Yes, introducing Mr and Mrs McKenzie! Peter and Sheila are seen here relaxing after tying the knot at Airds Hotel, Port Appin, a couple of weeks back! It was, said Peter, an absolutely wonderful and memorable day. The big smiles say it all!
Peter and Sheila, we wish you every happiness together in your new house and in the years to come.
Mulled Wine and Mince Pies
For the first time since 2019, we are able to celebrate a pre-Christmas drink together with no Covid limits on the number of households or individuals, so please do join us on Saturday 10th December at 4pm in the village hall.
There will be mulled wine, non-alcoholic drinks, mince pies and other eats, and lots of Christmas spirit.
It costs £6pp and once costs have been deducted from the takings, we will put the balance towards new notice boards for the village.
And to help get you in a Christmassy mood, here is a little pic of the Aberfeldy Ukulele Band performing at Kenmore last week. Spot the familiar faces!
Many thanks to Lucy Higgins for the use of the clip.
Fearnan Book Club Review
The Book Club recently read and reviewed How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie, a darkly humorous debut novel. As often is the case, it was great for discussion as it provoked mixed opinions.
In general, it was regarded as being cleverly written with echoes of Kind Hearts and Coronets, the 1949 Ealing black comedy film.
Some wondered how the author managed to come up with such a plot featuring a range of different scenarios and imaginative ways to kill. We felt that most of the scenarios could have been condensed. It was also felt that the author also wanted to perhaps convey the “me too” message.
Many found it too fanciful and implausible, but it appealed to their sense of humour with its almost cartoonish violence. We did not warm to, or engage with, the sarcastic and acerbic Grace, the cunning anti-hero who clearly displayed psychopathic behaviour. The irony was that she was imprisoned for a murder that she didn’t commit!
We enjoyed the twist and not all of us saw it coming. We agreed Grace needed her comeuppance and all agreed that she couldn’t, and didn’t, get away with it. We found aspects of the ending weak as she appeared to let down her guard which was unlike her character throughout the book.
The next book to be reviewed is Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell. First published in 1936, it is a socially critical novel set in 1930s London.
The main theme is Gordon Comstock’s romantic ambition to defy worship of the money-god and status, and the dismal life that results.
A sizeable group of people from the village gathered at the War Memorial on Sunday 13th November for the Remembrance Service.
As ever, Cath McGregor had made a wonderful job of decorating the memorial with the hundreds of red poppies that were knitted for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice back in 2018. This year, some additional poppies in the colours of the Ukrainian flag were added.
The service was led by Shirley Shearer and three wreaths were laid in honour of those who died in WW1 and WW2 and in subsequent conflicts. As has become our custom, one of the wreaths was laid for the Russian airmen and their Czechoslovakian colleague, all members of the WW2 Allied Forces in 1943, when they died in a plane crash in Fearnan Cow Park
After the service, coffee was served in the village hall, and a collection for Help for Heroes raised a generous £95 from those present.
Fearnan Book Club
After the excitement of the Ann Cleaves event, Fearnan Book Club has wiped its collective brow and normal business has resumed, as covered in Linda’s report below. The Book Club is delighted to report that some £555 was raised for the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance at the Ann Cleaves evening, and the SCAA has written to thank the community for this welcome contribution.
The book club recently read and reviewed The Island of Missing Trees, by Elif Shafak, an award-winning British-Turkish novelist whose work we have previously enjoyed.
It has been described as “A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. Balm for our bruised times.”
All agreed that it was a beautifully written and moving book with an engaging and descriptive style. A few found the first part of the book slow moving and ponderous although felt the second half moved at a faster pace. Some liked the fig tree as the narrator and regarded this as a clever device, others found this difficult to relate to. However the fig tree provided continuity throughout the narrative and kept the history and background going, by filling in the ‘missing bits.’ The multi-generational links were clarified and were plausible.
The Greek/Turkish conflict in Cyprus in the 1970’s was poignantly described. Its impact on the relationship and lives of the main characters Defne and Kostas resulted in years of grief and trauma. The vivid and detailed descriptions of the contrasting locations of Cyprus and North London enabled the reader to visualise the significant places in their lives.
Ada, the daughter, has this tree as her only connection to Cyprus and her family’s troubled history, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets. She is helped eventually by her eccentric aunt, whose character the group loved.
There was great discussion relating to a passage in the book about burying and then ‘unburying’ the fig tree, which had been grown and tended lovingly in London from the original tree, to protect it from the British winter. This seemed quite far fetched but Google and YouTube provided evidence and photographs that this method exists and is indeed used! We learned a lot about the ecology of the fig which is also grown by one of our group in her greenhouse in Fearnan and therefore didn’t need to be buried!
The ending was neat but not enjoyed by all of the group. Some could not relate to Defne metamorphosing into the fig tree after her sad death!
Our next read was totally different……..
How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie.
It will be reviewed in the next edition of the Blog.
Royal National Mod 2022
This year the Royal National Mod was held in Perth – something that added an extra edge to the competition for our local choir, the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir.
Alan Brown, our Choral Chorus-pondent (I know, I know), has provide us with an exclusive report on the event, and including a reflection on the pleasure of stepping out from behind a Zoom screen to sing in person as part of a choir.
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir has been in existence since 1967. It’s a popular choir, has appeared on radio and television, dipped its collective toe in audio/video recording projects, sung in sunny Spain and all over not-so-sunny Scotland and won the highest awards for Gaelic and music at the Royal National Mod both individually and collectively.
So, another year, another Mod? Same old story? No, not this time! This was a Mod with a difference, the difference being that it was the first time in three years that the Choir had been given the opportunity of leaving behind the Town Hall; leaving behind the fantasy world of laptop-driven Zoom practices where you could choose that no one would be able to hear you sing. Is that suitable preparation for any performer, never mind a collection of voices?
Add to these reasons the choice of venue for the Royal National Mod 2022 – Perth – and the prestigious appointment of our very own Gaelic Tutor Gilliain MacDonald as Mod Convener (recruiting several more Choir members to her committee) and a picture begins to emerge that simply turning up on the day and singing a couple of songs was never an option. This was one hundred per cent immersion. Geographically, Perth Gaelic Choir were the home team, but they are a newish choir and chose not to take part in some events.
The stringent but strictly adhered to lockdown rules meant that Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir could have only one public appearance prior to Perth, a much- acclaimed open-air performance at the Amphitheatre in Pitlochry at the end of August to a capacity crowd.
For those readers who like some explanatory notes, there is more to choral singing than meets the ear. You may well know that a choir divides into four parts – soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with further occasional subdivisions. Sometimes all sing the same tune; sometimes something else happens. All pretty straightforward so far but, crucially, what has to emerge from all this individualism is a Choir Sound, so important that I have capitalised it.
