Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday morning miscellany

A new website for the Arts Society. “ Find out about membership, classes and workshops. Pop by and paint! “ they tell the world on Twitter. The website is here.

A big test for the Wee County as they take on Fort William today at Station Park. With fan discontent still smouldering on social media and two hefty defeats over the last week every game is massive now and Fort William recently scored three against Brora and although they lost that game who knows what might happen at Station Park tomorrow if the Wee County get off to another bad start. Here’s hoping for good weather for the spectators as there is still no sign of the structure of the new Cow Shed going up yet. There are serious rumblings of discontent in fan circles too about delays in this project. Recently a statement from the club chairman, Peter MacKintosh, appeared on the official site:

“Moving onto the next important project being addressed by the Club. Progress with the most expensive capital investment the Club has undertaken - namely the new Spectator Enclosure to replace the Cowshed - has taken longer than originally programmed. The site demolition completed by the last week of June, was followed in July/August with the initial site engineering works to establish the underlying ground conditions which to our delight proved better than originally anticipated. The opportunity was therefore taken by the structural engineers, along with the contractor, to reconfigure the raft foundation design which during September time has allowed the ordering of all the steelwork materials for offsite cutting and thereafter galvanising in readiness for delivery on site. As additional constraint to contend with is that the site itself is extremely narrow and therefore everything has to be planned meticulously to allow a creeping west to east construction. In the end, it will all be worth waiting for.”

Here's a few images from the heavy defeat on Wednesday night at Pitmeddan. Formartine 5 Nairn 1. Pictures from Donald Matheson.

Another Facebook page out there this week – this time a group of folk aiming to restore the riverside BMX track. Maybe their aims could cross-fertilise with the nascent Nairn River Enterprise? The Nairn BMX renovation page states:

This page has been created to generate interest in renovating the Nairn BMX track. As part of the recently formed cycling group in Nairn, Revolution CT, we want to approach the council and other bodies that could help in funding a revamp of the BMX track AND the riverside area in general. We have ideas for the 'cycling proficiency track' and space nearby but we need backing. If we can show the council that there's keen interest in this then we have more chance of getting somewhere. 'Back in the day' when bmx racing was at its peak there has been near 700 riders in Nairn for National races, thats how good the track was! It would also mean more for local businesses too.”

That BMX page has attracted over 200 followers in a short amount of time. It goes to show that if you have a point of view or initiative you are looking for backing for then Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular and practical tool to use. It doesn't reach everybody but it generates initial momentum that used to take weeks to achieve. Even if you think back to the likes of the "Save McLean court" campaign's use of facebook a few years ago it is obvious that the effect of such pages has increase exponentially. What used to take a few days to build up on social media is now ready overnight for public consumption. The difficult thing is perhaps sustaining interest. 

A headline in the Courier "Treatment Plant blamed for poor water quality at Nairn" examines recent SEPA test results on the beaches. The paper talks to Tommy Hogg and Liz MacDonald; Tommy puts the blame on development while Liz seems to be looking to the heavens. She is quoted:

"Heavy rain has a big impact and the drains overflow, I would like to see more investment in the plant and managing our water in general."

Have a good day Gurnshire, a bit of a cloudy one is predicted but perhaps the Moray Firth will perform again and let a bit of sun through.

Friday, October 09, 2015

When traffic lights break down do things improve?

We've heard a couple of reports of the traffic lights at Moss-side Road being out of action this week. Has that caused problems for anyone or did it improve things? 

One of our regular readers sent us a link to an article entitled: "All FORTY-TWO traffic lights break down at Britain's most-chaotic junction - and guess what happens? The flow of cars IMPROVES." 

More details here in a Daily Mail article.  And here it is in the Independent for all those that don't like the Daily Mail. 

There was music in the cafe at night and the sound of geese was in the air

Singer/songwriter Karl Broadie, Edinburgh born, but now living in Sydney Australia, sang a few songs from his new album this evening in the Putting Green Café and recorded an interview with Rob Ellen that will be broadcast on the Medicine Music site. A few magic moments and nice coffee available too.

Karl has a facebook page here and details of the broadcast will appear on Medicine music here.  A video of part of the evening's music here. 

Geese over the Fishertown - video

The Geese have obviously had a good breeding season this year. There seem to be a lot more of them on their regular evening flight across the town to their overnight spot further east. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"Nairn hotel with strong links to movie legend Charlie Chaplin put up for sale for £4.5 million"

A scoop for the Inverness Courier, more here. 

