The Voice of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre & St Fillans
Editor’s Bit A few thanks are in order to start off 2015. The first is to the three councillors who agreed to reveal more about their busy lives than just the usual names on the back page. I am sure some of you will have contacted them in their professional capacity and all three mentioned that being able to assist local people is one thing that does give them satisfaction in their roles. Interestingly all three independently mentioned how they feel they do work together well to try and promote concerns for our rural areas. The second thanks are to Ron, Maggie and Chris in Strathyre who are still speaking to me after I missed their New Year Dance in November and then put the wrong year and band in December! Fortunately they did say it was very good publicity as everyone in the village was talking about it. Many apologies. Thanks also go to Helen Clark who has been in charge of the finances for three years but this year’s accounts will be her last as she escapes on maternity leave! This leads neatly to the plea for lots of you to come to the AGM on the 11th at Mhor 84 and volunteer any help and expertise you can offer. David has been responsible for the production side of this issue as Gill has not been well but probably trying to do that, advertising, taking over from Helen, distribution and being the husband of the editor might be too much - and I would rather like him to continue in the last role.
The following readings were taken at ‘Bramlings’, Auchtubh, Balquhidder for the month of December Average - max 42F 5.2C Average - min 32.2F 0.1C Rainfall - 163mm 16.3cm 6.5ins Strongest Wind gust 52mph on Dec 10 (Above figures up to 29th Dec only.)
The St Fillans Bit bt John Murray Sadly I have to open this first column of 2015 by noting the passing of another villager. Jamie Bissett, son of Jim and Margot, tragically succumbed to a seizure at the age of just 32 on Christmas Eve 2014. A terrible blow to Jim and Margot and to fiancé Sarah. Jamie was born in Kirkcaldy and moved with the Bissetts to St Fillans in 1992. He attended the village primary school before moving on to Crieff High School and thence to Perth College where he obtained a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. Many will remember his always cheery face during the times that he took appropriate holiday employment working in The Drummond Arms (as it was then). After graduating Jamie worked in various roles in the hotel trade before attaining the position of Restaurant Manager at the prestigious Murray’s Hall Hotel. Tiring of the relentless hours and pressures of hotel life (I’ve been there) he decided on a change of course and was living in Perth with Sarah and working on a new career in Caring at the time of his death. He was an eBay addict – buying and selling countless items – with considerable success at one time in selling Chinese Dog Coats! That is dog coats made in China not coats for Chinese dogs. Jamie’s funeral was held in Leven and there was a very moving turnout of villagers along the route through St Fillans and in force at The Field of Hope to pay respects as the cortege passed on its way. Sometimes even us atheists wonder about a higher power and during the Service a poem was recited which included the line “look for me in rainbows”. As the mourners left the service they were confronted by a full rainbow across the sky. Incredible. Jim & Margot want me to extend their thanks to all who sent cards, flowers and gave support at this most difficult time and to all those who turned out to say farewell in the village and who attended the funeral. Many will remember Alec Thomson who, with wife Hilary, ran the village shop way back in the 90’s. Sadly again I heard last week that Alec had passed away in Edinburgh. Alec was amongst the first folk I met when I moved to St Fillans in 1991 and we became good friends. He was very active in organising and supporting village events and was Chair of the Community Council for (I think) three years. In those days I was a dedicated smoker and it was not
unusual for me to get into a panic at 9 p.m. when I only had 3 fags left and needed 2 for ‘breakfast’. To counter said panics Alec used to keep packets of fags in his flat above the shop and in response to pebbles thrown up at his window would throw a packet down. Real retail service. Happy memories. The more observant in the village will have noticed that STILL (or 10 foot man) the shining metal sculpture standing proud in the loch outside The Four Seasons did not survive the recent storms and now lies in Davey Jones’s Locker. Andrew and Mary are hopeful that when the weather calms and the level of the loch falls he can be recovered intact and resurrected to his full glory – possibly with heavier concrete wellies next time. The hotel reopens on 6th March at weekends for lunches, suppers, dinner & the Sunday Roast. Remember Mother’s Day Lunch on 15th March and the first Gourmet wine tasting dinner on 13th March. The consultation period for the National Park proposals for controlling inappropriate visitor use of the loch sides has finished and many of us look forward to seeing the results and how the consultation affects the draft proposals. Until very close to the deadline for input I gather the responses were pretty dire but did increase as
the deadline approached. I hear that there was strong representation from walking, rambling and camping groups who did not want any new restrictions on genuine wild campers and tourists looking to break their journey by the loch side. Neither do most of the folk I’ve spoken to locally. The secret will be in stopping the anti-social element whilst retaining the rights of roamers to roam. Interesting times lie ahead. Dates for the diaries. On Saturday 14th February there will be a Mr & Mrs Evening in the Sandison Hall – same format as the TV show but ‘starring’ real live local couples – a show, a glass of bubbly and a finger buffet for £5 a head! And a pay bar. Brilliant excuse not to spend a fortune taking ‘er indoors out for a meal on Valentine’s Day. Contact me to reserve a seat). Then on 18th February a Triple Bill!! For no entry fee at the Sandison you get the Hall AGM, The Trust AGM and even a Community Council Meeting. Just how exciting is that? No doubt there will be complimentary wine & nibbles afterwards. What other village gives you such a spectacular event. Write down the date. Hopefully all villagers are now aware that the new village web site www. stfillanscc.org.uk is up and running. A bit of a marathon getting there but Dogged Don kept at it. It is an excellent vehicle for letting villagers and visitors know what’s going on in St Fillans so if you are organising an event let Don know and he will update the site in moments. Geoff Hardman-Carter has put incredible efforts into the Paths programme in the past couple of
which Steve Howell as Chair of the CC presented to him at a gathering in the Sandison. Thanks to Nice for the photo. As a personal indulgence I want to say a wee goodbye here to a very wellknown village character and give him his moment of fame in print. Wee Corrie, our King Charles spaniel. Some 6 years ago an 18 month old Corrie had become ‘surplus to requirements’ at his previous home. Daisy wanted to take him in. I didn’t. I couldn’t see the point of a wee dog like that. Daisy won. It took mere weeks until he was an integral part of our lives and much loved by all (especially me!). Bone idle but such a character (the dog not me). He lived for meal times and knew exactly when to come and look up prettily for grub, even when the clocks changed. Alas his ticker never was very strong and after a steady degradation over recent
months we had to make the decision just after New Year. Much missed. After a flurry of activity at the Drummond with progress seemingly being made on the new brewery part of the business, all now appears to have stopped again. The bar was going to remain open over the Festive period but I gather the lass running it departed before Christmas so it closed and remains so at time of writing. Gerald, Boss of Arran Brewery, is a nice guy with big ideas but we can only wait and wonder if ever we shall see the hotel restored and open. It is a year since the new manager was promising 2 bars, 2 restaurants, and rooms ready for summer and so on. If you read this Gerald how about a realistic update for The Villagers? Finally my annual plea – for this column to exist I need input from villagers. Please let me know of upcoming events or of anything you would like to air in the magazine. And, by the way, A Good 2015 to anyone who has read this far. John Murray
years and it was good to see that effort rewarded on 30th November 2014. Paths For All is a partnership of organisations committed to supporting outdoor activities, particularly walking. They have been very helpful to our local Paths Group both financially and otherwise and through them our Paths Group nominated Geoff for Volunteer of the Year, awards given annually in various categories to outstanding individuals who have helped make a difference to their communities. The awards were presented at The Scottish Parliament and Geoff just missed out on the Volunteer of the Year award but was awarded a Certificate of Participation
Strathyre A F Golf Society. Annual November trip to Dornoch. This year Art Crammon took over from Joe La Piazza in organising the trip. Art made a great job of it, the only slight fault was his geography! We all got on the mini bus in Strathyre and ended up in Portugal! However being of strong stuff we all roughed it out wearing shorts and suffering temperatures in the 20s, and expensive beer at 1.5 euros a pint. It was typical Dornoch weather, it rained for at least 10 min one day. Two trophies were played for, The Dornoch won by Art Crammon (again) and The Ayrshire won by Tony Calvert. It was typical Dornoch weather, (rained for at least 10 min one day). Many thanks from all the lads Art a great trip (Joe just relax and enjoy) Looking forward to next year, who knows we might end up in China! Ron Milne
C&WP U3A Lunch The Revellers
a song from Phantom of the Opera, and for a 14 year old she was terrific. It was her first public gig and a great performance. Many thanks to everyone for making it such a great night and we are looking forward to next year. As the Band said Strathyre REALLY knows how to party!!. Ron and Maggie Milne.
