Spring at Last?

Bowls Club News

The Carpet Bowls Club celebrated the end of a very enjoyable – and successful – bowls year with a final toast to the 2017/18 season.  An exciting Singles Final between club stalwarts Alastair Kininmonth & Jardine Robertson resulted in Alastair lifting the Cup this year.

Fearnan is part of a local league and, although Acharn Bowling Club won the Local League Competition, there was success for Fearnan players with Alastair & Angela Kininmonth winning the Camserney Doubles Open Competition, and John & Lesley Raeburn winning the Croft Na Caber Doubles Competition.

If the idea of helping the club carry off even more prizes next year appeals, why not join them when bowling restarts on the first Monday in October? New members are always welcome.

Quiz Night

The annual Fearnan Quiz Night took place in March and was as popular as ever this year, with over 40 participants competing in teams of 3 or 4. This included a strong contingent from the Molteno Hall Committee in Fortingall.

The event was held as a fund-raiser for the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance and for McLean Hall funds.  The ticket price included an excellent supper which was quickly consumed before the quizzing began.

Elaine had prepared 6 rounds of tricksy questions to stretch everyone’s brains – two rounds of general knowledge, and one each of music, geography, literature & books, and a picture round.

The winning team was Dolan and Sue Dolan-Betney and Brian and the Rev Anne Brennan. Well done to them!

The evening raised £320, which was divided equally between the SCAA and Hall funds.  A really good result for all those put in the hard work to make it happen. (The Hall Committee plan to put their share towards the cost of the kitchen renovation.)

If you missed the event but would like to try your hand at a few questions, here’s a Quick Quiz taken from the questions on the night (answers at the end of the blog, but no prizes this time round).

  1. Trapdoor, false violin and funnel-web are all types of what?
  2. Who was the mother of Queen Elizabeth I of England?
  3. Which modern city started life as New Amsterdam?
  4. Which English town was nicknamed ‘Little Scotland”?
  5. Who created the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey?
  6. In the early days of Penguin paperback books, mystery and crime novels were associated with what sleeve colour?


Coffee Morning

The April Coffee Morning fell in Easter week and, not surprisingly, there was something of an Easter theme going on.  (Slightly less seasonal was the overnight fall of snow but the rather quirky, grinning snowmen who popped up as a result gave us something to smile at on the way to the hall.)



As is often the case, Sheila had an appropriate pair of socks for the occasion.

If the Blog might be permitted an observation, it is that it’s one thing to wear your heart on your sleeve, but wearing your chicks on your socks is quite another.

Also attending the Coffee Morning was Jill Davies, who is a Rural Wisdom Development Worker for Aberfeldy and the surrounding areas.

IMG_5317Jill (seen on the left with Jo and Pat) is organising an event to promote networking between different village organisations to showcase examples of some of the things that are happening in communities.

Our Chair, Sue Dolan-Betney, has been invited to speak about the FVA at the event.

The next Coffee Mornings are on Tuesday 8th May and Tuesday 5th June at 10.30 in the village hall.


Some news on the Broadband front is that Bogons, who provide a wireless internet service to some customers in the village, have announced that they are upgrading the service to run up to 10 times faster than at present (currently around 9Mb/s).

At the moment, the network is fed from Pitlochry, some 40km away, which imposes distance and power limits on the service in Loch Tay.  The new link, which will come from a site in Killin, should be operational this summer.

In addition, Bogons are working on a new site at Acharn which will extend coverage to the north side of the loch from Fearnan to Kenmore, and the south side from Kenmore to Acharn.

Spring Time in Fearnan

It’s becoming a bit of a Spring tradition that Fearnan Blog readers get a quick peek into the lambing sheds at Ewetopia, courtesy of Peter and his camera (and, of course, with the kind permission of sheep farmer, Alastair Kininmonth).  This year is no exception and here is a little selection to gladden your heart!


Quick Quiz Answers

Spiders, Anne Boleyn, New York, Corby, Dorothy L Sayers, Green.

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The Brydones in Fearnan circa 1905-1946

We are delighted to be able to publish this article by Val Chapman about her grandfather, James Brydone, who lived in Fearnan in the first half of the 20th century. Importantly, in this year that marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, it provides insight into the war-time service of one of the Fearnan men who fought and lived to tell the tale, as well as providing glimpses of life in the village at the time.

Val writes:

My grandfather, James Brydone, was one of the Perthshire Brydones.

James was born in 1883 on South Harris, where his father was a factor on Lord Dunmore’s estate. The family later moved back to Blair Atholl, where James was schooled. He also attended Perth Academy and was a great reader all his life.

