Nollaig Chridheil agus
West Word wishes all its readers, contributors, advertisers and volunteers a wonderful Festive Season!
List of Issues online
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008 & 2017
Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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and a Happy New Year!
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!
Nollaig Chridheil agus
West Word wishes all its readers, contributors, advertisers and volunteers a wonderful Festive Season!
List of Issues online
December 2018 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
DAIMH - FOLK BAND OF THE YEAR
Congratulations to our very own Gaelic Supergroup Daimh on being named Folk Band of the Year at the prestigious MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, an accolade they also won in 2015. The awards were announced at a ceremony in Perth Concert Hall on 1st December, which was broadcast live by BBC Alba and BBC Radio Scotland. Sadly, Daimh were touring in Spain and couldn't be there!
Pictured l to r: Gabe McVarish, Murdo Cameron, Angus MacKenzie, Ellen MacDonald and Ross Martin
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Two weeks ago the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of MSP Mark Ruskell's amendment to the Crown Estate Bill, curbing mechanical dredging of kelp beds within Crown estates. A review of regulations concerning seaweed harvesting is to be carried out - more on all this in the new year!
What happened to the planned resurfacing works on the A830 last month?! They were not carried out and as yet I haven't heard when they will be. Hopefully soon!
Once again my thanks go to helpers Anne and Miya for sticking address and postage labels on to the subscription envelopes and to Morag and Ewen for assisting with the printing this month.
Wishing a happy and relaxed festive season to all our readers.
Well November started with a bang so to speak (Bonfire Night). It was a dreich day but thankfully cleared for the evening, though there were some rather strong gusts of wind. The fire was suitably large though and kept everyone nice and toasty, albeit with a slight risk of being barbequed. There was a good fireworks display too this year, after a collection went round for donations for fireworks and before the fire we had food and mulled wine/cider in the hall with funds raised going to the school. Altogether a very pleasant Saturday.
After the dreich start to the month we actually had *gasp* sunshine and dry days for the first time in a long time and it was very much needed. There was a sudden flurry of activity as everyone rushed out to cut their overgrown grass and it almost felt like spring listening to the hum of lawn mowers and bumblebees buzzing around. Now the howling winds and driving rain are back but it was good while it lasted!
The new operations manager for the Foundation was appointed and will be moving to Knoydart with his family this winter. It will be a nice wee boost for the community as he has two young children. We're looking forward to welcoming them in the coming months.
There was no Christmas bazaar in the hall this year but instead Wood Knoydart hosted a kind of similar thing up at the KFT shed where they had their beautiful, local, hand crafted products displayed for sale and people had the chance to not only do a bit of local Christmas shopping but also to see what's been going on up there. If you're looking for Christmas presents, there is plenty to choose from, from spatulas to candle holders, decorations and wooden bowls, all made from Knoydart Wood. You can now also buy vouchers for things like stool making workshops so if you know someone who would be interested in that it's worth checking out.
With Christmas fast approaching (too fast some might say!) the kids are now all busy rehearsing for their play which will be on December 19th. (Don't know about anyone else but those kids' play songs get in your head like the worst earworm ever!) There are even some keen locals who have already had their tree and decorations up for over a week. Still, nothing quite like a bit of Christmas cheer.
And on a last note, "Wee" Anna turned 16 this month - definitely not so wee anymore! Happy Birthday to you Anna!
ISLE OF MUCK
At last some fine weather with winter sunshine and a waxing moon. The fields are full of grass with little sign of the Greylag Geese which normally are munching their way through leaving little for the ewes. The tups are now out and this year two Beltex gimmers have joined the ewes. These are the first bought in female sheep on the farm since six Jacob hogs came from Coll more than 30 years ago. These are the ancestors of the black ewes which are so prominent in the fields today and are the progeny of the cross with the North Country Cheviot.
On the human front principal visitor (apart from the shooting parties) has been the Rev Stewart Goudie our new minister who came to meet as many islanders as possible and is hoping to conduct a celebration of Christmas next month after the school play.
This month in The Bigger Picture I want to discuss fish farming which has been a massive success story on the West Coast in recent years. Tourism has been the only competitor, and fish farming is now replacing traditional fishing and land farming as major employers in many remote areas. Fish farming has been good news for Muck. We have been in the forefront of a new wave of sites in the open waters where stronger tides have resulted in less pollution, faster growth rates, firmer muscle and fewer sea lice. Sea lice have been the biggest problem with salmon farming resulting in a major reduction in wild salmon but Marine Harvest who operate our farm have been at the forefront of efforts to reduce their numbers with considerable success. Fish farming has been good news for Muck and has had no effect on traditional lobster fishing.
