Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Funny Face (U) Matinee Monday 21st January 2pm Nairn Community and Arts Centre Tickets at the door.

Funny Face (U) Matinee
Monday 21st January 2pm
Nairn Community and Arts Centre
Tickets at the door.

On Monday 21st January, Cinema Nairn kicks off its tenth anniversary year with a matinee screening of favourite musical ‘Funny Face’ starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Featuring Gershwin hits such as Funny Face and S’Wonderful, this movie is guaranteed to warm up a cold January afternoon, with the usual tea, bakes and chat afterwards. Other highlights of the season include Oscar winners Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Silent Child in a double bill with The Miracle Worker, and Katherine Hepburn with Henry and Jane Fonda in the 1981 On Golden Pond. 

Two outstanding foreign films in the programme Cold War (2018) from Poland which tells of a fated love affair between a musician and his gifted pupil, and Sherpa, originally conceived to explore the Sherpas’ spiritual feelings about Everest but taking a tragic sidestep when avalanche struck during filming.

There are two very contrasting WW2 films: Alone in Berlin, a sombre but moving story of a grieving German father’s fight against the Nazi regime, and comedy Their Finest, with Gemma Atherton and Bill Nighy as Ministry of Information hacks.

A couple of old favourites, Basil Rathbone’s Hound of the Baskervilles, and Margaret Rutherford’s return as Miss Marple complete the matinee programme.


And of course don’t forget the Tenth Anniversary Film Festival – a weekend of eight Scottish themed films from 15th to 17th February complete with pizza and Prosecco launch!

For more details pick up a brochure or visit www.cinema-nairn.co.uk


Monday, January 14, 2019

Remembering the sacrifice of Johnny and Sandy MacNeil in World War 1 - a personal view (including a poem) written by his grand-nephew Ewan

Earlier today Ewan McNeil attended a ceremony organised by the Royal British Legion Nairn to honour his Great Uncles Johnny  and Sandy MacNeil. On a post in a local social media page Ewan said: "Sincere and deep thanks to Nairn RBL and local clerics for conducting such a wonderful ceremony today."

Here's Ewan's thoughts on the sacrifices made by his family in the First World War:

100 years ago, 14th January 1919. Great Uncle Johnny MacNeil, a loved son, father, brother, partner, friend and by job a professional soldier, of Seaforth Highlanders since 1907, who was involved in much action in Mons, Loos, Mesopotamia, India and elsewhere sadly passed on of pneumonia in El Qantar Hospital in Sinai, Egypt. Heavily wounded in fighting in Mesopotamia, he'd just recovered enough to allow him to return home to his Loved Ones, after all that fighting, when he sadly contracted pneumonia and died, there in an Egyptian military hospital. He has a headstone there. 

One of 6 brothers and a father, all volunteers in the army and Royal Marines during WWI. His younger brother, Sandy, Cameron Highlanders, blown from this world by a stray shell on the way into a foxhole for a cuppah with mates. Johnny's Mother, Mary Jane Smith saw an apparition of Johhny appear at her bedside, at the time when he died, only to get a confirmation telegram to say he'd died at that time, shortly afterwards (Will add a poem I wrote based on this, though I changed it to a wife and her husband). This text and images to commemorate Johnny's 100th anniversary of leaving this world and hopefully to finally take him Home. 

The 1st World War? a complete waste of human life, and for nothing. Both Sandy and Johnny did not need to die. Their brother did not have to come home with shellshock that would affect him for life. Their Mother, Mary, did not need to have to feel like her heart was torn from her chest, with the news that her sons were taken, so pointlessly from her (yet protocol and culture would have almost certainly demanded she didn't 'complain' and shrouded those tragic losses in sick 'honour'. Lest We Forget, they say. I agree: Lest we Forget so that that the privileged few can never again lead us in our thousands to kill en-masse for the whims of those privileged, their petty arguements and their business deals ever again. If we do, especially in such times where we have mass communication to allow us to see truths, now - then we are very much part of the problem. WE SHOULD NOT FORGET THIS, IF WE ARE TO TRULY NOT FORGET THEM P.S: 