The Tin Men
Callander & West Perthshire U3A We started off 2015 in style with a lunch for our members hosted by Callander Golf Club. It was a very pleasant, warm venue on a miserably wet day and after a delicious meal the tables competed with each other in a challenging quiz organised by John Champness, our Membership Secretary. Questions came thick and fast on a wide variety of subjects and heads were bowed in conference as answers were scribbled down. Winners and runners-up were justifiably pleased with their efforts and gratefully received their prizes. Barbara Legg, our Chairperson, proposed a vote of thanks to Fiona Martin who had organised the successful event and to the staff at Callander Golf Club for their excellent services. Courses are once again in full swing and anyone interested to find out more is welcome to look at our website. Just Google ‘Callander and West Perthshire U3A’.
The Mystery Tour Golfers
Strathyre Hogmany Dance. Once again most of Stathrye danced the night away in the Village Hall. It was a great night with “The Tin Men” playing and we were given a special treat thanks to 14 year old Gemma Gray. Gemma is Gary’s (The band’s singer) daughter and she sang
Real Ale - Real Music
Quiz Winners at the Lunch
Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Council Minutes of meeting held at the Inn at Strathyre on 14th January 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), Adrian Squires (AS), David Johnston (DJ), Susie Crammon (SC), Karen Methven (KM), Angus Cameron (AC) and Richard Eastland (RE). Apologies: Roseanne McWilliams (RM), Loraine Telfer (LT), Ruth McLusky (RMC), Cllr Alycia Hayes (AH) - Stirling Council (S-C). In attendance: PC Will Diamond (WD) - Police Scotland, Owen McKee (OM) - National Park. 1) Approval of Minutes It was proposed by AB and seconded by MM, that the minutes of the meeting on 10th December 2014 should be accepted, and this was approved unanimously. 2) Declarations of Interest No declarations were made. 3) Police Report Between 10th December 2014 and 13th January 2015, eight offences were reported. These included three assaults, all of which were detected. The remaining matters were all road traffic offences, including one drunk driver and a stolen vehicle, the driver of which was disqualified. There were no reported thefts during this period. Routine patrols were continued throughout the festive period, despite having to provide cover in the Callander area for officers who were off sick. 4) Matters Arising - 4a) Stroneslaney Road. PH stated that two distinct matters had now been identified: the question of providing better information signs at each end of the road, and the lack of street lighting in an area near the junction with the main A84 highway in Strathyre. Since the previous meeting, DJ had prepared some sample sheets of wording for consideration. These were discussed and generally met with approval, although the comment was made that brevity and clarity were paramount. There were questions regarding potential costs, and whether or not planning consent was required. OM confirmed that planning consent would definitely be required (from S-C). Regarding costs, AC stated that he was aware of a commercial company in Perth that provided good signs at very reasonable prices. It was decided that the CC should approach S-C with a view to obtaining detailed advice, planning consent, and possibly financial assistance with the placement of signs at each end of the road. DJ emphasised that the signs should indicate that they had been placed on the authority of the community council. Regarding the matter of street lighting, PH suggested that the best approach would be to write to the manager of Roads & Transport at S-C, requesting a review of the street lighting near this junction. However, after discussion, it was decided that additional lighting was not really necessary. It was also pointed out that the new (LED) street lights being installed were much brighter and more efficient than previous ones. Action: Apply to S-C for help in designing and placing road signs. 4b) Water Sports Centre, Lochearnhead. PH reported that the offending skip had been removed by Stirling Council. This news was welcomed. 4c) Road Conditions (A85 and Auchraw Terrace), Lochearnhead. PH reported that he had complained to Sean Clemie (Area Manager for Transport Scotland) regarding the condition of the A85. Mr Clemie had replied that some temporary patching work had been carried out by BEAR (the sub-contractors), but that they were planning to re-surface this stretch of road in March this year ñ weather permitting. PH had made a separate complaint to Stirling Council regarding the flooding in Auchraw Terrace and received a reply from Iain McDonald (Rural Team Leader). S-C has liaised with Scottish Water and a ìjetterî has been arranged with the intention of clearing the blockage or, at least, establishing the cause of the problem. This operation should take place in the near future. 4d) Venue for CC Meetings. PH reported that the next meeting would also be held at The Inn at Strathyre since larger numbers of interested people were expected then in connection with item 6 below. Owing to a shortage of suitable venues elsewhere, he then proposed that we should alternate our meetings in the winter months between The Inn and The Broch at Strathyre. This was agreed. 5) Bye-laws and Clearways. PH explained that this was a new title for the standing item on the alcohol bye-law. The National Park (N-P) is pursuing the question of implementing a separate bye-law to encompass indiscriminate camping and anti-social behaviour, together with clearway legislation to discourage inappropriate parking. It seemed sensible to bring all of these matters together under one heading. OM expanded on the consultation process regarding a bye-law to deal with inappropriate camping. During the consultation, someone had registered a strong objection to the proposed legislation, and this had been picked up by the Ramblers’ Association, who are also opposed to the idea of any restrictions. However, OM added that full consideration would also be given to the other opinions expressed during the consultation that had only recently closed. A decision on whether or not to proceed will be made and, if legislation is sought, the aim would be to have it in place by the start of the summer season this year. The N-P is prepared to assist financially with the provision of infrastructure, because camping is considered unlikely to be a profitable commercial venture. The clearway legislation looks very likely to be approved, but it was noted that it would be best to have all three pieces of legislation working together. 6) Cycle Path (St Fillans to Lochearnhead). AB reported that an engineering company (Transport, Planning & Engineering) had been appointed by SusTrans to implement the new cycle path between St Fillans and Lochearnhead. They had requested the opportunity to send a couple of representatives to one of our meetings to explain in detail what will be involved, and to invite any other interested parties to attend. They are also planning to hold an ìOpen Dayî meeting in Lochearnhead about the proposals, and to submit an article in The Villagers magazine locally. PH stated that a provisional invitation had been given to them to attend the next CC meeting on 25th February 2015. This was approved and confirmed. Action: TP&E to be invited to attend CC meeting on 25 Feb 2015. MM then commented on the recent completion of a feasibility study on the construction of a footpath between Immervoulin caravan park and the Southern end of the village of Strathyre. The favoured solution was to provide two crossing places on the main road, with a path on the Eastern side of the highway. Some disappointment at this was expressed, but it is now for the parties involved to consider the report and make a decision. The CC will continue to take an active interest and report on the outcome. 7) Community Empowerment Projects. PH had received a request from Cllr Martin Earl concerning a meeting he has arranged with Nicole Paterson (Senior Environment Manager, S-C) regarding the possibility of some rural community councils having greater involvement in local service delivery. Is there a particular area of interest that this CC considers might constitute a suitable pilot project? Two possibilities were discussed: clearing drains on smaller roads and better information signs, again on smaller roads. DJ pointed out that we were already involved in trying to improve the situation regarding Stroneslaney Road between Strathyre and Balquhidder. He suggested that this would make an ideal pilot project, and this was agreed. Discussion continued regarding the relationship between the CC and Stirling Council. Reference was made to the recent ìconversationî (attended by PH and DJ) where one of the suggestions put forward was to have a dedicated liaison officer for each rural community councils forum. It was agreed that this would be something to incorporate in the pilot project, if possible. Action: Approach S-C with a view to setting up a pilot project for road signs. 8) Correspondence - 8a) Strathrye Post Office. MM had been notified that the post office and shop at Strathyre would be closed on 28th January for refurbishment. Thereafter, the post office hours would be the same as those for the shop, opening from 9am to 5:30pm each day of the week, except Sunday when both would be closed. 10) Planning Matters No new items had been received. 11) Matters From Local Councillors No items had been notified. 12) Any Other Competent Business - 12a) Gift to Suzanne Player. PH said that he had sent a letter of thanks to Suzanne for the many years of excellent support and service that she had given to our own community council, and the local area forum. It was proposed that a gift of flowers would be appropriate as well, and this was agreed unanimously. AB undertook to purchase and deliver a suitable gift. 12b) New CEO at National Park. OM reported that Gordon Watson had replaced Fiona Logan as Chief Executive Officer at the National Park. 12c) Broadband in Balquhidder. DJ reported that he and Richard Harris had met recently with Ann McGuire, MP, and had now arranged a meeting with Duncan Nisbet (Senior Stakeholder Manager) and Sara Budge (Programme Director) of Digital Scotland to discuss the apparent intention on the part of British Telecom to ignore Balquhidder in their plans to improve broadband connections locally. Bruce Crawford, MSP, has also been informed of the situation and is taking a keen interest. There was no other business and, at 8:40 p.m., MM declared the meeting closed. The next meeting is due to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday 25th February 2015 at The Inn & Bistro, Strathyre.
