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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 27th July 2002
Issue No 290

New City Centrepiece Chosen

A symbol of the growing prosperity and increasing confidence in Inverness has been unveiled.

A four foot model of a planned 40ft pillar which will stand in Falcon Square in front of the Eastgate II shopping centre is now on display in the city's museum and art gallery for the public to comment on. The sculpture, by local artist Gerald Laing, will tower over the first new civic space to be created in Inverness for 150 years and replicates the traditional Mercat Cross which once marked the commercial heart of every Scots town. It is the first of three works by local artists which will grace public spaces in and around both parts of the Eastgate Centre. It consists of a stone column, rising from a granite plinth and supporting nine individual bronze sculptures, the most spectacular of which stands at the top of the column. "This is a historic occasion for Inverness and everyone living and visiting the city," declared Eastgate Centre manager Eric Milne. "We have the opportunity to comment on, and eventually create a public work of art which, as well as forming part of the very fabric of our city, will quickly become a highly visible focal point for the people of Inverness for hundreds of years to come. "Inverness is one of the UK's newest and fastest growing cities, yet has no large open public space or indeed any recognisable point which could be considered its centre. "This project is a wonderful opportunity to create such a centre," he commented. Mr Milne revealed that artist Leoni Gibbs had been commissioned for a sculpture for the food hall in the new centre and Helen Denerly was creating something for the original centre. "We have three local artists with three very different styles creating something of interest in the heart of the city and I think it is wonderful to see the place coming alive like this." he added. Sculptor Gerald Laing is a renowned artist of international standing whose work has graced many urban centres in the UK and Europe. He now lives in Kinkell Castle, north of Inverness, which he rebuilt himself. Having worked in many places throughout the world, he is delighted to be inspired by a commission so close to home. "The challenge was to create a courageous and vigorous statement which reflects the scale of a growing and vibrant city," he stated. "This design has the perfect credentials for an area like the new Falcon Square, as the Mercat Cross traditionally symbolises the commercial centre of a town, acting as a central meeting point drawing traders and pleasure seekers alike. Public art is the last thing to spend money on and so, when it appears in a town or city, it reflects a growing prosperity and increased confidence." As well as the Scottish Unicorn, the stone column will support four bronze Peregrine Falcons in different stages of attack and four sundials will adorn the base of the column, each being calibrated for the latitude of Inverness by the British Sundial Society.

Ceilidh Trail

A unique series of music events featuring talented young musicians are to be staged at a series of locations throughout Sutherland over three successive summers. The ambitious project, to be known as the Ceilidh Trail, is being organised by Feis Chataibh and involves the formation of a group of traditional musicians between the ages of 15 and 22. Ken Houston of Feis Chataibh explained that it will give nine talented young people each year the chance to fine tune their performing skills. Successful applicants are to be paid 150 per week for taking part in the four week programme, the first week of which will be spent working with an experienced musician drawn from Feis Chataibh's existing list of tutors. The idea is that the youngsters will develop their performance prior to setting out on the 12 or 14 venue tour, and one of the successful applicants will be appointed in advance of the rehearsal and performance dates to make arrangements for the Ceilidh Trail, such as booking venues, arranging transport and accommodation. To gauge demand for the event, Feis Chataibh sent a questionnaire to hotels, halls and tourist venues, following which they received a number of very positive replies and invitations to perform. Mr Houston said: "This is a great opportunity for our young musicians, and an experience we hope they'll take full advantage of. We are delighted with the funding. It has enabled us to make this investment in the future of our musical tradition."

Titanic Meals on the Menu

An award winning Highland hotel with a seafaring bent is serving meals which can literally be described as "Titanic". Pool House, Poolewe, which was named AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland last year, is recreating the menus on the Titanic to commemorate the luxury liner's 90th anniversary. However, most of the menus will probably feature seven rather than the full 11 courses sampled by guests before the tragic ship's sinking in 1912. "We had to cut it down to seven courses as most people won't be able to eat the amount they used to eat in those days," said the family run hotel's duty manager, Mhairi Moir. Diners will have to wear a white carnation to dinner like guests on the famous luxury liner. Recently a seven course meal from the ship's menu was served up to guests, it included: soup, lobster thermidor, a beef dish, a punch sorbet, asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, fruit salad, cheeses, coffee and cigars and port or liqueurs. The full 11 course meal is planned for a complete Titanic themed weekend in September.

