Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 544

Issue # 544                                               Week ending Saturday 21st  March 2020

Only Very Bad People Stockpile Toilet Tissue and That is A Scientific Fact by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
Every cloud has a silver lining. For badge makers. You can now buy badges which read: “I survived the great toilet paper crisis of 2020.”  The people who make sanitiser are rubbing their hands together. This is also going to be a great time for Jehovah’s Witnesses. They know that almost everyone is going to be home.

Please smile. I know it’s difficult when the government says we should all be two metres distance from other people and not face-to-face. We should all work from home, the prime minister said. Great. He was actually saying was that it is quite alright for us to be at home in our pyjamas all day long. Oh heck, really? Is that what it means? Now I have to go out and buy a pair.

And what will my poor wife do? I mean apart from also having to buy jammies, how does a photographer work from home? Note to neighbours - if you see a group of people standing opposite our house with big grins on their faces then they will have come round for a family photoshoot. Mrs X has a really long lens.

The other side of the coin is complacency. There are a lot of people in Scotland still who don’t get it. They dismiss it saying it is just like a cold and just take a few paracetamol and you will be alright. Their stupid comments on social media make me want to go and shake them out of their blinkered world of banality and ignorance. The statistics about fatalities worldwide seem to go over their heads because they are only interested in their own neck of the woods.

If it has not happened in Stornoway, then it has not happened. When the inevitable happens, they will say they had no idea that it was going to turn out to be so serious. They will claim to have thought it was some kind of sabre-rattling by Sturgeon, Johnson and Trump. It was not their fault, they claim, because they did not know. They did, but they chose to ignore it.

Panic buying is wrong though. You shouldn’t do it because it means people worse off than you will have to go without essentials. It is cruel and heartless and makes you a bad person. So there. However, it is not exactly new. Some of us were guilty of it but only in the nighttime. Our panic buying was when the bar staff rang the bell and shouted: “Last orders”.

Others are intent on pushing out nonsense about the virus - mostly to suit their own prejudices. From claims of God’s revenge on people in certain countries to drivel about people who are supposed to have enjoyed bat stew for a Christmas treat, the discussions I have seen in the last few days about “the new killer disease” have one thing in common. There are few facts.

Here’s one. Corona viruses have been around and were known to virologists and such scientific types since the 1960s. They’re not named after a bottled lager but after the way they look through an electron microscope. Sort of roundish, maybe like a starburst shape with a band or crown around it - a corona.

One silly online post says the virus is an anagram because it came from a raccoon like the ones in the Compare The Market TV commercials. That it is not actually an anagram of raccoon is irrelevant. Aleksandr and Sergei in the TV ads are not raccoons. Here’s a clue - Compare The Meerkat. Also, that the coronavirus is an anagram of carnivorous is not a sign from the Almighty that it will only attack meat-eaters. Just not true. Yet I have seen irresponsible people, who seem to generally loathe science and its uncomfortable truths, happily sharing that bizarre theory.

This epidemic is serious and will be tragic for some people. That is true. However, we can all get down about relentless bad news. A giggle now and then stimulates the body’s organs by increasing oxygen intake to the heart, lungs and muscles and triggers the release of endorphins. That may help people handle stress by easing tension, relaxing the muscles and lowering blood pressure.

Some say that may help your immunity system to resist viruses. So try and look on the bright side of this. Someone once said:

When you're chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best.

And always look on the bright ... something or other. It is so catchy I’ve forgotten how it goes.

We all have to take sensible precautions. We must always stand two metres away from anyone else to avoid the virus being transferred. I was in the bank the other day and two guys came and stood right beside me. They were almost touching me. Then I noticed they both had face masks on and I began to panic. They could be infected. My heart was pounding. It turned out they were only there to rob the place. Phew, what a relief.

Jeane Freeman Criticises the UK Westminster Government's Information Sharing on Coronavirus

Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has criticised the way the UK Westminster government is getting information on the Covid-19 crisis to the public.  She said governments should be explaining new developments very clearly.  She said; unattributed sources leaking information to newspapers is not the way to ensure the public understands what the official advice is.

