Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gurn's Christmas holidays

The Gurn will be winding down this week for an extended Christmas break and will return mid January. Unfortunately the Gurnmeister has too many projects piling up and has to pay full attention to a few pressing matters. It is great fun editing the Gurn but it can be time consuming and thus a wee break is necessary. In the meantime you may get some topical debate over at Brian's or even Bill's blog (if he sorts out what is making his blog so slow). If you get withdrawals you should be aware that you too could easily become the next Nairnshire blogosphere sensation if you wish, it is soooooooo easy to create a blog on the blogspot service.
So have a good one folks and see you in January sometime.
Nollaig chridheil dhuibh uile agus bliadhna mhath ùr nuair a thig e
(as they say in the other language) :-)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hamish remembers his first fag

The sun is trying to break through the heavy mist covering the top of the hill opposite my home, 1600 feet above sea level, and it is quite cold outside and so I’ve been browsing the Gurn from Nairn whilst having my morning ‘break’. There I find two pictures of properties on the market – The Latino Restaurant and Jacko’s which evoke memories.

Are they pictures of the same building taken at different times and sited between Burntisland Street and King Street?

If this is the case I recall that before the war the premises were owned by a local man – today he might have been considered an entrepreneur since he owned and rented a number of domestic property in addition to other business enterprises in that part of the town – and at the rear of the shop were two rooms. In one was a full sized billiards table and in the other a half-size billiard table. Snooker was not as popular then as now.

The smaller table got more use than did the “big” one by young lads. We each paid a penny for a game of “fifty up” or for a half hour whichever was the earliest but provided there were no other lads waiting to play that half hour was often extended so that fifty point were on the board.

I smoked my first ever cigarette in the bigger of the two rooms and felt very ill afterwards – don’t think I finished it.
Thanks Hamish. Latino's is in the location you are describing, Jacko's is a bit further down harbour Street.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Freedom for Nairnia campaign: more pictures

Pictures now posted on the Gurn's google pics account, also a slideshow here. If you have published pictures on line too, please tell the Gurn, we'll put a link in to them.

Nairnia will be free!

Another fantastic winterfest success. Here's the Provost of Nairnia doing her bit to free the kingdom from tyranny. More pictures later.

Rumours of massive pro-Woolies demonstration tonight!

The Gurn's usual unreliable sources indicate that there will be a massive demonstration tonight in support of Woolworths. We are trying to find out more and will report later. In the meantime with the increase of folk coming down for a look and perhaps a final shop in the iconic flagship High Street store, the Highland Council have installed a public viewing platform to enable free flow of pedestrians and traffic.

West End Discrimination?‏

Having just moved to the "Prestigious" West End from the other side of the A96 I was expecting a reduction in my car insurance when I notified my insurers of my change of address. No such discount was forthcoming. Have I been discriminated against?
Aggrieved West Ender

Mistaken identity

The Gurnmeister would like to firmly deny that he/she is a local plumber.

MP arrested for doing his job?

It isn't often the Gurn goes off-topic and directly comments on mainstream London politics but the arrest of Damian Green MP is very worrying indeed. Maybe you don't normally give a toss about politics especially anything connected with the Tories but you should pay interest this time. The Gurnmeister makes no secret of his life-long distate for the Tory party but when the cops start arresting politicians for the like of this we must all be very wary indeed.
According to Tory Blogger Iain Dale:
'His "crime" has been to reveal Home Office statistics and misconduct which they tried to cover up. If it is now a crime for a politician to do this sort of thing then just think how many other people should have been arrested - Robert Peston being a good recent example. What about government ministers who relished leaking information about the PBR?'
More here, and our local Blogger Bill has also written an article.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The night Woolies died

Quite ironic that less than an hour after Woolies went into administration the Nairn Ward Partnership were to meet just across the road from the Nairn store in the Courthouse and discuss the town centre redevelopment plan. It seems both Somerfield and the Highland Council are putting a brave face on it and moving towards January when, hopefully, outstanding issues can be addressed. And that is? Well something called ‘purifying the title’ on the Council side and preparing a ‘Green Travel Plan’ on the Somerfield side. The Trunk Roads Authority still need to make an input too. Yes they are working hard behind the scenes but as we know there are other factors that will come into play soon and the Co-op seem not to be in the slightest bit interested in letting the Council know what is their ultimate intention with the Nairn store and as for dealing with the folk at Somerfield - well they are a business sitting on death row, they will quite happily fill in the time talking to anyone who still takes them seriously. We’ve heard it all before really, the rest you can make up for yourself in the meantime, maybe someone will market a ‘Strictly Nairn town centre redevelopment’ game for Christmas. The real fun comes in 2009. Sheena Baker asked her usual question about what would happen once the town land was finally handed over to the supermarket owner and say, they didn’t build a new supermarket? Her big worry is that this might happen and there would be no way that Nairn could get the land back. Reading in-between the lines of the response she got from officials the Gurnmesiter reckons that would be it, the land would be gone for good out of public ownership.

There were also council officials giving talks about how community groups can apply for funding, very complicated stuff and you must meet the criteria and have matching funding etc, the Gurnmeister got very bored with it and after the discussion on Somerfield and a bit about other developments that didn’t really reveal anything new, another gentleman in a suit got up to deliver a presentation. The Gurn made its excuses and left. You can get too much of all this 'masterplan' stuff, this wish list stuff, this A96 corridor stuff, this meeting in Edinburgh stuff. Fair play to anyone that stayed the course, the Gurn salutes your courage.

