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

Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

A Grumpy One

Although we are in for a busy weekend there is a definite end of season feel in the air. Maybe not helped by it being Friday and the first day on the water this week and even then it involved a northerly swell and a breeze from the south. By mid afternoon the breeze had developed into a wind, fortunately the fishing had improved from the morning although being in gear you have to watch when you steam past the south end you don’t get the tailing in the prop. Well more than once anyway. This coupled with noticing some spotlets of emulsified oil coming through my wet exhaust adds up to a bit of a grumpy feel to the day. I could have done with a longer visit from the dolphins. They came up very quickly, pirroeted a full 180 degrees out of the water alongside the boat and swam off. The oil problem is a heat exchanger and I have to find out if it is the gearbox or the engine oil I will be losing. It is never all joy and happiness in any job but at this time of year after a full on and busy summer these little things get blown up and exaggerated in the mind. Western world issues so in the grand scheme of life they will be trivial.

Good mood to have a mini rant about how the community is impacted by outside decisions and the little we can do about it. There is a theme across the Highlands that Community Councils are of little import and to some extent I would have to agree. As a region and country our local democracy is in pretty poor shape and to some degree unrepresentative. This is mainly due to most people’s perception that there is little the Council can do other than voice a community opinion. I do not usually post on individuals but the fact that the Inn Chef, Robert, and the School and Fire person, Marion, have to deal with a planning decision that stops their plans in progressing their presence on the Applecross peninsula is frankly incomprehensible. Robert and Marion, holding three jobs down between them, one young un and another imminent, working crofters cannot get planning permission to build a croft house near their croft. They are refused on the grounds that it is not in keeping with the surroundings environs and is too far from other habitations. I find it hard to put into words what I think of these decisions taken on the east coast by people who have no conception of what living on the fragile west is like. Apart from the ludicrous reasons for refusal, I can take you round Applecross and show you houses that have been built with no other houses near them, so as well as being a negative decision in the first place it has no place with any precedence. Ridiculous from which any angle you look at. It is easy to criticise but this and other decisions have little basis in a community’s growing it’s capacity and resilience. Another decision on the Street has been negative on the grounds the living quarters are upstairs. Considering that already happens in Holiday Houses three or four doors along it holds no water anywhere else but the east. You couple this with no land being released for affordable houses you can see we. are going to have problems in the very near future. Do people think it is ok for workers to live in multiple occupancy and caravans, in poor housing where do these issues come into the planning process. I leave the argument that everything is fine and should be left as it is to discuss, that is the rewilding argument in a way, saying that people should not and have not lived here for generations, which is patently untrue. Always change, sometimes the change is rather quick but you have to deal with it as it will not go away.

When, we as a community, are faced with an absentee landlord saying that a site is unsuitable because you can see it from the road you can only shake your head in disbelief. Drive down the road from Ardeslaig to Toscaig and you see every single house, holiday house and empty house from the road. Mind you I have been told of two other reasons for that site, the first being the presence of sink holes, not a good excuse due to the Turbine House being built there, and finally an agricultural reason just to make sure the site will not become available. You get the idea that releasing land is  not on the absentee landlord’s agenda, frustrating when you look at Achintrad, Sheildaig, Lochcarron, Balmacara, where affordable houses are being built and lived in by young folk who send kids to local schools and have employment in their locales. So individual planning decisions taken against this background feel so negative.

I have been to some positive and not so positive meetings lately, great to hear ideas put forward about a Community Hub, increased employment, housing from people who understand the fragility of the community and have  thoughts and plans to reverse the almost imperceptible decline. On the positive side there are more crofts being used now, the decline seems to have bottomed out and younger folk are growing and producing more food locally, building the resilience of the place, it’s a good year for wee ones being born, would be great if this was the norm rather than being unusual and employment must be 120%, more to do than the people living here can cope with. In a way it is a sort of curse when asked what is one’s agenda for the community. I can state that nothing is personal in that my living and employment prospects do not need to be improved so it is purely on a community level. Of course I may be wrong but I can see how a fine community can work in difficult circumstances and that is the one at the Inn. Great team and generally a happy place, building under pressure, workers not in ideal housing, but despite all the problems a fine example how a community can work.

