Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Delight all round as a pair of rare red kites set up home near Cawdor Castle

With all the recent  bad news of the death of red kites and other birds of prey on the Black Isle it is nice to have some good news locally. The RSPB State:

"The Dowager Countess of Cawdor has expressed delight that a pair of rare red kites have set up home near Cawdor Castle. They are believed to be the first kites to attempt breeding in Nairnshire since the early part of the nineteenth century.  

Lady Cawdor said, “As the guardian of this historic woodland I am thrilled at the return of the red kites, these birds are in a sense part of the history of this area. At Cawdor we do our best to promote and nurture the environment, our gardens have been organic since 1979 and we are keen to promote nature conservation wherever possible.” 

The birds have built a nest in woodland immediately adjacent to the castle and are often seen from the castle flying to and from the nest. 

RSPB conservation officer Stewart Blair confirmed the historic nature of the breeding attempt. “Records indicate that kites have not bred in Nairnshire since the early 1800s. Cawdor Castle has been the scene of many historic events over the centuries so it seems very appropriate that the grounds of the castle have been chosen by the kites. Red kites would, undoubtedly, have been a familiar sight to William the 3rd Thane of Cawdor, who built the Castle in c1370. It’s very rewarding to think that part of Nature’s historic fabric is slowly being restored.” 

Mr Blair added, “After the awful events in the Black Isle when no fewer that fifteen kites were found dead it is great to have a bit of good news. Let’s hope the kites now go from strength to strength in Nairnshire and bring delight to even more people.” 

Cawdor Castle is open to visitors this year from the 1st of May every day until the 5th of October.

One of the red kites was satellite-tagged as a nestling in the Black Isle and its movements have been tracked by RSPB staff since it fledged.
More information on Cawdor Castle can be found at"

The Gurnshire twitterati can follow Cawdor Castle on twitter now and pictures of the gardens have been posted recently on their facebook page. 

Architects, planners, urban designer in Nairn today "on tap not on top" wanting your ideas for a town centre action plan

The Charrette is underway in the Couthouse over the next two days and it is designed so you can drop in or out during the day. There is some activity in the early evening too.  "The journey you would like to go on" says the town planner mannie leading the charrette for the Council's consultants. 

That's the spin then, only one way to find out, try it for youself - why not pop down to the Courthouse if you have a few spare moments today. Timetable and leaflet here

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nairn Action Plan - will the charrette be well attended?

Around 9 hours from publishing this post the Nairn towncentre Charrette will meet to form an action plan for the development of the town centre but is everyone actually certain of what the parameters of the charrette will be? More details about the charrette here. 

Dick Youngson speaking at the joint West and Suburban Community Council meeting in the Academey earlier tonight said: “We haven’t yet agreed perhaps on the area of the town that the charrette area should be. Whether we are limiting ourselves to the area Leopold Street down to Gordon Street or whether it is going to be a much larger town centre area. There’s no point in deciding or discussing what’s happening within the immediate centre of the town without actually discussing the ramifications of development on the much wider area. Personally I would like to see it extended much more and our discussion can be quite frank and open. It really takes in everything, the development around Fishertown, the harbour, the river, the whole remit.”

Secretery of the Westies Brian Stewart then said a few words on this topic: “I don’t know how many people have actually seen the publicity that the Highland Council and the convenors put out. They do seem to be drawing the boundaries, or at least, they are not defining the boundaries very precisely but they are keeping the scope of the discussion pretty wide. They’ve invited ideas across the board on pretty much all aspects of what Nairn is and what Nairn does and what it should be and how it can be improved so I don’t think there will be difficulty in haggling over boundaries or how far this will range. [...] My greater concern is whether they throw a party and nobody comes. It’s two days and it’s two long full days from 9.15 in the morning to 7 at night and I do slightly worry that people will show up and then disappear or will...I hope I’m wrong about it.”

Compiling Nairn Common Good Fund register – “A mammoth task”

At the joint meeting of Nairn West and Suburban community councils in Nairn Academy earlier tonight the Westies’ Graham Kerr asked Michael Green: “I just wondered when we were talking about the Common Good if the Highland Council have completed the study of where all our assets are and how the inquiry was coming along, if they were now in a position to say this is where we are and this is where the books are.”

Michael responded: “No, that is actually a mammoth task. It’s never been undertaken before and it’s taking up the vast majority of Liz Cowie’s time and it’s to the detriment of many other tasks.”

Graham Kerr came back: “I thought it was officers in the Highland Council”

“It’s Liz Cowie and Lyn MacLennan, both from Nairn and they are working through that systematically  and the’re spending a lot of time to go through it in the detail it requires, piece by piece,” said Michael. 
A little later he added: “ The only reason the information is not coming out is because it has not been factually checked and updated, and that is what is happening and there will come a time in the next – I’m not going to say when we will draw a line and say to the best of our efforts and endeavours that is an accurate register of Nairn Common Good and everything will then be in the public domain.” 

Dennis Canavan, Nairn "the Caribbean of the North"

Speaking at the YES campaign's meeting in the URC in Nairn on Friday night Dennis Canavan reminisced on a previous visit to Nairn, he said:

"I was walking in the morning along the beach and I came across this notice describing Nairn as "the Brighton of the North". What an insult! I've been to Brighton many a time to the Labour Party conference and I know, I've seen Brighton Beach and there's not a grain of sand on it at all. It's just a pebble beach, it's not a patch on this wonderful beach you have here in Nairn. I would describe it as the Caribbean of the North. Sometimes in Scotland we do undersell ourselves." 

