Happy 90th Birthday to Ian McGregor!

This is a special edition of the Blog to wish a very Happy 90th Birthday to Fearnan’s good friend and former resident, Ian McGregor.

In pre-covid times, we would have invited Ian to a special birthday tea in the village hall, but things being as they are, we are toasting him with our teacups in digital style!

Many have fond memories of Ian and Ann’s time in the village. Ian is an enthusiast and was involved in many aspects of village life.  It might have been afternoons spent painting and sketching with the Art Club, or the rather more energetic Friday evening Country Dancing after which Ian, along with Fraser Mcleod, Andy Burt and a dram or three, would put the world to rights. Other claims to fame include skiing through the village one snowy winter’s day and, of course, his book!

Ian researched and wrote Fearnan, the Story of a Highland Village of Northern Perthshire – the definitive history of Fearnan, from the Iron Age to the present day.

He has always been a great supporter of village events, regularly bringing several generations of the family to our annual Strawberry Tea in July.

The McGregor Family

Since moving to Auchterarder, Ian has continued his research – this time into his own family’s history – and has unearthed an amazing coincidence!

 He had got as far as establishing that his family in Ayrshire went back to the birth of John McGregor in 1740 at Gillhead Farm near Tarbolton, but was unable to get further back – one possibility being that perhaps his family had travelled down from the north, having been cast out of their highland home in the Clearances.

Recently he decided to have his DNA tested, which opened up the opportunity to contact other researchers of family history and who shared his DNA. There were many connections, mainly from Australia, USA and U.K.  However, two arrived recently with their earliest known ancestor Duncan McGregor, from Stronfearnan, born 1760, and John Dubh, no born date given. 

 Ian said: “Clearly I need to attempt to connect these names to my family tree. If I succeed I should perhaps be able to identify the Croft where my early family lived. That would be special for me, having chosen to retire to Fearnan with no idea that my family had lived there two and a half centuries before.”

That’s a story we will certainly keep in touch with but, in the meantime, have a wonderful 90th birthday, Ian!

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Observations on the County or Sheriffdom of Perth 1783 …….

One if the most interesting early maps of this area is James Stobie’s Map of Perthshire and Clackmannan of 1783. The scale of an inch to the mile is sufficiently detailed to show individual parish boundaries, farm names, roads etc.

If you zoom into the Loch Tay area, you can see the 11 crofts that together made up Fernan (as it was then), from Lagfern (towards Lawers in the west), through Tommantymore, Ballemeanoch, Ballinarn, Corrycherrow, Tyanloan, Boreland, Croftinaloin and Stronfearn, to Kinyellans in the east (near Duneaves).

A contemporary survey (1769) of the Breadalbane Estates lying on the north and south sides of Loch Tay provides some details of these crofts. In places the survey refers to the crofts as farms, but it also refers to them as the ‘ towns of Fernan’ which gives an indication of their likely size, some housing several generations of different families.

Going back to James Stobie’s map, he includes some ‘Observations’ about the different areas in the County of Perth at that time – mainly geographical and economic – but he becomes quite poetic when describing the area we now know as Highland Perthshire.

“The Highland Country, viewed from an eminence, appears a wild and barren Tract, swelled with almost inaccefsible Mountains, but these are only to conceal from view those populous, beautiful and romantic Vallies which lye betwixt them, decorated with the Seats of their Proprietors. The Air is pure & wholesome, so that Agues are seldom known & the inhabitants live to a great age.

The County abounds with Game, as Black game, Grous, Ptarmigan, Partridges, Snipes, Plovers, Woodcocks, Roebucks, Stags, Hares, Rabbits, &c. Eagles, Kites, Hawks, Foxes, Badgers and Otters are also numerous. In the Lakes and Rivers are Pikes, Pearch, Eels, Salmon and Trout and Pearl Mufsels.”

James Stobie 1783

We can count ourselves lucky that this very Eden that he describes is still so recognisable today, nearly 240 years later.

Back to Work

Slowly, slowly, we’ve eased out of Lockdown and are now slipping into Autumn.  As restrictions have eased, those who were on furlough have been able to restart their jobs.

The Scottish Crannog Centre re-opened at the beginning of August, with safety precautions for staff and visitors alike, which meant that Graham and Jason and the rest of the Crannog team could get back to work, masks and all.  And they look pretty happy about it………

Graham commented: “It has been great to get back to work albeit with the challenges faced by working during a pandemic. The Crannog has been praised by many people as being the most Covid-aware place they have been to. Wearing masks on Crannog tours is interesting as you cannot really gauge people’s reactions, but the feedback so far has been incredible.

There is a comparison to be made between then and now in that, every winter, the people of the Crannog would go into a lockdown protecting themselves from the threats of predators and the ravages of winter – as opposed to staying at home watching Netflix and rearranging cupboards.”

The Crannog has taken on 5 Apprentices, and over the next year they will be working towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification while learning all about life on a crannog. 

Apprentice Izzie learns the skill of drop spinning from Jason.

For some it was back to work, for others it was back to volunteering, and when a touch of the USA – in the form of the Drive-in-Movies – came to Wades Park in Aberfeldy, Peter was able to resume his duties as a cinema steward – except this time he was stewarding cars into their spaces – and sanitising, sanitising, sanitising everything, including the loos.

A big perk for the volunteer stewards is that they get to watch the film, in between carrying out their duties.  However, Peter quickly discovered that at the drive-in, the soundtrack is relayed through car radios – so if you’re on duty (ie not in a car) then you are effectively watching a silent movie. 

Happily, an old transistor radio was produced by one of the other stewards and quickly tuned to the right wavelength.  Not exactly Dolby sound, but better than trying to lip read for 90 minutes.

Book Club

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in July was Conclave by Robert Harris. Previously, many of the group had not read any books by this author and some also had thought that the subject wouldn’t appeal. However, the general consensus was that it was impressively well researched, informative, enjoyable and an engaging-a page turner!  

Initially some found it confusing, with so many characters and so much description, but as the main characters developed it was easier to follow. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine chapel we followed 72 hours of mounting tension as the election of a new pope was revealed.

It took us into the process of papal elections beyond the familiar indications of black or white smoke and enlightened us as to how the Conclave operates. There were similarities with political elections, in that there were rival factions supporting various papal candidates. The strategies employed by potential candidates before and during the conclave was reminiscent of the Whips Office in the House of Commons. There was intrigue, mounting tension, underhand plotting and ambitious manoeuvring. The digging up of past misdemeanours by the front runners shows how the past can catch up with you.

At a face to face book club session, this book would have probably lead our group discussion down numerous paths as there were lots of issues to explore. 
Many didn’t see the final twists coming although some of the clues were clearly there. Apart from being a great story, the reader gains some real insights into the Vatican and the workings of the Conclave. 

