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Community Newspaper of the Year

Highlands & Islands Media Awards 2008

Chatterbox WINTER ISSUE (No.47) December 2008

Halloween Party P.L.A.Y. group event page 2

Who is this woman? Sandy’s India page 29 page 12

Produced in Avoch for Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Avoch, Killen & Munlochy

The new “sails” sculpture glows in the sunshine at Avoch’s “Lazy Corner” just after being erected on 3rd October Chatterbox photo


44 pages of local news views and stories Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 1

Winter Chatterbox 2008 On other pages in this issue, No. 47 …

4 5 6 7 8/9 10 11 12-15 16 18 19 20 21 22/23 24/25 26 27 28/29 30/31 32 34 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Netball Cheese Amenities Association Community Council Flu jabs Golf Letters “Old Fishertoun” Community Garden plan 4 stars for Dolphin Trips Think pink Charles Kennedy on the Post Office Card Account Sandy Mitchell’s Kerala trip Salsa Groove Avoch Outdoor Bowls Club Wild about your garden Local food discussion Fresh steam at the Station Cromarty Camera Club Bord launches Gaelic fund Amenities meeting; Salsa Party The disappearing garden McEye cartoon Playpark clean-up Air ambulance at Avoch Community Council meeting with Police Amenities Association Sandra Sunflowers Old portraits - who are they? The lace goonie North Rising celebration Change to alcohol licensing law Composting Crossword Quit smoking Dog poo blues Senior citizen’s parties Nature Notes Lifestyle: Beware of the cold Walking: The Eagle Stone and Cat’s Back Councillor’s Corner Tractor rally Cromarty Film Festival 10K for Eoan Remembrance parade

Editorial Mike Noble, Editor

So once again here we are in the runup towards Christmas! It has been quite an eventful year in Avoch, with the completion of the Lazy Corner project and significant alteration works at the Harbour. The perennial crisis with support for the Amenities Association has been once more overcome and everyone is settling into their own private preparations

The P.L.A.Y. group, set up to raise funds for the Play Park, (see p. 20) held a Halloween party for local youngsters in the Avoch Community Centre and raised £100. for the Festive Season. At Chatterbox we are feeling pretty well established on a sustainable financial base, and continue to receive magnificent support from our readers and advertisers. What we do need, though, is more people to share the workload. Trevor Powell is leaving us for a new life in Essex and his departure will leave a big gap in our

contributions. So if you are interested in keeping in touch with what goes on in your community and would like to help grow the magazine, why not join us? You don’t need any experience - we’ll soon show you what’s needed! Just bring your enthusiasm. Do all enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year - and then why not give us a ring?



Tel: 01381 620777

Community Newspaper of the Year

Next Issue in March

Highlands & Islands Media Awards 2008

Founded by Jack Malpas, September 1997 Copyright Printed and published quarterly in Avoch by

Chatterbox Community Newsgroup

Please submit all material as soon as possible. The next issue will be published at the beginning of March.

Claire Divine, Hon. Secretary, 18 Mackenzie Place, Avoch IV9 8QP

Press date will be 14th February.

Chatterbox provides a vehicle for any member of the community to demonstrate his or her opinions or beliefs, so long as these are not defamatory or offensive. The publication of submitted articles should not be taken as any indication that such opinions or beliefs are supported or promoted by Chatterbox or any of its production team members.

We will do our best, but we regret we cannot guarantee the inclusion of any material received after the press date.

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 2


Mike Noble

Story editor:

Fiona Taylor

Story writers:

Fiona Taylor Sandy Mitchell Linda Bailey Kitty MacWilliam


Mike Noble



Mike Noble


Mike Noble Sandy Mitchell


Kitty McWilliam

The new “sails” sculpture was completed at Avoch’s Lazy CorPhoto courtesy of Jackie Patience ner on 3rd October, the base having been fitted during the previous couple of days. The “sails” are made using a hot-dip galvanized structural frame covered with 3mm corten steel sheeting. The corten is brilliantly used to give wonderfully organic shapes, with a natural rust colour very similar to the colour of the old zulu sails. It is amazing how the artist has created natural, fluid shapes from a material so rigid and unyielding as steel. The colour of the old zulu fishing boat sails was called “cutch”, coming from the “barking” process. Bark was imported (from which country we are not sure) and was boiled up to make “barkit” and this “barking” of the sails and nets preserved them. The process removed the oil of the herrings from the nets and used to be done in coal hulks in the harbour - they had steam engines and provided the means of heating the water. It was also done by the burn near Gowan's Place, the water being obtained from the burn.

Red sails in the High Street The art installation at Avoch’s Lazy Corner was completed on Friday 3rd October, when the “sails” were installed by the artist, Sam Barlow. A few days later the lights, including those in the new bus shelter, were connected up to the street lighting circuit. The sculpture is intended to evoke the spirit of the sails of a “Zulu” fishing boat, and not to be an exact reproduction of them. In this it succeeds magnificently. On the day of installation they were glowing wonderfully in the autumn sunshine (see cover)

Administration Secretary:

Claire Divine

Treasurer: Chairman:

Margaret Leggatt Sandy Mitchell

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Advertising rates Our rates are based on 53p per column centimetre (using our standard 7-column page layout). A panel the size of this one currently costs £6.89 for a single insertion on a B&W page and a full page in colour is charged at £120. For details of charges for all sizes between these two extremes, please see our website. We give discounts for block-booked adverts (4 over a year) and we advertise for voluntary groups without charge.

Advertising Manager: Linda Bailey We acknowledge with thanks assistance received from the Highland Council through the Black Isle Ward Councillors’ Discretionary Budget, from the Sangster Memorial Trust and the National Lottery through Awards for All.

Lazy Corner inhabitants seem to have taken the “sails” to their hearts and accepted them as part of the Avoch scene. And this wonderful evocation of the days of sail acts as an apt reminder of the very strong links which Avoch has with the sea and of the many local lives which have been lost to it, both recently and in earlier times. See, for instance, cle.html

Post, phone or e-mail Send your story, letter or advert to

The Editor Avoch & Killen News Group Duthac, 7 High Street, Avoch IV9 8PT or telephone

01381 620777 or by Email, to or

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 3

Best Cheese - It's Official!

In Brief Avoch Primary School Miss Hammond, Depute Head Teacher, finished her work at Avoch School and left for Lesotho on Tuesday 4th November. During Miss Hammond’s time at Avoch, she contributed greatly to furthering the school’s continuing improvement programme. The school will miss her professionalism and happy personality. The school’s Enterprise this term will be support for the Drop-in Centre for Street Children in Maseru. Mrs Barber has been appointed full-time teacher to P5. Mrs Webb, Principal Teacher, will be sharing some of the Depute Head Teacher’s job, which will also mean having supply staff in the P7 classroom to allow Mrs Webb to undertake extra duties.

New locks for Centre Avoch Amenities Association is in the process of obtaining quotes on a new lock system which will prevent copying of keys and will therefore ensure that only those who have paid for the use of facilities will be able to access the Avoch Community Centre.

Newly formed team nearly win the day! Jermaine McCracken

Red Kites netball team from Highland competed in the Orkney Netfest on Saturday 18th October. The Highland team,!consisting of some of the best players from the Highland area who were available,!travelled to Orkney via the Gills Bay ferry on Friday afternoon.!The organisation of the whole event was excellent with 9 teams competing from all over Scotland and over 90 women being hosted by!Netballorkney. The sports facilities at the Pickaquoy Centre Arena were fantastic with two full size netball courts indoors. The programme involved all teams playing a 20 minute game against each other with some local competitive rivalry from the Orkney and Shetland teams on the day. All the players enjoyed the weekend so much and would like to thank the Orkney Netfest organisers for such a great event. The whole weekend was so well organised!with scorers, time keepers and umpires all doing a great job. The!players from across Scotland!were so competitive but very friendly and the Highland players are keen to bring the event to the Highlands in the future.

Congratulations to Highlands & Islands Local Food Network member, Connage Highland Dairy, whose delicious Crowdie has scooped the prestigious title of 'Best Cheese' at the British Cheese Awards ( ).! The Clark family at Milton of Connage, Ardersier, have been producing hand crafted organic cheeses for only two years and have already won a host of impressive awards.! British Cheese Awards Chair, Juliet Harbutt, said, "With 84 other Scottish cheeses vying for the Best Scottish Cheese Awards this year, including several past Award winners, this very delicately flavoured fresh cheese from newcomers, the Clark Family, had to be truly outstanding to beat off such stiff competition. But that is exactly what their Connage Crowdie did.! They should be very proud and I hope their success will help focus attention on some of the milder but subtly flavoured cheeses now made in Britain." You can now visit Connage cheese pantry from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday and buy direct from the creamery door.! Treat yourself to a selection box or sample a variety of cheese, oatcakes and chutneys.! You may even be lucky enough to see the cheese being made.! For more info, tel 01667 462000 or visit Visit the HILFN website at

A.R.JACK QUALITY BUTCHER Tel: FORTROSE (01381) 620357 Mrs Jack’s Silver Award steak pies and meallie-jeemies, home cooked meats, freshly sliced local bacon Victoria pork sausages Pleased to meet you with meat to please you Personal service at High Street, Fortrose Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 4

Association exploring its legal status At present Avoch Amenities Association is a voluntary body with charitable status. Secretary Caroline Dobson explained at the recent AGM that if there were any legal issues or unpaid debts the office bearers would be personally responsible and also that it is not possible for the Association to buy or sell land or to enter into contracts, which could cause problems in the process of applying for grants for major projects. The Association could become a company limited by guarantee and in this case Directors of the company, usually office bearers, would only be liable for a given sum (usually

set at £1) in event of legal problems (other than instances of misconduct by an office bearer). This would, however, involve more paper work each year and the accounts would need to be done in a different form which would be somewhat more expensive. A paper by SCVO explaining matters in more detail had been sent to members of the Association by email prior to the meeting. The AGM agreed with out dissension that it was necessary to offer the additional protection to office bearers and members of the association and Caroline was authorised to progress matters further.

Farewell, Trevor Mike Noble

Sad to say, Trevor Powell and his wife, Nita, are moving to Colchester, Essex, at the beginning of December to give support to their oldest daughter who is expecting their first grandchild. He sends best wishes to everyone from them both and has asked us to thank everyone who has made their stay on the Black Isle such a pleasant experience. Trevor says,”Since moving to Avoch in August 2004 we have had a great time and would particularly like to

thank the staff and customers at Morning Noon and Night, the members of the Indoor Bowls Club, Avoch Amenities Association, Rosemarkie SWRI, various local craft groups, Highland Liberal Democrats and last but not least the team on Chatterbox itself.” Trevor has been a tower of strength to Chatterbox and his many photographic and layout contributions will be sorely missed. We send our grateful thanks to him and wish them both good fortune in their new life.

People power! Back from the brink of extinction, Avoch Amenities Association held its AGM on 22 October, and the following officers and representatives were elected for 2008-9. Executive Committee: Chair: Jane Smith, Vice Chair: Janice Macleman, Treasurer: Gordon Killbourn, Secretary: Caroline Dobson, Bookings Secretary: Jenye Monckton, Health and Safety Officer: Gordon Clark, Ordinary Member: Duncan Macleman (Repairs) Council: Representatives of Clubs and Constituent Bodies: Martin GillCommunity Council, Dawn Walker-Toddlers Group, Jane Jardine- Indoor Bowls, Mike Noble- Chatterbox, George BrodieBowling Club, Lynne HyslopBrownies, Lorraine LingardYouth Club. Councillors Billy Barclay and Craig Fraser also attend meetings ex officio. Full Members: Louisa Taylor, Duncan Macarthur Since the meeting Louise Coull has agreed to represent the Avoch Under 5’s group. If you wish to to raise any matter with the Association, please contact the Association’s Secretary, Caroline Dobson, on 01381 620840 or Community Centre bookings can be made through Jenye Monckton on 01381

In Brief Feasibility study for Tennis Courts Avoch Amenities Association agreed at its AGM to make an application for funding a feasibility study to investigate the cost of development of the Tennis Courts and its relation to the potential profit from the possible sale of the land. This could also involve a survey to determine whether the project would be welcomed by the community.

