October

Local Recycling

We can’t compete with COP26, which is just getting going in Glasgow, but we are making our own small contribution. Here is a photo of the HUGE pile of medicine blister packs from Fearnan and which Jenny Penfold recently dropped off for recycling in Perth.

She sends a big thank you to all those who’ve taken the trouble to save and drop-off their empty blister packs at Clach an Tuirc.

Used packs can be dropped off any time at her front porch – either into the collection box or just left in a bag if that’s easier. Many thanks to everyone who has helped make a big difference, not just by diverting these from landfill, but by recycling them to be used again in new products. So much better!

Accident on the Brae

And here’s another ‘thank you’! This lovely bunch of flowers was sent to Pat Menzies from a cyclist who came a cropper on the Brae at the end of last month.

He was taking part in the Rotary Club’s Tayside Challenge but had missed the Duneaves turn off. However, his woes really started when he came off his bike on the bend, resulting in a broken collar bone and some injured ribs – and a trip to Ninewells Hospital.

Luckily for him that it was Pat (a trained First Responder) who happened to be coming up the Brae just after it happened.  An ambulance was called and a paramedic, who was on his way to a (non-emergency) call in Fortingall, was diverted to Fearnan and able to administer painkillers.

Pat, and Alan Douthwaite (who brought blankets), directed the traffic while waiting for the ambulance and Pat was able to contact the cyclist’s family, as well as the race organisers who promptly sent out a team to help manage the situation.  It’s good to know that local resources and the emergency services work so well together when something adverse happens.

And, while on the subject, we would all like to wish Liz Paterson a speedy recovery from her recent car accident. Hope you’re feeling better, Liz!

Fearnan Book Club Review

The book reviewed in September was The Glass House by Eve Chase.

The majority of the group enjoyed this well written and compelling book with its twisting plot. It was essentially about families and their deep, dark secrets. The book was written in two timelines, the 1970’s and present day. Initially some didn’t like the flitting backward and forward in time but noted that the tempo changed which then hooked the reader.

We reflected on the interesting characters and family dynamics which were well portrayed. The skilled, descriptive nature of the writing was also appreciated. The main setting was the remote Foxcote Manor situated down a long drive deep within the Forest of Dean. The denseness and secretive nature of the forest was like another character. It revealed an abandoned baby – and also a body. This was in stark contrast to the family’s life in their grand house in central London. 

Individual characters were discussed and Rita, the nanny, was well liked and much admired as someone who had no sense of her importance to the family and lacked self-esteem. We were delighted that she finally found happiness and there were a few surprises as her life experiences and secrets were revealed later in the book .

It took a long time for all the strands of the story to come together but all the links were finally made, and all the elements were brought together neatly. Some felt the ending was too smooth and would have preferred it to be darker but others thought it was drawn together well. It was described by one of the group in terms of chocolate: rocky road, dark chocolate then a milk chocolate ending! 

 Although there were difficult and serious issues raised, it was felt that it had a feel-good factor. As adults, the characters were able to meet up and form a blended family. Some of the subjects raised in the book were discussed further by the group e.g. change of attitudes over the decades to babies born to unmarried mothers, children born with deformities, mental health issues and dysfunctional families.

The book to be reviewed in October is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. 

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Remembrance Day Service Sunday 14th November

There will be a short Service of Remembrance in Fearnan at the War Memorial on Sunday 14th November. If you would like to attend, please gather at the memorial at about 10.50.

After the service, the FVA will be serving teas and coffee in the village hall and all are welcome. To comply with current regulations, please bring a mask to wear when entering or moving about the hall. As the service is outdoors, masks are not mandatory and a matter of personal choice.

Peter’s Pics

Peter and Sheila have been on their travels, both in this area and further afield, and Peter has shared a little travelogue of pics. They really make you want to set off for a wee trip yourself! Enjoy!

And Finally……..

Today Halloween and the clocks changing have co-incided, which makes for an extra dark and scary evening! Take care, there may be ghosts and ghoules about………

Please note that the copyright of all photos on this website belongs to the person who took the photos, and the copyright of all text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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September

Drummond Hill Management Plan

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is inviting people in and around Aberfeldy and Kenmore to take part in the development of Drummond Hill Land Management Plan

Drummond Hill, lays claim to being the first managed forest in Scotland with planting having started in the 17th century, and is an important site for wildlife and recreation.

However, the need to remove larch trees to help counter the spread of the disease Phytophora ramorum, is going to have an impact on the site. The land management plan sets out FLS’s plans for the site over the next ten years, including felling, restocking, deer management and management access, and offers a more general indication of plans for the ten years after that.

Robin Almond, FLS Planning Forester, said;

“This is a steep site with a lot of difficult-to-work ground and it will require some very careful planning and preparation to harvest it safely.

“As well as planning the felling operations we’re also planning the maintenance of over 220 hectares of mature scots pine, which will benefit red squirrels and Capercaillie, and returning 30 hectares of plantation on this ancient woodland site to native species.

“Additional benefits of the plan include making the unique Iron age fort at Casteal Mac Tuathal more visible in the landscape and reducing peak runoff from the site during wet periods.

“We would like to hear the view of local residents so would invite anyone interested to look over the plans that are online and give us feedback on at their leisure.”

The draft plan looks at getting the best use out of these forests, whether it’s in terms of timber production, as reserves for habitats and key species, or as a recreational resource for local communities. 

Anyone who for any reason is unable to take part in an online consultation can request printed copies of the plan summary from Office.east@forestryandland.gov.scot

The online consultation will remain open until 22 October. A number of Zoom meetings have been hosted by FLS to give the communities that live in the area a chance to hear about the Plan first hand.  The meeting on Monday 30th August, was geared to the communities on the western side of the hill and info about joining the Zoom meeting was sent to people on the Community Council and/or FVA mailing lists. If you were unable to take part in the Zoom consultation, the links in this article will allow you to access and comment on the draft plan.

Milltown of Lawers

Stuart Brain has shared some atmospheric photos taken in Old Lawers Village, just as the ownership of the village was changing hands.  It is good to hear that the new owner has already been in touch with the Breadalbane Heritage Society and conservation agencies and that he does not plan to make significant changes to this special site. He is keen to ensure that access is retain for those who wish to visit the village, famous for its association with the Seer, the Lady of Lawers.

(It should be noted that the photos were taken on Stuart’s second visit by boat to the village – the first visit ended abruptly when he encountered a cloud of bloodthirsty clegs who couldn’t believe their luck when a human in shorts entered their domain.  He returned the next day more suitably attired (hazmat suit?) and was able to have a good look round, take photos and explore the old graveyard.)

Fearnan Book Club Review

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in August was Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. We were delighted to be able to finally meet up in person in the Hall to discuss this book with a cup of tea and some delicious home baked goodies. 

This book presents us with a series of unsolved murders all with one thing in common: each of the deaths bears an eerie resemblance to the crimes depicted in classic mystery novels.

