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March 2016 Issue
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Taste the Wild - Exciting new Food and Drink Festival for the Road to the Isles
The Road to the Isles Marketing Group has been successful in their bid for funding from the latest round of the Community Food Fund and has secured £6,850 towards the ‘Taste the Wild’ West Highlands Food and Drink Festival which will take place in Mallaig on the 10/11th September 2016.
The festival will have lots of stalls where folk can taste the different food and drink produced in the West Highlands and there will be demonstrations from local chefs preparing fish and meat dishes from the local produce. There will be talks on various aspects of food production and some foraging and fishing trips for people to experience food gathering for themselves. A ceilidh is planned for the Saturday evening and the local hotels and restaurants will have special menus and music over the weekend.
The idea behind the event is to promote the area as a food tourism destination by raising awareness of the quality of cuisine and wealth of produce that is available in our local area. It is hoped that it will link food producers with hospitality providers to enable a more sustainable way of supplying our food needs for local people and visitors alike.
The event is the brainchild of Arisaig House’s, Sarah Winnington-Ingram. Sarah, who is Chair of the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, feels passionately that the fantastic food in this area should be celebrated: “We do not want our wonderful food to be the West Highlands’ best-kept secret – it deserves to be widely promoted as it is really something special. We have an incredibly diverse natural larder and some great artisan food producers in this area and we should be celebrating that.”
Hilary Trodd, Secretary of the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, said: “We also want to provide people with innovative ideas for ways to use local produce to produce good quality food that is nutritious and environmentally sustainable and we want to encourage local people to grow their own food and sell the surplus at local outlets.”
For more information, visit the Festival's Facebook page.
The Road to the Isles Marketing Group are hoping that all artisan food producers will take part in the festival - any food producers or eating places in the area who would like to participate in the festival should contact Hilary Trodd on 01687 450740 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A WRITE HIGHLAND HOOLIE FESTIVAL OF BOOKS
Mallaig’s new Literary Festival is on course to be jam packed with brilliant talent and will certainly be worth attending. With Mallaig's connection with Herring fishing, it is appropriate that the main speaker will be Donald S Murray from Ness on the Isle of Lewis. Donald is a former teacher now living in Shetland and has published a number of books, winning the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, the Jessie Kesson Writing Fellowship and obtaining a Creative Scotland travel bursary for researching a non-fiction book about the Herring industry – Herring Tales; How The Silver Darlings Shaped Human Taste And History (Bloomsbury). Featuring Mallaig, alongside ports in locations as far away as Iceland, the western edge of Norway and Baltic coast of Germany, this book has received wide-ranging and excellent reviews in a large number of outlets, including the Spectator, Economist, Geographical, Scottish Review of Books and BBC Countryfile and was chosen as one of the best Nature books of 2015 in the Guardian. Murray’s poetry has also been included among the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Scottish Poems on three occasions in recent years.
Authors who have confirmed they will be coming include: award-winning food writer, Sue Lawrence, author of fifteen cookery books and two novels; Jim Crumley, a nature writer who has more than thirty books to his name and is also a widely published poet and journalist with a weekly column in The Courier and a monthly one in The Scots Magazine - hot off the press for Mallaig will be a new full-length work called The Nature of Autumn, a very personal exploration of the most flamboyant of the seasons all across Scotland; Michael F Russell, Deputy Editor of the West Highland Free Press, whose debut novel Lie of the Land has been shortlisted for two awards; Jess Smith, a brilliant raconteur who was raised as a Scottish Traveller. Her life is dedicated to unearthing the little known history of the Tinker people for future generations.
‘A Write Highland Hoolie’ hopes to inspire children from near and far to come and enjoy the special children's event with Debi Gliori. Gliori lives in Scotland and is well known for both her picture books and her novels for children and has been shortlisted for all the major prizes, including the Kate Greenaway Award (twice) and the Scottish Arts Council Award. Debi was the Shetland Islands’ first Children’s Writer-in-Residence. She published her first book in 1990 and has since published so many successful?books that she has lost count!
An inaugural committee of Sine MacKellaig Davis, Polly Pullar, Eilidh Henderson, Deirdre Roberts and Ann Lamont are presently applying for charitable status and seeking funding for the proposed programme of events which is now being finalised.
