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Gatehouse News


From the Editor

If you go down to the woods ...

Welcome to our spring Newsletter, the first of 2013, full of old friends but also packed with interesting new material! Weather continues to play a big part in our lives, and our dismal summer has been followed by an almost equally demanding winter, with more frequent snowfalls than Gatehouse is accustomed to, low temperatures and not much sunshine until the last week of February. Memories of the sinking of the Princess Victoria car ferry with the loss of over 100 lives in the great storm of January 1953 come as a reminder of how brutal the weather can be. On a more forwardlooking note, Michael Wickenden’s Cally Gardens features as our chosen Business in Focus and is well worth a visit during the coming summer. Enclosed with this Newsletter comes an updated version of the Gatehouse Clubs, Societies and Associations information – please keep it by as a useful reference document. After careful thought, we have decided not to print out the latest What’s On diary, partly as a cost reduction measure but also because computer access in some form is available to so many and for those who do not have access to their own computer, it should be easy to do so from a friend or neighbour or through the Library. Your reaction to this step will be welcome. The What’s On diary is kept carefully up to date, so please keep feeding any events for publication in to myself on or to And please keep letting me have your view and ideas on how we could improve the content of the Newsletter!

As spring arrives the Cally woods are a mass of also held at the Cally Hotel. More recently the snowdrops, followed by clumps of yellow daffodils volunteers have cleared the blue and white trails and then carpets of bluebells but this year there is and will be clearing up the brushwood round the more happening in the woods. Motte. Thanks to the dedication of the Fleet ValThe Forestry Commission recognises the close co- ley National Scenic Area volunteer team, so much operation which has developed with the local com- volunteering has been done that the GDI was able munity leading to the rebuilding of the boundary to claim a small amount of extra funding, which walls and the conservation of the old school. The has been used to restore the orchard wall by the Commission is now working to enhance the woods Forestry cold store and to repair the Whillan Hill as a resource for locals and visitors. Working with ha-ha. Robert Carson the Commission has cut down a The volunteers have also been busy in Garries number of trees surrounding the Cally Motte, giv- Wood and Park and are working with the Galloing visitors to the woods a much better idea of the way Fisheries Trust to improve access to the river scale of this mediaeval structure. Robert has also Fleet. More volunteers are always welcome. If you opened up the fine views of the hills from the view would like to lend a hand please contact Ron Forpoint on the white trail. ster: 814727 email: The Gatehouse Development Initiative was fortunate to win assistance from the Building Opportunity in the Biosphere project to carry out an architectural survey of the Temple with a view to seeking funding to maintain this important feature of the Designed Landscape of Cally. A condition of this grant was that every pound received had to be matched by a pound’s worth of volunteering time. Work was done on paths around the temple and an archaeological survey was carried out. A seminar on conserving designed landscapes was Volunteers working at the Temple in the Cally Woods

Have your Say Community Council and Gatehouse Development Initiative Meetings are open to all. COMMUNITY COUNCIL 2nd Tuesday of every month, 7pm, Community Centre.


Last Wednesday of every 2nd month, 7.30pm, Community Centre. Next meetings: 27th March, 29th May.

Gatehouse of Fleet - a creative place As many will know, Gatehouse of Fleet was shortlisted for a Creative Scotland Creative Places 2013 Award. Now in its second year, the Awards were established to celebrate and recognise the hard work and imagination that contributes to the rich cultural life of a community, as well as its social and economic well-being. In the end the award went to Pathhead in Midlothian - well done to them. While the financial reward of winning would have been very welcome, parts of what the Gatehouse bid included can be progressed anyway. The Gatehouse bid, submitted through the Gatehouse Development Initiative, included four key Gatehouse organisations with an arts basis - The Mill on the Fleet, The Bakehouse, Gatehouse Festival Music,

and the Gatehouse Artists Co-op, and the aim of the Gatehouse bid was to further develop the arts base in Gatehouse through better programming, increased investment in marketing and a new Business-Arts partnership. To this end, a Gatehouse Arts Partnership has already been set up and is open to all groups or projects with an arts basis. Each of the groups or projects will remain completely independent, but the Partnership will encourage better co-ordination of programming throughout the year, sharing of resources and expertise where we can, and more collaborative events. Gatehouse has a vibrant arts community that already provides a rich programme of arts events for the local community and visitors, ranging across music, literature, drama and story-telling, and visual arts. Whilst well supported by the local community the viability of this programme depends on increasing visitors to Gatehouse from elsewhere in the Region and from further afield. A strong arts programme in Gatehouse can be used to attract more visitors to the town, filling accommodation, and increasing spend in our shops and businesses while they are here. If you would like to know more or be involved, contact us through the GDI or any of the groups already involved.