Not stray voices, however sweet or robust; not soft and tender passages swamped by the charge of the anything-but-light brigade. One sound. Which leads to the burning question: how can there be a Choir Sound when the choir is a bank of screens of disembodied heads? Necessary safety measures such as open windows, sanitised seats, safe distances between participants and wearing masks makes a Choir Sound impossible. A Choir Sound comes only from a choir singing together. In person.
Competitions were looming but before that there was the important task of welcoming people to Perth. Come with me now to Friday 14 October and a Civic Reception from Perth & Kinross Council (yes, your Council Tax; thank you so much) to celebrate the opening of the Mod. Invited members of Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir were very much in attendance and good publicity photos – the Aberfeldy Tartan is so distinctive – of a Torchlight Procession to the Concert Hall for a stellar opening concert made the national press.
Back again the next day for a concert Ar Canan ar‘s Ceol (The Language and the Music), an evening of mostly Perthshire music and song where a dozen Choir members had been invited by famed folklorist and singer Dr Margaret Bennett to accompany her on Bothan Airigh am Braighe Raineach (The Shieling Bothy on Brae Rannoch). An honour and a privilege indeed. Next day, as befits the Sabbath, we joined in a Celtic Praise event in St Matthew’s Kirk streamed across the world.
That was enough for the time being. Home to Aberfeldy for one more practice then Competition Day and a first time for our new members.
Friday saw us competing against the many friends we have met on our travels. The morning competition is for sung Puirt a Beul or Mouth Music and we more than held our own.
Afternoon was the Margrat Duncan Trophy where we were performing two songs with which we had struggled over the preceding months. All seemed to click, however, and we gave an excellent performance, losing out only to the newly formed Black Isle Choir with their imported medallists.
The Massed Choirs event on Saturday morning was the expected colourful highlight after marching behind two pipe bands through the centre of Perth and assembling as a huge choir outside the Concert Hall and Museum.
Songs were sung, speeches made (our own Choir President John Duff giving his admirably in Gaelic), the Mod banner was handed on to the Paisley 2023 Mod leader and that was Mod Pheairt 2022.
It was a very successful series of events with Perth proving to be the ideal centre for such an occasion and Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir surpassing its hopes. Did I tell you about another wee bit special occasion coming up? No? Well in June of next year in Aberfeldy it’s the anniversary of the first Perthshire and Angus Provincial Mod. Not just any anniversary though; the one hundredth! Just another Mod? Don’t you believe it!
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir under Musical Director May Brown and Gaelic Tutor Gilliain MacDonald will always welcome anyone interested in joining through a love of Gaelic music. We meet on Mondays in Aberfeldy Town Hall at 7.30 pm. Look out for our monthly news column in The Quair.
Mulled Wine and Mince Pies
Just a reminder that Mulled Wine and Mince Pies will be served in the village hall this December for the first time in three years, so please do join us from 4 – 6pm on Saturday 10th December. Price at the door is £6pp.
All tastes will be catered for, and in addition to the usual fare, there will be non-alcoholic drinks and some non-mulled wine.
Please note that the copyright of all photos on this site lies with the person who took the picture and the copyright of all text belongs to the person who wrote it.
You never know where a casual conversation with your neighbour will lead!
Frances Brace, a member of the Fearnan Book Club and neighbour of James Grieve, knew of his associations with Ann Cleeves and that he featured in her Shetland books as a forensic pathologist.
Frances then asked James if Ann would be willing to come and speak in Fearnan……..
“A packed McLean Hall, Fearnan, was thoroughly entertained and stimulated at an evening with internationally renowned author, Ann Cleeves, whose crime fiction novels and their television adaptations have thrilled millions of people in over thirty translations across the world. Last Tuesday evening (18th October), a light-hearted conversation with her friend, James Grieve, Emeritus Professor in Forensic Medicine, Aberdeen University, whose associations with Fearnan and Kenmore extend over half a century, the audience learned about how Ann crafts her Shetland, Vera and, now, Matthew Venn novels, all with such specific and distinct geographical settings from which her characters emerge, writing more or less daily in the early morning, to produce a novel each year, and her positive views about the television series which her characters have inspired.
She read from her latest Vera novel, The Rising Tide, recently published in hard cover (and due out in paperback in February). Aberfeldy independent booksellers, The Watermill, were on hand to sell Ann’s books which she graciously signed for the very appreciative attendees from around Loch Tay.“
For the audience, an atmospheric stage with crime related artefacts set the scene and James’s humour ensured that laughter echoed round the hall within the first few minutes.
The evening was a great success and exceeded all expectations. Since then, we’ve had so many positive and complimentary comments and delight that this event took place in Fearnan. Tea, coffee, cakes etc were provided by the book club members and enjoyed by our guests.
James thanked Frances for her initial idea and dramatic stage set, Linda for her administrative and organisational support and the book club for the tea/ coffee, cake etc. And many thanks, too, to Gayle Olivier for her atmospheric photos.
Generous donations were collected for the SCAA who have passed on their thanks for the support given by our community, as yet we don’t have a total amount.
We hope this will lead to continuing links between Ann and Fearnan, maybe even a short story featuring Fearnan folk….perhaps not a murder!
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse – Recycling in Fearnan
On the 11th October, a meeting was held in the Hall to discuss local recycling opportunities. For some time now, we have been able to recycle additional waste products (i.e. some of those that can’t be put in the PKC blue bins) through the TerraCycle programme that focuses on hard-to-recycle items.
Up to now, recycling through TerraCycle has been made available by Jenny Penfold, who has managed the process and provided housing for the collection boxes. She has gradually increased the range of products accepted and it is now quite a long list which includes dental care and laundry care products, various types of flexible packaging, medicine foils and inkjet cartridges. The full list is here.
In order to further develop opportunities, it is now proposed to move the collection boxes and create a Recycling Facility for the village in the Hall grounds, with the installation of a more formal collection point (e.g. a hut or shed). The ground around it would be properly landscaped and lit, and signage would be installed to provide guidance on what can be recycled and when (i.e. times of day to avoid unnecessary disturbance to nearby houses).
The Hall Management Committee has appointed a subcommittee to develop the proposals and some grant money has been obtained and ring-fenced to facilitate the process. Apart from increasing Fearnan’s green credentials, this enhanced programme will have the added advantage of enabling the Hall to benefit from payments made for the items collected – a valuable input to help cover the rising running costs of this valuable local facility.
The meeting also had a presentation from Ana De Miguel, who is the PKC Waste Minimisation Officer. Ana provided a brief overview of recycling in Scotland, helped to clarify what can and can’t go in the blue bins, explained why some things are, or aren’t, accepted, and explained what happens to blue bin waste once the Council has collected it. She stressed the importance of ensuring only items on the recycling list go in the blue bin.