So the consultations go on, there is the launching of a proper community consultation run by the Community Company, while the Trust Working Group continues. I feel I have made the right decision not to keep putting time into this and leave it to more positive minded people. I see no change in the direction the Trust is going in despite different personnel  on the Board. The suggested Chair of the Working Group, someone who is not only not local but is also not “independent”, confirms my decision to spend my time more usefully. I sincerely hope the Group is able to influence Trust policy for the future before more and more people think the  development of Applecross will have to go through new powers of the Community Empowerment Act.

Another meeting attended this week concerned the laying of fibre optic cable from Sheildaig to Lochcarron. Wonderful one may think but we came away from the meeting thinking little or no benefit to the community. There will be empty chambers for a licensed provider to build cabinets to deliver superfast broadband but that is unlikely to happen as cabinets cost around £65,000 and does not make economic sense to supply to a half-dozen houses. There was more unsaid than we were told, i.e. the contractor, the huge expense of laying a cable that is not going to be used locally. SSE backhaul does not really hold water and we all came away with the strong suspicion that the customer is based on the North Coast and has little to do with the local community and decisions are taken far far away. Meanwhile some residents are being promised 50/70 meg speeds from BT as they take in broadband by radio. Very puzzling and can only wait and see if this is true.

Now that feels better and life goes on. As said before the fishing was better than expected and the tea was good, it being these shrimps, all eyes

trying to make me feel guilty, some squats in mayo, and mussels increase,garlic and wine sauce, good accompaniments to baked Tatties.  This chappie was released after the photo and swam away happily in a flash of colour.

In-between the grumps the dolphin visits, they were too quick for me,


and the occasional calm days with lots of activities on and in the water,

a Thai massage and good chats with good people keeps you on a level, although maybe reading this I may need a lot more therapy.And to finish with a light show

or two.

 

Capt ‘n Taneil

There seems no end of meetings to keep a Community functioning and there are many more that I do not go to. Tonight was the Community Company AGM where we saw two new directors coming forward, a retiring Chair after six years and a healthy and on time financial accounts. Many names mentioned tonight, both paid and volunteers, support from members and lots of projects in the pipe line. The latest being the proposed land purchase from the Highland NHS to build elderly/disabled housing by the Applecross Surgery and a feasibility study to examine prospects of re-establishing a ferry from Toscaig Pier along with other ideas prior to possible purchase from Highland Council. Imagine what the Community could do with access to a parcel of land….that was another meeting, this time on Friday. It was a little sad to hear the Chair say she had failed in her attempt to access land from the Trust. I do not see it as that. It is all part of the process and one day the dam will break. She had innumerable conversations about land with the Trust but all were rebuffed, but never directly, showing that this approach has been tried as well as the requests during Trust/Community Company meetings.

But suddenly there is not enough time in the day, or at least the parts of the day that you are not recovering from all that needs to be done. The recent weather has helped raise the energy levels somewhat although have to admit it was a pretty slow start this morning. Convinced myself that I was still suffering from Winter Lag and it was really an hour earlier. There is always a variety to life here. On Thursday I had the very pleasant company on board the Varuna of one of our soon to be departing Aussie staff.

Taneil came out to see what went on and insisted that I was Captain so we were Capt and Taneil for the day. Could not have picked a better day for it. In fact it was a short one as the fishing was pretty good and we had enough on board after five fleets. Stacking creels and tailing squats

make the day short and there always plenty to see, maybe attention span needs to be improved..

( Due to blip in the power lost Internet for a couple of days)

(Thursday) The variety of life never ceases here and Friday was just like that, so different from thursday. Taking some langoustines through to Loch Ness Inn, the Boss blagged a lift through as her leg had been playing up and strong antibiotics are not conducive to driving. She was having a Board meeting at the second best Inn in the Highlands and as Dougal and Eilidh were with me there was a walk on the cards, meeting was going to take three hours plus. With no real plan in mind I took the road to the end of Bunloit and took the hill walk rather than the Great Glen Way and went up Meall Fuar-mhonaidh.