In 1902, aged nineteen and working as a shepherd, he married my grandmother, Jessie Robertson Crerar. Jessie had been born at her grandparent’s farm, Stix, to a comfortably off farming family and was raised on Kynachan Farm, Foss. James and Jessie’s first child, Thomas, was born at Stix.

By 1905, James was employed as a deerstalker on the Breadalbane Estate and they lived in the Keeper’s house at Cromrar, on the Fearnan to Fortingall road. Here they had four daughters, Detta, Myra, Ishbel, Evelyn (my mother), and a second son, Peter. Sadly, they lost premature stillborn twin boys after a horse kicked Jessie. The children were all christened in Fortingall Church.

In 1915, the family moved to the Rustic Lodge, Taymouth, on the road to Kenmore, also owned by Breadalbane Estate. It was here in 1917, that Jessie bore their last child, a son, Hamish.

James Brydone

James Brydone

In WW1, James enlisted initially with the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch). The exact date is unknown, as his was one of the Scottish records partially destroyed in WW2 and only his first regimental number remains. However, his discharge paper shows that on the 13th June 1917, shortly before Jessie gave birth to Hamish, he was transferred to the Lovat Scouts, a sub-unit of the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line.

Prompted by the success of German snipers, Lord Lovat was recruiting “glassmen” and sharpshooters (many of whom were former gamekeepers), for his Lovat Scouts. He needed men who were experienced in stalking and in using a telescope, for sniping and observing, so he combed the Highland regiments for ghillies and stalkers.

In May 1917, Lt Colonel Donald Cameron of Lochiel took over command of these men. James was transferred to the 10th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, given an Enfield rifle and trained in every branch of Observation and Artillery, probably at Beauly and St Andrews. The Scouts needed to be able to pinpoint map references accurately and to be signallers.

Men were formed into groups of nine, along with one Officer and twenty-one Other Ranks, and worked in pairs of four men and two reliefs. One man spotted while his partner sniped. They were sent 24 hours ahead of their battalion to familiarise themselves with enemy positions, and with a specific job – either for a reconnaissance of enemy wire before a raid, or to watch parts of the line which might be threatened. They hid in shell holes, or rubble, or camouflaged themselves amongst greenery. When in the trenches, the snipers used a curtain to keep the light out of loopholes*. As the men usually spoke to each other in Gaelic, they were often mistaken for Germans!

(*Loopholes were originally arrow slits in castle walls, and a sniper’s loophole is an aperture made for observation and firing under concealment.)

James served in France as an Observer and was at the third battle of Ypres on the Somme.

He recounted to my mother how, one day, when he was up a tree forward of the line observing the enemy, a German soldier, doing a similar job, crept by. He walked right under James who felt that this man, too, probably had a wife and children waiting for him at home and was fighting a war he did not want. He could not shoot a man in the back (which also would have given his position away) so he remained still, and eventually the soldier returned to his own lines, without ever knowing his life had been spared.

At the end of the war the Lovat Scouts remained at Merlimont in France for several months whilst being demobbed. Each of them was interviewed and assisted, if needed, to find a job in civilian life. James was demobbed on 31st January 1919, his reference stating that he was “an excellent glassman and proved himself a sober, trustworthy and willing soldier during the period that he served.”

Whilst James returned to his family, Jessie’s youngest brother, Duncan Robertson Crerar, who had been a chauffeur for a doctor in Aberfeldy before emigrating to Sydney, Australia, enlisted early on as an ANZAC. In 1915, he went to his death at Gallipoli, where he lies at Lone Pine Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Memorial Arch in Aberfeldy and at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

During the period of James’ service, Jessie – like so many other women at the time – had coped single-handedly with a young family. In the course of the war, she and the children had moved again to another rustic lodge near Keltneyburn, beside the iron bridge over the River Lyon. On a later visit, my mother showed me where Granny did the washing (in the river below), and I have a postcard written by Grandpa from Rheims in France addressed to her there. The children walked across the fields to the school in Dull, which is now a private house.

On his return from France, James found employment as a gamekeeper for the Parker Nesses of Letterellen (by this time his former employer, the Breadalbane Estate, would have been in considerable financial difficulty). The family was tenanted in the croft of Tomdarroch in Fearnan, which Jessie later bought when the Breadalbane Estates were sold in 1922.

Outside Tom Darroch

Outside Tomdarroch: James, Jessie, Hamish and Detta Brydone,late 1930s

The children were schooled at Fearnan and Aberfeldy and the family were friends with many locals, including Chrissie Maclean and the Stewarts of the Tigh-an-Loan Hotel. Their oldest son, Tommy, emigrated to New Zealand.

Perthshire Picnic

John Grindlay (left), Jessie (centre) and John Stewart (Tigh-an-Loan). Rear far right, John and Chrissie McLean. Front Kathy Wilson.


