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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 6th October 2001
Issue No 251

Master Porridge Maker Gets Third Win

The eighth annual World Champion Master Porridge Maker has been crowned in the Highlands.

At the now popular date on the Highland epicures' calendar, Duncan Hilditch was awarded the title in the Carrbridge village hall for the third time. Mr Hilditch, who took the title last year and in 1996, narrowly beat Scott Chance, the chef and proprietor of the Harbour Inn on Islay, who is himself a former champion. Mr Hilditch, who runs the Ecclefechan Bistro in Carrbridge, said after his victory: "I'm not sure what the secret of my success is. I certainly think you mustn't have too much or too little salt in porridge. "I add a pinch of sugar to take the bitterness out. A lot of people tend to overcook it slightly, taking away the nuttiness of it." Mr Hilditch, who eats porridge regularly and is convinced of its health giving properties, added: "In the final I finished making my porridge about 10 minutes before everybody else. "I only cook it for about four minutes so it doesn't become slimy. If you cook it too much it's only good for hanging wallpaper." Organised by the Carrbridge and vicinity Community Council, the event was originally designed to boost tourism numbers in the Highlands. Organiser Dorothy Wedderburn said of this year's competition: "It was a very closely fought contest, Duncan only beat Scott by two points. "The championships are a lot of fun. We had 11 finalists watched by around 150 spectators, including some Canadian and American visitors who saw the event advertised and were intrigued." Each competitor had to produce at least one pint of porridge from untreated oatmeal. This year's judges were headed by Bill Kendrew of the Craft Guild of Chefs, George McIvor of Baxters of Speyside and Gerry Lanzl from the Federation of Chefs of Scotland. Mr Hilditch received the coveted Golden Spurtle Challenge Trophy, plus 200, and a weekend break at the Craigellachie Hotel.

Pictish Treasures on Show

A spectacular piece of Pictish carving, found in two separate pieces by archaeologists digging in Easter Ross has gone on public display for the first time since restoration. The Calf Stone, thought to date from the eighth century, is now on show in Tarbat Discovery Centre, Portmahomack, only 150 yards from where it was discovered by an archaeological team from York University. The focal point of the elaborate carving is a tiny calf being licked by a bull, while a cow - presumably the proud mother - nuzzles it fondly behind. Carved above the pastoral scene are some more aggressive animals, including what appears to be a lion. The stone's subject matter is an unusual mix of the gentler side of nature, alongside the violence of life in the wild. Its distinctive style of carving confirms its Pictish origin, although livelier in character than most Pictish work, which tends often to be more formal. The first fragment was excavated in 1997, and the second the following year. It is thought to be part of a panel or frieze, perhaps used to decorate the Pictish monastery which archaeologists have confirmed once stood on the site. The stone appears to have been broken up centuries ago, the larger piece forming part of a primitive drain cover. The Calf Stone differs from other fine carvings discovered at Tarbat, in that it is the only one carved from a piece of local stone. All other major discoveries on the site, adjacent to Tarbat Old Church, which houses the discovery centre, have been carved from stone brought into the area.

Blind Piper

As he strides across Culloden Battlefield, piper Mark Thow's haunting airs add the perfect final touch to the atmosphere of the bleak and lonely moor where so many lost their lives in 1746. But few visitors will realise the teenage piper has overcome a tremendous handicap to bring his musical skills to their ears. For Mark has been blind from birth. The Inverness lad is now on his way to establishing a successful musical career for himself. Mark has not only mastered the bagpipes but he also plays the piano, saxophone, drums, accordion, clarinet, keyboard and mouth organ. He says: "I think the main thing is to be positive about your handicap. I have found that being blind is an advantage. If I was not blind I probably would not be where I am today doing the things I enjoy doing. "It was a tape of bagpipe music I heard when I was five that started my interest in music. I played it over and over then discovered I could play some of the tunes on my keyboard. "I just pick up a tune by ear and after two or three attempts I am able to play it." He said not long after that his natural ability soon came to the surface to such an extent his keyboard tutor Susan Macdonald said there was nothing else she could teach him. About three years ago he became a Culloden Battlefield volunteer, part of a team that works to boost the visitor enjoyment of the tourist attraction.


Seagull Rescue

A seagull unwittingly sparked a major rescue effort recently after it became trapped on a rooftop in Inverness. The gull was nesting on the rooftop at the corner of Lombard Street and Baron Taylor's Street in the city centre but got its foot caught in a vent at the top of the chimney. A sharp eyed office worker raised the alarm and two appliances from Highland and Islands Fire Brigade, one equipped with a ladder, attended. In an hour long operation firefighters scaled the ladder and managed to rescue the bird, which at one point was reported to be hanging upside down. The bird was then taken to Inshes Veterinary Centre to be checked over for a possible broken leg and from there to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' new rescue centre at Inshes. SSPCA chief inspector Ian Allan said the incident was one of the more unusual that SSPCA inspectors have been called to recently. He said: "It was unusual, yes but we do get them from time to time and we had one trapped in a TV aerial at the start of that week but it died unfortunately. "They nest on the roofs so it was probably nesting up there. It was trapped on the Chimney chamber on spikes and it was caught by the leg, but it should be fine. "It seems fine apart from the leg, but we will have it checked again by the vet." A crowd of about 50 people gathered to watch the drama as the bird was gently freed from the chimney vent and wrapped in a blanket before it was carried down the ladder.