For more information on the authors and their works, and breaking news on the Festival please go to our Facebook page.
It’s been a quiet but much nicer month here. Slowly we are starting to see the snowdrops and daffodils creeping up, the sun has shone on more than one occasion and the days are getting longer. I would almost dare to say that spring might have sprung. Certainly things are in motion for the coming season, with people prepping and getting ready. The Bunkhouse is all freshly painted, the Tearoom’s new decking plans are under way, and the bike hire business is coming together…all looking good really. It will be busy again before we know it, with Easter only being three weeks away now.
The school kids did well, achieving the JMT award they have been working towards for the past few months. The nature reserve area they have built down at the market garden looks wonderful and they have done a great job. Well done guys!
On the housing front, there are some shift arounds happening. Congratulations to Isla and wee Victor who will be moving into Annemarie’s old house pretty soon, and Johan who is moving from the Old Dairy down to Scottas cottage. The Knoydart Lodge has also sold and JP (Old Forge) now owns the Byre.
On Saturday the 27th we had a performance in the hall by The Dead Stations, which combined music, recorded audio drama and animation, to tell a tale of someone who got off a (deserted) train in the middle of a forest somewhere, possibly suffering from the effects of psychotic mushrooms in his head. Now, I have to admit, I was personally somewhat confused by the storyline but the music was good and Mhairi was an amazing singer!
Now, I expect everyone has probably heard already, but some major boat changes have occurred in the last week. Western Isles Cruises have bought Seabridge from Jon Sellers. This means there will be some changes come April, to the timetable and to which boats are being used. The smaller, faster boats will be less frequent and the Western Isles will be returning to its old routine. Just make sure to check out the new timetable if you are planning a trip.
Think that’s it for now folks. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for details of the Easter Bizarre, coming soon. Our Bizarres are getting better and better all the time, with all the talented locals we have! There will also be a Ceilidh on the Easter Saturday.
ISLE OF MUCK
The cages are empty at last. On the 10th of February the last of the Muck salmon made their way to Mallaig, an event originally planned for before Christmas, but as we all know the weather was atrocious in December and January, making it impossible to load the Well Boat on numerous days. Now the cages will remain empty for a number of weeks before restocking. The salmon from Muck have gained an excellent reputation for quality and as I mentioned before are available from the Fish Counter at Sainsburys. The site of the old school (where I was once a pupil) and the derelict building above; has been offered to the islanders by Highland Council for community use. Otherwise it will go on the open market. Mark Johnson is working with others to draw up?a plan for a building which can be subdivided into workshops for island use. It will be great to see the old?eyesore disappear at last!
Nearby at the Hall; with the aid of a rented scaffolding tower, the ceiling is now covered in panels which should improve the acoustics. At present the spoken word is particularly difficult to hear at any distance, though music is less affected.
Lastly I have an apology. The Open Day, which is in the West Word Calendar for 5th June, has had to change its date due to a wedding on the island!? It will now take place on Sunday 19th June.
MUCK PRIMARY SCHOOL
At Burns night we all had loads of fun, especially when the children were performing their poems and songs. We really enjoyed sharing our dance, which we have called ‘The Dashing Blue Burlers’. The food was delicious, there was even clootie dumpling! We had great news that we had been donated money through Gallanach Lodge, and we all agreed that with a bit of additional fundraising we would like to go on another trip to Nethybridge Outdoor Activity Centre.
We’ve been making plans on paper about the polytunnel and what we are going to do with it this year, and we also cleared the polytunnel. Jasper and Nursery went to the beach and got seaweed for the polytunnel and we have also been thinking about the bee and butterfly garden and getting it ready for a new year.
We have enjoyed joint Assemblies with our friends on Eigg, led by Mr Murray, our new Head Teacher for Eigg and Muck Primaries. We enjoyed thinking about how we use our words, saying some tongue twisters and ways that we can speak kindly to each other.
In Science, we have invented a teleportation machine and a time travel machine amongst other wondrous ideas!
We did some yoga following instructions from a yoga session for children on the internet and practiced some of our yoga postures to improve stamina, balance and strength. It was fun!