The deaths lead FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey to a mystery bookshop ‘Old Devils’. Owner Malcolm Kershaw had once posted online an article titled ‘My Eight Favourite Murders’, and there seems to be a deadly link between the deaths and his list – which includes Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

Can the killer be stopped before all eight of these perfect murders have been re-enacted?

There were mixed responses to this book. Some liked the references to the murder plots in the books mentioned while others thought they were spoilers if you wanted to subsequently read the books which a few of the group did. 

Some felt the book didn’t hang together as there were too many sub plots and too many murders. There were many threads to keep track of, and mini stories within the main plot. We were certainly kept guessing as to who the murderer was. As always we liked the twists and revelations as we read on. A few of us had even guessed who the murderer was.

A couple of the interesting characters were likeable and believable (e.g. the staff in the bookshop, who were well portrayed) but others were not considered plausible (e.g. the FBI agent). Other characters were more difficult to engage with. The cat with a personality was popular with the group and thankfully survived unharmed.

The book gathered pace as it progressed although it was felt that perhaps there was a rush towards the end to tie up loose ends. 

The book to be reviewed in September is The Glass House by Eve Chase. It has been described as ‘a captivating mystery: beautifully written, with a rich sense of place, a cast of memorable characters, and lots of deep, dark secrets’.

Local Clubs Restarting

It’s not just the Book Club that has started meeting in person again. The Carpet Bowls group will be meeting again in the Hall from Monday 4th October between 8 and 10pm. If you are interested in joining them, contact details are on the What’s On page of this website.

Tai Chi classes have also restarted on Wednesdays from 10 – 11am in the Hall.

Annual General Meetings

The Annual General Meeting of the Glenlyon and Loch Tay Community Council will take place on the 11th November 2021 at 7pm, by Zoom.  If you are not already on the CC mailing list, visit https://glenlyonandlochtaycc.org.uk to register.  This means you will be sent updates and Zoom links for meetings automatically.

The McLean Hall Committee held their Annual General Meeting on Monday 23rd August and the Minutes are reproduced below:

Minutes of McLean Hall Committee Annual General Meeting & Business Meeting, Monday 23rd August 2021

Present:          T Alexander, K Bennett, F. Brace, R Grant, A Kinninmonth, L. Milne and E. Melrose (Secretary).  There were 6 members of the public present.

Elaine Melrose chaired the meeting and welcomed all who were present.

1) Apologies: K Douthwaite (Trustee) and N. Grant from the Committee and 6 members of the public.

2) Minutes of the 65th AGM: (2020) held by email in February 2021, which had been circulated prior to the meeting, were approved.

3) Matters arising: There were no matters arising that were not already on the agenda.

4) Treasurer’s Report:  Karen presented the annual balance sheet, demonstrating a bank balance of £21,860.99 as of 31st March 2021.  Overall, income for the year to March was £11,095.00, boosted by a Government Covid Grant of £10,000, as well as the annual PKC grant of £250. The expenditure was £1,935, covering mainly the insurance and entertainment licence premiums and electricity bill. Despite the Hall not being used much over the past year, background heating was required to stave off any damp caused by the leaking roof.

5) Trustees Report: In her report, Kath Douthwaite offered a special thanks to Karen who has still worked hard through Covid to secure grants to repair the hall roof.

The grant process takes up a lot of time and repetition so thank you again.

She also thanked Elaine for her secretarial work and hoped that she would carry on as secretary.

6) Election of Office Bearers for 2021/2022: Elaine indicated that the constitution required that there was a minimum of 3 office bearers on the Hall Management Committee.

There had been no intimations of resignation from the current committee.  However, a new chairperson was required.  Rosalind Grant had indicated that she would be willing to undertake the role.  She was nominated by a member of the public from the floor and seconded by Angela Kinninmonth.  Karen Bennett and Elaine were happy to continue as at present.  There being no objections, the Committee is now as follows:

Chairperson – Ros Grant, Secretary – Elaine Melrose, Treasurer – Karen Bennett

Members of the Committee – Nicholas Grant, Angela Kinninmonth, Julia Lane, Jo Miller, Linda Milne and George Mitchell.

7) Election of Trustees:           At the Committee meeting on Tuesday 1st October 2019, there had been no nominations received to replace Rev. Anne Brennan, who had now retired.  The chairman at the time suggested that long serving residents could be Trustees.  Tom Alexander expressed a willingness to undertake the role.  Frances Brace was still considering her decision at that point. 

Both have now agreed to become Trustees.  There were no objections.  It was noted that Stuart Brain would consider such a role in the future.

The AGM closed at 7.55pm.

GENERAL BUSINESS MEETING

8) Events 2020/2021: Given the current restrictions, no events have been planned.            

9) Thrift Shop 2021/2022: The Hall Committee has declined the offer of a thrift shop week this year (2021), but there was willingness among some present to accept a slot if offered in 2022.

10) Maintenance Plans for 2021-2022:         

1) The Hall Roof

Karen had investigated what might be done to rectify the problem of the leaking roof.  The previous resealing of what was thought to be the suspect area had not been successful and no actual source had been established for the continuing leakage.

Experts had suggested three options – strip the present roof and replace; build a roof on top of the present roof or reseal the current roof.

Apparently, the hook bolts which attach the roof are no longer an acceptable method for roofing a Hall.

Reroofing the Hall would be prohibitively expensive and there was concern that the prefab concrete supports of the roof might not prove stable enough when drilled during the procedure for building a new roof on the old roof.

Following independent advice, the best solution seemed to be resealing the roof.  The company ‘Polyroof’ supplies the sealing system and ‘Skyform’ based in Glasgow is the preferred contractor in Scotland.

Included as part of the roof work, the guttering and down spouts will be replaced with powder coated aluminium replacements.

It is expected that work will commence in September and take approximately 3 weeks, depending upon the weather.

2) Entrance Area Refurbishment

Before the pandemic, Colin Menzies had provided an estimate for landscaping at the Front Door entrance, including the bin area.

Karen has now requested an updated estimate.  It may be possible to obtain grant funding to offset the cost of this work.

The planned expenditure on the Maintenance plans for the year is as follows:

Roof Repair: £36,845.28

Entrance Area: £5,000

Karen has been successful in obtaining £23,500 in grants towards the roof repair.

11) Correspondence:  Karen had received correspondence regarding the Cow Park but discussion on this was deferred.

12) Any Other Business:

1) Hall Carpark            There was a discussion about the use of the Hall carpark, but it was decided not to encourage visitor parking.                                             

2) Publishing the minutes of the meeting       It was agreed that a copy of the minutes would be attached to the noticeboard, but also Fiona Ballantyne has offered to publish the minutes on the FVA Blog, and this was also agreed.

13) Date of Next Meeting.  The committee will hold a meeting in about 6 weeks and the AGM 2022 will take place in June 2022 on a date to be advised.

