wonderful miniature world is being engineered at a site near Almondell Country Park, by the Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers. Learning about all the diverse, creative and inspiring things local people get up to is one of the best things about this job, and I loved the (sociallydistanced) visit to the site last month. There is far more to it than I could include in the article, and they are looking for people to be involved - see the article on pages 8-9 for details. The clocks go forward on the 28th March, so we can look forward to some lighter evenings at last – it’s felt like a very long winter. We’re likely to still be spending plenty of time outdoors over the next few weeks, and in this issue there is a local walk feature to explore with some interesting history; a feature on discovering the Bathgate Hills, and local education business Love Outdoor Learning have contributed a column to help families with some outdoors activity ideas. Thanks for reading Konect and supporting local businesses and organisations.
u can know yo Did you to receive each e subscribissue of Konect e here new Subscrib online? scribe b u scot/s konect.
P14 Feature: Engineering a miniature world...............8 Feature: Have you discovered the Bathgate Hills?.............................................................14 Property Matters: A Guide to Virtual Property Viewings.......................................................16 Hair: Here we are again...........................................24 Life Coaching: Change What you Notice.........24 Thought for the Month...............................................26 Garden Project: Promise of Spring......................29 Local Environment: Tails of the unexpected....31 Film Review / Puzzles................................................36 Local Walk: The Shale Trail.....................................38 Parenting: It’s my second lockdown birthday and I’ll cry if I want to................................40 Feature: Love Outdoor Learning..........................42
Konect is delivered to 20,000 homes in selected areas of Livingston and Uphall, alternating between two areas of 10,000 homes per month. It is also available online: konect.scot/subscribe
HELEN-JANE SHEARER Editor
CHARLENE GAFFNEY COVER IMAGE: Sunday, 14th March 2021, Mother’s Day @KonectMagazines
M: 07772 941899 E: email@example.com LIVINGSTON | 3
IMAGE CREDIT: Digital Dreams Photography
DONALD DOES IT ALL
making a house into a home ■ SLABBING & DECKING ■ PAINTING DECORATING ■ JOINERY WORK ■ AIMS TAPING & PARTITIONINGS DONALD STONE 01506 651212 or 07720 123216 no job too small ■ free quotations and creative advice 4 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 5
6 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 7
ondell Model Alm eering Centr gin
Andrew Newton, ESME member
Engineering n i at ur e w o r
An extraordinary venue is gradually emerging out of what was an overgrown and neglected woodland near Pumpherston. Acquired by the Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers in 2013, the 11-acre woodland site on Drumshoreland Road is destined to be one of the largest model engineering centres in Europe. It’s a work in progress, but already you can see the vision taking shape: it’s a miniature wonderland with bridges, tunnels, stations, a water feature, over 2 kms of miniature gauge railway track, and much more.
The work party building a platform
And the Society members are keen for the local community to get involved in its creation and development. Perhaps you are entering retirement, between jobs, or a student with time on your hands. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved with a constructional project, to have fun, camaraderie and learn some new skills along the way. This is the first time in the Society’s 127-year history that it has had its own permanent site to build tracks and features on, a place where members will be able to come to work on their engineering projects, run their steam trains and other vehicles. They are working hard to create a venue for all generations to enjoy their hobby.
Tracks into the woods 8 | LIVINGSTON
But it’s much more than that. The site and the society is a rich resource that they want to share with the community for learning about engineering as well as other hobbies. @KonectMagazines
An Outdoor Leaning venue The Almondell Model Engineering Centre is available as an outdoor learning venue for schools, higher education, youth groups and industry.
There is free onsite car and coach parking and a 400 sqm Heritage Building for rainy days with toilets, kitchen, a large conference/ classroom with full audio-visual facilities, a training workshop and small meeting room. We would love to hear from teachers, trainers or any organisations that would like to help us make use of our facilities to provide creative learning opportunities.