I nearly forgot the most important event of the month - the arrival of Magnus Alasdair MacEwen on 1 November. Weight 10 lbs.
It is Christmas and another year is ending. After more than 20 years I am passing on the baton of the Muck contribution to another islander. May I wish whoever it will be every success and as much pleasure as I have enjoyed. Have a very good Christmas.
ISLE OF CANNA
The first few weeks of the month were really good for the time of year and were just right for gathering in the ewes for tupping and sorting and dosing cattle.
On Sunday 18th we had a community firewood day. Cut logs that had been stacked in the woods were brought out, blocked and distributed to islanders.
Our Renewable Scheme has benefitted from the bright and windy days and our generator has not been on in a month.
The clear skies at night allowed a fantastic opportunity to star gaze and shooting stars were amazing.
A visit from Marine Harvest had to be cancelled for the 30th due to the weather but we hope to reschedule for early January.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
November has been a 'tidying up' month at Canna House with the first wave of contractors leaving the site after the bulk of this year's works is completed. Trenches are filled, gutters are cleaned, windows are puttied and only window joinery work remains for this season. The Canna Cats have been put into hibernation for the winter and will have a good rest before the next season begins in Spring 2019!
Archivist Fiona travelled to Glasgow in mid-November for the Annual National Gaelic Awards, run by the Daily Record. The events are held to mark the work done by organisations, groups and individuals who work to increase awareness of and accessibility to the Gaelic culture in its many forms. The event she organised in June - "Ceangal Choluim Chille/The St Columba Connection", celebrating the links between Canna, Ireland and St Columba, was nominated in the Events of the Year category. Fiona was delighted when it was announced that CCC was the winner. A trophy was presented to Fiona by journalist Torquil Crichton and broadcaster Cathy Macdonald and was accompanied by a lovely film depicting Canna, mainly from the air. This can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/cannasymposium
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped Fiona organise the day and to the event's speakers and attendees who helped to make the day the success it was. Fiona hopes to organise the second Canna Symposium in 2020.
ISLE OF RUM
Not a terribly eventful month, though we managed a bonfire and fireworks on the 5th. The dry weather and clear skies brought us some beautiful sunrises which always helps; as the days get shorter, after the initial colourful burst, the sun disappears behind the hill until about 10am.
Everything else is plodding along as usual. The hind cull is well underway and everyone's freezers are full of venison for next year. Those pesky stags are back in the village, including one of the best rutters from Kilmory - hopefully he'll scarper in good time to survive another year!
Our two long term volunteers Charlie and Abby have started an Isle of Rum Instagram page which has proved very successful. They're out and about across the island most days and busy snapping pics, especially of the Rum ponies, who are reaching celebrity status.
Recent developments include the installation of fibre optic cable all the way from Camus Pliasgaig to the MHS shore base in the village: that's a long way. With this they will be able to remotely operate the fish farm and keep an eye on the salmon. Another benefit of this is Hebnet installing small offshoots of cable off the main cable to connect properties in the village, which will provide an even better internet connection than we currently have, and FTTP (fibre to the premises). We will the first island in Scotland, or possibly Britain, to have this.
The house site moves on with alarming speed; it is amazing to see what it looks like now compared to the overgrown rhododendron bog it was before!
More good news came from CalMac recently, when we heard of their Scottish government funding to improve the pier and freight facilities in Mallaig. We look forward to see how this will pan out for us all.
Now it is December, Christmas is slowly in the air, Nic has organised a Secret Santa and the school Christmas play is just around the corner.
Happy birthday to Joss Fraser who was nine in November and, most excitingly, welcome to Rum's newest resident, Lesley and Neil's baby girl, a sister for wee Dougal.
Merry Christmas to everyone from all on Rum.
ISLE OF EIGG
November kicked in with Hallowe'en guisers bringing out a motley crew of ghoulish creatures through Cleadale, ending up at Damian's this year, where his installation of faceless dummies was suitably creepy! Exhausted but happy children were able to munch on their sweeties in his upstairs cinema, whilst parents chilled out with seasonal food. Costumes were brilliant as usual, with a great Thriller routine performed by the kids and the pumpkin carving was pretty high standard! Then it was Bonfire night at the campsite near Shell beach which was a joyous occasion with such a fine dry night: folks had brought lots of nice treats to share and Sheena's home-made damson gin went down a treat too!
