Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Life is a bit more active than usual at the ranch just now. I have a friend from the South staying for three weeks and he is particularly keen on fending off old age and remaining fit as long as possible. The weather here on Lewis has been fantastic for much of the last week and he has been dragging me out for a walk most days, although I confess to being reluctant on occasions. 
Following quite a lot of illness in recent years, including a broken leg which has limited my mobility, I have not been keen to venture far, especially as the leg still hurts when exercised. 
Nevertheless, I've had my walking boots on several times in the last couple of weeks and have to admit that I've thoroughly enjoyed getting out and about  and I have to concede that my leg has improved with this new burst of exercise. There are some wonderful walks with staggering views within a mile or two of the house and it's been good to have some company to do them with.

You may remember that I mentioned the local B&B owner who has taken on Tripadviser over their refusal to remove unsubstantiated poor reviews. Well good news and bad news on that front.
At Stornoway Sheriff Court last week, Tripadviser were forced to accept that they are subject to Scottish law and can be taken to Court on this side of the Atlantic. The bad news though is that the Sheriff has agreed to Tripadviser's demand for the case to be transferred to a higher Court. He ruled that the case involves contract law which is too complicated to be heard in a small claims Court. This ruling will require the B&B owner to hire a lawyer and be subject to the possibility of incurring unlimited expenses. Although he is appealing that decision, the B&B owner has said that if he loses, he cannot afford to fight his case in a higher Court and will be forced to abandon his dispute.
 So the probability is that Tripadviser will get its way, win by the exercise of might and continue to print whatever reviewers place on the website.

A sad event has happened here with the sale of the last herd of dairy cows in the Outer Hebrides. Competition from low priced supermarket milk and the high cost of farming on the Islands has forced the Lewis farm to sell its milking herd of 40 cows at Dingwall Market after 52 years of producing milk. The family who own the farm will continue to raise beef cattle and sheep, but we will be unable to purchase locally produced milk from now on. 

I've always had a bit of a thing about lighthouses and we are blessed in having a number of fine examples spread around these islands. One of my favourites is the Butt of Lewis lighthouse at Ness, a few miles North of here. The  Island Book Trust is organising a one day event next Saturday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the light and myself and visiting friend have booked to go on a grand tour of the lighthouse and surrounding buildings and we are very much looking forward to that.

Finally, to finish off, I am engaged in a David and Goliath battle of my own just now with the Royal Bank of Scotland, with whom I have banked for forty two years without problem.
About a month ago, I withdrew £300, in £20 notes, from the cash machine at the bank in Stornoway,  only to discover that  one of the notes in the pile of money was a £5 note, meaning that I only received £285. I had no money in my wallet at the time of the withdrawal, so am quite confident that I have not made a mistake. As soon as I discovered the error, I went into the bank to report it and whilst the staff were polite and helpful, they appeared sceptical about the possibility that bank systems would allow this to happen. Having had no satisfaction from the local bank branch, I have lodged a formal complaint at RBS headquarters in Edinburgh and now await their response. More to follow.

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