January 29, 2009 § 3 Comments
I was greatly saddened to learn of John Martyn‘s passing this morning.
John’s music holds great personal significance to me since being introduced to him by my friend Harri and my gaffer several years ago.
Albums like Solid Air, Bless The Weather, Grace & Danger, London Conversation and One World amongst others have provided the soundtrack to the highs and lows of my life and I was fortunate enough to see him play live on four occasions.
Rest in peace John.
January 22, 2009 § Leave a Comment
First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“Today’s announcement is a significant step in Scotland’s journey to become a world leader in renewables. This is proof of Scotland’s unique opportunities in renewables and evidence that we are already on the way to seizing every opportunity to maximise our natural resources and capability to generate clean, green energy. This is good news for the Western Isles and for Scotland but its long-term potential is global.”
Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, welcomed the announcement.
“These kind of near-shore wave machines will be important for many of Scotland’s coastal communities in the future and we welcome the go ahead for this pioneering scheme. Scotland is a world leader on exploiting wave power and continued support for these green energy schemes will deliver huge export benefits in technology and expertise. We want the Scottish Climate Change Bill to set tough targets to drive Scotland towards a low-carbon economy and clean, green energy will be an important part of that transition.”
January 17, 2009 § 1 Comment
Above was the Met office prediction for the deep low causing the windy weather tonight.
Looked like the center was right above Lewis at midnight…
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Northern Constabulary are monitoring weather conditions in the Outer Hebrides as high winds are now moving in during the early evening of Saturday through to Sunday morning. There is a high risk that roads will be closed and the public are advised not to travel. All public facilities will be closed by 6 pm and it is anticipated that there will be no bus services after this time. High tide will also occur in the two hours up to about midnight. The violent storm is expected to hit later tonight. Saturday afternoon south easterly winds will shift to the south west and increase to around Force 11. Winds - potentially around 90 mph in places - will result in very heavy seas and will coincide with high water around 11pm in Benbecula. High tide at Castlebay is 15 minutes before that while Lochmaddy is 15 minutes later. Loose objects lying around in gardens etc. should be put away or secured. The Comhairle and the Police will continue to monitor the situation and further information will be issued as appropriate via media. People are advised to “Go in, stay in and tune in.”
January 14, 2009 § 1 Comment
A quick and hearty stew here, that should be on the table in about an hour, for most of which time it can sit unattended, with just the occasional stir to see how it is getting on.
2 -3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
3 chorizo sausages – about 400g
crushed dried chillies
a glass of white wine
5 or 6 decent-sized tomatoes
2 x 400g tins chick peas
small bunch parsley
Warm the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based pan.
Peel the onions, roughly chop them and add them to the oil, stirring to coat them, then letting them cook at a moderate heat.
Peel the garlic, slice it thinly and stir it into the onions. Leave to cook, partially covered by a lid, until the onions are soft and pale gold.
Cut each sausage into about four fat chunks. Mix these in with the softened onions then add a teaspoon or so of crushed, dried chillies.
Pour in a glass of white wine and bring it to an enthusiastic bubble.
Chop the tomatoes roughly, add them and bring them to the boil, then add the chickpeas, drained of their canning liquor and rinsed, then pour in a can of water, then season with salt and black pepper.
Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and leave to cook, slowly, half covered with a lid for 45 minutes.
Give it a stir from time to time, and check the liquor levels. What you want to end up with is a rich, brick-red sauce with a spiciness from the chillies and chorizo.
Just before serving. Chop the parsley, but only roughly, then stir into the stew.
Serve in shallow bowls, making certain everyone gets a fair bit of sausage.
January 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
lamb shanks – 2 small
onions – 4 small to medium
bay leaves – 3
sprigs of rosemary – 2 or 3
vegetable or meat stock – 250 ml
red wine – 250 ml
garlic – 3 cloves
grain mustard – 1 heaped tablespoon
To serve: mashed potatoes + bit more mustard
Set oven to 160 degC / Gas3
Brown and seal shanks in roasting tin or pan with a little olive oil
Peal and quarter onions and add to lamb with bay leaves and leaves from rosemary sprigs.
Add stock and wine
Peel and flatten garlic with blade of heavy knife and add to pan
Season with salt and pepper
Cover and place in oven for 90 mins.
Half way through add mustard and stir.
Serve with mashed potatoes and mustard.
Via Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries
January 14, 2009 § 2 Comments
Two Sea Kittens we caught in Lochs, Isle of Lewis 2008
Some people – such as anglers, whose lobby group the Anglers Trust relaunches today – don’t seem to bond with fish. They think of them as slithery and slimy, and are disconcerted that some fish have eyes on both sides of their heads. Which is why PETA decided to act as PR for fish, giving them a “rebrand” consisting of a new name, “sea kittens,” and a more positive image.