Submarine Reactor Test Site At Dounreay to Be Demolished
A facility used for testing nuclear submarine reactors in Scotland is to be demolished by the 2030s.  The Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment (NRTE) was built in 1957 at Dounreay near Thurso.  The site is next to, but operated separately from, the civilian experimental nuclear power complex at Dounreay.  The civilian nuclear power plant is already in the process of being demolished.  Vulcan NRTE has two reactors. The first was operational from 1965 to 1987 and the second was shut down in 2015.  The facility was used for testing new designs of nuclear submarine pressurised water reactors (PWR).  In 2011, the UK Westminster government said new technology meant testing would no longer need to be done at Vulcan.  Ministry of Defence (MoD) said options for decommissioning Vulcan were ongoing.  The MoD said: "The test reactor at Vulcan shut down for the last time in 2015 and work is ongoing to demolish the whole site in a safe, secure and environmentally compliant way by the 2030s."

Coronavirus: Sturgeon Tells Scotland 'Life Will Change Significantly'
Nicola Sturgeon has warned that life will change "significantly" in Scotland due to stringent new coronavirus measures.  The first minister said "we will get through this" as she reiterated the need for every citizen to reduce all non-essential social contact.  Households have been told to self-isolate for 14 days if one member has symptoms - either a new cough or fever. There are now 171 cases of the virus in Scotland, up 18 since Sunday.   But the Scottish government cautioned that an apparent slowing in the rate of increase may be due to a change in the testing system.  Ms Sturgeon said the UK was "on the cusp" of a rapid acceleration in cases, with numbers likely to double every few days.  New measures announced on Monday include:     Stop all non-essential social contact and stop going to places with a high concentration of people such as pubs or cinemas.  Avoid using public transport as much as possible.  Avoiding all social contact is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions.  Work from home if you can. Anyone living in a household with somebody who has either a persistent cough or fever must now also isolate themselves for 14 days.  Very vulnerable people with compromised immune systems - estimated to be around 200,000 in Scotland - will be given tailored advice on self-isolation that could last a "period of weeks or months".  Ms Sturgeon said that the latest measures would "significantly change life as we know it for a considerable period of time". She continued: "We must step up the measures that we take to slow the spread, to protect our NHS and its ability to provide care and treatment to those who need it and crucially, to save lives.  I am acutely aware of the anxiety people will feel right now. We are all in this together. If we do the right things and all follow the advice being given, we can get through this and we will get through this."  The first minister thanked NHS staff, saying it was "not possible to overstate" the pressure they are under.  She also said the Scottish government was "100% focussed on doing everything we can" and would keep the public updated on a regular basis.  Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said there was evidence in Scotland of "sustained community transmission".  She said the priority was to reduce the number of people coming into the NHS and prevent services - particularly intensive care and respiratory wards - from becoming "overwhelmed".  The UK Westminster government earlier announced Scotland would receive an additional £780m to fund its Covid-19 response.  The move is part of a £1.5bn funding package for the devolved administrations designed to bolster the NHS and provide grants for businesses.  Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the money was in addition to the funding package announced during last week's Budget.  The number of cases in Greater Glasgow and Clyde remains the highest in Scotland at 44.  The new statistics also reveal the first case of coronavirus has been recorded in Dumfries and Galloway.  Only two of Scotland's 14 health boards, Orkney and Western Isles, have yet to record a positive case. Where are Scotland's coronavirus cases number by Health Board?.  Ayrshire and Arran 7 Borders 7, Dumfries & Galloway 1, Fife 7, Forth Valley 10.Grampian 12, Greater Glasgow and Clyde  44, Highland  2, Lanarkshire  20, Lothian  29, Orkney  0, Shetland  15,  Tayside  17, Western Isles     0.  The number of UK coronavirus deaths, which includes the first in Wales, is now 55.  Most of those who have died have been people over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions.  The total number of people in the UK to test positive for the virus has risen to 1,543, according to the latest Department of Health figures.  More than 44,000 people have been tested.

