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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 26th January 2002
Issue No 267

Braveheart Star's Boost for Scotland

Hollywood superstar Mel Gibson is planning to return to Scotland this year - to make another multimillion pound movie.

It was confirmed recently that secret discussions are already under way for the big budget film to be made on location in the north-east of Scotland. The move could bring a multimillion pound bonanza to the local economy. Oscar winning Gibson, will start in the movie for his Los Angeles based production company, Icon. Filming for his third movie in Scotland is expected to begin production early in the summer but post production will be in Hollywood. Set in the 1920s and '30s the period drama was to have been filmed in America but finding locations in New England and Nova Scotia has proved near impossible in the 21st century. So Gibson turned to Scotland to find the perfect settings around Aberdeenshire and the remote north-east coastal villages. His love affair with Scotland began when he made his first movie here in 1990, co-starring with Glenn Close in Hamlet. Part of the production was filmed at Dunottar Castle, near Stonehaven. Six years ago he returned to film his blockbuster Braveheart in Lochaber. The film won him an Oscar for Best Director and grossed more than $75 million. While working on the William Wallace epic he brought his wife Robyn and seven children with him. The family rented the eight bedroomed Fassfern mansion house on the shores of Loch Eil where Bonnie Prince Charlie slept after raising his Standard at Glenfinnan for the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. While there, Gibson spent much of his free time searching for possible locations for future films. The new movie could generate millions for the north-east. Kevin Cowie of Scottish Screen said: "Discussions are under way for Mel Gibson to make another film here. The discussions have been with his production company. "Although film companies bring their own heads of department they hire production, transport and construction staff locally. They also hire locals as extras, rent locations sites and need local accommodation during filming. "We estimate that for every 10 million spent on a movie over 3 million can be injected into the local economy."

Tweed Centre Planned

A major waterfront regeneration scheme at East Loch Tarbert in Harris - including a prestigious Harris Tweed centre - is planned. This is stated in a report that appeared before the development services committee of the Western Isles Council recently. It is felt that the scheme would bring economic and environmental benefits and provide a boost, not just for Harris, but for the islands as a whole. The report said the council has already agreed to contribute 140,00 towards the estimated 1.1 million costs of the Harris Tweed centre, although this could not be built until a suitable serviced site was provided. It would provide a high class location for the centre. A consultant's report said the centre would provide a major tourist destination and a gateway to other island attractions and the proposed building would serve as an attractive landmark feature, with associated terrace and walkway links, and would be set at the front of the site. "The centre would include a reception/retail element, exhibition space (live, interactive and audio visual) and cafe." As well as the provision of 25 short term construction jobs, the completed development would be expected to generate 20 plus long term jobs in tourism, retail, craft and office activities. The tweed centre alone would provide five full time and three seasonal jobs. The committee was being asked to support the scheme in principle.

Expensive Breakfast

A puppy from North Kessock near Inverness, is in the doghouse after she munched her way through a 10,000 cheque. Just, an 11 month old border collie, was banished to her basket after tucking into the expensive breakfast recently. Her owner, Isobel Grigor, was in bed when Judy decided to feast on the cheque, which was originally intended for a youth outreach programme in Invergordon. But Ms Grigor was devastated when she discovered it chewed up lying beside the dog in her basket. What remained of the cheque could not even be cashed at the local bank because it was so badly eaten. "It was Saturday morning and I decided to have a long lie. Normally I'm up at around 7am so I pick up the post when it arrives, but on this occasion I didn't get up until 10am. Judy was awake and, being a busy little thing, she just went for the post straight away. "As soon as I realised what she had been eating I panicked. I went to the bank on the following Monday. They said the issuing bank would not be able to cash the cheque and that it should be sent back." According to Ms Grigor, it was not the first time Judy has munched away at things lying around the house. "She has always got something in her mouth, she often comes running in the room with my clothes in her mouth. I take her to obedience classes every week but she still does it." Ms Grigor is an agent for the Calman Trust, which manages the Ross-shire Outreach Support Service Project. The cheque was sent back to Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland which had agreed to a three year funding programme towards the project.

