Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 421

Issue # 421                                                      Week ending Saturday 7th October 2017

Is it Really Possible That I Was the One Who Caused the Power Cut on Monday? by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

The forecast 70mph winds did not materialise on Monday but just to keep us on our toes, the authorities let rip with a couple of power cuts in the evening to make sure we were not inappropriately joyful. That, of course, may not be what actually happened but some of us could not help feeling hard done by as we shivered by torchlight trying to find the Scrabble box. However, for myself, I had the guilt that I may have caused the outage by threatening to switch off the light to stop my OCD sister-in-law from washing up.

Myself, Mrs X and the Geek were tucking into a late tea of chicken steak and mountains of veg. I point out it was chicken steak because it was chicken. When I looked up what I thought was a similar recipe recently, I found Chicken Fried Steak. It was an American website, you see. In that far country, a Chicken Fried Steak contains cow, not chicken. I kid you not. Did you not know what? Yes sirree, it is just steak. Chicken Fried is just the way it is cooked. And we thought we were a tad way out with Toad in the Hole and Spotted Dick.

So there we were having our tea and in comes said sister-in-law, Joey. She just could not sit still. The main reason for that was that we had run out of chairs in the kitchen so what did she do? She started washing the dishes. Imagine. A guest comes into your home and before a chair can be found, she is going at it with the scourers. Stop, Joey. Stop that now. Mrs X will do that - I mean, I will do that after our tea. Stop Joey. Stop or I will switch off the light. Just as I reached up to the switch - bang.

That was not thunder, nor an explosion. That sound was Mrs X’s forkful of chicken missing her mouth and landing on the floor. The electricity had suddenly gone off and, as the oven fan wound down we were plunged into pitch darkness. All we could hear was Joey’s voice saying she was sure there was a draining board round there somewhere as she felt around in the dark for somewhere to put the gleaming plates. Even with the power off, she was still scrubbing away, oblivious. Hey Joey, the power is off. “What? Oh, so it is. Where do you keep the Fairy Liquid?”

Then it hit me. In my bid to stop Joey from washing up, had I somehow called up some ancient power from ancient times to pitch not just our house but all of Lewis and Harris into darkness? Had I invoked the name of some old Celtic deity like Debranua. Oh no, she is the Celtic goddess of fat so definitely not her. Did I accidentally summon Luxovius, the god of a city’s water supply. Yes, I know a powerful being like that would, according to legend, usually assume responsibility for an abundant spring supplying a city or town but in this case it could be in charge of Scottish Water’s abundant pipes from the Barvas Moor.

Did I somehow and inadvertently utter something like the word Luxovius without thinking? Or was it when I was grabbing Joey and telling her to put down the scrubbing brush that she somehow said: “Let go of us?” and that caused Luxovius to cut us all off? Just in case, I shall be more polite to Joey on her next visit.

On their visit to America recently, two sprightly pensioners from Lewis learned just how different to us the Americans’ names for food are. As they took a taxi from the airport to their hotel, they kept seeing signs for Dogs and Fries. Seonag says to Peggy: “I didn’t know that people ate dogs in America.” Peggy replied: “No, a Sheonag, I thought it was just places like China and South Korea. However, if we are going to be in America for a month, we might as well do as the locals do. Are you game?”

Seonag agreed and later they both gave dinner at their hotel a miss and walked to a nearby food truck. “Two dogs, please,” says Seonag. The server wrapped both hot dogs in foil and handed them over the counter. Nervously, the two cailleachs hurried over to a nearby bench and begin to unwrap their ‘dogs’. Isobel was the first to open hers. Immediately, she blushed. Then, after staring at it for a moment, she leaned over to her friend and whispered: “Oh, a Pheigi. What part did you get?”

