March 2022

Upper Tay Transport – Community Lifts

Ros Grant writes:

The Upper Tay Transport Group started Community Lifts during the Covid pandemic, operating within the recommended health guidelines.  Now well established the scheme covers the Upper Tay community with over 30 volunteer drivers across the area ( 

Based in Aberfeldy, the scheme which incorporated volunteer hospital lifts, aims to help people who do not have access to transport either regularly or occasionally, for example if your car is out of action, to get to appointments, social events or to the shops.  To use the scheme, you need to register by phoning or texting 07388 236 233 or emailing and then you can start to request lifts.  

The Scheme’s Co-ordinator, Eileen Merry runs the day-to-day requests for lifts and then seeks drivers via a dedicated WhatsApp Group.  When requesting a lift, you should give as much notice as possible, at least 48 hours before a journey so that a volunteer driver can be found.   Your journey should then be confirmed at least 24 hours beforehand.   Passengers pay expenses for the lift at 40p/mile and any parking charges.  Lifts are not limited to the Upper Tay area, for example a lift to Edinburgh or Glasgow can be requested but would depend on finding a volunteer driver.

Anyone who would like to volunteer as a driver must be 18 years and over, although no upper age limit applies.  The requirements are that you must have a full UK driving licence, be fully insured, and have a vehicle with a valid MOT certificate and undertake a Disclosure check.  Other basic training, e.g. first aid can also be undertaken.   One volunteer driver lives in the Fearnan area and can be booked for local journeys via the Co-ordinator. 

The Seat on the Hill

The wooden seat perched high on the hill in the Cow Park has suffered during the recent storms and bad weather.  We would like to bring it down so that it can be repaired, but it needs a 4×4 Truck or a quadbike and trailer to get up there and transport it to the village.

Do you know someone who could help? If so, please contact

The seat was placed in memory of Ann McGregor.  It was one of her favourite spots and since 2017 it has provided a welcome rest – and a fantastic view – for many walkers. Please help us find a way of bringing it down, so that it can be repaired – or replaced if necessary.

Kenmore Bakery

Kenmore Bakery are competing in the Scottish Baker of the Year Awards 2022-23.  They have served our community well over the past 2 years, bringing essential supplies to the village, along with their more usual fare of bread and baking, during the long months when the pandemic meant that we weren’t able to go to the shops in the normal way.

And Jackie and Steven are still providing an important service, seen here after battling snow and winds to bring fresh goodies to the village.

If you would like to vote for them in the Customer Choice part of the Award, visit this link before 6th April and cast your vote:

Book Review

Our review of The Thursday Murder Club, the debut novel by Richard Osman, had a mixed reception. 

It was an amusing, easy read enjoyed more by some than others. Some thought it had been over hyped due to its well known author.

The style was intentionally simplistic, with short chapters and for some, aspects were ridiculous and of course not to be taken too seriously.

The dialogue was realistic and helped develop the characters and their interactions. 

 It was agreed that the interesting characters, residents of an affluent retirement complex, were well portrayed and complemented each other. They were trying to feel valued with a shared  purpose ie. solving murders and perhaps escaping from their inevitability and reality.

The following quote resonated with some of the group. 

“After a certain age, you can do what you want. Nobody tells you off except your doctor or your children.

In typical Agatha Christie style, there were lots of red herrings and it was perhaps slightly confusing at the end with multiple bodies. As always, all was revealed and explained. 

It was felt that it would make a good film and we identified a few well known actors who we thought would be suitable for the key roles.

As this was the first book in a series, some are keen to see what the four characters get up to in the next book “The Man who Died Twice.”

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang once again catch the killer before it’s too late?

And Finally…….

The FVA had hoped to restart the regular Pop-Up Coffee Shop as well as hold an AGM before Easter but, in view of the record (and continually rising) number of Covid cases in Scotland, we have decided to put this on hold and will review the situation after Easter.

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February 2022

Victor Logan

Last month, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Victor Logan, who lived in Fearnan for many years.

Victor is remembered as a kind and generous man who was never too busy to help his friends and neighbours, be it helping Alastair Kininmonth build a polytunnel to protect his lambs, or some emergency plumbing for a neighbour in need.

