A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Things have settled down a little at The Inn but not until after a really busy Sunday lunch with lots of people waiting for a table. By 3.30pm it was a lot quieter and the staff managed to take their regular breaks, which helps every one’s moods somewhat. Funny what you get used to when asked if it was busy and the answer is no but people still have to wait for tables, most establishments would settle for that being really busy!! Last night and into this morning was recovery time. No concentration but casually flicking channels and noting there was nothing but rubbish on. Did manage to stay awake for the nine and a half seconds Bolt took to win his race, but apart from that the other highlight of the evening was the sky around 9.30pm.

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Took the camera and the Jenny and Eilidh out for a wander and beautiful to watch. No photos do it justice but I keep trying and on the way back I keep seeing equally wonderful plants on the ground.

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Early on in the day there was a little gathering of tractors and the latest arrival in Toscaig was on display, a lovely little red Fergie.

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This morning I was honestly hoping for a little more wind from the North West and settled down to watch Saturday’s episode of Top of The Lake. Pretty grim and unrelentingly brutal, underbelly of New Zealand life. As the wind was dropping and The Inn had no langoustine it was down to land some, what we now call”splitters”, a quick visit to the Filling Station to help a guy get diesel and then off out to catch some more for the menu. Slightly better than expected, that is the advantage of having low expectations. Anything quarter decent and you think you have a good day. As I went out around eleven I just hauled the 300 creels so not to be too late for the kitchen to cook them off. It is genuinely hard work to keep up as I saw three tables on a quiet afternoon tucking into them. Will have no problem once winter in justifying not going out. Hibernation is a natural state of mind for me.

It has generally been easy to keep the blog positive and even upbeat but every now and again something comes along to make you wonder about what drives some people to do the things they do. As it is around the 12th of August and the grouse moors open up for business there are a few articles in the papers questioning the still feudal system of land ownership in Scotland. The Observer editorial take on it was very interesting and I copied and pasted a couple of paragraphs.

“Painfully slowly, but surely nonetheless, the ancient and unearned privileges that have maintained the ownership of Scotland‘s wild and beautiful places in so few hands are being eroded. Many ordinary Scots are becoming aware of what, for centuries, had been the nation’s dirty big secret: that 432 landowners possess half of their country.

Very few Scots know much about the web of legislation that has been spun throughout their country’s post-Reformation history to keep this vast territory safely under lock and key. They know this though: that in a modern democratic state, such concentrated land ownership in the hands of so few is immoral.

The landed interests are also waking up to the prospect that the age of their dominion over man and beast on their property may be coming to an end. In the submissions by assorted landowners to the Land Reform Review Group, instituted last year by the Scottish government, a motif emerges, redolent of four centuries of casual entitlement: we are the best custodians of these places; we provide sustainable employment in communities; we protect the nation’s rare and wonderful species. While most have reluctantly accepted gradual reform, such as the series of successful community buy-outs, anything that smacks of being forced to sell land for the benefit of the community is anathema.

Such a development, the estate owners and their agents aver, would jeopardise the £350m annual cash injection that they provide to the fragile rural economy. This claim, though, does not stand up when set beside the participation levels in field sports of some of our Nordic neighbours, where the pattern of land ownership is markedly different from Scotland’s. Our European neighbours long ago threw off the ancient bonds of feudal ownership.

Radical land reform in Scotland will not radically alter the lifestyles of the landowners. No one is suggesting a Mugabe-style land grab or advocating unfair prices for land purchased, despite the fact that each of these characterised the transactions that secured some in their ancient piles.”

From time to time we suffer locally from outbursts regarding our views on land reform. Interesting to note that during Andy Wightman’s campaign last year I was on telly saying there was no “land grab” involved. You always get other people’s prejudices thrust on you for taking a point of view that sits uneasy with the establishment. Last year I was called to “account” over the campaign and it was easy to say that I had nothing to do with its organisation or conception but still had to endure a very unpleasant “dressing down” over an hour and a half. All pretty silly as you have work hard in trying to acknowledge any thing that is valuable for the community that comes from that source when you see how entrenched it is. Just recently there was an email selectively circulated with a nasty, personalised intro designed ,I think, only to isolate Alison and paint her as a trouble maker. I find this “stuff” very unprofessional and unhelpful but maybe inevitable as political bases are changing slightly. These defensive outbursts are so unnecessary as any one can see for themselves. The Alison Blog (3), strange title, as she has not got a blog, one from here is probably more than enough, was lifted from a comment stream about 8 weeks old,http://www.andywightman.com/?p=2801#comments and was around the time where it was minuted that there was to be no community wood coming from the Gateway/ALPS felling. I can leave any one to judge if Alison is the liar she is accused of being. I am sure by writing this I am going to have to duck but not writing it would mean this blog is not worth the paper it is written on. To sum up this is just bullying. So good to be able to go out to fish and leave some of the rubbish behind. Ironically I do not find my relationship with Richard under any pressure as the last time I saw him he arranged for me to take his nephew out on the Varuna, just wish he had gone to Last October’s ALPS meeting instead of going to the Hill. The underlying irony of all this is that if it was not for Alison exposing the Trust’s first appointee as a fraudster we would not have had ALPS or any awards received.

Comments on: "There is Freedom of Speech,isn’t There?" (4)

  1. Alison Macleod said:

    May be worth explaining that the appointee exposed as a fraudster was the development officer who was supposed to be progressing the first funded stage of the ALP scheme in about 2007. I started trying to find out his background because I was concerned that his work was not good enough to get the application through to the next stage. I was only one of a few local people on a focus group and he did not answer to me but the trust seemed to think he was doing OK. One phone call to the previous group he had worked with in Harris told me that not only was his work of a low standard there too, but that he had had an 18 month prison sentence for defrauding the Heritage Lottery Fund! And yet the projects in Harris and Applecross were both looking for funding from the HLF.
    Luckily there was just enough time left for a very experienced professional to rescue the bid, and it did get through to the second round and from there to the full funding.

  2. Rod Coldwell said:

    Wonderful stuff Ali…wonderful!

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