Lifting Fishing Restrictions Could Stop More North-east Jobs Going, Says Report

Councillors could join calls for fishing restrictions to be lifted in the North-east in a bid to curb job losses.  Current restrictions are designed to ensure UK workers benefit from North Sea fishing, but they could be lifted as they are leading to a shortage of fish supply in the North-east.  Under the rules, vessels must land at least half of their pelagic species – fish that swim closer to the surface than other types – in the UK to get a licence.  Many boats land more than half of their catches in Norway and other parts of Europe, so cannot land in the UK.  A new report claims this has led to supply shortages in four fish processing plants in Aberdeenshire, leading to job losses.  Around 3,000 jobs in the North-east are dependent on this kind of fishing, the report said.  The Scottish Government is consulting on whether to ease the restrictions.  Aberdeenshire Council’s fisheries and working group will meet on Wednesday to decide how it should respond to the consultation.  The group will be asked if it wants to send a letter to Holyrood, which reads: “The annual value of pelagic landings by Scottish registered vessels is usually in excess of £200 million. Landings value is clearly the most economically significant of the measures under the current arrangements. Logically therefore, it is the most appropriate link by which domestic economic activity can be maximised.”  Under plans, vessels would be allowed to land catches in Scotland, while still landing up to 70% of their catches abroad until the end of 2019. The international landing limit would be gradually raised, resting at 55% in 2020.  The letter adds: “The proposed transition appears fair and equitable and will enable the pelagic processing sector to adapt to higher levels of raw material and re-establish markets, which may have been lost due to lack of supply. Recent job losses indicate the current level of landings is insufficient. A transition to a minimum figure of 55% will still allow significant landings of pelagic species to overseas ports by those vessels choosing to do so.”

Girvan Lifeboat Station's New £2.1 Million Boat Will Keep Things Ship Shape Along the Ayrshire Coast

Girvan Lifeboat Station is set to welcome the new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat.  This vessel will be the first of its kind in the west of Scotland.  The £2.1million boat will be replacing the old reliable Mersey class lifeboat which served Girvan for 25 years.    Officially launched on Tuesday, September 5, the lifeboat was funded by the John & Elizabeth Allan Memorial Trust. It will be named RNLB Elizabeth and Gertrude Allan.  Craig Sommerville, of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, said: “At the time of announcement of Mersey being no longer used, the RNLI had developed a new lifeboat, the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat coming in at £2.1million was seen as a fitting replacement for the lifeboats and a step towards the RNLI’s goal of an all 25knot fleet.  The Shannon will be powered by the vast twin Hamilton water jets as opposed to more traditional propellers giving it more increased manoeuvrability and the ability to operate in shallower waters, ideally suited to Britain’s vast and rugged coastline.  With a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, the self-righting lifeboat is ideally suited for offshore searches, or equally rescues in calmer shallower waters. Her twin Scania 650hp engines provides enough power to tow large vessels.  And her waterjet technology allows her to manoeuvre in shallow waters, much easier than with traditional propeller seen on our current lifeboats.  The team at Girvan lifeboat station as a whole were delighted to be given the news that a Shannon lifeboat would be the replacement for Silvia Burrell to which the hard work began.”  Craig was adamant it’s such a fantastic thing for the town.  He added: “With the new lifeboat having an operational lifespan of 25 years, the hull and wheelhouse are good for 50 years.  The arrival of a town’s new lifeboat is cause for great excitement as well as celebration and for some will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to participate and witness the arrival of a new lifeboat, to which we hope you will come down to join and support us in this milestone for Girvan and indeed Ayrshire.  This will be the first Shannon Class lifeboat on the west coast of Scotland and, indeed, the second of its type in Scotland to date.”