Around the Community Gatehouse runner in the London Marathon!

Kerry Maxwell’s running training has been a familiar sight on the Gatehouse pavements and surrounding roads for some time: her energy and commitment has been admired by many of us, but this year she plans a big step forward by running in the London Marathon on April 21st. She is already running 60 miles a week as she builds up her training for the event, and hopes to raise £1000 for the charity which has supported in her fight against depression, “Support in Mind”. Donations can be made online to We wish her all the very best for the big day!

A community hydro scheme for Gatehouse? We have an exciting opportunity to develop a community-owned hydroelectric generation scheme in the Fleet valley. If successful, it could create an income for the community, help us to contribute to carbon reduction and see us build on Gatehouse’s historical legacy of using water for power The story so far: The Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has opened up its land for renewable development and incorporated a number of opportunities for communities. A small group of volunteers, working through the Gatehouse Development Initiative, have been progressing exploratory work. We have noted interest in two possible areas for hydro development on Forestry land. These are on the Big Water of Fleet, Meikle Cullendoch Moss (OS Grid reference: NX 560 620) and on the Barlay Burn, High Barlay (OS Grid reference: NX 610 570). There is a third site, on the Little Water of Fleet, which a private company (The Broadland-Gilkes Consortium (BGC)) currently has a two-year option on. If they proceed with developing this site, Gatehouse will receive an automatic community benefit payment. We may also have the option of investing in the scheme, which would potentially give the community far higher financial returns. The Mill on the Fleet is also exploring a small scheme on the Mill lade, which could power the Mill itself and act as a demonstration project for residents and visitors.

What happens next?: We have a year from November 2012 to establish whether there is a viable hydro scheme on either of the first two watercourses. We are about to undertake a pre-feasibility study to obtain all the information we need about the technical feasibility, costs and potential income and environmental impacts. We will also be talking to Broadland-Gilkes, to explore the possibilities for partnership with them on the Little Water of Fleet site. We will present our findings to the community and obtain a democratic mandate on next steps, including how the money might be used. We will need to fundraise for grants to develop these projects and we also need to meet the FCS requirements. Get involved: There’s lots to do and we welcome any offers of help. We’re also very happy to answer questions from anyone in the Gatehouse community interested in this work. Contact Cara Gillespie on 815340 or to find out more.

Gatehouse YMCA

More than twenty young people will be spending the day at Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre, on Sunday 3rd March. It will be an opportunity to have a go on the new zip wire, as well as some of the other activities available, such as segway, archery, and zorbing. This trip will be of minimal cost to the members, as it is being funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Area Committee. The current Drop-in Duke of Ed Award group of six young people, is at the GOLD level, which is a first for us. They have been very busy preparing for their practice expedition, which will take place over the Easter weekend and will involve kayaking and walking, on and around the southern end of Loch

Send us your Stories

If you would like to contribute an article or other content for future issues of the Newsletter, contact the editor: Willie McKie, 51 High Street, Gatehouse t: 01557 815008 e:

Lomond. Preparation has involved kayak practice at Loch Ken and Carlingwark Loch (in and on the water, in December and January!), and an assessed weekend hike in the Galloway Hills, in February. So the group are well and truly prepared. A Drop-in fundraiser is planned for April/ May, which will be a repeat of the recent successful Prize Bingo evening at the Bank of Fleet Hotel. Date to be announced – it will be publicised at the Charity Shop.

A New Season of Mill Sessions

The first Session of 2013 kicks off on March 14th with local band Scruffy Buzzards, a dynamic rising band producing a driving, rootsy, acoustic sound, with original songs from the yearning to the foot stomping and with Zoe Bestel in support. On 30th March we are delighted to host Shelagh McDonald with The Razorbills in support. “As cult figures go, few come with greater credentials than Shelagh McDonald. A wonderful singer, guitarist and songwriter, her two LPs (Album from 1971 and Stargazer from 1972) shared musicians, arranger and photographer with her friends Sandy Denny and Nick Drake, and were among the jewels of the early ’70s folk rock era. And then she completely and comprehensively vanished for 33 years, as if off the planet.” But now she is making her way back onto the music scene, to great acclaim, and we are hugely proud and delighted that she will be at the Mill, supported and backed by her new friends Galloway’s very own unique The Razorbills. Further down the line we have Alisdair Roberts with Hugh and Moira Taylor on 26th April, and Mike Hastings (of Trembling Bells) with Murray, Stewart & McLean on 23rd May. Further details and future Sessions as they are confirmed on the Mill website:

Shelagh McDonald (front) with The Razorbills (photography

Sixty Years On – by Robin Dean

My first visit to Gatehouse was sixty years ago when I came up to be interviewed by Betty Murray Usher to be taken on as a “Mud Student” working on the Cally Estate. I do remember to this day what was to be my first interview after leaving school in order to get some work experience prior to going into the Royal Agricultural College. Those anxious moments awaiting my turn sitting in the reception area of the Cally Estate office to be summoned by “Madam” as she was known by all her staff. Luckily for me my kind father accompanied me to Scotland so it was not such an ordeal. However, she insisted on interviewing me in person so that my father had to wait patiently outside while I was summoned into her office to be questioned about my career prospects in Agriculture, and was I prepared to do general farm work which of course I said that I would, having been brought up on the family farm in Wales. After a very short time I felt much more relaxed in the presence of this formidable lady and when my interview terminated with her straight forward comment, “You will do”, I shook her by the hand and with a smile on my face rejoined my father, who was awaiting me in the outer office, telling him that I had just got my first job. Mrs Murray Usher then suggested to us both, would we like to have a tour of the Cally Estate? And we both climbed aboard her Land Rover to be shown around the various farms up the Fleet Valley and also where I was to live to start with in her then home “Murrayton”. I started my new job if I remember in September 1952, and I was met at Kirkcudbright Station by Gordon, Mrs Murray Usher’s chauffeur. Gordon drove me with all my luggage to Murrayton which was to be my home for the next three months. Very shortly I was joined by a fellow Mud Student, John Philips from Largs, a very tall young man, at least 6 ft 4 in. We were both looked after by Miss Mills, Mrs Murray Usher’s housekeeper, who came up from Godalming in Surrey where Mrs Murray Usher’s mother lived before coming up to Cally. Miss Mills was very tolerant with our youthful capacious appetites., Also, at that time Mrs Murray Usher resided at Murrayton but was often away a lot having a flat in Edinburgh so we

River Fleet Fishings, Fleetside Workshops and Library Fund The Trustees of the Murray Usher Foundation are pleased to update the community on various projects within the town: Fleetside workshops have recently become vacant and subject to MUF carrying out some essential repair works, we are inviting businesses and individuals who may have a need for renting some space to approach us with any enquiries or suggestions either for individual units or indeed the whole building. There are 8 units of differing sizes with communal welfare facilities and shared private parking. All enquiries should be direct-

ed to the Foundation Administrator, Kay Paton of Smiths Gore on 01387 263066 or MUF is also pleased to announce that season or day tickets will be made available to the public for fishing on the lower stretch of the River Fleet. Please contact the Gatehouse Development Initiative Kiosk in the carpark for further details on how to purchase a ticket. The Murray Usher Foundation Library Fund remains open for applications from students or youth groups (including schools) for funds towards the purchasing of books. Please contact Kay Paton as above, for further information.

Bank of Fleet Hotel u

Ensuite Rooms u Bar Meals u Restaurant & Beer Garden

01557 814302


didn’t see so much of her except when she was in residence; she would then organise us into playing party games such as Charades, Racing Demon and Canasta, a popular card game of that era. 1952 was the year when I carried out two harvests, the first in Wales then on to the Cally Estate, as in those days most of the corn crops were still cut by a traditional binder or reaper pulled by a tractor or in some cases by a pair of horses. My first job was to follow the binder collecting up the sheaves which slid out sideways standing up to five together to make a stook. These were left to dry in the sun and the wind. At the right time we would then load them up onto the trailer to be made into round stacks at Culreoch Farm. I was new to making round stacks, as down south the tradition was to make up square stacks somewhat larger in scale. September and October were very much the times for harvesting mostly root crops, tatties, neeps and swedes. And with the tattie harvest in full swing I would be joined by children from the Gatehouse school which was the norm of those times, a hangover from the war years. A group of children tattie picking was always a fun occasion, lots of laughter and inevitably tattie throwing, occasionally an odd stone would come my way. Filled buckets would be brought to sacks which in turn had to be weighed and then despatched to a potato merchant. Inevitably as winter approached outdoor work became less available so I found myself transferred to Low Barlay farm where I was taken on as a dairyman, looking after a milking herd of no less than thirty Ayrshire cows along with a piggery. I now took up residence with a couple called Mr and Mrs White who lived at Fleuchlarg, a cottage then owned by the Cally Estate. Mr White was a former Inspector from the Metropolitan Police. During the evenings he used to relate to me his experiences on the streets of London especially during the First World War, referring to the nights when “them Zeppelins” came over to bomb London. Low Barlay farm house was occupied by the Nichols, Angus and his mother. Angus was really my supervisor at the dairy. They were both very kind to me, settling me into my new job.

