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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Here We Are in 2018!

The Blog has been updated for 2018, and a couple of extra pages have been added to the site. This year’s FVA events are now on the What’s On page, our Photo Archive has been revamped and updated, and articles about Fearnan in days gone by have been grouped together on the Fearnan in the Past page.  There is also a new page that details useful phone and contact numbers for quick reference when needed. All of these can be read by clicking the appropriate link in the black menu bar near the top of the page.

As ever, we have a full programme of events for 2018.  First up is the Winter Pudding Night 2018 on Saturday 17th February at 6pm for members and their friendsIt’s the perfect antidote to wintry weather, and the pudding lover’s dream come true. A convivial evening with the best choice of puddings you will find anywhere, ever! Whether you prefer childhood favourites like treacle pudding, jam roly-poly and rice pudding, or more sophisticated tarts and desserts, there’s something here for everyone.  Live music. Come hungry!

The cost is £7.50pp for as much as you can eat (the current Individual Record stands at 19 puddings sampled) and for school age children, it’s £3.50. Our regular bakers make all the puddings, but if you would like to bring one too, please could you let Julia know (tel: 830408) so that it is can be included on the Menu.

In case you’ve never been, here is a little sample of what it might be like…..


Throughout the year, you can also join us at the regular Coffee Mornings for freshly brewed coffee and tea and some delicious home baking between 10.30am and 12.00 on the following dates:

Tuesday 6th March

Tuesday 3rd April

Tuesday 8th May

Tuesday 5th June

Tuesday 25th September

Tuesday 30th October


Also Happening This Year:


Fearnan Village Association’s AGM will take place in the village hall on March 17th, between 4pm and 5pm. All  members are welcome.

Saturday 21st July: Strawberry TeaZ 15.00 -17.00. Cakes, tarts, scones, ice cream and more – all made or served with strawberries. Live music.

Sunday Nov 11thRemembrance Sunday 11.00 at the War Memorial and after in the village hall for tea and coffee.  This year marks 100 years from the end of WW1.

Saturday 8th DecMulled Wine & Mince Pies 15.00 – 17.00. Come and enjoy some seasonal goodies and good company.


Book Club Review of 2017

In December, the Book Club enjoyed their annual festive outing for a meal at the Waterfront in Kenmore . The books read throughout the year were discussed in an attempt to choose a 2017 favourite. The list of books (see below) demonstrates a wide range of genres read in 2017, with less crime and murder featuring!

Kitchens of the Great Mid-West, J. Rydal Stradal

Nutshell, Ian McEwen

These Foolish Things, Deborah Mogach

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanne Cannon

The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry

To Be Continued, James Robertson

The Kalahari Typing School for Men, Alexander McColl Smith

Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada

Dead Water, Ann Cleeves

The Dry, Jane Harper

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, Katherine Bivald

This year there was no clear favourite, but most liked The Dry by Jane Harper as a page turner with twists. To Be Continued by James Robertson, a popular Scottish author with the group, was a favourite for several members. Others considered The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry to be their number one, and most agreed that it was the best written.

The book club meets for a relaxed discussion of the chosen text on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30 pm and new members are always welcome. The group have decided to read The Passenger by Lisa Lutz for the next meeting on Wednesday 14th February at 7.30pm. They will also be making up a reading list for 2018.

It is also worth mentioning that the Mobile Library visits Fearnan Hall car park on alternate Tuesdays between 4.00 and 4.30. The next dates are January 23rd and 6th February. Scott from the library service gives everyone a warm, friendly welcome and is very knowledgeable about the wide range of books on offer both fiction and non-fiction. It is possible to order books which he will bring on his next visit. (It is also, The Blog has been told, a great source of village gossip.  Surely not! )

http://www.culturepk.org.uk/libraries/services-in-the-community/mobile-library-service or phone 01887 822405


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A Fearnan Christmas…and a winter too many!

A few weeks ago, we asked former resident Alastair Barnett what Christmas was like in Fearnan when he was growing up during the war years.

