Campaign Edition

Heart 200

Heart 200 is a new touring route of approximately 200 miles around Perth, Stirling, The Trossachs and Highland Perthshire, and modelled on the North Coast 500.  It is due to launch at the end of May, and although it has been long in the planning, there has been little or no attempt to inform the residents and businesses that it will affect. Nor has there been an assessment of the capability of the local road network or other infrastructure to cope with the planned extra traffic.

From the map below, you can see that it goes through Fearnan.

You don’t need to spend long driving on the roads around Loch Tay to realise that the local road infrastructure is struggling to cope.  Local residents share a network of single track and fairly elderly A and B roads with wood lorries, construction vehicles, touring coaches, mobile homes, and other tourist traffic.  Even on the A-roads, an increasing number of vehicles are so big that they no longer fit on one side of the road and spill over the white line, creating problems for on-coming traffic and further erosion of the road edges and verges. On our single-track roads, the problems are magnified.

Add to this flooding and drainage concerns, inadequately maintained and signed passing-places, potholes and winter gritting problems and you have a number of road safety issues.

But it is not just the road infrastructure that is the problem. People who live on the North Coast 500 route say that it has changed their whole way of life and decreased amenity value to residents and for those visitors who come to enjoy a tranquil rural setting.  They have experienced increases in traffic hold ups, road wear/damage, noise, pollution, rubbish, and wild camping with its associated problems of rubbish and dumping of human waste. The route has also had a detrimental effect on some businesses, particularly self-catering and other businesses reliant on a peaceful rural environment and quiet roads, like farmers. 

In other words there is a significant social cost that is currently being ignored by the operators and the Council. PKC are providing a grant of £45,000 this project – a significant sum of public money to be invested without the Council appearing to have taken on board any of the lessons that might have been learned from NC500.  Nor has any preparatory work been undertaken to make the roads fit for purpose or to put in place the kind of infrastructure required to support a busy driving route (fit for purpose roads, toilets, rubbish bins, signage etc).

The process through which this scheme is being brought to the market lacks integrity and Fearnan Village Association believes that the launch of this project should be delayed until the operators and Council have:

  • Conducted a proper consultation with the people directly affected by this proposal and established how residents’ and business owners’ concerns can be mitigated;
  • Established how carbon emissions, rubbish, and disruption to residents and rural businesses will be managed by the operators;
  • Conducted a review of the state of the roads that will carry the extra traffic, made them fit for purpose, and identified the roads (such as Fearnan to Coshieville) that are not suitable and need to be excluded from the route, with proper signage to this effect;
  • Established a comprehensive system of monitoring the economic and social impacts of this project.

Further information about Heart 200 and details of who to write to in order to express your views will be provided off-line to Fearnan residents.

Aberfeldy Square Planning Appplication

The Glenlyon and Loch Tay Community Council would like to draw your attention to the plans to redesign Aberfeldy Square that have now been submitted for planning approval.

The Planning Application No. is 19/00657/FLL and the description reads: “The proposal focuses on the re-design of the square, so it’s purpose as a car park is converted to a space which works for the local community. The removal of parking from one side of the square, will help create a flexible space, which will provide a platform for additional events, which will add to the portfolio of events in Aberfeldy. The space will be paved in Scottish natural stone and serviced by new power point infrastructure.”

The CC’s main objection is the reduction of parking spaces from 19 ordinary spaces + 2 disabled spaces, to 6 ordinary + 1 disabled. This will make parking more difficult in the  rest of the town. The CC’s objection to the proposal is now on the PKC Planning Comments Page and they would like to draw your attention to the ways to object to/ comment on this Planning Application:

  • On-line by clicking ‘Viewing and Commenting on Planning Applications’ then following the links.
  • By email or a letter attached to an email to  developmentmanagement@pkc.gov.uk
  • By  post to Planning and Development, Pullar House, Kinnoull Street, Perth  PH1 5GD

Please include the Planning Application number 19/00657/FLL , your name and postal address and clearly state if it is an Objection or Comment.
Closing date for Objections/Comments is MAY 24th.

Bluebell Time

Our third item in this ‘campaign issue’ is about the threat to our native bluebells. Ros Grant has been looking into the threat posed by the invasive Spanish Bluebells and has provided this article for the Blog.