The following Remembrance Sunday was very well attended this year, being that special anniversary marking 100 years since the end of the Great War: we brought to mind the names of the crofters' sons that went away to fight in Flanders and Greece: ten went, two died within two years of their return, victims of gas poisoning and only four survived, with the MacLellan family losing all three sons at Tigh an t-Sithean to the battle of the Somme whilst in the neighbouring croft, the MacLeod lads survived it, in the cruel lottery of the war. And we read Hugh Mackinnon's poem I am deep in gloom today as he is walking alone to the Singing Sands, recalling the care free days of their youths and those that were gone. Donna the piper played some gallant tunes, choosing this year those that had been John Booth's favourites, as a further homage to our departed friend. Sue's hospitality at Lageorna was most welcome, raising about £40 for the Poppy appeal. And then a few of us were off to Laig beach, to draw with the children the silhouettes of the lads who died in WW1 and reading Carol Ann Duffy's stark poem as our contributions to the UK-wide Pages of the Sea commemorations.
Not much more to report for the rest of the month, apart from the comfortable settling in to winter mode, with much pool table playing at the pier and the new Sunday Hub club providing another congenial venue for the week-end. One visitor - Chris, the guy who is walking the coast of the UK with his dog, thought Eigg was brilliant and has sworn to come back for more walking and socialising!
Mallaig Pool and Leisure Move Closer to Funding Goal
We're delighted to announce that our application to Highland LEADER Rural Development Fund for £70,000 has been successful, and that we have made significant progress with Highlands & Islands Enterprise to support that level of funding. With these two grant funds, and due to the generosity of a donation from the the Friends of Mallaig Pool & Leisure, we have a new new fund package of £140,000 towards our refurbishment goal. This takes our total refurbishment fundraising effort to £426,000 to date. This new award is a big step forward and will mean we can start work on building a small café within the Centre from as early as February next year.
When we started this refurbishment project three years ago, our goal was to raise £1.1million to enable modernisation and enhance accessibility, to improve energy efficiency, introduce a café, to update the changing rooms, install a new gym, and to generally use the space we have more effectively. The drive behind this has been to provide a much better service to our users, but also, we'd reached a point of crisis and we had to take measures to make the business sustainable for the future.
Three years ago, attendance was falling away, we were haemorrhaging income to a plant room and air handling unit that was failing, and Highland Council were threatening to cut our annual revenue grant funding. Big change takes time, but clearly it was required. We are fortunate to have an experienced and skilled volunteer Board of Trustees who believe in and are ambitious for the project, and our loyal customers have been amazing and supported us each step along the way. Alterations we have made so far to replace the Plant Room and Air Handling Unit, to introduce electric efficiencies, and to update IT systems are not very interesting to our customers, but it has meant the pool, pool hall and changing rooms are warmer. Last year we bought our Biomass Plant with a three-year loan for £42,767. This means we'll directly benefit from RHI payments and be able to reduce our fuel bills from 2019. The introduction of the Highlife Highland membership subscription scheme in 2017 has increased use of the Centre by 27%, making us busier than ever before, as well as providing real value for money for our customers. We now have 210 primary members and this is growing all the time. Now we are tackling a community consultation to possibly purchase the building from Highland Council in order to diversify still further.
As we move into phase two of our refurbishment project, we hope it's the phase you'll get even more excited about. You'll be able to see it, and it will directly affect your experience of using the place.
3D view. Plans drawn by Finn and Toby at Knoydart Construction
The Planning Department has approved our refurbishment plans with drawings by Sam Foster Architects. Sam has had to move on from the project with our thanks for his help, and revised drawings have been evolved courtesy of and with thanks to Toby and Finn Robinson. You can see these drawings here. They will be available on display at the Pool in due course.
Of the £1.1 million goal we set three years ago, to date we have raised £426,000. The Highland Council awarded us £275,000 for the Plant Room. We are indebted to The Friends of Mallaig Pool and Leisure for their tireless fundraising efforts. Without them the Pool would not manage. Each year they make good any deficit the business runs, they help buy new equipment and fund small capital projects, and the 500 Club contributes to half the salary of one staff member. We'd also like to thank all those individuals who have generously donated, and to the Co-Op and The Harbour Authority, to Kenny at the Book Shop, both Arisaig and Morar Community Funds, The Gower Trust, and to HIE and the Robertsons Trust who have supported us in many other ways. The success of our new Marathon and Festival of Running in May, and Traighathlon in September, is earning us a whole new community of friends from all over the UK and there's palpable excitement for 2019 with bookings coming in from running and triathlete clubs nationwide.
Ground floor plan
With the support of LEADER, HIE and The Friends, we can now start the refurbishment of the customer end of the building. The fun end. £140k is an amazing award, however realistically it's still not enough to meet our ambitions. To complete the project, we need a further £508k to update the changing room, move the boiler room next to the biomass plant, open up the upstairs for a viewing gallery to the football pitch and the Small Isles, and to extend the gym and fitness studio to cater for bigger classes. The clock's ticking as these successful awards must be spent by October 2019. It's far more cost effective to complete works consecutively, so we are doubling our efforts to try to secure further funding now.