When items such as food waste, nappies or liquids are placed in blue bins, they have the potential to spread and soil clean recycling. Materials such as paper and cardboard can be damaged rendering them unrecyclable. Soiled materials have to be removed and disposed of, losing all potential value.
Between July and December, the Council paid out £50,000 in additional charges to waste processors due to contamination. This year the figure for January and February alone is £17,650. This is money that would be better spent in our communities and in improving services rather than paying penalties.
Here is a quick visual guide to what can and can’t be recycled in the blue bins – the message is, if in doubt, leave it out.
We’ll keep you up to date with progress on the new Recycling Centre. It is likely to be operational next year.
Pop-Up Coffee Shop
The Pop-Up Coffee Shop popped up again on the 11th October, offering a chance to get together and enjoy what proved to be a very friendly and chatty hour or so. It’s always a good sign when people start re-arranging the furniture to create what is effectively one large table.
The pop-Up won’t be back until after the new year, but we do have the Remembrance Service at the War Memorial on Sunday 13th November, with the service starting just before 11.00. Coffee and tea will be served in the Hall afterwards and we will be collecting for Help for Heroes.
The FVA will also be hosting Mulled Wine and Mince Pies in the Hall at 4pm on Saturday 10th December – a chance for a little pre-Christmas get-together with friends from the village ahead of the last minute Christmas rush.
And Finally ……….
Could you be a mentor for young people to help them on their pathway to independent living?
Grandmentors is an award-winning intergenerational mentoring scheme which pairs local volunteer mentors aged 50+ with local young people aged 16-24 who have experienced care and/or had adverse childhood experiences, to give them advice, support and help build their confidence in their path to independence. Volunteering Matters, a UK Charity empowering volunteering in the local community, is setting up Grandmentors in Perth and Kinross in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council, and already operates Grandmentors successfully in ten other UK locations. For more information, please see Grandmentors (Perth and Kinross) – Volunteering Matters.
The initiative was also covered by the Guardian in 2019. See here.
Volunteering Matters also have another mentoring scheme run by Project Scotland, which similarly supports local young people facing barriers aged 16+, and which is open to adult volunteer mentors of any age.
You don’t need mentoring experience. Once you become a volunteer, training and on-going support is provided. All you need is an ability to relate to and understand young people.
On Saturday 1st October, the Fearnan Village Hall Committee took part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning by hosting a local coffee morning in support of the MacMillan cancer support charity.
There was a relaxed atmosphere and, as always, a great range of cakes, scones etc. and fun competitions. Around 40 people attended, including 5 children.
The lucky winner of the Colin the Caterpillar Conundrum Competition was Guy Hickman whose guess was the nearest to the number of sprinkles on the caterpillar cake.
Guy got to take Colin home (presumably for more sprinkles counting), while Judy Proudfoot won the hamper generously donated by Kenmore Bakery.
The event generated a fantastic £512.42, including donations handed in, on-line contributions as well as money collected on the day and the Hall Committee would like to thank all those who supported the event and donated so generously.
More Events to Come …….
Diaries out, folks, we have quite a number of upcoming events and here they are, in chronological order:
11th October 10.30 – 12.00: The Pop-Up Coffee Shop opens its door again: Join us for coffee and cake and a chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances from the Fearnan area.
11th October 7pm: Improving our Recycling Locally. The Hall Committee has some suggestions for improving access to recycling items that the Council is unable to collect. They propose to do this via the TerraCycle programme which focuses on hard to recycle items (https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB )
Please join the meeting on Tuesday evening 11 October 2022 at 7pm in the McLean Hall to hear about these ideas and for a discussion on local recycling. Topics include:
Additional recycling opportunities with TerraCycle – Jenny Penfold
Proposals to improve the Recycling Facility outside the Hall entrance – Karen Bennett
Council Recycling – PKC Waste Minimisation Officer – Ana De Miguel
Q&A session / Community Discussion to share comments, thoughts and ideas
18th October 7.00pm: Fearnan Book Club Hosts an Evening with Ann Cleeves
Ann Cleeves OBE is a British mystery crime writer. She wrote the Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez, and Matthew Venn series, all three of which have been adapted into TV shows. In 2006, she won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for her novel Raven Black, the first novel in the Jimmy Perez series.
Fearnan Book Club has staged something of a coup and is delighted to be welcoming her to the village for what will be a very interesting and enjoyable evening.
The event is likely to be very popular, so booking is essential as numbers are limited. Please email Linda on firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place.
The session starts at 7.00pm in the McLean Hall. There will be an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Ann’s latest book The Rising Tide as well as a selection of her previous books. Tea and coffee will also be available.
Sunday 13th November: A short Remembrance Service will be held at the War Memorial, starting at approximately 10.55. Afterwards, the FVA will serve tea and coffee in the village hall.
Saturday 10th December: Mulled Wine and Mince Pies:
Join the FVA for mulled wine, mince pies and good company from 4 – 6pm in Fearnan Hall. The cost is £6 pp.
Christmas jumpers may be worn along with other Christmas adornments.
(If you’re more of a Bah Humbug sort of person, just come and enjoy the wine and pies.)
Carpet Bowls Club: On Monday evenings there’s an open invitation to everyone to come and play Carpet Bowls in the Hall from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm. The cost is £3 per person. Contact Angela on 830619, or at email@example.com if you would like more information.
Fearnan Book Club Review
“When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…”
We recently reviewed Survivors by Jane Harper, an author of international bestsellers, whose books we’ve previously enjoyed. Opinions were mixed. Some found it less gripping than earlier books, some liked it better. Some felt it was slow and heavy going at times but full of suspense and tension. However it speeded up as the story progressed.
It had many of the usual themes of relationships, family, loss etc. Feelings of sadness, guilt, remorse, injustice and regret were all woven into the story set in a Tasmanian seaside town. This town held many long buried secrets held by its troubled inhabitants causing social tensions. Eventually the secrets came to light with a few twists and red herrings along the way.
All of her books have a distinct landscape that plays a central part in creating the atmosphere of the book and influencing and impacting on the lives of characters. In this case there was the beach, the cliffs with deep caves and an off shore shipwreck.
A few found this setting less compelling than the descriptive bush and outback of previous novels.
The book to be reviewed in October is The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, whose previous book was a hit with the group. This is a multi-generational story set in Cyprus and London.
A fig tree was witness to many events, love, war, relationships, death and sadness. The tree acts as a narrator in the story, so if a talking tree is your thing – read on!
FVA Extra Ordinary General Meeting
On 17th September, Fearnan Village Association held an EGM for the sole purpose of approving the organisation’s accounts for the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22. Normally, each of these would have been approved at the end-of-year AGM, but no meetings were held due to the pandemic.
