Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pre 'talkies' Nairn movie info

Hamish has another contribution for the Gurn. Hamish has told us that he left Nairn in 1941 at the age of 19 and that at the time the detail of many of the events in Nairn were not of much interest to him but he hopes his memories will be interesting to us all the same. This time he goes back to what it was like in Nairn before sound appeared on the big screen.

'When the Regal was opened town’s folk were most impressed by the internal décor, the lighting effects and, if I remember correctly, by the fact that an organ had been installed. Until a short time before then we had music from Mrs. Scott playing appropriate tunes on the piano in The Playhouse in Church Street. That was before “talkies” arrived in Nairn. Both cinemas changed their programmes three time each week so one could “go to the pictures” every night except for Sunday and see a new film – if they could afford to do that. Saturday matinees for children in the Playhouse cost 2d I think.'

In another nugget of information that will be of interest to the Wee County football faithful Hamish adds: 'Mr. Scott was the manager there and their son ‘Braddy’ played at outside right for the County.'

6 films a week to see in Nairn when there were two cinemas of dreams. Sounds pretty good doesn't it. Maybe films could come again to Nairn on a more regular basis as part of the legacy of the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams festival. Incidentaly if anyone wants to keep in touch with other folk who attended the film festival there is a Facebook group with quite a lot of news and comment, pictures etc (you don't have to be a facebook member to have a look). There is also news to be had on the official site, and also a new page Mark Remembers.

Iright checks out the power costs

Our correspondent and co-conspirator has been doing some electrifying sums, he writes:

A few weekends back I received an email from Martin Lewis:

It reminded me that I had but a few hours left to check out my energy provider in order to try and get a fixed rate deal as power prices were about to go through the roof. It was a Saturday morning and seemed an unappealing task but the rewards seemed to justify being sat down with the computer for half an hour with a pen and paper. I secured a deal with fixed prices until the end of 2009, and sat rather smug I’m afraid as I read the domino like headlines of each UK energy company announcing huge percentage hikes days after. A few weeks later a small package arrived, it was an electric usage meter free with my fixed rate energy deal. I plugged it in and watched with a mixture of fascination and horror as I switched devices on, and my electric bill rose to over £1000 per month at one point (Gulp). The few items I now leave on amount to just over 200W which doesn’t seem too bad (Fridge + Freezer). But switch on my cooker or electric kettle and we are looking at hefty consumption. A good reason for not hoovering too often is that it consumes 1200W!
It is maybe an item every home should have if you are serious about reducing your power consumption but what puzzles me is to why a power company who makes money from selling it’s goods (power) chooses to give away such a device which can only make the end user use less?

Jean Tolmie puts her hands up to orthographic howler

As reported on the Gurn recently it should be Brooman's well with an 'n' not an 'm'. Jean Tolmie, Chair of Nairn River Community Council told the Gurn that she offered her apologies for any confusion caused and that she had already taken steps to rectify the error and she added that she took full responsibility for the mistake.
In the spirit of this healthy display of municipal responsibility taken by Jean perhaps those who came up with the Blue Fag award and Higland (no h folks) Council on the bandstand might like to make themselves known to the rest of us? Step forward into the limelight and show yourselves! Jean's got the bottle to admit her mistake, have you?

PS: If anyone spots spelling mistakes on the Gurn then please accept a complete refund.

Friday, August 29, 2008

1963: a bumper year for Nairnshire treefiti

Picture will enlarge.

Dutch Elm Disease

Dutch Elm Disease changes the landscape at the BMX track. These trees and many others nearby will have to be felled at some time or other. Maybe logs could be distributed to those in fuel poverty who still have an open fire or a stove? Sort of thing the old District Council used to do wasn't it?
Nearby below Whinnieknowe new railings appear.

Feast of Gaelic culture in Nairn kicks off next Friday night

Seo sanas naidheachd a fhuair mi an-diugh bho Dòmhnall a tha na bhall de chòisir gàidhlig Inbhir Narann. Sanas naidheachd beurla a-mhàin feumaidh mi a ràdh. ‘S e sin gan toirt gu teas meadhan na trioblaid – ‘s e sin ri ràdh mar as motha a dh’fhàsas uidh ann an cèol gàidhlig aig an fheadhainn aig nach eil facal gàidhlig ‘s ann as iomallaiche a bhios a’ chanain fhèin. Ach co-dhiù tha mi cinnteach gu bi deagh oidhche aig a h-uile duine a dh’aindeoin sin.

