Looking for a Long Lost Friend ….. and Fearnan Snowdrops

One of the great pleasures of publishing this little Blog comes from the contacts we make with people from all over the world who have a link to, or a connection with, our village.

In the past, we have achieved success in reuniting long lost friends, thanks to the connectivity of the Internet and the lovely people who read this blog.

This week, we have another such request.

A couple of years ago we published the story of Fearnan School on the Blog, from its construction in 1785 to its closure in 1968. Towards the end of the article, there is a photograph of some of the last pupils to attend the school before it was absorbed into Kenmore Primary School.

From back left: Valery McEwan, Anne Mclaren, Royston Jackson, Lesley Thomson, Helen McDonald,
Front: Sandra Park, Wendy Jackson, Tom Alexander, Susan Christie.

Last week, we received an email from Maureen Hall who wrote, “ I came across your blog page recently and was fascinated to see the school photo from 1965 with the last pupils of Fearnan School.  They include my friend Wendy Jackson and her brother Royston.  Wendy and I met at Edinburgh University, but we lost touch after she moved to Manchester in the 1980s.”

Maureen went on to explain that during a lockdown-inspired clear out, she had come across lots of old letters from Wendy and she would love to get back in touch with her friend. Does anybody who reads this blog have any information or suggestions as to how Wendy or another family member might be reached?

If you can help in anyway, please get in touch with Fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com

Snowdrops for Nan

It’s always lovely to see the carpets of snowdrops at this time of year, reminding us that spring is on its way.

Last year, during the first Lockdown, we were asked if we could help to find, not a person this time, but a particular type of snowdrop – the Fearnan Snowdrop.

An email from Janetta Maguire of Dunfermline explained that her mum (Nan) who had recently passed away, had requested that ‘Fearnan Snowdrops’ be planted at the spot where her ashes were to be scattered. Assuming this was a particular type of snowdrop (like, for example, Jersey Lilies), Jeanetta had looked everywhere and contacted local garden centres, but no one had heard of them.

She knew that her mum had a visited Fearnan and had loved the village and clearly the snowdrops had made an impact on her.   The pandemic has made it very difficult for people to say goodbye to those they love in the way that they might wish and so it was particularly important for Janetta to be able carry out this specific request made by her mother. She asked if we could help.

 Sue and Fiona puzzled a bit over Fearnan Snowdrops, and quickly concluded that whilst we couldn’t provide a Fearnan Snowdrop variety, we could provide Snowdrops from Fearnan.  In fact, Sue had a nice clump that she had been planning to move and they would fit the bill nicely.

The snowdrops were duly dispatched to Dunfermline and planted by Janetta and her sister.

Snowdrops take a while to naturalise after being moved, but we were delighted to receive this photo of the first of the ‘Fearnan Snowdrops’ to show after the snow had cleared.

And we hope to be able to welcome Janetta and her sister to Fearnan once the restrictions are lifted and travel is again possible.

Paddle Boarding on the Loch

The Armchair Walking Club has morphed into Paddle Boarding at Home, courtesy of Stuart Brain. This is a chance to experience a winter trip by paddle board around the Loch in bright sunshine and with snow on the hills. Fabulous!

(n.b. This is the real-deal, so take your Kwells if you think you might need them!)

Fearnan Book Club

Well, here’s a rare thing! A book that the Book Club appears to have approved of unanimously!

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in February was Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior, and it not only lived up to the publisher’s reviews, but also received enthusiastic reviews from the Fearnan Book Club.

This was a great book to lift the spirits and to provide a tonic during the dark days of January. It was considered easy to read – sweet, delightful, charming, quirky, feel good and life affirming.

It seemed appropriate to be reading about Antarctic snowstorms while experiencing one here in Fearnan. We were transported from a snowy Highland Perthshire to the Antarctic, from the ducks of Loch Tay to the Adélie penguins of the South Shetland Islands.

It was generally agreed that the characterisation was good. We liked the range of beautifully portrayed, contrasting characters (even the grumpy ones) and enjoyed how they developed and adapted to the events and situations in the story.

Veronica, the main character who lived in Ayrshire, was an eccentric, feisty and interesting 85 year-old living life on her own terms and not wanting to ‘go gentle into that goodnight’. We accompanied her on her travels and witnessed the loosening of her emotional constraints as she developed relationships with those around her. We could imagine why she was the way she was following her childhood/motherhood traumas. It was touching that she found her long lost grandson and poignant that she kept wisps of hair from the important people in her life in her locket.

