THE COMMUNITY COUNCIL’S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
Balmullo Newsletter Also online at www.issuu.com/balmullo
In this issue Council Contacts
L&D Gardening Club
Fife Thistle F.C.
Our Garden Robin
A FANTASTIC ENTRY FROM THE SUMMER LEUCHARS & DISTRICT FLOWER SHOW BALMULLO 2011
BALMULLO COMMUNITY COUNCIL Members
Chairman: Zoë Sanders firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-Chairman: John Docherty 871497 email@example.com Treasurer:
Peter Lomas firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Jeffrey email@example.com
John Normand firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Falconer email@example.com
Secretary: Raymond Crush firstname.lastname@example.org
Minute-Secretary: SITUATION VACANT Newsletter: Ina Cameron 870253 email@example.com
Maggie Taylor 01382 552718 firstname.lastname@example.org Tim Brett 01382 330905 email@example.com Ron Caird firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us know your views Email us email@example.com
Useful Contacts Burnside Hall Keeper
Rev. Caroline Taylor
0845 155 0022
P.C. Gavin Rae
RAF Aircraft Noise
0845 600 5702 839471
Statements made or opinions expressed in this Newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Balmullo Community Council or any of its officers. Cost to Advertise: Small Medium Large Full page
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TO ALL ADVERTISERS – Please check your advert. If you would like to remove it or change it in any way, please let me know. Either by phone or email. My details are on page 2 of this newsletter - Ina Cameron.
SEPTEMBER 24th Bowling Club Closing of the Green Dance. 8pm till late. All welcome OCTOBER 4th Enrolment for Dancing Burnside Hall 7.00 to 8.00pm 5th Burns Club Music & Poetry Evening in the Balmullo Inn 7.30pm 10th Community Council Meeting in School at 7.30pm 11th Ballroom Dancing beginners class – details in newsletter 13th Gardening Club 7.30pm in Burnside Hall speaker Willie Duncan.
29th Autumn Flower Show in Burnside Hall NOVEMBER 10th Gardening Club in Burnside Hall – Photographing Nature 14th Community Council Meeting in School at 7.30pm 25th Burns Club St Andrew’s Night Dance DECEMBER 8th Evening of Floral Art – Alyson Christie & Andy Smith 12th Community Council Meeting in School at 7.30pm 16th Bowling Club Xmas Dance. 8pm till late. All welcome.
200 CLUB WINNERS JULY £50 £20 £20 £20 £20 £20 £10 £10 £10 £10 £10
WINNERS Mrs Aveling, Park View Mr Butt, Inchlaw Mr Gray Anderson Drive Mr Laidlaw, Pitcairn Dr Mrs Nicoll, Anderson Dr. Mrs Pattie, Hillview Road Mrs Watson, Cynicus Pl. Mr Guthrie, The Mount Mrs Tulleth, Inchlaw Mrs Taylor, Tayport Mrs Auchterlonie, Smithy Road
AUGUST WINNERS £50 Mrs Hirst, Mansfield Rd. £20 Mrs J Wilson, Smithy Rd £20 Mrs Henderson, Hayston Park £20 Mr Dickson, Pitcairn Dr £20 Mrs Tulleth, Inchlaw £20 Mrs Fairlie, Straiton Ter £10 Mr Ferguson, Hillview R £10 Mrs Berry, Cynicus Pl £10 Mr Chappell, Mansfield Road £10 Mrs Smith, Lucklawhill £10 Mrs Steven, Hillview Rd
SEPTEMBER WINNERS £50 Mrs Dunstan, Hayston Park £20 Mr & Mrs Anderson, Park View £20 Mr & Mrs Brain, Lucklawhill £20 Mr Robertson, Dunedin Park £20 Mrs Fearon, Park View £20 Mr Cramb, Lucklawhill £10 Mr Scott, Smithy Road £10 Mrs Kilgour, Mansfield Road £10 Mr Robins, Hillview Rd £10 Mr Harcus, Pitcairn Dr £10 Mr & Mrs Baxter, Park View
How to Join? It's easy to join the 200 Club. Call or email Ina on 870253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It only costs £1 per entry per month, and you can enter as many times as you like. We are currently trying to raise money for various Balmullo community activities and projects.