Kilmarnock to Dumfries Storm Ciara Landslip Rail Repairs Completed
A rail line has reopened more than a month after a major landslip caused by Storm Ciara forced its closure.  Severe bad weather in February saw an embankment severely damaged next to the track running between Dumfries and Kilmarnock. It prompted a major repairs operation at the site near Holywood in Dumfries and Galloway.  Network Rail said 6,000 tonnes of stone had been brought in to restore and strengthen the embankment.  Detailed examination of the landslip found hundreds of tonnes of debris had slipped from under the railway - much of it spilling into the river and taking out a retaining wall.  Network Rail said its engineers had worked "24 hours a day, seven days a week" to fix the problem.  Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: "I'm delighted that the line between Kilmarnock and Dumfries is now reopened. I'm very grateful for the work that has been undertaken by staff over the course of the last four weeks in what has, at times, been very challenging weather. I also recognize that this has caused an inconvenience to regular users of the line, but no doubt you'll appreciate the nature and the scale of the challenge which Network Rail staff have faced in repairing this damage."  He said the work completed should "serve the line very well for the years to come".  Tom Podger, Network Rail's project manager, said: "Flooding caused by Storm Ciara led to significant damage beneath the track and we needed to protect the river bank before rebuilding the embankment to stop this from happening again.  The landslip was located in a difficult location above the river and the remoteness of the site presented a challenge in getting equipment and materials to the site.  We have moved 6,000 tonnes of rock into place to both rebuild the embankment and to form a protective barrier between the railway and the river and worked as quickly as possible to get the line reopened for customers."

Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams in Coronavirus Plea
Scottish Mountain Rescue has asked outdoor pursuits enthusiasts to stick to "familiar and safe" areas amid efforts to tackle coronavirus.  The organisation, which represents 24 rescue teams, said they were reviewing action plans to ensure they could provide a continuous service.  People caught up in a rescue incident have been asked to let police know if they suspect they have coronavirus.  Scottish Mountain Rescue members include Arran, Braemar and Skye teams.  Police, RAF and Search and Rescue Dog Association teams are also members.  In a statement, Scottish Mountain Rescue said: "Being in the outdoors has many benefits and we are usually very happy to encourage individuals to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Scotland.  However, during this ongoing situation we ask you not to take any unnecessary risk when enjoying the outdoors.  Perhaps go on adventures you are familiar and safe with and while doing so, keep social distancing in mind."

Dragons' Den Cheque Presentation At Wick School

Following a Dragons' Den style event by pupils of Wick High School (WHS) cheques totalling £750 were handed over to school representatives.  Mrs Sam Manson – secretary of the newly formed WHS Parent Council – presented the money to computing teacher Chris Aitken and acting rector Sebastian Sandecki while pupils who attended the school's inventors' and textiles clubs looked on.  The awards followed a Dragons' Den presentation by pupils to a Parent Council meeting and are intended to "promote activities and resources" at the school's inventors' and textiles clubs which are led, respectively, by Chris Aitken and Molly Swanson.  Chair of the Parent Council, Professor Iain Baikie said: “We are delighted to support these excellent initiatives and the enthusiasm of both pupils and teachers was very clear."  Computing teacher Mr Aitken said that some of the money would help fund a project that is happening in conjunction with Edinburgh University.  "We're planning on using the funds to build a replica Mars Rover that's going to be run remotely from Wick," he said.

Coatbridge Church Closes After Parishioner Contracts Covid-19
A North Lanarkshire church has closed after one of its parishioners tested positive for coronavirus.  The young member of the congregation at St Augustine's in Coatbridge had attended a large mass there in recent days.  Rev Fr Michael Kane has stopped all services at the church until further notice to protect the health of parishioners.  He said the building would also undergo a "deep antibacterial clean".  Fr Kane said: "After consulting Bishop Toal, it was agreed that our church should close with immediate effect in order to mitigate any further spread of the virus among our parishioners.  This decision has been taken with a heavy heart but with the sole purpose of protecting the health of our parishioners."  Members of the church were told to follow parish updates online.  Fr Kane said that the parishioner in question was not seriously unwell.  It follows a rise of six cases in the Lanarkshire area since Saturday.  Meanwhile a church in Fife has started to livestream services to stop members gathering in large groups.  Elders at St Andrews Free Church announced they would broadcast their morning and evening services instead.