Roadside between Fearnan and Kenmore

At this time of the year the bluebells are spectacular, especially in the woods along the Fearnan to Kenmore road.  But are they under threat from the non-native invader, the Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica

Introduced to the UK in the 1600s as a garden plant, the Spanish bluebell has gradually spread throughout the UK, particularly in Victorian times, cross-pollinating with our native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, and changing the native’s characteristics to an intermediate hybrid form.  From a distance the two plants may look similar, particularly as the hybrid bluebell is now very common, but also variable, for example in colour (pink and white).  So, what’s the difference between our dainty native bluebell and the Spanish one?

Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist with Plantlife, a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi, published a blog comparing the two plants.  This is an extract, but you can read the full blog at https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/blog/whats-the-difference-between-spanish-bluebells-and-english-bluebells

Native bluebells (on the right)

  • have narrow leaves, usually about 1cm or 1.5cm (about half an inch) wide
  • have deep blue (sometimes white, rarely pink), narrow, tube-like flowers, with the very tips curled right back
  • have flowers mostly on one side of the stem only, and distinctly drooping, or nodding, at the top
  • have a distinct sweet, fruity scent
  • inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen are usually cream.

Spanish bluebells (on the left)

  • have broad leaves often 3cm (over an inch) wide
  • have paler blue (quite often pink and white), conical or bell-shaped flowers that have spread-out tips
  • have flowers all around the upright stem
  • have almost no scent or an unpleasant onion scent
  • inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen usually blue (although this may vary a little).

A Plantlife survey found that one in six broadleaved woodlands across the UK contained a Spanish bluebell or a hybrid between the two.

So, does it matter if we lose our native bluebell?  Isn’t it just one more example of the loss of a British species and further degradation in biodiversity?  As a non-native invasive species, the Spanish bluebell can be identified and removed either by digging up the bulbs early in the season or by picking the flower heads before they are pollinated and, later on by removing the seed heads.  Avoid putting the bulbs and seeds in compost, otherwise they will return. 

Spanish Bluebell

Scottish Natural Heritage say that the law in Scotland makes it an offence to plant or cause Spanish bluebells to grow in the wild.  However, a householder is legally entitled to plant non-native species in a garden, providing they are responsible and do not allow the non-native species to escape. Unfortunately, bees, insects and butterflies don’t stick to gardens and spread is inevitable if the Spanish bluebell continues to grow in gardens.  Pollinating insects can fly for several miles and will therefore have an impact on the whole of Fearnan village and the surrounding landscape.

Organisations such as Plantlife and the Woodland Trust encourage consumers to buy the native H. non-scripta bulbs, which are now licensed and obtainable from a reliable source, such as Plantlife, as it is a better option and of value to our native flora.   Scottish Natural Heritage promote a Bulb Collection Code https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2017-06/scottishbulbcollflyer.pdf

There is growing concern about the spread of non-native invasive species including the potential threat to the UK’s native bluebell by the Spanish bluebell and its hybrids.  A joint project with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Natural History Museum is underway.  Early results show that the native bluebell may have a genetic advantage over the Spanish, but until all the results are published it’s too early to be sure.

Sources:

https://www.plantlife.org.uk

Peter McPhail, Scottish Natural Heritage. Personal correspondence: 8 April 2019

Alistair Whyte, Head of Plantlife Scotland. Personal correspondence: 7 May 2019

It’s Bracken Bashing Time of Year

Bracken Bashing has resumed in the area around Ann’s Seat to keep it clear of ferns. Although it is early in the season, there is some evidence that the growth of bracken in the immediate area around the seat is reducing as a result of the efforts made in previous years.

If you feel like a little light exercise (!) the tools are in the bin close to the seat, and your contribution will be much appreciated.

Coffee Time

The FVA’s Pop-Up Coffee Shop will be back in action on 21st May at 10.30 in the Hall. Join us for freshly made coffee and some delicious home baking – and a chance to chat with friends and neighbours.

Copyright: the copyright of all text on this website is held by the person who wrote it and the copyright of all photographs is held by the person who took them.

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Ceremony of Commemoration for the Fearnan Air Crash

A Ceremony of Commemoration for the Fearnan Air Crash was held in the village on 6th May – almost exactly 76 years after the crash in which 3 members of the Moscow Special Assignment Air Group and a Czechoslovakian colleague died when their plane came down in the Cow Park on the edge of Fearnan.

Residents, both past and present, gathered at the village hall along with our guests – the Lord-Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross, the Consul General of Russia, the Provost of Perth and Kinross, representatives of the Russian families, and 3 generations of the Drahovzal family from the Czech Republic, who had travelled here especially for the ceremony. So, we formed quite a crowd as we made our way to the site of the ceremony, led by the Provost’s piper. 