Excellent food and a friendly atmosphere

Easter book fair

As last year, The Church of Scotland will this year again be raising funds in aid of the parish development fund, principally to support the purchase of the new organ, with a book fair. This year’s Book Fair will be in the vacant shop once used by Galloway Lodge, thanks to the kindness of Jane Shillin for the use of this facility. The sale will take place over the Easter weekend between March 28th and 31st. In the interim the collection of second-hand books is under way. If you have books to donate please contact Stewart Hunter on 814944 or Simon Faed on 814814.

44 The High Street Gatehouse of Fleet DG7 2HP

Bookings 01557 814175 07891 803027

The Bakehouse : Literary Arts Live

Entertainment, Leisure & Culture Gatehouse Scottish Country Dancers

We have had a great year with many new members and much dancing and laughter, suitably to be rounded off with a party night on March 25th. The Gala Committtee have asked us to dance at the Crowning of the Gala Queen in Garries Park on Sunday July 28th and we hope to get you all dancing with us after our demonstration. Another Toon Ceilidh is proposed for Friday August 2nd at the School: everyone is welcome for easy dances, live music with entertainment and free refreshments included.

Stewartry Flower Club

Lynda Fraser’s demonstration of floral arrangements “Razzle Dazzle” at 1.30 pm on March 14th in the Parish Church Hall will be open to non-members at a cost of £5; one of the arrangements will be raffled at the end of the show. The Club is arranging a bus trip to Durham Cathedral at the end of August/ beginning of September to see the “Jewel of the North” floral exhibition and also that of the Lindisfarne Gospels. If you are interested, contact 814944 or email Stewartryflowerclub@gatehouse of fleet.

Archaeology Report

On 6th of April archaeologists Ronan Toolis and Chris Bowles will be reporting back to the people of Gatehouse on the important finds made at Trusty’s Hill last May and the scientific analysis of the finds which has been carried out. The meeting is being organised by the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society and will be held in the Community Centre. The Gatehouse Development Initiative has been fortunate enough to win a grant from the Heritage Lottery All Our Stories Fund for Gatehouse to make the most of the discoveries at Trusty’s Hill. Called the Gatehouse of Fleet in the Dark Ages project, this will allow a series of high quality information panels to be produced, telling the story of Trusty’s Hill and its important place in Scottish history. These panels will be used for an exhibition on the excavation to be mounted

in the Mill on the Fleet and elsewhere. The archaeologists will also be organising a training day in Gatehouse for local people to lead guided walks to Trusty’s Hill. The first of these walks will take place during Gala Week and there will also be a walk as part of Scottish Archaeology Month in September. All these activities are designed to help put Gatehouse on the map. However, the importance of Trusty’s Hill should also be very much for the people of Gatehouse and especially the children. In order to involve school children as much as possible there will also be a school project involving a professional artist and writer, which will allow the children to develop their writing and artistic skills while learning about the past of their local community.

The “Toon Fairy” loves her “mother tongue” of Lowland Scots

Gatehouse of Fleet’s own storyteller Susi Woodmass has teamed up with local artist and illustrator Ruthie Redden to produce their first children’s book in Scots. Susi, who is registered with the Scottish Storyteller Centre in Edinburgh, has written several picture-book-style stories in Scots and regularly presents these to young audiences as “Susi Sweet Pea the Fairy”. Children respond well to new words and sounds. Much of the Scots that we speak today has become diluted and there are a lot of Scots words that we seldom use. She wants to share these with the young and encourage them to discover and use these words (If we don’t use them we’ll lose them). A lot of Scots words are poetic and beautiful, with the sound reflecting the meaning. For example “crumshie snaw” means crisp snow, of which we have seen a fair bit this winter. You can imagine it making that sound as you walk through it. It is with great enthusiasm that local artist Ruthie Redden jumped at the opportunity to work on the illustrations for the first book in Scots called “Nip Nebs”, a tale of Jack Frost for 4 to 8 year olds. Ruthie is a local artist whose work centres around Celtic mythology and symbols, literally drawing inspiration from the beauty that surrounds her in

THE MURRAY ARMS Hotel & Restaurant

Gatehouse of Fleet

LUNCHES & EVENING MEALS SERVED DAILY Food served all day on Sundays. Weddings, parties and all functions catered for. T: 01557 814207 E:

the Fleet Valley. “I have really enjoyed the process of illustrating Nip Nebs. During the cold frosty weather there was a great deal to inspire. I am a keen photographer and took many images capturing the spirit of Nip Nebs at play; you can see this in my illustrations”. Susi and Ruthie will be visiting Gatehouse Primary School during National Book Week to show the children the work they have done so far.

