A happy and prosperous 2012 from the wee isle!! Not sure where to start in bringing you up to speed with the antics of the island…. We have been battered like many other places by some severe weather since before Christmas causing severe devastation to our woods mainly. Thankfully we had no casualties throughout the frightful storms and minimal damage to homes, unfortunately the same can’t be said for our woods. The Lodge gardens sustained an enormous amount of trees down and the Manse woods has been closed to the public due to the danger of hanging and absolute chaos of trees lying everywhere. A survey has been attempted to investigate the damage with a count of at least 400 trees down just in the Manse woods. I tried to take pictures to go along with this post but it is impossible to show fully the calamitous scale of damage to our much loved woodland. The other peace of bad news is the Chilean flame tree was unfortunately hit in the big storm before Christmas. Apparently it was the oldest one standing in Britain and measured the tallest at 90feet. Cuttings have been taken by the gardener with fingers crossed of germination and hopes of cutting it back and staking it upright as the roots are still intact but in the meantime we can only hope that it will give us the flaming red flowers once again that we look forward to in the spring. The next step is under way for our woods as a team are meeting to discuss how the damage should be taken care of and an overall woodland plan needs to be assessed for the clearing, replanting and funding such a huge process. Once the winds finally calmed, the atmosphere and general cheer seemed to return and with the boats finally sailing as normal visitors and family were able to visit and turkeys were all delivered for Christmas! We had a small spell of a little snow before Christmas but none over the festive period, just typical after getting the sledges well in advance this year! New Year was celebrated with more friends and family arriving along with an exceptional 6 piece line up of musicians to dance the bells in with style! Now with the festive period enjoyed and only memories of relaxation, scrumptious food and indulgence in a small bit if liquor are in the past as our minds turn to the new year ahead and focus on our goals of the months ahead. The first and foremost is to organise a plan to clear up the storm damage. Plans are also afoot in looking at An Laimhrig, the pier centre which houses the shop, tearoom and craft shop to possibly upgrade the building to allow a better layout and storage space for the businesses also the wider area around the building is being looked at. This falls into the Zero Waste Zone initiative that we are adopting this year and further recycling and waste issues are being addressed although the pier area is an area that is hard to get the balance right as it is a working environment meaning that all fuels, farming apparatus, animal feed, animal areas for transportation of animals arrival and departures along with the storage deliveries to the businesses so it has to be thought out carefully to be effective to deal with all its demand but without forgetting it is the first impression to visitors on arrival. That being a quick mention of a few larger projects on the go and as always there is many other smaller projects ticking along like a first for this year being a Craft and fresh produce fairs in the community hall. We had a trial one early in December which went very well and showed an amazing array of arts, crafts and baking so visitors will be in for a treat or two this year. We plan to have the next fair on Easter weekend and then every Monday from June onwards throughout the summer season so watch this space and we will wow you with our talents! All the best for the new year.