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

Posts tagged ‘A9’

SEIS, EIS, SITR, all Important to Applecross Hydro

Been posting a lot recently, partly to do with the current share offer  for the Hydro Scheme, but also as there is so much going on here. There is always a danger of talking things up and there may be a small section of the community who are watching a little askance at the “progress”. I tend to wish every success on any one taking any role in community work, whether it is running the Games, the Community Hall or the Heritage Centre to name but a few. But we have to accept we are not all clones living here.

Hydro aside the new Toscaig Mast has been built and the boys left this afternoon. Everything seems on schedule for a big improvement on our broadband coverage, the connection to the Mallaig fibre optic cable is coming together. The broadband is frustrating here as some people are not getting a good service while we are having little or no problems. this goes back to community, it is not good that we are okay when other parts of the community are having difficulty with their connections. This is why WHAN has been set up. An interesting side issue is there is an academic study set up to look at people’s expectations regarding broadband. When we first started connecting people onto the AppleNet network, after the initial problems, the reaction and feedback was very positive and encouraging. Now 5 meg along with the numerous connections has meant that initial burst of enthusiasm has dropped off, the 30 meg (hopefully) will ease those concerns but for how long. Contention at least will not be an issue, but as people buy more heavy usage equipment we will be back to the 5 meg problem. Mind you BT’s half meg is like a shovel to a JCB. The Hydro despite some poor weather has been making steady progress

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and the forecast, although rain today, looks a bit better for them during this week.

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The site is a bit messy under foot.

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The autumn colours are still to be seen even although it is overcast.

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Now for the rant, we had a bit of a scare yesterday when Alison picked up on Twitter that all may not be well with the tax incentive for the share issue. We knew there were going to be changes as the Government we have now seem to be bent on putting taxpayers subsidy into nuclear, oil and fracking. Nuclear, in particular, has been hitting the headlines with some outrageous deals locking in huge profit margins for the new Chinese/French build EPR, untested and untried nuclear reactors. but quietly the same Government has been steadily withdrawing subsidies from green and renewable energy projects. The tax relief changes were promised not to affect community schemes but we have just heard that community energy schemes are now no longer eligible for tax relief. We knew the first £150,000 at 50% (SEIS) was to be withdrawn and that the 30% relief on the rest was going to come under a new system, going from EIS to SITR. Now we hear the community schemes are to be withdrawn from the new setup. November the 30th is when all this kicks in and we are fortunate that with foresight, Alison applied for and HMRC have accepted our application, for the current scheme. As long as we issue the share certificates by the 29th of November and have spent the money, no problem there!, we are eligible for the 50/30% tax reliefs. While fine for us spare a thought for all the communities who are trying to look after themselves by setting up similar income generating green energy schemes. They are having the feet kicked out from under them. This is the true face of the elected Government we now have. We are still in there so if any one wants to donate and/or invest just go to http://www.applecrosshydro.scot and all the information is there. Basically you are helping us help ourselves.

As you can see I am not in the best frame of mind, but have an excuse as I am recovering from another migraine, have recovered should say, as the fuzzy feeling has now gone the same way as the pain. Started last night so knew that would not lose all of the day. Had to land langoustine this morning for some one to take to Loch Ness Inn and just managed to sort that out. Took a lot of sweat and endurance, but a cup of tea later with a wee feeling of accomplishment the recovery was under way. A pity this one came along as the sea was calm and the langoustines were calling. Yesterday was fine

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though and the sun shone on quiet waters.

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No need to go to the Caribbean to see the ocean colours.

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Still a decent catch although the day in itself was worth being on the water.

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Nice to haul gear that is generally in good condition with only two now needing to come ashore this year. Made into the Pier at the end of yesterday’s haul to take another fleet on board. Shortage of staff meant an extra shift last night at the Inn. Busy early on but tailed off quite quickly, good for the kitchen as they had a long and busy day. Steak pie was well received at 9.pm. Going back to the migraine, the good thing is I may have just worked out one of the triggers. been good all summer keeping my sweet tooth under control, but over the last month fell off the wagon and have just worked out that the increase on rubbish sweets has maybe coincided adversely with the old head.

