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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
October 2011 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
BEST IN SCOTLAND
Pictured are Jeff & Jeff (centre) with Nigel Barden BBC food critic and Bob Farrand of the Guild of Fine Food.
As well as this the family were also awarded one star for their Oak Smoked Salmon and last year took home 2 Gold Stars for each of their Hot Smoked Honey Glaze Salmon and Hot Smoked Peppered Salmon.
Owners, Jeff and Shona said: "We are delighted to have been presented with such a prestigious award. To win three stars was fantastic but to win Scottish Speciality and be one of the four finalists in the British final is truly an honour."
MALLAIG PRAWNS TO SAINSBURY'S
The Scottish Langoustine Project has announced a major commercial partnership with Sainsbury's whereby the supermarket giant will sell the iconic North-west Highland whole fresh langoustine from all its stores housing a Fresh Fish counter, nationwide. Sainsbury's are the first of Britain's quality supermarkets to recognise the growing demand for this premium shellfish product amongst it's increasingly more discerning customer base. This remarkable coup by the Scottish Langoustine Project follows months of discussions with senior Sainsbury's personnel during which time a formidable Supply Chain Analysis was undertaken along with rigorous testing of the North-west Highland langoustines by Sainsbury's team of Food Technicians. Uppermost in Sainsbury's commercial criteria were the sustainability of the fishery coupled to the continuity of supply in to their stores on a daily basis. Sainsbury's commitment to freshness and quality dovetailed neatly with North-west Highland fishing practices, these revolve around daily landings from a fleet of predominantly small boats with that day's catch entering the logistics network culminating in the langoustines reaching Sainsbury's Fresh Fish counters with the minimum of delay and handling.
The Scottish Langoustine Project was born out of a fishing industry meeting in Mallaig in September 2010, hosted by John Hermse, Secretary of Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association (MNWFA), facilitated and supported by local MSP David Thompson, and attended by Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead. Further communication between Messrs. Thompson & Lochhead with Marine Scotland resulted in independent funding being allocated to undertake detailed research in to the commercial viability of establishing significant UK retail opportunities for whole fresh North-west Highland langoustines.
Sainsbury's were quickly identified as a principle prospect and were duly approached, leading to a July meeting in Perth between John Hermse, Keivan Zokaei, Ally Dingwall - Sainsbury's Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, and Neil Robertson. Such was the success of this initial meeting that a list of objectives were quickly identified and acted upon leading to a further meeting in Mallaig in August.
This meeting witnessed the introduction of two further participants; Phil Nickells - Account Director for Young's Seafood, acting for Sainsbury's (Sainsbury's purchase all their Fresh Fish produce through Young's, who also undertake all quality assessment measures on behalf of Sainsbury's); and Tony Kenning of Kenning Fishing, a Mallaig based but nationally recognised langoustine buyer and processor, completing the Scottish Langoustine Project team. The enthusiasm from all parties to construct a lasting commercial partnership whereby Sainsbury's customers' would be offered the choice of purchasing North-west Highland whole fresh langoustine was evident at this meeting. Stringent product quality assessment and logistics trials were successfully undertaken throughout late August and early September, resulting in the Scottish Langoustine Project's partnership with Sainsbury's being announced to the Scottish Parliament on 22nd September.
ANGER OVER CONTINUED BANK CLOSURES
There is mounting frustration at the continued limited opening hours of the Bank of Scotland in Mallaig. For some months the Bank has opened only three days a week on reduced hours because of staff shortages here an din Fort William.
On Wednesday 12th October, the bank was due to be open from 10am - 1pm, but when customers turned up the door was shut with no explanatory note.
Colin MacDougall of Denholm Fishselling said 'I called the Call Centre and they had had no notification that the branch would be closed. It's closed tomorrow (Thursday) and supposedly open Friday.
'We have cash to pay in today for fishermen's wages - but we won't be able to do that now until Friday. Are they supposed to wait for their pay because the Bank can't get on with recruiting more staff?'
The Bank says it has solved the recruitment crisis in Fort William and the Bank will open five days a week from October 17th - but still with reduced hours.
TURBINES AT BUNACAIMBE, ARISAIG
Planning permission for the controversial erection of three wind turbines on a croft at Bunacaimbe was deferred at a meeting of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber Planning Committee on the 4th October. The application will now be heard on November 1st after a site visit by the Planning Committee.
Writing this from Mallaig. Stuck for the first time this winter. Yes - winter or so it seems. The crazy warm wind of last week has gone and we're all getting ready to hunker down for the gales. And the weather does still have some bearing on the visitor season. Doune is shut down with Frances and Steven away back to Eigg preparing for the housewarming and Luke on a break before coming back to help de-rig Eda. Lauri, who was working at the pub and fish farm, has also departed and I think the peninsula is down to those who are staying for at least most of the winter.
The departure of the Humphries to the States where Matt is already ensconced in his new job is now imminent. Sam, Jasmine, Daisy and Felix are heading out within the month. I think they are looking forward to the new ways, the challenges and the pool yet slightly sad in the leaving. But they will be back. Continuing on the travel front the Millers, or at least Isla and Rhona are about to embark on their own American adventure leaving the T-Room in Britta's hands. Tommy too is off on a trip for a couple of weeks - taking the time no doubt to recover from the excitement of the Heroes and Villains party he had the other week - what is it about Knoydart and dressing up parties. Many remarkable outfits on show some of which actually made me cry with laughter. Paul Williams is his new replacement on the post round.
The social calendar continues to be full with a disco and the continuing film nights all taking place in the Hall. These types of events generally pass off without incident - if only the same could be said for the most recent riotous pensioners' night. Many a youngster was sat at the bar shaking their heads at the harebrained antics of the oldest crew (there are at least five crews on Knoydart: the young, the building (diminished), the stalking (seasonal), the old (growing) and the oldest. No bands of late although the Ukelele Allstars are practising into the night to build up an extended repertoire for the festive season. Hold onto your hats for the tour.
MacMillan Cancer Care's largest coffee morning in the world was again (partly) hosted in the Pottery and T-Room with about £250 being raised for the cause. Special thanks should go out to Harlequin Bakery, Dave Marriot, Bruce Watt, and Nevis Butchers for raffle prizes and donations but a warm thanks to all who supported the event. The Garden open day was a great success again, even though the weather was not kind. Victor won a prize in the craft section for a handbag made out of old inner tubes and Karin produced another magnificent cake for the raffle. Loads more going on and a huge thank you has to go to all the organiser, caterers, stall holders, raffle prize givers and community plotholders for making it possible. Big cheers also to the students and staff from the Mallaig hostel who made it over despite the weather. Nice to see Peter Woolen over for a break and nice to see the photos of a lot of youthful looking locals and faces from the past.
