We are going to have weekly themes to try to inspire people across Catch 23 and provide a topic to talk about. This week’s them is “The View from my Window.” I am going to put the content of this week’s handout here, but will also link a PDF file and send that out to our writers. If anyone else would like it, and you can’t download it from here, email me via the Contact page. Sorry if this seems like overkill and you end up with the same content in 57 varieties of format, but we are trying to work out the best way of making sure that it is available to everyone.
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This week’s them is The View from my Window and I am very lucky here. It is not that my view is spectacularly beautiful. It is a bit of a mess to be honest. My untidy front garden and the ordinary houses opposite dominate. Or rather their roofs do – I can’t see much more from my living room as they are bungalows and further down the hill.
But from the front bedroom the vista opens up. I can see over those roofs to the conifer block that fronts Smith Avenue, and the fields beyond. Further yet I can make out the wind turbines at Holm. And sometimes, on those rare clear days, most often in winter, I can see the mountains of the mainland. Torridon, this must be, and I think the smaller, notched peak is The Horns of Alligin. Measuring by means of Google Maps I have worked out that, on clear days, my scruffy, messy, miscellaneous view extends well over forty miles.
There isn’t much sea to be seen. I can get a glimpse of the Outer Harbour between the warehouse roofs of Newton industrial estate and an even more fugitive slip of Broad Bay if I lean out of the window. And sometimes in the summer, but perhaps not this one, the top half a dozen decks of some massive cruise liner materialises beyond the rooftops.
If my house had another story or was ten feet further up Goathill he view would be spectacular.
Human life is sparse in my view. A few cars and buses, some pedestrians pass by on their way to school or to the Health Centre but real interest is rare. In Islington, before I moved here it was the other way around. My second story flat had views down a long crescent. There was a bus garage half way down which was a problem; the buses would process in the early hours, their diesel engines thundering, making it impossible to sleep with the window open – and in hot humid London summers it was often impossible to sleep with it closed.
But there were compensations: dramas, curious people to look at. Once a badly damaged fast car groaned clanked on blown tyres, up the road towards me, giving up the struggle about fifty yards away. At that point the driver forced the battered door open and ran off – police sirens already blaring in the distance. Such excitement is rarer in Stornoway
If the human life is more subdued in my Stornoway view, then the bird life makes up for it. All sorts of birds use The Cut, that big ditch that runs from Engebrets towards Broad Bay, to cross from Broad Bay to the Minch. I can’t see it from my window but I see the birds fly by. Wild geese, buzzards, sparrowhawks, whooper swans and divers, even a merlin once, have all crossed my field of view. Closer still a range of birds visit my garden including a brambling and, most surprising of all, a turtle dove last January (the first and only winter record for the Hebrides for this fast declining summer visitor to Southern England).
You don’t need a forty mile view for bird watching. You don’t even need a garden though a feeding station is nice, and might attract a rarity if you are lucky. Almost anything might fly by here, from goldcrests to golden eagles. I have even heard a corncrake from my front garden though never seen one, from my window, or anywhere else!
There is one thing that everyone can enjoy so long as you can see a patch of sky from your window. Our weather is not always kind to us and we do get more than our fair share of dreich days and gunmetal skies. But those endless frontal systems sweeping in from the Atlantic do give us spectacular cloudscapes. The sky may be dull and grey for what seems like weeks but suddenly becomes absolutely glorious.
And, at least if you live out of town, you might even glimpse the aurora borealis from your window.