Wednesday 30 December 2015

Storms on Skye

As I write, Storm ‘Frank’ is wreaking his wrath over our island. Once again, we are experiencing winds that will blow you over if you are not fleet of foot, and floods of horizontal rain are battering relentlessly against the windows. I’ve just been out with Cupar for his late night ‘walkies’. It is as black as a pot out there. Without a torch, I would have to rely on Cupar’s nose to find the way back home – and we are only walking 400 yards on the local road!! Thankfully, we made it safely back home… Storm proof clothing is pretty effective, at least for a 10-minute dog-stretch, and my waterproofs are all now set out to dry, ready for their next outing. Cupar is stretched-out, steaming, by the stove.

‘Frank’ is our sixth storm this winter. Each storm has brought huge amounts of rain, and winds at times gusting to more than 70mph. This kind of weather does not make a line in the national news or weather programmes. Here, it is considered too ‘normal’ to be ‘news’ – though in fact we would not normally expect more than a couple of storms of this ferocity each winter…

However, neither the storm-force wind nor torrential rain is a threat to life here – not human life anyway – though I have spotted a dead sheep on the nearby moor – poor thing. Tonight, we experienced our first extended power cut of the winter – but even this lasted only a couple of hours. Almost all the electricity supply across Skye comes via overhead lines supported on wooden poles, so occasional line breaks are inevitable. However, the power-line guys do an amazing job of fixing faults in the very worst of weather. Big thanks to you, guys!

Our local river has a relatively small catchment area, and the rain that falls here gathers quickly and then rushes to the sea through a deep gorge, so we are not at risk of flooding. Our buildings were designed and built to cope with the wind. We may lose the occasional roof tile, and chimney cowls may not survive too long, but mostly our houses are secure. Our trees are amazing. We have some mature Sitka Spruce on the side boundary of the Barn garden, and a small woodland of Sycamore, Beech, Larch, Scots Pine and Sitka on the edge of the river gorge. Somehow, all the trees hang on through every storm, rarely losing as much as a branch. Mostly, I think they are growing close enough together for their roots and branches to inter-twine, so they support each other. Together, they afford the Barn some useful shelter, which I am sure is why they were planted!

So, we shall go to bed tonight with the wind howling round the house and the rain beating on the windows - yet again. And then, I suspect, all of a sudden, everything will go quiet. The weather changes so quickly here. Within 15 minutes a raging storm can became a peaceful winter night. Never know - I might even get a decent photo of tomorrow morning’s sunrise…!!!

Thursday 17 December 2015

More Bonkers Weather

Sorry to be harping on about the weather again, but this winter is getting silly... December started with day after day of torrential rain, mostly accompanied by very strong winds which reached storm force one night – that’s 60 – 70 mph.

Eventually, that all died down, but then no more than 24 hours later, the Skye freezer had been turned up to maximum and we woke to windless sunny skies and a thick frost over everything. It had been -5C during the night, and daytime temperatures reached about +2C. Apart from the icy roads, this is pretty much perfect winter weather. It’s easy enough to wrap up warm, and it’s lovely to see the sun – and the Skye scenery!

But we had just two days of that, and now it’s all gone dull and drizzly again, and the temperature is up to at least 10C. I’m holding my breath wondering what we might expect next...

'Proper' winter weather on Skye

Thursday 10 December 2015

What A Difference A Day Makes!

There I was yesterday, saying that I wish the rain would stop, and here I am today...

...well, not only has the rain stopped and the wind died down to a gentle breeze, but, the sun is shining...!!!

Here's my attempt at an 'atmospheric' photo taken this afternoon through a rather dirty upstairs window (I can't see the sea from my study window - it is hidden by the garden shed)!

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Relentless Rain

I'm not one to moan about the weather. You don't move to Skye and expect wall-to-wall summer sunshine or regular crisp frosty winter mornings. But just now, I am beginning to wish that it would stop raining...!!!

The rain we have been experiencing for the last several days is accompanied by some pretty strong winds too - like 60/70 mph at times - so the raindrops are driven horizontally and sting if they hit you in the face. It is a challenge to get waterproofs dried out quickly enough so that they are comfortable to put on for the next trip outside. You don't have to be outside for long to have them streaming with water again.

Thankfully, we are under no threat of flooding here. Most of Skye slopes, either gently or steeply, and at the bottom of the slopes, rivers and burns often flow in deep gorges. Currently, the Roskhill River, which flows in a forty-foot deep gorge just beyond my soggy allotment, is roaring down to the sea in full spate.

No outdoor photos I'm afraid, but here's the view out of my study window this afternoon... usually, I can see MacLeod's Tables in that grey space beyond the moorland.


Thursday 3 December 2015

Another Stunning Sunset

I know I post quite a lot of sunset pictures in this blog, and my only excuse can be that we are blessed with a whole lot of stunning sunsets!

Tonight (or, more accurately, 'this afternoon' - as this was about 3.30pm...) I looked out of my study window here at the Barn, and was aware that some very fluffy clouds had arranged themselves very prettily over the sea beyond Idrigill Point, and the sun was setting behind more fluffy clouds over MacLeod's Tables... (click on any picture to enlarge it).

Late afternoon, Idrigill Point. 03.12.2015

Sunset over MacLeod's Tables from Roskhill Barn
Within no more than ten minutes, the whole amazing heavenly light show had re-organised itself to produce this...

Sunset from Roskhill Barn, 03.12.2015

But Cupar was in need of his late afternoon walk, so I had to stop gazing at the sky from home, and drive three miles to one of our favourite walkies spots on the shore of Loch Dunvegan. By the time I had done this, the sunset had put itself into top gear, and we had our walk bathed in eerie red light, which I am not able to capture with a camera. But the loch and sky looked like this...

Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. 03.12.2015
Just awesome!