Drones Had Contraband on Board
Two drones loaded with contraband were flown into HM Prison Perth.  Remote controlled aircraft carrying the banned items attempted to make a delivery to prisoners.  The drones have since been recovered by police who have launched an investigation into the incident. Officers have not revealed what the prohibited items were.  But in May smugglers attemped to deliver packages of heroin, cannabis, mobile phones and a screwdriver to HMP Perth at night by using a drone.  The remote control device was intercepted before it could be reached by any inmates.  A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland can confirm it is investigating two incidents where drones have been used to attempt to take items into HMP Perth.  The investigation is being conducted with the assistance of Scottish Prison Service.” The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) have insisted they will clamp down on the use of remote controlled devices to smuggle contraband into prisons.  A SPS spokesperson said: “The Scottish Prison Service is aware of the potential for drones/quad-copters to be used illegally and various methods are deployed to prevent contraband from entering our establishments. “Anyone found attempting to smuggle contraband into our prisons will be reported to the police.”  The use of airborne technology has become a significant concern for prison security and police over recent years, across the world and close to home.  Last year, a man from London became the first individual to be sentenced for attempting to use drones to smuggle packages into UK prisons, receiving 14 months in prison.  Since then, custodial sentences of over four years have been issued in England to drone smugglers.

‘Lives in A Landscape’ Brings the Collection Alive
This week, the team at the Live Borders Museum and Gallery, Tweeddale Museum, in Peebles bring us details on their latest exhibition. Following the recent request through the Peeblesshire News, a willing group of volunteers has been researching selected objects at Tweeddale Museum in a collection of over 16,000.  In addition to writing about their findings, they were encouraged to speculate and add their personal responses.  Museum & Gallery Assistant Chris Sawers said: "Working with volunteers plays such an important part in the success of our programme, and ‘Lives in a Landscape’, our current exhibition, is no exception. We are delighted with the enthusiasm and energy which has formed the varied responses of the volunteers."  Liz Henderson, initially chose a portable shrine for her research, an intricately worked object from the 1500s in the form of an exquisitely carved wooden ball, with inscriptions in Flemish.  She said: "Brought up as a Roman Catholic, I recognised it as a Catholic device, a focus to concentration whilst praying. I saw the carvings were scenes from the Nativity."  Enthralled by the intricacy of its detail, she discovered it to be the work of an English monk, seven years in the making, who died before it was finished. Further research revealed more about forbidden Catholicism in Scotland from 1560 onwards, and of Protestantism being firmly established as the state religion.  Enthused, the basket-hilted backsword, with hilt in a closely twisted design, was a second object to catch Liz’s attention, a weapon thought to be associated with Highlanders who fought in the several Jacobite rebellions.  Liz added: "I discovered weapons such as these were illegal possessions after the Battle of Culloden in 1745. Jacobite supporters hid them, often burying them in peat moors and that many are often found by walkers today."  She marvels at the decorative inscription one side of the blade supporting ‘King James (the) 8’ and on the other ‘Prosperitie to Scotland and Nae Union’.  She also learned that the former owners of the sword were the Naesmyth’s of Dalwick (Dawyck) and Posso, staunch supporters of the Stuart cause.  This Live Borders project, supported by Museum Galleries Scotland, runs at Tweeddale Museum in Peebles until November 25. Volunteers’ interpretation of the objects will be added to the exhibition, further illustrating the lives of people who made, used and sometimes hid objects we now have within our collection.