First floor plan
It's a lot of work, and a lot of investment, but the social return on that investment for those that use the Centre make it very worthwhile. Mallaig Pool and Leisure is a real asset to the community and to visitors to the area. It has, over the past 25 years, taught all our school children to be accomplished swimmers, and most importantly, safe by the sea. It has provided training and employment for high school seniors, as well as all-year-around employment for five staff. It provides a diverse range of activities for all age groups, and it's a welcoming place to be. We want to grow on that success and become a real hub for the community, and a vibrant new all-year-round café will help us meet this goal.
If you've not used the Centre for a while, or if you've never been, then put a membership on your Christmas list. For £20 per month per person, or £30 for a family, you can use all the facilities and classes at any-time. The team will support, encourage and advise on all aspects of your fit for life journey. Mallaig Pool and Leisure is a social enterprise and not for profit organisation run by salaried staff, and governed by volunteers and fundraisers on behalf of the community. Should you wish to donate towards our refurbishment then get in touch or visit our JustGiving page
You can also fund raise when you shop online via our easy fundraising page. A percentage of what you spend goes directly to us as your chosen charity, and it doesn't cost you a thing. Over the past year 42 local members of this scheme have raised £835 for the Pool simply by shopping on line at https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/mallaigpool/.
If you're interested in helping us reach our goal by joining either the Friends or the Board then please get in touch. To hear more about our work, please join us at our AGM on Tuesday 15th January, 7.30pm.
End of an Era
All of us at West Word are very saddened - as our readers will be - on the retirement of one of our longest standing contributors - Lawrence MacEwen. And on top of that we have to announce the end of Robert MacMillan's popular Personal Angle column and the Snippets. Both Lawrence and Robert have been writing for the paper since the beginning in 1994 without missing an issue. Thankfully we aren't losing Robert entirely and he will still be writing Mallaig Harbour News.
Lawrence's first contribution was a reminiscent article printed in our second issue, December 1994, entitled The First Luing Bull. He regaled us with the story of how he and his brother Ewen came over to Mallaig from Muck to bring home one of a new breed of cattle - a Luing bull called Pathfinder. The bull escaped in Mallaig and Lawrence chased it along the railway until he tired out the appropriately named Pathfinder and he was able to drop a rope round his neck and lead him back to Mallaig!
The first Round and About was also in Issue 2, but the Muck entry had no byline until it was attributed to Lawrence two months later - and he has continued to write it every month for nearly 24 years. His column is a veritable archive of how life on Muck has changed in the intervening years; in 1994 the puffer which delivered coal and supplies made its final trip to the island and households all had generators. We hope he might find time from the farm to write the occasional nostalgic article.
Robert's involvement goes back a bit further than Lawrence's as he was on the original steering group set up about 1992 to organise all that went into starting up our community paper. He then chaired the Board from 1994 until 2013.
The first Snippets appeared in the second issue, December 1994, and Personal Angle the following month in Issue 3. Snippets has become a byword locally. When anything amusing or notable happens the cry of 'Snippets!' can be heard, or often, 'Don't put that in the Snippets!' The column was even mentioned in The Sun many years ago. The journalist started off by saying that The Sun had a reputation for sauciness but that was nothing compared to West Word! He quoted extensively from a number of cheeky snippets trawled from several issues and ended up 'Now - imagine you know everyone mentioned!' Snippets needn't come to an end completely, it has always included contributions from others so if you want to keep it going, keep sending them in!
Robert will continue writing Mallaig Harbour News which began at the end of 2010. As Secretary of Mallaig Harbour Authority and now its CEO, he is ideally placed to keep us informed of important and interesting things happening in or planned for Mallaig and this will continue. Robert has also promised to continue to send in old photos and articles of interest.
Beginning of the end after 100 years?
Lochaber groups were among the first to be formed when the Scottish Women's Institute was founded 100 years ago in 1917, but now time has taken its toll and the Institutes are closing down. Gone this year are Morar and Fort William; left teetering are Arisaig, Spean Bridge and Ardgour. Sadly, the lack of a committee for the Lochaber Federation of SWIs has forced the closure of this too, its final meeting being held last month. The Federation held an annual Spring Rally, organised the annual Quiz and held competitions and classes in various crafts amongst many other activities, and kept the scattered Institutes connected.