As we gathered round the newly-installed memorial stone, the Rev Anne Brennan welcomed everyone and a minute’s silence was held. It was punctuated, on this Spring morning, by birdsong and bleating lambs calling to their mothers – sounds which felt like an affirmation of life going forward.

The piper’s Lament signalled the end of the silence and as the notes softly faded to a close, Father Alexandr the Russian Orthodox Priest, blessed the stone and offered prayers. Wreaths and red roses were laid, not just by the official party but by many of those attending.  Fearnan’s wreath was laid by Isobel Johnstone, who grew up in the village in the cottage now known as Arcady. Isobel was carried to the crash site as a baby by her mother, who ran from their cottage to see if there were any survivors.

The speeches that followed were all moving, but particularly those from the descendants of the men who had died in the crash.  Anna Belorusova, who has written about the crash in her recently published book about the Moscow Special Assignment Air Group, read an address and poem written by Yuri, the grandson of flight engineer Aleksandr Alekseev:

This is a very special occasion for my family and for me.

I never met my grandfather, Aleksandr Alekseev. But his story has always been part of our family lore. My father Lev, a teenager during the war, could remember Aleksandr going to the most dangerous sorties behind enemy lines and always safely coming home. One day, however, he left on a top-secret mission, never to return.

Some months later sad news arrived. Then came a solemn funeral in Moscow with speeches by the High Command, a military band, and guns fired in memory of the fallen heroes Aleksandr Gruzdin, Aleksandr Alekseev and Vasily Drjamin. But their families were never told how the tragedy happened.

Much later my father attempted to find out what had happened in the UK, but the files were classified. Eight years ago, he died without having ever learned the truth and is buried now next to his father in Moscow’s Novodevitchie cemetery.

It was just three weeks ago that my family learned what had happened in May 1943 in Perthshire. Now our family feels reconnected with my grandfather, it is as though he has finally come home. I am deeply grateful to you for what you have done to commemorate those brave men and hope to visit Fearnan sometime soon to pay my own tribute and to say thank you to all.

Fearnan, you'll not forget that flight, 
The struggling crew, the dreadful sight
  Of their sad end, that springtime day.
And I not born… What was it for?
I need an answer from that war…
It cannot say, it cannot say, it cannot say.

Michal Nyvit, the great-grandson of Frantisek Drahovzal, spoke on behalf of his family.  Speaking initially in English and then in Czech, he said:

I am the great grandson of Frantisek Antonin Drahovzal.  Frantisek was employed as a chef by President Benes but in 1940, after Czechoslovakia was invaded, he left to come to England with the President. In 1943, he died here in this tragic crash. The circumstances of his death are still unexplained.
 
I would like to thank Anna Belorusova who has been researching how this crash came about. Thank you also to Joe Vochyan of Czech RAF for tracing our family in the Czech Republic, and to Fiona and Bradley who kept in touch with me during the planning of our visit. Thanks to them all we are here with you today.

This month, Europe is commemorating the 74th anniversary of World War II and the horrors that people had to endure in the course of the war. They are also remembering those who died fighting for our freedom and who should not be forgotten. Therefore, I thank all those who have organised this Act of Remembrance.

We, the descendants, also pay tribute to those who died in the war and thank them for enabling us to live in relative peace without pain and suffering.

The pictures below show the Consul General addressing the gathering; the Provost; Anna Belorusova; and Michal Nyvit.

The final part of the ceremony was the planting of a tree – a Golden Alder – as gesture of friendship and unity going forward. The tree was chosen because the name Fearnan means ‘the Place of the Alder’. All the participants in the ceremony helped to plant the tree, as well as Frantisek Drahovzal’s son (also Frantisek and now aged 85) and his grandson (standing behind his father in the picture), and Sue Dolan-Betney on behalf of Fearnan Village Association.

After the ceremony, a number of people walked up the hill to where the actual crash site was marked with both the Russian and Czech flags, while others made their way back to the village hall for tea. 

The new story-board panels, a gift from the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre can be seen in the picture. Doug and Hilary provided music, and John Duff joined them to sing The Loch Tay Boat Song.

Whilst in the hall, the Drahovzal family were able to meet and talk with Alex and Billy McEwen. Their father, John McEwen, witnessed the crash as the stricken plane passed overhead at Lawers View, with the pilot struggling to miss the village. John McEwen appeared as a witness at the subsequent Inquiry. The McEwen’s are seen below on the left with the Drahovzals.