We have been looking at Victorian classrooms. They used the cane, wrote on slate, used chalk, ink and quills. It was very different then!
For Pancake Day there were two teams and we made about fifteen pancakes. Delicious!
ISLE OF RUM
A very wet February with lots of miserable days of cancelled ferries. We tried hard not to let it stop play too much though and had a fabulous community curry night with almost 100% of on island Rumachs in attendance. Wonderful food and the usual late night guitar playing and singing.
Chainsaw Dave is currently manning two big machines at once (along with all his usual duties too!) doing the road maintenance for this year - the whole of Rum is a blur of yellow as his digger, dumper and wellies dash by!?
Everyone mourned the sad passing of iconic Croft 3 creature Tom Pig. Father to three litters and here on Rum since the very start of The Goddard's Crofting adventures. He featured on TV, radio and various magazine articles and will be much missed. He was 'some pig'.
Everyone is getting geared up for the start of 'The Season' with the first visitors already coming off and heading for the hills with rucksacks or staying in the Bunkhouse and Ivy Cottage Guest House. Rum Crafts is back open for business and Nic & Ady's new venture Croft 3 in the shed is launched with their first customer already having bought a jar of bramble jam. Kate and Ian will be back by the end of March so Tattie House Crafts will be open again too.
Ranger Trudi is busy with the first of her events for the year - plenty of astrology and signs of spring events lined up for March. Trudi has also won funding from Tesco to progress on The Isle of Rum Regeneration Project and has grand plans for all sorts of projects including some volunteer events. Croft 3 will also be holding volunteer events through the summer so if you know anyone who is interested in visiting Rum and wants to get involved do direct them towards us! Nic Goddard
ISLE OF CANNA
After months of emails, letters etc, Canna's red phone box was put back in action. It is so important to keep these phone boxes active as there is no mobile signal on Canna and visitors, especially of the sailing fraternity, like to be able to contact friends and family.
These phone boxes are also an iconic part of our landscape. Lots of visitors photograph the phone box and have their photo taken with it. All it needs now is a nice coat of paint.
On Friday 26th, Canna Coastguard team were picked up by the Coastguard helicopter and flown to Stornoway for a weekend of training. Water rescue, map reading and radio skills etc were included, but they weren't expecting to get winched out of the helicopter on arrival in Stornoway!
Although the weather hasn't been improving it has been good to see an increase in bird species this month, lots of Skylarks, Lapwings, Shelducks and the Sea Eagles have been pairing up ready for breeding.
Isebail MacKinnon and staff from The National Trust for Scotland attended The Rural Housing Conference in Dunkeld and had lots of interesting feedback on the options available for communities working in partnership.
Criomagan (Crumbs…) from Canna House
The Gaelic word for February, “Gearran”, is a particularly appropriate word for the weather we’ve been having and is said to be related to the Scots word “to girn”, meaning to moan or complain about something! The wind has certainly been moaning the last few weeks! But the Canna snowdrops or “boinneag-sneachda” (pronounced bonn-yuck shnachk-uh) have been a cheering sight on the lawn for the last few days.
February has been a busy month in Canna House with Indie continuing her work, together with Liz Holden, on the documenting of the collections within the House - all the objects, ornaments, furniture and paintings need to be measured, recorded and photographed in order for us to compile a comprehensive inventory of everything we hold. At times, the equipment looks like one of the large butterflies which John Campbell collected……
February also saw the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Politician, which sank off the coast of Eriskay and South Uist in February 1941, together with its cargo of 260,000 bottles of whisky. It would appear that the two bottles which we hold in Canna House, gifted to Margaret Fay Shaw by her dear friend Peigi Macrae of South Uist, are not included in the official total of the eight known remaining bottles. These eight bottles were brought up from the sea bed by a diver in 1987, but our two bottles are remembered in Canna House by Magda Sagarzazu from the time she first came to Canna in 1961. Peigi’s great nephew, Alex Macrae, recently told us that he remembers his father telling him that many more bottles of the Polly Whisky were opened to celebrate the launch of Margaret’s book, Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist, in 1955…….. Fiona J Mackenzie
ISLE OF EIGG
Romance is not dead on Eigg: not quite coinciding with Valentine’s day, in fact quite a bit later, we heard that Frances Carr and Stephen Nelson are going to tie the knot in a few weeks time. A nice note to end the month on, a month which has seen a few rare but intense bits of sunshine, with much storms in between, and an unprecedented drive to health and fitness on the island: yoga class with our American volunteer Sadie, who is polishing the implements at Croft 6 and cutting brambles like mad around it the rest of the time, gentle but firm circuit training with Larraine, who’s also started the twice weekly run around the forestry track, and my continued weekly qi gong practice which saw one brave man attending the other week! It has to be said that fitness seems to be up to now, a uniquely female pre-occupation on the island…Well, it was nice to have a bit of yang energy amongst all that yin. Long may it continue.