A festival to celebrate Highland culture kicks off in Nairn next weekend with a Celidh House in Nairn Community Centre.
The evening features Breabach one of the most talked about bands on the folkscene in Scotland today, entertainer Rona Lightfoot, and Nairn Gaelic Choir, who are organising the event in association with Blas 2008.
The festival was launched three years ago to create a festival to match the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton and has grown in popularity each year with new acts coming to the fore harnessing local talent with top bands and entertainers in a celebration of music and song.
“We are delighted to host this year’s ceilidh and are looking forward to a packed house at the centre on Friday,” said Nairn Gaelic Choir Chairman Iain Gordon.
“It’s a great opportunity for the choir to perform the two songs we have been rehearsing for this year’s Mod and with Breabach and Rona Lightfoot on the bill it’s sure to be a superb evening.
"We hope the public will also check out the splendid exhibtion we have created about Gaelic in Nairn at the library.”
Rona Lightfoot has been described as a ceilidh personified. She is a great piper a hugely talented singer raconteur with a great sense of humour.
Breabach have an exciting Celtic style blending double bagpipes, flute fiddle, song and Scottish stepdance in an exciting mix which has earned them international recognition.
Nairn Gaelic choir have regularly figured among the awards at the national and provincial mods and some of the proceeds from this event will help fund their trip to Falkirk.
The festival continues across the Highlands until September 13 but there will be another ceilidh on Friday 12th September at the Nairn Community Centre featuring the Donald Black Trio, duo Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell on accordion and fiddle; Chrissie Crowley and Jason Roach on fiddle and piano who are one of the most captivating emerging acts on the Cape Breton scene and Inverness Gaelic singer Jenna Cumming

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ballerina ballaxing the chronicles of nairnia

That is the title given to excellent short film dedicated to the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams that has been posted on Utube. Some young visitors to 'Nairnia' and their impressions of our town. More material for the tourist board to snap up and use to promote the area?

A great film girls! Well done!

Brooman's or Broomam's Well gets a big makeover

Things are looking good up the riverside below Whinnieknowe today, what with the Brooman(m?)'s well having been spruced up and nearby an industrious squad of Highland Council employees were installing a tasteful railing to stop anyone falling in the river along the part of the path with the steep rocky banks. Just one thing though, a regular to the riverside raised a small orthographic question with the Gurn, is it the Brooman's or the Broomam's well. The Gurn has to confess to always hearing an 'n' in conversation up until now so but maybe someone can give the definitive spelling?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nairn Highland Games are what great memories are made of!

' If you ever, EVER, EVER get the chance to go to the Highland Games, any of them, don't think twice. Don't even blink. Just go! '

The Gurn recommends you read this blog post by a recent visitor to the Nairn games. Maybe it should all go in next year's tourist brochure?

Nairn County FC in Final of North of Scotland Cup

Last night the Wee County sailed through to the final of the cup with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Rothes. A hat-trick for Shaun Kerr. Nairn will play Caley in the final. Full report available on the P&J site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Suburban Community Council publish hard-hitting newsletter

The popular, hard-working community watchdogs have published a newsletter that gets to the nitty-gritty on several issues that effect the area of the town which they represent. The above picture of the front page will give you an idea of their position on the Sandown Lands issue (picture will enlarge a little). Inside, the NSCC take Deveron Homes to task once again. They also speculate on the void created by the demise of the former Nairn West Community Council. There is a school of thought that believes that this area will be split between the Suburban Council and the Nairn River Community Council. It is no secret that NSCC chair John Mackie would like to see one powerful community council representing the whole of Nairn. The newsletter ends with a broadside on the Affordable Housing issue criticising both local authorities and government for the present state of affairs. Well worth a read if you can track down a copy. Maybe the NSCC could put their information on line for the benefit Nairn's cyber community?

Nairnshire roads budget slashed by 1/6th

This evening Provost Liz MacDonald told a meeting of Nairn Suburban Community Council that she had today received figures that indicated that the Nairnshire roads budget had been reduced by £65,000. The entire budget for the Highland Council area had been reduced by £621,000 but Nairn had had to absorb a massive cut that amounted to 1/6 of the previous year's budget: down from £368,000 to £303,000. Liz is now on the committee that deals with roads, having been ousted from her previous positions in the take-over by the new administration. The Provost told concerned community councillors and members of the public that she intended to follow up the issue.

Day 2½ Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams video

Nairn is once again without a cinema but thanks to the Internet we can go back to the Cinema of Dreams to have a look at things on Day two and a half. Iain Fairweather also has a video on his page dedicated to the festival, entitled 'Nairn's tribute to the Cinema of Dreams'.

Nairn Highland Games - A sideways glance

Enjoy the games from an unusual angle as experienced by 'Little Miss Melville' and posted on utube. For a more conventional view Iain Fairweather ( has posted a video too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Bobby called Tulips

Hamish doesn't recognise any of the Bobbies in this picture of the Nairnshire Constabulary from 1930 but following on from his recollection that Police Ball was held regularly in the Ballerina Hamish recalls names such as Inspector Stewart, Sgt Guthrie and Jimmy Allan. He recalls Jimmy going to the ducks with his dad and another policeman 'Duncan the Bobby'.
The Nairnshire Constabulary's transport was a green BSA motor bike and sidecar which was garaged in a shed near to the back entrance of the Caley. It was the Cawdor Bobby that had the nickname Tulips and Hamish saw him on the beat in Nairn from time to time. (picture will enlarge) Another picture of Nairnshire bobbies can be had here on Dave's flickr site.
Thanks Hamish

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brian Cox visits the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams: ‘Time to give Cinema back to the people!’