CCTV The recent vandalism at the Avoch bus stop has resulted in the Police being informed of possible culprits. The CCTV in the shop has been recently up graded and now there is 24hour CCTV coverage of Lazy Corner.

Smiley faces The problems of speeding cars through Avoch village may be reduced with the introduction of “Smiley Faces”. The Community Council has been told they will be in place within the next 2 months.



Burnside Garage A & R MacArthur


Maintenance, Service and Repair, MOT, all types of vehicles


Batteries, Tyres and all accessories

Long Road, Avoch

Tel 01381 620355 Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 5

The new houses above Ormonde Terrace, Avoch, have been named Moray Wynd by the Developers.

Get your flu jab now!

Fortrose surger y closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, New Year's Day and 2nd January - ot herwise business as us ual.


The Annual Prize Giving ceremony was held at the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club on Saturday 25th October. There was a very good turnout, as normal, although many of the prize-winners were absent. The ladies’ section has its own method of listing prize winners, which we have not received, but no major prizes were received in this section by Avoch Ladies. The Junior section at the club has held a high standard for a number of years and it was good to see so many there to collect their prizes. Although there were no local youngsters

The Fortrose Surgery has supplies of influenza vaccine and asks entitled patients to book their appointments now. All patients ‘at risk’ are entitled to a free

If you do not fall into one of the above categories but feel you are at risk or have a specific need please speak to your GP or the practice nurse to see if

flu jab. This includes: ! 65 years of age and over (or turning 65 soon) ! Diabetics ! Heart, Renal, Respiratory or Liver

you can receive the vaccine. If you already have an appointment for other reasons - and you are entitled to a free flu vaccination - you will be offered the injection at your visit, so there is

disease sufferers ! Immunosuppressed patients ! Carers (paid or unpaid) ! Poultry workers

no need to book an additional appointment. The vaccination can be administered by GPs, nurses and health care assistants.

Golf Keith Patience

from the village in the prizes, amongst the winners were Lewis Reid and Jordan Hossack with Philip Schier-Macrae winning a couple of competitions. Stuart Hillis was also a winner on four occasions in the Junior section but also picked up the special prize for outstanding junior golfer of the year. In the gentlemen’s section Robert Jack capped his recent return to golf with the Club championship handicap prize, having beaten the course manager Kevin Fowler late in June. Mike Macdonald, the club secretary, collected the Scratch prize, with Chris Gaittens as runner-up.

To a golf outsider the Club has a bewildering array of some 26 cups and trophies up for grabs, plus a number of medals. Winners names listed this year included Garry Moore, Maurice Brown, Ike Fraser, Garry Keith, Bruce Main & Willie Wilson, Shane MacKenzie, Philip SchnierMacrae, Mike Macdonald & Bruce Main, Alistair Burns, Ian Belford, William M Skinner, George Mcleman, Lewis Reid, Calum Maclennan, Alan Drever, Steven McGregor, Tom Lloyd, Rory MacLeman, John MacDonald, Richard Carey, Robert Jack, Wallace and Malcolm Gardiner, Malcolm McArthur, Alistair Tait and Stuart Hillis. -Ed.

Christmas At Munro’s

Christmas Decorations, Real & Artifical Christmas Trees, Indoor & Outdoor lights, Seasonal Pot Plants & our own Planted Baskets, Books, Gifts, Christmas Hampers, Holly Wreaths & Posies, Bird Food & Feeders, Garden Gift Vouchers


Bogallan, North Kessock, Inverness Telephone 01463 731210

ristmas Merry ChHolly from

Open Mon - Sat 9am - 5pm • Sun 12noon -5pm Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 6

LETTERS Jack Malpas Dear Mike, Please will you insert this “Thank You” in the December issue: Audrey Malpas and family extend their sincere thanks to relatives, friends and neighbours for the kind expressions of sympathy following their sad loss. The support and help we have received is very much appreciated. Also, many thanks for donations for Cancer Research UK/Avoch Congregational Church, amounting to £350. Many thanks Audrey

RNXS Mike Noble, Esq, Editor, Chatterbox. 8th November 2008. I wrote to Captain Norman MacDonald re my service in the R.N.M.S. Although I knew his father, he was in the R.N.X.S. a bit earlier than me. In the 1950's I stayed in Kingussie and certainly would not have travelled to Inverness even although I enjoyed my time with the R.N.M.S., as it was in my time.

The photo which was in "Chatterbox" was not from a newspaper but from an original photo. I have a few taken at the time and have sent copies to Captain MacDonald. Nancy Forsyth, Avoch.

Award for Alastair Hi Mike, As mentioned in the last edition of Chatterbox, Alastair Cochrane was awarded a prestigious photographic distinction. Alan Gawthorpe, President of the Scottish Photographic Federation, paid a surprise visit to Inverness Camera Club to present Alastair with his medal and certificate. !

Lee on the mend

Thanks, Lynda

Hi Mike Lee and Jenni Carmichael would like to thank everyone for all their cards and well wishes and support!during Lee's recent illness and operation. They were all greatly appreciated and we would like everyone to know that Lee got the all clear from the surgeon, everything was removed successfully. Thank you all again. Jenni & Lee

Thanks from Annie Annie and Alan would like to say a very big thank-you to all of you who made our joint Big 50th such a success. Thanks for all the gifts and cards and (if you made it) for coming along to the Station Hotel to join in the celebrations. Thanks a heap.



BELGIAN MASTER CHOCOLATIERS HOME AND HANDMADE CHOCOLATES TO OUR OWN RECIPES 65 High Street Fortrose Tel: 01381 622302 Mob: 0776 606 0511 Shop in Victorian Market, Inverness ORDERS ALSO TAKEN IN FORTROSE

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 7

Our Fortrose shop at 67 High Street open s on 1st December

Old fishertoun survives in face of the odds A fretful wind buffeted the street corners as thirty warmly clad members of Inverness Field Club walked around Avoch on Saturday afternoon. The clouds hung low; the sea was restless. lain MacAskill had talked of sunshine and showers, but in reality there was very little of the former. From Willie Forsyth's up at Geddeston the distant outline of Ormonde Terrace was blurred by the hard driven sleet. Slate roofs glistened and the smoke drawn from all manner of chimney pots added to the winter gloom. Unfortunately the tide was in, so the foreshore below "Reyta Breyg" (Henrietta Bridge, which played such an important part in the making. of the "Dock") could not be seen. No wonder people said that the fisherfolk were tough and resilient if this was the weather they regularly had to contend with. Luckily those members who had ventured out could always retreat to the warmth of the Heritage Centre and reminisce with their "Auchie" friends. In recent months visits had been made to many of the old fisher villages on the south side of the firth - Alturlie, Petty, Connage, Stewarton, Campbeltown and Delnies. In the case of Delnies, the "toun" had completely disappeared, and of the others only a few fishermen's cottages, family names and the memories of the elderly remained. It was not so with Avoch. Old "Auchies", like all the north-east fisherfolk, belonged to a close! knit group with a tendency to keep themselves to themselves. They looked after one another and for social and economic reasons married young, usually among their own, though it must be said that they occasionally found a husband or wife from across the water. They were devout, especially after the revivalist move-

Avoch Post Office

ments of the 19th century, and they were very superstitious. To this day they avoid using certain words such as "swine" and "pig", and if by chance! such words are uttered there is a quick scramble to touch "cauld iron". It was recognised that the "Auchies", like the fishers of Ardersier, were better off than their contemporaries who worked the land. Currently, only one boat works out of Nairn and there are none at Inverness or Cromarty, yet there are still 16 boats registered in Avoch, giv-

Inverness Field Club Reproduced from an article in

The Inverness Courier 22nd January 1993

ing employment to some 50-60 men. When did it all begin and, more pertinently, why does Avoch still maintain a hold on this age-old livelihood from the sea? To try to find an answer and learn something of the inside story of the "Auchies" and their village, the club turned to Sandy Leitch of the Avoch Heritage Association, whose name is among those of the large family groups in the viIlage - as are Patience, MacLeman and Jack. Lewie Patience, of the Avoch Fishermen's Co!opera-

tive, joined in the chat and Willie Forsyth, clerk to the Harbour Trustees, provided a copy of his father's 1960 account of the work of this important body of men. Researchers have been greatly aided by the observations made by the Rev James Smith, in what was one of the more comprehensive of the Statistical Accounts of the 1790s. Peter Anson remarks, in his book "Fishing Boats and Fisherfolk", that "If only some of the other parish ministers had given us such valuable details as did the Rev Smith we should be able to reconstruct the life of the Scottish fishermen of 100 years ago far better than it is actually possible from other contemporary documents". Anson himself did a great service too by producing an accurate line drawing of Avoch in 1929. The viewpoint is known so it is possible to detect the changes that have occurred since that time. The sketch shows the distinctive units that make up the village High Street struggling closely under Braehead; Seatown, with its planned streets of terraced cottages named after members of the Mackenzie family of Rosehaugh, and the "Dock". This is the oldest part of the village which, in earlier days, was a veritable maze of thatched but-and-bens, closes and alleyways. Further west,

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 8

beyond the "breyg" over the Goose burn, are the limewashed cottages of "Reyta", the "storoos" (grain stores) and skippers' houses. According to the minister there was only one boat in Avoch in the 1690s. Seatown developed during the following century until, at the time of his account in 1793, there were 93 families living there who were in some way associated with the sea. He details the quest for the "kessacks" (herring), seasonal variations in the work, the size and value of the catches and their markets. Nor does he neglect the role of the womenfolk whom he describes as hardy and robust. The minister knew a great deal about the boats, the "skufteys" (inshore boats) and the "scaffeys" (yawls) and the skills of the men who sailed them. He noted that they could handle over 700 square feet of sail on a 30ft vessel and find their way to fish off the Northumbrian coast. (This was in stark contrast" to the contemporary Cromarty minister who considered the fishermen there to be too timid to venture far out to sea, having become accustomed to the large shoals of herring that formerly came into the firth.) "What a pity", wrote the Rev Smith, "that such men had not been regularly taught navigation or have larger vessels to manage." His thoughts included ideas for improving the fishermen's income. He knew of the scheme introduced by George I in 1718 to provide a government bonus for every barrel of white herring exported .beyond the seas. He realised that if the Avoch men could take advantage of this they could gain the capital to purchase "busses"

(the factory ships of those days) and so compete with the Dutch who cured their herring while at sea. Patently, the "Auchies" had a thinker among them. The boats, named "Zulus" because they were introduced during the Zulu wars, were to come later. Considerably larger than the Scaffeys, they carried a crew of seven and, up to World War I, they were used for the summer fishings off Wick, Castlebay and Yarmouth. In 1846 there were 48 boats of all types, and by 1910 the number had risen to 93, providing work for 339 men and boys. The number declined to 58 by 1930 but significantly 26 of these were motor-driven. Around the Moray Firth, fishing communities died principally through lack of harbour facilities. At Avoch the original stone pier was built in 1814 by Sir Alexander Mackenzie to a design by Thomas Telford. The harbour was completed in 1906 aided by grants and loans from the Fishery Board. The east breakwater was added in 1912 and renovated to its present standard in 1948. In 1960 George Forsyth, then clerk to the Harbour Trustees wrote: "Looking at the harbour today it is easy to take everything for granted and fail to give credit to the men of a past generation whose labour, ingenuity and determination made its construction and development possible." The Harbour Trustees came into being in 1903, when the Avoch harbour order received the Royal Assent. Before then the harbour committee had made such a strenuous effort to raise money that they were able to give the Trustees ÂŁ1800. As Mr Forsyth says: "To raise ÂŁ1800 in those days must have been a stupendous undertaking" and obviously shows a

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strong commitment to fishing and the maritime activities of the villagers. The relative importance of the former is reflected in the 1946 composition of the Trustees when, for the first time, all four elected representatives were fishermen. Why then has fishing prevailed in Avoch when it has virtually disappeared from the inner Moray Firth west of Hopeman? A harbour was built in Cromarly in 1785 and as far back as the reign of Queen Anne there was a prosperous herring industry but no fishing boats have been registered there since World War II. At the end of the day, and after looking at all the available facts, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that fishing has survived because of the character of the people, bound together by tradition and tragedy and driven by a unity of purpose. Someone said on Saturday that fishing was "in the blood and in the genes" so perhaps the Old Testament words "look to the rocks from which ye are hewn" should be given due consideration. Where did the Patiences, MacLemans and the others come from? There are many theories but, whatever the truth, the "Auchies" looks and distinctive language indicate origins different from the rest of the Black Isle folk. Now the last thatched roof has gone. Most of the fishermen have chosen to build new houses away from the sea. Soon the black tangle of old powerlines that criss-crosses the "Dock" will be no more, thus enhancing further the already clean and orderly appearance of a Black Isle vilIage that is full of interest.