View from the Park by Owen McKee Oh what a stooshie. The end of the consultation on the Your Park proposals saw a flurry of activity and a major intervention from a very surprising source. Overall there are over 300 submissions which will now be examined but the submission which attracted the most media attention was that of Kevin Findlater who retired last year from his position as Chief Inspector of what was then Central Scotland Police. People often ask “what is the point of a consultation when it is clear that it is just a box ticking exercise?” and who can blame them if nothing changes from the original proposals. Will there be changes as a result of this consultation? I don’t honestly know until such time as we have reviewed all the submissions. But what I can say is that the Park communities in the areas covered by the proposals were predominantly supportive during the conversations we had prior to and during the consultation period. But that brings me back to Kevin Findlater’s submission. Kevin was a very supportive advocate both of Operation Ironworks and The East Loch Lomond Management Plan, including the relevant byelaws. However, in his submission he now takes a view similar to that long expressed by the Ramblers Association that these further proposals are draconian and unnecessary. When our circumstances change it is not unusual for us to view things from a different perspective and for us to nuance what we had previously declared to suit our new circumstances. I fervently hope, and have some confidence, that what our communities told us during our conversation period matches the views that they have now expressed in their submissions. The task now is to troll through the submissions and see what if any changes will be necessary before the proposals go forward for ministerial consideration. And there has been a change at the helm of the organisation. Fiona Logan has moved on to a new post in the private sector and Gordon Watson has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer. Gordon will be known to many of you as he has been with the Park Authority since 2002 and has visited a number of communities both as Director of Planning and as deputy to Fiona. Having worked fairly closely with Gordon over the years I am delighted
that he was appointed after a very in depth selection process involving an extremely well qualified list of candidates for the post. Although he will bring a different style to the role I am sure he will continue the drive towards making Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park the ideal for others to follow. Pathways and Cycle tracks continue to be a focus within the Park and the St Fillans to Lochearnhead route is progressing. Meanwhile another pathway is also making headway and that is the proposal for a route from Immervoulin Caravan Park into Strathyre village and a link to the route 7 cycle track. The establishment of this new path will have multiple benefits. The first of these is the safety of those who have had to risk their lives walking on the road from the Caravan Park and Immervoulin Farmhouse and of course the drivers, particularly in the dark, who unexpectedly encountered walkers on the road. Elsewhere in the Villagers you see an invitation to view the plans at the Village Shop in Strathyre. Do go and have a look and remember to add your support as this always helps funding requests. Owen McKee Taigh Na Bhuth, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PR Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 01567 830214
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: email@example.com www.rsha.org.uk Registered as a Scottish Charity No. SC037849
It is a good sign when I sit down to write my article and I struggle for things to say! I must firstly apologize for not providing an article in the last edition but I was too busy enjoying myself in the “Big Apple” and I had missed the deadline by the time I got home. Since my last article there have thankfully been very few incidents to note. A male was involved in a collision and was subsequently found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. He was held in custody and when he appeared at court, he pled guilty and was fined, disqualified from driving and had his car seized by the court and destroyed. Overnight between the 4th and 5th December, the Village Shop in Lochearnhead was broken into. On the same night, numerous commercial premises were also targeted by the same group of people in the Comrie area. Enquiries are still ongoing with these incidents and we are still keen to trace the occupants of a dark coloured BMW seen in the area around the times that the incidents occurred. I found myself on duty over the two weeks surrounding Xmas and New Year and I was very pleased to say that there were no real issues that were brought to my attention and everyone seemed to behave themselves and were in good spirits. The weather has brought its usual issues for us to deal with locally, and I have dealt with several collisions which have all been caused by the drivers failing to drive to the road and weather conditions. Please be mindful of the weather and roads, and when the weather is at its worst, if your journey is not essential then it is usually best to hold off. On occasions the roads have become blocked by incidents, and we appreciate that it can be frustrating when you are trying to get somewhere. I would like to thank you, as by and large, we found most people were patient with us whilst we did our best to get the roads re-opened. In recent weeks we have seen a number of cars being stolen from the Callander area. Can I ask that you are mindful of security around your vehicles? All too often I see cars left running outside shops etc. with the occupants inside. It only takes a second for someone to hop in and drive off, and your insurance will not pay out in circumstances such as that. Again,
given the winter conditions, do not be tempted to leave vehicles running outside to defrost unless they are in your view. This is an age old trick for thieves to steal cars. Consider where you leave your keys when in the house also. There has been a recent trend for thieves to use fishing rods or poles through the letter box to lift keys left on hooks or tables near to the door. Try to leave keys out of sight where possible.
On the 27th January, the local Police Control Room in Stirling will be moving to a more central location. We have been assured that a high level of service can still be expected by our local communities. You can contact the Police in the same way by either calling “101” for nonemergency calls, or “999” in an emergency. As always, I can always be contacted on 101 or for those who prefer email, I can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regards, PC Will Diamond
The Lochearnhead Village Hall AGM will take place on Monday 13th April 2015 in the village hall at 7.30pm All Villagers are welcome to attend – in particular younger members of the community are encouraged to stand for election to the Committee and get involved. Next event at the village hall will be a ‘Race Night’ on Saturday 16th May – put the date in your diary now!
Lochearnhead Hogmanay Party
Lochearnhead Village Hall Hogmanay Party Once again there was a fantastic party atmosphere at the village hall to see in ‘the Bells’. The live music for dancing was provided by Raband and the mix of music made sure that the dance floor was full from start to finish – which was well into the early hours! This year the raffle was particularly well supported by local businesses and individuals and as a result about £700 was raised which will to towards the running costs of the hall. The village hall committee would like to thank local businesses and individuals for their generous donations and continued support.
The Party In Full Sawing
St Angus’s News GETTING READY FOR EASTER It may sound amazing to be preparing for Easter when we have just finished Christmas, but this year Easter falls very early – perhaps in the next edition we can explain why Easter’s dates vary. Traditionally we take six weeks before Easter, (40 days if we exclude Sundays which are always counted as days of celebration) to remind ourselves again of why we needed Easter, to refresh our faith and get closer to God, a time we call Lent, which mirrors the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness to prepare to start his ministry on earth. We thought this year we might explore the whole problem of good and evil through the film, Noah, that came out last year – a fascinating blockbuster Bible Story with a modern twist or two that encourages us to wonder about the original story, to see where it fitted into the historical context, and into the local folk lore and mythology of its time, and to see what it shows us of the effects of evil in the world. So we offer a good movie, interesting talk, and a chance to be quiet and do a bit of your own reflecting and praying in your own way, all to be held at: St Fillan’s Episcopal Chuurch, Killin On Saturday 28 February From 10.30am – 3pm
Church News Balquhidder BLS Reg. Charity No. SC012316
The Christmas period started much as expected, with Advent services culminating in the Christmas Eve carol service. This was well attended and we collected £200.00 to send to Borderline. This small charity caring for Scots in trouble in London, is always very appreciative of being remembered at this time of year. We thank all who contributed. The sad news at Christmas of the sudden death of David Hendry of Immeroin Farm was a shock to us all. To say that our sympathies are with his family and all his friends seems pretty inadequate. Yet, inadequate as sympathy may sound, we can all add our prayers and thoughts which are with them now and will remain so. We were very sorry to find a power cut meant no heating or lighting on the day of David`s funeral, but nobody cared much about that. We wished the church had been just that bit bigger to have everyone who so wanted to support the Hendry family inside. As it was, very many folk patiently put up with the damp and cold day outside the church. The very generous retiral collection of £1,260.00 was donated to the church by the family. They, and David, felt that we should treasure it as a working church. We bless them for that and will do our utmost to make sure it will be here for the community for many years to come. We hope you will understand that the cancellation of the service on 18th January was because of the snow and ice underfoot. We pray for a less disruptive year in 2015, with our locum minister Revd June Johnston hopefully here for the year, and with the new Interim Moderator, Revd Terry Ann Taylor in overall charge. Having ended the year with sadness, we hope for better days ahead in 2015. JeanEdwards
All welcome. Tea/coffee/ juice and cake provided – bring your own sandwich lunch. For more information and to book your place, please phone Rev Paddy Allen at 01764 655389 01764 655389 or email email@example.com. And if you want to do even more thinking along this subject, the Lochearnhead Home Group, which meets on Wednesdays at 7 – 9.30pm will be looking at the whole problem of suffering and pain with the help of Philip Yancy’s book: ‘Where is God when it hurts?’ We’ll be starting this from Wednesday 25 February. You are most welcome to join us – again contact Paddy Allen for details. We start off with a cup of tea and something delicious and go on to wide-ranging discussion and sharing of experiences and opinions and prayer. Paddy 9
