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MARCH 2011



T he Vo i c e o f B a l q u h i d d e r, L och earn h ead , S t rat h yre & S t F illans

‘The Gardeners Arms’ New bar in St Fillans opens and closes on one fantastic night Photos courtesy of Fraser Ballantyne Photography

EDITOR’S NOTE & AGM REPORT It’s great to start with really happy news and you will see from this page that we celebrate two births. Does this mean that a prerequisite for being an editor is that you must be a Granny? Not at all, but what a happy coincidence! Once Jill has been Down Under to check on her new grandson she can start to wear the Editor’s hat in earnest.

Hello from Jill

A brief word to introduce myself and try to explain how a ‘Lancashire Lass’ has come to aspire to such a prestigious role as the Editor of The Villagers. A geography field trip to Pitlochry was the first step, followed by a holiday job in Glencoe at the famous (infamous?) Clachaig Inn. There romance flourished leading to a permanent move north of the border to teach and bring up a family in Bearsden. And now to our dream retirement home in Balquhidder. I am very aware that I will need a lot of support and local knowledge to help me in this new role but we know how friendly and supportive the communities are so I am looking forward to the challenges – I think! It was good to meet some new faces at the AGM and I look forward to meeting many more over the next few months. Jill Johnston Now to the AGM. Many thanks to St Fillans for hosting this year and also to the support from local residents; it was good to see new faces. Thank you too to the faithful readers from other villages who come every year and who provide very welcome new ideas. Jill Johnston was introduced to the meeting as the future editor and the committee, all of whom will remain in their posts, will be able to help her with the changeover later this year.



The following readings were taken at ‘Bramblings’, Auchtubh, Balquhidder for the month of January. Average max. temp. Actual max. temp. Average min. temp. Actual min. temp.

4.9 ºC 8.3 -0.5 -8.3

40.8 ºF 46.9 31.1 17.0

Rainfall: 27.3 cms 10.9 ins No wind readings due to technical failure 2

Our sales in 2010 have been a bit disappointing but I blame the recession and the weather which reduced the number of holiday folk in the area both in the summer and at Christmas. Our Christmas issue was again stunning in full colour and the printing costs were more or less the same as the previous year but we had hoped to sell many more copies to visitors. However, we still plan to keep the colour in for the next yuletide edition. Advertisers come and go but the overall number of them is steady. Since there is a well established Code of Practice among community newspapers regarding payment upfront for advertising we are going to be very strict from now on. If payment is not forthcoming then adverts will be removed and blank spaces left. John Stewart, the Business Manager, presented the accounts and thanked Rory Gilchrist for his audit. If anyone would like a copy please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to John Stewart at the address on the back page. During last year we placed selected articles and photographs onto the website of the Loch Earn Tourist Initiative and are now preparing to replace these with complete editions of the newspaper a month in arrears. A subscription form is also on the website and we hope this will attract new readers. The annual presentation of Community Newspaper Awards took place the day after our deadline day and will be reported in full next month but just one result must be mentioned – a winner in the category ‘Young Writer of the Year’ was Dan Hesp for his article on Taekwando. Well done to Dan as there was stiff competition from other papers. Although I officially retired at the AGM circumstances are such that Jill and I will work together until she takes over fully so no Goodbyes just yet! Marguerite Kobs

Baby Jamie with big sister Zoe

Little Thomas Johnston

What is a Baby? A baby is all faith, hope and dreams of the world embodied in one small being As fragile as a flower petal, as unpredictable as the weather, and as dominating as a king. A baby is a philosopher without words Awake, a baby is the unconquerable spirit of humanity, but purest peace when sleeping A baby is a bit of heaven entrusted to this world for safekeeping. Congratulations to Stuart and Rhona Mason on the birth of their son Jamie Scott Mason at the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, on Friday 18 February. He weighed in at 6lbs 15oz, a little brother for Zoe, another cousin for Caitlin and Cameron and a grandson for both Nanna and Ganny Doggy (the latter just happens to be the present Ed.) Congratulations also to Iain and Michelle Johnston in Sydney, Australia, on the birth of their son Thomas, on Thursday 24 February, who also weighed 6lbs 15oz (or 3.15kilos), a first child for them and a fourth grandchild for David and Jill Johnston of Balquhidder (yes, that’s Jill our future Editor!)

The St Fillans Bit I don’t think that there is any disputing that the now hopefully departing winter has been one of the longest and coldest for many a year. But it’s not all doom, as witnessed by the shot here of Sandy Muir curling on the frozen pond in the Ross House Gardens in January. The Comrie Curling Club spent a good few hours preparing the ice, ancient granite curling stones were dug out of cupboards, genuine old curling brushes were found and antique hacks (launching pads for curlers) were unearthed. A great deal of fun was had by curlers of all ages, aided by liberal amounts of food and grog – the rhubarb vodka being highly praised. The curlers look forward to more hard winters... ...which the St Fillans Golf Club members don’t. The protracted ice and snow meant a closed course for weeks with the greens far better suited to curling than golf. At the club’s AGM John Stanyon stood down as Secretary after an impressive fourteen years of duty – which have also included from time to time the roles of Greens Convenor, House Convenor and Treasurer. Sandy Muir takes over as Secretary whilst Ena Bennie becomes Club Captain – the first lady to ever hold that position in St Fillans (and in many other places), whilst Fraser Ballantyne becomes Gents Captain. Our photo shows outgoing Club Captain Gordon with Ena and Fraser after the AGM. On the AGM topic, The Sandison Hall AGM, held on 18 February, was

Top: Curling, and above, St Fillans Golf Club

presided over by Sally Watson. Sally reported a busy year of hall usage with the usual clubs and societies supplemented by private party bookings together with its use as the General Election Polling Place. The Quiz Night raised £555 and the Hogmanay Party another £160 but rising electricity and maintenance costs resulted in a small deficit for the year. I’m asked to remind villagers that the hall is available for hire for private parties or group activities at the competitive rate of



Thursday evening till Monday lunch inclusive until 31 March, then open all week.

just £15 a session (5 hours’ish) or £17.50 if the fully equipped kitchen is used. Contact Elspeth on 685203 for bookings. Thus it was hired in February for a party to celebrate Sally Watson’s 80th Birthday. A really excellent evening with the usual good food, courtesy of Andrew Scott, followed by entertainment provided by members of the family and by village friends. The Watson clan is a pretty talented bunch. Sadly the photos I received from one of the family were all taken by ‘available light’ so a bit fuzzy for publishing – but I hope to get hold of others to give a record of the event in these pages next month. Good use was also made of the hall for the bi-annual Burns Supper in January. With no visiting speaker this year I felt that the night was all the better for being presented by villagers we all know; and a grand job they did! Chaired by Johnston Brown, the haggis was addressed by Jim Brierley who must be able to recite the words in his sleep – it took me back 18 years to when Jim was manager of the Drummond Arms which was then a busy hotel for coach parties. (Continued overleaf)

Wine Tasting Evening on 11 March

good food with wines chosen to complement and information about how each wine was chosen.

The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans

01764 685 333 Jim addresses the haggis 3

(Continued from Page 3)

Every Wednesday Jim donned kilt and sporran to address the haggis to an audience of bemused geriatric coach party guests, many of whom were not really aware of the vital importance of haggis addressing to the Scots and wondered why Jim was in drag. Then followed a wee lassie prancing about over crossed swords and an accordionist from Methven (I think) who was actually an architect making a few bob on the side. Very happy days, and missed by many of us. Anyway, back to the Burns Supper. Willie Phillips gave The Immortal Memory, Alan Milne the Toast to the Lassies and Frances Johnston The Reply. We were well entertained by all, especially by songs from the lovely Suzie Hazeldyne who is, I gather, Blair Cramond’s sister – no doubting where the talent went in that family! (Joke, Blair – gonnae no write to the Editor). Great night. It’s worth mentioning just how good our village hall looks when ‘dressed up’. It’s really amazing how a few hours of hard work by village ladies can transform the place into an intimate function room. ‘Parlez vous Francais?’ If you do, or if you’d like to, then Catriona Cunningham (daughter of our esteemed CC Chairman) is holding informal gatherings every Monday in Liam’s Coffee Shop at 1.30 pm. where conversation on topics generally is carried out in French and all are welcome (apart from George W Bush). A good chance to brush up the school boy/girl French and sing a rousing rendition of the Marsellies* (if I’ve spelt that right it’s a miracle).