Never mind the Somerfield saga, tonight please spare a thought for the woolies staff who will come down the street tomorrow to an uncertain future and wondering even if there will be anything left in their pension fund. There were billions available for the banks – will the government give anything to help the 30,000 woolies staff?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Learn to haggle

No matter what you think of the latest budget, the great majority of us are tightening our belts when it comes to spending. Spurtle made a humorous remark about a Turkish coffee shop coming to High street that made me think about bartering. In many other countries no-one would ever dream of paying the full advertised price for an item. In the UK we tend to be shy of such ways and Mr Shop Person must be very happy when we march in and say ‘I’ll take one of those please’, hand over our cash for whatever the amount is on the sale ticket and leave. Some of us now shop around on the web and get a best price that way, although usually it is just that, a best price with no haggle factor as you don’t get to speak to a real person.So gripping those precious notes or pieces of plastic where should you begin? Small items are probably not a good idea, and the queue in the supermarket won’t thank you for trying to knock a penny off a carton of milk. Use the Internet to find the nearest cheapest local price (Argos for example) as well as that of purely an on-line retailer such as Amazon. Now choose your store and enter when it is quiet rather than knee deep in customers. If possible go armed with a few print outs of the prices you can obtain the item for elsewhere (They might not have Internet access). This method worked for me when purchasing a new vacuum cleaner. A local electrical shop was prepared to match the price of a large chain in Inverness. I not only obtained a good price but saved myself a drive - just goes to prove that you can get a bargain in Nairn High Street and don’t have to go elsewhere!Another good tip is to haggle whenever a renewal comes up such as a house or car insurance. Again do some research on the Internet to get alternative prices but play the loyalty card ‘I’d really like to renew again with you this year but I can get better prices from other companies’ (You may have to name them!). This saved me 10% today and to be honest the original price was pretty good but the call centre person said they would be keen to keep my custom.So Nairnites, surprise yourself and our shop keepers and try haggling up the street (Wish the Turkish coffee shop was a reality though!)

Highland 2007 - a bitter legacy of anger?

The Gurnmeister was aware that a lot of people were not happy with what we were served up for the year long cultural event. For some it goes beyond that and they have found a vehicle to express their anger with the organisers and Highland Council in general. Usually articles on the Inverness Courier site do not attract many comments but a recent article about the failure of the Highland 2007 marketing campaign has so far attracted over 50 comments. Not very nice reading for the organisers of last years failed cultural flagship extravaganza.

The Fisher Lassies

AyeRight has his culture hat on :)
BBC Radio Scotland has been making a series of programs recording people’s lives. In this program it looks at the fisher lassies, those women who followed the herring fleets around the country. This episode records the recollections of women from Nairn and also Lossiemouth.
It was first broadcast last week
but it is available on BBC iPlayer for another few days - well worth listening to.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Help needed with big effigies!

Want to support Nairn High Street? Now's you chance to put your back into it!
'The procession through Nairn will include the White Witch’s large war chariot, pulled by two burly polar bears, as well as new creations including a water dragon and a giant effigy of Aslan, the lion.
But volunteers are still needed to carry the new structures through Nairn High Street.
Can you help with Friday night's show, more details on the event and how to help over on the P&J site.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yours for £120,000?

Latino Restaurant on the market.
'Latino Restaurant in Nairn fronts onto Harbour Street. Accommodating 34 diners, the restaurant's Liqueur Licence runs to 31st August 2009. Run for 4 years as a restaurant and take away and ideally situated to attract visitors to Nairn's beach front and historic Fishertown.'
Full details here.

A quick walk around the wonder of Woolies

The Christmas lights going up this morning. Later on the Gurnmeister had a stroll around Woolworths, hoping that it would still be in existence next week and that wasn't the last time ever inside the familiar store. Let us hope the lights in the Woolworth building will not be turned off before the Christmas lights go on. Once again a part of Nairn's retail landscape awaits the decision of others far away from the town.
Perhaps we should have a march to save Woolies? - only joking Spurtles.

The Gurn, an influential blog? In at number 93 anyway!

'Not wishing to overly put down the influence of bloggers on corporate reputations in our earlier post, here are the top bloggers using Blogspot as their platform...'

They list a hundred of them here and well, we are in at number 93. Obviously this isn't an article about the best blogs in the world just somebody's idea of the blogs that get noticed a little when it comes to this field. Not bad for a bunch gurny gurnites! That's what we get for talking/obsessing about supermarkets all the time.?

They continue:
'Not just an automated web-clipping service, our people actively monitor what is being written by consumers, employees, shareholders and activists. We provide our clients with the very best early warning of public concerns and expectations. Being aware of what people are saying is essential to reputation management, helps compliance with the risk assessments and provides a foundation for a meaningful dialogue with stakeholders. '

The Gurnmeister suspects, however, that we may be a tad overated , or maybe some influential people do read us but never admit it in public?

Airport development good for Nairn?

Brian and Nairnbairn discuss over at My Nairn.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sainsbury's public inquiry won't start until mid or late March!

Disappointment for anyone who was expecting a speedy start and a quick conclusion to the inquiry. From the agenda for the pre-inquiry meeting to be held on the 1oth December, it seems that the Reporter intends for things to kick off almost three months into the new year. The Gurn urges all supporters of this project to prepare for this inquiry. Maybe when it does eventually start we should have a demonstration to show our support for this project - well it's more than that, yes it is Sainsbury's application but it is our fundamental demand for the shopping facilities that other towns of our size take for granted. Our demand not to have to travel on the dangerous, overcrowded A96 in search of a decent choice of food. If ,for any reason, this inquiry was to find against the wishes of the people of Nairn, then it would be the biggest scandal for a generation.
Sorry if the picture is a little small but hopefully you can make out the full agenda

Petition to get the Gaelic channel on freeview

There's a petition on the Scottish Parliament website calling for BBC Alba to be available on freeview. The channel, so far only available on Sky (channel 168) and one other small satillite provider is none the less attracting a lot of viewers, regardless of the language it seems to be providing the sort of programmes people want. If you haven't had a look yet give it a try, there are subtitles in english on a few programmes. Now when you consider that this channel was set up with £14 million and the idiot Jonathon Ross is on a £17 million contract it puts into perspective what you can do if you simply give real talent a chance instead of foisting loudmouth fools on us and claiming that they are 'talent'.
So why isn't the channel on freeview? Are the authorities scared that too many people will watch it, turning away from the mainstream rubbish that fills so many prime time hours on the main channels? The Gurnmeiseter hopes you will consider signing the petition.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Forres to get retail development before Nairn?

Soon there may be even more to tempt Nairnites through to do their shopping in Forres. As if the major draws of Tesco and Lidl weren't enough, now a major new retail scheme is planned along the road in the neighbouring town.