James with his retriever

James with his retriever circa 1920

James and Jessie conversed in Gaelic, but insisted that all the children spoke English well, though they were able to take part in the Gaelic Mods. Morag the cow grazed in the Cow Park behind the house, and they kept chickens and bees, and sold honey. The dogs, usually retrievers, had kennels in the grounds and went hunting with Grandpa for rabbits.

Mum recounted how, one night, the younger children hid in the graveyard, waiting until the two older girls walked back at night from a dance. Wearing white sheets and rattling the dogs’ chains, they jumped up, howling! The older girls took off in fright and the ‘ghosts’ had to race back and jump into bed fully clothed before Granny could find out!

When the girls were old enough they found work in domestic service around the area. The remaining children gradually left home during the 1930s. By WW2, Myra and Mum were both registered nurses and Hamish served on HMS Ganges. Jessie was in the kitchen in Tomdarroch when the Russian plane flew low overhead and saw it crash and burn on Drummond Hill. (Reference:The Fearnan Air Crash 1943)

James’ unmarried sister, Jean Brydone, also lived in Fearnan, in Briar Cottage, and was joined by their brother Alec after WW2. Jean died in Aberfeldy Cottage Hospital, aged fifty-one, in 1949.

In 1945, James, who had cancer, died of a stroke in Dundee Royal Infirmary, aged sixty-one, followed a year later by Jessie, from heart failure. They lie together in Kenmore churchyard and some of their children now rest there, too. Tomdarroch was sold back to the Parker Nesses and then sold on to John Grindlay.

To this day many of the Brydone grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whether living in Scotland or abroad, continue to visit Fearnan. It will always hold a special place in our hearts.

About the Writer

Val was born in London, but raised from infancy in Southern Rhodesia, where her mother had nursed in WW2. After high school and then nurse training in England, she returned to live in Africa. Val subsequently worked around Europe for 3 years, nursed for 4 in Canada (including the Arctic), and then lived in Australia for 21 years. She is now retired and living near English cousins in Devon. Her Zimbabwe-born daughter, Fiona, is a scientist in America.

Other members of the family emigrated from Perthshire to New Zealand over the space of four generations, and Val regularly visits both her Perthshire cousins and the New Zealand Brydones.

She has visited Fearnan on a number of occasions, including a trip in 1960, two years before her mother, Eve, died.

Val has followed the Fearnan Blog for a number of years and we are delighted that she has now become a contributor.


Blog Editor’s Postscript: there is a link between the Brydones and present day Fearnan.  Val’s great Uncle Archie married Rose Liney – great aunt of Graham.



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A Mystery Solved and the AGM Minutes


Peter Feggan

This picture is one of a number of items displayed in the McLean Hall, Fearnan. It was discovered by Ian Brace amongst some papers, and given to Ian McGregor when he was writing his book Fearnan, The Story of a Highland Village in Northern Perthshire.  Nothing was known about the subject of the picture, but it was thought he may have been an old IMG_5241Fearnan worthy, or possibly a tinker, so the picture was included in the Fearnan Archive.

Thanks to the Aberfeldy Museum Facebook Page, we now know that the gentleman was Peter Feggan,  a hawker from Aberfeldy, who usually wore a waist-coat only (no coat), chewed tobacco, and drank half a glass of whisky four times a day. At one point, a rumour of his demise greatly annoyed him, causing him to remark, “Yes; but I know’d it was a lie whenever I heered it.”

He did actually die on the 18th of February, 1878, at Duntaylor, at the ripe old age of 107. Such longevity, particularly at that time, must have resulted in him being a figure of note in the area.  Peter Feggan was Irish and came to Scotland about 1815. He was a regular figure at Aberfeldy Railway Station where he sold newspapers. Feggan would have been 16 years old when Robert Burns wrote The Birks O’Aberfeldy.

Scottish Charity Air Ambulance Collecting Can

Last year, the FVA was given a Scottish Charity Air Ambulance collecting can, and from June, it sat on the table at Coffee Mornings and other events. By the beginning of this year, it was full and was returned to SCAA.  We have just heard that, in a relatively short space of time, the generous folk of Fearnan have quietly tucked £115.66 into that little can.  What a result!

And, of course, we’ve also had the super-successful Quiz Night in aid of SCAA funds – more on the Quiz Night in the next Blog.

Fearnan Book Club

At the March book club meeting, the group discussed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. In general, this book was well regarded and had been read by most of the group (always a good starting point!).  One reader even sent a review from Australia by email.  As always, opinions were varied and it was described as “disturbing” by one of the group. The text generated a lively discussion about the life, character, and behaviour of Eleanor and the nature of her interactions with others. The discussion touched on various themes which may have been relevant to Eleanor, including loneliness, alcoholism, disfigurement , autism/Asperger’s,  emotional intelligence, etc.  Most felt that as the story progressed, barriers were broken down and Eleanor’s life changed with (possibly) a happy ending.

