New Seat on the Hill

If you’ve walked up to the Cow Park in the last few days, you may have noticed that the new seat has arrived. Since 2017 the seat in the Cow Park, which was dedicated to former resident Ann McGregor, has been popular with walkers, visitors and particularly, local residents.  However, the weather was not kind to the wooden seat, and Storm Arwen was the final blow (no pun intended) leaving it beyond repair.

The new seat was delivered to the hall car park this week – a very durable, low maintenance version that the manufacturers claim will last for decades and they even say it will not blow over – but we’re not sure if the latter claim has been tested on a Highland hillside or with the sheep who will be delighted to see that their scratching post is back!

Ian McGregor made a significant donation to the FVA to enable us to purchase what we hope will be a very durable version and, by happy coincidence, he and his family were staying in Kenmore when the seat arrived.  Their presence also helped solve the problem of how to get the 80-kilo seat into position, and once it had been carried up the hill in the Penfold’s pickup, Ian and Ann’s grandchildren made very quick work of lifting and carrying it over rough ground and putting it on its base.

The picture above on the left shows Ian with his daughters and 5 of his grandchildren with the new seat, the picture on the right was taken of the family in 2017, when the first seat was installed.

The Ploughing Match, Fearnan, circa 1930

This photograph has been in the Photo Archive of the FVA’s website for a number of years, but it is only recently that a written commentary on it has emerged, penned some years ago by the Scottish Country Life Museum (now the National Museum of Rural Life) in East Kilbride.

The picture is of a ploughing match that took place in the 1930s or 40s in one of the Boreland Farm fields. Fearnan Brae can be seen in the top right quadrant, leading down to the Tigh an Loan Hotel. The original crofts and associated ‘rigs’ are also just discernible.

The commentary on the photo is below, and just in case you are not fully up to speed with ploughing terminology, and you don’t know your coulter from your mouldboard, a little diagram has been added to the text!

Ploughing Match by Loch Tay, Perthshire

‘James Small brought out his new light swing plough in 1767, a time when the farming landscape of Lowland Scotland was beginning to change rapidly, and the ground was sufficiently improved in enough places for his plough to spread fairly quickly.  At the same time, horses were displacing oxen as the beasts of draught. The Highland and Agricultural Society was formed in 1784, and numerous local Agricultural Societies followed, and in an effort to develop the skills of farm servants with the new implements, they encouraged the development of ploughing matches. They grew into popular annual events, the focus of friendly rivalry and social enjoyment.

‘The photograph was taken at Fearnan by Loch Tay in the 1930s or 40s with William Morrison ploughing. The horses are in show harness and many hours work will have gone into its preparation to compete for a prize as Best Pair. The burnished gunmetal and shining leather would be set off by decorations of white and blue, or sometimes red.

‘The skill lay in ploughing a straight fur or furrow and laying on the succeeding furs in perfect regularity. This is probably a special match plough characterised by a long mouldboard which turned the soil.

The soil is sliced from the land by the coulter projecting down from the beam, and the sock or ploughshare at the tip of the mouldboard.  In this case (ie in the photo) the coulter is a sharp-edged disc. Here the beam is steadied by a wheel running on the land, making it easier to regulate the yird taken, or depth of cut. Concealed by the horses is the muzzle or bridle at the head of the beam which will have a fine sideways adjustment to regulate the amount of land taken or furrow width. The draught runs from the muzzle to the wooden yoke and swingle trees – the cross members–and through the ‘thaits’ or chains to the metal hames which bear on the leather and straw padded collar against which the horse pushes.

‘Every district had its prizes, cups and medals to complete for. The fraternity of the horsemen was a strong one and a distinct part of the character of the countryside.’

There is also a second photo from the 1920s. No location is given but as it was found paired with the ploughing photo, it may also be of Fearnan or the local area.

Building the Stacks, about 1920

Thrift Shop
Many thanks to all who donated goods, baked, or volunteered to help during the Village Hall’s recent stint in the Thrift Shop. The total earned for the week was £1500.00, a very valuable contribution towards the running costs of the Hall.

Fearnan Book Club

Linda writes:

At our last book club meeting, we reviewed Dark Waters by GR Halliday, the second book in the DI Monica Kennedy series. Dark Waters does not play around. It is dark and disturbing from page one – in the best possible way. The plot is intricate and layered and peppered with revelations.

The book is set in the Scottish Highlands around Inverness and in fictional glens around Glen Affric where the location is depicted as sinister, dark and bleak and where horrors lurk for unwary visitors. 

From the first chapter, the book hooked many of our group who found the intricate plot twisty, dark and interesting and in the end rewarding – after the sometimes difficult read. It is not a book for the faint hearted!

Some found the descriptions of dismembered bodies so gruesome that they were reluctant to read on. The personal lives of Monica’s team of detectives were revealed and developed as the storyline progressed and are a theme throughout the series. Most of the group were keen to read the first and subsequent books in the series and learn more about the complex histories and lives of the detectives. 

We were fascinated to learn more about the history of the Scottish Hydro Electric projects whose deep, dark tunnels featured in the story.

Books for further reading on this topic are: Tunnel Tigers by Patrick Campbell and Hydro Boys by Emma Wood.

On a lighter note, the book to be reviewed in July is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. This a gentler and more relaxing read to which book lovers will relate. 

Jean Perdu runs a bookshop on a barge but is more like a doctor who will treat all your maladies with the right book. T

This moving story is about Jean Perdu’s coming to terms with the love he lost and the new love he will eventually discover. it is a delightful book of friendship and love and conjures up balmy, sunny days in France.

And Finally………

The Book Club Members have suggested some summer holiday reading:

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Jan-Phillip Sendker (a love story set in Burma)

The Fair Botanist, Sara Sheridan (historical fiction set in Edinburgh)

How to Raise an Elephant, Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series)

Death and Croissants, Ian Moore (humour in France)

Women of Troy, Pat Barker (historical fiction)

The Road Dance, John Mackay (a sad Hebridean love story, a Scottish bestseller, and now a film)

And finally, a book that may be useful at any point during your holiday is ………..How to Kill your Family, by Bella Mackie.

It is described as ‘dark humour’!

About Fearnan Village Association

Fearnan Village Association was formed in 2007 to provide a means through which those who live in the village can come together to discuss and respond to issues of importance to the village, particularly those that will have an impact on our quality of life. We also organise social events, such as the very popular Pudding Night in February, Strawberry TeaZ in July, and other events and coffee mornings throughout the year.
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