BLS – Where Business Does the Talking ‘Highlighting’ another local business This January I had the opportunity to meet with Charles Hunter from Balquhidder to talk about his tourism business. Charles provides fascinating tours of Scotland to visitors from around the globe, showing them the best that the country’s history, landscape and culture have to offer. Here he talks of his experiences as a Scottish tour guide, and some of the highlights from his line of work. For how long have you been providing tour guide services in Scotland? I began in 1996, so that will be almost 19 years now. Over that time has Scotland’s tourism industry changed markedly? I would say that it has changed, for the better in a lot of ways. In particular the standard of accommodation has improved, and the standard of food generally, but unfortunately, the standard of service is still lagging behind somewhat. Some places have done very well in that regard, but others haven’t and that’s a real shame. What are the different kinds of tours that you can provide? Most of what I do is custom-made tours for small groups and families. That would range from two people up to seven or eight. Sometimes within these family groups you’ll have three generations; so you’ll have the children, the parents and the grandparents. That can cause a few tricky moments, but what I try to do is plan the trips well in advance so that each generation has their input. In that way each generation has their day, or each member of the tour has their own day in terms of pursuing their individual interests. That way everyone knows that their (or their generation’s) day is coming, and you hopefully avoid any fall-outs along the way. If everyone knows what they’re getting before they come, then it makes it so much easier as opposed to just trying to arrange it as you go along. The planning is very important. How far in advance do you have to plan for your tours? Depending on where they’re going, as sometimes accommodation is quite hard to find, we’ll be planning in some cases up to nine months before. However, I’ve been finding in recent years that people are booking much later, so it might instead be a month or two before. But generally it would be six months. So usually in the autumn
I’m planning tours for the next spring and summer. It’s good from my point of view because then I know what I’ve got. On your website you say that you can provide all sorts of different tours, for example fishing, golfing, sightseeing, and historical, food & drink, so how do you choose what to focus on? Again, it’s about finding out what people want, or if they even know what they want. Often people don’t know what they want, so I’ll begin by asking them whether they have any Scottish heritage for example, whether they have been to Scotland before, or whether they have any specific interests. Then from the feedback I get I can make proposals - so for example I’ll say “you have family connections so we’ll go to that part of Scotland”, or “you’re interested in golf or fishing” or “you want to go to the theatre” and then I’ll build a programme around that. It varies, depending on the knowledge that people have of Scotland. It also varies depending on the time of year as to what you can and can’t do. Like the Edinburgh Tattoo for example; many people will come to the Tattoo in August, which means being tied to that. Also, many people come for golf and that tends to be more of a summertime activity as well. Is there a most popular type of tour generally? I think that the most popular type of tour is a mixture of history, culture and retail therapy. Not necessarily in that order though! It depends who you’ve got. Some people just love to shop - and for many that’s part of the experience. Do you have a busiest time of year in your business? Spring and autumn tend to be the busiest times of the year for me. So April, May and then September are my busiest months. That helps me as well because it means that generally when the children are off school I am still able to spend quality time with them. You do tend to find that outside of July and August is when you will have people who are perhaps retired and are travelling at that time as it’s cheaper for them to travel and there’s more availability in terms of accommodation then. It’s easier to get restaurant bookings and it’s much easier to get around. Most of my clients tend to be of a generation where they don’t have to worry about school holidays and things like that.
They’ll be looking to travel outwith the peak summer season, and that suits me. In the quieter winter months is there still interest in tours around Scotland? It is pretty seasonal what I do. Any work that I do get in the winter tends to be work from the organisation Visit Scotland who look after tourism in Scotland. I do quite a lot of work for them with journalists who come to write about Scotland, or film crews who come to film Scotland. Those sorts of assignments tend to be during the off-peak season, which is quite a nice filler for me. I enjoy it because it’s so different from looking after a family or looking after a big group. It’s much more spontaneous. They’ll come out with things like “I want a highland cow”, “I want a waterfall” or “I want a boat ride on a loch!” And you’ve got to immediately think about where you can find that within an hour or two’s drive. I enjoy that because it’s much more challenging. Also, you then find your picture in all these funny papers, when eventually, about a year later, they finally send you the article! Do you have a favourite area in Scotland? Balquhidder! Without any reservations. I am away quite a lot and there’s nothing I enjoy more than coming home. If I’m with a small group, and if they’re good people, then I’ll bring them here. Often the smaller groups will come here and they’ll meet Clare and the family. I think it’s a very special place here, there’s so much to see, it’s so interesting for visitors, and it gives me a chance to come home. Do most of your clients arrive from abroad, and if so, then from which countries mainly? Most of my clients come from North America. Most of them tend to have had Scottish ancestry and that’s why they want to come. I speak French so I do get a few French and Belgian clients too. But mainly the clients that I take around are from North America. What tends to happen over there is that if you look after someone well then they tell their friends about it, and then their friends want to come. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard as I’ve had many people from South Carolina for example. And most of these people come from the same city! In fact we visited the States last summer and the first couple that I ever looked after organised a party for us and invited all of my old clients, and in the end it turned out that there were over fifty people there. Of course I had to remember all their names! But it was amazing. Going on tour is like anything really, you’ll go based on a recommendation. You can always research different people’s websites, but
if someone actually recommends a tour guide then it works very well and people end up happier. I find that there is quite a lot of email correspondence beforehand, therefore they’ve got an idea of who I am and I’ve got an idea of who they are. That way we’re not starting off completely cold. What is the average length of stay of one of your tour groups? It depends really. The longest trip I ever did was 19 days and it was four people. So we did England, Wales and Scotland. And I sometimes take people to France. I used to live and work in France, so I know the country quite well and I speak the language. Often I find that if people have been to Scotland with me then they might ask me to take them to Ireland. In fact I had a couple last year who I showed around Ireland. The lady was a previous client of mine from 2001 who since remarrying decided to return and wanted to tour both Scotland and Ireland. When you already know people it makes organising new trips so much easier. What have been some of your most memorable experiences from being a Scottish tour guide? I had a lovely story once up in Oban. In the early days I was looking after big groups, coach-loads of people. I was booked to meet a group off a cruise ship in Oban but because they hadn’t left on the official excursion from the cruise ship, they didn’t get off the cruise ship in time to catch the ferry to Mull. And because they had missed the ferry to Mull I had to hire a fishing boat to help them catch up. The fisherman was very happy to take us across in the boat, and in that group was a lady from Canada who was ninety-six. This was her coming home to Mull where she’d been born and where she’d left ninety years before. When she arrived back she was just so thankful. It was very emotional. Also, there was another family that were all musicians who I did a musical tour with; we did seven gigs around Scotland. Their people had come from the Isle of Canna, off the West Coast. We had got sponsorship from Caledonian MacBrayne to take them to the Isle of Canna, and when they got there they all got down on their knees and kissed the ground! That sense of heritage and history was just so moving, just wonderful. To be part of that is terrific and very moving, and that to me is very profound. Those are but two examples of that ‘pull’ to come back, no matter the age you are. In that group of people for example they were aged from 18 to 82. There were 3 generations in that group, and going back to the people who had originally left Canna it would be about seven or eight
generations from the youngest one, but despite that there is still that strong Scottish sense of identity, which is amazing! Finally, for your type of business, what would you say are the benefits of being based in the countryside as opposed to in one of the big cities? I think you appreciate what you’ve got more. I certainly appreciate where I live. For my job it doesn’t matter where I live as long as I can get to an airport, but I choose to live here because I really like it. It’s a very special place. It’s a place that I’ll share with certain people. And I think that sums it up really, because to me it is incredibly special and you wouldn’t share it with just anyone. Interview by Iona Mchedliani To make enquiries or to book a tour, Charles can be contacted at the Old Schoolhouse, Balquhidder, on: 01877 384737. Interested parties can also visit Charles’s website: www.charleshunter.co.uk
MEDITATION I am thinking of starting a simple meditation teaching for local people interested in clearing the mind of stress and enriching their relationships. This will be subject to a reasonable show of interest. Please contact me to let me know a day and time that would suit you best and any location you may recommend or prefer. E-mail is preferable, firstname.lastname@example.org but notes of interest can be left, I am sure, at the village shop. I look forward to hearing from you and will reply to all. Thank you.
Quotes from Elsewhere -
“Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.” Dwight Eisenhower, quoted in United Press International “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like.” Mark Twain, quoted in The Guardian “An unconvential outlook and a feeling that you know something that has passed everyone else by is universal.” Daniel Finkelstein quoted in The Times
Bracklinn Practice will be closed on the following dates:
Friday 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday) From 12:30pm Monday 6th April 2015 (Easter Monday) Monday 4th May 2015 (Bank Holiday) From 12:30pm Please note that on the above days when the practice is open until 12; 30pm blood tests cannot be done as there will be no collection service. If you require urgent medical attention when the practice is closed, please contact NHS24 on 111, and make sure you have enough medication to cover you over the holiday periods. We are pleased to announce a new Health Visitor started working at the medical centre just before Christmas. Susan will be providing a baby group every Monday 10.30am – 11.30am for babies up to 1 year old. Also, a baby clinic every Thursday morning 10am – 11.30am. Cover will not be provided for either the baby group or clinic during periods of annual leave and sickness, however, Susan will give everyone as much notice as possible to avoid unnecessary journeys. If you require advice or help from the health visitor, please contact Susan on 01877 331537. We would like to take this opportunity to wish Susan all the best in her new post.