He had a talent for entertaining us by composing and reciting stories about Fearnan and its inhabitants in verse.

In later years, his time was consumed by his devoted care for his wife, Betty, when she became ill. Initially he cared for her at home but later she moved into care in Pitlochry and Victor travelled almost every day to visit her. He had 4 daughters and they were a great comfort to him when Betty died and, after a short while, he moved away to be closer to his family.

And so we lost his recitations and poems. But he continued to visit Fearnan until the distance became too much for him to drive. On one such visit, he came to a coffee morning that coincided with his visit and before leaving, he told the tale of Sam the Plumber, of his sad demise, and the curious circumstances of the empty coffin!  A salutary tale for any funeral cortege that might be tempted to stop off at the pub on the way to the burial!

Storm Arwen – The Aftermath

Storm Arwen brought devastating winds that wreaked havoc on our forests, both locally and across wider southern and eastern areas, with many, many trees blown over, branches torn off, and hazards created by fallen trees hung up on other standing trees. The highest recorded gust was an extraordinary 110mph. There were 3 deaths and 9,000 people were left without power, some for a week or more.

Storm Arwen had a disproportionate impact on trees because it came from the north, rather than the usual south-west direction. Trees are adapted to withstand winds coming from the prevailing wind direction by anchoring their roots in a particular way

Smaller, more aerodynamic trees, tend to grow on the south-west side of woodlands – but this means they are ill-prepared when the wind switches direction and they are hit on their weaker side.

Scotland lost some 8 million trees between the 25th and 29th November 2021. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) describe the impact in the following terms:

  • Around 4,000 hectares of Scottish forests were affected by storm damage (an area a bit less than the size of Dundee).
  • About 1 million m³ of fallen trees (roughly 1/3 of what FLS would fell nationally in a given year and equal to about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of timber).

In addition, there are hundreds of miles of trails closed for inspection and repair.

Scotland’s national forests are popular places for recreation, home to many businesses, and provide benefits to mental health. Even more fundamentally, trees have always played an important role in Celtic culture, representing both spirituality and wisdom. They were perceived to have life-giving properties, longevity, power, and practicality (shelter and warmth). Gaelic folktales are full of stories about them, and the damage caused by Arwen to our local forests really strikes at the heart.

Much of the responsibility for clearing up falls to Forestry and Land Scotland.

After the storm, their first considerations were to lives and livelihoods, such as making key areas safe, and working in collaboration with other parties to repair utilities (including Fearnan’s transformer, seen on the right), repair damage to public roads and other public infrastructure, and clear up issues on adjoining land.

After fixing these headline issues, they moved onto timber and trails and a huge amount of planning and re-planning is going to be needed. Almost all of our forests have 10-year plans, which may need to be heavily revised in the wake of the damage sustained from the storm. Existing harvesting operations may need to be re-scheduled or cancelled, and resources diverted to try and recover fallen trees.

One positive benefit is that after clearing, FLS will start to think about establishing a new generation of trees, one that is more diversified, mixing up species to create a more rounded environment, and which will help our forests fight off diseases and pests. In some areas, the destruction caused by Storm Arwen may, in time, provide an opportunity to create new woodland with more benefits for the climate, environment, and future timber production. It will also expand the provision of wildlife-rich dead wood.

FLS say that Storm Arwen has caused more damage to Scotland’s forests than any other weather event for many years. They are working hard to get things cleared up and they hope to be able to open more forests and trails in the near future, but some badly affected areas may take months to repair.

Fearnan Recycling Community Collection Point

Jenny Penfold writes:

The recycling community collection point based at Clach an Tuirc in Fearnan has been doing well, with heaps more medicine blister packs coming in meaning another HUGE bag of them being dropped off in Perth recently (please note it is just the blister packs that are needed, other medicine packaging is usually recyclable through the Council collection), plus some dental products, printer cartridges and tights for trees! So, a big thank you to everyone for their efforts to ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle’!

