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The Voice of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre & St Fillans

Lochearnhead Shears 2015

Photo Curtesy of Allardyce Photography

Erudite Muse

Editor’s Bit The Weather! “Old Nyati” was optimistic that the weather would have improved in the middle of the month as David and I were away and usually we miss spells of sunshine but no such luck this year. We found that on the continent people were also obsessed by the current strange conditions, initially it was similar to here in that they were having more rain than normal. A couple of days later our boats itinerary had to change as there was a danger of there not being enough water in that stretch of the river as they did not have enough rain! We finished our trip in Budapest and here the complaint was about the temperatures nudging 100 degrees, not a problem for us as we tried to make the most of a few days of sunshine. Fiona Martin wearing her St Angus hat again on page 8 is asking the question about why people are no longer going to church and inviting comments to be sent direct to The Villagers. I thought it would be equally interesting to pose the opposite side of the argument and invite responses from people explaining why they consider it is still important to go to church and to maintain the church buildings. To be rather controversial and provoke some discussion we had been discussing whether spending the huge amounts of money that must have been spent building and decorating some of the cathedrals we were seeing on our travels was money that might have been better spent housing the poorer people of the times. So all views on this very broad and important topic would be very welcome and, as Fiona has said, comments can be anonymous. We have continued to enjoy the summer festivities in the villages, it was our first visit to see the sheep shearing in June and we were fascinated by the speed and skill being demonstrated by the shearers and amused by the efforts of a couple of sheep to escape such an undignified proceeding. This weekend we were at the Highland Games where a spell on the gates confirmed my impression that such a huge amount of work by a comparatively small number of people goes in to making this such a spectacle for locals and visitors from literally all over the world. A full account and photos will be in next month’s Villagers when the committee have regained their breath in the meantime many congratulations from us for a great afternoon. 2

Balquhidder Community Broadband CIC Update Following the issue of the ITT (Invitation to Tender) the first steps in achieving a fast broadband provision for area around the glen have been taken. Two companies – Briskona Ltd and AB Internet Ltd – have provided tenders and initial meetings have been held with their representatives. Both companies are offering wireless solutions and both have deployed similar working solutions close by in Scotland and elsewhere. As a result of these meetings both companies are now working to revise their generic tender documents to take into account the specific topography challenges (too many trees) and customer requirements of the Balquhidder area as defined in the ITT. Over the next few weeks we will be working closely with them as they develop coverage plans to ensure that all premises in the area who wish to take advantage of the fast broadband service offered will be able to do so, along with their layered packages to suit light users, heavy users and businesses. We have also received a response offering a fibre solution from Bogons Ltd. A fibre solution would undoubtedly be the best solution for the glen and provide faster speeds and more certain future proofing as technology and networking develops. Deploying fibre will undoubtedly have more expensive up front costs so its viability may depend on the number of households who sign up for the service. All three tenders will need to conduct more detailed survey work and assessment before their final offerings can be delivered for consideration We are therefore hoping that by mid or late September we will be in a position to hold a meeting in the village hall where we can lay out the options available, answer your questions, seek your thoughts and guidance, and assess demand before taking this exciting project forward.

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Einstein, quoted in The Observer “Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.” Terry Pratchett, quoted in The Times “Too many people spend money the haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” Will Rogers, quoted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo, quoted in the Daily Star (Lebanon) “People who love reading are often called bookworms - but that’s the wrong way around. It’s not you that worms into the book, but the book that worms into you.” Amanda Craig, quoted in The Independent “The war against intelligence is always waged in the name of common sense.” Roland Barthes, quoted in The Browser “I’ve learnt so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking about making a few more.” Goldie, quoted in The Observer

The St Fillans Bit Firstly my apologies – when bemoaning last month the lack of input to these pages from villagers I should have mentioned Mary from The Four Seasons and Fraz – both of whom help me out every month. I mentioned last month the horrors of trying to renew my Parking Blue Badge. What a difference when renewing my driving licence. Once you pass 70 the licence needs renewal every 3 years and I duly received a reminder of same with a form. But a note attached said that doing it online was easier. It took about 15 minutes, required no new photos or council tax bills and a new licence arrived by post in 3 days. Delighted to be praising our rulers rather than my usual sarcasm about their performance. I also commented last month on the seeming lack of any feedback or progress on the proposals for new lochside controls. I am indebted to Richard Graham for updating me. There is, seemingly, plenty going on – just a lack of reporting on matters. The result of the consultation period over the new controls was 49% for and 51% against! That amazes me but I gather that the various walking and rambling groups are very proficient on objecting to any new restrictions on rights of access to the countryside. This I understand but presumably said groups do not frequent the shores of Loch Earn and witness the encampments and filth which we locals live with. It would be interesting to find out where these country lovers live – probably leafy suburbs – and go and park 6 ancient caravans on their grass verges, litter the place with broken bottles and cans, plus, of course, human waste then sing and swear into the night. One suspects that their insistence on freedom might diminish somewhat if they had our problems on their doorsteps. We seemingly now have a new Minister Of The Environment who is tasked with deciding the way forward – install the controls as proposed, water them down a bit to appease the antis or forget all about it. There have already been several examples of anti-social behaviour, littering and human waste disposal on the shores this year of which the police are aware and pictures of which have been passed to our Minister. Seems she has visited our shores once but, predictably there was little sign of the problems we all know exist. Sod’s Law. Anyway, Richard, Kay & Trish are heavily involved with attempts to not let the matter die and Richard will keep us updated. I have to admit to minimal knowledge of country wild life – especially birds.

by John Murray

The Swallows

When I were a lad in Birmingham we had two categories of birds – budgies if they were little and eagles if they were big. Needless to say we didn’t actually have any eagles in Brum but were happy to class anything bigger than a sparrow as an eagle. My many years of living in the country have not improved matters despite my wife constantly trying to help me identify the countless budgies who frequent our garden. Apart from a lovely wee faithful Robin who visits us every winter. Then a few weeks back I noticed 2 feathered creatures paying regular visits to our garage. Daisy investigated and found that they were swallows building a new home in the rafters of the garage. Relationships were initially poor – I didn’t like the mess they dropped on my

scooter and they definitely objected to me working in the garage. Now man and swallows happily co-exist. There should be a picture here taken by Daisy showing our new friends cuddled up in their wee home. The only drawback is that we have to open up the garage at 7 a.m. to let the swallows out for breakfast then lock up at 10 pm. when they are in beddies. Which leads me into a nice tale passed on by Anne Patrick. Apparently house sparrows are rapidly becoming extinct in Scotland with numbers reduced by 70% in recent years and leading to the RSPB classifying them in the highest conservation category. In 2010 a lone male house sparrow arrived at Anne’s home and took up residence. It took Continued overleaf


The St Fillans Bit

(Continued from p3) enthusiasm and hard graft from Brad

him 3 years to find a wife, presumably sparrow dating web sites are few. Then follows a small family the same year. By 2014 the house had 2 breeding pairs, each producing 6 fledglings. Now in 2015 they have what Anne describes as an explosion of house sparrows – too many to even count. The sparrows have evicted existing house martins from their nests. Now Anne reports the first visit of a starling to their garden. Ain’t country living lovely? I missed it but several villagers have passed me links, with humorous comments to yet another press release announcing that Arran Brewers have bought a £1.2M bottling plant now. I know that some villagers don’t think that is my place to comment on The Drummond Arms, but, sorry I will continue to do so. It will soon be 3 years since Arran took over the Drummond amongst exciting press releases of their plans to renovate the building and revive the business. Many of us were very relieved that what had once been a magnificent focal point in our village and a thriving hotel would be brought back to life. Two restaurants were promised for the following year, plus rooms would be renovated in time for the Ryder Cup. The new brewery would be open in months and attracting 30,000 visitors a year. Great stuff. Instead 3 years later the building slowly decays, the same filthy curtains hang on windows and work on the brewery appears to be stopped. And whilst this Drummond project goes nowhere Arran are off buying a pub in England, a bottling plant and Lord knows what else. Surely if Arran have the funds it would make business sense and create village support if they renovated the Drummond as promised? Better news from the Achray. The

and Zelda are reflected in the increased business they are achieving and to reward regular customers they are introducing a loyalty card system this month. Space precludes me detailing the system but contact Brad and he will explain how it works. General building works and upgrading are close to complete and Brad tells me of their new wine rack which, in his words, looks amazing. They are looking to employ a young student for 3 or 4 days a week for general duties over the next few months so there must be a suitable applicant in the village? Just contact Brad. The hotel has a new website under production now and ready to launch in a few weeks – this will rebrand the hotel and will be interesting to see. So much of business success nowadays lies in keeping the brand fresh, particularly on the web, and Achray obviously know this. On the sporting front Nice Muir tells me that St Fillans Ladies Golfers enjoyed considerable success at the Lochcarron Ladies Open in July with Nice coming 3rd & Ali Ferguson 4th. It was an appalling day weather-wise so sadly no pictures. Celebrations were held at the home of the Lochcarron Ladies Captain which I assume were very sober. One dreads to think of what a crowd of lady golfers get up to when let off the leash. I am reminded by the Four Seasons of their great value Sunday Lunch at just £15.95 a head. And, of course, of their ever popular cream teas and lunchtime speciality sandwiches. I had occasion to sample a ‘Murray Burger’ for lunch there a couple of weeks ago – not named after me but, I think, Murray the butcher. A finer burger I have never tasted along with proper chips. Maybe not the healthiest option but who cares. John Murray

St Fillans Festive Weekend Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th August. On Saturday a great BBQ with music by an Elvis Tribute act. If you like Elvis music this is a must. £10 a ticket. On Sunday a buffet lunch with live entertainment by the R3 Tenors – Scotland’s answer to the 3 Tenors. A superb trio singing operatic favourites, songs from the shows and Scots songs. £15 a ticket. You will never get food and entertainment like this for anywhere near this price thanks to our sponsors who are footing the bill. Tickets from Johnston on 01764 685 268, or Don on 01764 685362. Or myself.


In June C&WP members of the Current Affairs group were invited to the new Forth Valley College Campus to meet the young students, be shown around the various departments and eat lunch cooked on the premises by the trainee chefs. This visit was much appreciated as a great opportunity for the older generation to see how younger people are being given modern, up-to-date vocational training in such a variety of subjects. At the end of the month fourteen C&WP members braved half-hour driving assessments run by the local Institute of Advanced Driving, based in Stirling. Four friendly assessors came out to Callander and after a talk outlining the aims of the association took each member in turn for a drive through the busy Saturday streets, giving each one a private assessment of their driving capabilities. There was much discussion over cups of coffee afterwards when all agreed it had been a most worthwhile exercise and a couple of members have now signed up to take the Advanced Driving Test. The Wine Tasting Group ended their year with a flourish – tasting 5 wines in an afternoon, following on the same evening with a splendid dinner to enjoy the same wines with their food. All this took place in the Garden Room of the newly refurbished Gartmore Village Hall and was deemed a great success by all who attended. The Current Affairs Group invited Bruce Crawford, our local MSP, to join them for their last morning session when he explained the problems involved in implementing the Scotland Bill. He stayed on to enjoy the now traditional end-of-term ‘Bring and Share’ lunch. We are now coming to the end of another successful year and apart from Bridge and Table Tennis all our courses have finished, although keen French speakers meet every Wednesday morning for coffee with their Group Leader at the Old Bank Café in Callander. Members who wish to keep in touch by chatting in English can meet on Friday mornings at the same venue. The AGM and Enrolment for the new session will take place on Thursday 27 August in Callander Kirk Hall starting at 2.00pm. Refreshments will be served around 3.00pm after which Enrolment will begin. Membership forms and further details will be sent out to members in early August.