All sets of accounts were approved by the members present, and a Vote of Thanks to Jim Fair was recorded for providing an independent examination of each set of the accounts.
And Finally …..
We love it when people with Fearnan connections get in touch with the Blog, and last month we heard from Joni Braham in Australia. Joni is of Scottish/Australian descent and, going through papers and photos in her parent’s estate, she found this picture of her father on the day he purchased a shepherd’s crook from Cameron Thomson, the Horn Carver (and man of many other talents). The crook is now a treasured family memento. Some years ago we wrote a profile of Cameron for this Blog which can be read here
The FVA’s Pop-Up Coffee Shop returned to the village hall last week for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Around 20 folk called in for a chance to catch up with old friends and to meet some new ones. As ever, there was a good spread of tasty home baking on offer.
The next Pop-Up Coffee is on Tuesday 11th October, 10.30 – 12.00 in the village hall.
Tackling Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed (JK), first introduced to the UK as a decorative garden plant in Victorian times, has now spread uncontrollably into the wild and especially near water. The plant looks spectacular and can grow rapidly as much as 10cm (4 in) in a day in summer and up to 2.1 metres (7ft) high overall. It has deep-rooted underground stems (rhizomes) which are tough, resilient and fast-growing – they spread easily without natural restraint and can damage buildings and roads. Rhizomes can reach 7.5 cm (3 in) in diameter and penetrate at least 2 m (7ft) in suitable soils (https://tinyurl.com/5n96hzv6). If pieces broken or cut off either stem or rhizome are left on the ground, the Japanese knotweed will grow again voraciously.
Some say it’s just nature but the problem with Japanese knotweed is that it prevents our native plants from thriving. Its rhizomes undermine riverbanks increasing the likelihood of flooding and disrupting salmon fisheries and access to rivers. In Scotland there is a Code of Practice for dealing with non-native species. It is an offence to plant non-native plants in the wild or allow them to spread into the wild, e.g. by allowing it to spread from your own land through inactivity, by dumping garden waste into the wild, or by moving contaminated soil (https://www.invasivespecies.scot/law-non-native-species).
In Fearnan, Japanese knotweed grows along the loch shore and inland by the burn that flows down by the Brae. We need to tackle this invasive plant before too much damage is done but fortunately help is at hand! The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI)is a 5-year partnership project which aims to work with local organisations and volunteers to control invasive non-native species along riversides in Northern Scotland, for the benefit of our native wildlife and communities.
Following the well-attended McLean Hall meeting in June about Japanese knotweed with SISI Project Officer Mark Purrman-Charles, four volunteers from Fearnan have undergone two days of training on how to control Japanese knotweed and apply the appropriate weedkiller. The initial phase of Japanese knotweed eradication will start in September and continue until the first frost. It will be necessary to continue to control the plant every year, during the period from July to the first frost and may take 3-4 years to complete or longer.
There are a number of important recommendations for tackling Japanese knotweed:
What to do if you have Japanese knotweed on your land:
The 4 local volunteers (mentioned above) have now completed their training – a 2-day PA6 course for the professional use of pesticides and they all passed their theory test with flying colours! This was followed by a practical assessment about a week later. Well done, folks! They are now ready to start tackling the Japanese knotweed in and around Fearnan, under the careful supervision of SISI’s Mark Purrman-Charles.
And here they are ready for action:
More Recycling Opportunities
Recycling opportunities in at Clach an Tuic in Fearnan have again expanded and you can now recycle:
the flexible pouches for all brands of coffee beans and ground coffee.
all brands of air, home and laundry products.
As a reminder, the following items can be recycled at Clach an Tuirc:
Dental products – electric toothbrush and flosser heads, flossing sticks, interdental brushes and dental floss containers
All brands flexible coffee pouches
All brands plastic air freshener containers, cartridge caps and car air fresheners
All brands flexible packaging for laundry washing capsules and pods
All brands flexible packaging for dishwasher tablets
Only Lenor Tumble Dryer sheets
All brands flexible packaging for wipes
All brands trigger heads
For ease of reference going forward, a new Recycling page has been created on www.fearnanvillageassociation.com with the list of items that can’t go in your blue bin but can be recycled in the boxes at Clach an Tuirc. The link to the Recycling Page appears at the top of the home page, under the header photo.
Fearnan Book Club
In September we reviewed The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas. This book was chosen by a member who, like many of the group, enjoys crime novels. When she read that two bodies had been discovered practically on the first page, she thought it would be a good choice!
This was murder with a difference as both deaths had taken place many years before the bodies were discovered in the garden of a cottage inherited by a young couple. A nightmare scenario which soon became fraught with emotion.
It was an easy read, fairly predictable, enjoyable and for some a page-turner. Some found it confusing with characters changing names and identities. All agreed that the interesting characters were well portrayed and found it easy to empathise with those most affected by the events. Especially Lorna, who discovered that both her parents had been murderers! We sympathised with Rose who suffered from dementia but felt that perhaps this enabled her to hide information.
There were a few twists which most of us didn’t see coming and it was felt that perhaps all was wrapped up too tightly at the end.
The book to be reviewed in October is The Survivors by Jane Harper. As a group we have enjoyed and reviewed a few of her books set in Australia.
This book is set in coastal Tasmania and is described as a powerful and absorbing thriller ………
………..a body found on the beach in a small coastal town triggers a chain of questions and tears open old wounds.
MacMillan Coffee Morning
Fearnan Village Hall Committee is hosting a Coffee Morning for MacMillan Cancer Support in the hall on Saturday 1st October at 10.30. All welcome.
Just a reminder that there will be an Extraordinary AGM for Fearnan Village Association members on Saturday 17th at 17.00 in the village hall. The purpose is to approve the Association’s accounts for the years 2019 – 20, 2020 – 21, 2021 – 22.
The AGM for 2022 – 23 will be held in Spring 2023.
We’re delighted to say that the ever-popular PopUp Coffee Shop is restarting on Tuesday 6th September, 10.30 – 12.00 in the village hall.
It’s a chance to meet up with friends, old and new, from the village and surrounding area over a cup of freshly brewed coffee and some delicious home baking. Everyone is welcome to come and join us at what we hope will be the first of a number of events now that the threat of the pandemic has receded somewhat.
It’s £3 at the door for as much coffee and cake as you wish to consume!
There will be another PopUp on Tuesday 11th October at 10.30am and this year the Remembrance Service at the war memorial will be on Sunday 13th November just before 11.00, followed by coffee and tea in the hall.
Our pre-Christmas Mulled Wine and Mince Pies will return this year on Saturday 10th December, time to be confirmed.