Photographs of Grandad, James MacNeil (RM) and Shannon Mcneil at Sandy's name, Thiepval, circa 2016)





DISCOVERY – by Ewan G McNeil

Since her husband marched off, to that far, crazy war,
Her nightly routine stood the same as before,
The clock reaches ten by their bed in the night,
When they think of each other, close their eyes, hugging tight,

To feel close again, to defy all those miles,
To stare at the moon, the same one, makes them smile,
His photo she kisses, as she blows out the light,
His warm safety she misses, on these cold, lonely nights

She remembers him blush, suggesting these rituals,
As they laughed on the beach, but it’s now so habitual,
She settles to stare at the ceiling above,
In their wide, empty bed, devoid of her love

As she sleeps a smile breaks on her face in the night,
As she dreams of her Johny, on the dunes golden bright,
And they laugh in the breeze as the gulls cry above,
Then he turns, solemn faced “Don’t forget me, my love….”

Her dream breaks, she sits up, panic rushing her head,
But there stands her Johny at the foot of their bed,
“Johny….” she whispers in her loving wife’s lilt,
As he stands there so smartly, in his jacket and kilt,

The moonlight glows blue on his dear, long-missed face,
And he smiles as she sits there, warm again in this place,
But his smile slowly drops as his head shakes in sorrow,
Loving tears in his eyes, Not your time, do not follow

She stares and she watches him turn and away,
Fade into the dark, of their room where she lay,
Waves of horror chill through her, Oh my God, this is wrong!
But she finds her lips whisper “Oh, my Johny…he’s gone!”

Her eyes search where she saw him, so empty, so stark,
And a wail emits from her, that echoes through dark,
She turns to her child, at the door wrapped in fear,
“Oh, don’t worry – a nightmare!” as she wipes telling tears

She knew it was coming, telegram the next day,
Standard words to confirm, justify and to say,
Of bright bravery, honour, glory and fate,
No mention of terror, pain, blood, shock or hate

All that she knows that her love’s taken cold,
Her daughter’s no father, for a lie that’s so old,
She curses those flags and the lies and the plan,
She despises the ‘glory’, all she wants is her man

Drew Hendry MP's Brexit - How would you vote in Parliament? poll on social media

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Quite a lot going on in the Nairn twittersphere these days folks, we'll post anything interesting we see here via the Gurn twitter page

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Meanwhile from Angus more proof that parking charges in small towns are a very bad idea in the 2019 retail environment

So it's 2019 and we're still scheduled for parking charges this year unless Highland Council have a rethink. Over in Angus where parking charges were introduced in all the local towns from Nov 1 last year, trading has been devastated according to local business owners, not as much money as anticipated is coming in from the meters and it has been suggested that the charges scheme there might lose money after costs are taken into account. It's changing times for retail and High Streets face new challenges, throwing in parking charges to the small town trading environment mix during these turbulent times is completely reckless.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Debate on Issues affecting Cawdor and West Nairnshire - minutes of meeting held on 10th December 2018 - School Transport, Newton Rd footpath to Traffic lights, Nairn and Cawdor Christmas lights, Improving Broadband and much more

Delighted to be able to publish a copy of the Cawdor and West Nairnshire Community Council minutes for their December meeting:

Cawdor & West Nairnshire Community Council

Minute of Meeting held on

10th December 2018, 7.30pm, Cawdor Community Centre

Present: Iain Bain, Cllr Roddy Balfour, Cllr Liz MacDonald, Dot Blake, Meg Robertson, Hugh Robertson, Stewart Micklethwaite, Mhairi Stewart, Scott Heron, Audrey Wallace, Doug Piggot, Bob Thomson, CC Jim Docherty, CC Stevie Webster, CC Lizzy Rose, CC Richard Jones, CC Alastair McGregor, CC Dougie Fraser, CC Paula Forbes