Creagan House is

Open For Business

Strathyre Darts We recently had our darts presentation night at the Inn & Bistro where we run our league on Thursday evenings through the winter months and this year’s top players were as follows 2015 Champion Second place Third place


Wullie D Art Emma

Highest check out with three darts, [an incredible 167] Art. The second and third place were only confirmed after Emma and Art had a “play off ” as they both finished with the same points.

Second place Art

Remember the darts are there for anyone interested in a nice social night on a Thursday evening where you will be able to have a VERY cheap meal, courtesy of Steve, so why not pop along and have a game and a few laughs [and a few drinks] and if it takes your fancy you could be competing in the next league. Wullie D

Darts Champion Wullie D

Many thanks to Roseanne for presenting the awards. Another entertaining year and we look forward to the new season.

Following his fall from grace – well, off a ladder, Gordon and Cherry Gunn would like to thank all the friends and local guests for their offers of help and best wishes during Gordon’s lengthy recovery from some cracked and broken ribs. For more information please visit our website : Cherry and Gordon Gunn Creagan House Restaurant with Rooms Strathyre Callander Perthshire FK18 8ND Tel: 01877 384638 Fax: 01877 384319

Third place Emma (one to keep an eye on)



Strathyre Village Association AGM 25th August 2015 - The Inn and Bistro

Strathyre Village Association AGM will be held at The Inn on the 25th August at 7.30. This is a very important AGM for all the members of the association (if you live full time in the village then you are a member) as half the current board are proposing to resign and not put themselves forward for re-election. This will leave the board with only 3 serving members which will contravene the constitution as they will not be able to form a quorum which must be 5 members. It has been a problem for some years to recruit members to give up time to serve on the board, though there are plenty who barrack from the safety of the sidelines about what the board should or shouldn’t be doing. This is an opportunity to inject new blood and enthusiasm to the board, APPLICATION FORMS ARE IN THE SHOP. I will be the first to admit that the board has not been very pro-active this year, this is mainly down to every member having full time employment and a host of other calls on their time. The SVA board needs new enthusiastic members to drive forward some of the projects that were started, including the Hydro Scheme which is still in the offing and could generate a huge amount of money for the village. Strathyre has a lot of villagers who serve on various committees and raise

funds for these specific causes and do an amazing job. Maybe it is time for some of these committees to join forces and come together to realize the bigger picture that is Strathyre, even if the SVA is the umbrella which they all work under and have the common cause of promoting Strathyre. We have villagers who are always willing to help when needed but now with SVA board needs more than that, it needs villagers to put themselves forward to sit on the board. I am unclear as to the consequences of a reduced board and this will have to be discussed at the AGM.

Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre ANNUAL COUNTRY SHOW Formally the Horticultural Society

Themes this year “Hint of Autumn” Presentation of trophies 3:30pm Admission £1 (includes tea) Children Free 5th September 2015 Balquhidder Hall

Real Ale - Real Music


Balquhidder Christmas Market If wanting a Stall contact Janet on Tel: 0781794808 or Sunday 6th December Balquhidder Hall £7 small table £14 large table

CHANGES FOR YOUR DRT SERVICE Some of you may be wondering, what’s the DRT? I thought I would start with some facts for people unaware of the service and how it works at the moment. • DRT or Demand Responsive Transport to give it its full title, is best described as a “taxi bus”. • This service is available to everyone (not just locals). • It is registered with the Traffic Commissioner as a bus service. • The service is subsidised by Stirling Council to provide rural transport where a normal bus service is not viable or available. • In the Balquhidder area** this service is provided by Highland Glen Travel. This is a private hire company but they run their taxi like a bus for pre-booked journeys. • You pay a bus fare instead of a taxi fare. • You can use your Scottish National Entitlement Card (bus pass) on the service. • It is available from 7.00am until 21.30pm, 7 days a week, 361 days a year. • Bookings should be made 24 hours in advance – although every effort will be made to accommodate passengers at shorter notice. • The service only operates on adopted / maintained roads and not tracks Sadly, from 1st October 2015, the way your DRT service functions is going to change. • Stirling Council will be taking all the bookings. • You will be able to book by telephone or email. • You will have to book between 9am and 3pm the previous day, Monday to Friday. • If you need to use the service on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you must book before 3pm on the Friday before. • There will no longer be any flexibility. If you forget to book, you will have to pay for a taxi, even if you have a Scottish National Entitlement Card. Helen from Highland Glen Travel said: “All the proposed changes were put to us some months ago. We have been very well supported by the Community Council in our fight against the changes. Following various meetings with Stirling Council,

we managed to retain the current working hours and days - they had proposed cancelling the Sunday service and only running from 8am to 6pm each day. They are convinced that the booking system will save money for them and unnecessary work for us. Personally, I am sceptical about this but, as we have no choice, we will have to work with it. We have been promised a review once it has been operational for a while. In the meantime, here are a few facts that might interest you: • Over 50% of our customer are people travelling to work. Most of them would not be able to work without this service, as the regular buses do not fit normal working patterns. • The majority of these workers are in tourist-related work and, without them, the local economy would suffer enormously. • We have regulars using us daily, all year round – not just during the summer season. • The council subsidy rarely covers our costs, but we believe this is an essential service that you need to fight for, and support. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it! I propose to start being stricter with the 24 hour rule from 1st September, giving everyone a month to ‘practise’ with us before the changes occur. I will take time during that month to explain to everyone how the new system will work. Please watch your local notice boards, shops, and The Villagers for the new phone number once we have it. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to call on 07554195446.”

TENNIS A novice tennis fan would not be blamed for being confused about who is winning a tennis match since one must learn the language of tennis scores to appreciate the game. Unlike soccer, basketball, and baseball, which simply count points for every goal, basket, and run, tennis has a scoring system (and lexicon) all of its own. At the beginning of the game, when both sides have no score, the game is love-love because in tennis, love means having a score of zero or nil. One point brings a player to 15, two to 30; and three to 40. The next point wins the game, unless a complex series of tiebreakers comes into play because, in order to win a tennis match, a player must win by a margin of two. Where did the game gets its affectionate score for zero? The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the term might be rooted in the colloquial phrase “for love,” meaning “without stakes being wagered.” This theory reflects the sport’s long history of etiquette and sportsmanship. Others theorize that love arose from the French word for “egg,” l’oeuf, because a zero on a scoreboard resembles an egg. This is a clever claim, but it remains unsubstantiated. Would anyone like to explain Cricket for next month?

**Balquhidder area is: A - A84 at south end of Strathyre village B - end of public road at Ballimore, south of Balquhidder C - end of public road at Inverlochlarig, west of Balquhidder D - A85 at north end of Lochearnhead village E - Council boundary on A85 east of Lochearnhead F - Council boundary on South Loch Earn Road east of Edinample 7

Church News BalquhiĐĐer •bls Reg. Charity No. SC012316

A Note from

St Angus’s

I am aware that it is a privilege to write in this column every month - after all I have a captive audience even if it may be a very small one! So what’s the point of having a privilege if you don’t occasionally abuse it?! So here goes and I’m really inviting a reply here and you can do it quite anonymously if you prefer - why is it that Church numbers are so seriously in decline and less that 10% of the population ever attend a weekly service? I have heard all sorts of reasons from different people but it would be really interesting to hear what folk in this community think. If you have taken the time to read this and you are NOT a church-goer would you be willing to give a frank (and anonymous) reason for staying away? Now, I admit, a response requires a level of interest and my sneaking suspicion is that apathy is the main reason and that certainly isn’t going to galvanise anyone into replying but time will tell..... Someone once said to me “People who go to Church are just a bunch of hypocrites and no better that anyone else” (ouch!) While I agree with the latter part of that statement - we are no better than anyone else, I really hope the former part is not true. There is no difference at all between the people who go to Church and those who don’t - we all get it wrong and make a mess of things BUT those who do go to Church really want to try and do better and, more importantly, want to be forgiven for the things they got wrong. I know that’s a bit over simplistic but really we are just a bunch of sinners acknowledging our need of a Saviour. I know of a Church of England vicar who once put on his Church notice board “This Church is for Sinners only” and several members of his congregation left in protest. I think they had missed the point. Last time I threw out a challenge only one person answered but he got a bottle of Prosecco for his trouble. No prize this time but a chance to air your views - editor permitting! 8

Following this year`s General Assembly and the discussion about civil partnerships, Sessions have been asked to decide on their views about civil partnerships for ministers, specifically as far as the current vacancy is concerned. The outcome will be known next month. The first meeting of the Vacancy Committee took place on 9th July 2015 and much progress was made including the need to update the parish electoral rolls and prepare parish profiles for prospective applicants. Meanwhile, we keep the regular life of the church going despite the poor attendances at Sunday worship. We cannot deny that it is hard and this is despite the earlier time of the Sunday service now at 11.30 am. Financially, we survive with help from friends and visitors but that has always been the case. Even Rob Roy, bless him, helps, although I wonder what he would think if he came back to visit!! We have a vacancy allowance from the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh but still have to contribute to central funds as well as maintain the Church building itself. Essential repairs to the roof and rhones have to be carried out this year – hopefully in the near future. We plan to keep the memory of St Angus alive as usual with a short service in the church on 12th August at 6.30 pm followed by the A.G.M. of The Friends of Balquhidder Church Association at 7.00 pm. It matters to us that we remember just how long Christianity has been part of the life of this part of Scotland. Jean Edwards

DOCTORS Drs Strang & Scott and Drs Mathewson & Gibson Community Nurses

The surgeries and community nurses take part in various training programmes throughout the year. This is to meet the educational and training needs of all members of the practice and nursing team. The next training afternoons will be on: Tuesday 20th October 2015 and Wednesday 25th November 2015 Both practices and community nurse clinic will close at 12.30pm. Emergency cover will be provided by NHS24 for nursing and GPs. In the event of an emergency, please telephone 111. On that afternoon, please do not contact the surgeries for repeat prescriptions or for appointments.