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Having Your Ducks in a Row

When Doug and Hilary started feeding a pair of ducks in their lochside garden last year, they couldn’t have imagined that, a few months later, a flock of 30 or so ducks would be arriving every morning, looking for breakfast. Word obviously spread quickly in the duck population around the fringes of the Loch and from June onwards, numbers have been boosted by several broods of chicks.

In return, the ducks do a little light gardening, keeping the slugs down so that the hostas can flourish, and occasionally clearing the duckweed off the ornamental pond.

The road is always a worry, although Doug is doing his best to keep the ducks safe.

Please remember to keep a look out for them when you are driving passed.

Sand Sculptures

Doug (aka the Sandman) has been creating topical sand sculptures for our entertainment and amusement since the start of lockdown, and after the lifting of travel restrictions they have also been providing photo opportunities for passing tourists.  Here’s a wee selection from the last 18 months:

There’s another one due soon, so watch this space!

Drummond Hill Land Management Plan – Consultation

In September 2019, we published an article on the Blog about the threat to Perthshire’s larch trees from Phytophthora ramorum mould, and the concern over the impact this would have on the many larches on Drummond Hill (read the article here).

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) are currently consulting on their Land Management Plan for Drummond Hill and a presentation on the Plan has been arranged for Monday 30th August at 7pm by Zoom. This presentation will provide an opportunity to look at the impact on people living in Fearnan and on the western side of the Hill, and is a chance to ask questions directly of FLS.

The Zoom link will be circulated a few days in advance to FVA members. Those on the Community Council email list may have already received it.  If you are not on either list and would like to join the meeting, please email Fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com requesting the link.

Fearnan Book Club Review

The book reviewed in July was The Man with No Face by Peter May. This was one of his standalone novels, an update of a much earlier story.

Two men travel to Brussels from the UK: Kale, a professional assassin and Neil Bannerman, a tenacious investigative reporter from a Scottish newspaper. Two victims are subsequently murdered, one a journalist, the other a Cabinet Minister, witnessed by an autistic girl.

The atmospheric setting was late 1970s Brussels within the convincingly portrayed backdrop of the EU and its complicated politics. It seemed that not a lot had changed. (Apart from Brexit!) 

There was a general feeling that initially the pace was slow but things became more intriguing as the plot progressed. We felt that the characters were well drawn, particularly Tania, the autistic daughter of one of the victims, who expressed herself through her evocative drawings. Diplomats and journalists were portrayed as larger than life with a hint of the Fleet St drinking/smoking culture.

We enjoyed the unexpected turns such as the reveal of manipulating characters in the background, the killer finding compassion when asked to assassinate a child, and an unexpected blackmailer. Hopefully there would be an optimistic future for Neil, Sally and Tania. Some thought it would make a good TV mini series.

McLean Hall, Fearnan Annual General Meeting

Just a reminder about the Hall AGM, which is on Monday 23rd August at 7.30pm in the Hall.

Please note that the copyright of all photos on this blog belongs to the person that took them and the copyright of all text belongs to the person that wrote it.

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August

Friends Reunited

This lovely photo was sent to us by Wendy Jackson who is seen here (on the right) with her long-lost friend Maureen Hall. 

You may remember Maureen getting in touch with the Blog in February, asking if anyone could help re-unite these two university friends. 

Wendy had lived in this area back in the seventies and within minutes of the Blog being published, her brother had messaged her, and she and Maureen were quickly back in touch.

Wendy writes:

Thanks to your blog from 28th February 2021, I met up with my friend Maureen Hall after losing contact with her for about 40 years. We attended Edinburgh University at the same time from 1977 and shared various flats together. 

We met up for lunch in Edinburgh where we caught up with what we have been doing for the last 40 years. It was a lovely reunion, talking about our lives since we lost touch way back then. We had fun remembering what we did when we were flatmates – and sometimes not remembering. Oh well it is 40+ years!! 

Wendy and her brother, Royston, were among the last cohort of pupils at Fearnan School and it was this photo of the children that Maureen had found on the FVA website and which prompted her to get in touch with us.

(Wendy is second from the left in the front row.)

Miss Lizzie Roberts

While on the subject of Fearnan School, another request we received was from Bev Bayda, who wrote from Edmonton, Canada, to ask if anyone had any memories of her great aunt, Lizzie Roberts, who taught at Fearnan School from 1903 to 1928.

Val Chapman from Devon responded to say that her mother, along with her aunts and uncles, were taught by Lizzie.  Val has previously written an article for the Blog about her Fearnan family, the Brydones, who lived in Fearnan from 1905 to 1946.

Val writes:

The seven Brydone children were taught by Lizzie Roberts. They were Thomas (born 1903), Jessie (born 1905), Isabel (born 1907), Peter (born 1908), Mary (born 1909), my mother Evelyn (born 1911) and lastly Hamish (born) 1917.

My grandpa, James Brydone, was a gamekeeper for Breadalbane Estate and some of the children were born in the gamekeeper’s cottage, Cromrar, on the Fortingall Road. He went off to fight in WW1 and thus lost his job and accommodation, so Granny moved with them all to the rustic cottage immediately over the iron Lyon Bridge, near Keltneyburn. From there, the children walked over the fields to the school at Dull.

After WW1 they moved into Tomdarrach croft and all attended Fearnan School, going on to Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy.

My aunt, Ishbel, wrote her memoirs in old age and mentioned their teacher, Miss Roberts. She liked the school and was there until age 13 when she qualified for the bursary for a school such as Breadalbane. But, of necessity, like so many girls in those days, she took on domestic work locally. She recalls the first time, aged eleven, listening to a crystal wireless set with others, possibly at school, though she does not say, and the excitement at hearing the news come through.  

The first 4 Brydone children appear on this extract from the Fearnan School Roll from 1908 – pupil numbers 222, 228, 232, and 235.

Extract from Fearnan School Roll 1908

There are several names and family names in this extract from the School Roll that recur in Fearnan’s story over the following decades. For example, Louisa McPherson (no. 220 on the Register), is Frances Brace’s grandmother, Lucy. She was first enrolled at the school in March 1908 and the School Roll tells us that she left Fearnan for Killin in July 1909 but returned briefly for a month in September 1909 – presumably because her parents returned to the village for a spell.  Lucy returned to Fearnan, and Springbank Cottage, as an adult when she married France’s grandfather, Sandy Butters.

Let us know if you spot any relatives or have any stories about others listed on the register.

Tights Appeal

Jenny is still looking for pairs of old tights to tie up her young trees! She tells us:

I’ve now used up all available old tights from family, friends and donations generated via the FVA blog – but I’m in desperate need of hundreds more! It seems to be a good ‘growing year’ now – so lots of trees need to come out of their tubes asap to make the most of this season’s growth.