The book selected for April’s meeting is The Witch Finder’s Sister, by Beth Underdown. 51xM899xfVL._AC_US436_QL65_This is described as a captivating historical thriller set in Manningtree, Essex in the 1640s. It is a fictional story based around Matthew Hopkins, a renowned witch hunter, who is believed to have had 106 women put to death. It is also described as being perfect for fans of The Minaturist and The Essex Serpent.

If you want to get ahead, and continuing with the Sister Theme, the next book will be The Other Hoffman Sister, by Ben Fergusson, which will be discussed in May.


Coming Shortly….

The next FVA event will be the April Coffee Morning on Tuesday 3rd April at 10.30 am in the village Hall.



Draft Minutes of the Fearnan Village Association

Annual General Meeting and Business Meeting 2017-18

17th March 2018

Annual General Meeting

1. Welcome

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed members to the FVA AGM.

2. Apologies

Guy and Jeanette Hickman, Joan Millar, Jim Fair, Elaine Melrose, Francis Brace, Alistair Grier and Carol Scambler.

 3. Approval of the Minutes of the 2016-17 AGM held on 25thMarch 2017

Approval of the FVA 2016-17 Minutes was proposed by Julia Lane and seconded by Fran Donovan.

 4. Annual Report

  • Financial Report and Approval of Financial Statement:

The Treasurer reported that total Income from membership subscriptions, events and donations in 2017-18 was £1207.69. Membership now stands at 66.

Total Expenditure was £797.44, and this means income exceeded expenditure by £410.25.  The previous year, a surplus of £760.39 was generated.  The reduced surplus was the result of higher than normal expenditure including bracken bashing equipment and the FVA’s 10th Birthday Celebration. Our Reserves now stand at £5878.62.

Jim Fair was thanked for examining the accounts, which he found to be ‘correct and sufficiently vouched’.

Adoption of the Financial Statement was proposed by Nick Grant and seconded by Ros Grant.

  • Chair’s Report:

The FVA has two broad objectives:

  1. To provide a forum to discuss issues that affect or concern the village of Fearnan and take action where necessary. This includes matters affecting the protection of the village and its environment, including the Rigg system.
  2. To provide social events.

This year, matters that fell into the first of these objectives included:

  • The Local Development Plan Review
  • Borland farm–disruption in the village from farm guests and the proposed expansion of the business with an associated planning application.
  • Scrap and Land Management.

 Associated with these issues, the role of the FVA committee has been:

Correspondence with relevant agencies: e.g. writing to Perth & Kinross Council to support its intention set out in the local development plan, to retain the existing village boundary and maintain its stated policy for the village regarding development.

  • Liaison with PKC Planning Department, the Community Council, the police, and the Multi-Agency Group regarding scrap and land management.
  • Providing a communication channel between members and the various agencies including passing on information from these groups, clarification of issues, contact numbers and keeping members and other interested parties up-dated.
  • Providing guidance and advice on reporting antisocial behaviour.
  • Identifying planning applications that may have a detrimental effect on the environment of the village or which threaten the preservation of the Rigg system and responding to these. One member attended and spoke to the Development Management Committee on behalf of the Association when the Farm planning application was being considered.
  • Providing general guidance on responding to planning applications, and especially ‘material considerations’ which are most likely to be heeded by the planners.
  • Submitting planning responses reflecting members’ views or concerns.
  • Informal meetings with developers, including the principals of the farm development.

Relating to our second objective, our social role, the committee has:

  • Organised 11 events including our birthday tea. A Saturday lunch time event was also tried out.
  • The Committee hosted Russian visitors to the site of the 1943 plane crash.
  • Bracken bashing tools were purchased to clear a site for the installation of Anne McGregor’s memorial bench. Special thanks to Keith and Hazel Brockie and Alistair Grier who put in a lot of work to clear the site and install the bench, and others who also helped.
  • Fearnan’s history continues to be researched and recorded, particularly on the Blog.
  • Liaison with the Maclean Hall Committee was maintained by our representative on that Committee.
  • The website was maintained.

5. Committee Membership

Membership of the Committee remains the same – Sue Gardener (Chair), Fiona Ballantyne (Treasurer), Neil Ballantyne, Julia Lane, Fran Donovan and Peter McKenzie.

Later, in the business Meeting, Julia Lane was asked and agreed to continue as the FVA representative on the Hall Committee. This was welcomed by the Chair of the Hall Committee.

6.  AOCB

No other business was raised, and the Chair closed the meeting.


Fearnan Village Association Business Meeting

Cllr Ian Campbell

At the start of the meeting, the Chair paid tribute to Cllr Ian Campbell who died recently. Ian Campbell was a good friend to the village, providing much help and support. His passing is a huge loss to the village.