On the non-tourist work front there has been more maintenance carried out on the Hydro while Mallaig's own Billy MacMillan has been over helping out Steve on the Sandaig porch. Andy has been installing windows and there is rhodie work due in a week or so. All the Community Companies held their AGM's in the last week or so with new directors coming onto the board of the Foundation (John Sellers) and the Forest Trust (Cath Curd). The Forest Trust AGM was scheduled to tie in with a very well attended stone carving workshop held down at the Long Beach and facilitated by Susheila Jamieson. This in turn is to tie in with the new Sculpture Trail through the woods that Karen and the Trust are organising. The KFT also helped set up a Financial Management course in the Village Hall run by the Community Woodlands Association and the Social Enterprise Academy.
There was a bit of concern the other week as a plague of houseflies seemed to descend on the peninsula. Although not quite of biblical proportions there was certainly a lot of discussion on the where froms, the hows and the whys of their appearance. They've now gone. The ducks and goose had their own pests to contend with as a fox took a couple and left a bloody gouge on the neck of the goose before Angie intervened. A damaged animal was also in evidence round at Sandaig as Janet called out Jim Brown to deal with a wounded stag. After the beast was killed the next day it was found that the wound was the result of a bullet through the jaw. The most likely explanation of this is that there are poachers about. It should be pointed out that these animals and the stalking operation are integral parts of the community's land management operation. If people are taking these deer they are taking them from the community. The incident was reported to the police.
But after all that, and most importantly, congratulations to Jim and Mel on the arrival of baby Maja. Well done you.
Cheers for now
ISLE OF CANNA
Given that September was the ninth month of the year, I thought I could bring you the news from Canna in nine little instalments which are in no particular order:
1. On the farm the lambs are getting ready to go to the mart. That's 320 extra passengers for the boat one day soon. The cattle have all been TB tested and passed - a long weekend's work by Gerry, Murdo and Fabio the vet. Duncan was roped in to help round them up (the cattle, not Gerry, Murdo and Fabio)!
2. By the time you read this, the Canna Feis will have been held on 1st October. Music, poetry, song, dancing, eating, drinking and shopping were all on the programme across different venues around the bay. Next month we'll let you know how it all went.
3. John and Sheila are winding down after a very busy season with Tighard Guest House. Judging by the comments in the visitors' book the guests had a truly wonderful time and much enjoyed Sheila's cooking especially the seafood. John has now retired from a long stint of Pier and Generator duties and they are both now looking forward to joining the community in Eigg in the near future.
4. The community shop project received some funding from Awards for All recently. Work is planned to start on the building renovation at the end of October. The building being used for the community shop is the old stone binder shed at the Eastern end of the group of buildings which houses the restaurant: the closest thing Canna has to a High Street!
5. Short-listed candidates for the Canna House gardener post have been visiting the island, meeting the islanders and touring the garden. One candidate had an enforced two night stay in Mallaig due to ferry cancellations so experienced first hand some of the quirkiness of island life.
6. The Spence's temporary craft shop opened on 1st September and will continue trading until such times as the community shop opens in 2012, although the location of the craft shop will have to change once building work begins on the community shop mentioned above. Sales have been good considering the time of year. Come and do your Christmas shopping on Canna!
7. Interesting Canna fact I: 5 out of the 14 adults on Canna are left-handed. That's much higher than the national average! Interesting Canna fact II: languages spoken on Canna fluently, or nearly fluently, are Spanish, French, Basque, Dutch, neo-Melanesian pidgin, Gaelic and English!
8. Welcome back Aart and Amanda - it's nice to see the lights twinkling in the restaurant again in the evenings.
9. The National Trust for Scotland held a work camp on the island at the very beginning of September. The seven member team worked very very hard all week pulling ragwort, cleaning up the rubbish washed up round the bay, pulling more ragwort, weeding in Canna House garden, pulling more ragwort and then rounded off their week by....pulling more ragwort! Well done them.
That's all from Canna this month.
ISLE OF MUCK
At last our hall is nearing completion with almost all the materials now on the island. Even the cooker and refrigerator have arrived. To keep the building within budget the community are involved in some of the finishing work, painting, landscaping and laying the pipe which carries the outflow from the septic tank to the sea. This was the task in hand a week ago when Barnaby Jackson opened the trench with the farm digger, and as the line went through a boulder raised beach some massive stones were hauled to the surface and laid aside. Then most of the island armed with rakes, mattocks and spades set to to cover the pipe with soil and smaller stones. At the end of three days all was finished. Muck is well practised in trenching - 20 years ago we filled in seven kilometres of cable trench by hand, part of the first power scheme ... A less arduous community event was last Sunday when Skye Coastguard arrived with our new defibrillator for which the island had raised more than £1000. It had been provided by the Skye charity 'Lucky to be here' and volunteers from 'Heart Start UK' provided the instruction. Soon most of the island were engaged with chest compressions on dummies which is hard going for any length of time. The defib machine is easier and it gives its own instructions. Hopefully it will never be needed but it is there just in case. Will our fish farm get planning? It could have by next month's West Word..
ISLE OF RUM
A meeting took place in the village hall for the Scottish Salmon Company to present their plans for a fish farm off the coast of Rum. Their proposals seemed to have not differed or been amended in light of the overwhelming reaction from Eigg; this was a disappointment to some, as the SSC didn't seem to be prepared to take the opportunity to change their methods of farming to accommodate the special nature of the Small Isles NSA, Rum NNR, SPA, SSSI etc. Last night there was a further Rum Community Association meeting where it was decided a vote would be held - unfortunately not all the votes have been cast as yet, so we will publish the result next month.
There are plenty of objectors on Rum and a good few who don't mind either way, but no one appears to be completely pro fish farm.
Jinty, at the shop received a substantial grant from the Government's Post Office diversification fund, to make upgrade's to the shop. A massive well done to Jinty. Mike, plus volunteer Gordon are still busy hacking away at what will be the wildlife garden and Sandy pruned the trees on the south side of the river making a great improvement to the riverbank.
The school had a French day last Wednesday, all were beguiled by Cara playing La Marsellaise on the tin whistle and quickly tucked into the display of lovely French food (baguette, fromage, tarte tatin, brioche and delicious French onion soup). Best costume was Caroline's moustache!!
ISLE OF EIGG
Whilst the South of the country enjoys a glorious Indian Summer, we have been battered by some fierce winds and strong rain, hopefully not a sign of what Winter has in store for us! One upside being that the hydro is working full pelt and we have plenty of electricity to go round.