June Cairns wrote a heartfelt plea for new members in October's West Word, emphasising the variety of activities the institutes undertake and settling some misconceptions. The SWI has always suffered from the idea that its members are older women and so it has become, but it is thriving in many places with teenage girls and young women joining up. Two of Arisaig's members were in their early 20s when they first joined up!
The Institutes are commonly called 'the Rural' but that word was dropped from the title a couple of years ago as a bid to move with the times and because town dwellers wanted to start their own groups. You can read more about the SWI online at www.theswi.org.uk
Arisaig SWI, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last February, is considering joining an Argyll Federation and hopes to keep going. The next meeting is our Christmas tea on Thursday December 13th, bring a festive food contribution and join us in the Astley Hall at 2.30!
Elf for a day!
Aine MacPhie from Mallaig became an elf for a day at the Rotary Club Christmas Festival in Fort William on 24th November. Aine (aged 6) and David Rodgers from Roy Bridge (aged 9) won the Lochaber Times' Christmas Card message competition and their prize was to help Santa on a very busy day.
Photo by Abrightside Photography
They rode on Santa's sleigh - pulled by reindeer from the Cairngorm herd - through crowds lining the route from Cameron Square to the Nevis Centre where the festival and craft fair were held. They then joined Santa in his Grotto to help hand out gifts and toys to well over 300 children. Aine's winning entry is below. Well done Aine and David!
From Lochaber comes a Christmas cheer
with bits of sparkle like Santa's reindeer
Fun and games and family time
presents, turkey and church bells that chime
May you all have a day that's filled with joy
as we celebrate Jesus, the baby boy
On and Off the Rails
New additional carriages for West Highland trains
Next summer there will be an extra carriage on certain services on the West Highland lines - a Class 153 single-car unit will be added to the existing Class 156 trains providing storage space for outdoor equipment and luggage. It is hoped that the first of five carriages with enter service next summer on the Glasgow-Oban line with four more following on the Glasgow - Fort William/Mallaig, Inverness - Kyle and Wick/Thurso in 2020. The design is yet to be finalised but may include space for 20 bikes, racks for snowboards and skis, extra seating, and a self-service café/sandwich bar, and will hopefully help to alleviate overcrowding.
Silver Link Publications (SLP) recently published a hardback book of photographs of the West Highland Line entitled On the Iron Road to the Isles. It tells the story of the Jacobite steam service and SLP say '35 of the UK's top railway photographers have pooled their pictures to create a quite stunning pictorial record of the line. A hitherto unprecedented combination of photographic styles and breath-taking vantage points provides a mesmerising mix of unforgettable images not just of steam trains but of the majestic Scottish landscape'. SLP produced a limited print run of 408 copies of a special Signature Limited Edition version of the book with claret red boards and end papers, which was available for despatch on 24th September this year and has presumably long since sold out. The standard edition (unsigned) has green boards and endpapers and was published on 24th October. The book, which retails at £45 (inc. P&P) has 208 pages and over 280 colour and monochrome illustrations.
I have two copies of the Signature Limited Edition which I am authorised to offer for a postcard only draw. They are signed by the authors, John Hunt (driver, fireman and guard for the West Coast Railway Company on the 2018 Jacobite service and director of NELPG) and James Shuttleworth (commercial manager for the West Coast Railway Company). To be in with a chance of winning one, please answer the following question:
What date were copies of the signature edition despatched from?
Answers on a postcard to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. Closing date is Wed December 19th. The book is on sale at The Highland Book Shop, Fort William and Glenfinnan Station Museum, or if you have any queries on the book ring me on 01687 462189.
Friends of the West Highland Lines - Magazine
The Autumn/Winter issue of this highly readable magazine is now out in full glorious colour (where applicable). If you wish to obtain a copy, please ring me on 01687 462189 to obtain a postal copy at the cost of £3.50 plus postage. The next issue will be out in February 2019.
Free draw to be in with a chance for one of two steam DVDs in time for Christmas
Now that the 2018 seasonal Jacobite steam train has returned south until next Easter, here's a chance to re-live live steam locomotives in the comfort of your own living room!
I have been given two copies of the latest release by respected photographer and steam locomotive filmmaker/producer Terry Vernon to give away in a free draw.
His latest DVD is entitled Tornado on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) and features the iconic steam locomotive Tornado throughout. The locomotive was built from scratch in 2008 and has travelled thousands of miles on excursions in the UK. The design of the locomotive was based on the Peppercorn A1 class, and numbered 60163. Now, 10 years on, Terry has re-lived on film, taken by him, some of Tornado's memorable moments on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, from Grosmont to Pickering, where she spent a week on the rails in early March 2018 - edited into one single journey. The DVD has been given full endorsement by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and is well worth watching. The running time is 76 minutes - with no commentary - instead you get the full sound of the locomotive at work. This is a trademark of Terry's work. Terry says, "let the locomotive speak for itself!" And I must admit I agree with him!
