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December 2014 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
BEST FOLK BAND IN EUROPE!
Applications must include CD or demo material, photos and press information and have to be forwarded to The Malt House jury by the end of March each year. A total of eight artists or bands are then selected by jury and audience at a huge "shortlist" party held at The Malt House at the beginning of April. Each of these eight artists or bands play a concert staged at The Malt House during the course of the Folkherbst Folk Festival in the October and November. At these concerts the bands / solo artists are awarded points by jury and audience alike: the members of the jury / panel of experts award points according to a pre-conceived system, whereas the audiences at the live concerts can vote on an adrenalin scale (!) of 1 - 7 printed on the back of their admission ticket, which they can then drop into the ballot box at the end of the gig.
Since 1992 many well known bands from all corners of the vast European folk scene have come to play their music in the famous barrel-vaulted cellar of the Malt House, which dates back to the 13th century.
The iron trophy takes its name from a very old family dynasty of counts and earls known as Everstein. Their fortress and family home is believed to have once stood on the site now occupied by The Malt House, one of the oldest buildings in the city of Plauen The award ceremony takes place at the end of January.
MALLAIG POOL SAVED FROM CLOSURE
After a strong and well orchestrated campaign to save the Mallaig & District Swimming Pool from stringent cuts in its Highland Council grant, Budget leader Maxine Smith acknowledged it would cost the Council more to close the Pool than to keep it open and both it and the community pool in Bettyhill have been safeguarded - in this round of cuts at least. The campaign highlighted the fact that it is a 100 mile round trip to the nearest pool in Fort William and this would have a deleterious effect on local children learning to swim. Health and safety factors were emphasised.
Fiona Baker, Acting Chair of the Pool Board and a major player in the campaign, told West Word:
'The support for the Pool has been overwhelming and our lovely staff really appreciate it. The threat of closure ignited people's passions, with personal letters of objection sent and petitions raised. Thanks to Alan Cargill and everyone who turned out for our press photo, making a very powerful statement in our campaign to safeguard funding. Also special thanks to The Oban Times for championing the Centre, and to Alan Henderson and all our Councillors who have been vocal in their objection to funding cuts. We're not in the clear yet, but we've made it absolutely clear, if funding is cut, the Pool will close. Budget Leader, Maxine Smith, has listened to our argument and found a compelling case to protect our funding. This is good news, but we need to see that ratified at the December 18th Budget Meeting. We'll be watching closely. We need to know funding will be protected for at least the next three years, and that Highland Council are not deferring cuts. Mallaig Pool is a Highland Council success story, working hard as a resource to deliver on Highland Council's policy to 'Advance Well-Being' in a cost effective way. I'm encouraged they've acknowledged it's an appropriate investment of the public purse. Protecting our funding will give us all something to celebrate this Christmas.'
The best way that we, the community, can help the Pool's survival, it to use it!
It's been a busy but good month on Knoydart. I don't know where the time has gone. I must be getting old. Bonfire night was a magical night this year, with the most stunning perfect weather and clear skies and a huge bonfire that was a work of art (You've never seen such perfect stacking!). It was a night filled with fun, wine, toffee, yummy goodies and a fantastic lantern display from the kids, including a paper lantern peacock called Morris. Another fantastic night was our music and drinks night in the hall, with Jim Hunter and friends playing tunes, joined by just about every musical local in an incredible jam. Toby and Cath came back across the water and took part, as well as making the most of their wee weekend in the romantic Knoydart Hide. The Christmas Bizarre was a big success with the hall jam packed with tables, all from our talented locals, with their amazing variety of products. Everything from handmade teddy bears, to jewellery, to home baking, to wooden sticks, handmade soaps and a variety of other beautiful homemade crafts. Mulled wine and soup and the most amazing croissants kept us going as well, doesn't get much better than that! Christmas shopping without having to brace the heaving insane mobs of the city!