Scottish Government to Consider Impact of Theresa May's Student Loans Policy
The Scottish Government has vowed to "consider carefully" what impact Theresa May's proposal to raise the repayment threshold for student loans will have on graduates north of the border.  Ministers made the commitment after Mrs May used the opening day of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to announce that the amount people can earn before making student loan repayments will rise from £21,000 to £25,000.  Scottish Labour voiced fears that the move could leave Scottish graduates, who currently start repaying loans when they earn £17,775 a year, worse off than their counterparts in England.  Education spokesman Iain Gray said: "The SNP government should ensure the threshold is lifted in the next budget.  Every year that goes by without this happening is another year that sees graduates miss out.  This is even more urgent now given Theresa May's U-turn.  This would be an important step in delivering a better deal for young graduates and SNP ministers should not drag their heels in delivering it."  Mrs May also pledged tuition fees in England will be frozen at the current £9,250 level until 2019, rather than increase with inflation by £250. But this was derided by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said on Twitter: "A freeze in already exorbitant tuition fees is hardly a revolution."  A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Free university tuition forms the core of our offer to students and we are absolutely committed to maintaining the policy.  It means that over 120,000 undergraduates studying in Scotland each year do not incur debts of up to £27,000 to pay for university education, unlike their peers elsewhere in the UK. While we welcome the acknowledgement today from the UK Westminster Government through their proposal to freeze tuition fees, that their policy is not working, it is disappointing that they are not following our lead and abolishing them altogether."  The spokeswoman added: "We will carefully consider the implications of their proposals for students studying at Scottish institutions, but it is important to do so within the context of student support that already exists here. Our independent review of student support continues and will report its recommendations this autumn. This government remains committed to providing the lowest income students with a bursary, unlike the UK Westminster Government; average levels of student loan debt in Scotland remain the lowest in the UK, and students from the lowest income households benefit from a minimum income guarantee of £7,625, including a bursary of £1,875."

Long-awaited Demolition Paves the Way for Replacement Black Isle Church
A Black Isle church building has been demolished after serving the community for more than 100 years.  But any sense of sadness felt by congregation members of Fortrose Free Church has been lifted by the prospect of the new building that will soon be standing in its place. Structural engineering problems meant the Church Street building was slowly sinking and it was agreed that the necessary repairs – thought to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds – would not make financial sense. A new disabled toilet and kitchen were also needed.  The congregation was pleased to be decamping to the adjacent Fortrose Town Hall for the best part of a year, while the new building – costing in the region of £750,000 – is built.  The lion’s share of the money has already been secured through fundraising efforts. Minister Rev Sandy Sutherland said: "It was a wee bit tear-jerking to see the old building coming down I must admit but we were not left with any choice in the matter really. It had to go because of the subsidence in the building and there were other issues as well. I was sad to see it going but joyful that the new one is coming in its place."  The 40-week building project is set to get underway after the site has been cleared of rubble and new foundations put in.  A special bat box was put up to re-home any bats that are thought to have been using the building at various times of the year.  No bats were found during pre-demolition checks, however.  Rev Sutherland said the congregation still had to raise about £130,000 towards the new-build. He added: "We have still got the shortfall to do something about but I must say the community have been very supportive and generous. We are looking at various funding bodies at the moment including our own denomination. The next 40 weeks will see the new building being put up and finished. We have got planning permission for everything. It’s all in place." He added: " We can’t wait for the work to begin.  We are well aware of the prospect of further housing in the area, and hopefully a care home too, so it’s only right as we seek to reach out to people in the village with the gospel and provide a facility for weddings and funerals that we have first-class facilities that folk would expect.  We are thankful to have had a number of young families coming to join the congregation in the last two or three years, and at the recent baptism service, both in the main church and also the hall afterwards, it was very clear that the current building is too small and unfit for purpose."

Developers Put in for Planning Permission for Coul Links Golf Course
The much anticipated application for planning permission to develop a controversial 18-hole golf course at Coul Links, north of Dornoch, was submitted on 3rd October.  And it has been revealed that a local community group, the Embo Trust, will be investors and partners in Coul Links Ltd, with members serving on the board and the trust receiving a long-term income stream. Golf course developer Mike Keiser, businessman Todd Warnock, and landowner Edward Abel  Smith, the principals behind Could Links Ltd, believe they have overcome various environmental objections to the planned course and are confident that the development will “enhance” the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Coul links.  Todd Warnock, has already invested heavily in Dornoch as owner of  the Links House Hotel and the Carnegie Courthouse. The consortium have also brought on board Chris Haspell, previously course manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links, as project manager.  Over the past two years there has been a level of opposition to the proposals because of the perceived impact it could have on the links area at Coul, which includes an SSSI.  But the developers say that they have altered the design of the course to address these issues.  In a statement this week, they say: “The golf course will be constructed in and outside the Loch Fleet SSSI, which currently extends to 1232 hectares. After significant layout revisions as a result of public comment, the course will incorporate a total of 22.7 hectares, or 1.8 per cent of the SSSI.  As a result of careful planning, the course will include only 14 hectares inside the SSSI and 8.7 hectares outside.”

