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

Posts tagged ‘Lateral North’

Lateral North Goes to Venice.

Been asked to do a wee story of the Applecross Community Company so far for Lateral North https://www.facebook.com/lateralnorth/?fref=ts.

Applecross is a peninsula on the North West coast of Scotland with a small and spread out population of approximately 220 people. From the east you travel over the highest Pass in Scotland.

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This story all began in 2008 when our Filling Station was under threat of closure so the Community formed a Company under the 2003 Land Reform Act Scotland which then proceeded to refurbish and run the Applecross Filling Station

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on a volunteer basis, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Scottish Rural Development programme and the Community.

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Since then the Company has taken over, refurbished

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and run the local toilets. This was funded by LEADER, Highland Council and HIE and local contributions.

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The Community Broadband scheme was next,

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funding to set up the system was provided by Investing in Ideas, Village SOS and Community Broadband Scotland. This has proved challenging both to set up and maintain

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and we are hoping to connect via radio link to fibre optic backhaul in the near future.

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Funding from Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund enabled the Company to welcome the Internationally renowned Flensberg University into the Community,

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hold a Conference on renewable energy,

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and hold numerous workshops from wood fuel

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to showcasing electric cars.

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As result Applecross has become greener with, for example, the installation of several wood fuel stoves burning local wood supplies.

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Last year we formed a Community Benefit Society, AppleJuice, which carried out the building of a Community Hydro Scheme,

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HighlandEco, the contractors built the scheme while we ran a Share Issue to raise £803,700 to pay for it.

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The scheme is capable of producing 90 kWs from run of river. Jamie here putting the finishing touches to the soft ware programs

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and Mick showing the school children the workings of the turbine.

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And Dougal checking the Pipeline.

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This has been the most challenging of all, taking the Community Company around 7 years to plan and develop before Apple Juice funded and built it. It was completed in December 2015 and will provide a future income for the Community to invest in projects to increase capacity and sustainable growth. Working well.

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Worth celebrating as some of the team did.

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Meanwhile in Applecross.

Life does go on in-between the politics of the high-hied yins and last Sunday turned out to be a day of contrasts with a very pleasant family coming all the way over from Dornoch to celebrate the matriarch’s 70th. Easy going and appreciative. Full bar again and as they were leaving after the lunch session it filled up again with the second birthday of the day, the 50th of a regular DK. Some fine moments in particular, singing and playing by Bronnie and Bethany. They stopped the bar chat several times only for Jon to start it up again. He’s taught Bronnie everything he knows and then she went to school and has done really well. It was a long and mostly enjoyable shift and always a good wee test when you see things disintegrate before your eyes and you hang in and enjoy. It is good fun to have the entertainment provided for free and you wake up the next morning with no hangover. Something that could not be said for a few of the celebrants. Bit of dance is always part of the scene

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and this had been preceded by the piping

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in of the cake.

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All seems so long ago as national politics and saving of livelihoods take precedence. Inverness and Fishing meeting was followed by a wee trip up the Bealach on Wednesday. This was after fuelling up the Auk in the fine weather.

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Thought I would maybe take one or two photos of it being cleared but the digger and Finky were past the car park

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and as I was already knackered in getting to the top there was no way I was going down any bit of the other side having to come back up again was such a disincentive.

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As it was Dougal provided the pictures

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instead of the JCB but you could see the impressive amount of clearing that has to be done to reopen the Hill after a snow fall coupled with a wind. He poses well in the snow.

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And even up here on the look out for anything scuttling about just out of sight.

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On the way up the bike played up a bit and finally “packed in” on the race downhill, topped 54km/hr and cold it was.

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Before the long trip back down though it was a stop at the sweetest coldest water anywhere in the world.

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Turned out the breakdown was traced back to the bike being blown over in one of the winter gales. Unknown to me wires were wrenched free but still made connections until the box of tricks below the battery finally burnt out on the way down the Hill. Back from another Inverness trip and £200 poorer but bike going fine again. Threw in a couple of shifts in at the Inn. With Roger, the Boss’s Dad, back in town both Boss and sister spending time with him. Saw Roger over the last couple of days and remarkable improvement, mobile again and a lot more clear-headed. Had to take a wee snap of the Boss last weekend as she has complained all last year about customers on their social media outlets rather than talking to each other.

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The two shifts were chalk and cheese with a busy time flying by one on Wednesday and one customer on Thursday. Wednesday evening we saw the arrival of Lateral North, in the form of the little wagon and Graham and Sue. Stopped off at the School and stayed overnight with us after an evening at the Hall, more later. They will be back.

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The MoD story is still unfolding with some more correspondence and a meeting that took place today. But have not heard a report from that so leave the update till the weekend as I will a busy Community Company AGM. The Chair’s Report went on for quite a while…. I say this in a good way as there was so much to say about what is going on here. But late and an early night I think. May be an episode of House of Cards…..

Changin’ Scotland and It Is.

That was some three days, even for here the variety was something. Had made it to bed after a shift on Thursday coming back from Contin and was shattered but in a good way. Friday was taken at a run although part of that was making sure I had finished a post for putting out on Saturday. Contin did look good and it was thanks to the pooches that I made time to see above and over the mists. Lovely weather  on Friday morning

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and managed everything, all the menial stuff, the washing, dishes etc, in time for making it up to the Bealach summit

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to watch the sun dip behind the Cuillin.

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One of the jobs I had earmarked for the day was to feed the bees but when I went over to see how they were doing they were busy flying and saw some pollen coming in as well.