To be in with a chance of being drawn to receive one of the two copies of Tornado on the NYMR just answer the following question:
Was Tornado an a) A1 b) A2 or c) A3 class of locomotive?
Answer a postcard please, along with your name address and contact phone number - no later than Wednesday December 19th to Sonia Cameron at the address above. If you want to purchase a copy of the DVD to be sent to yourself - or even directly to a friend this Christmas - please ring me for details on (01687) 462189.
And finally but saving the best till last… Have compassion, be non-violent, be kind, have respect. Remember everybody has something good inside them; they sometimes just don't know how to show it.
Thank you for sticking with me through my columns. It has been a work-in-progress busy year (again!) but we got through it!
Steve and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr.
See you on the train,
Mallaig Harbour Ice
Contractors TRS Ltd have recently informed the Authority that the arrival of the new Containerised Ice Plant due to be delivered to Mallaig Harbour on Tuesday 8th January 2019 has been delayed by one week. The new delivery date is now Monday 14th/Tuesday 15th January 2019 with engineer on site for the following 2.5 weeks to assemble/commission the plant.
The Authority remains hopeful that the new Ice Plant will therefore become operational February 2019.
Gael Force Ltd have been given the contract to construct the Passenger Pontoon and place it in situ in the inner harbour so making the existing passenger steps redundant. It was hoped that this would become operational prior to the year end but unfortunately this will not now be the case as work will not now commence until week beginning the 14th January 2019. The new completion date is now end of January 2019.
The non-appearance of shoals of sprats in the Minch this winter is a major disappointment as it had been hoped to end what has been a pretty dreadful year for the fishing industry in Mallaig on a high but this is clearly not now going to be the case.
Festive greetings to all Harbour users from all at the Authority.
A WRITE HIGHLAND HOOLIE 2018
The third Write Highland Hoolie, Mallaig's book festival, held in the West Highland Hotel, attracted people from as far afield as Scandinavia and Italy. The Festival got off to a flying start with best selling author Barry Hutchison, Scots Magazine editor, Robert Wight and the Scottish Makar Jackie Kay all holding events and workshops in Mallaig High School. Jackie Kay's birthday was celebrated in the staff room before her spell-binding event gave her young audience material on which to work on later in Robert Wight's feature writing workshop. The whole school serenaded the Scottish Makar with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday and it was clear she had made a life time impression on the pupils.
On Friday evening there was a free dram provided by the Ardnamurchan Distillery as Marc Ellington stood in for renowned whisky expert Charles MacLean, and told tales relating to the book, Scotland Secret History Illicit Distilling and Whisky Smuggling in Scotland.
On Saturday, as Rum's peaks appeared mistily through low cloud, specialist deer vet John Fletcher revealed the many mysteries of red deer and their fascinating history both on and off the island.
Next up it was Jackie Kay reading from her numerous literary works, and her latest poetry collection - Bantam. Discussing many subjects, she made us laugh and cry with her thought provoking stories and shrewd observations on life, from the extraordinary to the mundane.
Val McDermid, in conversation with the literary critic and author Stuart Kelly, opened the afternoon's proceedings. This was a personal, amusing and candid insight into the mind of a writer whose award winning crime novels keeps her burgeoning readership impatient for the next bestseller.
Once again this year, The Scots Magazine was the Hoolie's media partner. The magazine's award winning editor, Robert Wight held a feature writing workshop in the main event, in which he explained how to best pitch to an editor.
Kate Leiper's charmingly illustrated talk for the younger members of the audience was an inclusive and lively journey through the realms of beasts both real and imagined. This interactive session centred around her brand new book written by Karine Polwart A Wee Bird Was Watching.
Polly Pullar's inspiring presentation about her new book A Richness of Martens revealed much of the natural world of Ardnamurchan. This personal story centres on the peninsula that has motivated herself and others to dedicate themselves to the wildlife about which they feel so passionate.
Sally Magnusson's event about her novel, The Sealwoman's Gift, a heartbreaking historical tale of Iceland's Westman Islands and the slave trade where many people were captured and taken to Algeria. Talking to Stuart Kelly, this emotional history and the work involved in its research gave another sellout audience much to reflect upon.
It was appropriate that on Armistice Day, Stuart Kelly's thoughts on religion, based on his book, The Minister and the Murderer should open Sunday's programme. In a sensitive and at times highly amusing exposé, Mallaig High School's English teacher Mandy Tevendale skilfully interviewed the interviewer. The author reflected on the events of 100 years ago and the continuous impact they have on all of us today. Following a minute's silence, piper Colin Graham played Flowers of the Forest.