Tonight before the second showing of Singing in the Rain, Tilda introduced Brian Cox who spoke briefly to the sell-out audience. He told them how the Ballerina reminded him of going to the cinema as a child in Dundee. He went on to say how he hoped that what had been started in Nairn would continue and spread throughout the country. He said, ‘For too long cinema has been in the hands of the wrong people and it was time to give cinema back to the people.’

Right on Brian! Wild cheers and applause even before Tilda and Mark climbed up the step ladders with the State of Cinema national flag. And then the safety information – in song tonight!

And the film, this BBCOD-goer was spellbound to see the movie on the big screen for the first time. With a cheering audience applauding all the songs it was nothing less than a liberating experience. Thank you Tilda – Cinema to the People!

(The safety information delivered in song)

PS: The Editor of the Gurn was sitting next to someone who worked on the conversion of the Ballerina to a bingo hall. He remembered the experience well because he told me how he fell through the ceiling during the work. His fall was broken by a bingo table however, and although he had a sore back for a day or two he was none the worse for wear. Another nugget from the goldmine of Nairn heritage that rests to be mined from the Ballerina Ballroom.

Queuing in the rain

Queuing for the second showing of Singing in the rain - late evening day 7½ of the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams . The pictures will enlarge.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hamish remembers the Ballerina

All I can say about the Ballerina is that until the outbreak of war The room above the main entrance was used as the Nairn Museum. I never visited there but for as long as I can recall there was always a stuffed red squirrel in the window overlooking Gordon Street. A Mr. Fraser was the caretaker there and he lived in the building. His daughter Sheila was around my age.- probably a year younger ‘cos she was not in my class at school
Once a year The Police Ball was held there and the proceeds from that auspicious evening went to local charity to provide “tackety boots” for the poor of the town. I was the recipient of a pair more than once. We had to go to the Police Station at the end of Courthouse Lane and get a voucher from Inspector Stewart which we took to - I think the name of the shop was Rennies in the High Street to get fitted out.
I have a vague memory of being there with Mam – must have been before Jean was born in 1927 – to watch a magician perform. His name was Dr. Body and I remember being very frightened by some of his “tricks”
Thanks Hamish, we'll give that to the Cinema of Dreams squad for the collection they are building on the Ballerina's past lives. In another development we notice that even the Newsbleat team have noticed the festival goings-on in Nairn.
PS Hamish, you'll get a couple of pictures of the Nairnshire Constabulary of that era on this page on flickr.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nairnac comments on the film festival

Nairnac now joins the hallowed ranks of Gurn correspondent fame and if we knew who he or she was then he or she could also become a co-conspirator - but one thing at a time. Nairnac writes:
I can't quite see how people buying tickets on the night rather than in advance could have an impact on the environmental health license, but what do I know ! Maybe the polis were afraid of unrest in Nairn following the Vics licensing problems denying the populace access to their favoured late night watering hole and the Canteen's alleged duty free fag scam coming to light. Perhaps the thought of 45 disappointed cinephiles armed with home baking and copies of the Guardian arts section was considered too much of a risk to the public order! While it was very disappointing and frustrating for those of us who hoped to catch some of the programme (Nairnac included - I'd hoped to catch the early showing of Johnson & Boswell, and unfortunately couldn't make the 2nd house), at the same time, I suppose the phenomenal demand for tickets is a reflection of the success of the event, which is great for all involved in the organisation of the festival. It seems to have proved more popular than I for one would have anticipated. This is obviously a good thing for the future prospects of the worlds most bohemian film fest, and for the publicity the event has brought to our wee town. You couldn't buy the coverage given to the area from across the world with glowing reports on loads of Internet sites as well as loads of column inches and photo spreads in all the major papers.Hopefully things are still going well at the Ballerina now that I've had to return to work, and here's hoping that the venture will be repeated soon. (How about a winter film festival - I much prefer the flics in the winter, I don't really like emerging blinking into the bright sunlight - coming up for Xmas, what could be better than snuggling down on your beanbag in front of 'It's a Wonderful Life') Next time they could also maybe expand to incorporate the Social Club if it is indeed to be shutting down. and even the Regal Bar building which seems likely to remain in it's current state for some time to come - both ghosts of Nairn cinema's past. The sprinkling of Stardust from the Tilda, John and Mark has certainly added a whole new dimension to the annual programme in Nairn. It would be a terrible shame if the goodwill and interest created by the festival isn't repeated.
PS Nairnac, third showing of Johnson and Boswell to another full house. Another unforgettable night in the Cinema of Dreams. A poignant moment for John Byrne when he announced that Ian Drury, who starred in the film, has now been dead for 8½ years. 8½ being a figure that observers of the Ballerina Ballroom festival will know is central to the proceedings.
Update Nairnac adds:
Appropriate time for Gurners everywhere to pause for a minute and remember Ian Dury with his very own Bus Drivers Prayer.......
Our Father
Who art in Hendon
Harrow Road be thy name
Thy Kingston come
Thy Wimbledon
In Erith as it is in Hendon
Give us this day our Berkhampstead
And forgive us our Westminsters
As we forgive those who Westminster against us
Lead us not into Temple Station
But deliver us from Ealing
For thine is the Kingston
The Purley and the Crawley
For Iver and Iver
Crouch End

