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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 20th October 2001
Issue No 253

Witches Try to Exorcise the Curse of Macbeth

A bid by two white witches to exorcise the curse of Macbeth from a Highland site were plagued by a series of strange happenings recently.

White witch high priest Kevin Carlyon and his colleague, Eileen Webster, a psychic medium from Selkirk, who claims she has powers to contact the spirit world, arrived at the site of the old Inverness Castle in Auld Castle Road, in the city's Crown area. The witches hoped to reflect positive energy on the spirit of Macbeth, which has supposedly created havoc over the years, during productions of the Shakespeare play. However, A number of other witches due to be at the event were forced to cancel their trip, after the death of a pet dog belonging to one of them - an apparent signal of bad luck. Another witch stayed at home, after her cat brought in a black feather, signalling a bad omen. The strange series of events, carried on during the ritual itself, when a cameraman filming the event for TV was apparently rushed to hospital after complaining of feeling ill. A radio journalist's equipment also mysteriously fell from his hands, smashing on the pavement, soon after his arrival to the site. Mr Carlyon began the ritual by summoning the four basic elements of earth, air, wind and water, while letting off a number of industrial smoke bombs for effect. But when his colleague attempted to contact the spirit of Macbeth, she dramatically collapsed on the ground, murmuring incoherently. Mrs Webster said afterwards: "I sensed a great power that just drained away all my energy. I remember feeling fear. I sensed a very, very evil spirit. I believe in this curse definitely now - if I did not before, I do now." She added she had been stalked by a black crow that morning, at the hotel where she was staying. Despite the setbacks, the witches were eventually able to perform the ceremony, and Mr Carlyon said he was confident that they had succeeded. However, only time would tell if it had worked. He said: "What happened here was totally out of the unexpected. There has been a strange series of mini disasters on our way here. "We almost got run off the road coming back from a trip to Skye, and then the three witches who were destined to come up here from other parts of the country all had different individual problems." He also warned the public of the dangers of trying to contact the spirit world. Mr Carlyon added: "What we are doing here is purely white magic and I don't advocate people trying to contact the spirit world. "They should be left alone, but on this occasion, what we were doing here with the curse of Macbeth, which I now believe in, was a thing a lot of people wanted to be done." Mr Carlyon said: "The outcome is that Macbeth will stay rested here. "We reflected the curse, but it will only be when people start saying "Macbeth", and putting on productions of the play, that we will know we have been successful. We won't know until people tell us."

Fairy Glen

People of all ages and walks of life pulled together recently to enhance a historic millpond and popular walking spot. The millpond at the Fairy Glen Nature Reserve near Rosemarkie in the Black Isle, became silted over and weed ridden. RSPB Scotland, who manage the reserve, organised one of their biggest events yet to begin the clear up operation and to raise awareness of their work. Kenna Chisholm, Ross-shire and Moray Firth RSPB officer said: "It's always been a very popular walk because it's such a lovely spot. "There's also a local feeling for the area because of its historic importance. "So we loaned out waders and poles to people so they could drag out the weeds." The RSPB has held pond clearing days and a plethora of walks in the past but this one was the biggest Highland one yet. The ongoing plight of the red kite and other such rare Highland birds was also focused on by officers in attendance. The glen is home to dippers, grey wagtails and various types of woodland plants including flowering plants such as wood avon and sanicle, which create the unique and beautiful atmosphere in the glen.

Customers Come First

A Highland hotel has become the first to gain a prestigious award in recognition of its customer service. Denise and Bob Dalgarno, hosts of the Crown Hotel, Ardconnel Street Inverness, wanted to overcome a drop in Highland visitors by earning the region's first Scotland's Best Commitment to Customer Service award. And while some businesses suffered a downturn in visitors, they are now toasting success. Denise said: "Having bought the guest house in April last year, we were dismayed at the crisis that hit the industry and decided to take positive action, concentrating all our efforts on customer service standards." They found out about the award being offered by Inverness and Nairn Enterprise, attended its Scotland's Best Service course in Inverness, and went on to meet the standards needed to gain the qualification. Denise said: "The pay off for us has been a significant increase in business over the last year at a time when so many were seeing a decline. We have noted that our repeat business is up and referrals are also on the increase, with customers from as far afield as the USA and Australia suggesting that their friends use the Crown."