Be a WINNER!!! With our 200 club. Balmullo Bowling Green Play outdoors in summer Indoors in winter Variety of competitions and friendly matches every week No experience required. All welcome to join. Call Irene on 01334 870315
Our September meeting is also our AGM and we were pleased to welcome everyone who came along to support us – some well known faces and some new ones. The committee is named on page 2 of the newsletter, and the Chairman and Councillor's reports are given at the end of this section. The following are the main points of the meeting. We are delighted to welcome John Normand as one of our Councillors. It was reported that the portacabin in the park has now been re-instated and has been taken over by the new local football team The Fife Thistle Football Team. There will be no increase to the cost of advertising in the newsletter. The Airshow was reported to have gone well but unfortunately the weather did not allow all scheduled flying to take place. The Mobile Library will continue as at present but it would be helpful if as many people as possible would use this facility so that it is not cut by the council. It’s two stopping places on a Monday are Lucklaw Road at 2pm and near to the school on Hayston Park at 2.45pm. Parking around the school will be monitored at times by the Police. Sympathy was expressed at the sudden death of Mr Coutts the lollipop man. If street lights in your area are not working give details to Fife Council stating the number on the light pole. Cllr Taylor notified us that she has requested grit bins to be installed in several other places throughout the village but has still to hear if she has been successful. She would also like to remind us that the grit is for the pavements and roads and not for private driveways. And we are happy to announce that once again we were awarded a Silver Award for the Beautiful Fife Scheme. Our next meeting will be 7.30pm in the school on 10 th October. The YPR Group meet on the same evening at 6.30pm, also in the school.
Chairman’s Report In addition to all the ‘usual’ things – the flowers, the newsletter, the 200 club and the meetings – all of which involves individuals and their time and enthusiasm – the biggest issue this year has again been the pharmacy. So much has already been said and written about it that I don’t propose to add more tonight – except to say that as a Community Council we feel we’ve gone as far as we can, and that many of us feel that so-called ‘local democracy’ has rather let us down on this one. We’ve successfully incorporated our YPRs onto the committee – surely something to be very pleased about as a community – and we look forward to working with them now on an on-going basis. Dog fouling was a big issue and we need to find out now whether some of the measures we have taken have improved the situation at all. The path to Leuchars project did not get much further than some inspired thinking and enthusiastic support from some people – defeated I think by hard practicalities, other interests, and a huge sum of money to raise and spend. The Portacabin has of course been re-connected now, and taken over by the Balmullo Football Team ‘Fife Thistle’. Let’s hope it now fulfils a real purpose for them and is well used. But a community council is not necessarily about producing visible achievements which can be listed and recorded. It’s powers are, after all, very limited. But it is here to provide an opportunity for community-minded people to come together, get things off their chest, and provide a very local team of people who listen and do their best to push things forward. In that role we are very pleased that so many of you attend our meetings – numbers are very good by the standards of other community councils – and you I hope are pleased that we have such a noble team of volunteers who sit ‘on this side of the table’ and make it happen – newsletters, flower tubs, meetings, generally keeping abreast of local issues that matter. We are also very fortunate to have the help and support of our councillor Maggie Taylor, backed up on several occasions also by Tim Brett. Her’s – their’s – is a thankless task, but I know how much interest she takes in what we do. So a big thank you to all of you ‘on this side of the table’!
Cllr Taylor’s Balmullo Report It has been a busy year with lots of things going on….. Young Persons’ Group which was launched in September last year has been most successful. The young people have become involved with the Community Council and have shown a great interest. They have their aims and objectives amongst them at the moment working with the Community Council to raise funds for a decent park for the children of Balmullo and a shelter for the older group. Altogether, I am extremely impressed with their attitudes and progress of their projects so far. I would like to say how impressed I am with you, the public of Balmullo, and your attendance at the CC….I probably said this last year but cannot get over the amount of interested people…other CC’s which I attend, three others, do not have any members of the public attending. Thank you. I enjoy coming here and being accepted as part of the community and delighted that I have been able to help in any way. Hopefully I will be here to solve your problems for another year.
Hope everyone had an enjoyable summer. If you had any interesting and exciting times perhaps you would like to share them with us and hand in a story or two for us to insert in the newsletter. We are happy to have our village postman join us on the Community Council – John Normand.