Another bumper bundle of blister packs off for recycling

However, I’ve had some feedback that it’s sometimes hard for folk to get here to drop things off. So, what I propose is to set up a ‘daisy-chain’ of collection points, run by other keen recyclers, in some of the other areas in our widespread Community Council area – or even beyond! They would be their local drop-off point for their community and would then drop it in to me in Fearnan whenever they’re passing, and I can collect things together and then send them on from here. This would mean we could divert even more recyclables from landfill.

I’m thinking perhaps one or two drop-off points in the Glen, plus Fortingall, Coshieville and Ben Lawers, for starters. Volunteers are needed! I can provide posters for you, and even boxes if required! And as you know your areas best, you can suggest the best places for your drop-off point – either at your house, or at a community space, like the school or village hall?

So if anyone is interested, please get in touch with me on 07917 685626 or and we can take it from there.

(Just a quick reminder where to drop off your recyclables in Fearnan: we’re right next to the Boar Stone, the last white cottage on your right when you leave Fearnan, going towards Fortingall. All collection boxes are in the front porch which faces the road, and the front door is always open! So, no need to wait for us to be in, or to ring the doorbell – although we love to see you – it’s fine to just ‘drop and run’!

Fearnan Book Club

Linda writes:

The book read over the festive period and reviewed at the January meeting was Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021.

Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape.

When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.

As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness. 

Most described it as an easy, gentle read for this time of the year and the subject matter related to a possible virgin birth seemed to fit the season. It began with reference to a train crash disaster which some of us forgot about until it impacted on the outcome of the story. 

Set in the suburbs of SE London in 1957, there was unanimous agreement that the atmosphere and attitudes of the 1950s were very well depicted. Some of us could relate to aspects of this period! The role of the female journalist then was to write household tips and recipes and leave investigative journalism to the male reporters. The narrow-minded morality and snobbery of the times, repressed feelings and sense of duty were all very well portrayed. The topic of parthenogenesis was fascinating, and the detective work undertaken by the journalist was interesting.

Some found the premise of a possible virgin birth quirky but the outcome predictable. A few commented on how things seemed to slow down in the second half of the book.

A few of us didn’t like the twist at the end and had hoped for a happier outcome for Jean after so much bleakness in her life.

Sadly, due to Covid, once again we didn’t meet in person. This book would have provided endless opportunities for discussion and for some, memories of the 1950s and post war life and attitudes. 

The book for review in February is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, the first book in the bestselling Thursday Murder Club series. This was chosen as a humorous book to lift the spirits in the long winter days. We hope to be able to discuss this in person.

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

And Finally …….

The Big Shed is holding its AGM on 23rd February at 7pm in The Big Shed.

They are planning to hold it in person, but if the Covid situation worsens again, they will hold it on Zoom. 

If you plan to attend, please let Wendy know (,  so that she can either print enough agendas (if it’s in person), or send the link (if it’s a virtual meeting). 

Please note that the copyright of all photos published on this site belongs to the person who took the picture and the copyright of all text lies with the person who wrote it.

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Of Candles, Witches and Snowmen

Lighting up the Darkness

Events such as Storm Arwen and the associated loss of electricity and water can have you digging deep – not just to find inner levels of resilience but digging deep in cupboards and drawers to find torches, candles and other useful things. It was during just such a search that Sheena and Donnie found a rather special box of candles.  Not only were they manufactured By Appointment to Her Majesty, but these Price’s candles cost 2 shillings and 6 pence (12.5p in decimal money) and were purchased at McKerchar and MacNaughton in Aberfeldy.

The fact they were priced in pre-decimal currency means they must have been bought before 1971 – making them at least 50 years old! 

Sheena thinks they came from Nick and Jim’s house, when it was cleared, but as they pre-date Nick and Jim coming to Fearnan, they must either have been in the house when they bought it, or possibly come from the Thrift Shop. (Nick and Jim volunteered in the Thrift Shop on a regular basis.)

It’s quite something that this box of candles had never been opened, given the number of power cuts there have been in the last 50 years – to say nothing of the 1973 three-day week during the Miners’ Strike and the mass blackouts around the country (hands up if you remember that!). But they’ve been used now – called into service by Storm Arwen!