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:
Thursday 19th February 2015 Tuesday 17th March 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. ****
A view of St Fillans from the west in the early 1920â€™s, by which time the station flower beds and foliage round the signal box, itself adorned with plants and hanging baskets, had matured. The station won many Best Kept Station prizes in its day.
Branch Lines of Strathearn
By John Young
Continuing our extracts from Johnâ€™s book. This month we look at St Fillans Station. The gradient eased to 1 in 260 in the short stretch through St Fillans station which sat well above the village from which it took its name. St Fillans was a delightful station well suited to the tourist traffic which was anticipated to form a significant element of the passengers arriving in this renowned locality. Being the principal passing place between Comrie and Lochearnhead, it had a long loop with Up and Down platforms. An attractive brick and timber building with ornate canopy on the Down side housed the booking office, waiting rooms and other facilities, while a more modest wooden building on the Up side served as a waiting room. An iron footbridge spanned the tracks at the midpoint of the station, whilst the signal box was sited on the western end of the Up platform. Opened on 1st October 1901 when the initial section from Comrie to St Fillans was finished, it was closed exactly fifty years later on 1st October 1051 with the full closure of the Comrie to Balquhidder section. A running loop passed behind the Up platform, which although it appeared to be an island platform was never used as such, with a wooden fence running along the back of the platform. The loop was used for shunting purposes or as an engine release line for the various trains, both timetabled and excursion, which terminated or turned around at St Fillans. The small goods yard lay to the north of the station and, in addition to the short head shunts at each end of the loop, there were four sidings. The longer of these had a loading bank and scotch derrik, while the shorter one ran through the goods shed. The fourth siding ended in a carraige loading dock. In LM&SR days this was another station where a camping coach was sited.
The only tunnel on this section of line was just to the west of St Fillans station, where the line cut through the rocky outcrop at the base of Monadh a Phuirt Mhoir. The village of St Fillans, with its many villas and the Drummopnd Arms Hotel, lies in the foreground.
St Fillans station in LM&SR days, looking from the east, showing the principal station building on the Down platform and the smaller waiting shelter on the Up side.
St Fillans Up platform seem from the footbridge in 1956, five years after the closure. Remarkably, not only the track but also the signals ar still in situ, although the Up line platform has been taken out of use and blocked by a sleeper.
Loch Earn Railway Path Dalchonzie St. Fillans Lochearnhead Residents are being asked for their views on the development of the Railway Path St. Fillans Community Trust with the help of the landowner has been very successful over the past two years, installing a new 27m span bridge to replace the missing bridge over Glentarken Burn. The new bridge has created a continuous route along the existing railway line which the Trust now plans to develop further. Funding has been secured from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to progress the design of the path over the coming months and construction is intended to be undertaken in phases starting in 2015. Funding for the construction has been granted by Sustrans’ Community Links Programme to the sum of almost £500,000 and match funding to complete the rest of the work is currently being negotiated. The project is being developed through consultation and cooperation between all interested parties. Transport Planning and Engineering – the consultancy arm of Cycling Scotland – has been commissioned by St. Fillans Community Trust to design the path and will be representing the Community Trust at upcoming consultation events to discuss the project. Interested parties are encouraged to attend one of the events listed below as contributions gained will be considered when developing the design and planning the delivery of the project. Consultation meetings will be held on the following dates:
SCISSOR SISTER HAIR & BEAUTY SALON Full range of hair and beauty services
T. 07595 356 369 9am to 6pm Mon-Sat 86 Main Street, Callander L’oreal & Paul Mitchell stockist
Wedding packages available
St. Fillans Community Council in the Sandison Hall on the 18th of February from 7:30pm till 9:00pm. The postcode for the hall is PH6 2NF. Project Open Day at Lochearnhead Village Hall on the 25th of February from 4:00pm till 6:30pm. The postcode for the hall is FK19 8PR. Please confirm your attendance for either of the above events. by email to: email@example.com Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre Community Council in The Inn at Strathyre on the 25th of February from 7:30pm till 9:00pm. The postcode for The Inn is FK18 8NA. Please confirm your attendance with Alastair Barclay by telephone or email to: 01567 830 453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviews with your local Councillors
Interview with Fergus Wood
Fergus claims to be a 72 year old with the mind of a 22 year old and still with possibly more energy. He originally went to Glenalmond school and then on to Oslo University. He worked in the music industry in Holland for three years before returning to Scotland to train as a journalist and worked for the Glasgow Herald. 2001 was a pivotal year for him when Foot and Mouth caused such chaos and disruption for farms such as his throughout Britain. He realized he would have to diversify from just maintaining the family sheep farm and he now has several strands to juggle and interweave. He started with the Scottish Wool Centre and had sheep and dog shows and then ducks were added, the famous “Quack Commandos”! However as he knew his sons would not be interested just in farming, further diversification led to ventures connected to tourism and the entertainment business. Fortunately music plays a major part in both Fergus’s and his sons lives and bagpipes, accordion and bands of many descriptions now form an essential part of life at Ledard Farm and beyond. A barn conversion enables them to have both lunch and evening events for parties and folk music events throughout the year. He feels strongly the need for collaboration on a local level in rural communities for people and businesses to work together and try and ensure that money circulates locally. He would also support more powers for Community councils to enable them to give work to local people where jobs are needing to be done within their areas. His position as Chairman of Strathard Community Council and his interest in fighting for rural areas led to him becoming a councillor. Although he is a member of the S.N.P. he feels that in many ways he is more of an ‘old
fashioned’ independent as often happens in the borders. He feels that as so many officials are centered in Stirling it is important for him to stick up for all in the country. He cites his passion to try to ensure that music and PE are not only on the curriculum but also offered as ‘extras’ to all, particularly in the smaller rural schools. He knows that the condition of our roads regularly comes top of community councils’ agendas, both from the point of view of day to day travel and also from the point of attracting tourists and enabling them to travel around. He was elected Provost and says he enjoyed his term but did find it quite exhausting. Now he is in opposition he admits it can be frustrating and disappointing if you feel even ‘good ideas’ are not being taken up. However he continues to enjoy his work with the Community Councils, seeing the very different problems which affect each village and trying to use his experience and expertise to help solve some of the issues. He also acknowledges that here all of our councillors work well together and are as one on many important Ward issues. He is enthusiastic about bringing his bands / trios to play in the village halls and a planned Parisian soirée complete with his accordion band, French wines and cheeses he is doing in Gartmore hall could hopefully work well in this area too if any hall committees were looking for a new event!
Interview with Martin Earl
Martin moved to Brig O’Turk in 2000 from Buckinghamshire. Sheila, his wife, was originally from Stirling and they decided that a move to Scotland would give their family a more positive lifestyle and they feel this is one of the best decisions they have ever made. Martin has had an unusual career path
in that having left school he started work on construction sites with a Bricklaying company. The recession in the 1980’s and the collapse of the building industry led him to look at different opportunities. He had always had an interest in books and collected them initially as a personal hobby but then turned this into a business running a Booksearch company for over twenty five years. His three children have all attended Strathyre Primary School, making lots of friends and enjoying being at such a great school. They are all now at McLaren High. Martin was Chair of the PTA and also of Trossachs Community Council. This was the limit of his involvement with local Government when in 2012 he was asked if he would consider standing as a Scottish Conservative Councillor in that year’s elections. He had never been a member of any political party but found the proposition intriguing and realised this was an opportunity unlikely to come again. After eight years as Community Council Chair, often dealing with the Local Authority he would, if elected, be able to represent the area and try and address at least some of the issues we are all familiar with. He realized that putting on a ‘political badge’ might affect how people thought of him but feels that in almost all cases the issues in the Ward and across the Council area are best dealt with on a pragmatic, sensible basis as what we all want from Local Government are efficient services and value for money. Once elected Martin admits it was steep learning curve getting to grips with the wide ranging nature of the work both across the Council and all our Communities. He finds this always interesting, often very rewarding and inevitably sometimes frustrating. He is on a number of boards including the National Park and Rural Stirling Housing Association, sits on four Council committee’s including Education and Public Safety as well as other organisations as diverse as Active Stirling and the Smith Museum. . Being able to help someone with a specific problem is really satisfying, often that involves ensuring that they have all the information they need and are speaking to the right person who will understand the issue and help find a solution. On the other hand he acknowledges that the very tight financial constraints of the last few years have meant that it is a very challenging context
in which the council has to work and this does focus the mind on how to get the best value possible for the services on which people rely and means that the Council has to find better ways to deliver them and be more open to involving communities directly in this work. Martin acknowledges that many of the issues that affect people’s day to day lives are the same throughout the Stirling council area but that our rural communities have particular problems, mainly linked to connectivity. Whether that’s road infrastructure, reliable broadband, public transport or the Council’s ability to provide the same level of service to all our communities. Maintaining current service levels let alone raising them in all these and other areas while protecting core services when faced with a smaller budget every year is a challenge to say the least.