'NEWS of a £25 million retail and commercial development which is being proposed on a site on the edge of Forres has received a mixed response from people living around the area.
The proposed investment was announced last week by "RedCo Milne Assets", who unveiled plans for a massive development along the Bogton Road corridor from the Mosset Burn end, taking in the old Tesco site to near the junction with Romach Road.
The development could pave the way for a supermarket, petrol station, 60-bed hotel, visitor centre, retail park, garden centre and shoppers car park, with improved pedestrian access onto the High Street and town centre, as well as re-location to a new stadium for Forres Mechanics.'
The full story here on the Forres Gazette's site. As Nairn waits for others to make decisions, will Forres take another step forward, leapfrogging ahead of Nairn again?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Westerlea: yours for £475,000

'Beautifully presented, attractive, traditional, fully licensed Highland Hotel. Excellent central trading location in the ever popular seaside town of Nairn. Trading profitably on strong, year round mixed trade. Owners accommodation and 5 good quality en-suite letting bedrooms.'

Woolworths: yours for a pound!

The Gurn wonders what it all means for a landmark High Street building. Could another building shortly become available for 'town centre redevelopment?' We are certainly living through a time of great change and it is a bit hard to imagine the High Street without Woolworth's but that sadly may become a reality.
'Woolworths is in talks to sell its entire high street business to Hilco, the specialist distressed fund, for £1.
Any deal will require the approval of the troubled chain’s banking syndicate, which recently appointed restructuring advisers from Deloitte to guide it on further loan negotiations with Woolworths.
The talks are likely to hinge on how much of Woolworth’s debt Hilco, a global turnaround specialist, is willing to take on. Negotiations over the responsibility for the £100 million pension fund deficit, which Hilco will not want to assume, will also be difficult. '

Full article
here on the Times site.
Another times page grimly states:
'Shares in Woolworths, which have been worth less than 10p for most of the year, closed 5.81 per cent down at 3.8p yesterday. Retail analysts have suggested they have no value. '

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday in Nairn c. 1933‏

Hamish has watched the film on the Scottish Screen archives previous linked in the Gurn and once again he helps bring past events back to life for us.
Near to the junction of Albert Street and Seabank Road and in the latter there is a large house named 'Linkside' - I believe that in the 1930's it was owned and occupied by the Arburthnot family - and beyond that in the direction of the shore there was a property with the name Kevin. This really is taxing my memory but I'd say that the entrance gates shown in the film clip gave access to that house. If the large white building seen in the background is the Golf View Hotel and the clip of Mr. Lamb and daughter walking the ponies along the Prom confirms that the hotel was a white building at that time then if the building in question is not Kevin I'd say it is one very close to it.
Incidentally the "mystery beast" picture is one of a fairly large badly burnt tree root. It won a gill bottle of whisky as a prize in a competition run by Aberdeen Press and Journal.
Best wishes Hamish

Our very own film makers

AyeRight eyes the talent:

Google Earth is an ever growing product offering more and more features. Its not a new feature, but Google Earth allows you to show YouTube film uploads for any given area on the planet. If we look at Nairn in Google Earth we can see several YouTube films, the directors range from holiday makers to local loons. I wonder how long it will be before we can have a Nairn film festival showing locally made films?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waiter, is that a rat in my soup?

AyeRight becomes a food sleuth:

Usually before stepping out for a carry oot I consult my Michelin guide or Google the establishment to see what great food critic has stepped through it’s doors and shredded all but the very structure of the building to pieces. Tonight though my choice of eaterie has been decided by a report on establishments from the local environmental health inspectors. Stars they do nor give out but a critique of all health risks they do, it makes sober reading. Next time you visit a food establishment it might be best not to offer your compliments to the chef but ask if chef has washed his or her hands before preparing your meal! And yes a rat (Dead) was found in the basement of one Nairn establishment in recent times. The credit crunch is apparently leading us to eat at home and sales of take away type spices etc are soaring but the real reason might become apparent when you read the inspectors report - bon appétit?

Rupert Murdoch must have been reading the Gurn

Ayeright has been reading the wisdom of the media mogul in a Guardian article:
"Today editors are losing this power. The internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself."
That sums it up doesn't it? Dear fellow citizens of Gurnia - if we're nae happy about an issue, we'll just gurn all over the information super-highway about it. The people are their own media now!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AyeRight is sleeping... (Honest)

AyeRight caused a panic with his more vigilant neighbours by sleeping in this morning. ‘Normally I am up by 06:30’ said AyeRight, ‘but last night there were a lot of rowdies on the street and I simply slept in’. The local community were concerned that the curtains remained drawn at AyeRight’s abode long after 06:30. Closed curtains have meant only one thing for vigilant Nairnites in recent weeks, that of cannabis cultivation.Luckily AyeRight climbed out of his sack and drew the curtains just in time to avert being awoken by the drug squad.‘Folk were really concerned’ said AyeRight. ‘I can’t blame them for thinking the unthinkable, especially as they know I am a keen gardener and had just taken delivery of a pile of dung, I’ve never inhaled any drugs’. Keen to assist any Nairnite thinking of sleeping in, AyeRight has designed this poster to place at his window next time he fancies an extra long sleep.‘To assist our local vigilantes I ask everyone to print out this poster and place in in the window anytime they know they might not be up at their usual hour’ stated AyeRight ‘Lets try and eradicate growing drug problem in our community and help crime fighters'.

Mill Road tree felling

The sad end of several mature elms that were killed by Dutch Elm Disease earlier this year.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday night at the blogs

Nairn blogger Bill is talking about the merits of buying the Big Issue, the Gurnmeister doesn't believe in that anymore. Meanwhile Ayeright has stumbled upon a slightly out of date guide to Nairn that is a very strange read indeed. 'A trip advisor with bad attitude', suggests Ayeright.
Cheers everyone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shock for Jordon House residents

The Gurn has been forwarded a copy of a letter sent to residents of Jordon House. The Albyn Housing Society will not be renewing the lease they have on the building in February 2010 and this obviously has serious implications for the residents. Albyn cite, 'current commitments, financial restrictions and the current economic climate' as their reasons for taking this decision. Hopefully some means will be found to allow folk to continue to live there. In the current climate that sort of letter is the last thing you need to help you lead a stress-free life. Maybe the only proper type of affordable housing should be council housing, under the control of demcratically elected councillors? Click on the letter to enlarge to read the full text.

