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Tribute to Ken Gunn, Scotlands master hotelier of the seas

The man who introduced luxury sailing to the world of Scottish hospitality has died at the age of 67..

The man who introduced luxury sailing to the world of Scottish hospitality has died at the age of 67.

Ken Gunn, the global seafarer who skippered stars on the Hebridean Princess, was also co-owner of the multi award-winning Sonas Hotels group on Skye.
Born and brought up in Oban, the son of a sea captain, Ken was educated at Oban High School, Lewis College in Stornoway and Leith Nautical College.

He had close links with St Kilda, the isolated archipelago in the North Atlantic. His Skye-born grandfather was a church minister and his grandmother a school teacher there. They took his mother there when just a couple of weeks old and she lived there for five years.

His first job was a cadet officer with Benline Shipping, making the first of many voyages around the world at the age of 17. In 1974 he joined Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) as Second Mate on the MV Columba – a vessel he would later captain as the re-designed Hebridean Princess.

Ken and Anne Gunn at their wedding in Skeabost House Hotel

At the age of 28 he became the youngest Master of the CalMac fleet and plied the waters of Scotlands West coast for more than two decades.

Prior to launching his first hotel in 2003 with his wife Anne, Toravaig House on the southern peninsula of Sleat, Ken was captain of the five star cruise ship the Hebridean Princess, sailing around the UK, Ireland and Norway. VIP guests included HRH Princess Anne, actor Sean Connery, racing driver Jackie Stewart and singer-composer Chris de Burgh.

The Hebridean Princess, twice chartered by the Queen, including a trip to celebrate her 80th birthday, and was the model for the nine bedroom Toravaig which the couple insisted should be a luxury ship ashore.

They went on to purchase and develop the nearby Duisdale House, voted Scotlands Best Hotel in the 2013 Thistle Awards run by national tourism organisation VisitScotland and Best Independent Hotel in the Catering Scotland Awards in 2015.

In 2016 they bought Skeabost House near Portree in the north of the island and recently completed a total refurbishment and extension.

Ken at his happiest, looking after his guests

In the Islands section of the 2018 Scottish Hotel Awards the three hotels won six different categories among them. Skeabost, which now has 18 bedrooms, was voted Scotlands Island Hotel of the Year in 2016 and again in 2017.

He and Anne began offering cruises for hotel guests on the 36 foot luxury yacht Solus in 2005, he as skipper and Anne as First Mate, twice updating it with larger craft, latterly the 50 foot Solus a Chuain (Light of the Ocean). The hotels were the only ones in Scotland with a luxury yacht reserved exclusively for guests. Scores of weddings were conducted on board. He took special pride in taking many guests to St Kilda, his mothers and grandparents former home.

Paying tribute to her late husband, Anne said: Ken was a perfect gentleman and at one with the sea.

From a young age he was regularly on the sea in various forms of craft. His contributions to the success of Sonas Hotels were immense. He had a firm focus on attention to detail and insisted on the highest standards.

He is survived by Anne, a son and daughter, and his stepfamily at Skeabost.

The post Tribute to Ken Gunn, Scotlands master hotelier of the seas appeared first on Scottish Field.

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“That is Wales, isnt it?” Nigel Farage struggles on the campaign trail

On the European elections campaign trail, leader of the Brexit Party and eternal ballot box botherer..

On the European elections campaign trail, leader of the Brexit Party and eternal ballot box botherer Nigel Farage decided to visit the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil.

The only problem was, he clearly had no idea how his partys main pitch – uh, Brexit – would benefit the town at all.

Repeatedly asked by a BBC reporter what the benefits for residents would be, Farage was reduced to nothing but the grinning pinstripe he really is – at one point saying something vague about steelworks in an entirely different part of Wales.

Heres the exchange:

“Mr Farage, towns like Merthyr have received millions of pounds of regeneration money…”

“Yes.”

“This whole town centre has been funded by EU grant aid. What will Brexit offer them?”

“Lets be honest about it, its not EU money. Thats one of the great sort of myths and pretensions.”

“But Wales as a whole is a net beneficiary to the tune of £250 million pounds a year. What will Brexit offer?”

“We have so far, over the course of the last few decades given away hundreds of billions…” (more…)

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Fans reaction to Game of Thrones is a reminder that no one owes you the story you want

This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season eight.

Once upon a time, American telev..

This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season eight.

Once upon a time, American television series didnt end: they just stopped. Received wisdom was that endings made shows unattractive in syndication, the permanent repeat market which – due to the insane economics of mid-20th century TV networks – was the only point at which anything made a profit.