Interview with Alycia Hayes
Alycia was in the midst of moving into the new house she and husband Alex had built in Balquhidder Station, actually on the site of the turning point for the railway lines. Like the rest of us mortals she was faced with the stress of problems caused by getting all utilities and broadband services at least installed if not joined up. Originally from Perth the family had moved to this area when she was a teenager and she remembered her first appearance in The Villagers had been when she was sixteen and had been singing in a concert in Balquhidder Church. She went on to study music at the Royal Northern College and then in Paris at the Centre de Formation Lyrique before embarking on her career as a freelance opera singer touring the world for 18 years with spells in Paris, London, the Emirates and the States. Then at a wedding she met Alex and life changed from travelling the world to wanting to settle down. A wedding in Scotland soon followed and was duly reported with the photo on the front page of The Villagers. The couple settled in England, but
Alex’s Cambridge was too flat for Alycia! They soon moved to Trossachs & Teith, where Alex too, now feels is “home.” She had never planned to enter politics but after delivering leaflets with Bruce Crawford in Lochearnhead in 2009 she was offered a job in his office. Alycia claims Bruce *Bruce Crawford thought I was better “with people” rather than filing drawers and encouraged her to stand in the 2012 council elections. As a councillor she wants to know what can and can not be done to ensure the best environment for the new young generation to grow up in. As a mother, she has a personal interest here too. She realises she does not have a magic wand and probably only comparatively slow changes will improve the facilities and communications for all but in particular for our young people. She is conscious of the fact that young people here only really get liberty when they pass their driving test – and perhaps parents get their own lives back then. On a very local level she thinks the improved cycle tracks will help the villages pursue joint social activities and encourage and improve our fitness levels. She is however constantly frustrated by the levels of bureaucracy and apparent brick walls which thwarts many proposals. She admits she believed councillors had greater powers than they do, particularly if their party is not in administration. However she does enjoy all the opportunities she has had of meeting people face to face and particularly when she has been able to meet their expectations of the help she has been able to provide. She has found that the three councillors are united in their aim to provide a community voice in the committees and fight for the rights of people in rural areas. One major concern being to have an effective and joined up regional transport system, to support residents, tourism and local businesses. In her personal live she hopes at some stage to use her love and talent for classical music to create another new enterprise in the area.
Scottish Wildlife Trust In contrast to our usual focus on Scottish wildlife, our talk in December ventured to Antarctica, as Mike and I shared our holiday experiences. Twelve months earlier we spent 3 weeks on an expedition cruise to Antarctica: from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina to the Falklands, South Georgia, South Shetlands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This route offers an amazing range of wildlife and covers the route taken by Shackleton after his ship Endeavour became crushed in ice. Leaving most of the crew on Elephant Island, 6 crossed to S Georgia in a small lifeboat; he took 17 days (cf our 2) followed by a walk across the mountainous interior of S Georgia to find help at Stromness whaling station – truly heroic! Where cold Antarctic waters sink beneath the warmer sub-Antarctic waters (Antarctic Convergence), high levels of nutrients well up and lead to microscopic but hugely abundant phytoplankton. These are food for shrimp-like krill that, in turn, are the major food source for many animals such as seals, penguins, whales and sea birds so the Antarctic supports a high population of large animals. From around 1900, seal and whale hunting took their toll and large rusting sites are reminders of its industrial scale. Antarctic Treaty restrictions have seen many populations recover but krill are now being plundered by man with numbers dropping by 80% from 1970 to 2004. Please don’t buy red krill products, the whales and penguins need them much more! Summer is no guarantee of good weather in that part of the world but we were lucky and made all planned sailings and landings. We saw at close hand hundreds of thousands of (smelly, noisy) penguins, seals, dolphins, whales and innumerable birds at sea and on land. Watching a 15m humpback whale swim under our 5m Zodiac really is unforgettable! Lesley Hawkins
Fur Seals and King Penguins
Tribute to David Hendry
David was born into a loving, farming family in December 1961 – he was brought up in an environment of strong Christian values and this stood him in good stead for the life he would lead and the family he would raise himself. His childhood was spent on Keithhill Farm, which nestled at the foot of the Lammermoor Hills near the small village of Humbie in East Lothian. When David was just a year old, in the winter of 1962/63, Britain experienced a very severe winter and Keithhill was isolated by snow for almost three months. At the thaw, the first visitor was the minister and he was greeted by the howling David, who had had no contact with anyone else but his parents for almost a quarter of his young life. However, he was not destined to be a solitary child for ever and in June 1964, brother John was born. Their childhood was a very happy one – attending the village school in Humbie and also Sunday School, where mum, Olwyn was the teacher. Lasting friendships were made there in those childhood years; in fact, some of those friends may be here today. Highlights of the year were the rolling of Easter eggs, when all the kids descended on Keithhill for the benefit of the hill there; and then there were the Nativity plays in Humbie Church – thoroughly enjoyed and fondly remembered. The boys had ponies and always enjoyed participating in that well-known Borders tradition of the Common Riding... mostly in the nearby town of Lauder. Life on a farm is not all play, however, and the boys were expected to pull their weight and do their chores each day. Often they were seen charging up the driveway after school, shedding school clothes as they ran so that
they could get their chores completed before Blue Peter came on the TV! For High School, David had to travel a bit to Tranent, but Humbie is not that remote and he also had the opportunity to practise his sheep gathering skills...in the centre of Edinburgh! You see, at that time, there were sheep grazing in Holyrood Park and it was the Hendry family who held the tenancy there. However, when the Queen was in residence and treating folk to the delights of the Royal Garden Party, there could not be sheep around leaving little presents on the grass, so they had to be brought in for a time in the summer. Guess who was involved in the gathering! Apart from being good at getting in the sheep, Dave was a very bright lad and gained 5 good Highers without raising too much of a sweat and he had great practical and engineering skills, which he put to good use all his life – seeming always to be able to fix anything and everything! In 1978, when Dave was 17, the family moved from East Lothian to Balquhidder. Moving farm is no easy task with animals and people to consider and it did not seem strange to the Hendrys that in the last truck to make the journey, there were both their cows and their beds! The family was warmly welcomed by the community here in the glen and Dave quickly became involved with the Young Farmers of Callander as even now, his own sons are getting involved along with the children of Dave’s contemporaries. In 1995, Dave met Marianne on a night-out in Stirling – instantly attracted to each other and hearing that she was Dutch, he could not resist mention of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dyke...what a cheesy chat-up line! In spite of this they enjoyed the evening and Marianne made quite sure that he had her exact address to take away with
him...her friends tut-tutted saying that for all she knew, he could be some sort of crazy axe murderer! Fortunately this was not the case and they enjoyed many dinners together at her house; they got to know each other as friends, they had long discussions, putting the world to rights and only became a couple after a number of months – he was a perfect gentleman, he had found his soulmate and he was not going to rush! Socialising for a farmer is not easy and getting together could really only happen if Marianne accompanied him on his various working trips – including one trip to the Fife seaside – hopes of a jolly day of sun, sea and sand faded as she was informed that the correct gear for this trip would be wellies and old clothes as they would be seeing to the sheep kept at Elie! But there was never a dull moment going out with Dave Hendry. David always pushed everything to the limit in his work and in his leisure – his aim was always to get the most out of his life and that often meant exhausting times rolling up miles of electric fencing, driving his quad bike up the steepest gradients where no one else would think of going; he took on some of the nastiest cattle in the universe, which he bought when nobody else could handle them...they’re just spirited he would say! And, sure enough, in his own unique way, he got them sorted and fixed just as he always fixed everything. Even dancing Strip the Willow was carried out to maximum physical exertion and Marianne had the bruises on her swinging arm for weeks to prove it. So many good times, so many happy memories...too many to mention here and these are the things that will comfort Marianne and the boys in the months and years to come. The boys...well... young men now...Cameron and Duncan came along in 1997 and 1999 after Dave and Marianne married on 22 March 1997. Dave was immensely proud of his sons. He brought them up strictly but at the same time allowed them freedom and responsibility so that they have grown up to be able, hard-working and confident. He taught them that all things are achievable if you just want them enough. Both lads have driven from an early age and they do this so well that even as young children they would often be asked to manoeuvre trailers into tight spaces when there were adults hesitating. David has brought up his sons to get the most out of life but to do that with decency, respect and hard work – not to expect that everything can just be bought with money, but sometimes you have to mend things and fix them up before you can get the pleasure out of them...something he knew all about. Do you remember the story about the
clapped-out Mini he bought? He worked hard on it to get it going and eventually could offer the postmistress a lift down the glen in it...it’s fine he assured her... no brakes yet...but if you just throw it into a low enough gear and stick your foot out of the door...it’ll stop! David was one of a kind – it appeared that he could do anything, fix anything and he appeared to be invincible...but of course, and sadly nobody is invincible. His loss is an immense heartache for his family and he will be so missed in so many different ways. But David loved life and it is in all those memories that he will live on in his wife, in his sons and in his parents and his brother... and doubtless in you, his friends. The measure of the man is in the way that the community has rallied around the family – Marianne has found the support of friends and neighbours quite overwhelming and humbling... nothing can really console at this time...but knowing that they are not alone, knowing that so many people care has been an invaluable support and comfort. The family would like to thank you all – your love and support has meant everything to them at this very difficult time – for, not only have they lost a husband and a dad, but they still have to work the farm on a minute to minute basis; animals need to be fed and cared for and decisions have to be made – there is hardly time to grieve. In this situation, all your support has been greatly appreciated.
