Island life is just our cup of tea, say couple chosen to take over Canna cafe

A COUPLE have been chosen from dozens of applicants to run a remote island cafe with only 18 potential regular customers.

• Amanda McFadden and Aart Lastdrager are aiming to put down roots on an island with plenty of open space

Amanda McFadden and Aart Lastdrager have this week started a new life on Canna after impressing their new neighbours with their culinary skills.

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Their new venture offers stunning views over the Atlantic and considerable passing trade with tens of thousands of tourists visiting the island annually.

The chance to live and work on Canna was advertised in September by the National Trust for Scotland which owns the Inner Hebridean island.

More than 60 expressions of interest were made and nine other couples sent in applications, including seven from Scotland, one from England and a Scots couple living in Germany.

Ms McFadden, 38, from Glasgow, and Dutch-born Mr Lastdrager, 40, were finally chosen from a shortlist of four.

They are both experienced caterers who recently worked at the restaurant at the Kingairloch Estate on the Morvern peninsula in the west Highlands. Ms McFadden has cooked in restaurants across Scotland and Europe and Mr Lastdrager is an experienced gardener and chef with a particular flair for baking.

Ms McFadden said: "We have always wanted to run our own business and were looking for a place to put down some roots. This opportunity looked perfect for us, as we crave space and there is certainly plenty of that on offer on Canna.

"We're also looking forward to mucking in and playing an important part in a community."

The trust launched the search after Wendy MacKinnon, who ran the cafe for a number of years, left the island for personal reasons.

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The NTS offered the cafe/restaurant on an initial five-year lease together with residential three-bedroom accommodation for a modest rental.

Canna Community Council said the successful applicants had to be self-reliant and flexible. The cafe's main season is from Easter to October with the peak between June and August.

As well as the local population, the couple can expect customers from the ferry which runs four times a week in the summer, four holiday homes, a guesthouse and passing yachts.

Community council secretary Deb Baker, who moved to Canna from Wales in 2008, said: "The community is very pleased with the appointment of Aart and Amanda. They impressed us not only with their catering skills and experience, but also with their positive and realistic attitude towards living in a small community such as this.

"We are sure that their ideas and enthusiasm will help make the business a success and that the caf will prove to be a draw for visitors to the island."

Canna was left to the NTS by the Gaelic folklorist and scholar John Lorne Campbell in 1981.

It has no major roads, shop, pub or mobile phone coverage, and the nearest doctor is a boat trip away.