While Norma Munro's voice brings warmth and a touch of Islay in our living room, I'm writing this news roundup. Outside the weather is cold and miserable, quite a contrast to Norma's lovely voice. Today I received her latest CD called The Rose, and it's a beauty. You can expect a review soon but the first impression is fantastic! Well done Norma and thanks for another great CD. I haven't found a thorn on this rose ;-)
Following is a short overview of Islay news published in the Ileach Newspaper and from various other sources.
Road Equivalent Tariff (RET): The Scottish Executive risked further alienating the majority of its island populations when it announced that the much vaunted RET pilot scheme would only apply to all routes to the Outer Hebrides, but would last for a hefty two and a half years. While it was widely anticipated that the outer isles would beÂ the initial beneficiaries of the scheme, few anticipated such an extended â€œtrialâ€ period, the effect of which will inevitably confer a significant competitive advantage on the people and businesses ofÂ the Outer Hebrides, while leaving people on Islay, Mull, Arran, Bute, Orkney, Shetland, Cumbrae etc. with their current eye-watering ferry fares. Read the full story about RET here.
Top Football Coaching for young Islay players: Young Islay footballers are being given the chance to enjoy learning tips from the very best when when a number of top coaches from the Scottish Football Association (SFA) carry out training sessions here enabling boys and girls between the ages of five and 16-years to develop their skills and techniques. Argyll and Bute Councilâ€™s Football Development Officer, Dylan Kerr, (who played for Kilmarnock and Leeds United) said: 'These training sessions give young people the opportunity to have fun whilst learning at the same time and increasing their confidence. They have been extremely successful in the past and I expect that this year will be no exception.'
Businesses join the environmental crusade: More than 600 businesses seeking to achieve a bronze, silver or gold standard award for their commitment to sustainable tourism applied to join The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) in the last twelve months. Scotland is among the areas of the UK leading the way with at least 209 applications seeking to join existing GTBS members. The Green Tourism Business Scheme has been going for over 10 years but within the last 24 months applications for the scheme have more than doubled.
Islay Sea Shipping: Elliot from Islay started a new blog called Islay Sea Shipping. On his blog you can track ships that enter Islay's ports, from Calmac ferries and cruise boats to barley boats. This is an interesting addition to the Islay Blogs and a nice one to follow. Good luck Elliot! Read more......Clean up Islay day: Pupils at Port Charlotte Primary School were out and about on Wednesday 5th March as part of the 'Clean Up Islay Day'. The children collected all sorts of litter on their walk from school to Port Mor. Armed with litter pickers, rubber gloves, re-cycle bags and waste bags, the children set off to clean up the village, play park, camp site and beach. The children recorded the different types of litter they collected as part of their litter survey, to try and establish how successful their clean up day was. We found a lot of rubbish made from plastic, paper, glass and metal, as well as other types of rubbish such as old fishing nets and tyres.
Whisky drives Diageo profits: Soaring demand for Johnnie Walker whisky (in which Caol Ila is a major constituent) helped Diageo post a 7% sales increase and confidently predict it is on track for a 9% annual organic operating profit growth for the year. Johnnie Walker delivered double-digit net sales growth for the company in the six months to December 31 and the stock market responded positively, sending Diageo shares up. In all, Scotch whisky helped deliver 33% of the companyâ€™s net sales growth and was particularly important in helping drive sales in emerging markets.
Ballycastle to Campbeltown Ferry Service: Argyll and Bute Council has welcomed the news that urgent consideration is to be given to a feasibility study on the possible reinstatement of the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service. The announcement comes after First Minister Alex Salmond met with the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley, and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, at their first bi-lateral meeting in Edinburgh.Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: 'I am extremely encouraged and heartened to see that a feasibility study is being considered for the possible reinstatement of the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service.'
Blogs: Armin published his 27th blogging roundup last week and his 26th blogging roundup the week before. The folks at Bruichladdich, who have the best view of the pier, mention a ship sighting at the pier, some 60 years ago and at the same time dream of old fashioned UK duty rates.
From Mark Unsworth, Islay Studios: A picture from the wonderful but changeable world of Islay weather. On an incoming tide at Uiskentuie strand and with a strong northerly breeze, the spray off the incoming waves is blown straight back out into the loch.