See Dennis Canavan's speech in full here on the Gurn Youtube pages. Also speaking on Friday night was Fergus Ewing. In June the Reverend Steven Manders will be hosting a second meeting in the URC for the Better Together campaigners. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Steaming through Nairn again this Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd – “The Great Britain V11”

Steam enthusiasts will have two chances to see coal-fired locomotives in Nairn this week. The Railway Touring Company’s website gives details of when their Great Britain railtour 2014 will pass through Nairn.

On Thursday the 1st May  a LMS Black 5 class 4-6-0 steam locomotive will take over the train for the journey from Aberdeen to Inverness. The times on the site are Aberdeen 14:07,  Huntly 16:54, Inverness 19.20. The train will obviously be travelling slowly with a few stops so exactly what time it arrives in Nairn might be hard to work out precisely.

The return journey on Saturday 3rd is a bit more precise quoting: Inverness (Platform 1) 09:37, Nairn 10:15. More information here.

Two opportunities then for railway enthusiasts and photographers to get a glimpse of the way things used to be. An image here from 2012 posted on the Visit Nairn facebook pages gives you an idea of what to expect and on Saturday two 'Black 5's' No.45407 and No.44871 will be steaming through in the Aberdeen direction. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Another successful annual show for the Rock Garden Club - pictures

David Shaw told the Gurn a little about the background of how the show got a new lease of life by switching location from Inverness to the Nairn Community and Arts Centre:

"Until 2007 we held our club show in Inverness but found public interest to be waning. Driving home we noticed the new CC, went in and met Sam. 2008 - 2010 we held our local show in the 'small' hall with a club sales table in the cafe part. In 2011 we took the full hall and had various other stands and displays in the larger part of the hall. In 2011 one of our national shows fell and Carol and myself were asked to elevate our show to national level. Our AGM agreed to trial this for three years and the show was as you see it now, with the addition of the local section last year. As this is year three we have to go back to the AGM on 10 May for members to decide if they want to continue. I have no doubt that the answer will be a YES as the show is so successful and helpers all seem to enjoy themselves so much."

Here's a few images the majority from Gurn photographers but also a few from David. Individual images here and full screen slideshow here.  

The excellent catering (including very tasty cakes and sandwiches) was provided by the Athletics Club. David also provided a report on the show which will be very much of interest to all green-fingered Gurnites: 

"On a miserably damp morning in Nairn, and the rest of Scotland, the Community Centre was alive with colour as the Rock Garden Club staged their 45th annual show, this one being the third as a national show. The show attracted exhibitors from as far south as Newcastle, picking up more in the central belt and also bringing them down from the north in Berriedale.

The entertainment at the Nairn Friendship Club this Tuesday ( 29th, 2-4 p.m.) is...

The entertainment at the Friendship Club in the Community Centre this Tuesday 29th April will be "Champin at the bit with Dave Gordon".Also tea ,coffee & a good old blether available too.

Formartine 1 Nairn 2 - Pictures Donald Matheson

Nairn finish the season third in the league and with their highest ever points total. Match report here on the Highland League hub site. 
Also more images here from Kenny Macleod.

Individual images here, full size screenshow here. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bracken found dead - volunteers searching Delnies Wood find body of lost pet

This update from Highland Dogblog breaks the sad news:

Earlier today a large search party met at the Delnies Caravan Park to comb the surrounding area. 

More information too on the Munlochy Animal Aid page

Another picture of Bracken (dog who went missing in Delnies wood Nairn last weekend).

This image was taken by Bracken's owner 2 years ago. 

Details of where Bracken went missing here. Unfortunately a search this morning by around 40 people in that area revealed nothing. 

Dennis Canavan and Fergus Ewing in the United Reform Church, Nairn - video - first of two indyref meetings organised by Rev Steven Manders

Intro by Steven Manders then Dennis Canavan followed by Fergus Ewing, also a short speech by Liz MacDonald before the question and answer session. Summing up by Rev Steve. He will also be hosting a meeting for the Better Together campaign in June. 

When time permits the Gurn will add a few notes to this post re times in the video etc. It's a long video but it will indeed be the most important political decision that many of us will take in our lives when we go to the ballot box in September, so well worth sitting down with a dram or a cuppa and some point this weekend and listening to some of the video perhaps?

The Gurn is willing to post anything that goes on locally connected with the referendum. We will report on any local meetings and publish the views of local residents etc. To this end we have organised a debate on the Saturday the 31st of May. There will be two representatives from both schools of thought - we hope you can make it. More details of that event here. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dennis Canavan and Fergus Ewing at Indyref meeting in URC tonight

Impassioned material tonight from Yes campaigners Dennis Canavan and Fergus Ewing in the United Reform Church. Local Councillor Liz MacDonald also spoke. A large turnout too for a dreach Friday night. In June the Rev Stephen Manders will also be hosting the Better Together campaign. 
As soon as time permits we hope to post a video of the event and the QandA session after the speeches.

Find Bracken - group "line walk" - Delnies Wood Saturday morning 26th April 10.00

Efforts are still ongoing to find Bracken the 16 year old Collie/Lab cross who went missing in the Delnies Wood last weekend. Many people have been for a look in the area already but a group of dog lovers from the Highland Dogblog facebook page have organised a bigger search tomorrow Sat 26th should Bracken not be found by then. The search page is here.   The meet up point is the Caravan Park at 10 a.m.

The image the dogblog is showing shows the route taken when Bracken was lost, the red dots show the area he disappeared in. 

On in Nairn this evening (Friday 25th ) and tomorrow (Sat 26th)

Tonight Dennis Canavan and Fergus Ewing will be speaking for the YES campaign in the URC Church from 7.00 p.m. onwards. More information here.