The Village Store St Fillans

Newsagent • Off-licence • Top-ups Tobacco • Groceries • Gifts Hot Pies to take away Hardware • Oil • Fishing Tackle & Permits Café • Dunfillan Coffee Soup • Toasties • Baking • Packed Lunches OPENING HOURS:

7.00am - 5.30pm every day Late opening (Fri/Sat/Sun) till 7.00pm

01764 685309


Burns Supper Top Table

Said CC Chairman oversaw the Community Council AGM on 2 February. The Minutes are fairly extensive, so I can’t précis them here, but they are on the village notice board for anyone interested. There are now two vacancies on the Council and volunteers will be welcomed. One interesting item discussed was that it does seem that progress is being made on the possibility of opening up the old railway line from St Fillans to Lochearnhead as a footpath, including bridging the ‘gorge’. I also note that Don is purchasing a manikin for resuscitation training – there are obvious jokes here, but the editor would erase them. It was mentioned last month that Eric had loads of firewood for sale resulting from the roadside clearance at the East end of the village. That all sold quickly but a new load from the same source is now available – contact Eric on 685263. All proceeds to village funds for knotweed eradication. Bringing me smoothly to the Garden Group’s fund raiser held on 25 February in The Sandison. Having been very closely involved in the writing and production of the show I can’t give an impartial report on it. What I can say is that the show took many weeks of hard graft in preparation by some two dozen villagers who toiled mightily to learn lines, learn songs, rehearse, make scenery, cook, etc etc. I have confessed to having had grave doubts that a bunch of real amateurs could bring the ambitious show off successfully (especially as the show night approached). I was very wrong. My views of the evening are tainted by involvement but the feedback from villagers both on the night and subsequently by email and phone has been rewardingly positive. When Cecil Smylie says it’s one of the best evenings he’s ever had (and he’s been about) it can’t have been bad. Thanks to all who helped. My best guess at the moment (25 Feb) at funds raised on the night for knotweed eradication are £1400. Impressive or what? The sole local business sponsor of the show

(there were kind donations from villagers) was, as usual, Andrew Low from the Four Seasons. Andrew is always there to support village ventures and I hope that the various mentions of him and the hotel over the night, will result in business for him from the village. In which respect, Four Seasons opens for weekends only from 3 March, then fully from the end of March. New menus in the Tarken have been designed by head chef Peter Woods and Andrew reminds me that the Gourmet Wine Dinner takes place on 11 March and that early bookings for Mother’s Day Lunch are essential to avoid disappointing the Old Dear. John Murray *Marseillaise – in case of any doubt! Note from Ed. Just to say congratulations to St Fillans for a very enjoyable night at ‘The Gardeners Arms’ and for a delicious supper. The show was hilarious and the various talents on display were much appreciated by the audience. A special mention for Rab C Nesbitt – he was superb and I was completely taken in!

Exhibition of Top Modern Weaving at Stirling Castle More than fifty beautiful small-scale modern tapestries have gone on display at Stirling Castle. The exhibition, called Warp/Weft: Near/Far will illustrate the wide range of approaches to the medium as practised by tapestry artists in the UK and across Europe, to give a flavour of the contemporary context of woven tapestry. This is a great opportunity to contrast some superb examples of today’s tapestry-making alongside the Renaissance Project on site. The display of work, from across the UK and Europe, takes place in the Nether Bailey, close to the workshop where weavers are creating new versions of The Hunt of the Unicorn series which dates from the start of the 16th century. Four of the series of seven are complete and hang in the Chapel Royal, but will soon be transferred to the castle’s royal palace which is being returned to how it may have looked in the 1540s, and will open in June. The modern works are all small-scale, measuring up to 80cm inheight, while the new versions of the Renaissance works were designed as wall coverings and can be up to 3.8m tall. Louise Martin, one of the exhibition organisers and also the senior weaver in the castle workshop, said: “This is a wonderful chance to see how tapestry weaving has developed and evolved over the centuries.The contemporary works in the exhibition

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come from some of the finest weavers in UK and Europe. Each is unique, many have abstract designs, some are very subtle while others are extremely vibrant but despite differing from Renaissance works, they are all still wool-based and use the same warp and weft technique, so there is a great sense of continuity.” Something which has changed greatly is the cost. The exhibition tapestries are all on sale and, despite being a very highlyskilled and time-consuming art form, cost between £100 and £3,000. In the 16th century a series like The Hunt of the Unicorn, cost the same as an entire warship! Warp/Weft: Near/Far is on display until Sunday 3 April and is included in the standard entry price to the castle. The artists are committee members of the British Tapestry Group, the European Tapestry Forum steering group and members of WEST, a group of professional tapestry weavers from the West Country. Louise Martin will hold a special tapestry weekend on Coptic Techniques: Saturday and Sunday, 2 & 3 April. This will suit those with some experience as participants will create a Coptic-inspired tapestry. Cost is £120 (£96 for Historic Scotland members). Places on the workshops should be booked in advance by contacting Louise on 01259 762487 or at

01764 685346   5

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor I refer to the excellent article in December’s edition of The Villagers concerning the proposal to reopen the St Fillans-Lochearnhead Disused Railway Path as part of the Core Paths Network. This has been discussed by St Fillans Community Council and I wish to confirm that we fully support the Community Paths Group in their plans. We feel that this would provide an amenity that would provide great benefit to future generations of local populations, as well as adding to the wider national infrastructure. The line is a valuable asset of which we should take full advantage and we commend the efforts of Geoff Hardman-Carter and his group so far. Yours sincerely Russell Cunningham Chairman

Apologies to St Fillans CC but due to some electronic shenanigans by the e-mail elves this letter was not received for publication in the February edition. Ed.

Dear Editor May I add a few lines to Mrs Semeonoff ’s obituary of Richie Peebles? My wife’s family have a cottage up the hill from the one in which Richie lived and it was in 1947/48 that I first met Richie who at that time worked with the Forestry Commission at Strathyre. He was living on his own but when his mother died in the 1970’s (I think) his father and housekeeper came to join Richie in Balquhidder and they lived together for a number of years. I recall his father built a small conservatory at the side of the house in which Richie loved to sit in the sun. After sadly his father’s death he was once more on his own and his neighbours Jessie and Geordie Macdonald kindly looked after him and Jessie cooked his evening meal. Perhaps in return Richie would take Jessie shopping on a Saturday afternoon in his beloved car! As Mrs Semeonoff says he loved his garden which he kept immaculately, regularly once a year creosoting his garage and garden shed. He was always cheerful and friendly – a good neighbour in every way. There is no doubt that Richie was one of the real characters of Balquhidder. Yours sincerely George Burnet

Rose Court Inveresk, Midlothian EH21 7TD 6

Dear Editor I am sorry I missed the February edition, so, belatedly but as a resident of Lochearnhead, I would like to say a huge thank you to the people involved in once again putting up a Christmas tree in our village. I heard some criticism about its size but size doesn’t matter when you consider that it was by the huge effort of Mike Holliday in donating and then cutting down the tree in very deep snow and then Angus Cameron and Mike in erecting it in frozen ground and getting it illuminated with lights that the Community Council bought several years ago. Our thanks should also go to Matthew and Dianne at Loch Earn House for supplying the electricity. Anyone volunteering their time and effort for the community should be praised and for the few who dare to criticise, then you can always have a go yourselves. Let’s hope for a repeat performance next year and thanks once again Gus and Mike and anyone else I have missed. Lawrie Hopkins

Drs Strang & Scott and Drs Mathewson & Gibson Community Nurses The surgeries and community nurses are taking part in a training programme. This is to meet the educational and training needs of all members of the practice and nursing team. The next training afternoon will be on: Wednesday 23rd March Both practices and community nurse clinic will close at 12noon. Emergency cover will be provided by NHS24 for nursing and GPs. In the event of an emergency, please telephone 08454 242424. On that afternoon, please do not contact the surgeries for repeat prescriptions or for appointments.

