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Black Isle

In The Picture

Chatterbox Printed and published quarterly for the Black Isle by Chatterbox Community News Group 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. Publication does not mean articles are the opinion of the magazine or its production team. Send stories, letters and adverts to: The Editor, Chatterbox, 18 Mackenzie Place, Avoch, IV9 8QP; phone 01381 621243; email editor@

The Team

This amusing photo (or not amusing if you love birds) was sent in by Cllr Craig Fraser, who said his neighbour’s cat spent three hours asleep in his bird table after sheltering from the rain. Do you have a picture to share? Send it to

A View from the Black Isle

News isn’t just doom and gloom I

’M very proud to announce that the winner of this year’s Chatterbox Citizenship Award is Louise MacLarty. You can read about Louise’s achievements on page 4. There is so much negative news in contemporary media that it’s important to remind ourselves that we live in a society where kindness, giving and community spirit still exists: it’s just not reported as “news”. We hope to address that imbalance in Chatterbox and we are fortunate in receiving many good news stories. Just take a look at the “thank-you” messages and fund-raising that goes on in the Black Isle Community, it’s simply inspiring.


HATTERBOX is highly dependent on local and some not-so-local businesses taking out adverts in the magazine. It’s

our main revenue as the cover price doesn’t actually cover the production costs involved in producing the magazine. We aim to keep both the cover price and our advertising rates as low as possible, for everyone’s benefit. In light of this, and taking into consideration the current economic climate, we have decided not to increase advertising rates for 2013 and they will remain at the 2012 level. We hope that our regular advertisers will continue to support us through 2013. We do have a very small number of advertisers past and present declining to pay their bills, which is a financial burden on the magazine. You know who you are! Please get in touch! Advertising details can be found on the back page of this edition. Claire Divine Editor

Cover: Citizenship Award winner Louise MacLarty Page 2 Chatterbox December 2012

Picture: Russell Turner

Story: Page 4

Editor Claire Divine Layout Russell Turner Advertising Printing Sandy Mitchell Liz McKinlay Distribution Mike Noble Treasurer Howard Wainwright Chairman Sandy Mitchell

Advertising Rates for 2013 are based on 73p per column centimetre, using our standard seven-column layout. We give 15% discount to advertisers who book for the year. See our website for full details of rates and discounts.

Next Issue The spring edition of Chatterbox will be available in early March. The deadline for articles, photos and adverts is February 7th Chatterbox was founded in September 1997 by Jack Malpas


Sam MacLean gets the hang of two wheels with the help of the Million Miles project.

By Catriona Ross


OUNGSTERS from across the Black Isle have been blazing a trail in cutting the area’s carbon footprint. A range of activities took place during the October holidays as part of Transition Black Isle’s Million Miles project, which aims to cut one percent a year off car use in the area over the next three years. A series of cycling skills sessions in Muir of Ord proved popular with families, with even the youngest cyclists making excellent progress in honing their two-wheeled skills at the Black Isle Showground. Local parent David Porter said: “As a regular cyclist myself and dad of three young children, I thought the family session was really useful. “Getting this kind of practice is great preparation for being out on the road as a family, as the kids are learning the skills they need to keep them safe. Even younger children can learn a lot. The showground is a great venue, and the training was free! We’re all looking forward to the next sessions.” Five-year-old Cara Christie said: “Doing the cycling was awesome. My favourite bit was playing games to practise signals. I will definitely come the next time!” Big sister Heather, aged seven,

Youngsters gain their saddle skills added: “I don’t have a favourite bit because it was all my favourite! It was cool and lots of fun and I think it will make me safer on my bike because we were practising doing the right thing.” In Fortrose, 60 primary aged children attending the Black Isle

Leisure Centre October Playscheme were able to benefit from the expertise of the Million Miles project’s cycle trainers. The children were put through a series of tests and challenges on their bikes to help improve their cycling skills and boost confidence and enjoyment of this healthy, active form of travel.

“We were delighted to be able to offer this session as part of our children’s activities programme this October. All the children taking part had great fun and many of them were able to learn new skills on their bikes,” said Ian Goode, manager of the Black Isle Leisure Centre. “We will definitely be doing more of this type of activity in the future. Working with the Million Miles project also inspired us to go a little bit greener on our first ever Playscheme day trip to Aviemore – we decided to go by public transport – which was a fantastic day out, particularly for the three children who had never been on a train before.” The community cycle trainers on the Black Isle are now busy planning the next batch of activities, including a series of “Women on Wheels” group bike rides. To contact them e-mail or phone 07715663781. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Louise is our star citizen By Claire Divine, Editor


Hard work helps create new hedge ON Saturday, November 10th, a group of enthusiastic children and parents arrived at Avoch Primary School early in the morning to plant a Jubilee Hedge. The young trees were donated by the Woodland Trust to help wildlife come to the school grounds. The hedge was made up of 420 different native trees and these were all planted by midday! The sun shone and the final tree from the Royal Forest was planted by head teacher Mrs Sim and three young P1s. We finished the day with some hot chocolate and some crispy cakes. We would like to say a very BIG thank you to all the helpful people who came along and helped plant the Jubilee Hedge. Martha P6 & Ailsa P5

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OUISE MacLarty, who lives near, Culbokie, is the winner of this year’s Chatterbox Citizenship Award. In the last edition of Chatterbox you will have seen the Culbokie Scarecrows on the front cover and inside the magazine. Louise created the scarecrow competition. Louise has been involved for a number of years in community projects as well as being being a working mother, and that’s the key reason for her nomination. To be a working mum and wife and still find the energy not only to be involved in projects, but to create and lead them, must be a very difficult act to manage. Somehow she does that and makes friends at the same time; not everyone can do that! I’m sure we don’t know everything she does but: ■ She has created and led the team that raises funds every year for the Senior Citizens Dinner in December; ■ She has just been elected vice chair of the Findon Hall committee; ■ She has been on the steering group of the Culbokie Timebank since it started; ■ She helped the teenagers who created and led the Culbokie Gathering.

Louise was both embarrassed and thrilled to be the recipient of the award. She immediately began to think of four or five other people that would be suitable candidates for the award. I’ve asked Louise to put these people forward for next year, and ask you, the reader, to continue to send in your nominations for 2013. Please send nominations to The winner receives a gift reward of £100 from Chatterbox in recognition of their efforts.

Ready to celebrate the Bard AVOCH Amenities Association will hold a Burns Supper on Friday, January 25th, at Avoch Community Centre. Please see local noticeboards for further information.


Round the Horne again By Mike Noble


HE Black Isle Vintage Tractor Rally and Run has become established as an annual event – and this year, on Saturday, September 22nd, a wonderfully bright, sunny day, the procession of members’ tractors wound its way down School Brae and parked on Avoch’s old tennis courts, where our photos were taken, for a lunch stop at the Station Hotel, before going on to Fortrose and the rest of the rally route. The group of tractor enthusiasts started under the name, “Round the Horne,” in memory of founder member Mike Horne, and is now about 19 strong and has members who come from as far afield as Dundonnell and Ullapool. Each year the run adopts a charity, with each member raising his own sponsorship funds; this year proceeds were being donated to the Puffin Pool, Dingwall. The Puffin Pool is run by a registered charity for the people of the Highlands and Islands. If you are disabled, in pain or simply interested in keeping fit, hydrotherapy at the pool may be just the thing for you. Clubs, organisations or groups of

Just a few of the tractors that completed the run. Pictures: Mike Noble friends can book the pool for weekly sessions, but you don’t have to go as a group, you can also go along individually for assessment and advice by the Pool’s physiotherapists. You can learn more about the pool at and you can

sign up as a friend of the pool for £5 per year to receive the Puffin Pool’s newsletter each summer and winter. For more information on becoming a friend of the Puffin Pool please phone 01349 864414 or visit reception at the pool.

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Chiliconcarnage! By Sandy Mitchell


ALLOWE’EN night at The Anderson Hotel in Fortrose saw some cool ghouls gather to feast on some well-cooked blood and muscle (modern vampires are such softies). This was an event started by the Andersons four years ago with a chili-pepper-eating competition. After the second year boss Jim decided to change the format because it looked as if some of the contestants were so determined to win he was worried they might self-ignite. So for the last two years it has been a chili cook-off with contestants bringing in their offerings to be sniffed, savoured then eaten. And the event was publicised as Chiliconcarnage. There were 14 contestants (11 last year) ranging from teenagers to OAPs. Entries could be meat or vegetarian. Each dish had just a number so there could be no favouritism among the four judges – while for fun the public were also given score-sheets. Awards were based on appearance, aroma and flavour and the winner turned out to be The Anderson manager Jonah Johnston. He called his offering Uncle Ben and Jonah’s Meat. Runners up were appropriately named Jerry Dishman and his son Corrie, their offering entitled The Devil’s Breakfast. All present – some in wild Hallowe’en disguises – had a great evening and a part of the proceeds will go to the British Heart Foundation. Right: Jim Anderson offers chilies to unwary visitors. Left: Staff members Damian and Agatha (top) and competitors get into the chili spirit.

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McGarry family get close to a champion Gerry, Lorraine and Erin McGarry from Fortrose were lucky to meet Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray during their recent visit to Dunblane to take part in his reception there. Andy and his mother stopped and spoke to them and Andy posed for a picture, taken by Gerry with his mobile phone. Gerry was so excited that poor Erin was almost left out!


EFURBISHED over last winter, Rosemarkie Beach Café is celebrating a bumper season. The café, managed by Philip Eley and run by a team of young local staff, often in their first working role, has served over 10,000 customers since reopening in April 2012. All profits from the café are ploughed back into Rosemarkie Amenities Association for the benefit of the local community. There have been many funny moments during the year: visitors coming in to ask ‘when the dolphins perform,’ unbooked foreign coach parties turning up for burgers at 4pm when all the grills have just been scrubbed, headlong rushes into the café’s new indoor seating area when there’s been a downpour on the beach, and the pure amazement on the faces of children as their ice-cream is ‘squiggled’ into their cone out of a special machine. The café serves simple meals such as toasties, Comfort Foods stovies and burgers, home-made soup, plus the ever-popular bacon roll and a whole range of delectable locally-made cakes. It has sold many of its own-design aprons which are now being used as far afield as Africa and Australia. It is also increasingly providing tourist information about local wildlife, local shops, restaurants and places to stay and visit locally, working closely with the RSPB and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. “Our job is to provide good food at a reasonable price and to be friendly. That way we encourage people to stay in the Black Isle for longer, or at least

Beach Café open until Christmas want to come back again,” commented Philip. “We’ve had a lot of fun since the café reopened and lots of compliments about our young staff, the extended menu – and premises. We would say that we’ve served about 75% visitors to 25% local people though, so if you haven’t yet tried us, what are you waiting for? We’re always glad to see new local faces too.” Many local hard-working eatery teams close for holidays in the months leading up to Christmas but as the café’s costs are relatively low, the team thought they would give it a try and stay open this year, at least until Christmas. The café can offer comfortable indoor seating in heated premises, so what better excuse to get out and walk on Rosemarkie beach a bit more this autumn and winter! Philip kept the café open seven days a week from 10.30 to 3.30 until the end of October, then from November onwards the opening has been Saturday and Sunday only. The café team will consider how successful this experiment has been before deciding whether to open from January to Easter. Over the winter, new interpretation for the beach area and café is being prepared. “We have two funding bids in to help with the costs of telling

Rosemarkie’s fascinating stories, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for those,” explained Anne Phillips, Rosemarkie Amenities Association chair. “In anticipation, we have been collecting stories about the beach from local people and are working on a new map which will show the local walks network which connects to Rosemarkie Bay, including Hillockhead and the Fairy Glen. “We want to encourage people to spend longer here to help increase local spending on meals, shopping and accommodation – to the benefit of all.” The Amenities Association will also hold a winter event to showcase the interpretation in draft form so that local people can comment and add information. ■ If you have family memories and/or early photographs of Rosemarkie Beach, the Fairy Glen or exploring the surrounding area, or your family has particular names for different areas or rocks on the beach (like the ‘Tubach’ and the ‘Cannick’), please get in touch with Verity Walker on 077789 22407 or e-mail her at She’s always happy to meet at the cafe for a coffee and a chat. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Golden celebration is grand day for hospice WILLIAM and Barbara Skinner celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on October 13th. Friends and family celebrated with the couple at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club. William and Barbara requested that instead of gifts, friends and family make a donation to the Highland Hospice. A tremendous £1,000 was raised and William and Barbara would like to thank all their friends and family for such great generosity in supporting the Hospice.