Please contact Andrew Newton on 07981 756863 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Almondell Engineering Centre is a beautiful natural environmental setting, and ecology goes hand in hand with the engineering here. The woodland was very dense and unmanaged previously, and it has benefited from active management since the Society took over. Deer and other wildlife make their home here; there are wild areas for insects to flourish; they aim to put up bird boxes in the parts of the wooded area that the tracks do not go through; and they have created a pond which is a picturesque feature for the railway and will also encourage biodiversity over time. Pretty much everything is made from recycled and repurposed material. That’s part of the genius of it. Between them, members and volunteers are bringing a huge amount of skill, experience, ingenuity and hard labour to forge this special venue.
Andrew rapidly learned bridge-building skills during the last lockdown @KonectMagazines
Exercise and share with us The lockdown during 2020 restricted development of the site and the Club are looking for new members and volunteers to push forward more activities. If you have an interest in model engineering or simply want to lend a hand, then get in touch. There is plenty to be involved in, from landscaping, surveying, ecology projects, and engineering. Camaraderie and new skills thrown in! Work parties take place on Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 10:00am. To get involved please contact Andrew Newton on 07981 756863 or email email@example.com
The building, with an eco-friendly heating system, houses a training room, library, conference room and kitchen as well as the members’ workshop area. It is available for a nominal fee for organisations to hold AGMs or meetings, and they will be welcome to tour the site too. There is something very joyful about a site being built not for profit but for the purpose of learning, playing, sharing knowledge and carrying on learning for a lifetime. For more information and to get involved in any way, please visit: www.edinburgh-sme.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Andrew Newton - 07981 756863
Almondell Model Engineering Centre, Drumshoreland Muir, Drumshoreland Road, Broxburn, EH52 5PF This article was written by Helen-Jane Shearer after visiting the Almondell Engineering Centre. Helen-Jane is the Editor of Konect magazines and lives in West Lothian with her family. The Centre is an outdoors venue operating in line with the Scottish Government’s current advice for controlling the virus. ESME is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC041019. LIVINGSTON | 9
AKT Bookkeeping Tax Returns • Accounts, Bookkeeping • Payroll, CIS • VAT Phone Kevin on 01506 201459 from 8.00am to 4.00pm or email@example.com
To be included in Konect, please contact us. Our details are on page 3.
10 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 11
We specialise in household alterations and repairs. To discuss your construction project, please call Colin on: or email:
Extensions | Bathrooms | Kitchens Alterations | Structual Work Maintenance & Repairs | Landscaping Driveways | All Trades
12 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 13
Have you discovered BATHGATE’S HILLS? There’s no longer any silver to be mined in the Bathgate Hills, but during the lockdowns of 2020 many who walked in the Bathgate Hills for the first time may have thought they had struck gold. The hills’ rich history, interesting features and proximity to the towns of Bathgate, Livingston and Linlithgow meant many people discovered an area full of fantastic short walks without leaving their local authority area. Encompassing an area north of the M8 and the A89, and south of Linlithgow, between Dechmont in the east and Boghall and Bathgate in the west, the Bathgate hills also take in Torphichen, site of the 12th century stronghold of the Knights of St John and the well-loved Beecraigs Country Park.
Accessing the hills from Livingston is easy via the Drumcross Road, where you’ll find
Raven Craig, a 54.5-hectare hilly woodland, used as a deer park from 1750-1805 by land-owner Lord Hopetoun and quarried in 1875 in vain efforts to unearth silver. Follow a series of footpaths up to the Bronze Age cairn for excellent views over the Forth and the Pentland Hills. Just north of here you’ll find Cairnpapple and the Knock, both sites with significant archaeological history. The Knock has always been popular for local walks and picnics. At 305 metres, this glacially sculpted crag and tail hill created by an outcrop of quartz-dolerite is about 305 million years old. It falls short of being the highest summit in these hills but is excellent viewpoint over Rosyth and the Forth bridges. The top can be reached from a minor road that skirts its western flank. Here you’ll find a bronze disc indicator in memory of the Sutherland family who gifted four and a half acres of land to Bathgate Town Council. The highest point in the Bathgate Hills is Cairnpapple, at 312 metres. An important prehistoric monument, Cairnpapple was used as a burial and ceremonial site from about 3000 to 1400 BC, a once-sacred hilltop where people first held rituals and raised neolithic monuments some 5,500 years ago. You can visit a Neolithic henge, see the site of a great timber circle and descend into a Bronze Age cist grave (now covered by a modern, domed chamber).
