Saturday, 26 November 2005

Creeping towards Broadband

On the radio a few weeks ago, it was quoted that "99.63% of the UK population have access to Broadband". Guess who live in the remaining 0.37% percent...


Thus is the trade-off for living in a genuinely remote place. Here, we are going to get the Connected Communities (CC) broadband service. BT converted some of the exchanges in the  Outer Hebrides - namely the ones with the largest number of lines - but left the smaller exchanges alone.


CC will be a wireless broadband service that uses a diamond-shaped dish on the side of your house and a number of relays. All of the hospitals and schools are signed up, and have 6Mb Broadband access through it. Homes, when they get it, have a range of packages. These start at 19.99 for a 1Mb package, which CC have cheekily described in their e-spam today as "attractive". How this is "attractive" when most other people in the UK can get 8Mb, free calls, and a bundle of other goodies for 15 quid a month is beyond me.


Anyway, they've been talking about it for nigh on three years; when they started, it was "state of the art". Now it's about a generation behind contemporary mainland broadband. Maybe it'll be good/reliable. The latest is that from December 7th we can sign up through the website at http://www.hebrides.net/, following which we'll be given a date for installation.


Watch this space...

Friday, 25 November 2005

No rush for the deckchairs

I like travelling on Calmac ferries - well, except when it's anything above a force 6 on the open sea. With predicted bad weather, their website is disarmingly honest about the probability of sailings. Here's a couple of snippets from their website at the moment:
Due to the weather forecast for the next couple of days, the Master of the vessel has indicated that the following sailing may be affected from Stornoway and Ullapool; Thursday p.m - doubtful Friday a.m - extremely doubtful Friday p.m - extremely doubtful Saturday a.m - doubtful.

Here's another:
M V Isle of Lewis will attempt a crossing from Ullapool to Stornoway at approximately 1130.

I like this. Kind of "Well, we might get there. Or we might not. And you might want to avoid a full fried breakfast before boarding."

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Indoors

It hasn't been too bad here. Windy all day - from the north, with the occasional snow flurry. Unfortunately the only weather combination that forces me to stay indoors - high winds and hail (ouch!) is currently rapping away at my windows.

The weather forecasts from the met office are becoming more entertaining:

Severe Gales, Blizzards & Heavy Snow
Affecting Eilean Siar, Highland & Orkney Islands
Heavy snow showers and gale force northerly winds will give blizzard conditions at times for the rest of today. The wind will gust to 70mph in association with heavy snow showers at low levels in coastal areas exposed to the northerly gales, and more generally over ground above 600m. The public are advised to take extra care (Really? Damn; I thought I'd go out in shorts and t-shirt and mow the lawn). 

Inshore forecast
Ardnamurchan Point to Cape Wrath including the Outer Hebrides.

24 hour forecast:
Wind: northwest veering north 7 to severe gale 9, perhaps storm 10 later around the Outer Hebrides.
Weather: showers becoming wintry.
Visibility: good.
Sea State: rough or very rough becoming high in north and west.
Outlook for the following 24 hours:
Wind: north 7 to severe gale 9, possibly storm 10 at first near the Outer Hebrides.
Weather: squally wintry showers.
Visibility: good.
Sea State: rough or very rough, but high or very high in north and west.

Shipping Forecast (I do wish they'd stop putting it in CAPITALS):

ROCKALL MALIN HEBRIDES BAILEY FAIR ISLE FAEROES
NORTHWEST VEERING NORTH GALE 8 TO STORM 10, PERHAPS VIOLENT STORM 11 LATER IN FAIR ISLE. SQUALLY WINTRY SHOWERS. MODERATE OR GOOD.

A bit of white stuff

After the sunny weather of last week and weekend, the weather forecasts have been getting steadily ominous. For tomorrow and friday, the met office currently say:

Tomorrow
Frequent showers in the north with snow to low levels. Strong northwesterly winds and blizzards on mountains. Maximum temperature 4 deg C (39 deg F).


Outlook for Friday
Gale force northerlies and wintry showers gradually turning to rain.


The problem with these forecasts is that the "region" they cover is a huge chunk of Scotland, from Barra to the Orkney islands. Weather forecasts like these tend to be a bit general.

Still, on the upside, it may mean that I finally get some pictures of Berneray in the snow. On the downside, it doesn't look good for the Friday visit of the mobile bank...

Saturday, 12 November 2005

Nice weather for a boat trip

The current Met Office inshore waters forecast for our area. Pass the sickbag...

Ardnamurchan Point to Cape Wrath including the Outer Hebrides.

24 hour forecast:
Wind: south or southwest severe gale 9 to violent storm 11, veering northwest and decreasing 6 to gale 8.
Weather: rain then showers.
Visibility: moderate or poor, becoming mainly good.
Sea State: very rough or high.
Outlook for the following 24 hours:
Wind: northwest 6 to gale 8 decreasing 4, then backing southwest 5 or 6, occasionally 7 later.
Weather: showers, rain later.
Visibility: moderate or good.
Sea State: rough or very rough, but high in open waters at first.

...and the met office shipping forecast for the Hebrides area is (their capitals)...

HEBRIDES
SOUTHWEST BECOMING CYCLONIC THEN NORTHWEST, SEVERE GALE 9 TO VIOLENT STORM 11, OCCASIONALLY HURRICANE FORCE 12 AT FIRST, DECREASING 6 TO GALE 8. RAIN THEN SHOWERS. MODERATE OR POOR.

Friday, 11 November 2005

No school

Another day of "interesting weather". The schools have shut early, so the kids have got a long weekend. The Sale of Work for the Community Christmas dinner has been postponed, as the wind is forecast to reach 80mph or so by early evening. It looks like it will be bad enough for me to unilaterally declare it our second hurricane of the week.

As I type this, we lose mains electricity. Hurrah for laptop batteries!

Lesson for the day. Remember to make the fire (emptying out the ashes; getting peat and coal in) *before* it starts blowing a hoolie and the rain is horizontal.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Sunny


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As is the way after a bout of stormy weather, the day or two afterwards are bright and fresh.

At this time of the year, the sun rises above the hills of Skye, illuminating fishing boats chugging out of the harbour to take full advantage of the shorter days.