The descriptions of the penguins and the Antarctic environment were great as were the portrayals of the scientists. They were obviously committed to their work with the penguins.  We learned a lot and loved all the detailed information about Adélie penguins and agreed that any book that promotes conservation can’t be bad. A baby penguin dozing in your bin is just too sweet not to love.

Perhaps the moral of this story was that life can be turned around no matter how old or entrenched in your ways you are. One reader described it as “A fairy story for adults where granny goes from a bit of a wolf to a nice granny.” 

The book chosen to be reviewed in March  is 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafa. It’s darker than ‘Away with the Penguins’ and set somewhere warmer: Istanbul.

Described by Waterstones as “Capturing the evocative recollections of Tequila Leila in the ten minutes after her death, Shafak’s spellbinding novel extracts the value of a fully-lived life from its untimely ending.”

Kenmore Shop and PO

Just a reminder from Pat that the Kenmore Post Office and Shop will be open in the mornings only until the refurbishment is finished.

The PO is open Monday – Saturday 9-12pm, and the shop is open Monday to Saturday 8 – 12pm and Sunday 8.30 – 12.00.

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, and the copyright of text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Taymouth Carving and Another Virtual Walk

First of all, we have a question from Fran Gillespie of Fortingall.

She is wondering if anyone can shed further light on a carving which she and a friend came across recently on a tree in Taymouth Castle grounds on the north bank of the Tay.

It is dated 1943 and it looks like it could have been made by a member of the Polish Forces recuperating at Taymouth during WWII.

During the Second World War, the War Office requisitioned many country houses for the war effort and, from 1940, Taymouth Castle housed a military hospital – Polish Hospital No 1.  It soon had 1200 beds, around 200 staff and some 75 Nissen huts were erected in the grounds to increase capacity.

The carving appears to be Poland’s emblem – a white-tailed eagle, its wings spread out, with a crown, golden beak and claws on a red emblem shield backdrop.

There is more information about the Polish soldiers at Taymouth Castle on sites such as https://swoopingeagle.com and on Aberfeldy Museum’s Facebook page.  The following photos from the wartime appear on the Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK 1946 – 1969 website.

Perhaps one of the people who joined the discussion on the Aberfeldy Museum Facebook page about the Polish soldiers will be able to shed further light on this carving?

The Armchair Walking Club

Stuart has provided us with second walk to take from the comfort of our own armchairs.  This time it’s an icy stroll along the side of the River Lyon, taken at the end of January.

Book Club Review


Linda writes:

The book which was reviewed in January ( ‘Twas the Nightshift before Christmas’ by Adam Kay) was chosen as a light-hearted, quick read but for our group, sadly, it did not live up to its initial promise as suggested by reviews and the success of his previous book. 

Perhaps as ‘This is Going to Hurt‘ was so successful, his publisher/agent suggested this Christmas version. 

Most felt the gratuitous use of bad language was unnecessary as was the obsession with sex and graphic details of procedures. Making fun of the misfortunes of patients, although perhaps amusing, was generally considered insensitive and cheap humour. Some of the patient issues may have been more acceptable as confidential banter for professionals but not for public consumption.

Another viewpoint was that, underneath the bluff and bluster, was a man who loved his job and cared about his patients and the NHS who using black humour to cope. Some found the book mildly amusing and others found that there were laugh out loud moments alongside being reduced to tears. It was an insight into the life of a junior doctor working over the festive season and a reminder of the NHS as a 24/7 and 365 days of the year service. His frustration with NHS became obvious and there is a heartbreaking story as to why he gave up working in medicine.

To end on a lighter note, we were introduced to the anaesthetist wearing a festive badge saying, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake!”

The book to be reviewed in February is “Away with the Penguins” by Hazel Prior.

It was chosen as another light-hearted, lockdown read. The author was interviewed recently on the Radio 2 book club and the book has been described as this year’s “Eleanor Oliphant.”

Reviewers say:

‘Readers are falling in love with “Away with the Penguins”’

‘Without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year . . A gloriously quirky and life affirming story of hope.’

‘Oh, how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heart-breaking and heart-warming.’ 