The More Group


Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 9

Community garden plan for Avoch tennis courts The tennis courts area in the centre of Avoch has been lying, disused and deteriorating, for a substantial number of years now. Several successive Amenities Association committees have grappled with this problem patch, all ultimately unsuccessfully, and it is a cause for general regret that this central area of the village is still in such a state of disrepair. A sum, believed to be £3,000, is still due to be paid by adjoining developers towards the cost of upgrading the area. Several proposals have recently been mooted for the Tennis Courts and the current AAA committee wants to consider all of these, including the possible sale of the area and use of the funds generated to provide an allweather sports surface elsewhere, adjoining the existing Community Centre. There were days when the Amenities Association held a substantial area of the village centre on behalf of the community and much of this has gradually been sold off or otherwise disposed of for safekeeping, so that today the tennis courts and bowling green areas are the only land now held by the Association. A few years ago a Parishwide questionnaire showed that there was substantial opposition to the idea of selling off the area or using it for car-parking and many people still seem to feel that it would be a shame to sell off the

last remaining piece of open space owned by AAA on behalf of the community. Kathleen Green and David Thompson have been working on one idea - their proposal is for a "village garden" scheme, in which the area would be transformed into a communal garden, for growing fresh produce that could be sold locally, thus helping to sustain the project. They want to incorporate a seating area, for local people to meet up and have a "blether", and to provide secure storage facilities for gardening equipment Kathleen says, “We envisage that the project would encourage and promote communication between generations and acceptance and understanding between all sections of the community.” And, of course, this proposal would retain the green heart of the village within community control. Anyone interested or wanting to engage in the garden project will be warmly welcomed - any help would be very much appreciated. Kathleen says that anyone wanting more details about the proposal should feel free to phone her for a chat on 01381 620034. AAA wants all ideas for the area to be made public, so that people can make up their minds as to what may be best. So if you have a good idea, please send it in and Chatterbox will be pleased to publish it. -Ed.

4 stars for Avoch Dolphin Trips Dolphin Trips Avoch has been awarded four-star grading for Wild Life Experience by Visit Scotland. A pilot scheme was run in 2006, when DTA were awarded a very strong three-star status after an unannounced, anonymous visit by the assessors. This has now been upgraded to four stars. Gwyn Tanner, pleased as punch with the award, said, “It’s all down to Paula - she did all the work.” He also said that he intends to hold his prices at this year’s level for the coming year, “to help people beat the credit crunch.” However, his business is obviously very dependent on the price of fuel for its profitability, and he said that if it does increase again it may be necessary to introduce a £1 per person surcharge. Gwyn and Paula extend their very best wishes to everyone for a Happy Christmas and a Good New Year.

The recent Avoch & Killen Community Council meeting at Avoch Community Centre, at which developer’s plans for housing at Rosehaugh Estate were displayed for examination and discussion. Chatterbox photo

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Tel: 07831 196164 Fax: 01381 621788 Email: Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 10

A welcome change of heart on the post office card account Last month brought with it a major parliamentary victory for common sense – and for the future of vital services in Black Isle communities. Responding to evergrowing pressure from opposition parties, backbenchers, the National Federation of Subpostmasters and – in no small part – directly from communities the length and breadth of the UK, Ministers dramatically scrapped their plans to axe the Post Office Card Account and abandoned a tendering process to award a new contract for local delivery of pension and benefit payments. The public concern about the proposal had been huge – well over one thousand people sent postcards from their local branch to express their opposition in Ross, Skye & Lochaber alone. The Government’s plans caused a great deal of worry to a significant number of older people who rely on their local post office. For many in the Highlands & Islands, the local branch is literally the only accessible place where money can be obtained. And – in no small part thanks to the dedicated work of subpostmasters – to many communities the post office means a lot more than that. Beneath concern for the immediate effect of losing the card account lay the looming likelihood of an estimated 3,000 further branch closures in the wake of what would have been the single biggest withdrawal of Government business to date. I do not think that it is any exag-

geration to say that the prognosis for the branch network as a whole would then have been very bleak indeed. A few years ago, the Chief Executive of Royal Mail told MPs that – for the purposes of administering their postal service alone – he would envisage needing 4,000 local offices, and closing the remaining 10,000. The overwhelming weight of those closures would fall on rural communities like ours – going way beyond the Government’s own closure programme earlier this year. The point – then and now – was that the Post Office needs to be more than a place to send letters and parcels if it is to be viable at all in its current form. Now, for the first time, there is a glimmer of hope that the Government will accept that argument. It has always been extraordinary that – at a time when trust is so hard to come by – Ministers seemed so determined to regard the Post Office as a liability rather than an asset. Now, thanks to people power, the post office’s pension and benefit business has been secured, at least until 2015 – and hopefully beyond that too. But there are no grounds for complacency. The true test of the Government’s conversion will be the zeal with which it follows this principle into other areas, undoing the damage of recent years. The return of the TV Licensing contract to post offices would be a good start, but it should only be the tip of the iceberg as far as the potential of the post office network is concerned. The future of each and every post office is now all

about confidence – the confidence of Ministers, the confidence of current and future subpostmasters, and the confidence of their customers. With or without the post office card account, the steady erosion of the branch network will continue if Ministers return to running down its future, and actively discouraging customers. The trickle of ‘temporary’ branch closures (which has already resumed following the ‘planned’ closures of last winter) has got to stop. Ministers have got to make it happen – and if they now set about doing so, they will have my full support.

A peaceful and happy Christmas At risk of becoming part of the sometimes unwelcome early onrush of Christmas into our lives, I will take this opportunity briefly to wish Chatterbox readers a very happy festive season and a great new year ahead in 2009. With the new President taking office across the Atlantic, it promises to be an interesting year ahead. There is bound to be some disappointment – and we will all need to keep focused on the real economic difficulties we face – but there is also the prospect of a change of mood on the world stage which can only be welcome. The message that we are stronger united is not a new one, but the new resonance it has acquired in President-Elect Obama’s hands opens up truly global possibilities that have been neglected for much too long.

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 11

Charles Kennedy

- from your MP

Sandy’s Kerala diary

KERALA: HIGH COUNTRY AND TROPICAL RAINFOREST I HAD BEEN IN KERALA for five days, had attended a colourful Hindu temple festival, visited the port of Fort Kochi – and had even been taken by my host Dr Varma up to the old Cochin royal palace – now a rather dilapidated museum – where his great-uncle had ruled as the last Raja of Cochin. He told how he remembered as kids they had rushed round the palace flushing all

seventeen of these newly fit-

Story and photos by Sandy Mitchell

ted ‘thrones’ - the first in the country. Now, my plans to travel around by bus overruled, I was bumping my way up from the tropical coastland in a little white Tata car – about the size of a Clio – heading for the hill town of Munnar. My driver was a dapper little man called Laiju.

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 12

At first the landscape was coastal - all rice paddies, coconut groves and bananas but soon we were passing fields of pineapples then, a bit higher, shady groves of rubber trees. This was new to me and we stopped and strolled down among the slender trees, each with a diagonal vein guiding the white fluid into a plastic cup – very low tech!

is a phone by my bed and the cable hangs loose from a hole in the wall.

The landscape as we climbed was wonderfully green with all kinds of hardwood trees. We passed cocoa-bushes and fields of coffee. Then the forest thinned and we were in steep valleys, the slopes covered in scrub. The bones of the landscape showed through, huge rounded granite boulders. We joined groups of Indian tourists at spectacular overlooks and waterfalls. At one, local women were selling spices, vegetables and fruit – but unexpectedly big bright bunches of carrots. As young Indians took pictures of each other in front of the fall a woman bent double washing carrots in the tumbling waters.

I eat in the restaurant listed by Lonely Planet and order their recommended butter chicken. They were right. It is served with jeera (cumin) rice and a pot of cardamom tea. The sauce is a warm orangey brown and glows with the scents of fresh spices. Cost? Just over a pound. It’s cold in the night and

After hours of climbing by zigzag roads we reached the hill town of Munnar, about five thousand feet above sea-level. It straggles along the left bank of a slow river – the Muthiripuzha - in a steep valley with lines of teabushes rising to the highest visible slopes. I have a plain room in the very plain S.N. Hotel. It adjoins a busy trucker-style café and next door there’s a spice store. I am told briskly at reception there will be hot water from six to nine in the morning. There

truck driver, estate workers, offer a wave or a friendly greeting. Some stop for a chat always wanting to know what I think of Kerala. Just some of the older folk pass, heads down and silent. On the river-banks huge purple convolvulus and big trees with great bunches of orange flowers – I discover later these spectacular trees were introduced from Brazil. I use my new bird book to identify some birds – long-tailed shrikes and the aptly-named red-whiskered bulbul. It is wonderfully cool – though after the first night I had to ask for another blanket for my bed.

I ask for a second blanket. The boss says for the last month overnights have been 0oC. I believe it. I take morning and evening walks out of town following the Muthirupuzha River with mist coiling over the surface and the dark green slopes of teabushes rising to the hilltops. Almost everyone I meet – students and school kids, a passing

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In Brief Village Officer Di Agnew, Black Isle Ward Manager, has secured the services of the two mobile workers while there is no Village Officer in Avoch. This is to include strimming where needed. The Community Council is now looking for someone with their own insurance who can do this sort of work. A Job description has been written.

Youth Cafe The Fortrose Youth Cafe has now reopened, but more parental involvement is urgently needed (See Billy Barclay on p. 37)

Craft Classes The Monday night Avoch craft group has started again for the winter and all are welcome. The ladies are settled down making their crafts and on a bleak winter’s night it is good company. Jacquie is looking forward to seeing the ladies each Monday night at 7.30pm. in the Avoch Congregational Church Hall.

We make a day trip to a nature reserve that takes us winding up out of the forest zone to bare granite sugarloaf mountains and sparse grassland – at an elevation around 8,000 feet. The views are fabulous but the wildlife scarce and I hear a few grumbles from Indian tourists tramping uphill, wondering why they had bothered. Munnar itself is a jumble of workshops, stalls and shops. In the main road, one stretch has a barber, a tyrerepairer, a dealer in skins, a tailor and stalls selling fritters and chai. And my favourite – a tiny stall set a bit apart – The Infant Jesus Radiator Works. From Munnar we descend through miles of tea estates and into tropical rainforest and the little town of Kumily in the foothills and on the edge of the large Periyar Tiger Wildlife Park. As we travel downhill the roads deteriorate as if in tea country there is more money around - for there are new schools, smartly painted churches and temples. We pass fine stands of hardwood trees, well spaced, and below, the height of bracken, wild cardamom, and then further down whole plantations of them.

