Friday 28th Nov 2014
Hello again. No, I haven't been hibernating for the last 2 months. Yes, it's been incredibly hectic - so, sorry I've missed a month. Here goes:

One of the reasons for  our hectic state is that Xander, who had joined us for 9 months to do marketing as a result of a grant from the Enterprise Ready Fund, was so keen to stay in Pitlochry he thought he would apply for other jobs early to make sure he had something to move on to. Much to his surprise he got a job as de facto manager at the Red Brolly Inn in Ballinluig. As it was a permanent post he felt he couldn't turn it down, so he left on the 6th Nov. While we wish him well, it left us a bit stuck.  Fortunately Anne has agreed to work full time to take on Xander's responsibilities as the work he was to do is essential to making the refurbishments work for us and to satisfying our funders their money has been well spent.

Our big news is that work on the remaining ground floor bedrooms to turn them into disabled en-suites has begun! Not only have they started downtakings - i.e. stripping the rooms & removing tiles, cupboards, carpets and even walls, they've also framed the partition which will transform room 6 into 2 en-suites for the rooms on either side and started the wiring. 2 things you could pray about for a speedy resolution: The asbestos cladding around the pipe boxes turns out to be of moderate rather than low grade, so we're waiting for the official men in white suits to get back with a date to remove it. We are replacing the windows with higher spec double glazing, but the council are still deciding if they'll let us have  high spec PVCu frames. If we are forced to use wooden frames (because we're in a conservation area) it will cost a fortune without being any more efficient or long lasting. We haven't budgeted for that.

Meanwhile the chalet is looking good, if I say so myself. The kitchen has now been filled with kitchen furniture & equipment (Thanks to Colin & Norma for their very nice old kitchen table) and curtains and pictures are up too. Do come & have a look. The lounge area has been carpeted and a flat screen TV (thanks to Doris's family) installed on a swiveling bracket so its position can be adjusted.Curtains will go up there soon too. So it's ready to book. Please tell your friends:)

We got some good news about the conference room too. Santander awarded us £5,000 for the AV system and as it's a Social Enterprise Award we can get advice, training and maybe  other help from them too. We were worried we would lose the remainder of our Gannochy Trust funding as the deadline of 31st Dec was approaching fast, but we're pleased to announce they have granted us an extension till July 2015. Please continue to pray the remaining funding will come through. The conference room has now gone out to tender and we should hear next month. I also forgot to say that the Baptist Building Fund are behind us and have authorised a loan to us when we receive full funding so we have no cash flow problems when it comes to the build.

The Centre has been incredibly busy with community groups, including 2 weeks of the Atholl Craft Fair in October and a one day Craft Fair  last weekend. We had our own Thrift shop at the same time and made £600 for our disabled improvements. We've left a Christmas gifts table up which includes Anne's Spiced Apple Jam and there are cards for sale from Tearfund as well. So you 're not too late:) English as a foreign language is picking up and a new story time for parents & children is being developed to encourage people to write and tell stories from their own cultures. The hope is that this, as well as giving people confidence, will help integrate  locals with the overseas workers in our community. In addition Adult Learning is producing another booklet of stories from the community. If you'd like to write one, please let us know and we'll send it on to them. This week there are 2 local consultations, one on library services ( last Tues) and one on elderly mental health (especially dementia) which takes place tomorrow. The rotary are putting on an exhibition of Higher art from 4-6th Dec as it didn't get shown at the Young Artist Exhibition in the summer due to exam changes. Should be well worth a visit.

October B&B was very busy with visitors for the Enchanted Forest - lots of families - and we hear it was highly successful this year with a 16% increase in visitor numbers in spite of the rain (which just made it atmospheric.) Even though our main residential block is now closed for refurbishment at the moment we've had quite a few day groups, including an Alpha group from Balerno and an IPAD for beginners course put on by Perth College. Perthshire Brass band managed to get in before the refurb began  and so did Ignite Youth and the Girl Guide Leaders Mountain leadership training. The flat has been busy too and the chalet kitchen was used for the first time by a man with his disabled daughter 2 weeks ago. 

I wrote last time about a garden project. We've been awarded funds to start a garden in the Centre grounds. We're planning a sensory garden and some growing beds (veg, fruit, herbs) for community groups to use as a resource (healthy living, inter generation working, art....other ideas?). We went to a meeting in Glasgow bringing together therapeutic gardening people from all over Scotland and came back with some great ideas. We'd like to hear what you think too, so please let us know if you're interested in helping get it up and running. Cuttings from your own garden might come in useful as well. So do get in touch if you can help.