I know where I'm going

AyeRight finds the bolts:

'Welcome to the bench mark database.The database contains records of Ordnance Survey bench marks, with particular focus on the numbered flush brackets which appear on walls and buildings across Britain. In addition, fundamental bench marks, projecting brackets, tidal observatories, and other bench marks are also included, to help give a more complete picture of the levelling lines'.
If you were wondering what the 'bolt' was on the Town Hall all is now explained. Follow the bolts and never get lost again!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holidays in Nairn 1933

Ayeright came across a few fragments of film on the Scottish Screen Archive. The Bowser family in a rented house in Nairn and visiting Findhorn . Any ideas on which house?

Newton Hotel or the Maryborough Hotel and Spa?

Ayeright has been out and about surfing again and he has clicked on a real enigma. Anyone heard of the Maryborough Hotel and Spa, on the Inverness Road Nairn? There's a very nice web page telling you all about the facilities but if you got into a taxi at the airport and asked for that address would you get there? The picture on the bottom of the page looks familiar though.

Mystery beast on the beach

Thanks to Hamish for this picture of a mystery animal he took during one of his visits home. Did anyone else see it?
Hamish also has another Harbour related memory for us. Does it ring any bells with any of the Gurn's older readers?
'In addition to harbouring drifters and smaller local fishing vessels two colliers - the Swift and the Wisbech - arrived there from time to time from Stockton-on-Tees with cargoes of coal for John Gordon the Coal Merchant. I believe they may have carried timber from Nairn to Hartlepool on some return trips. The colliers were registered in Aberdeen and owned by two brothers by the name of Smith.'

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nairnshire Flickr Group

Just discovered the Nairnshire group on flickr, they're keen for people to post material. Here's their main page. An excellent slide show isn't it? Please spread the word about its existence.

No man's land

Sung by a girl called Holly for her great-grandfather - you can read a letter written by him from the Somme if you follow this link.

How do others see us?

Asks Ayeright:

I’m a big fan of web sites such as Trip Advisor. It allows for paying customer to give feedback on accommodation and food outlets throughout most of the world.
To my cost I have discovered that is can be all too easy these days for hotels and restaurants to employ a great web designer and have carefully shot photos only for you to arrive at your destination to be bitterly disappointed and voting with your feet by vowing never to darken their doors again. I appreciate that my views and tastes when it comes to the catering and the hotel trade may be very different from others, but the feedback left by Trip Advisor tends to give a good overview as to what to expect (Or not, and hence avoid!).
So how does Nairn fair? Have a look at
Trip Advisor.

Some of the info is a bit out of date with regard restaurants, but in general Nairn comes out quite well in terms of feedback. Maybe Nairnites could update the restaurant part of the site and keep potential visitors up to date?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A96 not on ex-Bobby's beat?

A publicity leaflet for the SNP's Westminster parliamentry candidate came through the Gurnmesiter's letterbox recently. Extolling the electorate to put ex-policeman John Finnie 'on the Westminster beat'. Now regulars will know that the Gurnmeister is an SNP supporter and cannot seriously envisage voting for any other party in the future. However, John Finnie's leaflet has raised concerns with this supporter. Among the 'If elected John will..' commitments is something concerning the road networks in the area:
'Support the Scottish Government's commitment to dual the A9 and lobby to ensure funding for the Inverness Trunk Link Road.'
And the A96 please? I'm sure that John Finnie will support a Nairn by-pass, can't think why it didn't rate a mention on the leaflet though? The last thing we need is the SNP going Invercentric on us.
Ma bhrùthas sibh air an dealbh gheibh thu fear nas mhotha agus chì thu gu bheil Iain ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig ge-tà, sin thu fhèin a bhalaich!

Friday, November 07, 2008

On a warm sunny day in July of 1927

On reading recently about Brooman's Well and its having had a major makeover and the reference to the 'valley' by Min Walker from Tomnarroch Farm in NewZealand set me wondering why the 'wishing well' in the valley has been so badly neglected. The whereabouts of the latter was much better known by the people of Nairn in the years before the war. It was reputed to be a "Wishing Well" and I can confirm that wishes made after partaking a drink of water from it can be, and sometimes are, granted. On a warm, sunny day in July of 1927 my Mother took me to the 'valley' where we had a picnic and sitting together alongside the well she told me that ifI sipped a little of the water and made a wish that that wish might come true. I did just that and wished for a baby sister to play with and, believe it or not, two weeks later my sister Jean was born. I have often wondered was I primed to make such a wish??

Meanwhile over on the Gurn on Sunday

A few pictures posted and the Gurnmeister whines on at length about the lack of a future for the book publishing industry? 

Man (and Nairn) does not live by shopping alone

A very interesting comment came in on response Number 29 on the Gurn's shopping survey.
You can take part yourself here and see all the responses so far here:
'Man (and Nairn) does not live by shopping alone. While exercises like this might be interesting, the results are fairly predictable. The greater risk is that this takes our eye off the ball. While we obsess about Sainsburys, supermarkets and shopping, we fail to notice the juggernaut which threatens to obliterate Nairn's remaining attractive features. The cumulative impact of developments within the framework of the appalling Inverness/A96 Corridor plan pose an existential threat to the town of Nairn. It's not surveys we need - it's a public awareness campaign!'
Regulars will know that the Gurn has more than touched on this subject since its creation and we will continue to do so. Nothing to stop anyone else blogging on the subject however. The Gurn will link to anyone who sets up such a 'public awareness' blog or website.
UPDATE 1430:'A96' has commented and thus we have a response to the response
A96 said...
I unlike response number 29 applaud the Gurn for the shopping survey. It might well be that the results are no great surprise but thus far it confirms Gurn readers unhappiness with what Nairn as a retail venue has to offer and also their disquiet with Highland Council. Clearly a large amount of Nairnite money is being spent outwith Nairn which must be of concern to current local businesses, and those thinking of moving to the town. The topic of shopping has rightly been debated in the Gurn before and I very much hope that it will provide a platform for further discussion on this very important issue. The future of Nairn is dependent upon us getting the right balance of shopping facilities so that we are not traveling to nearby towns.With regard proposed developments along the A96. To my knowledge there has been a large amount of publicity for each and every proposal which I would have thought would have been brought to the attention of most Nairnites and hence most of us are already very aware of the impact such developments might have upon Nairn? Unpalatable as many of these proposals may be to current residents this is a separate issue to that of shopping in Nairn and who knows, maybe the Gurn will run a survey covering this subject (But I think the results may be predictable) And for the record women (and Nairn) do not live by shopping alone, not just men!