The beginning of September saw the winding down of what has been a busy tourist season. The healthy tourist numbers appears to have been bolstered by an increase in European visitors this summer, presumably making the most of a strong Euro.
September seems to be packed full of birthdays, meaning that there has been a lot of reasons to celebrate. Starting with wee Maggie, whose 2nd birthday fell on a beautiful sunny day and whose party was enjoyed by Islanders of all ages.
On the 24th, Johnny celebrated getting to the ripe old age of thirty with a party in the hall. A boatload of friends and family made it over and a load of Johnny's musician friends provided the soundtrack to a great night.
One issue that has been raging on is the proposed fish farm. Having decided not to back Scottish Salmons proposal to create a fish farm off the coast of Eigg, the community set up an online petition, which has already garnered 1722 signatures. If you feel strongly about this issue and would like to help protect Eigg's coastline, please go to petitionbuzz.com/petitions/stopeiggfishfarm.
Lastly, a big congratulations to Tamsin and Stu who are the proud new parents to baby boy, Taeghan Ross Mcarthy and good luck on your return to Nepal!
Representatives of the West Highland Museum Trustees came down to speak to the Community Council last month with regard to the 'Arisaig painting', which has featured in the last few issues of West Word. Although very apologetic and embarrassed for not abiding by their own Acquisition and Disposals Policy, they have not ruled out putting the Arisaig painting up for sale in the future. Next time they say they will inform the Community Council beforehand and 'send a deputation'.
An Comunn Eachdraidh members would like to point out the salient points:
The Trust have a building which they have owned for 15 years; they have done nothing to it and now it has deteriorated so much it will have to be demolished.
They applied for a Lottery Grant to build an extension on the site of this building, which is beside the Museum. This was not successful but they hope to apply again at some point. The need for an extension is to house more of their artefacts, at present in storage, to increase visitor numbers (which will not increase revenue as admission is free.)
The only access to the site is a piece of ground which, had they done any work during the last 15 years would have cost them nothing. The owner of the land, who wishes to carry out some work of his own, told them recently they would have to buy it. This was why the sale of the painting was raised. Now at present it seems they do not need to buy the piece of land, for the time being at least.
The Trustees say they are in funds, and not in need of money except for the purchase of this land.
So to sum up - the painting was to be sold to purchase a piece of land, which they could have used free at any time over the last 15 years, and once the extension was built the piece of land would no longer be required. An Comunn Eachraidh do not think this is a valid reason to dispose of a painting of such local significance.
For the present, no sale is intended, but it is likely that if the Lottery Grant is pursued the situation will arise again when the Trustees are looking for match funding.
Speaking of the Community Council - it was a bit of a shock to us to find only 5 people had stood for election - indeed, we thought at first only 4, as one application had gone astray and had to be located by the Highland Council! The new constitution has cut overall numbers from 13 (10 for Arisaig, 3 for Lochailort) to 8 (with no numbers ascribed to either place) and even 8 makes for some difficulties if members can't attend for one reason or another. Very hard to conduct community business with 5! Let's hope that a few people will consider being co-opted onto the council.
The roaring of rutting stags has been very loud in the village over the last few weeks. For a few days before they started, it was cows - bellowing without pausing for breath it seemed. Aye, it's peaceful in the country!
We were sorry to learn of the death in the Czech Republic of Josef Vajce, the architect who designed the SOE Monument in Arisaig. He died at home after a short illness on the same day that Paul Millar, Hon. Consul-General of the Czech Republic, was in Arisaig with some compatriots laying a final stone on the environs of the Monument. Josef was last here in June with Paul when they laid paving around the site.
Arisaig Community Trust
Take 2 - ACTion!
The good news to report this month is the great response we have had to our ACT logo competition. The entries came in a welcome, last minute rush, and the problem we have now will be making the difficult choice between them all. Winners will be announced in next month's West Word, where we'll also have news of a logo exhibition to display the results. Thanks to local schools for running the competition as a classroom project. We had fewer adults entering than we had hoped, but the young artists have more than made up for this. No news to report on the Arisaig toilet ownership front. 30th September was to have been handover date, but that date has come and gone with no sign of action from the Highland Council. We have a list of repairs which they have agreed to carry out before the toilets are sold to us, and we will not accept ownership until these are done - or until the Council provide us with a budget to do them ourselves. Once these basic repairs are done, we will do our own programme of refurbishment to improve the facility. We'll be looking for a great team of volunteers when sprucing up time comes!
I attended two very interesting events during the last month. The first one, organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, brought together local development officers, all in posts similar to mine, who are working in communities scattered throughout the Highlands and Argyll, some on the mainland and some on islands. We all represent what are described as 'fragile' areas - in terms of population, remoteness, economy etc. From Jura to the south and Shetland to the north, they came, bearing success stories of communities working together to achieve lasting, positive change. Some have developed community renewable energy schemes which are now up and running and providing a significant income stream to support a variety of local initiatives; others have fought for and hung on to important local services. No one said that what they had achieved had been easy, but the stories were inspiring and encouraging, and great examples of what communities can manage when they work together. The second event was a conference on sustainable tourism which, again, had many thought-provoking and insightful presentations. I was particularly impressed by the talk given by Tom Brock from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. This extremely successful venture started as a community project which put sustainability, in all its forms, at the heart of the business. They employ local people all the year round (despite some very quiet months); use local produce in their café, and local arts, crafts and gifts in the shop. They take responsibility towards the environment very seriously, and employ many measures to reduce, reuse and recycle in all manner of ways. See more at www.seabird.org
The Arisaig Community Survey is now closed, with a total of 135 questionnaires being returned - this is a really good response, so thank you to all those who took the time to complete and return them. The information is now being analysed, and once the results have been fed back to us, we'll use them to formulate the next stage of the community growth plan, which will try to encapsulate many of your hopes and aspirations for Arisaig.
Local Development Officer
MORAR COMMUNITY TRUST NEWS - www.morar.org.uk
This year's Morar Community Trust AGM was held in Morar Primary School on Saturday 24th September 2011.
The two directors standing down at this AGM were Gemma van der Zanden and Mhairi MacLean. Gemma was available for re-election, but Mhairi has decided not to stand again. A big thank-you to both Gemma and Mhairi for all the work they have put in.
The following office bearers were elected: Tiina Heinonen (formerly McVarish), Chairperson; Gemma van der Zanden, Vice-Chairperson; Audrey MacEachen, Secretary and Keith Elwell will continue as Treasurer until the end of the current financial year. Anna Cornelius and Eleanor Read will continue as directors.
