Time for a radical rethink on Canna

From boat leaving Canna at sunset

Very disappointing news from Canna that Graham and Olivia Uney are to leave the island after less than a year. Their blog, Leaving Canna, gives brief details. I don’t know enough about the facts to  comment on their individual circumstances, but since this is the fifth family to leave in two years, surely the National Trust for Scotland, which owns the island must ask itself some hard questions.

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Peter Cummings was not alone: FSA must do better than this

As I explained recently, my new book (Hubris: how HBOS wrecked the best bank in Britain) has nothing to do with Canna but John Lorne Campbell would forgive me borrowing space here – the FSA report on Peter Cummings has arrived before my brand new Hubris blog is ready to go live! – injustice was something he detested.

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Global banking flotsam washed up on the Canna shore…

We watched the sun set on Rum as a wavering television set broke news of Lehman Brothers collapsing on the other side of the world. A mere two weeks earlier Alistair Darling had given his all-too prophetic interview with Decca Aitkenhead, predicting that the global crisis had a lot further to go. Continue reading

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The fascinating story of a school in South Uist

 After an arduous journey by train and ferry, he arrived at Lochboisdale, at night to be met by the redoubtable Fr Allan McDonald, who set off at a brisk pace to walk the three miles to where Rea was to sleep for the night.

Island life was never for softies.  I wrote previously about the conference exploring the negative impact the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 had on the teaching of Gaelic. But other legislation around that period had a more positive effect on the islands. The true story of the innovative young English headmaster on South Uist offers a fascinating example.

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A rebel tongue

I’m grateful to John Humphries (no, not that John Humphries, but the publisher and editor of Scottish Islands Explorer) for drawing my attention to the conference to be held later this month on the impact of the Education (Scotland) Act 1872, which introduced compulsory schooling for children across Scotland, but excluded the teaching of Gaelic. Continue reading

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A Woman of Letters

A letter in the post.  Not a bill or a fast food flyer but a real letter.  One of the lasting rediscoveries I have made in researching and writing John’s life is that letters are a great way of making and keeping contact with other people. And in the post, this is not just any letter. Continue reading

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Midsummer wedding and burial on Canna

misty view across Canna

In the bleak midsummer

On another bleak midsummer John’s remains returned to Canna. By poetic coincidence his coffin made the journey on the Loch Nevis in the company of a wedding party. And now long friends of Canna, Gordon and Julie Galloway return to the island every June to celebrate their anniversary.

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John Lorne Campbell at home in The Big Tent

What would John Lorne Campbell make of his story being told at a music festival? T in the Park would not be his style but he might feel quite at home in The Big Tent, a green festival celebrating sustainable land management with music and good local food.

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West Highland Line: travelling through history and geography

Crianlarich station

Crianlarich Station: a chance to stretch legs on West Highland Line

Glasgow to Mallaig is one of the great railway journeys of the world, although you might not guess it from the rattling old rolling stock First Scotrail puts on the line. At least this time we can see out of the windows. A guard once explained to me that the coaches are cleaned only every few weeks; get your timing wrong and you peer at some of the finest scenery in Scotland through a film of mud.*

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Remembering the battle of the small boats

Looking forward to next week’s trip to Eigg and already memories come flooding back before we even set foot on the Shearwater, which will carry us from Arisaig to the island.  The last time I visited Eigg was almost 35 years ago when I was a Financial Times reporter researching ferry policy.

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