The easy flow of conversation between our Scottish and Czech guests was made possible by Miranda, who lives in Aberfeldy, and acted as a very able interpreter.

She is seen below with Sue and Fiona.

Many, many thanks to everyone in the village who helped the event run smoothly, from planning and organising the event, to preparing the site, managing the traffic, looking after our visitors and preparing and serving the tea.  And a particularly big thank you to all our visitors who joined us from all parts of Scotland.

Fearnan in the Media!

The TV station, Channel One Russia had a film crew at the Ceremony, and at Errol and Montrose. Here is their report – the pictures of Fearnan start at 0.30min and again at 3.14 min. https://www.1tv.ru/news/issue/2019-05-10/21:00#12

Fearnan Air Crash Memorial
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Fearnan Memorial Stone Arrives

Yesterday, the memorial stone commemorating the Fearnan air crash of 1943 arrived on site, ahead of the ceremony on Monday 6th May. It has been installed close to the site of the crash in the Cow Park, just beyond Clach-an-Tuirc.

Many thanks to Graeme, Sean and Martin, who did all the heavy lifting, and special thanks to Scot of Tradstocks, who prepared and engraved the stone.

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The ceremony starts at 2.30pm (gather outside the village hall). Fingers crossed for good weather!

 

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Alzheimer’s Fundraiser and AGM Minutes

Felting For Fun

DSCN0085[1]Cath McGregor is running  special Felting Taster Sessions on Saturday 20th April at the Pop-Up Market in The Courtyard at Kenmore. The sessions are in aid of Alzheimer Scotland and Dementia Dogs, and in return for a donation to these good causes (£5.00 minimum), you can have some fun and make a piece of felt to take home. Call by The Courtyard any time between 10am and 4pm and unleash your inner creativity!

Other dates for your diary are the next FVA Pop-Up Coffee Shop (aka Coffee Morning), which is in the Hall at 10.30am – 12.00 on Tuesday April 23rd and the Annual Quiz Night, run by the Hall Committee, on Saturday 11th May.

 

The FVA’s AGM was held on 20th March this year, and the Minutes are below:

FVA Annual General Meeting and Business Meeting 2018-19

McLean Hall, 4pm on Saturday 30th March 2019

 Draft Minutes

 Annual General Meeting

Welcome

The Chair welcomed Members to the 2018-19 FVA AGM and Business Meeting

Apologies: Jim Fair, Cath McGregor, Peter McKenzie

Approval of the Minutes of the 2017-18 AGM held on 17th March 2019

The Minutes, which were published on the Blog following the 2017-18 AGM, were approved by Julia Lane and seconded by Nic Grant.

Annual Report:

Financial Report and Approval of Financial Statement

The Treasurer reported that total income for the year was £1263.50, an increase of just under 5% on last year. In the latter part of the year, we raised the Coffee Morning price from £2.00 to £3.00 and this accounts for part of the increase – the rest being increased attendance at events.

Membership currently stands at 58. In recent years, a number of long-term members have moved away from the village, so we have created an Honorary Members category in order to keep in touch. There are 9 members in this group.

 Total expenditure for the year 2018-19 was £1,329, significantly up on last year’s figure of £797. The main reasons were a significant donation to the Hall and investment in better equipment for our events.

This year we made a donation of £500 to the Hall to help with the cost of the new kitchen and made our usual donation of £100 towards the Hall’s running costs from the surplus at the Mulled Wine and Mince Pies. The donations made, and the purchase of better equipment, meant that expenditure exceeded income by £66.13 in the financial year.

Jim Fair MCIBS was thanked for examining the accounts, which he found to be ‘correct and sufficiently vouched’.

It should also be noted that the generosity of Members resulted in £145.22 being raised in the Help for Heroes collection box at the Remembrance Day event, and £110 was put in the collecting box for the Air Ambulance over the course of the year. (Collection box donations do not go through our accounts.)

 Chair’s Report

Matters that affect or concern the village:

The Local Development Plan Review continues to be monitored at every stage. A submission was sent in response to the Supplementary Guidance Consultation supporting the Community Council submission.

 Planning Applications – it has been a quieter year. Instead, earlier planning approvals are becoming visible as work starts.

Boreland: The measures taken last year have proved effective and there has been far less disruption and anti-social behaviour in the village as a result. This year the focus has been on establishing a good relationship with the new manager.

Scrap and Land Management: There has been some improvement following the support we have had from Perth & Kinross Council through their multi-agency team. The team’s monitoring is on-going.