Also, I’ve decided to take all the alders out of their tubes (as the deer don’t like them anyway) – if I wait until they reach 3m they are way too bendy and have lots of foliage which catches in the wind, so unfortunately, we’ve had a few breakages. Plus, the Scots pine are going mad! They all need to come out as soon as they pop out the top of their tubes.

I’ve attached a few photos of the Scots Pines.

All contributions of tights will be gratefully accepted by Jenny!

Legislation Affecting Self-Catering Providers

The Scottish government is proposing new legislation that will affect all those running B&B’s, self-catering units, glamping, shepherd’s huts etc – that means quite a number of people in our area. The Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC) is very concerned about this legislation and is predicting that it will result in the loss of between a third and half of the self-catering accommodation in rural areas, with a huge knock-on effect not only on providers’ incomes but also on other local businesses like cleaning, laundry, restaurants, pubs, grocers etc.

If you are affected by this, you may wish to respond to the government’s consultation paper on the legislation but will need to do so by Friday 13th August.

There is more information along with briefing papers on the ASSC website https://www.assc.co.uk/

Jenny is also happy to share her own response to the consultation in order to help others who also wish to respond. Contact her on jcpenfold@hotmail.com

Book Club Review

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in June was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

With its recurring theme of flowers and their meanings, this was a very appropriate book for summer when gardens all over Fearnan were coming into full bloom. Many found the concept of sending flowers with meaning, a lovely idea. 

The book was well received and enjoyed by the group. Most felt empathy and engaged with the well described and believable characters. 

Victoria, the main character, who had spent much of her life in the American care sector, was strong and intelligent with a retentive memory particularly in relation to the language and meaning of flowers. There had been assumptions that because of her behaviour, she was ineducable. Victoria’s deep-rooted feelings of loss and abandonment led to her aggressive and hostile behaviour, and to attack first as a defence mechanism. Only Elizabeth, who fosters her, saw and understood this and it was sad and disappointing when she failed to adopt her at the last-minute leading to Victoria going back into the system. 

Flowers became her solace, and her love of them and increasing knowledge of their meanings, gave her a purpose, as well as success and recognition and began a process of healing.

Amongst the group, there was concern about the challenges and lack of support she experienced as a young single mother. This part of the book was a difficult, moving and emotional read as we felt anxious about her fate and that of the baby. A few felt that the story dipped in the middle after a fast-paced start but it picked up pace again as it reached its conclusion.

We hoped Victoria would finally find happiness, security and belonging with a stable future for all. The ending may have been predictable but it gave a heart-warming end to what had been a difficult life.  We were left wondering whether it would all really work out for the best and acknowledged that there would no doubt be many more bumps along the way.

It is interesting to know that the author is launching the Camellia Network to create a movement to support youth making the transition from foster care to independence.

The next book to be reviewed is The Man with no Face by Peter May.  

This book is set in 1979 Brussels and was originally published in 1981.

It is described as a standalone swift paced thriller, portraying the political mood of 1970’s Brussels and is an intriguing mix of gritty, period machismo and all-too-prescient political concerns. Fans of his work and newcomers alike will find much to enjoy.

And Finally………..

In a recent post, we published a picture of an otter asleep in a garden in Fearnan and asked if there were any other sightings of otters in the area.  One or two people mentioned seeing them around Peter’s Pool and also in the burn between Borland and Dalchiaran.  Nicola from the White Cottage also got in touch with a memory of how some otters created a wonderful start to a very special day.

I have seen otters in Fearnan on two occasions in recent years: last July, just after travel restrictions were lifted after the first lockdown, I was walking our Labrador along the pavement when an otter appeared from the burn that runs down the Brae to the Shoreside development. It ran across the road and along the grassed area before disappearing.

The other occasion was on the morning of our son’s wedding day in May 2014. He had got up early to check the Lochside arrangements for the ceremony and saw two otters playing around our pier. He immediately messaged me up at the house and I got down to the beach just in time to see them before they disappeared.

What a start to a wonderful day! 

All text on this website is the copyright of the person who wrote it, and photos are the copyright of the person who took them.

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June Blog

Miss Lizzie McLaren Roberts, Head Teacher, Fearnan School, 1903-1928

It’s always a pleasure to receive an email from someone with Fearnan connections who has found our little website and, inevitably, they add a little bit to our knowledge of Fearnan’s history.

Recently, just such an email came in from Bev Bayda, who lives in Edmonton in Canada. Bev had found the article about Fearnan School on our website and wrote to us about one of the teachers, Lizzie Roberts who taught in the school from 1903 to 1928.

“Thank you for all the work you have done on the Fearnan School web page.  My mother’s aunt was Miss Lizzie McLaren Roberts.  My mother lived with Lizzie from 1947-1949 in Old Polmont.  When Lizzie passed away in 1955 my mother received the tea service (tea pot, cream & sugar bowls, tray) that Lizzie received from Fearnan School when she retired.

I was wondering if you had any pictures with Lizzie in them or any other information about her that is not posted on the website.”

Bev sent this picture of the teapot from Lizzie’s Fearnan School tea service.

Miss Robert’s tenure at the school covered an important period in history, and it was she who wrote touchingly in the School Log Books about some of the Fearnan men who fell in WW1 (some of the men were pupils whom she would have taught).  You can read her words in this article from the Blog in 2018.

The School Log Book was one of the few written records of life and major events in Fearnan during the 19th and early 20th century, and it is thanks to Miss Roberts that we have an account of the news of the end of WW1 arriving in Fearnan, when Captain Thistle (he of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps) and Peter Dewar (after whom Peter’s Pool is named) arrived at the school to tell the children that the war had ended.  You can read her account in this Armistice 2018 article from the blog. (Peter Dewar’s own son, James, was one of those who died in the war and is remembered on our war memorial.)

Some of the topics covered by Miss Roberts in the school record book have a strong resonance today.  In 1914, there are references to the flu epidemic, described as the Belgian Flu (no concerns about cultural stigma in those days!) and the fact that it had taken a powerful hold with many sufferers in the village.

She also writes of receiving a telegram that will resonate with today’s teachers:

“It stated that the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Graham, had ordered the school to be closed for one week from the 22nd to the 26th of February.

Two very serious cases of pneumonia are reported, the victims being two of the pupils.”

And, with Covid jabs to the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment, we can all feel extra empathy for the pupils of Fearnan School during the 1920 School Vaccination Programme (probably for smallpox, although it is not specified), which Miss Roberts recorded :

“The doctor visited the school on Tuesday and vaccinated all the children.  Two scholars absent today, their arms much swollen.” (9th July 1920)

A week later Miss Roberts reports:

“ Attendance much reduced owing to the vaccination – the three boys who were vaccinated for the first time being absent the greater part of the week.”

Miss Roberts retired after 25 years teaching at the school, and although we can’t know exactly what was said at her leaving presentation, we do know that the school inspector wrote the following in the School Log Book on the 25th January 1925:

“Visited the school this day, and it is with feelings of extreme regret that I record this entry is the last under the regime of the capable, efficient teacher who for 25 years ably and successfully acted as teacher here.”