Strike solid in Nairn

Local government workers on the picket line at the Courthouse claim 100% support in Nairn for their one day national scottish strike. Several union members had gathered before nine at the front entrance of the Courthouse on the High Street and elsewhere in the town other Highland Council employees were gathering before they too made their way to the High Street.By 0930 a sizable number of pickets and protesters were to be seen outside Nairnshire's municipal headquarters.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams - a wee tickety gurn from Iright

(Some hopefuls without tickets waiting for the doors to open)
Anyway praise and a wee gurn for the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams from our correspondent and co-conspirator Iright:
For those who have managed to acquire tickets for the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams in Nairn count yourself lucky as despite what is stated on the ticket part of their web site (See below) it would seem tickets for performances have not been available on the door before the performance - this seems to be a licensing issue
3) During the festival itself, we guarantee that plenty of tickets will be available to buy on the door before each performance. Doors open 45 minutes before advertised start time. In the case of heavily over-subscribed performances, second screenings may be possible later in the day. Cash or cheques only, please. Fairy cakes welcome. '
An update on their 'news' section dated yesterday states that:
'Door ticket allocation
18 August 2008
Due to changes requested by the licensing authorities after we went to press, it has not been possible to offer the full 50 tickets per screening on the door as promised in our brochure. We apologise profusely for this and wherever possible we will do our best to screen films again, dependent on running times and licensing restrictions. '
The good news is that in just about all cases where there has been time an extra performance has been scheduled which is indeed a great credit to the organisers, with Tilda and Mark attending these extra shows, but some folk have travelled miles, prepared to stand in an early queue only to be told (Even if at the front of the queue) that tickets are not available for that performance, and through time constrictions have not been able to wait a few hours for the 2nd performance.
The event has been an unqualified success and would probably have to run for eight and a half months to get everyone who wants to see the films through the door, but making tickets on the door available meant that folk without internet access or didn't want to come to Nairn beforehand stood a chance of entry by queueing - seems fair but is obviously foul when it comes to the authorities. Please organisers (Tilda, Mark) change your website ticket information to reflect the real availability of tickets.
P.S - four days through and there is a definite resounding chant of 'we want a local cinema post the eight and half days of the festival' - anyone up for cinema manager then?
Let's face it I right, bureaucracy is not about creativity although it does have a public safety element tied in but have the authorities gone over the top this time? Anyway folks the Gurn recommends that you go and see at least one film before the festival ends and enjoy a unique, wonderful experience. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future and rules and regulations will not prove too much of an obstacle to further creativity in the Ballerina Ballroom

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wakey, wakey!

Iright has already gurned about in a previous post, now the Editor of the Gurn is having an even bigger gurn after having a further browse through this well constructed, but sadly neglected site that shows up at the top of internet listings whenever Nairn is Googled. is the Nairn internet portal that time forgot, just look at these two screenshots in this post . According to this website John Matheson is still a councillor and Sandy is the Provost. Now we all know that Sandy has gone on to greater things and Liz is now our Provost and Graham Marsden is the new kid on the block. Might be a good idea to tell the world?

It all started so well too, just look at the claims made in a Highland Council press release in 2004. Why, after so much time, trouble and investment has this site been allowed to fall into disuse, the painfully obvious danger of letting things fall away was well aware to those who contributed to the press release, one of them is quoted as saying:
"The website creates a new shop window for Nairn to show what is (sic) has to offer to the world. It is essential that it is kept up-to-date and lively with the latest information. The local community can help by contributing news and ideas; it is their community website."

The reality? Well it seems nothing of interest has happened in Nairn since April 2007 (including the local government elections). Time to send for Mulder and Sculley to get to the bottom of this enigma?

The site has a page called ‘Nairn means business’, well lets hope nobody looking to do business here looks at the Diary of events which hasn’t got past April 2007. Something that should be a community resource is rapidly becoming a community embarrassment.

Time to update the site or pull the plug? Who is responsible for allowing to fall so far behind?

Update: Bill has been researching:

'I see this website is registered in the name of an outfit called 'Digital Routes' operating out of a business park in Elgin; it is obviously a commercial outfit (not that there need be any problem with that of course) with no official status. The website itself contains no contact information that I can see, merely an 'online survey' which respondents are asked to complete and send to who knows where.'

Thanks Bill, that lack of contact information is worrying, however this site was set up with funding from Highland Council and Inverness and Nairn Enterprise and listings are free and presumably would still be so if anyone should ever bother to update information.

Curious locals watch events unfold at the Ballerina

Can't get a ticket for Thursday night at the Cinema? Don't despair, go to the Ceilidh!