Here are some more reading and watching suggestions from book club members:

Films

On the same theme as our August book are two films about the Catholic church: 

  • The Two Popes with Anthony Hopkins and Jonathon Pryce Netflix 2019.
  • Spotlight 2015, named after the Boston Globe’s investigative journalist team uncovering child abuse committed by 83 RC parish priests in the Boston area.

Books

  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.
  • The Silent Sleep by Robert Graves
  • Circe by Madeline Miller. A modern reimagining of the witch from The Odyssey into a fascinating heroine who won’t be bossed about. Very readable. 
  • Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner. The fascinating autobiography of a lost world. The long-suffering widow of Colin Tennant( of Mustique fame). She was lady -in -waiting  and friend to Princess Margaret. A very resilient woman! 
  • Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly. Full of his stage routines, and his ‘wee stories’. If you like him (and are not bothered by his colourful language! ) you will enjoy this book. 

In August, we will review Becoming by Michelle Obama described as “An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.’

Guest Blog – Perth & Kinross Remembers.

Perth & Kinross Remembers has been set up to preserve the First World War memorial work undertaken by local community groups and individuals during the commemorative period (2014-2018) and make the work accessible for future generations by creating a Legacy Collection.

A few weeks ago, the FVA provided the Perth & Kinross Remembers project with copies of the information and pictures we gathered together whilst researching the 8 men named on Fearnan’s War Memorial. We also provided information about our Poppy Project that resulted in over 900 knitted by the Fearnan community both at home and abroad.

Glasgow Tramways Battalion. Duncan Mathieson of Fearnan is 3rd from left, back row.
Picture Courtesy of Marilyn Ward

As a result, we were asked to write a Guest Blog for their site, and this appeared in August. You can read it here: https://www.culturepk.org.uk/archive-local-family-history/projects/perth-and-kinross-remembers/blog/remembering-fearnans-fallen/

Beware of the ASDA Scam

ASDA is used by quite a few people in our area, so be warned that there is another fraudulent promotion on social media that has been reported this week – this time, women born in October are being offered a ‘free ASDA gift card worth £1,000 if they complete a survey on Facebook. Clicking on the link leads to a fake ASDA website which asks for personal and banking details.

ASDA have confirmed that the promotion is not genuine.

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland offer the following advice:

  • Be wary of surveys or competitions on social media which ask for personal details – think carefully about what information you are putting online. You don’t know who is accessing the information you enter and what they could use it for;
  • Read the terms and conditions before entering any competition – many fraudulent prize draws or offers do not list basic terms and conditions such as deadline dates or details on how winners will be selected; 
  • Check the spelling and grammar in the post. Fake surveys/competitions often contain small mistakes and unusual wording;
  • Before taking part in a survey/competition which is supposedly being run by a well known company or big brand, look at their official website or social media channels to see if it is genuine.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.

Anti-Social Behaviour

After Lockdown started to ease, Loch Tay became a ‘hot spot’ for dirty camping – the inconsiderate and, some might say, uncivilised cousin of wild camping.  Instead of respecting the countryside, dirty campers not only make a complete mess of the site they have chosen to spend the night in, they leave behind anything they can’t be bothered packing up – tents, chairs, lilos, empty bottles and cans, food packaging and other rubbish and waste, including human waste.  All left for somebody else to clear up. (Thank you, Stuart!).

As a result, there has been extra police activity in the area and over busy periods, such as weekends, joint visits have been co-ordinated by Scottish Fire and Rescue staff, Countryside Rangers and Community Wardens.  If communities have further information to assist, they are asked by these services to contact the Council’s Safer Communities Team on SCT@pkc.gov.uk

There are also other forms of anti-social behaviour by noisy groups who fail to respect the tranquil nature of the village and the right of residents and other holiday visitors to enjoy that tranquillity. If there are problems with unreasonable noise or trespass, the police have asked us to feed back concerns as they happen, by phoning 101 so that they can attend at the time of the complaint.

We know that people are often reluctant to complain, but if we don’t complain, we can’t get things put right. Another way to register inappropriate or anti-social behaviour is by using the police service’s Contact Us email at https://www.scotland.police.uk/secureforms/contact/ 

If the problem is emanating from Boreland, the Duty Manager’s number is 07368 414455 although you may just have to leave a message.

Bloomin’ Marvellous!

Let’s finish on a happy note!  Going back to that wonderful description of the landscape around us from 240 years ago at the beginning of this Blog, here’s an up-to-date representation of it through these a-ma-zing pics of the heather on the hills and moorlands around us, shared by Peter.

Copyrights. Unless otherwise stated, the copyright of each image on this blog is owned by the person who took or made the image. The copyright of all text is held in each instance by the person who wrote it.

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Peter’s Pool (and more)

The famous Peter’s Pool, near Croftgarrow, is named after Peter Dewar who served as Keeper on the Breadalbane Estate for over 45 years. He died in February 1924, and in October 1925, a Memorial Cairn was unveiled at the pool bearing the inscription:

“Peter’s Pool. In remembrance of Peter Dewar, for many years keeper on the Breadalbane estate. Born 1848, died 1924. An la chi’s nach fhaic.”

Two photographs of Peter Dewar appear in Philip Green’s book “What I have Seen while Fishing and How I Have Caught My Fish” (first published in 1905).

Philip Green also describes the prolific catches from Peter’s Pool:

“It would be within the mark to say that there are more fish taken every season from this than from any other three pools, and that there are more to be seen leaping here than in all the others taken together. This was the great netting spot—there is no netting now—and I am told, and can well believe, that as many as forty fish have been taken from it in one haul of the net.”

The Pool itself is a beautiful spot and, thanks to Stuart Brain, we have a video taken on a recent summer’s day.

Peter Dewar’s son, James, fell in the Great War and is commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial.

James Dewar served originally with the 1st Battalion, The Scots Guards and was severely wounded in March, 1916.

He survived and went back to France serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Scots Guards and was killed in action on the 28th of March 1918.

Perth & Kinross Remembers

On the subject of the Fearnan War Memorial, a few weeks ago the FVA provided the Perth & Kinross Remembers project with copies of the information and pictures we gathered together whilst researching the 8 men named on Fearnan’s War Memorial. We also provided information about our Poppy Project, which resulted in over 900 poppies knitted both locally and by people across the world who have Fearnan connections.

Perth & Kinross Remembers has been set up to preserve the First World War memorial work undertaken by local community groups and individuals during the commemorative period (2014 – 2018) and to ensure the work is accessible for future generations by creating a Legacy Collection.

The project has a website and a blog, and the Fearnan Blog is delighted to have been asked to write a Guest Blog for the website – blog to blog, so to speak.

Book Club Review

The Book Club are still meeting virtually, and in June their book was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.  Linda has collated this review from the members of the Club:

The Silent Patient, a brilliant debut novel and an absorbing psychological thriller, was enjoyed by the whole group. The narrative, with a well thought out plot, cleverly draws you in, holding your interest and building tension. A range of interesting characters and layers keeps the readers’ attention.

