Last month, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Victor Logan, who lived in Fearnan for many years.
Victor is remembered as a kind and generous man who was never too busy to help his friends and neighbours, be it helping Alastair Kininmonth build a polytunnel to protect his lambs, or some emergency plumbing for a neighbour in need.
He had a talent for entertaining us by composing and reciting stories about Fearnan and its inhabitants in verse.
In later years, his time was consumed by his devoted care for his wife, Betty, when she became ill. Initially he cared for her at home but later she moved into care in Pitlochry and Victor travelled almost every day to visit her. He had 4 daughters and they were a great comfort to him when Betty died and, after a short while, he moved away to be closer to his family.
And so we lost his recitations and poems. But he continued to visit Fearnan until the distance became too much for him to drive. On one such visit, he came to a coffee morning that coincided with his visit and before leaving, he told the tale of Sam the Plumber, of his sad demise, and the curious circumstances of the empty coffin! A salutary tale for any funeral cortege that might be tempted to stop off at the pub on the way to the burial!
Storm Arwen – The Aftermath
Storm Arwen brought devastating winds that wreaked havoc on our forests, both locally and across wider southern and eastern areas, with many, many trees blown over, branches torn off, and hazards created by fallen trees hung up on other standing trees. The highest recorded gust was an extraordinary 110mph. There were 3 deaths and 9,000 people were left without power, some for a week or more.
Storm Arwen had a disproportionate impact on trees because it came from the north, rather than the usual south-west direction. Trees are adapted to withstand winds coming from the prevailing wind direction by anchoring their roots in a particular way
Smaller, more aerodynamic trees, tend to grow on the south-west side of woodlands – but this means they are ill-prepared when the wind switches direction and they are hit on their weaker side.
Scotland lost some 8 million trees between the 25th and 29th November 2021. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) describe the impact in the following terms:
- Around 4,000 hectares of Scottish forests were affected by storm damage (an area a bit less than the size of Dundee).
- About 1 million m³ of fallen trees (roughly 1/3 of what FLS would fell nationally in a given year and equal to about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of timber).
In addition, there are hundreds of miles of trails closed for inspection and repair.
Scotland’s national forests are popular places for recreation, home to many businesses, and provide benefits to mental health. Even more fundamentally, trees have always played an important role in Celtic culture, representing both spirituality and wisdom. They were perceived to have life-giving properties, longevity, power, and practicality (shelter and warmth). Gaelic folktales are full of stories about them, and the damage caused by Arwen to our local forests really strikes at the heart.
Much of the responsibility for clearing up falls to Forestry and Land Scotland.
After the storm, their first considerations were to lives and livelihoods, such as making key areas safe, and working in collaboration with other parties to repair utilities (including Fearnan’s transformer, seen on the right), repair damage to public roads and other public infrastructure, and clear up issues on adjoining land.
After fixing these headline issues, they moved onto timber and trails and a huge amount of planning and re-planning is going to be needed. Almost all of our forests have 10-year plans, which may need to be heavily revised in the wake of the damage sustained from the storm. Existing harvesting operations may need to be re-scheduled or cancelled, and resources diverted to try and recover fallen trees.
One positive benefit is that after clearing, FLS will start to think about establishing a new generation of trees, one that is more diversified, mixing up species to create a more rounded environment, and which will help our forests fight off diseases and pests. In some areas, the destruction caused by Storm Arwen may, in time, provide an opportunity to create new woodland with more benefits for the climate, environment, and future timber production. It will also expand the provision of wildlife-rich dead wood.
FLS say that Storm Arwen has caused more damage to Scotland’s forests than any other weather event for many years. They are working hard to get things cleared up and they hope to be able to open more forests and trails in the near future, but some badly affected areas may take months to repair.
Fearnan Recycling Community Collection Point
Jenny Penfold writes:
The recycling community collection point based at Clach an Tuirc in Fearnan has been doing well, with heaps more medicine blister packs coming in meaning another HUGE bag of them being dropped off in Perth recently (please note it is just the blister packs that are needed, other medicine packaging is usually recyclable through the Council collection), plus some dental products, printer cartridges and tights for trees! So, a big thank you to everyone for their efforts to ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle’!
However, I’ve had some feedback that it’s sometimes hard for folk to get here to drop things off. So, what I propose is to set up a ‘daisy-chain’ of collection points, run by other keen recyclers, in some of the other areas in our widespread Community Council area – or even beyond! They would be their local drop-off point for their community and would then drop it in to me in Fearnan whenever they’re passing, and I can collect things together and then send them on from here. This would mean we could divert even more recyclables from landfill.
I’m thinking perhaps one or two drop-off points in the Glen, plus Fortingall, Coshieville and Ben Lawers, for starters. Volunteers are needed! I can provide posters for you, and even boxes if required! And as you know your areas best, you can suggest the best places for your drop-off point – either at your house, or at a community space, like the school or village hall?
So if anyone is interested, please get in touch with me on 07917 685626 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can take it from there.
(Just a quick reminder where to drop off your recyclables in Fearnan: we’re right next to the Boar Stone, the last white cottage on your right when you leave Fearnan, going towards Fortingall. All collection boxes are in the front porch which faces the road, and the front door is always open! So, no need to wait for us to be in, or to ring the doorbell – although we love to see you – it’s fine to just ‘drop and run’!
Fearnan Book Club
The book read over the festive period and reviewed at the January meeting was Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021.
Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape.
When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.
As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness.
Most described it as an easy, gentle read for this time of the year and the subject matter related to a possible virgin birth seemed to fit the season. It began with reference to a train crash disaster which some of us forgot about until it impacted on the outcome of the story.
Set in the suburbs of SE London in 1957, there was unanimous agreement that the atmosphere and attitudes of the 1950s were very well depicted. Some of us could relate to aspects of this period! The role of the female journalist then was to write household tips and recipes and leave investigative journalism to the male reporters. The narrow-minded morality and snobbery of the times, repressed feelings and sense of duty were all very well portrayed. The topic of parthenogenesis was fascinating, and the detective work undertaken by the journalist was interesting.
Some found the premise of a possible virgin birth quirky but the outcome predictable. A few commented on how things seemed to slow down in the second half of the book.
A few of us didn’t like the twist at the end and had hoped for a happier outcome for Jean after so much bleakness in her life.
Sadly, due to Covid, once again we didn’t meet in person. This book would have provided endless opportunities for discussion and for some, memories of the 1950s and post war life and attitudes.
The book for review in February is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, the first book in the bestselling Thursday Murder Club series. This was chosen as a humorous book to lift the spirits in the long winter days. We hope to be able to discuss this in person.
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
And Finally …….
The Big Shed is holding its AGM on 23rd February at 7pm in The Big Shed.
They are planning to hold it in person, but if the Covid situation worsens again, they will hold it on Zoom.
If you plan to attend, please let Wendy know (email@example.com), so that she can either print enough agendas (if it’s in person), or send the link (if it’s a virtual meeting).
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