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

Posts tagged ‘John FinnieMSP’

Political Wood Stack.

Even if you do nothing for a whole week in Applecross there is always something going on or conversations to comment on. Up till today it has been a pretty dull week, waiting for the first storm of the winter to pass through on Monday and Tuesday, and not going out fishing when I should really have, as there are no langoustines on the menu board and the weather was not too bad on Wed/Thurs. Today was back to the strong winds but looking more hopeful for getting back into the swing of things next week. The dinghy is back on the out hauler and ready to go. Unfortunately when I took her into the pier,bailing her while hanging onto the rope and keeping her off the shore wrecked my shoulder, so hauling creels was not on the top of the agenda.

A little wait for the worst of the rain to pass through yesterday morning before attacking most of the wood left for this years outside wood stack. Seems to have gone a wee bit political and may not be fully apparent on first sight. As I have aged the progress to the right-wing of politics has not taken place, in fact possibly gone the other way as I have become even more disinterested in wealth. On the wood stack front my thoughts are very, very simply put. Trident and nuclear weapons are useless in the extreme in that a deterrent never used is not a deterrent. And if some one was to push a button to start a nuclear strike that person would be insane or at the very least dehumanized to the nth degree. Pointless being second in pushing the button. A long-winded way of explaining why I have a Trident submarine in my wood stack. Some one somewhere must have a logical explanation as to why we spend so much money on something we cannot use while we struggle to find money for services, health and education, I remain to be convinced. Lots of angst flying about how to use one’s second vote in our upcoming election….such an easy choice as I have already met him, found him to be interested and supportive of community empowerment and real sustainable development, and supports an economy that is sustained within the environment, so John Finnie our Green list candidate gets my second vote. There are lots advocating two votes for SNP but when you have fine candidates like John, Andy Wightman, Patrick Harvie among many others you know you are voting for people who will try to take your views to the legislature. And the Trident view is shared, needless to say.

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On the local front I always find it interesting that no one mentions the Filling Station in any of the conversations I have, or the public toilets. Come to recognise that this is a good sign in local politics. It means they are working well. Unfortunately that cannot be said for the AppleNet Broadband system. I personally do not think there is anyone to blame as it was an ambitious pioneering project that will still work but in certain places throughout the community there are poor signals. The system was based on the Eigg and Knoydart models but the big difference here is the number of relays to get the signal to the various outlying and awkward placed settlements. These problems were not so acute in the first systems set up further south. Seems one loses the strength of the connection if at the end of a series of relays. There also is a problem in places like Craic Barn where the signal is bounced of walls from house to house resulting in possible distorted reception from noisy radio signalling. And weather is always going to be a problem. Our masts have to be more robust and money made from the connections is going to be reinvested in the network, that goes without saying. It is a new phenomenon that we experience living in the same community as the service and responsible for that service. We are the Indians in the BT Call Centre dealing with the problems but we are in the shop or at the Community Hall or the Inn while coping with the down side of the network. I do not have any regrets in anything we have tried and on the positive side WHAN is still on the horizon, the fibre optic cabling is installed in Mallaig, the masts are in place but need equipment installed and improvements are on the way. Our local network needs improving and outside help is being approached to do just that. Back to the down side the WHFP tells the story of how bad our Skye connection is and how long BT are taking to connect the Mallaig line to the WHAN Network. As the connection date was 9th Nov 2015 I am going to stop predicting when the BT connection takes place. Maybe I will prefer being a graduate in India in the Call Centre for a wee while longer. I look forward to AppleNet dropping out as a conversation piece just like the Filling Station has done, and like the Filling Station the problems are being addressed, maybe not as quickly as some would like.