Social role:

Events – 10 events were organised. A trial ‘Soup and Rolls’ Saturday lunchtime event wasn’t sufficiently successful in terms of attendance to make it worth repeating. Although attendance at Coffee Mornings is variable month to month, it is fairly consistent over the year. The Remembrance Day Service, Strawberry TeaZ and Mulled Wine & Mince Pies continue to be well supported.

Staying Connected Directory: Jill Davies from Rural Wisdom found our Coffee Mornings a valuable point of contact and she has encouraged us in this mutual help and support initiative. A draft Directory, which is opt-in and open to FVA members, has now been compiled and a specimen copy was available at the AGM. Thanks to Nick, Fran and Fiona.

Road sign: The ‘Slow Down’ sign on the Fearnan Brae stopped working. Thanks to Neil and Peter for trying it out and reporting the fault to Perth & Kinross Council. It was suggested that the matter should be raised by the Community Council with Cllr. Mike Williamson who has an interest in road safety. Action CC

Fearnan History: Items continue to be added to the Fearnan Archive.

 Fearnan Hall: The FVA committee has collaborated with the McLean Hall Committee over the renovation of the kitchen, and the improvements are much appreciated.

The website continues to be maintained. Thanks to Fiona for making it not only informative but very attractive.

Committee Membership: No changes to the committee but anyone who would like to join the committee would be welcome.

 AOCB

Pat Menzies reported that there were no call outs for the defibrillator and the machine is checked regularly and fully functional.

 

FVA Business Meeting

Approval of the Minutes of the FVA Business Meeting held on 17th March 2018

 Minutes of the last meeting were published on the Blog in March 2018. They were approved by Nic Grant and seconded by Julia Lane.

Matters Arising not covered elsewhere in the Agenda:

Scrap and Land Management: There has been an improvement. Not so many complaints received this year. The Multi-Agency Team continues to monitor the situation and the build up at Balnearn and Culderbeg has been reported to the Chair of the Team. A number of comments were made by members about the build up at Culderbeg.

War Memorial: The Council installed the new stone that holds the wreaths and the Chair thanked NB for installing the wire to secure the wreaths. The Memorial Cairn has been cleaned by the Council.  Cath McGregor was thanked for the excellent Poppy Project that generated 900 hand-knitted poppies. Members commented on the striking appearance of the Memorial on Remembrance Day, and it is intended that the poppies will be used in future years.

Ian McGregor’s Book: “Fearnan – the story of a Highland Village of northern Perthshire” by Ian McGregor has been reprinted and some will be used as gifts to guests at the Commemoration event on the 6th

Village Map: this idea has been dropped.

Staying Connected: Members had a chance to see a prototype of the Directory, which is now an opt-in directory for FVA Members, which makes the management of data easier. Once finalised, it will be distributed to those who opted-in.

Events Review

The Chair opened a discussion on whether we should make changes to the programme of events. For example, the Pudding Night was not so well attended this year and the question is whether it has reached the end of its useful life. Members were in favour of keeping the event, but it was agreed that the addition of a table of savouries (probably sandwiches and biscuits and cheese, plus any dishes that members wish to contribute in the same way that members contribute puddings to the main table). This will provide an option for those who are not particularly pudding fans, and for those who would like to balance things out a little.

The title ‘Winter Pudding Night ‘will be retained, but with a strap-line to indicate the broader offering.

Blog Report

  • We published 25 posts on the FVA Blog in 2018/19, and attracted visitors from around the world (UK, US, Canada, Russia, New Zealand, Spain and Germany being the sources of clicks on the site.
  • We aim to highlight the activities of the various clubs in Fearnan (Book Club, Bowling and Art Club);
  • We were able to spread information about the Poppy Project and it became more of an international project with Fearnan-connected people knitting for us in a number of overseas countries as well as across the UK.
  • The Blog featured a number of articles about Fearnan in the past, including the story of the Brydones family, and a first-hand account of the arrival in Fearnan of the news about the end of WW1.

The existence of the Blog has also led to the forthcoming Commemoration of the Air Crash, which is reported on later in the meeting.

Broadband: Fibre has reached Fearnan, although it is not yet operational. Some residents have been able to order the faster speeds from their provider.

Commemoration of the Cow Park Air Crash

The plan is to mark the 76th Anniversary of the air crash. This has all stemmed from an email, to the FVA Blog 3 years ago. It came from Anna Belorusova in St Petersburg who was researching a book about the Moscow Special Assignment Air Group based at Errol. Three members of the Group and a Czech colleague were killed in the crash in the Cow Park.

