Rising Tide

I heard about an exciting new programme from the Scottish Government in December. I’ve bemoaned the lack of affordable housing in the Highlands on my blog (here), it was whist researching relocation to an island off the mainland of Scotland I came across the new ‘Islands Programme’ and thought these (apparently) well funded folks might be able to offer incredibly well-timed support and practical advice;

…the £25.8 million Islands Programme, established to support the implementation of the National Islands Plan. This is a landmark strategy to improve the quality of life for island communities with 13 objectives, and over 100 specific measures to address: population decline.

I wrote citing difficulties establishing myself in the Highlands: up against security of tenure, lack of commercial property to rent. I wrote expressing intention to invest in a place and build my business. etc. etc. I wrote asking for practical advice: is there a fund I can apply to, what might the requirements be for young people – like me – who want to live on an island, can individuals apply / businesses? How can I take part? The headlines put out by their PR department read: “want to be paid to move to a Scottish Island”, tell me more.

No response was ever offered. The website of the department is now offline: islandsteam.scot – how disappointing.

‘Toxic’ Fish Farms

I made a reference to ‘Toxic’ fish farms in an earlier post. I thought I’d expand a little; thousands of fish in a cage does not make for a happy fish. It doesn’t matter if that cage is in a tank on land (where they should be) or situated in a picturesque Scottish Loch (where they currently are).

Fish in these cages/pens get diseases, the fish “farmers” (quotes indicate my raised eyebrow as farming equals husbandry) employ large amounts of chemicals to control such things as sea lice and other diseases. Talk to any fish farm employee (after a few) in any pub around here and they’ll tell you what happens when the dosage goes wrong; tonnes of dead fish. Literally tonnes. Eight tonnes was disposed of a few months ago according to a loud mouth employee in my local. I think he was trying to impress us with that number. Incinerated, according to him, by means of a contract with an Energy Company.

Some reading for you relating to toxic chemicals in Scottish Fish Farms:
theferret.scot/16-toxic-chemicals-scottish-fish-farmers
For more news you can follow: facebook.com/issf.org.uk

Anyway, it appears the chemicals used at the concentrations mentioned on those webpages is toxic. I refer to these toxic fish farms as such; toxic. I put a stress on the word toxic and those who were lucky enough to know Chris Main of Glenelg might want to apply that man’s own idiosyncratic accent to the phrase; miserable fucking fish farm jobbie.

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Scottish Highlands: Dewildered & Depopulated

I met some university professors at the end of the summer on a tour of Scotland’s nature reserves. They’d read a lot of academic papers regarding how well this country was doing; reintroducing this and replanting that. Apparently Scotland is ahead of the game and fiercely proud of its re-wilding successes on the world stage. Sadly, what the professor of Wildlife Ecology at Oregon State University actually found here on his visit to the Highlands was, he described to me, a ‘dessert’. Aghast, he pointed out the gap between what he had read in academic literature and what was found in reality. The professors mean to come back with a group of students next year to analyse the disparity. Im hoping to help out.

I was embarrassed but I know it to be true, Scotland has been dewildered, I’ve been lucky enough to see real wilderness stretching from horizon-to-horizon abroad, I’ve seem managed forests too, you know life in balance when you see it. If we are to be honest, rural Scotland is quite a lot of: monoculture, sheep here, sheep there, sheep everywhere, empty villages (not counting the holiday houses), miserable toxic fish farms… this country’s natural state is in a bad way and hearing from the professors that our academics are proudly describing (questionable) successes is a little worrying. I think they must be dewildered!

As for the inhabitants: in a previous post I highlighted a recent report which contained the horrifying statistic: 80% of people in Lochalsh and Skye describe difficulty in finding a house in this part of the Highlands.

More bad news: in December Highland Council warned of the “significant risk” parts of the Highlands are being “drained” of people. Here’s the news article from the BBC. This again is obvious to anyone living in these parts.

When a representative from Highland Council visited Glenelg to speak at our Community Council (where I currently live) I made the point that the enormous increase in short-term lets (Air B&Bs etc.) must be the major factor, must be having a HUGE impact on the number of private rentals (long term lets) in the Highlands. The Council’s man completely refused to engage with my point. This once again is obvious to anyone living in these parts.

It is now my belief that this will be the fate of the Highlands. It’ll be: The Cheviot, The Stag and the Short Term Let.

More on that next time.

Lochalsh Community Survey / Action Plan

I spent a good while trying to track down this document, created by a community group in Kyle of Lochalsh. It represents the many concerns of people in this part of the Highlands in the 2020s. As you will see, people were most concerned about housing.

“The Lochalsh Collaboration was set up in May 2019 to consult the community on its priorities, write a community action plan based on those priorities and then work with partners to take action. Lochalsh Collaboration is made up of representatives of the seven community councils and community trusts in Lochalsh… etc.” – Survey Report Introduction

 

Downloads

Here’s the Summary PDF. Also the complete Survey Report PDF and I have an archive of the Action Plan PDF too.