Tea Plantation Brews Up in Bonar Bridge
Sutherland’s first ever tea plantation – and the most northerly in mainland UK – has been cultivated on a croft at Bonar Bridge.  Lucy Williams, who runs Tulloch Tea, and her husband Chris, a forester, have overseen the planting of some 1500 Camellia Sinensis tea plants on a 1.6 acre section of their croft –  225 Culnara, East Tulloch.  Mrs Williams said: “A team of five planters worked through rainy weather to get the plants into the ground.” The couple are being supported by the Scottish Tea Growers Association (STGA) and also Scotland’s first tea producer Tam O’Braan who runs the Wee Tea Plantation at Dalreaoch Farm Estate, Amulree, Perthshire.  Mr O’Braan specially bred and hardened the Tulloch plants to withstand the vagaries of the Scottish climate.  The Williamses are part of a growing new tea industry in Scotland, with around 12 established growers currently selling worldwide and more coming on stream.  The vulnerable Camellia Sinensis have been planted in terram to keep the weeds down with woodchip around the base. They will be grown in shrub guards with fleece collars over the top of the guard.  Mrs Williams said: “We expect to have the first tea samples ready for Christmas with a larger crop next summer.”  The couple are aiming to produce premier, single estate loose-leaf tea.  Mrs Williams said: “The needle at the top and the two top leaves are called the premier leaf and are the most sought after part. Those will probably be sold overseas and to high-end hotels.  The secondary leaf will be used for green teas, and we are also planning to make a standard Scottish black tea. We both like an old-fashioned cup of tea and would like to make something that you would buy in a supermarket as well.”  Mrs Williams also plans to use the secondary leaf to develop a range of goats milk soap infused with Scottish tea.  It is hoped that their picturesque, hillside croft will become part of a “tea trail” with visitors offered a “tea experience” including a tour of the plantation and tea tasting as well as an opportunity to purchase unique beauty products.

Vulcan Blast Reassurance
The Ministry of Defence has sought to reassure residents living near the nuclear test submarine base at Vulcan after a loud bang was heard coming from the site.  It has stated that the noise was caused by a steam/heating boiler in a pumphouse building exploding. A spokesman said no-one was injured and the incident had not had any impact on operations at the site. Vulcan, next door to the civil nuclear plant at Dounreay, operated a water-cooled nuclear reactor until it was shut down in July 2015. The site, run by Rolls Royce, is now being defuelled and prepared for decommissioning.  

Giving Birth At Home Could Become Routine
The future of maternity in Scotland could see more women giving birth at home, with no doctor in attendance - if there are no obvious risks.  In what’s seen as a major revamp of current services pilot tests are to be carried out in health board areas including Lothian, Forth Valley, Lanarkshire and Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in which the focus will be on individualised care and community hubs.  In future women may give birth in hospital only if they are at a higher risk of complications, and the norm would be to have the baby either at home or in a local hub run by midwives.  Health Secretary Shona Robison has described the proposed changes as amounting to a “fundamentally different” way of dealing with births, which would stress continuity of carer.  But the changes would not lead to an abolition of maternity wards, as it’s accepted some women will always require treatment in hospital either during their pregnancy or after the birth.  At the moment only around three per cent of births happen at home, but if the pilot tests prove successful this could escalate dramatically. The pilot tests (due to start next year) have arisen from a Best Start review which recommends women should have a primary midwife who would be at the centre of a multi-disciplinary team operating from a community hub. Health secretary Shona Robison says the move would give women more choice - whether to give birth at home, in a community midwife unit, or if need be in a hospital’s obstetric unit - and aim to allow women to give birth close to home.