We also welcomed the new head for Eigg and Muck, Andrew Murray, whose family joined him for the February break. Wee Maggie was also very happy for a bit more yang amongst the children of her own age…Pete Slavik, the new owner of Shore Cottage, also broke the gender barrier by joining our singing group! What’s going on? Must be spring in the air. Everyone seems to get out of the winter hibernation and there is action on the road with culverts and ditches being dug, extensions on houses being done as in Lageorna, a new porch at the Cuagach bothy, painting and final preparations for Selkie, before Eigg’s first sailing adventure business is launched in April. Watch out for these small isles sailing weekend specials! Back in Hulin, Pascal and Catherine are turning their shed into a gallery and workshop space and will soon start on their willow residentials. Libby has produced an amazing tartan hen to rest your tablet on, which is bound to be a bestseller this year and held a really successful felt painting workshop. Phew, some of us have been busy.
So it’s now only a few weeks before the pool table is removed from Galmisdale bay café and our leisurely winter season rhythm switches into mad action summer mode, although it looks as if the pace of life has accelerated a little already. But we have taken the time to savour our last few peaceful evenings amongst ourselves though, with a nice curry night hosted by Greg with chef Dan before his departure to the delights of Fort William. February has been a really nice month after all! Our best wishes in the meantime to Mick Brett who is recuperating after surgery in Inverness, and congratulations to Kathleen and Lorne on the birth of their baby boy!
Hope they visit very soon.
MALLAIG MOURNS THE LOSS OF LOCAL FISHERMAN
On Thursday 3rd March, tragedy struck the Mallaig community with news of the death of local fisherman, William Grant, whose body was recovered from the entrance of Mallaig harbour at 2.40pm. Mallaig Councillor, Allan Henderson said: “Anything like this casts a gloom over the village...my sympathies go out to his family and friends”.
MALLAIG HARBOUR AUTHORITY - Appointment of Non-Executive Board Members
Mallaig Harbour Authority is seeking to make appointments of three non-executive members to its Board and individuals with an interest in public service are being sought.
Mallaig Harbour Authority is a Trust Port which differs from company or local authority owned ports by its constitution and powers. All port investments are funded from trading revenues supplemented by commercial borrowings.
The main duties of the Authority are to maintain, improve and develop the Port.
Two of the appointments will be for a period of three years. One of the appointments will be for a period of two years with all three appointments commencing in April 2016. Posts will be part time, typically a few days per month. A modest remuneration is payable.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate the following:
- That they have achieved results in demanding situations and can demonstrate ability and a proven track record in their chosen profession (or other activities);
- That they have the ability to contribute effectively in group discussions involving a wide range of people, including specialists and professionals. This includes the intellectual ability to extract the essence of an argument from papers and to analyse problems and assess evidence impartially;
- That they have been able to earn the respect of colleagues and been influential as a member of a team working over a sustained period of time towards demanding goals;
Applicants should make clear the level and depth of management or specialist expertise (if any), and of any other experience which demonstrate knowledge and interests relevant to this post e.g. management of harbours, financial management, human resources and industrial relations, laws relating to Scotland.
Residence within a reasonable distance of the port, and familiarity with local issues in the region surrounding the port, are highly desirable.
The Authority is committed to equality of opportunity and encourages a diverse range of applicants and to the principle of appointment on merit with independent assessment, openness and transparency of process in accordance with the Guide To Good Governance for Trust Ports.