Details that stick in the memory: women returning from tea slopes, swaying elegantly in their saris as they head for the

weighing station, each with a great net of tea balanced on the head; a cattle truck, high-sided but open, the beasts with long curving horns staring out over the tailgate; a bus with bright curly-wurly paintwork and the

name-board “Mary Matha”; each small village with a line of autorickshaws and open taxi-jeeps. In Kumily I have a dark, cool, comfortable room in the

Golgothri Home Stay and my host helps me book for next day an 18km ‘border hike’ in the national park. Next morning is damp and misty when I meet the only two other participants – a young Australian couple, Matt and Louise. We have a ranger with a rifle and two local guides – referred to by other Indians as ‘tribals’. Years back they had been persuaded to stop poaching by getting these ranger jobs. Definitely poachers turned gamekeepers. They wear wellies or open sandals and sprinkle brown powder over bare skin to ward off the leeches. We are given kind of bootee-puttees, also dust- sprinkled. These are very necessary, for as you walk you see myriads of the wee beasties, like tiny white cobras, swaying up out of the leaf-litter, activated by the overnight rain. At first we follow a faint track past the tribal village, dusty huts behind cane screens. Hens, cats, puppies and bairns stare quietly, smiles are readily returned. I had worried about my flimsy shoes and the note on my tour ticket which said threatening things about the ups and downs. It turns out the pace is gentle and we stop often to look and admire. The young Ozzies turn out

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to be knowledgeable naturalists and the guides are great at finding and showing. We stop to watch rare parakeets and kingfishers, mynas, doves and drongos. We see a rosewood tree from which bleeds bright crimson sap, a jack-fruit tree with the world’s biggest fruit, a tiny cobra making a question-mark against a tree trunk. One ranger shows us a little plant: when touched the leaves start to tremble and furl themselves like tiny umbrellas. The other chap brings a fresh-water crab coloured like a treacle-toffee. We watch the daftly named ‘greater racket-tailed drongos’ float from side to side of a forest glade. They are about the size of a blackbird but with tail streamers a metre long that float out behind as they fly. One tree has almost been rubbed through by elephants and the trail is pitted with elephant droppings like inverted footprints. We stop twice to eat and each time the guides light a wee fire by the side of a stream and using just a few twigs heat curry, boil water and cook up rice cakes in little pot-bellied metal stoves that do the trick in no time. As ever the food is delicious. The way grows steep, winding through thickets of cane which we are told is not bamboo and at last we emerge onto a grassy ridge above the rainforest. But mist or cloud enveolopes us and we can see little

– we are here about the height of Ben Nevis. One guide is sent prospecting for animals but before he gets back the mists clear and we see on a wide grassy saddle below an elephant and her calf and in the trees beyond a small herd of buffalo.

for a meal, Matt told how his boots had been full of leeches when he took them off. At once I think of my own shoes, cast off carelessly near the bed, and I sit, fork poised, imagining the craturs cheerfully emerging, crawling up the bed-legs, over the pillow…

Our descent is through head-high grass, then the ‘bamboo’ belt and finally the rainforest – which now is true to its name, for it pours steadily for the last hour or two. Yet in the gentle humidity you are just lapped in wet warmth, and squelch on regardless.

I need not have worried for when I get back and tap the shoes against an outside wall only a rattle of tiny wizened corpses fall out. The dark little world between my puttees and my socks had not been for them.

In the evening when, as agreed, the three of us meet

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Next morning we head for the Kerala coast and the fabled Backwaters - but that is another tale for another day.

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 15

Salsa through Christmas

In the groove Claire Divine

Jermaine & Campbell McCracken Having missed their usual monthly Friday Social in November Jermaine’s Salsa Dance Class group is combining the normal end of month social with a! Christmas party on!Wednesday 10th December! at the Spectrum Centre. The session has been extended to 10.30pm and will!include social dancing. The cost is only £8 per person for class and social. And then, on Wednesday 17th, the next week, there will be a one hour warm-up at the Spectrum centre from 7- 8pm, followed by a car pool dash to Forres to join with the Latinomoves Xmas party at the Mosset Tavern where there will be social dancing and performance from 9pm onwards. The first class in Inverness will be priced normally but you can alternatively pay £9 for the night which includes a seat in a car to and from the event. There are limited places available!so please arrange with Matthew or Jermaine before the night. If you go to the!Thursday night classes at the Perrins Centre in Alness, you’ll have the oppor-

tunity of a Jermaine free social night on Thursday 27th November. The hall is paid for so please come along and practice your moves. Classes will continue at the Perrins Centre on Thursday nights until 18th December 2008. All students are encouraged to join in the Spectrum Xmas party events. The Kilmorack group is planning a fund-raising Cuban Celidh for Friday 30th January for the new hall, so do!come and join in. The Class at Fortrose Town Hall on Thursdays at 7pm 8.30pm will continue until Thrusday 17th December. Catherine Donald will be travelling to Australia in the new year so classes will resume in March 2009. And don't forget that the salsa shop has great ideas for salsa shoes and clothes. See log/ Everyone at Salsa North wishes you a great time over the Christmas holiday..

Saturday 15th November saw a great morning of fund raising activity at Avoch Community Centre. Avoch Under 5’s, led by Louise Coull and Avoch Primary Out of School Club (Groove), led by Kimberley Ferguson, provided a morning of sales, baking and snakes! The successful event raised £600, which is being split between the two groups. Both groups struggle to find the funding for resources that children need, and this event has given a hard-earned boost to their funds. Louise and Kimberley would like to thank everyone who helped and contributed on the day, and also to the Community for such great support. The day featured snakes for holding and photographs, Tshirt and glass painting, hair braiding, plenty of stalls, a tombola, raffle and other activities. There was baking to take away and tea, coffee and cakes to sit down to as the kids wandered around trying out all the different activities, many draped in their favourite snakes! The funds are being spent directly on children’s toys and resources, and at Groove the kid’s have already given Kimberly their wish list of new toys that they would like to see at their AfterSchool Club. There are still places available and this service can be used regularly or on an “as and when needed” basis, so don’t ever be stuck for after-school care for your children. Kimberley can be contacted for any enquires after 3pm (weekdays) on 07765401696.

Grand Christmas Draw 2008

Avoch Primary School Parent Council Family Ticket to Landmark 4 tickets for 'Sleeping Beauty' at Eden Court Tour and Lunch at the Scottish Parliament Luxury Hamper Football signed by Ross County Bottle of House of Lords Whisky… and much, much!more! Promoter Serena Ferguson, Avoch Primary!School Parent Council.! Tickets 50p each.! Draw to be made on 19th December 2008 at Avoch Primary School. For tickets email! or contact Sarah Atkin (Parent Council Chair) on 07951 634461.

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 16

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 17

Chatterbox photo

A satisfactory end to yet another year When the Hugh Sutherland Memorial Cup was played on 30 August there were only 13 entries. At the semi-final stage Avoch (George Patience, Margaret Patience & Jimmy Skinner) met Tain (A Hutcheson) and Fortrose (Billy Barclay, Mark Barclay & George Chalmers) met North Kessock (George Smith). Unfortunately Avoch did not get through to the final, which was won by Fortrose. Tain were runners-up.

George Brodie, Secretary, Avoch Outdoor Bowls Club

reached the semi-finals in the North Kessock Triples. Because of the Avoch Fishermen's Association outing on 27th September and bad weather on 4th October, the Bessie Brown Memorial Cup was held over. It will be played in May next year. An excellent meal in the pavilion, provided and served by the ladies of the club brought the season to an enjoyable end, after which Megan Patience presented the club trophies. Kathryn Logan won the Ladies Championship, with

The next day the Avoch team of Lewie Patience, Bob McClymont and Ecky Patience

Do us all a favour! Throw your empty packet in the bin! KEEP OUR STREETS TIDY

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 18

Margaret Patience as runner-up. Ecky Patience won the Gents Championship and George Brodie was runner-up. Ecky was also runner-up for the T A Patience Cup, which was won by Bob McClymont. Bob also won the B Macintosh Cup and runner-up was Jane Jardine. The Silver Jubilee Cup was taken by Gerry Carolan ond Bob McClymont, with Dan Macleman and George Patience as runners-up. The green opens again next year at the end of April. Until then the only club meeting will be the AGM in February.

Wild About Local food discussion SEMINAR TO TACKLE Your Garden HIGHLAND CHALLENGES OF LOCAL FOOD PROThis is a new 30 minute BBC show focusing on wildlife gardening. The show broadcasts on Wednesdays at 2030 on BBC ONE until Christmas Eve and there are plans to repeat in the New Year in a 45 minute format. Each week WAYG features a different garden being transformed into a wildlife haven. To encourage audience engagement it has embedded calls to action and a fantastic new website garden! The site has been created by the BBC Breathing Places web team and, as such, also links closely to the BP site. If you are running any relevant wildlife gardening events, we would be happy to promote these for you on the Breathing Places Event Finder at: . If you have ticked the wildlife gardening theme box when entering them, this will ensure they come up in searches made by our audiences for events near them. Before you register your events and if you haven’t already done so, you will have to register as a Breathing Places partner.

DUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION Highlands and islands food producers will meet near Aviemore next month in a two-day seminar to discuss issues around local food production and distribution. The event is Highlands and Islands Local Food Network’s (HILFN) 3rd annual conference and will be held at Loch Insh Watersports Centre, Kincraig on Wednesday December 3 and Thursday December 4. A key item in the agenda is the challenge of local food distribution. Jo Hunt, HILFN chief executive, will lead discussions on the possibility of creating a local food trading hub for the region. The lack of abattoir and butchery facilities faced by meat producers will also be tackled, with speakers coming from Skye, Moray and Aberdeenshire to share ways of overcoming these barriers. Other sessions include making the most of the media to promote local food, and sharing best practice among local food producer groups. Delegates will also visit Alvie Estate, including the Delfour hatchery, Alvie Strawberries and Kincraig Stores to hear how the estate functions as a local food producer. Places are still available for HILFN members and non-members. For further information contact HILFN on 01381 600525 or

Fresh steam at the Station The Station Hotel in Avoch has been given yet another lease of life with its take over on the 15th September by Alyson and John Gibb of The Plough, in Rosemarkie. The pub still belongs to the brewery, Oxford Inns, which restricts what can be done with the premises, but John and Alyson decided to take the pub on as they see an opportunity to do more at such a large establishment, compared with what they can provide at The Plough. They see the future of the Station as being very different to The Plough, though, and have no intention of replicating what they do in Rosemarkie. John believes a village as large as Avoch should have a good pub, with plenty of entertainment. Over the next few weeks keep your eyes on the Station as the intention is to have live music, social nights, discos and perhaps a return of the pub quiz. John wants to see the Station become the social hub of the village, going back to it’s busy and lively self as it was a few years ago.

Any community group or fund raising group that needs a venue is welcome to contact John to see how he can support their endeavours. There is no charge for using the pub for such group events, such as the Race Night which Avoch Primary Parent Council held on the 14th November. The food at the Station is being provided by the chefs from the Plough, but with an emphasis on local pub favourites and a menu reflecting local demand and pockets. There is no intention to provide the kind of dining that is available at the Plough, though, as John says “It’s not what the locals want”. The future of the pub? That depends on who uses it. John and Alyson are open to any suggestions from members of the community as to what they would like to see at the pub. But just remember that at present there’s no food on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. John and Alyson can be contacted at The Plough Inn on 01381 620164

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 19

15 October 2008


BÒRD LAUNCHES FUND TO GROW GAELIC IN COMMUNITIES Cromarty Camera Club Hosts ‘The Highland Challenge’ The annual competition for camera clubs across the Highlands and Islands, now in its 11th year, was held at Cromarty on Saturday 22nd November 2008. 70 prints and slides were presented from Isleburgh (Shetland), Thurso, Nairn, Inverness, East Sutherland, Dingwall and Cromarty, with over 80 photographers from around the region in attendance at the Victoria Hall, Cromarty. Councillor David Alston opened the event, which was supported by The Highland Council, The Cromarty Trust, and other local organisations and firms who all

gave generously. Professional photographer Donald Fisher from Scourie gave thoughtful comments on each of the entries, which were projected digitally. Dingwall Camera Club took the trophy as the highest scoring club. The highest scoring Colour Print and Monochrome entries belonged to John Ross of Inverness, and the highest scoring Slide belonged to Lesley Simpson of Dingwall.

Don’t forget the AAA meeting!

Salsa party!

A Council meeting of the Avoch Amenities Association will be held on December 3rd 2008 at 7.30 p.m. in the Upper Hall of the Community Centre. All are welcome to attend. If any one has any matter to be included on the Agenda please notify me as soon as possible. Caroline Dobson Secretary Avoch Amenities Association

The photograph shows (left to right) Bob Hunter and Lesley Simpson of Dingwall Camera Club, and John Brierley, Chairman of Cromarty Camera Club.