On a sadder note, it also seems to have been the month of goodbyes with Tommy leaving us, no longer to return and Alice and Tom moving to Oban. Fay has also gone for the winter, heading off for snowy Canadian Adventures. The only good thing about people leaving is the excuse for a leaving party and we did have some good ones full of nonsense and silly games! Anna is also just about ready to take off to New Zealand and for anyone who knows me, well, they will know how much I'm going to miss her!
The Tearoom has dropped down to three days a week now, opening only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 til 4 so if you're looking for a cuppa, that's when to come over, save any disappointment. I think I mentioned last time but boats have also changed to their winter timetables.
I think that's about it for now, think its time for some mulled wine! Happy Christmas everyone, when it comes!
ISLE OF MUCK
This month it has been the school which has been to the fore with two events worthy of coverage in West Word. On the 20th the whole island were invited to come and see the results of this autumn's school project, the ancient Egyptians. It was impressive. The work which must have gone into demonstrating so many aspects of Egyptian life. I did not know that when VIPs were mummified all their internal organs were removed. Well done Mrs Baker. Well done the pupils.
On the 28th we had a school fund raising evening; an event likely to become more frequent as the education authorities scrabble around to save money. And the event was an Italian evening where we all brought dishes which would have been recognisable in any Italian home. And an impressive spread it was too laid out in the hall and though I did not sample every dish, the ones I did were delicious. Also superb was the sum raised - £528 including the raffle. Together with the shooting department's 'white Ducks' the school should be well placed to fund special events in future,
On the fish farm a new landing craft the Ben Aerean has arrived. Built in the Netherlands this vessel is larger and more powerful than the present vessel which services the cages. Christmas is coming. It would be great if the present clement weather lasted till then but enjoy the holiday and may 2015 be kind to you.
Searching for a special present? Remember that A Drop in the Ocean the story of Muck is available in the Mallaig Heritage Centre and Arisaig LSIC.
ISLE OF RUM
Unseasonably warm, my blackcurrant bush definitely thinks it's spring! Hoping we don't get all those storms we got last year - whilst stepping out of one's front door directly into the sea is amusing once, a regular occurrence would not be looked on favourably.
Christmas excitement is all around, Black Friday thankfully passed us by except for the scuffle in the shop over the reduced section, there was custard powder all over the floor by the end of the night! The Christmas fair is on Saturday 6th, lots of homemade gifts, mulled wine and lunch from the Rumbling Tum café. The mince pie competition, usually highly contested, especially over who has gone to the effort of making their own mincemeat, requires an impartial judge, can only think of one person for that particular job, so no deconstructed jobs or anything unusual ladies… if you want to win!!
Rum primary's Christmas play has roped in the usual extras to bump up the cast from 2 to lots; this will produce the usual charming chaos. I am Joseph, again! Why?
This will be swiftly followed by two Christmas parties one for the little ones and one for this years' secret Santa present swap, hopefully all giggles when everyone opens their present to find a bottle of wine from the shop!!!
With Marcel away, SNH have no resident deer stalker and have seconded the Wildlife Operations dept. (formerly the DCS I think?) to carry out the whole hind cull over three visits to Rum. With the stalkers and ghillies staying in the new bunkhouse for the duration, it is getting good out of season business and providing plenty of work for Claire who is catering for them. With the deer cull back on, the Rum Venison co. is well stocked, so if you're wanting some for Christmas, get in touch.
There are still beds available in Kinloch hostel if you're wanting to come over to Rum for our Hogmanay ceilidh, though the bunkhouse is now full. See you there?
Trudi, the ranger, has some exciting plans for next year which may include a volunteer programme and lots of interesting projects to work on including the creation of new nature and culture trails around the village and woodland also the redesign of the visitors centre, though this will be joint project with Sylvia Beaton, who has been researching Rum's history to produce an interpretive display of the history of Rum's people, an area badly neglected thus far. Sylvia is keen to get in touch with former Rum residents for information and stories, we have had some cracking stuff so far, perhaps we can persuade her to write a piece for West Word?
That's all. Have a happy Christmas.
ISLE OF CANNA
Thanks to Gordon, Denise and the children for hosting a combined Halloween/Bonfire Night at their house. The guy was great and the children's costumes looked fantastic. There was a surprise visit from a lime green Teletubby!