UNATTENDED APPOINTMENTS Bracklinn Practice are appealing to our patients to cancel appointments if unable to attend. Between the 8th May to 7th June all non-attended appointments were recorded, and during this period the practice had 50 patients not arrive for their appointment. This meant that 50 other patients could not be given appointments. We appreciate that from time to time patients simply forget they had an appointment, but ask that if you feel it is no longer convenient or required, to please telephone us and cancel it. By not attending an appointment or failing to cancel it, you have denied someone else the opportunity of seeing a doctor or practice nurse. You will never be asked any awkward questions as to why you wish to cancel an appointment, but you may be asked if you want to make another appointment at a more convenient time. In view of this, we ask that you please ring us and cancel any unwanted appointments in the future to avoid these statistics getting any higher.

PUBLIC HOLIDAY MONDAY 12th OCTOBER Bracklinn Practice will be open in the morning as usual, and closed in the afternoon for staff training. When the practice is closed, please contact NHS24 (111) for urgent medical attention. Thank you for your co-operation. Margaret Davis Practice Manager

FLU VACCINE CLINIC FRIDAY 2nd OCTOBER SAVE THE DATE This years open flu clinic is on Friday 2nd October. Leny and Bracklinn Practice will be available for vaccines between 9am – 5.30pm. Come along at any time during the day. If you are unsure whether you are eligible please contact your surgery beforehand. Due to the staff concentrating on the vaccines on the 2nd October, there will be emergency clinics only and no repeat prescriptions printed.

Bracklinn Practice If you require urgent medical attention when the surgery is closed please contact NHS24 on 111. Make sure you have enough medication to last you over the holiday period, and if you think you will run out, order your medication early or ask for 2 months supply. See notices on Unattended Appointments - October PH Flu Vaccine Clinic 9

eggs and - their life-cycle complete shortly afterwards die (2).

Rangers’ Review

By Gareth Kett Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park This year’s cool, damp spring and summer hasn’t been great for visitors to the National Park and has been disastrous for some of our breeding birds, but it hasn’t deterred one unusual couple. Most of us are aware of the attraction of exotic partners, but you may not be aware that this can apply to geese. This has been the case this year on Loch Voil where a native female greylag goose paired up with an exotic male Canada goose, despite the attentions of a number of potential greylag suitors. The happy couple (pictured) raised three young. We’re uncertain of the precise plumage the young will bear, but greylag x Canada goose hybrids

goose hybrid cross, but the young aren’t fertile (1). No such confusion in selecting partners affects another of Loch Voil’s residents, the brook lamprey. Having lived as juveniles (or ammocoetes) in silty burrows for about 6.5 years on the edge of the loch, each autumn the year’s mature larvae metamorphose into adults and migrate up small streams to select suitable breeding areas. Then they wait until early June for the water temperature to reach 10-11°C to begin spawning. Normally in groups, though occasionally in pairs, they excavate spawning depressions in the pebbly streambeds, lay and fertilized their

The Unusual Couple

tend to be fairly consistent with body patterning favouring greylags and head appearance resembling Canada geese, although markings are generally less defined than in either parent. But why does hybridization occur in geese? It is not unusual for female geese to lay eggs in the nests of other females, so that they can produce more descendants in a year than they can raise themselves. Where mixed flocks of geese occur, as is the case with Canada geese and greylag geese on Loch Voil, the female of one species may accidently lay eggs in the nest of a different species. When the ‘cuckoo’ egg hatches the chick will imprint on the surrogate mother and grow up believing that it is a member of the adopted mother’s species. So, as an adult the ‘cuckoo’ goose will select a mate of the surrogate species rather than its own species. Greylag x Canada goose hybrids are the most common 10

Lampreys, which resemble small eels in appearance, are members of a group of animals called ‘Agnatha’ (meaning ‘without jaws’), which is the most primitive group of vertebrates. The smallest of the British lampreys, the brook lamprey normally matures at a length of 13–15 cm although smaller individuals are found on Skye and larger ones are sometimes found in the River Endrick (2). Brook lamprey don’t feed as adults; they have primitive, vestigial teeth in jaws that are surrounded by a large flexible lip that is used as a sucker for attaching to rocks (see photo) and for moving pebbles while excavating spawning depressions (3). While they are generally widespread in the UK, for most of the year brook lampreys are notoriously difficult to see. As larvae, as well as living in burrows, they are largely nocturnal. Pre-breeding adults are also largely nocturnal. It is only during the breeding season that they lose their inhibitions and can be viewed with ease (1). We are near their northern range limit, so conservation of local water systems supporting brook lamprey is important in maintaining

Brook Lampreys

their population distribution. They are particularly sensitive to water pollution (2), which fortunately isn’t normally a problem in our area. While this season’s poor weather has kept visitor numbers down we’ve continued to have the usual mix of responsible visitors to the National Park enjoying our landscapes, culture and wildlife, and less responsible visitors. In recent weeks we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of abandoned camps across the Breadalbane and Trossachs area and a number of trees have been vandalised in the Loch Earn area. Operation Ironworks is continuing this summer with the Ranger Service, Police Scotland, estate bailiffs and landowners working together to minimise anti-social behaviour, and to keep the National Park a safe and attractive place to visit and to live in. Many thanks to those of you living locally who have helped keep the area tidy through picking up litter. As usual if you have any wildlife sightings to report or any queries please contact me on my e-mail address gareth.kett@lochlomond-trossachs. org, or on the Lochearnhead Office number 01389 722040. If I’m not in the office please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. The wildlife sections of this article wouldn’t have been written if it wasn’t for the help of Lawrie Oldham who kept me updated on the progress of the unlikely goose couple and the brook lampreys. Many thanks Lawrie. References 1. evolution-of-strange-pair-of-geese. html 2. Maitland PS, East K & Morris KH (1983). Lamprey populations in the catchments of the Forth and Clyde estuaries. Annual Report, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, 17–18. 3.Sime I, (2003). River Runners – a tale of protected species. Scottish Natural Heritage, Battlby.

LETi - A Symbol of Four Season Tourism Experience Loch Earn Tourism Information (LETi) group’s latest re-branding initiative has resulted in a symbolic new logo, website imagery, marketing materials and a subtle change to the definition of LETi. Tourism business owners in Strathyre, Lochearnhead, Balquhidder and St Fillans have been collaborating to attract visitors to the area for over 20 years. From now on, LETi shall be known as an ‘Information’ rather than ‘Initiative’ group. The relevance of the change is explained by Chair, Kim Proven, “We still have oodles of initiative in the team. However, digital media dominates communication methods today and ‘information’ is a key word when searching the internet for a tourism destination.” Creative LETi members wrote a brief for a new logo before commissioning Balquhidder graphic artist and folk musician Ewan MacPherson to draft their vision. LETi members: Holistic therapist Alison Inglis - The Enchanted Cottage Pop Up Shop in Balquhidder, Helen Cunningham - LETi Vice Chair and owner of Highland Glen Travel taxis and bespoke tours, Kenny Higgins - Strathyre Outdoor Activities, Katy MacGeachy - Tearlach Cottages in Strathyre and Chair Kim Proven of Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead, made up the core rebranding team. The Achray House and The Four Seasons Hotels on Loch Earn supported the campaign by offering office facilities and hospitality. The new LETi logo depicts a loch, road, mountain and building, suggesting the setting of member restaurants, accommodation, activities, shops and events. The group’s name - Loch Earn Tourism Information appears in a horse shoe shape below the illustration and is abbreviated as LETi above it. The i of LETi mimics the stylised symbol of Tourist Information that is recognised worldwide. The dot of the eye is drawn as a circle with four coloured segments and a white cross in the middle, emblematic of a Pictish shield suggesting history and heritage. The middle point of the circle represents LETi’s location, right in the centre of Scotland. The white cross taken from the Saltire also represents the A84 and A85 roads from where the four villages - Strathyre, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and St Fillans - stem. The four segments also denote lochs Doine, Voil, Lubnaig and Earn as well as mountains Ben Vorlich, Stuc A Chroin, Ben Sheann and Ben Ledi. Like a weather beacon or the sun, the segmented circle is a symbol of all four seasons, confirming the strapline to which the group works ‘A Place for All Seasons’: blue depicting

winter, yellow - spring, green - summer and orange - autumn. “We are proud of our new logo and website” said LETi’s Vice Chair Helen Cunningham. “The bright, fresh colours and symbols will appeal to a wide age group and we look forward to more people discovering the amazing and diverse experiences that this naturally beautiful area has to offer all year round.” The group displayed the new logo and leaflet promoting the area’s contact details, for where to stay, eat and things to do, on their stand at The BLS Highland Games in Lochearnhead on Saturday 25th July with the new leaflet being distributed by members and at other strategic locations. Pictorial banners including local photographer Melanie Lewis’s attractive tourism and hospitality images, promoted www. - A Place For All Seasons. Editorial contact: Kim Proven Chair Loch Earn Tourism Information Tel: 07917 416 497 Email:


View from the Park by Owen McKee It is said that every cloud has a silver lining and for us the dreich summer has contributed to fewer reports of destruction and mayhem at our lochsides and, before the thought even reaches your head, the relative quiet does not mean that we will not be pressing ahead with the proposals for the management of camping at the lochsides. We must continue to plan for those times when the sun shines and indeed with the proposals now firmly lodged with the Minister for The Environment, I am happy to report that Dr McLeod made a visit to see at first hand exactly where the problems arise and how we intend to protect the area. The first port of call was to the facilities at Loch Lubnaig and from there to the contrasting situation at Loch Earn. Arrangements were made for representatives of the Lochearnhead and St Fillans communities to meet with Dr McLeod so that she had no doubt about the level of support locally for the proposals. As well as highlighting the degradation that the environment has been enduring the locals pointed out that the tourism industry was also suffering. Time and time again

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visitors have expressed concerns not only about the mess but also how intimidating the atmosphere was at some of the laybys. The message was that the National Park was there for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike and so it was necessary to bring the proposals into play to ensure that the National Park fulfils its statutory aims. Although the weather has been rather poor there has been an increased demand on the Waterbus Service on Loch Lomond with the need to increase the schedules on both the Luss to Balmaha and the Tarbert to Inversnaid routes. Both routes link into the West Highland Way and with the facility to accommodate cycles there has been an increase in those making their way from Inversnaid down to Loch Katrine and beyond. The extensive use of the West Highland Way means that there has to be a constant schedule of maintenance and recently a re-alignment has taken place of the route along the east shore of Loch Lomond with bridge upgrade at Cashel and major repairs between Ptarmigan and Rowchoish bothy. There have been bridge repairs at

