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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 29th December 2001
Issue No 263

Inverness, Capital of Culture

The Highland region has the confidence, expertise and diversity to lift the area onto an international stage as the European Capital of Culture in 2008 while embracing many new cultures.

This was the message from two keynote speakers at the opening of a recent conference at Inverness's Eden Court Theatre entitled "Inheritance and Creativity - Making Cultural Connections in the Highlands and Islands". Highland Council convener David Greene said the local authority was ready to build on the city status of Inverness to carry the cultural banner for Scotland in the forthcoming bid. "Highland is the place to live, work and play and nowhere else in the UK can boast the diversity and uniqueness of the culture that exists in our distinctive area," Councillor Green declared. "We need to sell this to Europe and the world. We intend playing our full role in delivering a credible bid for the European Capital of Culture. "We believe we can deliver and look forward to the support of our Highland community in lifting our area on the international stage. I have great confidence that we will do well in this contest." He welcomed the involvement of a wide range of organisations in the bid, working in the same direction on a shared vision and suggested the development of an upgrade of Eden Court Theatre, a Mercat Centre at Dingwall, a new gallery for the Highlands, a football academy and a Highland Archive Centre would play a role in the drive towards the capital of culture bid. Highlands and Islands Enterprise chairman Jim Hunter highlighted the need for radical new initiatives if rising unemployment and population levels which have fuelled an economic revival throughout most of the Highlands and Islands in the past 30 years, were to be maintained. He said that much of the region's economic and social success in recent years had its roots in a renewed sense of cultural identity. "I have absolutely no doubt that Highlands and Islands renewal - economic renewal, social renewal, cultural renewal - has a substantial cultural dimension," he stated. "We need to be bold, we need to be ambitious. That's why it makes sense for us to aspire to make Inverness, together with the wider Highlands, Europe's Capital of Culture." Mr Hunter also drew a comparison with the Pacific North West of the United States, arguing that the American region's assets, such as spectacular scenery, natural environment, cultural vitality and high quality of life, were also found in the Highlands and Islands. "Thanks to the latest information and communications technologies - technologies which enabled us to overcome the age old barriers of distance and remoteness - we can have here a world class economy. "But there's one more thing to be learned from America's Pacific North West. Like the rest of the United States, it's overwhelmingly an immigrant society. And we have to be an immigrant society as well. "If the population of the HIE area were to double, this would still be the most thinly populated part of Europe outside Arctic Scandinavia. For all that we've had population growth of 20 per cent in 30 years, we still lack people. "In principle, of course, the solution to this problem is readily available, in the shape of the so called asylum seekers or economic migrants that our country, like most countries, seems determined to turn away. "Already the Highlands and Islands are home to large numbers of people whose origins were elsewhere. Today this nonindigenous sector of our population is largely English. Tomorrow, as it were, this same sector of our people may be drawn from much further afield. "So while it's right that we place a proper value on those traditions which derive from our own past, it's essential that we recognise the validity of other traditions also. "From the Highlands and Islands, over the last 250 years, and for reasons we all know about, we've sent hundreds of thousands of people - economic migrants or asylum seekers we'd now call them - all around the world. In the century ahead, if we're to capitalise fully on the opportunities now available to us, we'll have to do the opposite. We'll have to make this the sort of place where folk of very diverse background are made to feel at home. "A multicultural Highlands and Islands? Well, why not?

Badger Setts Marked

Scottish Hydro Electric engineers are considering the badger community as they plan their latest refurbishment in the Nairn area. The company has been liaising with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. A badger survey is being carried out in the areas where the work will be taking place to ensure that it does not interfere with the habitat of this protected species. Several archaeological sites and one site of special scientific interest close to the route of the line will be safeguarded. The 49km stretch of overhead line, which supplies 304 customers in Delnies, Balnagowan, Flemington, Clephanton and the Cawdor village area, is being upgraded and additional automation is being installed. The automation will allow workers to home in on any faulty section, locate the exact nature of the fault and restore supplies to the majority of customers in a significantly reduced time. Operations manager Mark Mathieson said: "The upgrade of this circuit, which supplies only 304 customers, is evidence of Scottish Hydro Electric's commitment to improve the quality of supply to all its customers, regardless of where they live, whilst ensuring that the wildlife in this area is safe."

Loch Ness Rally

Hundreds of Scouts and Guides did not let the wet weather recently dampen their spirits as they enjoyed an activity packed weekend near Inverness. The 29th annual Caledonian Water Rally attracted youngsters from Orkney, Thurso, the Western Isles, Perth, Angus and Aberdeen, as well as local members of the groups. A nearly 300 strong group, accompanied by around 100 leaders, spent the weekend under canvass at Dochgarroch campsite, by Loch Ness, taking part in activities including canoeing, cruising, go-karting, mountain biking, climbing and abseiling. The three day event is one of the largest gatherings of Scouts and Guides in the North. Kayak instructor Andrew Jamieson, from Lochgoilhead outdoor centre in Argyll, was among the qualified staff organising the event and ensuring the safety of the participants. On the first morning he was in charge of a group involved in "seal launching" - sliding down the bank of the canal in a kayak. He said: "The rally originally started because there was a lack of water based activities in the area for the Scouts and Guides and it is now one of the biggest and most popular events. "This is the first year I can remember that it has actually rained, but I don't think it has stopped anyone enjoying themselves at all."

