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Easdale weather!

easdale-rainbowPlease check the local weather forecasts if you’re planning to travel to Easdale from far afield – or even from quite close at hand – because the weather here can be very different from that in Oban … or even in Balvicar!

Have a look at “Weather Watch” on our Handy Info page.

This evening was gorgeous, with the horizontal rain and Force eights died down, and a beautiful rainbow filling the sky!

 

 

Look what passed by Easdale Island a couple of days ago …

Schooner

A ‘bus shelter for Ellenabeich

Waiting for the 418 during the winter months is a tooth-chattering, limb-numbing experience, as the rain lashes down driven by icy winds blasting from the North. The only shelter available is the door-less telephone kiosk which will just accommodate two – and that only if they’re already very well acquainted. For many years, regular 418 passengers have longed for a ‘bus shelter but, for complex reasons involving acceptable design and acceptable siting, it seems that this is not to be, even though Argyll & Bute Council could find the funds.

Now, our former ferryman George has taken the initiative himself and erected a shelter at the ‘bus stop. Here it is in situ:

 

Granted, this scaled-down version will only accommodate persons of approximately 10cms tall, but the gang of teenage sparrows will probably love it to hang out in as an alternative to the streetlamp covers. Here it is in close-up:

Hey! Some small people have already rushed in to put up posters!

Looks very appealing, doesn’t it? And shivering passengers wish that they could have an even more appealing full-sized one. The arguments over design and siting relate mainly to the fact that Ellenabeich village is a Conservation Area and, of course, Conservation Areas must be respected and protected from inappropriate development; but the square itself has changed so much over the last couple of decades.

Do you remember when:

- Harbour Cottage was a shop (run by Mike & Catherine Shaw), selling waxed jackets, wellies, tweedy items and a wide variety of interesting gifts to appeal to passersby – or those of us looking for a last-minute birthday gift?

- The Sea.fari booking office was our sub-Post Office, with Morag behind the counter? How convenient! And the Post Office did stock a good range of more than basic groceries. Not only that, but you could pick up your daily newspaper from there!

- The crane was still on the pier (albeit crumbling)?

- There were no paving slabs, no planters, no “heritage” streetlamps?

Surely a humble ‘bus shelter, with its unobtrusive perspex design, could fit in comfortably right at the ‘bus stop. After a short while no-one would notice it, and very soon no-one would remember when it hadn’t been there.

What a whopper!

One of Willie’s chooks must be feeling the effects of Spring, because a couple of days ago she produced this stonker of an egg.

Not a chance of it fitting in the eggcup! If you visit the plots you’ll recognise her immediately. She’s still lying flat on her face, beads of sweat on her brow, stars rotating round her head and fanning herself with a feeble wing. If you get close you can just hear her moaning “I’m never going to do THAT again!”.

Standing Stones and the Stars

Most of us have probably seen Standing stones around the UK and further afield and wondered why they were built and what they were used for.

Henges, Stonehenge, Woodhenges, Stone Circles, Seahenges, Standing Stones and Rock Art have proliferated throughout Europe, some dating back to 3-5000 year BC, well before the Egyptians built the pyramids. Over the centuries, they have variously been thought to have been used by Druids for human sacrifice, used as territorial markers or elements of a complex ideological system, or functioned as early calendars.

Many of the structures have been plundered for building materials, but still large numbers have weathered the ages for us to admire and theorise over today. Several of the structures are thought to have celestial significance, particularly the circles, where combinations of stones point to key annual events, such as the rising and setting suns at the summer or winter solstice. Some even point to the position of familiar stars in the heavens, such as Sirius and Rigel. Being able to predict the onset of the solstices and the equinox, for example, could have helped the Neolithic farmers to know when to plant and when to harvest. Even modern day farmers link their farming strategies to the seasons.

But the stones used in these circles are huge, and must have needed the resources and efforts of large numbers of people to quarry, transport and erect in calculated positions. To command this level of co-operation, our ancestors must have been driven by very important issues that were central to the community where the stones were placed.

Interestingly, stone circles were not the prerogative of our Neolithic forbears. Over in Glasgow, a contemporary Stone Circle was built in Sighthill Park. Its designer and creator, Duncan Lunan provides an on-line account of the project here. The circle was completed in 1979 but became the subject of renovation plans in 2000 and 2010. The stone circle was designed and built to demonstrate that key earth bound events such as summer and winter solstices could be accurately predicted. Interestingly, the chosen site was subsequently found to be the viewing target from a nearby hill during summer solstice fairs up until the 17th Century.

Duncan strongly advocates the notion that standing stones and circles ‘have the characteristics of observatories’. He cites the work of Professor Alexander Thom et al who over a period of decades ‘unravelled the geometries of the ancient sites’. At a time when other astronomers were highly skeptical, Professor Thom and his colleagues were able to show that the alignments of the ancient sites in relation to the movement of the Sun, Moon and bright stars was not coincidental.

So the next time you visit one of these amazing places, imagine waiting for the sun to rise or set on a summer solstice and wonder if our forbears decided that it was now time to plant the seeds, gather the harvest or sacrifice an unlucky animal. Could they trust the designers of the circle that they had got the time right?

Stargazer

Easdale Island 2013

Well, its 2013 and already february. A big apology to all our readers for not keeping up to date….we’ve all been very busy, but we’re back now and champing at the very bit to bring you all up to speed with whats been going happening both on Easdale and with some of our neighbours  across the waters.

Stand by and stay tuned for updates, info, and some interesting articles in the next few days. 

 

 

Eilean Eisdeal Developments

Here we go again!