Finally it seems one of my trips south has resulted in the van being photographed from the road side, resulting in a wee visit from our local constabulary. Knew Dominic was not calling in for a ceilidh as he did not have Rachel with him. seems paperwork informing me of my poor driving has gone a miss and had read and accepted the charges of driving too fast on the A9. Interesting conundrums arise from this. If I had windows on the back there would have been no issue, being commercial is a problem but I was using the van for personal use. Law not that clear but lawyers too expensive and to be perfectly honest I have better things to do than to go to court over a dubious speeding charge. Interesting snippet I read today was there have been no fatal road accidents on the A9 over a three-month period, the first time since 2007. Maybe the new cameras are working despite being slagged off at the time.

 

Mixing with the Literati,briefly, and Hydro.

I inhabit a strange world, (to me anyway) just now and am sitting in the middle of Charlotte Sq in Edinburgh going to go in to a private gathering of Kirsty Logan’s book of short stories, “A Portable Shelter”. She came out on the Varuna for background and sent one of the tales up by email for me to keep the technical bits in order, which I duly did and then received an invite. I have got to the stage in life where I now say why not? More often and cannot find reasons not to experience new ventures. Never been to a book launch so here I am. Off in now.

Seeing I was in plenty time and I was sitting with free wi-fi I thought I would write a little just in keeping with the surrounds. My star spotting was complete in seeing Bill Paterson coming out of a marquee, forgot his name but knew him as the father in Ian Bank’s Crow Road. Had planned to go fishing on Monday morning but the east wind was still blowing and decided that I would give it a miss especially as the weather was for a quiet spell on Tuesday/Wednesday so thought that would be soon enough to get round the gear. Took my time in setting off

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down the A9, stopping at Inverness for the Highland Wholefoods shop and again at Ralia Cafe before making it to Edinburgh without incident and took a stroll round the Square before going back for the iPad and relaxing outside the Writers Retreat where the event was to take place. As I was not on west coast time I was on time and only a couple of ladies there. It is another world and mixing with the Scottish literati I thought would be a bit stiff for me. A little chit-chat with a retired lecturer from the OU, also a poet, and then Kirsty came along and the place filled up. Kirsty won an award from the Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship, funded by Creative Scotland, allowing her to spend a year on creative writing rather spending time setting up creative writing workshops or tutoring, basically giving a writer space to write. Judging by the signed copy I was given it is money well spent.

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Kirsty came out on the Varuna on a breezy Saturday to do a little research on a short story about a Selkie Fisherman and sent me a couple of emails to check out some of the technical terms. I duly did and she then invited me down to the private gathering where she did mention Applecross and her “queasy day at sea”. Result was after the wee speeches and reading several people came up to me and of course everyone knew about Applecross. Ended up chatting with Tom Pow, a poet, who recently wrote a book called “In Another World” among Europe’s dying villages. And as it is a current concern of mine we chatted about Applecross and its future, dipping into a conversation about Bengali prawns, before back in the van and up the A9. Home by 1.30am and in time for a comatose sleep and into a couple of days fishing before the weather breaking today. This all happened with Alison answering a tweet by Kirsty asking anyone in the Applecross area who fished and would they take her out on the boat. Always take interested people out. Small world syndrome appeared when I mentioned to Alison about Tom Pow and she casually replied that he taught her English at school and had just bought the book.

Just enough time to keep nipping up to the Hydro progress and they are cracking on.

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Graham is down on the Gateway breaking rock while Steve and Ali have been spreading building up the road and the hard standing area.

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They are not hanging about and deliveries are coming thick and fast. The pipe is already here

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and welding and dragging is programmed in for next week when the forecast is for drier weather.

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Weather is not an issue but breezy dry conditions would help.

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Would also keep Dougal cleaner.

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Sad to hear that his grandfather, Patch, is no more, dying of old age last week. Lots of work continuing regarding the share launch with plenty of people waiting for the opportunity to invest and help the scheme. On a quick trip up the road to see Kenny and Jill’s visitors, taking in another fine sunset on the way,

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noticed that it was a cracking year for ragwort, not the best for the farm animals and eradicating it has been going on for some years now but it has taken hold this year.

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A bit of progress regarding the Community Council pleas on road repairs. The work has started on the road between Camusterrach and Culduie.