The final twists were unexpected and seemed to catch everybody by surprise but, by the end, all was revealed and made sense. As a result, a few of us re-read sections to see whether we had missed vital clues or hints.  

It was interesting how the story investigated the mind of the main  character as well as the crime she was involved in. A highly recommended page turner! Apparently, there are plans to make it into a film. We look forward to future novels from the author. 

The choice for July is Conclave by Robert Harris:

The Pope is dead! Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth. Power, corruption and deceit. Full of mystery and twists and turns. 

Conclave will be reviewed at our next meeting.

We also have some recommendations from Book Club readers. Some of the books may be in the hall library.

The Wall by John Lanchester – This is very George Orwell 1984, a dark vision of the future but very relevant to today. You can pick holes in the plot but an interesting take on climate change.

Box by Christine Dalcher – Along the same lines as A Handmaids Tale, not as good but an interesting concept. 

Between the Stops by Sandy Toskvig – Anyone who enjoys her TV appearances/ humour, will like this book. There are many references to ‘hidden’ historic places in London described in a light-hearted way. A good read. 

Wild Flowers

Wild flowers have appeared in profusion along the side of paths and in verges.  Here are a few, all taken within a very short distance of each other close to the village.

And from these to pictures of a different kind – and possibly the last special lockdown service ……..

Porch Portraits

‘Locally grown’ photographer, Ciara Menzies, has developed a successful line in Porch Portraits. 

Taken in line with social distancing rules from your porch, front door or garden, these portraits are an opportunity to celebrate our gradual emergence from lockdown, and to capture the bonds of family and friendship that have helped us through this strange period in our lives.

It is also an opportunity to support the wonderful Soul Food charity that provides meals and community for those in need, as 15% of each portrait will go to the charity.

There are some lovely examples, along with info about how to arrange a Porch Portrait, on Ciara’s website http://www.ciaramenzies.com/porch-portraits

Roadside Campers

Like many parts of the country, the lochside has been used recently by groups who come to hold parties/raves, camp overnight and then depart the next day leaving all their rubbish and waste for someone else to clear up. And we mean ALL their rubbish.

On one recent Sunday morning, Stuart cleared the equivalent of 6 large black bags, including chairs, a sun lounger, fishing rods and a rugby ball from the loch front, and on the Monday, Alistair and Stuart cleared the beach to the west of another 4 bags of rubbish. This doesn’t take into account the ….. erm ……. organic waste discovered.

As a community it is important that we take action and, if you spot groups setting up camps like this and making a noise and mess, do take a note of car registration numbers and phone 101 asap, as the police can’t do anything once the campers have left. Details should also be sent to the Safer Communities Team on sct@pkc.gov.uk as it is important that instances are reported and logged.

It is to be hoped that, as lockdown eases and these groups have other places to congregate, there will be fewer examples. But please do take action and phone 101 if you see this sort of thing happening – that way, Stuart and Alistair can enjoy their Sunday mornings like everyone else!

Copyrights. The copyright of each image on this blog is owned by the person who took or made the image. The copyright of all text is held in each instance by the person who wrote it.

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Some Final Lockdown Moments

Although things are slowly easing, we still have some Lockdown Moments to share.

This week we were delighted to hear from Mary Robb with an update on how she and Mairi are faring in Aberfeldy.  Mary writes:

“Mairi and I, at our advanced ages, have taken to mountaineering.  

As I write, Mairi is out scaling Scafell Pike.  On Sunday I reached the summit of Schiehallion and am now tackling Mount Snowdon. It is all a lot of fun and certainly relieves the monotony of Lockdown.”

Perhaps we should explain that to make their daily exercise routine (walking in a fairly confined space) a little more interesting they are doing the Virtual Mountain Challenge. The challenge sets out the number of steps or flights of stairs that equate to each mountain, so Scarfell Pike is 6,180 steps or 412 flights of stairs, and Everest would be 58,070 steps or 3,871 flights of stairs.

Good luck with the rest of the challenge! We look forward to hearing news of other famous mountains you have conquored.

It looks like Guy is also scaling the heights. He is seen here during a big decorating project on their house in Perth during Lockdown.

Jeanette says:

“We are looking forward to quieter times when we are released from lockdown in Perth.

We are longing to escape from the chores of decorating, inside and out, and are missing our friends in Fearnan.”

(Great cherry-picker, Guy, and likely to be the source of a fair bit of machine-envy from some of the Blog readers!)

Whilst it may have been a frequent topic of conversation during the last few months, so far, we have only had one mention of Lockdown haircuts.  We are making up for that now with an exclusive video from Clach an Tuirc. (You will notice that Jenny and Amelia seem to be enjoying this a bit more than Trevor!)

Looking good, Trevor!

Living (and Gardening) with Wildlife

We are not alone, it seems, and over recent weeks several households have been reporting the patter of tiny paws behind the skirting boards and other evidence of mice on the move.  Where traps have been laid, the numbers caught have sounded more like cricket scores than tallies from traps.

Back in May we heard that some mice had taken ‘Stay at Home’ a little too literally and moved into Joe and Elaine’s house. 

The mice were tracked down and expelled from the house – only to re-appear in the garden where, probably in the company of some voles, they have been very busy chomping through various seedlings in the greenhouse and garden.

A hare has also arrived on the scene.

“It’s a constant battle trying to protect our veggies,” said Elaine.  “Any tips on how to manage mice/voles in the garden would be very welcome! I lost 6 tomato plants, all my coriander and some salad plants in the greenhouse. I’ve also lost all my cabbages and cauliflower plants to something that’s chomped them. Very frustrating.”

Julia has had a similar experience:

“Luckily the mice have only concentrated on the garden in front of the living room – decimating 22 cabbages and 5 French beans. They’ve also taken the lower leaves from two passion flowers that I’ve got training up a wigwam!  No pics, but you can imagine the stumps they have left.

I had another 5 cabbages in the patch next to where I park and up until yesterday they were growing nicely.  Today they also are mere stumps!  Luckily everything in the poly tunnel seems to be untouched and the lettuces, beetroot, cucumbers and squashes are growing well.”

Jenny had a problem with voles earlier in the year, as reported in a previous Blog.  They had overwintered in the tubes round the trees in their new wood, and also badly damaged the ‘baby’ trees in the tree nursery. Since then, Jenny says they have learned to put up better barricades around the things and plants that are important. The voles are providing a food source for the stoats (better than baby birds) and, having erected some tree stumps to attract owls, a plentiful supply of voles will encourage them even more.