There is going to be a great Xmas Salsa Party at the Spectrum Centre on Friday 19th December 7pm- 11pm. Information will be on the Salsa North website at The local Salsa class is in Fortrose Town Hall with Catherine Donald on Thursdays 78.30pm .

! A challenge fund worth £150K for community projects to grow Gaelic is being launched by Gaelic development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig. The Taic Freumhan Coimhearsnachd fund will be available in each of the next three years is to support community- focused initiatives that seek to strengthen learning and usage of Gaelic and match the objectives of the National Plan for Gaelic. The fund is open for applications from community organisations, voluntary groups, small businesses and other organisations that wish to promote grass root Gaelic language activities in communities or networks. Further information and application forms for Taic Freumhan Coimhearsnachd are available by contacting Bòrd na Gàidhlig on 01463 225454, or email or on the Bòrd na Gàidhlig website at

Chatterbox needs more helpers The magazine still seems to want to grow, as more material is submitted for each succeeding issue, but growing it will not be possible without more willing helpers to share the workload. We have now secured a good standard of print equipment and a sustainable financial basis, but more people are needed to help with all aspects of our production, from Reporting to Print Management. COME AND JOIN US! EXPERIENCE NOT NEEDED - JUST ENTHUSIASM!

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 20

The case of the disappearing garden On the 18th September, Duncan & Susan Macleman and

Duncan & Susan's shed in a 6' deep hole!)

their neighbours, Sandy & Isobel Ross, got a bit of a shock when water started appearing out of the garden of 33 Mackenzie Place. At that stage the

Scottish Water has admitted liability, due to the failure of the ageing asbestos-cement water main, and have awarded the reinstatement contract

leaking water main was a minor inconvenience, but they were all in for a shock - their back gardens suddenly subsided leaving an almighty mess (and

works to Pat Munro, Alness. These works are due to start on Monday 1st December and are programmed to be completed by Christmas.



He struggled with the cornfield day after day…

never quite getting it

throwing himself around in despair: knowing that just as with life’s other talents……

as with all living had to offer……

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 21

He couldn’t resist drawing the shortest straw

but he never cut his ear off

The P.L.A.Y. group pose for a group photo -

Photos by Trevor Powell - his last photogaphic contribution to Chatterbox. Trevor is leaving the area and will be sorely missed.

Avoch play-park tidy-up on 6th October Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 22

Photo courtesy of Jacquie Patience The Avoch “Parkie” was also the scene of a different kind of activity recently when the ambulance helicopter landed on an emergency mission to Raigmore Hospital. It landed first at the Harbour and then in the Park. And we’re pleased to say that the lady concerned was successfully delivered to Raigmore and was subsequently returned home. Our best wishes go to her.

Perhaps you haven’t yet heard of P.L.A.Y (“Park-life for Avoch Youngsters”), a subgroup of Avoch / Killen Community Council. It’s a small group of people, but with big ideas! They are aiming to raise enough money (in a variety of ways) to return Avoch Play-Park (in the centre of the village) to a satisfactory condition for current users and anybody who would like to use it. Perhaps a toddler using a baby swing, an older child using a climbing wall/spider-web, or anyone from a teenager to your granny looking for somewhere to rest or have a blether or just simply to sit in the sun. The group expects it to be a long journey and would like to invite you to join or assist in any way that you can. Hazel Carmichael says, “We began this experience by having a park tidy up on Saturday 6th October. This was well attended and we thank all who helped make it a success. Then we held a Halloween Party in Avoch Primary School, which was also very well attended and raised a total of £100 profit.

Then they held a “Pampered Chef Ready Steady Cook challenge”, on Saturday 22nd November, where an audience watched a delicious meal being prepared and was then invited to taste the end product. Dawn Walker says, ”Our Ready Steady Cookers were Susan MacLeman and Derek Martin and his sous chef Diarmuid Martin.! (Our Sea Scout Leader was the winner!) A good time was had by all.! We made around £130.! Many thanks to all who joined us on the evening, and to those who gave donations.!Thanks also to Shona Leggatt for the delicious shortbread.”! The group also had a stall at Avoch Amenities Christmas Fair in the Community Centre, Avoch on Saturday 29th November and is now looking for more ideas and support, so if you feel that you can help in any way please contact them on;

P.L.A.Y. or look out for their next meeting which will be on Friday 12th December at 7.30pm at the Station Hotel. Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 23

Anti-social behaviour in Avoch.

A meeting of Avoch & Killen Community Council on 6th October

Second prize winner in the Clubs for Young People annual photography competition, open to all young people who were members of affiliated clubs. Young people were invited to capture one of the following in a photo: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, and community involvement.

Avoch & Killen Community Council invited speakers to their meeting on 6th October in Avoch Community Centre, to consider anti-social activities and related matters. Inspector Matthew Reiss and Karl Alexander Northern Constabulary, Simon Jeffrey Area Youth Development Officer and Wanda Mackay, Youth Development worker, Cromarty attended. Martin Gill chaired the meeting, welcoming everyone and inviting Inspector Reiss to give the Police’s perspective on the anti-social activities being experienced in Avoch. Inspector Reiss pointed out that he covers the whole of the Ross-shire area. The Northern Police force covers the Highlands, an area which has a land mass similar to that of Belgium, has 750 Police Officers divided into 4 shifts to give 24-hours cover. At any one time there are approximately 187 officers on duty (plus extra cover at peak times) in the Highlands. A new shift pattern starting in January will increase peak-time cover and give less cover at “quieter” times of the day. This is the smallest number of officers in any of the forces in Scotland, and Inspector Reiss was highlighting this point to give the community an idea of how low the police numbers are in our area. For example, at the time of the meeting there were only two officers covering the Black Isle, from Muir of Ord to Cromarty to North Kessock. The Police employ a policy of “policing by consent”,

meaning that it is led by the wishes of the communities they serve. Every two years there is a public consultation of 4,500 people in the Highland Region to identify what priorities the communities wish the police to focus on. The outcome of the most recent survey identified that the number-one concern was speeding vehicles, secondly dangerous driving. Dog fouling and youth issues were the remaining concerns included in the top six in the survey. Road traffic policing is therefore a high priority in this area, and the presence of the Road Traffic Unit in Dingwall helps with the policing of road traffic issues. PC Carl Alexander, our local PC, has been based in the Black Isle for 4 months. He commented that it appears that the Black Isle community is less inclined to report incidents, compared to, for example, Dingwall. The Black Isle has the same issues as Dingwall and Inverness, including young people (YP) hanging out on the streets, like at Lazy Corner in Avoch, and also speeding cars through Fortrose. He stressed that not all YP hanging out on the streets are causing trouble or committing crime. It is, as in other areas, a core of YP that this is attributed to. The Police do what they can to engage with YP, and perhaps that is something the community as a whole could do? At present the lack of a local drink by-law in Avoch tended to attract YP, because they could drink on the street in Avoch. (But note that we

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 24

understand that a by-law has now come into force. -Ed.) It was also noted that the level of activities fluctuates with the bus timetable. There was a suggestion that the Police should preempt this and be a step ahead of the buses, but it was pointed out that there is also intimidating behaviour on the buses and that drivers don’t seem to have any method of dealing with this. The media have also played their part in creating a culture of fear which induces people to feel more vulnerable. A member of the community expressed concern at what would happen if an adult (male) approached a group of YP because of their anti-social behaviour, concerned that if anything untoward did happen, there is a much higher chance of the adult being on the receiving end of blame or even prosecution for challenging the YP. It was agreed that sense of Civic responsibility has diminished and also YP know their rights and will exercise them more freely. What has been lost is YP’s understanding of any sense of responsibility. Someone asked what has happened to parental responsibility for these YP? Litter: The Police were asked what they do regarding littering, and whether anyone has ever been prosecuted for littering in this area? The Police see littering as a low priority, as they focus on the “Policing by Consent” model mentioned earlier. However Fly Tipping, also a criminal offence, is given a higher priority. The Police are aware that this causes annoyance in Communities, but have to focus on drink driving, speeding etc. It is also very difficult to enforce as no one drops litter when Police officers are about! In the “Excellence in Community Policing Survey” two thirds of respondents consider it the Council’s responsibility to deal with litter and issues such as stray dogs. Under-age drinking: A member of the community stated that this problem has worsened over the last few weeks. Again the lack of an alcohol by-law was mentioned. However another community

member stated that the current situation is not as bad as it was 25 years ago, and that it is only bad on certain nights. The Community Council (CC) applied for an Alcohol By-law over 18 months ago and was informed on the 9th September 2008 that it has been put forward to the Scottish Executive. It is expected to take some time to come to fruition. The community was encouraged to canvass the MSP on the matter. The Police made it clear that for them to act on underage drinking they have to witness a YP take a drink and swallow it. They can take drink away from a YP, who can be charged if drunk and incapable. Under 16’s are not prosecuted for drinking offences - they are referred to the Children’s Panel. It is seen as a huge cultural issue and in many cases parents condone drinking or are not concerned with their child’s behaviour. It was stated that children as young as 12 have been found drunk in the street. The Police have no record of reported incidents of this nature in recent months and stated clearly that at this age this is clearly a Child Protection issue which would have been responded to if it had been reported. The Police stressed again the need for the community to report such incidents, but to bear in mind that the Police do need detail. Complaining that there is a group of YP hanging out in the street is not enough for the Police to act on. The issue of an “Unruly Certificate” was discussed. This is an absolute last resort response as it authorises the Police to take a child into Custody. It is issued for extreme behaviour, none of which has been witnessed in Avoch. The community is reminded that for the Police to take anyone into custody there have to be two Officers present and the person will be taken to Inverness, as there are no custodial facilities on the Black Isle. The Police believe that the influence of parenting in the early years can have a huge effect on the behaviour of YP as they grow up. Parenting has a crucial part to play in creating YP character and behaviour.

Simon Jeffrey, Area Youth Development Officer gave the following information: There are 29 Youth Workers in Highland, and our local worker is Robby Russell, based at Fortrose Academy. He could not attend tonight, but another Youth Worker, Wanda Mackay, who covers Cromarty, was attending to give the community a perspective from professionals working directly with YP in the area. Simon stated that he is anxious that YP learn about their responsibilities and not just their rights. In building better relationships with YP, the Community as a whole needs to engage more with them, and he reminded everyone that YP only spend 15% of their time in school and schools are not the only arena for engaging with them. Wanda Mackay reflected on the perceived trouble that YP cause, and pointed out that this is mainly at weekends, and that generally the village is very quiet from Monday to Thursday. At weekends many YP in our area have little to do. In Cromarty, for example, there are 20 different groups where YP have plenty to do. These are also of mixed age groups. Wanda is very pro-active in Cromarty, and has been asked to create opportunities for YP in Culbokie. Are parents in Avoch willing to put in the time and support that is needed to create opportunities for YP? The only activity that seemed well supported was football. Councillor Barclay commented that if parents had turned up for the AGM of the Youth Café at Fortrose it would not have had to close. However, since then there has been some response, but mainly from older members of the community ther has been no response from any parent under 50 years of age. A paid Youth Worker was needed to work at night, especially at the Youth Café. Highland Council has been talking about a paid worker, but nothing has actually been done. Councillor Barclay has given his time as a volunteer every Friday and Saturday night. Although it does now have enough members on the Committee to reopen, the Youth Café desperately needs more volunteers.

In view of the high level of public interest in these matters, we publish here a full account of this part of the Community Council’s meeting. Our report is based on the Secretary’s minutes of the meeting.

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 25

The Police were asked if they would like to see the community do more (and if so what?) and agreed that the community needs to provide activities etc. for YP. But they also emphasised how important it is for parents to do things with their own children and young people and to engage with them in activities that YP were interested in. A question was asked as to what the community can expect from the Police? It was thought that the Police can direct more attention to issues in Avoch, and increase their presence at weekends where possible. The Police are keen for the Community to understand that it is only a small minority of YP who create problems because of anti-social/criminal behaviour and again encourage the Community not to be scared of YP. Inspector Reiss also said that a new, additional Officer had been identified for Fortrose. However, there would still be only one Sergeant for the Black Isle and one Inspector for the whole of Ross-shire. Asked whether YP were interested in an all-weather pitch in the village, at the old Tennis Courts, Wanda responded that yes, she was aware that this was something that YP were hoping for in the village. Recent vandalism at the bus stop had resulted in the Police being informed of possible culprits. The CCTV in the shop has been recently up graded and there is now 24hour CCTV coverage of Lazy Corner. The problems of speeding cars through the village might soon be reduced with the introduction of “Smiley Faces”. The Community Council has been told they will be in place within the next 2 months. Finally, it was agreed that the Community Council and Youth Workers need to establish and maintain a good working relationship. The Chairman thanked the invited guests for their time and insight into the issues discussed and, after the guests had left, there followed usual Community Council Business.