Treading the Boards

The Highland capital is to play host to an ambitious community play. A huge number of local organisations have come together to plan the performance, to be held in summer next year. It is hoped the play, which will celebrate Inverness' past, present and future, will be performed by a large cast at a variety of locations, including the city's new Falcon Square. It will also give locals the chance to develop their existing skills and talents and provide a platform on which to showcase them, by working alongside professional artists. The project, which includes members of the Highland Festival, Eden Court Outreach and Inverness Arts Forums, has been given a funding boost from Highland Council and Inverness and Nairn Enterprise. Alastair McDonald, Director of the Highland Festival said: "Inverness is on the up and up and the time is right for the city to celebrate its achievements through the eyes of Invernessians old and new." Local writer Hamis MacDonald, of the Collectors and Dogstar Theatre Companies, had been in discussion with the Highland Festival, which has assisted in the development of his highly acclaimed productions in 1999 and 2001 of "The Captain's Collection" and "Seven Ages of Man", to explore the potential of the large scale community plan.

Archives Taking Shape

Long held hopes of establishing an archive for Lochaber's historical documents and records have taken a step nearer being realised. Highland Council officials are drawing up a report on the options for such a facility. Councillors have been told by area manager John Hutchison: "It has been one of the aims of the council to establish an archive in Lochaber, although to date these plans have yet to come to fruition." But he says potential exists for such a facility at Kinlochleven, which is now being explored with the authority's Inverness based archivist. Discussions are also ongoing with Lochaber College at Fort William, to draw up an application for Heritage Lottery funding, using the college as a base. Lochaber historian Iain Thornber, who has been one of the driving forces for a local archive, fears many valuable documents and records of yesteryear are being consigned to the dustbin because of the absence of such a facility. The one time chairman of the former Lochaber District Council and a deputy lord lieutenant, has been instrumental in setting up a local steering group to further investigate its provision. Mr Thornber said: "Many records are being destroyed because few people think they are of interest or did not know of any repository which might hold them." Such material includes several Latin medieval land charters relating to Lochaber, the earliest dating back to 1493, which he bought in a flea market in London.


A new ale has been dedicated to Cromarty born writer, geologist and Free Church founder Hugh Miller. As part of this year's 200th anniversary of his birth, custodians of Hugh Miller's cottage are sure the man would have approved. Curator Martin Gostwick said: "Could a devout Christian and founding member of the Free Church enjoy a drink? Certainly! Hugh Miller had stern warnings for his readers about the dangers of excess but himself liked nothing better than a glass of ale with his supper. "So we think that his many admirers - as well as those who had never heard of him before - will want to toast the bicentenary of his birth with a glass or two of the finest ale." The National Trust for Scotland, custodians of Hugh Miller's Cottage - his birthplace in Church Street, Cromarty - has joined forces with the Black Isle Brewery at Munlochy to produce a special organic Scotch Ale, brand named Highland Heritage and bearing Hugh Miller's name and image. It will be sold initially from the Cottage and through the brewery's own outlets. The National Trust for Scotland intends to use profits from the sale of the beer to support its plans to expand the Hugh Miller exhibition in buildings associated with hin in Cromarty. The trust plans have been further aided by fund-raising by the Saltire Society which raised 200 at last year's St Andrew's night celebrations in Inverness.

Whisky World Record

The world record for the highest price paid at auction for a single bottle of whisky was broken recently, distillers said. A rare bottle of The Macallan 60 year old single malt sold for 20,150 - including the buyer's premium - at McTear's auction house in Glasgow. The bid smashes the previous record of 15,000, also paid for a Macallan, set at auction last September. The bottle was sold to an anonymous collector and the lot price included a unique bespoke label which will be designed to the buyer's specifications. Tara Serafini, public relations manager of Highland Distillers, producers of The Macallan, said whisky collecting generates a lot of interest in countries such as Italy, Japan and America. She said: "We are obviously delighted with this as it re-inforces the position of The Macallan as the ultimate malt whisky in the world and shows the buoyancy of the collectable whisky market."

Charity Event

The tiny tots of Merkinch Nursery School, backed by their big hearted community, have raised a staggering 200 for the Highland Heartbeat Appeal. The kiddies went on a sponsored forest walk at Foyers and decided to donate the cash to the cardiac appeal after reading about it in a local newspaper. With over 70 youngsters aged between three and five at the school, the wee ones completed the walk over two afternoons.

Political Roundup

Highland Voice Wanted

A Highland MSP is calling on the Scottish Executive to nominate a member to the independent advisory panel which will scrutinise the EU Capital of Culture. Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber MSP Fergus Ewing claims it is vital that someone with an in depth understanding of the Highlands application for the title in 2008 was included on the panel. Mr Ewing said: "It is important the whole of Scotland gets behind the Inverness Highland candidature for European Capital of Culture. But we are up against 11 other UK candidates."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Overcast, rain/drizzle in NW. Mostly dry, partly sunny elsewhere. Winds mod/fresh SW'ly. Temperature 16c to 22c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, rain in NW spreading inland. Winds mod SW'ly. Temperature 12c to 15c.
Cloudy with a little light rain over Western areas. Dry with bright spells in E.
Cloudy with some drizzle patches at times. Bright/sunny spells developing. Light S'ly winds.

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