The Trust is always willing to welcome new members. If you would like to take out membership please get in touch.
After the AGM, the Trust presented two options for the new proposed community building. All members of the community will be given the opportunity to vote and voice their opinion regarding the proposals in due course. For more information, please don't hesitate to contact any of the directors.
Memberships for the 200 Club have been coming in steadily. The first draw will take place at the October Directors' meeting on 13th of October. If you want to join the 200 Club, please get in touch with Audrey, tel. 462592, or any one of the directors.
Following the last years successful Bonfire Night we are planning to hold this event again in November. If you would like to help with this, please get in touch with Tiina on 01687-462 230. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust
Proposed Salmon Farm north of Kildonan
Owner of Eigg, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust is backing the residents and will strenuously oppose the proposed salmon farm north of Kildonan, should The Scottish Salmon Company (TSSC) choose to make a planning application.
Following a meeting held to discuss the proposal, the Trust expressed surprise that TSSC appeared not to be taking any notice of residents' opinion following their visit and to be ignoring advice from the Screening Scoping Report, a process whereby potential developers can learn the likely views of the public bodies prior to making a planning application, to help them consider whether to go ahead with a proposal. In this, SNH has voiced concern over the likely effect on some of the special qualities of the NSA (National Scenic Area); Scottish Planning Policy Guidance indicates a presumption against development in such isolated coastal areas; the Crown Estate indicates that socio-economic factors should be taken into consideration. Residents are extremely concerned about this latter point with their huge dependence on tourism.
The Trust noted that it has a huge debt of loyalty to the 10,000 people who donated to the buy-out appeal that centred on protecting the natural heritage.
Eddie Scott, Chair of the Isle of Eigg Residents Association, said; 'A senior representative of TSSC has been quoted as saying that he does not see Communities as an obstacle. I am dismayed by this approach. We, the residents of Eigg have voted resoundingly against this proposal. On their visit to Eigg two representatives of TSSC utterly failed to reassure us as to the likely impact their development would have on the wildlife in its vicinity, both above and below the waterline.'
Mark Foxwell of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said; 'The area around Eigg and the other Small Isles is one of a tiny handful of sites in the West of Scotland without fish farms and is a hot-spot for whale, porpoise and dolphin sightings, all species which receive special protection under EU law. It is suspicious that this proposal has appeared just ahead of the 2012 deadline for the Scottish Government to designate Marine Protected Areas as required by the Marine (Scotland) Act and our international commitments. This proposal is ill-judged, ill-timed and ill-conceived. It cannot go ahead for a whole host of reasons. We urge the developer to drop the idea now.'
John Hutchison, Chair of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, said; 'We have spent 14 years bringing Eigg to a pre-eminent position as a Green Island and people come from around the World to learn about our approach to energy use and experience the natural heritage on land, sea and air. Any proposal to start a fish farm would be completely incompatible with our achievements and ruin our future aims. We do not want it here and will resolutely oppose any proposal.'
Over 1700 people have so far signed the petition at petitionbuzz.com/petitions/stopeiggfishfarm
Stewart McLelland, chief operating officer of the Scottish Salmon Company, does not agree that a fish farm on Eigg would be a serious threat to the wildlife in the area. He points out that the Scottish salmon farming industry is one of the most tightly regulated aquaculture industries in the world, scrutinised by a range of different statutory bodies and subject to numerous pieces of legislation, EU directives and regulations. 'As a principal player in the Scottish Aquaculture Industry,' Mr McLelland says, 'The Scottish Salmon Company is committed to high standards of animal welfare, sustainable operations and promoting responsible environmental policy.'
According to Mr McLelland, the community on Eigg is out of touch with reality when it comes to modern day fish farming, and says the company would welcome the opportunity to discuss the salmon farming industry in more detail with the Eigg community, highlighting the benefits the industry brings to local areas and allay any concerns A shame then that he chose to write in a leading national newspaper that he doesn't 'see communities as an obstacle. There are plenty who support what we are doing. You've got to distinguish between communities and campaigners.' Peter Urpeth of the Isle of Lewis replied to that: 'The distinction between communities and campaigners is, as he well knows, totally unsustainable and false. It suggests that those in local communities who oppose his plans are being duped into doing so by 'campaigners'. It suggests that communities can't oppose his plans without being branded 'campaigners' (and since when has campaigning been a dirty word?). Are the local, community, highly regarded and longstanding voluntary organisations who opposed the planned farm to be dismissed by him as 'campaigners'?'
Whilst the promise of jobs for the islanders is tempting and may persuade some to support the plans, Eddie Scott is not convinced. He says 'The question of potential jobs has been raised with Scottish Salmon and on each occasion we get a different answer as to the number of jobs that might go to Eigg people. I get the impression that they are giving us the answer they think we want to hear. There is no guarantee that any jobs will go to Eigg residents.'
FISHERMEN'S MEMORIAL PLANNED FOR MALLAIG
ARISAIG HOUSE HOSTS CHARITY ART EXHIBITION
A sale of new works by Glenfinnan-based artist Gail Wendorf, in aid of two international charities, was held at Arisaig House at the beginning of October.
Emma Weir and Sarah Winnington-Ingram hosted the evening in aid of Mary's Meals and Mercy Ships, with a minimum of 25% of proceeds from the sales going to the charities, plus the proceeds from a raffle and donations on the night. Entertainment was provided by the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band.
Gail Wendorf, originally from the USA, settled in Glenfinnan a few years ago, painting first landscapes and then the musicians who gather regularly to play in Glenfinnan House Hotel. Four years ago she started her series of paintings entitled 'Ceilidh!', capturing the colour, atmosphere and movement of the music sessions in her imaginative use of colour and paint. Her work can be seen at www.gailwendorf.co.uk and many of them adorn the walls of Glenfinnan House Hotel.
Mary's Meals is a school feeding programme based in Dalmally, Argyll, which is currently feeding over 400,000 children daily at schools in some of the poorest areas of the world. Mercy Ships delivers free medical care and humanitarian aid to the 'forgotten poor' in developing countries.
Raffle prize winner Jonny Willett, a friend of the Winnington-Ingram family.
Gail with one of the largest paintings in the exhibition
Photos Richard Lamont
THE 1810 COOKBOOK
Verity Walker is the cousin of Sarah Winnington-Ingram and Emma Weir of Arisaig House, and she came to Arisaig House last month with a photographer and writer from the BBC Homes and Antiques magazine. The house kitchen made a perfect back drop for a photoshoot of recipes being prepared and cooked by Verity which will appear in a four page feature in the Christmas issue of the magazine.