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These little things mean the Council does work if only at a low-level. Got to catch up on publishing minutes. Bad weather in the next couple of days will help. Was going to wash creels this afternoon but it has turned into a recovery day and only job to do before work tonight is to land more prawns for the Inn this evening. Yet another fish farm heads out west, wonder if the Chinese will be buying our salmon after their stock market crash.

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Celtic Connections…sublime

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4 o’clock this morning saw me trying to dig out the van from a snow drift on top of the Bealach in near white out conditions, but on reflection it was all worth it. This was almost the culmination of a two-day trip to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. The finale was I did dig ourselves out and then reversed down to the top hairpin bend, turned and headed off around the Coast Road, an unwelcome 35 extra miles to the trip, and home at 5 am.

Leaving on thursday morning as usual was a bit stressful as there are always things to do and matters that are overdue but with Dougal settled in with his uncle and his mum and granny set up with their carer it was off down the road. Going over the Hill at this time of year is pretty much always spectacular and a couple of stops for the view essential.IMG_1274

After a stop off at the Pier’s accountants at Inverness we headed down the A9 and arrived at Sauchiehall Street around 6ish, settled in met with Ruairidh, had a bit to eat, then across the road to the Royal Concert Hall for what turned out to be a truly amazing night of music. As the Ruairidh said yesterday, Chris Stout came on with Finlay Macdonald and Ross Martin you thought this was great but it ,if possible, just got better and better.An array of class musicians trooped onto the stage, Cara Dillon, Rod Patterson, Capercaillie, Flook, there is something about one-legged flautist, Sheena Wellington. The list just went on and on. After a short break we went back into the Hall and we greeted with what we thought were a string section that were there to back the continuing talent on display. The show just seemed to get bigger and bigger where at one stage you had Capercaillie and some members of Flook, with Finlay Macdonald, Chris Stout, the “string section” all playing rocking traditional tunes with the Scottish Power Pipe Band arranged around the back of the stage…..awesome, just awesome. Even Mark Stevens, compere from Radio Scotland, was blown away and was at a loss to describe what was happening on stage. Thinking back on it now there must be very few occasions when you are able to say you saw Sheena Wellington, Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis, Eddie Reader and Karen Matheson all on stage at the same time. For me it was a “I was there ” moment. Hard to pick highlights but Eddie Reader singing Wild Mountainside came very close to the top. Talking it over yesterday we all loved the idea of the string section and towards the end of the evening we realised it was packed with front line talent such as Aidan O’Rouke, Alister Fraser, Natalie Haas and they were just the ones we recognised.

Last night at the ABC O2 was as good and so different. The music and venue were perfect. We did a little recce during the day to check up on tickets and where the venue was etc, noticed a 7pm start but turned out that was just door opening so Highlanders seen queuing outside at ten to but no worries we got down to the front. The set up ,I have to say, a little “sleazy” and Ruariadh saying the venue sported the largest disco ball in Europe did not take away anything from this image. Dance floor set up with rows of folding chairs and bar at the back of the main hall, toilets functional with attendant who held the paper towel roll, and a distinct smell of disinfectant everywhere  you get the picture. Darrell Scott came on and was simply brilliant singing a selection of his own songs and a few penned by people like Townes van Zandt. He produced a great sound, just him and his guitar. I chose this concert and was slightly in the dark about Amy Helm and relied a wee bit on reputation and who her father was, but we were stunned by the end of the set. Started off with a very Americana feel and got more and more bluesy with her singing songs by Dylan,The Band and Muddy Waters as well as her own. She has an amazing voice, and her band of Byron Isaacs,Justin Guip and Dan Littleton from her dad’s band were supreme. It has been a long time since I have been immersed in such fantastic,brilliant music of the last two nights and it made the drive north seem not quite so bad and so worth it. This was still the case even although the Stirling turnoff was closed off and we missed the diversion so ended up outside Edinburgh before heading north. Driving between Bruar and Kingussie in a white out at 2 in the morning was no fun as was being stuck on the Hill but all’s well and looking across the Sound this morning….. and Dougal judging by the photos on fb settled in very well visiting his uncle up the road. Already planning a longer trip for next year. Hats off to the guys that organise Celtic Connections, must rank as one of the best Festivals anywhere…..IMG_1285

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