The Rosenethe Singers

will be performing J.S.Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Dunblane Cathedral on Sunday 27 March at 7.00pm.

Tickets are £15 (£12 concession) and are available from Smallprint, Dunblane; Strathallan Pharmacy, Bridge of Allan; and Smith Art Gallery, Stirling

BLS Community Council The Community Council met on 26 January in the relatively plush and comfortable environment of Kings House Hotel! It was decided that it would make good sense to continue meeting here during the winter months. Although it’s good to make use of the hall facilities provided in each village, the cost of providing additional heating during cold weather tends to outweigh what the Community Council can afford to contribute so it makes sense to use a building that is functioning continuously. As usual, PC Ward gave us a review of recent events but also invited us to consider what priorities we would like to see the police and other agencies (such as the National Park) give to our particular area. The good news is that Operation Ironworks will continue in the coming year, concentrating on how best to suppress anti-social behaviour whilst not unduly restricting the freedom of visitors and tourists to enjoy the natural amenities of this beautiful countryside. Several ideas were put forward in the meeting including comments on dealing with rowdiness, litter and indiscriminate parking of vehicles. These suggestions will be reviewed by Chief Inspector Findlater at Callander and incorporated into an overall strategy for Operation Ironworks this year. One particular aspect of concern was the activities of a small group of either insane or simply irresponsible individuals who must have been watching too much Top Gear recently. They have taken it into their heads to race a small flotilla of powerboats from one end of Loch Earn to the other in an apparent attempt to outwit the forces of law and order in relation to the prohibition on drinking and driving. The result is an inebriated excursion, by night and without lights, that threatens not only their own lives if something should go wrong but the lives of anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity at the time. We are all too well aware of what happened on a loch not a million miles away very recently when a group of men set out from a pub on one shore to row across to their camp site on the other side. They never made it. In the case of Loch Earn, representations are being made to grownups at the points of embarkation and arrival with a view to preventing a similarly futile loss of life here. We spent some time considering the situation regarding Village Officers. At one time, most villages were looked after by a Council employee who lived and worked in the local district. In the past few years, when such posts have fallen vacant, they have not been filled for one reason or another. It has become normal practice instead, to send out teams of Council staff from Stirling to work for a day at a time in one particular area. This involves a good deal of time and

fuel spent in travelling backwards and forwards rather than in actual work being carried out. So, we are looking at ways of encouraging the Council to consider a return to Village Officers. There is certainly scope for savings to be made in travel and so forth but the practicalities of assigning the right equipment to the right people at the right time will also have to be worked out. Nonetheless, we believe that much is gained from having a local person on the spot to tackle the various jobs that need continuous attention if our villages are to look attractive and well maintained, encouraging visitors to stop and make a positive contribution to the local economy! We considered a number of other matters such as whether or not schools would be given a day off for the forthcoming royal wedding. Stirling Council has been waiting to see what stance other councils take before committing itself. We have asked them to expedite their decision as it will affect many more people than just school pupils and teachers. We also made representations about the deteriorating state of the roads. We were advised that money has been set aside for this very purpose but it makes no sense to start re-surfacing work until the cold weather has gone. The worst potholes will be filled temporarily but serious reparations can only begin once warmer weather is established once again. The Village Hall at Balquhidder has been in the wars again. Yet another flood has destroyed the beautiful wooden floor that was installed only last year. Repairs are underway, however, and we hope to see the hall open once again in time for Spring and Summer events to take place as normal. Our own next meeting will take place on Wednesday 9 March at Kings House Hotel. Any local residents who wish to participate are invited to join us on that occasion. Please notify the Secretary if you wish to raise a particular matter so that reasonable time for it can be allocated in advance. Thank you! Paul Hicks

Scotland’s Woods Need You! Share your favourite woods online, and be part of something big... Woods are fantastic places to spend time and experience nature, whatever the season, but many people don’t know where to go and how to get the most from their visit. VisitWoods aims to encourage more people to get out and enjoy all that our woodland has to offer. At the heart of the project is www. a new interactive website showcasing all the woods you can visit in Scotland and across the UK. Part of a unique collaboration between all the major woodland owning organisations in Scotland, the project will give people living in Scotland the opportunity to discover the woods on their doorstep and enjoy the outdoors more often. The website is packed with everything you need to plan a great day out, including searchable maps, inspiring ideas and free activities plus - there’s space for visitors to share their photos and tips. But we need your help. This exciting project needs enthusiastic people to share their stories, comments, photographs, ideas and even rate their favourite woods on the website. “Sharing personal experiences of the woods we love to visit and what they have to offer will make a real difference to people who have never been before. Personal content will hopefully encourage more people to get outside and enjoy the wonders of Scotland’s woodland through the seasons,” said Carol Evans, Director, Woodland Trust Scotland. Be part of something big! Uploading your photos and comments is really simple. Just go to, find your favourite wood and add your reviews and images to our blog or photo gallery. Who knows – you may even discover a new wood yourself!



Those who knew Bryan Hill when he lived in Strathyre and was a member of the Scottish Country Dance Group would be sorry to hear of his death in Strathcarron Hospice on 3 February. Bryan was born in Portishead near Bristol on 18 February 1944. He grew up in Bristol with two sisters, Jackie and Sally. After studying at agricultural college he worked on a farm in the Somerset area. He progressed through farm management to the sale of animal feedstuffs and supplements. He owned a company in Stirling called Macmin, selling animal feed supplements, which he ran with a business partner for a few years before selling it to another company. His son Richard and daughter Karen were born around 1969 – 1970 and the family moved to a small holding in West Wales, where they kept lots of different animals. Bryan was always active, as well as country dancing he did line dancing and played golf and, when he moved to Dunblane, he joined a walking group. Sadly he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2010. His funeral, which was well attended by family and friends, was at Dunblane Cathedral on 11 February, followed by cremation at Falkirk Crematorium. Hilda Astbury

Church News Balquhidder Reg. Charity No. SC012316

The Church A.G.M. will be held on Sunday 27 March after the service which starts at 12.00 noon as usual. The Annual Accounts for 2010 will be presented and also there will be a report on the Church building. As predicted last year, we had to draw on savings in 2010 to make ends meet. We are now at a point where fewer than 25 people are supporting the Church with regular giving, which means that donations from friends and visitors to the Church are crucial. Fundraising is one way in which support can be given and we are most grateful to all who helped to make the concert in January this year such an enjoyable and successful event. We are doing our best to maintain the Ministry and this historic building, but it is a formidable challenge these days and we need all the help we can get! Jean Edwards

Emma and Donnie’s Wedding

Congratulations to Donnie MacLeod and Emma Welsh, married on 18 December 2010 at Dundurn Church, St Fillans. We wish them a long and happy life together. 8

