national pride, the rise of the likes of Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet (where is my bidet, sorry, baudet, sorry, bucket) - and the Zwarte Piet debate.

I have tweeted Ed to voice my feelings on the issue, and will copy the tweets below

Interesting take on the Netherlands. I'm Dutch, have lived in the UK since 1997. I'm familiar with the rise of nationalism in NL. Geert Wilders, to my mind, is a disgrace to NL. The Zwarte Piet debate is offensive to me. I was a child in the 1970s, and Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet were innocent childplay, something that adults indulged their kids in during the dark months of Nov and Dec. Nothing racist about it. The cultural background places Sinterklaas in Spain which was occupied by black North Africans in the 8th century AD. Zwarte Piet is portrayed as a serf, but only jocularly so. This is something that people who never grew up in Holland just not get, and I'm sorry, neither have you. This daft debate has spoiled the tradition.

Please note that the programme can only be viewed in the UK for a limited period of time.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Burns' Night

It's January 25th, the night we in Scotland commemorate the national poet and writer: Robert Burns. Apart from Scots, he wrote equally fluently in English. His output is copious, and he could churn out a poem at the drop of a hat. Like this epitaph on a dentist's tombstone:

Stranger, approach this place with gravity
For here lies John Brown, filling his last cavity

For 2020, I copy these lines:

O, Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast

O, wert thou in the cauld blast
On yonder lea, on yonder lea,
My plaidie to the angry airt,
I’d shelter thee, I’d shelter thee.
Or did Misfortune’s bitter storms
Around thee blaw, around thee blaw,
Thy bield should be my bosom,
To share it a’, to share it a’

Or were I in the wildest waste,
Saw black and bare, sae black and bare,
The desert were a Paradise,
If thou wert there, if thou wert there.
Or were I monarch o the globe,
Wi thee to reign, wi thee to reign,
The brightest jewel in my crown
Wad be my queen, wad be my queen.