Eilean Dubh is nation’s favourite


BOOK that reveals the beauty of the Black Isle has been named Favourite Scottish Nature Photography Book 2012 in an online public vote organised by the Scottish Nature Photography Awards. Eilean Dubh – The Black Isle polled ahead of stiff competition in a shortlist of eight books that each highlights different aspects of Scottish nature and landscape with stunning photography. The book features the combined work of photographers Andrew Dowsett, James A Moore and Russell Turner, all of whom live on the Black Isle. It beautifully portrays the landscape and character of this part of the highlands along with its wildlife, including the world-famous dolphins at Chanonry Point. Russell said: “When we first put together Eilean Dubh, the book was just for us – we never dreamed that we’d created the Favourite Scottish Nature Photography Book for 2012! That we did so is thanks to all the readers who voted for it. We appreciate every single vote. “Eilean Dubh’s success is particularly gratifying because the shortlist included such great books, some by big names in nature photography. We were delighted that a self-published work was even considered; to win is incredible, but maybe not so surprising when you consider the beauty and variety of the Black Isle. This is a place which definitely deserves to be better known.” Second place in the vote was won by A Year in the Life of the Cairngorms by Chris Townsend (published by Frances Lincoln); Caledonia – Scotland’s Heart of Pine by Peter Cairns and Niall Benvie (published by Northshots) was voted third. ■ Details of the book and where to buy it can be found on Page 8 Chatterbox December 2012


Pumpkins on parade! M

ATILDA Walker and her team of teenage volunteers from Fortrose Academy would like to thank all those people who took the time and effort to carve wonderful pumpkins for the Rosemarkie Beach Pumpkin Parade in October. Visitors admired over 60 pumpkin lanterns (not to mention traditional neep, gourd, melon, pineapple, coconut – plus one giant marrow!) on a showery Sunday afternoon and evening. Donations to Project Trust, the Coll-based charity which sends young volunteers into third world communities to teach or to assist with social care, came to £150 and the team is delighted. Over 200 people attended during the afternoon or evening and the Beach Café was busy serving Comfort Foods’ stovies and home-made pumpkin soup, while younger visitors tried some traditional Hallowe’en games, including apple and spoon races, apple-dooking and eating Scone to Heaven treacle scones, dripping with syrup, without touching them, as they dangled from a string outside the café. Matilda’s mum, Verity, who works on many community projects locally, said: “Scottish settlers took the idea of these fun games like apple-dooking and dressing up – guising – and performing songs, poems or riddles at Hallowe’en with them to America as emigrants. “Sadly the customs have become debased in the New World and they forgot the games – and we’re now importing their stupid ’trick or treat’ behaviour. We don’t need to – we’ve already got some great traditions! It would be nice to see more traditional Scots Hallowe’en fun having a bit of a renaissance, so maybe it’ll start with the Pumpkin Parade.” Prizewinners this time included many local children (and not a few adults!) with Ruby McBride, Stewart Smith and Paula Sime scooping the prizes for funniest, spookiest and most unusual lanterns. Ellie Robbins won the prize for most ornate, Kim Rourke most

Just two of the lanterns on display at the Beach Café Pumpkin Parade.

traditional, Chloe Fea best child’s entry, Amy Mackenzie for the best adult entry lantern and the creative Wheelhouse family secured the best family lantern. Philip Eley, who manages the Beach Café, which will be staying open at weekends until Christmas and plans to open on New Year’s Day (serving

hangover remedies!) said: “Hats off to Matilda and her friends for organising everything so well, including the nailbiting business of judging! There were so many imaginative entries we will have to have more categories and more prizes next year. “We’d like to do this again and double the number of pumpkins next time, but local shops will need to order in a few more – we had phone calls from Saturday saying everywhere had sold out of pumpkins!” Matilda’s next fundraising venture is likely to be selling notebooks and notelets, made from her own paintings and photographs, at the Black Isle Community markets and elsewhere. Anyone who would like to be kept informed of her activities should get in touch via her website at raisingPageforProjectTrust

December 2012 Chatterbox

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A smooth way to health


ROMARTY Primary celebrated its first Eco Day of the session with a variety of events promoting health, wellbeing and sustainability. Pupils enjoyed a variety of events including: a taster session of Kuk Sol Wan organised by Active School coordinator Nicola MacKenzie; an energy workshop led by Dennis Mackay; and hand-washing sessions with school nurse Donna MacNicol. The main attraction was the launch of Cromarty’s new pedal-power smoothie maker. Pupils were able to create their own delicious fruity smoothies without using any electricity at all. Henri Shepherd Head Teacher Cromarty Primary School

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Scouting – do you have what it takes? By Ewan Henderson


HANONRY Scouting gives local girls and boys the opportunity to experience the fun, excitement and rewards that scouting offers. Memories and skills for life? You bet! Based at Fortrose Town Hall and the Academy, it all started in 2010 when a few eager Beavers (and some nervous parents) decided to give it a go. Almost immediately, a Cub group was needed so more parents stepped up and, hey presto, another success story began. Now the unit boasts over 70 members hailing from Avoch, Fortrose, Rosemarkie, right over to Cromarty and many places in between! Beavers start off at the age of six then, at 81⁄2, head up to Cubs. They remain there until the age of 101⁄2 when they either move to our newly formed ‘land’ scouts or head over to Avoch Sea Scouts. The emphasis is on having as much fun as possible whilst learning new skills in a safe and controlled environment. Outdoor skills and camping is a big part of it. At the last Cub camp (September) an amazing time was had by all (including the leaders!), topped off by a spectacular light show – courtesy of a massive meteor hitting the atmosphere. Scouts started after the summer. So far, it has been a huge success. However, we anticipate that our 100th child will be starting in Beavers soon and the knock-on is that we need more volunteers for the Scouts. So, are you up for a challenge?

Catapulting and fire-building – just two of the skills to learn at cub camp. To find out more about the group, or if you think you have what it takes to get involved, please speak to Ewan Henderson (group leader), Dave Cumming (Beaver leader), Andrew Rowlands (Cub leader), Greg Connor (Scout leader) or contact:, or

Remember a loved one with a bench By Verity Walker EAGLE-EYED bonfire-goers may have spotted that many of Rosemarkie Beach Café’s picnic benches went up in smoke on Saturday night. Battered by the elements and years of hard use, it was time to give them a Viking burial and to put in new outdoor benches for the popular café area for the 2013 season onwards. For a limited period, the Beach Café team (on behalf of Rosemarkie Amenities Association) is offering members of the community an opportunity to fund a wooden bench in memory of a loved one. They will be made of sustainable local timber and there will be a range of different robust styles, including some picnic tables. It will be possible

to have a brief personal inscription on each. The Beach Café team asks that people do not purchase their own benches for donation. Philip Eley, the café manager explains: “This time we will be sourcing all the benches from the same manufacturer so that the style and standard are similar and strong enough to cope with the 10,000+ customers we get every year!” On a recent visit to New York, Philip was struck by the range of memorial bench inscriptions in Central Park. “Some are quite cryptic and don’t actually name anyone, but mean something special to someone, somewhere!” he comments. “Others are for beloved dogs who were walked in the park, as well as the humans

who walked them. Reading them all was really very moving.” There is already one memorial bench at the Beach Café, which recalls the late community councillor Rita Balfour, who ran the café in the 1970s, still fondly remembered for her organising skills – and fabulous baking! So if you lost a member of your family recently who loved a walk on Rosemarkie Beach (or even just a slice of cake and a ‘wee sit doon’ in front of its lovely view) perhaps you would like to think about commemorating them in this practical way which benefits the whole community. Please contact me or Philip on 01381 620575 or email (heading your message ‘Rosemarkie Bench’) for further details of styles and costs. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Hung out to dry!

From left: Cllr Billy Barclay, Angus McWilliams and SSE project coordinator Lee Major with the team who resurfaced the railway path. Picture: Mike Noble


COTTISH and Southern Electricity has for many years been offering its employees an opportunity to help communities with environmental and social projects. Avoch benefitted from this two years ago when a squad of them arrived to help with the upgrading of the primary school playing fields. This year, Avoch & Killen Community Council was approached by SSE’s project coordinator, Lee Major, to see if we had any suitable projects. A few sprang to mind, including the path from Braehead to the harbour. This is very overgrown and uneven. On the railway path the heavy rain and high winds in the autumn have clogged ditches and brought down a number of trees, some of which are hung up across the railway track and despite the work done by Colin and others the ditches close to the Avoch entrance to the path are very clogged and do not drain away. Finally, the short path from the east end of Braehead up onto the railway track needs steps to make it accessible. After much deliberation and consulting with Phil Waite, Highland Council’s access and core path officer, it was decided to resurface the path up at the Culloden viewpoint where it has become very rough and uncomfortable for cycling. This

The perfect Christmas stocking filler

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Helping hands smooth out railway path project took place on November 9th when Avoch welcomed a team of volunteers with a mechanical digger. Our thanks go to the Black Isle Ward Discretionary fund, for giving us the money to purchase the whin dust for the new surface, and to all the individuals who over the course of the last year have put in time helping to maintain these routes or simply picking up the odd bit of litter as they enjoy their walk. Our thanks also go to Barry Adams and Russell McKenzie who, on hearing that the path from Braehead to the harbour could not be tackled by SSE, have offered to carry out this work themselves.

SOME days ago, as I was reading about the inadvisability of drying washing indoors, I remembered an incident of several years past. It was a Monday morning and I had just finished my washing. I had missed the morning weather forecast on Radio 4 and the cloudy sky left me undecided about putting my sheets, towels etc. out on the “whirly”. I had an idea. Why not call the Weather Centre? (These were the good-old-days when such numbers could be easily found in the telephone directory!) I dialled, expecting a recorded message but was delighted to be answered by a real live person. My pleasure was shortlived! I asked if I could have that morning’s forecast for the Inner Moray Firth. The information was given and then I was asked in a tone of voice that transported me immediately to the Headmaster’s Study why I needed the information. I replied meekly that I wasn’t sure if I should put my washing out. A shocked voice repeated: “Not sure if you should put your washing out? I thought at the very least you were going to take a bus-load of children for a picnic!” I think I heard the man snort and the conversation sank into my subconscious to be retrieved many times since to be laughed over with my friend Margaret. Betty Patience


Businesses help keep village clean

The Sea Scouts’ new colours, used for the first time on Remembrance Day.

