Storm Gareth continued to batter Uist last night. I was woken at about 2:30am by a banging/knocking noise that recurred as each violent gust hit the house. Listening carefully and trying to locate the source, I realized it was the timber-frame partition that separates our bedroom from the rest of upstairs (which is in the roof).
Before we rebuilt – and strengthened – the house, it didn’t take much of a storm to set the house creaking and shaking ; but since the reconstruction, we’ve found that the range of phenomena is much more limited than previously. I’d established that this particular noise only occurred when we experienced storms of severity Storm Force or greater (ie Severe Storm Force, Hurricane Force). So the winds last night must have been much more powerful than we’d seen on forecasts. This realization did nothing to help me get back to sleep! The wind was from the WSW – the direction against which there is nothing more than a few scraps of land and sea-wracked rocks between us and thousands of miles of Atlantic fury! It occurred to me that, also, it was around the time of high tide, and combined with the deep low pressure there was likely to be a storm surge – and that could threaten the sand dunes and coastal roads. It could even result in seaweed thrown over the high garden walls!
When, at long last, morning came, the rain had stopped and the wind had died down to, well, just windy. It was earlier than usual that I drove over to Eriskay : the sun – still low above the waters of the Minch – was obscured by a veil of moisture-laden air, casting a soft luminescence over land and sea as they slowly emerged from darkness.
At the croft, I found the sheep troughs half-full of rainwater (so it was also a wetter storm than forecast!). The additional weight of water made the trough difficult to lift off the rails to empty it – I needed two hands, which meant putting down the bucket of feed, with hungry sheeps pushing and shoving to get their heads into the bucket!
One of the hurdles that make up the three-armed feeding station must have been jostled and joggled by the wind until it came out of the top loop of its neighbour : as it slammed to the ground with the force of the wind, it had twisted the bottom loop, breaking the weld. The broken hurdle will have to go to Laing Motors in Lochboisdale to be re-welded – costing more in time and expense.
The sheep sorted, I fed the sheep with sheep nuts and hay, fed three of the geese, and set out in search of the fourth – a female, who, as I had suspected, was in the garden next door (a little-used holiday letting cottage – with big gaps under its fencing). She was sitting on a nest she’d made, right in the middle of what had once been a flower bed – edged with large beach cobbles, but had long ago left to run wild. She hissed at me, and as I tried to put some grain down close to her, she got off the nest and grabbed my Wellington boots : at that point I could just about see four eggs, and satisfied with that (and a photo) I beat my retreat, leaving her to her breakfast.
Taking a short-cut back the croft store, I came across a gorse bush, covered in bright yellow flowers. There’s a saying that goes, ‘when the gorse is not in flower, kissing’s not in fashion’ – or something like that ; implying, of course that, the gorse flowers at almost any time of year. That’s true, but when the weather is improving, the gorse really puts its heart into its work!
Back at home, over coffee and toast, we caught up (via WhatsApp) with news from our daughter Becky. She sent photos of a walk up in the Cambrian Mountains, where she came across an area scattered with massive hailstones. Denise and I should count it a blessing that when we get hail thrown at us by Gale Force winds, the hail is just a few millimetres in size ; which of course is extremely painful ; but what would it be like being struck by these?