Scottish Schools Championships Win for Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band

Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band (SLPB) returned home on Monday after having won second place in the popular ‘Freestyle Competition’ and a sixth place out of 21 entries in their Pipe Band Competition at the annual Scottish Schools’ Pipe Band Championships held this year in Kilmarnock.  SLPB performed a very lively and entertaining set in the Freestyle section and managed to wow the audience as well as the panel of well known judges - Craig Munro, Gary West, Lorne MacDougall and Stevie Small.  The set included some technical Gordon Duncan compositions on the pipes, traditional Gaelic singing, an ensemble of different drums, as well as backing from piano, bouzouki and electric guitar.  The display was further complimented by a trio of Premier Highland Dancers.  The judges praised Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band for the musicality which they brought to technically demanding tunes, and their ability to play modern tunes in a traditional idiom, which they said was a pleasure to listen to.  In the Pipe Band competition, Sgoil Lionacleit secured a commendable overall sixth place with the drum core achieving fourth in their section.  SLPB have a busy schedule ahead and the association made up of tutors, parents and supporters would like to thank the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust, CnES Education Department, and the community, as well as individuals who support them financially and in so many other ways.

Council Leader to Face Code of Conduct Hearing on March 18

A hearing by the Standards Commission will take place on March 18th in Stornoway to determine on allegations that the Leader of Comhairle an Eilean Siar, Cllr Roddie MacKay, breached clauses in the Councillors Code of Conduct.  The Standards Commission confirmed this week that the matters to be considered at the hearing are allegations that Cllr Roddie MacKay failed to declare an interest in a company owned by his brother-in-law at council meetings on 3 October 2017; declared the interest at a meeting on 2 October 2018, but failed to withdraw; and that Cllr MacKay failed to register his shareholding in the company on his register of interests.  The Standards Commission is a public body that has the role of ‘encouraging high ethical standards in public life’, including the promotion and enforcement of the Codes of Conduct and to issue guidance to councils and devolved public bodies.  The Commission adjudicates on alleged breaches of the Codes of Conduct enabling those accused to respond to the allegations made, and where a breach is found to have taken place, to apply a sanction.

Pensioner Jailed for Historical Sex Offences Against Girls in Galashiels

A Galashiels pensioner has been jailed for historical sex offences against young girls.  James Forsyth, 74, pleaded guilty to engaging in lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards four females in the Langlee area of Galashiels in the 1970s and 1980s.  He was sentenced in Jedburgh Sheriff Court to 27 months in prison.  Sheriff Peter Paterson said Forsyth's actions had had a "devastating" impact.  The court was told the first offence happened at a house in Marmion Road, Galashiels, on various occasions between June 1973 and June 1975 involving a girl aged 13 or 14 at the time

'Rumbling' Felt During Ardnamurchan Earthquake

People have reported hearing and feeling a small earthquake in the west Highlands. British Geological Survey (BGS) recorded the 1.5 magnitude quake at about 22:00 on Monday. One resident described a "loud rumbling" that seemed to go along the length of a wall in their home.  The earthquake was recorded at Kentra near Acharacle. There are roughly 200-300 quakes in Britain every year, but most are so small no one notices them.  But between 20-30 are over 2.0 magnitude which can be felt over a wider area.  In April 2018, a 2.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded at Kinlochewe in Wester Ross and in 2017 a 2.3 magnitude quake was felt at Badrallach, a few miles west of Ullapool.

Scotland's Red Squirrel Population Remains Stable
The red squirrel population across Scotland remained stable last year, a survey has found. It also saw a small drop in the number of sites with greys in southern Scotland and a "very positive" trend in the north east of the country.  Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels (SSRS) has been monitoring populations for nearly a decade.  It said the results were "worth celebrating" but the good work which had been done would need to continue.  SSRS carries out its studies in areas across Scotland where red squirrels are most threatened by greys.  It is due to the threat of squirrelpox - which is carried by grey squirrels but is deadly only to reds.  A survey has been carried out in northern Scotland since 2011 and in the south since 2013.  SSRS said that in recent years results had indicated that red squirrel populations had stabilised, following several decades of decline.  In southern Scotland the number of sites reporting reds remained between 51% and 52% but locations with greys fell from 60% to 51%.  The number of spots with only reds rose from 29% to 34%.  SSRS project manager Dr Mel Tonkin said: "The small changes in favour of red squirrels in the south of Scotland are certainly promising, but survey results can fluctuate from year to year and we will need to gather more data in future years to determine a definite trend.  For now, we can say that red squirrel distributions in the region are stable.  This is worth celebrating, and it is only possible thanks to ongoing work by volunteers, land managers and many others. However, we need to keep up the good work to hold on to our reds in the area and fend off the widespread grey squirrel threat."  Martin Hayes, who monitors feeder boxes at Glentress in the Borders, saw his survey site change from grey-only to red-only for the first time last year. "After a number of seasons of detecting greys only, it's great to see the area's red squirrels finally getting a look in," he said.