Community centre moving forward F

OLLOWING the decision to reopen Avoch Community Centre on July 1st in partnership with the 1st Avoch Sea Scouts, young and old have come together to support this valuable community asset. The Sea Scouts concentrated on working through a number of maintenance and safety issues, including repairs to the canopy at the entrance to stop flooding, clearing of car park verges, disposal of rubbish and organising of bookings for the term. Small joinery work to repair internal doors was also undertaken. User groups are working hard to ensure that the centre is kept tidy for everyone, safety inspections are complete and a web presence is now established. The next steps are to introduce a programme of repainting, supported by B&Q and Highland Council social work’s community service programme. Discussions are also ongoing with Avoch Football Club to improve changing and showering facilities. So far, costs have been borne by the goodwill of the community and small funding sourced by the Sea Scouts.

The centre is certainly taking on a more nautical feel, with the Sea Scouts meeting, storing boats and putting up posters around the place. Currently the centre hosts Avoch After School Club, Toddlers, Canine Concerns, Chatterbox and Avoch & Killen Community Council, in addition to the Sea Scouts. Skipper Derek Martin said: “The Sea Scouts are delighted to be supporting our community. It’s an important part of scouting, and is a small way of showing our gratitude for the tremendous community support we have had over the past eight years.” The centre continues to be available for bookings for groups and children’s parties. Details can be found at http://avochcommunitycentre.blogspot. or by phoning 07806 330203. The Sea Scouts were delighted recently with the level of community support shown when Chatterbox and The Episcopal Church in Fortrose donated £500 and £100 respectively towards their new colours for parades which were used for the first time at the Remembrance Day Service in Avoch.

Council in hunt for new member AVOCH & Killen Community Council has a vacancy for a co-opted member. To qualify, individuals must: be named on the electoral register for the area, reside in the council area, be 16 years or over

The council is keen to attract a new member from outwith the village. Meetings are on the first Monday of every month, except January and August. For more information call Dawn on 01381 620386 or visit the website.

AVOCH & Killen Community Council have thanked local businesses who have provided generous contributions towards the costs of employing the Avoch Village Officer. They are Gabi’s Tandoori, Jasmine Garden, Burnside Garage, Avoch Harbour Trust and Salmovac. For many years the council has employed someone from the village to spend an hour or so each Saturday and Sunday morning picking up litter and clearing weeds along Avoch’s main thoroughfares, pathways and public spaces, including Lazy Corner. “We have previously managed to do this by using grant funding from Highland Council’s Ward Discretionary Budget and a small amount contributed by some local businesses,” said a spokesman. “Unfortunately, we were informed in the summer that the discretionary budget could no longer provide any funding to pay for wages/salaries. We consequently wrote to all the businesses in Avoch seeking a contribution towards the village officer costs. “Avoch & Killen Community Council is fully aware that in these difficult economic times it is not easy for businesses to find funds to invest outside of their business. However, we were delighted that five businesses have recognised the value of this worthwhile initiative and demonstrated their commitment to the community. Without their assistance we could no longer continue with this important community service and the village environs would certainly suffer greatly as a consequence. “Despite their generosity, we still do not have enough money to employ the village officer for more than a few more months. We would be delighted if more businesses chose to make a financial donation to this initiative. By way of encouragement and recognition, we will list the names of every business or individual who contributes on the Avoch village noticeboard and provide an update in the next edition of Chatterbox.” To make a donation, go to CommunityCouncil or send a cheque, made payable to Avoch & Killen Community Council, c/o Kate Lackie at Knockmuir Farmhouse, Avoch, IV9 8RD. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Alex Mann’s 1942 Ford Jeep GPW.

Al Matheson’s 1962 Austin Mini.

Classic day a great success T

The ice-cream team, busy at the rally.

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HE 10th annual Fortrose and Rosemarkie Classic Vehicle Rally took place on Saturday, August 25th and was hailed a great success by all concerned. Around a hundred classic vehicles, out of the 133 entered, completed the course which started at 10.30am at Dingwall Auction Mart where entrants received tea and excellent bacon rolls at Terry’s Café. They then undertook an hour-long scenic drive, via Strathpeffer, Contin and Muir of Ord to the main rally field display in Fortrose. Further food and entertainment was laid on at the rally field by the Fortrose Academy Arctic Exchange Group, who are fundraising for a dozen pupils who will be travelling to the frozen North of Scotland north of Canada. MacBrayne Circle’s 1963 Special thanks must go to Bedford VAS1 30 Seat Bus. the staff, pupils and volunteers for the amazing spread of food and great entertainment put on by the musicians. Rally secretary Gordon Stewart was delighted with the overall turnout and a very pleasant and mostly dry afternoon was spent in Fortrose by enthusiasts and spectators alike! Many stalls were present and entrants and public alike could sample ice cream from an 80-year-old ice-cream trike on loan from former Fortrose Chip Shop & Ice Cream Parlour owner, Mario Pagliari. Thanks also to the Black Isle Leisure Centre, Fortrose Co-operative and Cromarty Bakery who also supported this event. ■ Over 200 photos of vehicles from the rally can be found on


Black Isle projects are winners


AROLINE Macleman (left), Jean Maclean (centre) and Rachel Macleman have done extensive fundraising this year for Scottish Huntington’s Association. A soup & sweet lunch in Avoch Masonic Lodge on April 21st raised £1,100; a firewalk on September 14th, which consisted of walking 20 feet across red hot burning embers, raised a further £350; running the Baxters 10k on September 30th added £175; a curry night plus raffle and games at Fortrose Masonic lodge on October 27th raised a huge £2,700. The three women aim to raise awareness of the condition and help keep open the office in Inverness which assists many families throughout Highland. They thank everyone who came to events, donated money and helped out.

Huntington’s is a hereditary disorder which affects the brain. Uncontrollable muscular movements, difficulty in speech and swallowing, decreased balance and stumbling are very common symptoms. There are also personality/ emotional changes such as stubbornness, severe mood swings, anti-social behaviour, short-term memory lapses and depression. This can have a great impact on not just the person with the disease but also their family. This is a slow, progressive disease and in later stages people need support and carers and can no longer do things that previously seemed simple such as walking, eating and speaking. Unfortunately there is no cure for this serious illness.

Hard work and fun aid charity funds E

LLIE Patience from Avoch is only nine years old, but had a lovely idea – to raise money for charity by organising a bake sale. She roped in family and friends to help bake and raise money for a little girl called Skye, whose family has local connections and who, at only seven years old, has been fighting a brain tumour since she was four. Unfortunately treatment has not been a success, so the family is fundraising for her to get proton radiotherapy in America. Ellie was very touched by Skye’s story and wanted the money raised to be donated for this. So far, with donations still coming in, she has raised over £330 and a big thank you is due to everyone who has been involved and contributed. And a huge “Thanks” is

due to Ellie for such a lovely thought at such a young age. Laura Patience and Val Wardrop ■ Picture: From left – Laura, Ellie and Val.

TWO Black Isle projects were honoured in this year’s Highland Council Quality Awards. The Working Together for Caring Communities award was won by a partnership of a working group, chaired by Cllr David Alston and supported by Black Isle councillors Billy Barclay, Isobel McCallum and Craig Fraser, and the Black Isle Ward Forum members. They proposed, planned and delivered a unique and highly successful Festival for Older People in the Black Isle in September 2011. The partnership is currently overseeing the production of My Black Isle – a colourful directory of many activities and services for older people, the final draft of which has met with widespread acclaim by prospective users and people within statutory, voluntary and private sector services. The buzz around the project is enabling older people to work with services and community groups to enhance the quality of their lives and ensures the council is better prepared to meet the challenges and take the opportunities afforded by the rapid aging of the population. The directory was launched on November 21st at the Black Isle Leisure Centre. The Chairman’s Award went to Active Rosemarkie Kids. The old play park in Rosemarkie was once a thriving and well used park but in 2010 the dated play equipment had to be removed. It came as a shock to the community that there was no money available to replace the equipment and the park quickly became neglected. It was very much missed so in May last year a group of parents came together with the aim of raising £80,000. There was tremendous support and the community really rallied round and started fund-raising. As well as money from local events, funding was secured from the Highland LEADER programme, the Fortrose & Rosemarkie Common Good Fund, Highland Council’s Black Isle Ward Discretionary Budget as well as many national, international and local businesses. In total £89,000 was raised and right on schedule on June 2nd this year the new park was officially opened. The project was managed by the council in partnership with the community – but without everyone working together it just would not have been possible to achieve in such a short timescale. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Page 16 Chatterbox December 2012


Jazzmen set to swing in Fortrose

Colin Smith, Mike MacKenzie, Andy Davidson, Pat Strachan and Ronnie Shaw, who make up Black Isle Jazz, will play Dixieland, Swing and Latin from 2-4pm at Fortrose Academy Theatre on Sunday, December 16th. Tickets cost £5, concessions - £4. Pupils get free entry. They are available from the Black Isle Leisure Centre, tel 01381 621252. Tea and coffee will be available or bring your own refreshments.

Two years of great music at Glachbeg By Bob Bull


LACHBEG Croft Acoustic/ Folk club has just celebrated its second anniversary. The club was set up in order to give an outlet for local musicians to perform to people who want to listen, in one of the nicest venues you can imagine. In October, after an open mic session that saw some songs from regulars and a couple of newcomers to Glachbeg, we were treated to a fantastic set by Derek Urquhart and Marc Clements. These two men are well known in the area, largely for their work as session artists and in groups such as Blazin’ Fiddles, Session A9, Lush Rollers, Davy Cowan and the Stormchasers, and Abagail Grey. They have known each other since primary school days and have found this the first opportunity to work together. They played a chilled-out set from their forthcoming CD (name

unknown) which had the “standing room only” audience transported into a place of total relaxation. Their set was a perfect followup to Josephine Sillars’ quirky set with her commentary on life through the eyes of a young girl, through vocals and piano. December 18th will be our traditional (!!!) open mic night, with no guests. Performances in early 2013 include All Hat No Cat and Howard Swindells on Jaunuary 15th, Chris Roberts and Greg Barry on February 19th, and Neil Kinghorn and Jemma Tweedie on March 19th. The club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, situated on the road that runs between the Artafallie Toll House and Tore. No admission charge, fantastic cakes. Donations welcome. Call 01463 811923 or email for more information or if you wish to perform. December 2012 Chatterbox

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We need our toilets THE public toilets at the harbour in Avoch were closed one month early this year. I phoned TEC Services, Dingwall, to complain about them being locked, only to be told “due to a management reshuffle someone made a mistake and closed them on 30th September instead of the 31st October”. I asked if the council would consider re-opening them until the end of the month and was told no, the decision was made by Richard Guest, Highland Council’s head of roads and community transport. The nearest public toilets are in Rosemarkie – that’s as good as a handbrake on a horse if you need to go in Avoch. What happens when tourists come for a boat trip, and all the people who came to help with the crane out on 13th October? As far as the Highland Council is concerned, Avoch is the forgotten village. The public toilets in Dingwall are open all year round but people in the Black Isle have to travel miles to use a toilet during the six autumn and winter months from 1st October to 31st March. Gwyn Tanner Harbourmaster

Well done Di I WOULD especially like to congratulate our ward manager, Di Agnew, on being part of the winning team in two categories at the Highland Council Quality Awards, which each year recognise the achievements of our hard-working and dedicated staff. Di’s commitment is already recognised by community councils and community groups across the Black Isle. There were only 18 short-list places in the awards and the council has almost 10,000 staff – so to reach the short-list in two categories was in itself quite remarkable. To win with both projects was outstanding. Cllr David Alston Depute Leader Highland Council Inverness

