The number and range of people that this little blog reaches is a constant source interest. On a single day recently, people in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, Germany, New Zealand and China all read items on the blog. Most of the people who find it have some family, or personal, connection with Fearnan – but every so often something comes completely out-of-the-blue.
Last week, the following message dropped into The Blog’s inbox, causing it to sit up straight and pay attention:
‘Hello, your article about the hand knitted poppies sent in by Alistair Barnett, that were knitted by Cynthia ‘Rusty’ Barnard. We are searching for this lady. Last known residence in Kamloops BC. We are very hopeful you have a contact for Mr Alistair Barnett that will lead us to her. She is a dear family friend of Angela Hashka of Victoria BC. We cannot express our thanks for any help for this reunion.’
Who could resist such a request? After a brief exchange of emails, the message came through that Rusty and Angela are ‘thrilled’ to be back in touch again.
Rusty moved to Canada from Derbyshire in 1954 and settled in Kamloops, British Columbia. She met Angela while working as a nurse in Kamloops but Angela now lives in Victoria BC and, somewhere along the line, they lost touch with each other.
They are now exchanging photos of bygone days and plan to meet up in the near future. (The Blog might need a photo of the reunion!)
When Rusty agreed to help Alastair by knitting some poppies for Fearnan, a small village some 4,000 miles away, she probably didn’t think that her kindness would result in a reunion with a long lost friend!
This week, there is an update on another out-of-the-blue connection – this one, previously reported on the Blog, was an email from Anna Belorusova, who wrote to us from Russia in 2016. Anna had started to try to unravel the mystery of her grandfather’s WW2 service and her research uncovered the forgotten story of The Moscow Special Assignment Air Group based at RAF Errol near Dundee, and part of a joint British/Russian secret operation in 1943.
Her research inspired her to write a book about this wartime group of airmen, and in particular about one of her grandfather’s fellow officers at Errol, a Hero of the Soviet Union, who was also the pilot of the Russian plane that crashed in the Fearnan Cow Park on 29th May 1943. (Read the full story of the crash, published on the Fearnan Blog in 2016, here.)
Anna’s book was launched in Sevastopol on the 4th July this year and received considerable media attention in Russia. Anna has visited Fearnan twice since that initial contact, and our village features in the book in some detail as the site of the fatal crash.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Fearnan air crash and we hope to be able to mark the event with some of the descendants of the airmen later in the year.
At our June meeting we were a smaller group than usual but the discussion was just as robust. We discussed Force of Nature by Jane Harper whose previous novel The Dry had been a book group favourite.
This book did not disappoint in terms of the author’s ability to evoke an atmosphere. In general we felt that the claustrophobia, the on going tensions between the group of women and the descriptions of the Australian bush were portrayed very well. However, we questioned the plausibility and realism of some of the events and actions. Why was the role of map-reader given to an amateur? Why didn’t the organisers of the corporate team-building event have a back up plan? Of course, these apparent failings then enabled the author to develop the plot!
We do like red herrings and end of chapter hooks in stories, and enjoyed teasing out what we thought might have happened before all was revealed. As always, all the various strands were pulled together at the end, which gave clarity to many of the actions and events.
As the story progressed, the pressures of the characters’ private lives were revealed and a love interest was introduced between the detective Aaron Falk and his (engaged) colleague Carmen. We felt this was unnecessary and didn’t add anything. However it may be a link followed up in her next novel.
In conclusion, we felt that this book was a good read but not such a page-turner as The Dry.
Our next session is on July 11th and the book selected is H for Hawk by Helen McDonald, which was a winner of the Costa Book of the Year in 2015. It was described as a “soaring triumph” by the Telegraph. Will it be a triumph with the Fearnan Book Club? Watch this space!
More crannog activity is underway on the loch front.
The Living on Water Project is an archaeological research project being carried out by a team at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in conjunction with a number of partners, including the Scottish Crannog Centre. They are conducting underwater investigation of crannogs in Loch Tay and the first target for their 2018 fieldwork season is Fearnan Crannog, which is just 200m to the west of Oakbank Crannog – the most extensively excavated underwater crannog in Scotland. (Read more about Oakbank Crannog here.)
Living on Water is hoping to uncover more information about the actual period of occupation of Fearnan Crannog. Were the residents of Oakbank and Fearnan crannogs concurrent neighbours? Or was one or other a ghostly, abandoned crannog (perhaps with just a few timber piles protruding from the water) during the occupation of the other? Improved dating methodologies will help to sort out the answers to these and a range of other questions.
The first orchids have been out for a little while now and, although some are starting to go over, there are still plenty nestling amongst the long grasses at the edges of local paths and in meadows.
A recent evening walk in Balchroich Meadow at Keltneyburn was a delight. The species-rich Meadow is noted for the number of different orchids and its colourful display of wildflowers.
And finally……………don’t forget that it is nearly time for the FVA’s strawberry extravaganza! A feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds. From strawberry sandwiches to strawberry fizz, by way of strawberry tarts, flans, sponges, mousses, pavlovas and much more. (And if none of those tempt you, you can always have good old strawberries and cream.)
Strawberry TeaZ is on Saturday 21st July, from 3 – 5pm. £7.00 pp at the door; children half price; pre-schoolers free.
Let’s hope the sun continues to shine for our strawberry celebration here on the Costa del Fearnan!