1. Approval of the Minutes of the FVA Business Meeting held on 25thMarch 2017

The Minutes were proposed by Julia Lane and seconded by Nick Grant.

2. Matters Arising not covered elsewhere in the Agenda:

  • Scrap and Land Management

The multi-agency group is now led by Sandy Robertson. The FVA Chair is to meet him soon in her role as CC Chair. It was asked if one of the other councillors would take on the role of championing the village, previously filled by Ian Campbell. This may be possible, but we will need to wait until after the local by-elections.

  • War Memorial

A new stone support is to be installed at the front of the Memorial so that wreaths can be laid without the need to climb up onto the Memorial.

  • Ian McGregor’s Book

Licenses for maps and pictures need to be renewed and we need to research demand for another print.            FB will action this.

  • Temporary Sign to promote FVA Events

A blackboard sign has been acquired.

3. Blog Report

The Fearnan Blog continues to attract readers from around the world. On one day in December 2017 people from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Mauritius, Russia, Germany, New Zealand and China all read items on the blog.

In addition to FVA members, there are approximately 65 people who follow the blog but do not live in the village.

The Blog has been revamped slightly, and there are some new pages. These include Fearnan in the Past, which brings together articles about Fearnan’s history and Useful Contact Numbers.  The Photo Gallery has been revamped so it is easier to browse the photographs, and the What’s On page provides details of forthcoming events as well as meeting times for regular clubs and groups that use the Hall.

Contributions and/or ideas for the Blog are always welcome.  Please contact Fiona on fionaballantyne320@gmail.com if you have any thoughts, ideas or photos that others might enjoy.

4.  New Data Protection Regulations

 New Data Protection Regulations are coming into effect in May and require people to ‘opt in’ to having their data stored by organisations. To ensure we are compliant, the FVA will write to members indicating the data held, the use to which it is put and who has access to it. Members need simply to reply to the email indicating which of name, address, email and phone no. they are content for the FVA to store and use.

The Membership form will be amended to secure these permissions when membership is taken out or renewed.

5.  Broadband

Fearnan now has a fibre optic box which is expected to be connected later this year. There was no information on the speeds that will be available once installation is complete.

(According to the website https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/where-when/# Fearnan is connected to the Kenmore exchange and work is currently planned to install fibre in this exchange, with the first premises in the exchange area being enabled for fibre within the next six months. Progress can be monitored on this website, but there is a note to the effect that engineering challenges have been encountered during the building process which have impacted on the deployment data for this area. Work is still ongoing to resolve these issues and is expected to be complete this year.

For completeness, it should be noted that a 9MBPS service is available in Fearnan from Bogons and is available to houses with line-of-sight of the Bogons’ masts.)

6.  Report of Working Group

At the 2017 Annual General Meeting, a Working Group was set up to look at two projects. A Village Map locating houses in the village and a voluntary directory designed to promote more neighbour contacts and mutual self-help.

The Working Group reported back and recommends that the projects are maintained as two separate projects.

Village Map

For the map, there are two possibilities: (i) an Ordnance Survey 1:1,250 scale extract map, or (ii) a drone photo ‘survey’ of the village.  The OS map is restricted to one square kilometre, and costs about £40-50 for a non-recurring licence. Some houses are named, and it would involve additional work to add the remaining house names.  The drone photo is unexplored territory and would involve test runs to get the height, scope and scale right.  It can be done locally; the cost would be about £50-100, and all house-names would have to be added. Either could be made into, e.g. a 4-page A5 leaflet and/or a larger map to be distributed to villagers.

There was a discussion on this, during which it was clarified that this was not the same as previous idea of a map of the paths and monuments around Fearnan. The drone idea was discounted as there were too many unknowns. Concerns were raised about security and it was clarified that there is no intention to add any more detail than is already available on line through Google maps and other applications. After much discussion, a way forward was identified with the Art Club agreeing to look at the possibility of producing an updated version of Julia’s hand drawn map if all the information required to do this is provided in an appropriate format.

It was also agreed that house names do not need to be written on the map – houses can be numbered, and cross referenced to an alphabetical list of names.

Staying Connected

For the directory, the working group suggested that it is compiled on the basis of a letter to every home requesting the Information to be included. The letter will be sent out under the auspices of the FVA at this stage, although if the project proceeds it will have its own separate committee. The letter would seek opt-in consent and explain the purpose/advantages of the scheme: that is: to enable and encourage residents to make contact with each other more easily and to offer non-intrusive help, particularly at times of collective or individual challenge. The standard listing would probably be name, house name, phone, email and, if  it suits individuals, an emergency contact number for relatives – or alternatively the name of the local person who holds the emergency contact information. Once collated the operating principle might be one of sharing information i.e. that the contact information is only made available to those who contribute their own.