For 25 years the Nairn Ceilidh Group has been keeping traditional music and dance alive in Nairn at the same time raising thousands of pounds for charity.
The group organises cielidhs at the Royal British Legion's Highland Hall in Cawdor Street every Thursday from 8-11pm between June and September.
"They're great fun," said Ceildh group member Donald Wilson who acts as MC and sings at the ceilidh.
"We give everyone a warm welcome and there are locals on hand to teach visitors the various dances and reels so they feel very much part of what's happening.
"At our last ceilidh we had visitors from Russia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, and the USA and some competitors in town for the Bowling Week came along to join in the fun. It was virtually a full house and the hall was really bouncing.
"We have a big pool of local talent to call on including singers, pipers, Highland dancers, musicians and the Nairn Gaelic Choir and one of our committee Jean Laurenson has a rich fund of stories and recitations which go down well with the audiences.
"The ceilidh's are family orientated and it's great to see youngsters coming in with their mums and dads and enjoying themselves."
If you are in Nairn on holiday, pop along to the British Legion on Thursday evenings. Ticket prices are only £2.50 and there is a raffle at the door.

Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

Iright went to the Ballerina on Sunday
Sunday afternoon is not my usual time to go to the cinema, I just don’t go. I had but written off attending the big screen ever again post a couple of unhappy trips to the Vue in Inverness, so I hadn’t really thought of attending another magic lantern show until our new venue in Nairn opened this week. Fascinated by the world wide attention which the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams has created I have read all the on-line news and gossip. Strange facts arrive about Tilda Swinton the patron of new cinema, none of which I really want to know. All the reviews seem to be pleasant, some are clearly unhappy that the event is taking place at all, and hard as they look most cannot find fault. As I settle down in my deck chair in the newly refurbished cinema, I for one am absorbed by the black and white film showing on the screen, and for an hour or more I am swept away from the humdrum of a Sunday afternoon - success! I have watched the succession of work folk over the weeks enter the old bingo hall. I can only view the finished article and imagine it was quite a task to turn the smoke encrusted building into a cinema.> Just like venues of old there are queues outside the door. A piper plays some welcoming tunes although his close proximity makes we want to ask him if he knows the reel ‘play it across the street’. The person behind me arrived with a bundle of fairy cakes rather than cash and jigs and digs the tupperware box into my back as she dances to the tunes. ‘This performance is sold out, another one will be at 4:30’ is not what I want to hear, but slightly dented rather than crushed I purchase (With cash) my ticket. Entering the theatre is both magical and wondrous as it is hand crafted and different. My eyes adjust to the gloom (Atmosphere?) and see rows of chairs, bean bags, and deck chairs. Although proper deck chairs are rarely seen on the beach these days it is another stroke of genius to choose them as seating, and very comfortable they were too. Music plays as we wait. The kitchen on the side sells all sorts of goodies, and people emerge with mugs of tea and sweet items. The seating arrangement still allows for folk to stand on your feet as they shuffle past, again, and again, and again, till you wonder if their bladders can possibly need further emptying! I have never been to a cinema before where there is a total lack of advertising. No Pearl & Dean, no local garages. Even the nibbles are without labels, although there does seem to be a certain demand by some members of the audience to appear cool (Clothing)! The show begins, music, lights, and Tilda and Mark on step ladders. A banner ‘The State of Cinema’ is held aloft and suddenly it all makes sense. This is the High Street shop as it should be, no supermarket cinema here. I am absorbed into the film only to be transported back into a cinema again by the rustle of a sweet wrapper behind me. All over too soon we clap politely at the end of the film and there is a gentile crawl to the still bright daylight exit. Eight and a half days is not long to have the joy of a cinema in the High Street. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the folk of Nairn if Tilda decided to give up the day job and run our cinema full time?
Thanks Iright, saw that movie too ( I know where I'm going) and had an extra laugh or two at some of the excellent use of Gaelic in the dialogue. It was a wonderful film and a great experience inside the Ballerina. It's so different from the experience of the Vue yes, the last time I went there was to see the Gaelic film Seachd and it'll be a long time before I go back. Just getting there is an unfortunate consumer experience of the new millenium with the 'you could be anywhere' consumerscape of the Golden mile. So different in Nairn, thank you Tilda and I'd like to second Irigth's motion: can we have more please?
And just looking at one of the hundreds of articles that mention Nairn and the Ballerina perhaps our dream of a full-time cinema showing wonderful films will come true. Reported in the Scotsman:
'I speak to Swinton shortly afterwards, next to the box office. She seems giddy with success. When I tell her that locals have been saying they want something like this here permanently, her eyes gleam. "Actually, my great dream is to run a cinema," she says. "That would be absolutely wonderful."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Games - a few pictures

Hello everyone, here's a few pictures of the Games. Nothing exciting but proof that the sun shone on Nairn and Nairnshire for the 2008 games. Worth trying the side show once you arrive on the pictures page.

Nairn Games

Hello everyone, here

Nairn is in Nairnshire!

Spelding gurns:

For all you hacks out there and dead wood press please note Nairn is in NAIRNSHIRE, not Inverness, Inverness-shire, Moray or Morayshire. Please get it right, we are a separate entity!