It is far-fetched, but if you keep that in mind, hopefully enjoyable. What will be the verdict of the Fearnan Book Club?

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, or with the current holder of the copyright.

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A Virtual Walk

The snowy pictures that we put up last week seemed to go down quite well, so this week we are going one stage further with a walk (from your own armchair) up on Drummond Hill. This is especially for those who aren’t able to get up on the hill, or who aren’t in Fearnan at the moment and are desperately wishing they were!

Many thanks to Stuart Brain for sharing his walk!

A Walk on Drummond Hill in Winter

Wildlife Appeal

We couldn’t resist this plea for help from The Littlest Wildlife Hotel as we know we have lots of knitters in the Fearnan Community and perhaps some of them are looking for a new project as lockdown drags on.

“If anyone crochets or knits and feels like being industrious for the baby season ahead…. could you possibly make some nests for the rescued babies please?

Up to now I’ve made all the nests but I’m just a bit busy with the rescue having double the number of hedgehogs than last year, so I’m not finding the time to make any.

We need a whole variety of sizes from teeny tiny to quite large and everything in between as gawd knows what babies will need them. The photos illustrate some of the various uses:

Patterns are available for free…

https://www.crochetforyoublog.com/…/free-crochet-bird…/

http://nativesongbirdcare.org/…/How_to_Make_Knit_Nests…

https://hearthookhome.com/critter-hedgehog-pouch-free…/

http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/nest.html

Thank you. Could items be sent to:

Treglasta Farm, Treglasta, Nr Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8PY

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A Snowy Retrospective

Snow always looks best when it first falls, and happily that’s when most of us get our cameras out. Here’s a little montage of some of the ones that were taken in the last week.  Angela reported 20 inches up at Kinnighallen Farm (first picture).

And finally – how to make an Angel ………

Many thanks to Angela Kininmonth, Stuart Brain, Linda Milne, Hazel Brockie, Liz Paterson, Peter McKenzie and Ivan Watson (and a special mention for Pamela and her angel!)

Vaccine Scam Warning

There are reports that a fake NHS text message is circulating, telling people that they are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine.

When you click on the link, you are taken to a convincing fake NHS website that asks for personal details including bank account information. Any text message containing a link should be treated with caution. The best way to find information from GOV.UK, or any other agency, is to visit that particular website via a trusted source (such as through Google or Bing) and do not click on links in unsolicited texts or emails.

There have also been reports of criminals making telephone calls and asking for payment over the phone before you can attend your vaccine appointment. The vaccine is free. If you receive such a call, please hang up immediately.

These scams appear very convincing so please be alert and make sure that anyone you know who might be vulnerable to such scam is aware of the problem. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please let your bank know immediately and contact Police Scotland on 101 or contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000

For information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit:
https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/immunisation/vaccines/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine or call 0800 030 8013

Heartland Radio

Heartland Radio provide an important community radio service for Highland Perthshire with the latest local news and entertainment – which is even more important at the moment during the pandemic.

At the same time, COVID-19 has caused a huge drop in their advertising revenue and they do not receive License or subscription fees, or any regular public funding, nor do they expect their income from advertising to increase significantly in the short term. The result is that they may have to come off air.

They are currently seeking crowd funding for their running costs, including transmission fees, broadcast licenses and fees. Regular listeners might be interested in helping secure the future of our Community Radio and Keep the Voice of Highland Perthshire broadcasting. Even small amounts would be very warmly welcomed!

You can find out more information here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/heartland?utm_source=www.heartland.scot&utm_medium=widget&utm_content=click&utm_campaign=Join%20together%20to%20keep%20Heartland%20FM%20alive

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all photographs is held by the people that took the image.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and to quote John Lennon “let’s hope it’s a good one!”

Hogmanay 2021 was a quiet celebration for most of us, bringing in the New Year with members of our own households.  However, shortly after The Bells, a few local people made their debut on BBC Alba as members of a (virtual) choir made up from 300 singers from 32 Gaelic choirs from around the world, singing Thoir Dhomh do Lamh (trans: Give Me Your Hand) and conducted by Mary Ann Kennedy. According to the BBC presenter, this was a Gathering of Gaelic Choirs on a scale never before seen or heard.

And why are we mentioning this? Because among the singers was Fearnan’s own Fran Donovan!