The Hydro may well be doing that already although I find it is in many people’s minds and it appears to have awakened the potential in the community. Not a few people have remarked that if the community can build a Hydro Scheme against all the odds then what are the limits. Lateral North will soon be coming here to carry out a project on just that. A vision, without the constraints of land in outside hands and lack of affordable housing, but sustainable employment both meaningful and connected to the local environment. Jamie and Mick from HighlandEco were back in midweek to run through some of the glitches in the systems, a bit of rewiring and some software programming called for. It seems to be running smoothly at 100% capacity just now. Still a bit of landscaping to finish off with some gates and fencing to be erected but the system is generating money for the community day and night. Patience while AppleJuice builds up some capital before the monies raised will be reinvested in the community. It was interesting chatting about the regression of FiTs and how they affect the future of the renewable industry. It was pointed out that actually FiTs can lead to the wealthy becoming even more wealthy as systems are built on the Lairds land and public monies are siphoned off in that direction. The regression does hit the community schemes the hardest as they have to raise investment on top of the capital cost of build and if, like us, we do not own the river we are hit with rents that will make future schemes unviable. Wonder if it would be possible to have a two tier FiTs system where communities can enjoy a better return thus a genuine redistribution of the nations finances while improving the drive to renewables. That would get over the problem of the transfer of public funds into already deep pockets.

 

Colours and Sounds from The Walled Garden to Bangalore.

Tuesday for a day off it was certainly fulfilling. Woke up at five with the intention of going to catch a few prawns but very quickly persuaded myself I needed a day off, next, woke up at nine. The reason for the planned early start was we were set for meeting up with John Finnie MSP https://www.facebook.com/JohnFinnieMsp and standing for the Greens as List MSP at the next election.

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First had to send off an email with thoughts on the hydro and another meeting for Wednesday night for the Board. Not really sure how long one can pack in so much but until it gets done there is no option. So it was on the bike and off up the road to the Walled Garden with Dougal and Eilidh. Made it as far as the Fire Station before being caught up by a poorly Boss. Judith to add to her woes has now developed a pretty severe allergy to her antibiotics so is not in the best of shape. Worked last night after checking out in the morning and hauling 250 pots. Do not feel so bad about making Tuesday a weekend day. To the Walled Garden and three hours flew by in the company of John. Very like-minded and easy conversation. Have to admit to talking quite a bit but Alison had the first half hour telling John about the Hydro woes, problems, hurdles….trying not to use sweary words in describing what should be a project that should be eased through on both a local and national level. It stands on its own by providing the community with income, it will provide renewable energy and it reduces the carbon footprint and CO2 emissions. What is not to like? You would think everything, if our road is anything to go by. So it was my turn to rabbit on about the fishing and its problems. This burst of good catches does not disguise a general trend downwards for me and I had a very attentive audience. No topic was left out from Range expansion, Trident, Climate Change, culture, heritage and even a bit of religion. Will be a good and helpful contact if elected to the Scottish parliament next year. Going home by Camusteel and the shop, stopped to watch Kenny

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giving Ali

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a hand shearing his ewes. Dougal expressed an interest in the proceedings but was not allowed to join in of course.

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Noticed on Monday that Raghu Dixit https://www.facebook.com/theraghudixitproject?fref=ts were playing at the Aros Centre on Tuesday evening and thought “might as well”. Bit showery on the way and the view above Kishorn looking east often catches the eye. Layer after layer of beautiful green and Scottish mountains.

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Contrast to the colour I was going to see to later.

 

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Did not stop to think as then I would not have gone on a four-hour round trip to hear, an admittedly amazing, Indian band.

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So glad I did not stop to think and, like the Mairi Campbell experience,  it was so worth it. As I walked in I was recognised by a lady all dressed up in her sari and although not at first recognised her from the Inn last winter. She knew she knew me but I had to tell her where.

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Tables turned when I usually ask.  Chris, Amena (spelling probably wrong) partner is one of the directors of Skye Sea Salt and they had been over at the Inn last winter. The gig was simply brilliant and not only takes your mind off the stress of the Hydro but the stories and music were awesome.