I hope no one minds me sharing this. thought it might be valuable to others in the future, respect to those who put the hours in.

 

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Bulk Rename on SSH (FTP)

Really simple one, I need to bulk ‘find and replace’ a number of files within a folder, SSH connection with Terminal.app on OSX.

Example below searches for ‘that’ and replaces all instances with ‘this’.

for file in file_is_something_like_that*.jpg; do 
  mv "$file" "${file//that/this}"
done

Run that command and immediately the files are renamed.

Hardy Brothers of Alnwick – List of Fishing Rods

‘Principle Rivers of Scotland’, via world-of-art-prints.com

I’ve been looking into buying my first split cane fishing rod. During the research I found this handy list (down the back of the internet’s sofa). Thought it worth sharing as its not currently available elsewhere.

It lists a number of fishing rods produced between 1885-1984 by Hardy of Alnwick. Maybe this will be helpful to someone out there.

Download the PDF list here. Or continue to This Page to view the list in your browser. I’m afraid I don’t know the original source of this list, I cannot vouch for its integrity. Though the rod I am keen to own ‘The Fairy Rod’ is correctly listed along with some others I have seen listed online.

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Google Product Feed : Featured

Here’s a script for ‘Google Product Feed‘ by Ademti Software which allows you to subdivide a large feed (for later use in Google Ads) by the ‘featured’ option in Woocommerce. If the product is ‘featured’ then ‘custom_label_0’ will be populated with: ‘featured’. I thought it was worth sharing.

function lw_woocommerce_gpf_edit_custom_label_featured( $elements, $product_id, $variation_id = null ) {
if ( ! is_null( $variation_id ) ) {
$id = $variation_id;
} else {
$id = $product_id;
}
$featured_product_ids = wc_get_featured_product_ids();
if ( in_array( $id, $featured_product_ids ) ) {
$elements['custom_label_0'] = array( 'featured' );
} else {
$elements['custom_label_0'] = array( 'not_featured' );
}
return $elements;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_gpf_elements', 'lw_woocommerce_gpf_edit_custom_label_featured', 11, 3 );

Skye Ferry BBQ & Fundraiser

On behalf of my fellow trustees of the Glenachulish Preservation Trust I would like to invite everyone to a fundraising BBQ on September 25th at 1PM.

At the Christopher Main Shore Station, The Original Glenelg-Skye Ferry.

Where the National Transport Trust will unveil a ‘Red Wheel’ in recognition of the importance of the Kylerhea Narrows crossing and the last manually operated turntable ferry IN THE WORLD – the M.V. Glenachulish. You’ll also have the opportunity to see our new information boards describing the history of the crossing and the importance of the Skye Ferry. Designed (with love) by yours truly!

Drop-Print.com } Update Etsy from CSV

Today, I want to introduce a nifty tool that’s been a game-changer for my Etsy shop: Drop-Edit. Picture this: managing your Etsy listings as effortlessly as tweaking a spreadsheet. That’s the magic of Drop-Edit. With just a CSV file, I can now oversee hundreds, theoretically thousands, of listings in my Etsy Shop. It’s like having a command center where I can tweak details, bulk edit, upload images, or switch up tags. It now handles bulk editing Etsy Listings for digital downloads.

The process is straightforward and efficient – a simple ‘Update on Etsy’ button links the tool to the Etsy API and, bingo, with my permission, it syncs with my Etsy shop. The instant updates are a huge time-saver.

And there’s more! This weekend, Drop-Edit (which is a subscription service) rolled out a brilliant new feature. Not only does it support Etsy>CSV, which is a lifesaver in itself, but now it also allows for bulk updating of digital downloads. Imagine the hassle saved! I managed to create and organize over 200 digital download listings on Etsy, seamlessly placing each digital item in its listing. Without Drop-Edit, this would have been a Herculean task, devouring time and patience.

Drop-Edit: drop-print.com/etsy/

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Move WordPress Uploads Out of WordPress Directory

Here’s a simple one (which took me many hours to correctly configure). This little script, inserted into a custom plugin or functions.php in a child-theme will allow you to move your uploads folder out of the WordPress directory. Keeps things neat and tidy for my purposes.

Currently I have wordpress in its own directory, ie. website.com/wordpress/

Now assume publicly facing url is website.com, that makes my uploads website.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads – a terribly unprofessional looking URL.

With this code you can move the uploads directory to the top folder. Be sure to move the files, or use Better Search and Replace to change your DB if required.

add_filter(
'upload_dir',
function ($dirs) {
$new_upload_dir = '/home/domains/website.com/public_html/uploads';
$new_baseurl = 'https://website.com/uploads';
$dirs['path'] = $new_upload_dir . $dirs['subdir'];
$dirs['basedir'] = $new_upload_dir;
$dirs['baseurl'] = $new_baseurl;
$dirs['url'] = $new_baseurl;
return $dirs;
},
15 // default is usually 10
);

Note: you’ll need to work out where ‘$new_upload_dir’ with some detective work of your own. Good luck!