Gatehouse Singers Spring Concert

Friday 26 April 2013, at 7.30 pm, in Gatehouse of Fleet Parish Church. Tickets £7.50 from choir members or at the door. The programme will offer a wide range of songs from the shows, opera choruses, spirituals and other well-known traditional favourites, including the lovely Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck, The Policeman’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan, Younger than Springtime from South Pacific by Rogers & Hammerstein, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and An Eriskay Love Lilt, both arranged by Hugh Roberton, and many more. The choir will be conducted by Sean Rae and accompanied by Helen Keating. Refreshments will be served in the Church Hall at the end of the concert.

Midsummer Music

The Gatehouse Festival Group have plans well underway for this year’s Midsummer Music Festival (21st-23nd June), and if previous years are anything to go by, music fans should look forward to an exciting weekend. The festival has become a fixture on the Galloway music scene in its eight year run, developing from a modest one-nighter in the Community Centre to a full-blown weekend of pub jam sessions, workshops and eclectic evening concerts. Described by Mercury Prize nominee King Creosote as “..[A] wee festival with a lot of heart,” Midsummer Music has brought internationally acclaimed artists such as Shooglenifty and Alasdair Roberts to Gatehouse while also supporting the best of local music. “This year should be a familiar mix of big names and local acts,” says festival Chair Franca Bruno. “We try to include

something for everyone, which can lead to some pretty animated discussions!” Already confirmed for 2013 are Scottish indie legend Malcolm Middleton (Arab Strap, Human Don’t Be Angry) and local favourites The Razorbills, and an expanded and improved Youth Showcase which aims to celebrate the astonishing young talent with which our region is blessed. “There’s a real buzz around this year’s plans,” says committee secretary Harry Thomson. “We’ve got several new committee members and they’re bringing a new energy and enthusiasm to it all.” Final line-up is due to be announced before Easter. Tickets can be bought from Franca Bruno’s shop in Gatehouse, with tickets and the latest news available on the festival’s Facebook page, which can be found at

Gatehouse WRI

The Women’s Rural Institute meets on the third Wednesday of the month in the Community Centre, although at present meetings have been moved temporarily to the Church of the Resurrection Hall. New members and visitors are welcome A cup of tea, sandwiches and cakes are served. There will be Day Outing on June 19th and an afternoon drive on July 17th Contact Kathleen Gilligan 01557 814462.

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

Gatehouse of Fleet branch of the RSCDS has had another successful season of dance, continuing to promote two of Scotland’s great traditions, its dance and its music. Last autumn the Scottish Parliament backed the Society’s initiative on fitness and health through forms of traditional dance. It has been said in the past: Why join the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, and what do we get for our annual fee of £15? As we see it, it is more: How can we help the Society promote the traditions of Scotland? By dancing with Society-trained teachers at local branch classes (Gatehouse, Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright) we not only learn how to dance and have a lot of fun but also help to maintain the Scottish style of dance. Unfortunately our teacher Moira has been very poorly and is still in recovery but will be back next September. Because of this, Gatehouse branch joined with Kirkcudbright branch at their annual dance late in January to raise money for the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Oncology Dept. It was a very successful event and raised sev-

eral hundred pounds, and the money is still coming in. If you have an interest in Scottish dance and would like to join us dancing old and new dances published by the Society and other respected devisors (Dancing Masters), you are always welcome on Mondays 7.30pm at the Catholic Church Hall, Riverbank. Monday has been the branch dance night in Gatehouse for over fifty years.

“Fun with Flowers”

Following an initiative by flower-arranging enthusiast Val Hunter and the support of Headteacher John Riley, a class in “Fun with Flowers” has now been running on the last Friday of every month since September last year. Val was uncertain about the degree of interest but has been delighted to have between 8 and 14 boys and girls attending. They are asked to bring a small vase or jam jar, while she provides the foliage and flowers. She aims not to be too technical in the art of flower-arranging, with the emphasis on the practical, such as stripping off leaves which go under the water and cutting stems on a slant. She reports that she gets great pleasure from the enthusiasm shown by the participating children. At the December Class there was a winter-related arrangement of fir-cones, a robin and skiers made with polysterene balls and coloured pipe cleaners stuck together with glue guns. Val is greatly indebted to a wide number of volunteer helpers in this very worthwhile addition to the school’s activities.