BLS Community Trust
Balquhidder Lochearnhead & Strathyre
by Old Nayati
*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). Last time in Pin Feathers Old Nyati was describing a place in Balquhidder called Tom na Fhaidreach (The Hill of the Fair) - a moraine mound where iron ore was smelted primitively many centuries ago, and where trysts and markets were held as the populations in the highland increased over the ages.
Standing Stone at Tom na Fhaidreach
Come with me and let us sit for a while and watch! Drovers have been travelling with their cattle from all over the country for many days along the drove roads to get here. There is now a toll charged on the more popular main turnpikes - Lix Toll for instance, though this name suggests the Roman 59th Legion... but that is another story. The drove roads were used instead so as not to have to pay for passage and there was better grazing along the way. There is beginning to be some activity on the level area just below the mound; a few rudimentary shelters and fires and several gatherings of cattle, some of the more prosperous drovers have a pony or garron, carrying a pack containing oats for porridge which would be mixed with water, hot or cold. If the water quality was at all suspect then it could be “purified” with a dash of whisky.There are dogs too of various shapes and sizes. It should be explained that here, where we are watching, is a place where four Glens meet, and each glen has a drove road leading to a crossroads at this very spot. The level ground is ideal for gathering and the mound is a vantage point for the proceedings to commence. By the next day more and more cattle, horses, dogs and people are arriving. Some of the earlier ones have spent the night merely wrapped in their plaid sleeping in the shelter of a tree or rock, with a dog to keep warm. There is by now much passing of news - and blether. It almost impossible to understand the language, but we can imagine that this is the only time that an exchange of news and messages can take place. Much trading is taking place now - kegs of whisky from small family stills are being sold to travellers from the south, who will return there to pass on again to Glasgow, along the Clyde - and so to London and even beyond. Locally grown flax clothing, leather goods and iron tools are being sold. By the evening we hear the skirl of pipes and singing amidst the fires and the smell of woodsmoke. The dogs will have had a few quarrels with each other, sorting out their status. There is some of this going on amongst some of the men folk too, Continued on Page 21
Immervoulin Caravan site to Strathyre Village multi-use route At long last a feasibility study has identified a safe walking route between Immervoulin Caravan Park and the Village of Strathyre, which will benefit visitors and locals. We would appreciate your support for the development of this route by signing the form in the village shop. Company Number: SC315209 Charity Number: SC037831
McLaren High School News Geography Field Trip to Edinburgh The Higher Geography candidates undertook a range of fieldwork techniques in Edinburgh in order for them to complete some of the course requirements of the new Higher. The main focus of the fieldwork was looking at the types and density of the traffic patterns as well as a comparison of the shopping areas of the city centre of Edinburgh with an out of town shopping centre. Having left McLaren on the minibus we headed east into the sunshine towards Edinburgh. True to the climatic characteristics of December our trip wasn’t the warmest of outings. Recording research results in the hustle and bustle of Princes and George Streets isn’t the easiest thing to do with numb fingers whilst tackling the cold but we asked the shoppers questions and took notes on the surrounding environment. Most of the shoppers were willing to answer our questions and seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing. After we had finished noting down the differences between the Old Town and New Town, we hopped on a tram which took us to The Gyle centre. Much like before we posed our questions to a new set of shoppers, but this time in the warmth of central heating. All in all the day posed challenges to the whole class, which we all undertook and were successful at. We all enjoyed our field trip to Edinburgh (including comparing the services in both the city centre and the Gyle!) and arrived back at McLaren armed with a raft of data to crunch and develop in the warmth! Alasdair Murphy S5 Christmas in the Cafeteria “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Santa said on Wednesday 10 December as pupils tucked into a traditional Christmas lunch served by Scrooge, Rudolph, Elf, Snowman, Turkey and Mr and Mrs Christmas (aka our cafeteria staff!) Callum Hunter S1 said ‘It was the best Christmas lunch I have ever had’. I hope I don’t meet his mum in the town! Thanks to all my customers for supporting the service throughout the year. See you all next year. Lorna Leckie, Cafeteria Supervisor Loch Eil 2014 From 1 – 5 December this year, 40 S3 pupils took part in the Outward Bound Course at Loch Eil. Here are some of their thoughts on the week. After a 3½ hour bus journey we arrived at Loch Eil near Fort William. On the first afternoon we were split into our ‘clans’ (Stuart, Cameron,
Geography Field Trip to Edinburgh
Mountaineering at Loch Eil
Canoeing at loch Eil
S3 & S4 Dance
MacDonald and MacLean) and we met our instructors for the week. We then collected our equipment, had a tour and took part in some team building activities. The next day we engaged in high wire activities such as Jacobs Ladder and Trapeze. In the afternoon we had a raft building competition (Stuart clan v MacDonald clan) and the MacDonalds were victorious! That night we had a great game of basketball. On Wednesday there were the exhilarating activities of climbing and canoeing and they were both great fun. On Thursday the MacDonald clan went on a canoeing expedition which we all thoroughly enjoyed. On the Friday everyone was sad to be going home but we had clan competitions and presentations to make. Everyone was shattered by the time we arrived home but we all absolutely loved the Loch Eil experience and have made memories that we will never forget! Kim Russell S3 My personal achievement from Loch Eil was getting to the top of Jacobs Ladder. We all enjoyed the week and I had a lot of fun doing activities that I’ve never done before. I would recommend to everyone that they should go! Katherine Stewart-Earl S3 Christmas Dances The Senior Dance, S1/2 and S3/4 dances all took place in the run up to Christmas. Ian Milligan and his band provided the great ceilidh music for all 3 dances while Allardyce Photography were on hand to capture all the action on the dance floor. Pupils got dressed up for the occasion and enjoyed a night of fun and music with their friends as they whirled around the floor. A great time was had by all! Christmas Concert On Thursday 18 December staff and pupils of the Music Department at McLaren High School presented their 44th Annual Christmas Concert. This festive evening included performances from the orchestra, vocal group and various ensembles. There were some traditional and not so traditional pieces such as Sleigh Ride, Baby it’s Cold Outside, the Three Minute Nutcracker and Holiday Mash Up. We were also introduced to the S1 Samba Band who played ‘Something Different’ and the String Quartet who played their own arrangement of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence beautifully. The audience sang along to a selection of carols during the evening and were treated to some amazing music by some truly talented pupils. It was a great way to start the Christmas celebrations. Well done to everyone involved!
Farm Forum: A new Champion For Farmers? The tragic loss suffered on Christmas Day which is covered elsewhere in this issue puts the more mundane problems we encounter into perspective. It is therefore with a heavy heart and lack of enthusiasm that I put pen to paper this month and touch on some the issues that have arisen during the last two months. Caledonian Marts in Stirling, which is a farmers’ co-op set up in 1964 to give farmers a second option for selling their livestock, is said to be hit by bad debt and strenuous efforts are being made to resolve the problem. Let us hope these are successful. Now we hear that First Milk, another Farmers’ co - op, has announced a reduction in price to dairy farmers to just above 20p per Litre from 1st February, and to add to their farmer suppliers woes they have announced a two week delay in payments to help cash flow problems. At the same time the National Farmers’ Union was rightly harshly critical, a week or so ago, of supermarkets selling two litres of milk for 89 pence. I know very little about the milk industry but it does seem to me, living in Balquhidder, that there is something fundamentally wrong when bottled water, in many cases, costs more than milk.
The negotiations surrounding the new Common Agricultural Policy seem to have created as much uncertainty as firm decisions. However the new farm commissioner, Irishman Phil Hogan, could be a breath of fresh air. He spoke recently at a farming conference in Dublin and, according to a report by Richard Wright, he came out fighting for farmers against those they have long believed use their scale and market power to squeeze the agricultural industry. High on the list of those in his sights were fertiliser manufacturers. We have long been told that fertiliser prices reflect energy costs, since that is what
the process is all about. He challenged the manufacturers to explain why they were forecasting a 7% rise in prices in 2015, when the price of oil has fallen by 45% since last June. Phil Hogan is at an early stage of his reign and he will be judged not by his rhetoric but by the actions he is able to take. Agriculture must be one of the more fuel dependant industries. We use it for cultivating, grain drying and haulage to mention but three direct uses. Let us see if for example, haulage prices will start a downward spiral. One bit of advice - don’t hold your breath!