Looking forward to having a New Year bonfire and using the remaining fireworks.
The Loch Nevis brought a surprise visitor this month when it arrived with a large dolphin riding on the bull nose of the ship, while tied up the dolphin stayed with the boat and it was easy to get a close look at it, but sadly no-one had a camera!!
The mild weather has persisted again this month and the lots of bulbs have started to come up in sheltered gardens plus one lone primrose.
Wishing all the West Word readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the community on Canna.
ISLE OF EIGG
This is possibly the gentlest November we have had for years, and we had a great clear evening for Bonfire night. A mighty fire was built near our standing stone by Ewen and Ruaridh and the fire display seemed to go on forever! Tunes followed at the pier with some great food from Eiggy Bread, Nice warming fare and great mulled cider from Katrin's special German recipe.
An equally fine day followed for the islanders to gather round our war memorial on Sunday 9 November, to read a moving selection of war poems, before paying our respect to the people of Eigg who served and died in the wars. Later on at Lageorna with a cup of tea and cakes to raise funds for the British Legion, the community was able to discover the work done by the island Primary school children on the war memorial, including the genealogy of those who fought in the Great War. Thanks to West Word we were able to add some information about the battle of Loos, where Eigg and Arisaig men were amongst the first casualties of the 5th Cameronians. Remembrance Day itself was commemorated in the school on Eigg together with the school on Rum by video link.
Mid November saw lino cuts and mapmaking curtesy of Eigg Box in connection with the end of the Twizzy electric vehicle trial on Eigg. Everyone who tried it enjoyed what felt a bit like toy car, but it was not deemed to be quite strong enough for our rough tracks and our rough winds. It would be a great wee thing to travel in if it was not for the cost of batteries maintenance which at £40 a month also felt to be quite steep. So not very conclusive, but we'd like to try some more EVs! Then it was the second half of the Social Enterprise Academy Leadership course on Eigg which gathered a dozen folks from Eigg, Forres, Edinburgh and Perth in what was deemed to have been time well spent, inspiring as well as energizing. Meanwhile, on the 18th, our First responders team went live, and the first of the weekly surgeries by Dr Venters from Skye started on Eigg.
But from the point of view of Eigg bird life, it has been "a generally pretty uneventful & disappointing autumn for passage birds despite the preponderance of southerly and easterly winds. Following the last Wheatear on Oct 14th and the last Chiffchaff on Oct 28th. the last Swallow seen on Oct 31st, and a substantial passage of Stonechats in late October, there were also three November records of a (possibly wintering) Blackcap", according to John Chester, our wildlife warden. Other passage/winter migrants included several passing flocks of Whooper Swans, a couple of Jack Snipe, a Glaucous Gull on Nov 18th, two Bramblings in late October & a flock of 20 Crossbills in the forestry plantation on Oct 8th. The usual winter arrival of Woodcock occurred in late October but numbers of passage Redwings & Fieldfares were extremely low throughout. Other odds & ends included two immature White Tailed Eagles seen regularly in the pier area, unusually high numbers of Lapwing for the time of year, 5+ Long Eared Owls in the forestry plantation & a couple of Dippers at the hill lochans. Not too many mammal records of note at this end of year, though Harbour Porpoises & a few Common Dolphins continued to occur offshore & a late Minke Whale was seen on Nov 15th. It was a good period for Otter sightings with several records including a family of three seen near the pier on Nov 17th. The only other occurrence of any significance was a Pipistrelle bat seen near the Mill on the late date of Nov 20th.
News from Mallaig Harbour - November 2014
Photo shows Rebecca Jeneen and Independence discharging their sprats at Mallaig Fish Pier.
The second of the three year winter trial service linking Mallaig with the Outer Isles was scheduled to commence on Saturday 29th November but unfortunately the ferry Lord of The Isles was delayed in dry dock where it was undergoing its annual refit. This lead to the cancellation of the inaugural run for the 2014/15 winter service.