Pin-Feathers* *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 speculates about some interesting finds near his home. Why do some of us have this fascination with things and happenings of the past? Well here in Balquhidder there is still much evidence not yet destroyed of how life was in times gone by - all that is needed is to see the clues and use a bit of imagination. The fireside and a wee dram can help the imagination, plus a little bit of research from the locals. Let me set the scene with a few photos. What are these things? Some would say “Throw them away” but wait, there is an area in Balquhidder Glen with clues to the fact that people would have gathered there, a place where stories would have been exchanged and competitions held - shooting competitions in fact! My photos show a few things from that time. The two round glass objects are in fact glass target balls which were made at the Perth glass works from around 1840 - 1900, eventually superseded by the Clay Pigeon. They were often filled with feathers to give a better visible ‘Kill’ and launched into the air from a spring catapult called aTrap (not a trap to capture anything, but the name stemming from the time when a live pigeon was released from a trap to be shot in competition). You may have heard the expression “Claptrap”; this was a type of pigeon trap made of heavy iron hinged together in the form of a box and held together by a release pin. With the bird inside, a string to the release pin was snatched on the command ‘Pull’ from the shooter, the trap would fall apart with a loud ‘Clap’, encouraging the pigeon to make a rapid departure. This practice was eventually banned, not on the grounds of cruelty, but because pigeons were being caught for the purpose in towns. The Government at that time used homing pigeons to carry messages and it was feared that an errant bird would be caught whilst carrying an important message which might then fall into the wrong hands. So came the invention of the glass target ball and eventually the Clay Pigeon that we see today. Towns and villages held large shooting events using the glass targets and great competitions were organised for large sums of money. One of the photographs shows a live pigeon shooting event as it would have been then; the string puller or ‘trapper’ behind the shooter and the pigeon being shot as it leaves the claptrap. Someone with a dog is retrieving the dead birds, which would of course end up on the table.

by Old Nyati

Balquhidder would have had its own smaller scale meetings using the glass balls which have been found in the Glen. I have found fragments in gravel beds in the Balvaig river and think maybe someone had fun shooting at them floating on the water. The other pictures show the items used at the beginning of that time for a muzzle loading shotgun - gunpowder tin, powder flask, shot bag, percussion caps, a cap dispenser and wadding to load over the powder charge. Talking of the keen competition that would have taken place, I was told by an old gamekeeper about an event long ago when each competitor placed a £5 note under a brick (to stop it blowing away) and then in turn shot at a flying glass ball. If he missed, he would drop out and the ones who hit the target would continue to the next round, having each placed another £5 note under the brick. The last one to break a target would win all the money under the brick and it would be a considerable amount as one can imagine. My friend related that the brick was ‘wobbling’ on top of all the £5 notes. It would have been a great village event watching the Gentlemen Gamblers of the area competing in this way. The advice was to either drop out early or WIN! Another story I have heard is of a ruined bothy up Balquhidder Glen where a musket ball lodged in the wooden lintel over the

From top: Shot and powder flasks, black gunpowder, percussion caps, capper and wadding for a muzzle-loading shotgun; glass target balls; Sporting Days of Yesteryear; powder tin.

door. Now if that dram by the fireside is doing its trick what a story we could put to that? Was it from a Redcoat musket fired in anger or just a bit of target practice? We shall never know, shall we? 9

McLaren High School News

by Yvonne King Junior Ski Course In January a group of 30 pupils from S1, S2 and S3 set off for the annual Junior Ski Course. As in previous years, this was a combined venture together with 20 pupils and staff from Wallace High School. The Dolomite resort of Civetta was again a popular choice not only for its character and quietness but also for the progressions and variety in the ski runs. With an early start on the Monday morning it was a short walk to have the ski fit before taking the gondola up the mountain for lessons with the Italian Ski School. The snow was in good condition and with the weather favourable it wasn’t long before every group was able to explore the different ski runs. It was amazing how quickly everyone progressed. This was most obvious in the ‘beginner’ groups who, by Wednesday, were able to access the whole ski area opening up the vast rugged Dolomite scenery that is nothing less than spectacular. Meanwhile the ‘hotshots’ were buzzing down the more challenging black runs, trying to persuade the accompanying teachers to take on an ‘easy jump’! Lunch was served in a mountain restaurant where, every day, there was an excellent choice of hot pasta dishes. Daily skiing ended around 4.00pm followed by ‘chill out’ time before dinner at 7.30pm. Evening entertainment in the hotel included a film night and quiz. Good things always seem to come to an end and on taking off from Milan thoughts were maybe just turning to ‘school next day’ or even ‘next year’s ski course’! Public Speaking and Debating Congratulations to Lottie Mallin Martin and Samantha Boyle (both S3) for a marvellous performance in the IBM Sponsored Speaking Competition ‘The Importance of European Languages’. Lottie and Samantha were commended for their professional delivery and proficiency in French and Spanish respectively. Lottie Mallin Martin and Angus Waite S6 produced an inspired performance in The Law Society Quarter Finals Debate against Craigmount High. Only one school proceeds to the Semi-Finals and on this occasion Edinburgh Academy were the chosen team. Both Ms Cunningham and Mrs Marshall would like to thank Lottie, Angus and William Vernon S6 for their outstanding commitment to the competition. We were extremely proud of them. Under-16 Rugby On 31 January we played Balfron High under lights at Stirling County for a place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup/ Bowl competition. The match turned out to be a keenly contested affair with some 10

Above and Right: Ski Course; Below: Rugby and Cross Country; Below Right: Tam O’Shanter

great tackling from both sides and no end of excitement. After a great start we conceded an unconverted try after only 15 minutes but the boys fought back and gained a penalty 10 metres out which captain Adam Wood chose to run at the Balfron defence and scored close to the posts. Harry Milligan converted for McLaren to lead 7-5 at half time. The second half saw us extend our lead after Angus Leishman picked up from the back of a ruck and scored in the corner. Balfron fought back and 5 minutes later levelled the score. With only 10 minutes to go McLaren gained a free kick for a scrum infringement but after some talking back to the referee it was changed to a penalty which Harry Milligan converted to give us the lead again. Balfron fought hard to get back on terms but some superb tackling from McLaren held them at bay and we won 15-12. McLaren now progress to the Quarter-Finals against Morrisons Academy. Cross Country Championships 36 pupils from McLaren High School took part in the Stirling Schools Cross Country

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Championships on 3 February at Stirling. All the pupils did very well and we had an excellent team ethos. Jane Brisbane came 3rd in the S2 race and 8 of our pupils made it through to the Forth Valley Schools Championship. Tam O’Shanter Hopscotch Theatre Company visited McLaren High School on Thursday 3 February, providing S1 with a truly memorable dramatic performance of Tam O’Shanter. The actors were delighted by the lively audience participation! Here is some pupil feedback: ‘My favourite moment in the Tam O’Shanter performance was when we got to go up and perform some of the scenes. I liked this because it made me feel like I was involved. I also liked the facial expressions they made because they were so good and so funny.’ Duncan Hendry S1, Balquhidder ‘My favourite parts in the Tam O’Shanter play were the hilarious facial expressions portrayed by the male actor, and the actress doing an impression of Kate, Tam’s wife. I also loved the ability of two actors to convey so many parts and personalities.’ Bryony Semple S1 McLaren High School PTA McLaren High School PTA would like to extend huge thanks to all the local businesses in and around Callander and also to Killin Co-Op who generously donated prizes towards our Christmas hamper. Thanks also to everyone who supported this event by buying raffle tickets and congratulations to our winners.

The Braes o’ Bowhether from John Hamilton’s 24 Scots Songs published by Watlen in Edinburgh in 1796 (Author unknown) Now the day’s growin’ lang lass, An’ sweet shines the weather, An’ we’ll owre a’ the hills, To the Braes o’ Bowhether. Amang the Glens an’ Rashy dens, I’ll prize thee without measure, Within my arms, wi’ a’ thy charms, I’ll clasp my lovely treasure, In sweetest Love, our time will move, Wi’ mair than earthly pleasure; By the little limpid streams, On the Braes o’ Bowhether.