Ranger Review February 2015 A look at the work of the MFG Rangers in Betampona Special Reserve, Madagascar By Gareth Kett
We awoke to the enchanting dawn chorus of the Indri, the largest of the lemurs. Early explorers had believed the sound drifting across the rainforest canopy to be that of ghosts lost in the depths of the forest. Or was it the laughter and cries of the village children that had woken us? We were back. A year after breaking her leg at the Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group (MFG) research station/ village of Rendrirendry (see January 2014 Ranger Review) Karen, my wife, had returned to her work co-ordinating the research programme in the 2,200ha Betampona Special Reserve rainforest fragment in eastern Madagascar. Naturally I returned with her and our – now three year old – son Tristan. There are eight MFG rangers (or agents de conservation as they are known locally). They live in and work from Rendrirendry during the week; only seeing their families, who need to live within range of secondary schools half a day’s travel away, at weekends. By 0700 the rangers that were not due to be with Karen that day had left the village for the forest and had begun another physically demanding patrol. The area around Betampona has been stripped of primary forest; only the extreme topography of the reserve saved it from the same fate prior to its designation in 1927. Looking almost like rebel militia, although not armed, the rangers spend the majority of their working days monitoring Betampona’s mind-blowing and yet sometimes elusive biodiversity. In addition to their own research, under Karen’s direction, the rangers assist international and Malagasy students working on PhD and Masters projects in the reserve. In the UK, rangers sometimes have a
reputation as being “Jacks of all trades”. Not so the MFG rangers. They are true specialists in their field with in-depth understanding of the forest ecology. Using scientific names they identify lemurs, birds and even frogs by sight or call and easily spot and identify the most obscure, well camouflaged reptiles. Their knowledge of the Betampona flora is also very impressive. Written reports are produced in French rather than their native Betsimisaraka Malagasy tongue. Jean-Noel, the team leader is an author of a number of scientific publications. Betampons’s primary forest is largely intact, although sadly some of its largest rosewoods and palesandras were extracted in illegal logging operations back in the 1960’s, and invasive plants such as Chinese guava and wild ginger pose a serious threat to the structure of the forest. The MFG rangers monitor the spread of invasives, while their presence in the forest deters further illegal logging and poaching. There is a 1.3 times increase in recorded incidents of poaching for each kilometre travelled away from Rendrirendry, which sits on the southern tip of the reserve. When patrolling Betampona’s northern area the rangers camp out, but take nothing other than water from the forest. Illegal logging in Betampona isn’t a large scale, commercial operation, with bull-dozers and chainsaws and the perpetrators by enlarge aren’t evil or greedy. They are villagers looking for a way to feed their families. In fact the physical work and skill involved in felling large trees by axes on treacherous slopes, constructing large-scale saw-horses from smaller trees tangled in vines, cutting out sleepers using twin-handled, eightfoot hand-saws, carrying the sleepers two or three kilometres to the river and rafting them 30km on bamboo rafts, negotiating a couple of rapids on the way, with no protective equipment, is to be admired. But not tolerated. Working to combat logging and poaching, the MFG rangers hike to villages surrounding Betampona to carry out environmental education programmes and to oversee a community forest restoration programme that Karen and I established while we were
living and working in Madagascar. A mixture of native trees and non-invasive exotic timber trees are propagated in community nurseries and planted out around the reserve border, both protecting the stark primary forest edge from yearly hammerings by cyclones and providing timber and firewood for local communities. The rangers assess each village’s input into the project, deducting points if evidence of illegal logging or poaching is found within reasonable range of the village. Nonmonetary awards, such as classrooms and learning materials, are given at ceremonies to villages performing well. The tough terrain means that there is an element of danger in the work of the rangers, which is exasperated by cyclones, malaria, lack of medical care and the possibility of encountering poachers and loggers. There is an additional risk of being ostracized by local communities when infractions are reported to the authorities. Despite this they undertake their work with pride; evaluating risk in their heads as they go, rather than on paper. Betampona is still there thanks to their efforts. It’s difficult to describe the sense of completeness you feel when inside relatively unspoilt primary forest, where all components of the ecosystem are still intact – including the presence of top predators. On a day off from work Karen, Tristan and I chanced upon a female fossa in oestrus. During the mating season female fossas chose a tree, staying there for a few days while males in the area visit. It is incredibly rarely that you get the chance to watch a fossa, but we were able to watch two, as a male intent on gaining acceptance from the female, repeated patrolled the area around us - at one point coming within five meters of
Fair weather office
Heading out on patrol
us! Fossas are thought to be descended from a single mongoose-like ancestor (Garbutt, N). Although smaller, they are almost panther like in appearance. They are incredibly athletic, preying on lemurs in the canopy, as well as on immature wild boar, birds and small mammals. After the misadventures of our 2013 Madagascar trip, 2014’s visit ran very
Pin Feathers -
smoothly, both at Betampona and at Ranomafana National Park roughly 500km southwest of Betampona. At Ranomafana Karen took part in the second ACSAM (A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar) conference, working with national and international amphibian experts in developing a conservation plan for Madagascar’s amphibians in the face of threats from ranavirus and chytrid fungus (which have decimated amphibian populations across much of the world and have recently been found in Madagascar), the bush-meat trade and the illegal pet trade. The journey to Ranomafana included an hour-long flight and a ten-hour car journey through Madagascar’s central High Plateau. Once mostly wooded, only pockets of native woodland now remain on the High Plateau. Terracing for rice cultivation on the hillsides could be considered pleasing to the eye and the skill with which subsistence farmers coax their cattle into working the land is to be admired, but the story is one of ecological destruction. A tapestry of bare red soil, rice paddies, villages and sparse vegetation spreads across the landscape. Even in the dry season the rivers run brickred carrying soils of erosion. And yellowbilled kites scour the villages in search of domestic fowl and waste where natural prey and carrion has become scarce – and so are persecuted. Yet haven’t we done the
same thing to our own landscape over the past 8,000 years? Here there are no complete ecosystems. No top predators. For me the journey from Betampona to Ranomafana emphasised the importance of the work being carried out in places such as these, but also reminded me of the importance of conserving the special wildlife that we still have in the UK and working towards repairing our damaged ecosystems. It is especially important in our National Parks. Ranger Review will return in its usual form in April. Before then, look out for Loch Lomond - A Year in the Wild, the four part wildlife documentary series made by Tigress Aspects covering the biodiversity of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and the surrounding area during 2014. It is due to be aired on Channel 5 in late February or March. Without giving anything away I can say that the programmes contain some spectacular footage. As always you’re welcome to drop into the Lochearnhead office if you have any queries or would like to report any wildlife sightings. Alternatively you can call me on the office number 01389 722040 or e-mail me at email@example.com. Reference Garbutt, N. (2007) Mammals of Madagascar A Complete Guide. C&C Offset Printing Co., Ltd., China.
continued from page 17
when old scores are settled. On the top of the mound there are two earth banks and it is through these that any cattle that change hands are driven, held in a stockade for a moment for intending buyers to have a closer look before doing a deal. It was the very fair custom that if the eventual price in the south was much better than expected, then a percentage would be kept back for the seller the following year. There was of course always the danger that some may be stolen during the night, even though the drover and his dog would be sleeping with the cattle.In fact during these times of government laws to restrict the ownership of weapons, a respected drover was allowed to carry a gun and a sword to defend himself and his cattle. This “Place of the Fair” is a strategic place, because here we have the four old drove roads meeting and a place where there is good grazing and resting for the cattle - and a popular venue for travellers and locals alike. There were five ale houses in the glen and they had been storing up supplies for many weeks just for this event. Flax was grown and cloths made from this were being traded too. When all the travellers had departed, the area had become much trampled by the cattle and horses and in places was deep in mud but this will have time to recover before too long and the next event to be held here. Let us move on now a little further in time - and we find the Morrison family living here in the house called Tigh-naFhaidreach (The House of the Fair). We have found here in recent times on that mound at the back door of the house an old army badge from the Scottish Horse Regiment, South Africa,1900,1901,1902 and carved on a rock on the mound, the initials DM. It has come to light that one Donald Morrison was in fact the soldier who wore this badge and lived here. He carved his initials on that rock, went to fight in the Boer War and returned safely. With a romantic and imaginative frame of mind, a wee dram and the fireside, it is easy to let the mind wonder and spend a little time with all these happenings through the ages! Old Nyati
Site of the Drovers’ Fair from below Tom na Fhaidreach in the trees
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Things to eat, sea, do in Lochearnhead, Balquhidder, Stathyre, St Fillans. Local community news, Park rangers , Loch Lomond and the Trossach...
Published on Feb 1, 2015
Things to eat, sea, do in Lochearnhead, Balquhidder, Stathyre, St Fillans. Local community news, Park rangers , Loch Lomond and the Trossach...