Bev is researching her family history, and would love to know if anyone has any family memorabilia, photos or even stories passed down by previous generations who were taught by Lizzie Roberts.  Please get in touch with Fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com if you can help.

Otterly Amazing!

Jenny Penfold had an unusual visitor to her garden recently. She writes:

“I had just popped round to move the sprinkler on the newly re-seeded lawn by the cottage, when I was stopped in my tracks by an animal on the path. I was totally taken by surprise and at first had no idea what it was…my first thought was a pine martin, come for a cool-off under the sprinkler?? But then it noticed me, so I took a quick photo to show Amelia and Trevor and beat a hasty retreat in case I spooked it.

As it didn’t move when it saw me, I thought it must be injured or sick, so I sent the photos to Trevor and we agreed to leave it until he came home in case we needed to catch it and take it to the SPCA.

And it was only after sharing the photos that I realised what it was – an otter in our garden – unbelievable!

Unfortunately for Trevor (who would have taken a MUCH better photo than me!) it wasn’t there by the time he got home and we couldn’t find it anywhere – so good for the otter, as it must have been OK after all. But we did also find some disturbance in the mud around the pond, so it looks like it was there too.

Now it’s gone it’s just sinking in what an amazing opportunity I had. I’ve always been on the look-out for otters and have only seen them once before in Skye – and that was from quite a distance. So now I’m just totally blown away that I actually saw one so close, if only for a moment or two. Fingers crossed it will make our garden a regular stopping point on whatever journey it was taking.”

Does anyone have any more information or stories about otters in our area?  Please get in touch if you have, either through the comments page of this blog or in an email to fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com

Interpreting the Weather

Adrian got in touch with a handy little guide to interpreting the official weather forecast for Fearnan which, as he points out, has a unique micro-climate due to its location and the surrounding hills.  This means official weather forecasts on the BBC or STV need to be adjusted for local conditions. 

The table below shows the official forecast alongside what to expect locally. We have added some photos purely for illustrative purposes:

“Today will be mainly dry in the East / mainly dry in the West.”

Fearnan ……heavy rain all day.

“Clear skies and bright sunshine all day.”

Fearnan …….. thick cloud all day.

Mild for the time of year.”

Fearnan ……. freezing

“Light breeze from the South West.”

Fearnan ………. gale force winds.

There will be scattered showers.

Fearnan …… heavy rain all day.

“A few light wintry showers.”

Fearnan …… blizzards.

“Tonight should be frost-free.”

Fearnan ……. no chance!

Many thanks to Adrian, who was possibly inspired by the Michael Fish (there-isn’t-a-hurricane-on-the-way) School of Forecasting.

The Crannog

The Crannog on Loch Tay, which was destroyed by fire on Friday night, was not only an iconic building, but also an important local employer and economic generator.

While its loss is keenly felt by the Loch Tay community, the number of messages, kindness and support that have been received show it has touched the hearts of many in Scotland and far beyond. An appeal fund has been set up to help deal with the immediate aftermath and ensure that the Crannog Centre is able to continue to offer visitors a unique experience of Scottish history.

If you would like to support this effort, please donate through this Just Giving page:

https://bit.ly/35kFF0l

The Crannog Centre is launching a programme of fundraising events to support its future, starting this Thursday with a ‘Crannog Craic’ Music and Storytelling event from 7pm-9pm.  Crannog Craic will continue every Thursday throughout the Summer featuring live music and performances from local artists and storytellers each week. Tickets are available to book on www.crannog.co.uk

 Fearnan Book Club Review                                                          

The book reviewed in May was The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett. This is an original and imaginative series of books in which the Queen turns super sleuth, and some of the group would happily read more. This is the first book in the series ‘Her Majesty The Queen Investigates’. Some wondered if the queen had read it.

The consensus was that this book was an enjoyable, delightful read and was light and airy. Compared to some of the recent books read, it delivered much needed relief! 

The portrayal of the queen was well written and we could imagine her instigating her own investigation into the death of Brodsky in her home, dropping hints while letting others take the credit. Her concern for others throughout was endearing. 

Prince Philips appearances and contributions were realistic, amusing, delicious fun and also tender. This fitted in with recent anecdotes about his forthright character. Some would have liked more input from him. It was poignant to be reading it so close to his death. 

The descriptions of Windsor Castle appeared to capture the essence of life there and were believable and interesting. Palace protocols seemed well researched, as were the host of topical references to people and events we know, including David Attenborough at the Dine and Sleep!

After various twists and turns, the mystery was solved and the deceased guest’s body was interred at Frogmore in a carefully chosen woodland spot. 

The book to be reviewed in June is The Language of Flowers,  a debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  

A great summer choice when gardens are again coming to life and flowers are blooming.

And Finally ………

The bluebells in Taymouth Castle grounds were, once again, fab-u-lous this year!

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, and the copyright of text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Recycling, Reading and Remembering

Recycling Update

We have news of two new recycling initiatives in the villlage:

Jenny Penfold has started recycling medicine blister packs. She drops them off in Perth on a regular basis, and is happy to act as a collection point for other people’s empty packs.

These days, heaps (literally) of blister packs are being put into landfill every month so, from now on, once you’ve popped your pills, pop the packs into the box that Jenny will put up at Clach an Tuirc.

Look out for the poster on the left.

Jenny is also waiting for a collection box for recycling ink cartridges.  She has signed up for an ink cartridge recycling scheme with the Recycling Factory:(https://www.therecyclingfactory.com/charity)

Currently she has opted to give all proceeds from the Fearnan box to the SSPCA. The Recycling Factory take almost all types of cartridge and the box will go up with the other ones in her front porch at Clach an Tuirc.

The Library Bus is back!

The Mobile Library will be back in Fearnan on Tuesday 11th May between 16.00 and 16.30.  It comes every 2 weeks at the same time, so it will be back on the 25th May, 8th June, 22nd June and so on.  There is more info on https://www.culturepk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Mobile-3-May-Aug-2021-including-Fridays.pub_.pdf

Fearnan Book Club

The book reviewed in April was The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, who worked in camps with Syrian refugees and witnessed, at first hand, the inevitable suffering that such conflicts inflict. This was an insightful and informative book. The descriptions of life before the war/troubles softened the story as you relaxed into the descriptions of the flower meadows and beekeeping. The story’s authenticity was reflected throughout her writing and through the portrayal of settings, characters and their trauma at seeing killings, fleeing danger and suffering in refugee camps as they tried to reach the UK. 

The privations of the journey, as well as those once they reached the UK and were awaiting the result of their asylum application, were spelled out quite clearly.  

Some found this a difficult, moving book to read and heartbreakingly sad, while at the same time it was also described as compelling and having the right amount of light and shade. 