Textile Workshops Do you need a new home in Lochearnhead, Strathyre, Killin or Callander? If so,

Rural Stirling Housing Association may be able to help

The Association’s aim is to support rural communities by providing affordable good quality homes for people in housing need. We currently have 450 rented homes and around 30 of these become available for re-let each year. We also build some new homes each year. For more details and a housing application form contact us at: Rural Stirling Housing Association Stirling Road, Doune FK16 6AA Telephone 01786 841101 Email Registered as a Scottish Charity No. SCO37849

Morag Lloyds is a part time lecturer with Forth Valley college and is about to start teaching workshops and classes privately. Morag is wondering if there would be an interest in textile workshops in Balquhidder, taught as full day workshops at the weekends and possibly leading to classes each week, covering nunno felting, wet felting using merino and prefelt wools, needlefelting, batik and other textile techniques from making wall hangings to bags to jewellery to toys, even clothing for the more advanced. If you would be interested and would like you know more please email

An’ I’ll ay loe thee dearly, Ilk day wes’ forgather, Syne we’ll row on the fog, By the Braes o’ Bowhether; To Pipe or Flute, when time will suit, We’ll dance like ony feather, An’, skip the knowes where Claver grows, Or stray amang the Heather; Ay free frae strife in sic a life, There, weary shall we never, By the limpid little streams, On the Braes o’ Bowhether. Note: Balquidder, a glen and village in Southern Perthshire, has always had many variant spellings, including Balquither, Balwhither, Bowhether etc. (‘Balquhidder’ is obviously a modern Anglicisation of the Gaelic, since the letter Q does not occur in that language) - ‘Balwhither’ seems to be the correct and/or most traditional pronunciation.

Please note that we encourage all applicants to also apply to Stirling Council’s housing list (Tel 0845 277 7000) Being on both lists is the best way to maximise your chances of being re-housed.


Strathyre Primary School News Curling Neil, from Active Learning, came out to teach P4-P7 the basics of Curling. This was held in Lochearnhead Hall and the stones used were round discs with ballbearing wheels. The pupils learned how to hold the stones and how to throw/deliver them. This was a fun session and it will be followed up in March. A great way to learn a great sport. Cross Country On Wednesday 2 February nine pupils from P6 and P7 went to Stirling Rugby Club to take part in the annual Cross Country Race. There were 4 categories: P6 Boys, P6 Girls, P7 Boys and P7 Girls, with around 120 competitors in each category. The children had to run a mile round the rugby pitches. It was a very wet and cold day, the mud was ankle deep in some parts of the course but this didn’t put any of the children off. They all excelled themselves. Jamie Nixon came 6th and Dan Hesp was 22nd. Jamie has been invited to the next race which is on 3 March in Alloa where he will be competing with the top runners from the Forth Valley Area. We all wish Jamie Good Luck. Rhoda Keenan Top: Neil demonstrates; middle left: Madeleine getting the technique just right; centre: Dan (left) and fellow competitor in the Cross Country; right: Iona picking up speed; bottom: receiving certificates.

Good Food - and a warm welcome awaits all. Our exciting new kitchen team will be cooking the best locally sourced produce to ensure our winter menu has something for everyone. To make a reservation and enquire about our free transport service contact George at the Kings House. Reservations Tel: 01877 384 646 Fax: 01877 384716 email: 12

Continuing Rusty McD’s feature - a 5-minute interview with someone in our community - and their chosen furry, feathered or scaly friends!

5 minutes with...

Eoin Campbell and his terriers Here and Come-on Interview by Rusty McD.

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 http://www. a m b l e r s . h t m in the Ben Ledi View and on posters around Callander. New Members and guests are always welcome. MARCH • Wed 2nd 9:30am Stroll - Samson’s Putting Stone (4.5 miles) Anne Petrie 01786 850626 • Sat 19th 8:30am Ramble - Brig O’Turk & Trossachs Viewpoint (7 miles) Keith Niven 01877 376200 • Sat 26th 8:30am Hill - Innerdouny Hill (497m) Rob Smallman 01786 825877

Q: How long have you lived in Strathyre/ what made you come “here” (excuse the pun)? E: I was in Stank as a forestry keeper in 1971, moved to Auchtubh, Balquhidder in 1972 where I lodged with Peggy Perks at the Old Post Office (house no longer there). The lodgings were £5.00 per week. I joined the forestry commission timber squad in 1972, Sheila and I got married in 1973 and moved into Keip Road, Strathyre in May 1973. There were over 20 Forestry houses in Strathyre and every house had a forestry commission employee in it. When we moved in the rent was £1.87 a week - you got the rent taken off you weekly. When we were young, there were about 20 kids running around in our area - no kids now - just us old fuddie duddies!! Q: can you tell me some more about life in Strathyre? E: When I was in the Forestry, all the old boys I worked with had been in the war. On wet days we used to have a hap as a portable shelter that we used to retreat to when it rained. Then the old war stories used to start! To make sure everybody told the truth there was Hans who was German and a prisoner of war who never went home. When the blood

and guts stories came out, Hans always had his version of events! Old Jimmy Dewar lived next door at number 10. He was on the tanks in the war and got shot just after D-day. Every so often when he had a bath a bit of shrapnel came out which he duly put in his matchbox for us forestry workers to inspect the next day. Q: What do you like best about Strathyre and what is maybe not so good? E: Down where we stay we know everybody and it is nice and peaceful. I hate the litter that a minority of campers/ daytrippers/ fishermen etc leave behind. Q: Here and Come-on are unusual names for dogs - tell me more! E: When our Jack Russell Stumpy suddenly died, life was just not the same without a dog. My friend Doug Lambie bred Here (then named Tilly) and gave her to his mother in Taynuilt but they were having trouble with her stealing flowers from the graveyard... They reckoned what the dog really wanted to do was work and so Here got a transfer to Strathyre. When I was shouting Tilly, she just ignored me but the minute I shouted “Here” she came to me. I just thought AHA! from now on your name is Here and she has always come to that. Then she had her pups of

which we kept one. And if you already have a dog called “Here” you just got to call the other “Come-on” - what else would you do?! Both dogs are working terriers as well as house dogs. Come-on loves watching TV - but charges in temper at the tele when the Dog Whisperer comes on. Both dogs are great characters and we thoroughly enjoy having them around. Q: This interview has been most entertaining and very interesting. Now! Who would you like next to be interviewed for “5 minutes with...”? E: Colin McGregor (born and bred in Lochearnhead) and his dog Rusty. 13


Volunteers to spring clean Scotland.

Tullybannocher Café We are opening on 11 March 10.30am.

There is now a ceramic painting area! Anyone can come along and paint something, prices start from £3.50.

March Events Thursday 17 March Painting Night 6.00pm. Large votive-£12 Wine cooler-£23 Prices include coffee and a cake. Please phone to book a place on 01764 670333 Friday 18 March Jazz Night with Gus Ferguson’s Jazz Men. Tickets £19 include a buffet. Doors open at 7.15pm Music starts at 8.00pm Please phone to book on 01764 670333 Friday 25 March Ladies Night Skin demo, taster sessions of assorted massage, threading, waxing, make-up. All girlie fun. Tickets £7.50 include cheese and wine. Please phone to book a place on 01764 670333

Scotland’s biggest annual litter clean up is back and Keep Scotland Tidy needs your help! So if you are looking for a volunteering opportunity, round up some school mates, friends or colleagues, choose a location and sign up to join thousands of others picking up litter to clean up Scotland - it couldn’t be easier. Since 2007, almost 200,000 people have taken part in over 3,000 events over the month of April, collecting enough rubbish to fill 86,413 wheelie bins! Now, as National Spring Clean celebrates its 5th birthday, the campaign period has been extended so that volunteers can also carry out litter picks in the last two weeks of March and the first two of May, and already there are almost 12,000 volunteers signed up to spring clean 161 areas of Scotland. Keep Scotland Tidy is calling out to all of you who hate litter and would like to do something positive to improve your corner of the community - we need you to do your bit and help make this the biggest and best clean up event ever. It couldn’t be easier to take part in National Spring Clean 2011. All that volunteers need to do is visit www.keepscotlandtidy. org/springclean and register. A free cleanup kit - containing everything you need to spruce up your local area, including black sacks, clear sacks for recyclable materials, tabards and information to support your event - will then be sent to you. Answers to last month’s Proverbial Puzzle Many hands make light work Pride comes before a fall Look before you leap A stitch in time saves nine Too many cooks spoil the broth Money is the root of all evil A fool and his money are soon parted Blood is thicker than water Jack of all trades, master of none No smoke without fire Once seen, never forgotten Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me Two heads are better than one The end justifies the means


6 Cross Street, Callander Tel: 01877 331417 Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Stone Therapy, Facials, Indian Head Massage, Spray Tan, Waxing, Nail Extensions, Manicures, Electrolysis, Tanning Booth, Make-up, Permalase. Monday-Saturday OAP Special on Wednesdays GIFT VOUCHERS

This once-in-a-decade survey gives a snapshot of the nation and how people live in each community. How many people are there in Scotland? What kind of homes do they live in? How healthy are they? What languages do they speak? Answers to questions like these are used to plan how billions of pounds’ worth of public services such as health, education, transport and housing are delivered.

