MAROONED! NORTH UIST
Every now and again, as I'm wandering around the islands, I see a sight that makes me look twice, smile and then burst into fits of giggles like a madcap. One example recently was a crow that flew low over the house with a sock dangling from its beak. Another was the digger shown above, which is currently parked ( moored?) on a little island by a causeway on North Uist.
By and large, its been a good week. I've managed to motivate myself to do a couple of hours of decorating every evening and feel like I'm moving forward now. The housewarming is planned for October, so that's my target date to get the majority of the work done and the house knocked into shape. Still some minor irritations though. There are one or two not very serious plumbing problems to sort out, but having sacked the plumber a couple of weeks ago following a dispute with him, I'm not going to ask him to return and will have to find another solution.
The best news of the week is that I saw the Building Inspector yesterday, who has done his final inspection, agreed that all of the house renovation work is up to standard and is now going to issue my Completion Certificate. Yippee! No more hassles or expensive changes, probably.
A couple of weeks ago, I told of the application by the Free Church of Scotland to purchase a hotel in North Uist and turn it into a church, manse, cafe and meeting rooms. Interesting developments. The Western Isles Council have approved the proposed change of use, but the local Community Council, consisting of North Uist residents, have objected. They seem to be arguing that there will be loss of amenity to the community because the existing hotel has a function suite and that converting it to a church 'will remove a place for young people to meet.'
North Uist is a small island with four other hotels within a few miles and is hardly likely to go down the pan because one drinking establishment disappears.
Incidentally, I have a nostalgic fondness for the hotel in question, the Carinish Inn. It's the very first hostelry I stopped to have a pint in on my very first visit to the Western Isles in June of 1978. The hotel was really just an unmodernised drinking den then and I vividly remember going into the public bar to see a group of fishermen, drinks in hand, staring silently at a television mounted on the wall, which had no picture other than flickering snow. In those days, TV reception was poor throughout the islands and telly was still something of a novelty in some areas.
There's fighting in the streets of Stornoway over the arrival of new supermarkets. Tesco have bought out Somerfield and are making some alterations to the store before reopening, but the Co-Op, the only supermarket on the island just now, have objected to Tesco's plans and look like delaying the opening date. Lidl have announced that they would also like to open a store here and the Co-Op have objected to them as well. I've always been a fan of the Co-Op, but they are expensive, have a complete monopoly and their objections seem remarkably like sulky sour grapes in the face of much needed competition.
There has never been a legitimate whisky distillery in the Outer Hebrides, the nearest one probably being Talisker, on Skye. A company called Uisge Beatha nan Eilean have just submitted a planning application though to create a new distillery on the Isle of Barra. If approved, the premises will be 90% powered by renewable energy sources, support up to 10 jobs and use barley which will be grown on the island. If it does get off the ground, I'll be quite elderly before the first bottle of 12 year old malt staggers into the shops for sale, but It's an incentive for me to hang on so that I can road test the product and give you my learned opinion of its strengths and weaknesses. Will keep you informed of progress.
Finally, the mythical Snowy Owl has returned and was seen yesterday at the RSPB reserve at Balranald, North Uist. I consider it my life's work to get a decent picture of it to put on this blog. I shall be working there again in about a week, so who knows.