Fran tells us:

It was a serious joint undertaking between the singers and the BBC – ‘though l suspect for those clever techies at the BBC that it was all in a day’s work. For us, however, it was difficult, not least because we to learn it in only 3 weeks, and 3 x 40-minute Zoom music and Gaelic sessions. Then we each had to submit separate audio and video files to May Brown (Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir’s Music Director) for vetting before they were sent to the BBC. 

For me this was a serious learning curve! We had a very small window of good weather for outdoor filming and we had 2 trips to the loch shore, just managing to catch the setting sun. It was absolutely freezing, and Elaine had to hold the music stand (on which was perched the iPad) to stop it from blowing away!  She said that motorists were slowing down to watch, but l was completely oblivious to this audience.

The audio recording was more straightforward (but l am not prepared to admit how many l recorded before deciding it was ok!).  Then came the difficult bit – both recordings had to be converted into an appropriate file format and compressed so that they could be sent by email. I think l spent a whole afternoon watching YouTube trying to learn how to achieve that.”

The Blog thinks the result was undoubtedly worth getting frozen singing beside the Loch and struggling with the technology!  

Those who missed it first time round can watch the performance here (and see how many other local people you can spot. Your starter for 10 is: Cllr John Duff): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gFSrksDyR0

Mary Ann Kennedy arranged this version of the traditional song and wrote 2 additional verses for this strange, socially distanced  year. The chorus translates as:

“Give me your hand, give me your hand, / Although the world is so off course / What is missing is more love. / Give me your hand, give me your hand.”

The final verse, especially written, seems particularly appropriate for the start of 2021:

“Though uncertain when we’ll meet again / A new dawn will surely rise. / Love fixes everything. / Give me your hand, give me your hand.”

Book Club Review and Book of the Year

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in December was Pine by Francine Toon.

The author portrayed the setting of the Scottish rural countryside beautifully and described childhood and life in a small, insular community very accurately. We felt the remoteness and haunting atmosphere in the evocative images of the spooky oppressive forest surrounding the village.


Many of the group could relate to the experiences of Lauren’s everyday life reminding them of their own childhood such as ‘guising’, building dens in the woods and the snap, crack and pop of Rice Crispies. 

There were varied reactions to the book as a whole.  Some considered it a good read and liked the author’s style, while others found the pace too slow until the end where much of the action took place.  

Some didn’t engage with the complex characters, but all agreed that Lauren, the 10-year-old protagonist, was extremely resilient as she had so much to deal with in her young life with little support and lack of proper parenting, which meant she missed out on her childhood. Her interest in Tarot, folklore, and elements of witchcraft and the supernatural gave a sense of unease and was variously considered either unsettling or fascinating. 

As always, at the end of the year, we vote on our favourite book.

For 2020, eight out of nine of us chose Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens as the first choice, with Conclave by Robert Harris and The Salt Path by Raynor Winn more or less in joint second place. 

Our light-hearted festive read which will be reviewed in January is T’was the Night Shift before Christmas by Adam Kay. This was released in October 2019. Kay’s first book This is Going to Hurt, based on diaries from his former career as a doctor, was published by Picador in September 2017 and became an instant Sunday Times best seller. 

And Finally……….

It’s good to see Alistair getting out and about again, seen here with Linda on her birthday.

Only exercise bikes allowed for the foreseeable future!

(Please note there is absolutely no truth in the rumour that Linda surreptitiously put Alistair’s bike(s) on eBay while he was out of action!)

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December

Use …… Recycle …… Repeat ……

After a year of extreme weather events, the World Meteorological Organisation has said that 2020 is very likely to be one of the warmest years on record globally. Recycling, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is one way in which we can all play a small part in tackling climate change, but a number of items cannot be recycled through the normal channels and end up in landfill. 

Step forward TerraCycle!

TerraCycle partner with individual, local collectors and are able to divert millions of pounds of waste from landfills and incinerators each month. They are committed to recycling the non-recyclable. Whether it’s coffee capsules from your home, pens from a school, or plastic gloves from a manufacturing facility, TerraCycle can collect and recycle almost any form of waste.

Jenny Penfold has signed up to provide a collection point for all makes of (certain) dental products. She has a collection box in her front porch at Clach an Tuirc where you can drop off your dental care products, including any brand of electric toothbrush head, electric flosser nozzle, interdental brush and dental floss container, as shown below.