Quinn Martin, the producer of The Fugitive, felt the opposite was true. He fought the network and won. That seriess finale became the most watched television episode in American TV history, and began a long slow march to now, where TV is expected to “land” much-anticipated endings.

Which brings us to Game of Thrones.

The dissatisfaction has been brewing for weeks. In the middle series of something like Thrones all the seriess possible endings exist, suspended. Yet no ending to a story an audience has invested dozens of hours over several years can satisfy its entire audience, and epics, especially television epics, narrow as they go on. The number of characters reduces; the number of possible endings collapses. The death of possibility can hit the invested as hard as that of any character.

Some interpreted Jaimes final speech in episode four of this season as indicating an intention to kill Cersei: doing so would redeem him. For them, this weeks episode senselessly reversed Jaimes decision to ride to Winterfell to fight for the living, against the wishes of his sister/lover.

Yet it didnt undo his character development: hes still the man who chose to fight as a common soldier for the living against the dead. Its just that hes still the man who pushed a child out of a window for Cersei, too – which is literally what he said.

Earlier in the season, there were protestations about how that army of the dead was defeated, often from those who had decided it was a metaphor for the climate crisis. This brought scorn that they should be defeated relatively early in the final season, leaving said Cersei and Jaimes under-characterised, over-enunciating fishy rival for her affection, Euron Greyjoy, as the final enemy.

But Game of Thrones is a series that has inverting dramatic convention deep in its dramaturgy. So Jaime – a character the audience has come to enjoy and other characters at last to respect – dies unredeemed. The army of the dead can be defeated.

And Daenerys Stormborn does not walk into Kings Landing at the head of multiple foreign armies to be greeted as a liberator. This last was always a fantasy, even in the context of fantasy, and too many people have said it was going to happen for there to be any chance of it happening at all. Daenerys long march is the only one of Game of Thrones stories that has never quite flipped, until now. (more…)

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Labour seeks to reframe the European elections as a fight against the far right

Can anything arrest the fall in Labour's polling numbers ahead of next week's European Par..

Can anything arrest the fall in Labour's polling numbers ahead of next week's European Parliament elections? Remainers in the PLP believe that calling time on Brexit talks with the government and offering an explicit endorsement of a second referendum is the only option. But party strategists believe an unlikely figure could boost Labour's chances on 23 May: Tommy Robinson.

The far-right activist – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – is standing as an independent candidate in the North West of England. The region elected three Labour MEPs in 2014 but in 2009, as local members have been reminded in emails this week, its eighth seat was taken by Nick Griffin, then leader of the British National Party.

In a campaign dominated by divisions over Europe, Labour has made a deliberate decision to invoke the spectre of Tommy Robinson MEP in a bid to win over wavering voters ahead of next Thursday, and to motivate an activist base MPs allege has been left disenchanted by the party's divisions over Europe. "In the last elections we saw off the BNPs Nick Griffin with your help, we can do the same with Tommy Robinson…Please dont let Brexit be the reason you dont vote next week," one email to members in the North West said.

Writing to the parliamentary Labour party this afternoon, Jeremy Corbyn similarly sought to reframe next week's poll as a chance to "campaign on our radical agenda but also to stand up to the racism, hatred and division of the far-right", in an explicit attempt to overcome party divisions over Europe after a fractious week at Westminster.

"History shows us the appalling outcome if this is allowed to fester and grow, so it is alarming to see the rise of fascist and far-right parties and politicians both here in Britain and across Europe," the Labour leader wrote in an email that did not mention the prospect of a new public vote. "We must never let the far right or those who seek to divide us triumph."

"I will be out campaigning and taking our message to the far right in the coming days, and thank you for the campaigning you have planned between now and Thursday 23rd May to send a message that only the Labour Party and a future Labour government can deliver unity, change and a society that works for the many, not the few."

MPs in the North West and beyond have also been advised to "use Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) to motivate Labour members to campaign for our Party". They have also been advised to support counter-demonstrations against far-right activists.

"For example, if he is in your area, you should communicate with your members to push the message 'only Labour can stop Tommy Robinson and the far-right. Maximising the Labour vote is the only way to do this and so everyone should help on polling day to increase turnout of the Labour vote," the PLP was advised in Corbyn's email this afternoon.

Squeeze leaflets aimed at supporters of smaller parties in the North West urge voters to vote Labour "to fight racism in Europe" and prevent Yaxley-Lennon from winning a seat. They do not mention the party's Brexit stance beyond a promise to "always work closely with European neighbours" and protect environmental standards and workers' rights.

MPs from other regions have been offered the chance to use similar campaign literature in their own areas. With internal tensions over Brexit running high, an anti-far-right campaign is likely to be one of the few messages able to induce a semblance of unity. (more…)

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