The Lochboisdale - Mallaig winter season therefore commenced on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 - a pretty inauspicious start to the service but hopefully not a portent of things to come.
Work is progressing well on the Lovat Slipway and contractors Fion Construction are on schedule to complete the work later this month.
TSL Contractors Ltd commenced work on the new Shoreside Promenade on the 3rd November and again, work is progressing well. TSL are due to complete the work by end of January 2015.
The Chairman, Board Members & Staff of the Mallaig Harbour Authority would like to wish all harbour users and the general public at large a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!
There was only one call out of the Henry Alston Hewat in the month of November.
Thursday 6th November:
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to transfer Paramedics to Inverie in Loch Nevis at21:15hrs. A guest staying in one of the local Guest Houses had suffered a suspected stroke. As weather conditions were pretty dreadful due to heavy persistent rain and low cloud Helicopter Rescue 100 from Stornoway would take longer to transit down the Coast to Inverie. Once alongside at Inverie Paramedics were transferred to the casualty's location for initial assessment and treatment. In the meantime Lifeboat crew with transferred by Landrover to the an area east of Inverie village to illuminate a lighting site for Rescue 100 to land using ultra bright LED torches. Rescue 100 cautiously approached the landing site in the heavy rain and set down on the field lit by the lifeboat crew. The Helicopter winch man was then transferred to the casualty's location and was met by the Ambulance crew and briefed on casualties condition. With the casualty now assessed and able to walk assisted he was transferred to Rescue 100 for transfer to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Once casualty was boarded on to the aircraft the Lifeboat was released from service and returned to Mallaig with Ambulance crew at 22:35 hrs. Lifeboat berthed and ready for service at 22:55hrs.
The crew of RNLI lifeboat would like to wish all the readers of West Word a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2015
West Word's 20th anniversary year
From our Chairman:
As a faithful West Word contributor from the very start, and now honoured to serve as chair of the West Word board, I was absolutely delighted to read the comments in the middle pages of our 20th anniversary issue: what other community newspaper would get a message from the First Minister himself? It was heart-warming see so many sincere tributes to our community paper, and I especially loved the long piece by Cameron Mackintosh.
So let's not forget that it will be our 20th anniversary year from November 2014 to November 2015, keep your memories and anecdotes coming and let see how we can share what make this newspaper special throughout the year.
What also would be really great would be to see new people coming forward as West Word directors at our AGM which we will hold in the new year. Your newspaper needs you!
Some messages from our readers:
Congratulations to West Word on its 20th anniversary - keep up the good work. As we're only at Bracarina every 7/8 weeks, it enables us to remain in touch with local happenings.
Carol and Rob Peevor
Ann, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of West Word. I still look in fairly regularly. Hope to get back to Arisaig some day.
Liz Doyle, Tennessee (via the internet Guest Book).
News in Brief
- Fears that Lady Lovat Primary School in Morar would no longer be used as a Polling Place because the Council said it did not have disabled access have been allayed thanks to representations form Councillor Allan Henderson and Morar Community Council, both indicating that the building has disabled access; that many electors are elderly and/or do not have their own transport to travel to Mallaig to vote. The Council will continue to use the premises as a Polling Place.
- The Administration Group of Highland Council have announced a range of proposals to be taken forward in a report to the Highland Council at its Budget meeting on 18 December. The following proposals will not be progressed for the 2015/16 budget: additional cuts (above the 3% per annum reduction) or removal of the Ward Discretionary Budget; changing the time spent in school. Cuts to swimming pools, libraries and community grants to allow more time for them to plan and prepare for future leaner years. This means savings of £13m will have to be found elsewhere. Read the report on the HC website.
On and Off the Rails
So, how has the past month been for you? As I have trundled in my wellies pushing the trusty old style Co-op trolley up the banks and down the braes, loaded with bulbs, miniature Christmas trees and holly garlands, the car drivers' most used phrase to me through wound down windows has been 'Are you still at it?!' The sense of never being finished used to feel like a burden, but these days I feel blessed that I am 'work in progress'! There is always new planting to be embraced and time is the most precious thing I have to give, after all I've got the rest of my life to play catch-up!! The days are short of light, but mostly mild, dry and sunny, and with the shortest day of the year just around the corner we've got a lot to look forward to. In the meantime I've got a column to write!
