General

Beautiful

Sunset from Easdale Island 7-2-15

Amazing support for RNLI

For the first time within living memory Stone Skimming Sunday dawned bright, clear, sunny and warm and – astonishingly – remained like that for the whole day. So the Fairbairn family were pleased to be able to set up their RNLI stall under sun-shade parasols rather than under rain- and wind-swept umbrellas!

Tombola, RNLI merchandise, soft drinks and crisps were on offer, all with the aim of raising funds for the RNLI.

With Willie acting as a most effective “barker”, visitors stopped by, looked, bought, and enjoyed their winnings from the tombola. (Thanks to so many generous donors, there were very good prizes to be had!)

And the amount raised on the day by the Fairbairn family’s stall was sufficient to attract funding from the TSB to bring it up to a truly staggering total of:

£1,089.00

to help fund the work of the Oban Lifeboat.

The Island Residents’ Association also played a small part, with a stall inviting passersby to “Save the Sailors from the Cruel Sea : and help the RNLI save real lives at sea”.

Adults and children alike enjoyed making helicopter noises  – chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a  – or THWACKA!-THWACKA!-THWACKA!-THWACKA! – as they lifted the mariners from the water with a hand-held SeaKing! The modest amount of £32.90 was taken. But every little helps.

Remember that the RNLI is a charity, funded solely by donations, and that its crews are all volunteers. Those guys put their lives at risk every time they go on a “shout”.

Have a look HERE  for more about what the Oban Lifeboat does, and HERE to vote for RNLI to receive £50,000 from the Postcode Lottery. 

Meanwhile, we ask how much money went into Eilean Eisdeal’s coffers from this year’s Stone Skimming Day? This has yet to be revealed.

Apparently £9,500 was realised from the Stone Skimming event last year. That’s A LOT OF MONEY!!

Where has it gone? How have islanders benefitted from it?? Rhetorical question probably, because … we … just … don’t … know!!

We also ask ourselves what happened to the money received from the Climate Challenge Fund:

  • Eilean Eisdeal Energy Education Programme. The Easdale Island energy education programme aims to raise awareness of energy usage, change behaviour and reduce household energy consumption and the carbon footprint of the island. The installation of a whole-island electricity usage meter with detailed information displayed via a large screen monitor in the ferry waiting room will raise awareness and assist in evaluating the progress of the project. £12,060

 Now, that’s certainly A LOT OF MONEY! Raise your hand if you’ve been engaged in an “energy education programme”, or if you’ve seen that “whole-island electricity usage meter” in the ferryshed.

No?

H’mm. If that money wasn’t used, was it forfeited?

In the same way that a load of the GreenStreets grant money was forfeited when it became abundantly clear that island residents did not want a wind turbine!! And abundantly clear, in fact, that islanders hadn’t been consulted before that GreenStreets money was applied for.

From Eilean Eisdeal’s Newsletter no. 49 dated November 2012 we also learn:

  • SOLAR PV FEED-IN TARIFF
  • We received our first payment from British Gas who are our feed-in tariff provider for the solar PV panels on the Hall roof. This came to just over £700 for 7 months, 20% of which will go to the island children for whatever project they decide.

OK, that’s almost a year ago. And presumably there’s another year’s-worth of feed-in tariff received by now. So how have the island children been involved and invited to decide how that money (we calculate £140 for the first year and now presumably doubled) should be spent?

Again … we don’t know. Parents don’t know .. children don’t know. So … where IS that money… ???

Lots of questions … no answers!

Letter from New Zealand : Earthquakes

The recent bout of earthquakes in New Zealand hasn’t been made much of in our national press, with a Scotsman article claiming that there had been just two strong ‘quakes. Easdale People’s Foreign Correspondent, Jennifer, tells the true story:

27th July, 2013

The big news here is EARTHQUAKES. You may have read about  them in the papers. Our first big earthquake hit at 9 a.m. last Friday (a 5.5 on the Richter scale). I was drinking tea in a local café at the time when we heard a noise like an express train approaching at full speed and suddenly the whole place was shuddering violently. There were a few tourists around who didn’t know what was happening – the locals soon told them. It went on for 20 seconds. Nothing was broken but the windows looked as if they might shatter at any moment. Since then we have had thousands (I’m not exaggerating  – merely quoting the Met Office) of after-shocks. A second major earthquake arrived the evening before last. This one was recorded as a 6.5. I was sitting reading at the time and again, very suddenly, the house started shaking like crazy. Many of the Picton residents either raced out of doors or else skulked under tables (the recommended action taught in all NZ schools). I stayed put but did clutch my treasured Chinese horse in my lap. Ornaments tend to get thrown about when earthquakes strike and I should be sorry to lose this one. I’ve since heard that some of my friends have lost various items of glass or china. Wellington streets were strewn with broken window glass and everybody was advised to keep out the centre of the city. Both my boys rang to check that I was all right and one bridge friend actually rang to ask if I’d like to go and spend the night at her house, as she thought I’d be too scared to sleep in my own house, surrounded by tall trees as it is. She said she’d come and fetch me in her car. It was a kind thought but in fact I wasn’t feeling at all frightened; the whole experience was extremely interesting and quite exciting from my point of view. I should doubtless have been less blasé, had I suffered any damage. The shaking reminded me quite forcibly of a few stormy nights during my Antarctic cruise when everything was thrown about the cabin. The seismologists haven’t yet decided whether there’s a previously unknown fault come to life in the Marlborough Sounds but they do say that we must expect lots more disturbances over the next few weeks. I was woken by a large jolt at 3 a.m. this morning and everyone thinks that another large quake is imminent. Wellington of course, like San Francisco, is fearful of “the Big One”.  Wellington does lie on a major fault (confluence of the Australian and Pacific plates). The recent tremors have all been centred south of Blenheim, (half an hour away) but there is a danger that they may set off something really nasty in the capital city. So far, no-one has been killed and there have only been a few injuries. One rather sad postscript is that a number of the Christchurch residents have migrated to Picton to escape their devastated city and now they’re back in the centre of things again. Our recent quake was actually stronger than the one that wrought havoc in Christchurch but didn’t do nearly as much damage.

 

Jennifer at home in NZ
(Photo: Tim Flinn)

 

16th August, 2013

The earthquakes continue. For weeks we’ve been enduring endless shaking and today has been particularly bad. We’ve had two quakes over 6 on the Richter Scale this afternoon. The first was a 6.6 and the second a 6.2. and we’ve had lots of shakes in between over 5. All these are classified as “severe” and appear on the seismic website in brilliant red. “Strong” earthquakes are amber, “moderate” quakes are green and “light” quakes are blue. The house is still shaking as I write this. Andrew has just ‘phoned from Auckland (which isn’t affected) because the news programmes are completely taken up by the earthquakes at the moment. He could hear the rumblings down the telephone line. No-one has been killed so far but Wellington has suffered a fair amount of structural damage. Power lines are down, buses and trains have been suspended and roads have been closed. The radio is advising everyone to “keep calm”. At this point the ‘phone rang again – a friend checking that I wasn’t too frightened. Like the friend who rang during the last major quake, she offered to come and fetch me and put me up for the night. People here are very kind. I’ve spent most of the afternoon in the garden, weeding. Surprisingly enough the tremors are much less noticeable when you’re out of doors. The ‘phone has just rung again – yet another friend worried that I might be scared here on my own.

Apart from all this seismic activity, all is well here.

 

The stunning view from Jennifer’s house
(Photo: Tim Flinn)

 

28th August 2013

The earthquakes seem to have died down over the past week but the residents of Seddon (the epicentre of the last bunch of tremors and about 45 minutes away by car) are still struggling with the aftermath. A friend of mine has been taking food parcels to her brother, whose house has been wrecked and who still has no electricity. I had a long and frustrating talk yesterday with my house insurers. The policy comes up for renewal in October when I shall be away, so I was trying to get things sorted before I left. NZ has just introduced a whole set of new rules for house insurance. Everyone has to measure every room in the house, every balcony, every deck, every paved area, every drive etc. etc.. The premium is going to be based on the cost of rebuilding should the house be demolished by earthquake activity. All our premiums are going to go up exponentially and the recent quake activity in this area is not going to help. The girl to whom I spoke on the ‘phone was not particularly helpful. She said she could give me no idea as to how much I was going to have to pay as it wouldn’t be calculated until payment was due, but the firm will be quite happy to take the required amount out of my bank account when the time comes. So much for any hope of shopping around for the best bargain!