Right: photographer Andrea Jones lines up a shot watched by writer Natasha Goodfellow, deputy editor of the BBC Homes and Antiques magazine.
Below: Sarah (left) and Verity discuss the finer points of a recipe
Photos Richard Lamont
However, there is more to this than the publication of an old recipe collection. The sales from the book will go towards a community music project on the Black Isle where Verity lives, which plans to perform Mozart's Requiem over the weekend of the 5th - 9th November, using local singers and professional musicians. As Jane was born the year Mozart died, Verity decided to the cookbook would be an ideal fundraiser.
Why fly when you can get a ride? Thanks to Ronnie and Susan Patterson in Newcastle, regular visitors to the Western Isles, for this unusual photo. It was taken at Mallaig on the way in from a fishing trip.
On and Off the Rails
Alterations to Sunday Service
The 10.10 Glasgow to Mallaig train (arriving in Glasgow at 15.31) ceases for the Winter after Sunday October 30th, so does the 18.15 Mallaig to Fort William. The only train on a Sunday will be the 16.05 to Fort William and onwards to Glasgow (arriving in Glasgow at 21.19). In order to connect with the Caledonian Sleeper from Fort William to London Euston on a Sunday, which departs Fort William at 19.00 (arriving in Euston at 7.47), this is your one and only connection (arriving in Fort William at 17.27).
The 12.12 Fort William to Mallaig ceases for the Winter after Sunday October 30th as does the 12.20 Glasgow to Mallaig.
I do not (and never have) approved of the Winter curtailing of service to and from Mallaig. Especially as Scot Rail are promoting discount fares, Club 55 reduced price fares and group travel discounts. It means that visitors (and locals) can only travel out in the dark for most of the journey. It stops locals visiting Fort William for Hospital visiting, care home visiting, students from being able to get back to College or University without persuading parents to singly drive them to Fort William during the day to travel onward by bus to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness etc., where is the sense in that? But don't shoot me, I am only the messenger!!
Club 55 continues
The leaflets for this very good ScotRail promotion are now available in railway station booking offices or online. The promotion runs until Wednesday November 30th for your outward journey.
Successful Jacobite Steam Season draws to a close for 2011
The last Jacobite steam train service for 2011 will be on Friday October 28th. Starting this year on Monday May 16th, it has had a nearly faultless season, using a diesel substitute on only one occasion, and having to be rescued by a diesel only once, and only once failing to make it to Mallaig. It has proved once again to be very popular with its passengers, with birthday parties on board, wedding proposals on Glenfinnan Viaduct (whilst still on the train!!), etc, etc. Our thanks go to all at West Coast Railways for bringing so many tourists to our area, something that is very necessary to our area and economy. Thanks to all involved with the organisation and maintenance of the locomotives and rolling stock, which for the first time involved running The Jacobites (two of them!) for a two-month period. The second Jacobite ran on three weekdays each week, but due to its success, it may well run on a five day rota next year. It is still unlikely that West Coast Railways will be able to run trains on the Cambrian Welsh Line in 2012, so spare rolling stock should be available for use on The Jacobite II. We look forward to hearing good news!
Suzie Sangan now a fully fledged Scot Rail conductor
As reported in previous On and Off the Rails, Suzie Sangan left the ticket office at Mallaig Railway Station after ten years of service and transferred to being a Conductor between Mallaig and Crianlarich. After several weeks of training in Glasgow, and on-board training with local Conductors, Suzie has now 'passed out' and works the train unassisted and, in her own words, 'is loving it!!' Well done Suzie!
Class 156 Sprinter Cleaning at Mallaig
If travelling by train out of Mallaig, for some time now you cannot have failed to notice how much cleaner the 06.03 is as you board it. This is because the units (inside and out) are cleaned through the night by Mallaig's own John Leckie. He is doing a splendid job, and now even has his very own, double door, bright yellow lock-up cabinet to hold all his equipment and materials. It is affixed to the wall at the station building end of the down platform. Thanks John, for your first class job at night in all weathers. Every time I look out of the clean windows, I mentally thank you.
Statesman Rail visits to Mallaig
Rail touring company Statesman Rail visited Mallaig in September and early October, each time using The Jacobite engine and rolling stock on a Saturday. The first tour started at Exeter, and the one on Saturday October 8th into Mallaig started from London King's Cross, both with overnight stays at Hotels in Fort William before and after Mallaig. both have been sold out, and Statesman Rail already have plans to visit the area once again in the Spring of 2012. as reported in West Word last month, the regular piper on The Jacobite, Connal MacBride, now studying at Glasgow Academy of Piping to be a Pipe Major, has been piping guests aboard these Statesman tours. We wish him well with his studies.
Corrour Station Restaurant
I recently travelled by train from Mallaig to Corrour Station Restaurant to celebrate a family birthday, and had a wonderful time. The restaurant has a very good atmosphere, welcoming staff and rustic, hearty, warming food!! I had home-made soup, haggis, tatties and neeps (with a huge jug of onion gravy), spiced apples and ice cream, and travelled back, very contented and well fed, on the train. The restaurant is open until Sunday October 30th for daytime or evening meals, and will re-open on Thursday December 1st for their Christmas Menu, until Saturday December 31st. It is well worth a visit. The 10.10 train from Mallaig (Monday to Saturday after 30th October) arrives at Corrour at 12.31 with a departure time of 15.31, arriving back into Mallaig at 17.43. If you fancy an evening meal, the restaurant takes orders up until 21.00 providing you book in advance. You can leave Mallaig at 16.05, arriving at Corrour at 18.25, with a return departure at 21.19, arriving back into Mallaig at 23.35. They are licensed and provide a good selection of drams, ales (including Skye Brewery Ales) and ciders. The Restaurant also offers overnight accommodation in the form of one x 2, one x 3 and one x 4 bedded rooms. The cost of B&B is £29.50 per person and includes a full breakfast. You can access this by taking the 18.15 train from Mallaig, transferring at Fort William to the Caledonian Sleeper sitting up section (your ticket to Corrour allows this), arriving at Corrour at 20.51. After a hearty meal and a dram you can stay overnight and return the next morning on either the 08.58 or 11.20 trains from Corrour, arriving back into Mallaig at 13.34. for bookings or Christmas meals or overnight accommodation, please ring Manager James or Caroline on 01397 732236. I fully intend to try an 'overnighter' before the year is out.
