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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 10th November 2001
Issue No 256

Burns Night Celebrated in the Amazon

They may have been several months late, about 5,000 miles from Scotland and lacking a piper, but two Aberdeen explorers have been doing their best to bring Burns Night to the Amazon

Bruce Mann and Drew Craig, both former pupils of Robert Gordon's College, have spent sometime as part of a British expedition to Bolivia and Brazil. With the journey's end in sight, they persuaded their companions to sit down to a supper of tinned haggis. It turns out that the traditional Scots fare travels all over the world in explorers rations. Drew's mother Moira, who had been following their progress on the expedition's website, revealed he was not a great fan of haggis but was a veteran performer on Burns nights. "I think it was just a good excuse for a party, never mind the fact they were several months late," said Mrs Craig. The 21 Britons and invited locals sat down to a four course meal that included oatcakes, haggis, neeps and tatties. A saltire made by villagers fluttered overhead. With no piper to hand, the tinned haggis arrived to the strains of Runrig played on a battered tape recorder. The two Aberdonians led the entertainment. Bruce toasted the Immortal Memory of Rabbie Burns with a spot of poetry while Drew made the Toast tae the Lassies. The expedition hit the headlines recently when Bruce stumbled across the remains of Paititi, the fabled lost city of the Incas which has eluded explorers for centuries. Since then, the expedition meandered more than 2,500 miles along the Amazon in a boat built from reeds. The party must have made for a welcomed change. The boat's crew battled tides and Force 5 winds while keeping watch for pirates. Their reed trimaran took such a battering that it ended up a catamaran. Drew took a soaking when the craft capsized trying to navigate rapids that are normally avoided by commercial vessels. The trip was organised by the Scientific Exploration Society and led by professional adventurer Colonel John Blashford Snell. Apparently, tinned haggis and oatcakes are a central ingredient on his expeditions. James Stockan, of Tods of Orkney, who supplied the oatcakes said: "He takes our oatcakes on all his expeditions. He has done a lot of testing and finds that they keep ever so well in all different kinds of conditions and they have a very good food value. It's only a matter of history repeating itself. Any Highland soldier would have told you that the best thing to do is to put some oatmeal in your sporran and off you go."

Tough Marathon Win

The Ben Nevis race, up and down Britain's highest mountain, was won recently by local athlete David Rodgers. David, an engineer, clocked 1hr 29mins 24 secs for the gruelling event which is billed as The UK's Toughest Marathon and attracted a field of 500 runners. Although his time was four minutes outside the 1984 record, David's achievement was remarkable as the unceasing drizzle and mist, coupled with the intense cold on the summit of the 4406 feet mountain, made conditions difficult. Second runner home was Ian Holmes in a time of 1.29.43. First woman to finish was Tracey Ambler im 1.54.35. David Rodgers, as fresh as paint when he crossed the finishing line, said: "I'm delighted to be the winner of the Ben Nevis on this 50th anniversary of its revival. And I'm certainly glad to be back at sea level again as I nearly seized up at the top of the Ben because it was freezing up there."

A Goodbye Wave

An unfortunate party of Scotsmen's Stone Age predecessors found themselves in the path of a 30ft wave which struck their campsite 7,800 years ago, it was disclosed recently. The tsunami was one of a series generated by a major underwater landslide off south west Norway. Racing towards the Scottish coast, the tsunami eventually struck the hunters' camp where Inverness now is. The site of the disaster is beneath the BBC offices in Castle Street, the British Association science festival at Glasgow University was told. Evidence was left in the form of mud deposits splashed on to the eastern Scottish coastline. Where the camp was hit, stone tools and weapons were scattered over a wide area. Professor David Smith, from Coventry University, said: "We have evidence that waves from the sea struck a hunting camp and scattered the implements the mesolithic people were using over a wide area, so they were obviously inundated." Norwegian scientists had found evidence of three major submarine landslides off Storegga in south east Norway. One was dated at about the same age as the sediment layer left by the tsunami.

New Lease of Life for a Byre

One of the Highlands' most historically important industrial buildings is set for a new lease of life via a public and private sector partnership, after lying unoccupied for the past two years. The 18th century former Byre Restaurant in Cromarty, currently owned by local accountant Alistair Ratcliffe, is in line to be converted to eight new flats, to alleviate homelessness in an area of considerable housing need. Highland Council's Ross and Cromarty area committee has agreed to seek grants from the Scottish Executive's Empty Homes Initiative fund as its contribution towards conversion by the building's proposed developer, Goldcrest Properties. Earlier, the council held discussions with Mr Ratcliffe and Goldcrest in a bid to find a solution which would safeguard the B listed red sandstone building's future and at the same time provide affordable housing. The Byre is one of three buildings remaining of an original complex of seven, which formed Cromarty Ropeworks. The other two existing buildings were successfully converted by the former Ross and Cromarty District Council into 15 flats some years ago. The complex was founded in the 1770s by local laird George Ross, to make sacking from Baltic hemp for trade between London and the West Indies, when the burgh was a boomtown boasting several industries. When the hemp trade fizzled out, the buildings subsequently had a chequered history. It was used for a time as store for American guano - compressed bird excrement used as fertilizer. There was even a proposal in the 1850s, as political tensions mounted throughout Europe, to convert it to army barracks. Before World War II part of the complex was used for small scale boat building, while other parts were used respectively as a lifeboat shed, an estate office, a Territorial Army base and by Scouts and Guides.