An old Easdale custom continues

The on-paper Easdale People regularly ran photos of people moving sheds around the island in various creative ways, and we’re proud to continue that tradition, as the shed that was originally Henry’s, then Jan’s, then Julian’s and is now Willie’s, makes its way up to the allotments. Even after all these years- and all its travels – the shed was remarkably robust and took some dismantling, but Team Easdale (Willie, Euan, Don and Henry) managed it

 

Going …

… going …

… gone!

 

 

Mobile signal for Seil (and Easdale)

Hello? 21st century and we don’t have ANY useful mobile signal here. When we live here we’ve an idea of where we can go to get a … um … two-bar signal. On Easdale Island there’s a reasonable signal outside the ferryshed, and if you go up the mountain you can probably get … wow … THREE bars!!

It’s an issue for us all, whether full-time residents, holiday home owners or visitors.

Our Webmaster Nick Bowles has set up an on-line petition to try and get this sorted, by needling our MSP and MP to access – for us – some of the £150 million allocated by the UK government for improving mobile coverage throughout the country.

There are 121 signatures on the petition right now, which is brilliant. BUT … we’re going for 200!!

You can sign up for it HERE. Please do.

P.S. Some people have experienced difficulties with signing the on-line petition, so paper ones have been put in the Easdale ferryshed, Village Shop, Heritage Centre and Oyster Bar.

We’re truly special!

A reader, island visitor and would-be resident has sent in the following post:

Jeannette & I visited this island called Easdale purely by chance towards the end of June, just past, whilst enjoying an extended touring caravan holiday in Scotland. We live in York (so not really English you understand) and were so taken with what is a magnificent island that I have thought about nothing else of consequence since. You see what you have is special. I mean truly special.

Leaving aside the politics (of which I’m still not fully up to date with) you have what can be described as the best of many worlds. Isolation, connectivity, beauty, history, industrial heritage, and from what I’ve read in these web pages a degree of community spirit that is not witnessed in many many other parts of the UK. So stop and think about that for a wee while.

I reckon many islanders feel similar thoughts too. We hope so. Approaching and just reaching the tender age of (we’ll say very late 50s) we have aspirations, and subject to moving goal posts of pensions etc. feel Easdale may be the place to settle for a decade or so – to imbibe our beings with all the things I listed above. To become part of a living community; take up sailing again, doing voluntary work, a part-time job – whatever.

So outgoing & friendly was one of the islanders (shan’t embarrass him/her) that, during a good chat whilst looking at a couple of boats in the harbour, s/he showed us around one of the island’s cottages. Both Jeannette & I were taken by a realisation of what life could be like in a place like Easdale.

We made enquiries on our return to Yorkshire of purchasing something suitable & simple on Easdale as the thoughts would simply not dissipate from our minds (as holiday memories often do). We have looked at websites for renting and come to the conclusion that we should rent for a period of say 6 months over the winter to see whether (and weather!) we could stay the course. We also made enquiries at our workplace to take a 6 month leave of absence (allowable where we work) as a pre-retirment option.

So the essence of this early morning ramble is two-fold:
1 – to let you know you do have something special
2 – to put down a marker for the near future and invite constructive comment

We hope offence has not been taken by the above (not intended) and if there are suggestions or reading you think might be suitable for us to catch up on then do please let us know.

Best wishes to all you fortunate people,
Jeannette & Robin
Ps
Is it permissible to fly the Yorkshire flag alongside the Saltire on Yorkshire Day (1st of August?)

The saga goes on …

For the avoidance of doubt, the photo below states where all the white goods came from in the first place:

But …  instead of Eilean Eisdeal directors (the owners of “The Mess”) being shamed by Willie’s example, and deciding to take responsibility and load the goods  themselves into their Landrover truck or 4×4 and take everything to Moleigh, one of them chose to scrawl what’s shown in the photo below:

Why? Trying to transfer the blame onto Willie by publicly naming him as the culprit – and, by inference, implicating the Council – is not only untrue, it’s downright malicious. Council officers are aware of the perpetrator of this childishly vindictive act, and are considering what action to take.