Just kept walking to the time permitted and found it really enjoyable despite being a water man. As I am not often on the hills away from Applecross this is the first time I have been walking on a grouse moor. Seeing the burnt barren strips of land

where there could be varied habitation

that sustained such variety of life other than a mono culture for the few.

It was a little change for Dougal from his usual racing miles behind turnstones and oystercatchers, he was in his element  for a couple of minutes when he put up a black grouse.

The chase lasted long after the grouse was well out of sight. Up to the snow line and with views down Loch Ness and across in land to the Cairngorm a fine walk. Back to the Inn where the meeting was still going on so I headed up to Inverness to race round the usual commercial outlets to keep the business side of things going. Easily spend £1,000 on equipment, always the other side to a good fishing. The marine environment needs constant replacing of gear and capital. Good to get home though.

Back to yet another meeting, the last hopefully for a wee while regarding the Trust consultation. I reckon I have done really well to keep quiet and only interject, mainly from a realistic and tired/patient view-point. Interesting where the ” Working Group” has arrived at. A very polite version of what the Community Company has been doing for the last decade or so. We have put together a statement that has two main points.1 Improving the poor communications with the Trust and 2 The need for the Community to access land to continue its attempt to develop along sustainable lines. Bearing in mind this is a new approach from the whole Community rather than the perceived Commies who live in the Schoolhouse it has been an interesting exercise in watching the Group hold firm. Constantly brought up was the Community Development plan and again and again restoration of old Trust buildings. A Trust agenda as opposed to a Community one. This goes back to who and how the  consultants are paid, who is running the consultation and what is the agenda. The agenda is not remotely what it was at the start. This all may seem negative but I have stated time and again a win/win for the Community and Trust to work together. The perfect example would be for the Trust to sell the Community land and for the Community to develop as the Community needs and wishes. The Trust as the land provider gets finance and kudos for helping the Community to continue to develop. It will be interesting to see reaction to the statement finally sent to the Trustees, the best and politest possible, undemanding but pointing out  the situation as it is. One reaction locally was disbelief, followed by the question, “What the hell have we been trying to do for the last decade?” There will be people within the Community that will disagree strongly from the statement issued by the Working Group but we are democratic and are supposed to representing the view of the majority of the Community. I know in the past that any division has been used by the Trust to allow nothing to progress as there is a negative/passive view about the future here. So not only do we have Brexit, a pending Independence Referendum we have interesting local politics as well.

Cornering Failure

You never know what is round the next corner, or in my case on the corner. I made off to Inverness around 9 this morning after taking some langoustine ashore for the Loch Ness Inn. Called in at the Inn where I decided to go round the coast and up Glen Torridon. I had plenty of time so managed a couple of stops on the way to try to capture the beauty I was driving through. First had to try to get the locals to use the passing place

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before rounding the Cuaig corner.

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I have never managed to capture this scene, the road winding its way north against the backdrop of the magnificent Torridons and the bleak foreground of the Cuaig common grazing. A brief stop at Ardeshlaig

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before coming to the corner up Glen Torridon. Black ice and before I could react I was sitting in the van on rock and heather five feet below the road

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and slightly shock up.

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Would have been a fine bit of parking if there had been a car park there.

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Twinge in the back was all and after checking the langoustine in the back I was helped by some very kind visitors who let me use their phone to get in touch with recovery. A pleasant hour was then spent waiting for Peter to turn up, not before Colin wandered down having recovered another van further up the Glen. So home in a wee Peugeot instead of my van which is almost certainly written off. A cup of coffee and natter at DMK’s before coming back over the Bealach stopping again

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as it was breathtakingly beautiful.

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So a phone call or two before making arrangements to head off to Inverness, this time to buy a van, still instead of thinking if only I had….I think I was looked after today.

I knew my post last night would cause reaction and am pleased that it did. I am always careful not to personalise problems, but becoming less afraid of pointing out the negative effects of organisations, hoping that they will change. I can only say that being positive is the only way ahead. Sorting out a nonexistent Filling Station, then a duff one, helping to improve Broadband, helping with the Hydro, both publicize it and sorting out small problems. I believe we will have affordable housing built in Applecross and maybe in the future the community may be able to buy into the current housing stock and create a two tier market. Short term we need affordable housing now. I have enjoyed a Facebook conversation since coming home and I know there are residents ready to take this community forward. Access to land is definitely not a lost cause and it will happen either through talking, cajoling or in the last resort using powers given to communities by the Scottish Parliament.