End of Royal Scotsman visits for 2011
Saturday September 24th saw the last visit of 2011 for the luxury rail-cruise train The Royal Scotsman. Three visits planned for October had to be moved away from the West Highland Line. Because of planned engineering works, the train had to be diverted via Dundee and will visit the Kyle of Lochalsh instead of Mallaig. Although The Royal Scotsman does not bring passengers to our area for a long stay, it does give the corporate clients an insight into the area, hopefully inspiring them to return for a full holiday. Passengers are offered a coach trip (with guide) from Arisaig, via the coast road to the silver sands beaches for a picnic and Pimm's or champagne, before rejoining their train at Arisaig. This is always popular as Iain Macnaughton will testify! We look forward to welcoming them back next year. They are great ambassadors for the area.
In the November On and Off the Rails I will be running a competition for train related books and DVDs, with reviews, just in time for Christmas ideas.
See you on the train.
THE STATUE OF THREE LIES
Whodunit? A Locked Room thriller set to delight Murder Mystery readers... ...and the proceeds go to the Mosspark Nursing Home Comfort Fund and the Amenity Fund, Invernevis House!
|Fort William author David Cargill has recently released the second edition of his Lockerbie-based locked room murder mystery. 'The Statue of Three Lies is full of twists and turns and is based on a real life incident that was performed in the presence of some of the world's greatest illusionists in the States,' says David, who is a member of The Society of American Magicians. 'I was inspired to write the novel because of my life long love of magic and illusion. I wanted to create a thrilling locked room novel that offered cryptic clues, puzzles and conundrums to the reader!'|
The Statue of Three Lies is a 'whodunit' based around the mysterious death of Jack Ramsden, a cabinet-maker and designer of stage props for magicians, who is killed by a shot from a rifle on a stand while preparing his annual illusion for his wife's birthday. The problem being - he was alone in the room when the shot was fired and the door and windows were locked. A verdict of death by misadventure was declared but, fourteen years later, the official findings are being questioned by at least one member of his family, professor Giles Dawson, a London historian specialising in magic and great illusionists, receives a cryptic letter from Laura, Jack Ramsden's daughter, whom he knew when she was a child. The letter urges him to return for her mother's 70th birthday celebrations to help prove that her father's death had been murder. Giles accepts and, during a weekend fraught with danger, he comes face to face with everyone who was present on the night Jack Ramsden died...
The book launch take place at Moss Park Nursing Home, Fort William, on Wednesday 26th October at 7pm. There will be music from The Strathspey and Reel Society and tea and refreshments will be served during the evening. The book will be available from Waterstones, Amazon, W. H. Smith and The Book Depository.
When David's wife Sheila was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, his writing was shelved but he later decided to finish the book and have the book published with proceeds going to the carers who looked after Sheila. Depending on sales, David hopes also to donate to the Mackintosh Centre in Mallaig where Sheila spent happy days on respite. The book is dedicated "For Sheila".
David's son Alan is a teacher at Mallaig High School.
An absorbing and magical story, with clues and puzzles galore to keep the reader turning the pages in suspense. It has all the hallmarks of a classic 'whodunit' in an entirely original and unusual plot.
ECCENTRIC WEALTH - THE BULLOUGHS OF RUM
Alastair Scott has written the first book dedicated to exploring the myriad myths and rumours about the Bulloughs of Rum, ranging from their humble beginnings in Lancashire cotton mills to their world-leading inventions which afforded the fantasy world they created on Rum. Stripping away the hearsay from fact has does nothing to diminish the extraordinary lives they led - indeed, there is a host of spicy new revelations to replace the ones that lack corroboration. This is not a dry biography but an enthralling read about how the other half lived when they, the nouveau riche, broke free from the social and moral bondage of Victorian Britain. Essential reading for everyone with an interest in Rum and its icon, Kinloch Castle!
Available at Mallaig Bookshop, Kinloch Castle and the Rum Community Shop, paperback, RRP £9.99. Published by Birlinn, 2011.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - October 2011
Here are two fishing related stories from the annals of The Oban Times concerning the Minch herring fishing of nigh on 100 years ago:
December 1912 Mallaig - Sensational Fishing
Sensational is the only word which describes adequately the fishing at Mallaig last week. Record shots, record prices, and record earnings were the special feature. A dense shoal of herrings was met in Lochs Bracadale and Eynort, and the herrings were so thick that the boats stuck among them, the fishermen reporting that they had never seen the like.
February 1916 Mallaig - Record Shot of Herrings
On Thursday of last week the steam drifter Bluebell, of Portnockie, arrived in Mallaig from the Skerryvore grounds with a shot of 175 crans large mixed herrings. There were few herrings forward on that day, and this big shot met a keen demand, selling from £4 7s to £4 12s per cran. The shot realised £780, and is the record shot to date for Great Britain, and also for the world, for a single night's fishing by a steam drifter.
Now of course, the herring has gone and whilst the prawn fishing cannot be described as sensational or record breaking there has been a feel good factor throughout the summer of 2011, as boats both local and visiting enjoyed the best prawn fishery for arguably the past ten years.
For the calendar year 2010 the nephrops landed at Mallaig Harbour were worth a total of £4.8m to the fleet. Already this year prawn landings have realised the sum of £5.4m - indicative of the increase in quayside prices being paid so far this year.
Estimates from engineers indicate that the cost to repair the Authority's Grove Coles AT633 mobile crane will be in the region of £20,000.
This will necessitate the crane being transported south for repair but with the likelihood of further repair work being discovered on investigation it's looking more than likely that it does not make financial sense to repair the 22 year old vehicle.
The Authority will now take stock of the situation over the winter before making a firm decision on the way ahead as regards ownership or leasing of another crane.
In the meantime please note that the Authority's crane remains out of action.
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager
CHARITY GOLF EVENT AT TRAIGH
Sunday the 14th of August saw the inaugural charity open competition take place at Traigh Golf Club. The event drew nearly 60 competitors form a wide area to compete for both scratch and handicap prizes. Players were rewarded for their efforts with a bright sunny day, with the rain and dark clouds limiting themselves to the surrounding hills.
Thanks to the efforts of Green Keeper Gavin Johnston the course was in magnificent condition to welcome guests from throughout the country, who were playing in aid of the very worthy 'Help for Hero's Highlanders Trust' charity.
Principal sponsors Mallaig Harbour Authority, along with a wide range of local business's sponsored individual holes around the course, and this combined with fundraising on the day led to the raising of the princely sum of £5200. This was supplemented by the sale of a magnificent painting of the course, kindly donated by local artist Pat Fowler that sold for £100.
Major Maurice Gibson of the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland made the journey down from Cameron Barracks to be on hand to collect the cheque on behalf of the Help for Hero's Highlanders Trust, and was lavish in his praise of the clubs efforts.