  1. Apologies
Cllr Peter Saggers, Cllr Tom Heggie, Rachel Bromby, Fiona Milligan, Fiona Lewthwaite, CC Gina Mackintosh

  1. Minutes of meeting 20th August 2018 & matters arising
Proposed: Jim Docherty Seconded: Dougie Fraser
  • Newton Road update: No news to report on this matter, but the temporary smiley face speed monitor has not yet been installed on the main road. A similar sign is in place at Clephanton, although not yet in use due to road works. Stevie will keep us informed.
  • Footpath Newton Road to traffic lights: Dougie met with Lord Cawdor and communicated with the Dowager Countess, to discuss the proposed footbridge on the north side of the B9090. While the Dowager Countess agreed to allow access on her land, Lord Cawdor was not convinced by the plan, suggesting that his land may be required for development in the future. He was willing to consider a footpath on the southside of the B9090, between the Smiddy and the bridge, but this had already been deemed a more costly plan. It was recommended that the plans be taken off the agenda for the time being, with the idea of applying for funding from wind farm monies in the future.
  • Weeds at roadside between Cawdor church and graveyard: The weeds have not yet been dealt with by the Council, but Stevie spoke to a Council employee who said that the plan now is to remove the earth bank, eliminating the need for any future weeding.

  1. Police Report
Sgt Simon Filer, based in Aviemore, was unable to attend the meeting and no police report was given. Following the firearms incident in Cawdor, reported at the last meeting, the trial of the accused is due to begin on 4th Jan. 2019. Meg Robertson reminded the meeting that we had asked to be kept informed of proceedings and this had not happened, but Cllr Balfour replied that details of a court case could not be discussed.

  1. Treasurer’s report
The account balance is currently sitting at £2910.79. £731.39 in outstanding cheques has already been deducted from the balance.

  1. Cawdor school bus
Mhairi Stewart spoke to the meeting about a problem, which has arisen as a result of two school bus routes being merged into one. The new route now means that her three children, who live only 3 miles from Cawdor, are on the bus for nearly an hour each way. She has written to Highland Council, but received no response. She also wrote to Drew Hendry MP and Fergus Ewing MSP to raise the issue. Highland Council had informed the school that the bus takes the most efficient route, but this was disputed by parents at the meeting. The bus comes from Forres in the morning, passing Geddes, but does not pick up the children from Geddes until the end of the route. The bus’s route actually doubles back on itself. Paula Forbes commented that the bus route her daughter takes had also merged with another and now goes from Clephanton along to Galcantray, meaning a 40-minute journey each way. Stewart Micklethwaite complained that his children are sometimes picked up by a private car, which does not have appropriate child booster seats. The CC expressed concern about the unacceptable lengthy journeys for primary aged children and agreed that the bus routes should be reviewed. Cllr Liz MacDonald kindly agreed to investigate this on behalf of the parents. Jim will send a copy of an email from Mhairi Stewart which details the changes and the resultant effects.

  1. Nairn and Cawdor Christmas lights
The meeting heard about the recent Nairn Christmas lights event when two Cawdor pupils, chosen to switch on the lights, missed out due to a mix up by the organisers. This left the Cawdor children and their families upset and disappointed. Iain Bain explained that two Nairn children had won a painted pinecone competition and the prize was a ride in Santa’s sleigh. Somehow the button for the lights was in the sleigh too and when the countdown reached zero, the children pressed it. Apparently, event organiser Lorraine Mollinson had not been aware of the change of plan. Fiona Lewthwaite received a visit from Lorraine and Jen Abbot back in October asking for Cawdor’s involvement and support of the event. She reminded them that it was Cawdor’s turn to switch on the lights, which was agreed by all. Stevie said he would ask that Cawdor get the chance to perform the Nairn switch on next year, to make up for this year’s error. Lizzy Rose suggested that more be made of the Cawdor lights switch on next year. Audrey Wallace offered to help decorate the tree growing in front of the shop for this, adding that it would benefit from some new lights. Stevie thought that Cawdor Community Centre Association might help with the cost. While no one was particularly impressed with the shape of this year’s tree, grateful thanks were expressed to the Cawdor gamekeepers and Lewis Stirling, who prepared it for the switch on by Cawdor pupils.