400 Years Late

The association between Shakespeare's Macbeth and historic Cawdor Castle in the Highlands is a long one, forged in the famous tragedy that was written 400 years ago. But, despite that, the bard's Thane of Cawdor has only now come home to pace his Highland courtyards for the first time. The homecoming came courtesy of Edinburgh based Cutting Edge Theatre Company, which staged one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies with Cawdor Castle as the stunning backdrop. It was in fact built more than 300 years after the death of Macbeth, who succeeded to the Scottish throne in 1040 after he killed King Duncan I. But the association means the production was a fitting one to become the first performed at the Nairnshire castle, which lies about 10 miles from Inverness. Cutting Edge director Suzanne Lofthus said: "It was just fantastic to bring the production here. "Nobody can say Macbeth was actually in Cawdor, but he was certainly connected to the area. "And he certainly saw the same things we can see in the mountains and the hills. It is the first time in history the play has been brought to Cawdor Castle and it's great to bring it there." Cawdor Castle has belonged to the Campbells, Earls of Cawdor since 1827.

Quackers for Love

A lonely duck at a North east castle has been united with a new partner after weeks of hunting for the perfect pal. Gupta, an Indian runner duck, was left lovestruck and lonesome when his partner, Blanche, a European duck was savaged by a stoat at Drum Castle. Now Gupta has been introduced to Rani, a crossbred Indian runner, who was donated to the National Trust for Scotland property by Simon Langen of Torphins. Castle staff feared they might not get on because Rani at first seemed very unsettled by the change of scene. "When she first arrived she was really shy and just hid under a bush," said castle manager Alec Gordon. "But I went along later on and they were on the pond staring romantically at each other only inches apart. "I wondered if they were working out a pre-nuptial agreement. Both looked very happy in a ducky sort of way." Mr Gordon added that Rani has the speed to keep Gupta amused - he apparently like a good chase - and escape any predators. Despite the best efforts of castle staff when Blanche was killed, a replacement could not be found. But after an appeal by a local newspaper, there were a mass of applications to Gupta's lonely hearts column. It took castle staff a while to match him up with the best option, and they are hoping it could lead to the patter of tiny webbed feet.

Canal Wedding

A Highland yachting couple tied the knot on the Caledonian Canal recently. Loch Keeper Kirsty Jarvie and her partner, Iain Raynard invited 24 guests to join them on board the chartered boat Ealabhan. Kirsty of Windhill, Beauly, is one of only three British Waterways female lock keepers on this stretch of the canal, along with Beatrice-Catherine Clarke and Lisa Mienczyk. Speaking before the wedding, Kirsty said it was the obvious place for them to get married as they are mad about boats. They recently returned from a year's working holiday employed on boats in New Zealand and Australia. Both of Kirsty's colleagues attended the evening reception at the Steading Bar, between Drumnadrochit and Cannich. Kirsty and her new husband, a gamekeeper on Glenstrathfarrar Estate, were thrilled to find that their friends had booked them into a hotel. The pair, who wed on the Castle Urquhart stretch of Loch Ness, did not go on honeymoon as they are all travelled out after their Australasian trip. The 60 mile canal that stretches from the North Sea to the Atlantic connects three lochs, including Loch Ness, one of Scotland's most popular tourist atractions. The canal, which was completed in 1822, allows ships a safe route from east to west avoiding the perilous North Coast route.

Sam Gets More Tests

Death row Sam is to undergo psychological tests in a new bid to avoid being put down. The West Highland Terrier was ordered to be executed by a court after his barking drove his owner's neighbours in Aberdeen up the wall. Susan Tonner, of the National Canine Defence League, said she hoped the dog could be saved. Owner William Shaw sent Sam to the NCDL, at West Calder, West Lothian, to see if he could be treated to stop his barking. Susan said: "He's been on his best behaviour since he got here." Mr Shaw will appeal against Sam's death sentence in the High Court in Edinburgh next month. Until then the dog - who has received support from ex-screen star and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot - is staying with canine psychologist Sandra McLeary who will report to the court on whether he can be retrained.

Charity Event

An open garden event in Rosemarkie and Fortrose raised a wheelbarrow load of cash for a local charity recently. Gardening enthusiasts opened up their gardens and raised 1850 for Crossroads Care which provides respite for carers in the Ross and Cromarty area.

Political Roundup

Key Role of Sabhal Mor Ostaig

The Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Wendy Alexander, emphasised the role of building international links in strengthening Scotland's communities and economy. Ms Alexander was speaking in Skye on a visit to Gaelic college Sabhal Mor Ostaig, which sees its worldwide links as a vital part of the learning opportunity it delivers. These include a special relationship between the colege and the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada. Sabhall Mor Ostaig also forms a key part of the UHI Millennium Institute, offering alternative forms of learning for rural communities. Ms Alexander said: "Sabhal Mor Ostaig is maturing into a geniunely confident institution, with clear ideas about its future direction and with diverse, able and well motivated students."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy/misty, periods of rain, some heavy. Winds fresh/strong E'ly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Rain/drizzle in the far N-E. Misty, fog patches. Winds light S'ly. Temperature 7c to 11c.
A mild but cloudy day with further rain or showers. Winds light or moderate S'ly.
Mainly cloudy, a few brighter periods but also a few light showers. Winds light and variable.

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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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