CHOOSE BATHGATE is an initiative of Enterprising Bathgate, the managing company for Bathgate’s Business Improvement District. 14 | LIVINGSTON
On your way to Cairnpapple you’ll pass the Hilderston Silver Mine Quarry, first in operation between 1606 and 1614. In 1608 German miners were brought in to work the deposits, indicating their skill and knowledge of mining geology at this @KonectMagazines
Refuge Stone and the Witchcraig Wall time. The quarry re-opened in the 18th century to work lead and zinc and reexcavated during the 19th century, but no further economic deposits of silver or lead were found. If you normally make a beeline to Beecraigs, a family favourite for its loch walks, deer sightings, playground and BBQ areas, why not stop off at the Witchcraig Woodland and Korean War Memorial along the way? This eight-hectare site combines a memorial garden and hilly, woodland with walking routes and excellent views. Opened in June 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s commencement, 110 Korean Fir trees and around 1100 Scottish trees represent the servicemen who were killed in the conflict. Follow the signpost behind the memorial to the Refuge Stone and Witchcraig Wall, an uphill walk with views across the Forth. You can rest at the Witchcraig Wall, a small enclosure with seating which exhibits the geological heritage and diversity of Central Scotland, with 43 rocks from the region integrated into the structure. @KonectMagazines
IMAGE CREDIT: David Mowbray and Lisa Wright, Digital Dreams Photography
In the stone wall behind you’ll find a 12th century Refuge Stone, etched with the Cross of Lorraine, one of a number of surviving boundary stones around Torphichen where the Knights of St John established a Preceptory in 1124. The stones formed a one mile circle around the Preceptory which was as much a sanctuary as the church itself, offering protection to any criminals who entered its precincts. For many, the best part about getting out for a good walk and fresh air, is working up a thirst and an appetite and finding a great place to relax afterwards. If you’ve yet to discover the Bathgate Hills, don’t also overlook the great choice of eateries and hostelries in Bathgate. There’s a huge selection of pubs, hotels, restaurants, cafes and takeaways, with something to suit every taste and budget. To plan before you go, visit www.ChooseBathgate.com This article was contributed by Enterprising Bathgate. LIVINGSTON | 15
A Guide to Virtual Property Viewings
Agent Guided Viewings ^^^ The increase in popularity of virtual (or remote) property viewings has undoubtedly been driven by the social distancing restrictions that we have become used to since March last year. (It’s probably worth pointing out at the start of this piece that physical viewings and agent valuations of properties are still permitted, and these activities take place every day.) Having said that, and following Government guidelines, it is important to keep physical contact to a minimum and agents should use technology to progress and enhance the buying and selling experience for clients where possible.
Video Tours/Property Walkthrough’s are not new and have been used in different formats for some time however the range and quality of this type of marketing product have developed significantly and now offer homeowners a variety of different options to choose from.