First ScotRail Christmas and New Year train services
There is a packed timetable awaiting you online (www.scotrail.co.uk) or a printed version is now available at staffed Railway Stations.
Locally between Mallaig & Glasgow it reads like this:
Wednesday 24th December - Normal service
Thurs 25th & Fri 26th Dec - No service
Sat 27th to Wed 31st Dec - Normal service
Thursday 1st January - No service
Friday 2nd January - Sunday service
Saturday 3rd January - Normal service resumes
Caledonian Sleeper Christmas and New Year train services
There will be no Sleeper services on the 24th, 25th, 26th 28th and 31st December 2014 and 1st January 2015. However, there will be a Sleeper service on Friday 2nd January. It is good that both services are running on Friday 2nd January, albeit that the Sprinter service is as Sunday timings!
First ScotRail Award Winning News
First ScotRail were recently named UK's best rail operator at the National Transport Awards held in London. The judges were impressed with the operator's wide range of successes, including the biggest launch of free wifi in the UK, its smooth handling of major events and its introduction of pioneering smart card ticketing (in this area the machines are installed and lit up, but not yet operating - Abellio are very keen to use smart cards more and paper tickets less - more info when I know it!). The company carried more than 87 million customers in 2013/2014 - the tenth consecutive annual rise. The National Rail Passenger Survey put its overall customer satisfaction at 90%, equalling its record level - and eight percentage points above the UK average for train operators.
On the same evening, Thursday October 2nd, First ScotRail and partners (including Transport Scotland) were named as Overall Winner at the ACoRP Community Rail Awards held in Scarborough, for their combined work to deliver a joined-up Community Rail Strategy. John Yellowlees was present to accept the Award. John is the External Relations Manager for ScotRail and singlehandedly masterminds the Station Adoption Scheme for ScotRail. I like the cut of his jib!!
Jacobite Steam Train 2015 Update
All dates for the Jacobite Steam Train service between Fort William and Mallaig are now on West Coast Railways website www.westcoastrailways.co.uk
The service will commence on Monday May 11th 2015 and run until Friday October 23rd 2015. Full details nearer the time.
The catering contract on the two Jacobite Steam Train services next year has been awarded to Morag MacNeil from Fort William. Morag has worked her socks off on the morning and afternoon services for the past two years and beat off stiff competition to take on the franchise. She has been loyal to West Coast Railways and The Jacobite team in particular and deserves the success that I'm sure will come her way. I look forward to her putting her interpretation on the challenge of serving The Jacobite public. I know she is relishing the challenge. Congratulations Morag.
Railway Mania in the Highlands?
A huge thank you to all who turned up to the talk and book signing event on Wednesday 19th November to raise funds for Mallaig Heritage Centre. We had an illuminating talk by Dr John McGregor, who was piped into the event from the train by Cameron MacBeth (who has at least three generations of railway employees as credentials).
The organising team: Sharon, Sonia, Cameron and Malcolm
prepare for John MacGregor's talk at the Heritage Centre. Photo Steve Roberts
After a one hour talk we drew the raffle, the top four prizes went as follows:
1st. A family pass on the 2015 Jacobite Steam Train went to Sharon MacBeth (Cameron's Mum!).
2nd. Two (first class if required) ScotRail railway travel tickets anywhere in Scotland - Dianne Creel from Fort William.
3rd. £50 value of travel tickets on CalMac - Isabel MacPhee from Caol.
4th. Bottle of whisky -Elliot Ironside.
In all we had eighteen raffle prizes donated and the 'most amusing' went to Moe Mathieson - a Scottie Dog doorstop and two haircuts from Sharon!!
The refreshments were lovely; thanks to all who donated prizes and food. The craic was good.
My only downside is that I was too busy to look at all the artefacts and paperwork that went with the evening!