Great stuff! Janice MacLeman says that there has been a magnificent response to the Avoch Amenities Association’s request for donations. And she wants to thank everyone - for their money donations and for the various donations of prizes and of cooking ingredients, which will all go towards the Christmas Fayre on 29th November. It will be difficult to get a report of the Fayre into Chatterbox, because of the need to get printing started around that time, but let’s hope there will have been a good turn-out, to give a much needed boost to AAA’s funds. And the need for funding will still be there, even after the Fayre is over, so please keep sending in your donations. Everything will be very gratefully received!

Farewell to Sandra Sandra Patience, for many years stalwart leader of the Avoch Under-5’s, left the play group in July. One of the mums organized a surprise presentation evening in the conservatory of the Station Hotel on Friday 19th September. Sandra says it was lovely to see all the children, parents, grandparents and ex colleagues, who presented her with an inscribed garden bench, a beautiful patio rose, a basket of fruit and some money. She also says, “I would like to thank everyone for their generosity and give my special thanks to Shirley Kelly, who organized the evening,”

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In Avoch, Jacquie & Don Patience’s sunflower (see Jacquie’s picture, left) reached a height of 11 feet 4 inches tall. This was when Jacquie wrote in on the 30th of September, and she said, “Not bad, as some are only three feet - a bit of fun.” Meanwhile Rosemarkie was also producing sunflowers with height aspirations. In William Skinner’s photo, right, Barbara is up the ladder measuring one which topped 10 feet 5 inches!

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Do you know this family? This lovely picture, apparently of four generations of one family, together with several others, was given to me by Betty Patience, a former teacher at Avoch Primary School, now retired. Betty says that the plate glass negatives from which they were printed were found in a cardboard box on the top shelf of the walk-in cupboard of a ground floor classroom in the school in January 1977. The late Mr. Donald Macleman made prints from them. Up to now nobody has been able to identify the family, but perhaps some of our readers may be able to. I must say that, even to me as an incomer, there are familiar features in some of the faces. Mike Noble, Editor. Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 28

‌ and who is this lovely young woman?

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 29

Dear Kwite, Ye’ll be winnerin fit wye ye hivna’ heard fae me for sic a lang time. As ye ken, I cam’ up here tae bide in Rossshire gie nearly seeventy years ago. I wis aboot forty fin the wifie fa makit me for her gan’ awa claes deet wi’ thon affie flu’ efter the 1918 fechtin’. I wis shifted here wi’ her dochter fin she got merrit. Fae that day on I wis pit in atween ither aul’ claes an’ I never sa’ the licht o’ day again till ma’ new misstress’s gran’ geets cam tae bide. The wee quinie winted tae play at “Here comes the bride”, then it wis back tae the quinie’s hoose a’neath a thing ca’d a car port. Her grannie geed us aul dishes tae play wi’ an the quinie used dockin’ seeds fir oor tea, bit I got a forky tail in mine, I jist canna stan’ forky tails. Anither day the Quinie took me tae the skule, an I wis in for a richt shock. The geets were da’en a “project”. Noo, in oor day ye’ll min’ Kwite, the geets scrieved on a slate wi’ a scallie, an’ they caerit a wee boxie fit eased tae be their faither’s aul bogie roll tin. It hid a wee cloot inside tae dicht their slates. Noo a days they watch a box wi’ pictures, nae winner they canna coont or spell very well. They dinna use their brains at a’ noo. They hiv a

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In oor young days, as ye’ll min’ fine, fin we were fule, we’d be pit intae a tub o’ het watter, an scrubbed up an’ doon on a board wi’ thon green soap, then a puckle squeezes in’ an’ oot o’ caul watter an’ pit oot tae bleach on a bush or on the girse. Dae ye mine the day thon billy-goat fae the Manse trampit a’ ower us, an’ got the mistresses’ steys stuck on his horns? An’ of course the Minister’s wife wis nae Lily Langtry, sae they turned up at the neest Kirk Roup. Weel, I wis pit intae this big muckle box wi’ a wee roon winda, an’ I thocht “Here’s nee gan tae be lockit awa’ fir anither seeventy years. Bit,” says I tae ma’sel’, “at leest this time, fin the door is steekit I’ll hae a wee keekoot noo an’ again.” I hidna’ that oot o’ ma moo’ fin I heard a cleek, an’ there wis this almichty gush o’ watter, then mercy me, I wis on the pint o bein’ droont fin a the ither claes started lachin’ at me. Weel, I wisna gan tae show them hoo feart I wis, sae I stopit hostin, gritted ma teeth, at least they wir’ a’ ma ain - the ither claes hid mooths as if they’d been sookin’ lemons a’ day. Then stinken’ stuff like green semolina cam froothin’ up roon me. I wis coupit a’ wyes. Ma yachie toots got a snorrled up wi’a floory thing ca’d a negligee an’ a fite thing they pit in tae mak’ the washin’ smell nice, got stuck in ma lug. Speak aboot ooter space - I thocht ma end hid come. Ma body wis in sic a sotter, ma hair

wee black boxie an they press the buttons on’t an’ it comes up wi’ a’ the answers richt awa. If ye wint tae buy een, it’s ca’d a computer. I heard the quinie’s grannie sayin’ that fin she went back tae the skule efter the simmer holidays she got a doze o’ casta ile, some sulphur wi’ serrup an’ she hid a wee camphor baggie tied roon her neck tae keep awa’ the germs. An’ every day she hid tae tak’ a speenfu o’ cod liver ile an’ malt. Ony wye this grannie o’ the quinie’s must hae thrived on a’ that stuff, fir she his hardly a grey hair in her heid, an’ she his a her ain teeth, an’ she’s a penshioner! Bit I wis telt this grannie wis a bit o’ a limmer. She pit her twin breethers in a guana bag an’ rolled them doon the stairs an she fed her baby sister wi’ worms, because the baby wis greetin’ an’ the quinie’s grannie thocht she wis hungry. Well, things were gan’ a richt till the quinie wis shifted tae Forres. Ye ken that’s the toon thon loon fae England ca’d Shakespeare scrieved aboot, fin he telt a thon lees aboot oor King MacBeth. As I wis sayin’ a’ thing wis a’ richt bit wi’ the quinie aye watterin a’ her grannie’s floores wi thon muckle roozer, I wis gettin’ affie fule an a’ clarted wi’ dubs, so there wis naethin’ for it bit the washtub, sae I thocht, that wis fit wi’s gan’ tae gie me the biggest fleg o’ ma life.

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wis a ravilt an’, michty me, the thing started tae gang fester an’ fester an’ I wis sae dottled I didna care ony mare. I felt a richt gype. Then a’thing went quate, an’ the door opened an’ I got oot. I wis fair fooshined, bit fin I gethered ma’sel the gither an’ takit a keek at ma’sel’ - I couldna’ believe ma’ een. I wis’ real bonnie an’ fite. I heard the wifie say tae her man, “Ye canna get cloots like that noo.” Me! a cloot! That’s nae the end o’ ma trachles. I wis hung oot tae dry on a thing that gaed roon an’ roon. I thocht here we go again. Bit I got a fine chance tae tak’ a keek at the ither claes. They were a’ colours - fit a lot o’ painted hussies. Mercy me, some o’ thon things wid mak Casanova blush. Ye could see richt thro’ them, some o’ them wad scarce hap yer doup. An’ the names they ca’ themsel’s noo. A sark is a shirt, a semmit is a vest, an’ they hevna’ got steys wi fish beans noo, they hiv grippit things ca’d pantie girdles, an’ div ye ken fit they ca’ you, Kwite? A slip. Did ye ever hear sic blethers, there’s nae bloomers nor lisle stockings either - they weer things ca’d tights - the bloomers are tied tae the stockin’s and the stuff they mak’ them oot o’ is ca’d nylon. Bit the daftest sicht I saw fin’ I wis hingin’ oot tae dry, wis a mannie rinnin’ a lang the road wi green combies on. I fair thocht he’d gan’ aff his heid, fin I heard the posh negligee say, “There’s George out jog-

ging.” I wis jist thinkin’ tae masel’, “If they hid tae chave as hard as we hid tae, Dod widna need tae gae oot rinnin’. Nae winner the fowk hae arthritis, wifies wear wee bits o’ skimpit nylon an’ mannies wear things ca’d boxer shorts. Lang drawers, an’ bloomers hiv gan’ oot the windie, sae tae speak. Thon’s an affie wye they hiv o’ ironin’ noo. You an’ me wis used tae the wifie pitten an iron in tae the fire an’ fin it wis reed het, she’d pit it in tae an ironing box wi’ a solid brass bottom, then we widna get burnt. Noo a days, they hiv a fantoosh thing ca’d a steam iron wi’ a lang string that gets pit intae the wa’ an’ tae het it up they press a thing ca’d a switch. An’ the fleg ye get every time the thing gies a hiss at ye every noo an’ again, an’ spits oot watter in yer een. Before I gang, Kwite, I like it fine up here as lang as I dinna get stappit awa in thon kist again fir anither seeventy years. Min’ ye, it disnae look like it, for the quinie’s grannie has pit me in atween nice saft paper, alang wi’ ither claes, aboot ma ain age, wi’ affie nice smellin’ lavender in her best bedroom. Bit I’ll niver forget the wee quinie fa’ takit me oot tae play “Here comes the Bride.” She’s growin’ up hersel’ noo, an’ maybe her wee quinie’ll tak’ me oot when she comes tae play. Bit I’ll nae get sic a fleg, mind ye, the wye things are gan’ ma next wash’ll be on the moon. Yours aye ‘Goonie’



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North Rising celebration, 17th May 2008

Up with the new

Rob at the top of the hill

Annual Celebration of Andrew de Moray and the North Rising 17th May 2008 See more at

In Avoch, on the north east coast of Scotland is Ormond Hill, where Avoch Castle - also known

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Photos, captions and text taken from the website

The Castle served as the stronghold of the Moravia (de Moray) family in the 13th century.! On the 31st May 1997 a cairn was built and dedicated to the memory of Andrew de Moray and his family's place in the history of Scotland and the Wars of Independence.! Each year the Saltire, hung from the flagpole incorporated into the cairn, is exchanged for a new one in salute to de Moray's legacy.!! This year, about 70 de Moray supporters gathered in Avoch and

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marched the one mile walk to Ormond hill to mark the occasion before retiring the old Saltire and raising the new one.! Attendees included SNP MSP Rob Aileen McLeod at de Moray day Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 32

Gibson who narrated the story of Andrew de!Moray.

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The Alcohol Licensing Law is changing The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 will give members of the public more involvement in their local community through greater rights to comment on licensing applications and through Local Licensing Forums.

Chatterbox can now offer print facilities for many kinds of work for your group or voluntary organization Black & white or full colour copying from paper originals or printing from computer files (pdf ) - meeting notes and circulars, flyers, pamphlets, booklets, posters, etc. Economic rates available to assist all voluntary workers and groups. Please contact the Editor for more information

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WARM and prepared, the house is sleeping now. Children, at last, have closed reluctant eyes. Serene as faith, the window candles burn, Piercing the night with radiant mysteries. Snow blurs the dreaming panes with gauzy breath, Pressing its cold, white face against the door. The sound of altar bells has died away, leaving an aching stillness, where before Sweet notes of carolling and mingled prayer Flowed from beneath a slender, ancient spire. The spell of Christmas gilds the waiting hours _ And reminiscent cows kneel in the byre. Joan Howes

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The morning after… Photo as found, Thursday 2nd October, 9.46 am.