Those invited include:

  • Russians who are travelling over for the event, and who will be headed up by the Russian Consul General from Edinburgh;
  • The Czech Consul General;
  • The Lord Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross and the Lord Provost of P&K;
  • UK nationals who have helped Anna in her research and who have a special interest in aviation history;
  • A group of 9 Czech descendants of one of the men who died;
  • Past and present residents of Fearnan.

We will have an Exhibition of Panels from the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre in the Hall. One, about Fearnan and the crash, is for us to keep and 4 about the Russians who were based at Errol during WW2, will be on loan for the event.

The ceremony will start at 2.30pm, meeting at the Hall and walking to the Cow Park next to Clach-an-Tuic, led by a piper. The ceremony itself, will include a commemoration stone and the joint planting of a tree by Russian and Czech representatives, and Sue as chair of the FVA. Wreaths will be laid, including one from the people of Fearnan.

There might be a fly past by the Scottish Aero Club, and afterwards we will return to the Hall for tea and refreshments.

There could be up to 70 people attending, and we are looking for on-the-day volunteers to help with parking, traffic management, helping in the hall afterwards, looking after guests etc. Fran is organising the Hall side of things, and Neil is organising the logistics side – managing the flow of people, parking etc.

All village residents will receive an invitation early in April.  The Hall Committee was thanked for waiving the hall charge and for purchasing extra crockery for the event.

Food Hygiene Course

The Hall Committee have commissioned a certificated Food Hygiene course, which will cost £75.00 a head and will be on a weekend day. The minimum number required is 6. The FVA is considering participation in order to be up-to-date with new rules and regulations. Anyone else interested should contact Karen Bennett.

AOCB

Christmas Lights: A proposal to install Christmas lights on the tree next to the Hall front door was put forward and met with agreement. The FVA will purchase the lights and investigate power sources. Keith Brockie volunteered to put the lights up. Action FVA Committee

 Additional Hall Equipment: the FVA has requested 6 small square tables to compliment the new large tables in the Hall.

Forthcoming Events: The Hall committee gave details of 2 events they are organising – the Annual Quiz Night will be on Sat 11th May and will include a 2-course meal. The Games and Curry Night is on Sat 12th October. FB agreed to put them on the Blog.

Access: it was reported that access to Culdermore had been restricted, with the gates being locked and a camera put on Culdermore House ground. Fran Gillespie is investigating this. If not resolved, the matter should be passed to the Community Council.

Fiona Ballantyne,

Fearnan Village Association, 04/04/19

 

 

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April Update

Last Saturday marked the official opening of the 2019 season at the Scottish Crannog Centre near Kenmore on Loch Tay.  The Crannog itself is a reconstruction of Oakbank Crannog – one of two that lie off shore at Fearnan, and given this Fearnan connection, it was perhaps not surprising to find some familiar modern day Fearnan faces amongst the staff, providing hands-on demonstrations and interpreting life in the Iron Age for visitors.

Frances was busy in the iron-age kitchen preparing a meal using some of the ingredients that would have been available to crannog dwellers.  Split pea, fennel and swede soup was bubbling in the pot, there was flat bread cooking in the pan and she was preparing a piece of salmon for cooking – in between rushing off to chop more wood for the stove. No handy little knobs to turn to control the heat here!

 

Unknown-18Jason is continuing the textile project that he started last year.

Inspired by the spindle-whorls and a beautifully preserved piece of Iron Age fabric, all found at the Oakbank Crannog excavation, he has been researching and experimenting with plant-based dyes and methods of working with wool that would have been available when the crannogs were occupied.

So far, his work really challenges the idea that Iron Age clothes were dull. Lichen, for example, gives rich tones of pink through to deep purple.

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Graham is the chief teller of tales, retelling the myths and legends that have been handed down to us from previous generations.

Although we cannot know for sure what stories were told around the fireside in the crannog , it is reasonable to assume they would have been early versions of the stories that have come down the centuries to us today.

Come and hear about the kelpies, and the urisks; about mischievous acts and heroic deeds; and other stories of times past on Loch Tay.

 

Last week, the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir were on site providing some beautiful and atmospheric singing, especially for the opening event.  There were more familiar faces, with Fran and June amongst the singers.

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Although it was much enjoyed by the audience, there was one local who came to heckle, and had to be chased away!

IMG_7952

Check out the Crannog’s Facebook Page to hear choir soloist John Duff singing the Loch Tay Boat Song.

(The Loch Tay Boat Song sung on the shores of Loch Tay?  What more could you possibly want?)