Comment - R Going back to a system which worked very efficiently in the past.

Come and Sing Along with the Glasgow Phoenix Choir.

Can you hold a tune? Think you could be a choir member? Glasgow Phoenix Choir want to hear from you.  The Glasgow Phoenix Choir is hosting an open rehearsal from: 7.30 to 9.30pm on October 9 in The Adelaide’s Centre, 209 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HZ. Singers of all skills levels are being sought, though they are particularly keen to attract tenors and basses. The open rehearsal will give you the opportunity to see how the choir works and will include a buffet allowing prospective members to meet choir members and ask questions. The Glasgow Phoenix Choir is a mixed voice choir, which has just begun its 67th season of music-making and friendship. The choir is very busy and each year undertakes about 20 concerts in a wide variety of venues and geographical locations raising money for a wide range of charities with the support of their sponsors. With an exciting season ahead, they are looking forward to recording two further postcard CDs and will be singing in their usual Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Christmas and Spring concerts.  New members should be able to sing but do not need to be able to read music. You should be a friendly and enthusiastic singer who is seeking a new singing opportunity and who will be prepared to commit yourself to a range of undertakings each season. All new members must undertake a short audition with our conductor only. You will be given the support of a mentor from the choir section that you join. For further information visit the groups website at: Glasgow Phoenix Choir

Comment -R Yes please

Obituary: Norman Maclean, Scholar, Entertainer and Gaelic Legend
Norman Mackinnon Maclean, born Govan, Glasgow, 26 December 1936; died Balivanich, Benbecula, 31 August 2017 Norman Maclean’s Facebook profile starts starkly: “Worked at innumerable employers.” He had, variously, managed a citrus farm in Florida; been on the South Georgia whaling; served – briefly – as Birgitte Bardot’s personal piper; taught mathematics at schools in Glasgow and Oban; and tried the hotel trade. Brilliant and thoughtful, he was also a poet, novelist, playwright and a serious actor. Immensely well read, he was fluent in French, Spanish and Portuguese and remains the only person (in 1967) ever to win both the Mod Gold Medal and its Bardic Crown in the same year.  “Tormod,” though, as Highlanders knew him, is best remembered as an exuberant Gaelic entertainer – an assured television host; a brilliant piper; a sweet singer and a hilarious stand-up comic with a deadly gift for mimicry – whose material, if often risqué, was never unkind; whose admirers included Billy Connolly and Sean Connery. Sadly, alcohol was a big problem for him. Drink derailed Maclean’s university studies – he scraped through with third-class honours; destroyed both his marriages; estranged him from his only child; rapidly vitiated his good looks; and, many believe, dashed real prospects of international stardom. The tales are legion, and largely unfunny.  He could rarely be relied on to turn up on time and sober for work. He managed to burn down his hotel and, as firemen fought the flames, pestered them for an ash-tray – and, by the mid-Eighties, Maclean was all but unemployable. As his boozing permitted, and for many years, Norman Maclean was thereafter a Highland troubadour, stumping the glens and the Hebrides from this hotel to that village-hall, crooning and piping (he could canter about at no mean lick, playing intricate and note-perfect reels at the same time) but mostly, and with ocean-going charm, making you laugh till it hurt. Norman Maclean never quite knew where he was from and felt lifelong at the margins of two different worlds – Highland and Gaelic-speaking, Lowland and Glaswegian – and not truly wanted in either.  He was of a generation of Gaels, too, who grew up to see the language and culture of their communities largely evaporate and were thus forced to apply themselves to careers in English: an unnerving, overwhelming experience that has driven many to drink. And the early death of his younger sister, Lorna – in 1969 – only hastened his descent into alcoholism. It was terrible to watch. Always a natty dresser, Maclean often affected the Americanisms of Raymond Chandler – but, despite his dreadful problems, there was a tenderness about him – a delight in other people – that he never lost. Nor was he in the least precious: one commission he vastly enjoyed was re-voicing Danger Mouse, for Scottish Television, in hilarious Gaelic. Norman was probably within weeks of death when in 2009 an aghast young couple swept him to Uist, finding him first a hospital bed and then local authority accommodation.  But Tormod had no domestic skills and, the following year, a local family – the Townsends – simply took him into their Grimsay home, where he became fast part of the furniture and adored by their pets. By 2011 he was sober, happy – and he never drank again. The community embraced him. He came to faith in the local Free Church. Young folk all over the Uists sought him out as a mentor in singing, piping and acting. Scholars and academics beat a path to the Townsend door and Maclean shone with extraordinary new power, completing further memoirs and a sparkling trilogy of Gaelic novels. Maclean had just finished a documentary for BBC Alba when, in August – now desperately frail – he faded into hospital, where he was at last movingly reconciled with his daughter. He will be remembered with a smile, and with love, by thousands and as long as Gaeldom stands.