Glen Falloch and extensive work at Derrydarroch. The construction of the hydro schemes in Glen Falloch has meant that a few minor diversions have had to be made but fortunately a good working arrangement exists with the contractors so disruption has been kept to the minimum. Last year saw Loch Lomond host the Great Scottish Swim with over 2500 taking part. This year the event will take place on 29th August when it is hoped that there will be an even larger contingent of participants. This event is being organised by the Great Run Company who have set up a dedicated website at www.greatswim. org/scotland. So if you feel like taking a cool dip for charity or indeed just for the fun of it why not sign up!! It is nice to see an initiative introduced at this end of the Park is now being trialled at the west side. The Breadalbane Ring route which facilitates the idea of jumping on a bus with provision for your bike too so that you can leisurely drop off at a preferred location is now being sponsored between Luss and Arrochar to give people the opportunity to have a relaxing cycle in the various forest tracks. Owen McKee. As always I can be contacted as follows:

Post: Taigh Na Bhuth, Lochearnhead Phone: 015676 830214 email:

Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Council

Minutes of Annual General Meeting held at Balquhidder Village Hall on 1st July 2015 Please note that these minutes have not yet received formal approval and should be considered as a draft version only. Present: Malcolm McNaughton (MM), Alistair Barclay (AB), Paul Hicks (PH), David Johnston (DJ), Richard Eastland (RE), Adrian Squires (AS), Ruth McLusky (RMC), Karen Methven (KM). Apologies: Loraine Telfer, Susie Crammon, Rosanne McWilliams, Angus Cameron, Cllr Alycia Hayes. In attendance: Cllr Fergus Wood (FW), Stirling Council, PC Will Diamond, Police Scotland, Owen McKee (OM) National Park. 1) Approval of Minutes It was proposed by MM and seconded by DJ, that the minutes of the meeting on 20th May 2015 should be accepted, and this was approved unanimously. 2) Declarations of Interest No declarations were made. 3) Police Report Between 19th May and 30th June, ninety-three (93) offences were reported. The vast majority of these (91) were road traffic offences, that included driving dangerously, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with no licence, and driving with no insurance. The rest were for speeding. Between 16-17th June, a quantity of lead and some power tools were stolen from Stronvar House, Balquhidder. During this overall period, one male was found in possession of controlled drugs, and is now subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal. PC Diamond has also taken part in Operation Ironworks and provided a police presence at the Strathyre Music Festival, the Lochearnhead Shears event, and the Mhor Festival. KM asked if any information had come in about the theft of dogs. PC Diamond had no knowledge of this. Apparently, there have been thefts of dogs further afield, but nothing has been heard about this locally. PC Diamond has a small quantity of ìsmart waterî available for anybody who has significant property to protect. Applications can be made by any interested individual to the Lochearnhead police office. 4) Matters Arising There were no matters arising. 5) Presentation of Accounts / Use of funds AB presented an audited statement of accounts for the previous twelve months. It was proposed by PH and seconded by DJ that these should be formally accepted as a true record and this was approved unanimously. There was then some discussion about what use could be made of any surplus funds. AB said that the use of funds supplied for administrative purposes was closely circumscribed but that he would investigate further. Various suggestions were put forward, and it was also suggested that, if a worthwhile use was found, it might be appropriate to earmark any surplus, year on year, for dedicated use to this end. Action: AB to investigate permissible uses of funds. 6) Appointment of Officers As an impartial observer, FW offered to chair this part of the meeting and this was gratefully accepted. The following people were nominated and seconded for office within the community council, as follows: Chair: Malcolm McNaughton. Proposed by AB and seconded by DJ. Deputy Chair: Alistair Barclay. Proposed by RMC and seconded by AS. Treasurer: Alistair Barclay. Proposed by RMC and seconded by MM. Secretary: Paul Hicks. Proposed by DJ and seconded by MM. Each proposal was approved unanimously. 7) Fly-tipping at Balquhidder Station This concern had been raised by means of a complaint from a local resident to Stirling Council about fly-tipping of redundant building material. The Council has few powers to deal with this, but it the police had been informed. The council had also reported the matter to SEPA. PC Diamond reported that the landowner had been traced and informed of the problem. He will shortly be doing some work on this land and will ensure that the rubbish is cleared as part of this work. 8) Bye-law and Clearways PH reported that progress was going ahead as expected, but there was nothing new to report since the last meeting. 9) Correspondence Demand Responsive Transport. Notification had been received from Cllr Martin Earl of a proposed meeting over concerns regarding the new administrative system for Demand Responsive Transport that has been instituted by Stirling Council. All three of the local councillors share some concerns, and a meeting between ourselves, Strathfillan Community Council, and council officers had been proposed. PH reported that arrangements were in hand to meet with Derek Parry (Public Transport Coordination Team Leader) and Margaret Wallace (Service Manager) ñ probably on Thursday 16th July. (This arrangement has since been confirmed.) Action: PH to report back in due course. 10) Planning Matters No new planning matters had been notified but MM raised a concern about work being done by the Forestry Commission (FC) by the Balquhidder Road (C33), opposite Tigh na Sheen, Auchtubhmore. He queried whether this had planning permission. OM assured the meeting that it was unlikely that the FC would be doing work without permission but offered to check on this. Subsequent checks show that application 2014/0232/DET was given planning approval on 8 January 2015. 11) Matters From Local Councillors 11a) At the most recent council meeting, it was noted that there was an underspend of £4M in the budget. The local councillors had requested that some of this should go to the roads budget, but a decision was avoided by a formal motion to move to the next business being approved. FW expressed concern that the merits of the proposal had not properly been considered. 11b) FW drew attention to an organization called ìPlanning Aid For Scotlandî ( that provides independent advice, information, training and support on planning and related environmental matters for citizens and community groups across Scotland. Most information and training is delivered free of charge to the public. 11c) Asda is now charging for carrier bags but, using this money, has set up a fund for small community projects, offering grants of up to £2,000. For information, see the website, or apply by email to: “”. 12) Any Other Competent Business 12a) Introduction for school pupils to community council. RMC suggested that it might be worthwhile to invite local school children to take a closer interest in the workings of the community council. KM said that her daughter had done something similar previously, and OM added that the Nation Park had tried this elsewhere, resulting in some interesting (though not always practical) suggestions from the children. It was agreed that RMC would investigate this further with the head teacher at Strathyre Primary School. Action: RMC to investigate further and report back in due course. 12b) Stroneslaney Road. DJ reported that Stirling Council had carried out an assessment which concluded that there were no passing places on this road. As a result, signs will be erected, giving advanced warning of this fact to motorists and affording them the opportunity to turn back. This was welcomed by members, but there were still some concerns about occasional flooding on this road and the need to warn of this as well. DJ offered to write to the Council about this. Action: DJ to write to Stirling Council about dangers of flooding on this road. 12c) Balquhidder Broadband. FW stated that MSP, Bruce Crawford, will visiting our area soon, and has set up a meeting at Kinlochard to discuss broadband issues. He would be undoubtedly be willing to meet anyone from our area as well. The chair of the Kinlochard Continued on page 20


LOCHEARNHEAD SHEARS 2015 Sottish Blackface Shearing Competition

WITH a new, one day format, the Scottish Blackface shearing competition saw an increased entry of competitors as well as a boosted number of spectators which culminated in an excellent atmosphere in the Lochearnhead Shears marquee last weekend. The event marked a triumphant return to the top of the open competition for Hamish Mitchell who was following up from a win at the Royal Highland Show the previous week. Hamish – an Isle of Skye native who now farms in Norway – won the very first event here in 1993 and was notching up his sixth win to equal the tally of legendary shearer, New Zealand’s David Fagan.

Scotland v NZ action

judge who entered on the day on a whim, picked up fourth with 67.350. The Scotland v New Zealand test is always a crowd pleaser, not just for the bagpipes and haka to get the crowd going, and this year was certainly no exception as Hamish teamed up with the winner of the Scottish National at the Highland, Calum Shaw, from Saline, to take on New Zealand’s Dion King and Tony Coster. With the crowd cheering them on, the shearers were neck and neck for the first few hoggs but it was Dion – the strongwool lamb record holder having clipped 866 in nine hours – who edged the lead over Calum as they headed in for sheep nine of 16. Despite Dion heading in for his number 16 first, it was Hamish who edged the lead to finish in 11 minutes and 12, a mere three seconds ahead of Dion with Calum and Tony finishing in 11.52 minutes and 12.50 minutes, respectively.

Hamish Mitchell

Hamish was off to a flier in the fourman final – in which he was joined by fellow Scot, Simon Bedwell, as well as Jack Fagan, from New Zealand, and Welshman Nicky Benyon – and was first in the pen to pull his hogg number two of 20 out on to the board. His lead continued as he was in for hogg seven, half a sheep ahead of Jack and Simon and by the time his final hogg was out on the board, the others were nearly a full sheep behind. Popping his last down the porthole and pulling the cord on 14 minutes and five seconds, Hamish finished a full minute ahead of Jack with Simon not far behind and Nicky following on to finish in 17 minutes and 24 seconds. But it’s the marks on the board, judged on technique, and in the pen, depending on the number of cuts on the hoggs, which determines the final placings and Hamish maintained his lead here with the lowest board score of 2.300 which, added to 11.250 in the pen, gave him a total of 55.800. Garve-based Simon had the lowest pen score of 10.450 and came in second here with a total of 59.350 with Jack not far behind on 60.450. Nicky, a shearing 14

Elfed Jackson

Local men Mark Armstrong and Jimmy Wright picked up second and third with 85.800 and 87.350, respectively, while Rheinallt Hughes took fourth back to Wales having scored 82.450. The two men from Wales then paired up to take on the top two Scottish competitors from the Highland, Mark Armstrong and Willie Craig, in the Scotland v Wales blade test. Despite Mark having the lowest board and pen scores, it was the Welsh team which led here with 151.300 against Scotland’s 155.450. The return test match will see the top two Scottish blade shearers, Mark Armstrong and Jimmy Wright, head down to Cneifio Corwen Shears later in July. Another New Zealander and winner of the senior section at the Highland, Guy Fraser, was back in the tickets as he headed up the seniors at Lochearnhead having finished his 10 hoggs in 8.56 minutes, a dead heat with fellow finalist, Ross Gibson.

Scotland v NZ Lineup

Hamish proved his worth on the board here too, gaining the lowest score of 1.125 while Tony was the best in the pen with 9.375 points. Having won the Joe Te Kapa trophy every year since it was donated in 2012, this year didn’t disappoint and the Scottish pair notched up a total of 94.388 between them, more than two full points ahead of New Zealand’s 96.563. Also on fine form after coming second at the Highland was Elfed Jackson, who won the blade, or hand section, here for the second consecutive year. Fastest to finish his four hoggs in 10 minutes and 50 seconds, Welshman Elfed also recorded the lowest pen score of 35.500 which, combined with 2.750 on the board, gave him a total of 70.750 – some 15 points head of his nearest rival – and the red sash.