As if we had not already been treated to such a fabulous line-up, next on the stage was Paul Murton whose Grand Tours and numerous Scottish travelogues have justifiably made him one of the most popular presenters on television. As he chatted to Polly Pullar, he told us many more fascinating stories relating to his first book, The Hebrides.
The event closed with Angus MacDonald talking to Breege Smyth of Oban FM about his new novel, We fought for Ardnish, an emotional story of war and how it affected the locals of a remote part of Argyllshire.
Bookbug made two appearances over the weekend for preschool children. The finale, a prize giving for the winners of the Hoolie's annual schools' writing competition, was judged by The Scots Magazine editor Robert Wight and was well attended by young literary hopefuls and their families.
A fantastic weekend was had by all and delighted visitors were eagerly endeavouring to book their places for 2019, and were assured that a date would shortly be confirmed on the website: www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com
Creative Writing Competition
There were an incredible amount of excellent entries into the Hoolie Creative Writing Competition, which was open to all of the schools in the West Word area. The theme was 'A Hoolie'! The extremely difficult job of selecting the winners went to Robert Wight, editor of The Scots Magazine, while Fiona MacInnes, Gaelic teacher in Mallaig High School, judged the Gaelic entries. Our grateful thanks to them! Space permitting, we will be printing some of the winners in West Word this month and next. Robert Wight presented the winners with certificates and gift tokens for the Highland Bookshop at the prizegiving in the West Highland Hotel on Sunday 11th November.
The results are:
1st Elena Young P2, 2nd Maia Burton P3. 3rd Aine MacPhie P2. All of Bunsgoil Mhalaig.
1st, Kai MacLaughlan P3 LLPS; 2nd, Morgan MacKenzie P4 LLPS; 3rd, Phoebe MacDonald P2 MPS.
1st, Eva Griffin P6 MPS; 2nd, Fraser Martin P6 LLPS; 3rd, Finn Geddes P7 LLPS.
1st, Iona Durbin S2; 2nd, Kirsty Martin S1; 3rd, Ellie MacPherson S3.
1st, Amy Kane S5; 2nd, Kaitlin Carter S5; 3rd, Toby Dennis S4.
Last summer term we ran an art competition through Mallaig High School, with the theme of books by our visiting authors. Again, an astonishing number of high quality art work was received, and the Hoolie committee had the hard task of selecting the winner, Michelle Rodgers, then in S3. Michelle received a mounted acrylic copy of her painting which was also on the back cover of this year's programme. We displayed all the entries in the foyer of the West Highland Hotel over the Hoolie weekend.
Our thanks to the High School's Mandy Tevendale and Valerie Campbell for their help and enthusiasm in organising the competitions.
Bee's Wrap session
Over twenty people went along to Arisaig Eco Project's 'Make your own Bee's Wrap' session at the Astley Hall on 6th December. A great alternative to clingfilm, the wraps are made using beeswax and cotton fabric.
They can be used for wrapping sandwiches, covering food bowls, or wrapping vegetables or cheese, and are durable and long-lasting. It was a fun and friendly session learning a useful skill which can help to reduce plastic usage in the kitchen. It was so well attended that the Eco Project are hoping to hold another one soon!
For more info contact Alison. email@example.com
Here's a photo that's been circulating on social media recently. It shows the waitresses who worked at the Morar Hotel in 1965 when it was owned by Calum and Nancy MacKellaig. Can you identify the lovely lassies?
I don't know why the subject of a local war grave should have come to prominence recently. Perhaps it was a result of the memorial services and parades held around the country commemorating the end of the First World War in 1918 - 100 years ago. I don't really know, but the topic of a Second World War war grave in the graveyard at Morar became a discussion topic in the Men's Shed (aka the Mission Café)!!
So with Moe's internet assistance and Hendry's factual assistance this is the sad story of a German sailor.
Alfred Schenk, born in Bavaria on 15th August 1913, was Oberleutnant zur See in the German Navy and an officer on board a U-Boat, U-1003. The submarine was badly damaged in a collision with a Canadian frigate HMCS New Glasgow and was subsequently scuttled in the Northern Channel, north of Malin Head, Ireland, on 23rd March 1945. 33 men were rescued by HMCS Thetford Mines but the Captain and remaining 14 crew members, including Alfred Schenk, perished. The body of Alfred Schenk was found washed ashore on the north-east side of Glasnacardoch Bay, Mallaig on 4th April 1945 and was laid to rest in the Old Morar Cemetery alongside the grave of Hendry's brother James, who had tragically drowned in Mallaig Harbour in a boating accident. Although he can't remember exactly when it happened (sometime in the 60's?) Hendry recalls that the remains of Alfred Schenk were exhumed and removed from Morar.