Further details and application forms can be obtained from:
Mallaig Harbour Authority, Harbour Office, Mallaig, Inverness-shire. PH41 4QB or email@example.com
Closing date for applications - 2pm on Friday 25th March 2016
On and Off the Rails
Time marches on and as we enter the third month of 2016, I am reminded of the old saying ‘March winds and April showers bring forth the May flowers’! Well, I don’t know about you, but I think that ‘the end of October 2015 until the end of February 2016’ should be substituted! Our utility room at the house should be renamed ‘the mud, wet room’ as I de-robe three times daily and dry myself off! All credit to the local and visiting trades people, who have continued to work on projects for the improvement of Mallaig and its economy. It gives me great pride, as a volunteer in Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig, to see locally owned and National businesses investing in our continually changing and evolving communities. Thanks to all involved.
Model Rail Scotland 2016 Competition Winners
I write this before the event (26th/27th/28th February 2016), but the winners, together with Steve and I, will be attending the 50th Anniversary Show. The Association of Model Railway Societies in Scotland, who join together to present this event each year at the SECC Glasgow, are all volunteers who love to show the pride, skills and pleasure in being involved in railway modelling. The track layouts represent years of skill and building, and now with digital signalling and computer controlled layouts, it brings in new generations to follow on. There are one hundred and fifty exhibitor stands, which sell anything from railway crested china and cutlery to clothing, hats, whistles, DVDs, antique and new books etc. The winners are/were Pete Barrett from Morar and Stewart Miller from Knoydart. Each won a pair of tickets to attend. I ran other competitions in other newspapers and all tickets were taken up to go to this event.
Rail Tours in March and April
Statesman Rail - Diesel locomotive hauled - three day tours. ‘Winter West Highland Statesman’ to Fort William and Mallaig:
- Saturday 12th to Monday 14th March - visiting Mallaig for two hours on Sunday 13th March from Bristol via Cheltenham Spa, Wolverhampton and Wigan.
- Saturday 19th to Monday 21st March - visiting Mallaig for two hours on Sunday 20th March from Kettering via Leicester, Chesterfield and Manchester.
- Saturday 2nd to Monday 4th April – visiting Mallaig for two hours on Sunday 3rd April from London Euston via Milton Keynes, Lichfield and Crewe.
Information from: tel – 0345 3102458 or www.statesmanrail.com
ScotRail – Summer Service – Sundays
Timetable Changes Commencing Sunday 20th March 2016
I am reluctant to commit myself on the changes because with the upcoming closure of Queen Street Glasgow Tunnel from Sunday 20th March until the reopening on Monday 8th August, services will take a little longer than usual in both directions. All trains will arrive/depart from Glasgow Queen Street low level, but some may involve buses. The only true advice I can give is to pick up the new timetable from your local booking office, available from 6th March, plus a new booklet called ‘Keeping you Moving’, which is available now. Or go to www.scotrail.co.uk/queenstreettunnel. From 20th February digital timetables will be available to download, plus maps and route information. Add into that possible Mallaig staff shortages, which I am informed will not be covered by Fort William staff overtime – so will be buses – and you can see my dilemma!
As always, trust that ScotRail will endeavour to get you to your destination, and there are still great travel bargains to be obtained. The best current deal for all adults is the £5 Single Fare Saver Advance Ticket. You cannot buy it on the train or on the day of travel. You can buy it up to two months in advance, online or at any booking office AND if you have a current Club 50 card, senior railcard or disabled railcard, you can get it for £3.50 plus a free cup of tea or coffee whilst travelling (with a Club 50 card)!! To book online go to: www.scotrail.co.uk/#buytickets and scroll down to Saver Advance.
West Coast Railways – Jacobite Steam Train Service 2016
As we go to press, the dates for this year are:-
Monday to Friday morning service from Fort William to Mallaig – commencing Monday 9th May until Friday 28th October.
Monday to Friday afternoon service from Fort William to Mallaig - commencing Monday 16th May until Friday 26th August.
Saturday and Sunday morning service from Saturday 18th June until Sunday 18th September.