Achmelvich Beach Launch for Iron Age Finale

A new novel by Assynt writer Mandy Haggith is being released by independent publishers Saraband on Friday.  And the author herself will be reading extracts from The Lyre Dancers when she launches it at an outdoor beach event at Achmelvich on Saturday.  The novel is Dr Haggith’s fifth and completes her Iron Age historical fiction Stone Stories trilogy, following on from The Amber Seeker and The Walrus Mutterer.  She has also written four poetry collections, a non-fiction book and numerous essays.  She combines writing with teaching literature and creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands and she is also an environmental activism.  Her work has won a number of awards with her first novel The Last Bear scooping the Robin Jenkins Literary Award for environmental writing.  The Stone Stories series was longlisted for the Highland Book Award 2019 and was the Historical Novels Review’s editor’s choice.  The Lyre Dancers sees the return of former slave, indomitable survivor and now matriarch Rian to her Celtic homeland, c300bc.  The book is the last in a trilogy.  The intergenerational saga navigates changing fortunes, from plundered riches and feuding warlords to betrayals and menacing curses.  Literary critics have been full of praise for the first two books with Alan Massie of the Scotsman saying: “Marries great storytelling and convincing research – enthralling.”   She will also be giving a reading at Waterstones, Inverness, next Thursday and at the Crannog Centre, Loch Tay, on April 11 following an event there on writing your own Iron Age story.

Covid-19 Puts North Sea Oil and Gas in 'Paper-thin' Position

The North Sea oil and gas sector is in a "paper thin" position with oil prices tumbling, the industry has warned.  The supply chain in particular is at risk with cash flows already tight following the 2016 downturn.  Coronavirus and increased supply have led to a "perfect storm" with evidence that some firms are already down-manning.  Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) wants urgent engagement from the UK Westminster government so that businesses can access finance.  A decision by the oil-producing cartel OPEC to increase production has pushed prices to below $30 a barrel.  That means companies are beginning to row back on investments which are vital to the supply chain.  It is predicted there will be more insolvencies and consolidations in the industry as a result.  OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: "Businesses and industries across the UK are facing extraordinary pressures, but coming so soon after one of the worst downturns in our history, this report shows that this sector is now in a paper-thin position.  The offshore oil and gas sector is part of the UK's critical infrastructure, providing the secure and affordable energy the country needs and is a key contributor to the economy in terms of supporting hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs, businesses and our wider economic contribution."  The industry has called for action to ensure the sector does not lose the "skills, experience and infrastructure" it needs.

Online Gig From Inverness Aims to Bring Cheer to Those At Home During Coronavirus
Highland musicians are aiming to bring some traditional musical cheer to those stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown.  Blazin' Fiddles maestros Bruce MacGregor and Anna Massie are planning to take to the small screen to share some foot-stompin' fun on Friday night.  Mr MacGregor, who also runs MacGregor's Bar in Inverness, said he wanted to bring the music into people's homes.  He said: "This is for anyone who might have an interest in trad music or is even just looking for something a bit different.  These are worrying times for all of us but hopefully we can help each other out."  Mr MacGregor is well-known on the traditional music scene both as a soloist and as part of Blazin' Fiddles. The live music session will be shared on social media.  He continued: "We will play some tunes from our album The Highlander’s Revenge in MacGregor’s Bar on Friday night.  This is an online concert – please share as widely as possible."  Within minutes of the event being posted on line more than 60 people had signed up.

Be Aware of Covid-19 Scams
In the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Highland Council Trading Standards has issued a warning to the public about a series of new scams related to the virus.  One is an email claiming to be from the government, offering a tax rebate to support people through this challenging period. The email, which looks official, informs the recipient of the rebate amount and requests that you click a link to receive it.  The recipient is then asked to fill in personal details, including their credit card number and address. These details allow the scammer to take money directly from the recipient's bank account.  In another scam, claiming to be from the World Health Organisation, the email claims to hold crucial coronavirus safety advice.  It has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, allowing scammers to follow the online movements of the user, and in doing so gain access to the device and personal details.