First prize in the overall Scratch Competition went to Johnny McMillan of Traigh, whilst the winner of the 0-14 Handicap category was Archie Jardine of Campsie GC and the 15-28 Handicap category was taken home by Allan MacDonald of Traigh GC.
Michael Currie presenting
Robert Summers with his trophy
Johnny MacMillan with the
trophy for the Overall Scratch Prize
Bob Burt handing a cheque for £5200 in aid of Help the Heroes Highlanders' Trust
Major Gibson presenting Pat Fowler with the Ladies Handicap Prize
Photos courtesy of Moe Mathieson
A special thanks must go the organising committee for their excellent efforts in organizing the event, to the local Coastguard for generously donating their time to put on the BBQ, to the ladies for putting on a wonderful spread, and finally to Gavin Johnston whose commitment and effort impressed all those involved.
Traigh Golf Club would like to extend a big thank you for the generous support of the following sponsors, who not only made the event possible, but also contributed substantially towards a very worthy cause:
Mallaig Harbour Authority; Andy McGregor, Painter and decorator; Knoydart Sea Bridge; Shiel Buses; Morar Motors; EWOS; Marine Harvest; Mallaig Fishermen's Co-op; West Coast Producers Org; Mallaig and North West Fishermans Org; Caledonian MacBrayne; Ben Nevis Distillery; Norwegians; Silversands Caravan Park; Cnoc na Faire; Scottish Sea Foods; The Cabin Restaurant; The Cornerstone Restaurant; The Steam Inn; The Fishmarket Restaurant; The Chlachain Inn; Mallaig Visitor Information Office; Bruce Watt; Denholms; Jaffy's; Andy Race; Lochalsh Butchers; Sir Cameron Mackintosh; Barrs Irn Bru
The winners were as follows:
Overall Scratch Prize - Johnny MacMillan
Handicap Prize - 1st - Robert Summers;
2nd - Allan Macdonald; 3rd - Jim Fowler
Ladies Handicap Prize: Pat Fowler
Longest drive - Men - Robert Summers
Ladies - Donalda (Skye GC)
Nearest Pin - Stuart ( Spean Bridge)
Juniors - Overall Winner - Daniel MacPhee
Nearest Pin - Daniel MacPhee
Longest Drive - Adrian Ingram
This letter was received by the Golf Club Committee:
I would formally like to thank you "The Committee", Gavin and your splendid squad of very willing ladies for everything you did last Sunday. Fantastic. Lieutenant General Andrew Graham CB CBE (Colonel of the Royal Regiment,) Colonel James Hopkinson OBE (representative Colonel 4 Scots,) and all who serve in The Regiment at home and abroad are indebted to you and your sponsors for not simply raising the profile of Traigh Golf Course but for the magnificent effort in raising £5300.00 in aid of the Highlanders trust.
Money raised will be put to good use and will support soldiers and their families who have as a result of war in Iraq/Helmand found "life" difficult due to injury/death and who need additional support now and quite possibly into the future.
Thank you from the bottom of my (our) hearts for everything you did to make the day so special and memorable. Your efforts are hugely appreciated.
Major (Colonel!) MRM Gibson MBE
Birdwatch - by Stephen MacDonald - September 2011
Waders as usual dominated September sightings with small numbers but a large variety passing through. The most exciting find was a juvenile Buff Breasted Sandpiper that was first sighted in the field on the south side of Traigh Golf Course on the 8th. it hung around there for a few days, then was relocated on the shore near Traigh Farm on the 17th, where it remained until the last sighting on the 19th.
This wader breeds in Arctic Canada and Alaska and winters in South America, mainly in Argentina. It was most likely carried across the Atlantic on one of the low pressure systems that so affected our September weather. Several others were reported in the Western Isles, Ireland and SW England. It certainly attracted some interest, with quite a number of birders turning up to view and photograph the bird during its stay.
Amazingly, one was found and photographed at Traigh on the 8th September 2005 and was only the second ever recorded in Highland Region at the time.
Other waders recorded included a single Curlew Sandpiper at Traigh on the 1st, and a Ruff, which hung about with Lapwings in fields at Kinloid for several days mid-month. Both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits were reported on several occasions throughout the month, mainly at Traigh, Morar Estuary and Back of Keppoch.
Many seabirds were reported close inshore because of the strong winds. A juvenile Sabine's Gull was reported between Sleat Point and Rum on the 16th and 17th, and Pomarine Skuas were reported there and also near Eigg. Plenty of Great and Arctic Skuas were seen in the Sound of Sleat throughout the month.
In Mallaig, 66 Manx Shearwaters had been ringed and released up until the end of September. This is lower than in previous years, although reports from Rum suggest that breeding productivity is up this year.
Still a few Terns passing through, mostly Arctic and Common, although a Sandwich Tern was feeding off West Bay, Mallaig, for several hours on the 21st.
The final Whooper Swans reported were 3 flying south over Arisaig on the morning of the 25th. Not many migrant geese reported yet; some Pink-footed Geese were heard flying over Mallaig on the night of the 22nd and 2 Brent Geese were resting on the shore of Loch nan Ceall at Arisaig on the 30th.
Sea Eagles were reported on several occasions at the end of the month in the Arisaig area. Other raptors included a Merlin near Millburn, Rhue, on the 24th. Several reports of a Peregrine Falcon taking waders at Traigh and numerous reports of Sparrowhawks and Buzzards.
A small group of juvenile Red Grouse on the hill between Carnoch and Scamadale was a nice sight on the 5th.
Finally, a visiting birder had an Egret, presumably a Little Egret fly past his caravan at Back of Keppoch on the 29th.
All photos Stephen MacDonald
CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, SCFA Representative/Area Assessor
Crofting Act 2nd Commencement Order
The changes coming into effect on Oct 1st 2011 have been promised to have a 'huge' effect on the crofter. The crofter for the purposes of clarification, is either:
The owner occupier of a croft
A person who purchased their croft whilst they were a tenant or the tenant of a croft
A person who has a landlord, be it either the traditional landlord or the landlord who purchased their owner occupied croft on the open market. It is possible for a tenant to become an owner occupier, for an owner occupier to become a landlord by letting his croft, but a landlord can never become an owner occupier !
The principle changes that will come into force on October 1st are the duties of crofters. The crofter must not 'knowingly misuse' the croft and must put it to purposeful use. Crofters require the permission of the commission to put it to purposeful use other than that of cultivating the land.
Cultivating the land can range from any form of grazing and producing food. The crofters commission will use the standards of good agricultural practice as set by the EU /Dept of Agriculture to judge this by.
