Jonathan: During the night a wild north-easterly laid down a carpet of fine powdery snow. Icy cold despite heavy cloud. Roads not salted, so a bit wobbly going to the croft. Loaded up with my bucket of grain and egg collecting bucket, I’m enveloped by a ferocious blizzard, blasting in from The Minch. In seconds I’m lost in a maelstrom of needle-sharp ice and swirling darkness. The geese are calling for me, and I for them, but I can scarcely see my own feet. I abandon the usual feeding point and rush headlong down the hill, for the shelter of the old ruins. Amidst the howling wind and stinging ice I can make out their call, but in the meagre light before dawn I can see nothing. Then, suddenly, the heavy beating of wings and looking up, the air is filled with geese descending around me, their wings outspread, all white feathers and bright orange legs lit up against the black sky by no more than the ethereal light of the snow itself. One of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. A moment I’ll never forget – not least because one goose thumped right into my chest!
Jonathan: This time yesterday morning it was -5 deg C outside; now it is +10 deg and all the ice and snow has gone. Instead everything is sodden and dirty; and the wind has picked up bringing damp air off the sea – which is the coldest feeling of all. Thankfully I’m working inside today!
Jonathan: The max-min thermometer outside recorded -5degC last night (and that in the relative shelter of the woodstore and near the house, so probably a couple of degrees colder). That’s a record low since we moved here eight years ago. Also the cold continuing day-on-day for nearly two weeks now. The night frost sparkles with starlight, and in the morning the cars are covered with the distinctive graffiti of Jack Frost. Now, at mid-morning, the sun shines wanly out of clear pale blue sky, but behind glass it has yet the power to warm and enliven. But in the shadows – and at this time of year and at this latititude the shadows are very long! – the ice lingers on.
Jonathan: The weather changed during the night, with rain carried in from the south-west on a mild wind having mostly melted the snow, but falling on frozen blacktop had resulted in black ice. The coldest it’s been in the past week has been -4degC a couple of mornings ago, but for the most part its just hovered between 0 and +4 – ie just cold enough to stop the little snow we had from melting. Compared to the mainland Scotland and north east England it has been positively balmy here! By the time I’d fed the hens and geese and sheep the rain had cleared and it was a fine morning with a light breeze. This cow – munching grass by the roadside near the croft – seemed quite happy!
Denise: A problem with the water supply somewhere: pressure so low the electric shower wouldn’t fire up, and the washing machines were beeping and flashing and eventually had to be turned off. House is certainly cold, but not enough to freeze pipes inside. Buried pipes here in Uist are often just below the surface, as frosts are rarely more than light or short-lived: but J says the temperature outside is only just a fraction below zero, so perhaps its nothing to do with the cold.