And tomorrow will see another farmers’ market in the fenced off car park behind the Courthouse. Pictures of the last one here. There’s also the Rock Club Spring Flower show and plant sale in the Community and Arts Centre tomorrow too. Details on the poster in the Gurn side-bar to the left and pictures of the last event here.  

Anyone with a little time to spare tomorrow morning may wish to join the search for Bracken the 16year old collie/lab cross who went missing in the Delnies Wood earlier this week. Details here. 

If there are other events on over the weekend please tell us and we’ll add to this post.  

Preventing Lyme Disease - Nairn and Ardersier Tick Information Sheet

"Winter in Nairnshire is over and we all look forward to summer and getting into the countryside and gardens.

The midges are a nuisance in the countryside which we all curse.  The midges don’t leave any lasting effects on our bodies but up to 10% of summer ticks can cause Lyme disease unless we look for ticks and remove them properly.

Lyme disease is easily prevented and treated, with some common sense!"

The local practice has produced an information leaflet which shows you what to look for if bitten by a tick and answers many questions that you might have about what ticks look like and what to do when bitten. A copy of the document is available here. 

One example from the Q&A style document produced by Doctor Adrian Baker:

"Q.                   What does the rash look like?

A.         If you develop a rash after a tick bite make an

appointment with your GP       within a week.  The red rash from the tick bite spreads, sometimes like a target pattern to a red rash over a week.  It may spread across a        whole thigh and become more faded over 4-6 weeks then disappear.

Young people get Youth Active at Nairn Academy

Young people took over Nairn Academy during the Easter holidays by attending two physical activity leadership courses as part of the Youth Active project to help them gain confidence and experience new sports, as well as gain nationally recognised qualifications. Youth Scotland, in partnership with Highlife Highlands Active Schools, delivered an SCQF level 4 in Dance Leadership and a Level 2 Award in Sport Leadership to over forty young people. 

Local young people took part in a range of physical activities throughout the week including football, handball, basketball, dance, metafit, tabata and aerobics while they developed leadership skills, increased their confidence and made new friends. 

One of the young people participating on the course said: “The week was awesome but it was too short!  The tutors were legends and I cannot wait for the next course.” 

Now that the courses are complete, the young people plan to put their leadership skills into practise and volunteer in their local communities, with the ongoing support from Highlife Highland’s Active School’s co-ordinator Elizabeth Macdonald to help them get started.

Elizabeth said: “It was great working in partnership and having so many young people involved in the dance and sport leadership courses. The Youth Scotland tutors worked really well with the young people and developed their leadership skills. There was a massive difference in confidence and abilities from the start of the week to the end.” 

The young people’s newly acquired qualifications will also be put to good use in July, when Youth Scotland will return to Nairn to support the young people to deliver a two day Commonwealth Games themed fun fitness festival to celebrate the Baton Relay coming to the Highlands. 

Rebecca Simpson, Youth Active Manager said: “It is great to work in partnership with Highlife Highland and to have a presence in the Highlands. The young people involved with the project and courses are extremely enthusiastic and active. I look forward to coming back in July to create more opportunities for young people to celebrate the Commonwealth Games.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Local Patients Group told: " There is no red flag against your case record if you’ve raised a complaint"

In outlining the functions of the Nairn Healthcare Patients Participation Group last night at the AGM held in the Community and Arts Centre last night, the Chair Simon Noble pointed out that it was not the PPG’s role to take forward individual complaints he said:
"It is not our role to take forward individual complaints. We are concerned with wider concerns, for example if we hear of half a dozen issues that are all the same, maybe some people would want to complain about and that is something that we would take forward. That then is more of a systemic issue and that is what our role is, in representing you in trying to see services improve in the area." 

Simon then spoke about the Patient’s Rights Act: “Basically it is there to empower us as patients in having a role, in shaping the way in which services develop in the NHS , so therefore in the GPs surgery as well. The extent to which that has filtered through to all the organisations in the NHS remains to be seen and what we are aware of is different degrees of implementation and take up which I suppose is natural when there is a process of change taking place in a very large organisation but it is really reassuring for us as patients to be able to read documents that set out expectations and obligations to involve us in some effective ways in shaping the services that we receive.” 

The Chair went on to talk about “thorny issues”: “We’ve also had some difficult thorny issues to try and tackle which have been difficult for us and for the practice in terms of trying to take forward. We’ve learnt often from patients that they have concerns about raising their own concerns. They maybe don’t want to make a formal complaint, they do maybe want to say something about the way in which they felt they were treated right or they misunderstood something and they wanted to deal with it but they have been reluctant to raise it either as a complaint or a concern because they are worried that that will then mark them out as being difficult or being a troublemaker. We’ve also heard very clearly from the practice that is not something, and indeed from the NHS, that is not something that happens. There is no red flag against your case record if you’ve raised a complaint. But nevertheless it is a genuine fear that exists among some patients.”

More from the patients participation group meeting when time permits

Search continues for Bracken 16 yr old collie/lab cross lost in Delnies Wood Nairn on Sunday - pictures

Here's a picture of Bracken 

Search parties met in the Delnies wood this morning at 11 a.m. One at the Caravan site end and the others team at Moss-side Road. 

Lack of full-time X-ray service in Nairn not publicised enough?

At the Patients Participation Group AGM last night in the Community and Arts Centre there was quite a lot of discussion on important health care topics. For instance one woman asked: “Are there only certain days of the week where you when you can have an X-ray in Nairn hospital?”

Dr Adrian Baker replied: “There are only four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday morning between 9.30 and 1.30 and there’s no service on Wednesdays. So that’s the situation and that’s completely out with our control. “ He went on a little later to add: “Ideally we would like two hours a day, seven days a week but we are not in a position to make that decision at the practice, that’s a decision for NHS Highland.”