By law, personal census information is kept confidential for 100 years. The statistical information - which has all personal details removed - helps inform government, local authorities, public sector organisations and businesses

about the services and resources Scotland and its communities need. Every household will receive a questionnaire asking 13 questions about the household and up to 35 questions about each household member. Topics include work, education, national identity, ethnic background, language, health and marital status. It is important that everyone is counted.

Strathyre Playpark Campaign Robinson’s Footshoot are currently sponsoring a campaign to renovate children’s playparks and we wish to take part in order to improve the existing playpark in Strathyre. The winning participants will receive a bursary of up to £15,000 so this is a great opportunity for our village. Please help us by registering and leaving your comments at: h t t p : / / w w w. r e a d y f o r t e n . c o m / parents-for-playgrounds/1/stages/1/ candidates/801 Thanks for your support.


Rangers’ Review By Graeme Auty

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

our data and advise on our next steps and the places that might potentially be our core dark sky areas. For more Information on Dark Skies have look at and www.

Site improvements

Starry starry night……

The National Park Authority is considering applying to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for a Dark Skies award and would potentially become the first Dark Sky Reserve in the UK. Under the dark skies of the national park we can see over 1,000 stars and can even see our own galaxy, the Milky Way, stretching across the sky. However, it is estimated that up to 80% of the UK’s population will never see true darkness due to light pollution where they live. From a city centre location you might only see as few as 100 stars with the naked eye. Forestry Commission land at Galloway Forest Park has recently been named the UK’s first International Dark Sky Park, only the fourth in the world. Joanne Bleach and Sara Melville, from our Landscape team, visited Galloway recently to find out more about how they met the criteria for their Dark Skies application. Galloway Forest Park’s aims are to preserve their dark sky, reduce energy bills, improve outdoor lighting, promote the Dark Sky Park and boost tourism. The Dark Skies application requires ratings from sky quality meters (SQM), pictures taken by a fish eye lens and street light audits. Over the next couple of months I will be collecting this information along with other park rangers whilst we are out and about in the area carrying out our visitor management late shifts. The UK Co-ordinator from ‘Beyond the International Year of Astronomy’, who is helping with the process, will review

Tree inspection surveys have recently been carried out at all of the National Park Authority owned sites. During the survey process it soon became clear there was a need to carry out tree surgery or tree felling works on seventeen of our sites. During these surveys a total of seven trees at Loch Lubnaig have been identified as posing a hazard to the public due to their proximity to paths, car parks or picnic sites. Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission and internal Park staff have all been consulted and a work programme with all necessary licences and approvals is currently being put together for this essential work to be undertaken in March. The trees have already been surveyed for bat roosts and none were found, however those which do show signs of possible use by bats will be surveyed again before any works are undertaken. This work follows several improvements already carried out by Park staff and contractors to upgrade car park facilities owned or managed by the Park authority. These improvement works have included extending and strengthening the rock barriers around car parks at Loch Lubnaig and Loch Venachar as well as resurfacing works to improve access and parking, in readiness for the increase in visitors to the area during the coming spring and summer months. As usual, if we are working at the Lochearnhead Office, please feel free to drop in, or to call Gareth or me if you have any queries, wildlife sightings or just for a catch up. Gareth is in most days but I am only part time and am on duty Thursdays and Fridays. You can call me on 01389 722115 or on my mobile 07764371700 or alternatively you can email me on or Gareth at gareth.kett@

Violence at home and barriers faced by ethnic minority women and children Friday 11 March 9.30am -1.00pm Forth Valley College Falkirk Campus Grangemouth Road Falkirk This FREE seminar will explore particular issues of violence and domestic abuse faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) women and children, and women from other migrant communities. These include – Forced Marriage; Honour Violence; FGM; No Recourse to Public Funds. This innovative event will explore and explain how these and other cultural issues are part of the Violence against Women agenda in Scotland, and will explore what we can do to work towards the elimination of such violence against women and children in Forth Valley. The seminar will feature a short drama performance by Shabana Bakhsh (Of BBC’s Waterloo Road and River City). Contributions to this interesting seminar will be made from Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid, the UK Forced Marriage Unit and the Dignity Alert Research Forum (DARF). The seminar will open at 9.30am and close with lunch (provided free) at 1.00pm.

Talks Programme Winter 2010/11

Who should attend? Anyone involved in service delivery Anyone concerned with the issue of violence against women Any interested member of the public How do I register? By e-mail – contact Alicia.kirkwood@ Or just come along on the day!

All meetings are open to members and non-members and are held on the first Tuesday of each month in St Andrew’s Church Hall, Leny Road, Callander at 7:30pm. Cost £2 includes tea/coffee and biscuits.

Please note – due to the nature of discussion material, this event is for those 16 years and above.

Scottish Wildlife Trust, Callander Member’s Centre

Tuesday 5 April 2011, 7:30pm The uses and folklore of some local wild plants - herbal remedies, fairies and witches Dr John Holland, SAC Hill & Mountain Research Centre, Kirkton

Do come along and join us in learning more about what is around us in this fabulous part of the world. More details on the organisation can be found at 16


This event is supported by partners across Forth Valley including Falkirk Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, Forth Valley College, Central Scotland Police.

Enjoying wonderful views over Loch Earn and the surrounding countryside

FOR SALE Small double sofa bed, as new. Oatmeal coloured fabric. 3-part folding metal bed frame. £200 Phone 01877 384687

The hotel is family run with ten en suite bedrooms, lounge bar, restaurant and residents’ lounge. Relax in the bar, take in the stunning views from our terrace and enjoy your drink or bar meal. For something that little bit more special try our menu in the Lochview Restaurant.

Reservations - Tel: 01567 830229 Fax: 01567 830364

email: Our Dominoes Night at the Lochearnhead Hotel on 19 February was busy and very enjoyable. The winners were Mr A Barnard for the adults and Master Hamish Cameron for the children.

Margaret Mobile Hairdresser will be available for appointments on selected days at Killin Cuts, Main Street, Killin 01567 820920 Starting early April

The Bistro Cafe

for arts and eats

An exhibition space has opened at The Inn and Bistro, Strathyre. Local crafts people will be displaying artisan products ranging from earrings to foot-stools and everything in between. Open at weekends from 10.00am – 4.00pm (with extending hours as the sunshine returns), breakfast rolls available ‘til 12 noon, teas, coffee, snacks and delicious cakes are on offer too. So if it’s just browsing, a coffee and a chill with the papers, or a unique gift for that special occasion, please come along and support our local talented locals. 17