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With the music to back up the intros about egos, beautiful people and nature and actually looking around and seeing a beautiful world amongst all the chaos we create as humans, it was so easy to connect with what was happening on the stage and put everything in perspective.

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With the new cd playing on the way home it took no time at all to be heading down the Bealach and home. On the way home while passing stags, mountain hares and hedgehogs I realised it was a day of colours, from the Green of John’s party to the bright colours of Bangalore.

Before I made my way to Skye I happened upon Mhairi Black’s brilliant maiden speech in Parliament.http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/aa555458-25d4-4125-96ca-c4c9f834cd4c?in=15:06:05&out=15:14:39 there was some thing in it that reminded me of the 1974 Jimmy Reid speech given to the shipbuilders. Although not so long it said so much about her place, herself and her passion. No wonder they clapped. Some one said at the Inn that clapping was just not on and was only for winding up the south. I would have struggled not to applaud, indeed I was showing just that when I was at the Raghu Dixit gig. Maybe the HoC is really just so out of touch. This has been seen by an astonishing 6.5 million people so far.

As well as this I managed a look at a video showing the recovery in Lamlash Bay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsDJl5aqEWc&feature=youtu.be  Says a lot about the current outrage the SFF are displaying over the implementation of the MPAs.

And the fishing goes on,

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quiet week so far and tomorrow bodes well to get round all the gear which is just as well as the langoustines are going out as quickly as they are coming ashore. Not wall to wall sunshine but very pleasant scenes and calm with the gannets back in

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alongside the bonxies.

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Has a couple of appreciative passengers today from West Linton. Plenty for them to see and they took delight in the increased octopi which came on board.

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Fishing still holding up although had to haul 300 for a decent catch for the Inn.

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The Inn is as busy as ever on most shifts with a stream of interesting people coming through, the blue crab fisherman from Maryland to the French disliking Swiss couple, we have them all and certainly as far as I know they all leave with fair amount of contentment. Judith is slowly improving although her allergy is still hanging about, and the Hydro is still in there. Development and decisions still await legals getting together to sort out final financials.

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“Enough is as Good as a Feast”

Recovery completed and looking forward to my first ever Party Political Event, we left for Inverness for a morning’s dash about town with the intention of heading down to Farr to join a few other people to hear speakers talk about Green matters. A beautiful autumn day with low light across the Bealach

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and again and again all the way across the country. The reads, yellows and browns are resplendent just now and are sharpened by the acute angles of sunlight. After the Bealach no photos as I would probably be just arriving by now. Appropriately, on a green day, my first stop off was at Highland Bicycles where the Volt Ebike was left for its annual make over. Time flies when one realises that I bought it over a year ago, although I have only used it properly for about 6/7 months of that time. Going to be interesting to see how I cope with a north-west winter. Last winter’s six months of horizontal rain was not tackled with any enthusiasm. This year so far so good and after the overhaul it genuinely feels like a new bike. Haircut, Highland Wholefoods and winter fishing clothes from Blacks were all sorted in rapid order and the trip out to Farr was under way in good time. Last and only time I was out here was to learn about bees from Neil and Alison Spence. This event had been moved from the Spectrum Centre in Inverness to Farr due to the unprecedented pressure of numbers. Evident as the car park

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and hall so filled up.

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All on time as well….west coast time is always at least 15 minutes behind, or if it is a Dance about an hour before it finishes before people turn up.