WANTED – urgently….. We are without a Minute Secretary for our meetings. Unfortunately Isobel had to retire from the post for personal reasons. If you think you can help please get in touch with one of the committee. It involves your time once a month to come along to our meetings and take notes on the relevant subjects, then type it up and send it out to the committee. You do not need to make any decisions or get involved in any of the discussions. The meetings start at 7.30pm and are finished by 9pm, sometimes sooner. Zoe and I attended the Police Forum on Tuesday night. We are happy to say there have been no major incidents reported in the village. We are unhappy to say that once again dog fouling is having to be redressed. The police will try and enlist the help of the dog warden. They would also like your assistance in reporting any wrong doing you see, giving whatever details you can – time, place, breed of dog or description. There are cards on the shelves at the post office which might be helpful in your pocket as they have spaces for notes on the back and the phone number of where to contact the authorities. We would like to say how sad it was to hear of the death of the local Lollipop Man Mr David Coutts. He was due to retire at the end of August but unfortunately did not manage to make it back to school to say his goodbyes to the children and teachers. I personally have known Dave for many years and I know he will be sadly missed by all his many friends and acquaintances.
BEAUTIFUL FIFE 2011
Balmullo Community Council
In the May issue, we explained that we had entered the Beautiful Fife 2011 competition, hoping to receive another award for the village in response to the floral displays and many attractive gardens. The judges visited on 27 July and spent about 30 minutes walking around the centre of Balmullo (Pitcairn Drive, School Road, Hayston Park and Main Street) and looking along the other streets. They also asked us questions about the level of participation, funding sources, community groups etc. I gave them copies of the June Newsletter, Flower Show Schedules and Paths leaflet as examples of Community involvement. Marks were awarded by them under 3 main headings – Horticultural Achievement, Environmental Responsibility and Community Participation, with the total mark determining whether we achieved the Gold, Silver Gilt, Silver or Bronze standard. We again attended the awards ceremony in Glenrothes and were delighted to be presented with a Silver award again, by Provost Frances Melville. The certificate will be on display at Burnside Hall. We have also been given the judges’ suggestions for enhancements and improvements which gives us some ideas for 2012. Well done to everyone who helps to make Balmullo such an attractive village, with special mention to those who help specifically by watering and feeding nearby displays. Also, thanks to Balmullo Quarry for supplying a small load of red stone chips to improve the display at the entrance to the Bowling Green.
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LEUCHARS & DISTRICT GARDENING CLUB
Room, we need more room! That was the cry – but not in a complaining tone - during the Committee’s post-Summer Show meeting. All involved, the competitors, the visitors and the judges, agreed that the Summer Show had been a successful, enjoyable, well-attended event. Certainly there was very little space on the benches for more exhibits. Very high quality, despite the discouraging weather during the growing season, was the opinion of the vegetable and flower judges, and the packed tables of baking and preserves attracted similar comments. The inventiveness of the entries in the children’s section was a delight and, although slightly down in numbers, the quality of the floral art was again very high with some superb interpretations of the themes. Despite the stalls in the marquees being filled with a range of quality produce and a regular flow of visitors, sales were not as high as expected, but all of the stallholders expressed an interest in returning in 2012. For the success of the Show, the Committee has to thank the willing helpers, the many competitors, the judges and, of course, the public for coming out in such numbers. The other group to which we owe sincere thanks are our many sponsors and donors of raffle prizes who, again, were most generous. Given the current economic difficulties, their generosity is especially appreciated. Thanks, too, to Mike Withers for the photographs which accompany this note. The results of the 2011 Gardens Competition were probably unique with two home-grown winners of major trophies. Liz Kerr won two, The Mrs Purvis Cup and The Rodger Cup whilst Bobby Herd won The Spice Cup. Well deserved rewards for two keen and knowledgeable gardeners. The first evening talk of 2011 will be on 13th October in the Burnside Hall at 7.30 pm. when we will be informed and entertained during An Evening with Willie Duncan, the renowned fruit growe r, e xpe rt garde ne r and broadcaster. The first of the next two in this winter series will be on 10th November when Mrs M. Coull, an award-winning photographer, will give an illustrated talk entitled Photographing Nature; the second will be on 8th December when Alyson Christie and Andy Smith combine for an evening of Floral Art. The Autumn Show will be on Saturday 29th October in the Burnside Hall when the late vegetables, fruit and flowers will take centre stage with the prowess of the chrysanthemum growers to the fore. If you have some flowers, fruit and vegetables worth showing, why not bring them to the hall on Friday 28th October after 6pm? There are classes for novices and children. For a show schedule, ‘phone 870217.