Newly re-elected Chair, Simon Noble then asked what were the implications for patients. 

Adrian said: “We are open and available and have a X-rays available for 16 hours a week, that’s it. If you have a suspected fracture out with that time then the nearest place is Raigmore.”

Another woman attending the meeting then said: “There is a need to publicise that Adrian. I was caught on that one day. I was at the senior citizens club and somebody fell and one of the group phoned up Nairn and said we have this person that has fallen and needs to be brought in and they said bring her in. The minute she arrived they said oh, you’ve got to go to Raigmore. I think it’s not publicised enough for the patients to understand there isn’t an X-ray there all the time because they actually think there is"

More from last night's Patient's Group meeting when time permits.

NICE ones - suggestions to improve Nairn

A few suggestions from a survey document available on the NICE Nairn website - see more on "3) Any additional comments, ideas or suggestions you’d like to make?" on this page here

"The car parks need trees like the successful planting at Morrison's shop in Inverness.  

A safe footpath from Househill Farm shops and cafe extending northwards to the existing footpath.

Improved access from the east beach to the Culbin Forest.

Is a Tourist Information Centre needed?  The I-net provides ample information,

pedestrianize the lower half of the high street and change to residential. Move shops to main part of high street.

A pedestrianised High Street might kill it off completely - as has happened in other towns.

The town needs an open "centre" badly - as proposed by NICE.

The bus station should be moved to King Street to release additional parking.

Low Income housing should be located conveniently for transport but not in a car park.  We need more that can be dedicated to local Nairn demand - and not Highland demand.

How about a Zulu Drifter or similar anchored against the River quayside with an accompanying display of fishing the silver darlings on land?

Work to maintain and improve Nairn's independent identity. We want to be proud of our town.

How about a display about Cumberland's army camping overnight in Viewfield Park (even if it didn't!)?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meanwhile a twitter conversation between Pam MacKay and Highland Council over Nairn traffic

Perhaps Highland Council should have given a little more thought to their reply? In could indeed be seen as advice to avoid Nairn at a time when the town centre needs every tourism penny it can get. 

Sunday's traffic chaos that Edinburgh resident Pam was caught up in  was a little more than usual however  and one of our readers has a theory on that - more in this previous post and a reaction from BEAR Scotland to our correspondent's concerns. 

UPDATE: Highland Council later responded to Pam MacKay's second tweet shown above:

Huge cross and egg vigilantes - a video made by visitors to Nairn

Did anyone in Gurnshire find an Easter Egg on their doorstep over the holiday - this video explains where it came from.

306 responses to NICE Town Centre Survey

The volunteers who set up the survey centainly had a very good response. Interesting that the digital responses outstripped the hard-copy submissions by 2-1 - an example of the way things are now, obviously most people now prefer to go the on-line route. NICE are reporting on their website in reference to the forthcoming charrette at the end of the month

"As one of the partners in this consultation NICE invited the community to participate and prepared a survey to ascertain local views. The response has been very encouraging with 216 online responses and 90 hard-copy forms. A range of questions covered additional facilities and services that may or may not be advantageous and respondents were asked to rate these on a scale of 1-5. Subjects covered included parking, buses, taxis, cycles, access and regeneration. Responses have been converted to average weighted and give a clear picture of public views in relation to each of these issues."

The survey information has been placed on easy to read documents that are accessible on this page here and contain a fascination mix of thoughts and ideas, big and small, about what we can do to improve the town centre - well worth a browse if you have a quite moment over the next few days. This remarkable quantity of information just about does the  job for the consultants that are running the charrette really but that event also presents another chance for anyone who has not contributed their thoughts to the mix so far to make their views on improving the town centre known.

Sunday traffic lights delay in Nairn - power outage to blame?

One of our regular readers left this comment on another post in reference to the long tailbacks through Nairn on Sunday - at one point all the way back to the Delnies turning:

"Tried to get traffic Scotland to put it on there site but they refused as "it was not an incident
There was an ambulance trying to get through town west to east and having to drive completely into the oncoming traffic as the left lane was stopped from Tradespark down to Lochloy Rd junction, again!"

Our correspondent also wrote to BEAR with his concerns, he also thought perhaps that the power cut on Saturday had caused the lights to revert to a previous default setting that gave less precedence to the traffic on the A96 at the Lochloy junction. He received a prompt reply from BEAR on Monday morning:

"Thank you for notifying us of the traffic signal fault within your area.
Firstly, I apologies for the way in which you were treated by our 0800 staff and can inform you that I have asked our supervisor responsible for this team to investigate why the person was not willing to take down any information regarding this issue.
Since our power outage issues, there have been improvements made to all controllers to eliminate this issue arising again, however, I have instructed our traffic signal team to attend site to investigate whether there are any underlying faults at Lochloy Road and Harbour Street which would lead to these delays you describe.


Simon Heron
Assistant Electrical Manager | BEAR Scotland"

Monday, April 21, 2014

Collie/lab cross lost in Delnies Woods yesterday morning Sunday 20th April

Clipping below of a facebook posting from Munlochy Animal Aid this evening

Army horse Penny finds a retirement home locally after 12 years service with Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

In a post of October last year we linked to this video which told the story of Penny an Irish Draught Mare, an animal that was rescued by World Horse Welfare. After a period of being nursed back to health Penny went on to serve for 12 years with the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery as a member of the gun team.

