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About this blog

The ramblings of NW's Northernmost member!

Entries in this blog

 

Vote for us!

Hi folks. Off on a bit of a tangent here. This here is my other hobby, singing. Me and my friend Caz did this for the final of a contest on the karaoke website SingSnap. The winner will be decided by public vote so I'm looking for a favour - your vote! You can vote for us by visiting [url="https://www.facebook.com/singsnap"]https://www.facebook.com/singsnap[/url] just scroll down to our entry and click the "like" button and you're done! Thankyou for your support [img]http://f1.nwstatic.co.uk/forum//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIRu33q_0cg"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIRu33q_0cg[/url]

Update: The contest closing date has been brought forward to 6pm tomorrow (18th October) so if anybody voted for us thankyou and if you didn't ya boo sucks lol.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Merry Christmas !

Well it's that time of year again so I'd like to wish everyone on NW a very Merry Christmas. Unfortunately, yours truly will be working (on day watch at Shetland Coastguard) but hopefully we will be quiet, especially as the weather looks like it well be relatively quiet up here after the storms of the past few days! Might even see some of the white stuff on Boxing Day!

Anyhoo, hope you all have a wonderful Christmas

Cheers

Bob

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

A Wild Night Ahead!

Looks like we could be in for some pretty appalling conditions up here later tonight and into the early hours.

SE-E winds are forecast to reach Storm Force with gusts between 70-80mph. As if that weren't bad enough theres a possibility that it could turn to snow again for a time between about 2100 and firt thing tomorrow sop we could well see some really atrocious blizzard conditions for a time.

On top of all that is the highest astronomical tides of the year tonight so we could have a wind-over-tide effect with coastal flooding. The Local Auhtority has already deployed sandbags in vulnerable places and SEPA has a flood alert out for here.

Being a weather fiend this of course makes for an interesting night to say the least, assuming the boradband and power stay on! More importantly I hope my colleagues at work don't have to deal with anybody in difficulty tonight. Effecting a rescue in those sorts of conditions can be difficult to say the least.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Winter has arrived

Well it looks like winter proper has arrived up here in Shetland. Much colder than it has been of late and also a bit more settled. Over the next few days I'm expecting to see night frosts and some light wintry showers. Sunday is looking like there might be a bit more in the way of wintry showers around and generally, the beginning of December is looking cold, with just the odd milder interlude.

That said, it's pretty much what you would expect for the time of year, particularly up here, although I expect temps on the whole to be a little below average. From the middle of the month it's starting to look promising for some proper winter weather with some snow, fingers crossed, but at this range things could easily change.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

First snow of the winter!

Albeit a couple of blustery showers so far, although overnight looks quite promising especially into the early hours. I'm quite pleased with myself because I flagged this up on the gulberwick weather website and FB page a week ago and issued a Yellow Alert on Monday (the Met office have followed suit today). It's always nice to get one up on the experts, especially will all the gear at their disposal!

As I write (7.20pm) the temp is 2.2C and the Dew is -1.2C which is not bad for October"! I get copied in to the forecasts the Meto issue to the local authority which puts more details on the alert issued. It says: "[font=Arial]Shetland, in particular, will see some testing conditions on Thursday and Friday with cold temperatures, strong to gale force northwesterly winds (possibly reaching severe gale force for a time around midday on Friday) and frequent wintry showers. " We'll see. I'm certainly hopeful of a covering by morning so I'll get some photos taken if thats the case.[/font]

[font=Arial]If you go to my website the webcam image is on the front page. It updates every 5 mins so just click refresh to get the latest pic.[/font]

[url="http://www.gulberwickweather.co.uk/"][font=Arial][size=2][size=2][size=2][size=2][size=2]http://www.gulberwickweather.co.uk/[/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/font][/url]

Update: Awoke to a light covering of snow as I thought. Further snow showers this morning.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

First cold snap?

Looks like we could be in for our first cold snap of the winter. From Wednesday evening things are set to turn much colder up here with wintry showers turning to snow on Thursday. That combined with strong winds could make things quite interesting, particularly on Friday when it looks like the showers could be more persistent and heavier. Not that its unusual to get snow in Shetland in October. We've had lying snow last week in October for 3 of the past 4 years now. The good news is that although it will last just 2-3 days looking further ahead it looks as if its set for a reload shortly afterwards! As usual will be regularly updating my website and Facebook page with details and pictures. The webcam on the web site might be worth having a look at!

[url="http://www.gulberwickweather.co.uk/index.html"]http://www.gulberwickweather.co.uk/index.html[/url]

[url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/gulberwickweathercouk/313323595729"]https://www.facebook.com/pages/gulberwickweathercouk/313323595729[/url]

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Never Thought It Would Be So Popular!