Big Lit Hosts Booker Prize Winner.

Big Lit Day, now in its second year, is on 2nd June and features James Kelman, the only Scot ever to win The Man Booker Prize. He will be at The Murray Arms at 2pm to read from his award-winning books and discuss the controversy surrounding his work. Times journalist Alan Franks (also appearing in the evening wearing his song-writer hat) will chair the session. ‘Put June 2nd in your diary’ says Chrys Salt from the Bakehouse. ‘James Kelman will be the highlight in a fantastic day studded with literature-based events across the town - readings, theatre and jazz, workshops, busking, book sales and unexpected happenings’. The programme will include novelist Karen Campbell reading from her latest novel, crime writer Gordon Ferris, theatre practitioner David Johnstone exploring the enigma of Don Quixote, Rapture and Beat with jazz singer Eliana Tomkins, radio star Peter Marinker, and Derrick McClure, MBE, on Scots poetry.

Food for thought


Friday 26th April: Loch Arthur, the story so far Friday 24th May: The Finlays are making cheese again Friday 14th June: What’s happening on the Finlay’s Farm Meet at 10.30 for coffee followed by a talk or a walk then a 2 course lunch.

Phone to book: t: 01557 815 222

Sport Galloway Cricket Club

At the end of the summer season of 2011, Galloway Cricket Club took a decision to start a Ladies cricket team, an idea which had been discussed briefly but was brought to life by a few of the cricketing Mums who had decided that, if they were to spend so much time at the cricket ground with their sons, they might as well join in. In a fun atmosphere training outdoors began in the remaining few weeks of the season. The buzz grew when Kari Anderson (Scotland Ladies captain/coach and head of Cricket Scotland’s women’s cricket) visited and held a training session. Kari explained that there were a few other teams and that there would be indoor tournaments during the winter. An indoor venue was found for training during the winter of 2011/12, and a ladies team entered the first tournament at Peebles and ended the winter season by winning two out of its four games played at the Edinburgh tournament at the end of the season. This success encouraged the team to join the summer league for 2012 and to enter the Scottish Cup. Because of bad weather only 3 fixtures were played during the summer, including a convincing win against Ayr Ladies at the beginning of the season which, in spite of the lack of cricket played, resulted in them ending in second place in the league. Indoor training then resumed in the games hall at Kirkcudbright Academy at the start of the winter 2012/13 season. In November, Galloway Ladies entered the first tournament at Peebles, which they had played in the previous winter, won four out of five matches played and ended up winning the whole tournament. What a turnaround! That this was no accident: they then entered the next tournament at Grangemouth in January this year and came second, a fantastic result for such a small club in a rural area. They are rightly proud of their achievements so far, will be playing in the two remaining winter tournaments in Glasgow (March) and Edinburgh (April), and then plan to enter the summer league and the Scottish Cup. Fixture lists will be published in What’s On, and let us hope, for their sake and ours that we are able to enjoy some cricketing weather in

the coming summer. Enthusiastic newcomers are welcome, contact Mary Hughes on 07809226992 for more information. Weather permitting, Galloway Cricket 1st and 2nd XI teams are looking forward to a good season’s cricket, aided by the advantages of the all-weather pitch, and we will be reporting to our supporters and members during the season on progress with the plans for our new Club House at the Cally ground. Spectators are always welcome and we will be publishing our fixtures in the What’s On diary.

Gatehouse of Fleet Snooker Club

The Club is growing, both in numbers and in energy. During 2012, after months of building up performance profiles into a valid handicap system the Club’s Open Handicap Competition was held and completed by the end of the year. It was won by David Lappin, our member from Twynholm. He was presented with a snooker cue set and case as his prize, and will hold the Shield for a year. The Club’s Open Championship – zero handicaps – has now been completed with a close final played on February 24th between David Lappinn and Jack Donald. Jack emerged as the winner and Club Champion by 3 frames to 1 and was presented with the Championship Cup for 2013. This will be followed during the summer months with a Ladder Competition along the same lines as last year. Since the Club’s AGM action has been taken to carry out essential maintenance and the table is now in excellent condition after some simple attention and re-levelling. Plans have also been made to remove the redundant sink in the corner of the Club Room during this year. Full membership numbers remain steady, in spite of the sad loss of some old friends, in particular our former Treasurer, Tom Myers who has moved to Yorkshire, now ably replaced as Treasurer by Brian Napper. There has been a sharp and welcome increase in temporary memberships, some of which may, we hope, turn into full membership in time. Full annual membership at £50 represents excellent value. As with many other sports (golf being a good example), the social benefits of joining can