New Zealand on the Pipes

A New Zealander has been honoured for his piping excellence recently at a piping contest in Inverness. Greg Wilson, now living in Falkirk, collected the coveted Clasp ahead of a competitive field at the city's Eden Court Theatre. Speaking after the event he said: "I've been playing the pipes for 26 years and I am very pleased to have achieved this. It's a great surprise because you never know what the competitors are going to be like - I didn't hear a lot of them but what I did hear was pretty good, which it always is at this event." Runners up in the Clasp event were: Bill Livingstone, of Ontario, Canada who took second place and William McCallum for Glasgow in third. Secretary of the 2001 piping tournament, Angus Mackenzie said: "We have been very pleased with the way the competitions went, we had a very relaxed timetable, which always helps. "One or two people unfortunately weren't able to make it, and that meant the numbers were a wee bit down, but not seriously so. He added: "In terms of audience I would say it was as good as it was in the past."

Heritage Centre Bid

An ambitious fundraising bid aimed at identifying cash to build a new heritage centre on the Argyll island of Lismore was launched recently. The centre is being proposed as a means of helping the island, which has a declining and elderly population, to remain as a viable community in the future. Donald Black, chairman of Lismore Historical Society, which is behind the project, said that the majority of the 160 islanders are over 50. It is hoped that the heritage centre, which would be home to a host of historical archives about the island and its people, could play a vital part in attracting tourists and helping local people to make a living. As well as an exhibition and research area, the centre will house a shop, to sell island made craft work, and the island's first cafe, which will be offered as a franchise for local people to run. Tony Perkins, development officer for the project, said: "The centre is crucial for the island. We are at a turning point on the island, with the farming community going through such a hard time. "We must have some diversification, some other means of making the island work. We can't afford to lose more people." Two island men are working on restoring a derelict cottage, called Tighe Iseabal, next to the site earmarked for the heritage centre. The plan is to re-thatch the cottage and restore it as a mini museum, as an additional visitor attraction, to show what life was like on the island when the house was last lived in about 100 years ago.

New TV Drama

Fort William, which has played host over 20 years to the cast and crew of blockbusting movies like Local Hero, Rob Roy and Braveheart, is at the centre of the action for a six part BBC TV drama. Rockface features the Glentannoch Mountain Rescue Team, whose exploits are built around the real life adventures of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team - Scotland's busiest. And while the epic, locally shot films of the 1980s and 1990s were on location in and around Fort William for three weeks apiece, the cast and crew of Rockface are spending a months sojourn there. As a result the Lochaber area is benefitting from the knock on effects of having the TV drama on the doorstep. For example, the Lochaber Rural Complex at Tirlundy has been virtually taken over for the film studios - with executive offices two miles away being provided by the premises of a former garden centre. All sorts of props are being provided locally, with huge amounts of climbing clothing and gear being supplied by Fort William's outdoor outfitters. Apart from being retained as technical, safety and locations advisers, several members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team are in the series as extras - their parts ranging from mountaineers to monks - and "acting" as Sherpas.

Charity Event

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the Highlands and Islands has been presented with a cheque as result of the outstanding safety performance of Scottish and Southern Energy's power systems staff in the Highlands and Islands. Notwithstanding that they work in some of the UK's most remote parts, they registered no reportable and lost time injuries in the past year. The Company has rewarded this achievement with 500 to be donated to the charity chosen by the staff. The RNLI was chosen.

Political Roundup

Future For Scottish Cities.

The long term challenges facing Inverness was the focus of a meeting in Edinburgh between MSPs and city delegates recently. Minister for finance and local government Angus MacKay, chaired the cities review sounding board, which met to discuss how best to bring the Highland capital - together with Scotland's four other cities - into the 21st century. Members of the business community from each area were joined by representatives from the voluntary sector, local authorities, cultural and other interests.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy. Mild. Rain or drizzle in the W. Brighter in the E. Winds fresh/strong W'ly. Temperature 10c to 12c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells, mainly dry in the E. Cloudy/drizzle in the W. Winds fresh/strong W'ly. Temperature 5c to 10c.
Early showers turning to rain/drizzle. Some bright spells and the wind will be fresh/strong W-SW'ly.
Increasingly unsettled and mainly cloudy with rain, some sunny spells and showers from the north pm.

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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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