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TAYFORTH VETERAN’S PROJECT
We actively support our ex-service men and women in addressing the invisible wounds of war. In doing so we ease their transition back into civilian and family life. War and conflict are extremely stressful events and the life threatening situations associated with combat often have detrimental effects, not only on the physical, but also the mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing of our serving men and women. The Tayforth Veteran’s Project is dedicated to provide the support and services needed to help exservice men and women in overcoming post conflict issues and assist them to better integrate back into their communities. The Project established as a charity with its drop-in centre opened in August 2011. The centre has been specifically designed to be first and foremost a ‘welcoming and homely’ place – creating a very laid-back informal, non-clinical, non-judgemental, social and friendly environment where ex-service personnel and their families can feel comfortable, safe and relaxed and better able to discuss the issues affecting their lives. Our Centre provides support to ex-service personnel, their partners and families in accessing professional and specialised advice on a broad range of issues. Our advice and information services link into existing specialist groups and organisations. The Centre’s services include: Advice, information and support on Mental Health, Housing, Employment, Education and Training, Benefits, Welfare issues and Pensions issues. If you would like to support Tayforth Veteran’s Project, ex-service personnel and their families then please contact us. You can help by:- Volunteering, Fundraising or by Donating. Tel:- 01382 206207. Email:- firstname.lastname@example.org The Tayforth Veteran’s Project - 21b City Quays, Camperdown Street, Dundee DD1 3JA
BALMULLO YPR GROUP ANSWERS TO JUNE QUIZ Balmullo: Brackmont, Anderson Drive, Lucklawhill, Main Road, Upper Wellfield, Ladybank (Bonus Point: 94), Lomond Place, Oak; Riddle: Eye THE NEW SESSION BEGINS - The YPR Group held their first AGM on 12th September. We now have a formal chairperson (Cameron), secretary (Danielle) and treasurer (Lewis). We have also now got S1-S3 representatives (more details next issue) and will be looking into beginning a P5-P7 class representative initiative over the next month. We do have a vacancy for a minutes secretary. This would involve taking down minutes at our meetings, writing them up on a word document and sending these to members of the YPR Group. If anyone is interested, particularly if you are in the S4-S6 age range, please come along to our next meeting on Monday 10th October, 6.30pm in the school hall. No experience is necessary. During our meeting this month we received contact details for Fife Council, which will allow us to work alongside them during the planned upgrade of park equipment. We also discussed a potential change of plan with regards to the shelter. Over the summer months it transpired our original shelter of choice has gone up in price, which will make it more difficult to achieve in our original timescale. We have looked at other models and will be revealing our new plans at our next meeting. We still do not have a final total with regards to the funds we raised during the gala, however we do expect to have this figure by the time of our next meeting. The main focus of our October meeting will be “what do the primary school pupils of Balmullo want from the YPR group?” All are welcome to come along on the 10 th at 6.30pm, particularly those at Balmullo Primary School. We hope to see you then Cameron, Danielle & Lewis ☺
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CUPLAHILLS FARM â€“ AN UPDATE
I was recently asked at the Community Council Meeting, in the capacity of Mr Farmer, if I would be prepared to provide some articles for the Balmullo Newsletter. The idea being to keep the villagers informed of what is going on at Cuplahills. The farm is well known to most villagers for the popular tracks and woodland walks that are used by walkers, runners, cyclist, horse riders and unfortunately the occasional inconsiderate 4x4 off roader. Another Scottish summer has come and gone and a wet autumn has well and truly set in. At this time of year the workload on farms across the country is intense as everybody strives to reap their harvest in the short, dry windows of opportunity. To say that this has been a difficult harvest would be an understatement. Crops are nearly all harvested despite poor weather conditions. Unfortunately the quality of produce can be affected by the poor weather and costs associated with harvest inevitably rise. Hopefully by the time this article goes to press the last field of wheat will have been harvested and sowing for next year will be underway. I must express my thanks to the contractors who include the Pickardâ€™s from Straiton Farm, for continuing to deliver an excellent service that is invaluable to making sure that the field work continues to be completed in good time. At Cuplahills the main crops include; Winter Oilseed Rape which is used to produce oil for industrial purposes, Spring Barley which is sold to Bairds Malt in Arbroath for malting and eventually distilling into Whisky and Winter Wheat which is stored and sold for animal feed, biscuit production or producing ethanol for bio-fuel. The significant rise in the value of cereal crops and oilseed rape in the past 12 months is welcome, particularly given the rising price of all input cost. The spike in prices has been caused by rising world demand combined with low world stocks which have been triggered predominantly by adverse weather conditions in some of the major agricultural nations. The inevitable consequence of inflated agricultural commodities is higher food prices for all. The broccoli field along the quarry road that is being farmed by the Forsterâ€™s from Peacehill has now started to be harvested. Hopefully it will dry up a bit to improve the harvesting conditions and to prevent a quagmire developing. Another crop that is ready at this time