Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tourism matters, corncrakes and a day out on Morvern

This glowing roundel of spring green beech is on the side of the Sound of Mull, on the way down from Drimnin to Lochaline.

It has been a week of excitement on the wildlife front.   Those who follow Prasad's birdlog will know there have been a few sightings of the elusive corncrake this last few days and we are hoping they stay put and breed - this would be a perfect conclusion for our last summer of the Rural Stewardship scheme.  

During one of our first summers here we had our initial experience of corncrakes.  We didn't see them but we enjoyed being kept awake at night by their calling in the field below the farmhouse.  

During the time those corncrakes were here, way back then, we earned some extra money by having two scenes for an Ikea advert filmed here.  Money for old rope we thought, but by the end of the day of filming, we felt as if we had earned every penny, as the crew completely invaded our home and our lives, asking for this, demanding that.  

One scene was filmed outside the Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (which had been transformed into a northern European cottage, with plastic roses round a plastic porch tiled in red plastic tiles).  A postman was to be filmed being bitten by a dog and defending himself using an Ikea chair.  In the event the actor-dog would not attack the postman as commanded!   

The second scene was of a boy cycling through the field below the house, through long grass, and something happened with another Ikea chair but all I can remember of this scene was that the corncrake was calling every now and then in the background, quite loudly, which disturbed the filming much to the irritation of the Director and to the amusement of all of us.  We didn't ever see the Ikea advert as it was made for the northern European market, but we certainly felt the corncrake had the last laugh!

We have 2 new orphan lambs today.  Think they are to be named Bob and Breeze - though this may change.  Brownie and Brian had moved into the deluxe Stack yard hotel next to the veg garden and they seemed very content.  Today they have been joined by the newcomers.   When we left them after the evening feed tonight, the two pairs of lambs were eyeing each other up across the Stack yard, a real sheep us and them scenario.

Apple blossom - usually towards the end of May we have some string winds which comes through especially to strip the blossom from our precious, wind-gnarled apple trees. And tonight it is suddenly very windy.

We had the Green Tourism Business Scheme inspection yesterday.  There is a daunting amount of paperwork and monitoring involved in this nowadays, but I am reluctantly realising that monitoring is a really good thing for focusing the mind, giving us a baseline from which to move, encouraging change and improvement.  In addition to the monitoring we already do, now we have the new Recycling Shed, I am going to attempt to start monitoring how much we send to landfill and how much goes to be recycled.   After nearly 2 hours of pen pushing and discussion, we went out for a look around, I showed him the Laundry, the wood-chip boiler and a cottage or two.  Hopefully we will have kept our Gold Award.

And today I went to a Sustainable Tourism event in Oban held by Visit Scotland.  The idea behind these events is to encourage tourism businesses to become more sustainable - but not just through things like energy savings or adopting renewables, but through 'community engagement' and 'waste awareness'.   I had agreed to giving a short presentation (my first, probably my last, and in all a very amateurish presentation) about what we do as a sustainable tourism business.  Afterwards I walked back along the sunny Oban sea front muttering to myself about what I should have said but hadn't. (which was quite alot)!
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