Malcolm Poole was still washing up two days later! Thanks Malcolm.
A good night had by all, I think.
And finally - but saving the best 'til last
Let your life flower, not wither, remember everybody has something good inside them! Steve and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliandhna Math Ur.
See you on the train in 2015. Thank you all for your kind letters, photos, postcards, competition entries, packs of seeds and plants - even the corrections!
At the talk and book signing at the Heritage Centre on 19th November, Dr John McGregor had on display a large number of fascinating documents, pre and post the Mallaig Extension, from his considerable research materials.
A number caught my eye particularly as of possible interest to West Word readers and I have the kind permission of Dr McGregor to use two or three of them.
First is an excerpt from a letter from James Bell to his general manager. Dr McGregor explains: 'Bell was the North British Company's civil engineer and ambivalent about the West Highland route. General manager William Jackson was still relatively new to the top job at this date and committed to economy. In this he bent to the wind. The North British had experienced a board-room coup - not their first of the kind - and the faction in control were hostile to more spending at Mallaig.
'Such penny pinching was often counter-productive and caused inter-departmental strife. The North British traffic department complained repeatedly that, if small consignments of fresh fish were to be sent by passenger train, there must be expeditious loading. Manhandling the heavy barrows to the passenger brake vans, over a soft surface, was challenging, and there were many delayed departures.'
Bell to Jackson, 28 January 1902
'I think it is out of the question to put down concrete pavement at Mallaig when there are so many other Stations of more importance on the System without this. I intend, however, as soon as I am able, to put down finely riddled slag, and this will make a good job of the platform. So far as my Department is concerned I do not think another sixpence should be spent at Mallaig.'
Dr McGregor gives us a further illustration of the economy drive just a year or so after the Mallaig line opened. Following a traffic census in March 1902, North British general manager Jackson pressed his district superintendent George Innes at Fort William to allocate as few vehicles as possible to the winter timetable local trains, which were made up of older rigid-wheelbase stock and not the superior bogie coaches designed for West Highland service. Innes explained why he felt unable to reduce his three-coach set to two coaches.
Innes to Jackson 24 April 1902
Had we a composite brake carriage with luggage compartment large enough to convey the luggage and parcels, two vehicles would have sufficed. In the absence of this, two composite brake carriages and one third class-carriage are used, instead of one first, one third and a brake van.
Dr McGregor concludes 'It seems that local first class traffic was slender, with the two 'composites' giving perhaps four compartments in all.'
Dr McGregor's books, full of interesting facts and photographs, are on sale in Mallaig Heritage Centre:
The West Highland Railway 120 Years
Great Railway Journeys through Time
The West Highland Mallaig Extension
The West Highland Line
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
Last month I misled readers by stating that in the Records of Service 1914-1918 there were few entries for the start of the war - hence Brian Murray's letter (see below). Although the CD is searchable, I had made the mistake of downloading it to the West Word computer where it changed to a PDF document which isn't searchable so I had done a quick 'leaf through' - not at all successfully as it happens! By using the CD itself however the original format remains and it can be searched by date, These are the records which relate to those killed in action 100 years ago.
Lieutenant Arthur Stuart Nicholson
Lieutenant Arthur Stuart Nicholson was the youngest son of Sir Arthur Nicholson KCB and Lady Nicholson of Arisaig, Inverness-shire. He was born on September 18, 1889, and was educated at Winchester, and passed from the 3rd to the 1st Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in January, 1910.
Glorious it is to live
5547 Lance Corporal James Campbell
Joined the 3rd Cameron Highlanders (Special Reserve) in 1912. was mobilised August 10, 1914, & was sent to Invergordon. Shortly after he was transferred to Aldershot, and included in a draft sent to France to the 1st Batt. Cameron Highlanders.
9516 Private William Ferguson
Private William Ferguson enlisted in 1912, & after six months training at Inverness was transferred to Edinburgh Castle.
A copy of the Arisaig & South Morar Record of Service 1914 - 1918 is available to view at Mallaig Heritage Centre and the Astley Hall.