be at least as valuable as demonstrating ability. Unfortunately, many would-be starters can be deterred by a sense of inferiority, which is a shame. It is not easy to perform well without considerable application and practice, but one way of overcoming starter’s nerves is to get together with a small group of friends among the membership and play together in a group, not necessarily in singles but in doubles, for example, as a more socially friendly experience, perhaps accompanied by some refreshment. The handicap system, as with golf, aims to even out performance differences And remember: enjoyment of snooker is not dependent on our weather and even on the coldest days the heating system in the club room makes for a comfortable atmosphere. So don’t be shy, have a go! And Ladies, if the cricket club can put together a team, why not a Ladies Snooker section? Looking further ahead, your Chairman plans to sound out the Kirkcudbright Snooker Club about inter-club competitions, and, as activity builds up, we need to develop an online booking system for members to book the table in advance.

Gatehouse Golf Club – From the Captain, Robert Hope The Golf Club recently held its AGM and the members present approved subscriptions for adult members to increase to £200 with junior members (aged 12 to 16) at £30 and primary school children at £10 per year. The Golf Club has one of the lowest subscription fees in the South of Scotland and despite the weather the course has remained open all the year round. Interested joiners should contact Robert Hope 0774 9080871 or 01557 814792.


Open Daily: Mon-Sat 7am-8pm, Sun 8am-4pm

M c CULLOCH KEYSTORE Tel 01557 814783

The weather last year has had a significant effect on finances with visitor numbers down 30% on 2012. Combined with the effects of the economy and the Olympics, all Clubs locally have suffered. The course is in good condition despite the constant rain and snow this winter, and many thanks go to Charlie Pickthall for all his hard work in getting everything ready for the new season. The 7th green which has had a new drainage system installed will be ready to play by Easter. The Golf Club is going to be updating its website in the near future ( and we now have a dedicated committee member looking after this. Looking forward to the Opening Competition on Sunday April 7th, with the first Open Competition, the Jubilee Greensomes, being played on Saturday April 27th. The Cally Cup will be held on Saturday May 18th, with the Fleet Valley trophy on Saturday July 6th. On behalf of all the Committee, we hope it will be a better year for golfing and look forward to seeing you on the course.

rectly from my own hands) he must have been starving. Then, unable to consume any more, he’d scuttled away back under cover. I didn’t see him again until… Bang…! The twelvepounder took my fly. Fortunately for me, there was another angler on the loch, Adam Thomson, once an acting chairman of the angling association. He’d been fishing from a boat at the other side, near ‘hotel bay’. Adam was able to confirm that it was an outstanding catch and kindly agreed to act as witness. I should add that I am not a skilful angler. I regard myself as “exceptionally lucky”. But then, why shouldn’t I be: with a lucky mouse to keep me company? I think the mouse was more excited than I was. On arriving home, my wife gazed upon my amazing catch and was moved to ask the inevitable question… “Where did you buy it?”

Gatehouse Green Bowling Club

The Green at the top of Ann Street opens on Saturday April 13th, and new members of all ages are always welcome. Sweep nights take place at 7pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Coaching lessons are available at the beginning of the season for all who would like to try their hand at Green Bowling. Contact Margaret McWilliam on 01557 814561.

Carpet Bowling

Fly Fishing

The Gatehouse and Kirkcudbright Angling Association has fly-fishing (no other methods permitted) on Loch Whinyeon (bank fishing; brown trout) and Lochenbreck (rainbows, stocked monthly; boats available). The club is keen to recruit new members: a season ticket costs £75, and four fish per day may be kept. Day permits cost £18, and boats may be booked for £4 per day. If you are interested in joining please contact the Secretary, David Ferguson, at 14 Fergus Road, Kirkcudbright; phone: 01557 315331. Along with the ‘regular’ rainbows of around 2lb Lochenbreck is stocked with half a dozen ‘big-uns’ each month. Here is the story of one of the ‘big-uns’: When asked to comment on his prize catch at Lochenbreck, Bill said… “It was an absolutely foul day, the rain remorseless. I was fishing from a boat at the far end of the loch, near the boathouse. I wasn’t completely alone. Shortly after setting off from the jetty, a tiny mouse had emerged from the bow section and had nosed its way towards my lunch pack. Judging by the amount of ham sandwich he’d managed to eat (fed di-

the Club, particularly on the finance side with opportunities for grant funding applications. The Club recently held its successful Annual Jumble Sale and would like to thank the community for its support in donating, buying and helping to make this a success. The Club is looking ahead for next season when remedial work to both the Pavilion and the playing pitch is planned. The Club will be represented at the Southern Counties Football Association anniversary dinner in May in Dumfries