Telling Stories – The Witches of Drummond Hill

There’s no shortage of old folk tales from this area and usually they come to us either by having been handed down as part of our oral history, or by having been found in dusty archives by researchers. But these days, it’s not surprising to find they arrive via Facebook.

The following appeared recently on the Scotland’s Scenery FB page, authored by one Andy Vale;

Well, I was walking up Drummond Hill near Kenmore and I bumped into a local old man (80s+). He was dressed in a long black trench coat, black hat and had a twisted wooden walking pole. We spoke, and he told me to look out for the Witches’ Trees and that if I followed a certain path, I would be watched by these Witches as I passed by.

Apparently, a local coven of Witches had been cursed and turned into gnarly old trees. For most of the year they can’t move and are only able to watch jealously those who are walking freely. However, if you stop and look at them, they will remember you and, on the days they are released from their spell, they re-gather in their Coven and seek vengeance on those who have gazed upon them.

The old man told me a poem, but I can only recall the first and last lines, something like:

The witches’ trees of Drummond Hill
As you pass by, they wish you ill.
So ne’er stop and ne’er stand still
By the witches’ trees of Drummond Hill.

I have to be honest my skin tingled, and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck when I walked by the trees. And yes, I stopped, I looked and took the pictures!

Andy even provided pictures and a map, so you can go and test your own nerves – it’s not far. However, should you, like Andy, be worried about the witches’ vengeance, be assured that a small twig of rowan wrapped in red thread will see them off.

Many thanks to Tim and Dan for passing it on to The Blog.

Storm Arwen Compensation Payments

Following the power outages caused by Storm Arwen, those households that qualify for a compensation payment from SSEN (i.e. loss of power for 48 hours or more) will be pleased to hear that SSEN has announced a 20% enhancement on the statutory payment that the regulator Ofgem requires them to make to consumers. This means that customers who were without power for 48 hours will receive £84 and those who were without electricity for longer than 48 hours will receive an additional £84 for each 12-hour period that they did not have power. SSEN will issue the payments to customers automatically by cheque.

You can check out the details here:

Fearnan Village Hall: Yoga Classes Starting 7th January

Emma Burtles, an experienced yoga teacher will lead a regular yoga class in Fearnan Village Hall on Friday mornings, starting at 10.15am and finishing at 11.30am.  New members are invited to join the class which is transferring from The Big Shed at Tombreck.   Yoga experience is not essential, and Beginners are welcome.

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to apply, ideally you should bring your own mat or rug, but equipment can be provided. 

The class is run on a sessional, pay-as-you-attend basis and so if you can’t come on a particular Friday, you don’t need to pay.  The charge per class is £7/person. 

To sign up for classes or for further information, please contact Ros Grant by email  or mobile 07802 874 867.

Fearnan Book Club Review

The seasonal choice of book for our last review of the year was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, described as a fairy tale for adults. It was a well-written former Pulitzer Prize finalist that took its inspiration from a Russian fairy tale where a snow girl came alive. It was set in Alaska in the 1920’s and well suited to this time of the year. The descriptions of the harsh Alaskan wilderness and the cold, snowy landscapes were so clearly and vividly portrayed that you could almost feel the cold.

One of the group, reading it by candlelight during the power cut, said it made her feel even colder! This was in stark contrast to one of our previous books ‘The Dry’ which was set in the scorching heat of the Australian outback. There were multiple themes to be explored and discussed e.g. grief, loss, hope, love, possession, joy, relationships and friendships etc.

 An older couple Jack and Mabel had come to Alaska for a fresh start after the earlier loss of a child, a little boy. They are homesteaders, clearing land and hoping to farm it in order to claim the land as their own. The couple struggled with the harsh environment and, without supportive neighbours, would not have been able to go on. We agreed that you would want a neighbour like capable Esther who lived a busy, messy chaotic family life in sharp contrast to Jack and Mabel. We cared about the characters, feeling Mabel’s pain, loneliness and sadness and loving Esther’s ‘can do’ attitude. Jack’s anxieties and feelings of loss were also acknowledged and how less focus and understanding is given to men and their need to also explore their feelings.