Today the Facebook page for my weather website has hit the 900 "likes" mark!

[url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/gulberwickweathercouk/313323595729"]https://www.facebook.com/pages/gulberwickweathercouk/313323595729[/url]

Never did I think this would prove to be so popular! Initially I set the FB page to help drive traffic to the website:

[url="http://gulberwickweather.co.uk/index.html"]http://gulberwickweather.co.uk/index.html[/url]

But seems like I stumbled upon a real local need for weather infromation. Our only other weather station is Fair Isle which is something like 60 miles further south so the weather can be somewhat different to here. It seems folks really like having a really "local" weather station and it seems to have become an important local resource. I really knew I had "made it" when I got a mention in the local paper a couple of weeks back when we had horrendous rain and flash floods!

Initially I started by just pointing people to the website and updating the page with a few bits and pieces. That has now grown to where I now do my own local forecasts - today, tomorrow and a 2 day outlook and issuing local weather warnings as and when required. I also post weather-related matters such as disruption to ferries, flights etc. The page is also linked to the a Twitter feed which uploads the latest conditions every 4 hours.

In the future I'm looking to upgrade the site and perhaps start earning some money from it by way of advertising etc so who knows where it will lead!

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Been A While!

It certainly has been a while since I wrote in here. The last year has been a very busy one for me and it's meant I haven't spent anywhere near as much time on here as I used to.

Work-wise I have now become as highly qualified as it is possible for an Operational Coastguard to be, having gone down to the Coastguard School in May and passed my Search And Rescue Mission Co-Ordinator certification (SMC). This is a very intense 10 day course and given that we are responsible for the safety of life it's right that it is. It now means that I am qualified to assume command and control of Search And Rescue (SAR) missions anywhere in UK waters. For a Coastguard it is a major achievement and involves an enormous amount of hard work and study so I think I can allow myself a small measure of pride in my achievement.

Weather-wise I have been very busy getting my website and associated Facebook page up and running (you can find the links in my sig or on my profile). They have exceeded all my initial expectations. I set them up really as a hobby and didn't expect so many people to be interested but the website attracts thousands of visits per month and the Facebook page now has almost 900 likes! It seems to have become an important community resource. Along the way I have learned an enormous amount to the extent that I now do my own weather forecasts which people have now come to appreciate and indeed rely on.

Now that things have generally settled down I'm hoping to spend a bit more time on NW so hopefully see you around in the near future

Bob

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Relief At Last

With todays announcement in the Commons by Shipping Minister Mike Penning, I and my colleagues can breathe a huge sigh of relief that finally it has been confirmed that we have saved our station from threatened closure. Almost a year has passed since the initial announcement was made in December last year and I don't mind telling you that we have all been through hell. From my own perspective, if the closure went ahead, I stood to lose everything I had worked so hard for over the past twenty-odd years, including my first house which I only bought 3 years ago and many of my colleagues were in the same boat. To have that threat removed is, as you can imagine, a great relief.

What made it all worthwhile for me was the tremendous support we received from our community both here in Shetland and down in Orkney. If the Govt/MCA thought that small island communities were a pushover, they were clearly labouring under a serious misapprehension! Also, I'm very proud of the fact that, despite the MCA's ridiculous attempt to set one community against another by saying either Shetland OR Stornoway would close with the other reduced to "daytime only" status, both stations and communities stood together as one and said "no" to the proposals. It is gratifying to note that Mr.Penning stated in the Commons today that the support for retaining both Shetland and Stornoway was "overwhelming."

It has been a very busy and exhausting year for me as, right from the get-go, I was heavily involved in the campaign to save the station. I am deeply honoured and humbled that my colleagues thought highly enough of me to both elect me as one of their 3 Trade Union Representatives (Branch Treasurer for the Shetland Branch of the Public & Commercial Services Union - PCS) and asked me to speak on their behalf before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee when they took evidence in Stornoway earlier this year. It is something I never in my life expected to have to do and I'm immensely proud to have represented such skilled and dedicated professionals.

Hopefully we can now have a bit of a party, celebrate and relax after a tough time for all of us but while we do so, it is always with a thought for our colleagues around the coast who have not had such good news today. These are people I have met, been on courses with, had a laugh and a few beers with but whats more important, they are highly trained, highly skilled, dedicated life-savers, the best of the best.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Tall Ships - First Pictures

Hi folks

I have uploaded some pics of the Tall Ships arriving in Lerwick harbour today. I will be going down to the harbour tomorrow to take some more.

[url="http://forum.netweather.tv/gallery/album/941-tall-ships-2011/"]Tall Ships pics[/url]

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Tall Ships Race - Watch The Website

As you may or may not know my weather website has a live streaming webcam at:

[url="http://86.140.14.120:8081/"]Gulberwick Weather Webcam[/url]

It has been angled so that it has a good view of the approach to the south entrance to Lerwick Harbour. The Tall Ships Races are visiting here this week and the ships should start arriving any time now. Also on Sunday there will be a "Parade of Sail" and the ships will muster right where my cam is looking so should be a good sight!