And it’s not even April 1st.
January 12, 2009 § 1 Comment
Iain Crichton Smith was born on the 1st January 1928 in Glasgow, and moved to Lewis two years later with his parents, both of Highland origin, and his two brothers. His father died shortly afterwards, and he and his brothers were brought up by his mother in rather frugal conditions in the crofting community of Bayble. It is frequently stated that he was born on Lewis, but his first two years were spent in Glasgow, a fact he refers to in his writing.
He went to school in Stornoway, attending the Nicholson Institute, and his formative years in Lewis proved to be a lasting influence on his creative work, in particular the Free Presbyterian strand that permeates much of island life, which he saw as dogmatic and authoritarian, even anti-art. In an early piece of work, ‘Poem of Lewis’, Smith tells us that ‘They have no place for the fine graces/ of poetry.’
Also, the community in which he grew up was Gaelic-speaking, so that English was his second language, first learned at school. This bilingualism is also an important feature of his work, additionally allowing him to translate the work of other Gaelic poets including Duncan Ban McIntyre and Sorley MacLean, as well as employ both languages in his own compositions.
He attended the University of Aberdeen, where he read English, graduating in 1949, and after a spell of National Service in the fifties, went on to become an English teacher, taking up posts in high schools in Clydebank, Dumbarton, and finally Oban. In 1977 he retired to concentrate full-time on writing, and in the same year he married Donalda Logan.
Smith was honoured with an OBE in 1980, won several literary prizes, Saltire Society and Scottish Arts Council awards and fellowships, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Although he travelled frequently, lecturing, visiting and giving poetry readings around the world, he remained very much a writer based in the Highlands of Scotland, with Gaelic culture, history and landscape ubiquitously informing his work. He continued to live in the village of Taynuilt, near Oban, with his wife Donalda, until his death in 1998.
The Red Door and The Black Halo form a central part of Iain Crichton Smith’s oeuvre, demonstrating the full range and versatility of his literary talent. From humour to tragedy, from inner monologues to extrovert surrealism, the diversity of his writing indicates the extraordinary range of his own reading and vivid mental world.
Iain Crichton Smith wrote short stories throughout his life. Some are fragments, others almost novellas, and the best of them all show him to be an author of unique sensitivity and intelligence. These two collections comprise the complete English stories, and include over 45 stories never before published in book form, as well as others that have been out of print for many years, thus making it possible to judge Crichton Smith’s achievement as a writer in full.
The collection incorporates stories from Survival Without Error, The Black and the Red and The Village.
The house was extraordinarily peaceful as if by an act of will I had banished all the fertile ghosts. It had an unearthly calm as if I were floating on a dumb sea of solitude. I found myself humming to myself as if I had come to the silence of myself. I went to the bookcase and took out a book and began to read. Strangely enough I didn’t realise at first what book it was. Then I saw that it was the Bible. I turned to the New Testament and began to read, ’In the beginning was the Word . . .’
- ’The Hermit’
January 12, 2009 § Leave a Comment
A light breeze at Ness. Via Cloudpurple
Had to laugh at poor Island Thread’s battle with the Lewis gales (sorry!).
A windproof fence? On Lewis?? Now that’s optimism! As Calum From Ness commented:
…the Good Lord seems to have made a fairly decent fist of the landscaping in the first place and it doesn’t need a ‘landscape gardener’ advertising in the Gazette to improve on it.
To be fair it looks like the workman did a pretty poor job of plonking some 4x2s into the boggy peat. A refund is in order I think. Maybe a line of Stonehead’s gate posts might have done the job but I suspect anything short of a stone dyke will continue be sent sailing.
January 11, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Murdo Macfarlane (Gaelic: Murchadh MacPhàrlain) known as ‘Bàrd Mhealboist’ (the Melbost Bard) was a published poet and campaigner for Scottish Gaelic.
Born and brought up in Melbost, Isle of Lewis, he was taught Latin, English and French but received no education in Gaelic. He spent some time working for Lord Leverhulme on various schemes but eventually left to travel to North America in the 1920s and spent many years in Manitoba but did not like the place. In 1932 he returned to Scotland and went on to national service in World War II during the years 1942-1945. He was also a strong campaigner against the enlargement of Stornoway Airport into a NATO base in the 1970s.
He spent his whole life as a crofter except for his army service in 1942-45, and never married. He became nationally known as a composer of popular songs and his compositions such as Cànan nan Gàidheal were played and sung by many in the new Gaelic folk movement, especially by Na h-Oganaich. Although his home was in Melbost, he died at the home of relatives in Tong on the 7th of November, 1982.