The Blog likes to think of Alastair as its North American Correspondent, and this time he has conjured up a wonderful account of a 1940s Christmas, with the music of the time playing on the radio as ingenious solutions to the problems of rationing are developed in the kitchen.

He also gives us an account of a dramatic rescue by sledge during the bitter winter of 1946/47, when the village – and indeed the whole of the country – was engulfed in snow for very long periods.

Alistair writes:

When I was preparing to jot down a few recollections of Christmases past for the Fearnan Village Association blog, I asked my brother Jim if he had any particular memories of Christmas growing up in Fearnan during the war.  “I remember mostly the village being very quiet both at Christmas and the New Year,” he replied.

As I sat down to write I realized not only do early childhood memories grow dim as the years drift away, but also celebrating the tradition of Christmas during the war years was difficult for everyone and especially hard on evacuees. Many children of school age who had to flee the city found themselves far from home without their parents. How lonely they must have been. My brother and I were very young therefore fortunate to have our mother with us at all times when we left Glasgow.

The sketchy recollections I have of living at Thistle Cottage as a child include snapshot images of Christmas when mother would make sure we hung a pillowcase over the bedpost on Christmas Eve, and jumping out of bed, bursting with excitement on Christmas morning to discover Santa had not forgotten us.  I loved the Rupert Bear adventure books and comics he left, along with crayons and colouring books and the Roy Rogers six-gun that fired off little red caps with a loud cracking sound. Santa also had an uncanny knowledge of our size in jerseys and socks. (I suspect he conferred with our relatives in Glasgow to get this information.)

As our lives were inexorably intertwined with the Butters family next-door, memories emerge of Christmas when my brother and I clambered over the dike to Springbank cottage. The “front-room” was decorated with multicoloured crepe paper garlands, and we helped pin tissue paper honeycomb bells on the walls and ceiling, and gathered holly from the garden to place around pictures and between Christmas cards on the mantelpiece.  While this was going on, the kitchen filled with the spicy aromas of suet dumpling and fruitcake, and savoury chicken and Lucy’s sweet Melting Moments, along with Sandy’s not so sweet-smelling pipe smoke as he nodded off in front of the blazing fire, with Rover the collie stretched out at his feet by the hearth.

On one occasion I remember Mother’s contribution was a home baked Victoria sponge cake. As fresh cream in winter was scarce, or perhaps non-existent, she became quite creative and piled the cake high with beaten egg white topped off with orange slices. It looked very grand but to this day I don’t know where she got the orange, as they too were in short supply. However, the uncooked egg white was sweet and satisfied my notorious (and lifelong) addiction to sugar.

Thinking of it now, our Grandmother lived in South Africa and once a year would send some tinned goods. Perhaps this solves the mystery of the orange slices if in fact, they canned oranges in those days.

During supper, Sandy who appeared never to enjoy music or singing of any kind must have surrendered and allowed the radio to be switched on in the background for the special Christmas occasion, otherwise I might never have heard of Bing Crosby or “White Christmas, ” or “Jingle Bells” for that matter.

After supper when the dishes were removed to the scullery, the only sound was the ticking of the Grandfather clock and the logs hissing in the fireplace. I sat at the table and in the glow of the paraffin lamp, opened my new box of crayons and drew elegant gentlemen in tall hats and tailcoats arm-in-arm with ladies in bonnets and colourful crinoline dresses. (Images I copied from Christmas cards.) Across the table, Jim maneuvered his toy soldiers through fierce imaginary battles. (By this time we had moved on from drawing camouflaged tanks and Spitfires.) My younger brother, Iain, was very young and in bed long before supper was over.

Once I sneaked out into the frosty night and spent a few minutes chatting with “Paddy” the cow in the byre behind the house. I felt she was being left out, cold and alone and I wanted to comfort her.  She was very receptive and gave me an approving look with her big brown eyes when I patted her head. The byre, as it turned out, was surprisingly warmer than I expected.