After the first snowfall the couple build a girl out of snow and, the next morning, they glimpse a young blonde girl wearing the same scarf and mittens, running through the trees. Is she the snow girl come to life? This little girl Faina seems to be a child of the woods apparently surviving alone in the Alaskan wilderness, hunting with a red fox at her side. (Her spirit guide?) We enjoyed the ethereal writing describing Faina and the joy her presence brought to the couple as she grew up, giving them a purpose. However, was she real, supernatural, or a figment of their imagination? Cabin fever perhaps?

Following Faina through her world in the forest, we were enthralled by the detailed descriptions of the natural world particularly the animals and their habitats.

Mabel’s son later has a relationship with the grown up Faina and this results in a child, a little boy who is embraced in Jack and Mabel’s life. 

The short chapters and few characters made it an easy book to read and even those of us who prefer plot driven texts, enjoyed the detailed descriptions and character development. A few felt the story, although well written, slowed down in the middle and some aspects were predictable

We spent time describing and interpreting the ending and agreed that the snow child could be anything you wanted her to be. Is she magical or flesh and blood? The author leaves it for the reader to decide. Some of us wanted logical explanations for events and confirmation of what was real and what wasn’t. It was agreed that Mabel came to terms with the loss of her own baby through Faina and her child becoming such a part of their lives. As Mabel’s sister asked “Are we not allowed to invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow? “

Related to the theme of a snow child, one of our group, a professional cook, gave us the recipe for a perfect snowman, based on a university experiment.

Recipe for a perfect snowman.

You will need 3 perfect spheres of good quality snow:

Base 80cm, Middle 50cm, Head 30cm.

This golden ratio ensures stability as well as a strong base to support the structure. Spheres also melt more slowly increasing the life of your snow person.

At this time of year, the book group also nominates our favourite book of the past year. This year our responses were mixed and there was no clear favourite. However, the top four with two votes each were:

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elie Shafak.

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The book to be reviewed in January is Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. This book has been Longlisted for the Woman’s Prize for fiction 2021 and has been Book of the Year for The Times, Daily Telegraph and other newspapers and magazines. 

It’s 1957, in the suburbs of Southeast London Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape. When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness.  But there will, inevitably, be a price to pay.


Minutes of the Mclean Hall Committee Meeting, Thursday 25th November 2021

1. Rosalind Grant welcomed all to the meeting.

Present:  Rosalind Grant (Chairperson), Karen Bennet (Treasurer), Elaine Melrose (Secretary), Tom Alexander (Trustee), Nicholas Grant, Jo Miller and Linda Milne.

2. Apologies:  George Mitchell.

3. Minutes:  The Minutes from the Business meeting at the AGM on 23rd August, which had been circulated, were approved.

4. Matters Arising:

4.1 Events in the Hall

Karen reported that bookings were recovering.  This week there had been Bowls, Tai Chi, the Masons and the Hall Committee meeting.  The Book Group meets in person monthly.  Each group seemed to have developed their stance as regards to Covid security arrangements.

Ros intimated that there was a new group wishing to rent the Hall on a weekly basis.  The Yoga class, which had been held previously in the Big Shed, was seeking a more central location on a bus route.  The group was likely to consist of 8 people plus Emma Burtles, the teacher.  Ros herself is a member of the group as is Angela.  Some other members of the committee expressed an interest.  The Big Shed stores equipment which could be lent out to the Yoga Class.  However, it was thought prudent in the current situation with Covid to suggest that people should provide and bring their own mats.  The Yoga Class would like to meet on a Friday morning from 10.15 – 11.30 am.    Karen raised the fact Friday was previously the slot for the Table Tennis Group.  Elaine confirmed that it was unlikely that this class would recommence in the near future.

All being well, the first Yoga Class will take place on Friday 7th January 2022.

Jo intimated that the Art Club was no longer active, although members met for coffee instead of art.  She hoped to canvass people in the Spring in the hope that the club might reform. Karen suggested some taster sessions which would be free of charge for the Art Club.

Jo also proposed a Fringe Event in the Hall during Fortingall Art Exhibition.  She was aware that Fortingall Art was oversubscribed with too many artists wishing to display their work.  She had some ideas and thought that this type of event could raise money for the Hall, as it had done previously when there was an Art Exhibition/Craft Exhibition in the Hall.