Gatehouse member Bill Sandiford with the Lochenbreck Cup rainbow trout of 2012, weighing 12lbs 10oz. Photo by Liz Modrate

Fleet Star Football Club

Although the results continue to be poor, the Club managed its first win of the season with a 2-0 win away at our neighbours Creetown. A number of other results and performance have been encouraging, but there have been some heavy defeats, particularly to the top teams in the league with whom it is difficult to compete. Manager Tommy Maxwell and his coaches are working hard at training and the players always give their best at matches. We are always on the lookout for new players and have signed 5 new players recently to add freshness and enthusiasm to the squad. The Club was awarded the “Quality Mark” recently at a ceremony at Hampden Park when David McWilliam, Robert Hope and Irvine Hannah accepted the award on behalf of the Club. This may open a few doors for

An indoor sport for all ages, meetings in the winter are every Tuesday at 7.30 in the Community Centre with the last meeting this season on March 26th. The start of the next season will be in October. Five Open Tournaments are held each year and the next Open Pairs will be on Friday August 2nd. Contact Annie-Margaret Johnstone 01557 814059.




the perfect setting to relax and unwind tel: 01557 814217

... and now we make the scones to go with our jam

coffee shop gifts cards

Galloway Lodge Preserves

Business in Focus

Each issue we feature an in-depth interview with a local business to highlight individual contributions by the business sector to the local economy. This issue our choice is Cally Gardens. Walk, cycle or drive half a mile along the Cally Drive, and a sign on the left will direct you to the peaceful enclosed 2.7 acre Cally Gardens, working world of its owner, manager and developer, Michael Wickenden. An ample car park leads to an archway entrance which adjoins the listed buildings which house Michael’s home and business premises as well as the old mushroom house that is being converted into a gallery to house the exhibition presently hosted by the Mill on the Fleet. You then enter a world of immaculately laid out beds and massive greenhouses, interspersed with pathways to facilitate viewing of the extensive range of plants. The area comprising the present Cally Gardens dates back to 1760 as the vegetable garden of the then Cally Estate. Its present attraction lies in its walled garden character and extensive range of plants, often rare or specialist, grown in entirely natural surroundings. This is not a garden centre. Plants on display may be purchased but unlike the carefully potted artificially grown products that form the backbone of the garden centre business (and the many other - often not even garden-related items sold by garden centres from bird seed to wheelbarrows) this is a specialist plant centre featuring a wide range of often rare plants, many of which have their origins in far-flung corners of the world. Michael has travelled extensively and the results of this travel can be seen. Although plant importation, thanks to international restrictions, is now more difficult, the importation of seed is still relatively more relaxed: a fine example on show being the banana plants, which at the time of this survey, had been grown from seed and were being moved under glass in advance of the arrival of winter. Michael has 40 years of experience as a jobbing gardener and nurseryman, and plants are the mainstay of his life and enthusiasm. Born in Nottingham, and brought up in Sussex, he worked in the garden of William Robinson, one of Britain’s most

noted gardeners, at Gravetye Manor, went on to work at Shaftesbury in Dorset, and in Cambridge, then in 1979 to Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland, and moved to Cally in 1986. He purchased the present Cally Gardens 20 years ago and has seen it develop with his hard work to its present impressive condition. Cally Gardens is run as a successful business. Michael employs two local assistants and the workforce is expanded during the busy summer months with students, often from abroad, who live on the premises. As with all promising businesses, development plays a part in making it sustainable; the opening of the plant gallery and further improvements of the extensive greenhouses preoccupy Michael’s plans for the future. The mainstay of the business is mail order by catalogue and online and there is a nominal charge for admission for visitors, either individually or by season ticket. Visitors and residents, whether gardeners of distinction or Gatehouse of Fleet historians, could not find a better way of whiling away an hour or two of a warm summer afternoon than to pay a visit to one of Gatehouse’s little gems. They will be well-rewarded by the experience.




box “ a chocolate of a shop”

Open Daily 10am-5.30pm

7-9 Fleet Street, Gatehouse of Fleet DG7 2JT (over the bridge, next to The Ship)

01557 814228

Gatehouse News Spring 2013  

Gatehouse Community Newsletter. Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland.

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