Let’s stop dumping I URGE you to implore your readers Not to Dump! Why do Black Isle residents put up with so much rubbish? It’s everywhere! In the fields, on the beaches even in the children’s play parks. Offenders must learn to stop dropping litter and leaving dog mess on the ground. If every concerned Black Isle resident, young like me, or advancing in years, were to set an example and stop dropping litter and Page 18 Chatterbox December 2012

Contact Craig THIS is a poster that I am putting into shops around the Black Isle to help people contact me more easily. My new website – – is in its infancy at the moment but will be regularly updated. I wish the site to be a one-stop shop for information as many Black Isle residents have told me that they find using the Highland Council website difficult to navigate. If you go to the Links tab you can see how it is starting to grow. Some of the links will be Money matters, Environmental matters, Independence etc. Cllr Craig Fraser Cromarty

Letters Send your letters to editor@ or to The Editor, Chatterbox, 18 Mackenzie Place, Avoch, IV9 8QP No anonymous letters will be published but authors’ name and address will be withheld on request leaving dog mess on the ground, I’m positive it would have huge benefits for our beautiful Black Isle. I firmly believe we can remove the carpet of rubbish smothering our beautiful countryside once and for all if we make a determined effort. What sorts of people just dump all their old tyres, glass bottles and pieces of rope on our beaches? Are they trying to confuse future archaeologists who might be digging up our beaches in 100 years? Don’t even get me started on the amount of dog mess that is lying everywhere. Leaving your dogs’ faeces on the ground is exactly the same as dumping your own. Bet that sent a disturbing image flashing through your mind. Obviously, Mother Nature gave us this beautiful peninsular to enjoy – yet we continue to destroy it by dropping our litter and leaving dog faeces. Imagine the mighty heap of litter we drop a year. Did you know that one person creates 4.6 pounds of waste a day? Furthermore, a plastic water bottle takes around 450 to 1000 years to decompose. There are many reasons why people drop their litter: some are too lazy to find a bin; some think it’s not cool to use a bin; others have no sense of pride in their community and many people state that there are far worse problems in the world than to worry about litter.

I am concerned that if we do not stop dog and litter dumping now, it will never stop. It doesn’t take much time to keep hold of your litter until you come across a bin or take two plastic bags to pick up your dog mess with: pick it up with one bag then keep it in the other bag until you find a suitable bin. Simple! What is more, recycling is an easy way of getting rid of your rubbish. We all know this, but do we act upon it? Let’s admit it – we have all stepped in dog mess and we hate it. Well, let’s do something about it. Act now and spread the word that it is cool to bin rubbish. AAAT (age 14) Name and address supplied

Thanks A COFFEE morning was held in Avoch pavilion on September 29th raising £350 for Macmillan Cancer Support. We would like to thank all who helped and attended. Moira would also like to thank all who sponsored her in the Loch Ness 5K on September 30th, in aid of Parkinson’s. She raised £290. Moira and Janice I WOULD like to thank everyone who helped and came to the soup and sweet lunch at Avoch pavilion on October 13th. £345 was raised for Maggie’s centres. Many thanks Shona Leggatt JUST a note to let you know that the coffee morning held in Avoch raised the magnificent sum of almost £300 for Black Isle Horticultural Society funds. Thank you to all the many people who helped in any way, whether by helping on the day, donating raffle prizes, plants, produce and baking, or simply by attending. Graham Sullivan Secretary, Black Isle Horticultural Society

Black Isle People

New ARCH chairman looks forward, not back By Caroline Vawdrey


S Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH) looks forward to planning new projects across the Highlands, it is delighted to welcome Graham Clark as the new chairman. “Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands was begun by a small group of people passionate about the archaeological heritage of the Highlands,” commented outgoing ARCH chair, Cait McCullagh, who has been involved with ARCH from the start. “We knew that there were many others like us who wanted to learn more, explore more and do more to celebrate this rich, fascinating and too little researched resource. “In the nearly four years since our launch we have been privileged to work with many communities throughout the Highlands, to support them in identifying, recording and interpreting their own heritage.” The programme of ARCH courses across the Highlands funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, European Community Highland LEADER 20072013 Programme and with support from Highland Council and Scotrail is now drawing to a close. But never an

Graham Clark – in the chair at Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands. organisation to sit still, ARCH is already involved in a pilot project looking at World War II remains, near Evanton, and has a number of smaller projects lined up for early 2013. There is much to be planned and developed to keep ARCH active across the Highlands, and as Cait says: “I am pleased to be able to pass on the chairmanship into the very capable hands of Graham Clark, a noted local historian and active member of North Kessock and District Local History Society. “Graham’s commitment to understanding and making more widely known the sometimes hidden treasures of Highland archaeology and history will be a great asset as he steers the board of ARCH into this next exciting phase of future development.”

Graham will oversee ARCH’s bid for funding to deliver a three year ’Telford in the Highlands’ community project, and expand the Friends group, by which people can support ARCH through donations and offers of voluntary skills. As Graham said: “In retirement, I have indulged my interests in the local history and archaeology of the Black Isle and have published a book and several articles. I am also currently the chairman of the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Scotland, another organisation with learning at its heart. “I am enthusiastic to learn more about my local heritage and I want to encourage everyone else to get interested in theirs. As this is the central mission of ARCH, I look forward to the role of chairman.”

A pipe champ in the making AT the age of three years old, Mitchell Reid, instead of wanting chocolate for Easter, wanted a chanter. The chanter was duly produced by Mitchell’s granny, Avie Reid. Three years on, Mitchell’s desire has not wavered. He tried to learn the fingering on the chanter on his own, as he was not of an age to receive tuition at school, but his enthusiasm was unabated. In April, Mitchell was fortunate to begin his tuition with Mel Langille, Episcopalian minister in Fortrose and Cromarty. Shortly after, in September, his mum, Siobhan Reid, presented

Mitchell with his first set of pipes. He is now getting a grip of a number of tunes on the chanter and coming to terms with the blowing technique required with the pipe bag. Mitchell is also fortunate that he has a willing great granda, James Urquhart, who drives him on one evening a week to Cromarty to receive his piping tuition. It will be at least a year before Mitchell is of an age to receive school tuition. I anticipate by then that he will have steadily progressed – he is a very motivated young boy. Jim Thompson December 2012 Chatterbox

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Black Isle People

Black Isle romance By Stephanie Parker McKean


ET ready for a love story that has birthed not children – but best-selling books. Alan T. McKean’s time-travel adventure, The Scent of Time, and Stephanie Parker McKean’s Christian mystery-romance-suspense, Bridge to Nowhere, were released by two different publishing companies in two different countries and both made the Amazon Best Sellers’ List on Kindle on the same weekend – less than a month after their publication! Every good story has an element of irony. The irony here? Scottish-born Alan’s publishing company is in Texas. Texasborn Stephanie’s publishing company is in England! Every story has a beginning. Sometimes, however, it’s best to skip the beginning. After mentioning the authors’ birthplaces, for example, it’s probably more interesting to skip childhood events. Except, perhaps, for the part about Stephanie having survived an attack by an African lion (her parents ran a roadside zoo) and having been bitten by a poisonous water moccasin snake. The rest of her rather uneventful life consisted of living in many different southern states in the U.S. and writing and sending many different books off to many different publishing companies – all of which were rejected with the same standard wording: “We regret to inform you that your book does not meet our present publishing needs.” To be precise, 150 rejection slips on manuscripts as diverse as the children’s story, Hubert the Friendless Snake, and an adult Texas Hill Country novel for which she interviewed country-western singer Willie Nelson, The Deer are Dead. Stephanie did not receive a standard rejection slip on that book. She was an atheist when she began writing it and became a Christian before she finished it. That rejection slip stated: “Furthermore, we noted what we could only perceive as

Page 20 Chatterbox December 2012

a sharp dividing line in the manuscript, its content, and its treatment of the characters…” Enter Reverend Alan T. McKean’s childhood. Alan celebrated 30 years in the ministry by releasing his first book… and remember the part about irony being an integral ingredient in any good story? Alan wrote his first book, his first query letter, sent it to the first publishing company – and his book was accepted the first time! Alan was born in Glasgow and graduated from Glasgow University. He survived crawling under a city building that had a labyrinth of tunnels even after his flashlight went out and he became lost and disoriented in the dark. More recently, he survived a fall

Alan and Stephanie met each other when he exchanged pulpits and wound up in Pipe Creek, Texas down a mountain that fractured his skull when he was hill-walking. But perhaps the most traumatic survival story in his life was the recovery from childhood suffering due to a stuttering problem that left him lonely and friendless, mocked by other children and – sadly – some adults. More than thirty years ago, he was informed that he would never make it as a pastor with his stuttering problem and that no church would hire him. Since that time, he has shepherded churches in Straloch and Glenshee, Kirkmichael, Tarves and Barthol Chapel, Fauldhouse, Sauchie and Coalsnaughton, and now serves as the minister of the Avoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie Parish Churches.

Childhood finished. That wasn’t too bad, was it? Readers will want to know how a much-rejected writer from Texas wound up married to a Scottish pastor. Some questions, only God can answer. Alan and Stephanie met each other when he exchanged pulpits and wound up in Pipe Creek, Texas. She interviewed him for the local newspaper. After he returned to Scotland, Alan sent a monthly column, “Letter from Scotland,” to the newspaper, along with pictures of historical sites. Exchanging emails about the monthly column bridged the writers together across the miles and kept them in contact with one another. After Alan’s wife Kathy died a couple of years ago, Alan and Stephanie got back into contact with one other… predictably, through writing! And this is how the Black Isle Romance differs from the usual romance novel. Alan and Stephanie believe theirs is a romance novel written by God. And as writers, they have been given the honour of writing future chapters of it together! The Scent of Time and Bridge to Nowhere are available in all the usual online bookstores in both paperback and Kindle editions. Bridge to Nowhere is also at CLC in Inverness. Alan’s book, The Scent of Time, sends young Drew Faulkner fleeing from his dead-end job in Edinburgh, determined to win the love of lovely Lucy Oxford. The first obstacle alone seems insurmountable: he lives in today’s world and she lives in 1867! To win her heart, he must first win the great China to London Tea Clipper Race. As if storms at sea, pirates and sharks were not daunting enough, evil Nantucket sea captain Caleb Bryant is obsessed with Lucy and will stop at nothing – even murder – to keep Drew from winning either the tea clipper race or Lucy’s love. Drew puts aside his zeal for winning the tea clipper race long enough to rescue a young Chinese girl from a child brothel and is

Black Isle People

– with added irony! later repaid for that kindness when she saves his life. He is determined to adopt Mi-Ling and give her a happy home. But Bryant wants no happy endings. He wants victory and revenge – at any cost. Bridge to Nowhere, written by Stephanie, finds "Miz Mike," from Three Prongs, Texas – where misfits fit – busy minding her own business as usual. She can’t help it that her secret motto is: “never let an adventure pass by unmolested.” Nor can she help the secret love she holds for cowboy hero Marty Richards – which in her defence would be nearly any woman’s secret love! When Mike is asked to solve a murder mystery, she nearly becomes the killer’s next victim. Stretching her faith in God to the breaking point, her young grandson is kidnapped and it takes assistance from Three Prongs resident Clint Flavors – who some say isn’t the brightest crayon in the box – to solve the kidnapping. With her grandson rescued, will Mike finally be free to openly declare her love for her cowboy hero, or will a new adventure whisk Mike away before they can tie the knot? To end this Black Isle Romance, which predictably seems to be as much about books and writing as it is about romance, The Scent of Time is the first of a trilogy, written by Alan and published by Black Rose Writing in Castroville, Texas. Bridge to Nowhere is the first of a series of “Miz Mike” books published by Sunpenny Publishing in Staffordshire. Stephanie, who has only been in Scotland for a little over a year, has no idea where Staffordshire is located. She doesn’t care. For once, instead of a rejection slip to add to her collection, she has a printed book to sit on the shelf and she got to read its title on Amazon’s Best Sellers’ List. It makes the irony of Alan’s success a bit easier to embrace… the first book… the first Stephanie Parker McKean with Bridge to Nowhere and Alan T. McKean query… the first publishing company… with The Scent of Time at book-signing in Avoch in September. the first time… on the best sellers’ list Picture: Professor Hamish Macdonald Keir the first month…