The nearest location for recycling all other dental products is: Smile Design Dental Practice, 11 Main Street, Perth, PH2 7HD.

(NB Jenny is also still in the market for your old pairs of tights which she will re-cycle into tree ties for her wood.)

Book Club Review

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in November was read in a wet and windy autumn, over the Halloween period and was, appropriately, a supernatural and chilling ghost story, The House on Cold Hill by Peter James. The story was based on a house that the author had lived in during the 1980s and around which, some of the strange events had actually occurred. This was a very different style and genre from his detective series featuring Roy Grace.

Some of the group were spooked and left feeling uneasy by the ghostly happenings and could only read it during the daytime. One of the group stopped reading altogether! Others felt they were sucked into the story and were keen to read on to see what happened next. Some criticised the story as being far-fetched and possibly too ridiculous to be really scary – mainly due to a very computer literate ghost which sent implausible texts, screen messages and emails. There was also an over emphasis on product placement and use of brand names, perhaps to maintain the modern twist. 

The idea that no male resident would live past 40 was intriguing. ‘No-one leaves the house’ was the outcome for every owner – and the next family are going to be haunted by the Harcourt family! The concept of linear existence was fascinating and provided clues to later events.

The final message OVER MY DEAD BODY encouraged the reader to read the sequel ‘The Secret of Cold Hill’ which a few of the group did.  Under different circumstances, this would have been an interesting film for the braver members of group to watch and make comparisons with the book. 

The book being reviewed in December is Pine by Francine Toon. The winner of the The McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year, it has been described as:

“A ghostly, atmospheric, original and unsettling debut.”

“Drenched in sinister rural gothic, Francine Toon’s eerie debut makes superbly unsettling use of the Scottish Highlands to infuse the continuing aftershocks of a decade-old mystery with slowly encroaching dread.”

You have been warned!!


Road Closure

Just a reminder that the A827 is scheduled to be closed between the junction at the bottom of the Brae and Balnearn for 2 weeks from the 9th December. The closure is to allow work that will result in the removal of the traffic lights (Hurrah!).

The Community Council tell us that will probably not be as bad as it sounds. Applicants for a road closure always ask for longer than they think they will need in case problems occur and the job overruns. It is the CC’s understanding that the work will only take five days. The road will be closed from 9.30a.m – noon and 12.30 – 3p.m. This allows children to get to and from school.

Picture Corner

Another selection from Peter’s ‘tootles’ around the area:

The images are (from the top):

Sunset on Loch Tay;

Late afternoon light reflected in flood water on Poplar Avenue;

First snow on Strathtay;

And 2 farmyard friends on the left

Better than Talking to Yourself

Pat sent this little contribution, which came via her Mum:

Be careful please! People are going crazy from being locked down at home.

I was talking it over with the microwave and the toaster while drinking my coffee, and we all agreed that things are getting serious. I didn’t mention it to the washing machine, because she puts a different spin on everything. Certainly, I could not share it with the fridge. He has been so cold and distant.

In the end, the iron straightened me out. She said the situation is not all that pressing and all the wrinkles will soon get ironed out. The vacuum, however, was unsympathetic. Told me to just suck it up, Buttercup! But the fan was optimistic. Gave me hope it would all blow over soon. The toilet looked a bit flushed but did not respond when I asked its opinion. The front door said I was becoming unhinged, and the doorknob told me to get a grip. You can guess what the curtains said….’Just pull yourself together’!

(The Blog thinks this is the sort of thing that happens when you start buying ‘smart’ appliances for your home……….)

Please note that the copyright of all photographs on this blog belongs to the person who took them and the copyright of all text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Fearnan Marks Remembrance Day

This year’s Remembrance Sunday Service in Fearnan was very different from previous years, as was the case through out the country. With restrictions on the number of people allowed to congregate and organised gatherings not permitted, the Tay Lyon Churches pre-recorded an act of remembrance which featured each of the memorials in the parish and was available on YouTube.

Those who gathered at the Fearnan Memorial did so in a personal capacity and wreaths were laid just after the two minute silence. Lisle Pattison laid the church wreath, Alistair Grier laid the PKC wreath, and Linda Milne laid the wreath from the Russian Consulate to remember the airmen who died at Fearnan in the WW2 crash.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the first use of poppies as a symbol of remembrance, and Cath is already planning a spectacular display using the hundreds of poppies knitted for the 2018 anniversary.