Guy Fraser

The lowest board score of 2.500 gave him a 48.500 total, just 0.050 points (which equates to one second) ahead of blue sash winning Stewart Kennedy. Ross Gibson picked up third here with 50.100 while Alister Show finished fourth with 54.100. Callum Lindsay led the intermediates with a final score of 42.321 having marked 5.00 on the board and 10.571 in the pen. Lewis Harkness, who won the Young Farmers’ shearing at the Highland, came second here with 45.593 and Jack Douglas followed on in third with 45.585. Despite scoring the lowest on the board and in the pen, Jan Juppe finished in fourth but there were further celebrations for the German shearer as he heads home with the Colin MacGregor Salver for the lowest pen score in any final.

8.000 on the board and 25.000 on the table to total 45.600. Nicky Gore heads home with the blue sash having scored 62.800 while Kirsty Donald came third with 71.200 and Millie Green was fourth with 84.600.

Blade (four) – 1, Elfed Jackson (2.750, 35.500, 70.750); 2, Mark Armstrong (2.000, 37.000, 46.800, 85.800); 3, Jimmy Wright (3.250, 49.000, 35.100, 87.350); 4, Rheinallt Hughes (4.750, 50.500, 37.200, 92.450).

Prize list Open (20 sheep) – 1, Hamish Mitchell (2.300, 11.250, 42.250, 55.800); 2, Simon Bedwell (2.650, 10.450, 26.250, 59.350); 3, Jack Fagan (3.550, 11.550, 45.3501, 60.450); 4, Nicky Benyon (2.550, 12.600, 52.200, 67.350).

Blade Competition Lineup

Open Lineup

Wool handling – 1, Leanne Bertram (8.000, 25.000, 12.600, 45.600); 2, Nicky Gore (10.000, 38.000, 14.800, 62.800); 3, Kirsty Donald (18.000, 37.000, 16.200, 71.200); 4, Millie Green (38.000, 31.000, 15.600, 84.600).

Senior (10) – 1, Guy Fraser (2.500, 19.200, 26.800, 48.500); 2, Stewart Kennedy (2.900, 12.400, 33.250, 48.550); 3, Ross Gibson (4.100, 19.200, 26.800, 50.100); 4, Alister Shaw (3.500, 19.100, 31.500, 54.100).

Wool Handling Lineup

Jan Juppe

This result means Callum and Lewis have now qualified for a trip to compete in Germany in August. It was an international affair in the junior final as Aled Preece, from Wales, headed up the section having scored 3.500 on the board and the lowest 8.750 in the pen to total 32.650. Ireland’s Karl Devany picked up second here with 34.700 while Scotland’s Alan McKenzie came third with 41.900 and Sam Davison, from New Zealand, finished fourth with 43.850. Pairing up with fellow Irish shearer, Joe Boylyn, Karl took on Scotland’s top two shearers from the junior heats, Helga Sinclair and Alan McKenzie, in the Scotland v Republic of Ireland development test. Ireland ruled here, scoring 71.300 against Scotland’s 74.984, but there will be a return match at the All Ireland show next May. Quality was to the fore in the wool handling final as Highland Show winner, Leanne Bertram, led both on time and points scored on the board and on the table, having sorted her fleeces in one minute and 33 seconds and clocked up

Senior Lineup

Intermediate (seven) – 1, Callum Lindsay (5.000, 10.571, 26.750, 42.321); 2, Lewis Harkness (3.286, 12.857, 27.450, 43.593); 3, Jack Douglas (3.571, 15.714, 26.300, 45.585); 4, Jan Juppe (5.143, 7.714, 35.550,48.407). Junior (four) – 1, Aled Preece (3.500, 8.750, 20.400, 32.650); 2, Karl Devany (2.250, 11.750, 20.700, 34.700); 3, Alan McKenzie (7.750, 16.000, 18.150, 41.900); 4, Sam Davison (4.500, 16.500, 22.850, 43.850).

Scotland v New Zealand test (16) – 1, Scotland’s Hamish Mitchell (1.125, 11.250, 33.600, 45.975) and Calum Shaw (1.875, 10.938, 35.600, 48.413) with 94.388 total; 2, New Zealand’s Dion King (2.875, 10.250, 33.750, 46.875) and Tony Coster (1.813, 9.375, 38.500, 49.688) with 96.563 total. Scotland v Wales blade test (four) – 1, Wales’s Elfed Jacson (2.2750, 38.750, 29.600, 71.100) and Rheinallt Hughes (6.500, 38.500, 35.200, 80.200) with 151.300 total; 2, Scotland’s Mark Armstrong (1.500, 36.750, 37.900, 36.150) and Willie Craig (1.750, 39.750, 37.800, 79.300) with 155.450 total. Scotland v Republic of Ireland junior development test (three) – 1, Republic of Ireland’s Karl Devany (2.333, 10.667, 15.750, 28.750) and Joy Boylyn (11.667, 11.333, 19.550, 42.550) with 71.300 total; 2, Scotland’s Helga Sinclair (3.333, 13.667, 17.300, 34.300) and Alan McKenzie (7.667, 17.667, 15.350, 40.684) with 74.984 total.

Junior Development Lineup


Pin-Feathers* by Old Nyati

*Once in demand by Victorian miniaturists, the tiny pin-feather comes from the leading edge of a woodcock’s wing and only two such feathers occur on each bird (one on each wing). This month, Old Nyati reports on THE WHOPPIE NEST

My offering this month is a little out of calendar as my photos were taken last September. I shall call it THE WHOPPIE NEST. (Wasps) Last Autumn quite a number of people noticed where wasp nests had been dug out and the wasps being very angry it was not a good idea to investigate too closely, but wait a few days until things have settled down and then have a closer look. As my pictures show the paper work (all made by the wasps from chewed up wood) to construct the nest is quite a work of art, the patterns in the framework are really remarkable and the comb was held within the outer casing and remains of it can be seen in one of the pictures. But what was it that braved the attack

of all those wasps and dug out the nest. Did someone say that there are no Badgers in these parts, well the badger is the one who does this and enjoys eating the wasp grubs? It is said that the very strong musky ,oily smell of the badger repels the wasps, can we believe that, or is Old Brock just so tough that the love of the grubs takes his mind off the stings? (Oh, and they do make excellent fishing bait for those of us who dare) As little boys we used to take `dares` as to who would tease the whoppie`s, throwing stones and using catapults from a distance, but the `dare` was to get closer. It was always good fun, even someone would shoot at the nest with an old air gun. But of course sooner or later the inevitable would happen and it was a case of who could run the fastest. It is amazing just how fast the wasps could fly, faster than anyone could run, or even outpace one of us on a bicycle, 16

but of course some naughty boys could run faster than others. It was the always the one who was perhaps a little overweight and fell down that became the unfortunate target for the wasps, and by the time he had recovered, was well and truly stung and in great pain. And when he had arrived home in tears and been suitable treated with something soothing he would just as likely have had his wrists slapped for being so stupid. Thus was the learning curve in those days. With the weather this year it looks as though there will not be any wasp nests at all. Has there ever been such a late and dismal summer? Has the snow ever lingered so low down the hill as it did this time? There are predictions of colder and wetter years to come, the polar ice is receding and the melt down is cooling the Gulf Stream. Puffins are in decline due to the staple diet of sand eels moving away. Anyone in the countryside will have noticed their own signs of change, what has happened to the pea row and the courgettes, how much later were the spring flowers? Certainly the rainfall figures show an increase of 10 inches

Do you need an affordable home ? Rural Stirling Housing Association aims to support local communities by providing quality homes at affordable rents for families, couples and single people in housing need. We currently have over 550 rented houses and flats. Around 50 of these become available for rent each year. We hope to have new properties in Strathblane and Balmaha soon and currently have properties in the following communities Aberfoyle Deanston Gartmore Lochearnhead Balfron Doune Killin Strathyre Buchlyvie Drymen Kinlochard Stronachlachar Callander Gargunnock Kippen Tyndrum We may be able to build in other communities in the future – please let us know to if you want to live in a village that is not listed above. Information on local housing need and demand helps us plan for the future. If you are interested in renting one of our properties when they become available please contact us: Rural Stirling Housing Association Stirling Road, Doune FK16 6AA Telephone: 01786 841101 Email: Registered as a Scottish Charity No. SC037849

Scottish Wildlife Trust Callander Local Group Diary 2015 Talks start at 7:30pm Kirk Hall, South Church Street, Callander. **Note the change of venue** Sun 16 August 10:00-12:30 Balsam Bash. Meet Geisha Road Medical Centre. If interested contact: Lesley Hawkins Tuesday 8 September 7:30pm ‘Birds of /central /Scotland: 40 years of change’ by David Bryant Kirk Hall, South Church Street, Callander.

The new season of talks will start in September 2015. over the last 10 years or so, and what about the average temperature this time? Perhaps the `control freaks ‘in Holyrood should take a look outside and give up harassing the law abiding with yet more regulations. That old stalwart, Frazer, in Dads Army would have the key. “Aye, we are all doomed” Old Nyati

EVERYONE WELCOME! Admission £2 members, £2.50 non-members, free to full-time students. Includes tea/coffee & biscuits.

Please book with Lesley Hawkins 01877 339080 or

Cupcake Heaven Freshly baked, delicious flavour for every occasion. Boxed individually or in 4, 6 or 12 cakes for Birthdays, Anniversaries or other occasions. Celebration Cakes made to order. Contact Loraine on 01567 830368 or for flavours and prices. Will deliver f.o.c. locally



A great day out for families ands everyone in beautiful Balquhidder, with lots of family fun, three cycle challenges and activities for all. Grab your wheels and come along if you are keen...

FAMILIES WITH BIKES! MOUNTAIN BIKERS, ROAD CYCLISTS, and KIDS BIKE AGILITY COURSE BIKE CHECKS/CLINIC FUN TENT with face painting and “Style it up” bike decorating! FOOD Coffees, Teas, Home Baking & BBQ at the village hall. Whatever way you look at it, you’re in for a whole lot of family fun!


The NAT7 challenge is a 12k loop on the fully tarmacked National 7cycle route Depending on ability riders should register to start in group A or B. Families and individuals are then invited to join a third mass start group of ‘mellow pedallers’ and ride all or part of the way round the loop in their own time! Casual ‘mellow pedallers’ are free to enter and there is no need to register.

THE KXC1000 - Option A & B

The Kirkton X-Country 1000ft ascent for mountain bikes. Option A - is a 10k cross-country mountain bike challenge on the forestry tracks and forests of Kirkton Glen. It comprises a 1000ft ascent over 4.7k to the head of the glen, followed by a wide grinned 2.5k decent on forestry roads. There is then a further 500m climb on forest roads before reaching a pleasing level grassy single-track traverse through the trees, and finally, a white knuckle 1k downhill section on a newly created mountain bike track back to the start. Riders choosing this longer and more challenging route will have a bonus 8 minutes deducted from their overall time. Option B - runs over the same course but excludes the second climb and the white knuckle 1k downhill section through the forrest.