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Black Isle People

There and Brian Oakley of Avoch proves you’re never too old for adventure


HIS is a tale of travel in remote areas of Northern Vietnam and central Laos. The temperature was going to be in excess of 40 degrees centigrade and at least 100% humidity. I expected lower temperatures in the mountains, but didn’t get it. Instead the higher it got the hotter it got, the u/v rates accordingly high. But first I must tell you I am no stranger to life in far eastern places; I was a soldier in Malaysia and I now have a son who lives in Vietnam who I have visited several times. This was not going to be a normal holiday, certainly this is not the activity of a man my age, this is something you do at 29, not 69. First, 12 months getting fit: walking, cycling, weight training. Doctor’s advice and the usual injections against disease, then off on a long expensive flight from Aberdeen to Paris then Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I was as fit, healthy and strong as I was 20 years ago so no jet lag. Three days to acclimatise then another flight north to Hai Phong, North Vietnam. Next by public transport sitting on a wooden plank on a slow old ferry to Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island. We did our own things on this trip. No banks, very few post offices, no hospitals or doctors. Cutting a long story short, we stayed in cheap hotels and walked in the jungle as much as we could. Then much to my delight we hired little 120cc Honda motorcycles; fantastic! These little bikes took us to places you wouldn’t believe. Along tracks and modern roads, we climbed mountains and walked jungle paths. We saw creatures which I will never forget. On the down side I saw animal and fish

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A Buddhist temple in Luamprabang, Laos. Monks may only be photographed from the rear. welfare that I can only describe as “nil”. The people on this island are now used to tourists and can vary from kindly and polite to greedy and grasping, but at all times I was physically safe. I had £600 cash on my person and was never at risk during the whole month, but they will rip you off if you let them. We left Cat Ba Island by faster tourist ferry back to Haibong, a dreary port city, then by public transport to Hanoi. This was the beginning of a public transport nightmare I would not repeat. From Hanoi to Lao Cai by sleeper train where I lost my temper for the first time in many years with a hard line communist official who was left in no doubt where this individual’s head would be if the matter was not resolved and quick. We arrived at the China border town of Lao Cai, then on to the mountain

resort of Sapa, 60km of rough bus ride! Staying in Sapa one night, we hired little Hondas again, then went off back down the mountain to Lao Cai, then up the other side to a new mountain resort of Bac Ha. We stayed in a very pleasant cheap hotel and commenced several long motorcycle rides to China border towns in the mountains. The people, not yet used to tourists, are all tribal people: quiet, kind, Buddhists. Women were very clean and well clothed in tribal costume, which they wore all the time. How they keep themselves clean I don’t know. The men are mostly dirty and not a bit like the women and children. We visited the cattle market and female Love Market. The cattle market I couldn’t get out of quick enough: 45 degrees, no water for the animals, dogs (for food), poultry, very big, very

Black Isle People

back again A food stall in Luamprabang used by Brian’s son, David.

tame water buffalos – one so sick it could hardly stand. Then on the street a mother with a daughter in costume, looking for a husband, hence the term Love Market. I felt sorry for the poor lass – she didn’t know what awaited her! After four days in the mountains another long motorcycle ride back to Sapa. By this time I was very dirty but fit and healthy, much to my surprise. I was lasting well so far! We stayed for a while in Sapa, visited tribal villages and mingled with tribal folk on holiday. Four young tribal women took me all over the place and learned that my wife Susan was sick. They said I needed another wife and to choose one of them. They said that with the youngest one you will get her baby (carried on her back) for free. This brings a whole new meaning to buy one get one free! They seemed to know when a man was on his own and would sense a man who was safe. These women were so kind and friendly I will never forget them. The look in their eyes was so genuine. It was hard to leave them and go for the

bus on to Laos. Another very long hot bus ride, over two days via Dien Bien Phu to the River Mekong in central Laos. Down the river by motorised canoe to Muang Nai which was so beautiful we stayed for three days, climbing the hills, eating the fantastic foods. I now want a mango tree and banana tree in my garden. The people, Buddhist, reserved, mostly distant but kind. I have never been in a safer hotter place: 45 degrees at all times with 120% humidity. Then on down the River Mekong partly by motorised canoe, partly by bus and another disturbance was the bus driver who wanted to fill the bus with too many passengers. No air conditioner, not enough seats, the usual story by this time. But you stand firm, say no and be patient without the loss of temper, difficult when you are hot, dirty, sweaty and late. We arrived in Luamprabang and stayed in the Police Chief’s house. He was ex-army, we couldn’t speak each other’s language but we got along very well indeed. Luamprabang is full of temples and a fantastic market but

getting touristy: once again a very safe place. The people we met of my own kind were much younger than I. All of us pulled together well, helping each other, and I will not easily forget the three very strong German girls and the Canadian couple Jason and Dawn. One of the German girls, Martinique was as lonely as me and she knew it. We tended to get along very well. Back to Ho Chi Minh City to recover from the trip before the long flight home where I had recently been told I am to be a granddad. I thought that this was perhaps to be a “not to miss trip” and maybe my last. But I refuse to get old and I will be off again next year to see my son, his wife and baby. I will be off on my own saying hello to Burma, Hoi Am (again a fantastic place and ladies’ shopping paradise), Bali or some other place I haven’t thought of yet. So I will continue to cycle and walk in the Cairngorms, fighting off old age to the bitter end. A pity Susan cannot be with me to see the things I have seen and meet so many fine people of all races and religions. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Black Isle People

End of an era as ‘Geena’ leaves harbour By Philip Shimmin

Sandy (left) and Tom after an evening sail.


ATURDAY, October 13th saw the usual busy activity in craning out 17 boats and removing three tall masts in preparation for wintering of vessels ashore. Amongst the normal comings and goings of the day the harbour users said a sad goodbye to the ‘Geena’, a boat which has been a familiar sight sailing from Avoch for the last 25 years. The story behind the ‘Geena’ and those who sailed her is worth telling. In the mid 1980s, two Inverness men, Hamish Robertson and Ian Stewart who until then had sailed Flying Fifteen keelboats at Chanonry Sailing Club, decided to look for a yacht to purchase in Findhorn. Eventually they bought ‘Geena’, a Halcyon 23, and brought her to Avoch. Their partners Tom Wallace and Sandy MacDonald (also a former Flying Fifteen man) sailed ‘Pandora’ which was also berthed in Avoch Harbour around the same time. The two vessels were double berthed alongside the harbour wall and sometimes all four – Hamish, Ian, Tom and Sandy – would go for a sail together in either ‘Geena’ or ‘Pandora’, whichever was the handiest to move on the day. They were by far the most regular sailors enjoying the variable conditions on the Inverness Firth and beyond. Sadly, the ‘Geena’ crew was halved when Ian Stewart died. Hamish put ‘Geena’ up for sale, which prompted Tom to sell ‘Pandora’ and buy ‘Geena’, the larger of the two boats. This meant that Hamish could continue

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sailing with them when he wished. Thus in 2007 there could be three men in a boat until Hamish was no longer fit enough to negotiate the harbour ladders. Neither Tom nor Sandy are getting any younger so it was not surprising that Tom decided to sell ‘Geena’. He has found a buyer, Steve Wilson, who will base her at Cruden Bay. Tom Wallace and Sandy MacDonald have both done voluntary work for the Seagull Trust on the Caledonian Canal. In Tom’s case he has put in 16 years

of service, including this season in the new boat, and has received a special award to mark his fifteenth year. The current harbour users at Avoch will miss the sight of ‘Geena’ berthed there or sailing on the Firth but most of all they will miss the cheerful banter with Tom and Sandy and the helping hand so freely given by both of them. As a mark of appreciation of other harbour users, Tom and Sandy were each presented with a bottle of malt whisky at the AGM of the Leisure Users Avoch Meeting on October 19th.

Women In Business

Julie lives the dream life – in Munlochy By Claire Divine


OW many of us are doing our “dream job”? How many of us would give up safe, well paid work to follow our hearts, relocate and go into self-employment all in one go? Sounds scary to some, but not to Julie Kennedy who did just that, opening Time for Tea in Munlochy this summer. You may have seen Time for Tea’s eye-catching teapot sign on the side of the Munlochy post office building, or you may, as I did, catch sight of the changing signs outside the café, advertising Julie’s café and what was on offer. I liked the fact that these messages changed so often, showing a real entrepreneurial flair. Julie has certainly made an effort to put the small tearoom on the map. Julie’s story is one of risk, but also a sort of “home-coming”. Having grown up in Rosemarkie and Fortrose, Julie jumped at the opportunity to return to her childhood area. She heard through her contacts that the café was up for rent and after one phone call, gave up her well paid job with the commitment to move back to the Black Isle. Julie is very fortunate that her husband’s work is flexible, meaning that he could relocate too. So how has it been so far? “Ticking over” is how Julie describes business. She gets a good percentage of trade from local people: “I’m really chuffed how much support I’ve had from locals, I’m just delighted.” It’s good that Julie is not just dependent on the tourist trade for customers; she’s even got a steady supply of young people popping in in the mornings before catching the school bus to Fortrose. As in many places are these days, Julie’s food is all home-made, using

Julie Kennedy – pleased to be back on the Black Isle. Picture: Claire Divine

local products where possible. She offers a takeaway service and covers breakfast through to afternoon tea. Julie is promoting her café as

child-friendly, and there’s disabled access. Julie is working hard at her enterprise, and helping other locals by making her walls available to artists: currently she is showing work by Joan Mackenzie. She also displays cards by award-winning Black Isle photographer Russell Turner. ■ Opening hours for December to March are 8.30am to 4.30pm Tuesdays to Fridays, 9am to 4pm Saturdays. More details on

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Plans will keep bridge disruption to minimum L

AST month Transport Scotland announced a programme of measures to ease congestion while maintenance work is carried out on the Kessock Bridge early in 2013. £1.8m of improvements will be in place before the work begins on the bridge, and includes plans to reopen Conon Bridge rail station, set up traffic lights at the Longman and Rose Street roundabouts, create a dedicated slip road from Stadium Road to the A9 south, double the number of carriages on peak time trains to and from Inverness, increase the number of parking spaces at Beauly and Dingwall stations and increase the number of buses. Transport Scotland oversaw the temporary closure of the Kessock Bridge earlier this year which I feel was very well managed, and none of the traffic chaos that was predicted actually came to pass. I am extremely encouraged by the preparations that have been made so far to provide alternative modes of transport for commuters who will be affected next year. While there were calls for a new park and ride to be built at Tore, it would not be viable to set this up in time for the construction work to begin, and I feel that Transport Scotland’s chosen strategy of working with Network Rail, Stagecoach and First Scotrail offers the best chance to minimise the disruption from this essential improvement to the Kessock Bridge.

