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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 5th May 2001
Issue No 230

Scotland's Shame

William Wallace is betrayed again. Occasional visitors to this historical site have to step through disgusting piles of dumped clothes and used nappies.

This is one of Scotland's greatest historical sites - the place where William Wallace drew his last breath of freedom in a bloody skirmish with the English. But despite huge international interest in Wallace's story after the film Braveheart, the place where Wallace was captured at Robroyston on the outskirts of Glasgow is a national disgrace. It has been allowed to fall into ruin and disrepair. People living just a few hundreds yards away in the new housing development are oblivious to what;s on their doorsteps. It's a sight that shames all Scotland, but things could be about to change. Seoras Wallace, head of the Clan Wallace Society, has a vision to build a prestigious visitors' centre around the site attracting tens of thousands every year. With the backing of close friends Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe and Sean Connery, he hopes to open the attraction in 2005 - exactly 700 years after Wallace's death. Seoras has been spurred into action after a soul destroying tour of Scotland's neglected historical locations. Arriving at the Robroyston site on his roaring Harley Davidson motorbike, Seoras hung his head as he surveyed the land. He said: "A lot of things I believed I should be proud of as a Scot were shattered when I came across many of the sites. This one hit home the hardest. When you come here and walk on the land it is like walking in long footsteps. "When you stand on this spot the images come flooding in, the atmosphere is still here. The land hasn't changed much geographically. "But it's in such a state of deprivation. Visitors around the world call me to say we should be ashamed to have allowed this site to get in such terrible condition. "It's a rubbish tip, covered in graffiti and abandoned cars. "Anger doesn't come into it, I just simply don't understand. This is part of our DNA. People blame me. But everybody should take responsibility." Drivers heading out on the country road from Robroyston to Kirkintilloch rarely notice the stone cross fenced by iron railings which was built in 1900 to mark the spot where Wallace was captured by the English. There's two clusters of rotting farm buildings and a couple of acres of land littered with urban debris. A quarter of a mile further on there's the more obvious Wallace's Well - also neglected. The first step in the clan's four year plan to bring the site up to scratch starts in September - with a huge auction of film memorabilia. The Clan Wallace took part in many of the action sequences in Braveheart and Ridley Scott's Gladiator. They have teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox and Planet Hollywood for the internet sell off on September 11 - which will be marked by a huge star studded ceilidh in Beverly Hills. Up for grabs will be 250,000 of movie props including Mel Gibson's Braveheart battle garments. Meanwhile the Wallace Pipes and Drums are embarking on a world tour to raise the profile of their cause. Seoras added: "Wallace stands for freedom and that is a cause to celebrate around the world."

Parcel Victory

A middle aged couple who were surcharged 62.07 for delivery of a Christmas parcel from their son in Australia celebrated recently the prospect of a substantial refund. But Bob and Sandra Morrison of Alness, are not counting their chickens until they receive the cash they expect to recover from Customs and Excise, although the service has already admitted that it overcharged them for the wrong parcel. When they received the parcel, containing 1kg of home made cookies made by their son Sean's landlady and a book of scenic Australian views, the Morrisons reluctantly paid the surcharge before discovering what the contents were. The parcel had been opened by Customs and the charges included 9.20 import duty, 5,25 delivery payment after the parcel had been opened and resealed, plus a whopping 47.62 in VAT. Mrs Morrison revealed that nearly two months after first lodging a complaint, she had managed to elicit an explanation from Customs for the gross overcharge. "It seems they had intended to charge someone with a name like Morsely for a parcel of porcelain from Poland. "When I said the parcel had been from Australia, with biscuits and a book, they admitted they had slapped the wrong charge on the parcel and I had paid for somebody else's goods. There was no indication of how much I should have been charged. "It's a start, but now I've been asked to write a letter to Customs explaining all the details and to send it to them along with all the labels on the parcel. I'll do that, but first I'll have the labels photocopied to leave me some documentary proof of the overcharge, before sending the originals to Customs by recorded delivery." Sean, left Scotland Last April to work his way around Australia and spent sometime on a ranch at Queensland. His boss's wife and his mother began to write to each other and exchange recipes. When Sean left the ranch, his landlady gave him the home made cookies and the book of views to take home to his mother. Rather than carry them around, he posted them home at a cost of 44 Australian dollars, about 22. "Even if we eventually get a refund these will have been the dearest biscuits we've ever had," said Mrs Morrison.

Change of Venue

The memorial service by the Gaelic Society of Inverness for the fallen at Culloden was held recently at Daviot Church for the first time. The annual service is normally held at the Cairn at Culloden Battlefield, but the decision was made several weeks ago to change to Daviot due to foot and mouth restrictions at the battlefield which has its own flock of Hebridean sheep. Due to people coming from all over the country and also from as far afield as Australia, a decision had to be taken in time to let people know. Following a prayer in Gaelic by the Rev Duncan MacKinnon, the address was given by the society chief Morag MacLeod of the School of Scottish Studies. Piper Finlay MacGhee of Kyle of Lochalsh also played the pibroch Maccrimmon's Sweetheart. The society was able to then lay a wreath at the Cairn as part of the battlefield was opened specially, and others such as The White Cockade Society also laid wreaths to remember the dead. Each year the memorial service is held on the nearest Saturday to the actual dat of the battle on April 16, 1746.

Rural Studies Plan

Lews Castle College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, is to establish an Institute of Rural and Island Studies, which will have an international profile. It will be known as Iris. The acronym has been chosen to reflect the college's connections to Gaelic and English language development. In Gaelic it means a discovery or a record, and in English the centre of the eye. Though it will operate across the whole of the UHI, the Institute will be housed at the Stornoway campus and aims to establish an international profile in the broad filed of rural development studies, including economic, social, environmental, cultural, the arts and information technology. The Institute will aim to provide a key leadership role in the development, testing and dissemination of innovative approaches to education, employment and the sustainable development of rural areas and small island communities.