This directory would be compiled and managed separately from the Fearnan Village Association Members List.

After much discussion, a vote was taken on the question ‘Do we want a register of people and contact details?’  A significant majority were in favour and it was agreed that it should only be available to those who opt in to the scheme, should be used as a community support tool, and that the letter would go out from the FVA but would be written by the working group.

The Working Group were asked to continue developing the Staying Connected Initiative.

7.  Gritting

At the moment, PKC grit and snow-plough roads according to an order of priority based on the classification of the road. The Brae and Quarry Road are normally done as they are on the school bus route. Other roads are a lower priority and, since part of Dalchiaran and all of Creagach are unadopted roads, they are the very lowest priority.

The Community Council investigated a number of possibilities with the help of councillors, but all would have required the village to provide, store and maintain equipment, which is not practical. Mike Williamson is trying to get a meeting with the Roads Department to try to align their priorities with the community’s priorities. In the meantime, self-help is probably the best way forward and the Staying Connected Project could be used to identify volunteers to help with snow clearing. We can also make sure that the salt boxes in the village are kept full for spreading when needed, and anybody can phone the Council Customer Services on 01738 476476 and ask for them to be refilled. This number will be added to the Blog list of Useful Numbers.

8.  Donations

Letters of thanks have been received for donations given to Help for Heroes (£35) and the Hall Committee (£100).

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Fearnan Air Crash, and we would like to mark this event. The relatives of the Russian airmen, three of whom died in the crash, are also keen to commemorate the anniversary. We have discussed the possibility of planting a tree and mounting a plaque around the time of the anniversary. It is possible that a group of relatives would come over from Russia. It is proposed that the FVA pays the cost of the tree and it is hoped that the Russians would provide the plaque. This is all to be agreed, but members were in favour of the idea of funding a tree. It was suggested that this should be an Alder.

The McLean Hall committee are planning to upgrade the kitchen in the Hall and it was proposed that the FVA make a donation from funds to support this, possibly towards the cost of new cutlery and crockery. The meeting agreed to do this although the cost etc. is still to be clarified.

9.  Social Events and Dates for 2018

Social events and relevant dates for 2018 are on the Blog.

10.  AOCB

A question was raised regarding the Council charge for emptying garden bins. It was confirmed that this is going ahead, and also that it will increase incrementally to £35.

Nick Grant thanked all those who had supported the campaign to stop inappropriate developments at Old Lawers village last year. He also updated the meeting on constructive progress being made towards carrying out some work to manage the trees and other overgrown vegetation around Old Lawers village in a way that is acceptable to conservationists.

The chair reported that Rural Wisdom is setting up a meeting of Hall and Village Association representatives and has invited the FVA to this meeting once the date is set.

The Chair closed the meeting by thanking the committee for its work during year and the members for their attendance at the AGM and their participation in events run by  the Fearnan Village Association.



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Coffee Morning & Poppy Update

The snow had receded enough by Tuesday to ensure a good turnout for the first Coffee Morning of the year. Most were glad to be able to get out of the house after being incarcerated due to the weather and to enjoy a coffee and chat with friends and neighbours. It was a very sociable event with folk lingering until the last minute – and beyond. Always a good sign.

Supermarket shelves may have been bare of late, but there were no food shortages here – plenty of tasty things, both sweet and savoury and, of course, Sue’s made-on-the-spot pancakes.


Poppy Brigade Update

Cath McGregor has put a box in the Hall to collect knitted poppies. Finished ones can be dropped off in the box whenever there’s an event on. The numbers are growing – nearly 200 either handed in or en route but we still need MORE!!

IMG_5141 2


If you are not a knitter and would like to make a contribution, then Cath would welcome any old black buttons that you have. We use them for the centre of the poppies and they can be left in the box in the Hall.


This project has really engaged the Fearnan diaspora, and brothers Jim and Alastair Barnett (in America and Canada respectively) are the latest to be in touch to arrange delivery of their contributions. Alastair, characteristically, has written this delightful account of the trials and tribulations of his attempts at knitting – the first at school in Fearnan, and the second for this project:

Beads of perspiration break out on my forehead when I recall my first and, until recently, only “knitting” experience. I was ten and every Wednesday at 1:00 pm precisely, we collected our knitting from a cupboard recessed in the wall beside the fireplace in Fearnan School.  I trembled with dread.  Both boys and girls wore lap bags fashioned from white flour sacks, in which we kept our woollen crafts.

I can still hear Miss Purvis’s instructions delivered with drill-like precision, “In-over-through-and off! In-over-through- and off!”