Advance bookings are always advisable (especially first class) by telephoning West Coast Railways in Carn Forth on: 01524 732100 or go to www.jacobitetrain.com or 0844 8504685.
Latest News/WCRC Statement
Issued on their official Facebook page at 1.30pm on Monday 22nd February 2016
“We are very excited to be hosting the world famous ‘Jacobite’ Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig in the Scottish Highlands. This will be our 22nd year providing this service which starts on Monday May 9th 2016, and an even better service.
Following recent talks with ORR, West Coast Railways are in the process of making some operational improvements. We would like to remind all passengers that in placing a booking with us, you are doing so with confidence as we outline in our terms and conditions. In the unlikely event of one of our excursions being unable to run for whatever reason, for example flooding, line closure etc, all passengers will be offered the choice of an alternative date to travel or a full refund. We will also provide as much advance notice as possible.
We look forward to welcoming all passengers on board”.
Rannoch Station Tearoom Spring Opening
I am delighted to inform you that Jenny Anderson and her trusty helpers will be springing into action again this year from Saturday 12th March. The wonderfully charming tearoom will be open six days a week from this date, closing every Friday for supplies and sanity! You will recall my visits with Steve for lunch last year. We were never disappointed, always made welcome, and if going by train on the 10.10am from Mallaig, there is ample time to enjoy lunch and return back to Mallaig at 5.35pm. If travelling through Rannoch onwards to Glasgow, you can pre-order hot rolls and Jenny will deliver them to the train, if you have the right money ready! Check out details on the internet by going to: www.rannochstationtearoom.co.uk. There are lovely photographs too. Or telephone her on 07557 271880. You won’t regret it, it is ideal for a ‘ladies that lunch’ trip out or just to meet friends. They are on Facebook too.
Corrour Station News
Over the winter, much work has been carried out on what used to be known as ‘Morgan’s Den’ bothy, which incorporated he signal box. It is now in tip-top condition thanks to Corrour Estate, Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust. Skips and many contractors have come and turned the building into a three bedroom self-catering unit. It is now waiting to be furnished out and hopefully will be opening on Easter weekend. The separate building, known and loved as Corrour Station Restaurant, will be re-opening for business at the same time. Follow the progress and gain more details at www.corrour.co.uk. They are on Facebook too. Welcome to Shona, Bruce and Claire as the burst into life! More news as I get it.
Class 73s Make it to Oban
Since Serco took over the Caledonian Sleeper franchise in April 2015, plans have been in place to use refurbished Class 73s instead of hiring in Class 67s from EWS (DB Schenker). We are talking locomotives here, to haul the carriages!
As I mentioned in my January column, when the first of the refurbished locomotives were rolled out and entered service, I intended to write more about these locomotives and give a brief history from their innovation and introduction to British Rail.
The first batch of six were built by British Rail at Eastleigh and were numbered E6001 to E6006. They were unusual in that they were built as ‘Hybrid’ with both diesel and electrical capabilities. They were fitted with a 600HP (447kw) diesel engine and a third rail ‘pickup’ to collect 600/750DC from a live rail lying next to the operating rail. This meant that they could work by using their diesel engine where no third rail was present, but with much less tractive effort.
After the first six were built, a further forty three were built at English Electrics Vulcan Foundry. Various modifications were done to the last batch and it enabled them to run at ninety miles per hour instead of eighty miles per hour. Weighing in at 80 tons, they were give a route availability RA6, which made them very versatile. Because of their larger horsepower using third rail ‘pick-up’, they worked mostly on the southern region, so to end up in Scotland is definitely a ‘first’. The only other locomotives to have worked as far south as Hastings and as far north as Oban would have been a Class 37.
From the original forty nine locomotives, ten have been scrapped and six re-engined with 1600 horsepower MTU diesel units for use on the Caledonian Sleepers – from Fort William and Oban to Edinburgh, Inverness/Aberdeen.
Previous operations undertaken were originally on British Rail, the Gatwick Express, GB Railfreight and South West Trains.
The remaining locomotives are owned and operated by various rail companies and Network Rail have two operational and a third as spare parts.
Next month, I hope to report on their progress in Scotland – maybe with some photographs.