AyeRight dons his film festival hat

AyeRight writes:
Tilda may be hosting film festivals around the world post this years event in Nairn (As reported in the Gurn) but just across the Firth Cromarty are once again staging their film festival Their opening venue is unique in that it will be on the tiny car ferry which sailed to Nigg - very limited seats but visit their website and you could win a ticket No deck chairs or bean bags from what I can see but looks as though it will be a very good event if you can attend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Gurn's shopping survey for Nairn residents

Please take a couple of minutes to fill in a few questions on our shopping survey. You'll find it here.
Update: the survey only running for an hour and a few statistics produced already. This results page will be updated daily. There are also some very interesting comments coming in.

Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams template goes to Beijing

'But now the actress Tilda Swinton is taking her off-beat film festival from her home town of Nairn to the other side of the world – Beijing. Cinema fans in the Chinese capital will be treated to Scottish classics, from the urban grittiness of Trainspotting to the 1945 romance I Know Where I'm Going!.'
The full story on the Scotsman.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hamish remembers the opening of the harbour basin

Our correspondent Hamish writes again for the Gurn:
I have been reading again Graeme's recent letter re. his walk around the harbour, the links and along the river and memories of the opening of the new harbour basin in the mid thirties came to mind. The weather was fine and dry and children from Millbank School were assembled in the area at present used as a viewpoint over towards the Sutors. Pupils from the Academy may have been there too but I'm not sure about that. I visualize the drifter fleet tied up alongside the east pier and the 'Flagship' of the fleet - The Brighton of The North - sailing past them and a ribbon stretched across the entrance to the harbour basin being cut by Lady Grant. As I recall Lady Grant was the wife of Sir Alexander Grant who was, I believe, the owner of McVitie's biscuits and a close friend of Ramsay McDonald the Prime Minister. After the opening ceremony all of the school children assembled in two large marquees which had been erected on the cricket ground and where lots of soft drinks, buns and biscuits were consumed. A day to remember.
Kind regards
and a wee PS from Hamish:
When I attended the school of that name in 1934/36 (the Academy) It's official name was Rose's Academical Institution. There is a website on Google but having made many attempts to download the information I have had no success. Does anyone have any knowledge as to the origin of that name?

All change at another Nairn watering-hole?

The details are available for Jacko's on the Belhaven website if anyone fancies a career change.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote Tilda

Your chance to vote for Tilda, not for the next Provost (shame) but for the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland awards: Screen nominees here.
Update: 'Lottaletters' informs the Gurn: This week on Thursday 6th November in Los Angeles, Tilda is to receivethe BAFTA/LA Britannia Award for Artist of the Year 2008.
Many congratulations Tilda

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nairn police hunt panto horse and cow

TWO party-goers dressed as a pantomime horse and cow were being hunted by police last night over a drunken Halloween fight.
The bizarre pair were caught up in a brawl with two other men and a woman after a fancy dress party.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How supermarkets view Nairn

Inspired by this article, Ayeright muses again:
Just about all Nairnites I know want more choice in our home town when it comes to grocery shopping. I am not sure as to how supermarkets view Nairn, but I wonder if we come across as a desperate cap in hand bunch who would accept a new supermarket anywhere in the town from any of the major players?
News that Inverness would like another multi-story car park made me think about the land we have in the centre of town. Could Nairn not have its own multi story plus supermarket? We could then make the High St pedestrianised and maybe the bus garage could become a terminus for a fleet of busses bringing local folk into the town? All this to be paid for by Highland Council and the new supermarket owners? Maybe I should have saved this article for April 1st - you can but dream!

Tilda and Mark speak out

They're both very worried about changes to Scottish Arts Funding. With everything else going on, or going down the pan perhaps, it is hard for other subjects to register on the radar but here's what Tilda said:
Oscar-winning actress Swinton is leading calls for a significant rethink. She said she was "deeply disturbed" that Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council should pay for the transition costs, and expressed concern about the quality of advice being offered to the government.
"As a Scottish citizen and arts worker I object to the huge hole that will be left in our cultural life by this diversion of funds," she said. "This £4m to £7m bombshell would mean that cultural and arts funding in Scotland will be devastated in the next few financial years and would constitute a dangerously unpopular policy for a Scottish government to implement. Our fear is that this proposed course indicates a lack of practical, intelligent and informed advice available to our executive."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 years wait for an allotment in Nairn

That's what it just about works out at according to members of Nairn Allotment Society. It might be a bit quicker if you are at the top end of the list but it is slow moving to say the least. There are now 27 people on the waiting list for an allotment in Nairn and given that there are only 18 allotments you can see how things are pretty grim. This is even without the Allotment Society publicising the existence of the list. There is a feeling that the real demand in Nairn for allotments would be twice or three times that figure.
Not all hope is lost however, the Nairn Allotment Society has assurances both from the Cawdor Estates developers and Deveron homes that 'substantial' numbers allotments will be included in the plans. So at some time in the future there will be more allotments but waiting for these developments to go ahead in the current climate might be a bit like waiting for a new supermarket in the town centre or a by-pass for the town. Perhaps the Deveron homes people could show their commitment to their project by siting another 18 allotments immediately alongside the existing 18? Surely the council would smooth the way for that?
It is surely a good sign that developers and potential developers are willing to talk to the allotment society, if Nairn must grow then surely open space, woodland areas and plenty of allotments will be needed to prevent Nairn becoming a mess like the growing sprawl that is Inverness.
In addition it appears that the Highland Council have now appointed an 'Allotments Officer' and the Society will meet with this individual soon, high on the agenda will be a proposal to restore the former allotment site in Mill Road.
The Gurn has been told that the Allotment Society plan to canvass local farmers and landowners to see if anyone would be prepared to diversify into providing allotments on a part of their land.
So if you fancy helping out would-be allotment holders by renting out some of your land for their benefit the Nairn Allotment Society would like to hear from you.