I got so involved in posting last night that I forgot to post the photo of the German contingent in town with Graeme.

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I give tables little titles when I put the food orders through, usually after a wee chat and it causes puzzlement in Prep and kitchen as they are off the wall at times. Their title was “Graeme and the Germans” I suggested it could be a title of one of his future novels, we’ll see. The crumbles went down a treat as did the haggis and cheese melts.

The day has ended with me missing out on the funeral service, leaving the beer kegs in Inverness but salvaging the langoustine by selling them to the Applecross Inn. So instead of a planned trip to The Loch Ness Inn it will have to be another trip over the Bealach for the best seafood in the Highlands.

A JCB on the School Run.

Not entirely sure how to deal with the latest from America. Had the radio on all night and woke up around the time it was all over for Clinton. We live in a strange, strange world where everyone else is to blame. The same in this country, poor, out of work or immigrants. Some of the aftermath is quite chilling and there is so much in history that has gone before that should prevent past insanities repeating itself. Racism is very simple and breaks down any empathy we have for our fellow beings. It is even more poignant today as it is the 11th of November and  the”Lest we forget” seems to be losing its message. Reading Edmund Blunden just now and feel very conflicted and pressured into the wearing of symbols. The reasons why people have voted the way they had on Tuesday have been analysed to death, it is the result of those votes that is so worrying. Have always thought the use of nuclear weapons would be insane……….first strike insanity and second strike pointless. Empathy and sanity go together so now we have, admittedly only through the filter of media, someone ,who may fit some of these behavioural traits in charge of the biggest nuclear depot in Western Europe which is just down the road. Applecross does not feel very remote at the moment.

It was a struggle not to be pulled into a despairing train of thought and eventually made it out onto the water the morning after. It turned out to be a pretty poor day, more wind from the south than forecast and cold with not too many langoustines, but the forecast was for even more wind, so stayed out until a fleet that was shot over sent me in, being too hard to free.

Going back to last week fishing and Inn have to be served and we were back out on Friday with a decent catch. Seven fleets hauled and two good ones providing the bread on the table. The catches are very unpredictable and you just go to the next fleet hoping. It was the same yesterday but down to one good fleet. Cold gradually seeps into you by the end of the day. Have to keep moving on the way in, as soon as you stop you realise how chilled it is at this time of year. Like it when the pressure is off with not so many people around but enough to earn a pound or two. Bit different for me as I am not involved in the mad Christmas dash for the hiked prices paid on the Continent. A first fall of snow on the 3000 feet tops

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and then further down over the weekend. Reports of the snow falling on the Bealach.The weather has not been too inclement with some nice views off to the west.

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The Inn was busy enough over the weekend. Was there since Thursday as swopped Wed for Fri. Handy for the Boss as she was away with the Ice cream Man and others to see if they could win yet another award at the Highland Tourism Awards.This time it was for the informal eatery category. Although shortlisted, no mean feat in itself, the award went to Canna. We thought the omens were good.

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An excited phone call was received at the Inn when Applecross Inn got a mention from the stage and a cheer from the floor. Fergus was on the podium and mentioned the Tuesday meeting so there is hope. It is because I creel fish I come across sea pens with attendant symbiotic starfish attached

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and boar fish

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and are able to put them back alive.

 

Thursday evening at the Inn and there were more staff than customers, it just felt that way, I only stayed on to get update from the Community Company Meeting. Could have been better, but volunteering is not easy, and if one has stresses in our own lives it is really difficult not to bring these to Meetings. These ups and downs are cyclical but do take their toll on people who care. Friday through to Sunday at the Inn was pretty busy, shifts that pass quickly with plenty to do especially as groups of 10, 11 and 14 book in alongside a full accommodation and several “walk ins”. We counted 46 meals on Friday evening. Met my first Saudi visitor and a pleasant couple from Norway, he was doing a Divinity degree at Edinburgh, a couple of gardening/farming sisters from Stranraer, the yurt lady from Cornwall…..the list goes on with Applecross at the centre, never remote. This week it was a Para-Olympic coach who casually talks about flying around the world, last trip coming back from Rio. Empathizing with fellow humans being is so easy, losing sight of that and you are in or making trouble.