Meanwhile, Tony Seafari, having noted visitors’ reactions to “The Mess”, moved it out of the way and covered it up. 

Now, as he said he would, Willie has taken the items to Moleigh – where their owners should have taken them in the first place. 

Will Willie’s truly community-spirited act be the end of this sorry saga?

Probably not!

We still await Eilean Eisdeal’s apparently impending application for a change of use of the Rush & Gush to a waste storage area. It is their determination to achieve this that is at the root of the problem. Island residents are thoroughly fed of up Eilean Eisdeal, and Mitchell Joinery & Building, dumping their rubbish on community land deliberately to create a problem that Eilean Eisdeal can then claim to be working to “solve” with the change of use.

Why are they so determined?

Here’s the scenario as we see it. A change of use would mean the classification status of the Rush & Gush land would be changed from “Conservation” to “Brown land”, thereby officially permitting the continued dumping of assorted garbage and opening up the possibility for Eilean Eisdeal to apply for permission to build their bunkhouse/hostel (without kitchen of course, as Keren insists).

Who would benefit? Not the island residents, who have already said they do not want such development on the island.

Yes! The only possible beneficiary would be the Puffer Bar and its Eilean Eisdeal director owner.

The sad tale of the suicidal white goods

When Bertie’s Bothy became the possession of an Eilean Eisdeal director (or directors?) it underwent a conversion job and metamorphosed into an art gallery. (The last we remember was that permission was granted for conversion to a cottage – but never mind …) Unfortunately the contents of the Bothy, i.e. an electric cooker and a fridge, were no longer required so, finding themselves homeless, the cooker and fridge shed a sad tear, trundled off  to the Rush & Gush and threw themselves to the ground in an emotional act of self-fly-tipping.

A sad story.

Members of the Easdale Island Residents’ & Property Owners’ Association met with A&BC planning officers Area Team Leader Stephen Fair and Enforcement Officer Andrew Barrie, along with Ben Tustin from SEPA and Cllr. Duncan MacIntyre to see what could be done for these poor abandoned white goods. The conclusion was that the cooker and fridge (and a great number of other items) had breached planning law. As they had wantonly thrown themselves onto community land, the responsibility lay with Eilean Eisdeal either to remove them or to apply for planning permission for a change of use which would allow them to remain in their chosen last resting place.

A deadline was set. The deadline came. The deadline passed – by some four months now. Eilean Eisdeal have not complied with either of the options – at least as far as we can tell. Certainly all the rubbish is still there. So what is going on?? When the planners were asked that question for the umpteenth time the questioner was told that the information could not be released on the grounds that it might compromise on-going discussions. What “on-going discussions”? And what about?

Ahhh … could it be that old chestnut of the waste storage area raising its head again, right in the middle of the Conservation Area? Eilean Eisdeal have tried this twice before and got nowhere. But hey … why not have another go? And that very strange survey points strongly in that direction.

The plan goes something like this (and it’s been employed before):

1. Deliberately create a big problem. Dump stuff until people get really fed up and complain.

2. Offer to solve the problem by using it as a means to get what you wanted in the first place.

We wonder whose brainchild this could have been.

Well, like many others, Willie the Ferry has got sick and tired of the fly-tipping and has personally begun to uplift some of the rubbish to take it to Moleigh, where it belongs.

On our way to rest at Moleigh

Well done Willie. You’ll no doubt have some help from other islanders – though we hear on the grapevine that there are those who don’t want the stuff removed because “We want it to look a mess so we’ll get our permission”. Very community spirited, eh?

Be prepared!

An islander prepares for a weekend of fun and jollity.

New Server

Webcraft UK LtdRecently a few people have reported that their security software was giving them worrying messages when they logged on to this site. An extensive investigation using several different security tools failed to reveal any problems. 

Eventually it was decided that the best option was to take the site down completely and set up a new installation on a  new server using a  complete new file system and a trusted  database backup. This has now been done.

It was decided to use a database backup that preceded the first reports of any issues,  so I am afraid the site has travelled back in time to the end of April. We have also removed all uploads – files and pictures – as a further safety precaution.

The editorial team can now go back through posts with pictures or file attachments and re-upload them after scanning them on their own machines.