of year, though not harvested by me, but by Balmullo residents and their dogs, is the annual damson crop in Willies Wood. As ever the tress are laden to the point of breaking with yellow, green and red fruits that seem to find their way into many pots of conserve throughout the village. The cherries were a little disappointing this year due to the lack of sun. Hopefully the hazelnuts will be more productive. Many of you may now have noticed that much effort has been put into improving the wildlife breeding and feeding habitats across the farm, which was funded with support from the Scottish Rural Development Programme. The measures undertaken include the planting of new hedges, establishment of wild bird cover plots, planting of conservation grassland by Lucklaw Wood and the creation of margins around the arable fields. The hope is that these will encourage an increase in the population of birds such as the partridge, tree sparrow, corn bunting and other farmland birds whilst also benefitting mammals such as the brown hare, all of which have seen numbers plummet on farmland across the country as a result of agricultural intensification. It is kindly requested that anybody that walks across the farm remains aware of their responsibility to keep their dogs under control and out of the wildlife habitats whilst also staying on the paths provided. There have been too many instances in recent years at Cuplahills of dogs killing hares, partridges and pheasants. The fouling by dogs in hay fields and on the paths continues to be a problem, however more concerning is the increasing number of dog owners that choose to pick up the dog mess in a plastic bag and then throw it in the burn, hedge or just leave it lying by the roadside. Those who are responsible know who they are and are kindly asked to be more considerate. We have recently put up new signage across the farm to help direct visitors around the tracks to the woodlands, car parks and properties. Hopefully these will stop so many people from outside the village failing to find their way to the picnic benches and woodland walks. Fife Athletic Club held their annual run across the farm in August. This year it drew a record number of 104 runners, with the disgusting muddy and wet conditions proving to be an irresistible lure for the intrepid runners. The RAF Leuchars Air show also drew another good number of visitors to the popular viewing spot on Willies Wood and other places around the farm.
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FIFE THISTLE AMATEUR FOOTBALL CLUB As many of you will have noticed, the changing rooms at Balmullo Playing Fields have been getting a bit of a spruce up of late! Fife Thistle AFC have relocated from St. Andrews to Balmullo for the 2011/12 season onwards. We had been considering relocating for some time, the main reason being our intention to start up underage teams which with St. Andrews Colts already established in St. Andrews, meant relocating. We were also concerned with the growing lack of community spirit and interest in local clubs in St. Andrews which meant obtaining the sponsorship needed to run a club was becoming tougher to source with many establishments preferring to back the many University clubs over locals. We looked at a few locations, however it was agreed that Balmullo was the ideal location as it was central for the playing squad and with a good sized population we thought it was mad that local kids were no longer afforded the chance to play football in the village since the demise of the youth teams several years ago. Our initial discussions involved meeting with Ashley Crookston (proprietor of the Balmullo Inn) and with the Balmullo Playing Fields Committee to see if they favoured football returning to the village. All discussions were very positive, however we were made aware that the existing changing rooms were to be removed after years of falling into a state of disrepair. When we initially went to see the changing rooms they did not look too bad, however we were made aware that the supplies had been cut off to the building. With many of the squad involved in different trades we agreed it was a task we could cope with so we set the ball rolling and although it turned out that a lot more needed done with the main structure than anticipated we got there in the end after spending several thousand pounds! We do hope to replace the facility within the next 3 years, obviously subject to approval from the Balmullo Playing Fields Committee and locals. We had our first and only home game of the season last month and we were delighted to see so many new faces coming along to watch and some old faces with a few former players now staying in Balmullo, but the thing that probably justified our decision to relocate was the fantastic response to our fund raising race and raffle night that we held at the Balmullo Inn on the 3 rd September. The amount of prizes donated by local businesses was phenomenal as was the amount of raffle tickets sold. We were a little concerned that we may end up with a not so good turnout at the race night itself, however the room was filled to capacity and we made over ÂŁ2,000 which will go a long way to completing the restoration of the pavilion and aid the purchase of youth goals and other necessary equipment. We hope that we can be an asset to the community of Balmullo and have been delighted with the response we have received so far but we do ask that if you have any questions, suggestions or complaints then please do not hesitate to contact Colin Murray on 07702385567 or Andrew Robertson on 07793036479 or email email@example.com. We are also seeking committee members so if you wish to get involved then give us a call. Our home kick offs are on Saturdays at 2pm and we welcome everyone along. Fixtures are posted in The Courier on a Monday or St. Andrews Citizen/Fife Herald on a Friday. Alternatively pop along to the Balmullo Inn where the fixtures for each week will be posted. Colin Murray Chairman
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President Mrs. Mary Campbell welcomed members to the meeting on Thursday 1 st September.
Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Mark Crush, a local resident and senior Fire Service Officer based in Dundee. Mark outlined the recent history of the service, which was run mainly by women during World War 2 and became the responsibility of local authorities with the Fire Services Act of 1947. Since then, there have been various changes with regionalisation and the current proposal is to have one Fire Service for the whole of Scotland. Mark also brought along his many uniforms needed to deal with the wide-ranging demands of todayâ€™s fire officers. There was much hilarity when 5 of our members modelled the uniforms. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the talk and a resounding vote of thanks was given.
Competition winners: Raspberry Jam
1st Grace Steven
Padded Coat hanger
Flower of the Month
2nd Rita Crush
3rd Evelyn Erskine
The next meeting will be on Thursday 6th October at 7.15 pm in Burnside Hall, when our speaker will be from SSAFA - the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. Competitions will be a Jar of Apple Chutney, an Autumn Foliage arrangement and Flower of the Month. New members are always welcome.
New members are always welcome.
BALMULLO PRIMARY SCHOOL It’s great to be back and into, what is already becoming, a busy session. Our new primary one pupils have settled in beautifully to class and our new nursery children have also made themselves at home. We have changes in staffing this session and I would like to welcome Mrs Kiernan who is working alongside Mrs Macpherson in P1, Mrs Thompson to P2, Mrs Mackenzie who is undertaking our RCCT this year and Mrs Wood who has joined us as a pupil support assistant. It is also with great sadness that we start this term with the passing of Mr Coutts our “lollipop” man. Mr Coutts was a well liked and respected member of our community who will be greatly missed by children, staff and parents. Tasks have already begun in earnest around the school and many of us had a great, though a little wet, day earlier this month when we met to tidy up the school grounds. As a result we now have shiny black railings and freshly painted sheds. Nursery has also been busy in their garden harvesting the vegetables that they grew over the summer. If there is anyone in the community who has “green fingers” and would like to help in the nursery garden the please contact the school. Our focus this year within school is on the further development of our Rights Respecting School and also in taking our interest in sport further with the forthcoming Olympic Games. We were successful in receiving our “Get Set Network” status in the summer which gives us great scope to do associated work around the values and aims of the Olympic Games. As part of this we are working in partnership with the community to take forward the installation of a Multi Use games Area within the village, details of which can be found at http://www.careerstudio.co.uk/balmullo/ We are always keen to work with the community and to open our doors to let you see the work of the school. As such I open an invitation to all to contact me with regards to activities that we could be involved in or support within our community. Kind regards - Sarah Else - Head Teacher
OUR GARDEN ROBIN
After their summer recess to recover from the rigours of the breeding season and to grow a set of new feathers, the Robins in the garden have started to sing again, a true sign that autumn is on its way. The song may charm us but for the Robin it is a form of territorial advertisement: "This is my land. Keep out". Territories are useful in summer in providing an area in which the pair can rear their young free from interference by other birds. (Especially important for the male who, by keeping other males out of his territory, can reduce the chances that his partner will grant her favours to another male). Unlike many other birds, Robins maintain territories throughout the winter, so that they have an area in which they know where to find food, where to quickly take refuge from predators and where there are suitable places in which to roost during the cold winter nights. In the summer the pair collaborate to maintain a territory but in the winter they have separate territories, fiercely defending them even against each other, the female singing as much as the male. The strictly territorial nature of the Robin was demonstrated two centuries ago by a naturalist who caught some of the Robins in his garden and marked them by tying silk threads to their legs, which revealed that each bird stuck to its own part of the garden. Even the inhabitants of ancient Greece, where the Robin is mostly a winter visitor rather than a year round resident, knew about its territorial behaviour: they had a saying "One bush does not shelter two Robins". So when you hear your Robin singing or see it squaring up to a neighbour, you are witnessing something that has not just been observed and studied in recent years but has been well-known down the ages.
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