Dec 1st, 2018
Well we have now been living in the Highlands for five years and things have actually come on apace in a number of areas. Having said this, in general it is because either R or myself actively engaged in negotiating things that mattered to us rather than just leaving them to happen.
Not sure whether a) or b) was more important but they have been the two major changes.
a) I contacted ASDA and told them about the desperate need for deliveries to the village as before that we were having to drive all the way to Dumbarton to get our shopping (an hour each way). Now about every slot they have is fully booked so I would guess they are sending about 40 fully loaded vans every week. The change to the life of anyone without a car in the village must be huge.
b) We finally got fibre to the cabinet internet access to the village. I don’t know whether it helped, but R and I constantly hassled BT about it for nearly a year. I had just been going to take a photo of the disconnected cabinet with its first birthday cake when they finally connected it. For many people this instantly boosted their connection from 2MB to about 75MB. Unfortunately the location of our house meant that we only could get 12mb on a standard line. We boosted this by bonding three lines together which gave us the first half decent connection since we have been here, but it was still a bit technically difficult and unreliable. Then, however, R discovered that it could be possible to have an actual fibre cable strung to our house “Fibre to Premises”. I have to say that I was deeply sceptical that BT would actually deliver this after all the issues they had with the ordinary connection, but to give them credit, they actually produced what was a technically difficult piece of work in reasonably quick time. This has boosted our connection such that we get 300MB downstream and 30MB up. A huge difference to our lifestyle and it has made R a very happy man. It must be said, however, that this is not for everyone as the connection charge was £3500 (and has recently been increased incrementally as well), plus you are locked in to a £300 per month bill for three years. Having said this, if you either have a business which relies on the Internet, or if you are just wealthy – it is worth looking at – the ISP providing this is FluidOne and we have been really satisfied with their service.
c) We were having terrible problems with our refuse collection as we had a communal bin located on a public road. Not only did we find that persons unknown were filling the general bin up with crap (the lock on it was so basic that you could open it with a pair of pliers), but the recycling bin was having unsuitable things put in it, leading the council not to pick it up. After a number of complaints to the council, they agreed to let us have individual bins. We have to move them out ourselves down several hundred meters of muddy track, but at least we are physically capable of doing this. I’m still far from satisfied with our refuse collection service, but I appreciate that Councils are constrained by the amount of money they have due to our ridiculous taxation policies.
Rather less successful attempts at improving matters:-
c) We moved from Vodafone who offered a reliable mobile connection for 2G (i.e. phone calls) to EE who on the back of providing the emergency coverage contract for the government have been putting in 4G masts. Unfortunately, although we now get 4G coverage in most outdoor locations (though not on some of the forestry tracks), we can’t get an EE booster for inside the house. This is apparently because if you go straight from 2G to 4G without ever having 3G on the way – you end up on something called “Channel 20” and signal boosters don’t work with it. So now I’ve ended up in a situation where in order to make a mobile call I either need to stand in the bay window of the lounge or go outside. I’m vaguely contemplating moving back to Vodafone.
d) I’ve spoken about our road situation before so I won’t do it again. Anyone who cares about good transport in this area should sign the petition to create a tunnel for the A83 along Glen Croe and stop messing around with nets.
e) We are still facing a Postcode issue where we are classified as a remote area. As I’ve mentioned before I have had a go at challenging this on numerous occasions with little luck. Still, you haven’t lost until you give up 🙂
So on the whole I am happy with what we’ve managed to achieve here. I don’t suppose that we will ever get the services or amenities in the Highlands which we got in Livingston, but on the whole the advantages of living here well outweigh the disadvantages. Not sure that the cats agree as they have never enjoyed living here with the rain and the wildlife.