Putting Up Tree Stumps to Attract Owls

The final word, along with a view of gardening with the enemy, comes from Sue:

Fearnan, as far as I’m aware, has always been bad for mice, or so I was told when I first came. (It is obviously not in an Estate Agent’s remit to tell their clients what vermin they may encounter!) They are field mice not the common house mouse although they can do untold damage in a house.

One of my neighbours had to have their whole kitchen replaced because mice had got behind the units. At that point I bought an electronic rodent repeller – they plug into the house mains and emit an ultrasound frequency that rodents can’t stand. I have a couple in the garage as well. I have never had a problem with rodents in the house and damage in the garage has been much reduced.  Outside, now that’s different!

Mice live behind a retaining wall but have never done any serious damage in the flower bed it supports, but they love the poly tunnel all year round. They are addicted to peas, both the seeds and the newly germinated plants. However, once the plants get to about three inches high, they are fairly safe for the rest of the season.  Gardeners in days gone by used to rinse their pea seed in paraffin before planting as a mouse deterrent but paraffin was a common commodity then and I’ve never tried it.

They sometimes have a go at the strawberries, and they will steal the very small ones to cache for food later. Interestingly, the ones I have found that have obviously been ‘picked’ are all the same size. It must be the optimum size a mouse can carry/tow.

Voles are different! My first encounter with them was one summer when I found part-eaten figs high up on the bush. I did a bit of research and discovered that bank voles are good climbers and like fruit.  The voles had arrived! Now they are everywhere in the garden, including the poly tunnel.

If they stuck to eating grass and the occasional fig there wouldn’t be a problem, but they eat roots including bulbs or they eat the bulb shoots underground. I had some lovely Pasque Flowers that were just about to flower when, one morning, the buds were gone. The next morning the stems were half the size, and so it went on. By the time the leaves were beginning to look moth-eaten I dug them up to save their lives. 

One day I saw a blade of grass quiver. Then the stem dropped vertically about an inch and then another, and another, until there was only the actual blade of grass. It, too, steadily disappeared. I never saw the muncher, but it was, for sure, a vole.

Last spring, I was getting the poly tunnel ready and found a heap of dried grass stalks buried about two inches beneath the soil. A vole’s emergency rations!  The amazing thing was that the stalks were all about a centimetre long and exactly the same size as if cut on a machine!

It may be possible to protect peas from mice until they are too big to be of interest, but it doesn’t work with voles. Last year I put in a row of peas. Went to the house for a cuppa and when I went back there were the familiar craters dotted along the row. Voles will eat the plants even when they are quite big or nip them off and try and take them away. Mice and voles together are just too much for this pea-grower!

The snag with both mice and voles is that they are so cute! It makes any serious persecution of them very difficult. One year the mice knocked over a box of bait and ate the lot – the peas were safe that year!

Snap traps offer a bit of protection when there aren’t many around but now the populations are too big for them to be effective. There used to be several cats around which helped, but not now, and we’ve even lost our mouse-catching hen! 

However, as is the way of Nature, when populations explode the predators move in. Two Winters in a row I have seen a weasel on the wall bed but last week I saw one sniffing round the conservatory steps – a common haunt for voles. The next day a big hebe on the wall bed was shaking and twitching and then a pair of weasels played ‘chase’ round the bottom. I suspect the voles had a den under the bush and I’m hoping the weasels have evicted them and set up shop there.”

So, there we have it – electronic repellents, traps, barriers, stoats, owls, weasels, hens, cats………….. does anyone have any other proven methods of managing small rodent populations, or protecting growing plants and veggies? 

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Fearnan Magic

Over the last few weeks, members of our community have shared some wonderful and very varied Lockdown Moments and the theme continues with our first videoed Moment.

On a fabulous day in early June, with the Loch as smooth as silk, Stuart Brain took to the water.  He tells us:

“Basically, I have never paddled the Loch in such magical conditions. The Loch and air were both clear and calm, it was a bit like paddling in mid-air, which was actually quite disorientating.  Fortunately, I stayed on the board (there was still lots of snow melt in the Loch). Sitting at the deep point of the Loch was almost other worldly. It was hard to believe that there was almost 155 meters of water underneath my board!”

The first of Stuart’s videos is taken from the south shore:

And if you enjoyed that, hold on tight because the next one takes you out into the middle of the loch ……..

Many thanks to Stuart for sharing these amazing videos.

Keeping to the theme of the Loch, there have been some fantastic sunsets recently, and Alistair Grier took this amazing picture of sunset over the loch.

Sunset on Loch Tay

And from the sublime to the ridiculous ………

Contract Tracing Scams

These days, wherever there is a scheme, there is a scam.  The Communications Regulator, Ofcom, has issued advice pointing out that scammers could use the Contact Tracing Service as a method of obtaining personal or financial information from victims.

Of course, it’s important that if you receive a genuine call from Scotland’s Test and Protect, you should be able to trust it and act on the information you’re being given. If you do receive a call from them, they will: introduce themselves and state the reason for the call; address you by your name; ask you for details of your movements and who you have come into contact with.

On a genuine call, contact tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting 09 or 087);
  • ask you to make any form of payment;
  • ask for any details about your bank account;
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts;
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone;
  • ask you to purchase a product – including a test;
  • ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet; or
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS.

If you do receive a call from somebody claiming to be from the contact tracing service, and they ask you to do any of these things, hang up and report the call to the Police, via 101.

David Kelloe

Both current and former residents were saddened to hear of the passing of David Kelloe last month. David and Shenac were the owner-managers of the Tigh an Loan Hotel in Fearnan for almost 30 years, and during a time when the hotel and its bar were the focus of much of the social activity of the village. Long term residents still reminisce about happy times spent with friends at the Tigh an Loan Hotel.

Shenac and David Kelloe outside the Tigh an Loan Hotel

In 1974, David and Shenac moved from their home in Edinburgh to take over the running of the hotel where Shenac had grown up.  

Both were much involved in village life and, in the mid-70’s, David was instrumental in the formation of the first village association, established to counter plans to develop the field between the hotel and the school. He was on the McLean Hall Committee, serving both as Secretary and then as Chair of the Committee from 1987-90.

David was also Chair of the group that organised and built Fort Fearnan – the predecessor of the Play Park.

It was quite a substantial ‘play park’ as you can see from the photo and was constructed by army cadets who stayed in the village hall during the 2-week construction period.

He was an enthusiastic member of Kenmore Curling Club, and particularly enjoyed it when the temperatures dropped low enough for the games to take place outside on the curling pond in Taymouth Castle grounds.

Shenac and David retired from the Tigh an Loan Hotel to Forfar in 2003  – just over a hundred years after Shenac’s grandfather, John Stewart, first took it over. The hotel was sold, and the site was subsequently re-developed.

David retained his links with Fearnan and he and Shenac came to several village events in recent years, including a Strawberry Tea in the Hall, where this picture of him with his grandson Jamie was taken.