Breaches will first be investigated by the commission and failure to comply could result in the commission terminating a tenancy of a tenant or forcing the owner occupier to let the croft.
It is no longer the duty of the commission to keep a register of interested tenants looking for croft tenancies but the SCF [Scottish Crofting Foundation] will take over this role so any body looking for a croft tenancy should register their interest with the S.C.F.
Other changes applying to duties of crofters are that the crofter must be resident within 20 miles as the crow flies
Small holders are no longer eligible for Crofters grants
The crofters commission will become a statutory consultee and the local authority will consult on planning issues and the Crofting Commission will be a key agency in local plans
Changes to Crofters Commission
The name will change to Crofting Commission defining that they now have the responsibility to look after crofting not crofters.
When assessing regulatory business the CC have to be seen to be supporting population retention.
The CC must report and be aware of the overall land going out of crofting and on the sustainability of crofting. Last year 487 ha was removed from crofting.
Notice and reports
There must be an annual reports from each crofter to say they are complying with all the duties of a crofter. The first report is due one year after commencement of the new Bill Failure to provide the information in the individual annual report could result in a £5000 fine.
The Grazing committee must issue a 5 yearly report and include any breach of duty by a crofter.
Owner occupiers can sublet their croft for up to 10 years, this will fulfil their obligations to put the croft to purposeful use but the person letting the croft will not have any rights to become a full tenant.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
One of our youngest readers at 10months old, T-Jay Kane reads West Word at his Nana's in Mallaig.
Regular West Word reader Wendy Payne reads her copy in her brand new gazebo somewhere in the depths of deepest Gloucestershire!
Mallaig's Marion Hepburn took her West Word when she visited Hill House, Helensburgh, the home of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. She just missed Brad Pitt, who was there the next day!
JOHN'S EPIC TRIP FOR KIRSTY'S KIDS
John Brydon left Mallaig for Skye on 12th August to start his fundraising trip around the coast of Britain and Northern Ireland, with the aim to raise £10,000 for the charity Kirsty's Kids, started by John and wife Jan in memory of their daughter Kirsty. Riding his daughter's 125hp motorbike, and accompanied by Eeyore on the pillion, his itinerary was over to Skye, north and round the top of Scotland, down the east coast and around to Wales, then over to Northern Ireland, returning for the final leg up the west coast and home. His aim was to cover every unclassified coast road, which led him down poorly surfaced lanes and many dead ends. He received many offers of accommodation, food, help and support as well as donations and has returned with the knowledge that he has created a nation-wide body of volunteers in support of the cause. Wife Jan was at home updating the facebook page every day and passing on vital messages of help.
John has given West Word an account of his journey.
'The trip took one calendar month and carried me round every unclassified road in the UK including Northern Ireland. It involved dirt tracks, often opening and closing farm gates to ensure I travelled the entire coast line. If the road went onto the shore or close by then the bike tires kissed the road.
The trip was exactly 8,053 miles, and during it I had only five dry days! There were some days with moderate weather but mostly it was wet and cold, and as I got wetter and stayed wet the cold began to take hold.
I had some fantastic times. At various places I was escorted by well-wishers: round the Kingdom of Fife by two firefighters who used their time off to help; sixteen fellow police officers all from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and one from Grampian Police force. Tulliallan Police College is the hosting site for some Scottish kids camps so it was good to see a fellow Scot from Grampian lending a hand.
The hardest part was Ardnamurchan on the last day due to the time I had been wet through to the skin, which included several nights in the tent which kept filling with water. It was incredible to find 167,000 supporters on face book and get assistance from the UK's cleaning industry who helped with accommodation, fundraising as well as organising to get the bike repaired on some occasions.
The bike required two sets of chains and sprockets, two sets of tyres and a new front wheel due to the pounding on the country roads. These repairs were organised and paid for by people I met on the way who had heard of my challenge.
The bike's light is no use for illuminating the road ahead as such a small bike is not equipped with super lighting, so when it got really dark it was difficult to find a patch of grass to get some kip on. One night I found a nice area of brush and set camp only to wake up in the morning on top of a cliff with the waves crashing below.
Another night when in Ireland on the border I inquired at a very luxurious hotel to see if they could recommend somewhere inexpensive for me to stay. The manager came back, opened the front doors wide and had me take the bike right inside and into the luxurious ball room where he put crisp linen sheets down for the bike and sent me to a luxurious room - the bed must have been 14 foot wide.
I can still see the kids from Kilmaron Special School in Fife laughing and smiling when they came outside to find twelve guys on big massive superbikes had come to visit, with the Kirstyskids bike which had Eyeore on the back - fantastic. The kids have become really fond of www.kirstyskids.org and we will be supporting them soon in being able to supply specialist equipment for sight and sound stimulation.
We have a meeting with a Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) to try to ascertain ways in which we can take the charity to help meet the needs of children in their care. We want to encourage kids who are finding it hard to get a job or to be accepted for a position of employment to contact us we will provide fundraising work opportunities and be able to give them the chance to raise cash for kirstyskids.org
We have this year so far raised nearly £12,000 pounds thanks to everyone who has supported us and this money is helping to provide funding to the children who need it most. Next year we have already got five children onto a special camp. These kids are seriously ill and in need of specialist care so to take them to an Over The Wall Camp in Scotland is fantastic. We want to get that number to 30 while still supporting the Scottish hospice and local kids in need of specialist care.'
John was equipped with a phone which allowed him to show supporters his position. When this went missing it was assumed stolen or lost forever, but a young boy found it and contacted Jan to return it.
One particular moment John recalls was of being escorted in the dark by a local biker when he suddenly realised he was on top of a sea wall with a drop into the sea. 'Good job you're here', he said to his companion, 'that could have been a nasty accident,' 'Yes', said the biker, 'because neither you or Eeyore have a bucket and spade with you.'
Before his departure they attended a marquee fundraiser at the Woodvale Rally in Southport but unfortunately the events were cancelled in freak weather conditions which tore the marquee to pieces and scattered their stock. Since his return he and Jan went to the National Carpet Cleaners Association carnival at Kettering. These events raised £1800 and there are more planned.
Full details of John's trip can be found on facebook.com/kirstyskids whilst information on the charity is at kirstyskids.org
John has not let up with his campaign to improve the A830 and with four accidents in three days last month he has plenty of photographs to back him up.
Rough camping was the norm on the way - especially for Eeyore, who is lying by the back wheel and didn’t even get to share the tent!!
Eeeyore did his bit too.
Eeeyore did his bit too.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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