FVA Extraordinary AGM
Due to the pandemic, the FVA has not had an AGM since 2019, and we are giving notice that we will hold an Extraordinary AGM on Saturday 17th September at 5pm in the village hall and to which all members are invited. This meeting is for the express purpose of approving our accounts for the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 and this will be the sole agenda item. In Spring 2023, we will hold a full AGM for the year 2022-23 and there will be the usual opportunity for discussion on a number of topics.
We are looking for new committee members, and if you, or someone you know, might be interested, please contact the Chair, Sue, on 830493 for further info on what it entails.
More Recycling Opportunities to be Available in Fearnan
Fearnan is once again burnishing its recycling credentials, and very shortly you will be able to recycle the flexible pouches for all brands of coffee beans and ground coffee, and all brands of air, home and laundry packaging, including Lenor (but only Lenor) dryer sheets.
Jenny Penfold is creating space for some more recycling boxes at Clach an Tuirc and we’ll let you know when she’s ready to accept these extra items. In the meantime, start saving your empties!
Jenny is also desperate for more pairs of old tights to support the young trees in their recently planted wood. If you’ve any pairs of tights or pop socks that are past their best, she would be delighted to recycle them in the wood.
Fearnan Book Club
A recent read was The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. It was a slow, leisurely and descriptive read. The main character Monsieur Jean Percy runs a bookshop on a barge but is more like a doctor who will select a book to treat his customers issues.
“Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own?”
We found the characters to be well portrayed, especially Jean’s neighbours in his apartment in Paris where they were humorously described. We empathised with Jean, feeling at times frustrated by his actions and wasted years. Then were pleased he found love, happiness and friendships along the way as he travelled on his book barge through France.
The pace of events echoed the slow pace of the barge and the detailed descriptions of the river trip. It gave some a warm feeling as the traumas of the diverse characters he met along the way were resolved and he cleansed his soul. It felt at times, amusing, mournful, emotional and very French.
We liked the idea that books could heal people or fill the void in their lives. The book described the management of grief and illustrated that the characters had to go through misery to emerge safely at the other side.
A few of the group found it a difficult book to get into and found it didn’t flow well perhaps due to being translated from French. All agreed it became more engaging towards the end. Some felt there were no plot surprises. One of the group wondered if it would have felt different in another writer’s voice.
An interesting read for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.
We followed this by reading a contrasting genre. The Couple at No 9 by Claire Douglas, a Sunday Times crime book of the month.
If you’ve walked up to the Cow Park in the last few days, you may have noticed that the new seat has arrived. Since 2017 the seat in the Cow Park, which was dedicated to former resident Ann McGregor, has been popular with walkers, visitors and particularly, local residents. However, the weather was not kind to the wooden seat, and Storm Arwen was the final blow (no pun intended) leaving it beyond repair.
The new seat was delivered to the hall car park this week – a very durable, low maintenance version that the manufacturers claim will last for decades and they even say it will not blow over – but we’re not sure if the latter claim has been tested on a Highland hillside or with the sheep who will be delighted to see that their scratching post is back!
Ian McGregor made a significant donation to the FVA to enable us to purchase what we hope will be a very durable version and, by happy coincidence, he and his family were staying in Kenmore when the seat arrived. Their presence also helped solve the problem of how to get the 80-kilo seat into position, and once it had been carried up the hill in the Penfold’s pickup, Ian and Ann’s grandchildren made very quick work of lifting and carrying it over rough ground and putting it on its base.
The picture above on the left shows Ian with his daughters and 5 of his grandchildren with the new seat, the picture on the right was taken of the family in 2017, when the first seat was installed.
The Ploughing Match, Fearnan, circa 1930
This photograph has been in the Photo Archive of the FVA’s website for a number of years, but it is only recently that a written commentary on it has emerged, penned some years ago by the Scottish Country Life Museum (now the National Museum of Rural Life) in East Kilbride.
The picture is of a ploughing match that took place in the 1930s or 40s in one of the Boreland Farm fields. Fearnan Brae can be seen in the top right quadrant, leading down to the Tigh an Loan Hotel. The original crofts and associated ‘rigs’ are also just discernible.
The commentary on the photo is below, and just in case you are not fully up to speed with ploughing terminology, and you don’t know your coulter from your mouldboard, a little diagram has been added to the text!
Ploughing Match by Loch Tay, Perthshire
‘James Small brought out his new light swing plough in 1767, a time when the farming landscape of Lowland Scotland was beginning to change rapidly, and the ground was sufficiently improved in enough places for his plough to spread fairly quickly. At the same time, horses were displacing oxen as the beasts of draught. The Highland and Agricultural Society was formed in 1784, and numerous local Agricultural Societies followed, and in an effort to develop the skills of farm servants with the new implements, they encouraged the development of ploughing matches. They grew into popular annual events, the focus of friendly rivalry and social enjoyment.
‘The photograph was taken at Fearnan by Loch Tay in the 1930s or 40s with William Morrison ploughing. The horses are in show harness and many hours work will have gone into its preparation to compete for a prize as Best Pair. The burnished gunmetal and shining leather would be set off by decorations of white and blue, or sometimes red.
‘The skill lay in ploughing a straight fur or furrow and laying on the succeeding furs in perfect regularity. This is probably a special match plough characterised by a long mouldboard which turned the soil.
The soil is sliced from the land by the coulter projecting down from the beam, and the sock or ploughshare at the tip of the mouldboard. In this case (ie in the photo) the coulter is a sharp-edged disc. Here the beam is steadied by a wheel running on the land, making it easier to regulate the yird taken, or depth of cut. Concealed by the horses is the muzzle or bridle at the head of the beam which will have a fine sideways adjustment to regulate the amount of land taken or furrow width. The draught runs from the muzzle to the wooden yoke and swingle trees – the cross members–and through the ‘thaits’ or chains to the metal hames which bear on the leather and straw padded collar against which the horse pushes.
‘Every district had its prizes, cups and medals to complete for. The fraternity of the horsemen was a strong one and a distinct part of the character of the countryside.’
There is also a second photo from the 1920s. No location is given but as it was found paired with the ploughing photo, it may also be of Fearnan or the local area.
Thrift Shop Many thanks to all who donated goods, baked, or volunteered to help during the Village Hall’s recent stint in the Thrift Shop. The total earned for the week was £1500.00, a very valuable contribution towards the running costs of the Hall.
Fearnan Book Club
At our last book club meeting, we reviewed Dark Waters by GR Halliday, the second book in the DI Monica Kennedy series. Dark Waters does not play around. It is dark and disturbing from page one – in the best possible way. The plot is intricate and layered and peppered with revelations.
The book is set in the Scottish Highlands around Inverness and in fictional glens around Glen Affric where the location is depicted as sinister, dark and bleak and where horrors lurk for unwary visitors.