What we experienced in Fearnan, not only at Christmas but also throughout those memorable years, was a spirit of camaraderie and the willingness to “mend, make do, and help each other out.”  Evidence of this was illustrated vividly when we had to leave Thistle Cottage and move to Balnearn.

The war had ended and we as a family were coming to terms with the fact that father was not coming home. It’s a mother’s instinct to protect her children, and our mother put on a brave face but I sensed her heartbreak and occasionally came across her in tears. I know she was lonely and I’m sure moving out of the village to Balnearn increased her feelings of isolation.

Soon after arriving at Balnearn, Jim and I both came down with whooping cough.  It’s possible Doctor Swanson from Aberfeldy administered some care but I have no memory of it.  I remember only mother giving us medicine which presumably was prescribed by the Kenmore nurse or the doctor. To make matters worse, the fierce blizzard of 1946/47 that brought Britain to a standstill, struck our hillside home in January and suddenly we were cut off from the village,

How miserable winter was in that remote cottage. The pipes were frozen solid which meant we had to fill buckets with snow to melt over the fire for water. And while waking up to a vista of fresh snow every morning can be magical ― especially through the eyes of a child ― when viewed through a thick layer of ice that covers the inside of all the windows, it loses some of its magic. But our most demanding chore was digging logs out of the woodpile, which was buried day after day beneath freshly fallen deep snow. With one solitary fireplace in the kitchen, the other rooms were freezing cold.  Only when we huddled in bed at night under a pile of blankets with a hot water bottle did we experience some respite from winter’s wrath.  It was on such a night when we prepared to go to bed early to escape the cold that an angel arrived out of the darkness holding a lantern and pulling a sledge. Chrissie Butters had climbed the hill to rescue us!

Alarmed at the treacherous conditions, her parents Lucy and Sandy had sent Chrissie out into the storm in an attempt to bring us back to the village.  Being transported on a sledge in a freezing winter storm in the night was a bit scary but also an exciting adventure and something no child could forget. Wrapped in blankets I crouched on the sledge with Chrissie and Jim pulling hard against the blinding snow, while mother in a heavy coat, headscarf and Wellington boots, trudged alongside steadying the personal belongings she had balanced precariously on the sledge beside me. I believe I’m correct in thinking my younger brother Iain had been moved to Springbank some time earlier before the storm hit. But in any case I have no memory of him during our departure from Balnearn that night.

Is there any feeling experienced by a child comparable to that of being loved? How difficult it is to fully express the warm, loving sensation I experienced that night, finally safe in the village with my brothers, my mother and the Butters family sitting close, beside a crackling fire after our ordeal on the hill.

In so many ways Chrissie holds a very special place in my heart.  When I was five, it was Chrissie — then a teenager — who lay on my bed, comforting me throughout the night while Mother was in the Aberfeldy Cottage hospital giving birth to my brother Iain. When I was with Chrissie I felt secure. A child doesn’t evaluate such feelings but simply accepts what is. Thinking of her now, I recognize she possessed an intangible aura of quiet comforting serenity and a heart full of compassion and understanding and later on I discovered, someone with whom I could safely share any confidence. Chrissie was well loved, well respected and is deeply missed.

Of all the memories I have of Fearnan, the winter of 1946/47 stands out clearly in my mind.  Regardless of the torturous weather, one must have the soul of a poet to describe the beauty of Fearnan as it was then.

I’m not a poet but I cannot stem the emotion that springs from my heart when I think of the crisp winter nights when I stood alone in the perfect silence outside Springbank Cottage and marvelled at the pale winter-white moon and the stars sparkling over the snow-laden hills and the loch; wood-scented smoke drifting from cottage chimneys and the occasional yellow light ― blinking through wind stripped branches ― from across the loch at Ardeonaig, and Lawers and Killin.

There is something wonderful about the quietness of Christmas. It is a reminder to grow still…and listen to the silence.

Merry Christmas, Fearnan — I miss you.


Thank you, Alastair, and a very Happy Christmas to you and all our contributors, followers and readers ……………

Copyright Peter McKenzie


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