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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 23rd June 2001
Issue No 237

Scotland: Land of the Alien Cats

Scotland is the "alien big cat" capital of Britain, according to research unveiled recently.

Nearly one in six reports of a strange feline shadow in the undergrowth or the haze of an oversized moggy dashing across a road were made North of the border, according to Fortean Times. Of the 487 last recorded sightings over the past three years, 78 were in Scotland. The next hotspots are Gloucestershire 55, Cornwall 52, Sussex 45, Devon 42 and Wales 41. The magazine on strange phenomenon and experiences says sightings of what it calls ABCs - Alien Big Cats - have risen steadily since the first sighting in 1963 and rose dramatically last year. A brush with one of the elusive creatures - which are typically leopard sized but black or brown with a long tail - has become the most common encounters with the unknown, according to the magazine. But the true number of sightings may be much higher as many are never recorded. Editor Paul Sieveking said: "How these ABCs entered Britain is still unexplained yet evidence shows that sightings of ABCs are on the increase." Recently and Aberdeen woman claimed that a cat like beast jumped in front of her car, while she was holidaying in Sutherland, with her two young daughters. The incident happened around 10pm at the Mound Bridge, four miles south of Golspie on the A9 trunk road. Ms Gunn said: "It looked a powerful beast, with pricked up ears and massive legs. It seemed to cross the road and into the trees in two bounds." A giant black cat was also blamed for the mutilation of a swan which was torn apart in a late night attack near a house in Lunanhead, rural Angus in January. There have been a string of sightings of the "black cat of Angus" by residents of Brechin, Letham and Carnoustie, going back several years. There have also been persistent reports of a mystery cat in Fife. It has been estimated there may be more than 100 leopards and pumas roaming the British countryside. The first sighting of a strange cat was made in Surrey in 1963, according to the Fortean Times.

Highland Parks Gets Benefactor

A mystery benefactor who left 1.9 million in her will is to bring new life to a Highland business. Kincraig Wildlife Park, near Kingussie, is to receive a slice of the windfall, the rest will go to Edinburgh Zoo. It is hoped the donation will kickstart projects such as an interpretative centre for the proposed Cairngorm National Park. The woman, believed to be a former Edinburgh resident with a long association with the Zoological Society of Scotland who own Edinburgh Zoo and the wildlife park, left 1.9 million in stocks and shares. Wildlife park manager Jeremy Usher-Smith said he was looking forward to discussing with the society projects he has in mind for the park's cut of the money - which as yet is undecided. Mr Usher-Smith said he was "delighted" the park was receiving the money. He explained that Edinburgh Zoo would make claims on the windfall for a number of projects it wanted to carry out. However, he added: "But we have opportunity here to put some key structures into the park that will enable us to become a successful and viable wildlife centre." Professor David Waugh, director of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said he was delighted and extremely grateful for the bequest which he said would safeguard the future of the zoo and wildlife park.

Museum Probes Hemp

Cromarty Museum curator David Alston is trying to rope in people who have any knowledge of Inverness's long defunct hemp history. Inspired by history student Joanna Macrae of Kirkhill, he is trying to find photographs of a building on the site of the Citadel which survived until the 1930s. Miss Macrae, who is studying at St Andrews University, has been digging into the past of the city's hemp, cloth and cordage firm of Mackintosh, Grant and Company at the site on Shore Street. Manufactures of hemp cloth finished by the early 1860s, but Miss Macrae, who is helping Mr Alston with his research into similarities between the Inverness and Cromarty hemp industry, has found that one storehouse remained. It was used as a drill hall for the Artillery Volunteers before conversion into an isolation hospital for cholera and smallpox patients in 1877. The building was finally demolished when the site was bought by Anglo-American Oil in the 1930s. Hemp plant leaves - in Latin Cannabis sativa - yield a coarse fibre which, before discovery of nylon, was wound as rope and also made into cloth. In the 19th century people legally took the drug as Parke Davis Tincture.

Sign Theft

A sign warning motorists not to flatten thousands of migrating toads crossing the road has disappeared - leaving a caring Sutherland couple in a bit of a hole. Erica Gorman and her husband, John, who look out for the amphibious creatures crossing the road near their house, are baffled by the removal of the sign. Mrs Gorman said: "We are stumped why anyone would want to steal this large red, black and white triangular sign with a toad silhouette on it. "Whoever took it went to a lot of trouble to undo the bolts securing this officially approved Ministry of Transport sign which an animal charity bought for us. "We would like it back, as its absence could result in lots and lots of toads being killed." Mr and Mrs Gorman moved into their remote house at Torbreck, near Lochinver, four years ago and answered a call from the local field club to save the toads from being run over. Mrs Gorman said: "The little loch beside us has water lilies and the toads love it because they can entwine their long strings of eggs round the water lily roots. They come from more than a mile away, thousands of them all converge on the wee loch after they have crawled out from under their stones following hibernation. "It's the same stone each year for them and then they mate and make a beeline for the loch. "It's a narrow single track road between Lochinver and Drumbeg which the luckier and more agile frogs can leap over in about five bounds. "But the female toads are heavy with eggs and crawl slowly across the tarmac. "The crossing point is a dip in the road and without the sign to warn drivers, they are on top of the toads before they know it." So far, during the hours of darkness, dusk and approaching dawn, the couple have counted almost 2,000 toads crossing the road.