Central Scotland Police

There when you need us

Bogus caller incident – Callander About 1.00 pm on 23 February a man pretending to work for the Council went to the home of a 77 year old woman who lives in Callander, claiming that he needed to turn off her water supply. Once he had gone, the woman noticed that her bedroom door had been opened and a three figure sum of cash had been taken. The man is described as having a soft Irish accent, aged between 28 to 30 years, of slim build, about 5’6” - 5’8”, with short black hair, clean shaven and with dark eyebrows. He was wearing dark blue trousers, possibly denim and a dark jacket which was open. Underneath the jacket he was wearing some sort of dark jumper or top, black shoes and black gloves. It is likely that there may have been an accomplice who, whilst the lady was being distracted, entered other rooms in search of valuables and money. Please be on your guard when you have workmen attending unannounced at your door. They should at least have identification to show you. If in doubt do not let them in. Contact the company or utilities firm they represent to confirm their identity. Make sure your front and back doors are locked even if you are at home. Do not give these people the opportunity to take advantage of you. BT Cable disappears into thin air During the day on Sunday 30 January a quantity of BT telephone cable was plucked from the air and stolen. The theft occurred just south of Strathyre next to the A84 where cable was removed from between several poles. The persons responsible are reported to have been seen acting suspiciously in and around Lochearnhead and Strathyre. I have 18

also discovered that some local residents even spoke with the men prior to the theft. From my enquiries and searching the various police data bases I have been able to identify a Ford Transit flatbed truck and three males who are from the North East of England. These men are of great interest to us with regards to this theft and other incidents throughout the force area. I have asked for assistance from colleagues in Durham Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police who also expressed an interest. Once again this incident highlights the distances people are prepared to travel to commit crime and how difficult it is for us to trace suspects if we are not called in promptly. Any delay is counter productive for us and assists the thieves. Thankfully one or two local residents have been contacting me with regards to suspicious incidents. I have been made aware of a white coloured Ford Transit panel van containing three males which was seen driving around the area of Auchraw Terrace, Lochearnhead in mid January. Once again I would urge everybody to contact the police if they see or hear of any suspicious incidents at the time or as soon as possible after the event. Consultation on the Future of Policing in Scotland. In January the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced his intention to consult on the options for the reform of the police service in Scotland. The Government is committed to improving services and the delivery of better outcomes at local and national levels, local engagement and accountability and the financial stability of Scotland’s police service. The consultation paper outlines three options for reform: 1. Retaining the eight forces with enhanced collaboration 2. A rationalised regional model 3. A single police force What is important is that the people of Scotland are aware of the options and that they can make their views known. The consultation paper and the details of how to respond can be found at www. I would urge everybody to look at this report because once a decision has been made there will be no turning back. Roadside Operation in Lochearnhead Motorists passing through Lochearnhead on Friday 11 February would have been aware of a lot of police activity at the roadside. In line with my PACT (Police and Community Together) priorities, I carried out a joint initiative with PC’s Iona Frickleton and Andy Fleming from Killin on VOSA Vehicle Inspectorate. This resulted in three immediate

Prohibition Notices being issued, along with numerous warnings for a variety of defects. Eight Vehicle Defect Rectifications and one Fixed Penalty were also issued to drivers. During the three hour operation about thirty motorists were stopped and spoken to at the roadside. This type of operation requires a considerable amount of policing but while we continue to identify drivers who are using vehicles which are in a dangerous condition we will continue to carry out these operations. PC Andrew Ward 01786 456 000

World Book Night Saturday 5 March is World Book Night when the organisers are hoping to give away a million books throughout Britain. Potential givers had to volunteer by choosing one of the 50 chosen titles, write about why it is a good read and finally give a short account of the people who would be given copies. This seemed too good to miss (or another of my good ideas!) so I applied. Rather to my surprise I was chosen and have 50 copies of a novel by CJ Sansom to give away. I am hoping that these might be the start of a Book Club which various people are encouraging me to try to organise, so if you would like a free book and/or be interested in chatting about books, perhaps over a glass of wine, please get in touch sometime. Leave a message and I will get back to you! Jill Johnston 01877 384 227

Lochearnhead Village Hall


Tuesday 15 March 7.30pm in the hall Everyone welcome Wonderful News

The Lochearnhead Village Hall committee is really pleased to tell you that, thanks to your continued support for our functions, we will be able to do the much needed work on the hall floor and replace our hall heaters. This work will take place during the summer holidays when there are no groups using the hall. If you are planning a function and think you will want to hire the hall during the summer, please contact Ollie on 830268 as soon as possible so that we can make plans around private hires. Thank you again for your support. George Weir Chair

Farm Forum: Silly Sheep? You may remember that in last month’s epistle I mentioned the Oxford Conference and the statement from the Rural Affairs Westminster Government Minister, Caroline Spelman, that she wished to see an end to the Single Farm Payment in the ongoing CAP negotiations. Needless to say this drew a very rapid response from those who understand the industry including the Scottish, Irish and Welsh governments. However, since then her side kicks are reported to be backtracking for her as fast as they can run. The Scottish Secretary (Westminster appointed) went to great lengths last week to tell us that she did not mean what she said, although he apparently omitted to say what she actually did mean! You may have noticed that there has been a considerable furore in England about the same woman’s statements about selling off (privatising) Forestry Commission woodland in England. This has engendered so much opposition from umpteen organisations that she had to stand up in Parliament and admit she had made a mistake and call the whole thing off, and indeed say sorry. There is a saying about putting someone out to grass, perhaps woodland would be more appropriate in her case! Maybe the Prime Minister will eventually consider she is a bit of a liability but that just might be construed as the pot calling the kettle black! Wouldn’t it be great if as many organisations spoke out to support the farming industry, which after all supplies their food, but also maintains the mountains and hills of this country that are enjoyed for recreation by growing masses of people. You only have to look at what has happened to land that has been deprived of animals. In many cases it has reverted to scrub that is impossible to walk through and I would suggest the same scrub has smothered much of the flora we want to protect! Just think – Caroline Spelman might have to get up in Parliament and say sorry again. On second thoughts that is probably wishful thinking! Now for this month’s “piece de resistance”! Scientists at Cambridge University have revealed that their research shows that sheep are far more intelligent than they have been given credit for. The results suggest that sheep have the brainpower to equal rodents, monkeys and in some tests even humans. Why does that last one not surprise me? Sheep apparently have relatively advanced learning capabilities, are adaptable, can map out their surroundings mentally and may

even be able to plan ahead. The planning ahead bit is perhaps where they steal a march on politicians. Anyone who has ever gathered sheep on the open hill can vouch for their planning ability and their ability to hide on the rocky ledge that stood them in good stead last time! The scientists do not seem to realise that sheep farming in the highlands, where there are often no boundary fences, depends to a large extent on the “hefting” instinct of a sheep. For example if you take all the sheep on a large hill farm back to the homestead, mix them up and let them go – within a remarkably short time they will find their way back to their home ground in their family groups. The scientists have also come up with another earth shattering discovery – “they seem to be able to recognise people and respond when you call their names.” I am not sure but I think the scientists are referring to sheep there and not humans. Another incredible discovery the scientists have made is that if you take yellow and green buckets and only put food in buckets of one colour, after seven visits the sheep realise that they will only find food in those buckets. They probably do it in far less than seven visits but are just checking to see if the scientists have made a mistake! I do not question the ultimate purpose for this research, indeed it is invaluable and lifesaving, but I do feel that the whole process could be short circuited by consulting practical people in whatever field they are researching at an early stage. Professor Morton does say that she did not expect sheep to be so amenable to testing as they are very silly animals when in a group – she wants to try a demonstration in London or some other big city! Agricola


