(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.
Interesting weather in that it was foggy
but not so much so that the scene at the top of the Bealach
merited a couple of stops.
The Cullin looked spectacular in the inversion
as did all the directions.
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
…non alcoholic cocktail for me and a burst of pipes and drums,
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
it was off to the Sheraton for a glass of champers with Sonya and Tanya
and an early night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.