No Community Council elections for Nairn River and West and Suburban as one candidate withdraws in each area

No elections as the number of candidates in each area is equal to or less than the number of candidates to be returned. A candidate in each area took advantage of the chance to withdraw which was available until 4 pm today. Your new CC make up in each area is as follows and they will be in position from 18th November. 

"The Path to Cawdor" and the road to rehabilitation for Macbeth?

Firhall resident Brian Lockey has combined his love of photography with his interest in history to write a book about the much maligned former king of Scotland who has endured centuries of bad press due to the spin that Shakespeare put on the monarch’s life. Brian hopes that " readers will learn enough about the real Macbeth to appreciate that his reputation, and that of his wife, have been done irreparable harm by Shakespeare."

“Macbeth” has entertained theatre goers for some considerable time but the truth of the matter is that he was a king who brought a measure of peace and prosperity to his reign. After Brian’s summary of the manufactured myth followed the reality then this observer is tempted to wonder that if Shakespeare
were alive today he would be a Westminster spin doctor? The industry that as grown up around depicting Macbeth as a blood-thirsty monster continues and shows no signs of abating. According to a review of a new film version of Macbeth, it seems there might even be more impetus to darken his reputation: "As a result, Marion Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth is both more sympathetic and more sidelined than one might expect, no longer the driving force behind the bloody deeds, more a damaged partner in crime." More here.

Brian diligently examines the Shakespeare version of Macbeth and then looks into other legends and crumbs of knowledge that we know including the Monarch’s birth in the Moray area– maybe it might even have been closer to Nairn than some think? There are so many gaps in the Macbeth story it leaves us all the chance to fill them in for ourselves and imagine a different time in Nairnshire and even Macbeth going about his business, journeying through this area – maybe he was almost a Nairn resident at one time?

Brian looks at the local connections to Macbeth, the Scottish dimension and beyond; his writing is coupled with quality photographs that catch more than passing attention to add to the informative and pleasurable read. For Brian his book began with a haunting image he took on the footpath to Cawdor that lies just across from Firhall, it inspired him to start writing. It’ll be hard for Macbeth to ever take his true independent place in history given the inventions of Shakespeare that hid the true life but every step on “The Path to Cawdor” will assist that goal.
Brian's book is available on Amazon here. 

The Northern Lights from Nairn Links by Kenny MacLeod

Kenny MacLeod resisted the temptation to go through to Aberdeenshire last night to take pictures of Nairn County in action against Formartine and instead opted to head down to the Links on Aurora Watch. Here's what he saw. Click the image to enlarge

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Grace Lily Lingerie to host iconic fashionable affair at the Newton on Thursday night (8th October)

A leading independent Highland lingerie boutique is getting set to take to the catwalk to coincide with the Highlands and Islands largest fashion event.

Grace Lily Lingerie, which was established in December 2014, and has boutiques in Nairn and Inverness, will host an exclusive lingerie fashion show on Thursday 8 October, at 7pm, at the Newton Hotel in Nairn, as part Highland Fashion Week.

The fashion show, which has been organised as one of the flagship events of Highland Fashion Week, will celebrate female icons with a twist, wowing audiences with gorgeous locally sourced models and showcasing some of the latest fashionable trends in the lingerie industry.

The boutique, which boasts an exclusive territory license in Scotland for the luxury lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur, has also pledged its support to local children’s charity, Children 1st, raising vital funds for the charity on the evening.

Highland Fashion Week runs from 7-11 of October with a fairytale theme and will see five separate events showcase local and national fashion designers, as well as locally sourced models. The week was initially set up to help bring new talent into the Scottish fashion industry, and to 
highlight the range of talents throughout the area.

Grace Lily, owner of Grace Lily Lingerie, said: “Getting involved in Highland Fashion Week again is something we are very excited about. We have a fantastic selection of lingerie in our shops and the fashion show will give us an excellent opportunity to present the gorgeous new lines exclusively to those attending the event.

“Fashion is meant to be fun and playful so what better way to celebrate the stunning lines we have other than with a themed fashion show. Grace Lily Lingerie is all about embracing all shapes and sizes so this year we decided to focus on iconic females which I’m very excited about showcasing in a fun and fashionable way.”