The morning after the Games night before

Spelding writes:
It may be just be a normal Sunday for the rest of the world but today marks a major turning point in the Nairn season. Everything may appear the same but everything has changed. The weather may be just like yesterday but the Games are over, the Showies have gone, summer is nearly over and is marked by the utterance of the well worn phrase, “Aye, the night’s are fairly drawing in.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Massed pipes and drums serenade for the Nairn film festival

The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams and the massed pipes and drums of the Nairn Games pass like ships in the five o'clock sunshine. The State of Cinema and the State of Nairn Highland Games in alignment. It's Planet Nairn and it's time to party. (more pictures of the games tomorrow- perhaps)
PS picture will enlarge

Olympics who cares? It's the Nairn Games that really matter

Everything is ready and it's looking good. The Dolphin chip shop has had an early morning delivery of extra tatties so no worries now, there should be plenty of food for everyone on the way home from the showies.
Have a great games days folks - best wishes from everyone at the Gurn.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Filmfest: iright offers a poster idea to Tilda

(Iright's picture will enlarge)
Our top correspondent and co-conspirator writes for the Gurn again:
There is a bit of a buzz about the town this evening. The new official Nairn Film Festival booking office (Our bookshop) has kept it's doors open late. Cars are parked on yellow lines, regrettably not for people to attend the new cinema but to obtain the usual Friday night carry oots and booze. None the less Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams is ablaze with light and life.
I have heard the organisers Mark and Tilda giving radio interviews today and read 'exclusive' interviews in the local press. There are many questions including probing ones asking if this will be an annual event to which there are guarded answers. I am more than impressed that the organisers just decided to get up and do it and wish them every success. One of the concerns of the interviews was that of seating but apparently there are now sofas and deck-chairs as well as the bean bags, and as the Gurn has already reported there has been a sign on the door to bring your own chair.
The last time I attend a small town cinema was as a child, Saturday matinees were a favourite. For some reason it was a tradition to buy boxes (Not tubes) of Smarties and pelt each other, the trick was not to get chucked out by the usher. The projectionist sometimes became a target when the projector broke down - to our boos. I also remember attending evening performances with parents, my mother was so taken with Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday we saw it twice! Later as a teenager I got into trouble for going to the cinema to see the Beatles Abbey Road. It wasn't the film my folks objected to but the fact that myself and my pals had chosen to go to the cinema of a lovely sunny summers afternoon. The cinema is something I truly miss, outfits like the Vue just don’t create the atmosphere. Long may we have a cinema in the town.
Another mention on today’s radio interviews was a comparison with the Cannes film event. We have the beach and nice boats in the harbour but I think the hope is that Nairn’s film festival will have all the good things but with no red carpet and other Cannes style trappings.
Have a look for yourself:
I did like the idea of their poster at Cannes - here is my effort for the Nairn Film Festival. I thought the logo should be that of bottom such is the concern about seats! I am sure the Gurn would like to see other folks poster ideas!?

Tilda opens the film festival

Thanks to Iain Fairweather at for this picture of the opening ceremony of the Cinema of Dreams festival.
'FOR the next eight-and-a-half days, an empty upstairs hall in Nairn's High Street will become the venue for a programme of films of which any arts cinema would be proud.' States the Inverness Courier.
The Courier also states in a very interesting article 'Grassroots efforts need nurturing', 'In Nairn, we have a community which has done all the groundwork by conceiving and running three popular arts events which no monolithic organisation could ever have come up with. What it now needs is a modest amount of money to develop this success and the marketing clout of VisitScotland and others to spread the word.'
The Gurn has always believed that this town has the talent to do anything it wants and unfortunately it is often those who are paid to do things on our behalf that get in the way. Don't pay people to organise things for us - we can do it for ourselves - just give us the financial help without the fuss and the fog of officialdom.

Ballerina blogging outbreak

'Nairn was marinating nicely in cool rain when I arrived - now I can make out blue sky emerging from my B&B eyrie - from which, also, I can see the sea and the pitch (if that's the right word) where tomorrow's Highland Games will be held. I feel this is going to be a very rich weekend.'

Charlotte Higgins is the Guardians chief arts writer and this weekend simply another Nairn blogger lol. To see what else she thinks of nicely marinating Nairn then have a look on the Ballerina Ballroom diary.

Then there's a new arrival on the blogosphere that is billed as a 'virtual fringe experience', it entices you with the offer 're-live the gigs, remind yourself of the bands, share your memories.' It looks pretty exciting, the author has researched all the gigs and placed utube videos to help remind you of the sounds if you were there the first time round, even if you weren't this is a marvellous internet resource. The Gurn recommends the Ballerina Ballroom, Nairn blog and even the marinated one above too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ballerina less than 24 hours from reopening as the Cinema of Dreams

Well done Tilda and all her hard-working helpers. (picture will enlarge)a href=

Hamish Dunbar remembers the RMS Ailsa

Through the year she carried mail between Cromarty and Invergordon and no doubt passengers too. During the summer months she would occasionally come over to Nairn and folk, especially holiday makers during Glasgow Fair week, could have a day out in Cromarty and I think she always arrived on Nairn Games Day with folk from the Cromarty/Invergordon area who wanted to attend the games or visit relations in Nairn. I think that maybe the tide dictated when she could come since the west pier side of the river was dry at low tide.
The return fare cost a shilling. 1/- old money


Hamish has sent us the above pictures of Capt Watson and The RMS Ailsa. Thanks Hamish

Nairn gets googled

Thanks to Iain @ for reporting the google car on the streets of the Fishertown. Have you been googled today? More info on the google snoopers here. It seems this is one google facility that has proved controversial in other parts of the world, some have claimed that burglars will spend all their daylight hours scrutinising google pictures of houses in their town or neighbourhood. Obviously google think it worthwhile to send the like of this car and perhaps thousands of others to communities all over the world.
Update: google gets stuck in Roseneath Terrace.

On-line historical environmental record with searchable database

Our web correspondent Iright has been examining another site with a searchable database - a bit slow he reckons but worth a surf on a rainy games day.
'The Highland Historic Environment Record (HER) contains information about tens of thousands of historic buildings, archaeological sites and finds dating from earliest prehistory through to the present day. The complete HER database is available online through these web pages, along with thousands of linked documents and images. '

A fantastic summer's day but sleepness nights still ahead for the Games committee

Iright too, has been having troubling flashbacks to 2006 & 2007. Iright sketched an image from his recurring nightmare for the Gurn.

Two days to the Games and Nairn dons its picture-postcard alter ego

(Pictures will enlarge)
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The area between the Old Cemetery and the railway has fallen out of use. The Kids' Club building is long gone. Alternative uses mooted include a return to allotments and housing. In the meantime there is a certain beauty about the purple explosions of Rosebay willow herb.
(picture will enlarge)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Three in a row?

Will rain spoil the Nairn Games for a third time? Serious worries being expressed that heavy rain for a third year running could damage the Nairn Highland Game’s reputation. It isn’t much fun trying to watch the spectacle in driving rain is it? Here’s how it looked down at the Links today. Plenty of rain around but very light and not doing much damage. The forecast for Saturday seems to differ depending on which channel you watch. Let’s just hope that if it does rain then it doesn’t do so on the scale of the last two years.

First time on the Gurn? Lots of fun stuff in the posts below this week. Our technical correspondent and co-conspirator Iright is on a run!


Harvest going well in the fields between Firhall and the Howford but clouds menace over the Cawdor Hills and the Hill of the Ord. (pictures will enlarge)

Nairn on the web

Iright has been surfing again:

The Gurn has brought us the highly amusing news in recent days of the Nairnshire Telegraph on-line. It is a great pity that this publication does not have a real web presence. Most folk read this weeks issue and then bin it (Hopefully recycle it). What a great resource Nairn would have if the Nairnshire was indeed a searchable archive (Hint, hint, someone). Surfing around to see what is on offer for folk wanting information about Nairn I found:
At first this looks like an excellent site but a little poking around soon exposes the fact that it has not been updated for quite some time. Calendar of events is for 2007, and the business directory contains details of companies that no-longer exist. One entry was for the restoration of clocks and barometers - intrigued I followed the link and found that according to this directory you should take them to to West End Garage! I could not find any details as to who runs this site but it is a shame that it is not kept up to date and it would be a good portal for information on Nairn

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gurn goes to the movies

Thanks to lots of hard work in our technical department the Gurn is now ready to present: 'The Great Gurn Movie' in honour of the Nairn Film Festival. See you down there on the bean bags, in the meantime here's one you can watch from the comfort of your own chair.
Thanks to Iright: iright you are a star! We know it is only a matter of time before the bigger blogs come calling for the outstanding talent that is Iright - just look at his writing skills too (on display in the post below)

Our local newspaper

Our local newspaper (an iright article)

Many folk might be unaware that our local newspaper The Nairnshire has a loyal fan base who almost camp out on the streets of a Monday night to obtain their fresh off the press copy. For the uninitiated small groups of people wait outside the three Nairn Monday night outlets awaiting the arrival of the circulation van driver (The Nairnshire offices, the Co-op, and Morning, Noon and Night). The paper is printed and then delivered from presses at Dingwall. (picture will enlarge)
The driver has a set route, delivering first to the Nairnshire offices, then walking to the Co-op. The hush of waiting folk outside the co-op is broken when the delivery van is spotted. 'It's coming, his van has just gone past'. Sure enough a couple of minutes later the driver arrives with his slender bundle for the waiting punters. The rattle of small change is heard as the crowd of three gathers up the 40p cover price from deep pockets ready for their purchase. The paper hasn't reached barcode technology yet so special buttons are pressed on tills to enable the sale.
Meanwhile the driver continues on his journey to the Morning, Noon, and Night store where another loyal fan base awaits their copies.
In a world of Internet driven news the Monday night vigils are fast becoming history. Folk get their news when they switch on their computer, or increasingly when it arrives on their mobile phone. News is seen and read as it happens, not in the case of our weekly newspaper when it is printed. But whilst there are only a few who queue for their Monday night news fix, there are plenty who amble out and buy a copy of the two minute silence on a Tuesday justifying The Nairnshire's existence. How long it will last no one can be sure, the bottom line is for as long as advertisers throw their money in the Nairnshire's direction. Meanwhile back on the mean streets watch out for the Nairnshire twitchers around 9:00 p.m. on Monday nights, they are fast disappearing!
As Simon Kelner the newly appointed managing director of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday claims: "We don't have a circulation problem. We have a frequency of purchase problem." Hmm... maybe he needs a
few more twitchers?!
Hold the cyber-frontpage Irigtht:
Nairnshire Telegraph goes on-line!


Our internet and technology correspondent Iright has been looking at a wee service available on line at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oidhche mhath a-rithist a h-uile duine

If you are coming for the movies or the jazz then hopefully you will get the chance to see at least one of our sunsets - not guaranteed every night however.

A word from Murd about the Ballerina

Hi folks, have spoken to my brother who is in his eighties and lived in Nairn until the outbreak of the war. His knowledge and memory of the area are still very good but has no recollection of the Figure head above the what was the Public Hall but thinks it looks like SHAKESPEARE ?
The public hall was owned by the McRae's when I was a boy and was a dance hall. Some of the band members were Sandy Williamson [SAX] Drogue McRae also [SAX] Jimmy Bochel [drums] Also playing were Vicky Ellen Gus Miller and if I recall right the band name was the MONOTONES


Fisherwoman captured by Iain Fairweather. Thanks Iain, an excellent picture.
(picture will enlarge)

Merryton Bridge woes - groundhog day!

The Gurn is getting really bored with this, reports are coming in that at least one manhole cover was allowing sewerage to escape again after this evening's heavy rain. The Gurn was down there towards dusk and it certainly looks as though there has been another event - just down by where the lagoon formed last time there is evidence of there having been another large puddle and the presence of a sanitary towel is another strong clue.
Come on Scottish Water, SEPA, Highland Council Environmental Health, get it sorted! Will this just become a fact of life? Please tread through this area on tip-toes and don't tell the tourists? Fat down the drains or not - what are you going to do? The Gurn likes to take pictures of nice sunsets and happy things and have lots of fun and be silly, and yet again we have to do our best to be serious! We've had our quota of being serious about this. You lot had better watch it - rumour has it that Councillor Graham Marsden will be back from holiday soon!
The Gurn is so bored with this that comments will not be accepted on this issue.

What can that white stuff that has come out of the drain be?

Ballerina entrance circa 1906

Sunday slow down

There is a school of thought that believes that jams in Nairn are just something that happens in the evenings (Monday to Friday). Well, here' s a picture showing the King Street roundabout at lunch time today (Sunday). Well behaved drivers wait their turn to enter onto the roundabout. (picture will enlarge)

Oidhche mhath a h-uile duine

Forty something

or something and all that jazz...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Salty and the Windscreen of Dreams

Salty the Seagull had made his mind up to go along to the Links for his first real look at the showies this year. On his way, however, he saw something that resembled a slice of bread and he decided to investigate.
After half an hour without getting offered even a breadcrumb Salty decided to check out this year's new attractions.

Cinema of dreams newsflash

Cinema with a difference! here's a Ballerina Ballroom newsflash:
At the end of Singin' in the Rain, we don't want just to give a ripple of applause. We want to cheer. The same goes for lots of the other films we are showing. In France people whoop and boo at films, in the non-posh bits of American cities too. So, in our wee fest, we have decided that we would like to make noisy appreciation at the end of our movies and we would love it if you wanted to too. Our first thoughts were kazoos. Or balloons that we could burst at the end. But then our friend Phoebe suggested jam jars 1/4 full of dried peas, to rattle. We like this idea a lot. So, as well as your passion, humour, good will and cake, could you bring a jam jar of peas to rattle, or some other kind of noise-making instrument? Also if you have any of those glowy, torchy things that you get at Hogmanay or dodgy stadium concerts, they could be waved at the end of movies (though how that would work after The Bill Douglas Trilogy takes some imagining).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tilda continues to raise the town's profile

Nairn gets a mention on CNN.

'Story Highlights
Tilda Swinton's "The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams" is being held in Nairn'

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The development we do want moves forward for consideration of planning conditions

Click the picture to enlarge and see the future for Balmakeith, a proposed development that enjoys almost unviversal support in Nairnshire. Next Monday this badly needed supermarket project will hopefully move forward when proposed planning conditions on the outline consent will be discussed at a meeting of of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Planning Applications and Review committee.
Andrew Stanley for Pettifer Estates said today,
"Following the Hearing meeting in Nairn in June, we have been working closely with the planning team at The Highland Council and have discussed a set of conditions which will now be considered by the committee next week.”
Jeff Wilson, Sainsbury's Town Planning Manager for Scotland said:
"We are excited about the prospect of Nairn being home to our first food store in the Highlands and we look forward to bringing improved choice and competition in food shopping to Nairn. In addition the petrol station will bring competitive prices for local motorists. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from local people and we are committed to continuing to consult on our detailed proposals with the local community."
Andrew Stanley added,
"As well as quality and choice in food shopping, this development will bring job opportunities and the twin benefits of retaining and increasing expenditure within the local area. We think we have now covered all the outstanding points with the council planners and hope that these matters will be approved at the committee next week.”
Nairnites will be extremely disappointed if this application gets delayed. Nairn badly needs improved supermarket facilities and the jobs that will go with it.