Back on the beautiful Islay route aboard the luxurious Finlaggan just now, though I don’t see a great deal of the spectacular scenery down in the engine room and I’ve little opportunity to rave about it anyway. The internet at Kennacraig is dubious at the best of times and we’re only in Port Ellen every other night.
Leaving as I did on Tuesday afternoon after a hectic morning I’d little time to pop into the local shop which was officially handed over to the community, or at least I think it was One thing for sure it was David Carselaw’s first day as manager in the new and exciting community venture that has been a long time in coming. Not through any lack of enthusiasm or even funding but from the various legal loopholes and solicitors ‘mumbo jumbo’ associated with such a venture. Anyway after many years at the helm Caroline Mackechnie can finally sit back and put her feet up After taking over the shop from Finlay MacLennan some 15??? years ago ( I really can’t remember when ) she introduced Raasay to a whole new range of goods from red peppers to sweet potatoes and I think I even found anchovies in there once For a time (an all too brief one) you could even get a fine bottle of red wine in there, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thanking her for her many years of service, the time, dedication, and effort she put into it.
And you can still buy shares in the exciting venture by printing one of these forms off and returning it to CORRA at the above address, we have members of all ages and from all over the globe.
Such was the excitement over this momentous event that it was even on the TV last night with darling wife in a ‘supporting role’ sorting out the mail OK, it was on BBC Alba and most of it was in Gaelic but it was the telly nonetheless, not that I saw it
One thing I feel sure that will make wider viewing is Charles Kennedy opening that other community venture officially, the newly refurbished Raasay House http://www.raasayoutdoorcentre.co.uk/ .
I managed to ‘cut and paste’ the article below during a brief internet connection at Kennacraig earlier.
Raasay House is to be re-opened on Friday – four years late after a fire gutted the building, which has welcomed thousands as an outdoor centre.The original mansion was home to the Macleod chiefs of Raasay and was burned to the ground by Hanoverian soldiers in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden.The community had supported Bonnie Prince Charlie, who crossed briefly to Raasay while he was on the run. It was rebuilt in time to receive diarist James Boswell and essayist Samuel Johnson during their celebrated Tour of the Hebrides in 1773.A multi-million pound restoration was delayed after a blaze gutted the building for a second time.
But the West Highland community is celebrating the re-opening of one of the region’s most stunning community-owned landmarks. Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy is carrying out the official opening ceremony at the 18th century house four years later than originally planned.Initially set to re-open in 2009 the project suffered a devastating blow when, following over a year of restoration work and just as the process was nearing completion, a fire gutted most of the building. It suffered a second setback when the main contractors, Rok, went into liquidation in 2010, further delaying the project.
Undaunted, the Raasay House Community Company Ltd (RHCC), with the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), The Big Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, started again on the £4.5m redevelopment. The Community Company was formed in 2006 and, using the Land Reform Act, bought Raasay House, its policies and walled garden, from HIE in December 2007.
The magnificent building offers a dramatic focal point for locals and visitors and delivers income to be re-invested in community projects. David Westgarth, chairman of RHCC, said: “We are delighted to welcome Mr Kennedy here. Well-wishers on Raasay and far beyond are eager to celebrate the completion of a project which has delivered a magnificent building with a stunning new interior, but looking as it always did from the outside, a landmark for the Highlands and Islands.”
“The community has worked so hard on this project for such a long time and to see the finished result makes every minute worth it.”
Raasay Outdoor Centre Ltd, which was a tenant prior to the restoration and which is a major economic driver on the island, has returned to Raasay House. The business is seeing both a return of loyal clients and is also attracting those who are discovering for the first time, the spectacular views, the variety of walks and the wildlife that only Raasay can offer, matched by the magnificent setting and the comfort and warmth of the house itself.
Charles Kennedy MP said: “It is a privilege and a pleasure to be invited to perform this opening ceremony. All involved deserve immense gratitude and congratulations for not once but twice delivering the restoration o Raasay House. It now stands and will serve the community in its magnificent renewed condition. This is a truly inspirational development.”
Professor Lorne Crerar, HIE’s chairman, who is attending the opening, said: “The refurbished Raasay House is superb, and as a community owned asset it has the potential to deliver enormous social and economic benefits for local people.
“HIE is proud to help communities develop their own plans for sustainable, viable futures.
“ I would commend the determination and efforts of all of the people involved – the construction team, the many community volunteers, and HIE’s range of expert staff, who have worked so hard to overcome the challenges along the way.”
Well, it looks a little different now, for a start, there are no cows on the lawn I’m doing this ‘off line’ so can’t find any more recent pictures or any kind of schedule for tomorrow’s opening but I do know that apart from Charles, all the children will be there, both primary and high school. There will also be an appearance by Raasay’s youngest and oldest residents, Calum Duncan and Jessie Nicolson, not necessarily in that order Just wish I could be there myself.
Meanwhile on the Finlaggan
Anyway, enough of that, I’m getting homesick,
especially after downloading this in my windowless cabin Seriously though, apart from not having a view of the outside world, though the phone signal and internet connection that come with the window might be more what I hanker for than the vista right enough Apart from that it’s pure luxury, quiet, ensuite, air conditioned and with a TV. Mind you, I’d rather see the Five Sisters of Kintail than the telly right enough, well apart from last night when wifey was on it
Anyway, I’m gibbering now, where was I, well leaving the ‘Five Sisters’ behind early on Wednesday morning I joined CalMac’s newest and most luxurious vessel at 12:30 and signed on. No sooner had I got into the bowels of the ship than ‘The Chief’ gave me a task on the sweetest end of the sewage plant that he’d just made.
Involving filing, gasket making and painting it was ‘right up my street’,
all that remains now is to climb up the funnel tomorrow and fit it.