Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday 21 January

I am returning to Stornoway today, after quite a lengthy stay of 5 weeks. The Shell Gallery, like its counterpart in the Castle Country Park here, will go back under wraps for the time being. I shall resume posting on my Stornoway based blog Atlantic Lines tomorrow, 22 January.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Sunday 19 January

Started the day by going to church and joining in the choir for a final time, for this visit. After lunch, we headed out for a walk into the Heathlands, which stretched for 8 miles and took us 3 hours. Although it started bright and sunny, it gradually clouded over as we walked down the Eerbeekseweg, 4 miles out of town. Our aim was the Bomber Memorial, a simple plate of rusty steel in the shape of a bomber and its wing. In 1943, a Lancaster bomber had crashed near that site. A total of 8 flyers were killed in this municipality during WW2. There were a few other walkers and cyclists about, but the chilly weather kept most others at home.

Saturday 18 January

Today was the big day: my father's 80th birthday party. Although his actual birthday is still a few days away, a birthday bash was put up today and 55 relatives and friends came to enhance the fun. A number of people had been invited without my father's knowledge, so he was pleasantly surprised. After the majority of folks had left, we had a bowl of soup and cleared up. We locked up the hall at 8.40pm, just over an hour and a half after the party ended. A great day!

Friday 17 January

Another two hours and 5.5 miles (8.8 km) through wood and heath this afternoon. It is a bit breezy, but not too cold - about 9C / 48F. Rain is about to move in from the southwest, so we returned just in time. In the evening, we went to visit my uncle to celebrate his 87th birthday. He is doing absolutely fine.

Thursday 16 January

This looks like another wet day in the offing. I notice it has warmed up in the States, if you want to call -8C warm. Watching the birds round the feeders. In the evening, I had choir practice, but by that time, the cloud had lifted and the full moon was shining very brightly.

Over the past 55 years, a large reserve of natural gas has given the Netherlands unimagined riches. The reservoir, in the northeast of the country, is now 2/3 empty, and beginning to collapse underground. This is giving rise to earthquakes, presently measuring 3 on the Richter scale, but projected to augment to 5. That is a magnitude which could lead to destruction of property, as well as injuries or death. The residents of the province of Groningen are up in arms, and demanding a reduction in the rate of gas extraction. If not, they are threatening with protests and disruption. The more extreme elements threaten sabotage. The damage to properties, such as cracks in walls, is mounting up and compensation said to be derisory. The government minister in charge will visit the region tomorrow. An insufficient offer, for reduction of output and increase in compensation, will cause real discontent, in an area already blighted by high unemployment and unsaleable homes, the latter due to earthquake damage.

Wednesday 15 January

Went out for a little bit of shopping in the morning, but there was some light rain. And when I looked at the rainfall radar at luncthime, there was a large area of rain on its way in from the southwest. An inside afternoon coming up.

Tuesday 14 January

An overcast day, but perfectly acceptable for walking. So, we headed for the outskirts of Arnhem, 2 miles to the south, where my dad wanted to buy a present for his brother who'll be 87 on Friday. On the way back, we passed by the Military Museum Bronbeek, which houses a collection related to the Royal Dutch Indian Army (KNIL). They were last in action in the late 1940s, when Indonesia fought for its independence.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Monday 13 January

I have been monitoring a tropical cyclone, named Ian, which has been rampaging through the islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. The storm is now moving away from land and is about to join the mid-latitude airflow. The cyclone, which at one point packed winds of 160 mph, caused one death and a lot of damage in Tonga.

We went for a walk round the Heathlands this afternoon. It is now Monday, meaning that there are very few people out and about on foot or on their bikes. During the weekend, there are hundreds of folks about. Today, there was just a few paid dogwalkers, the odd cyclist and the odd walker or two.

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Sunday 12 January

We started off by attending church, but it was rather cold and foggy. There was a slight frost, which resulted  in a hoarfrost, plenty of rime on plants and cars and the like. It took until midday before the fog lifted. We went for a walk to Biljoen Castle and the adjacent town of Velp. As we came down the hill, the temperature slowly fell and the hoarfrost returned. It was quite cold at Biljoen Castle, but in the built-up area of Velp the mercury appeared to be a little higher.

Today, the death was announced of Ariel Sharon, former general and government minister of Israel. I am indifferent to his passing, neither sad nor joyful. Mr Sharon, lauded by his friends and loathed by his enemies, has done little for the cause of peace in the Middle East and is in fact one of the many people that the region could have done without. He was in coma since early 2006, and his death will change nothing.

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