He was the proud grandfather of six children, regularly visiting Stuart’s family in Killin and enjoying visits from Alastair’s family in Edinburgh.

David died peacefully at home.

Copyrights. The copyright of each image on this blog is owned by the person who took or made the image. The copyright of all text is held in each instance by the person who wrote it.

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Moving from Lockdown to ‘Phase 1’

Fearnan’s NHS Tributes

Fearnan’s tributes to the NHS have been many and varied over the last few weeks, highlighting the creative skills and talents of the community.

A few are gathered together here.

As well as Doug’s sand sculpture on the left, there have been musical tributes from Robert, seen below at the Lochside, during the Clap for Carers.

Cath sewed a banner and we also have rainbows, including a fine and rare example of pedi-art, ingeniously created by baby Drummond (with a little sisterly help) as part of a home school art lesson! Both Enya and Drummond’s pictures are on display in the window at the Kenmore Post Office.

Talking of the NHS, we’ve heard from Tim and Dan who have been working hard in their respective medical fields in Edinburgh over the lockdown period.

Tim tells us:

“I have been doing my best to keep my service (mental health) running despite the restrictions, which has been quite a challenge as we don’t have a lot of the IT that you see elsewhere, so people can’t find us through sites like “NHS Near Me”.

Dan and his team completely re-jigged their service to set up and run COVID-19 testing for NHS staff in Edinburgh at Chalmers Hospital, and he had a brief appearance on national TV about it! He remains involved in some of the planning around testing and has been out to nursing homes and prisons testing, too.

We had to forgo our planned trip to Greece, of course, which meant the garden here had more attention than it has had in years, including re-roofing and extending our shed (see left in progress).

The lack of shops and recycling centres has resulted in some very creative re-purposing, as well as growing things from seed, including more veg than we’ve done for some time.  

I’ve also been hatching some eggs, so we have 2 Isabella Brahma chicks growing on and some Silver Campines on the way.

We have been missing Fearnan terribly and can’t wait until we are allowed back. We have kept in touch through Julia and the FVA website. Feldy-roo has been so impressive and inspiring.”

Look forward to better days again, preferably in Fearnan.

Lockdown Easing

Four other exiled Fearnan folk who can’t wait to get back took the chance to meet up when the lockdown restrictions eased.  Peter and Sheila crossed Edinburgh to visit Neil and Fiona, and pass a pleasant summery afternoon in the garden.  Peter has just celebrated a milestone birthday.

Social distancing requirements meant that 2 separate photos were needed to record the event – no cramming together for a selfie.

Pick of the Litter

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing behind” may be a good environmentally friendly and sustainable message, but it is not always heeded.

Linda and Alistair noticed the accumulation of quite a lot of ‘nothings’ that had been left behind by passing road users who seem to be determined to leave their mark on the countryside.

Armed with litter pickers supplied by Highland Safaris, they have been collecting the rubbish left behind on verges around the village.

A quick survey revealed that Red Bull seems to be the drink of choice for littering along the loch road.

They plan to do the same on the Glen Lyon road – interesting to see if it yields a preference for a different beverage.

In between the litter picking, Linda and Alistair have managed to finish the Mazzle jigsaw of a section of an ordnance survey map mentioned in a previous Blog.  We understand that the Mazzle started off as a cooperative project then the closer it came to completion, the more competitive it became. We’ll leave you to guess who actually put that last little piece in to complete the picture.  They are staying silent on the matter in the same way that Hilary and Tenzing never revealed who reached to top of Everest first. 

Puzzle Number 2 – a custom-made OS map of Fearnan and the surrounding area with their house at the centre – has also been completed.

Book Club

The Book Club had another virtual review of last month’s read, and Linda compiled the following:

Our book choice for May was a psychological thriller, Sleep by C.L Taylor. It could be described as a modern Agatha Christie, full of suspense, action and intrigue and it received mainly favourable reviews from the group. 

A few thought the first few chapters were less enjoyable and rather slow moving until the real action started when a group of guests arrived on the remote Scottish island of Rum for a walking holiday.

, following a death, the story really took off and became an atmospheric, psychological thriller full of well drawn suspects and red herrings aplenty. The many plot twists and turns and ploys to throw people of the scent, encouraged us to read on to establish who the murderer was.

Most of the guests had a motive and hidden secrets, they were a diverse group who didn’t gel and one of them was a killer! The author used many popular murder mystery devices including the claustrophobic and atmospheric setting of a remote hotel, a storm and flood making escape from the island impossible and flawed characters. It was considered far-fetched by some.  How many bad experiences can one person have in the case of Anna, the main character? She had come to the island for a fresh start to escape her traumatic past. We felt sympathetic towards her for feeling responsible in various situations throughout the book.

Most found the ending satisfactory but found it hard to guess who the killer was. In summary, a story of tragedy, remorse, guilt and revenge not to be read at night if you want to sleep easily!

The choice for June is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

Described as : Sharp, clever and utterly original, The Silent Patient explores the complexities of trauma and the human psyche in twisty, brilliantly paced prose. Spellbinding and disturbing in equal measure, Michaelides’s debut heralds the arrival of an exceptional fresh talent, offering psychological suspense at its finest.

We will review this on the 10th June.

Other recommended reads include:

A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Waterstones non fiction book of the month is Rewild Yourself by Simon Barnes which introduces 23 mesmerising ways to find a deeper connection with the natural world, which many people seem to be considering at this time.

And finally, we have a picture of an amazing crochet rainbow, complete with clouds and spotted by Peter.

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Sketches of Fearnan

Jo has shared some pages from her sketchbook.  They are delightful and beautifully encapsulate aspects of Lockdown, from the empty shelves in the Co-op, cancelled holidays and social events to the mice who took ‘stay at home’ too seriously and took up residence in a nice comfy couch in Fearnan.

NHS Tribute

This time, our NHS tribute is a celebration of some of the rainbows that people have been making and putting in their windows.  Cath McG made the first one – Bridge Over Troubled Water.  She said “ I heard Welsh doctors and nurses singing this song last week; it was so meaningful and lovely it brought me to tears. I love the song anyway so thought I would use it on my rainbow.”

Other rainbows came from Moira and Joe (courtesy of Joe’s niece Evie), and from Peter (courtesy of Sheila’s neighbours Amelia (10) and Ellis (7)).  Peter also spotted the rainbow-themed street sign on one of his daily walks in EH5.

If you have a rainbow on display for the NHS, send a picture to fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com and we’ll make a montage for the next Blog.  If you have a photo of a real local rainbow, send that too.

Lockdown Moments

Moira shared some pictures including a very impressionist-like photo of the loch, taken by Joe.

“I’ve enjoyed some lovely rides on Drummond Hill. We have been busy in the garden and also extending the fences in the horse pasture. The pasture was harrowed last week, which was very exciting! You can tell we are in lockdown when having the field harrowed is the highlight of our week!”