The committee thought that this idea was worth exploring.  Jo will arrange with Cindy Brooks from Fortingall Art to liaise with Karen.

4.2 Entrance Area Refurbishment

Steve Bennett has tidied up the outside area.  Karen has still to liaise with Colin Menzies regarding an update on his previous estimate, given the changes being considered. The paving used in the refurbishment requires to be non-slip.  Jenny Penfold had approached Karen regarding the possibility of a Recycling Area being created outside the Hall at the Bin area.  To effect this, the Bin area would require to be a covered area for shelter with appropriate containers for the recycling items. Jenny expressed willingness to assist with the arrangements.  Karen has already obtained a grant of £3500 towards the refurbishment but felt confident that she could attract further funding since recycling is very topical at present.

4.3 Thrift Shop

There was discussion about the feasibility of working in the Thrift Shop in 2022.  Karen had entered the draw for Thrift Shop slots but recognised that we could cancel should that be the preference at the time.  Rosalind commented on a Thrift shop shift that she had done this year with regard to Covid security and Elaine offered to enquire of a friend who has visited the Thrift Shop regularly since it opened this year.

5. Financial Update

At the end of October, there was £44,313.18 in the account, of which £36,000 is earmarked for the roof repairs.   Karen pointed out that the electricity provider for the Hall, Bulb, had been placed in Special Administration.  The Hall pays £63 per month and had built up a surplus which would be a winter buffer.  However, the tariff is a business tariff which has gone up significantly.  Karen had been trying the reduce unnecessary electricity use.

6. Update on Progress with Roof Repairs

Karen reported that the leak has been fixed.  The buckets have been removed from the roof space and the hatch in the kitchen has now been closed.  This should reduce heat loss.  Karen produced a sample of the tape material used to tape the seams and the bolts.  A coating was applied after the taping but, due to heavy rain, some of the coating flaked off.  Skyform, the company doing the work, came to inspect the problem and decided to reapply the coating.  Unfortunately, this coating proved to be a slightly different shade which made the overall look patchy.  Skyform contacted Polyroof, the company supplying the product.  The Polyroof representative came to inspect the site and decided that it would be better to recoat the whole roof for a more even finish.  There is no timescale for this work and the guttering still has to be finished.  If this is still weather dependent there are issues about the work being completed at this time of year.  Karen intended to wait for 2 weeks and then contact Skyform about removing the scaffolding meantime.

She intended to withhold monies should the job not be finished and would not pay until the 15-year guarantee was provided.

Rosalind proposed a vote of thanks for all the work that Karen has done regarding the roof repairs, grant applications and finance.

7. Covid Secure Arrangements for the Hall

The chairperson intimated that the Hall committee had received communications from the Scottish Community Development Centre and Public Health Scotland, reiterating what we know about the arrangements to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  She indicated that, although the leader of each group is required to take responsibility for Covid-19 arrangements in their own group, it was useful to have a reminder notice at various points in the Hall summarising the guidance.

Hall ventilation was discussed – several of the windows have been left on the latch and can be easily opened, if needed.

8. Publishing of Minutes on the Noticeboard and FVA Blog

There have been no adverse comments received.  Elaine raised whether this should apply to all committee meetings as well as to the public meetings.  Committee members agreed that there were no issues with publishing Committee Minutes.

9. Any other Business

There was none raised.

10. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place at the end of March/beginning of April and the date will be announced nearer the time.


And Finally ………………

You always know Christmas is on its way when Doug makes a seasonal sand sculpture, and here it is!

Happy Christmas, everyone!

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Claiming Compensation for Storm Arwen

This is a shorter blog than usual, with only two items. The main reason for putting it out now is to make sure that everyone has the right information about claiming compensation following the loss of electricity supplies in Fearnan during Storm Arwen.

The Ofgem site states that consumers can claim £70 after 48 hours without electricity and a further £70 for each additional 12 hour period, up to a maximum of £700.

You can find the information here: After clicking the link, click Information for Consumers, then go into Energy Advice for Households and scroll down to the section on Compensation Rules where you will get more information, including how to claim.

