Trip Start May 12, 2011
Trip End Oct 15, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Saturday, July 23, 2011

A great sail today, though it is getting colder. We left 9:45 and motored through the Sound of Scalpay with its road bridge, and then though the roughish Sound of Shaint. Then we managed the patience to beat for the next 3 hours against a North East force 3-4.

Half way we passed a lone rower. I wondered if he needed assistance, and sailed close by, but then I recognised him from a recent local newspaper arcitle. He is rowing across the Atlantic (and jolly good luck to him!) See:

We are now in Stornoway, the most northern (and major) town of the Hebrides on

Lewis - Scottish island number fifteen

...Though Lewis and Harris are (literally) the same island, they are geologically different, Harris being mountainous and Lewis much flatter.

The Outer Hebrides or Eilean (Isles) Siar (Western), as they say in these parts, has a population of 26,500, and 9,000 of them live in or about Stornoway. It has 3 supermarkets, including a Tesco, but that joy will have to wait till tomorrow as nearly eveywhere is shut on the Sabath.

I walked over the grounds of Lews Castle today. It is what passes for a glorious summers day, which means sunny intervals with a very hot sun, and cloudy intervals when the wind nips you round the neck, but no rain.

Sunday 24

Sunday being a day of rest, and most of Stornoway observing the Lord's Day, I decided to join them. I went to a Church of Scotland service in St Martin's church. There were 4 hymns, which I enjoyed joining in with no hell and damnation or fire and brimstone, but instead an interesting reading from the old testament - Joshua to be presice...

After Moses had poped his clogs the Israelites, now led by Joshua and still searching for the promised land, came to the strongly fortified city of Jerico. Two spies were sent into the city and holed up at the house a local prostitute, Rahab. Now Rahab was pursuaed that the God of the Israelites offered her a better oportunity than the King of Jericho, so she betrayed her own people and gave refuge to the spies of Joshua in return for 'protection'.
After 3 days of hocus pocus the Israelites were able to enter the city......(and I quote from Joshua, Chapter 6 verse 21:
...and they destroyed evrything there. They put everyone to the sword, men and women, young and old as well as the cattle and the sheep and the donkeys.

Now what kind of lesson is that for a Sunday, in our current climate of religious extremism.
No wonder the middle East is in a mess.

Monday 25

A day around town.
In the evening I attended a great concert. There were 2 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos playing Bach, Mendelsson and a brilliant piece by Tchaikovsky. It was a real treat!

Tuesday 26

We took a local bus to the ancient Callanish standing stones - they date from neolithic times (maybe 5000 years ago) making them contemporary with Newgrange and older than Stonehenge or Avebury. Read about them at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callanish_Stones

After a couple of hours we got back on the bus and visited an iron age fortified house:

Then we walked a couple of hours to a restored Blackhouse village:

People lived there until quite recently, but eventualy the younger generation moved away looking for better oportunities and the only people remaining were some old widows who were unable to keep up with the maintenance jobs so they were rehoused (1974).

The place is now owned by a trust, is much restored and open as a museum - and very interesting it was too. We saw two great presentations, one about peat cutting (that's turf in Ireland) and the other about Harris wool and weaving.

Engineering update

We are having trouble starting the engine - I won't go into details but several engineers have been aboard to advise yet the trouble persists. Although we are sailing and can get most places by wind power we do depend upon the engine to charge the batteries to provide power for navigation and safety equipment.

A new lift pump has been ordered. Let us hope it solves the problem.
It looks like we will be here for a few days more.

Thursday 28

In the evening we went to a local centre and were treated to some first class traditional music. There had been a Gaelic arts week with training for youngsters, and this performance was put on by the instructors - mostly pretty young themselves but good musicians.

Friday 29

We took a local bus to the west side of the island and walked a mile to Barabhas Machair where they were putting on a show. It's not as grand as the Royal Cornwall, but good fun all the same (even if Tennants was the only beer on sale.)

A Machair (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machair ) is a soft down sandy area, usually near a coast, where sheep can graze. There were hundreds of prizes, for handy work, all sorts of vegetables, animals, running and jumping and highland games.

I was tempted by the prospect of winning a 50" flat screen TV and entered a raffle.
Unfortunately I didn't win the first prize.
Fortunately I didn't win second prize either as that was 10 tons of aggregate.
I did however win third prize, but I told them (later on the phone) to recyle it and use it for their next draw.

Saturday 30

I took a bus North from Stornoway to the end of the track at Tolsta. Lord Levehulme had plans to develop a road to the north of the island at Ness, but they didn't work out and all we have is an old road over the Bridge to Nowhere. It is possible to walk all the way from Tolsta to Ness, but it is very boggy, the going is tough and water proof footwear, a compass and an OS map are higly advised. I decied not to attempt the 10 mile walk on my own.

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