Local politics are cracking on as well. The Trust consultation hit a bit of a rock in September when a very confused and directionless public meeting took place in spite of advice to the contrary. This consult is threatening to be one of the longest in our time and as a result, like referendums, people are tiring. And this was evident from the few numbers out on Tuesday evening when the consultation took off again. Thirteen people out, the Trustees we are told, are shocked by the community comments. They did not realise that they are not universally loved by all and do not understand why. Remember a similar reaction when the LAS campaign hit the headlines. We keep hearing about a shared vision but for a vision to be shared we have to have some idea what the Trust’s is. Maybe one day. Little surprised how shocked the trustees seem to have been, I am well aware how a part of the community think ill of the Community Company despite, fuel, toilets, broadband and hydro, but never shocked just disappointed. Maybe when one is so remote from life here it is hard to judge views. A visit on Wednesday afternoon on the way to the Inn for another wee chat. Agreement that the Trustees do not seem to know about the workings of the community and still rely on patronage and favours. The consultants acknowledge that it would take so little to dissolve the distrust of decades. We are still reduced to looking around for wee scraps of land for affordable  house sites, and not getting them.

School taxi on the agenda for the Community Council meeting that followed on immediately. Seems to be a target for HC cuts but as they are obliged to transport the wee ones to and from school and there seems to be little other options. Seconding council vehicles was suggested, humourous to the community as there would only be a JCB or snow plough available in Aplecross. The wee fellow up the Glen would probably love the ride to school on Finky’s digger. Shows up the deficit of local government, officials taking decisions from 85 miles away. With the intervention of officials and the total lack of alternatives a favourable outcome is expected. On the good news front there may be a bit of movement on the road front concerning the deteriorating Bealach. A few well-directed photos showing how bad the road edges are is registering at base. With all the NC 500 publicity the HC is between a rock and a hard place, even more cars and more deteriorating roads. Just a rumour to finish on, but a good one, we may be getting a snowblower back for the Bealach.

Thursday and it was up to the Hydro to check the screen and although needed a brush did not seem too bad. Wet feet when running so full. The river was in spate

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and for most of the last twelve days the turbine has been working at 100%. Looks and feels good to see it churning out the kWhs.

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Inversion,Awards and Protest Walk.

(Saturday morn) Sitting in the Bon Papillon having had a fine ciabatta bacon roll, when in Edinburgh…….has n’t the same ring as Rome but you know what I mean. Early, as have not translated the walking times from Google Maps yet and Stewart will soon be arriving to take the photos and titles for next years calendar. Sounds so organised but does not feel it. Set off with Annie roughly on time and started up over the Hill.

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Interesting weather in that it was foggy

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but not so much so that the scene at the top of the Bealach

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merited a couple of stops.

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The Cullin looked spectacular in the inversion

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as did all the directions.

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A bank stop and on to Inverness. Uneventful train journey down although the tickets bought needed proof of over fifty fives which caused a little consternation as we all looked under forty-five. As Caroline decided not to go down and we were sitting with some one we established had Lewis predecessors offered him a night out in Edinburgh. We were not sure if he really was a Fifer or got off the train a couple of stops early to get away from us.

To the Exibition Centre and what turned into a night to remember. Although it went on a little long, the food and company were excellent as were the entertainment with Fred Macaulay and mind reader Colin Cloud. Starting with pre meal drinks

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…non alcoholic cocktail for me and a burst of pipes and drums,

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the meal and then the awards. Highlands and especially the west did so well. So good to see the Kylesku Hotel with Sonya and Tanya doing the ticket and winning their award, most hospitable hotel. Still slightly shocked to have won the Friendliest Pub in Scotland but we did. After photos

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it was off to the Sheraton for a glass of champers with Sonya and Tanya

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and an early night.

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Before I turned in it was lovely to hear Sonya quietly explain that when they bought the Kylesku they were in Applecross during their first year and saw what Judith had done here and she said that they were inspired by what they saw and went home to their place and worked to make the Kylesku Hotel what it is now.

