Monday, 22 June 2009

The daily commute into town

What is your trip into work like? During my last few years at work I was fairly lucky. Even if I took Son-who-watches-films to school on the way the journey was a mere 12 miles and rarely took more than an hour. At a guess there were about 40 sets of traffic lights and half a dozen roundabouts. Twelve miles in an hour in an urban environment in peak hours is probably a lot better than in parts of London. But compare that to the trip into town from Brother-who-blogs.

First of all the garden gates (designed to keep out the sheep) are opened. Then there is a seventeen minute drive of 7 miles.

First there is the drive along the road through the townships of Eagleton and Lower Bayble with their view out over Bayble Bay.

Then out onto the moor with sweeping views all round. Looking South the mountains of Harris can be seen in the distance.

Looking forward to Broad Bay and Tolsta ...

...perhaps pulling into a passing place if there is a bus coming the other way.

There may occasionally be a wait to turn onto the main road if there is a car passing. That’s David driving the coach ahead of us and causing this 'major traffic jam' and a seven second wait. That’s the busiest I have ever seen this junction.

On the opposite side of the road is an old mill. The drive through the scattered township of Cnoc has views of Broad Bay.

This photo is taken from the other side of the Bay and GB's route into town runs from the ridge on the left to sea level on the right, through Cnoc.

Then there is the sweeping drive along the Braigh (pronounced Bry) with the sea on the left .

If the weather is clear you can see the mountains of the Scottish mainland (on the left) and the Shiant Isles (middle right).

There might be a diver or some other bird to be seen as you drive along.

...and Loch Branahuie is on the right. It too is noted for its birdlife. Just beyond the loch is Broad Bay.

Looking back along the Braigh. The Braigh is a narrow isthmus which can occasionally get blocked by bad weather in the winter if a storm brings the sea crashing over the wall.

The seventeen minute journey can be extended somewhat if you stop for a chat . The Western Isles is the sort of small community where people know a lot of other folk and a drive of that length is unlikely to go by without a mutual wave or even a stop for a chat..

The drive past the airport may give one the sight of a plane taking off or there may be a cruise ship anchored in the bay by the cemetery.

As you approach the town there are some pleasant views across Stornoway Bay ...

Then there is the first traffic hazard - a roundabout - before entering the town centre.

If you were to drive all the way through Stornoway and out the other side you would (from memory) have to negotiate three further roundabouts, two sets of pedestrian lights and - depending upon your route - either one or no set of ordinary traffic lights. The odds on being held up at any of these are pretty slim.

How was your journey into town today?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Chatting in the street


Living somewhere like the Isle of Lewis with its one town, a local cannot walk the streets of Stornoway without meeting people they know. It's a lovely friendly atmosphere and what I especially love about it is how hospitable it is to off-comers. There is none of that 'Let's-speak-Gaelic-to-exclude-the-Englishman' feeling that you can get in parts of Wales. Never, in all my visits to Lewis have I felt at any stage that I was anything but welcome.

If you like seas and skies and nature and you ever get the chance, this is one part of the British Isles that definitely deserves a visit.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Insects on the croft

The insects on the croft last Friday included:-

A hoverfly - species as yet unidentified. It can be distinguished from the bumble bees it is trying to imitate by its wing venation.

Snipe Flies.

A Common Blue butterfly.

Green-veined White butterflies mating.

A beetle - as yet unidentified.

A Painted Lady laying her eggs on thistle.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Flowers on the croft


On Friday I had a walk down the croft to the shore. Once again it took me an age to travel a few yards because I was stopping all the time to photograph the flowers and insects.

After my last trip down the croft I showed photos of Tormentil, Cuckoo Flower, Marsh Marigold, Yellow Flag, Milkwort, Lousewort, and Butterwort. A previous posting showed Marsh Marigolds and Primroses. Thrift had its own special posting. Here are some more of the flowers to be seen - plus a few repeats where they were irresistible.

Cuckoo Flower (also known as Ladies Smock or Milk-maids), again!

And Milkwort again.

White Clover.

Ladies' Bedstraw.



A Centaury (I think - I need to check it further).



Scentless Mayweed.

Common (or Heath?) Spotted Orchids.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Butt of Lewis


On Wednesday we went across Barvas Moor to the Butt of Lewis, stopping for coffee at the Morven Gallery on the way.

The Butt is the northernmost point of the Isle of Lewis.

The Butt is the location for a lighthouse built in the 1860s and designed by David Stevenson.

There is a sheltered cove called Stoth on the road up to the lighthouse.

Lots of sea birds can be seen at the Butt of Lewis, like these Gannets flying along.

And this Herring Gull just standing around.

As are these Cormorants.

And Fulmars nesting.