For months I pretended to knit, with a huge tangled mess of navy blue wool concealed underneath my desk, terrified she would detect what might be mistaken for a bird’s nest balanced upon my lap.

Relating this experience to my brother during our weekly telephone conversation, he told me his biggest problem occurred whilst knitting “a pair of socks” on a set of steel knitting needles. His hands perspired so much that when he retrieved his work a week later, rust had formed on the needles making it impossible for him to move the stitches. We laugh a lot over our long ago Fearnan adventures.

When I read your appeal for poppies I bought red wool and knitting needles and went online to refresh my long-forgotten “skills.”  In the course of several evenings it became apparent I was headed down the same terrifying path I’d followed all those years ago, and after five “rip-outs” I phoned a dear friend in Kamloops on the mainland of BC, (a lady who has listened stoically to my often-repeated Fearnan tales.)  She was delighted to knit ten beautiful poppies for your War Memorial Centenary and I’m very pleased to forward them on in the name of Cynthia (Rusty) Barnard.

I became so inspired by her efforts and fine work, I returned to the craft store several times until finally they provided me with the proper needles, (conversion from UK specs was evidently confusing) and I’m now delighted (and incredibly proud) to tell you I have completed four poppies so far. (My early attempts resulted in “poppies” the size of small dinner-plates!)

Many thanks for your perseverance, Alastair!  We look forward to the parcels from you and Jim.


Next Events

A quick reminder about the Quiz Night on Saturday 10th March at 7pm in the McLean Hall. It’s in aid of the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance and Hall Funds and the cost is £7.50pp, which includes a 2 course supper with tea or coffee. BYOB. All welcome, but only 4 brains per team!

The Fearnan Village Association AGM is on Saturday 17th March, 4 – 5pm in the Hall. All members welcome.

The next Coffee Morning is on Tuesday 3rd April, 10.30 – 12.00pm in the Hall.





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Pudding Night 2018

Like Christmas, the Fearnan Winter Pudding Night comes but once a year.  Much thought goes into staging the event, but one thing we didn’t take into account in our planning was the possibility of a power cut 75 minutes before the Pudding Night was due to kick off.  So when this actually happened, there was a collective gasp of dismay from bakers throughout the village.

This is the point at which most of the puddings go into the oven.  Dismay quickly turned to panic when we realised that the cut was going to last for some time (2 hours, the electricity company said).  It was too late to cancel, and some 40 to 50 pudding-hungry people would be arriving shortly – how many cold or pre-cooked sweets could we muster?  Would there be enough?  Who had gas ovens? What about torches? Portable gas heaters ……………..?

Happily, the Guardian Angel of Puddings and All Things Sweet must have been watching over us.  The power came back on just in the nick of time, and although we were about half an hour late in starting, we managed a full spread.

A lovely mix of people attended, aged from about 3 upwards, and included not only regulars, but also some new faces. Live music was provided by Audrey and Andrew, and Andrew’s daughter Bea (above right, in the pale blue jumper) took to the stage and played for us, coaxing some delightful music out of the old piano.

It’s not every year that we get a Pudding Champ, but we did this year – 11 year old Alice from Glenlyon managed to sample everything on the menu!  Good work!

We managed to get a copy of Alice’s paperwork, complete with 5-bar gates to keep count and time intervals marked – which just goes to prove that to succeed at anything, even eating pudding, a planned approach works best!

Well done, Alice.  Hope you come back next year to defend your title!

Many, many thanks to all those who baked or made such a wonderful selection of puddings and desserts for the evening, and special thanks to everyone who came and helped eat it all.


FVA Events Diary

The first Coffee Morning of the year will be on Tuesday 6th March at 10.30 am in the Hall.

The FVA’s AGM is on Saturday 17th March, 4 – 5pm in the Hall.


Book Club Update

At the February meeting, the group discussed The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. Unusually, there was almost total agreement in terms of the lack of enthusiasm about this book, and for a range of reasons. Too much unnecessary violence, the style of writing and implausible events and outcomes. The reason for the title was cleverly revealed towards the end of the book, but it was thumbs down for The Passenger.

The choice for discussion in March is a popular book suggested by several members. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a debut novel by Gail Honeyman, who lives in Glasgow and is a graduate of Glasgow and Oxford Universities. It was the Costa First Novel Book Award Winner in 2017 and is about to be made into a film, produced by Reece Witherspoon.Book Club Choice for March

The novel is set in Glasgow. The heroine, Eleanor Oliphant, leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

There could be an interesting discussion ahead with differing views on Eleanor and her life.  The March meeting is on Wed 14th and the Library Van times for March are 6th and 20th 16.00 – 16.30 in the hall car park.