Very frosty morning - black ice

It looked very dangerous this morning at the junction of Waverly Road and Cawdor Road. Black ice was covering the roads and the pavements. The Gurnmeister was getting the early train and even the platforms were a sheet of ice. Was it just a localised problem or were other areas of the town hit? Did Highland Council get around to doing anything about it or does gritting only start after 06.00 a.m. ? How was it in your part of town?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proposal to build a 'Gaelic Community' near Inverness

An initiative from Finaly MacLeod. Finlay is a controversial figure in Gaelic circles and recently had a well publicised stuchie with Bòrd na Gàidhlig. He is however considered by some to be a visionary figure and he is acknowledged as being the driving force and the inspiration behind the network of Gaelic pre-school groups that did so much to create demand for a revival of Gaelic teaching in schools. It will be interesting to see if his initiative attracts significant support.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Pic will enlarge

Ayeright Limbos up about this situation:

Nairn should change its name to Limbo (Twinned with No Bypass). Any new visitor to Nairn is now met within the space of a few hundred yards an empty church, an abandoned bar/cinema, an empty bus station, petrol station, and community centre. Soon they will see an empty police station, and who knows what will become of Somerfields?. Is this really a way of attracting folk to visit Nairn? It is hardly welcoming or inviting. With so much up in the air with regard the Sainsburys application this vista is unlikely to change for many, many years. In Inverness faced with a shortage of land they built upwards witness Eastgate one and two. Could we not see the same in Nairn with the bus station area being used as well as the Somerfields/old community centre land to create our own mulit story solution? It would probably look hideous but could anything be worse than the empty buildings we have now? Even if the council had the gumption to purchase empty properties, flatten them and plant some grass it would be ten times better than what we are left with. The recession is likely to put many plans for new supermarkets on hold and I suspect that Nairn might well suffer. Meanwhile how about some constructive thinking to make the centre of out town as seen from the A96 less ghost like?

A tale of two community centres

Picture will enlarge

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How solid are the River Park anti-Sainsbury's rebels?

A letter appeared in this week's Nairnshire from a certain Mr Phil Andrews of River Park. He stated in his opening paragraph: 'Can I say how delighted residents of River Park were when it was announced that the plan for Sainsbury's had been called in.'
Well now River Park begins down at the Grantown Road doesn't it? Are all the folk down at that end of the scheme all against Sainsbury's and supporting the aims of Mr Andrews? Just how strong is the anti Sainsbury feeling? We'll find out when we get to the Public Inquiry. The Gurn reckons Mr Andrews support might not be as large as he thinks. Maybe enough antis in River Park to order a taxi to the inquiry?
In the meantime we're all condemned to travel to Forres and Inverness if we want a better choice of food, not to mention the jobs that we might not see now for a couple of years at least. Aye, delighted indeed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can we have our town back please?

Contributed to the Gurn by Iain Fairweather :
(Update: 18/10/08 further support for Iain, see below and in comments)
In recent years there have been numerous developments in Nairn. Some good, some not so good. There have been bold plans for the town centre. Yet once again these have been stymied because they are too closely aligned with the fortunes of supermarket chains. Perhaps it's time to consider other options. Developers, while correctly going through the right channels, appear to sneaked a few projects under the noses of community councils, or that's how it seems. Some residents are beginning to feel disenfranchised. Decisions which will affect our town and our lifestyles are being made by those who may have a degree of vested interest. Numerous ad hoc developments seem to pop up with regularity and we wonder if anyone has an over-arching vision for Nairn. Is there a long-term plan or are we just being buffeted by external forces, whether developer, elected representative or even Highland Council? An increasing number of residents are worried about where it's all heading, so can we please have their town back?
In principle I am not against redevelopment. I'm for anything that improves our lot and results in Nairn being an even better place to live. But we seem to be subject to various random projects that adversely impact on our way of the life or on the kind of town we want to live in. It's not easy to step back and take a long-term view of the kind of town we want to become. Perhaps it's about time we got together to develop a vision for the future and plan a 10-year project. Nairn has a lot going for it and there are new festivals and events drawing visitors to the town. Is there anything further we can develop to give Nairn a unique appeal? What building developments do we actually need and how can we stimulate the improvement of the High St.? Given a blank sheet, what kind of town centre do we need in order to deliver the kind of town we want to live in and attract visitors to? A new shopping complex may be good but does it need to be a supermarket? Could it be something that would see numerous small retail or specialist businesses established and thus attract more visitors?
The new Visit Nairn Tourism Association recognises the importance of bringing people to Nairn. Too often they only come for an overnight stay. Isn't it about time Nairn became a destination rather than an overnight dormitory? We have golf, walking, a rich history and the classical Scottish experience all waiting to be developed and marketed around the globe. But if we do attract more visitors, what are they coming to? Will we be able to deliver a positively memorable Scottish experience? Or will the dilapidated High St be their lasting memory? Without tourists our future is bleak and it is within this context than town planning needs to take place. Too many schemes are decided purely on a project by project basis. They need to be looked at together with impact assessments on how each will affect the whole. Too many new developments of the wrong type will adversely Nairn as a serious Highland holiday destination. Could we even end up living in a town that we no longer enjoy being part of?
When we ask about getting money for this project or that we are generally told that there is nothing in the budget. Well let's look again at the budget. Perhaps money is not being spent in the right areas and we, the town's people, would like to have more say about what our money is spent on. If there is no funding for something then let's find some creative ways to get the funding. The Community Centre is a shining example of what can be done. If the planners have got it wrong then perhaps it's time we told them how to get it right. Is too much being imposed from above instead of arising from within? Perhaps, we have for too long believed that others would look after our interests and we haven't engaged in ways we ought to have done. But we have now been dispossessed and we see things happening we are not happy about. There are many things over which we feel we have no control. The people of Nairn need a new platform to debate issues of key importance to us all. So to the people of Nairn I say, "let's get together again as a community and take greater responsibility for our town". To those who'd rather keep control, we say, "give it back to the people - please!"
Update: 18/10/08
Support for Iain from 'Nairn Bairn':
'Iain Fairweather's comments are perceptive and his appeal for a fresh approach is compelling. His post should be reproduced on the front page (or editorial column)of the less-than-inspiring local newspaper, and pinned to the door of every local elected representative!His analysis highlights the dysfunctional nature of local administration and decision-making. The successful evolution and development of the town needs three things: vision, resources, and the powers to decide and to implement. At present the public authorities who have the power (Highland Council and other public bodies) have limited resources, priorities elsewhere, and precious little vision. Most of the time they appear to do little but acquiesce in, or obstruct, the initiatives of others. Those who have the resources (mainly private landowners and developers - from Cawdor to Deveron to Pettifer) are inevitably driven by the profitability of the specific investment they propose, with scant regard for "the wider picture". And incidentally the inclusion of affordable housing or childrens' playgrounds as the price for inappropriately-intensive urban development and as a sop to supposed public opinion, misses the point and compounds the problem.
There are clearly some like Iain (and the Gurn...) who have - or would like to see emerge - a vision of Nairn as a pleasant, vibrant place with a thriving town centre, a diverse range of shops and activities both commercial and recreational. Nairn cannot be an industrial centre, and should not become a dormitory suburb of Inverness. It needs to reclaim its proper identity - which as Iain says, largely revolves around tourism. Creating an environment that draws in visitors, and gives them decent facilities and an interesting range of things to see and do, will enhance the quality of life for residents too.
Problem is, it seems that those who have the power and resources don't seem to share this vision. Supermarket chain stores, cheap and charmless housing blocks, bleak carparks, and crowded highways won't deliver it.
So Iain is right: there needs to be a new coalition in the Nairn community. Getting a unified Community council, as Gurn suggests, would indeed be a useful first step. And getting elected councillors to act with some sort of coherence and vigour in pursuit of such a vision would be progress indeed...'

