Jonathan: Whatever might be said of the poor weather this year, and the poor yield from garden and croft (and for that matter tourism), it’s been a good year for wild flowers, and native orchids in particular. There’s been thousands and thousands of them scattered across the croft, and they’ve remained in flower for an exceptionally long time, due to the mild temperatures and the ground never drying out. They’ve even been appearing in our gardens – never seen them there before. This magnificent specimen of Northern Marsh Orchid was found today in the garden at Eight Askernish. The flower head (ignoring the stem below) is about five inches long!
Jonathan: Quarterly meter reading for solar PV due. Fully expecting the figures to objectify the awfulness of the weather over the past three months, and specifically the prevalent blanket cloud and fog that has deprived us – and in particular the land (and thus our crops and livestock) – of sunshine. A few minutes of looking up online previous meter readings and tapping buttons on the calculator and then there we have it. Eh? Surely that can’t be right! More clicking and tapping and tutting and … same answer. Try again, different calculation method … Same result. Really? Surely not? This year (3 months to end June): 14.9 kWh per day, average. Last year? 14.6kWh per day. How can that be? Well, even dense cloud doesn’t entirely block solar radiation, it’s a question of degree. Even so, it’s difficult to believe. This time last year the grass was growing like Topsy, this year we’re still having to supplement the grass with bought-in feed, and here in the Big Garden the vegetables are scarcely developing at all (carrots are almost invisible seedlings – we should already be pulling thinnings! – and a visitor mistook our onions for spring onions!) and it’s really beginning to look like we’ll face significant hardship until next summer. As to the solar PV, I don’t trust the numbers: perhaps that earthing fault we found last year was more significant than we’d thought.
Just back from site visit to Harris. Lucky to get home at all today, as all inter-island ferries cancelled from mid-day on: just Loch Portain to return to her home port in Berneray – thank heavens! Driving home through Uist buffeted about by violent squalls of wind and rain. Everywhere poor lambs sheltering behind their mums or anything higher than them – even a clump of rushes. For heaven’s sake it’s the 1st of June today!!! However the storm though violent has been short and cyclonic, veering round over 6hrs or so from NW round by NE and SE to SW, bring and end – for now, at least – to the constant bitter wind from the north we’ve endured for all but a day or two of May.