To go back a couple of days now that the hangover has slowly faded and a little of the euphoria of the Hydro switch on has dissipated. Monday afternoon, a quick visit to the after Turbine House
to see the weekends progress
before making our way down the road to Perthshire and to talk about land reform to some Germans on a fact-finding visit. We went down to Tom’s the night before and had a very pleasant evening augmented by the arrival of Andrew from Coulston Mains. When I think about land reform it is always about people and/or communities. How they are affected by landowners who are usually absent and their actions are usually based around money rather than humanity. I have read and seen a fair bit about Andrew so knew the background of his eviction. But the hearing the story direct and quietly spoken almost left me open-mouthed. How we allow such a system to legally treat people the way he has been treated beggars belief but I bet there is a huge majority in this country who have never heard of Andrew. A tenant farmer who has worked a farm over twenty-two years from an almost derelict condition to one that is very viable and now has to leave as the laird has the law on his side. Not only that but with little or no compensation for half a life time of work put into the ground. Improvements to the soil and buildings count for nothing when the laird wants the subsidy for himself. So now three families are evicted and the farm will be run by a local contractor who has no incentive other than to sow and crop.
Next morning before the Germans arrived Tom took us on a tour of the neighbourhood. We went with Andrew and it was interesting to hear a farmer talk about what he was seeing. Basically good farm land going to ruin as it was not being cultivated. Broken and blocked drains and spectacularly ruined farm houses and steadings that were left to fall down, Tom’s father’s farm in this case.
All done at the whim or advantage to the laird. From Tom’s window he can see five derelict farms. As he is well read Andrew has done a fair bit of research about the history of Coulston Mains and finds an exact recurrence of his own situation in 1882 when a farmer is evicted at the end of his lease and the laird reaps the rewards of his hard work. You can see why there is a demand for an absolute right to buy coming from tenant farmers and how there is such strong opposition from the establishment. I could see the German delegation were a little taken aback when we told our stories of how both individuals and communities are held back by such practises. How EU subsidies just keep the establishment in their positions, handing out monies for nothing, purely ownership of land. Also interesting to hear how certain legal firms unpick the legislation piece by piece to nullify attempts for any sort of reform. Like the fishing industry the main players want to keep everything they have and lobby to that effect. There are some very obvious exceptions but they are few and far between.
Wednesday was coarse, no other word for it. The weather gradually wound itself up to a full gale and the rain was torrential.
The morning mission was to gather a bit of wood to take to the Turbine House just as back up as the weather may put off the planned visit by the SSE boys on Thursday. If for any reason the connection did not go ahead the heating bank would have been switched on and we would have a very efficient wood drying shed.
As I was loading up the van with the wood and feeling wet, cold and wondering why on earth I was doing this, one of our retired GPs trotted by on his morning run. Thankfully as you know we did not need this operation but it made me gather some wood already prepared and dropped some off at the site. Found Jamie hard at work on yet another program for the system.
One is a safety system that if there is a failure at the Turbine House there is a shutoff that warns any cavers of any rush off water coming down the river instead of the pipe and allows them time to come back out before the water rises too much. I have found this build so interesting, all the different scenarios involving hydraulics, generation, deflector plates, control units but still from a layman’s point of view.
Then it was a shower to warm up and clean the mud off before nipping down the road to bail the dinghy and take the engine off for safety. Up the road to the Inn and a relatively quiet shift until I sat down with the Hydro boys and a wee dram of Bruichladdich. Earlier the cork had popped off champagne style and I decided to make sure it was okay to drink. Sat with the boys with the dram and after they went was thinking about home when it started to go down hill. A young couple had turned up earlier and booked a room, had lots of food and went away for a wee kip. Turned back out about eightish, had a little more food and were quite happy sitting on Table 7. Then he offered to buy me a dram and I said ok and then it led another and another…………And then it was early morning. Interesting couple as we found out that he is a singer song writer, the One Direction connection, and she worked for Nick Jones. A connection with the Inn, he owns Babington House, as Rob and Son No1 have worked there, but that is another story. A good ceilidh was had and they were very grounded 27 year olds considering they were living a life so far removed from ours it could be another planet.
And then it was a very, very bad hangover.