From the first chapter, the book hooked many of our group who found the intricate plot twisty, dark and interesting and in the end rewarding – after the sometimes difficult read. It is not a book for the faint hearted!
Some found the descriptions of dismembered bodies so gruesome that they were reluctant to read on. The personal lives of Monica’s team of detectives were revealed and developed as the storyline progressed and are a theme throughout the series. Most of the group were keen to read the first and subsequent books in the series and learn more about the complex histories and lives of the detectives.
We were fascinated to learn more about the history of the Scottish Hydro Electric projects whose deep, dark tunnels featured in the story.
Books for further reading on this topic are: Tunnel Tigers by Patrick Campbell and Hydro Boys by Emma Wood.
On a lighter note, the book to be reviewed in July is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. This a gentler and more relaxing read to which book lovers will relate.
Jean Perdu runs a bookshop on a barge but is more like a doctor who will treat all your maladies with the right book. T
This moving story is about Jean Perdu’s coming to terms with the love he lost and the new love he will eventually discover. it is a delightful book of friendship and love and conjures up balmy, sunny days in France.
The Book Club Members have suggested some summer holiday reading:
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Jan-Phillip Sendker (a love story set in Burma)
The Fair Botanist,Sara Sheridan (historical fiction set in Edinburgh)
How to Raise an Elephant,Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series)
Death and Croissants,Ian Moore (humour in France)
Women of Troy, Pat Barker (historical fiction)
The Road Dance,John Mackay (a sad Hebridean love story, a Scottish bestseller, and now a film)
And finally, a book that may be useful at any point during your holiday is ………..How to Kill your Family, by Bella Mackie.
We have an abundance of local talent in the Blog this week, from the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir and the Highland Perthshire Ukulele Group (both groups have members from Fearnan) to our own music maestro, Doug Law, and also some delightful craft work.
More Silverware for Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir!
Alan Brown of the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir writes:
A semblance of normality returned to Highland Perthshire last Saturday when the 99th Perthshire & Angus Provincial Mod came home to Aberfeldy.
The weekend of the Mod has changed much since the days when coachloads of primary and secondary school pupils would descend on the town on the Friday morning to take part in Junior competitions involving music and song, prose and poetry, art and drama. The Saturday would see the Senior piping and fiddling and – the main attraction – the solo, duet, quartet and choral singing.
Unfortunately, the curse of Covid saw this year’s Junior Mod wiped out yet again but, as in 2021, there will be a Virtual Mod later this month.
The good news, however, was the return of a live Mod Saturday. It was heartening to welcome members of visiting choirs who expressed delight at being back in Aberfeldy after three years, meeting old friends and making new ones in keeping with the spirit of Gaeldom.
The competitive side is important, of course, and there were some excellent performances. Covid has reduced preparation time for all, but hardest hit have been the choirs, unable to meet other than virtually by courtesy of Zoom.
From a personal point of view as a member of Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir, our practices were affected negatively by unforeseen circumstances such as poor wi-fi coverage for the Zoom meetings and actual absence through Covid. When we did manage to sing together in person – as recently as February – safety measures such as open windows, sanitised seats, safe distances between participants and wearing masks meant that a ‘choir sound’ was impossible.
A positive reaction, however, was a determination to show that the Host Choir would be there on the day to give of their best. And didn’t we just!
We were victorious in the Seinn Choisirean: Puirt-a-Beul competition, winning the May Mitchell and Frances Matheson Cuach. We also earned a very creditable 3rd place in the Westcroft Trophy behind Cumbernauld and Lothian Gaelic Choirs.
One of the highlights of any Aberfeldy Mod Saturday is when the Massed Choirs relax after the rigours of competition by performing in the Square to a very appreciative audience and this one was again a great success and miraculously rain- free. Music from Junior pipers and accordion selections even had spectators and competitors tripping the light fantastic to round off a very satisfactory day.
So, what next? Plans are already being formulated to mark next year’s event because it will be the ONE-HUNDREDTH Perthshire & Angus Provincial Mod! And to emphasise further the importance of the Gaelic tradition in this part of the world, the Royal National Mod is taking place in PERTH in October for the first time since 2004.
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir under Musical Director May Brown and Gaelic Tutor Gilliain Macdonald are well into rehearsals but will always welcome anyone interested in joining through a love of Gaelic music. We meet on Wednesdays in Aberfeldy Town Hall at 7.30 pm. Look out for our monthly news column in The Quair.
Mains of Taymouth for Ukraine
This weekend (18th and 19th June), Mains of Taymouth Country Estate and Golf Course ran a special fundraising effort to support Highland Perthshire Welcomes Ukraine. On Saturday, the event included live music, some of which was provided by our own Highland Perthshire Ukulele Band.
The rain managed to hold off, but the strong wind made it quite difficult for the players. However, they did well and were pleased to be able to be back performing after nearly 2 and a half years away from the stage, due to the pandemic restrictions.
Also on stage at the event was Fearnan’s Doug Law:
Jubilee Coffee Morning
The Jubilee Coffee Morning held on Saturday 4th June was a great success and described as “a glorious and special day”.
Approximately 50 adults and around 12 children all enjoyed the sunshine, cake, coffee, tea, juice and crown making etc. The sunny weather was a bonus, enabling outdoor seating and a relaxed atmosphere. After Covid restrictions, reconnections and new friendships were made.
With the balloons and bunting, it had a real vintage feel reminiscent of the 1950s. There was an extensive array of amazing cakes and assorted goodies including Polish treats.
It was especially great to see so many children enjoying the food, the art and craft table and having fun in the play park whilst forging international friendships with Ukrainian guests.
This month the Craft Group tried their hand at some felting work and spent a productive afternoon on Cath’s patio, trying not to be distracted by the view of the loch.
Cath had devised an excellent project for the afternoon and, in the space of a couple of hours, we had all completed a miniature felt picture, perfect for a brooch or lapel badge.
We were joined by Jackie from Strathtay.
Fearnan Book Club Review
A recent Book Club read was ‘The Miseducation Evie Epworth’ by Matson Taylor.
It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes.
The group overwhelmingly enjoyed this light-hearted, laugh-out-loud book, with its larger than life, melodramatic characters. It was a refreshing tale of just the right length and moved at a good pace. It captured the spirit of Yorkshire and its people, with mentions of trips to Betty’s Tearooms and rural village life. It was written from the perspective of Evie, about to leave school and perhaps acquire a stepmother.
Those of us of a certain age found it evoked memories of life in the 1960s with references to Adam Faith, then the Beatles, with posters on bedroom walls. References to Babycham, old ladies with hair nets, Izal toilet paper, Dansette record players and TV shows such as Take Your Pick took us back.