As the directors of Eilean Eisdeal [EE] have deliberately not consulted the community on their plans for our island, it is down to your online community magazine to do so.

Sometime ago EE engaged the services of Suzanne McIntosh, a ‘planning consultant’, to – and we can only hazard a guess – ‘help’ them with their future development plans.  Now, on Suzanne”s blurb site she says,  “I enjoy pushing the boundaries of planning and finding new ways to tackle old problems, especially in appeals and enforcements”. This sounds like the perfect chunky bunny EE would employ. And where do you think they came across her? I’ll leave that one for a little later!

Recently Suzanne and Keren Cafferty, the chair of EE, had a lovely stroll around Easdale Island with a representative from Historic Scotland to discuss master planning and possible future developments, whatever they may be. So … and this is a rhetorical question because you already know the answer … when would we get to know about the plans? When we see the planning application advertised of course, and not before!

In March 2010, during the consultation process for the next Local Development Plan [LDP], EE made submissions, that we had to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act, requesting land to be made available for huge developments on the island, including a hostel, social housing and workshops, all in our name and without consulting the  island residents and property owners.  “This is Eileen Eisdeal’s Master plan … just don’t tell anyone!!” 

Their grandiose claim for the “necessity” for these developments was that: The sustainability of the Easdale Island community has an important role to sustain the wider community of Argyll and Bute.”

Fortunately some residents “highlighted”  their secret Master plan and as a result none of their submissions made it in to the LDP, so now the only course of action open to them is to challenge the LDP.

Yes, they have been there before and they lost … badly. A resounding defeat for EE, Mike MacKenzie and John Campbell QC who lead the challenge. In fact the Reporter who heard the challenge to the LDP at the Public Inquiry said in his findings: ” … we do not accept that these objectors speak for “the people of Easdale”; we find that they represent an identifiable community of self interest and their views on the way forward are not shared by some other “full” and “part-time” residents of the island. … We can also understand that the release of large areas of land may assist in securing certain private aspirations; but our concern must be whether the achievement of these aspirations would be co-terminus with the public interest.”

Which probably says it all.

Oh yes, before I forget, Suzanne McIntosh sits on the Scottish Parliament’s cross party group on Architecture and the Built Environment – as does Mike MacKenzie MSP. That wasn’t difficult to fathom. We knew there would be some input and control from MacKenzie. His hand is never far from the tiller of control and the manipulation of the directors of EE .

Once again this self styled development group is using charitable funds to further their development aims against the wishes of the community that they claim to represent ; but it is clear to all outside parties – including OSCR, the Charities Regulator, and the planning department of Argyll and Bute Council – that they don’t. Keren Cafferty, as chair of this charity, is using its money to pay a planning consultant to push forward projects  that will directly benefit her business on the island, aided and abetted by Mike MacKenzie MSP. There are very serious conflicts of interest here, blatantly obvious for all to see. 

We’ll keep you updated as and when we receive any info.

The editor

 

Nova Innovation meeting

There will be a meeting on Saturday 7th April at 1030am for 11 in the community hall, to discuss a proposal by Nova Innovation to take a venture forward to deploy a tidal turbine in Cuan Sound. This company is hoping to get the directors of Eilean Eisdeal on board to apply for grants to fund the project. So far what we know about Nova is that they have been involved with a similar project in the Shetland Isles which has taken 3 years and £168,000 and is still not in the water. I spoke with Simon Forrest from Nova last week and asked him what other projects his company was involved in at the moment, but he refused to give an answer. More of a worry is that Nova Innovation are listed on the Companies House website as a dormant company, i.e. not trading.

Some time ago Community Energy Scotland gave a presentation on Luing with regard to Nova’s ideas. It seems from what Nova are saying, they would like to speak to the 3 communities separately, why, we don’t know, yet!

We would like to suggest that as many full time residents as possible attend this meeting to get a fuller picture. We do hope that this is a consultation meeting and not a “this is what is going to happen” meeting.

 

 

Editorial comment

I’m sure by now most of the residents of this island have read the news letter recently put out by Eilean Eisdeal. I would like to draw residents’ attention to the misleading information in the news letter with regard to the change of accountants. In the article it states that the members agreed to change accountants to a company with more experience in the charities sector, the company being Simmers and Co in Oban.

Last Wednesday I had a chat with David Hodge of Simmers and Co to get some clarification on the matter, and he told me that “it wouldn’t make any difference to the Eilean Eisdeal accounts if we were to draw them up or if they had stayed with Jean Ainsley”, the charity’s previous accountants. In fact both firms audit accounts for many charities in Argyll, so WHY the sudden change?

In a year where Eilean Eisdeal has been investigated once again by the charities regulator, OSCR, and found to be somewhat wanting in their report with regard to transparency  and openness, add to that the stone walling of residents questions about  how, on what and to whom the £130,000 from the Scottish Gas Green Streets was spent, it all appears pretty odd – and has a faint whiff about it? Perhaps you would agree?

So, we are still left asking, why the change of accountants? Was Jean Ainsley not prepared to be EE’s accountant any more? Had she concerns about what the charity was up to? Did the directors feel she knew to much about their activities, and it was time to move on and start afresh with a new firm who knows nothing about them??

As usual with the Eilean Eisdeal directors, so many questions and NO answers.

Do the kids want a dog for Christmas …

… but you don’t want one for life?

Here’s your answer! From the people that brought you “Knit your own Royal Wedding”, “Knit your own farmyard” etc., here’s … yes …

KNIT YOUR OWN DOG!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get it from THE BOOK PEOPLE  for only £4.99. Poodle, bulldog, dalmation, pekinese, and more (that looks like a sealyham on the cover to me).

Ridiculous, or what??