Coronavirus: Scottish Exams Cancelled for First Time in History

Exams for Scottish school pupils will not take place this year, the education secretary has announced.  John Swinney told MSPs the "unprecedented" move was a measure of the "gravity" of the situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak.  It is the first time the exams have been cancelled since the system was put in place in 1888.  Mr Swinney said a model would be put in place to ensure that young people in schools and colleges who were unable to sit exams would not be disadvantaged in any way.  Pupils will be graded on coursework, teacher assessment and prior grades.  Mr Swinney said: "In all of our history Scotland has never cancelled the exams. Since 1888 they have been held every May and June without fail. In the midst of two world wars the exams went ahead. It is a measure of the gravity of the challenges that we now face that I must today announce that the exams will not go ahead this year."  The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said work had started "at pace" to develop an alternative certification model. The SQA's chief executive Fiona Robertson said: "I fully appreciate that this will be an uncertain time for learners who have worked hard throughout the year and will now, with their families, be worried about what this means for them.  Everyone here at SQA will do their utmost, with the support of the education system, to ensure that their hard work is rightly and fairly recognised, and allows them to proceed to further learning or work."  Six people have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus.

Scots Rail Worker Melts Hearts After Penning Sign Offering to Help Vulnerable People Amid Coronavirus

A rail worker has melted hearts after offering to help elderly people during coronavirus in a touching sign he wrote at a station.  The heartwarming sign was spotted at Markinch station in Fife and saw station worker Colin urging people to contact him if they need anything amid the outbreak.  And locals have now praised Colin's selfless actions, hailing his "exceptional kindness".  The sign read: "Should any of my customer, (single or elderly), wish to give me their name, address or phone number, I will keep in contact with them twice weekly. If not, please take down this phone number and you can phone me, if you need to".  Alisdair Clark, a reporter at Edinburgh Live, tweeted a photo of the sign, saying Colin should be "given a medal".  He wrote: "This melted my heart. Colin at Markinch train station offering to check in on his elderly customers during #coronavirus.  He later tweeted: "He really is a star. I always try to make time to go in and get my ticket from him rather than use the machine." And it appears Colin is well known in the community for his kindness, as people shared an outpouring of support for the rail worker. One local commented: "One of the things I have appreciated most about living in Markinch again is how brilliant Colin is."  Meanwhile, another person wrote: "Colin is a real one of a kind - we really enjoyed working alongside him in our time at Markinch Station."  One local penned: "Colin is an absolute gem! Helpful, informative, always a story to tell and his kindness is exceptional. Not enough Colins in this world".  And another person said: "He is such a great guy, always there with a smile and exceptional service. I wish the world was full of Colins". Phil Campbell, ScotRail Head of Customer Operations, said: "During this unprecedented global crisis, our society really benefits from peoples' selflessness and kind-hearted actions.  We're proud to have Colin represent ScotRail, he's a credit to the business."

Scots Rugby Icon Hits Haggis Jackpot As English Panic Buyers Snub Tartan Treat

A former Scots rugby star has picked up a taste of his homeland- after English supermarket punters snubbed haggis.  Craig Chalmers was scouring the shelves of his local Tesco in Surrey when he came across the Scots delicacy.  The coronavirus crisis has seen shoppers leaving many supermarket shelves bare as panic buyers snap up as much food as they can. Despite shortages of nearly every other item, the former British and Irish Lions player found plenty of haggis and black pudding to take home from the English store.  He tweeted: "Went to a local Tesco in Surrey where I live & although most of the shelves were bare. I did pick up some Haggis which the locals don’t seem to like! Full of goodness & will keep me going through these crazy times. Also a few mini black puddings if you look closely."

CalMac Changes Freight Service to Ensure Lifeline Maintained
To ensure continued lifeline services are maintained to the Isle of Lewis, ferry operator CalMac is making changes to its overnight freight service.  From Monday (March 23th) to July 15th the overnight freight service will be discontinued and freight will now be carried on an 1130 morning sailing.  A return passenger service from Stornoway to Ullapool will operate in the afternoon.  “The Covid-19 situation is evolving rapidly, so we need to take prompt steps to ensure lifeline services to Lewis are maintained,” said CalMac’s Director of Operations, Robert Morrison.  “This freight service is vital for the whole of the Outer Hebrides and moving to a morning run rather than over night, is the best way of ensuring its resilience given the expected challenges we face regarding the crewing of vessels in the weeks to come.”