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Archive for the tag “wind”


If you follow us on Facebook [other social media are available] you will know that we have recently been away for a week to Lewis and Harris for a wet week.  Our arrival was delayed by over ten hours as the morning ferry was cancelled due to gales which had kept the ferry over in South Uist and which also closed the Skye Bridge.  This further delayed the ferry as by the time they hoped to run there were only a handful of vehicles waiting.  We finally sailed at around 6:30pm, via an unscheduled stop at South Uist which turns a 90 minute crossing to Harris into 4 hours, so it was nearly midnight when we arrived at our firs accommodation in Great Bernera in North West Lewis.

For the most part the weather continued wet and often windy.  Now, this sort of weather can be quite conducive to photography – the dark brooding skies, misty landscapes, that sort of thing.  However, horizontal rain at 40 mph does tend to get onto your lens, however deep the hood and I’m grateful that Pentax SLRs tend to be weatherproofed*.  So for the most part, photographically it turned into more of a recce for later trips.  The bad weather was, however, good for working on the beaches.

Luskentyre beach #1. Shot from below the level of the tops of the breakers from a hopefully safe distance!

Now, I hear you say, if the rain is horizontal at 40 mph why do you want to be on a beach?  Fair point, but if you want waves, you need wind.  And I have set myself a project over winter to shoot a set of seascapes.  I also have a strange affinity for the coast [just as well, living a couple of hundred metres from it…].  Although I was born in the heart of the Midlands as far away from, the sea as you can get in Britain I spent much of my childhood in Northern Ireland where the coast was only a 45 minute car-ride away, and a frequent destination at weekends.  And then later, a few years after university I spent time working at a marine station in the Irish Republic doing rocky shore surveys.


Luskentyre beach #2. Wind blowing the tops off the breakers…

So I love beaches [although not hot sunny ones full of sunbathers!] and the shoreline in general.  I love being at the margins, at the edge looking out.  Which is perhaps why I love the west of Scotland and the west of Ireland, at the edge of the continent, looking out…  When I stand on a beach, on the margins of the land, looking out onto a stormy sea I see raw power, I see chaos, I see a terrible beauty,  I see a universe that is utterly indifferent to my continued existence and could sweep me away in an instant – yet I am beguiled.  There is an intensity that overwhelms the senses and I become marginalia, simply a passing mark on the sands, at the edge, indifferent to everything but the moment.  And if I have a camera, trying to capture the moment.

If you do follow us on Facebook you will have already seen two of these images, but I make no apology for including them here, not least because I’m still working on the others!  Usual when shooting water I use slow shutter speeds to suggest movement, or even stillness with very long exposures, but here I’ve tried to capture the power and forms of the sea so the shutter speeds are quite high, up to 1/1250 in #1.


Luskentyre beach #3. The blue and the grey and the white…

I did take some photographs of other things, and one of them has a little lesson to teach.  But I’ll tell you about that next time…

* In the days when we could afford trips to both Antarctica and Greenland I happily shot away while users of more lauded brands of camera had theirs seize up in the cold and damp, and in at least one case, terminally…

Currently listening to: The Time Has Come – Anne Briggs.


Weather Report

No, this isn’t a belated record review or celebration of the departed – Joe died back in 2007, although Wayne is still going strong at age 79.*  It’s what you thought it was: a report on the weather…

Despite what has been happening in the rest of the UK, we haven’t had snow here, although we see plenty looking over to the Cuillins.  What we have had is wind.  We’ve had two gales in the past couple of weeks that were both stronger than any last year, and both blew for a couple of days, rather than just twelve hours or so.  Dunvegan weather station recorded gusts up to 54mph, so you can probably add 10-20% to that over here, and some more over the other side of the road if there is a westerly component in the wind (as there usually is), as we get a surprising amount of shelter being down below road level.  The first gale was unusual in that it was from the south-east, on the gable end of the let.  Pleasing to report that the new bedroom window there is weatherproof!

G clamp

Mark 1 Skye window catch, model G [pat pending]

No real damage done although I’ve done some remedial work on the fence where a few bits were coming loose and put some draft excluder on the utility room window.  This gave Puzzle the excuse to climb out of said window, even though the front door was open [our front door opens into the utility room] and then jump on the fence and go for a walk on the roof.  The window, however, now won’t hold properly on the catch and is being held shut with a G-clamp while the draft excluder compresses, so I may have to replace the catch.  Life on Skye is one long improvisation – a bit like jazz really…

*For those who haven’t worked out what I was rabbiting on about (which was the general idea), Weather Report was a seminal jazz ‘fusion’ group (a fairly meaningless term as jazz isn’t a pure form, but then what music is?) founded in 1971.  The central members, through a shifting lineup, were keyboard player Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.  Jazz – see what I did there, how I started and end the blog – clever eh?  Oh please yourselves…

Currently listening toRace the Loser: Lau [which isn’t jazz, but folk, or avant-folk to those who are afraid of the continuing evolution of musical and other creative forms.  Don’t get me started…]

Another blow for The Byre

Well, although being the middle of May, we had the wettest day of the year yesterday, with just shy of 40mm of rain recorded at Dunvegan weather station, seven miles down the road, which is nearly twice the previous wettest day for 2012.  They also recorded gusts up to 40 miles an hour: I suspect that we easily topped that as when I went down to Dunvegan in the morning to get the Sunday paper, Dunvegan seemed positively balmy.  At one point while driving down the Jimny, which is an automatic and has the aerodynamics of a breezeblock, and also likes a few minutes to warm up if its cold or has been very damp, actually changed down a gear in response to the sudden headwind.  Still not extreme for Skye though…

The effect on the burn was quite dramatic. When I went out at 5 o’clock it was about 50 cm higher than usual and fairly gushing down like a wannabe waterfall. The picture below shows a comparison with a picture taken early in March when it hadn’t been exactly dry.

What a little rain can do...

What a little rain can do…

A half-decent storm with penetrating rain also shows up the weaknesses in a property.  We already knew that the Velux windows are past their best as they leak at the bottom right corners – now that I’ve seen it happening I’ll have to see  what I can do.  Water also gets under the front door if there’s a gale behind it, so I need to fit new  It’s a classic six-panelled door – what I didn’t expect was that it would leak around some of the panels!  It needs stripping back and repainting, with more paint layers than previously.

The burn trickles down across the front of The Old Byre

The burn trickles down across the front of The Old Byre

Still; everything is still standing which is the main thing and nothing blew away.  Every one still talks of ‘the big storm a few years ago’ even if no-one ever remembers exactly when it was.  The last story I heard was from the Outer Isles where a shed was blown away: with a dog in it.  It was found later on the beach, intact, and complete with unharmed dog!  Well, perhaps mentally scarred – it won’t go into sheds any more…

Currently listening to: World of Wonders – Bruce Cockburn

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