We wondered at their continuing resilience in the face of so many traumas. It is so well written that we could imagine the horrors of the well-described journey and the exploitation of people when they were at their most vulnerable. The human spirit is an amazing thing. They demonstrated great resilience in completing their journey, but were not immune from underlying high levels of anxiety and depression experienced not only on the way but also once they reached the UK. 

The brutality (Afra’s rape) and corruption (Nuri’s participation in murder and illicit drug distribution) which refugees face on their journeys were highlighted. 

We hoped that they might eventually find some happiness with the return of Afra’s sight and the resumption of the activities that had been a huge part of their life.

The book to be reviewed in May is The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett.

This is her first book in a whodunnit series. It is set in 2016. An intriguing, original concept for a series with an unusual sleuth!  

PKC Visitor Action Plan

A letter with information about the Visitor Action Plan that PKC are implementing over the summer to deter dirty camping and to promote responsible tourism throughout the season has been delivered to houses in the village.

Although most visitors behave responsibly, last year a number of communities suffered from anti-social behaviour such as littering and vandalism as well as from drivers who parked their cars inconsiderately, making it difficult for other traffic, including emergency vehicles to pass.

This year the resources of the key agencies are being channelled through the Perth & Kinross Council-led Visitor Management Group, which includes Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue as well as Forestry and Land Scotland. Hopefully, this co-ordinated approach, along with the appointment of 3 Visitor Management Rangers for Highland Perthshire will mean greater support  (and more boots on the ground) for the communities that have suffered from irresponsible tourism in recent years.  The Management Group say they will be increasing patrols to help prevent anti-social behaviour.

If you want to report any incidents, you can phone 101, or email the dedicated email address visitormanagement@pkc.gov.uk Reporting incidents is important, not just to get assistance but to help establish a picture of the scale of the problem.

Cameron Thomson

On Thursday, the funeral of Cameron Thomson was held in Kenmore. Cameron, who lived in this area for many years, was a true countryman, as well as being a mole catcher, gardener, fencer, school bus driver, and fiddle-maker – but perhaps he was best known as the original Horn Carver of Lawers.

Back in 2014, when Cameron was approaching his 90th birthday but still employed cutting grass for a number of residents, The Blog wrote a profile of him, which can be read here.

(The photo of Cameron was taken by Polly Pullar.)

Russian Airmen Commemoration

The 9th May is Victory Day in Russia, when they mark the end of the war against nazism and remember those who died in that war. The Russian Vice Consul from Edinburgh came to lay a wreath at the Fearnan Stone which commemorates those who died in the wartime air crash in the Cow Park.

Sue also laid a small posy of spring flowers on behalf of the FVA.

And Finally……..

It’s bluebell time!

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, and the copyright of text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Community Consultation

Community Consultation by the Scottish Crannog Centre Trust – Zoom Meeting 7pm on 22nd April.

The Scottish Crannog Centre Trust has recently acquired the Dalerb picnic site from Forestry and Land Scotland in order to create a dynamic new Crannog Centre, replacing the existing site at Croft-na-Caber.  The Trust would like to share their ideas, to listen to, and to work alongside the community as they develop their plans.

As a first step, the Kenmore and District Community Council has organised a special consultation meeting to support this process, and you are invited to join the following scheduled Zoom Meeting:

Topic: The Scottish Crannog Centre Trust

Time: Apr 22, 2021 19:00 London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89368663917?pwd=MXRabmtpY29hV3VuWEE0cngvTEI5UT09

Meeting ID: 893 6866 3917

Passcode: 095235

The agenda for the meeting includes a presentation from the Scottish Crannog Centre Trust followed by a Question and Answer session.

Everyone is welcome and it is hoped that as many people as possible will join the meeting.  Logging in 5 – 10 minutes beforehand is recommended so that the meeting can start as promptly as possible.

Book Club

From Zoom consultations to socially-distanced Book Club Meetings, by way of some topical titles for your bedside reading, recommended by the Fearnan Book Club:

Linda writes:

Over this last year, the Book Club has been operating through e-mails, phone calls and socially distanced chats, often on the hall car park when shopping from the local bakery or fish van. 

This has not diminished our enthusiasm and the depth of the reviews which have been, as always, thoughtful with issues and personal opinions honestly and articulately expressed (without the enthusiastic interruptions as happens in live meetings!). We have, however, missed those face-to-face extended discussions and the sharing of personal experiences related to the books – accompanied by tea, treats, the occasional glass of wine and, of course, the latest Fearnan gossip. We are also pleased to have gained two new members, which will add to the range of future book choices.

The book reviewed in March was 10 minutes, 38 seconds in this Strange World by Eliz Shafa. It was the unusual story of Leila, a Turkish woman, now a prostitute living in Istanbul, who was reflecting on her life immediately after her brutal death. 

This was a great choice that some of us may have never read had we not been part of the group. What an imagination to write it from the point of view of a dead person and how their brain function would diminish over 10 minutes and 38 seconds!

The  use of  smell  to trigger memories is something everybody can relate to and can invoke powerful feelings, which was felt to be a great way to introduce Leila’s memories. Although some found the darker aspects of this book uncomfortable reading, it was generally well received by the Fearnan Book Group for many reasons. Under normal circumstances, it would have engaged us in a lengthy, lively debate of the many controversial issues raised by the author. The beautifully written, multi-layered book explored and shone a light on this varied range of difficult and topical issues.

The setting portrayed the bustling vibrancy and ruthlessness of cosmopolitan Istanbul while the story followed a group of interesting and clearly portrayed characters – social outcasts, from a range of nationalities and religions, who found themselves living on the edge of society. The five unique friends demonstrated strength of personality and provided love, advice and a supportive safety net for each other through thick and thin. Their unique differences, and the reactions that they received from others, is what galvanised the group.

Most of us found the ending of the book light-hearted and uplifting around the hysterical antics of the friends in the Cemetery of the Companionless*, which lightened the narrative. Some found this laugh-out-loud humour and enjoyed the comedy at the end of this sad, beautiful and, at times, disturbing book. 

Our book for review in April is The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, which is about Syrian war refugees making the treacherous journey to the UK where they seek asylum. 

While a work of fiction, it is based on the author’s experience over two summers volunteering in Athens at a refugee centre.

*Historical Footnote: The Cemetery of the Companionless in Kilyos is a real place, as is the street of brothels, and historical events such as the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam in 1968 and the Massacre in Istanbul on International Workers’ Day in 1977, where snipers from the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel opened fire on the crowds – which today is the Marmara Hotel. 

And Finally ……..

It’s April, so no excuse needed to publish some pics of lambs.

Many thanks to peter McKenzie for the photos.

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Community Resilience

This edition of the Blog features several items highlighting the strength of our local community and the fantastic way people come together to deal with problems and threats. And there’s another fabulous walk to enjoy!