Stirling Exhibition

Priceless documents charting the 16th century treaty between Scotland's King James IV and England's Henry VII are to be brought together in Scotland for the first time it was announced recently. An exhibition to celebrate the historic treaty between Scotland and England will take place next year on the 500th anniversary of the 11 year political union between the two countries. The two manuscripts signed by the kings - now considered priceless - are to be displayed at Stirling Castle along with a unique collection of artefacts relating to the treaty. They include an extraordinary illuminated prayer book given by James IV to his bride Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, said to be worth more than 1million. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace, agreed by the kings in 1502 culminated in the marriage of the 30 year old Scottish king to 13 year old Margaret Tudor. Ironically, the treaty that was meant to cement peace between the two nations lasted only until the death of James IV at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Organisers Historic Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland, announced plans for the exhibition - to be called The Thistle and the Rose - at a meeting in the Queen's Presence Chamber at Stirling Castle, itself designed by James IV. The original treaty documents, signed at Westminster on October 31, 1502, have never been seen together in Scotland. They are the Treaty of Perpetual Peace and the Ratification of James's marriage contract. Also included will be the Papal Bull, dated May 28, 1503, in which the Pope ratifies the marriage of James and Margaret; Acts of Parliament ratifying grants made to Margaret on her marriage; James IV's seal and the Bannatyne Manuscript, a song written by James IV's court poet, William Dunbar. The exhibition will run from March 20 to May 20 2002.

Hitting the Heights

The organisers of the Royal National Mod are delighted at the high numbers of entries for this year's event, which is to be held in the Western Isles from October 12-19. Mod organisers are particularly pleased at the increased number of entries for the Junior Mod and also at the response to the introduction of new competitions for melodeon and Oran Luadh, which have received sponsorship from Hebrides Haulage and the Harris Tweed Authority, respectively. While the closing date for entries to the senior melodeon competition has was July, the inaugural junior competition attracted a number of entrants. Junior instrumental competition entries also show a healthy increase from last year's Dunoon Mod, while other highlights include the two junior psalm precenting and traditional singing competitions. The Mod Company has also welcomed the provision of two new prizes for the precenting competitions, which have been awarded by the Gaelic Society of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Warriors in Action

Visitors to Fort George recently found themselves in a medieval army camp, surrounded by a fierce battle. Gaddgedlar, a historical re-enactment society treated onlookers to a medieval experience, including an authentic Scottish army camp where soldiers and knights wore hand made chain mail battle dress, wielded ancient weaponry and performed highly researched battle choreography. The group sought to show how the Scottish army and its followers lived and fought in the 1300s, in both an entertaining and educational way. Alan Gault, society co-ordinator, said: "Our aim is to deliver high quality performances to our audiences throughout the country. "You won't find any jogging trousers or boots wrapped in sackcloth, right sown to our underwear!" Mr Gault, an engineer from Glasgow said he began the group in 1989 to teach people about Scottish history from 1250 to 1550 in a fun and interesting manner. Gaddgedlar chain mail maker Shuna Crawley, a music promoter, has become an expert in medieval battle dress and she learned a lot of it, not only from books, but from the other group members. Each member, whose walks of life range from students to call centre staff engineers, can explain what their character would have done in medieval times, from robbing the dead of clothing to why they would be fighting in the first place. Gaddgedlar means fighting men and there are about 30 fighting men and women from all over Scotland in the group who meet once a week to discuss battle tactics and work on their costumes. Nick Finnegan, Historic Scotland's events manager, was pleased to invite the group to Fort George. He said: "The group provides a fascinating insight on life in the early 14th century and the medieval army camps at Fort George offer great family days out with lots to do and see."

Charity Event

Pensioner Peter Hardie from Inverness set off on a tour of the North recently to raise funds for the Highland Hospice in the city which he attends as a day patient. Mr Hardie suffers from lung cancer and receives respite care at the hospice. He and his helper Joan Murray set off from Inverness on the journey which took them to Dornoch, Helmsdale, Brora, Golspie, Wick, Thurso and John O'Groats. Mr Hardie said: "I feel very strongly about the work the hospital does and if I was going to enjoy the scenery of the Highlands, then the hospice should also benefit." Hospice spokeswoman Alison Ferguson said everyone was proud of the effort he was putting into his trip as he had already handed the hospice 350.

Political Roundup

Gaelic Status Call

CLI, the association for Gaelic learners, is urging readers of its magazine Cothrom to join in the call for secure status for the language by way of a Gaelic Act of Parliament. It has included in copies of its latest issue a petition form, urging each subscriber to add his or her name to it, and hopefully to collect other signatures. The principal petitioner is John MacLeod, national convener of Comann nam Parant, the organisation for parents of children being taught in Gaelic medium schools. The petition asks the Scottish Parliament to call on the Scottish Executive to implement Comunn na Gaidhlig's earlier proposals for a co-ordinated strategy for the future of the language.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Early rain then bright spells. Showers pm. Winds fresh S. Temperature 14c to 18c.
Saturday Night
Rain/showers at times in W. Mainly dry/part cloudy in E. Winds fresh/strong S-SE. Temperature 9c to 12c.
Sunday
All areas will be wet with a good mix of rain and showers. Winds will be mod to fresh, locally strong.
Monday
Cloudy with rain, some heavy at times with a risk of local flooding. Strong variable winds.


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Caledonia



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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