View from the Park by Owen McKee It must be Spring for change is in the air. Although Mike Cantlay will remain with the Authority for another week or two we have now elected Linda McKay as Convener, with Craig McLachlan as Vice Convener and the changes didn’t stop there as it was necessary to elect the chairs of various committees. The new team sees me as Chair of the Planning and Access Committee, Lindsay Morrison as Chair of Audit and Colin Bayes as Chair of the Delivery Group. These appointments all came into effect on 1st March and I am confident that the new team will prove productive. Another change is on the way. Last week we had the inaugural meeting of the Five Lochs Management Group when we got together representatives from the community councils of the areas covering the five lochs in question viz; Lochs Venachar, Lubnaig ,Voil, Doine and Earn with the task of controlling activity around these lochs for the benefit of both the local communities and our visitors. This exercise will be community driven with encouragement being given to all the agencies to help find solutions

to the very real problems that exist. The meeting was in agreement that the two major problems were the lack of infrastructure and a co-ordinated litter strategy. It was recognised that this was a medium to long term task but that some early actions could be taken to ease the problem with every effort being made to get agreement on the litter problem between the two councils - Perth & Kinross and Stirling. Early attention to instructive signage was also seen as a priority. Work has already started and meetings are being arranged with private estate owners to see how we can all get together for our mutual benefit. And so to Planning. Yes the Local Plan process is a long drawn out affair. The Reporter’s Office has started the examination of the Finalised Draft Local Plan and will begin with a Public Hearing on the Housing Strategy at a meeting in Gartocharn on 5 and 6 April. Invited to that meeting will be all those who made written submissions on Housing Policy during the Local Plan consultation but anyone who so wishes can come along and listen. Since Housing was the major source of objections it is not surprising that it is the first to warrant a public

hearing. Ever the optimist and in the knowledge that there were no other major objections, I am hopeful that we are nearing the end of the process. The appeal against the refusal of Planning Permission for the Connonish Goldmine is progressing but at the same time discussions are ongoing on an amended planning application. Owen McKee As always I can be contacted as follows: Post: Taigh Na Bhuth, Lochearnhead. Phone: 01567 830214


Greetings Cards ~ Stationery Films and Batteries Hot & Cold Drinks ~ Confectionery ~ Ice Cream Lochearnhead Souvenirs ~ Children’s Toys Signed books by Local Authors

~ ~ ~

POST OFFICE & SHOP HOURS Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri 0900 - 1730 Wednesday 0900 - 1300 Saturday 0900 - 1230 Sunday Closed Post Office Post Box Collection Times: Morning - 12 noon Afternoon - 1600 (Except Saturday) Sunday - No Collection Telephone: 01567 830 201

Lochearnhead Post Office will be closed on 24 March for the official audit and transfer. The Villagers will say a proper Farewell to Cathie and Richard and Welcome to the new Cathy in next month’s issue. 20

From Our Beijing Correspondents... Whoops; missed last month’s edition - too busy travelling and having fun! Anyway, since our first update, we have been around Beijing a lot more, as Duncan has had to knuckle down and do some real work, including a visit from the Chief of the General Staff, who met with all sorts of Chinese military VIPs, which required lots of preparation, whilst Tania continues to be very busy choosing dresses for evening functions and playing mahjong! We have got to know people from all over the world and have made good friends from countries as diverse as Croatia, Israel and India. Playing the Great Game in China is everything that we thought it would be. Work also took us to Mongolia, where Duncan is also the Defence Attaché. Ulaan Baatar is an extraordinary place; it has the reputation of being the ugliest capital city in the world, but we actually quite liked it! A sort of Wild West mining town dropped in the middle of the high Mongolian plateau, and then covered in snow (it was -23 degrees when we were there). You keep on expecting drunken cowboys to be thrown out of saloon bar doors (actually, they just drive the taxis), and to see the sheriff riding by. The food is different too; Tania ordered the traditional dish ... curdled milk soup... in one restaurant, which we determinedly managed to finish by holding our noses!

Beijing is almost exactly the opposite of Balquhidder in so many ways; it never rains (in seven months!) and the air is quite polluted, although not as bad as we were led to believe. There are far too many people, and there is no green anywhere in Winter. But we still enjoy it hugely; there is so much to do. And there is still travel; next month, we will tell you about our time in Laos, and why Tania wants to buy an elephant.

Duncan and Tania P.S. Amber and Richard are very happy at their Universities and visited us here for Christmas and the New Year (UK, not Chinese).

Stuc a’Chroin Hill Race The annual

Stuc a’Chroin Hill Race will be held this year on

Saturday 30 April

followed by the ceilidh in Strathyre village hall. If you are interested in helping or being a marshall please contact:

Catriona MacGeoch on 07824 446 024 or Graeme Courtney on 01877 384 788



We’ll send you or your friends ‘The Villagers’ £10.50 for 11 monthly issues (£19.50 for Europe and £25.00 for the rest of the world). All you need to do is to post the completed form to: BLS NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION, Tom-Na-Dair 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................................ 22


H All advertising must be paid up before publication can proceed. Discount adverts placed for 6 months must also be renewed on time and any which are in arrears will be removed and a space left until payment is received.




The Villagers’ Contacts

Weekly & Monthly Activities Monday

BLS Lunch Club, Lochearnhead Scout Station - 12.30-2.00pm


Keep Fit, Lochearnhead Hall - 10.30 - 11.30am Music Circle, Sandison Hall, St Fillans - 1.00pm - 4.00 pm Scottish Country Dancing, Strathyre Hall - 8.00pm

Wednesday Thursday Friday

BLS Newspaper Association Tom-na-Dhair, Balquhidder Lochearnhead FK19 8PB Email:

Carpet Bowls, Lochearnhead Hall - 7.30 for 8.00pm

Upholstery, Lochearnhead Hall - 10.00am - 1.00pm Youth Club, Lochearnhead Hall - 7.00pm - 9.00pm

Playgroup, Lochearnhead Hall - 10.00am - 12noon Ballroom Dancing, Lochearnhead Hall - 7.00pm - 9.00pm

MARCH 9 - 12 Hello Dolly - Callander Amateur Operatic Society - McLaren High School, Callander. 11 Home Sweet Home Seminar 9.30am -1.00pm see p.16 15 Lochearnhead Village Hall AGM - 7.30pm 18 Big Red Nose Village Quiz 8.00pm prompt - see p.8 27 Roseneathe Singers - Dunblane Cathedral - 7.00pm - St Matthew Passion - see p.6

APRIL 5 Scottish Wildlife Trust meeting in St Andrews Church Hall - 7.30pm Talk by Dr John Holland: “The uses and folklore of some local wild plants.” 9/10 Scottish Aeromodellers Splash-in at Loch Earn.

Situations Vacant An opportunity to work with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Community Partnership. There will be TWO NEW part time posts available soon. Details and application information are posted on the website

The deadline date for copy each month this year is the 24th. Please help us to get The Villagers to you on time!

The Villagers’ Photographer

Alistair Barclay is available to attend village functions and take photos if contacted in plenty of time. CDs of photos are also for sale. Please phone him on 01567 830453

All cheques for advertising or mail order subscriptions must be made out to ‘The BLS Newspaper Association’

Editorial Team Editor: Marguerite Kobs 01877 384 215 ‘Kalinka’, Auchtubh, Balquhidder Lochearnhead FK19 8NZ Business Manager: John Stewart 01877 384 664 Production Manager: Gill Allan 01877 384 203 Advertising Co-ordinator and Photographer: Alistair Barclay 01567 830 453 Co-editor and Lochearnhead Contact: Ali Ferguson 01567 830 405 Strathyre Contact: Susan Revie 01877 384 306 St Fillans Contact: John Murray 01764 685 487 Mail Order Distribution: Hilda Astbury 01877 384 681

CHURCH SERVICES Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St. Fillans CHURCH OF SCOTLAND Balquhidder Parish Church Registered Charity No. SCO12316 Sunday 12 noon Minister: Rev John Lincoln The Manse, Killin Tel: 01567 820 247 Dundurn Church, St Fillans Sunday11.30am Minister: Rev Graham McWilliams Tel: 01764 671 045

ROMAN CATHOLIC Callander, St Joseph the Worker Sunday 11.30am Killin, at the Episcopalian Church Sunday 2.30pm Father Jim McCruden 2 Ancaster Square, Callander Tel: 01877 330 702

SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH St Angus’s Church, Lochearnhead First and third Sundays of the month: Holy Communion at 11.15am. Second and fourth Sundays of the month: Evensong at 6.00pm Fifth Sunday of the month: please see church noticeboard. Vestry Secretary - Mary Barclay Tel: 01567 830453


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

The Villagers March 2011  

Events, holiday accommodation, news, village life, stories, whats on, where to eat, weddings, gardening, music, wildlife, stories from the p...