A Hard Day’s Night

In February, you never know quite what the weather is going to throw at a small Highland village like Fearnan. This year, towards the end of that month, several days of heavy rain, combined with snow melt, put a huge strain on the infrastructure of burns, pipes and drains that normally carry surplus water safely away.

Several parts of the village were affected by surplus water on the 19th February.  In Dalchairan, the alarm was raised around 7pm because the culvert was starting to overflow and for the next 2 or 3 hours a steadily increasing number of villagers (along with the guys from Gigaloch and from Boreland) worked hard trying to manage the situation but, despite a huge effort, they were fighting a losing battle, with the drains blocking and the water steadily rising. 

Around 10 pm the water breached the culvert, which created an immediate need for sandbags – or rather, an immediate need for the community to improvise its own sandbags. 

Fortunately, both the Brockies and the Brains have stoves that are fuelled with wood pellets, and even more fortunately, Stuart is a hoarder of the empty bags, ‘just in case they come in  useful one day.’ They certainly did come in useful – being the perfect size and shape for sandbags! While one team set about filling the hoppers for the two stoves to release even more bags, another team (some say a small army) was going round looking for sand and material to fill the bags – and all at around midnight.

By midnight, the water was running down the pavement in Dalchiaran and was seriously threatening one of the houses.  Using the home-made sandbags and other barriers, it was diverted along the footpath to the rear of the play park.

Finally, the Fire Brigade were able to attend, much to the relief of everyone.  They worked to pump water away to the play park and back into the burn. They were also able to authorise the issue of ‘official’ sandbags and some  80-odd arrived ……. at 2.45 am!  All the way from Blair Atholl. Fortunately, Stuart, Alastair and Gavin were still about and finally finished placing them at 3.30am.

Fire Brigade in Action

Stuart takes up the story:

On Saturday, even more people than on the previous night were out lending a hand to move the next batch of 120 sandbags that had arrived. These additional sandbags were used to slow the overflow to allow us to place a herring bone series of bags down the main road to displace the water down the road. The drains on the road were overwhelmed. Reducing the flow allowed the drains to catch up, and subsequently to start to move more water and eventually we were able to divert it back to where it should be, in the burn.

“On Sunday the water had dropped around 50% which allowed for a better inspection of the problems. With Iain and Charlie’s help, we managed to dig a fair bit of silt out of the culvert and eventually got down to a level where I could get into the tunnel, and between us we pulled out a significant blockage (see picture). This released the water and the rest of the blockage.”

The culprit that was blocking the culvert!

“After that, came the big clean up, and once again, everyone just got stuck in with brushes and shovels. So, many thanks to them and a really big thank you to everyone who turned out to help the evening before. It was great to see the community spirit that weekend, just like old times! And let’s not forget the Gigaloch guys who, by the way, were brilliant, bringing wood, sandbags and other materials to barricade Gavin’s house and lending some welcome muscle and light-heartedness. Grateful thanks as well to Gary, Ross and the other firefighters. “

The Flood Team from the Council have been out, and we need to keep on the case to make sure, whatever the weather and whatever gets stuck in the culvert, it can’t happen again.

Friends of Fortingall Hotel

Friends of Fortingall Hotel held a meeting on Friday 26 February and were delighted with the encouraging response from the 60 people who attended and with the level of interest in the Hotel and its future.

At the meeting, it was decided that the Friends of Fortingall Hotel should apply to the Scottish Land Fund for a Technical Assistance Grant to cover the costs of the investigations required, such as a valuation of the building, a feasibility study to assess the viability of a range of possible business models, etc.

Volunteers were recruited to form a Project Steering Group, which met on 9th March to start the process of applying for funding. The Scottish Land Fund will appoint an Adviser to help prepare the application.

A number of people volunteered to become Members of the Breadalbane Development Trust – the body which will apply for the Technical Assistance Grant.  They will soon join the Trust and support the Project Steering Group.

The future of the hotel and its place in the community is as relevant to Fearnan and other nearby areas as it is to Fortingall itself, and if  you would like to join the mailing list to be kept in touch, please contact fortingallvillage@outlook.com

Warm Connections

Warm Connections is a new project under the umbrella of Aberfeldy Parish Church.They provide free, impartial advice to support people in the community to live in warm, healthy, affordable-to-run and environmentally sustainable homes. At the same time they want to help people save money and reduce their carbon footprint at home. Their service is available in the Rannoch, Lyon, Upper Tay and Braan areas.

Warm Connections would be delighted if readers of the Blog who live in these areas could complete this short survey https://forms.gle/GMZGGKX9Q1i2AWZK8 so that they can better understand and meet the home energy needs of our communities. (It’s very quick and only takes a few moments.)

Armchair Walking Club

From the comfort of your own home, you can join Stuart way up on Boreland Hill on a fabulous day.  See the views, count the hills, watch the deer and crunch across one of the remaining patches of snow.

Copyright Stuart Brain

And Finally……

In the last edition we were trying to reunite two long-lost friends, and I’m glad to say that within a few hours of the blog being published, Maureen and Wendy were back in touch after 40 years!  We’re hoping for a photo once they manage to meet in person!

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Looking for a Long Lost Friend ….. and Fearnan Snowdrops

One of the great pleasures of publishing this little Blog comes from the contacts we make with people from all over the world who have a link to, or a connection with, our village.

In the past, we have achieved success in reuniting long lost friends, thanks to the connectivity of the Internet and the lovely people who read this blog.

This week, we have another such request.

A couple of years ago we published the story of Fearnan School on the Blog, from its construction in 1785 to its closure in 1968. Towards the end of the article, there is a photograph of some of the last pupils to attend the school before it was absorbed into Kenmore Primary School.

From back left: Valery McEwan, Anne Mclaren, Royston Jackson, Lesley Thomson, Helen McDonald,
Front: Sandra Park, Wendy Jackson, Tom Alexander, Susan Christie.

Last week, we received an email from Maureen Hall who wrote, “ I came across your blog page recently and was fascinated to see the school photo from 1965 with the last pupils of Fearnan School.  They include my friend Wendy Jackson and her brother Royston.  Wendy and I met at Edinburgh University, but we lost touch after she moved to Manchester in the 1980s.”

Maureen went on to explain that during a lockdown-inspired clear out, she had come across lots of old letters from Wendy and she would love to get back in touch with her friend. Does anybody who reads this blog have any information or suggestions as to how Wendy or another family member might be reached?

If you can help in anyway, please get in touch with Fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com

Snowdrops for Nan

It’s always lovely to see the carpets of snowdrops at this time of year, reminding us that spring is on its way.

Last year, during the first Lockdown, we were asked if we could help to find, not a person this time, but a particular type of snowdrop – the Fearnan Snowdrop.

An email from Janetta Maguire of Dunfermline explained that her mum (Nan) who had recently passed away, had requested that ‘Fearnan Snowdrops’ be planted at the spot where her ashes were to be scattered. Assuming this was a particular type of snowdrop (like, for example, Jersey Lilies), Jeanetta had looked everywhere and contacted local garden centres, but no one had heard of them.