There was another spectacular display further down the loch this year, with the Crannog lit up in red against the night sky on Remembrance weekend and also on the 11th November itself.

Photo copyright to the Scottish Crannog Centre

Hold Tight!

Jenny would like to thank all those who responded to her recent appeal for old tights to use as supports for the trees in the recently planted wood at Clach an Tuirc.

She would particularly like to thank those who left bags of tights hanging on door handles or in the front porch anonymously – thank you, whoever you are!

Jenny even had a phone call from someone in another part of Scotland asking if she could post some to her!

They have all been used, but Jenny has 1,340 trees to tend to, and each tree needs one pair so she needs heaps more! All donations, anonymous or not, will be much appreciated.

Please note that the copyright of all photographs on this blog belongs to the person who took them and the copyright of all text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Arrangements for Fearnan Remembrance Day Service 2020

This year, it will not be possible to have the usual Remembrance Day Service at the Fearnan War Memorial as outdoor gatherings are not permitted due to the pandemic.

Instead, this Sunday morning Taylyon Churches will be broadcasting an act of remembrance which has been pre-recorded at the Fearnan Memorial.

You will be able to find the recording tomorrow morning on the Upper Tay Churches YouTube Channel  https://youtu.be/eNnnB0Wi-DU and you can watch it in your own home on your screen or iPad.

The service is led by Shirley Shearer and you should start watching the service at 10.45 if you want to observe the silence at 11.00.

As well as the pre-recording, there will be a laying of wreaths at the Fearnan War Memorial in real time just after the 2-minute silence on Sunday morning, and if you choose to go to the memorial, please do ensure that you observe social distancing of 2 metres.

As we are not gathering together this year, we will not be able to make the usual collection for Help for Heroes.  Like so many charities, they have seen their income plummet this year – just at the time that many ex-servicemen are needing additional help to cope with the challenges presented by the pandemic.  If you would like to make your usual contribution, please go to https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ where you can make an on-line donation.

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Halloween!

It’s Halloween! That time of the year when the veil between the physical world and the plane inhabited by ghosts and demons thins, and sometimes spirits slip through to our world. So, if tonight you hear a soft tap on the door, or a whispering sound at the window, just move in closer to the fire.  And do take care – we know for a fact that these spooky guys are in the village right now!

Photo: Doug Law

Book Club Review

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in October was ‘Women of the Dunes’ by Sarah Maine. It was the Waterstones Scottish book of the month In March 2019.

This was considered an easy, gentle read, both a mystery and a love story, which was enjoyed by all.  A few of the group, who aren’t too keen on a picaresque style, did however enjoy this one. It was very similar to her previous book ‘The House between Two Tides’ which many of the group had read previously (or subsequently) and in both stories, the author links the eras, centuries and characters together with plausible historical detail.

Some readers enjoyed the archaeological aspect and some would have preferred more of the Pagan story rather than the other two timelines, which were considered predictable with melodramatic overtures. The way Sarah Maine mirrored the Victorian saga with the Pagan one, and with a similar unhappy ending was clever. The atmospheric setting around a headland on Scotland’s west coast, which held many of the secrets, was beautifully portrayed. 

The characters were engaging and the story, though at times predictable, held our readers‘ interest. One of the group described the women as fragile, but independent and the men dark, damaged and sexy, reminiscent of Mills and Boon style!

Our next read has been very aptly chosen to be read around Halloween. Continuing on the theme of “spirits of the past”, the choice for next month is the House on Cold Hill by Peter James. The book is described as a chilling and suspenseful ghost story about a family who move from the city to the Sussex countryside to a dilapidated Georgian mansion.  Within a short time, it becomes apparent that they aren’t the only residents in the house!

More Halloween Reading

If, dear reader, you fancy some other scary reading or watching, there’s always The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Signal Man by Charles Dickens.  Or you could watch Stanley Kubrick’s unnerving The Shining, or The Blair Witch Project by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Alternatively, you could just take a walk down to the lochside after dark and just check that the characters in Doug Law’s spooky sand sculpture are still where he put them and they haven’t gone walk-abouts ……….

Arrangements for Remembrance Sunday

This year, the arrangements for Remembrance Sunday have been adapted to allow for the restrictions placed on outdoor gatherings and the need for social distancing.

