In Sunart Hotel after an evening of music, community and green energy. Thursday was a day of book work but mainly outside log chopping and other bits and pieces before heading up to the Inn for an evening session. Expected a fairly busy shift as the Boss was away for the day and Inn full as usual but not the case. It had a feel of winter about it, dark early and although the fire not on there was a “sacrificial” display of candles in front of the stove.
Regulars had turned up from The Berry Fields of the East. Full of stories as usual but have never heard a pino grigio being called a shipping line before….. Talking of wee tales, Aron told me about the Israeli family who turned up during the day to enjoy fish and chips, coffees and ice creams. Back and fore to the van they went getting salt and sauce and Aron got to know them and lots of chit-chat. Eventually they loaded up into their two wagons and started heading off. In the back off one the daughter stopped and asked for a final photo to which Aron duly obliged, never known him not to. And as a parting bit of info told them about Applecross Ices Facebook page to which the reply came, “You are not one of them are you?”. Once the penny had dropped, lots of laughter, and we are considering the teeshirt with S and I stroked out to be replaced with the C and E. I know it is a very sensitive subject just now and we are hearing of atrocities and man’s inhumanity to man seems to know no bounds. We are bombing our enemies friends or is it our friends enemies. I don’t think our rulers know anymore just that we should be bombing some one but sometimes humour can be something good to anchor our sanity to.The night finished off with sharing a sixtieth anniversary cake with a family from around the Dunblane area. Turns out that there is an Applecross connection as the daughter is part of SW Community Liaison team. So it was good fortune that we had received the Heads of Terms for the Diabeg installation during the day. Moves to install there in the near future which will be a relief to the folk on the north coast who have been waiting all summer for their connections. These delays are completely avoidable but if something is not in a box to be ticked that organisation does not seem to be able to cope. And Applecross does not tick any boxes. But good craic and it is not every day you meet some one that races huskies.
Friday morning was chaotic, starting with the arrival of the next 200 calendars
and quickly followed by Bill who was taking a final look at our thermal panel installation before going away and getting a quote ready for it. Phone call from the Gleaner driver to say that he was on the way and then Alison had to deal with a long phone call from a distant country trying to tell her that the Community Company owed money for phone lines set up in July. A puzzle and the phone was gently put down after a half hour of no progress. Resulted in me turning up a little late at the Filling Station which was a wee bit unfortunate as the Delivery Books were with me due to the clear out pre new installation.. But as Ronnie was still delivering the unleaded all ended well and an hour later we were on the road to Strontian. I was in two minds about going down the road with Alison as the forecast for Saturday was not too bad, but life is short and events like these do not come around very often. Alison was invited to the event as she had delivered an inspiring talk which had helped the Strontian group on the road to building a Hydro Scheme similar to ours. Driech weather on the drive but went really well epitomised by being the last car squeezed onto the ferry at Corran.
Liked the simulated instructions from the crewman, placing the car where he wanted, pulling the handbrake on and switching off the engine, all very helpful and made one smile, it is so simple. So after arriving at the Strontian Hotel, letting Dougal and his mum out
and feeding them it was into a very pleasant meal with Wendy, DTAS. Beef and ale pie followed by STP, extremely good and preceded by a late show of light down Loch Sunnart.
Down to the Hall where the kids were having a ball led by Trial West on the stage.
Met enthusiastically by Jamie and later had a chat with James,SEA. The serious stuff happened around 8pm when Dave Thompson,MSP
Jamie and Dave Hollings explained what and why we were there.
Basically Strontian have set up a group who have taken building a Run of River Hydro Scheme all the way to the point of laying the first brick. The night was about launching the share issue which invited people to invest money in the scheme thus cutting down the amount needed when applying for commercial loans.
The speeches by the three were informative and inspiring and the fact that they announced that £52,000 was already raised meant that the hoped for success of the scheme was a lot closer. The scheme in the long run may well produce more for the community as, although more expensive to install, they do not have to pay so much rent as we will have to for the use of the river. The returns and tax incentives mean investing is already a good idea but more importantly you are investing in your own community. Although not “our community” we decided to buy shares as we are all in this together and “All of Us First” comes to mind. The community benefits from the individual investing and they also benefit from a return on the investment. What is not to like from these share issues? A couple of good chats before we left relatively early, certainly before the late night drinkers arrived. Good band, dancing and craic till late I believe.
Morning and before breakfast the dogs having spent the night in the car, relatively warm, were let out for a wander and I had the good fortune to chance upon the Strontian Community Woodland,
and surprised myself by finding my way back to the Hotel through the woods. So after another very pleasant breakfast with Wendy and then James. Lots of interesting chat about different community models, how they are set up and work. Before hitting the road again for the north and home. But as the dogs would be in the car for another four hours or so we went back into the woodland. Beautiful short walks with some magnificent trees, a European silver fir in particular.
Dougal picked up a friend who tagged along after initial nervous introductions.
So it was a goodbye to Strontian, with its egg rack shore line,
inspiring people and green energy future. As in every place they have people living there who are huffing a bit about what is going on but hopefully they will come on board when they realise the benefits for everyone at the end of the day. Lovely autumnal drive
and, as ever, good to see the Hills of Applecross in the October sun.
As it is now Sunday morning and off to the Inn again, links and last night’s tales of birthday parties, Americans, locals with their histories and returned hotel owners will have to wait. When tourists ask you what do you do up here?…………….