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RoWAN - Ross-shire Waste Action Network is running a Master Composting project which will involve households across Ross-shire. Ever thought you could get passionate about compost? Well there are people out there who are! If you happen to be one of them, our Master Composter Project Officer here at RoWAN would love to hear from you. With only around 25% of households in the area currently composting their kitchen waste, there are plenty of people out there to bring on board. RoWAN is one of ten organisations across Scotland who have successfully gained funding from the Scottish Government for a pilot scheme to employ a co-ordinator to recruit, train and support “Master Composter” volunteers to go out into their local communities and promote home composting. The volunteers will offer free advice and support to householders; anything from what type of bin is the best for their garden to hints and tips on producing good compost.

Lewis Macleman Plumbing and Heating Gallowhill, Avoch Telephone 01381 620587 Mobile 07833 727434

Depending on a volunteer’s available time and interest he/she can get involved in running workshops, speaking at local meetings, organising an information stall at an event or helping people on an individual basis with their composting. Volunteers do not need to be experts in composting, as RoWAN will provide training and support and will cover expenses for volunteers who can commit at least 3 hours a month. In return volunteers will find out more about composting, meet others who are keen on composting and gardening and make a difference to the environment. Did you know? That at least a third of the contents of a typical household bin can be composted. So home composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill!

Seasonal Composting TopTips You are not the only one that feels the cold – if you keep your compost bin covered with an old blanket or piece of carpet you will help to keep the warmth in, which will speed up the composting! When it’s cold and wet it sometimes feels easier to throw your vegetable peelings in the rubbish bin than face the arctic conditions outside to get to your compost bin. Cut down on your trips to the garden by using your kitchen caddy. These caddies are covered, meaning that you only have to empty them into your compost bin once a week. Ross-shire Waste Action Network is a community based voluntary organisation. Our aim is to support households and small businesses in Ross-shire in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

If you share our composting passion or would like advice on composting at home then we would love to hear from you. Contact telephone No. 01349 867063 or email or visit Compost bins make a great gift prices start at just £6 on the Waste Aware Scotland website, where there is a range of composting products including wormeries. Please quote ref: RO-MCV . Alternatively ring RoWAN and we can send you a compost bin order form.


Phone 01381 620823, Fax 01381 621072


“Not just for Fishermen” Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 36

Macross’s Scotmid puzzle 1










11 12 13

Shop at





We support local producers whenever possible

17 18


20 21


24 26

Gwyn Phillips 17 High Street Rosemarkie Telephone 620206

23 25






1 Gentlemen prefer this blend? So change! (7) 5 Girl on horseback endlessly (6) 9 Push Midge? (8) 10 Afterthought around mystic symbol for dried fruit (6) 12 Why appear? Yen lively at turn of calendar (5, 3, 4) 15 Bad dream in bad pearl for fortune teller (4, 6) 17 See 19 19 Rib run round drink from girders (3, 3) 20 Death prang rearranged for fool’s route to flora (6, 4) 22 Gathering around seasonal presents? (4, 8) 26 10 dims about manners of speaking (6) 27 Scottish cups? (8) 28 Direction to MacBeth? It’s a gas (6) 29 FBI in a fix? Just a bit (7)

1 Dances smelly afterthought (4) 2 Equinox ends with cows contained (4) 3 Twice Lynam and O’Connor together? Has no hope. (8) 4 Belt goes back (5) 6 Right, newts spread around (6) 7 Athlete’s pulse? (6, 4) 8 First in, drawn from the cask, but very upset (10) 11 Mean tinned stew (6) 13 Leap year, for example, from March to May (6-4) 14 Belief in the vertical, Venetian and roller? (5, 5) 16 Gardner and sailor make Hindu deity (6) 18 Eternal gnu in den tidied up (8) 21 Vic and Bob in a bob would be so (3, 3) 23 Slump around - dried for 10 (5) 24 Hose around bottom of hose (4) 25 Woops -stop (attract attention quietly in there) (4)


The Scotmid prize Post your solution by 1st Januaryto the Editor marked “CROSSWORD”. The first all-correct answer opened in the New Year will win £10 from Chatterbox and also a £10 token to spend at Scotmid, Avoch. The crossword puzzle in the last issue, No.46, was successfully solved by Mr.A.G.Mackenzie, Fortrose. He took the £10 prize, plus a bottle of Bell’s whisky from Scotmid, Avoch.

The Avoch Bakery George Street

Fresh morning goods daily Available locally at

Scotmid, Avoch Black Isle Farm Shop, Fortrose SPAR, Rosemarkie SPAR, Munlochy SPAR, Kessock Ord Filling Station, Muir of Ord and other good local stores

Ross-shire Bathrooms Ltd Your local Bathroom Installation Specialists

• • • • • • •

Free Quotations and advice All plumbing work All tiling All electrical work Underfloor Heating All joinery work Electric/mixer showers installed

Quality Workmanship Guaranteed Phone: Fortrose (01381) 622583 Mobile: 07941 397095 Email:

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 37

LOCAL WEBSITES Prefix all with “http://” Health/Medical Fortrose Medical Practice www.fortrosesurge News/events etc. Chatterbox www.chatterboxne Sport Avoch Amateur Football Club avochies.inthetea age/page.aspx?pc =home Fortrose Union Football Club www.spanglefish.c om/FortroseUnion / Heritage Mackenzie Foundation www.mckenziefou php Avoch Heritage Association

Community Avoch & Killen Community Council www.avoch-killen. org/ Avoch Amenities Association www.chatterboxne s2.html

Others Scottish Government uk/News/Releases /2008/09/160950 49 Information provided without guarantee of accuracy. Please let us know if you are aware of any changes - send to editor@chatterbox


Anyone who has quit smoking, or tried to quit, knows how hard it can be. The Highland Smoking Cessation Service can help.! The service has a network of trained Smoking Cessation Advisers who can provide free advice to anyone thinking about stopping smoking. You may want to talk to someone by phone and arrange for information to be sent to you or you may want to speak face to face with a Smoking Cessation Adviser.! He or she will discuss what options are available to help you quit and to help you prepare and plan for stopping smoking. The service is based on what has been shown to work – people are four times more likely to quit smoking if they use smoking cessation services alongside NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). Smoking Cessation Advisers are based throughout the Highlands, in clinics, surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals. At Fortrose Medical Practice Frances Hobson, Health Care Assistant, has now been fully trained to provide smoking cessation advice and an appointment with her can be booked by phoning the surgery (08444 772 497).! Frances has already helped 10 people give up since the beginning of the year. For other locations, contact the Highland Smoking Cessation Service on lo-call 0845 7573077.

Dog poo blues! Mum of three Anne Marie Goldie of Wester Greengates in Fortrose is sick and tired of the very few inconsiderate dog owners who let their dogs foul the ‘Ness Gap’ footpath between Ness Road and Wester Greengates. “My pushchair wheels get covered in the stuff,” Anne Marie explained to Chatterbox. “I have to use the path twice a day to reach the school bus. My littlest daughter is just walking, but if she toddled into it or fell in it it’s disgusting as well as posing a serious health risk.” Unbelievably, some really unkind dog-walkers are bagging their dog excrement only to toss it into hedges alongside the path. “There are red bins at either end of the path and so there’s simply no excuse for this revolting behaviour,” said Anne Marie. “It’s such a shame as most of the dog-walkers we know clear up after them and the children love patting their

dogs. But it only takes one dog fouling the path once a day for it to become really nasty along here – we’ve put up posters and put circles of flour around the piles of dog poo, twelve at the last count! – and so our next step may be to take pictures and involve the police.” Dog fouling, it should be noticed, is a criminal offence and punishable with a substantial fine. The awkward thing for Anne Marie is that these few lazy dog-owners are local people who know children use the path regularly - and she and other parents whose children use the path are pretty sure who the main culprits are. So please save yourself some trouble, always watch your dog to check when it ‘goes’, and always remember to bag it and bin it! One can only assume that anyone who tosses a bag of poo into the bushes wants to preserve it for posterity! - Ed.

Party time again!

Allan Carmichael, on behalf of Lodge Rosehaugh 1216 The senior citizens’ Christmas Party nights are once again almost here.! Lodge Rosehaugh 1216 is again providing the venue, drink and man (woman?) power.! Janice and Mags will provide the grub and Mike Keavey will entertain as always.! The invitations should be out by now but if you have not received one then let Janice Macleman or Allan at the Fishermen's Co-op know and they will sort it out.! The parties are over 2 nights - Tuesday 9th December and Thursday 11th December.! The start is 7 PM both nights.! A report on the parties will be in the next edition of the Chatterbox. !

Gordon Moir Quality Butcher Rosemarkie

Free local deliveries Speciality sausages Catering contracts welcome Local venison Quality beef, lamb & pork Tel: 01381 620418



Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 38

"#$%# &'"%&&

Nature Notes October saw some familiar and some unusual sights.! Early on the morning of Tuesday, 28th October, a large skein of noisy Greylag Geese flew over Avoch, heading west.! Very late in the year for this species, an Osprey was reported around this time.! Perhaps it was the one which landed earlier on a North Sea oilrig.! Later, on the 28th, there was a heavy snowfall, brought by winds from the Arctic.! This is the first time I have ever seen such an early fall of snow. ! Groups of Waxwings have appeared in Avoch.! These birds from Scandinavia have been seen from Orkney to Kent.! They feed on berries such as rowan and can be approached easily. !

Introduced Species Some species in our area are not so welcome.! During the Victorian era estate owners introduced plants and animals with little thought for the consequences.! In the news lately have been a few species about which there is great concern. ! Japanese Knotweed spreads by underground runners which can grow easily through tarmac or even concrete.! This plant has thrived in the old kitchen garden at Rosehaugh.! Do you wonder why a species such as Japanese Knotweed is such a nuisance here but not in Japan?! The reason is that, as it evolved in Japan, numbers of natural enemies (mainly insects) evolved with it, keeping it in check.! We imported the plant but not its enemies.! Using these insects is one method of control being studied by scientists at present. continued…

Giant Hogweed, another non-native plant, can be seen growing near Munlochy but it does not seem to have spread further east.! Hogweed spreads by its seeds which are carried in the water of burns and ditches. ! Sika Deer, which are natives of Japan, were introduced into the Rosehaugh Estate but there are no longer any present on the estate nor anywhere else on the Black Isle.! Similar releases in other parts of the Highlands were more successful and numbers of these deer are present on both sides of Loch Ness and on western estates. ! Our native squirrel is the Red Squirrel but in the 19th and early 20th century the American Grey Squirrel was released at over twenty locations in England and southern Scotland, sometimes in groups of up to one hundred.! These thrived and the result is the virtual elimination of the Red Squirrel in most of England.! Hopefully the Grampians will prove a barrier and the Greys will not reach northern Scotland. ! On 31 October the Rural Affairs Secretary in the Scottish Parliament stated that invasive (not native) species of plants and animals cost the Scottish economy at least £200 million a year.! In London, the eradication of Japanese Knotweed from the Olympic site is going to cost £70 million. ! Other species have been reintroduced to restore once native populations.! Excessive hunting and the cutting down of forests for timber and to clear wolves (this is incorrect)! in the 18th Century resulted in the extinction of the Capercaillie.! In the 19th Century, the release of Capercaillies from Scandinavia, or birds obtained by hatching eggs under hens, resulted in this species becoming established again.! An introduction of these birds to the Rosehaugh estate in 1888 was not successful but others thrived at Brahan and Foulis, in districts in the north and in Perthshire.! Today the large Forestry Commission plantations on the Black Isle support this species with their roadways provided suitable habitats for these large birds. ! Red Kites were re-introduced to the Black Isle about twenty years ago and they appear to have thrived, although they are not as common near Avoch as they once were. End

by the Avoch Observer C S and Mrs E L Hiddleston

DAIMLER CHAUFFEUR HIRE TRADITIONAL WEDDING CARS UNIFORMED CHAUFFEURS Fairy Glen View, Eathie Road Rosemarkie IV10 8SJ 01381 620247 Mobile: 07711 093522


NEW BUILDINGS & EXTENSIONS Renovations and all types of building work done Estimates given