The 2k Open Sprint Duathlon – 400m Run plus 1600m Cycle The 2k Open Sprint Duathlon is open 18

to all ages 13 years+. This is a hilarious fast and furious head to head challenge. Two other duathlon events will take place on the day. The MICRO Duathlon for up to 8 year olds and the MINI Duathlon for 9 to 12 year olds. These two children’s events (in Kirkton field) are FREE to enter and do not require registration.

Event Times

KXC1000 – NAT7 Loop – Duathlon –

1100am 2.00pm 4.00pm

For more information or to register for NST7, KXC1000, Duathlons visit the Balquhidder Village Hall website at:

Bike Fest KXC1000 Orientation Orientation visits to the downhill section of ‘Route A’ will be held on the evening of Tuesday 6th August and the morning of Saturday 22nd August. Final details of the visits will be posted on the Balquhidder Village Hall website. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Bike Fest Bottle Stall / Tombola It is intended to run a ‘Bottle Stall / Tombola during the Bike Fest to help raise funds to cover the cost of running the event. The success of this will depend on the generosity of those who help by donating bottles or prizes or help by selling tickets on the day. Bottles or prizes should be delivered to Gardener’s Cottage by the evening of the Saturday 29th August and offers to help run the stall should be made to Jill Johnston on 01877 384227 or to:

Scottish Wildlife Trust While still waiting for summer to start, we are already looking ahead to our SWT programme of talks. On 8 September David Bryant will be speaking on ‘Birds of Central Scotland: 40 years of change’. Even over 8 years in Callander we have noticed changes in bird populations, one positive being the northerly migration of nuthatches into local woods - a pair even nested in one of our SWT nest boxes. They usually plaster mud around natural nest holes to tailor the entrance but it was interesting to see that, although the hole in the box was not altered they had sealed the lid of the nest box with mud. In June the 6 chicks were ringed, and we’ll put up more boxes for next year in the hope of getting some returnees. Four other boxes had blue tit and great tit nests but in 2 solitary wasps had built nests underneath the lids; one brood had already fledged but the second box had a very sad nest of abandoned chicks. While not a welcome tenant, the wasp’s nest is quite beautiful, made of paper-like c h e w e d vegetation and housing a few cells for the Nest box showing wasp nest larvae. These Eumenine wasps are also known as potter wasps due to the shape of their nest – could be called lampshade wasps! In October Nest box with chicks the speaker on ‘Otter Ecology and Conservation: the Work of the International Otter Survival Fund’ is Dr Paul Yoxon, CEO of IOSF, based at Broadford, Skye. Note that the date has been changed to Thursday 22 October, 7:30pm. IOSF is a charity set up to protect and help 13 species of otter worldwide; it supports projects to protect otters, ensuring they have a healthy environment and works closely with organisations concerned with wildlife crime. You can help by reporting sightings, dead or alive on Public/AboutOtters_OtterWatch.aspx. Many of us rarely see otters although


they are now present in all the UK’s major river systems. They travel overland between water courses and, like other wildlife that is active between dawn and dusk, road traffic injuries are a real concern. So please keep an eye out for animals crossing local roads and keep to a speed that allows you to avoid them. While hedgehogs, rabbits and red squirrels may squash quite easily, a big otter, badger or a roe deer could have more serious consequences for vehicles and drivers too. In spring a large dog otter was killed on ‘the long straight’ of the A81. It was retrieved then stored in FCS’s freezer until taken to Edinburgh University Vet School for examination by students. Its death was not entirely in vain but a healthy, mature male would have been infinitely better! The 10 November is ‘RSPB’s All Nature Programme: Not Just Birds’ by James Silvey (RSPB), known to some from his involvement in the Trossachs water vole re-introduction programme. 8 December will be ‘John Muir Trust: Giving Wild Land a Voice’ on the work of the conservation organisation. Before then, on 16 August 10-12:30am, we would welcome help to remove invasive Himalayan Balsam along the Teith in Callander. The last 3 years’ work is definitely paying off with much less as far as the Turning Pool. This second session will give a chance to get the last few before they disperse thousands of seeds. If interested contact Lesley Hawkins; it’s a great stress–reliever!

Chicks in hand and nest


Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Council

Minutes of Annual General Meeting held at Balquhidder Village Hall on 1st July 2015 Broadband Committee (Colin Smith - 01877 387744) is an ex-employee of British Telecom and is willing to liaise with others in preparing cases for better broadband facilities. DJ then reported that he had recently contributed to a broadband seminar at the Royal Highland Showground. With assistance from the CC, the Balquhidder Community Broadband Community Interest Company (CIC) has now been formed, and has issued an Invitation To Tender (ITT) for provision of broadband in Balquhidder. Eight companies so far have shown interest. The proposal involves providing equipment at the village hall, and a local fibre network to most houses in the glen. The ITT is looking for a capacity of 300MB over a period of three years, with options to proceed further beyond that time. A copy has also gone to British Telecom, although it is not anticipated that they will respond. 12d) Unsightly buildings and locations in Lochearnhead. AB reported that a former member of the community council had written recently to the local councillors, commenting adversely on the state of decay and dereliction of many buildings and sites in Lochearnhead. Those from this village agreed wholeheartedly but, in each case, it seemed that there was little that could be done to encourage owners to remedy matters. The main problems seemed to be either protracted legal disputes, or a simple lack of resources. OM mentioned that the owner of the site where the ì45 Barî had once existed, was in a similar position with an ongoing problem over planning permission. However, he had recently said that he will do something to improve the look of the site until matters have been resolved. He hopes, eventually, to be able to build some housing here. 12e) Balquhidder Road (C33). AS commented on what appeared to be a growing problem with poor standards of driving on this road. The other members from Balquhidder fully supported this and cited several instances of bad ñ even dangerous ñ driving, especially from delivery vans and vehicles. There were no obvious remedies, but members agreed to continue to monitor this situation, if necessary, reporting the problem to the police. There was no other business and, at 8:35 p.m., MM declared the meeting closed. The next meeting is due to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday 12th August 2015 at the Village Hall, Lochearnhead.

Callander Film Society Returns to St Kessog’s

The Film Society is excited to announce the return of the contemporary programme to St Kessog’s (Clanranald Trust HQ) for the new season. We have another great selection of movies for you to enjoy over the winter, kicking off on 10th October with award-winning The Theory of Everything, the extraordinary story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, as told by his ex-wife Jane. Another BAFTA and Oscar winner follows on 24th October; filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of a boy who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Selma chronicles the epic march by Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery that culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In comedy sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Sonny prepares to expand his Indian hotel for the elderly and beautiful. The thriller Gone Girl is about a man who reports that his beautiful wife has gone missing then comes under suspicion as his portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Testament of Youth is a powerful coming-of-age story based on WWI memoir by Vera Brittain, classic testimony of the war from a woman’s point of view. Far From The Madding Crowd is the Thomas Hardy story about the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene who attracts three very different suitors. The first of four foreign movies is Kumiko The Treasure Hunter in which a Japanese woman goes in search of a satchel of money buried and lost in the film Fargo that she believes is real. In Ida a young Polish woman sets off with a relative in 1962 to learn out about their Jewish roots and tragic family story. The French Canadian film Mommy is about a passionate widow and her unpredictable 20

15-year-old ADHD son. Wild Tales from Argentina is a collection of short stories about distressed people, some explosive. Our classic programme screens at The Waverley Hotel on Friday nights at 7.30pm and all include a cartoon or short before the main film. We start in November with a WWI adventure The African Queen (1951). A hard drinking river trader (Humphrey Bogart) and a prim missionary (Katharine Hepburn) are forced to take a hazardous river journey together. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953) is a hilarious comedy, accidents and misunderstandings follow him wherever he goes. The 1953 Oscar-winning version of Titanic tells the story of a couple trapped in a doomed marriage and the tragic events of the fateful voyage. In contrast, Footlight Parade (1933) is a Busby Berkeley musical, with James Cagney playing a stage director who tries to outdo himself with spectacular musical numbers. The last film is The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel with a haunting and unforgettable performance by Charles Laughton as the mis-shapen bell-ringer Quasimodo. Membership fees remain at £22 for the contemporary programme, £10 for the classic or you can join both for £25. What a bargain! The Callander Film Society would like to thank McLaren Community Leisure Centre for their support during 20142015. We are also grateful to Regional Screen Scotland, British Film Institute, Cinema For All, Stirling & District Arts Forum, Callander Enterprise, Clanranald Trust for Scotland as well as Gordon and Jan at The Waverley Hotel for their ongoing support. Thanks to Callander Enterprise we are online at

and we also post details and news on Facebook and Twitter. Or please call Eammon O’Boyle 01877 339323 for details. See you at the movies!

Callander Film Festival Building on the success of the 2014 Film Festival, the second annual Callander Film Festival will run from 25th to 27th September at St Kessog’s in Ancaster Square. This year it will have a railway theme to tie in with the railway festival on the same weekend to mark 50 years since the Callander

and Oban railway was closed. On Sunday 27th September at 2pm we’re screening the 1926 Buster Keaton silent classic The General with live piano accompaniment from expert silent film improviser Mike Nolan. The rest of the programme is being developed by Callander Film Society and will also feature short films, archive material on the Callander and Oban Railway and feature films. The Festival has been made possible with funding support from Callander Enterprise, Stirling Council and Regional Screen Scotland. Look out for posters and leaflets in AllOr Photos Curtesy of August! contact Eammon O’Boyle forAllardyce details 01877 339323. Photography



by Jonathan MacDonald There is a great beauty in the luxuriancy and diffusion of the boughs and branches of wild grown trees and therefore you might perhaps hold contempt for the mathematical school of clipping and topiary work so commonplace years ago. Who knows? This deviation from nature in which great box and yew trees appeared as mind boggling humorous cones, pillars, globes and off course peacocks leave evidence of the mark of the secateurs and clippers and of a fashion dead but not forgotten. If you have the space and the time you could easily have a full grown elephant on your front lawn, some do. My favourite nowadays is a rather tasteless use of the art but nevertheless striking in its ability to amuse. A favourite which stands apart from the wonderful specimens of the art is a modern topiared shrub lovingly clipped into a full sized man doing a “mooney” right at his neighbour’s fence. This is a far cry from the decorum of Colonel James Grahame’s garden, keeper of the purse to James the II. Laid out by Beaumont a pupil of Le Notre (the gardener who designed the Palace of Versailles) Levens Hall in the Lake District retains trees that have been clipped for over 300 years. How many under gardeners curses like verbal ghosts fill the air today? There must have been surely one naughty young apprentice who loathed three months up a ladder getting rained upon by soggy yew clippings who wished to slightly fill out the Queens chess piece to render her more buxom for the King in the opposite bed. Perhaps the judge’s wig so lovingly clipped may have suffered a short back and sides if he happened to have found himself up in front of him. Growing about these hedges can be seen a very popular plant at the present locally, Tropaeolum speciosum, the Scottish Flame Flower. Hard to establish but loves the conifer or box hedge as a climbing frame. If you think the display at Levens hall is excessive be calmed as the peacock has now more or less given way to small chickens usually in a suitably named chicken wire ceramic pot, kit forma, with free “instructions”. Just keep clipping till it looks like a chicken. And indeed the humour has increased in the style as park landscapes today may commission some great bizarre design. Not content with clipped chicken and, with a bigger budget to blow, you could purchase a Formula one F1 car “ready-made” with no clipping required but I daresay that if

you left it unclipped long enough it would soon look like a peacock. The great advantage of Yew is the plants ability to grow back from bare wood so renovation clipping hard back to retain any shape is entirely possible and may account for the longevity of some of the old garden galleries that may have become neglected through wars and so on. Hedges of Leyland cypress on the other hand will not tolerate the hard clip back to the quick. This is typically seen when someone manages to obtain the services of the cowboys to hard prune their overgrown Leyland hedge and several years later it still looks dead having gone in too far. There is a great example of this at Crieff rugby club. Box topiary these days is somewhat more risky due to box blight. This is usually the death knell for a plant as little can be done if it succumbs to an early outbreak. Box is however a great plant and worth a go. Its evergreen leaves which though dark in colour are not of a depressing appearance. They are hungry and thirsty in the pot so keep a weather eye out and especially for blight. The very best gardeners tend their plants regularly to take early evasive action if needs be. A ten pen piece size of Fusarium patch a rather nasty grass virulent fungal infection common on golf courses only needs to be trodden on by one golfer on the first tee for every green and tee thereafter to have been inoculated ignoratus. Clipped bay trees are ideal for the