Highland Fashion Week director, Garry James, said: “We are absolutely ecstatic that Grace Lily Lingerie is hosting this event with Highland Fashion Week. This is the fourth time Grace and her team of beautiful models have been involved in the fashion-filled week and it is one of 
our most popular events.”

Standard tickets for the event cost £15 and include a goody bag. VIP tickets are also available for £25 and include VIP seating, VIP goody bags and a glass of prossecco on arrival. Tickets can be purchased from both Grace Lily boutiques or alternatively you can call 01667 454114 or access tickets online at: 

Highland Councillor wishes all the Community Council candidates the best of luck

Stephen Fuller told the Gurn tonight re the Community Council elections for Nairn :

"It is fantastic to see a growing interest in local affairs with so many new names wishing to stand for community council. I look forward to the upcoming election and wish all candidates the best of luck"

Sailing Club and Kayak Club to share boatyard extension?

The Gurn understands that talks between the Sailing Club and the Kayak Club to share an extension to the boatyard are at an advanced stage and plans have been drawn up and discussions held with Highland Council. 

It appears that the new area is in fact simply that piece of land next to the boat yard that has been fenced off over the winter for several years now once the sailing season is finished. The popularity of the Kayak Club has led them to search for premises in the harbour area. The sailing club also need to accommodate the dingy section which has been very successful in recent years. 

This move has been mooted for a wee while now - flashback two years to a Gurn report of a NICE meeting in the Sailing Club:  

A symbiosis seems to be rapidly developing between the dingy training element of the Sailing Club and the Nairn Kayakers. Both expressed their desire to continue training local young people and dispel the myth that Sailing and Kayaking are elitist sports. Presently both organisations are based down at the former McDermotts yard at Ardersier and given the possibility of industrial development there again they both face an uncertain future in that location.

Nairn Kayak Club website here.   Nairn Sailing Club here. 

Nairn River and Nairn West and Suburban Community Councils - there will be contested elections. Other Nairnshire CCs no contest.

Here are the names of the River CC candidates (screenshot from PDF downloaded from Highland Council site). There will be an election on 18th November unless any candidates withdraw their nomination by 4pm on Thursday.

Here are the names of the West Suburban CC candidates (screenshot from PDF downloaded from Highland Council site). There will be an election on 18th November unless any candidates withdraw their nomination by 4pm on Thursday.

Cawdor and West, East Nairnshire and Auldearn CCs will have no contest. See all the lists by downloading PDF files from the Highland Council site here

Gurn opinion: Let’s not play Russian Roulette with the paddling pool with massive cuts on the horizon!

We are told that some members of a focus group of parents thought that the paddling pool might not be the best value for money and from that it  it seems we are going to have a consultation on options for the paddling pool site – including an option of a “splash park”. This observer would suggest that it is a dangerous
time to be thinking along such lines. It may be worthwhile trying to put in a lottery bid for playground cash for elsewhere in town on the lines of the Ardersier bid but the times they are a-changing for the worst. 

The worry is that at a time when Highland Council is scratching its head and working out how to cut the budget by £35 million (and there is a suggestion in the P&J that it may even be more than that) then hard pressed departments and officers who may now be able to help plot out other options and deliver them might not even be in position next year. Just what will be left of Highland Council and its arms-length off-shoot Highland Highlife after the cuts are agreed? There are those who maintain that Nairn doesn’t get its fair share of resources already and so we will lose disproportionately. Can we be sure that what is left locally of Council resources after the cuts will even be able perform it’s existing functions let alone project manage the transformation of the paddling pool into something else (even if massive amounts of funding could be found and the community convinced that that is the best option)? 

When you suggest that the paddling pool may suffer because of the cuts, it is
said: “The paddling pool is nothing to do with what Inverness gets, it is a Nairn common good asset and is funded locally by the common good money.” But it is the Highland Council and Highland Highlife who are intimately involved with the Paddling Pool and they are about to enter a cuts apocalypse that might see many sacred cows herded to the Glenquhart Road slaughter house. It's a new ball game and anything could happen. Let’s play safe and hunker down for the storm.

It is not a time for further focus groups, it is time to draw a line in the sand and fight for what we have. The paddling pool works for Nairn, let’s keep it and let’s tell Highland Council that in no uncertain terms before the cuts come. It isn’t time to play Russian Roulette with one of Nairn’s iconic resources.