Fearnan Book Club Review

Nothing deters the bibliophiles in the Fearnan Book Club, and despite the storm, the lack of electricity, and generally unfavourable reading conditions, we have another book club review.

Linda Writes:

The book reviewed in November was Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart which was a great book club choice for stimulating lively discussion and exploring differing opinions. This is a story with multiple themes of poverty, abuse, addiction and revolves around the relationship between Agnes and her son, Shuggie.

It received very polarised responses from our group but general acknowledgement that it was an amazing book for a first novel. It was beautifully written, evocative, with vivid descriptions that indicated that, although not autobiographical, the author had lived these experiences. 

Some found it a difficult read – too raw and depressing – and didn’t finish the book. Others liked the dark humour and became involved with the characters. They admired Shuggie’s resilience, loyalty and love for his alcoholic mother and were glad they had read it. All agreed that he had a lot to cope with, not only his life with an alcoholic mother and absent father but also being gay in a mining community in the 1980s. It provided a social commentary on life and deprivation in that part of Scotland at that time, which was sadly well portrayed. One described it as a book that would stay with her.

Shuggie’s mum, Agnes, was full of contradictions. She was an outsider in her community who always tried to put on her best face in public and at one point had the strength to give up alcohol. Sadly, this was short lived and with it her opportunity to find happiness and stability also disappeared. Some felt angry with Agnes who had been brought up well but was self-destructive and made the wrong choices in life. We admired characters who showed her kindness and recognised the strength in her two older children, who left to make better lives for themselves. 

Others felt it was more complex than that, with many factors resulting in her situation. We all brought our own personal experiences into our interpretation of the novel either from a personal or professional viewpoint. Whilst not being an easy or perhaps enjoyable read, this book was certainly powerful and thought provoking. A book, that once read, is not easily forgotten.

For our December review, something completely different! 

Our book is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This was her first novel and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and an international bestseller.

This story is set in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920’s where a couple are living a tough life as homesteaders.  Then when they are in their 50’s, a child unexpectedly comes into their life.

It is based on a Russian fairy tale and explores many issues which will be discussed at our next session.

The Book Club’s To Do List ……..
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Remembrance Sunday (and more).

Remembrance Sunday

A short service was held at the Fearnan War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday and attended by a number of people from the local community.  The service was led by Shirley Shearer, and wreaths were laid by Lisle Pattison, Alistair Grier and Fiona Ballantyne. Once again, the memorial had been decked out in the hundreds of poppies that were knitted for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice by both Fearnan residents and our friends from far and wide.  Many thanks to Cath McGregor for creating and putting up the display.

There is something very special and touching about the Fearnan service. Whilst those who gathered would have had their own thoughts and personal remembrances, we are remembering also the 8 Fearnan men who died in the Great War and who are commemorated on the memorial.  They walked the paths and roads that we now walk, and knew well the very spot where we stood. They would have heard the birdsong and the water in the burn as it rushed towards the foot of the Brae, just as we heard it during the two-minute silence.

After the service, the Village Association served tea and coffee in the Hall – our first social event for nearly 2 years! Sixteen or so people attended, which meant we had plenty of space for social distancing and the ability to get together and chat in a relaxed environment seemed to be much appreciated by everyone.

A total of £71 was collected for Help for Heroes.

Warm Connections

With the winter months approaching and fuel prices simultaneously rising, it was very timely to hear from Anna and Tom Sibbald of Aberfeldy about their project, Warm Connections.

Anna writes:

Warm Connections is a free, impartial home energy advice project. We began in August 2021, are part of Aberfeldy Parish Church and funded by the Energy Redress Scheme. We cover the Braan, Upper Tay and Rannoch area, with our focus on helping folk reduce their carbon footprint at home at the same time as lowering their energy bills.

Our help and advice includes:

Suggesting no-cost and low-cost solutions to keep bills down and comfort levels up. This might include: tips such as turning standby switches off, using LED light bulbs, and many more ideas; insulation and draught proofing; the most efficient use of your current heating system; and reducing the likelihood of condensation or damp patches.