Copies of the virtual book on searchable CD is available for £10 from Mallaig Heritage Centre and from Ann Martin, The Astley Hall Trust, Arisaig PH39 4NP, tel 01687 450263.
TWENTY YEARS OF WEST WORD Looking back...
Twenty years ago
Our very first issue in November 1994 featured as the cover story of the sale of the Lovat Estate to Cameron Mackintosh (not then a 'Sir'). Other articles concerned Glenuig Hall, which was under construction and a look back at her childhood in Ardnish by Nellie MacQueen and there was a Puzzle page with a crossword and a word grid. A little thin in content, at 50p and only 32 pages, it was a blueprint of plans and hopes for the contents of future issues. The first and the second issues contained adverts and articles from contributors who have continued their support throughout the entire twenty years: West Highland Hotel, Andy Race, Morar Motors, Arisaig Marine, Mallaig Swimming Pool and MacLean Deliveries, Lawrence MacEwen, Sonia Cameron, Auntie Mary Elliott - and the first Snippets and Personal Angle.
The paper began to 'beef up' with information and contributions The headline of the second edition was 'Herring landed at Kinsadel!' with a photo and story of a lorry shedding its load of herring on the steep Kinsadel Brae - not an uncommon occurrence in those days, before the new road system began! It was five says before it was all cleared away - imagine the pong! In Round and about, Roy Stewart talked of the new Morar Motors Garage, while our Muck correspondent Lawrence MacEwen bewailed that the puffer Eilean Easdale was up for sale, heralding the possible end of an era.
There was a two page story on Mallaig fishing boats changing over to the sprat market with editor Jill de Fresnes interviewing skippers Willie John McLean and Robert Summers. Lawrence MacEwen told the entertaining tale of the first Luing Bull which escaped while being brought to Muck and was caught by Lawrence after a chase along the railway line! This story can be read in Lawrence's book A Drop in the Ocean (on sale at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre and Mallaig Heritage Centre, an excellent Christmas present!).
And there was a cartoon! About - you've guessed it - the herring spill at Kinsadel. Any budding topical cartoonists out there today??
Ten years ago
The November 2004 issue was, by now, 36 pages long and cost 75p, and this celebration issue carried a colour cover and insert. As the only colour printer we had was the same kind you might have at home, both were done very laboriously over a long stretch of time, the cover being an extra wrap around the real front page. It featured the baby Cameron Muir and Cameron at ten, just as last month we featured him at twenty; and an invitation to an Anniversary Dance to the famous Goat Island Ceilidh Band in the Morar Hotel. The colour insert was a double page of photos under the headings 'What's New?', 'What's Gone?', 'What's Returned' and 'What's Changed?' in the ten years of West Word's existence - stories we had reported. The new section included Glenuig Hall, the Mackintosh Centre, Arisaig Medical Practice, the Marine Harvest Factory, the Mallaig Pier, sops and flats in Mallaig, Strath View in Arisaig, Mallaig & Morar Community Centre and the Arisaig By-pass. What changed?: Lochailort Inn, Mallaig Police Station, Mallaig Health Centre, the old Smiddy in Arisaig, the new island piers rendering the flit boats redundant, the Astley Hall, MV Shearwater, the Ice Factory, Arisaig Play Park and Playing Field, Mallaig's oil tanks, the Lifeboat, CalMac's ferries, St Edwards's Chapel on Canna and the ownership of Eigg and Knoydart. Things that had gone were Kinegarry and Kinsadel braes, Arisaig Police House/Station and the Marguerite Explorer. What returned was the steam train, a passenger ferry on Loch Shiel (MV Sileas), the Spanish John and cattle on Knoydart!
Regulars by now included Council Corner (Charlie King), A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald, the bird column from Stephen MacDonald, Mission News and entries in our internet Guest Book. The front page included the first ever livestock float to arrive on Eigg, carrying 200 sheep, thanks to the new jetty at Eigg, and inside we welcomed Fr Andrew Barrett to Arisaig.