Monday, October 05, 2015

"Nairn cannot put up the shutters to development and stagnate"

In relation to Provost Laurie Fraser's warning that the town's infrastructure cannot cope with more development, Councillor Michael Green is quoted in the Press and Journal:

"We, in our dual role as elected members and trustees of the Nairn Common Good Fund, need to move the process forward and agree a post-bypass plan for the future shape and development of Nairn."

Suidheachadh-bàn Croileagan Inbhir Narann - Vacancy at Nairn Gaelic play group

Do you have any unusual apple trees?

If you have any apple trees that produce unusual varieties of apples or simply are good croppers in the Nairnshire soil then the orchard group of Nairn Allotment Society would like to hear from you. The Group have now established over 60 fruit trees (a mixture of Scottish heritage and more popular varieties) and are hoping to graft more trees next spring and would be delighted to try and add one or two local delights to their colection. 

If you have an unusual tree please send an image of the apples and some information to 

Perhaps you might have a tree that has a bit of history or a tale attached to it too, if so, the apple group would like to hear from you and record as much of Nairnshire's apple history as possible. 

If you have a favourite tree that you would like to see grafted then the NAS apple folk might be able to help you. Please contact

Apple rootstocks ready for "chip and bud" grafting 

Interesting display in library window - IV12 Photography Club

Interesting work in the library window today with a group of photographers "frustrated by photographic convention". 

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Courier dips its toe into Nairn affairs

This observer would expect that next week's Nairnshire (available at several outlets on a Monday night) will have tested the water too with further analysis. If you haven't seen the paddling pool polemic yet then there's several posts on the Save the Paddling Pool Facebook page here and a Gurn article which attracted considerable comment  here. 

Parallel cycling lanes next to A96 bypass "Transport Scotland were remarkably hostile" says Community Councillor

At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Suburban Community Council the Chair, Dick Youngson, told the meeting that they had recently had a quite a useful meeting with Transport Scotland and their consultants Jacobs concerning the bypass. 

Brian Stewart, Secretary of West CC, made one very specific point arising out of the bypass meeting Dick outlined. He said:

“It may not be something that everyone wants to sign up to but one of the questions that came up, I was one of several people who raised it. When they get around to building the bypass, are they going to do, as they have done with parts of the A9 and as we have also got between Sainsbury’s and Auldearn, are they going to put in a cycle lane? A separate cycle lane alongside it because if they are zoning a strip of land all the way around Nairn it seems an obvious thing to improve is to do a parallel, separate cycle lane. There is no way people are going to want to cycle on a dual-carriageway but cycling is important for Nairn, cycling is a policy priority. So there is a strong argument for using the opportunity of this new build to design in cycle routes as well as just cycle crossings along this section. 

Transport Scotland were remarkably hostile, the furthest they would go was to kind of suggest at each end of the bypass where there’s junctions and roundabouts, they might put in crossing areas so that any existing cycle route could then find its way not under or over but across – which kind of misses the point. I did draw their attention to what they do up and around Dalwhinnie and what they have done with the new bit of the dual carriageway of the A9. I don’t know whether the National Park Authority insists on this but it is something that Transport Scotland will only deliver if they are prevailed upon to do it because they themselves see it either as necessary or desirable. If Highland Council is serious about encouraging healthy routes to school, about encouraging cycling and all the rest of it, this is something that at the moment isn’t in the plans and arguably should be."

Gurn comment: it would be a brave individual that cycled to Inverness along the A96 these days or even over the back road unofficial bypass but it isn't unknown. There is a cycle route over the hills to Inverness of course which is part of the national cycle network but it takes you via a 26 mile route so it is impractical for commuting purposes for all or part of the way to Inverness. Brian Stewart is right, building the A96 bypass and the dual carriageway to Inverness presents an opportunity to put in a facility to encourage more and safer cycling in the area. Will our politicians act to ensure this happens? It is the kind of deed that needs to be done to make all the pro-cycling spin a reality.    

Cove 6 Nairn 1 - Pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

"A lot happening in the background" says Liz but "all our roads are still unsafe" says Dick Youngson

Dick Youngson told the meeting of the Suburban CC on Wednesday night that he wrote to Highland Council’s William Gillfinnan on the behalf of the town’s three Community Councils talking about not only the 18 tonne restriction on the White Bridge but really about the impact it is going to have on all the B-class and unclassified roads.