photographs and should be short and punchy, almost a snippet as a ‘teaser’ to encourage more interest. Many of these types of videos however tend to be too long and very quickly disengage the audience who typically skip and fast forward to the end if the timing and production is not spot on. Mid-range video products often provide an interactive experience, allowing the user to control which rooms to view and move around the property at their own pace. In principle, they provide comprehensive coverage of the interior and layout and should give the viewer a better understanding and ‘feel’ for the spaces however some of these products can be quite awkward or ‘clunky’ to navigate depending on which device you are using, and often don’t deliver the memorable user experience that a product of this quality should. Premium level videos generally feature the Estate Agent who is selling the property or the Agent will provide a guided voiceover. These tend to much more engaging and informative as the visual experience is greatly enhanced by the audio description of certain key features, specification highlights and location aspects. One of the other key benefits of viewing a property using this technique is that it allows buyers to see room and space perspective in relation to the agent being present in the property. Like all property marketing products, virtual (or remote) viewings are not intended to replace physical viewings however commissioning the highest quality video production not only shows your property in the most professional and engaging way it also provides the best viewing experience for potential buyers and increases the probability of a physical viewing being requested which of course is the ultimate aim.
These can be summarised into 3 different categories depending on the type of property and the budget available for marketing and promotion. At the entry level, a basic ‘walk-through’ video does as the name suggests by guiding the viewer around the property. This type of product is a good addition to standard 16 | LIVINGSTON
^^^ Agent Accompanied Viewings @KonectMagazines
Max's Garage Doors Ltd We repair Washing Machines, Tumble Dryers, Electric Ovens, Dishwashers and Washer Dryers
0772 965 1692
firstname.lastname@example.org www.home-appliancerepair.co.uk Like us on Facebook
18 | LIVINGSTON
For all Installations repairs and services
Garage Doors Electric Motors UPVC Side Doors Tel. 07821 984 978
email@example.com 10 Years Experience
LIVINGSTON | 19
Join us online for more articles, updates, reader offers and more!
20 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 21
HERE WE ARE AGAIN
Another month of Lockdown. It’s getting tiring right? If you answered yes, it’s time to dig deep. We need to push through this mentally and physically and as tough as that is right now we have to put ourselves in the best position possible.
It’s really difficult when we have roots showing and there’s just no point in blow drying your hair anymore, but please do not underestimate the power of a good blow dry! If you haven’t opted for home dye then good for you! Maybe contact your hairdresser and see if they offer any suitable options for home colouring? Or a great trick is a little touch up with eyeshadow on those greys for those of you who just need to get through the next zoom call. Bring back the zig zag partings of the 90s, make it retro and style your roots out! And don’t forget to care for yourself, it sounds so simple but make a point of it, Do a face mask, wash your hair (2 shampoos!) put a treatment on it, blow dry it. Just do what you need to do to make yourself feel great and focus on keeping that mindset at its best! Info* we run an online shop with quality hair products and same-day delivery to West Lothian over at wonderlandlivingston.com
The Hair column is contributed by Sophie Laidlaw. Sophie is Director @wonderland Livingston. www.wonderlandlivingston.com 24 | LIVINGSTON
Change What You NOTICE Can you remember the last time you ought a new car or a shirt or even a pretty candle? Maybe it was an unusual colour of green or blue or purple. Suddenly, you began to notice just that shade of green, purple or blue everywhere you looked. Close your eyes and think of the colour blue. Then open your eyes again and scan the area around you and you will find that you are suddenly aware of even the smallest amount of blue. This happens because the brain has a really clever filtering system, called the Reticular Activating System, which sorts through millions of bits of data which come our way throughout the day and categories this information to help us make sense of our world. This area of the brain is the size of your little finger and can influence everything including your self-esteem, your confidence and what you believe about the world around you. We form this filter ourselves by telling our brain what is important to us, what we believe, what we long for and what we fear and, over time, we attract more of the things that we focus on into our lives. This can sometimes feels really challenging and we wonder why bother? Especially if we tell ourselves that we are fated to experience the same things, work experiences or relationships again and again and think that we are doomed to experience ‘Groundhog Day’ for the rest of our lives. If we created our experiences by the way we think, it stands to reason that we can alter the world around us by thinking differently. Changing the language we use when we speak to ourselves and altering our focus has the potential to change our future forever. The Life Coaching column is contributed by Francine Orr, NLP coach, hypnotherapist & reiki practitioner. Francine is based within Linlithgow Chiropractic on Wednesday afternoons and is also available online. See www.orrganise.co.uk @KonectMagazines
To be included in Konect, please contact us. Our details are on page 3.