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Earlyish start and we are at the Bon Papillon, a small and quirky wee cafe encapsulating beautiful baking and a gentle atmosphere, with Stewart for some fine coffee and scones which followed the bacon roll. And then to Inverleith for a lift out to Dalkeith. Andy Wightman and Sara Beattie-Smith alongside Denis Canavan….exalted company whether they think it or not.

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Every now and again you take a step back and wonder at the variety of activities you get involved in. Last night emersed in Tourism Awards and keeping a strict eye on the alcohol levels to make it out to Dalkeith Park to take part in a protest walk (my first ever). Lots of photos taken and Applecross Trust did come up in one or two of the conversations.

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The issue was about a Laird, with lots of offshore tax avoiding companies charging the public £10/20 for access to his land. There is a grey area in law as there has always been a charge of a £1 to enter the Park, meaning that the charge can be levied. If one refuses to pay can access be denied? There was no attempt to charge us for our wander around the Park, taking the decision that the publicity would not help their case in todays political climate.

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As ever there is usually an Applecross connection and in this case a direct one, a second home to Buccleuch Properties Ltd, such a small world. Good to meet people, craic with “John” second name undisclosed due to past histories with banks, casinos and exs’s. The freedom to roam is enshrined in Scot’s law as long as privacy is protected and no vandalism carried out. Always a contention in such areas as Applecross Bay where it is discouraged to camp. If left as you find it, as far as I understand then no one is breaking any law. Really interesting conversations, especially on the way back. German housing, I am sure not perfect, but sounded so much better than our daft system. The local Landers buy the land and do not have to pay development value, put services in and then sell on to some one who then proceeds to build their house. The land is sold at a small profit while recovering the cost of putting the services in. You then proceed to contract a builder to erect your house which is then better built than over here due to the extortionate cost of land under development. The profit the builder makes in this country is capped by how much he has to pay for the land so profit has to come out of the build leading to a much lesser standard of housing. Only expected to last 60 years….crazy. But his life now involved walking twenty miles a day, and a reassessment that involved him doing something useful and joining the Scottish Greens. Interesting that the day produced a full-page article in the Sunday press which said very little about the day but instead concentrated on the Greens proposal to use existing legislation in the Settlement Act of 1919 where land was compulsorily purchased for use, in the original case of making small holdings and housing for returning soldiers. An interesting side-show was two locals asked about the walk and were very interested in what they were told about the imminent charges and expressed ignorance and thanked the walkers for the information. Long walk back from Leith where Andy was heading to see tenants who were going to be made homeless by a charity which was selling the properties. A charity that had previously donated profits to homeless charities. I do not envy the politicians with conscience who are going to try to correct anomalies and grey area abuses of the laws of the land. One very important conversation with Andy stuck in the mind and it was followed up with examples, try never to make any political enemies unnecessarily. Good to remember that the 2003 Reform Act was passed by a Lab/LibDem coalition. SNP have passed a Community Empowerment Act, a little weaker than some would have hoped and the Greens are carrying on the struggle and need cross/party allies. I have never been held to party lines. Inevitably one picks up enemies and some are very locally based but that is more the other person’s problem….Sound advice.

Interesting to see a new strand emerging on social media where those who want land reform and a bit more conservative management of the land are now called a “very vocal minority”, which is strange as it is exactly that which is calling it out, Pot/Kettle and Black springs to mind. Saturday evening after a brave but fruitless effort on the rugby field, a solitary evening eating a fine indian meal on Rose Street. An early night beckoned and this must be a sign of the ageing process. It did mean a fresh start today and a fine trip up to Inverness via the Garden Centre for compost and seed tatties. Back home and ready for snooze on couch before plodding photos and posting. And you know you are back home when you take a dozen or so ticks out of Dougal.

Frustrated Community Ambitions.