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

We Did It!

Well, as you will probably be aware by now, the campaign to save Shetland Coastguard from closure was a success!

A victory for a small local community who made the Govt & the MCA change its mind. They made the fatal mistake of thinking we were just a bunch of woolly islanders who would roll over and play dead! Shetlanders are made of stronger stuff than that! Whilst we are delighted, we are also very aware that many of our colleagues have not had such good news today and our thoughts are with them.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

About To Learn Our Fate

This week we will hear what the Govt plans to do with HM Coastguard. We're given to understand the announcement will come on Wednesday in a statement to the House from Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

The Sunday papers have been full of speculation but they all seem to have this figure of 11 stations surviving, all 24 hrs operation. The one question mark I would put over that is that generally, as far as the MCA/Govt is concerned, they usually leave London ( a small station on the Thames) out of the equation as it is very different to the remainder. So is it 11 in total or 11 + London? If its the latter then that would be 4 more stations surviving than originally planned which is substantially better (unless of course you are still one of those scheduled to close). I also note that there seems to be no mention of any MOC (Maritime Operations Centre) in any of the articles, so I wonder if that idea has also been dropped.

In any case we'll know soon enough. As far as we at Shetland are concerned, if the decision still goes against us then we are likely to fight on, we are not going to roll over and play dead.

We are very proud of our campaign to keep the station open, in particular, we are proud of the fact that at no time has the personal impact of the closure had any bearing on it. First and foremost we have concentrated on the threat to the safety of the people we serve, rather than linger on what is likely to happen to us at a personal level. That said, when a decision is this close, you cannot help but reflect on how it may affect you personally. For me, if the station in Shetland closes then I stand to lose everything that I have worked so hard for over the last 20-odd years, including my house that I bought only 3 years ago, so as you can see this week is a big one for me and indeed many of my friends and colleagues who are in much the same boat so I look forward to it both with eagerness to have it over and done with, but also with great trepidation.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

A Damning Indictment - Transport Select Committee Report

Well, I have to say I am stunned. Whilst we expected the TSC to be critical of the proposals for HM Coastguard I don't think any of us expected such a complete demolition job!

The report can be found here: [url="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmtran/948/94802.htm"]My link[/url]

This is a complete vindication of the stance I and my colleagues have taken against these proposals and a complete trashing of the proposals in their entirity. I don't think I have ever read such a damning report.

I hope the Government will take heed of the recommendations and now do the honourable thing, withdraw them and, as the Committee has suggested, start again, this time involving the serving professional Coastguards who actually do the job on a day-to-day basis and who clearly have a level of professional expertise that should inform the whole process.

The MCA management have also come in for some stinging criticism, being called "arrogant" and standing accused of "miscalculating" and " mishandling" the entire consultation process. I hope that certain members of the management team, who have driven these proposals through as part of their own agenda serving their own egos, now also do the honourable thing and consider their positions.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Awaiting Our Fate.....

Well, some time before the Parliamentary recess on 19th July, we will find out if our campaign to save the Coastguard Station in Shetland has been successful. The first step towards that is the release of the report by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee at 00.01 on Thursday 23rd June. Having given formal evidence before the Committee I will receive my embargoed copy at 09.30 on Weds 22nd. I'm hoping this report will be highly critical of the proposals as I believe this may well impact on the new proposals the Government are to present before the summer recess. It has been made very clear recently by both the Shipping Minister Mike Penning and the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, that what was originally proposed by the MCA is not what they will take forward (much to the chagrin of certain individuals at HQ whose personal agendas and egos are the main driving force behind these changes despite any stated aim to the contrary either about "modernisation" or indeed, saving money).

The more critical the TSC is, I believe, the more the Govt may change the proposals and the more stations will survive. We know that some stations slated for closure are now going to survive, we just don't know which ones yet, so we still have a few more weeks to wait. But then whats a few more weeks on top of the enormously hard slog we have endured since the proposals were first announced on December 16th last year. I am enormously proud of the campaign we have fought to retain our vital, life-saving station. Throughout it all, I and my colleagues have acted with the utmost professionalism, continuing to do our job to the very best of our abilities whilst all the while having to worry about our jobs and our futures. For me personally, to have represented by colleagues in such a campaign has been a highlight of my life, particularly having the honour to represent them before a Parliamentary Committee, something I never expected to have to do and I am humbled that they put their faith and trust in me. I can only hope that we have done enough.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Quite An Experience!