Join us online for more articles, updates, reader offers and more!
LIVINGSTON | 25
Coping with challenges and difficulty We are in the most relentless times like none before in my lifetime! It seems never ending! They say hope is on the horizon with the vaccine now being rolled out, but at times is just doesn’t feel that way. When I am struggling and have emotions or anxiety that I’m finding difficult, I use my compassion practice of the “self compassion break” which was developed by Kristin Neff. It’s a wonderful practice, quite short and supports me in the moment that difficulty is arising. It is important not to run away or get busy
26 | LIVINGSTON
which is what I used to do. First of all, I bring my hands to my heart and just acknowledge “this is a moment of difficulty”, saying it to myself. Secondly, I say “difficulty is part of life and I am not alone in this difficulty, many others are feeling this too”. This acknowledges our connection with others in the world having a similar challenge. The third part is holding is with kindness and care by bringing a gesture of soothing and saying to ourselves, “can I be kind to myself in this moment” or “can I hold this moment with care and love”. If you create 3 mantras finding your own words, repeat them and allow them to flow with ease and you might notice what happens in your experience, it might transform by itself without doing anything else. Try it and see, it’s helped me enormously. Tina Gilbert lives in Livingston and teaches** yoga and meditation. Visit her website at www.yogamed.co.uk (**All my classes are currently running online)
LIVINGSTON | 27
28 | LIVINGSTON
taking our own advice Our tiny team, who are keeping the garden centre alive whilst most of us are furloughed, decided to take last month’s Konect advice to heart and set up a firepit in our Scottish Garden. Suitably socially distanced, it made a delightful staff room for their breaks! Hopefully we’ll be allowed to open the garden centre sometime this month and welcome you all back.
Our gardens here, like this one, are all looking full of promise and the snowdrops are opening and the daffodils poking up through the soil. How is your garden looking? We bet they are delighting you with the promise of Spring arriving. Lesley and I walked around our garden as we were writing this column (second weekend of February) and counted 24 plants in flower. The weekend before was the Big Bird Count and Lesley recorded a dozen different types of bird visiting. My goodness we are
A firepit in our Scottish Garden filling up the feeders with Sunflower Hearts every day to keep this merry band happy. The star performers in our garden are the fragrant pink Daphne Bholua and the fragrant yellow Witchhazel, but these stars are supported by Winter flowering Heathers, little annual Violas and Pansies, Primroses, fragrant flowering Winter Box, Lenten Hellebores and many more. Could your garden squeeze in one of these little darlings, or is it crammed full of late winter promise already? The gardening project is contributed by Dougal Philip, New Hopetoun Gardens. Inspiring, informing and entertaining, for more than 40 years.
LIVINGSTON | 29
Veterinary Surgeons Ltd
Please contact us if you would like your business included in our Pet Services pages. Contact details are on page 3.
1 9 3 0
“All creatures great and small, we care for them all” Our caring, experienced and dedicated veterinary team is committed to providing the best possible care for your pet, horse or farm animal in the Linlithgow, Edinburgh, Lothian and Central regions. Our practice is modern, well-equipped and progressive, with a strong emphasis on preventative healthcare and advice.
Linlithgow Branch Surgery, 256 High Street, Linlithgow, EH49 7ES Tel: 0131 333 3203 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mackieandbrechin.co.uk
24 HOUR ON-SITE EMERGENCY SERVICE At our Kirkliston Surgery, 29 Main St, Kirkliston, EH29 9AE Tel: 0131 333 3203
30 | LIVINGSTON
Tails of the unexpected You may have heard some loud screaming at night over the last couple of months, and wondered what all the racket is. Whilst there could be many reasons, the most likely culprit behind the noise is female foxes (vixens) making their presence known to any males (dog fox) in the area. You’d be forgiven for thinking something much worse was going on, however the easiest explanation is that we’ve been in the peak of fox breeding season across December/January.