The video shows Penny being retired to the World Horse centre in Blackpool where the organisation hoped to eventually re-home her. Local girl Fiona Dunbar is a serving soldier with the Kings Troop and she can be seen in the video with the horse she got to know very well. Now thanks to Fiona, Penny has found a new home for her retirement days at Logie stables. Fiona was on leave when Penny arrived Thursday and helped her pal settle in.   A picture below of Fiona and Penny.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Symbol of Easter on Nairn beach

Earlier this evening as the sun set over the mountains to the west, a group of young christians sat beside an impressive cross they had erected and sang songs. Larger image here and more images of their evening's work here. 

Rothes 0 Nairn 3 Pictures from Donald Matheson

Individual images here, full screen slideshow here. 

Sunrise on Nairn Beach - Kenny MacLeod captures a classic

Thanks to Kenny for the use of this image - more pictures from this Easter Sunday sunrise on Nairn beach on Kenny MacLeod's flickr pages here. 

Just a perfect day in Nairn...

The fantastic weather continues and all over the social media folk are telling their friends how good it is in Nairn - for example here's a happy visitor showing the world how fantastic an experience it is to be on Nairn beach.

Others too like film mannie Mark Cousins were in Nairn today, it's all just a perfect day - unless you are on the A96 that is. See the two contrasting tweets below. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Milton of Leys wildfire - picture from Gurn reader

Nairnite Rosylin MacLennan bides up at Milton of Leys and sent the Gurn this dramatic picture of the wildfire which at one point was almost within 100 yards of her home yesterday afternoon. The massive pall of smoke from the blaze was visible in Nairn. 

Referendum campaigners still busy over Easter

The LibDems were not the only ones to put up a Nairn related Referendum tweet today, YES Highland are also working over Easter and put out this tweet advertising the meeting in the United Reform Church next Friday night.

Lib Dems looking for Nairn No voters today

Lib Dems tweeted their presence in Nairn earlier today

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday evening in pictues (18th April 2014)

It has been an amazing day here in Nairn, the town has its holiday destination hat on and after the sunshine the Easter weekend nightlife is well underway now. 

Meanwhile down at the Bandstand Bar Nairn Beer Festival...

...there is an incredible choice of real ales and ciders to choose from. 130 Scottish and English Ales, and then there's the ciders etc. This observer benefited from a two hour pass earlier this evening and popped down for a wee while. Great craic with the real ale mob from near and far.  Details of the festival so far here on the facebook page or on the Bandstand bar website here

PS The music continues at the festival. Gordy told the Gurn that there are seesion musicans performing tomorrow night that have worked with Midge Ure and Jack Bruce and a few others. This observer might pop down for another real ale or two. More images later. 

The Penguin's Tuxedo at Nairn Harbour

Performing tonight at the Harbour were The Penguin's Tuxedo Youth Street Band.
They will also be live at the Bandstand Bar Beer Festival early tomorrow evening.
Larger image here and more images later. 

Coffee Morning 10.a.m tomorrow (Sat 19th) - In the Legion - in aid of County fans Ground Improvements Fund

The Gurn understands that there has been an outstanding response from fans via the "We Believe" facebook page with contributions for the bottle stall, home
baking and the raffle etc, flooding in. It looks like it will be a really good one. Why not pop along to the legion tomorrow morning and get a bit of the County craic. 

All funds raised from the coffee morning will go towards the fans' ground improvement fund to help make Station Park the envy of the Highland League. In this centenary year every penny goes towards the next 100 years of Station Park. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Your chance to design an action plan for your town centre" - Highland Council release publicity for Nairn Charrette

The information leaflet (first page shown below) states: 

"Your Nairn, Your Town Centre gives you the opportunity to make a  difference to the future of Your Town Centre. This public event will help  the Council prepare a plan that will identify short, medium and long  term actions for the Town Centre, including issues that require testing,  funding and delivery."

You can read the entire information leaflet online here. 

The event will take place at The Court House, High Street Nairn
Wednesday 30th April, 9.15am-7pm & Thursday 1st May 2014, 9.15am-7.30pm

Those unable to attend can fill in an on-line questionaire here. Any Gurnites got any ideas for the town centre? Your chance is coming up. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Planning for Nairn town centre regeneration - a two day opportunity with the Charrette on Wednesday 30th April and Thursday 1st May

Basically the 2-day charrette will be about town centre regeneration but it appears from what has been said at Community Council meetings recently that areas a little further away from the traditional "High Street" concept of a town centre will be discussed. Can we collectively come up with a plan that would outline changes to the built environment that would benefit and transform the town centre? Do we know what we really want anyway - can a shared vision emerge? Is there even unanimity within the business community in the town on how best to proceed? 

How exactly would the mechanics of a regeneration transformation work? Where would the money come from in these continuing times of austerity? Many, many questions but do any of us have potential solutions, or crumbs of ideas that might collectively work towards solutions? And if we do have ideas, will enough of us attend the charrette anyway?

The Gurn has been sent a copy of a set of questions that the Highland Council think the Charrette should address, it comes in the form of an e-mail sent by principal planner Brian MacKenzie to interested parties in Nairn. Click the read more tab to browse them and please give us your thoughts on how things might move forward when it comes to town centre regeneration. Will you be going?

Curlers find time for a bit of gurning in Beijing

Another image has emerged of the trip to Beijing by members of Nairn Curling club to see the World Championships.

Foyer Capital Hotel before going to Capital Arena. Ali Cruickshank, Ali Asher, Michael Green, Hamish Clark, Ross Cope

Nairn beach bathing water only at minimum standard

Recently Nairn had the accolade of being listed in Tripadvisor's 10 best UK beaches. Today the Inverness Courier has a front page column that reads:

"BATHERS at Nairn's beaches have a significantly greater risk of picking up an infection from the sea water than those taking a dip at other tourist hot spots in the Highlands according to a new report."  