Respect at Culloden

An Australian group of Macdonald clan descendants paid their respects at the annual service commemorating the Battle of Culloden. The service, which has been held at the cairn commemorating the battle since 1925, was moved to Daviot Parish Church this year as a result of the recent restrictions at the National Trust's battlefield site due to the foot and mouth scare. The group came to honour those who died in the 1746 battle, in which the Government Army defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie and brought an end to the Jacobite rebellions. Seven of the Australians in the group came from Queensland, one was from New South Wales, and a couple travelled from Japan. Malcolm Mcdonald, from Queensland, who came with his son and wife, said: "It was quite a moving experience for us. "We've been most impressed by the scenery and the hospitality here. "We've been made to feel very much at home. You get a constant sense of history here. The service was part in Gaelic and part in English. "They spoke about the history of the battle and the things that has occurred. Then we went to the Clan Donald luncheon at the Drumossie Hotel and talked to people from Clan Donald who live in Inverness. We found everyone very hospitable." Mr Mcdonald's family are descendants of Dougall Macdonald who came from Moidart. He was a merchant in Glenuig and married in 1809. In 1838 he and his family emigrated to Australia, where he became a grazier in New South Wales, at Nimitabel.

Top Names at Festival

Capercaillie have been confirmed to play in this year's Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway which is held from July 11 to 14. The Celtic rockers share the stage with Afro Celt Sound System, a cross pollination of traditional African and Celtic music, coupled with dance beats. They are joined by Rock Salt and Nails, a band which thrusts the Shetlands to the forefront of Scottish music; Canadian outfit Slainte Mhath, described as Cape Breton's hottest young Celtic band; contemporary Scottish musicians Cliar; the high energy Scottish-Eire-Canadian band, Daimh; Scots band the Wrigley Sisters, one of the top young acts around; and the UK and Eire's Devana, a five piece band which has taken the Irish music scene by storm.

Discovery Centre

An Easter Ross discovery centre is going back to its roots for Easter with a new exhibition on the history and development of Christianity in Scotland. Tarbat Discovery Centre, in the seaside village of Portmahomack, has managed to secure an early Christian Scotland display concentrating on Scotland's conversion to Christianity. The display runs till the end of August, courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The exhibition consists of a series of information panels charting the history of Scottish religion and tradition, from the very beginnings of Christianity to the present day. The subject of the exhibition not only fits in well with the religious festivities surrounding Easter but it also has specific links with Easter Ross and the centre itself. Many of the religious carvings and artefacts referred to in the display are from the Black Isle and Easter Ross - Nigg, Shandwick and Rosemarkie. In addition to this a team of archaeologists last year confirmed that a Pictish monastery had existed in the area around the discovery centre, formerly Tarbat Old Church, in the 7th and 9th centuries. Many of the cross slabs carved with Christian iconography were created by local Picts, maybe even from Tarbat. The centre, opened by the Prince of Wales in 1999, lies in an important historical area and has attracted an archaeological team from York, who stayed five years. Bodies, graves and other evidence of the monastery prompted a leading archaeologist to comment at the time that Tarbat was "richer and more interesting than we ever dared hope." General manager George MacQuarrie said: "The display was part of a larger display entitled World of Worship, but the centre has been lucky enough not only to obtain the best section from our point of view but also to have that section enlarged to give rightful prominence to the slabs at Nigg, Shandwick and Rosemarkie. "Thus, much of the display is on show for the first time."

Charity Event

A Daffodil Day in the Eastgate Centre, Inverness, has raised 2846 for Marie Curie Cancer Care in the Highlands and Islands. Daffodils were sold by volunteers, including senior pupils of Millburn Academy Inverness. The event was part of an annual month long campaign organised by the charity which provides nursing care in the region for people with cancer who wish to remain at home.

Political Roundup

Row in Holyrood over Scots Tongue.

Members of a backbench Holyrood committee clashed recently over whether or not words used in the traditional Scots dialect should be translated when used in written questions to ministers. Strict rules laid down in the Scottish Parliament's standing orders state that parliamentary questions must be "in English". Gil Paterson, the Nationalist MSP for Central Scotland region, said the rules demeaned the importance of the Scots tongue and sent out the message that the traditional language was sub-standard.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Mainly dry, sunny periods. Patchy drizzle . Winds light/mod SE'ly. Temperature 14c to 20c.
Saturday Night
Dry start. Clouding over to patchy drizzle. Winds light/mod S-SE'ly. Temperature 7c to 11c.
Quite a cloudy day with some light rain. W isles more prone to light rain. Light S'ly winds.
A fine and settled day with plenty of sunny spells. Some cloudier spells with odd showers in the W.

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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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