Runrig Announce Extra Farewell Concert After Huge Demand

Scottish Celtic rock band Runrig have announced they will perform an extra farewell concert after all 25,000 tickets for the first date sold out. Tickets for The Last Dance on 17 August 2018 in Stirling’s City Park were sold in “unprecedented numbers”.  And demand for the highly anticipated farewell show has led to the band putting on an extra performance the following day on 18 August 2018. Calum Macdonald of Runrig said: “Announcing The Last Dance has brought with it so many mixed emotions. We’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the response and the love from our fans. We’re delighted to be able to add an additional concert and promise it will be a night to remember. It will be emotional; it will be fun; it will be entertaining; but amongst all, it will be a special evening saying farewell.” Les Kidger, Director of LCC Live, the promoter for the concert, said: “We appreciate that a lot of people were left disappointed when tickets for the Saturday night show sold out so quickly. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to add an additional night, and with support from Runrig and Stirling Council, we’re delighted to do so.”

Huge £30,000 Donation to Bethesda

Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm, have given a further £30,000 to Bethesda — fulfilling their pledge to give £55,000 to the Care Home and Hospice in Stornoway every year.  The first part of the donation was given last November and Point and Sandwick Trust were delighted to come through with the second tranche last week. Bethesda is going to get £55,000 from Point and Sandwick Trust every year for 25 years, for as long as the turbines at Beinn Ghrideag turn and making money.  The financial support was pledged to Bethesda by Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) around 10 years ago, when the wind farm was still being dreamed up. It is around a fifth of what Bethesda must fundraise themselves every year — and means they will no longer begin their financial years with a blank sheet.

Rare Bonnie Prince Charlie Tartan to Remain in Scotland
A “remarkable” piece of rare tartan gifted by Bonnie Prince Charlie to a revered Jacobite heroine will remain in Scotland following its recent sale at auction.  The fragment of Moy Hall plaid has been given to the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA) on long term loan after it was purchased by a supporter of the organisation.  The tartan cloth, which measures around 30 centimetres wide, was given by Bonnie Prince Charlie to Lady Anne Mackintosh who raised a Jacobite regiment during the 1745 rebellion despite being married to a captain in the British forces.  The tartan was widely copied during the 19th Century given its Jacobite connections with the authenticity of many fragments debated over decades.  The recently acquired piece sold for £3,000 at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh during the summer after the successful buyer saw off competition from overseas bidders to secure the remnant. The STA is satisfied that the fragment is an original and said it was “delighted” to be able to retain the piece in Scotland. Peter MacDonald, tartans expert at STA, has spent more than 20 years researching the cloth given by Charles Edward Stuart to Lady Anne following his stay at Moy Hall near Inverness in February 1746. Lady Anne, who was arrested following Culloden and held in Inverness Prison for six weeks, later cut the plaid into keepsakes and distributed them to her friends.  Mr MacDonald said the fragment now with the STA was one of six confirmed pieces of the original plaid, including the one that remains at Moy Hall.  Mr MacDonald said: “Other than the piece still at Moy Hall, this new find is the largest known surviving specimen of the original plaid. My research has identified a unique threading arrangement in the original Moy Hall tartan cloth, a feature that can be clearly seen in the Lyon & Turnbull piece, thus verifying its provenance as a section of the original.” Mr MacDonald said the original plaid would have been nine or 10ft wide but that only the equivalent of an A4 piece of paper is known to survive.