Regards from Tomnarroch Farm in New Zealand.

Min Walker writes to the Gurn:

I enjoy your site, wish there was names to some of the faces. I have been away a long time.
Hamish memories about the shops stirred a few of my own:
Hot orange at Morgantis
Fish and chips at Berties at the top of Harbour Street
Sweeties from McColls
Fletchers butteries and wedding cakes
Also rope swings on the trees in the valleys at the Links.
A miniscule of my memories.
Do any of your bloggers remember the Childrens Pantomimes in the 1950s organised by
Chris Lobban?
Regards from Tomnarroch Farm in New Zealand.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A wedding in Nairn

Some interesting pictures were coming up in the flickr feed for Nairn over on the Gurn on Sunday. Nairn Beach is obviously a fantastic place for a few wedding photographs. Have a look at this page on flickr.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Will this building soon belong to the Government?

Some commentators think that the forthcoming hand-outs amount to a way of nationalising the banks. Troubling times indeed as folk wonder about how the recession will impact upon their jobs or businesses and for some, even if their pension funds are in a safe place - if there is indeed any such thing as a safe place in financial terms these days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Afternoon school run jam

The usual afternoon scene at the top end of the High Street as parents head home with their children. Following the debate that seems to be opening up on feet versus cars on the Bailey Bridge the Gurn would like to hear from parents. Do you drive the kids to school? Is it quicker? Do you travel a great distance? Would it be healthier to walk? Are there other reasons that make the car the better choice?
The picture will enlarge. As a wee side issue is it only on the road sign at this junction that the 'C''s are disappearing or is it happening all over Nairnshire?

A bheil sibh airson Gàidhlig a dh'ionnsachadh?

Want to learn Gaelic?
Clasaichean Gàidhlig ann an Inbhir Narann. Tòisichidh clasaichean air an 3 là den t-Samhain agus criochnachaidh iad air an 15 den Dùbhlachd.
Gaelic Classes in Nairn. Classes begin on the 3rd November 08 and run until the 15th December
Complete Beginners: 11.00am – 12.00 Monday 3rd Nov. Intermediate (Speaking our Language Series 1 Book 2) – 9.30am – 10.45am, Monday 3rd Nov. Both classes will take place in the Nairn Community Centre. Enrolment for the class will take place on the first morning of each class. Please ensure that you are able to make payment that day.
Costs – £25 for 7 wks
Concessions for Senior Citizens -£12 for 7wks
GM Parents-no charge.
For further information please contact: Margaret Mulholland
Community Learning and Development Officer(Gaelic)Highland Council North Tower, Inverness Castle, Inverness, IV2 3EG 01463 238685 /
The only Gurn over this that we have is that even Gaelic in Nairn is under the power of the mighty municipality of Inverness. Want to learn Gaelic in Nairn? Ring Inverness lol!
Well two Gurns actually, the times aren't really much help to anyone in full-time employment who wants to learn Gaelic.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nairn’s Tartan Army goes from strength to strength

The Gurn has heard from from Colin Barron that the Nairn Tartan Army is now over 100 strong and are planning a second speakers’ night following the great success of an earlier event. This time the speakers are:

· John “Dixies” Deans (Celtic, he scored 132 goals in just 184 games for them and holds the Post war record for the most goals scored in a single game-6)
· Colin Stein (Rangers, The last player to score a hat-trick while representing Scotland at international level. He won a total of 21 caps scoring ten goals.)
· Bob Valentine (Former Grade One Scottish football referee.)

This speaker’s night will be held in The Seaforth Club Function Hall on Saturday November 8th with doors opening at 6:45 for 7:30pm start. Tables are available from 2 people to 20 people and the cost is £22 per person. To secure a place contact: 07845010014
Colin is anticipating a memorable night of laughs and jokes, along with the serious questions and answer sessions and autograph hunters are encouraged to bring along anything you wish to be signed. Colin adds, club colours should not be worn but Scotland colours are encouraged.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Former fire chief has still got the vital spark!