Settled in and pleased to see an Applecross connection in the form of Nessa who spent some time over our way and Roddy who wandered over to share sympathies over political events. Even before events kicked off just sitting there in a room of over two hundred liked minded people was a wee buzz and as Lesley said when she spoke first we all need these meetings to keep energy levels high, a battery top up. Always inspiring to hear Lesley Riddoch speak and she was constantly stopped by spontaneous applause. And yes she did mention the Nordic nations. One really fascinating point was the development of Norway’s nationality and how for a time they had full autonomy over their own affairs bar defence and foreign policy before gaining full Independence. Now the aim is Home Rule with just that in mind. And of course Land Reform, pointing out the tax advantages of having a Sporting Estate as a plaything and emphasising that our land distribution is ludicrous and unique in Europe. It being so “unBritish” to cap or limit anyone or thing. Ownership of land has to be one thing to be capped, whole tracks of land and people living on it should not be held to the whims of one person. A recent bad example of this being Radcliffe of Ineos/Grangemouth holding the nation to ransom and ends up with public funds and licence to frack in the Central Belt. Speaking to Brian this morning from Shieldaig and such a different picture where land has been released for housing the school less than ten years ago was under threat but now is thriving, such a simple way of “repopulating the Highlands” and why not. Many houses can be built without destroying the Highlands unique attractions and giving its soul back. There are still long stretches on the way home where you do not see a light from the road. Surprised myself and asked Lesley if I could take a photo and she obliged and chuffed with the result.

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Next up was Robin from Common Weal and he amazes me in how he can talk so fast, without notes and pack so much enthusiasm, information and inspiration into so short a time. Interesting to hear the political outcomes and strategies of recent upheavals. I do not think any one has much of a clue what is going to happen next. The one thing is for certain the Referendum has only started a movement and not finished it. Robin’s analogy, from a French film , I think, was off a man/woman, stepping off the pavement and on the way down does he fall or fly and that depends on how much effort goes into his progress. He says it feels like we have stepped of the pavement. The austerity measures are affecting the poorest sections of society and you can feel his passionate anger against tis effect on whole sections of the community. After his session he is still enthusing.

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John Finnie, MSP,

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who moved from SNP to Independent to joining the Green party finished the first section off with a list of reasons why he has moved in this direction. Trident, NATO, pointless wars, useless and subsidised nuclear power. Read recently that nuclear power has produced £156 billion of power, cost £200 billion to build and will cost £100 billion to clean up and some people complain above renewable subsidy. A theme throughout the afternoon was the disenfranchisement of local government right down to community council level. Many areas have no Councils now and at home we have not had an election for the last two nominations. On going are the LRRG proposals, the Community Empowerment Bill and the Smith Commission, put in my wee submission but as it had to be costed will probably be ignored, so no one can say nothing is happening in this part of the world. And hardly a mention of other parties, nothing negative, only a response to a direct question to which Robin MacAlpine asserted that SLAB’s umbilical cord to its guaranteed support was being severed. What I liked about the afternoon was the range of ideas and actions various people were taking themselves and suggesting for both individual and community levels. Liked the call to resurrect the Highland Land League. John’s saying from old, “Enough is as good as a feast” is an apt summing up of how we should live. Local food, local energy, local industry, common sense proposals discussed.  All was excellently organised by Fabio, Isla and Ariane.

Away sharp to pick up the bike and home. A shift at the Inn, slightly disjointed, dropping into service already under way but not busy and slowly got into the swing as much as one could after such a different scene in the afternoon. Stayed on as staff wanted to head up to the Walled Garden, occasional caller such as Darren,

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stopped in before staff Darren

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and Lydia called in for a lift up.9Q7Q7126

The night ended in some fine music from John and Lorna.

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His renditions of Green Fields and Caledonia were fine and emotional, music at its best. Uptil now have not really picked up on the song Applecross Bay, written by a McCalman (I hope), sensing the layout of Applecross resulting from the Clearances. 3,000 living here in the middle of the 1800s, now 250 maximum. But hearing the background to a fine song gives it even more resonance. Also heard the Common Weal event at Bogbain Farm went very well and Applecross was represented there as well. Would have loved to have been there but one has to select sometimes.

Today a long a very pleasant shift, busy enough with lots of very appreciative and generous people, music throughout the afternoon and good food and residents into the evening.

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Requested another rendition of Caledonia to see me through and it seemed to work. So onto the bike and home around eight. It really is like having just bought a new bike, so Dougal and Eilidh got a wee walk down the Craig Darroch in the moonlight to finish off the day.

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