Recently I had one of those wildlife encounters, not far from where I stay, that nearly takes your breath away. This fox was on the prowl for lunch, and using its excellent hearing listened for prey beneath the snow before an energetic pounce to claim the prize. It then continued along the path, straight towards me before slipping down the ditch just a few feet away, and coming out again to give me a good stare. Returning to the hunt (one vole does not a meal make)! it headed in the opposite direction, whilst I frantically waved at some people approaching to stop them in their tracks, @KonectMagazines
though I’m sure they walked away with no idea why I was gesturing so enthusiastically.
You can plan to look for specific wildlife, but sometimes the ones you never even dreamed of turn out to be something which stays with you for days. Before the spring brings more cover and easier hiding places, always expect the unexpected when going out for a walk in winter. This column is contributed by Clare Harte and Kate Stevenson, who grew up in Edinburgh and now live in West Lothian. Together they run Scottish Sisters Photography and travel around the country to watch and photograph amazing wildlife and scenic landscapes. Follow them on Facebook @ScottishSistersPhotography LIVINGSTON | 31
All electrical services Fusebox Upgrades Lighting Sockets Showers Fault Finding Repairs Testing and Inspection
07841 331 888 email: email@example.com facebook: electric_al
17th Edition qualified, ECS/CSCS Registered
FOR ALL YOUR DECORATING REQUIREMENTS: Interior and Exterior Paperhanging Coving Plastering Free estimates
Tel: 07585 509 811 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 71 Marjoribanks St, Bathgate, EH48 1AL
32 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 33
34 | LIVINGSTON
LIVINGSTON | 35
^^^ Solution in the April edition of Konect ACROSS: 1. Outermost (7), 5. Six sided objects (5), 8. Turn (5), 9. Woman’s holdall (7), 10. Media notice (13), 11. Relaxed (6), 12. Idiotic (6), 15. Exhibition (13), 18. Not quietest (7), 19. Very angry (5), 20. Perfume (5), 21. Meals (7). DOWN: 1. Additional (5), 2. Robbers (7), 3. Amusement (13), 4. Racial group (6), 5. Deep thought (13), 6. Religious text (5), 7. Seen (7), 11. Hugs (7), 13. Not public (7), 14. Commented (6), 16. Small rodent (5), 17. Requirements (5)
^^^ Solution in the April edition of Konect
36 | LIVINGSTON
Soul is advertised and packaged as the new Disney Pixar kid’s film. However, it is in fact a film tailored for adults. Soul is about Joe Gardner who has a very strong passion for music, and on the cusp of his lifelong ambition he is transported out of his body and must find a way back. Soul contains some of the best animation Pixar has ever done. Seeing the different animation styles varying from hyper detailed humans, to more cartoony looking souls to abstract line drawings it’s all just beautiful and a visual treat to the eyes. Seeing Joe play the piano in one scene is jaw dropping as it looks so real. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (of Nine Inch Nails) is incredible and is really effective in certain scenes. However, Soul wants to have its cake and eat it when it comes to the story. The story wants to be a deep and thoughtprovoking film that touches adult themes, but it also wants to be a simplistic kid’s film. This clashing of ideas leads to the film being painfully predictable from the beginning and instead of exploring the more interesting aspects, it focuses on the more childlike aspects which I found to be cringeworthy. While overall I did enjoy Soul, I don’t think it was the masterpiece other people were saying it was. AVAILABLE NOW ON People should watch this film though while I think it’s just good, other people might be really moved and affected by this film. The Film Review is contributed by Robert Ewing. Robert is passionate about film as an art form, and shining a light on films that may not be on people’s radar. Robert is from Kirknewton. @KonectMagazines
Stay visible, reach more customers “It has been a really easy and straightforward process to work with you and I look forward to the response we get from potential customers” Daryl Dunnigan, Seed Financial Planning
Please contact us for help to arrange your affordable LOCAL advertising package for 2021. Our details are on page 3. @KonectMagazines
LIVINGSTON | 37
You may have noticed little black and white signs appearing, dotted through West Lothian, with “Shale Trail” on them.