The arrival of Class 73967 and 73968 on the first of the rescheduled Sleepers was on 13th February. Peter Strachan, MD of Sleeper Scot, addressed a meeting of local Councillors and hinted that there could be a future for a joint Sleeper service serving Oban as well as Fort William, with the services combining at Crianlarich. A piper played the first one in.
See you on the train
NEW DOG GROOMING SALON
PLANS FOR TOM & MOBY TO HIT THE ATLANTIC
From Personal Angle - Then and now….
These two photographs help illustrate the quite dramatic changes that have occurred round by the site of the old village hall/Smiths beach. The “now” photograph was taken by Moe Mathieson in February 2016, some eighty or so years after the one below.
You can celebrate the centenary of Jon Schueler’s birth, discover the artist, his work and his inspiration at eleven separate venues throughout Scotland this year. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin born painter spent five years (1970-1975) living and working at Romasaig, Glasnacardoch, so it’s only right that one of those exhibitions is at the Mallaig Heritage Centre. It’s set to run from the 1st April through to the 31st October 2016. During March to December, Fort William’s West Highland Museum will have ‘Schueler on Display’, but it’s on the Isle of Skye that a Jon Schueler symposium, The Sound of Sleat: Echoes, Reflections and Transfigurations, moderated by Lindsay Blair, will take place at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the University of the Highlands and Islands from May 27th to the 29th.
Examples of the abstract painter’s works will also be on view at Resipole Studios in Acharacle, Ullapool, Thurso, Inverness, Stirling University, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow and Paisley Museum and Art Galleries.
BIRDWATCH February 2016 by Stephen MacDonald
The juvenile Iceland Gull was present all month at Mallaig Harbour. On 22nd, it was joined by a juvenile Glaucous Gull, the first this winter for Mallaig.
The wintering Slavonian Grebes on Loch nan Ceall were seen on several occasions during the month. A Common Scoter and thirty-eight Red-breasted Mergansers were also seen there on 28th.
Great Northern Divers were reported from Glasnacardoch, Camusdarroch and Loch nan Ceall, the leucistic bird reported on several occasions at the latter site.
There were still at least four Whooper Swans and the female Tufted Duck present on Loch nan Eala during the month. On 13th, a single White-fronted Goose and two Canada Geese were feeding alongside the Greylags in fields at Traigh.
Several reports of Barn Owls, including a bird seen hunting over fields between Silver Sands and Cuillin View, Arisaig on 7th, and another perched on a roadside fence post near Cross Farm on 21st. On the same night, a Long Eared Owl was seen by the Clubhouse at Traigh Golf Course.
A Skylark seen and heard at Rhu, Arisaig on 22nd was the first report of the year. Two days later, four were seen flying north over Camusdarroch and six were feeding with Meadow Pipits in a field at Achateilasaig.
Yellowhammers were reported from gardens in Arisaig and also a pair in a Morar garden. Goldfinches widely reported, with at least fifty in one Morar garden on several occasions.
Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests and Tree-creepers were reported from a garden near Woodside, Morar. A group of ten Song Thrushes were feeding in a field at Camusdarroch on 24th and a small flock of Fieldfare and a few Redwings were seen in fields between the Mains Farm and the Glen House, Arisaig on several days during the last week of February. Mistle Thrushes were heard singing there also.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard drumming in Arisaig and Morar from the middle of the month.
Jays were reported from Arisaig and a single bird was seen on several occasions near a garden at Kinigarry, Morar.
Singles of both Sea and Golden Eagle were reported from Arisaig and a pair of Sea Eagles were seen over Morar on 15th.
Several times over the last three years, mainly in the late spring/summer, Highland Ringing Group have trapped and ringed birds in a Morar garden. A number of birds, mainly Lesser Redpolls and Siskins, have been caught, already bearing rings, which has resulted in some interesting discoveries; however, a Lesser Redpoll and a juvenile Siskin that were ringed in Morar last year have since been re-trapped in Suffolk. The Siskin was ringed in Morar on 26th June and caught in Brandon, Suffolk on 28th September. The Lesser Redpoll was ringed on 22nd April and re-caught on New Year’s Day and then again on 9th January at East Stoneham, Suffolk. Both these sites are over 650km from here!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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