Fearnan Art Club

The Fearnan Art Club had a successful visit to Kenmore, where the sports pavilion proved to make an excellent and bright art studio.

 

The Art Club’s next outing is on Monday 15th April, for some daffodil painting.

Fearnan Bowling Club

Lesley Raeburn reports:

“Another very enjoyable Bowls season has just ended.  An exciting and competitive League Competition saw Acharn retain the trophy.

 In our Club competition, Alastair Kininmonth beat Lesley Raeburn to lift the Singles trophy. Angela Kininmonth and Jardine Robertson were the winners in the Doubles competition beating Frances Brace and Alastair Kininmonth in the final. 

The new season starts on the 1st Monday in October. New members will be made very welcome.”

Well done to all the winners!

Dates for Your Diary

The FVA’s Pop Up Coffee Shop will be in the Hall on Tuesday 23rd April at 10.30 am.  Join us for some Easter-themed baking, fresh coffee and tea and a chance to socialise with friends and neighbours.

The Hall Committee have announced 2 dates: the Annual Quiz Night will be on Sat 11th May in Fearnan Hall and will include a 2-course meal in the ticket price, and the Games and Curry Night is in the diary for Sat 12th October.

 

Please note that, unless otherwise stated, the copyright of all text on this website is held by the writer of the article, and the copyright of all photos is in the ownership of the person that took them.

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March Update

Well, March certainly came in like a lion, in the form of Storm Gareth – let’s hope it obeys the old adage and leaves like a lamb at the end of the month.

Air Crash Commemoration 6th May

Preparations are continuing for the Ceremony of Commemoration on 6th May, which will start at 2.30pm on the day. Details of the ceremony and the arrangements will appear on the Blog as they become available.

Information linked to the 1943 crash continues to emerge.  Four men died when their plane crashed in the Cow Park and, although we have learned quite a lot about the 3 Russian airmen over the last 3 years, the fourth man – Czechoslovakian Frantisek Drahovzal – remained something of a mystery.  We had no photograph of him and no biographical information.

Only in the last week or so, Frantisek’s family in Czechoslovakia have been traced and we now know that he came from the area around Trutnov where he lived with his German wife and family.  After the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and their disbanding of the country’s army, he crossed the border to join the Czechoslovakian army which had been recreated in exile. As a result, the family at home faced intimidation by the Gestapo and suffered, first hand, the deprivations of a brutal war.

After the war, the family continued to be persecuted because of their German heritage and, in the spring of 1946, all Germans were forcibly banished from the area. Frantisek’s family were taken to an internment camp and subjected to very tough conditions. The Drahovzal family managed to survive thanks to the help of their grandmother, who was not interned, and able to supply them with food.

Although their father had died in 1943, it was not until 1946 that his son, also named Frantisek, learned of his father’s death.  The news was made even more difficult for the family by the mystery surrounding his death and why, having been President Benes’ chef in Czechoslovakia, he came to be working as a cook at RAF Errol and why he was in the plane that crashed outside Fearnan.

Members of the Drahovzal family are planning to attend the Ceremony on the 6th May, and Fearnan looks forward to welcoming them.

 

A very big thank you to Josef ‘Joe’ Vochyán of Czech RAF Crew*, who managed to trace the family and obtained the photos above .

*Czech RAF Crew is a civic association that was formed to honour the memory of the 2,500 Czechoslovakian airmen who served in the RAF during WW2, and to promote them as role models who fought not just for the freedom of their country but for the future of later generations.

 

Coffee Time!

This week, Fearnan’s very own Pop-Up Coffee Shop (a.k.a. the coffee morning) popped up for the first time this year.  Two days earlier, it had been St Patrick’s Day, so this was sufficient excuse for some Irish-themed bakes and, indeed, for one participant to adopt, in full, the colours of the Irish flag!

It was an enjoyable and sociable occasion, and the Coffee Shop will pop up again just after Easter, on the 23rd April at 10.30.  (Cue fluffy chicks, hot cross buns and simnel cake.)

Fearnan Art Club

The Art Club also met for the first time this year, with a visit to Kenmore.  After a tasty lunch at the newly opened Paper Boat coffee shop, the group found some sheltered spots around the village for sketching.

The next Art Club outing is at 12.30 on Monday 1st April, starting at Kenmore Sports Club.

Fearnan Book Club

We’re doing catch-up here, with 2 Book Club reports, February and March.