Looks like she’s not the only one who has been enjoying  Drummond Hill – and it seems the animals get the best views.

Many thanks to Keith for the photo of the dogs, and also for the ones of the Tawny Owl and chicks below.

Keep safe, everyone. If you have any photos, rainbows or artwork to share, please send it to fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com . We’d love to hear from readers in other villages, towns and cities.

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Climbing the Lockdown Mountain(s)

Deliveries and Collections

Thyme at Errichel have started delivering a range of deli produce to your door, including, and fruit and veg boxes, dairy produce and their free-range pork. Call 01887 820850 or email enquiries@errichel.co.uk for the price list and order form. Order by Wednesday for Friday delivery.

The Crieff Food Company, who ran the Aberfeldy deli, will be doing deliveries locally on Tuesdays starting soon www.thecriefffoodco.co.uk

Ben Lawers Hotel will be in the Hall carpark again on Wednesday (Chip Night), Friday (Pizzas) and Sunday (Roasts) with ready meals to enjoy.  Phone 01567 820436 to order.

Clapping for Carers

There was lots of noise being made in tribute to carers last week – pots, pans, whistles, and a condor*, as well as hands.  The photos were taken in Creagach and also in Dalchiaran where there are two frontline workers – Claire, who is the Manager at Abbeyfield and is photographed with her family, and Kate who is working night shifts at Pitlochry Community Hospital.

*The instrument Bob is playing is a condor – it is made of wood and is a memento of a holiday he and Jean had in Santa Fe. The instruments, which vary in size, are typically called after birds of prey.

Cath McG sewed the Thank You banner, which she attached at the bottom of her drive.

Many thanks to Fran and Graham taking for the photos.

Life Under Lockdown

Like many other employees, Graham and Jason have been furloughed from their jobs at the Crannog.  This means that they cannot do any actual work for their employer but can undertake personal and skills development. For Jason, this has meant continuing with his Japanese studies while Graham has been researching local stories and folklore, and is looking forward to taking part in a virtual storytelling workshop with the Scottish Storytelling Centre this week.

A previous article on this Blog (https://fearnanvillageassociation.com/2020/01/12/study-trip-to-cyprus/) talked about how, at the Crannog, Jason has been trying to recreate the textile making skills and techniques that would have been used by Iron Age people, along with the dyes that would have been available to them from local plants and berries. One of the Lockdown tasks has been making balls from some of the wool that Jason dyed last year using plant-based dyes and the picture on the left shows the range and intensity of colour that can be achieved. Untangling the one on the middle might need more than a seven week Lockdown!

Skye is pictured in her favourite position and is enjoying her runs in the field at Fearnan but, like Graham and Jason, misses going into work at the Crannog.  (Keep an eye out for some great events that will be happening at the Crannog when it’s able to re-open, and make up for lost time!)

Elsewhere in Fearnan, it’s good to know that standards are not slipping during Lockdown, with Fran and Elaine deciding to partake of a posh Afternoon Tea in the garden. Fran explains:

We’ve been trying hard to avoid wasting food so when the milk was slightly off, Elaine decided to make some scones to use it up. The freshly made raspberry jam went perfectly with them.

By the time we found the posh china and set it all up, it was really time for gin and tonic, but we decided we could probably manage both!

Joe and Elaine are well but missing the family and hoping that the restrictions will ease up in time for June, when a grandchild is due in Edinburgh. There’s also another one expected in Toronto in November.

Elaine says: “We’re spending most of our time working in the garden so hopefully we will have a thriving veggie garden (see below – still a work in progress), and a garden to rival Monty Don’s when this is all over!

It’s so very quiet around here with virtually no traffic and thankfully very few motorbikes passing below – it’s going to be very strange when the traffic starts to flow again – it’ll sound like the M1!

Lots of animals and birds around. The pine marten is making daily visits to our deck and driving the dogs mad! We’ve also had more varieties of birds than normal which is lovely. Bullfinches, goldfinches, cuckoos, woodpeckers to name but a few.”

Joe and Elaine’s view this morning

Cath McG has been spending Lockdown walking up mountains, starting with Scafell Pike, followed by Snowden, Ben Nevis, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and finally Mount Everest………..

……. and she did them all without breaking the Lockdown rules.

Cath and her sister have been doing the Virtual Mountain Challenge as a means of getting some exercise. (Crickey! Drummond Hill would be enough for some of us.) The challenge sets out the number of steps or flights of stairs that equate to each mountain, so Scarfell Pike is 6,180 steps or 412 flights of stairs and Everest is 58,070 steps or 3,871 flights of stairs.

Cath’s sister lives up three flights of stairs and has been walking up North Berwick Law and other places in her area as well. Cath has been walking up and down her drive and the flight of stairs in the house. She says it sounds like a lot but when you do it every day it soon mounts up.

Having ‘bagged’ Everest, they have now moved on to the world’s second largest mountain, K2 (8,611 metres above sea level). “At the moment”, says Cath, “we are just in the car park at the bottom wondering if this is a good idea….. or should we go for the Hula Hoop challenge??  Only a lockdown could bring this on!”

Indeed!  What has Lockdown brought on for you? Do you have a Lockdown Moment to share?  Let us know what you are up to by contacting fiona@fearnanvillag@fearnanvillageassociation

Please note that all photographs on this website are copyright to the person who took them, and all text is copyright to the person who wrote it.

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Another Week in Lockdown

Deliveries News

On Friday morning Fearnan Hall car park was really busy with folk queuing for supplies from the Kenmore Bakery van.

As well as getting supplies, it’s a chance to catch up with all the local chat and gossip.

The turnout demonstrated how much this service is used and appreciated.

The team in the Courtyard also continues to keep local residents supplied and Friday afternoons are busy with folk coming to collect their orders. Here’s Mike loading goodies into the back of Elaine’s car.

These guys are providing a brilliant service to our small community and beyond.

The ‘Boomers’ among us will remember our mothers using a system like this – phoning the local greengrocer every week with an order that was then delivered. Could this become a habit that lasts beyond Covid-19?  We hope so!

Dee and Paul at the Ben Lawers Hotel are increasing their delivery nights and their menu.

They will be at Fearnan Village Hall at 5pm on Wednesday with pre-ordered meals.

The poster says it all.

Clapping for Carers

A few more pics of residents making as much noise as they can for Carers – pots and pans, saucepan lids and even a pair of castanets in use.

Life under Lockdown

 Some more Lockdown Moments from around and about:

Lesley reports that life goes on as near normal as possible. We are so lucky to live here, dog walks on our doorstep and a garden needing constant attention!  Potatoes, onions and shallots are all in and John has it all under control.

Amusements include online scrabble with our son in London (not good for my ego). We cut each other’s hair last week – it was great fun, but I came out of it much better than John. I got a bit carried away with the clippers – but at least he doesn’t need to think about haircuts for a long, long time!  