Today, myself and a colleague had the honour of representing our colleagues at an oral evidence session of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee held in Stornoway.

Never did I expect to have to do such a thing but then never did I expect an organisation, supposedly responsible for safety of life at sea to contemplate doing what they are suggesting in slashing the Coastguard service.

There comes a time when you have to take a stand and say "this is wrong" and for me and my colleagues this was it. I am enormously proud of the fact that not once has any of us complained about the loss of our own jobs and the potential loss of everything we have worked for but rather fought this fight on the basis that it represents a threat to the safety and indeed lives of those we serve, for that is the very essence of "public service" something that some people seem to have great difficulty understanding.

We were given the best possisble hearing by the Committee and it is very clear they share our concerns. The Chair, Louise Ellman MP made it very clear that as a resuilt of what we have said to the Committee, she will now be asking some very searching questions of the Shipping Minister, Mike Penning and the Chief Exec of the MCA Sir Alan Massey, when they appear before the Committee on 24 May. That session is likely to be live on Parliament TV and should be worth watching, as Mrs Ellmann is a worthy successor to the Committees previous Chair, Gwyneth Dunwoody.

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

All Change!

Well, so now we can give evidence to the Transport Select Committee as long as we do so as PCS Union Reps and not as Coastguards! A pathetic exercise in semantics which only makes the Govt/MCA look even more foolish than they already do. It doesn't alter one bit what I'm likely to say to the Committee or indeed what has already been said by myself or my colleagues to the TSC in writing and which is already in the public domain on the Parliament website!

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Gagged!

So much for freedom of speech. We have been told by our own management that as civil servants we cannot give evidence before the Select Committee and should therefore decline our invitations to attend!

Absolute disgrace. As you can imagine this is causing quite a hoo-ha with the chair of the Select Committee threatening charges of "Contempt of Parliament." Western Isles MP Angus MacNeill has accused the Govt of acting like something out of the Soviet Union!

In my position as a Union rep with PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) I found myself being interviewed on the local Beeb station (BBC Radio Shetland) today. I hate giving interviews lol.

Link below to a brief article in the Telegraph:

[url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8505750/Shipping-minister-embroiled-in-row-with-MPs.html"]Telegraph story[/url]

GulberwickWeather

GulberwickWeather

 

Stornoway Here I Come!

So thats it confirmed, I and a colleague will be travelling to Stornoway next week to give evidence before the Transport Select Committee about the current plans for HM Coastguard.

Its quite a responsibility but one that I'm actually quite looking forward to. It's not often you get the chance to represent your colleagues at such a vital moment and I shall do my level best to do what I can to dissuade the Govt/MCA from embarking upon what I and my colleagues regard as a flawed and dangerous course.

Thats one of the major problems though. Their proposals have not involved asking us, the professionals who do this job day-in day-out for our expert opinion. They have been dreamt up by a management team who, apart from 1 person, have absolutely NO OPERATIONAL COASTGUARD EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER! The only one who does, it was some years ago that he last worked in an operational environment. How can people like that possibly decide what is operationally safe? Furthermore, most of them have come from a "corporate" background and have no previous public sector experience or indeed any background in an emergency service!
 

It's About Time......

I wrote something in here, it's been a while!

I've been kind of busy over the past few months. As some of you may know, the Government in its cost cutting frenzy has decided that we can do without half our Coastguard stations around the coast and Shetland Coastguard was one of those slated for closure.

Since those proposals were made public on 16th December I have been heavily involved in the campaign to keep a fully-functioning Coastguard station here in the isles, watching over some 36,500 square miles of some of the roughest seas around the UK coastline. I and a number of my colleagues have pretty much lived, breathed and eat the Save Shetland Coastguard campaign for some 5-odd months now and to be honest I am pretty exhausted. That said, much of the hard work is now done with the consultation process due to end on 5 May and I am convinced that we have now moved the Government to a point where what was originally proposed is not what will happen (the Shipping Minister has repeatedly said this himself recently). That said the job is not yet done as no firm decisions have yet been made and are not likely to be until the Transport Select Committee finish their investigations. Hopefully yours truly will have the opportunity to represent this station before the Committe on 19th May when they convene in Stornoway for an evidence gathering session. I can only hope that common sense will prevail and that we come out of this with something rather more sensible than what has been proposed so far.

On the weather front I've been busy renewing my website to coincide with the fact that I now have a new weather station (a Davis Vantage Vue). I run it using the Cumulus software from Sandaysoft in Orkney, which is rather good. I've been able to design the site around the webtags provided by the software and so far it all seems to be working well. I've one or two pages still to do but the ones that are up are functioning as they should. The new site is here:

[url="http://gulberwickweather.co.k/weather/index.html"][url="http://gulberwickweather.co.uk/weather/index.html"]GW website[/url]
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