The paper reports that the local beaches only meet the mimium testing standards and goes on to quote further information from the Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide. Courier reporter Donna MacAllister quotes from Society staff and also from Scottish Water: "studies showed improvements to its sewage treatment works and other assets were not needed."

The good beach guide page for Nairn East Beach is here and Nairn Central Beach here. 

The Alton Burn - A lot goes away with the rubble. 2

“Do you best, and rejoice with those who do better” seems to have been the motto of the school or at least the magazine (two surviving copies of which have kindly been loaned to the Gurn by Mike Ross and form the basis of these articles and extracts). The issues are from Jan of 1932 and 1936 respectively, when many fateful events were unfolding in Europe that would lead to another catastrophic World War only 21 years after the end of the First one. In our present day terms that would be a gap of time between 1993 and the present day.
In 1932-6  events and memories from the first conflict would still be raw and as we suggested in the last article, impacting on the life of those boys at the school. 

Across the world the great depression was in swing and it will have affected life in Nairn. Down at the end of the Alton Burn Road though there would have been an institution that would have been perhaps immune to the effects of the world economy as young boys were being educated for, according to the mentions of aulumni, middle-class roles in the world including the military and the empire. There are mentions of former pupils winning blues at Oxford and Cambridge. The Alton Burn School was a fairly new institution itself but it had wasted no time building up its own traditions and had iconic former pupils that new boys could aspire to emulate. This image of the school diary below (click to enlarge) gives a snapshot from September to January 1936. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rocking on again on Saturday the 26th over at the Community and Arts Centre

David Shaw told the Gurn:  

"Once again it is time for the Rock Garden Club show in the Community and Arts Centre. This event is proving increasingly popular with the local community. The event will follow the same pattern as in previous years and the Nairn Athletics Club will provide the refreshments - this helps with their own fund raising activities.
Plant sales will be provided by Rumbling Bridge Nursery, Fife; our local Ardfearn Nursery, Munlochy and the members club stall.

Last year the Gurn went to the event and took some pictures of the marvellous plants that were on Display - images from the 2013 show here. 

The Alton Burn - a lot gets taken away with the rubble. 1

Soon there will be no trace of the former Alton Burn Hotel building. Proof perhaps of how transient so many things that are all around us are. There have been quite a few dramatic changes in the Nairn landscape in recent years - some of them connected with the changing pace of the local hotel business. Changes that may well continue post the forthcoming charrette should a cohesive plan for the town centre and its environs emerge.

So another former hotel has gone and many Gurnites will have thought perhaps of a function  they attended there as they browsed images of the recent demolition. Let’s spare a moment or two however to think of the Alton Burn building in its heyday as a private school. This webpage here based on census returns gives names to the masters and pupils at the Alton Burn School in 1911. There’s a flavour of Empire given in some of the places of birth recorded by the census enumerator. In all 16 pupils and two masters, the family of one of the teachers and then a handful of non-teaching staff were living in the building on the day of the census. 

Thanks to Mike Ross letting the Gurn have a look at two old School magazines from January of 1932 and 1936 respectively it is possible perhaps to visualise some of the events of the past. Outside the school the Great Depression was causing misery and dark political forces were gaining strength in Europe. There will have been very few families that hadn’t lost someone in the First World war and barely 18 years after that catastrophic event those losses will have still been  raw for many people. The pupils will have all been born after the event though but it surely would have cast a shadow over their lives too. The school marked armistice day every year. The magazine states in its 1936 edition: 

“We had breakfast at 8.30 and then reading as usual. At 9,30 Mr Pearson spoke to us about the Armistice Day and we shortly went into the drawing room to listen to the service at the Cenotaph. It was very grand and we heard different tunes played by the Irish and Welsh bands. After this we had the two minutes silence and then “God save the King.” At 11.15 we had a half hour break and then a period of War History which went on till 12.45. After lunch we did not have the usual golf competition but had rugger instead owing to the match on the 16th. 

At 4 0’clock the bell went and the War competition started. It lasted for an hour and a half and consisted of about 150 questions on places, ships, generals etc., all mixed up. There were seven that stumped us all, Albert, Carpenter, Evan-Thomas, Hohenzollern, Martin-puich, Pershing and Sandford. Peason and Wrangel came out top with Kynoch-shand and D. B. Gordon not far behind. 

At 5.30 we had tea and then prepared the front class-room for war slides of 1918. The War slides finished at 6.45. At 8 the seniors listened in to the British Legion at the Albert Hall. It was also very good and we again heard some bands playing. Unfortunately we could not hear all of it as we had to go to bed at 8.30.

News of the old boys of the school features in the magazine and it’s not all about careers, again from the 1936 January magazine:  “D.O. Forbes looked in on his way home after dancing at the Inverness meeting till 6.30 a.m. “

Military service loomed large for some former pupils: “ At the War Office are, or more recently, Major M.A.B. Johnston (1903-05), Major S.C. Kirkman (1906-10), and Major D.N. Wimberley (1905-09). Colonel F.H.N. Davidson (1901-06) left the war office early in 1935 and is now at the Imperial Defence College. 
C.W.M.I. Ritchie paid us a very short call in November, on leave after manoeuvres. W Sommerville (Gurkhas) and A. Cameron (Gunners) are still in India. We heard a rumour that the latter had been in action somewhere in the north-west, and H.W. Cairns is almost within sound of the Duce’s guns. He is at Khartum with the Camerons. There is also a rumour that G.R. Glendinning has got it into the Metropolitian Police.” 