Model Village Finished

A "Model" Hebridean village, which was to be filled with innovations and environmentally friendly designs, has finally been finished. However, it is without many of the original "green" features, which were axed because of cost and design. But the architects say the homes are still a showpiece in cutting heating costs. Prince Charles has kept in close contact with the project on Barra. Axed from the original concept were plans for traditional turf roofs - once a common feature of the Hebrides; a revolutionary heating system that would have trapped warmth from the sun in glass porches and recycled it through the building and proposals to plant thousands of trees on the largely treeless island as wind shelter. Edinburgh based architects Benjamin Tindall Associates also wanted to build workshops near the homes to create a sustainable community. But it has so far failed to find support among public funding organisations. Part of the problem has been that Scottish Homes set a tight budget which meant that many green features were too expensive. The Prince became involved in the project nearly five years ago after being challenged by Government funding agency Scottish Homes to come up with innovative houses that could be used as a model for others elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands. Project architect Paul Harding said: "Inevitably there have been a few problems but we have ended up with very good, energy efficient homes, which should produce lower heating bills for the tenants," said Mr Harding. "We hope to have a completion certificate from the Western Isles Council within the next weeks and we are very pleased with what has been achieved."

Different Drum

Member's of a Highland association pipe band will soon be marching to the beat of a different drum after receiving a new addition to their line up recently. The Queen's Own Highlanders Association Pipe Band was presented with a bass drum at Cameron Barracks, Inverness, formerly used by The Highlanders. The drum is now surplus to the Highlanders' requirements. Drum Major James Clark from The Highlanders was on hand tp present the drum to Drum Major Jack McCall, of the Queen's Own Association Pipe Band. The band is a civilian association made up of talented pipers and drummers who have formerly served as soldiers. Secretary of the pipe band George Burns said: "We are pleased to receive this drum. I will look forward to its first showing when the band will appear at a regimental function in Caithness in June." The drum was formerly used by the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Own Highlanders, who in 1994 merged with the Gordon Highlanders in Edinburgh to form the Highlanders. The Queen's Own Highlanders were in turn formed in 1961 following an amalgamation of the Seaforth Highlanders, who operated in the Ross-shire area, and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, covering the Inverness and Nairn area.

Back on Track

A 27 year old project to rebuild an old locomotive finally got under way recently on the Strathspey Steam Railway. The new addition will be heavily integrated into the Aviemore - Boat of Garten service over the next few years. The Highland Locomotive Company, which bought the engine was on the lookout for a cheaper alternative to a new engine which could serve on the Strathspey Steam Railway. The Ivatt Class 2 locomotive has been in the process of being restored since March 1973 after the owners rescued it from the Barry scrapyard in South Wales, a famous locomotive graveyard. Strathspey Steam Railway superintendent Lawrence Grant said: "The locomotive is particularly suitable because it is quite modern for steam railway standards, and has sufficient power to run on any train service the operators wish to introduce. "The project came about from a combination of the Strathspey Railway wanting a locomotive suitable for running on the line and having to buy a locomotive that was going to be scrapped. "We hope the engine will be a mainstay with us for the next four or five years and will be looked after by Strathspey Steam Services. We will be looking for it to do a lot of work for us. "I think tourists and railway enthusiasts will both find it interesting, and the kids love it." The locomotive, number 46512, was built at the former Great Western Railway works in Swindon in 1952 and was one of 64 engines of its class built there. It was withdrawn from service in 1966, and is believed to be the 101st engine to be rescued from the Barry scrapyard.

Charity Event

Line dancer Margaret Mitchell has plenty to celebrate as she steps on the scales to confirm the loss of 28lbs following a special fundraising effort. Margaret, of Loch Ness Line Dancers, raised the cash the hard way for the Inverness branch of the Crossroads respite care scheme. She handed over a cheque for 200 to the charities Inverness based fundraiser, Ann McDermott.

Political Roundup

Former Aide in Rant at Scots

A former aide to the late Donald Dewar said the "bloody stupid" Scottish Parliament should be axed. In his second anti-Scottish rant in a week, Tim Luckhurst said he "truly, madly, deeply" believed devolution should be repealed. Luckhurst - a former editor of the Scotsman and senior BBC journalist - made the comment in an English newspaper column. His rant was immediately slated by the Nationalists. It also offended Labour supporters, who credit the Late First Minister, Donald Dewar, with doing more than anyone to secure Scotland's parliament. English born Luckhurst's column in the low circulation Independent said: "Let's face it, devolution was a bloody stupid idea. Devolution was an Act of Parliament, not an Act of god, and can be repealed. Luckhurst, who is married to a failed Tory election candidate, helped draft devolution laws when he worked for Dewar in the late 1980s. But he now says Holyrood will always be second rate as Scotland's best politicians will head for Westminster. "Scotland is left with the dregs," he added. A SNP spokesman said: "This is simply anti-Scottish. "Thank goodness he is no longer editor of a Scottish newspaper. He is peddling discredited Tory policies." Luckhurst - who left the Scotsman after only a few weeks in charge - was at the centre of a similar storm last week when he dubbed Scots "tiny minded", "intolerant" and "inferior".

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Patchy rain in W. Bright spells/few showers in E. Winds light SW-NE'ly. Temperature 7c to 12c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells. Light rain patches on coasts/hills in W. Winds light SE-NE. Temperature 0c to 5c.
Variable cloud with sunny spells after any early fog patches have cleared away. Light winds.
Regular bright/sunny spells continuing after mist/fog patches clear. Isolated showers inland.

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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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