Accessing financial support to help pay fuel bills, such as help through the Fuel Bank Foundation with whom we are referral partners (, and through short-term government schemes.

Accessing government support to make improvements to your home, by increasing its energy efficiency and making it warmer and cheaper to run. For example: loft insulation, wall insulation (inside or outside), and double glazing.Warm Connections is a referral partner with Home Energy Scotland, who have access to several interest-free cash-back loans and means-tested grants ( )

Assessing and promoting the possibility and affordability of renewable green energy technology (including interest-free government loans).

Fearnan resident, Pat Menzies, who is a member of Warm Connection’s Steering Group, said:

“I am really pleased to endorse the work of Warm Connections. Throughout my professional career, I have witnessed the potential harm that cold, damp housing has on a person’s health and wellbeing, the potential for inequality of provision in rural areas compared to urban, and the need for impartial advice and guidance. This is an invaluable service being offered free in our community.” 

If you would like advice on reducing your carbon footprint and your energy bills, or if you know someone who would benefit from being able to make their home warmer and more efficient to run, please visit our website or email  Most importantly please don’t struggle alone – phone or email and we can explore options with you, or arrange a visit.

Fearnan Book Club Review

The book reviewed in October was ‘The Forgotten Garden’ by Kate Morton. This was a lengthy book and for one of us, the longest she’d ever read! It is hard to say too much about this novel’s storyline without giving away key elements of the mystery! 

The story is about a young woman who decides to uncover the secret of her grandmother’s strange arrival in Australia in 1913.

The overall response to this book was positive and stimulated a lively discussion. It was essentially a lengthy family saga with all the main characters related to each other over the generations. Most considered it well written, although perhaps wordy, but it could have been sharpened up to keep the reader engaged. We felt the story improved as it developed and reached an acceptable conclusion. 

We related to the believable, likeable, and well portrayed characters as we followed the twists and turns through the different time periods. Eliza from 1900-1913, Nell from 1975-76, and Cassandra in 2005. A family tree would have been useful but that would have resulted in a ‘spoiler’. It held our interest although some didn’t like the time changes and found that the ‘secret’ took too long to be revealed. 

We felt compassion for Nell who at 21 found out she was adopted when her father told her she was adopted as a 4-year-old in 1913, seemingly abandoned on an Australian wharf and unable to remember her name. She then lost her sense of identity, and this changed the course of her life. (Perhaps an overreaction?)  Some later felt disappointed in her and felt she could have been stronger when she had the opportunity to start a new life in Cornwall and perhaps find happiness.

The descriptions of the seascapes of Cornwall, the Manor and its beautiful garden, as well as the city scenes in Brisbane and London were very evocative. We also liked the use of historical events, such as a train crash, which were woven into the story and gave realism to the events. Also woven into the story were fairy tales written by the character described as “The Lady Author”. We had extraordinary respect for the author, who seemed to effortlessly make these links.

We discussed some of the issues raised in the book e.g. adoption and when to tell a child; related feelings of rejection; and also the historical references and attitudes associated with the different time periods.

The book reviewed in November was Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, the 2020 Booker Prize winning novel and the authors first. It has been described as: “A stunning debut novel by a masterful writer telling the heart wrenching story of a young boy and his alcoholic mother, whose love is only matched by her pride.”

The Review will be in the next Blog.

And Finally……..

The Big Shed has a new website – lots of pics and some familiar faces!

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Service of Remembrance

Just a reminder that there will be a short Service of Remembrance at the war memorial at 11.00 on Sunday morning.  If you would like to join us, please gather at the memorial five or ten minutes before the start.

After the service, the FVA will be serving teas and coffee in the village hall, and all are welcome to join us for a socially-distanced cuppa and chat. 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 are a matter of personal choice.

The small village of Fearnan lost a disproportionate number of its young men in the Great War, all of whom are commemorated on the war memorial. We have photos of seven of them (see below) and there is more information about them and the role they played in the war in this previous post: Remembering WW1 on the FVA website.

John Lauchlan Fraser

If you have photos, stories or info for the FVA blog, please get in touch with Fiona on

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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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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

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 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.


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 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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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

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

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! 

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