The book featured motherless Evie living with her hard working, busy and taciturn father on their farm and the money grabbing, wicked stepmother-to-be, Christine who, of course, was not liked by Evie. Evie’s kindly next-door neighbour gradually provided information to Evie and the reader about her mother and her parents’ back story. The story of her mother unfolded through reading her French recipe book.
Satisfyingly for the reader, Christine was revealed as a schemer, and all ended happily for Evie and her father.
Much of our discussion revolved round the differences between job and life opportunities and expectations for girls like Evie in the 1960’s and young people now.
Our next read, Dark Waters by GR Halliday is described as dark, gripping, and as atmospheric as the Scottish scenery it inhabits.
And Finally – Tackling Japanese Knotweed
This is a reminder about the meeting on Monday 20 June in the McLean Hall. It is an opportunity to hear the Project Officer for the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI), Mark Purrman-Charles discuss why Japanese Knotweed growth must be tackled and how free support can be made available. This is a Community Initiative which we hope will be well supported.
The Blog doesn’t often stray into health matters, but after 2+ years of the pandemic and lockdowns, most of us are in need of a little tonic or pick-me-up. So, when Music Tutor Edis Bowden got in touch about his wonder cure, the Blog’s ears pricked up.
As I write this, I am laid low by my old Demon: the bad back. I got a bit carried away with the gardening. I’ve had to cancel all my engagements but there is one that I’m not going to cancel: I am booked on a session of the “wonder cure“ for this very afternoon!
I am not alone in finding that this cure produces almost miraculous results on sore backs and a number of other ailments. As well as being a brilliant mood enhancer, it gives the old grey matter a good workout (much better than Sudoku, it is said) and it is very social which, in our post Covid era, is a huge benefit to so many people.
So, if I have piqued your curiosity and you’re wondering what this miracle cure is and where you can sign up, then now is the time for the big reveal: It is your local ukulele club!
When my back is sore, I play standing up and gently sway backwards and forwards which is wonderful for loosening up those tense muscles and bringing them out of spasm.
When I feel blue and devoid of any motivation – particularly in the long dark days of winter – I find the lively, cheerful ukulele vibe and the social aspect are like bottled sunshine. After a couple of songs, I am restored.
We are not the first people to notice the health benefits of the ukulele and, indeed, of music in general. In fact, the team that is dedicated to making Aberfeldy Scotland’s Healthiest Town (https://www.healthiesttown.org/ ) invited us to their launch party so that we could tell people about all the positive ways it improves your health and well-being. There is also a Scotland-wide ukulele project dedicated to spreading the benefits.
Now, I realise, many of you will be thinking that you couldn’t possibly participate in such a musical activity – perhaps because you’ve never done it before, or perhaps because you have been told you are tone deaf, or perhaps a teacher told you to leave the school choir. These are very common reactions, but one by one we have proved that they are all completely erroneous. A few short years ago many of the club members were in exactly that position, never having played a musical instrument in their lives yet wishing to do so. Over those few short years, we have taught them the skills that they need and now not only are they confident and joyful players but many of them have played in a number of public performances.
All human beings are natural musicians, it is wired into our heartbeat and the way we walk. Singing is very natural to all humans and although some of us may find it difficult to control the tuning of the notes to start with, with practice and a bit of guidance it becomes easier and easier.
The ukulele produces a wonderful joyful sound and is cheap and easy to get to grips with.
So, what are you waiting for? I have extolled the therapeutic benefits of the ukulele but please don’t let me give the impression that you have to have an ailment to come to the club. No! Prevention is far better than cure. In fact, I have left the most important reason for joining the club till last…….
…… because it’s fun!!!!
Your local ukulele club is Highland Perthshire Ukulele Club, which currently meets at the Kenmore Sports Pavilion on Mondays at 13.30 and Thursdays at 19.00. We can help with the loan of instruments to get you started and all training is provided.
Scottish Crannog Centre Trust
Many in our local community were devastated when the iconic Crannog structure was destroyed by fire last year. Since then, the Crannog Community has worked hard to bring forward plans for a new centre on a new site and now, almost exactly a year from the fire, those plans have been formally submitted to Perth and Kinross Council for planning consent.
Given the importance of the new Centre to our local area, we are pleased to reproduce an Open Letter from Nick Grant, the Chair of the Scottish Crannog Centre Trust. The letter recently went out to Members of the Trust, Friends of the Crannog, its neighbours, supporters, visitors and to the residents of Kenmore, Loch Tay, Highland Perthshire and beyond.
You will all know something of our long-held dreams and ambitions to re-vitalise and re- energise the iconic Scottish Crannog Centre, built nearly three decades ago, after the pioneering archaeological research of Dr Nicholas Dixon and others.
Well, now, here we are, one year on from last June’s devastating fire, with our application for planning consent now under final consideration by Perth and Kinross Council. After the amazing support shown by the local community, our visitors from around the world, major charitable trusts, the Scottish Government and many others, that same dream is about to become the reality.
Just like the original crannog dwellers would have done after a fire, we have rallied, packed up our stuff, looked for a new site and prepared a new beginning. The personal belongings of those same crannog dwellers – all safe in the museum collection – will come with us, to a new museum, a bigger and better Iron Age village, and a new and improved visitor centre at Dalerb.
We will be taking our time to build several crannogs, so that you and everybody else can come and see us, to watch, learn and take part in all the ancient crafts and skills our predecessors developed.
We aim to be Scotland’s most sustainable museum, a national treasure admired by all with social justice firmly at our heart. We will be a world-class centre for learning, social action, research and education, attracting new interest from all over Britain, Ireland and beyond, honouring the story of our predecessors and the national heritage of Scotland. In full, this will be a £12m scheme leading the way in bringing many more jobs, opportunities and visitors to Highland Perthshire.
But to do all this, we must have the first phase of our development open and ready to go by next spring, so there is a tough challenge ahead. We will continue to build on all our previous work as we look to do the things we do best – community engagement with our collections, immersive and hands-on experiences in our recreated archaeological ‘village’ buildings, multi-media activities, and embracing the individuals and communities, from near and far, that we are here to serve.
We will continue to develop our innovative and award-winning training programmes for our apprentices and others. We will continue to work with our local schools, including Breadalbane Academy, and with the voluntary and social support sector in Perth, Glasgow and elsewhere, to build new ideas for accomplishment and achievement.
We will research our collections and enable our objects to sing their own stories in many different ways to many different people. We will work in partnership with all those organisations and people who share our values and our ambitions. We will strive to be a museum in which everyone can take pride, a museum that matters, a museum that justifies our recent Museums Change Lives award as Best UK Small Museum.