She knew that her mum had a visited Fearnan and had loved the village and clearly the snowdrops had made an impact on her.   The pandemic has made it very difficult for people to say goodbye to those they love in the way that they might wish and so it was particularly important for Janetta to be able carry out this specific request made by her mother. She asked if we could help.

 Sue and Fiona puzzled a bit over Fearnan Snowdrops, and quickly concluded that whilst we couldn’t provide a Fearnan Snowdrop variety, we could provide Snowdrops from Fearnan.  In fact, Sue had a nice clump that she had been planning to move and they would fit the bill nicely.

The snowdrops were duly dispatched to Dunfermline and planted by Janetta and her sister.

Snowdrops take a while to naturalise after being moved, but we were delighted to receive this photo of the first of the ‘Fearnan Snowdrops’ to show after the snow had cleared.

And we hope to be able to welcome Janetta and her sister to Fearnan once the restrictions are lifted and travel is again possible.

Paddle Boarding on the Loch

The Armchair Walking Club has morphed into Paddle Boarding at Home, courtesy of Stuart Brain. This is a chance to experience a winter trip by paddle board around the Loch in bright sunshine and with snow on the hills. Fabulous!

(n.b. This is the real-deal, so take your Kwells if you think you might need them!)

Fearnan Book Club

Well, here’s a rare thing! A book that the Book Club appears to have approved of unanimously!

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in February was Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior, and it not only lived up to the publisher’s reviews, but also received enthusiastic reviews from the Fearnan Book Club.

This was a great book to lift the spirits and to provide a tonic during the dark days of January. It was considered easy to read – sweet, delightful, charming, quirky, feel good and life affirming.

It seemed appropriate to be reading about Antarctic snowstorms while experiencing one here in Fearnan. We were transported from a snowy Highland Perthshire to the Antarctic, from the ducks of Loch Tay to the Adélie penguins of the South Shetland Islands.

It was generally agreed that the characterisation was good. We liked the range of beautifully portrayed, contrasting characters (even the grumpy ones) and enjoyed how they developed and adapted to the events and situations in the story.

Veronica, the main character who lived in Ayrshire, was an eccentric, feisty and interesting 85 year-old living life on her own terms and not wanting to ‘go gentle into that goodnight’. We accompanied her on her travels and witnessed the loosening of her emotional constraints as she developed relationships with those around her. We could imagine why she was the way she was following her childhood/motherhood traumas. It was touching that she found her long lost grandson and poignant that she kept wisps of hair from the important people in her life in her locket.

The descriptions of the penguins and the Antarctic environment were great as were the portrayals of the scientists. They were obviously committed to their work with the penguins.  We learned a lot and loved all the detailed information about Adélie penguins and agreed that any book that promotes conservation can’t be bad. A baby penguin dozing in your bin is just too sweet not to love.

Perhaps the moral of this story was that life can be turned around no matter how old or entrenched in your ways you are. One reader described it as “A fairy story for adults where granny goes from a bit of a wolf to a nice granny.” 

The book chosen to be reviewed in March  is 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafa. It’s darker than ‘Away with the Penguins’ and set somewhere warmer: Istanbul.

Described by Waterstones as “Capturing the evocative recollections of Tequila Leila in the ten minutes after her death, Shafak’s spellbinding novel extracts the value of a fully-lived life from its untimely ending.”

Kenmore Shop and PO

Just a reminder from Pat that the Kenmore Post Office and Shop will be open in the mornings only until the refurbishment is finished.

The PO is open Monday – Saturday 9-12pm, and the shop is open Monday to Saturday 8 – 12pm and Sunday 8.30 – 12.00.

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, and the copyright of text belongs to the person who wrote it.

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Taymouth Carving and Another Virtual Walk

First of all, we have a question from Fran Gillespie of Fortingall.

She is wondering if anyone can shed further light on a carving which she and a friend came across recently on a tree in Taymouth Castle grounds on the north bank of the Tay.

It is dated 1943 and it looks like it could have been made by a member of the Polish Forces recuperating at Taymouth during WWII.

During the Second World War, the War Office requisitioned many country houses for the war effort and, from 1940, Taymouth Castle housed a military hospital – Polish Hospital No 1.  It soon had 1200 beds, around 200 staff and some 75 Nissen huts were erected in the grounds to increase capacity.

The carving appears to be Poland’s emblem – a white-tailed eagle, its wings spread out, with a crown, golden beak and claws on a red emblem shield backdrop.

There is more information about the Polish soldiers at Taymouth Castle on sites such as https://swoopingeagle.com and on Aberfeldy Museum’s Facebook page.  The following photos from the wartime appear on the Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK 1946 – 1969 website.

Perhaps one of the people who joined the discussion on the Aberfeldy Museum Facebook page about the Polish soldiers will be able to shed further light on this carving?

The Armchair Walking Club

Stuart has provided us with second walk to take from the comfort of our own armchairs.  This time it’s an icy stroll along the side of the River Lyon, taken at the end of January.

Book Club Review


Linda writes:

The book which was reviewed in January ( ‘Twas the Nightshift before Christmas’ by Adam Kay) was chosen as a light-hearted, quick read but for our group, sadly, it did not live up to its initial promise as suggested by reviews and the success of his previous book. 

Perhaps as ‘This is Going to Hurt‘ was so successful, his publisher/agent suggested this Christmas version. 

Most felt the gratuitous use of bad language was unnecessary as was the obsession with sex and graphic details of procedures. Making fun of the misfortunes of patients, although perhaps amusing, was generally considered insensitive and cheap humour. Some of the patient issues may have been more acceptable as confidential banter for professionals but not for public consumption.

Another viewpoint was that, underneath the bluff and bluster, was a man who loved his job and cared about his patients and the NHS who using black humour to cope. Some found the book mildly amusing and others found that there were laugh out loud moments alongside being reduced to tears. It was an insight into the life of a junior doctor working over the festive season and a reminder of the NHS as a 24/7 and 365 days of the year service. His frustration with NHS became obvious and there is a heartbreaking story as to why he gave up working in medicine.

To end on a lighter note, we were introduced to the anaesthetist wearing a festive badge saying, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake!”

The book to be reviewed in February is “Away with the Penguins” by Hazel Prior.

It was chosen as another light-hearted, lockdown read. The author was interviewed recently on the Radio 2 book club and the book has been described as this year’s “Eleanor Oliphant.”

Reviewers say:

‘Readers are falling in love with “Away with the Penguins”’

‘Without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year . . A gloriously quirky and life affirming story of hope.’

‘Oh, how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heart-breaking and heart-warming.’ 


It is far-fetched, but if you keep that in mind, hopefully enjoyable. What will be the verdict of the Fearnan Book Club?

Copyright: Please note that the copyright of all images on this site lies with the person who took them, or with the current holder of the copyright.

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