At Random with Martin Laing week 10

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Plastics campaign takes off

I wrote last week in praise of young Felix Hughes and his campaign to rid Oban of plastic straws and packaging.

We at The Oban Times got right behind the six-year-old and urged all residents and businesses in the area to follow suit.

So it is particularly pleasing to report this week that the campaign has already borne fruit with the Little Potting Shed cafe in the town centre declaring it is going plastic-free.

It is a splendid start to the effort but let’s be realistic: we have a long way to go. However, the old Chinese proverb holds that even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

We’ve more than taken that first step. Food from Argyll at the Pier was, I think, the first business in the area to commit to using biodegradable Vegware and I know many individuals are trying their best to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic they use.

That’s to the good and we can all make a difference.

As I said last week, another thing we can all do is to ask local businesses to dump unnecessary plastic and to use biodegradable or compostable materials instead.

If enough of us do that, these firms will respond. Any sensible entrepreneur will aim to keep his or her customers happy.

We will be happy to name and praise any local enterprises which embrace the campaign. We can even consider a kind of ‘hall of fame’ for those businesses which join the initiative.

Kitchen Garden closes

There has been shock and surprise expressed around Oban at the closure of the Kitchen Garden deli and cafe in George Street.

Its owner was clearly upset breaking the news to staff, and apparently told them the business simply was not financially viable because of a disappointing number of customers.

I was surprised by that because it was a shop I have used on many occasions and it always seemed busy when I went in.

Some people have said to me it was too expensive and I’d have to admit some of its products were a bit dearer than other shops and supermarkets.

However, the shop stocked items you couldn’t buy elsewhere.

I’ll miss Kitchen Garden, but mostly I feel sorry for the owners and staff who have lost their jobs. I hope they can find other employment as soon as possible.

Signal failure

You couldn’t make it up.

The BBC reported last week: ‘Moon to get 4G mobile network. Mobile giants Vodafone and Nokia have laid out plans to launch a 4G mobile network on the moon in 2019. The network will be used by lunar rovers to stream data back to a base station.’

This was brought to my attention by reader Richard Warwick, from Tiroran on the Isle of Mull.

A clearly incensed Richard quite rightly said: ‘So the moon is going to get 4G coverage before most of Argyll.’

What are these companies thinking? And how much will it  cost?

I had to double check it wasn’t April 1.

Before they contemplate the moon, they should get their collective fingers out and provide a half-decent service to Argyll and the isles.

Never mind the inconvenience for those of us who have to put up with sporadic signal, our businesses depend on the internet these days and it is vital they have access to 4G networks.

Support your local teams

The so-called Beast from the East blew in with a vengeance last week, causing virtually all local sporting fixtures to be called off.

That might have come as something of a surprise in the Oban area, where we didn’t have so much as a flake of snow.

However, there is a full programme of football fixtures planned for this weekend, with Oban Saints flying the flag with their seventh-round Scottish Amateur Cup tie at Mossfield this Saturday at 2pm.

Oban Lorne RFC make a long trip to Annan, while Oban Lorne Ladies are at home on Sunday at 2pm, when they can clinch their league title after a splendid season.

Why not go along to show your support?

Posted absent

A ‘victim’ of the big freeze last Wednesday was the Royal Mail office in Oban which closed early for reasons of ‘staff safety’.

Eh? It was a beautiful day with not even a hint of snow. What was management thinking?

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.