Highland Regiment Gets a Website

Scotland's oldest Highland regiment marches into the 21st century with the launch of a new website. St Johnstone football team captain Jim Weir officially unveiled the Black Watch website which is the first official site to be devoted to the regiment. The event took place at the regiment's headquarters, Balhousie Castle in Perth, and was hosted by colonel of the regiment Brigadier Garry Barnett. The website traces the regiment's history since its formation 262 years ago through the American War of Independence, Waterloo, the Crimean and Boer Wars and both World Wars and Korea. It also gives would be recruits an insight into the life of a Black Watch soldier, and allows people to apply on-line to join the regiment as a regular, officer, territorial or cadet. Brigadier Barnett said: "The red hackle has been a familiar sight in Perthshire, Angus and Fife for generations. "Since the end of conscription in the early 60s we have worked hard to maintain the high profile of the Black Watch and continue to encourage young men from these areas to join what is Scotland's premier regiment. "While the Black Watch is steeped in history, we are not afraid to move with the times. The launch of the website underlines our commitment to uphold the fine traditions of the regiment in to the 21st century."
The Black Watch

Pictish Puzzle Failure

A puzzling 2,500 year old phenomena remains unresolved, despite valiant attempts by amateur historians and archaeologists in Lochaber recently. The group lit a bonfire in an effort to discover how and why rock in a small geographical area of Lochaber melted and fused together to form what are frequently known a vitrified forts.A team replicated part of an Iron Age fort in Glen Nevis, near Fort William - and burned it in a 24 hour bonfire, fuelled by more than eight tonnes of logs and fire lighters. Much of what remains in Scotland of Iron Age forts shows evidence of having been subjected to very high temperatures, to the extent that the rubble core in the walls melted and fused together. What is left today are sections and, occasionally, complete circles of vitrified rock, which would have required truly volcanic temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees centigrade to bring them to their molten state. A wide range of theories had been put forward to explain what happened at these sites as long as 2,500 years ago. Amateur historian Roddy Mainland, of Corpach, led efforts to discover the secret. Local landowners, Highland Council's ranger service, Forest Enterprise, farmers, British Alcan and volunteers all contributed towards obtaining material and equipment to build a representative section of an Iron Age fort. Mr Mainland described the bonfire as a 'magnificent failure'. He explained: "There was good news and bad news. "One of the objects of the exercise was to rekindle an interest in vitrified forts and, on that basis, the event has been an outstanding success. "The bonus would have bee if we had actually managed to achieve vitrification ourselves, but we have not vitrified anything."

City's Oldest Building

The oldest building in Scotland's youngest city was put up for let recently. Local businesses and other interested parties were invited to consider Abertarff House, on Church Street, Inverness as a possible base. The historic landmark was built in 1593. The building has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland since 1966 and has been used as the Trust's headquarters for the past 15 years. But due to accommodation restrictions, the Trust has decided to move to Balnain House in the city's Huntly Street. The Trust feels that the 1,693 sq ft over the B-listed building's three floors could be put to more creative uses. The names of Scheviz and Sutor have have been connected with the building on records from the 17th century. In 1793 the property was owned by Alexander Fraser, who sold it to Colonel Archibald Fraser of Lovat, the youngest son of Lord Lovat, in 1808. In 1963, the then proprietors, The National Commercial Bank, gave the building to the National Trust for Scotland, which completed its restoration in 1966. The restoration was marked by a Civic Trust Award.

In Touch With the Past

Inverness Museum was swamped recently with visitors eager to get their hands on a number of centuries old Highland artefacts not normally shown. Many of the objects, symbols of ancient local culture, were dated from between 4,000 BC to 1700. Both tourists and local took the chance to learn more about their ancestry, as well as getting the chance to handle some of the objects themselves under strictly controlled conditions in the museum. Patricia Weeks, assistant curator at Inverness museum, said the tour was so overbooked, she had to lay on an extra session to satisfy demand. She said: "Although we do display everything we have, we are showing visitors objects which haven't been out on display for a while, and it is a chance for them to handle some of them for themselves, as well as being given an introduction to the various objects. "Among other things, we have old beaker pots and gold brooches, as well as some impressive enameling dating back to the Iron Age. "There is not usually an opportunity to actually handle the kinds of objects we have been looking at, and it is done in a very controlled environment."

Charity Event

Outdoor enthusiasts joined forces recently to take part in a sponsored walk around Loch Affric. Organised by Trees for Life, the 10 mile fundraising effort attracted 50 walkers, with over 2000 being raised for the restoration of the Caledonian Forest.

Political Roundup

Outrage as Holyrood's Cost Leaps Up

The cost of the Scottish Parliament building has broken the quarter of a billion barrier. Scottish Tory finance spokesman David Davidson said: "It is nothing short of a national scandal." The embarrassing news broke in a letter from Presiding Officer Sir David Steel to Des McNulty, convener of the Parliament's finance committee. A month ago, MSPs were told that the cost had leapt to 241 million. The latest increase brings that to nearly 260 million. Opponents of the way in which the scheme had been handled from the beginning seized on the latest increase as yet another financial disaster.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Snow showers, especially in the N and W. Sunny intervals in the E. Winds fresh NW'ly. Temperature 1c to 6c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, snow spreading S. A few clear spells. Winds fresh N-NW'ly. Temperature -6 to 1c.
Sunday
Variable cloud with bright and sunny spells and scattered snow showers. Moderate to fresh winds.
Monday
A day of sunny spells. Winds mod/fresh NW'ly, lighter in the E.


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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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