The front page of the December 2004 issue featured the Highland Council Quality Award to Maureen Sutherland, Head of Lady Lovat School. Inside was a photo of Santa abseiling down from Cnoc na Faire's chimney on his then annual visit and we had a picture of Jill de Fresnes (editor 1994 - 1999), Jacqueline McDonell (editor of 3 editions in 1997 and Ann Martin (editor 1999 to the present) cutting the West Word birthday cake at the Anniversary Ceilidh. Sir Cameron sent us a present of a 10 year old bottle of Glenmorangie! There was an article on the town of Mallaig in Alberta, Canada. There was also a double page insert of a colouring competition, a Word Search and a 'Guess the number of sheep' picture.
By this time the printing machine was folding and stapling issues and we had said grateful thanks and fond goodbye to our army of 11 or so folders who, every month, took delivery of 100 double pages which they laboriously turned into a folded newspaper, usually by putting on a tape and dancing round the kitchen table to collate the pages!
Birdwatch November 2014 by Stephen MacDonald
A few interesting sightings this month, with birds still on the move and others displaced by windy weather.
The most amazing report was of a probable Shore Lark sighted at Camusdarach early on the 10th. It was seen at close quarters feeding on the strandline along with several Rock Pipits. The observers returned later that day but unfortunately the bird could not be found. There have been very few confirmed reports of the Shore Lark from the West Coast, but interestingly there was a bird on South Uist around the 10th of October of this year, which was well photographed and it was even suggested that it could have been from North America as there were quite a number of transatlantic vagrants turning up around that time.
Still a few reports of Whooper Swans flying over during the month and at one point there were at least eleven feeding on Loch nan Eala, but numbers had dwindled to just two by the month end. Good numbers of Teal seen there and also a female Tufted Duck. Wigeon were reported from there, Loch nan Ceall, the Caimbe and Morar Estuary. A few more Goldeneyes reported as the month progressed. On the 12th seven Slavonian Grebes were seen on Loch nan Ceall, there were still at least five there by the month end. Most of the previous records have been from passage birds in Spring, it would be interesting if they decide to winter on the loch. A late report of a Common Sandpiper on the 7th at Camusdarach beach. On the 9th four Greenshanks were on the Morar Estuary. Ringed Plover were there and Traigh. Golden Plover were also reported from Traigh.
Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones were seen on the rocks at West Bay, Mallaig, on several occasions, including a flock of 38 Turnstones there on the 19th. There were increased sightings of Woodcock and Snipe from Morar and Arisaig as the month progressed. A juvenile Glaucous Gull at West Bay, Mallaig, on the 19th was the first report of the Winter. The bird was still around at the end of the month, no doubt attracted by the quantities of sprats being landed.
A female Blackcap was seen in a Woodside garden on the 12th, and a male was feeding on apples in a garden at Fank Brae, Mallaig, from the 27th till the month end.
A Brambling was reported from a Morar garden on the 12th, and a female was seen feeding on beech mast near the Mains Farm, Arisaig, on the 22nd. A Yellowhammer was reported from a Mallaig garden on the 3rd. Numerous reports of Godfinches on garden feeders, but the only Siskins reported were of birds feeding on Alder cones by Loch nan Eala.
Just a handful of Fieldfare sightings through the month, and only in small groups. Redwings were also in short supply. Several reports of Great Spotted Woodpeckers coming to garden feeders from Morar and Arisaig.
Dippers were seen regularly at the at the west end of Loch Morar and Jays were reported from Arisaig, Bracara, Morar Lodge and Rhubana.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
West Word has gone where the Editor would like to go! Rhian Eddie and her Papa Alan
were snapped with their copy outside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in October.
West Word goes to Iceland! Another place the Editor would like to go.
Fiona MacKay and Kirsty MacDonald took their copy from Mallaig to the Blue Lagoon.
The ConnXion Dance Class made sure they took a copy to their superb performance at Eden Court!
Ben and Grace MacDonald from Morar took their West Word (or was it grandpa Don's?)
to Te Papa in Wellington, New Zealand.
Mum Pam says 'The doors just happened to be closing so it looks like Ben is about to be eaten!'
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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