Topiared Elephant

cooking minded and I’m told cooking with fresh leaves makes all the difference to the seasoning. They are not too pricey these days but struggle below -5C so a warm room or conservatory during cold wet spells would be advisable. Love them or hate them you can’t help admiring the braided trunks you get on some of them nowadays. This is easily achieved if you happen to get a plant to sucker. Simply twist them over each other to grow them up removing the side shoots as they appear. The madness of topiary has been brought right up to date since Pliny the elder was a lad and wrote about it and it could only have been from our friends across the water. Topiary now is used to describe all manners of decorative arts over there. Only they could call gilded fruits, dried pomegranates, with golden ribbons set on a moss pole mounted with cones with a wee man sitting on it with a fishing rod with plastic worms, topiary. We have come a long way. Riverside Garden Centre Need Inspiration? Open 7 days a week: 9.30 - 4.30 Tullybannocher, Comrie, (A85) Tel: 01764 670800

Riverside Garden Centre

 Need  Inspiration?   Open  7  days  a  week:  9.30  -­‐  4.30   Tullybannocher,    Comrie,    (A85)    Tel:  01764  670800  


BLS - Where Business Does the Talking

by Iona Mchedliani Over the last two decades Graeme Courtney has built up his company King’s House Travel into the reputable coach hire business that it is today. Drawing in customers from across the UK, and with a diverse range of travel services on offer, here Graeme describes the history of the business he started from scratch, and how it has developed over the years into the impressive travel management business it is today. When was the company King’s House Travel first established? It initially started in about 1996. It started as part of the King’s House Hotel and was incorporated as a limited company in 2004. It started within the Hotel, to give us something to do in the winter when it was a bit quieter. It then outgrew the Hotel, so we set it up as an entity in its own right, with its own employees. We initially started with an old Land Rover! Back then there was somebody else in the area who was doing school transport; Balquhidder School was still open. The late Tommy MacGregor approached the person who had been doing it at the time and said that we would be interested in it. We had a similar Land Rover to the one that was doing the school run. Tommy started driving it, and then carried on with the job. So that’s how we started, back in 1996. Please can you tell us a bit more about the history of the company, are you a family-run business? It was, yes. My dad passed his Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) driving license at the age of 65 to help us out. What happened is that we approached the Council to tender for the contract and started with the Land Rover. With these council contracts, you go into the tender process, you put in your price, and then it’s either accepted or not. Our price was accepted for the old Land Rover. But before it had even rolled a wheel, it wasn’t big enough. There were just more kids moving into the area. So then we had a people carrier. We had already applied to become a bus company, which meant getting a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license for the bus company, and obviously the drivers needed PCV licenses. I needed a professional qualification to be able to run a bus company, so I went back to college to do that. And that’s how King’s House Travel grew. It properly started in about 1998 when we had our first bus. What is the history behind the name of the company ‘King’s House’? The name comes from being based at the King’s House Hotel, which is quite 22

an historic site. Also, to keep the name associated, as at the beginning we were part of the Hotel; we had the King’s House Hotel and Kingshouse Travel. There’s a special history to the King’s House, they were police stations, but there’s just one other one left now in Glencoe. I think there were six King’s Houses altogether between here and Glencoe at one time, but now there are just the two left. What is the range of bus and coach services that you provide? We started off doing school transport. The operator that was doing it before us only did school transport. As soon as we started we had our vehicles licensed as private hire vehicles, and also our first minibus was a proper licensed minibus so it could do private hire work. When we weren’t doing school work, we started hiring out buses and taxis. There are two types of taxi: a private hire operation, and a taxi operation - and we’re a private hire operation, which is a pre-booked service as opposed to a cab that one hails. We then hired out our private hire vehicles to do trips, and it grew from there. We started the DRT system, which the Cunninghams at Highland Glen Travel now run. We started that in 2001. That was again before Kinghouse Travel, the limited company, came along. We contracted with Stirling Council. McLaren High School actually has the largest catchment area of any school in mainland Britain! So that was an opportunity for us, because obviously a lot of pupils were needing transport to school. We started supporting our local schools. When Balquhidder School closed, all the kids that used to walk to school had to be transported to Strathyre. We tendered and won that contract. And then the next thing you know, Lochearnhead School closed, so there was another opportunity for us. We started transporting the Lochearnhead kids to

Strathyre School too. After that we grew into transporting high school kids to McLaren, just competing and tendering against the bigger bus companies. Because of our location, we started to pick up some work, and then we got into doing holiday tours. The Rob Roy Way was already wellestablished, so we started doing baggage transfers for passengers, and associated work with that. And that’s actually turned into a reasonably significant part of our business now. What is the extent of the area that you provide travel services to and from – is it mainly in Central Scotland? Yes, mainly in Central Scotland. But we have what’s called a National PSV Operator’s license. So we can operate anywhere in the UK and Northern Ireland, which we do. We’ve been in Northern Ireland; I’ve operated with other companies overseas as well, on the continent. And how does that work – do you link up with them? Yes, under their license we supply drivers to help them, but we haven’t done that for a while. We’ve more or less stopped. Now we operate really within Central Scotland. The challenge is also that there’s only so much work here, with so few people living here, and with our number of vehicles. The challenge is to keep the buses and vehicles busy from a very small population base. So we started moving outside the area, and we can compete with the longer trips going down south, trips from Glasgow and Edinburgh. We don’t do school work in any other areas, but we do run school trips all over the UK. And we were always trying to think of something to help grow the business despite the small population of the area. What is your online presence? We’ve got a clever web designer who has

created an excellent website that’s very successful at attracting business. We work for most of the holiday companies now as a result. I would say it’s slightly easier competing in the coach business than in the hotel business - I’m familiar with both! If you had typed “hotels in Scotland” into a search engine for example, the King’s House Hotel would have ended up somewhere down at the bottom of the list of search results, however if you type in “coach hire in Scotland” we invariably appear right at the top. Is the coach business a much smaller pool than the hotel business? Yes, and I also think the amount of contract work that people do means that bus companies have been a bit slow to take to the internet. You’ve got agencies that do it now, agencies coming into the coach business, just like there are agencies that look after hotels, such as ‘Booking. com’ and others. We don’t deal with them. With the Hotel, we had to be registered with agencies to get work because they were so much more successful. But the coach company manages to stand on its own. How big is your fleet of vehicles, and how many drivers do you have? We have eight vehicles, varying from 16 seats to 49. Our license allows us to operate seven at any one time, so in effect we have one spare vehicle to cover for maintenance. In a rural area, it’s necessary for us to have the diversification of vehicles that can cover all different types of work. And we have four other vehicles which are either private hire or are vehicles that work on a contract, like bag transfers. We’ve currently got about 12 working vehicles. We’ve got ten full-time drivers and another five or six that come in and help us out. What is your most popular travel package or route? The bread and butter of our business is our school contracts, and the school trips that we do for the small local schools.

We look after Crianlarich School, Killin, Strathyre and McLaren, as well as other schools going out a little bit further. We do school trips for Aberfoyle, Doune, Callander Primary School, Thornhill, and Kincardine-in-Mentieth - our school transport is the core of our business. We really stopped doing most of the private hire and taxi work that we used to do, which used to be quite an important part of our business. We used to use the large coaches for the McLaren High School run, but then we changed our business direction. When we grew into a bigger set-up, and we were going to McLaren with the big coaches, there was an awful lot of vandalism and damage being done to the vehicles. So we made the decision to change direction and that’s how, through our web designer, we looked at doing trips to Alton Towers. Please can you tell our readers about the Alton Towers day trips that you offer? We had some large vehicles left over from not doing the high school runs. They still worked, but they weren’t being kept busy. The coach which now goes to Alton Towers was one of the old school buses - the replacement cost of that coach today is about a quarter of a million pounds! Even the mini-coach which goes up to Balquhidder Village Hall has a replacement cost of about 140 thousand pounds! At a certain point you have to draw the line, because otherwise your fleet of

vehicles just degrades and degrades, and you’re not getting the money back to replace them. So, we were left with a couple of big vehicles which weren’t fully utilized and the replacement cost of them is extremely high. Therefore, to make these vehicles pay they have to run regularly. Our web designer, a season ticket-holder of Alton Towers, approached me and suggested running trips to the theme park. And so, because our website is quite high profile, we put up some trips online for Alton Towers. The success has been brilliant! We operate from all the main population areas in Scotland, from Dundee southwards. Dundee is the furthest north we go, which is down to driving hour’s regulations. We’ve got to be safe; it’s a long journey. This is a regular trip. We go every single Friday night. We drive down from various parts of Scotland very late on Friday night. The passengers have a day at the park on Saturday (while the driver goes off to rest at a B&B), and then we drive back on Saturday evening. We’re actually the largest supplier of customers to Alton Towers in Scotland! What’s the best way for someone to make a booking with you generally online or by phone? Alton Towers has to be done online. It’s like a theatre booking system. They actually book their seat on the coach and pay for it in advance. This is because what we didn’t want was lots of young people squabbling at night, getting on the coach at 2 o’clock in Glasgow and arguing over who sits where. So, for ease of loading and keeping things nice and simple for the driver, the passenger books an actual seat and then when they arrive, that seat is reserved for them, and off they go to Alton Towers. How do you advertise? Mainly online. We have a website and Facebook address. We have about 6,000 followers on Facebook for Alton Towers.