Lots of pupils seem to have gone on to private schools further afield, there is mention of Rugby and Marlborough for example. Perhaps the Alton Burn would get you a bit up to speed for those establishments? In the 1932 January edition again military mentions and much of the sporting achievements of old boys but also more local stuff in comparison:

“J Pearson is in a C.A office in Aberdeen and spends all his spare time fishing.
J.E. Young is farming at Tarrel, his father’s farm.” 

Flashes of Alton Burn School life around eighty years ago, easier to imagine perhaps when standing outside the former school building. Now it’s all gone, perhaps some images remain somewhere (a quick search on google finds none) and there may be other material beyond the two school magazines but something that would have seemed so permanent to those pupils and the young men that had not long left the establishment back in the thirties is now little more than dust and rubble being pecked over by JCBs. More from the magazines soon. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nairn curling club members in China to see World Championships - pictures

A busy weekend in Gurnshire and a few articles up this weekend, scroll down the page to see them all.
And finally this evening, thanks to the curling crew for these two images of their visit to China. Click on the images to enlarge. 

 At the Great Wall of China from left to right Hamish Clark (President Nairn Curling Club) Michael Green, Ali Cruickshank, Ali Asher and Ross Cope.

Foyer Capital Hotel before going to Capital Arena. Ali Cruickshank, Ali Asher, Michael Green, Hamish Clark, Ross Cope

Nairn 1 Buckie 0 - pictures from Donald Matheson

The wind played havoc with this game and diminished it as a spectacle of football but things improved in the second half and both keepers no longer looked so lonely. A second half goal for County with a cross from Adam Naismith being headed in by Stuart Leslie but furious Buckie players were maintaining that the ball had gone over the line on the wing just seconds earlier. 

A good crowd at the last County home game of the season - a crowd augmented by two bus loads of Buckie fans including the Northampton Buckie Thistle supporters club. There were fifteen of them up, having flown from Birmingham, they were making a weekend of it, a trip they make once a year. 

Anyway some pictures from County Club photographer Donald Matheson - individual images here and full screen slideshow here. 

Migratory wheelie bins return to the River Nairn

Struggling to get further upstream beyond the Jubliee Bridge today where these two fine specimens of wild Atlantic wheelie bin. Thanks to Billy for the pictures. If they don't hurry they may be taken into captivity and forced to perform for the Highland Council at numerous public venues in Nairn. 

Sandown Lands go back to agriculture - ploughing begins this weekend - dog walkers lose a regular exercise spot

This weekend the southern field of the Sandown Lands has been ploughed and dung has been delivered to the other two fields in preparation for turning the soil over there too. 

One of our regular readers contacted us, he was quite surprised to see the tractors and said he thought a lot of people that walk their dogs on the fields would be upset to see the activity too. 

For some years now dog walkers have made use of all the fields during the period they have lain fallow and for some of them this may indeed come as a shock. Perhaps a couple of signs indicating what was going to happen may have been appropriate but now, instead of costing the Common Good money with a yearly cut the fields will at least be bringing in some revenue. 

In this article here posted around this time last year the Gurn wrote about the forthcoming prospect of an agricultural lease for Sandown. Finally it seems one has been agreed. That previous article was not without an hint of irony though as many of the problems associated with Sandown in the past stem from a previous agricultural lease, one or two Gurnites posted  comments on that article. 

Picture below, Larger image here (three tankers just visible in the Firth) and more pictures here .

Saturday, April 12, 2014

South Nairn "blowing in the wind" short video

Danny at the Craft Fair

Danny at the craft fair in aid of Nairn CAB earlier today. The event was held in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Thanks to Murray MacRae for the picture.

Danny à la plage

Danny was in town today at the Craft Fair in the Community and Arts Centre in aid of Nairn CAB. Looks like he got a chance to walk on the best beach in Scotland too.

80 trees plus shrubs to improve the eastern approach to Nairn?

Gurnites will recall the recent controversial felling of some young trees on the periphery of the Balmakeith industrial estate. There were calls for the trees to be replaced. Following an on-site meeting of River CC, BEAR, Keeping Nairnshire Colourful and the Highland Council’s Forestry officer it looks as though a permanent solution to improving the appearance of that side of the eastern approach to the town may be possible.

Stephanie Whittaker, Secretary of Nairn River CC, told her organisation’s regular meeting earlier in the week that they had received a letter from Grant Stewart, the Highland Council’s forestry officer. She said that he had suggested that there should be eight landscape beds similar to those at Achareidh at the other end of town and each bed would contain five broad leaf trees and five evergreen trees and twenty lower growing shrubs. She added however:
“As we said last week, that depends on funding and whether BEAR will still be in position in August."

Friday, April 11, 2014

South Nairn reading material for the weekend - get yourself a dram/cup of tea and give it a go?

Another document on the behalf of the town's three community councils and the Nairn Resident's Concern Group has appeared in the public domain via the Scottish Government's DPEA site. Those Gurnites who are serious students of all South Nairn planning appeal matters will find it interesting and even those who merely pay passing attention could find this particular piece of correspondence very interesting. If the appeal Reporter seriously considers it and gives it some weight in the decision process, might it have implications for Highland Council beyond this planning appeal? It is a communication phrased in polite diplomatic language but could it have massive consequences? Click the read more to see a copy of the document text:

Ramp for the Firhall Bridge – delay as cash sought for another survey

At the River CC meeting on Wednesday night Murd Dunbar gave the community councillors the latest information on the Firhall Bridge. Let’s have a wee flashback for a minute or two however. Gurnites may recall an article from March of last year which suggested that Murd’s campaign for a ramp on the Firhall Bridge had succeeded. 