British Airways Announces Extra Flights Between Inverness and Heathrow

British Airways today cemented the restoration of its Inverness-Heathrow route by announcing flights would be doubled three days a week. The announcement came within an hour of an expected delay in air tax cuts by the Scottish Government, in the latest sign that current tax levels are not deterring airlines from expansion.  BA said its current daily flights between the Highland capital and the UK's hub airport would be doubled to twice daily on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from next March.  The extra return flights will operate between late afternoon and mid evening.  The airline relaunched the route last year after an 19-year absence.

Experts Probe Mysterious Caithness Brochs After Tantalising Evidence Points to Wider Settlement
Archaeologists are hoping they may soon be able to shed light on the past history of mysterious Iron Age ruins in the Highlands.  Geophysical scans of the land around two ancient roundhouses known as brochs have uncovered tantalising evidence they were part of wider settlements.  Brochs date to the first century AD and are unique to Scotland. The stone towers, which can stand several storeys high, have baffled historians for centuries and their exact purpose remains a mystery. Most have been reduced to mounds of rubble or simple features on the landscape, but some are surprisingly intact given their age. Scientists and enthusiasts working Bruan Broch, the first site being examined, found evidence of further structures to the southwest and southeast.  They believe this may be evidence of a settlement known as a ‘wag’, which are sometimes associated with former broch sites. Brochs were once believed to be forts, but that theory has fallen out of favour because they are often built on ground which would not have been defendable. Geophysics data from the second site at Thing's Va Broch near Thurso indicated more recent buildings nearby which may be linked to the structure's Norse heritage. The broch takes its peculiar name from the Viking word for parliament, as it was reused by settlers from Scandinavia when they arrived in the region during the Dark Ages.  Scans also showed an "anomaly" to the northeast of the broch which could represent a burnt mound. A cairn to the south is also being suggested as the site of a substantial roundhouse from the Late Iron Age. The discoveries were made during work undertaken by the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology and the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute as part of the Caithness Broch Project. Further archaeological digs will now take place at the two sites in Caithness later this month.

Visitors Flock to Historic Sites Across Isles

It’s been a spectacular summer for historic sites across the Western Isles as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) announced record-breaking visitor figures for the 2017 summer season.  The summer season saw Kisimul Castle on Barra – the only significant medieval castle to survive in all of the Western Isles – record a 7% increase in visitor numbers. 6,655 people visited the site between April and September 2017. The Blackhouse, Arnol, on the Isle of Lewis – a traditional, fully furnished thatch house – also had an impressive season, as it welcomed 14,648 visitors, a 5% increase on last summer’s figures. The summer season has seen many visitor records broken across the country as a whole. Historic sites in the care of HES welcomed over 3.8m visitors in the period from April to September 2017, an impressive overall 20% increase in footfall on the same period last year - making it the busiest season on record. August 2017 saw over 870,000 visitors flocking to Scotland’s iconic historic sites, making it the busiest individual month ever recorded. The announcement comes as Scotland celebrates Heritage Awareness Day, the first-ever day dedicated to showcasing the country’s rich and diverse heritage and encouraging individuals, organisations and communities all over Scotland to share and celebrate heritage in all its different forms.