  1. Drainage at Wester Galcantray
Alastair Mcgregor asked the CC to endorse the proposal that Highland Council look more closely at the drainage and septic tank provision on planning applications. This could help eliminate soakaway water and effluent from household white goods flowing through fields and into the rivers, causing damage. It seems that domestic drainage is no longer the responsibility of SEPA, but of the Council. A discussion then took place about drainage and septic tanks. Doug Piggot expressed concern about existing housing plans at Wester Galcantray, which he felt was an unsuitable site due to the hard rock and therefore lack of drainage. He was concerned that some building drawings appeared to show drainage from septic tanks going into a field drain which ultimately drains directly into the river Nairn.

  1. Whitebridge
Cllr Balfour gave a brief update: despite the shorter days and some frost, all is going well. In the last week of January, the bridge (4 x 26m sections) will be transported to the site and welded together, before being craned into position. The two main issues causing concern are 1: speeding by locals through the 30mph section of roadworks (an accident was reported last Saturday) and 2: water mains – new pipe has been laid but Scottish Water cannot sign it off at present. At the moment it would appear that the project may be finished in June, 4 months ahead of schedule.

  1. Tom Nan Clach
Fiona Milligan sent a report to say that nine turbines are fully mechanically installed, finishing and pre commissioning are ongoing. The remaining four turbines have the first two (of three) tower sections installed, the plan being to be fully installed before Christmas. Grid is expected in January to allow final turbine commissioning and generation.

  1. Cawdor & West Nairnshire Benefit Organisation SCIO
The first AGM will be held in February, date still to be confirmed. Alastair McGregor asked whether a CC member would be required to be on the Board of Trustees. Jim explained that there is no requirement to have a CC member as a Trustee, and if a CC member wants to be considered, they would need to be elected on like any other Trustee.
Post Meeting Note: AGM booked for Tuesday 19th Feb 2019 7:30pm, Cawdor Community Centre
  1. Improving Broadband update
Northsat, who are setting up community broadband in the area, are still in discussion with Lord Cawdor. The company is no longer considering using ‘white space technology’, as it has not been successful so far, but is instead focusing on fixed wireless. Jim Docherty updated the meeting that the UK Government has recently announced that the grant assisting with the installation of broadband will cease shortly. All applications made before the deadline of 31st December 2018 will be accepted but at the moment there is no confirmation that a new grant will be available in the New Year. He suggested that anyone who currently cannot receive broadband speeds in excess of 2Mb/s should apply for the grant. The application can be made via a link on Northsat’s website. The application will result in a code being sent to the applicant which can then be redeemed with any company registered with the government’s scheme. Information leaflets were available to take away and are also available in Cawdor shop. A copy of the leaflet is also attached at appendix 1.
Post Meeting Note: It has been announced that the better broadband subsidy scheme is being extended for a further one year to 31st December 2019. In support of this extension, BDUK is taking the opportunity to improve the scheme’s processes and functionality in order to deliver a more efficient and effective service. The existing application process closed at midday on 31st December 2018 and, following a brief pause to implement the necessary changes, BDUK aim to re-launch the Better Broadband Voucher Scheme in January 2019.
  1. Local Action Plan
A newly updated open electoral register is expected this week and will be used to identify householder numbers for the local action plan questionnaire. CC members will also use local knowledge to ensure that as many people participate as possible, as well as having copies available at the village shop. Questionnaires will now go out after the New Year.

  1. Meeting dates for 2019
Monday 11th February
Community council
7.30pm
Monday 8th April
Community council
7.30pm
Monday 10th June
Community council AGM
7.30pm
Monday 12th august
Community council
7.30pm
Monday 14th October
Community council
7.30pm
Monday 9th December
Community council
7.30pm
All dates subject to change
  1. AOB
  • Cawdor bonfire night: This was a huge success and Stevie gave a breakdown of funds raised. Bucket collection - £2070, T-cups and candy floss stalls - £90, Bar - £250, Forbes Farm – tbc
  • Traffic speed on B9090: Bob Thomson asked that Community Councils take a joint look at traffic speed along the B9090 and consider restrictions. He felt that 60mph is too fast for this road. Auldearn traffic has doubled, with Croy and Cawdor seeing a similar increase. When the new Whitebridge is opened, large numbers of heavy vehicles will return to this road, along with the many commuters who use it to avoid Nairn. Stevie suggested that a joint meeting with Auldearn and Croy CCs be arranged to discuss the matter.
  • Gypsy Travellers: Cllr. Balfour told the meeting that following concerns from locals in the Clephanton area, notice had been served on the gypsy travellers currently camped at the old leafy bends. They should have moved out that day, but he noted that they had not yet done so. The site is beginning to look very messy with garden waste and other waste matter fly-tipped. Lizzy Rose had been told by HC that nothing could be done to remove them, as they are on private land. She did note however that their bins are being emptied weekly by HC.
  • Drones at Wester Galcantray: Doug Piggot raised the issue of increased drone activity in the Wester Galcantray area. He said that they are being used to chase roe deer away and he knew who they belonged to. He has spoken to police about the matter and expressed concern about the height the drones fly, considering the close proximity to the airport. The meeting wondered whether any near misses with aircraft had been recorded. Cllr. Balfour said he would bring this up at the next airport group meeting.
The meeting closed at 8.50pm