Continued next month 23

RUTH GRYNIEWICZ 28.09.1925 – 27.06.2015 Ruth was born in Durham and was the second youngest of seven children, her father being a miner up from Wales to find work. Such hard times they were that Ruth remembered standing at a queue at a bakery for a “penneth” of stale cakes for the family. When she was a teenager, her mother told her that a lady from the Church had offered to adopt Ruth to ease the burden of feeding such a large family. Ruth never forgot the hard times she experienced in her early years. She left school with no qualifications and secured employment with local companies working in accounts and general office work. After taking a year off to nurse her older sister she decided to better her education and embarked on a degree course at Durham University and finally graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Social Services. She soon got a job as a child placement officer with Alnwick Social Services. She travelled extensively during her holidays and loved Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia to name a few. She also discovered the Scottish Highlands! She moved to Seahouses and married in 1963 at the age of 38 and two years later Alex was born, her only child. Sadly her marriage failed and she went through some difficult years when she did any job that she could to make ends meet. Ruth arrived in Lochearnhead in 1995, her 70th year. She had been viewing property further north and after an unsuccessful trip she saw No1 Ravenscroft Road for sale and fell in love with the view and agreed an immediate purchase. Her love of the view remained to the end and the picture above was amazingly taken the day before she died and she was sitting in the seat that enabled her to see the loch, hills and animals. Ruth immediately got involved in local activities. She joined the congregation of St Angus’s and became a very active 24

member of the kneelers group which achieved so much which you can see in the church. She helped the treasurer with the counting and banking of collections and was always so reliable with those sort of matters. She became integrated into the community. She played whist in Balquhidder, a t t e n d e d Summer Music and helped to run the keep fit club. You could always rely on Ruth to help run a bric a’ brac or similar stall at one of the church events like Pancake Day and when the Village Hall fete was held, she could also be seen helping on the book stall. She loved her car which gave her great freedom to explore locally and her bus pass gave her the opportunity to go further afield when she would go to places like Fort William or Dundee with a bag of sandwiches for the day. Ruth was an avid reader and was a regular at the mobile library van. Interestingly enough she did not like fiction and her books mainly were biographies, history or geography. Right to the end she was able to attend church services, take herself to the mobile library and even struggle to the shop to get her favourite treat, a milk chocolate bar. Despite the onset of her illness, she was always so cheerful and just dismissed her own frailties with remarks like “There’s so many people far worse off than me!” Her memorial service which followed her cremation was held in St Angus’s Church which was decorated with flowers from her garden that she loved. Her four nieces from Durham were there and they were able to reminisce with many local people who attended. Ruth will be sorely missed by her family, her neighbours, and her friends. Pam and Lawrie Hopkins

Farm Forum: Title “Potentially more serious than Grexit” Over the last considerable time our news has been dominated by the Greek financial crisis and the term “Grexit” has been born. This has been, according to Richard Wright in his Euro notebook, to the exclusion of something potentially more serious going on in one of the most important countries for global agriculture. That, he says, is China, which when it comes to food is the world’s biggest importer for every major commodity, not least dairy products. Incidentally they also buy quite an amount of our wool. Over the past month, its stock market has plunged 30%, he says, that makes the problem of Greece small beer in comparison. After going into some of the technicalities of the crash he goes on:- “People in China are feeling a lot poorer, and that means one the world’s biggest economies has the potential to stop spending and growing. One of the first casualties will be the middle class demand in China to westernise their diets - and that will have a direct impact on their demand to import food. Countries like Australia, New Zealand and Brazil have increasingly geared up their farming industries to supply the open goal market China has been. When that falters a lot of certainties disappear, and if the Chinese problems spread elsewhere in Asia it will be even more serious.” For some time now, he continues, “agriculture around the world has enjoyed the “certainty” that the global demand for food will grow for the foreseeable future. Equally it has had the reassurance of a growing and

Callander Rambling Club

Sponsored by Caledonian Country Wear

The Club consists of a group of enthusiasts who meet regularly throughout the year to participate in a programme of strolls, rambles, hill walks and a Long Distance Path. Details are published on htm in the Ben Ledi View and on posters around Callander. New members and guests are always welcome. Here are some dates for your diary:

prosperous middle class demand from countries like China. If that now falters, which seems inevitable in China, there will be a lot of products looking for new homes, which will have only one impact on prices. What this means in Europe is that we are now closed out of what was the biggest export market, Russia, because of its trade ban, while the other big global market in China is facing deep internal problems”. He concludes by pointing out that this is yet another sign of how globally dependent agriculture has become on events over which it has no control. Talking about things out with our control leads unfortunately to the weather. At time of writing this, so far, is one of the worst summers in many people’s memories and it is a long time since I have seen so little winter fodder harvested at this time of year. Agricola

August 2015 Sat 1 August 08:30 Ramble: Water of Leith: Balerno to Leith (12miles) Contact 01786825198 Wed 5 August 09:30 Stroll: Banknock to the Wheel (6.5miles) Contact 01786 825249 Sat 8 Aug 08:30 Hill: Beinn Dubhcraig (978m) Contact 01877 330059 Sat 15 Aug 08:30 LDP: CT(4) Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla(14.5miles) Contact 01877 330032 Sat 22 Aug 08:30 Hill: Ben More (Crianlarich) (1174m) Contact 01877 339080 Sat 29 Aug 08:30 Stroll: Shirgaton and Boquan Bridge (6miles) Contact 01786825682 September 2015 Sat 5 Sept 08:30 LDP: CT(5) Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth (11miles) Contact 01877 330032 Wed 16 Sept 09:30 Stroll: Stronachlachar to Inversnaid (5miles) Contact 01877 376340 Sat 19 Sept 08:30 Hill: Beinn Narnain (926m) Contact 01877 331067 Sat 26 Sept 08:30 LDP: CT(6) Alyth to Bridge of Cally (9miles) Contact 01877 330032 October 2015 Sat 3 Oct 08:30 Hill: Ben Ledi via the Ridge (879m) Contact 01877 376212 We meet in Ancaster Square, unless otherwise indicated. Please bring wet weather clothing, appropriate footwear and a packed lunch. And please let the walk leader know if you plan to join the walk via the contact number given! Visitors and non-members welcome.



We’ll send you or your friends The


£15.00 for 11 monthly issues (£40.00 for Europe and £50.00 for the rest of the world). We are sorry about the increased costs to our valued overseas readers, due to the new postal rates imposed by the Post Office! All you need to do is to post the completed form to: BLS NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION, GARDENERS COTTAGE BALQUHIDDER FK19 8PB, SCOTLAND Cheques should be made payable to: THE BLS NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION Remittance enclosed £ .........................(do not send cash) Please send copies of The Villagers starting on ................................. for 11 months To: NAME .......................................................................................................................... ADDRESS: ........................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................POSTCODE .............................. SENDER’S NAME & ADDRESS IF DIFFERENT FROM ABOVE Please send copies of The Villagers starting on ............................... for 11 months NAME ................................................................................................................................ ADDRESS .......................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................POSTCODE................................

Cheques for advertising and mail order subscriptions should be made out to: The BLS Newspaper Association




All types of tree work undertaken Removal of dangerous trees Crown lifting, Crown reduction, High pruning,Removal of deadwood. All types of fencing erected Mole trapping References can be given. Free estimates

STRATHYRE. TEL 01877384248 07967143910

Printed by Graphics and Print Services, University of Stirling Tel: 01786 467209 email: Published by The BLS Newspaper Association


• The Villagers’ Contacts • Jill Johnston Editor Gardeners Cottage Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384227

Gill Allan Production Manager Stronvar Farm Balquhidder Lochearnhead FK19 8PB 01877 384203

David Johnston Advertising Coordinator Gardeners Cottage Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384227

Other Contacts...

Andrew Poulter Business Manager Coire A Chroine Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384784

Copy Deadline Day is the 21st of the month. Send your contributions to:

contac t@the Please help us to get The Villagers to you as soon as possible!

• DIARY DATES • We e k l y A c t i v i t i e s Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Bowling - St Fillans Keep Fit - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.30 to11.30am Gaelic Playgroup - Balquhidder Hall - 10.30am to 12.30pm Country Dancing - St Fillans LEGS - Lochearnhead Hall - 6.30pm Pilates - Balquhidder Hall - 9.45am to 10.45am (contact Abbey Arkotxa 0776 6407578) Yoga - Balquhidder Hall - 11.00am to 12noon (contact Ann Cobbett 01877 376291) Pilates - Balquhidder Hall - 6pm to 7pm (contact Abbey Arkotxa 0776 6407578) Youth Club - Lochearnhead Hall - 7.00 to 9.00pm Choir Occasional - Balquhidder Hall - 7.30pm to 9pm (call Gill Allan 01877 384203) Metafit Classes - Strathyre Village Hall - 8.00pm Summer Darts - The Inn & Bistro - 7.00pm Playgroup - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.00am-12 noon (Contact Mel Brydie 01877 384668)

AUGUST 2015 15 -16 21 -23 25 30

St Fillans Festive Weekend - see page 4 Indian Head Massage Course - contact Alison 077976 327765 Strathyre Village Association AGM - see page 6 Balquhidder Bike Fest - see page 18

Lochearnhead Contact: Ali Ferguson 01567 830 405 Strathyre Contact: Wullie Dalziel 01877 384 384 Mobile 07768 221661 St Fillans Contact: John Murray 01764 685 487 Mail Order Distribution: Hilda Astbury 01877 384 681

The Villagers’ Photographer Jason Allardyce 01877 384227 07508 595211 Wedding, Portrait, Social, Pet Photography

CHURCH SERVICES Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St. Fillans CHURCH OF SCOTLAND


Annual Counrty Show - Balquhidder Village Hall - see page 6

Councillor Martin Earl Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 922 Councillor Alycia Hayes Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 924 Councillor Fergus Wood Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07824 496 019

Balquhidder Parish Church Registered Charity No. SCO12316 Sunday 11.30am Minister: Vacancy Enquiries to Interim Moderator: Revd Terry Ann Taylor 01877 382391 Dundurn Church, St Fillans Sunday11.30am Minister: Rev Graham McWilliams Tel: 01764 671 045

ROMAN CATHOLIC Callander, St Joseph the Worker Sunday 11.30am Saturday Vigil Mass 5.30pm from May through to September Killin, in the Episcopal Church Sunday 2.30pm Father Jim McCruden 2 Ancaster Square, Callander Tel: 01877 330 702

SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH St Angus’s Church, Lochearnhead Every Sunday: Holy Communion at 11.15am. Second and fifth Sundays in the month: Evensong at 6.00pm Vestry Secretary - Mary Barclay Tel: 01567 830453

The villagers august 2015  

Lochearnhead Shears, Highland Games Lochearnhead and other local news and events around Lochearnhead, Strathyre, St Fillans and Balquhidder...

The villagers august 2015  

Lochearnhead Shears, Highland Games Lochearnhead and other local news and events around Lochearnhead, Strathyre, St Fillans and Balquhidder...