Holyrood View by Dave Thompson MSP

‘None of the traffic chaos that was predicted actually came to pass’

remain frozen to relieve the pressure on family budgets. But that consensus was shattered when Labour leader Johann Lamont said that all of these policies should be reviewed. Johann is wrong – not wrong to say that budgets are under pressure, but wrong to conclude that the people who should bear the brunt of Tory cuts are pensioners, the sick, hard-pressed families and workingclass kids who aspire to a university NTIL a few weeks ago, there was a education. broad political consensus in Using the phrase ’something for Scotland that elderly people shouldn’t nothing’ is not only factually incorrect – be charged for their personal care or these universal benefits are paid for by bus passes, that medicine should be all taxpayers – but it is also free at the point of need, that access provocative. It is right and proper that to university education should be based the state does all it can to enhance the on the ability to learn, not the ability to lives of elderly people who have pay, and that the council tax should contributed for generations, that the


Page 26 Chatterbox September 2012

state covers the cost of prescriptions so that the sick aren’t financially penalised and that education remains free and open to all children. Johann Lamont suggests a return to means testing, but the consequence of this would not only be an expensive bureaucracy, but past experience shows that the application process will put off many folk who need and warrant the benefit – the very people Ms Lamont professes concern for. Johann Lamont’s comments are as distasteful as Ruth Davidson’s disingenuous statement that 88% of Scottish households are unproductive. Apparently these two party leaders believe that all public sector workers – policemen and women, teachers and nurses – do not contribute to our society, or at least not enough to warrant the state covering the cost of prescriptions. It is quite remarkable that both Tory and Labour leaders now share the same soulless and disparaging political position.


N October 15th, the First Minister and the Prime Minister signed an historic agreement that grants legal powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence. This is but one step in Scotland’s Home Rule journey and, importantly, the Edinburgh Agreement ensures that the Scottish Parliament will design and deliver the referendum for the people of Scotland. The signing of this agreement marks the beginning of the end of the campaign to secure independence for Scotland. The Scottish Government will present a positive, ambitious vision for a flourishing, fairer, family-friendly, progressive, and healthier Scotland, and I am confident that we will deliver a yes vote in autumn 2014.


Karting star sweeps all before him

BEN Patience, from North Kessock, started karting in June 2011 at the North of Scotland Kart Club, Golspie. He quickly progressed and was recognised as the most promising new driver of 2011. This year, Ben took part in several races throughout Scotland, winning on many occasions. He won the North of Scotland Kart Club Cadet Championship as well as his most prestigious award, against all classes, the overall North of Scotland Kart Club Championship for 2012.

Bowlers beat the wet D

ESPITE the wet summer and the postponement of some club ties, all Avoch Outdoor Bowling Club games were completed before the season ended. The Hugh Sutherland Memorial Cup was played on Saturday, August 25th. The competition is restricted to Ross-shire Clubs and 12 teams took part. At the semi-final stage Avoch met Tain and Fortrose met Muir of Ord. The Fortrose team of Daniel Mackay, Brian Cameron and Andrew Munro were the winners. They were also the winners last year. The Tain team of Paul Mackay, Steve Maclennan and Wilson Corbett were runners-up. The season ended with a successful dinner in the Station Hotel, Avoch, after which our treasurer, Ann Russell, who was 80 years of age that day, presented the club trophies to: Ladies Champion: Jane Jardine; runnerup, Margaret Patience. Gents Champion: John Marker; runnerup, Jimmy Skinner. T A Patience Cup: William Skinner; runner-up, Jimmy Skinner.

D Macintosh Cup: Jimmy Skinner; runner-up, John Marker. Silver Jubilee Cup (Pairs): Margaret Patience and Jane Jardine; runners-up, Ecky Patience and Jimmy Skinner. Maurice Brown Side Competition: ladies winner, Jane Jardine; gents winner, Jimmy Skinner. Bessie Brown Memorial Cup (Triples): William Skinner, John Marker and Jimmy Skinner; runners-up, Margaret Patience, Jane Jardine and Ecky Patience. As mentioned in the last edition of Chatterbox, the future of the club as still in doubt. At the meeting on October 2nd no agreement was reached on the posts of secretary, treasurer and green keeper: all essential to the smooth running of the club. However, a further meeting was held in November but a final decision will be made at the club’s AGM in February. Please check local notice boards nearer the time for exact date and venue. George Brodie Secretary December 2012 Chatterbox

Page 27


Rachael and Hughie in action.

By Rachael Aiton


UR trip to Weston Park for the KBIS International U18 Championships seemed to start days before with the mammoth packing of the horsebox, but finally it was done and we set off. We stopped off en route at East Kilbride to have a lesson with Olivia Wilmot who is the BE Accredited Trainer for the U18 Scottish Team. She helped me and Hughie before we finally set off down to Weston Park in Shropshire. When we arrived we were directed to all the Scottish Team horseboxes. It was great meeting all the other girls but I really started to feel the pressure of being part of a team. The next day started early, taking Hughie for a good walk to make sure he was not stiff after the long journey. He seemed really calm which was great as we had the all-important trot up in front of the official vets and ground jury in a couple of hours. Hughie and I set off all spruced up, plaited and spotless, feeling very proud in my Scotland jacket. A huge sigh of relief from most of the Scottish Team, but unfortunately one of our team member’s horses failed. Everyone felt for her; it was so disappointing for her after all the hard work it had taken to get here. Off to the dressage now and Hughie was very tense and excited but he managed not to explode in his test. Page 28 Chatterbox December 2012

Black Isle team fly flag for Scotland Then, thankfully, a day off whilst the other members did their dressage. I managed to get some practice in for the Scottish Team version of the X Factor. I was more nervous about doing this than competing! I walked the cross country course with our other team trainer David Gatherer. Saturday finally arrived and I could not wait to get on the cross country course and even though there were a few delays we set off just after 12 o’clock. Hughie was in great form and I tried hard to get him to slow down so I could set him up for the fences but he had other ideas. When we cleared the last fence it was an amazing feeling and a great relief and while I cooled him down we waited until we heard that all the Scottish Team members had got round the

cross country course safe and clear. We were all exhausted but had to spend most of the night checking that our horses were fine. We had another vet check in the morning before we would be allowed to complete the final show jumping phase. It seemed like we had hardly got into bed before my alarm went off! After giving Hughie his breakfast I took him for a short hack to help him loosen up before the final vet check. Thankfully all the Scottish team members passed and we sprinted round to walk the show jumping course with our trainer Olivia. Hughie and I had three show jumping fences down, which was disappointing but it was a tight course and most of the U18 competitors seemed to be having a problem. On the way out of the arena I was so delighted to get handed my blue completion rosette, for completing our first three-day event, and it was extra special as we had been competing in the Scottish Team. We waited, almost holding our breath, until the final competitor had jumped and then after a few minutes it was announced that the Scottish Team had finished seventh. Lots of congratulations and thanks from everyone and we waited in our teams to get presented with our rosette from KBIS Insurance who had kindly sponsored the U18 British Eventing Programme. It was the most wonderful experience and I enjoyed every minute.


Olympic star proud of his Avoch roots By Joan Maxwell


LYMPIC sailing silver medallist, Luke Patience, is very proud of the fact that his forbears are from Avoch. He intends to carry on his sailing and go to the next Olympics in Brazil in 2016, so we might yet be able to paint gold that pillar box in Avoch. In an interview with the Press and Journal around the time of the Olympics, Luke made mention of his great grandfather, Donald ’Mouter’ Patience, and Mouter’s connection with the Zulu called ’Ladyhill’ which he shared with his brothers James and John Mouter lived at 11 Shore Street with his two brothers. A widower, he married Hannah Cowie in 1904 and moved to Buckie. Their son John, Luke’s grandfather, was born in 1919. When he was in Buckie, Mouter skippered a steam drifter named ’Owl’ which was owned by two fish curers in Fraserburgh, A.J. Tulloch and W. Noble, and was very successful, being the top earner in 1910 with a gross of £1,000 at Great Yarmouth. So as Luke’s father, John, said to me: “I suppose the sea is in Luke’s blood.” On tracing through Luke’s family tree we have established that, through their great grandmothers, Luke is linked to builder Robert Jack and plumber Lewis MacLeman. So you never know who you might be related to until you do some research. I first met Luke and his dad at a sailing event at Helensburgh Sailing Club in 1997 when I was coaching some young sailors from Chanonry Sailing Club. He was 10 and was sailing a small boat called an Optimist. Since then our paths have crossed a

Luke Patience (left) and Stuart Bithell who won Olympic silver in the 470s class. Inset: Robbie Burns of Rosemarkie who inspired Luke. few times and I still keep in touch with his father John. In 2001, Luke became only the second Scottish sailor to be selected to represent the UK in the World Optimist Sailing Championships. The first was in 1993 – Robbie Burns from Rosemarkie, a member of Chanonry Sailing Club. Luke’s ambition was to get a better result at the World Championships which that year were being held in

Luke's grandfather’s house, 11 Shore Street. Avoch.

China. He not only did that but ended up being the top British sailor at the event. As part of his preparation, Luke, his father John and his grandfather John came north to pay a visit to Chanonry Sailing Club where Robbie had learned to sail and also to visit the old family home, 11 Shore Street in Avoch. Again our paths crossed because not only was I there to show them around the club but I was the person who had taught Robbie to sail. While Robbie went on to very successfully coach young sailors in Optimists, the boat they both learned to sail in, Luke continued to sail competitively and went on to win silver at this year’s Olympics. Luke is only the second Scottish sailor to win an Olympic medal, the other being our double gold medallist Shirley Robertson. Like Luke, Shirley has been to Chanonry Sailing Club and coached the young sailors at the club in 1992 and 1996. ■ In writing this article I would like to thank Hugh Alec Patience (HAP), who was a past Commodore of Chanonry Sailing Club, for supplying the information on Mouter’s skippering abilities and to Jane Patience for her research into Luke’s family tree. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Looking Back

Surprise honour By Mike Noble


FTER fighting with the 51st Highland Division in France during World War II, being injured and taken prisoner and suffering terrible physical ordeals it is understandable, post-war, that Neil Wilson was among the leaders of his fellow former soldiers and that he was elected secretary of the Avoch branch of the Royal British Legion at its inaugural meeting in 1946. It was also in 1946 that two local lassies, Jessie Reid (then Patience and serving in a local shop) and Jessie Smith, who was working in the Avoch Bakery, joined up to serve in the WRNS and also joined the local branch Jessie Reid (left) and Jessie Smith who received their certificates from British Legion area chairman, George Gibson.

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of the Legion. Sixty-six years have since passed and this summer the consequent diminishing number of ageing members caused them to take the difficult decision to dissolve. Neil had been secretary during the whole of the Avoch branch’s existence and, as such long records of membership and service clearly deserved to be acknowledged, a presentation was organised for Neil, now 92, and for the two Jessies, all staunch members throughout. On Saturday, September 29th, at a small gathering in Avoch Masonic Hall, Lewie Patience, erstwhile chairman of the branch, introduced everyone and explained to the gathering, including a much surprised Neil Wilson (who said if he’d only known he would have put on a tie for the occasion!) that George Gibson, chairman, and Ian Mackay, secretary, from the Legion’s area branch, were there to present certificates to all three veteran members. Presentations made, there was much recalling of old times amongst the assembled company as everyone enjoyed a great spread of refreshments prepared by event organiser, Grace Jack. The reminiscing was all the more poignant as, now that the Avoch branch had been dissolved, it was the last time that the members would gather.

Neil Wilson – 66 years of service.

