Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Have a good one Gurnshire!

See you all in 2014 :-)

Nairn Golf Club - New CEO

Monday, December 30, 2013

Larger car park for 41 vehicles now planned for Nairn Sports Club extension in Viewfield

Regular readers will perhaps remember a Gurn report on the River CC’s reaction to the Sport’s Club proposed extension. Tommy Hogg and his colleagues declared themselves to be unimpressed with the design but not to the extent that they would object to the club’s planning application. That was back in May, earlier that month we had reported on the comments of Sports Club member Roger Milton, also the Chair of Auldearn Community Council, at a meeting of all the area’s community councils. The club employs six people and has achieved quite a lot since its creation – that article is here: “Nairn Sports Club – a role model for other Community Projects?”

That was in the spring, since that time the application has been pending consideration at Highland Council. At the time the Council’s TECs department stated that they required more information on parking. On November 27th amended plans were uploaded onto the Highland Council’s e-planning pages which show spaces for 41 cars – an earlier design on this application’s file shows space for 17 cars. The creation of the car park would entail the felling of a small number of trees and the installation of root protection for others; a consultant’s report also suggests a replanting strategy too. 

The consultation period for this application is now passed and the extension of the car park might raise eyebrows among some in Nairn who wish to see no further encroachment on town centre green spaces – witness the recent well attended public meeting to campaign against the Highland Council’s proposal for part of the Showfield to be zoned for housing. The conservation and environmental lobby in Nairn is huge when it comes to certain pieces of municipal turf. It will be interesting to see if there is a reaction from the town’s community councils to this proposed extra piece of tarmac in Viewfield and whether any further representations are made to the planning department by the watch dogs or members of the public. 

On the other hand there is a successful Sports Club, providing much needed employment in Nairn, a club which seeks to expand its facilities – something which would undoubtedly be of benefit to the community. It is obvious that the club didn’t wish initially to take up so much space but perhaps their decision comes after some discussion with the planning department. Gurnites can see the Sports Club application and all the relevant plans and documents on this e-planning page here. 

Reduced Gurn service - talk talk connection problem

No Broadband at Gurn HQ today - a couple of things ready for articles too. More later perhaps.

UPDATE: it was the router, a new one was sent by Talk Talk and delivered within less than 24 hours, this observer is impressed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Good turnout for Derby thriller - Nairn 3 Forres 1 - Pictures Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod

Possibly another 500 plus crowd up at Station Park this afternoon for the thriller that saw Nairn take the points but in a contest that was in fact closer than the bookies had speculated. There was a run on the pies and one fan, Stacey, was to express her disappointment on the social media. The game was a good advert for the Highland League and as one fan later tweeted "Nairn v Forres was quality".   This was an event made all the more special by the tributes to Ally MacLeod from the players and the fans - as documented in previous Gurn articles, assistant manager Ally will undergo a bone marrow transplant in the New Year and then have to spend an extended period in quarantine. This was then Ally's last appearance in the dug out this season and it made the game all the more special as the team went out to do their best for him and the massed ranks of the County family on the terraces and in the refurbished stand.

A derby against Forres is time out from the normal scheme of things (even if you are in the top three), it is an event with its own momentum and a resurgent Forres provided tough oppositon. A match report should appear soon on the Highland Football League Hub soon but it will be hard to accurately detail the "quality" goals and the misses that both sides made - some mesmerising play was witnessed out there on the hallowed turf earlier today that saw Conor Gethins add another two to the season's tally and one for Archie MacPhee too. Incidentally Conor's 2nd goal today was his 99th in a County shirt - a fantastic tally for the popular County striker.

Fitting today then that Alan Dallas of the Dolphin Chipper, sponsoring the match, should award "Man of the Match" to Ally. Ally said earlier this evening on the Fans Facebook page:

"Outstanding turn out by the fans today for what was a good game of football played between two very good sides, yes some scrappy parts in the game but some excellent play as well.
I hope the fans stay behind the team as I for one are very confident of the ability and desire of the squad to step on and win things. Believe, positive, desire and togetherness and you can see that this squad has all that.
Enjoy your new year and hopefully there will be a massive support next week at Forres."  

Good luck Ally, the thoughts of all "We Believers" are with you. Next week as Ally mentioned the Wee County make the short trek along the A96 to Mosset Park for part 2 of the back to back Christmas and New Year derbys with Forres. Doing anything next Saturday afternoon?

Individual images here.
And Kenny Macleod's images:
Individual images here.

Lhaso Apso lost dog now reunited with owner

The dog found earlier this evening (see post below) now back with its owner.

Found: Lhasa Apso male dog

Found tonight (Sat) at approx 16.30 in the vicinity of the Fire Station/Bus Station, white and grey, male, Lhasa Apso dog with black collar but no name tag.

Contact Nairn Police, 01667 452222, for the contact details of the person who currently has the dog.

Last day of the Model Shop on Nairn High Street

The last day of another business on the High Street. Closures have come and gone in the past with shops filling up again but will 2014 herald a year where changing trends in society mean that the face of Nairn High Street alters forever? In the new Year the Highland Council and NICE will be running a "charrette" where we will all get to have a chance to have our say on town centre matters. Could local solutions emerge to improve the town centre?
Meanwhile a changeover on the brae as the craft shop moves to the other side of the road - image here.