Friday, December 28, 2018

Cromarty Rising says a big thank you!

Cromarty Rising have issued the following statement:

Cromarty Rising wishes to say a BIG thank you to all who gave their support, attended public meetings, stood side-by-side, held banners, shared knowledge and correspondence, all of which contributed to the success of the recent campaign to prevent ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.

Supporters grew to include master mariners, an under-water acoustics specialist and an astonishing number of PhDs, Professors of Law and academics. Thank you to everyone who gave donations and thanks to Cromarty & District Community Council for holding those funds and providing fund management. We must also record our thanks to major financial backers, their presence in the background brought confidence and strength (and still does).

We cannot emphasise enough the importance of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 as a significant factor in the success of the campaign. The knowledge gained provided invaluable insight, allowed analysis and went on to shape both legal and campaign strategies.

Cromarty Rising demonstrating at the Scottish Parliament in January 2017
Thank you to Bindmans LLP, our London based solicitors renowned for being at the cutting edge of legal developments and challenges. With Bindmans expertise Cromarty Rising was able to mount a serious challenge in opposing the award of an STS licence inside the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation.

We owe an enormous debt to Mr Ian Cowan of Highland Environmental Law. His contribution in our challenges to the Scottish Government, the Public Petitions Committee and our formal complaint to the EU Commission has been invaluable. His personal commitment and generosity to community representation has been exemplary in protecting our natural environment.

Thanks also to Scotland’s major wildlife protectors RSPB, WDC, Scottish Wildlife Trust, National Trust for Scotland etc. and a special mention for Marine Connection in Moray.

A big thank you too for the support of 38 Degrees Scotland which has become such an important part of expressing the democratic voice of communities in today’s vast political landscape. 

We must thank members of the press from many different newspapers, who stuck with us and followed developments with genuine interest.

Our campaign against ship-to-ship crude oil transfers taking place inside a Special Area of Conservation has succeeded, we have no doubt that this was:

The Wrong Plan, In The Wrong Place.

With regards from Cromarty Rising

Thursday, December 27, 2018

“Brògan-fiodha dealanach”, fiolm mu dheidhinn an “Ginealachd Diwan”

Beagan Gàidhlig an-diugh - a bit of Gaelic today.

“Brògan-fiodha dealanach”, fiolm mu dheidhinn an “ Ginealachd Diwan” le Soazig Daniellou, ag innse sgeulachd de bhuidheann òigridh o Phenn-ar-Bed a tuath sa Bhreatainn Bhig. Nuair a bha roc agus pop a' spaghadh air feadh an t-saoghal, le Beurla na chois, aig deireadh na seasgadan agus toisich na seachdadan chuir iad romhpa sùil a thoirt air a' chultair aca-fhein. Chuir iad buidheann thèatair radaigeachd air dòigh, agus thug sinn cothrom dhaibh a bith beò ann an àrainneachd Bhreatnais.

A bharrachd air sin bha gaoth a 'Chèitein 68 a' seideadh tro iomadh dachaigh, ag adhbhrachadh sgaradh eadar na ginealaichean

Ma tha beagan Frangais no Breatnais agad saoilidh mi gum bi am fiolm seo uabhasach fhèin inntinneachd. Faodaidh tu a' coimhead air an seo.