Surrender at T

ODAY St Valery-en-Caux is a pleasant little port and resort near Dieppe, northern France. In 1940 the picture was very different. After the famous evacuation from Dunkirk in late May and early June, which in the end saved over 330,000 Allied troops, a substantial British force remained in France. Support troops made their way in large numbers to the western-most ports to find a route home. The 51st Highland Division had

Looking Back

for RBL stalwarts No escape for Neil O

N June 11th, 1940, Neil Wilson was serving in France with the 51st Highland Division outside St Valery-enCaux. The situation had been confused and just prior to the major offensive by the enemy, Neil and his best pal from Fortrose, the late Sammy Munro, fell foul of enemy bombardment and were brought down by a mortar bomb. Injured in the legs by shrapnel, the two friends were put in a field ambulance heading for the shore and hopefully for escape to England with the Royal Navy’s evacuation force. Neil said: “It was a desperate dash in the ambulance but we missed the very last rescue boat to leave. We were devastated - it was a terrible feeling and little did we know what lay ahead. But hey, we were young fellows then, just 20 and full of vigour, hope, and resourcefulness.” Taken prisoner on June 12th, Neil and others were hospitalised for several months in the French town of Rouen, then taken by cattle trucks – each holding 60-70 men in appalling conditions – hundreds of miles, in freezing weather to Stalags in Poland. Subsequently Neil was set to work in a quarry, a sugar factory and a coal-mine before being repatriated, with thousands of others, after a horrendous walk out of captivity for weeks on end in the arctic winter of 1945. As the Soviet Army was advancing, German authorities decided to evacuate POW camps, to delay liberation of the prisoners. Adolf Hitler had issued orders in July 1944 to put the German civilian population on a total war footing and for evacuations of ’foreign labour’ (slave labour) and civilians away from the advancing Soviet Army in the east. This prolonged the war for hundreds of thousands of Allied

General Rommel and General Fortune at St Valery. Picture (and below): 51st Highland Division website personnel, as well as causing severe hardship, starvation, injuries and death. There has been much speculation as to the motives for ordering these marches, but it is probable that the intention was to provide hostages for a peace deal. Over 80,000 POWs were forced to march westward across Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany in extreme winter conditions between January and April 1945 in a series of events referred to by most survivors as “The March”. With acknowledgement to Kate MacPherson’s Ross-shire Journal article, reprinted in Chatterbox No50, Autumn 2009, and to Wikipedia

St Valery was the most difficult decision been fully engaged, fighting a defensive battle under French command. By June 10th, like the main French forces, they were outflanked and they made their way to St Valery-en-Caux, where an attempt was made by the Royal Navy to evacuate them. However, the main German force was soon on the cliffs overlooking the town and able to bring fire down on them and eventually the majority of the 51st Division, under the command of General Fortune, was forced to surrender.

The General considered all the options, a counter attack, further resistance and retaking the town, but against this there was no possibility of evacuation or support, the men were exhausted and virtually out of ammunition, with no artillery ammunition at all and shortly before 1000hrs on June 12th General Fortune took the most difficult of decisions – to surrender. With acknowledgement to the 51st Highland Division website. St Valery-en-Caux

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Looking Back

Hard work – but By Alastair Morton


HE past few months have been a very busy time for Groam House Museum with the completion of our Collecting Cultures project and all the associated loose ends to be tied up. Final reports have been submitted and the last instalments of grants have been received. It is with mixed feelings that we meet the end of the project; it’s been very hard work and has taken well in excess of the hours we anticipated. However, it has been hugely worthwhile, with the George Bain Collection being enhanced by the purchase of many new artefacts and with a huge range and diversity of community outreach projects completed. Feedback from our funders and partners over the past four years has been extremely positive and without their support our recent achievements would not have been possible. With this in mind we made the decision that our Collecting Cultures ‘swan song’ would be the production of a high quality brochure showcasing selected items from our new acquisitions and celebrating the involvement of communities across Scotland. We hope to produce this publication before Christmas and it will be made available locally. Towards the end of the summer, as part of the reflection on our activities, the Groam House Museum directors were conscious that many of the items purchased over recent years had not been publicly displayed. This and the need to decide the title and theme for

Page 32 Chatterbox December 2012

Two late Victorian replicas of the ‘Cavan’ brooch purchased with Collecting Cultures funding. the museum’s temporary exhibition in 2013 led to an Open Afternoon being held on October 10th at the museum’s offices on the Rosehaugh Estate. The afternoon proved a very popular opportunity for the museum’s members and volunteers to view all the objects purchased with Collecting Cultures funding. It also gave the chance for individuals to select and ‘adopt’ an item to be included in the 2013 temporary exhibition, taking on the responsibility for describing and researching their choice for the exhibition’s interpretation.

The onset of autumn has given us a chance to review other areas for development and a generally increasing reliance on new technology has prompted us to refresh our website. Training is being undertaken by several board members and volunteers, which will allow us to make more use of the opportunities the website presents. These include the integration of existing photo archive websites for Fortrose & Rosemarkie and for Avoch which in turn will allow the museum to make its own photo archive accessible online for the first

Looking Back

worth the effort

Visitors to the Open Afternoon at Rosehaugh inspect the museum’s recent acquisitions.

time. We also hope in the future to be able to include a virtual reality Pictish tour and are currently looking into additional funding to allow us to be supported and mentored by a technical partner in order to achieve this goal. Further potential museum projects with funding applications currently in the pipeline include the creation of a Black Isle-wide mosaic trail based on the Celtic Tree Alphabet. The project is planned to involve 18 schools and community groups, each one designing

and creating their own mosaic panel depicting one of 18 trees or plants. Plans are also under way for the museum to create a George Bain ’popup’ exhibition suitable for use in a variety of public places and events both locally and further afield. These have met with a positive initial response from funding bodies. Finally, in the slightly longer term, the museum directors will be working towards an application for national recognition of the George Bain

Collection. This scheme is designed to support collections of significant national or international importance and if achieved brings with it not only the kudos of being awarded this status but also the potential to access significant additional funding for the future development of the collection. Watch this space for further news of these developments! If you would like to play a part please see our advertisement on the previous page for opportunities to volunteer.

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Out Of Doors

Front, from left: Highland naturalist Ray Collier, who spoke at the opening; Steph Elliott, Udale RSPB site manager; Dr Pete Mayhew, the RSPB’s senior conservation manager; Ian Darling, outgoing chairman of the RSPB Council; artist Rosie Newman. With them are pupils of Fortrose Academy who contributed to a new hide website. Picture: Russell Turner

Left: The spectacular view across Udale Bay from outside the new hide.

Right: The four panels created for the hide by artist Rosie Newman.

Page 34 Chatterbox December 2012

Out Of Doors

Bird hide proves an artistic inspiration R

OSIE Newman, wellknown to many Black Islers as a mixed-media artist whose increasingly collectable subjects include local landscapes, seascapes, oil rigs and tankers, has recently been working on a highly unusual commission for the RSPB. The new hide at Udale Bay was formally opened by the outgoing RSPB chairman Ian Darling on October 24th and the 50+ attendees all relished their first sight of Rosie’s stunning artworks on site: so much so that Ian himself bought one of Rosie’s original paintings – ’Udale Spring’ – on the spot. Visitors entering the new, light, bright building with stunning views of the bay are met by a huge sweep of panels which show the bay through the changing seasons (rigs and

Rosie Newman – putting art into the hide.

all!). Other panels in the hide focus on younger visitors and show beautifully-painted, characterful Udale Bay birds such as scaup and oystercatcher. These challenge visitors to think about how and where birds feed at Udale Bay. Project manager Verity Walker, whose Fortrose-based consultancy Interpretaction helped the RSPB develop the internal interpretation, said: “Interpretive illustration for panels can often fall into the category of ’dull but worthy’ – but Rosie’s work is the absolute opposite of dull! “From the moment the project team, led by Steph Elliott of RSPB whose idea it was to use a local artist, saw the very first roughs, we were literally gasping with admiration. “Although Rosie’s not a specialist ornithological artist, her birds have great character and depth. These paintings are wonderful and deserve good homes now they have played their part for the hide. And it’s such a great story – like the RSPB’s chairman, owning something unique which has been specially created for RSPB.” As original paintings of the size needed would have been far beyond the available RSPB budget, the charity agreed to purchase high-quality scans (provided by well-known local photographer Andrew Dowsett), leaving Rosie free to sell the originals. Rosie is even donating a percentage of the paintings’ price to the RSPB, so all purchases will help one of the UK’s leading environmental charities. ■ Further details can be found at December 2012 Chatterbox

Page 35


Better late than never as work ends S

INCE my last correspondence in Chatterbox there have been quite a few things happening in the Avoch area. First and foremost, the High Street eventually got resurfaced and hopefully by the time this article goes to press the bus shelter will also be installed. As everyone knows, I was quite embarrassed at the time that it took to do the High Street. The contractor gave several reasons for the delay in progress but I think you know as well as I do there were other issues outwith the area that had a big say in the time it took to complete the job. I don’t really want to dwell on the past so hopefully all the white lining and any other outstanding work will be done as soon as the weather allows. The 20mph speed limit will be put in place in the near future as will the traffic calming in School Brae and below Mackay Terrace. There are outstanding works to be done in Munlochy and in Fortrose and these also will be done when the weather will allow.


ECENTLY I held a meeting in Fortrose looking towards helping to improve the life of dementia sufferers in the Black Isle. At the moment there are over 100 people on the Black Isle who are suffering from dementia in various forms.

Page 36 Chatterbox December 2012

Black Isle View by Councillor Billy Barclay

This was a very positive meeting attended by representatives from Alzheimers Scotland and the NHS. These representatives were very positive with a ‘can do’ attitude and I am absolutely sure that after the New Year we will be able to take forward a drop-in dementia café in Fortrose where sufferers and carers can come together and we may have to introduce some form of transport facility to help them attend and hopefully gain a worthwhile experience. This approach seems to be the way forward for sufferers to be supported in their community by the community. As there is a good number of local volunteers coming forward to assist, some of these volunteers will have to be trained which will hopefully allow them to take the sessional groups.


HIS has been a positive and worthwhile year for me as a councillor and I wish all my constituents a prosperous and healthy New Year.

Public Information

Beating winter chills and ills By Cornelia Hughes


T’S that time of year again when sniffles reign, noses and chests get bunged up, and folk relax and overindulge a little in food and drink. Good intentions and healthy diets go to the wall with a combination of delicious temptations and long, cold nights. However, there are ranks of herbs standing to attention: ready, willing, and able to help with damage limitation, so that you can face 2013 at least no worse, and probably better, than you were in 2012. These herbs fall into two main camps: colds, flu and congestion, and detoxification. To prevent colds and flu, and build up immunity, echinacea is the tried and true remedy. It has been known for a long time that this Native American herbal remedy works by stimulating your own immune system to produce more white and T-fighter blood cells (these are both viruseaters), and at the same time have a blood-cleansing effect. It was always thought that echinacea did not have any direct effect on viruses, but this has been shown to be wrong. When extensive clinical testing was carried out in order to get an EU licence, it was found that echinacea does in fact directly attack viral cells – so it helps fight infection in a double whammy action... the Superherb! Some people cannot take echinacea: children under six (their immune systems are still being formed); people who are on immune-suppressant medication; and people who have an adverse reaction to plants from the daisy family. Nature has a good back-up remedy in our own elder tree. Country folk used to say that there was no part of the elder tree that was not used as a cure for something – an excellent plant to have around. Elderberries are a very good remedy against colds and flu, and have the additional advantage of being user-friendly to almost

Echinacea the Superherb. everyone (except those with an allergy of course, which is rare). Babies and people on medication can take it safely. If you pick your own, be sure to briefly cook them – just bring them to the boil and then off the heat – as the raw berries are mildly poisonous. If you are already deep in the throes of a cold, with lots of congestion, you can still take the above herbs. They will lessen the duration and severity of the infection, but obviously won’t stop it dead in its tracks. There are remedies that can help with the effects of the infection. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, but all the miserable things that accompany them – sore throats, stuffy noses and clogged-up chests – are often caused by bacteria.