A video recording of a service at Fearnan War Memorial is to be made ahead of time and put on YouTube so people can access it in their own home at 11.00 on Sunday 8th.

We will put more info and a link to the service on the Blog once it is available.

In normal times, the FVA offers tea and coffee in the hall after the service and makes a collection on behalf of Help for Heroes – and people have always been very generous with their donations.  If you would like to make a contribution this year, you can do so through the Help for Heroes website https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk

Charities have seen a huge drop in their incomes in recent months as the pandemic has put a stop to most of their fundraising activities, and they will be particularly appreciative of any help you can give.

And Finally……….

Recent research has shown that watching nature films greatly reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and increases the viewer’s sense of well being. So, in these troubled times, what better excuse to take a little time out and watch this RSPB film about ospreys and other Scottish wildlife? Produced by the RSPB Film Unit in 1979 the film provides a glimpse of Scotland 4 decades ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFQBVeTNh28&feature=youtu.be

Beautifully filmed and directed by Hugh Miles, with music by Carl Davis and commentary by Robert Powell, “Osprey” shows a year in the life of the Osprey; its hatching in the Scottish Highlands and its migration to Africa.

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Appeals Edition – Squirrels……. and Tights!

Tights for Trees Appeal!

The Blog has received this slightly odd, but absolutely serious, appeal from Jenny Penfold.

Jenny writes:

The Woodland Trust advisor paid us a visit in late August to see how we were managing with our small, newly planted, native woodland. And one of his recommendations was to take the tree guards off once a tree had reached about 3m+. However, as they’ve been grown in tree guards which act like mini greenhouses, the trees have shot up in height without developing sufficient root systems to support them properly – some being really floppy when you remove the guard.

So, he has suggested tying them between 2 stakes using something stretchy enough to support them, but also with enough ‘give’ to allow movement to encourage strong root growth. And tights are the perfect material!

I’ve now used up all available old tights from the family and am in desperate need of hundreds more – we have over a thousand trees!! So, if you have any old tights/stockings/’pop socks’ (clean ones, please 😊) I’d love to repurpose them… and save them from landfill, too.

If you can drop them off to me when passing our house (Clach an Tuirc – by the Boar Stone), I’ll leave a box in the front porch for donations, or if you’d like me to collect them please phone me on 07917 685626.

The photo of the smaller tree on the left shows how most will be staked, though the dog roses and blackthorn will probably just need one stake and tie. The photo of the larger tree (on the right) was the first one out of its tube and I’ve used 3 stakes and lots of ties as it has so many branches and lots of foliage and will catch the wind over winter.

Many thanks in advance for all donations – much appreciated!

Jenny

You can read more about Jenny and Trevor’s newly-planted native woodland in this Blog article from earlier in the year (see Life Under Lockdown at Clach an Tuirc).

Squirrel Appeal

Staying at Clach an Tuirc, Jenny has been interviewed by STV News about the recent sightings of grey squirrels in the Aberfeldy area and the threat that this poses to our native red squirrel population.

Jenny recently posted an article on the Aberfeldy Community Facebook page about the fact that greys have broken through the Highland Line for the first time and have been spotted in this area.  So, this is the crucial time to monitor their numbers and locations in order that targeted containment measures can be most effectively used by the Scottish Squirrel Organisation and Scottish Wildlife Trust who are working to protect the reds.

Jenny says “I think that people who have lived up here for a while have got very used to seeing reds around and may take them for granted, but where I grew up in Hampshire, I remember lots of reds and a few greys in the woods around us, but within about 10 – 15 years there were only greys – reds having been totally wiped out 😦 .

So I guess that’s the key message: if you leave them here, they will eventually spread and out-compete the reds for food and living space (and maybe infect them with Squirrel Pox – a nasty way to die) and we will be left with only greys.

So, all sightings of grey squirrels need to be reported to the Scottish Squirrel Organisation (https://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/) so they can be monitored and hopefully removed from this area.”

Jenny’s interview will be on the STV news this week (we don’t know exactly when).

SOS – Save Our Squirrels!

Picture Gallery

We have some fabulous pictures of the area this week from Stuart Brain (on water) and Peter McKenzie (on land).  Many thanks to both.

Meanwhile, up the Glen and beyond …..

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