He said: “because none of them around Nairn are really safe roads for heavy goods vehicles let along cars doing a rat run trying to get where they want quicker.”

Dick was worried about pedestrians and cyclists that couldn’t get onto the verges to escape traffic on these roads. He stated: “our whole road system has to be reviewed.

Liz then said: “There has been a design drawn up for alternative routes for the White Bridge and that will be coming to PDI* and there will also be a report coming to Community Services which is the Roads and Transport Committee on the 5th of November. Hopefully we can move it forward and then there is another meeting scheduled for the support group for the White Bridge. So there is a lot happening in the background and there are reports being drawn up.”

Dick then said: “No matter what is drawn up all our roads are still unsafe. They are really not fit for this type of diversion or transport or use the whole lot have to be looked at again. That’s no easy task.”

*Local government jargon for Planning, Development and Infrastructure.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Paddling Pool - statement from Cllr Michael Green

Michael Green told the Gurn:

‘The Nairn Paddling Pool is the focal point of the Links play area and has been since I was a kid growing up in Nairn. However, over the last few years the Common Good Fund has paid out large sums of money for repairs, which have often led to unscheduled closures. We now need to have a widespread debate, via Community Councils and possibly a Ward Forum, on what aspirations the people of Nairn have for not only the Paddling Pool and play area, but the whole of the seafront, from the Harbour to the Baths.

It is up to myself and my ward colleagues to set the agenda, plus facilitate forums for widespread consultation.

Personally, I believe that as a bare minimum, we need to refurbish the paddling pool over the winter, or preferably provide an enhanced facility.'

Nairn Sunsets - timelapse sequences of some of this week's stunning scenes

The Gurn is happy to help efforts to break the internet with pictures and videos of the really amazing sunsets that we have had this week. Four in a row tonight? And thanks indeed to David Brownless who sends us these timelapse videos that he has been experimenting with.


Bill Young’s Common Good Concerns

At the West CC meeting in the Academy on Tuesday Night Bill Young raised concerns about Common Good Funds. He said:

He questioned once again the annual sum of £9,000 that the Common Good Fund pays to the Fisheries Board. He said that it was unclear why the Common Good Fund is paying that instead of the Council. He also asked if the Common Good was any closer to a management strategy. 

Cllr Liz MacDonald replied that it was because of the lease that the angling association have that we have to pay nine thousand pounds. 

Bill came back: “The lease is with the Council not with the Common Good Fund.” Bill also said he was waiting for an answer on correspondence on this point. 

He then said: “The second thing is, with Sandown waiting in the wings, the property market is picking up again so at some stage we will want to attract and realise the asset. Are we any closer to a management strategy which has been on the agenda for some considerable time?”

Liz MacDonald then said: “This month we had a meeting with the wetlands group as well to promote to them the idea of what we are going to do in that field and I probably think we would want to take forward a strategy if it had community support.”

Bill then said: “I don’t want to get involved too much in the wetlands but it doesn’t seem to me the best use of a Common Good asset.”

Liz continued: “We had a section of that land set aside for housing within the charrette process that was undertaken and that is a part that we have to take forward...”

Bill said: “I would like to see that in the context of what else is planned for Sandown not just little bits at a time because that is part of the reason we seem to have got to this mess. We carve little bits with no overall strategy as to how it is supposed to all fit together.”

Liz went on to say that they were hoping to take forward proposals but they had been advised quite strongly by officers not to take anything forward without community support.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Save Nairn Paddling Pool" Facebook group formed

What did we all do before the internet? This morning just before seven we published an article relating the events from last night's Nairn West Community Council meeting in Nairn Academy. In that meeting the option of removing the paddling pool and replacing it with play equipment was seriously mooted by Councillor Liz MacDonald as a discussion that could soon be entering the public domain. Article here. 

At 8.18 a comment was received which stated: "A Facebook page has been set up " Save Nairn Paddling Pool" please like and share!"

We have just let that and other comments go through to appear on the page, it is now 9.39 and the public Facebook group "Save Nairn Paddling Pool" has 109 members - you can view it here. 

The internet certainly speeds up citizen reaction to events that occur in Nairn's civic self by way of Community Council meetings.

Update 18.45 Lots of debate ongoing tonight on the new page.