8 Ormonde Terrace, Avoch Tel: 01381 620752/621432/621038

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 39

CONTACT NUMBERS Childline 0800 1111

Life style page: Submitted by Linda Bailey

Beware of the cold! Acknowledgement to: Age Concern Literature and Website

Children First 01381 620757 Citizen's Advice Bureau: Dingwall 01349 864850 Inverness 01463 235345 Community Advice Service 01479 810919 Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 0271234 Family Mediation 01463 712100 Healthways, Dingwall 01349 868689 Homestart Ross/ Cromarty 01349 883484 Housing: Inverness 01463 710454 Ross/Cromarty 01349 868471 Out of Hours 0845 7002005 Marriage Counselling 01463 712888 Men's Advice Line 0181 6449914 Police: Inverness (H.Q.) 01463 715555 Ross,Cromarty/Skye 01349 862444 Rape and Abuse Line 0808 8000123 or 7pm-10pm 01349 865316 Reach out Highland 01463 711585 Ross Council on Alcohol 01349 852438 Samaritans Inverness 01463 713456 Linkline 0345 909090 Shelterline 0808 8004444 Social Work: Dingwall 01349 865262 Inverness 01463 724040 Out of Hours 0345 697284 Victim Support: Highland 01463 710806 Women's Aid: Dingwall 01349 863568 Inverness 01463 220719 Information provided without guarantee of accuracy. Please let us know if you are aware of any changes - send to editor@chatterbox

THE DANGERS OF EXERCISING AND SITTING IN A COLD ENVIRONMENT The biggest concern for exercising/sitting in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. When you exercise/sit in a cold environment you must consider one primary factor: how much heat is your body losing? Heat loss is controlled in two ways: 1. Insulation, consisting of body fat plus clothing; and 2. Environmental factors, including temperature, wind, draughts, and whether you're exercising in the air or in the water. Each of these factors plays a role in the body's ability to maintain a comfortable temperature. Insulation Although many people aspire to have a lean figure, people with a little more body fat are better insulated and will lose less heat. Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is clearly the most important element in performance and comfort whilst exercising or sitting in the cold. One study showed that heat loss from the head alone was about 50 percent at the freezing mark, and by simply wearing a helmet, subjects were able to stay outside indefinitely. Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the abil-

ity to trap air, a poor conductor of heat. If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct the heat away from the body, temperature will be maintained. Unlike air, however, water is a rapid conductor of heat and even in the coldest of temperatures people will sweat and risk significant heat loss whilst exercising. With this in mind, you want to choose clothing that can trap air but allow sweat to pass through, away from the body. By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed. While many new products can provide such a layered barrier, it is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. Because these materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin, they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise or continue to sit in a cold environment.

(F) above normal). So, to keep your feet warm you must also keep the rest of your body warm at all times.

Keeping the hands and feet warm is a common concern when it is cold. Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from the hands and feet to the centre of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage. Blood flow will not return to the feet unless the temperature of the torso is normal or slightly higher (.5-1.0 degree Fahrenheit

Rules For Exercising and/or Sitting in a Cold Environment Check the temperature and wind conditions before you go out and do not exercise if conditions are dangerous. Keep your head, hands and feet warm. Dress in layers that can provide a trapped layer of dry air near the skin (avoid cotton sweats and other similar materials). Warm the air you are breathing if temperatures are below your comfort level (usually around 0° F).

Check With the Weatherman Always check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold. Data from the National Safety Council suggest little danger to individuals with properly clothed skin exposed at 20° F, even with a 30 mph wind. A danger does exist for individuals with exposed skin when the wind chill factor (combined effect of temperature and wind) balls below minus 20° F. That can be achieved by any combination of temperatures below 20° F with a wind of 40 mph and temperatures below minus 20° F with no wind. If you are exercising near the danger zone for skin exposure, it also is advisable to warm the air being inhaled by wearing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth.

NESS HORTICULTURAL SERVICES Horticultural Consultants & Greenhouse Suppliers 8 Nessway, Fortrose, Ross-shire IV10 8SS Proprietors: Ian Fraser Tel: 01381 620315 Neil Drummond Tel: 01349 864458

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 40

The Eaglestone, Strathpeffer, and a Walk to the Cat’s Back

Councillors’ Corner

Article and photo by Brian Oakley

Billy Barclay, Highland Councillor Hi Everyone,

The Eaglestone, Strathpeffer, is located almost opposite the old railway station, across from the north side of the main road along a poorly signposted path.! The stone is almost 3 feet in height and 2 feet wide and carved on it is an arch and eagle of Pictish origin, about 1,200 years old.! The arch shape could be a rainbow, which the Picts held in high esteem.! The eagle was a symbol of tribal chieftainship and could indicate the marriage of an important person. There are many legends to the stone which originally stood in Strathconon.! The popular belief is that the stone marks a tribal battle between the Munro and Macdonald or Mackenzie clans.! The Brahan Seer also foretold!four hundred years ago that Strathpeffer would be flooded after the stone fell three times and that ships would be moored at the stone which, so far, has been moved twice and is now set in concrete!! (Global Warming, etc?) After you have seen the stone, call at the old railway station for a bite to eat and drink, then leave for the vitrified fort called locally The Cat’s Back at Knockfarrel, about a 5 mile round trip, for the fairly fit. Turn left from the station and first left again for a steep walk to the signposted track, then left again along this track to the top of the fort.! Views from this point are superb through 360 degrees.! Return to the railway station by the same route, not by the shorter route, which is overgrown in parts. Please note that this is a day out in good weather for the reasonably fit.

Over the last few weeks some of you would have seen a reduction in the large numbers of young people hanging around Lazy Comer at weekends. We have now got most of them attracted to the youth café in Fortrose, on most Friday and Saturday nights. We can have up to 40 young people each night. However, this is causing me some concern because we are at our limit in the numbers we can take. The café was always a temporary solution to the problem of young people on the streets and now we really need to look at providing a bigger and more permanent building. Ideally it could be part of the Black Isle swimming pool complex, where it would be the obvious thing to build a café as part of the Black Isle swimming pool project - but that's not going to solve the problem in the short term. If anyone reading this article has any solution for solving this problem I would like to hear from them. And, again, I would like to stress the need for volunteers to work at weekends as our numbers are few and everyone is under pressure. At present I am confident that the smiley faces that were promised for the village will be installed and soon be up and running, and hopefully that will address the ongoing issues with through traffic in the village. Along with council officials I am having a look at ways to prevent possible flooding to the lower parts of Avoch by re-inforcing the banks of the burn. However, this could be a costly project so we really have to look at our figures and how we deal with this issue. Yours sincerely Billy Barclay


Billy Barclay

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Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 41

Monday 23rd June 2008"""" "3.00 pm – 4.00 pm at Avoch Primary School 6.00 pm – 7.00 pm at Fortrose/ Black Isle Leisure Centre " Tuesday, 24th June 2008 "1.00 pm – 2.00 pm at Cromarty Hugh Miller Institute 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm at Culbokie Primary School "For council problems or queries Please telephone 01381 600871 or email:

Chatterbox photo My name is Linda Bailey, self-employed Personal Trainer/ GP Referral/ Health Coach at the Black Isle Leisure Centre, working part time hours. If you require my services or would like more information, please ring me on Mobile: 077 6969 3993

Personal Training at the BILC CURRENT EXHIBITION

ROSEHAUGH: THEN AND NOW A fascinating insight to the buildings and grounds of the Rosehaugh Estate historical and present day. From 1 May 2008 until April 2009 at Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie For opening times and full information on the work of the museum please visit:

The classic tractor rally On Saturday 27 September it was disappointingly WET when 33 vintage tractors set off from Dingwall at 10.00am - but, luckily, the day improved and after visiting Fortrose, Avoch, Munlochy and Beauly no one could doubt that when the tractors returned to Dingwall at 5.00pm, a great day had been enjoyed by tractor drivers and the public alike. Our photo was taken during their stop-over in Avoch. This year the rally was held to raise funds for MS High-

COMMUNITY PHOTOGRAPHY The Museum is also organising two community photography projects using the environment of the Rosehaugh Estate as a fascinating subject for digital photography. The projects have been funded by Awards for All and the Highland Council Black Isle Ward Fund.

land, whose Secretary, Gill McWhirter, said, “The final total is not yet in, but looks as if it may be between a truly fantastic £7000 and £8000!” She also said, “Our most grateful thanks go to the stalwart Neil MacDonald from the Heights of Achterneed, for his tireless efforts in organising the event# and to Heather MacLennan and her family for organising the very successful Dance that followed in the evening.” See

Groam House Museum, High Street, Rosemarkie Ross-shire, IV10 8UF. Museum Tel: 01381 620961; Office Tel: 01463 811883 Email: www:

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Groam House Museum relies on a dedicated team of volunteers who work on a rota system that can be adapted to individual’s availability. If you are interested in the work of the museum, and would like to find out more about this pleasurable and fulfilling work, please contact: Su Wompra, Volunteer Co-ordinator, on 01349 877091, or email: MUSEUM OPENING HOURS FOR 2008 – ADMISSION FREE 1 May to 31 October: Mon. – Sat. 10am – 5pm; Sundays 2pm – 4.30pm. 1 November to 7-December: Saturday & Sunday 2 - 4pm.

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 42


Cromarty Film Festival The organisers of the Cromarty Film Festival have assembled an impressive line-up of well-known people to introduce their favourite films, to be screened in the Cromarty Film Festival between Friday 5th and Sunday 7th December. So it’s called “My Favourite Film Festival.” Details of the films, times and venues can be found at Information, tickets and week-end vouchers are available from The Emporium, High Street, Cromarty. Here’s the basic line-up … KIRSTY WARK, broadcaster and journalist with partner ALAN CLEMENTS, head of content at STV, introduce their favourite film, the sumptuous romantic epic Ryan's Daughter from 1970. KAREN MATHESON, lead singer of Capercaillie joins with musician and Celtic Connections Director partner DONALD SHAW, to introduce the French classic Tous Les Matins Du Monde from 1993. JANICE FORSYTH, radio and arts programme presenter. and ex-Blue Nile partner, PAUL MOORE, will introduce their favourite film, the hilarious This Is Spinal Tap from 1984. MICHAEL CATON-JONES, Director of Rob Roy, and one of the few Scottish directors to crack Hollywood introduces

My Darling Clementine, perhaps the best orchestrated western of all time. DAVID MACKENZIE is the multiaward winning Director of Hallam Foe. He will introduce his favourite but highly underrated film, The Last Detail from 1973. GUS WYLIE, photographer, photographic lecturer and painter, introduces his favourite film the classic Twelve O'Clock High from 1949. ROBERT LlVINGSTON, Director Hi-Arts and film buff introduces his favourite film the French comedy Playtime from 1967. BRUCE ROBERTSON, Director of Zip 'n' Zoo introduces his favourite, the Academy Award winning My Life as a Dog from 1985.

10K for Eoan Irrepressible as ever, former Seaforth Highlander Eoan Munro, Avoch, is planning to do a 10 kilometres sponsored walk from Cromarty to Avoch, partly via the old railway line, to raise funds to provide Wii computer games, for the Physiotherapy Departments at Ross Memorial Hospital, Dingwall and the County Hospital, Invergordon. The target is £200 for the two games, but any additional funds will go to help the East Ross group of the Parkinson’s Disease Society. The games can be played individually or in groups and can be used by all kinds of patients as physiotherapy to aid their recovery. Eoan’s preference is to do the walk at his own pace, and so would like to do it on his own, but it is possible that his next door neighbour may accompany him. He says that he was planning to do the journey carrying a full pack, but has been persuaded that perhaps this would be going a littlle too far! He will do the walk before Christmas and plans just to pick a good Saturday. Eoan asks anyone wishing to sponsor him for the walk to send their pledge to The Editor, Chatterbox, 7 High Street, Avoch IV9 8PT. Please make any cheques payable to Parkinson’s Disease Society. We’ll let you know how he gets on!

07825 368 043

Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 43

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (18721918) Canadian Army

The newly restored Avoch war memorial was this year the scene of a very well attended remembrance service on Sunday 9th November. Chatterbox 47 December 2008 page number 44

Chatterbox issue 47  

Community NewsPaper for the South Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland

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