New projects for the coming year . . .

There’s a variety of new ideas floating around these valleys, some of which may come to fruition in the new year ahead. If they do, then the work begun this year will have laid the foundation for those projects of the future. Hence, it might be a good idea to diarise just a few of these incipient ideas. Allendale and the Allen Valleys are rarely, so I’ve found, short of ideas!

Thus, for example, at the delightful craft fair held earlier in Decembert, we admired the potential for a new village hall in the old Barney Craig mineshop building, that now has an in-built revenue potential with the ‘camping barn’ facility upstairs. The two, albeit very damp, rooms with vaulted side cupboards below the camping barn could function very well as artist studio spaces. But the intriguing attraction for me was to consider how the big space at the end of the building could become a real village hall. The two immense concrete structures in the centre of the floor would have to be dealt with, and electricity supplied for kitchen capacity, but I understand significant grantsmanship is already under way to this avail. So the Carrshield community looks ahead to the future.

In the same way, as we’ve discussed, ideas for a Repair CafĂ©/Repair Day have been developing in the context of Higher Ground and the Medway building. Watch that space too for future announcements!

We’ve mentioned a ‘Welcome Pack‘ idea in a previous diary entry. A small ‘steering group’ has coalesced to develop this idea, with some synergy possible between the entries in the Pocket Directory, and the activities of a group from the Allendale, Whitfield and Ninebanks churches, along with the Get-Together folks, I think, who are investigating whether a ‘Living Dales’ community event might be tentatively scheduled for May of 2020. The funny thing about a ‘Welcome Pack’ is that work on such a project can actually help keep us all informed about what’s going on in the community; as we introduce ourselves, so we get to know each other better!

News has also reached the diary of a revived ‘Sustainable Allendale’ now renamed Sustainable Allen Valleys‘ effort, as announced briefly in Allendale area notices. The Paddock Pop-Up Refill Shop, while a private enterprise, I believe, nevertheless operates with the same ‘sustainability’ ethos as SAV, and has had a couple of well-received days in The Forge’s Studio 6, over the past month. Doubtless more will be heard of this sustainability effort over the coming year.

The Allen Valleys Tourist Forum (it used to be called the Allen Valleys Tourism and Visitor Network) has been rather quiet for several years, but I’ve heard there are serious efforts to revive it, in parallel with, or as well as, to renovate the website, again. With so many local holiday cottages and AirBnB enterprises (the Pocket Directory lists some 29 Bed & Breakfast establishments, and in another listing, some 41 self-catering Holiday Cottage enterprises, a few of which may be duplicated between the listings) . . . in totality, these individual enterprises offer quite a significant accommodation provision in these valleys, and a revivified Tourist Forum could be a useful effort in these parts. Unfortunately, the history of these umbrella tourist forums is quite daunting: they’re always popping up, and then foundering, everywhere you look! So time will tell if a new cohesive effort can work for the benefit of everyone. I think the basic conceptual problem is simply that these individual enterprises are, by definition, competing with each other for visitor custom. But I’d be happy to be persuaded that the accommodation providers could work together.

Meanwhile, on the tourism front, a Planning Permission notice has been lodged for 10 camping pods and large clubhouse next to Park House Lodges, Catton. The closing date for comments has now been extended to 31st January 2020. Apparently there are a variety of different views about this further development. Reading some of these on facebook’s ‘Allendale area notices,’ you’d think that folks weren’t quite aware of just how much accommodation provision is already offered in the valleys.

On another continuing development front, the Parish Council has the bit in its teeth on attending to Isaac’s Well, in 2020, creating an outdoor meeting place, looking at useful information signs and street furniture, eliminating the challenging drainage onto paving slabs that can create a glacier to trip up the unwary. All good contributions to village life, sociability, and the health benefits of walks (Isaac would be very proud of the walking parties that might meet at his well), I’m sure. But it’s all a bit tricky because the well itself is a listed building, as it were.

In Allendale area notices, there’s been a recruitment post from The Golden Lion for workers to help in a revived butcher shop. That would be a lovely thing for the new year, wouldn’t it! And there are rumours flying around about a take-over of The Crown at Catton. Where would Allendale be without rumours! Watch these spaces too in 2020!

One thing that’s pretty much inevitable, if our health sustains, is that this year’s diary will be compiled into a large paperback, so that by about mid-January 2020, every entry from this exciting year will be conveniently available to hold in our hands.

Meanwhile, from this perspective it’s a cheerful thrill to be looking forward to a new year ahead, as the embers of the old year die down. In much the same way, perhaps, as we’ve mentioned about the folks of the future looking back on us with some wonderment at what’s seemed insignificant to comment on, in these diary pages, there will doubtless be new activities even by the new year of 2020 that we can’t even imagine growing out of this year.

But that’s the delight of the future, isn’t it? Unknown, but no less beguiling for all that.

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