Northerly winds have set in but plenty going on although at a tempered pace. Spent a few hours at the Inn over the weekend with Saturday night catering for birthdays from thirty-five to sixty and all the other tables in use. Busy but not over the top. As well as the birthdays there was a revolution being planned below the menu boards, involving land reform and communities having more say in their communities. hardly something you would think needs a revolution but this is antiquated Scotland. Also good to see Stewart and Margaret up for the week. Stewart, as I have said before, is a really good friend of Applecross Community Company and prints our calendars at cost price thus making more money for the Company. Building these new community networks is essential for our survival as other very powerful networks are already in place , established over centuries. Saturday morning involved a really interesting workshop set up by the consultants and we were split into two groups. Ours was fairly like minded and similar frustrations and hopes were expressed. I know that several people when they talked about life here have become quite depressed when they put forward the opposition to any of their hopes. “Pie in the sky” is not any an optimistic views in what a lot of younger people hope for. I think more people are going to have to speak out and not be so afraid of this psychological feudalism that still abounds here.

Sunday saw a long shift, beginning after breakfast, stretching into the early hours. A quiet day due to the Hill being closed due to the snow conditions. not so many people make it round the coast. Plenty to do with just the two of us on most of the day before recruitments came at six in the form of Jack. Regular guests appeared in the afternoon in the form of Steve and Di and we quickly got down to the politics on the condition Steve’s England flag key ring was covered up. You can talk politics at the Inn with people you know despite them being almost on the other end of the spectrum. Always good to know people who are people first and then people with very different views second. A brief moment before closing when the hand bag went missing for five minutes before turning up in the bedroom wardrobe. All part of the service.

North winds are blowing this week although the forecast is fine towards the weekend. Means the Spring clean up has started when the last of the wood is getting stacked away in the back and the garden is receiving a badly needed shake down. Starting at the back door and working out and it is going to be a huge job, this along with the croft are this years projects, alongside the Filling Station/Hydro etc. Looking forward to the seasons work and events, the winter blue period seems to be slipping by although I am sure there will be days of inactivity ahead before the midges kick in.

In between the showers on Monday it was up to the Intake with Stewart and Margaret who were very interested in seeing the Hydro in all its glory.

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Must be getting slightly fitter as it was the easiest trip up the path yet, although the company and light helped.

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It is always nice to  hear the appreciation from outside the community, knowing the effort that went into the scheme, but seeing the impact on people who are interested and who realise the work that went into it. The turbine house and the heat dump were also in the tour. The meter showing the totals are climbing by the day. This was Monday’s reading.

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Tuesday and more of the same but the added meetings, the first one for AppleJuice, and followed by a Community Company one. Over two hours for that one, the AppleJuice one is a very routine affair as it will just be a vehicle to channel profits into the community. Felt like a new start but it really is just a continuation of what the Company is doing. Governance, hydro, broadband, and toilets all on the agenda along with two new applications for funding. Looking to build easy to live in and affordable housing at the Surgery for older folks. forced to look at scraps of land like this due to lack of availability elsewhere. Hoping this may free up some housing for younger folks. Meanwhile the school roll falls, despite all the good intentions of the community. Hoping enough people have put their heads above the parapet to tell the consultants that we are approaching the point where the community becomes unsustainable….not enough people living here to meet the needs of the community. Never going to give up.

Same theme today when I showed an investor round the turbine house and heat dump and very similar views. If only we could get access to land to develop a community hub, produce more cheap,local, green energy to supply it, generate employment and have more people living in Applecross. Fine free ranging conversation and dipped into stories about the problems of medical services in a tourist hot spot. One GP having to deal with thirty-six incidents, twenty-two of which were fractures on a Sunday during the skiing season. A constant battle with the powers that be to maintain a decent service…..and we chatted about our own local restrictions and how the potential is constantly being depressed.

The weather although not too pleasant at sea is good for the dog walks both by the shore

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and up the Glen.

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Applecross Opportunity.

An unusual post, in fact a unique one, in that it is an opportunity for a family to give Applecross a try. Terry and Daniel are moving away and hope to rent out their home on a long term rent basis. I believe they have had holiday lets offers already but would prefer a lease of at least a year. Personally I am sad they are leaving simply because yet another young family will no longer be living here but fully understand that everyone has different ambitions and Applecross does not fulfil those for everyone. I only wish the MacCowans all the best and hope their house becomes home for some one else. Feel free to retweet and share as much as possible so as many people will see this. Due to lack of affordable housing and land these adverts are few and far between.

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