Forest Giants

Two giant Douglas firs from an Inverness-shire forest will soon be sailing the high seas in their new role as Highland tall ship masts. The Marguerite Explorer, a small tall ship which has toured the Small Isles and Outer Hebrides from Mallaig since 1990, was beginning to suffer from a bad case of mast rot. Boat manager Chris Swan decided it was time for a major facelift and came to Portclair Forest, near Invermoriston, to hand pick the timber that was up to the task. Mr Swan said: "We wanted to get local trees and these are ideal for the job. They're great looking trees, very straight and clean - which is what you need for making masts. "It was also really enjoyable and rewarding going out into the woods with the foresters to track down the right trees." The trees are being taken from an area which is being regenerated and thinned out on a long term basis. The removal of giant firs will allow more natural light to fall on the forest floor, encouraging natural regeneration of the forest. The tree are to be stored in Mallaig until later this month, when Mr Swan will start work on transforming them into masts.

Charity Triumph

A Western Isles Boys' Brigade section proved to be the most generous in Scotland when it comes to overseas charity work. The 2nd Stornoway section won the trophy for the highest average fundraising in the Church of Scotland's Water for Life project. The Lewis boys raised an average of 50 each to upgrade the water supply in Ekwendi in Malawi. Ekwendi is one of the major centres of Christian service and outreach of the partner Church of the Church of Scotland, the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. Ekwendi has a major referral hospital, a large secondary school, a primary school, a lay training centre, the headquarters for the Synod Youth activities and the Synod Aids Awareness project together with a Church and a number of houses. Their water supply is in urgent need of upgrading. The Stornoway section received their award at an overseas evening at Langholm, in the Borders where the Moderator of The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Right Rev John Miller, was presented with a cheque for 9,000 - the total amount raised for Ekwendi.

Wild Life Watch

The tourist information centre in North Kessock is to be revamped to combine the existing facility with the dolphin and bird watching attractions on the site. Plans are being drawn up by the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board together with Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Highland Council which operates the dolphin centre. The agencies are formulating a funding package to develop the idea before seeking further cash for the project. Graham Smith, customer service manager at HOST, said: "This will be a combined wildlife centre to bring together the different groups which use the site." Just under 21,000 visitors passed through the North Kessock TIC last summer. It is hoped the new combined facility will help increase numbers passing through the centre. The endangered bottlenose dolphins are a major tourist attraction with between six and nine thousand visitors each summer to the interpretive centre. There are around just 150 dolphins and studies show that the population is dropping by around 5 per cent each year, a decline thought to be caused by marine pollution and other environmental factors. The North Kessock centre has hydrophone listening devices which broadcast sounds of the dolphins picked up underwater. There are also videos of the dolphins in the firth as well as an educational display. The RSPB has a public bird watching area at the site where rare red kites can be seen. The species was extinct in Scotland until 10 years ago when it was reintroduced onto the Black Isle. There are now around 34 breeding pairs in the area with 77 chicks born last year.

Council Boost for Gaelic

Highland Council is to train six primary teachers each year to teach Gaelic as a second language in primary schools outwith the Gaelic medium units. The Government funded modern languages syllabus in primary schools did not include Gaelic. Education director Bruce Robertson said: "This has had a serious negative effect on the uptake of Gaelic in secondary schools. Where pupils have to choose between Gaelic and French in the first year, Gaelic classes have an average of only 15 pupils in the current session." Highland Council's education committee was told that Northern College was commissioned in 1999 to produce materials for Gaelic, similar to the packs for other European languages. The material supported by 20 days of training, was piloted in Argyll and Bute in 1999-00 and in four primary schools in Lochaber in 2000-01. Mr Robertson said: "We put in a bid for 250.000 and we were disappointed to get only 20,000 out of a national budget of 60,000. That will limit what we can do. "The grant will continue for the next few years and the money will allow for a training programme involving six teachers a year taking 20 days training."

Charity Event

The Royal Bank of Scotland has donated 500 to Raigmore Hospital Inverness, which will be used to purchase toys for the childrens ward. The donation is part of the bank's ongoing commitment to supporting the local communities in which it operates.

Political Roundup

"Crony Culture"

Nationalists sought to exploit Labour's problems with a renewed attack on what they claimed was a culture of "cronyism" and "cosy relationships" in public life. Leader of the SNP, John Swinnney, challenged Labour to back an SNP bid to bring quangos under greater parliamentary scrutiny. He accused Labour of allowing the culture to develop.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Bright spells am, a few showers in N & W. Rain in S pm. Wind moderate S'ly. Temperature 5c to 10c.
Saturday Night
S becoming dry, clear spells. Far N cloudy with some light rain. Wind light/mod W-NW'ly. Temperature 1c to 4c.
Continuous rain for a time. Heavy rain overnight. severe gales.
Starting showery and windy then westerly gales bring longer periods of rain.

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Glenmoriston Arms Hotel

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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