The remains of this German sailor now lie within the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery, Cannock, Staffordshire
Interesting photo showing herring landings at Mallaig in the 30's!
Here's a flashback to a Roamer (Ian Abernethy) item that first appeared in the Lochaber News back in the 90's but was reprinted in the Oban Times just the other week:
Here's a good question for the sports quiz team of Mallaig and Fort William. 'Who makes the connection between Onich, Seagull City, An Gearasdan and the Australian national football team?'
Answer - Alistair Edwards - who scored the 77th minute winner for Oz last Wednesday in their match against Sweden.
Alistair hails from Onich, often hailed as 'the prettiest village in Scotland'. He played for Rangers against Mallaig and Fort William on the Gers' summer tour of the Highlands in the 1980's. and he was man of the match in Mallaig as, indeed, he was in the international.
Well I can now add a postscript to that story and it is that Alistair's son is also a footballer of note, and after three years at Partick Thistle FC he now plays for St Mirren FC in the Scottish Premier League. RMM
BIRDWATCH October 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
A blustery and wet start to the month, but by the final week there was a calmer, colder spell.
Plenty of reports of Geese and Whooper Swans passing through and flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares appeared during the first two weeks, devouring the Rowan berries.
Goosanders were seen at Invercaimbe on the 8th and the first Whooper Swan on Loch nan Eala the same day. On the 27th there was a report of a possible Slavonian Grebe there. On the 28th there were two adult Whooper Swans, two Goldeneye and 40+ Teal on Loch nan Eala. On Loch nan Ceall there were at least five Little Grebes on the south shore of the loch between Millburn and Morroch. A female Common Scoter was seen offshore from Millburn. A Velvet Scoter was seen the same day between Muck and Arisaig. Also on the 28th there were at least eight Great Northern Divers at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall and ten offshore from Traigh golf course.
During the month there were several reports of Little Egrets from the west coast and Hebrides, no doubt blown in by the strong winds. The first report from our area was a single bird seen feeding at Invercaimbe on the 4th. It was observed there for several days then there was a report of a single bird at Loch Ailort on the 9th. Initially thought to be the same bird until the 12th when single birds were present at Loch Ailort and Invercaimbe at the same time. On the 16th a single bird was seen on Loch nan Ceall near Morroch, then two together there on the 19th. From then till the month end there were reports of single birds on Loch nan Ceall and Loch Ailort.
Two Bar-Tailed Godwit were seen on the Morar Estuary on several occasions and at least one Greenshank still present there. Fifteen Golden Plover were in a field by Traigh golf course on the 13th.
Several reports of Brambling from mid-month. A single male was with Chaffinches feeding on beech mast near the Mains Farm, Arisaig on the 16th. Several were reported from a garden at Fank Brae, Mallaig during the last week and one was at feeders in a Morar garden on the 29th. A Hawfinch was reported from an Arisaig garden around the 19th.
Two Yellowhammers were seen at the Camusdarroch car park on the 17th and a flock of Siskins were feeding on Alder there on the 27th.
On the 26th, two possible Chiffchaffs were seen in a garden near Woodside, Morar. A single was seen again on the 28th along with a male Blackcap, which was seen daily till the month end. Also on the 28th a female Blackcap was seen a short distance away at Beoraid, Morar.
A female Hen Harrier was seen near Loch nan Eala on the 10th and a male was at Invercaimbe on the 28th. A male Sparrowhawk was released from the Prawn Market, Mallaig on the 13th; Apparently it had been there for a couple of days. A Kestrel was seen at Rhumach, Arisaig on the 28th and a Barn Owl was at Woodside, Morar on the 4th.
Several more grounded Manx Shearwater were recovered during the first two weeks of the month, bringing the total ringed and released to 432.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Lucy took a copy West Word with her to read on the summit of Sgurr a'Mhaim in the Mamores recently!
Chris Anstock sent in this photo taken this autumn on Jeju Island, South Korea.
The stone man represents a "Jeju Grandfather", one of the guardian spirits of the island. Legend has it that a goddess came to the island and had 500 children who in turn became the Jeju Grandfathers.
The statues are everywhere, including this one at the entrance to some botanical gardens.
The Scottish Book Trust's mascot, Bookbug, came along to this year's A Write Highland Hoolie to share songs and stories with children in two sessions at the book festival.
Whilst in Mallaig, Bookbug took some time out to relax in the West Highland Hotel and read the latest West Word.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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