You've probably read the Nairnshire's report on the Inverness Council (opps shouldn't that be Highland Council ) Nairn ward meeting last Wednesday night up at the Courthouse and you can't help but notice that Battling Bill Shand made a dramatic intervention from the public benches and asked to be allowed to speak. Permission was granted by the worthies and then Bill tore into them over the Bailey Bridge. The Gurn editor was lucky enough to have been there to witness the event. The former councillor had his facts and figures well compiled and there was no mistaking the gravitas and drama of the occasion as the community hero firmly issued notice on the Highland Council that the Nairn public were not going to let this issue go away.
"The reasons we get from councillors who do not support the bridge - and I don't care what they're saying tonight they are not very keen on it being opened - is that the public don't want it. But that is ridiculed by the survey that was done by an independent body," said Bill in a powerful speech that stole the show. Nice one Bill, keep on with the Bailey Bridge Battle and don't let them get away with neglecting this vital piece of infrastructure any longer.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nairn Politics small-minded?

Even more outspoken than the Gurn this week is Brian's MyNairn blog.
'There’s a weird small-mindedness in the town that suggests that Nairn’s roots are as a retirement village, and therefore it should stay that way and to hell with the young families that live here.' Says Brian
Lots of other stuff on MyNairn this week, picking up the slack in the Nairn Blogosphere is Brian. Nairn is different yes, not without problems we like to Gurn about but it is Disneyland compared to many less fortunate places on Mother Earth, and if it seems weird and small minded, who cares? Let's be weird and small-minded big time! Tilda loves it anyway :-)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Kilnhill eco-village plan falls through

The Sunday Herald is reporting the demise of the so called 'eco' village on Forestery Commission land near Nairn. The Gurn had previously spoken out against this project and its high profile Scottish Green Party backer.
The Herald article states:
Although the proposal was backed by the Scottish Green Party, it was condemned as the "murder" of a woodland and its wildlife by conservation groups. An ecological study found that the wood supported red squirrels, otters, pine martens, bats and badgers.
To make room for the houses, the commission was planning to cut down up to 70% of the trees in the building zones and 30-40% in surrounding areas. Kilnhill, which includes native species such as Scots pine and juniper, is listed on the UK ancient woodland inventory and dates back at least 400 years.
Along with the 32 houses, the plan also included eight holiday chalets and other associated facilities. But opponents argued that encouraging holidaymakers to fly up to Aberdeen to stay in the woods was not very environmentally friendly.'
Eleanor Scott isn't giving up though:
'The former Green MSP, Eleanor Scott, who is standing as a candidate for co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, argued that there was a need for sustainable housing around Nairn. "The Forestry Commission must now make more changes to the scheme which could help build support," she said.'
If we are to save the Nairnshire environment from the Scottish Green Party we'd better keep our eye on the planning ball. You'll get the full article here.

Nairn High Street "Dead on Saturday afternoons!'"

This sign to be seen in one of the shop windows in Nairn High Street. Picture will enlarge.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Somerfield site - what do you think will happen?

From the Masterclass article below you will see that Highland Council have been debating the Somerfield store. Why should they have all the fun? You too can speculate! Well what do you think will happen? Go over to The Gurn on Sunday and have your say in the Gurn's second opinion poll. Once you've voted on that, scroll down and see which of our 4 councillors came out top in another totally unscientific popularity poll.

Somerfield Store ‘what if?’ masterclass

That is what the meeting of the Nairnshire ward forum felt like from the public benches up in the Courthouse on Wednesday night.
The official line as stated by Highland Council’s William Gilfillan is that the council is proceeding to encourage Somerfield to submit a detailed planning apllication and the council will continue with this process. It is obvious that the council do not subscribe to the Pettifer thesis that the store is already on the Co-op’s disposal list, it would after all have been a wise move by the Co-op to compile such a list given that they will probably have to dispose of a certain number of stores to satisfy the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The council waits for Somerfield to move then.
Highland Council Convenor, Sandy Park told the meeting, ‘We seem to be in the hands of everyone else but ourselves.’
There was discussion between Sheena Baker and Graham Marsden as to whether it was Somerfield or the Trunk Roads Authority that were dragging their feet over the issue as the question of access onto the A96 will loom large over the process. There was talk of various might-happen scenarios but really the council is boxed in, they have to wait and see if the intentions of Somerfield are genuine and whether what is still left of that organisation can deliver or whether whoever owns the supermarket in the future will show any interest in the plans. Either way Sandy was right when he warned the meeting that the people of Nairn were losing their patience. Perhaps it was Sheena Baker who focused on the biggest danger that might emerge when she informed the meeting that she was very worried that there was no Plan B should the whole thing fail.

The Gurn has to admit that a lot of folk think the redevelopment plan has failed and nothing much will come out of it for at least a couple of years. Meanwhile several prominent buildings next to the A96 continue to decay as the Highland Council waits for a supermarket saviour that will charge in and save the day. It would be nice if it happened but the betting money will probably be going the other way just now.
Meanwhile not a good day for the Highland Council as the Inverness Courier headlines with 'Detectives launch probe into city's housing fair - Investigation centres on allegations over planning consultation process.'
Also, according to the Courier, an Inverness councillor 'is at the centre of a major investigation into allegations of fraud'.
And on page 2 the Courier claims that the cash-strapped council has decided to hand over an extra £40,000 of taxpayer's cash to the Highland Housing Fair without knowing exactly how the money will be spent.
The Highland Housing Fair is certainly turning out to be controversial isn't it?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hamish remembers another regular sea bather

Here's our correspondent Hamish:
I've read Graeme's article and his reference to the swimmer and it being a freezing cold day when he took the photograph called to mind a Nairn man who swam in the sea every day of the year regardless of weather or sea conditions. This man's name was Cope - John I think - and he lived in Cumming Street. He had a draper's shop in the High Street which was almost opposite Douglas Street. I'd say he was middle aged and possibly past that stage in life in the thirties but I could be quite wrong in that to me, a young teenager, a person approaching a fortieth birthday was "old". I've seen him leave his home wearing no more than a bathing costume, a pair of sand shoes and a light raincoat. He would walk down to the beach, wade into the sea, submerge himself two or three times - never did see him swim - and then return to his house.
Hamish is wondering if anyone can else has info on John Cope, did his regular dips help him live to a ripe old age for example? Any other Gurnites with memories of Mr Cope?