They are markers on a new 16-mile walking route between West Calder and Winchburgh. Called “The Shale Trail” and described on the dedicated website as “The pathway of Scotland’s Oil Rush,” it aims to commemorate various human, social and industrial aspects of the all-consuming industry which dominated West Lothian for 100 years from the 1860s to the 1960s. The pink bings that characterise our skylines are the most visible monuments to the industry, but there is more than meets the eye. The Shale Trail is a wonderful - and lockdown-friendly - way to learn about it. It takes in various sites of significance and is punctuated by information signage with stories highlighting aspects of the industry and local life. There is a children’s version as well, with material prepared by local school children. This walk for Konect covers the western half of the trail from West Calder to Howden in Livingston. Start on the Main Street of West Calder, at the memorial bench in front of the old Co-op clock. This is the location of the first story on the trail; read the stories on the website as you go along. From here, walk up Northfield Court, where a footpath heads off the road and down towards Five Sisters bing which you can see in the distance. Follow the 38 | LIVINGSTON
well-surfaced path through until it comes out onto the road, Tenant’s March.
Turn right on the footpath, and the trail now follows the road for a while, turning left onto Mossend and continuing up to the new housing estate. This estate is at the site of the historic mining hamlet of Mossend. The Trail story at this point tells about the original village – and its football team.
A little further along the road, you’ll spot the sign indicating the trail turns left, leaving the road. It take you down some steps through a small wooded area, then skirts some fields. Crossing the B7015, it takes you alongside Breich Water, and it’s a very pleasant stretch of the trail on a good surfaced path, all the way through the fields to the point where Breich Water joins the River Almond. Here you cross a bridge and continue alongside the Almond, striking across more or less open ground with some nice wooded areas. The path is well marked although it was quite muddy in places here when I did this walk. You eventually arrive at Almond Pools, the site of the former Livingston Quarry. The Trail story here explains how these tranquil pools, now a wildlife haven, were created when the Almond was diverted away from the shale deposits for the quarrying. It’s a lovely peaceful spot. Shortly past the pools, the trail takes you up onto the road (Simpson Parkway) briefly
then turns down the footpath into Livingston Village, through Thirlfield Wynd and out by Almond Valley Heritage Centre. Follow the sign through the housing into the historic heart of old Livingston Village. Here, before heading down Charlesfield Lane on the Trail, we indulged in a very excellent takeaway coffee and cake from Castaway Coffee on the Main Street. From Livingston Village, the Trail follows the River Almond, passes the Civic Centre and continues along the river. At Howden Bridge, pause to see and read about the Howden Rock Ramp, a fascinating wildlife engineering project that is bringing salmon and other wildlife back up the Almond – an extraordinary achievement given the Almond used to be so polluted by industry that it had a chemical smell as it ran though Livingston. Howden is just less than the halfway along the Shale Trail. It’s a good spot to get back on the road and get a bus back to the car in West Calder, if you don’t feel like retracing your steps back along the trail. If cafes are open again by the time this is printed, there will be plenty of refreshment options in West Calder. This article was written by Helen-Jane Shearer. Helen-Jane is the editor of Konect and lives in West Lothian with her family.
LIVINGSTON | 39
It’s my second lockdown birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.. . I can’t actually believe it, but we are on the downhill slope to my youngest daughter’s second lockdown birthday. Who would have thought it!?
We were in the middle of planning her birthday party last year when the world as we knew it was put on pause. Of course I told her we would do something “when this is all over”. I vividly remember the conversation…and unfortunately so does she. According to her I now owe her two birthday parties and probably some extra presents when the shops open again.