I’ve got a couple of books on the go – Becoming by Michelle Obama and Hilary Mantel’s last book in the Wolf Hall trilogy: The Mirror and The Light. Happy to lend either, although you might have to wait a while for the Hilary Mantel one as it’s nearly 900 pages!  

A big thank you to the local shops and businesses who have ensured we can stay at home and eat very well!

Good to see Molly getting in on the act!

Sheila and Peter wish to say ‘Howdie to our Lockdown amigos in Fearnan!

I joined Sheila in Edinburgh to ‘tough out’ the lockdown. Aside from our daily tootles (we have 5 different routes which we also vary by doing them clockwise/anti-clockwise in turn) there is really nothing especially remarkable about our daily routine. We didn’t start out with any lofty “mission statement“. A 1000-piece jigsaw that we still have aspirations to do lies in wait for when the weather indicates this would be the preferred activity.

One actually feels a tad guilty owning that the days are passing quite pleasantly if unremarkably.

I have attached a couple of pics taken on our daily walks. Starbank Park is looking particularly Spring like just now. The seaside scene is Newhaven harbour. One of our routes takes us out on a breakwater which gives fine views up the Firth to the bridges.

(The Blog Editor notes that Peter has omitted to declare his recently acquired addiction to the output of the 12 Triangles Bakery, and that he earns the right to at least half a 12T sticky bun for each loop of his daily tootle (and a whole sticky bun if Sheila isn’t looking!).

Also in exile are Neil and Fiona who are getting used an almost silent city, long walks with the dogs, lots of gardening, food deliveries by the box rather than from the supermarket, online Pilates, Skyping and ‘Zooming’ with friends for coffee and chat, reading and guitar/ukulele practice.

It has been said that Lockdown has felt like Christmas and Birthdays rolled into one for our canine friends who now have all their humans with them all the time (cats are generally less impressed by this intrusion into their personal space). Tego and Abi find some aspects of it a mixed blessing:

If we weren’t under Lockdown, we could have chased that fat pigeon off the grass!

Maybe even caught it.

A number of dogs have now featured in this Blog – what about the rest?  Skye? Rannoch? Hairy Harry and his girls? Mabel?  What about some news and pics of what you’re getting up to with your humans? Send them to fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com

Fearnan Book Club Review

The Book Club conducted its first virtual meeting this month and April’s Review (below) has been compiled by Linda from various emails, a phone call and a conversation across the burn!

Apparently, she tells us, a third of people are reading more since Lockdown.

Most are reading fiction with classics and crime novels proving popular while titles about fictional epidemics such as Albert Camus’ The Plague, and The Viral Storm by Nathan D Wolfe have enjoyed increased sales.

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it changed the World by Laura Spinney, an admired science journalist may also be an interesting read at this time. 

On a different note, Normal People, a 2018 novel by Sally Rooney is being serialised on BBC 3 starting on 26th April.

Our choice of book for our virtual session in April was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, an American author and geologist. The story, which has an intertwining timeline, is set on the North Carolina coast. It is both a murder mystery and love story, eloquently told.


There was unanimous praise for this book which most found to be an enthralling, compelling reading and an amazing narrative. A few initially found it hard to get accustomed to the Southern accent but this didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment.   We were amazed by the resilience and resourcefulness of the young Kya, the main character, who was abandoned at a young age by her family. We were carried into her world and immersed in her story with its vivid characterisation.


The marsh environment and its creatures influenced her understanding of the world and we followed her development through the story as she grew up and became an author and authority on the flora and fauna of the marsh. We loved the beautiful, detailed descriptions and observations of the marshland and its waterways and beaches, the natural history and the poetry which featured in the book. 


We were sadly reminded of prejudices that can exist when someone in a community is different as she was vilified by the young people in the area. The trial brought out the best and worst of the village. 


We generally found the ending satisfactory, which has not always been the case with recent reads, although the murder plot itself left too many questions unanswered and seemed unlikely, although perhaps a brilliant twist at the end.  We felt that it would make a great film showcasing the wonderful scenery, colourful characters and relationships. 


Our choice of book for the next virtual session on Wednesday 13th May is Sleep by C.L. Taylor. It has been described as a gripping psychological thriller full of suspense, action, intrigue and mystery It is set on the Scottish Island of Rum in The Bay View Hotel where one of the guests is a killer but who is it ………..? 

Now that everybody has lots of time to read, here are a few chunky, historical lockdown reads currently being read by FVA members.

Liz and Lesley are both reading Hilary Mantel novels, Bring up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light respectively. The latter, 879 pages long, closes the trilogy covering the final four years of a Cromwell’s life. It has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Alistair has been reading Culloden by Trevor Royle and The King over the Water by Desmond Seward, giving both sides of the Jacobite story. 

Jigsaw Show and Tell

We hear that lthere are quite a few people doing jigsaws to help pass the time. If you are one of them, what about sharing your efforts? After all, you spend hours and hours doing the jigsaw, look at the completed picture for a bit – and then you just have to break it up and put it back in the box. So why not share it with everyone?

To start us off, here is the puzzle that Linda and Alistair are doing – an Ordnance Survey Map.  And it looks like one to do your head in!  Good luck, chaps!

Many thanks to everyone who contributed words and pics to the Blog this week.  Please keep them coming to fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com

The words and pictures on this website are covered by copyright.  The copyright of all pictures belongs to the person who took them and similarly, the copyright of the words belongs to the person who wrote them.

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Lockdown Week 5

Update on Deliveries

Good news for gardeners that Gatehouse Nursery plants – of both the edible and decorative varieties – are now available very locally at the Kenmore Post Office.

Killin’s first digital farmer’s market opened on Monday 13th April. The launch of Killin NeighbourFood was brought forward by market hosts Ellie Banwell and Paula McDonald, from the Scrumptious Garden, in a bid to support the local community during the current Covid-19 crisis, especially those who are self-isolating. It will also give a boost to local suppliers who are suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Customers will be able to place an online order for a wide range of products from local farms, food producers, market traders and specialist suppliers including vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, dairy products, preserves and breads. Orders can be collected weekly from the Killin post office on Fridays between 3 and 5 pm.

To register for Killin NeighbourFood visit:  www.neighbourfood.co.uk/killin 

And finally on deliveries, sometimes parcel deliveries go wrong and Hellen Gardner, who is currently staying in Dunaird at Creagach wonders if anyone took in a parcel addressed to her, for safe keeping?  It’s quite important and if you let Fiona know at fiona@fearnanvillageassociation, we can arrange collection.

Life Under Lockdown

We have some more Lockdown Moments – the first sent in by Moira and Joe. 

Joe took these 2 evocative Fearnan landscapes, one at the Lochside and he managed to capture a stunning rainbow.