Yoga Workshop at the Big Shed

There’s a Yoga Workshop coming up shortly at the Big Shed.  It’s on Sunday 11th March 10.00am to 3.30pm and is on a subject relevant to a lot of people: How to Ease and Manage Back Pain with Yoga, led by Morgan Windram-Geddes. Morgan developed this workshop after several years of working with individuals with back pain.

The cost is £45 and lunch is included.  The Big Shed has mats, blankets and any other equipment you might need, but do bring your own if you wish.  To book text or phone 0750 864 5453.


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February Update

Councillor Ian Campbell

We were extremely sad to hear of the sudden death of Councillor Ian Campbell. Ian worked very hard on a number of issues on behalf of Fearnan, and was a good friend and supporter of the village.

Ian’s funeral will take place on Thursday 15th February 2018 at 10:30am in St John’s Kirk. This will be followed by a reception in the Civic Hall at Perth & Kinross Council, 2 High Street, Perth, where the family would like to invite everyone to join them for a toast to Ian. At 1pm the hearse will leave 2 High Street, for a burial service at Aberfeldy Cemetery at 2.00pm which everyone is also invited too.

Poppy Project

Knitting needles are clicking furiously and we’re all delighted at the response from the knitting community – we’ve even been promised some poppies from Russia!  So far we have one promise of a poppy from a non-knitter (at least up till now!). It’s also the only ‘boy’ poppy in the offing.  Are there any more XY Chromosome people up for a challenge?

Winter Pudding Night

Don’t forget it’s the annual, world-famous, Fearnan Winter Pudding Night on Saturday at 6pm in the Hall. BYOB and if you would like to bring a pudding (not in the least compulsory but always welcome!), please let Julia know on 830408.

Coming Soon

The first Coffee Morning of the year will be on Tuesday March 6th at 10.30 in the McLean Hall.

The FVA’s AGM is on Saturday 17th March at 4pm in the McLean Hall.

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Marking the Centenary of WW1

This year, the world will mark the centenary of the end of WW1 in November. In the course of the War, thirteen men from this small rural village signed up to fight for their country and, tragically, eight of those men died. They are commemorated on our War Memorial where a Service of Remembrance is held every year in November.

Plans for a special service and celebration in this centenary year are already being laid, master minded by Cath McGregor. The aim is to produce hundreds of knitted (or crochet) poppies that will be used to decorate the War Memorial on the 11th November.

A village Poppy Brigade is already busy knitting but this is a project that we can share with the wider Fearnan diaspora not only in Scotland and the UK, but also around the world (some of whom read this Blog). We know that people in North America, Australia, New Zealand, mainland Europe and Asia regularly click onto this blog and it would mean a lot if some people in this wider audience, who have an interest, or friends, or relatives in Fearnan, felt able to contribute a poppy or two. Equally valuable would be a little bit of information about your connection with the village – these personal stories and histories add an extra dimension to a project like this.

Four years ago, when we marked the centenary of the start of WW1, we were in touch with some of the descendants of the men whose names appear on the War Memorial and it would be particularly special if some of the poppies made came from this group of people.

There is a pattern and instructions at the end of this article, but there are lots of poppy patterns on the internet and any knitted or crochet poppy, as long as it is red, will be welcomed. The final design created at the memorial will depend on the number of poppies we receive.

(Oh, and the Blog would like to stress that this is a totally egalitarian and gender non-specific project, but we don’t seem to have any boy poppies yet. Just saying!)


Poppy Pattern

You will need: Double knitting wool (red) and size 9 (3 3/4) needles.

Tip 1: don’t knit too tight – it makes the decreasing easier.

Tip 2: it is also much easier to knit the decrease 3 together row with a smaller pin.

To Start: Cast on 120 stitches.

Rows 1- 4: knit

Row 5: knit 3 stitches together (best done into back of stitches) across the row (40 stitches)

Rows 6-9: knit

Row 10: knit 2 stitches together across the row (20 stitches)

Rows 11-14: knit

Row 15: knit 2 stitches together across the row (10 stitches)

Cut yarn leaving a tail of about 20cm.

Thread tail through yarn needle and slip all the remaining live stitches onto the yarn tail and pull tight.  Pull around into a circle and then mattress stitch (or use whatever stitching you normally use) to seam for an invisible seam.  Sew in ends.

Centre of Poppy

Either: using black, cast on 16 stitches.  Cast off.  Coil into a tight spiral and sew base to the centre.  Or: use a black or green button with 4 holes and sew to centre of poppy.


Collecting the Poppies

If you live in Fearnan, the poppies can be given to Cath or dropped off for collection at the Hall when attending hall events.

If you know someone who lives in Fearnan, please send them to your friend or contact who can deliver them locally.

If you don’t have a current contact in Fearnan, email the blog here and I’ll provide a mailing address.

We hope you can help us with this project and look forward to lots of poppies!

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