So the pressure is on to deliver something special this year. At least this time we have a bit more notice. And by now I am pretty much an expert at celebrating special occasions while on house arrest. We have certainly learned by now that there is not much point in putting things off until “after”. The secret to my success is the local businesses I’ve discovered that have helped keep our special occasions special – even in these strange times we find ourselves in. 40 | LIVINGSTON
Plus I love knowing that by ordering from a small local business I might have made an actual person do a little happy dance. So many small businesses have been hit especially hard this year but these ones you can support from the comfort of your own home no matter the restrictions. So if you need help with an upcoming occasion here are my go to guys. Party On Main Street – or Susan the balloon lady as she is known in our house – makes the most amazing balloon displays and decorations. Her balloons have added a bit of magic to our household when we’ve really needed it this year and I can’t recommend her highly enough. Baby Bear Keepsakes do beautiful personalised, hand-painted gifts for all sorts of occasions. With the shops so often closed now I love knowing that I can still get something a bit different
for a gift or to let someone I can’t see know that I am still thinking of them. I should say that I am not affiliated with either of these businesses other than being a huge fan and a loyal customer. They can both be found on Facebook and Instagram, are based in West Lothian and deliver direct. Here’s to all the other kids out there who’ll be celebrating over Zoom once again…remind them that it just means more cake for them! The parenting column is contributed by Laura Archibald. Laura lives in West Lothian with her family and their campervan Hank. She is mummy, wife, blogger and full-time personal assistant to her two girlie girls. @KonectMagazines
Stay visible, reach more customers “Konect has really enabled us to reach people who aren’t on Facebook” The School Bank West Lothian
Please contact us for help to arrange your affordable LOCAL advertising package for 2021. Our details are on page 3. @KonectMagazines
LIVINGSTON | 41
CHILDREN & FAMILIES
Lockdown Learning -
I am sat writing this watching the snowfall in February. The plentiful snow should mean an abundance of sticks and twigs on the ground by the time this reaches you! These are perfect for natural arts and crafts!
I know when it is cold and frosty, I love active fun, like walking or sledding, but staying still outdoors for arts and crafts is a little harder. While you are out walking or playing, you can collect materials for arts and crafts and spend time creating amazing memories with a hot chocolate to warm you.
Stickmen and Women - Stick people, we love creating them with all ages, because all ages will get something different out of this activity. All you need to start is two twigs and some wool or string. Lash the two sticks together into a cross to create a basic stickman or women! For younger children, leashing them sticks together can be a challenge. We encourage children to wrap the yarn around the sticks diagonally three times, switch to the opposite diagonal for another three and keep alternating until it is held tight. Older children can be more creative. Can they use natural materials to create an outfit? Can they write an adventure about their stick person? Wands - We all love a little magic, whether from Hogwarts or Meg and Mog. It can be fun to find the perfect stick to create your wand. You may wish to whittle it or keep it simple and add some ribbons and bows, or you might paint it. Whatever you do, make your wand as unique as you are. Art - Andy Goldsworthy is an environmental artist based here in 42 | LIVINGSTON
Scotland. His environmental art is simply stunning in its simplicity. Can you collect natural materials? You might find stones, acorns, leaves, flowers, twigs, shells, or anything else while out on a walk? Andy’s art is often left in nature, where it is created, left to be discovered. While it is chilly you may prefer taking your art resources home to create masterpieces. Can you use it to create natural mandalas? These are circles within circles within circles and have become popular thanks to adult colouring books. What could you use to create each circle? Older children can think about tone and size while creating.
Remember! - The outdoors is a place of fun. It should not be adding more stress and strain to your life. You can head to your garden or local green space or venture further to a park close to home. There are no time restrictions. You can spend as little or as long out as you like. The only rule is you should all be having fun! This article was contributed by Carol Murdoch. Carol is a teacher, tutor and Director of Love Outdoor Learning, an educational organisation based in West Lothian that helps children connect with the natural environment. @KonectMagazines
Konect magazine for Livingston and Uphall, March 2021