Oregano oil and goldenseal are natural antibiotics which decongest, lower temperature and help with sore throats, as does the well-known manuka honey. Plantago and lobelia are both herbs that almost miraculously deal with sinusitis – as a lifelong sufferer, I know them well! Ivy-thyme complex is the equivalent when the congestion has gone to the chest. All of these are excellent decongestants that really work, and are without side-effects. If cold-sores are your problem, lysine and propolis are two effective remedies. Lysine is an amino-acid that blocks the development of the virus responsible for cold-sores, and if taken when the first tell-tale tingle is felt, it will stop it getting worse, and clear it up. The main detoxification herbs are milk thistle, artichoke and dandelion. All three can be found in Milk Thistle Complex. This is a traditional liver tonic which heals, strengthens, cleanses and protects the liver and gallbladder. Toxins are broken down rapidly and cholesterol is lowered (although artichoke by itself is better for cholesterol problems). No restrictions or side-effects have been seen with these herbs, and they have been in use for thousands of years! If you really have overdone it... a combination of Milk Thistle Complex taken alongside some Aloe Vera Colon Cleanse tablets will detoxify even the most toxic of individuals! This combination has been proven in the past to clear out residues of all sorts of nasties – helpful for a range of people from those just wanting a fresh start, to people looking to give up drugs or alcohol (and thus also wanting a fresh start). They work gently, effectively, and rapidly, and you’ll be a new man/woman. Of course all of these can be found in my shop Panacea (I also have a great cream for chilblains)... so save yourself the petrol and postage and come and see me. Here’s to a sparkly and healthy 2013!

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Public Information

Fun Day to mark 20 years of play


HE Black Isle Need to Play Association was officially established in March 1993 and celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. To celebrate, the Association will host a special Family Fun Day next May to celebrate this exceptional landmark in our history. Although May seems a long way off we have started our preparations already for what is expected to be a fabulous day for all the family. Over the past 20 years we have received donations and help from lots of different individuals, clubs and businesses. The Family Fun Day will be an opportunity for the Black Isle Need to Play Association to say a big “Thank You� to the whole community. The day will also provide you with the chance to come along and find out a bit more about the charity, what we do and the children we can help. Black Isle Need to Play Association is a charity which provides financial assistance for children with extra needs (aged between 0-19 years) living on the Black Isle whose families require financial help to allow those needs to be met. For the Fun Day we are planning lots of fun things to do, including a bouncy castle, crafty corner, face painting, cake decorating, music workshops and live music. This event will be open to the local community with the emphasis on FUN. Admission will be free and everyone is welcome. Black Isle Need to Play volunteers will be FUNdraising by providing yummy refreshments throughout the day. Please look out for further details in the spring issue of Chatterbox and posters in shops and on local notice boards. If you would like to get involved with the Fun Day or would like to offer your services, please email us at as we would love to hear from you.

Page 38 Chatterbox December 2012

Public Information


OME mums and mums-to-be in the Highlands are missing out on a “fantastic” scheme which gives them free milk, fruit and vegetables. Healthy Start is a UK Government initiative to improve the health of pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits. Those eligible get vouchers which can be exchanged for liquid cows’ milk, infant formula and fresh and frozen fruit and veg. Free vitamins for pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children eligible for the scheme are also available. Vouchers valued at £3.10 are payable to pregnant women eligible for the scheme and to some mums with children under four, while those eligible with children in their first year can get £6.20 vouchers. However, there is concern in the Highlands that not everyone who is eligible for the vouchers receives them. NHS Highland community midwife Lorna MacAskill said: “This is a fantastic scheme which offers significant benefits, both financially and in terms of health, and yet we know there are eligible pregnant women and mothers who, for a variety of reasons, are not accessing it.” Now, NHS Highland has launched an awareness campaign in the hope that as many people as possible receive Healthy Start vouchers.

Mums urged not to miss free milk, fruit and veg Lorna said: “We are advertising the scheme throughout the Highlands, and are reminding health professionals of it. “We are also trying to encourage as many retailers as possible to sign up to Healthy Start. Lots of shops in the area accept Healthy Start vouchers but we are trying to persuade more to do so. Given the area’s geography, many

people live in remote communities and may well miss out on the scheme if their local shops don’t accept the vouchers.” ■ Women should to contact their local midwife, health visitor or GP for more information on the Healthy Start scheme, and can also check out the website

December 2012 Chatterbox

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Public Information

Local trading without money TRANSITION Black Isle is holding an event at Findon Hall, Culbokie, on December 3rd, about Culbokie Timebank, Dingwall Tingle local currencies and more. For more information, phone 01349 877822 or email This event might have missed our print date, but the contacts may still be followed up. Editor

Bryan Finlay, community development paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Tricia Edington, Scotmid’s community manager.

Ready for anything


COTMID has taken delivery of 30 public access defibrillators in a partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service to help save the lives of people experiencing cardiac arrest. From Avoch to Dumfries, Edinburgh to Ayr, the defibrillators are being placed in 30 Scotmid and Semi-Chem stores where trained staff can go to the help of customers or other shoppers in the area. The Avoch store on High Street now has a defibrillator in place and staff have been

Page 40 Chatterbox December 2012

trained in resuscitation and defibrillator use. In an emergency a defibrillator can increase the chance of survival in a victim of cardiac arrest by 50%. Staff from local organisations can be trained in the use of a defibrillator. Anyone who would like to be trained or who would like to find out more about having a defibrillator placed in their premises should contact the local community resuscitation development officer, Leah Whyte, on 07909 001 824.

Public Information

Friendship is key to better mental health


EFRIENDERS Highland (BHL) offers safe and supported friendships to people in the community who are isolated and lonely, and have experience of mental ill-health. Having someone to meet up with regularly and have a chat and a coffee, go for a walk, or visit the cinema with, can make a real difference to someone, and goes a long way to making people feel valued and connected with their communities. Initiated in 1993, BHL is an established charity working with volunteers across the Highlands to positively change the lives of many in our communities who are isolated and may feel lonely. We provide confidential one-to-one supported friendships through regular meetings in Inverness, Nairn and Ardersier. Befriending someone with mental illness makes a positive difference by building confidence, improving self-esteem, and reducing feelings of loneliness. It can successfully overcome many of the hurdles to social contact associated with mental ill-health, and provide a stepping stone to greater inclusion and involvement in the community. You can be part of something positive in your community, if you are over 18 and have an hour or two a week to spare. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, and no previous experience of mental ill-health is needed. We will train you through our Scotlandwide recognised and acclaimed distance learning training course, and provide on-going support from our experienced co-ordinators at BHL. The service is safe and confidential for everyone involved. Once your assessment and training is completed we will match you with a compatible friend. We take great care to match people effectively so there is common ground on which to develop a meaningful and genuine supported friendship. If you would like to volunteer, call us for an informal chat or to find out more. Speak to Debbie or Heather on 01463 712791 or email or We look forward to speaking to you!

December 2012 Chatterbox

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We need answers on sleeper cash! A

S regular readers of my columns will know, I am a great champion of the Caledonian Sleepers, the ideal link between the Highlands and central London for tourists and business travellers. Noone was happier than I when the UK Government offered £50 million to the Scottish Government last year to improve the service. No longer rattling carriages – the rolling stock was to be upgraded beyond recognition to help bring more tourists from down south into the Highlands, to spend money and enjoy the natural beauty of the North of Scotland I was therefore shocked to discover that this money, gratefully accepted by the SNP Government in Edinburgh with an agreement to use it for the Sleepers, has been appropriated and given to Scottish Water and is not due to be returned in full until 2017! There is currently no timetable in place for how the money will actually be used on the Caledonian Sleepers. While the SNP has made it clear before that they don’t consider Northern links to the UK capital to be of importance (through their derisory proposal to cut all direct trains from the Highlands to London) I am deeply disappointed

Page 42 Chatterbox December 2012

Westminster View by Charles Kennedy MP

‘There is currently no timetable in place for how the money will actually be used’ at this disregard for agreements made that this money would be used to keep the transport links up to standard. This is a stunning example of the SNP pulling a fast one. I have written to the Scottish Government demanding answers on this sleight of hand, and asking when – or whether – this funding will be used to improve the sleepers as intended. I await their response with interest.


HAVE long been a proponent of devolution. I campaigned vigorously in the 1997 referendum for the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and was very proud to see it come into existence. I and the Liberal Democrats have fought for more

powers and responsibilities for Holyrood, and I was glad that Liberal Democrat Scotland Secretary Michael Moore piloted the Scotland Act through Parliament earlier this year to achieve exactly that. Now, my colleague Sir Menzies Campbell MP has released his Commission’s report on the future of devolution. He proposes a federal UK with a powerful Home Rule Parliament for Scotland with many additional powers over taxation and domestic affairs, while ensuring that Holyrood and Westminster can work together on the matters that affect both. I believe that this federalism represents the best of both worlds from the UK and an independent Scotland. We would be able to make the changes we need and want within Scotland while remaining an integral part of the UK, with all the benefits (both cultural and economic) that brings. I shall be arguing for this new settlement at every opportunity. Please remember, if you have an issue which I can help you with, you can contact my office on 01349 862152, write in to 5 MacGregor’s Court, Dingwall IV15 9HS or email me at Charles@ HighlandLib I’ll do everything I can to help.

Macross’s Scotmid Puzzle

Across 7 8

Fruit and nuts (7) Cry about nothing, half of London feeder town (7) 9, 10 Author of 12, 16, 20 jolts hack near roundabout (4, 9) 12, 16, 20 A classic 17, 18 – starting price outcome trebled (5, 5, 5) 13 A worker captures way to render kidnapped (8) 15 Unfinished small change for charitable contribution (4) 16 See 12 Across 17, 18 Draft yo-yo pal into defunct BBC dramatic vehicle (4, 3, 5) 20 See 12 Across 21 Chin loons about 12,16,20 actress (9) 22 See 3 Down 24 Brutal “punishment” for joint cover? (4, 3) 25 Not so big 12,16, 20 actress (7)

Down 1

A joke backfires in senile

Answers to No. 62 W I N N GR




No. 63

dotage (4) 2 Invertebrate dress? (8) 3, 22 Sews accord into those above criticism (6, 4) 4 Air didn’t change in Caribbean (8) 5 The fabulous trapped by infamy; thick-skinned (6) 6 Loop-the-loop for ball game (4) 11 See sneaky thrown for two ones (5, 4) 12 Ovals let off simultaneously (5) 14 Potassium removed from elk and an antelope results (5) 16 Reluctant revelation, as today’s able to deliver ( 3, 2, 3) 17 Before Robert Falcon, there is John – ex-deputy PrimeMinister (8) 19 Watch heart (6) 20 Sing Bing, without ends, for naughty step? (3, 3) 21 Fool little 7 (4) 23 Woman, woman – if not now…? (4)

The Scotmid prize I EN K DS


Post your solution to the Editor marked “Crossword”. The first all-correct answer opened on 1st February will win £20 from Chatterbox and a mystery prize from Scotmid, Avoch. We apologise for missing the clue to 27 Down in the last edition. This was “Sounds like Tom’s from Portsoy, amazingly. (4)” The answer was “Soya”. The winner of Crossword 62 was Frederick W Taylor from Hexham, Northumberland. December 2012 Chatterbox

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Chatterbox 63  

Community magazine for the Black Isle, Scottish Highlands

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