In February, the Book Club discussed The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath, which was shortlisted for the Walter Scott prize for historical fiction. Set in 1947 in post war London, it is a multi-layered book which, although not highly rated by the group, was successful in generating a high level of discussion with extensive and enthusiastic conversation and varied opinions. A few didn’t find it particularly enjoyable due to the number of strands and characters but most persevered and wanted to keep reading to see how it would develop.

Joan, the wardrobe mistress of the title and recently widowed, presented an interesting juxtaposition – she was struggling to make sense of the past and trying to construct a future, and all the while re-evaluating her life with a husband that she thought she knew. The revelation that her husband was a fascist while she was a Jew evoked sympathy, although we found this not quite plausible. She also had to contend with a turbulent, neurotic daughter (albeit a brilliant actress) while cultivating a relationship with her husband’s understudy, who took over his role both on and off the stage!

Detailed descriptions of plays and events painted a rich picture of the seedy glamour of the theatre world and the fascist unrest in London at the time. We found the dramatic ending unexpected.

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz was the book for March, and the discussion was much shorter than usual, and not as polarised as some have been.

The book was mainly enjoyed for the fact that it was cleverly constructed in an unusual format – a book within a book.  Many of the group enjoy both traditional and modern murder mysteries so this allowed us to buy one, get one free! It was absorbing and character-driven with an unusual style and red herrings aplenty!

Some found it annoying to change stories midway and others preferred the traditional strand to the modern one. There were many links to other well know fictional detectives, and homage paid to the work of Agatha Christie as portrayed in the old-fashioned murder mystery.

As always, all was finally revealed and both motives and solutions pulled together in the end in classic whodunnit style.

The book for April is A Case of Doubtful Death by Linda Stratman.

FVA AGM

The Fearnan Village Association’s AGM will be held on Saturday 30th March at 4pm in the Hall. All members are welcome.

 

 

 

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A Date and a Time for Remembering

Commemoration of the Fearnan Aircrash – 6th May 2019

We are delighted to be able to let you know about an important event that will be happening in the village on 6th May 2019.

It is nearly 76 years since the air crash at Fearnan that killed 3 Russian airmen and a Czechoslovakian colleague in the Cow Park on 29th May 1943.  The airmen had been based at Errol, training with the RAF. About 3 years ago, the Village Association website was contacted by Anna Belorusova, whose grandfather had served alongside the men who died.  She was researching the history of the Russian unit  – the Moscow Special Assignment Air Group – that was based at Errol, and has since published a book, which includes a significant section about the crash – and, indeed, about Fearnan.

Anna has become a friend of the village and has visited us on 2 occasions. She and other descendants of the Russian airmen from Errol are keen to commemorate the crash and those who died, and it is also an important piece of Fearnan’s history.

The date is the 6th May in the afternoon. A number of people will be travelling from Russia for the occasion and our guests will include the Russian Consul General, the Lord-Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross, and others.

The plan is to lay a memorial stone and plant a tree (an Alder) near to the site of the crash. We hope that as many residents of Fearnan, past and present, as possible and others from the wider network of Fearnan’s friends, will be able to come to help mark a piece of joint history between ourselves and our guests from Russia.

Plans are at an early stage, and we will provide regular updates here on the Blog.

You can read the full story of the crash, published on the Fearnan Blog in 2016, here.)

 

Winter Pudding Nights first came to Fearnan in 2009 and, apart from 2010, there has been one every year since.  Last week’s event was, as ever, friendly and relaxed with live music (from Doug, Hilary, Audrey and Keith), and quite a lot of puddings.

 

 

Many thanks to all the bakers who made puddings for the evening, and to all those who came to help eat them.

 

 

Social Events 2019

Dates for the Village Association’s social events for 2019 are now on the What’s On page of this blog and are:

FVA AGM: Saturday 30th March 2019, 4 – 5 pm. All members welcome.

Coffee Mornings –  Join us for freshly brewed coffee and tea and some delicious home baking from 10.30 to 12.00 in the Hall.

  • 19th March
  • 23rd April
  • 21st May
  • 18th June
  • 17th September
  • 22nd October

In addition, there will be a number of seasonal events.  These are:

  • Saturday 20th July at 3pm: Strawberry TeaZ: Cakes, tarts, scones, ice cream and more – all made or served with strawberries. Live music.
  • Sunday 10th November: Remembrance Sunday 10.50 at the Memorial and after in the village hall for tea and coffee.
  • Saturday 7th DecemberMulled Wine & Mince Pies 3-5pm: Enjoy seasonal goodies and good company.

 

 

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