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Extra ordinary in the last days of November how pleasant and warm it is. So although I had forgotten a couple of things in the rush it was worth it for the scenes taking place out west. After catching up with Alison at Garve we all made our way to Leckmelm to get the nest ready for later and then off into Ullapool to grab something to eat and get into another Changin’ Scotland. Calling in at the Ceilidh Place we were immediately chatting to all sorts of revolutionaries and as a result missed the start of the evening. Finding the right venue and not reading the programme did not help.

Back to Leckmelm and a night spent trying to keep Dougal off the bed. It was at floor level due to a big relative’s recent visit and Dougal thinking he was still on his Contin holidays made the most of it. Another late arrival at the Village Hall, this time due to fishing, bee and wood chat at the lodgings. Missed the start of Matt Qvortrup’s talk on Referendums. Really interesting and then it was Prof Adam Tomkins, some one who I had followed on twitter to see and read about another view. Had to stop after the Vote as I found him just a bit too harsh. Fair play for him coming up this way as he was in a definite minority view. There really was some good behind the scenes descriptions of how the Smith Commission has worked to get its proposals out but he did appear to lose it somewhat when he described all Glasgow’s secondary state schools as not fit for purpose and dipped even deeper into tribal party politics saying the English education system was wonderful alongside his eulogy of Mr Gove. Got a brilliant rant from a retired Glasgow teacher at the coffee break. Sent by his wife to apologise for his language later in the morning, unnecessary but great to chat with people from around the country. Although the afternoon was absorbing and thought-provoking, listening to the likes of Jeane Freeman, David Greig and Kathy Galloway among others, the evening was beckoning with Tom Smith, Lateral North, Andy Wightman and Dr Jim Hunter.

Kathy Galloway began her talk with an extra ordinary tale. Bill going through Parliament on Friday with cross party support to prevent revenge evictions. That is, tenants, who complain to their landlords about housing conditions being evicted for their troubles. the Bill failed to go onto the books because it was talked out of time…..by two Tory MPs ……and you felt the room already knew what she was going to say next…..two Tory MPs who were landlords. If I did not declare an interest at a CC meeting and did not leave the room I would be out on my ear. The point I take from this they are now so arrogant they do not seem to care who sees or knows what they do now.

Tom Smith showed a power point full of imagination of what could happen in Scotland in the future…..nothing was deemed impossible, an example being that Scapa Flow could be the maritime hub for the whole of western Europe. A cracking example put forward by Tom was of a Danish architect who decided it would be a good idea to build a swimming pool above a supermarket using the wasted heat to warm the pool. Not only that he put in a diving board that allowed the divers into the supermarket. So shoppers in the fruit and veg aisle were passed by divers inside the glass enclosed pool. Got me thinking about lots of seagoing ventures that could be feasible in the scheme of things. It is not long since the western seaboard was connected by sea routes and that brought to mind an earlier discussion about remoteness. Remote is a relative term and where you are determines how remote you are. London is remote from Applecross. The world map on the wall of the Inn shows Applecross as the centre and threads from all across the world coming to Applecross. Millennium ago the first settlers inhabited the centres of “civilisation” and these were the coastal fringes of an impenetrable and wild hinterland. Stopped for dinner at the Ceilidh Place where we had the good fortune to sit with Jim Hunter and as the meal went on great exchanges of stories took place.

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He is now working on a book about the Sutherland Clearances and was telling us about the bounties paid out to “hunters” for eagles heads etc. Showing how the people lived on the land alongside the natural inhabitants and the diversity of wildlife that existed then. Not rosy by any means for the people but far better the denuding and degradation of the Highlands that took place over the last 200 years. The Scottish Govt’s programme has poor landlords in its sights and rightly so. Why should so few people hold sway over so many in a modern democracy? Why should the amount of land any one person can hold not be capped? Why can individual wealth not be kept under control. All these accumulations of power, wealth and property are ultimately detrimental to the surrounding environment. I equate these actions to my own life style, the constant striving for growth in the fishing industry inevitably leads to stock extinctions and a degraded eco system and as such should be controlled for the benefit for everyone. At Leckmelm the right of fishermen to fish to extinction was decried as it affects the non fishing community. As regards the degrading of the land and sea we are all in it together. Feels good to be amongst the revolutionaries. Meanwhile Dougal and Eilidh were given frequent walks and he, in particular had his moments meeting Douglas Fraser’s Sam and had a great wee mess about. One not so good moment nipping off in the dark to roll in the foulest rotten fish he could find. Result of that was a swim in Loch Broom. The end of the evening was interspersed with lots of chat about potential future opportunities for people and communities across the Highlands, but there was a wee stop for a snap.

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We decide to head down the road as work commitments meant a full on day for Sunday for both of us. On the way down the road Jim Hunter’s mention of Angus Macrae of North Strome reminded me of hearing him in Assynt. I had the good fortune to have been invited up to take part in a Radio programme by Lesley Riddoch and towards the end of the recording Angus stood up to say how proud he was of the Assynt crofters in their buying of the Estate and he hoped this would be the start of a repopulating of the Highlands. He then went on to describe such an evocative picture of driving home in the dark from Inverness across the northern Highlands and seeing the lights back on in the Glens, keeping him company on the way home. So different from now when you can travel for miles in total darkness. Maybe the new reforms that are proposed may help Angus’s vision to be fulfilled.

I can only end by saying it was a privilege to have been in such company and that includes the whole week, ranging from the community leaders in Contin to the politicos, journalists, activists and the good people in Ullapool. One can only hope that the efforts of Gerry Hassan and Jean Urquhart can be rewarded in the continuing of this great weekend. Today was hard graft, a 10/11 hour stint, but rewarding at the Inn but rest now for a day’s fishing may be on the cards for tomorrow.

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