An overnight trip to Strontian has meant that I have been to a beautiful part of the Scotland for the first time. We had been invited down to give presentations about what is happening in our communities and the benefits of community consultations and development plans. Alison and Angus were lined up to give a couple of talks to a meeting held in Strontian Hall set up by their community company. After yet another reboot of the Filling Station in the morning, loaded up of a couple of bags and with Dougal and his supplies on board we set off to meet up with Angus and family from Sleat prior to a 6 pm start. Although I have passed it on numerous occasions I have never been on the Corran ferry. The brief chat with the ferry man was very underwhelming, from his perspective there was very little inspiring in his job. Dougal got out for a bit of fresh air while waiting for the ferry to come back across the narrows.
Arrived in good time to give Dougal a walk, have bowl of soup, check in to the Strontian Hotel and then down to the Hall.I had nothing to do but sit and listen to the two presentations and although I know what is going on in Applecross hearing what our Community Company has done in the last four and a half years compacted into a 30 minute talk, it sounded very impressive. Angus spoke about what is happening in Sleat of which, being in the network, I have a good knowledge. There were not many questions but there was a very encouraging turn out of over 90 interested people and all supportive. Always with these events you end up in really interesting conversations. Met up with some one who had sent a much-needed and very supportive e-mail when we were getting all the attention during the Land Action Scotland campaign last year. When you are getting swiped from all directions support from people who know what is really happening is invaluable and it is always good to meet up with like-minded folk. Both presentations were really appreciated by the organisers and it was back to the Hotel for a bite to eat and an early bed.
Wonderful still morning at the head of Loch Sunart and Dougal was all set for his morning jaunt.
So peaceful and still as we walked along the shore for a mile or so with Dougal investigating everything. Lots of conversations over breakfast as the hotelier was none other than James from the SEA course. Good to get some advice and a little information regarding the next meeting of our newly founded Fishing Federation. Hopefully the problems are only teething and can be sorted without any casualties although not too hopeful. Back home about half twelve and straight into a shift at the Inn. Judith is having a hard time , full of the cold and a leaking hot water tank. This had to be drained as the last thing you want is 100 gallons coming through the Hotel. A microwave oven blowing up did not help matters. Busy lunch shift finished off with the Lochcarron musicians coming over. One of our Strontian conversations was trying to describe why Applecross has the appeal for so many people. I always find this hard to describe as I think a lot it is indefinable. There are many obvious attractions like the good food and welcome visitors receive but the peace and calm many people describe as they arrive over the Hill is something different and this was part of another conversation this afternoon which dipped into talking about “spiritual aspects” of the place. I have often thought that Maelrubha arriving here was no accident and the old name for Applecross is translated as The Sanctuary. It is always this train of thought that sees you through the various disputes that come your way. This was a topic over the last couple of days and it seems that as soon as a group of people who get together who try to improve conditions within their community they inevitably arouse suspicion as to motivations or have people question their actions. Maybe the fear of change amongst older folk is a factor. This seems to be the case whether it is Strontian, Sleat or Applecross. Another chat about the Company and its activity took place towards the end of the lunch shift and this was overheard by another customer who introduced himself as someone who works with partnerships and has a different way of looking at how to progress through difficult obstacles. One example was instead of buying the turbines for the hydro scheme it may be an option to lease the technology from the manufacturer thus cutting down on initial capital costs and spreading it over a longer period. Remarkable couple of days and you realise the huge capacity in this area and the offers of help and advice seem to be all around.