From Moira we have a pic of Belle the dog hanging out on her pony Alfie, contemplating the meaning of life, the universe and everything, from the look of it.  And a moment on a walk down the Brae with Belle, Shiro and, on the left, Arnold the cat (as in Arnie The Terminator, because he’s a ceaseless hunter).

Some of you will recognise Arnold, as he’s been extending his friendship network around the village, but now you have been formally introduced and know his name.

We’re delighted to be able to include an international dimension to Life Under Lockdown, with this piece from Alastair Barnett who lives on Vancouver Island.  Alastair and his brother Jim (who now lives in the US) were evacuated to Fearnan from Glasgow at the start of WW2, along with their mother and (later) younger brother Iain .  They lived in Thistle Cottage, and at Balnearn, and attended Fearnan School.  You can read more about their exploits and about life in Fearnan during the war here: https://fearnanvillageassociation.com/2014/08/03/talking-about-fearnan-a-wartime-childhood/

Alastair writes:

Hi to everyone in Fearnan!  Today marks three weeks of official quarantine in Victoria, (or is it four weeks?) It seems such a long time.  I hope you are all ok, I hope your family and friends are safe. I see on the Fearnan blog you’re finding ways to muddle through this maddening time with the help of many generous neighbours, friends and volunteers, all pitching in to help each other.

Normally at this time of year, the streets of Victoria teem with tourists from around the world, but they are still now and all but deserted. No luxury cruise ships dock. No horse-drawn carriages line the Causeway. No double-decker tour buses idle beside the 112-year-old Empress Hotel, which is closed, no float planes buzz in and out of the Inner Harbour, and no ferry runs to Seattle. It is unnervingly quiet.

At home on the outskirts of town, we are doing what we are supposed to do; social distancing, staying home as much as possible and looking out for each other. I have no complaint and feel blessed to be well.  Slowly we are adapting to the change and it appears we’re in it for the long haul.  

Every evening at 7:00 pm precisely, a cacophony erupts as neighbours spill on to the street, beating pots and pans, pounding bass guitars, honking noise makers and the nearby Fire Department blast sirens in a display of enthusiastic appreciation for our front-line workers.  It lasts only moments then silence descends as everyone retreats indoors. From then to dusk, only the occasional dog walker or cyclist passes along the otherwise empty street.

The local drug stores and grocery outlets have adapted well and take every precaution to keep us safe. Most essential stores and nearby restaurants deliver and in that respect I’m lucky to have a friend who is in the grocery business and delivers food and sundries every Sunday. (Hooray! That’s today – I always add a chocolate bar or two to my list.)

As I am well qualified to be characterized as Covid-19 high-risk, (age) I stay home and spend time in my small garden when weather permits. Unfortunately, when I contacted the seed merchant on the mainland, they were no longer delivering to the island, at least for two-months. So, I’m without a variety of flowers. Although I saved some sweet peas from last year.

To add a bit of colour to my patch and keep busy, I dug out some old garden ornaments and with the help of a companion, re-energized them with acrylic paints which I got a couple of years ago but are still perfectly useable. I’ve attached a photo of our efforts and now instead of a display of blooms, I’ll be greeted by these gaily painted chaps when I step out to feed the birds in the morning. It’s not a perfect solution but it provided us mindless diversion for a couple of days and I’ll give them away when things get back to normal and I can plant again.

To further occupy my time, I registered for an online keyboard music course (proving that hope does spring eternal), I’m not sure the neighbours appreciate my endeavors but I enjoy making what I call, a joyful noise! Come to think of it, perhaps it would fit perfectly with our seven o’clock evening commotion!

As I retired many years ago, I’m used to spending most of the time at home and admit my life has not changed in a dramatic way due to the pandemic. So far just a few minor inconveniences which I can put up with. But I miss jumping in the car and picking up some odds and ends and visiting local garden markets.

When I can find flour ― everybody is baking now creating a scarcity ― I bake for myself and for a few neighbours.  I tried my hand recently at Petit Fours, (I won’t be doing that again any time soon. It proved to be a messy project.) On Friday I made Scottish Morning Rolls which turned out fine. I also cook and I supply a friend with dinner every evening.  (Because he can’t cook!)  Gosh, I wish we had an outlet like Lawers Hotel that delivers real Scottish mince and tatties!  What a treat that would be. 

It’s heartwarming to read the news from Fearnan during this ghastly time and how you are all coping and caring for each other. It reminds me of another time when a worldwide scourge altered our lives. And just like then, this pestilence too will end. The spirit of Fearnan lives on!

To everyone: my very best wishes, stay home, stay well and stay safe.

Alastair

Thank you, Alastair, and we send our best wishes to you and Jim and trust you keep safe.  Keep in touch!

Knitting Hearts Together

The Intensive Care Unit at Ninewells has put out a call to knitters and those of a crafty disposition.  They explain:

Among the many challenges hospital staff are currently facing, we are struggling with the inability to facilitate family members being present and providing comfort during the last hours of life for their loved one.

As ICU nurses and doctors, this is now a very difficult process for us because we usually give extremely close care and support to our relatives and facilitate all manner of requests during our patient’s final moments. Normally, this allows us to bring comfort and an element of closure to both our patients and their loved ones.

The difficulty and pain experienced by the relatives who cannot be physically present with their loved one is unimaginable.

We have been given permission to accept donations of duplicate knitted hearts, roughly 7×7 cms in diameter. We have also had kind offers to fashion the hearts from Harris tweed and velvet securely enclosing some stuffing.

The idea behind this is to provide the emergency contact of those who unfortunately pass away in ICU, a comforting link to their loved one. One heart stays with our patient and the other is given to their nominated contact.

This provides some comfort to those who are unable to be with their loved ones in their final hours.

Is this something all you arts and crafty types would be interested in joining in with?

❤️❤️The only stipulations are that the heart pairs are roughly 7x7cms in size, of matching colour (no black please) and pattern and that they are left in a sealed zip lock bag, with the DATE AND TIME SEALED on them, for 72 hours at least, before posting. This is to allow for the virus to become inactive. ❤️❤️

Please send your hearts to:

‘Knitted Hearts Appeal’
ICU, WARD 20,
Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, DD1 9SY.

There are some suggested pattern links below for both crocheted and knitted hearts. Others are available via Google.

Many thanks in advance from all the team at Ninewells and PRI.

https://www.crochetleaf.com/basic-crochet-heart.html

https://www.lilleliis.com/amigurum…/amigurumi-heart-pattern/

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hearts-28

More Lambing News

Work continues in the lambing season, and we have some more photos of Alastair and Anais in action at the birth of twin lambs at Ewetopia.  In the second picture, the ewe is licking her new-born lamb.  Many thanks to Angela for the photos.

These other pics were taken by Peter in the lambing season last year.

Please note that all images are copyright and the copyright belongs to the person that took them. Similarly, all text is copyright to the person that wrote it.

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