Derby day fixture at Station Park

Forres will be providing the opposition this afternoon at Station Park. County will be wanting to seize all three points to firm up their league challenge but it's always difficult against the Moray club, they are coming into form too and they usually bring along a good contingent of Mosset Park fans to urge them on. The Wee County will not be without support too, last week they outnumbered the home fans at Lossie and so despite the rain-clouds there should be a large turnout today over the other side of the tracks. The overnight rain is continuing this morning and might make it a little more difficult for the type of football that County play but hopefully NCFC star Conor Gethins will add to his tally of 30 goals so far this season. County are the bookies favourites but the final team that Les puts on the park will depend on the effect of recent injuries suffered by some of the regulars and this will be no walkover for the home side. 

If you haven't got anything to do and have never graced Station Park before why not pop up and see what it is all about this afternoon?

It's also the last game of the season for assistant manager Ally MacLeod before he departs for his myelofibrosis treatment.  County fans, management, players and others far and wide will be wishing him well and looking forward to his eventual return to Highland League football.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nairn Roadrunners Turkey Trot, Boxing Day 2013 - pictures

Another good 200 plus turnout for the popular Boxing Day fixture that sees the fun run go up to the Firhall Bridge from the Maggot and back down the other bank of the river until crossing over again at the Jubilee Bridge. An amazing array of Christmas accessories once again on display, well done to all participants.  

Full Screen sideshow here. Individual images here.

Update: 27/12 Some pictures from Kenny MacLeod below. Individual images here

On the way back to summer on Nairn beach

Weather wise, Boxing Day was kind, after the winds and the rain came a calm sunny day that brought lots of locals and visitors to Nairn’s beaches. The daylight slowly exchanged itself for twilight and then darkness, extending the day in an uplifting way after several days recently when it never really got very light. Enticed in by the sunshire, numbers on the beach approached summer levels. More pictures here on the Gurn flickr pages. 

Also on flickr recently some interesting image manipulation from Jack t’ Lad. An Edwardian selfie taken a long time ago in the Corsee area of Nairn. One wonders what that young man would have made of seeing his image displayed to the world 24/7 by the technology of today. The construction workers made good progress on the new flats at the bus station before they broke off for Christmas – here are a few other images of the bus station area, some more recent than others. The young swans flew over the Fishertown by themselves this evening, outlined against the sunset – will they soon be leaving the sanctuary of the river and the free handouts of grain and breadcrumbs from bird lovers? 

Monday, December 23, 2013

"What on earth has happened to the war memorial?" asks Gurn reader

"What on earth has happened to the war memorial?" Asked one of our regular readers yesterday. Our correspondent is concerned that recent restoration material is either falling out or has been removed. The image below shows what is concerning our reader.

Gurnites will remember that the material used in the restoration earlier this year aroused strong feelings and was labelled in a local weekly newspaper as "legalised vandalism" by former Navyman Iain MacGillvary who, along with his Royal British Legion colleagues, had campaigned for years for the memorial to be repaired.
Retired builder and chair of River Community Council, Tommy Hogg, also severely criticised the £4,700 makeover.
Is it a makeover for the makeover? Anyone who has further information please contact info@gurnnurn.com.

Update 26/12  Another of our readers reports seeing someone in a high-vis jacket who appeared to be scraping the material out around a fortnight ago.

South Nairn planning appeal to be determined by site visit

The Scottish Governement's DPEA (Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals) case officer for the South Nairn application has written in an e-mail: 

"Given the timing of notice from the council and the holiday period, the deadline for submission of representations will be 8 January 2014. Anything received after this date will only be accepted at the reporters discretion. The appeal is scheduled to be determined by site inspection, unless the reporter decides at a later stage that further submission or a hearing is required, which will put back the target date. "

The DEPA target date for this application is the 21st of February. You can see further content from that e-mail and all other documents connected with the appeal on the DPEA site. In the list of documents is also a claim for an award of expenses from the consortium developers against Highland Council. To access the appeal documents go to this page and click on the "simple search" tab, copy and paste PPA-270-2097 into the box and that should take you to the documents.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Watching what they make of Moray and learning from it?

This observer was talking to one of our regular readers recently and the conversation harked back to the good old days of 1993 and local government reorganization, there was an abortive attempt by the then District Council to have Nairn join up with Moray – that attempt was annihilated at a rather large meeting in the old community centre on a fateful night when a campaign to “Keep Nairn Highland” reached its vociferous zenith. Fast forward 20 years however and our correspondent said:

“Personally I think it makes no sense for Nairn to be tied into the Highland region. Nairn has much more in common (geographically, socially, historically, economically) with Moray than with Highland (so much of which is remote, sparsely populated, wild and mountainous).  The problems we grapple with (A96 access, the rail service, tourism-marketing, agricultural viability, jobs and housing) are problems almost identical to the rest of the Laich of Moray to the east.  The western isles and most of the Highlands have different problems (of remote rurality, and in the case of Inverness, of urban overload).”

Bearing that in mind we were also recently recommended to visit a website “We make Moray. Our Place. Our Culture. Our Future.”  The site bills itself as: “We Make Moray is a project exploring the culture and
identity of Moray. Participants have been invited to submit their ideas for making Moray a culturally better place through this Ideas Bank, Freepost Postcards, Online Surveys, Community Events and Interviews. The outcomes of this participation will make up a cultural strategy for Moray to be published in February 2014.
You can read more of that on the site's  about page here. 

The main page here exhibits all the ideas submitted so far; some of them will be familiar to Gurnites and would dovetail perhaps with elements of the Nairn festival and other cultural activities in the town. 

The initiative has a draft strategy which, quoting one of the contributors, begins:

“Creativity is part of the fabric of life... Supporting creativity across learning, community, health, tourism and more; arts and culture is not something you  can place in a box, of to the side and separate from daily life... Creativity is in  the daily fabric of life: from the clothes we wear, the TV and dramas we watch, and the music we listen to... Great inventions and designs all require creative  thinking... A community that nurtures creativity, enriches businesses and  creates a community of creative thinkers... Develop an arts and culture tourism  strategy… Encourage visitors to the area because we do have a rich heritage  and culture... Support our museums and libraries, develop creative learning in  schools, put on events and activities in the community halls, support a variety  of festivals and events that celebrate the incredibly rich cultural oferings that  Moray has to offer.” More here.

We’re not part of Moray and not part of this initiative but it presents an excellent opportunity to steal observe and learn from any good ideas that emerge from Morayshire communities that have a lot in common with ourselves. 

County Solstice Spree - Lossie 0 Nairn 5 - Pictures Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod

The shortest day was determined to live up to its reputation yesterday. Even as County fans boarded their various transport to head for Lossie the skies were already dark above the line of the A96 from Nairnshire into Moray. Ominous clouds were edging over from the northern side of the Firth and the chill wind was biting. A fleet of buses loaded with Aberdeen fans passed in the opposite direction; they were headed for what turned out to be considerable festive cheer at the Caley stadium. The grassroots supporters going the other way had an equally important if less glamorous mission  - the highs and lows can be just as intense whatever the level though and County days out can be tremendous fun even with the odd bad result thrown into the mix. 

Once in the environs of Lossiemouth it was the choice of the Social Club or Christmas Shopping. There seemed to have been one or two closures of shops and licensed premises in the town since this observer’s last visit but the newer, upmarket retail outlets along by the harbour seemed to be bright and busy with quite a few customers in the café at the end of the restored row. 

Once again, the Lossiemouth FC social club made the visiting fans welcome and there was some football on the large screen to entertain as the County Christmas cheer and expectation built up. 
It isn’t far too the ground from the social club and before long a hundred or so County fans were inside braving the elements. Seasoned Lossie supporters had their perches sheltered from the prevailing wind up against the corrugated iron on the western side of the park. It was to be the more exposed enclosure for the majority of the County fans and there they made themselves heard. County ate all the pies long before half time, perhaps Lossie hadn’t anticipated such a large visiting support. Everywhere we go these days we must certainly input a few shillings into the home side’s coffers, both behind the bar and over the turnstiles.

And so to the football. After Connor’s first it would be a long wait before his number two. A disallowed goal by Robbie intervened in a stunning display of magical Connor chances that just wouldn’t go in. It was to be the second half, despite a good Lossie start, before the avalanche came and Connor was to get four out of the County five taking him up past his Christmas wish of thirty. A match report here on the Highland Football League hub site. 

Great scenes as County fans waited to applaud their heroes off the park next to the exit at the changing rooms near the right hand corner on the northern side of the park. The Christmas Joy was aided by the news that both Brora and Wick had lost. There’s a lot to do and a long way to go but things certainly got a serious solstice boost yesterday. County now look forward to back to back fixtures against Forres over the holiday period. Pictures from Donald below.

Individual images here.   And Kenny MacLeod's images below.

Individual images here. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Santa returns to the riverside tree after a mysterious 19 day leave of absence.

Murd tells the Gurn that Santa has reappeared on the riverside tree in circumstances equally mysterious as his departure. Gurnites will recall that Santa vanished from the tree within two hours. He had initially climbed up the tree on the riveside walk aided by Murd and Jock on the 1st of the month.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gurn food review 3 - Poinsettias and puddings!

One of our regular readers has given us another of their occasional food reviews.

It’s not the first place that would have come to mind for a fantastic Christmas lunch but it turned out that it was the place to be!  Broadleys Garden Centre is always a great place to go for a cuppa and cake, or a sandwich for lunch but it is also the ideal place to go for one of the best Christmas lunches I have had in a long time! Turkey with all the trimmings served for just £6.99, perfect portion size and very, very tasty.  Selection of puddings after, all at £2.60, included Christmas pudding, crumbles and sticky toffee pudding to name but a few all served with either cream, custard or ice cream.  A great deal at under £10 for a two course lunch for sure. 

The selection of snacks and baking on offer is always second to none and with good coffee and pots of tea on offer too, it’s a must!  Prices range from a couple of pounds for light snacks up to £5/6 for meals.  Food is ordered at the counter and then table served, staff very efficient and courteous even when obviously very busy (we got the last seat in the house today).  In addition to great food there is also a great selection of gifts as well as the usual plants, flowers, bulbs etc.  Plenty of parking outside and easily accessible makes it an ideal place for young and old.  Fabulous food and festive fayre!

Nairn when you were a bairn - "Flashbacks guaranteed"

The Bairnites now have a video up on Youtube showing some of the scenes that have done so much to rekindle memories and old friendships on the facebook page Nairn when you were a bairn. You can see the video here. 

Recently Rob Ellen also posted four videos on the same site, they are also available on Youtube and you can see Chrissie Ellen talks about Old Nairn Part 1,2, 3 and 4 here, here, here and here. 

Christmas tweet to Gurnshire from Oor Graham

Colin highlights 10 additional commitments from SNP led Highland Council

As seen on Colin's facebook page earlier today:

"Today, the SNP-led Highland Council made 10 additional commitments with the programme for the next few years - several of which were proposed by Nairn's 2 SNP Councillors! All are important across Highland - but some have particular importance for our ancient Royal Burgh.

The economy
1. We will investigate new opportunities for non-domestic rate incentives for town centres/specified streets or localities where support is needed to help to reverse localised economic decline.
2. We will explore all opportunities to promote wider application of the living wage across Highland.
Caring communities
3. We will continue to lobby for measures that will mitigate the negative effects of Welfare Reform measures on individuals, providers of social housing and the rural economy. As the first Council in Scotland to work directly with the Department for Work and Pensions on Universal Credit mitigation for local claimants, the Council will also seek to improve communications, data sharing and local joint working with the Department.

Better infrastructure

Facebook multi media approach from local butcher

Increasingly Nairn businesses are turning to facebook to promote their goods and services. Good to see B Clark and Sons using a video to get information to customers and wish everyone a happy Christmas. Will we see more of this multi-media approach from other local businesses soon? The video can be seen on the B Clark and Sons facebook page here. They also have a website here.

NICE news on Nairn town centre - they will be taking to the streets to find out your views early in 2014

NICE are happy to be nominated as partners in the forthcoming Highland Council Nairn town centre charrette that secured funding this week from the Scottish Government - info here. The organisation state on their website this morning:

"NICE believes that the time has come to tackle head-on some of the big issues facing the town centre. We believe it is important to gather local views and consult with the community and business groups to identify their aspirations for the services and facilities that a regenerated Town Centre should deliver. "

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nairn Bypass - a wee inquisition for Colin from Rosemary

Last week the Westies discussed the prospects and potential routes for the Nairn Bypass. Much of the debate centred around the omission of a means of getting on and off the bypass in South Nairn. Towards the end however Rosemary fired a question at Colin:

“What do you think is the expectancy of the arrival of this road?  Your honest opinion.” 

Colin replied: “I think it’s such a big project. If it is early it will be five years but I’m not a roads engineer.”

“They are hell bent on doing it aren’t they? Where are they going to start?”

“They’ve said all along that they do these things in chunks and where there are hold-ups or things that are technically difficult or there are big legal processes to go through; they’ll be left until later stages but they’ve also said – folk have said, the A9 is in front of this. I don’t believe that though, they’ll be bits of the A9 that are so complex for whatever reason that they’ll have begun stretches of the A96.”

“Well I can remember you saying and some of your other colleagues saying, when it was the Nairn bypass, you all were saying it’s ready to go, we’ve got all the consents and there’s no problem we can do it so this is a package that they can just do. But now it is all different isn’t it? This has all got different routes. This is just not the same,” the Chair of West CC continued her cross examination.

“I’m not conscious there was ever money there to go ahead with a Nairn bypass.”

“No I didn’t think it was money but that we would be ready if…”

“There is a strategic commitment here for a dualling of the A96 and I think we just take advantage of that.”

“Well it would be jolly handy to have a dual carriageway because then all those wind farms in the east could not go through Nairn.  I’ve never seen anything like them coming through Nairn and going round the roundabout. It’s absolutely outrageous.”

The Nairnshire Joint CC proposals - a workable blueprint for more democracy in Nairn?

In November the Nairnshire Community Councils (including Croy CC) wrote to Highland Council’s Chief Executive, Steve Barron, with a proposal for a new way of doing things in Nairnshire. They also sent a copy of their proposal to the four local councillors, our MSPs and Danny Alexander. 

The proposal outlined 6 priorities for the area and a framework for more local input and scrutiny over how we are governed by the Highland Council. They also asked for the provision of project managers to take forward their “exciting plans”.  The Gurn has received a copy of the proposal and serious students of these matters may wish to read the document here and decide for themselves whether these ideas have merit. It will be interesting to see if our four local councillors, particularly Liz and Colin who are members of the Glenurquhart Road ruling administration will back these proposals coming from the democratically elected grass roots CC organisations that represent Nairnshire. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Local Government – a quick flashback to 1993

This observer has received a copy of the proposal that the Nairnshire Community Councils put to Highland Council a few weeks ago – it is quite a remarkable document and Gurnites who are assiduous students of these matters will no doubt wish to browse it in great detail. It can wait until the next article however, as whilst searching through the Gurn pre-digital archives we came across a copy of a Leopold Street Thunderer dated November 16th 1993 and something caught our attention. The end of 1993  was just prior to the major stushie that kicked off about whether Nairn should stay with Highland or go with Moray as all was soon to be subsumed into a single, all powerful local authority. In the end Nairn went with Highland Council after a vociferous campaign by the Keep Nairn Highland faction. It wasn’t much of a choice really, whether to be ruled by Inverness or Elgin was about the sum of it. 

Could there have been more of a fight to save local democracy? Did we get what we deserved; the editorial of that week suggests a lack of enthusiasm in all quarters to fight what was being proposed:

“Like a friendly, tired and inherently obedient old dog our council has rolled onto its back for the vet, in the form of the government and more proactive councils in the region, to tickle its tummy and slip in the kindly needle which will send it to oblivion. Some Nairn councillors appear quite happy to prepare for winding down the operation. Sure the best that the Districk Council can do for is to fight for its own existence. 

But in fairness it is not just the council. There has been a marked lack of support for Nairn’s continuance by leading members of the commercial community locally, some of whom have obviously seen the route to the ranks of the great and the good to be via Inverness. Nairn’s district status for them is at best an irrelevance, at worst an irritation. 

And in general Nairnites themselves have shown little concern that their political status is about to be down-graded. Very few bothered to take the opportunity to contribute when the Secretary of State for Scotland invited comments on the proposed local government reforms. Tax the average Nairn person on the subject and the most you will get is a tirade on the proposal to spend £100,000 on the Courthouse, an argument which misses the point that the Courthouse accommodation is woefully inadequate and that administrative functions will continue from there after the death of the district 

It is a great shame that at a period in Nairn’s history when the local economy is as severely stressed as it ever has been, Nairn’s political status is about to be removed and the council sees itself as a terminal case.” 

So spoke the Nairnshire over 20 years ago. Now we are offered the first crumbs of some sort of return to local democracy in the form of the odd combination (some would say shotgun marriage) of Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey into an area committee of Highland Council. To this observer a more sensible and immediate route to redressing the democratic deficit in Nairn could be via the proposal that the Nairnshire Community Councils put to the Highland Council recently.  A copy of that coming soon. 

Subway for Nairn?

HHL think so.

Update - thanks to Sherlock for spotting a certain planning application - see comments.

Christmas and New Year message on the behalf of County Fans from Donald Wilson

Gurnites will have noticed how active the County Fans Ground Improvements Fund has been in 2013 and since its inception at the turn of the year it has raised an incredible £34,000 - each pound raised will attract matching funding from the Scottish Football Partnership for the ongoing development of Station Park. The fund raising has been very high profile and the community responded generously : here's a page on the fans site that has captured images and details of all those various activities - this year Wee County football went way beyond the boundaries of Station Park as the club cemented its relationship with the community through the activities that the fans organised. 
Donald Wilson reflects on remarkable events of the past year and looks to the future as he offers his thanks to all those in the community who responded to the ongoing appeal. You can read what he has to say on the Fans GIF news page here. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Know anyone who will be on their own for Christmas?

Cllr Lobban talking Nairn Tourism.

Cllr Lobban at the Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Area Committee meeting on the 3rd of December.

”I’ll be honest with you. I’m quite astounded that Nairn doesn’t do so well because Nairn has got a fantastic amount going for it. Not least of those are the excellent roads into Badenoch and Strathspey – I think, Cllr Fallows has just touched on marketing. Now obviously whatever your are doing, you are not marketing it well enough and I think a really close look at what the CBP (Cairngorm Business Partnership) do in promoting the Cairngorms National Park  and particularly Badenoch and Strathspey – they’ve done a phenomenal job and I think if you look very closely at what they do and have done and are continuing to do with their proposals in the future. That’s the way you should be going.”

Cllr Fallows talking Nairn Tourism.

Cllr Fallows at the Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Area Committee meeting on the 3rd of December.

”I think for my money Nairn and the County of Nairn has undoubtedly got sufficient   critical mass to be able to do the same trick I believe. Not lest because Nairn sits centrally in one context, it has the wonders of the big city to one side and it has the Moray Coastal Trail and the attractions of the like of Findhorn and so on to the other side. And to the south  of it it has the Cairngorms National Park. Looking at that kind of central position in that context with all of the attraction of its own beaches and its own golf courses and  so on and  the like of Cawdor Castle just up the road. When you actually put all that lot together of course there’s critical mass. Of course there’s sufficient there to be able to say we can do this and I think it’s a kind of hole in the tourism marketing of the Highlands that needs filling.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kennel Cough alert

An alert has come in from our veterinary correspondent about an increase in dogs with kennel cough in the area.

Kennel cough is one of the most common infectious viruses seen in veterinary practices and, though never a pleasant experience for your dog, this current outbreak seems to be a particularly nasty strain with many animals requiring medical intervention.
Kennel Cough is an upper respiratory infection which is highly contagious, in the same way that ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ in humans, an infected dog can pass the condition onto other dogs.  The virus and bacteria in the droplets can survive for some time and can be picked up; this can include contact with toys, food/water bowls and also from humans who may have been coughed or sneezed on by their dog.  

In extreme cases Kennel cough can be fatal for old or very young animals and animals with other medical conditions.  If you think your dog has Kennel Cough consult your vet about treatment as soon as possible. It may also be advisable to keep the animal outwith the waiting room at the surgery until your appointment with the vet.
Symptoms may include:
  • A persistent dry hacking cough - you may think your dog has something stuck in its throat
  • Coughing up a white foamy liquid
  • A runny nose and eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Listlessness and loss of appetite
To prevent your dog getting Kennel Cough consider getting it vaccinated, your vet can advise you regarding vaccination. 

Further information on Kennel Cough can be found here and a video of a dog with kennel cough can be seen here.

Decorations go up on the Christmas tree

It was wet, it was windy, but thanks to the crew from Nairn, when you were a Bairn, the Christmas tree outside the Royal Bank has been spruced up and is looking decidedly more Christmassy.  Chief Elf, Tommy Hogg, had brought along the decorations and was there to lend a hand and keep an eye out to make sure there were no Nairnites dangling dangerously or precariously from the tree.

The decorations were purchased and provided by Nairn River Community Council in response to a request from Stephen Smerdon and others who were concerned that the Christmas trees were lacking in festive adornments, something which is particularly noticeable during the day when the Christmas lights are not switched on.

Tommy told the Gurn that due to the short notice the current solution is only temporary but now that the situation has been highlighted it will be discussed at the next joint Community Council meeting to see if a better outcome can be found for next year.  He also thanked Nickle and Dime for their very generous discount towards the decorations. Steven Smerdon thanked everyone who turned up and also thanked all those who had dropped off spare decorations to Taxi 24/7.

Unfortunately, due to the very windy conditions today, only part of the tree has been covered and the tree in Castle Lane may be done next week.

Nairn County Supporters declare they "Believe" in Ally Macleod

A surprise awaited Nairn County FC’s assistant manager, Ally Macleod, at Station Park on Saturday when he was summoned by a group of supporters to the dugout. He was presented with a large canvas print which had the well wishes of County supporters and the proclamation of  “We Believe" (in you) at the top.

Ally will take a temporary break from Station Park in January while he undergoes treatment for myelofibrosis, a condition which causes scarring of the bone marrow. He will receive a bone marrow transplant from his brother and will be in hospital for many weeks. 

Douglas Smith, Ally Mcleod, Andrew Paterson

Andrew Paterson, who had organised the presentation, also handed over a cheque for £175 to Ally for the Anthony Nolan appeal.  Andrew said that this may be only a small gesture but it comes from all with warm hearts and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. 

Ally is in the 30% of people who find an identical match within his family, for the other 70% who are not so fortunate, the Anthony Nolan appeal provides a register which endeavours to match potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients. More information on the charity can be found here.

Nairn 3 Cove 3. Pictures Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod

Donald's images here

Kenny's images

Kenny's individual images here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"No buses for Auldearn? It’s certainly a frightening possibility" - says our Gurnshire East correspondent

Here's our Gurnshire East correspondent's impressions of the bypass meeting held in Auldearn earlier this week:

Auldearn’s Dunbar Hall attracted a large crowd on Wednesday evening to an exhibition of how the  proposals for a Nairn bypass could affect the village. 

After having a chance to study detailed  plans of the possible route options the meeting was drawn to order by Roger Milton, Chair of Auldearn Community Council, who explained to the audience that, although there are multiple route options, there are effectively only four variations within the Auldearn Community Council boundary. 

It was thought that focusing on the impact that the new road would have on the village and surroundings, rather than looking  at Nairn and beyond, would allow more detail to be studied and subsequent issues better understood.

The four routes through Auldearn were : 
 Northern  (2A/2E/2H)
 Existing Bypass line (2B/2F) 
 South Inner (2C/2G)
 South Outer (2D/2I) 

A plan of each possible route was projected on a large screen and a full explanation  given about the details of junctions, existing roads that would be severed and any alternative access arrangements, issues with community severance, transport links etc. 

All of the routes will impact on farmland and  housing to a lesser or greater degree but those in attendance seemed genuinely surprised when the potential impact of some route details were explained.

While the South Outer option offers to create a new bridge over the bypass for the Lethen Road, leaving easy access into the village from  Fornighty and Lethen, the South Inner scheme offers no such flyover. Anyone wanting to get to the village from the south under that scheme , including those living at Newmill, would be faced with a 3 mile detour to get to Auldearn. 

The Northernmost route, at the stroke of a designers pen, would take a dual carriageway within 50 metres of a farmhouse and straight through the middle of the very popular fruit farm at Hardmuir. 

Both South Outer and Inner routes would create a new junction near Courage but this junction lacks slipways on its western side, meaning that vehicles could not access the west bound carriageway here, or leave the east bound carriageway, which is fine if you want to go to Aberdeen, or you’re returning from it. The alternative in both cases involves an extra 5 miles on your journey.  

The existing bypass line effectively cuts the Auldearn area in two, severing the area north of the exiting bypass line from the village. All the properties in that area: Boath House, Penick Farm, Hardmuir Fruit Farm and the groups of houses at Broombank, Auldearn Station and beyond would only be able to get to Auldearn by first making their way to  Auchnacloich, via the totally unsuitable network of single track roads.  In some cases this would turn a half mile return journey on foot to the village into a six mile round trip by car.

The meeting was also surprised to hear that if the route along the existing bypass was adopted as drawn, it would impact on the school playing field, the graveyard and the bus services. 

Given that the village’s eastern A96 access would be closed off, Auldearn would no longer have a through road suitable for larger vehicles. Any buses heading for the village would have to make their way from the new  junction to the east and then find somewhere to turn around in the village , before making their way back to the main road again.  

Questions raised from the floor made it obvious that Auldearn has been very badly served by these proposals, with lack of common sense being applied or indeed any evidence that those responsible for the designs ever walked the routes first. 

“Why a duel carriageway?” was the most common comment but it was pointed out that the Community Council has to respond to the proposals in front of them and not question whether the ‘duel’ aspect has more to do with political manoeuvring and less with real world economics or need.

Any comments or objections have to in by 31st January 2014 and details of the proposals can be found at 

A follow up public meeting is to be held on 8th January 2014 to allow  Auldearn Community Council to finalise its response to Transport Scotland

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nairn Community & Arts Centre Christmas Party night

Good luck to everyone at the Nairn Community and Arts Centre for their very first Christmas Party night tonight. With Donnie Macleod providing the food and Heather and the rest of the Uncle Bob team running the bar this is bound to be a great night.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas trees to get a bit of sparkle. *Updated*

Lots of discussion has been going on over on the Nairn, when you were a Bairn Facebook site, about the lack of decorations on the two Christmas trees in the town centre.  While the trees are lit up at night they are bare and drab during the day, although a few bits of tinsel and baubles have been appearing over the last couple of days, both trees lack any festive sparkle.             

At the Nairn River Community Council meeting last night this issue was raised by the Chief Elf, Tommy Hogg, and it was agreed by all the other elves that the Community Council would donate £75 worth of decorations to brighten up the trees for this year.  

A note of caution was raised by Cllr’s (Bah) Macauly and (Humbug) Green who were concerned that none of the good citizens of Nairn would be dangling from the trees or falling off ladders while attempting to hang tinsel, glitter balls or other dangly bits.   However, both Councillors soon released their inner twinkle when they got caught up with the idea of solar glitter baubles!  In the interest of Health and Safety, the Chief Elf agreed that he would be there to supervise the communal dressing of the trees.

The issue will be brought forward to the next joint Community Council meeting so that next year the trees will be better prepared.  The Gurn also understands that it will be raised at the West Community Council tonight. 

Well, done to the folk over on the Nairn, when you were a Bairn site for highlighting this, let’s get everyone working together and get a little bit of glitz and sparkle into the town for this Christmas.

Update.  Message from the organisers.
"Any volunteers who want to help decorate the trees should meet up at the Royal Bank car park at 1pm on Sunday (15th December).  If you have any surplus tinsel or larger tree decorations please put them in to the 24/7 taxi office in the High Street by  1pm on Sunday, thanks everyone."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New County Cowshed planning application

County fans are impressed with the new plans for a perspex style cantilever Cowshed - an enclosure fit for the new millennium proposed for up at Station Park. You can see the plans for yourself here. 
The fans "We Believe" group are determined to continue their fundraising efforts into 2014 to help pay for the construction of the new enclosure. For all the latest County Fans Ground Improvement Fund News click here.  The official club site also have a news page here. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Colin talking Tourism

Colin at the Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Area Committee meeting on the 3rd of December.

”When you see it in terms of the picture presented from the Cairngorm Business Partnership there, there’s a route map ahead and we lack that clarity so I welcome the proposal to have an early focus for a ward forum on it. It is about realising the potential. If you skip back 50 or a hundred years ago, Nairn was the tourist destination in the North of Scotland and incrementally, I think,  we’ve done things about improving the townscape if you like in terms of  - incrementally improving the play area at the links. We’ve linked into these threads that are there on page 5 of this report and I think we can continue to do that but I think we also need to just have a chat about  - are there some bigger things that can be done to put Nairn back on that kind of map again? If you look at the whole Cairngorms, Aviemore type area: it’s been built on the development of ski – the Cairngorm Partnership have built on top of that and you’ve got the whole wildlife tourism theme thing down in Lochaber, whether it is the mountain bikes or the skiing – again it is the kind of transformational type initiatives or projects have made such a huge difference.

We’ve been really fortunate in Nairn. We’ve had industrialisation playing a big part in the recent, the last 30 years. With the bypass I think we need to build on more of these older assets that we’ve undoubtedly got.”

Protest meeting against Showfield housing proposal - Wednesday night (11th Dec)

Regular readers will know that the Showfield is one of the preferred areas in and around Nairn where Highland Council would like to see housing in the future. Their proposals are currently out to consultation. One of our team of reporters was this evening given a copy of an interesting leaflet. There is a meeting then tomorrow night. See below for details, unfortunately for the usual suspects and some others it will clash with the River CC meeting in the URC hall which is also taking place tomorrow night (Weds 11th of December).

Knots on Nairn Beach - 10/12/13

A massive flock of Knots on the West Beach today. Another picture here and here too. 

And some sunrise images and more pictures of the knots in action below from Kenny Macleod.

A mild day in Nairn, pictures from the Harbour pier and the Maggot

It was probably 12 or 13C earlier today and although the shadows are long the calm conditions were complemented by interesting skies, some clouds showing lenticular qualities.

Individual images here Full screen slide show here. 

Update - a fantastic finish to the day too with another touch of the lenticulars.

A small splash of colour on a High Street Christmas tree - Guerrilla Xmas Decoration Squad on the loose?

The lights on the Christmas trees in Nairn High Street look very nice when darkness falls but the fact that the trees are bereft of decorations during the day has been the subject of a very  interesting debate on the Nairn when you were a Bairn facebook page (membership 2,040).

Interestingly this morning a splash of colour has appeared on the tree in Castle Lane square. A one off or will more colour soon appear? Someone has perhaps decided to follow the example set by Murd and Jock on the Riverside?

Monday, December 09, 2013

425 on the Council house waiting list for Nairn

As the debate continues locally about housing developments and where they should be sited in the future, the latest details of the demand for council housing in Nairn were discussed at the meeting of the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area committee last week. Liz introduced the item which was centred around a report on council housing, a copy of which which can be found here. She said:

“I know as a Councillor, one of the highest inputs I get from the public at my surgeries is on housing matters – looking for council housing and affordable housing. I think this is the first time there has been so detailed information in the regard to the demand for housing needs. And the figures are really quite frightening when you see them and they warrant substantial action by members to do all we can to get more affordable housing built and developed in our area. There’ a very low number of relets and  it’s just a tenth of demand so I’m sure there are folk out there although they would appreciate some affordable council housing have not even have put their name down on the list yet because of the low turnovers.”

A little into the debate that followed Colin said. “Just in terms of the numbers situation. There’s 425 on the waiting list. That’s the 1st choice for Nairn so, by and large, they will be people from Nairn or working in Nairn or want to live in Nairn, very definitely Nairn. And as you said Liz, that is an underestimate. There are loads that haven’t come onto the list because they know they ‘re never going to reach the top of that list because they are not in particular priority need.”

Things certainly don’t look good for those on the council house waiting list based on what Liz and Colin had to say. This observer was talking to one of the senior usual suspects earlier today who suggested that it was time the council actually built some affordable housing on Sandown. Easy to suggest yes, but Sandown is already zoned for housing isn’t it and there is a sort of a blueprint? The only thing that will be lacking will presumably be the money or a housing association willing to become involved.? 

That picture looks familiar...

Christmas on the other side of the Riverside Walks

Murd reports that he had a couple of bits of tinsel left from when he and Jock decorated the tree on the other side of the river, so he put them on a holy tree below Whinnieknowe. Other river walkers have started to decorate that tree too. Murd told the Gurn that it gave the opportunity to those that were unable to use the Firhall bridge, to have the full round the river experience, the chance to see a bit of the riverside Christmas spirit too. 
The manhunt for the Santa that disappeared from the other tree goes on says Murd with help from the 2,000 plus members of the Nairn when you were a Bairn Facebook group. That site has been branching out too and discussing the lack of decorations on the Christmas trees in the town centre; Liz has entered that debate now and quite lively it is too - more here on Nairn when you were a Bairn (you will need to join the group if you haven't already to participate). 

Community Council meetings on Weds 11th and Thurs 12th December – an important week for having your say!

There are three Community Council meetings this week, two in the town and one in Auldearn, where current controversial issues will be debated – a chance for you to add your say to the mix and/or find out details of what you can do to further influence things. 

There are two meetings on Wednesday night (11th Dec), one in the town and one in Auldearn. River Community Council will be holding their usual monthly meeting in the URC hall at 7.30 p.m. Their agenda includes the Nairn South Development, A96 Dualling/Bypass options and the Nairn Traffic Management systems. The Gurn understands that at sometime during the last week the town’s three community councils met with Charles Allenby’s agents to discuss matters concerning his proposed development at Nairn South – the substance of that meeting will no doubt be revealed on Wednesday. 

Out at Auldearn on Wednesday night too (11th Dec) in the Lethen Road hall, the village’s Community Council will discuss the A96 Bypass dualling plans and bill their meeting as: 

“Informal information meeting with detailed plans of all routes on show. Come and view the proposals and the consequences for the locality.” 

The plans are on display from 6.30 p.m. and an informal round table discussion begins at 7.30 p.m. Gurnites that have seen the maps of the various routes will know that they all have considerable consequences for the areas around the village. 

On Thursday Night (12th Dec)  the Westies (Nairn West CC) meet in the Community Centre at 7.30 p.m. and they have a very full agenda. Here it is:

  1.   Apologies for Absence  
  2. Minutes of last meeting
  3.   Matters Arising 
  4.   Correspondence
  5.   Treasurer’s Report
  6. Police Report
  7.   Presentation on Windfarms (Cairn Duhie) by Dick Ruane
  8.  Inner Moray Firth Development Plan 
  9.   By-pass and Dualling of A96 
 10.  Community Empowerment Consultation
 11.  Nairn South
 12. Town Centre
 13. Common Good
 14. Planning Applications
 15.  Any Other Business
 16.  Date and time of next meeting

A considerable amount of business then for the Westies to get through. Next week will see discussion at the three different meetings on topics that have stimulated quite a lot of comment on the Gurn. This week sees your chance to take your views to these public meetings. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Talking Nairn tourism - could something be learned from the way things are done in the Cairngorms National Park?

The discussion on tourism in Nairn last Tuesday in Kinguisse at the meeting of the area committee didn’t last too long but it was pretty much straight to the point  beginning with Liz’s intro to the topic:
“I asked for this paper to come to the Area Committee as it has been several years since tourism has been considered in detail by local members. It’s a pity that already a local tourism operator has made negative comments about the report, however we’re going to try today for a positive outcome.”

Liz continued and a little later she said: “I believe the best thing we can do to generate and increase tourism is to better market the area, promote our fantastic natural environment and develop a plan that is deliverable perhaps with the support of a jointly funded project officer. We need to prepare for Leader funding which will be available from the end of 2014 or into 2015 which has an economic tourism focus and we should be able to take proposals off the shelf that we want to drive forward; be it for improved facilities, activities or events and at the end of the discussion I would like to propose a fourth recommendation that we agree to arrange a tourism and leisure services ward forum for Nairn to see if we can bring together all the parties with the aim of preparing an action plan that could be delivered.”

The debate that followed lasted little more than twelve minutes but a much more interesting debate will no doubt get underway whenever the date is set for the ward forum in Nairn.

Before the Councillors said anything the author of the report, Colin Simpson, spoke. What he had to say included the following, citing initially the Cairngorms Business Partnership and then: “Where there is a bigger critical mass of businesses this destination development approach has started to evolve and we are seeing that in a number of places in the Highlands and we’re not seeing the same approach in Nairn at the moment. As I tried to say in section 3.3 that's not to say that there aren’t things happening in Nairn – far from it but people tend to be delivering specific projects through a group that works just on that project and I take the Book and Arts Festival as one example of that but we don’t have this more holistic approach. That may not necessarily be the right thing for Nairn. I think it’s wrong for us to say you should approach everything in exactly the same way in all the areas of the Highlands and Nairn is very different in scale. I’m also very conscious that if you take out three or four major businesses in Nairn who tend to be the sort that do their own direct marketing  you’re left with a fairly small core of businesses and that can also make things more difficult in terms of how you approach things.”

To hear what our local councillors had to say and the Badenoch and Strathspey members too go to this webcast page and click on item 6 in the timeline. The Nairn Tourism report is also available here. 

The area committee have invited Alan Rankin, the Chief Executive of the Cairngorm Business Partnership to the Nairn ward forum on tourism, they were very impressed by his earlier presentation which can be seen on the same webcast page, this time item 4 in the timeline. Serious students of tourism may wish to watch that to see his briefing which was highly orientated on what his organisation does via the Cairngorm Partnership website and its satellite offshoots. An interesting ward forum meeting will take place at some time in the New Year then.