“Tonight it was different, so different, Murd finally had good news to share. Actually he didn’t make the announcement, he gave that honour to Liz who has been quietly active behind the scenes in recent months.
“Hold onto your seats,” said Liz. “I’ve had a communication from the army today that they are going to be doing the access improvements to the Firhall Bridge.” She had to stop for the applause, cheers and smiles that broke out. “So well done, Murd,” she added”.

More on this page here. The day after that Murd revealed that Gordons sawmill had offered to provide the materials for the ramp.  Here was a solution to the problem of improving access to the bridge that would not cost the cash-strapped Highland Council any money. Now fast forward one year and another problem has emerged. Murd said on Wednesday night:

“I e-mailed them (Highland Council) today and they told me they are waiting for another survey, the money is tight and everything. I know for a fact there have been two surveys done on the bridge.” Murd went on to say he it was just what he went through  three years ago and he wondered whether it was a delaying tactic. Later Murd told the Gurn of the content of an e-mail he had received from the Council’s Hugh Gardener which told Murd that the survey was an “intrusive” one and contained the following “The cost of this kind of survey is extremely high and as I type is being discussed with my colleagues in ECS. As you can appreciate budgets are under stress in today’s climate and every penny has to be justified.” Mr Gardener told Murd that his colleagues would be back to him with instructions later this week and Murd would be informed. 

There were no Highland Councillors at the River CC meeting so no opportunity there for River CC members or Murd to ask them what they knew of the further delay to the bridge project (apologies had been received from Liz, Colin and Michael however). Tommy and his colleagues are to write to Highland Council for information on the delay. 

A 17 page report by Fairhurst and Partners on Firhall Bridge accessibility  was presented to Highland Council in 2009. Gurnites can read a copy of that report here. 

UPDATE: this afternoon Murd spoke to MSP Fergus Ewing at his regular surgery in Nairn. Murd tells us that Fergus has written to Highland Council on his behalf to find why another report is needed. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Internet memorial to Alexander Sandy D Main, a Nairn man murdered in the Vancouver area whilst serving as a police officer in April 1900

Dave Conner, Highland branch secretary of the Retired Police Officers Scotland came across the following article on a forum he visits and thought Gurnites might be interested:

"Aberdeen Weekly Journal , Wednesday , May 9 , 1900


A cablegram has been received in Nairn from Vancouver , British Columbia ,
stating that Alex. Main , a policeman of that town, had been murdered by
Chinese while investigating a case of theft on the outskirts of the town .
He was missed for three days .
Two arrests were made .
Main is a native of Nairn , where he was a fisherman .
He left Nairn about eleven years ago , and was married."

Dave also found a link to a memorial page for the murdered officer who had risen through the ranks to be the Chief in Richmond, a city separate from Vancouver at that time, at the age of 35. The page can be viewed here. 

Dave also told the Gurn that he checked his records of the old Nairnshire Constabulary and found that Alexander main did not serve in that force before emigrating but became a police officer in Canada. Dave has an online museum of Northern Constabulary images here on flickr. 

Massive wildfire near Glenferness yesterday evening (Weds 10th April)

Press Release from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service:

"Around 40 firefighters and 40 estate workers battled to bring a wildfire under control after flames took hold over four square kilometres of grassland, heather and forestry in the Highlands.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews were mobilised around 4:45pm on Wednesday (9 April) after a 999 call reported a wildfire had crossed a roadway in the Glenferness area of Nairn.
Five fire engines were sent from Grantown, Nairn and Carrbridge in the Highlands along with an all-terrain vehicle from Elgin and a sixth fire engine from Forres in Moray.

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Robert Scott, the director of service delivery in the north of Scotland and chair of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, said: “This was a significant wildfire that took hold over a wide area.
“Teams of firefighters used hand-held beaters, specialist all-terrain vehicles and multiple lines of hose to tackle the fire from several locations across one-and-a-half square miles.

“Our crews worked very closely with staff from seven estates in the area, who also arranged for a helicopter to deploy large volumes of water from the air.
“This incident involved wholetime, retained and community volunteer unit firefighters operating side-by-side with estate workers and demonstrated the strong partnerships that are key to protecting communities throughout the north.”

Land managers work closely with SFRS to tackle fires that occur in and around estates, with the ongoing partnerships also seeing them develop fire plans to reduce the number of wildfires.
Firefighters were called to deal with hundreds of wildfire and grassfire incidents across Scotland last year, placing a significant demand on SFRS resources.  This is something the Scottish Wildfire Forum will be working on to reduce during 2014 and beyond.

ACO Scott added: “There are a number of things land managers can do to help prevent wildfires, including strict adherence to the Muirburn Code, which applies to the controlled burning of heather within the permitted season.
“Members of the public also have a key role to play. Fires can often start through discarded smoking materials or barbeques.
“As the weather starts to improve and we enjoy longer periods of dry weather we would ask that everyone does their part to protect their surroundings from fire.”

“I would like to thank the SFRS fire crews and estate workers for all their efforts in bringing this fire under control and preventing further damage.”
Efforts to extinguish the fire continued throughout the night and into the morning. A single SFRS appliance from Carrbridge remains at the scene as of 10:30am on Thursday (10 April).

Group Manager Garry Burnett, the SFRS wildfire project manager, is determined preventative messages will reach those who live, work and socialise in rural countryside
He said: “This incident is a timely reminder of the heightened risk to rural parts of Scotland at this time of year.

“The overall improvement in weather brings large numbers of people to our beautiful countryside and this, along with increased land management activities, makes wildfire a higher risk.
“We all need to think about preventing fires from starting whenever we are in remote and rural environments.
“Preventing uncontrolled wildfires will not only improve things for our natural environment but significantly reduce the burden on firefighting resources. Most importantly it will benefit public safety.”  "