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Landscape blot
Sir,
As our ferry approached the island yesterday, I became aware that something had changed. The view that had thrilled me for over 30 years was now different, and as we neared Brodick the reason became very apparent. The new ferry terminal had appeared.

I gazed in some amazement at the size, shape and rather vulgar appearance of the structure and wondered how on earth something so out of character with the island could have been allowed to replace the friendly, welcoming terminal that has greeted us with apparent efficiency for so long.

I say apparent because there had clearly been some perception that the existing terminal had become unfit for purpose, so I assume this was the basis on which plans for the new building were laid. But why so big?

Have the island fathers struck a secret deal with Cunard? Does Brodick see itself as a future Southampton?

I doubt if either of these are true, but in our Yorkshire hometowns we are seeing massive cuts in our social care budgets, benefits reduced, libraries closed etc. So perhaps your readers will understand why I see the new terminal as being also a blot on the financial landscape.
Sorry Arran, CalMac, North Ayrshire, but I think you got it wrong.

Yours,
Keith Hartley
North Yorkshire

Christian Aid
Sir,
The door-to-door Christian Aid collection in Whiting Bay and Kildonan, with tax reclaimed, amounted to £1,351. The Big Brekkie for Christian Aid on Sunday June 11 raised £282, with tax reclaimed, and so in total, £1,633 has been received by Christian Aid.

Thank you to everyone in our two villages who gave so generously, many thanks.
Yours,
Elizabeth Watson
Whiting Bay

Practical suggestions
Sir,
It’s not going very well is it? The summer ferry season seems to have brought the following:

A new ticketing system that on the one hand encourages us to book on the internet but renders it impossible to do so for those with OAP concessions seeking to book a car.

A telephone system that requires a 20-minute hold – I know I’m getting on but even I have better things to do.

And a supplementary boat that (how shall I put this?) is at best temperamental and at worst about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Some practical suggestions:
Tap up the rail companies for some top tips on how to enable concession tickets to be booked on the net and then checked at the point of use.

When a long-term fault with a vessel emerges, don’t let everyone booked on it know at the same time: drip out the news in an attempt to smooth out follow-up demand. You might even fix it ahead of schedule.

Either have a phone system that’s fit for purpose or don’t have one at all: it’s the hope that gets us.

A personal view, I grant you, but ease out, or ease up the price of RET vehicle fares. Arguably the world’s most successful travel company – Ryanair – has become so because it better matches supply and demand. CalMac’s vehicle fares are both too cheap at peak times and too expensive in the troughs.

But I commend your staff’s indefatigability.
Yours,
Nigel Armstrong
Whiting Bay

Faith restored
Sir,
On Wednesday June 7 I inadvertently left my IPad on the 12.30pm Caledonian Isles, but did not realise my loss till I was home.

I returned to the Brodick office and reported it to Cathie who, even although she was very busy, emailed Gourock to enquire, and told me to go home and she would phone me with the result. A short time later she did with the good news that it had been found and handed in, alas there was no particulars of the finder?

I should like to thank the finder if they should read this, also the CalMac staff, and particularly Cathie, for their outstanding service.

My faith in my fellow man/woman has been restored!
Yours,
Donald Cowan
Lamlash

Coach trips
Sir,
My love for the Isle of Arran began in 1976 when, as a family we rented a cottage in the very pretty village of Corrie and we have some very happy memories of our holidays there.

In 1995 I bought my first coach and started trading as Ronaldsway Door to Door coach holidays, providing coach holidays for the more mature person. When it came to planning my tour programme, the Isle of Arran was right at the top of the list and so in June 1996 I brought my first tour to the island.

Such was the success that it became an annual tour and I ran two tours a year – one in June and one at the beginning of October – for 15 years, both being very successful with some passengers returning with us each year.

It was with apprehension then that we watched the islands popularity grow, especially since the introduction of lower ferry fares.

Sadly, our fears were founded as we now are no longer able to secure accommodation at the hotel we have successfully been to for the last 15 years.

Please believe me when I say that I understand the hotel’s decision as the rates that they can get from casual visitors, such as golfers, does not compare to group rates. I am sure that I would do the same.

I have nothing but praise for the hotel who always looked after us very well and gave us many kindnesses and always made us so welcome.

Thank you to the Arran Banner and all the group venues and the people of Arran who are all so friendly and make us feel so welcome. We have nothing but happy memories.

We are still hoping that we will be able to continue our tours to the island.

My son is the driver now, (United Kingdom Coach Driver of the Year 2016) for our tours, which are operated by prize-winning Brethertons Tours, as problems with my health meant I had to surrender my driving licence.
Yours,
Ron Frankel
Rochdale

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