All the support you have given us has been truly humbling. We respect and appreciate that trust placed in us, and we will work as hard as we can to repay that confidence and commitment. We are guardians of an incredibly special story with local, national and international significance. Together we can create a place that will tell the story of the crannog dwellers for generations to come.
We are fully committed to maintaining public access to the loch and picnic area at Dalerb and we look forward to working sustainably within our natural environments and considerately with everyone locally. I very much welcome your questions and your active involvement. We have an exciting time ahead of us working together to achieve these objectives and to really put Kenmore on the map of Iron Age history in Scotland!
The book group recently reviewed was The Hangman’s Daughter, a novel by Oliver Potzch. It was first published in Germany and then translated into English. It is the first book in a series of historical mysteries. It is a plot driven story with clear heroes and villains and triumph of good over evil.
The atmospheric sights, sounds and smells of Schongau in 17th century Bavaria were vividly described.
It is set in the days of witchcraft and herbs, where coffee was an exotic drink, dried toads were a remedy for the plague and the devil was believed to be real.
For some, this was a genre that they may have avoided if not a member of a book group. One, however, described it as being “right up her street.” As always there was a wide range of opinions. Some found it very dark, with scenes of torture and the deaths of children upsetting. Others loved the references to witchcraft, potions, and herbs. One struggled to take it seriously, conjuring up images of Blackadder/Benny Hill. This all added to our varied discussion!
The group recognised Jakob, the Hangman, as a compassionate, level-headed and intelligent man with a strong sense of justice and a determination to seek the truth. His occupations were in sharp contrast as he was also a healer with a range of medical textbooks and an extensive knowledge of the use of herbal medicine. Due to his despised profession, he lived outside the village walls with his family almost as outcasts. His daughter, as was traditional, was due to be married to another hangman but had a romance with Simon, the educated son of a physician.
We enjoyed the portrayal of Magdalena, the Hangman’s daughter, an intelligent, strong woman, a feisty heroine who knew her own mind and could look after herself. We warmed to Simon and how he worked with Jakob and Magdalena to solve the murders, expose villains, and reveal the evil in their society.
As an antidote, our next read was The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor a witty, funny and uplifting book set in the summer of 1962, an era that many of us could relate to! The review of this will appear in the next Blog.
For Your Diary
The McLean Hall, Fearnan, Committee invites everyone to come to the Hall for coffee and cakes on SATURDAY 4TH JUNE at any time between 10am – 12noon. Drop in to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and liberation from formal Covid restrictions! There is no charge at the door, but donations to Hall funds are always welcome.
The hall has the Thrift Shop from the 19th June to the 25th. This is a vital fundraiser for the Hall and help is needed. If anyone can spare a morning or afternoon to help in the shop, it would be very much appreciated. The contact for the rota is Elaine (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Karen for any donations of stock for the shop (email@example.com).
Spring has arrived! The spring flowers are out, the lambs are gamboling in the fields, and the Easter visitors are with us.
Among the visitors last week was the Russian author and historian, Anna Belorusova, paying a personal, friendship, visit. Anna has researched and written extensively about the group of Russian airmen who were based at Errol as part of the Allied effort during WW2, and about how 3 of them died, along with a Czech colleague, in a plane crash in the Cow Park (read the story here).
Through Anna’s research, the full story of the wartime crash was able to be told for the first time, and this led to the installation of the memorial stone and the tree of remembrance at an inauguration ceremony in 2019.
The Fearnan stone now has a sister stone in Errol Churchyard. It is formed from a single piece of Shoksha crimson quartzite, shipped from Russia in 2020, and it commemorates the Russian personnel who were based at Errol. Anna took some Fearnan daffodils to lay at the Errol stone and is seen here with Brigadier Sir Melville Stewart Jameson, who officiated at the Fearnan inauguration ceremony in his role as lord-lieutenant of Perth and Kinross.
Whilst at Errol, Anna was gifted a memento of her visit to the Loch Tay area by one of the people she met.
And the gift? It was a piece of pottery from the Loch Tay Pottery – made some years ago in Fearnan, by the late Andy Burt.
Anna has been very moved by the welcome she has received and the kindness shown by the people she has met in Scotland.
Spring always feels like a good time to try something new and some members of the Art Group decided to see if their artistic skills would transfer from painting on paper and board to painting on pottery, and took a trip to Going Pottie in Dunkeld.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to ‘throw’ the pottery first, and were able to get straight down to decorating their chosen pieces with all materials provided by the venue.
Looks like they are doing rather well. (By the way, the FVA could do with a new set of coffee mugs, nicely decorated with Fearnan scenes. No rush, just in your own time ……..)
The group were much encouraged for their next venture: decorating eggs, Fabergé-style. Sounds like a bit of bling could be on the cards.
It’s always good to hear about new facilities and there is a new studio in Strathtay running courses for local and visiting amateur artists. The first planned course is on printmaking techniques on the 4th and 5th June. If you are interested, please contact Jackie Forbes on Jackie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Music to the Ears (sort of)
Over the years, we have been able to feature red squirrels, deer, eagles, spring lambs, otters, osprey and much more, thanks to various wildlife watchers around the village. This time, thanks to Iain Ferguson, we are able to bring you a world premiere – a recording of a live performance by the Fearnan Frogs’ Chorus.
(It starts quite quietly so you may need to adjust your volume)
The Seat on the Hill
Many thanks to Jenny Penfold for providing the transport to bring the damaged seat off the hill. We have decided that it is best replaced as the repairs needed are extensive. The FVA will fund a replacement and are looking into alternative materials that may cope better with the exposed position, and the wind and rain. We will transfer the plaque remembering Ann McGregor to the new seat.
A smaller group than usual enjoyed and reviewed Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. It was described as “a tale of following your dreams regardless of the cost and the beauty of true friendship.” The story starts in 1950s England and takes us to French-run New Caledonia in a search for the golden beetle.
The main characters are two women on a life-changing adventure. They were well drawn, vibrant and loved by the group. Despite totally opposite personalities, Joyce and Enid developed a firm friendship. Joyce’s protective shell slowly peeled away as she warmed to Enid, while everyone loved Mrs Pope and the other ex-pat ladies. The group’s opinion was divided over the character Mundic. How important or essential to the story was he?
The environment and weather were vividly described. Some felt it became rather repetitive and long winded going up and down the mountain seeking the elusive beetle. In fact, some felt it was immaterial whether she found the beetle or not, the personal journey being more important.
The last chapter provided a satisfying full circle (we like a good ending!) and the postscript about the real-life women on whom the author had based her chapters was fascinating.
In case you missed it, BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme on the morning of Saturday 9th April followed the River Tay from Killin to Dunkeld. Although a repeat from last year, it is an excellent, well researched programme that explored the subject though local voices. It’s available on catch up on BBC Sounds (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds)