Community Company Caretakers Spring Update - August 2017 The summer season brings a rapid increase in work volume for the team, as the villages get populated tenfold with inquisitive visitors from all over the world. Our standard bin run and litter sweep doubles in size daily and the relentless frequent showers and sunny spells have encouraged the old green stuff to forever creep up behind us. However, one of our main annual objectives is coming into fruition with the instalment of the new porta cabin and storage container within the caretakerís new secure yard for the future. Initial installation went pear shaped due to the soft nature of the ground and the units were temporarily situated at the top car park. Much debate ensued searching for a solution to the problem; where upon Neil Ferguson (Whitebridge) stepped in and took control. His organised approach, machinery skill and confidence took care of the problem. A massive thanks also to all the directors involved for helping push this project forward and create a permanent base for the future of the community company team, this has included the purchase of the units, organising the rapid delivery, securing planning permission and helping furnish them. Next steps will involve installing services to the units. Another one of our summer tasks is enhancing and maintaining a nice bit of colour for the villages with the addition of hanging baskets and bedding plants. Again more thought and advice was sought on how to make more of a show and enable a more efficient method of watering and maintaining the baskets. The team are delighted with the results and the baskets look excellent this year. We are also on the final stages of completing the new interpretation and sign board at Invermoriston. The project has taken slightly longer than expected and couldnít have been achieved without the immense input by Derek Hart. Maximum credit to Derek, his carpentry skills and knowledge. The last stage is finishing off the roof with shingle tiles and making watertight. Itís hard to fathom the number of people which must scan the noticeboard, virtually most people venturing to the village hall or having a welcome break at the facilities. Itís situated in just the right place. Additional and ongoing projects / tasks over the summer period have included improving the Nessie Bed at the canal side, pruning and cutting many village hedge lines, weeding beds, scraping pavement edges and of course hours of endless brush cutting and grass cutting. The weather has been such hit and miss whether itís suitable to get round with the knapsack sprayer but there have been windows of opportunity to nail the growth in unwanted areas. As always, should anyone in the villages have any queries regarding what the team are up to then just ask, we are all approachable, sometimes! Thanks again to Neil and Derek for their input. Enjoy reading the above. Glen Campbell Community Company Caretakers Spring Update - May 2017 The grass is certainly upon us in force therefore most of the teams time is spent on our grassland management regime. This year the community company have taken on the grounds maintenance for all Albyn Housing areas of Fort Augustus. This includes the banks of Bunoich Brae, irregular shapes in Abertarff and some flat areas at Jenkins Park. When our core team of four is in we tackle the larger areas that is required of us and store up the smaller, sometimes quicker tasks for when its just three in the team. The team have also installed a new dog waste bin just on the corner as you enter Lovat Terrace. This area is a hot spot for landmines so hopefully this will help remedy the situation. We pride ourselves on keeping the villages tidy so please pick up after your dog / dogs. Our path and landscaping improvement project at Strathoich Cemetery has certainly challenged the team over the winter and well into Spring but now we feel we have achieved some good progress and our final stage for the paths is to spread a layer of fine path dust over the existing surface and then vibrate into place. Backfilling the timber edges with soil took longer than expected. This was pretty much all done by hand, shovelled on and off, riddled thoroughly and then seeded. Now its all in place and when the seed takes hold it will enhance the path edges tenfold. The caretakers are also in the middle of righting our wrongs and helping reinstall the Information point in Invermoriston. The squad were tidying up an overgrown corner with fly tipped boulders etc when a branch of a tree we were felling struck the side of the old information point and damaged the structure. However, our intentions are good and we will certainly do what we can to reinstate what was there or help improve in any way we can. Finally, as the villages are rapidly increasing in visitor numbers I would like to point out we need as much space in the main skips as we can which are located in the main carpark. Therefore can I encourage anyone who desires to rid themselves of garden waste or vegetation then please donít put it in the skips. I would rather you just approached myself and asked if we could help out by composting the waste. The answer wonít always be yes but all you have to do is ask. Thanks for reading once again and enjoy the attached images. Glen Campbell Current and Ongoing Landscaping and improvement works Update - Mar 17 The Community Company Caretaking team have been undertaking many landscaping enhancement projects throughout the winter months. The mild weather has enabled the team to carry many tasks which have been in much need of attention. Projects have included re-structuring woodland and shrub amenity banks, flower bed improvements, tub rearrangement and planting, drainage enhancing, chipper machine works and recycling the chipped material amongst many other tasks. There are numerous objectives behind our re-structuring work within the wooded and shrub areas. 1. Aesthetically enhancing each area for all to appreciate. 2. Letting much needed light into the ground layer. 3. Enhancing existing wildflower populations and the encouragement of more. 4. Creating the right habitat conditions for a wider number of target species, not just dominant scrub. 5. Thinning out invading exotic tree species and encouraging a mixture of native species throughout. 6. Brashing trees to shoulder height enabling access underneath for future and ongoing management such as litter picking, spot spraying and strimming. Our management should also discourage people from throwing their rubbish into these areas. We have also been busy with the use of a diesel powered wood-chipper courtesy of the Highland Council. Throughout the autumn and winter months we accumulated many branches from the villages by either pole pruning, wind-blown or tree management workings. Disposing and transporting all these branches has certainly been challenging and hard work. However, this waste product, once driven through a chipper has been recycled and used as a thick mulch layer on all the appropriate raised flower and ornamental shrub beds in the villages. The chipper has either been used right on site or at our current composting area. The team also identified hidden corners which have been crying out for improvements. These have included station road corner, main car park raised beds and much needed drainage improvement works in numerous locations. We hope you enjoy the attached images alongside the text and should anyone have any thoughts on how we can enhance the villages further then please just approach one of the directors or any member of staff with your ideas. Thanks. Glen Campbell