Jan 272017
 

By Wendy McEwan

Shelter Scotland is a charity that supports many people who are struggling with homelessness and bad housing.

We offer advice and support through our online services and face to face in our many advice centres.

We campaign to make homelessness a thing of the past.

If you would like to be part of this charity, we are looking for volunteers to help in our charity shops in Aberdeen.

No experience is needed as we will provide all necessary training until you are confident with the work involved. All that we ask is that you give us a few hours of your free time on a regular basis.

Although we are looking for general helpers, we are actually in great need of Volunteer Supervisors. People who will be willing to take on that little bit extra and be trained up on everything from opening the shop, all till procedures including refunds and voids, sorting donations, pricing stock, displays, cashing up at the end of the day and just general supervision of the shop.

As we are a charity who only employs a Manager, we count on our volunteers to keep the shop running smoothly and would never manage without them.

They are the heart of the shop and all contribute towards the charity with their gift of time.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like to find out more information then please pop into our shop at 179 George Street, Aberdeen and speak to Wendy or email Abergeorgeshop@shelter.org.uk

Thank You, I look forward to meeting you.

Sep 202016
 

Suzanne Kelly presents some of the sources and evidence in support of her articles regarding Northfield Animal Haven.

[1]  Eric Cable’s AK 47 ‘joke’ made on Facebook

eric-cable-ak47

[2] Carrie Anne Greig: ‘someone needs to put her down with that AK47 she was on about’ https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009008791129&fref=ts

carrie-anne-ak47

[3] Kelly Cable’s benefit fraud and financial fraud exposed.  From Scottish Courts email to S Kelly September 2015:

“Between 14 August 2007 and 1 March 2008 both dates inclusive all at Aberdeenshire Council Benefit Section and Job Centre Plus or elsewhere Paul Cable did, with a view to obtaining any benefit or other payment or advantage under the relevant social security legislation as defined in section 121DA of the aftermentioned Act, knowingly make to officials of Aberdeenshire Council Benefit Section and Job Centre Plus a false statement or representation, namely on Aberdeenshire Council Benefit forms and Job Centres Income Support forms you represented that you had no partner staying with you, the truth being that you did have a partner staying with you who had been staying with you as your partner since 01 October 2003 and you did thereby obtain payment of Council Tax Benefit and Income Support of £6700 in cumulo to which you were not entitled; Contrary to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 Section 111A(1)(a)

“Paul was sentence to a Community Service Order whereby he had to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.”

(Anyone who wishes to check the accuracy of this statement should contact the Scottish Courts)

“1)      Between 28 January 2008 and 24 August 2008 at RCD Car Smart in Turriff, Aberdeenshire or elsewhere Kelly Cable along with another did form a fraudulent scheme to allow you to continue claiming social security benefits to which you would otherwise no longer have been entitled and in pursuance of said scheme you did falsify records pertaining to the employment of you Kelly Cable by another at RCD Car Smart aforesaid whereby only 17.5 hours of work a week by you Kelly Cable was recorded with declared wages of only £97.13 per week, when in fact you Kelly Cable were working more hours per week than this and another was paying you Kelly Cable approximately £225 per week, the balance between the declared wages of £97.13 and the actual wages of approximately £225 being met by additional payments by cash or cheque and you Kelly Cable did thereby receive Housing Benefit of £1000.00 and Council Tax Benefit of £200.00 to which you were not entitled.”

“2)      Between 29 May 2006 and 15 March 2009 at 25 Knockie Road, Turriff, Aberdeenshire and at Aberdeenshire Council Benefits Section and elsewhere you Kelly Cable did, with a view to obtaining benefit or other payment or advantage under the relevant social security legislation as defined in Section 121DA of the aftermentioned Act, knowingly make to officials of Aberdeenshire Council Benefit Section false statements and representations, namely on benefit forms dated 08 November 2006, 06 January 2008, 6 February 2008, 08 August 2008 and 15 march 2009 that having read and understood the instructions in the aftermentioned benefit forms you had correctly reported any facts which could affect the amount of your benefit, the truth being that you did not disclose that you had been working at Pipeline Technique, Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire between 16 May 2006 and 13 October 2006; you did not disclose that you had been working at RSD Supplies, Poyernook Road, Aberdeen since 09 October 2006; you did not disclose your full earnings and hours that you worked at RCD Car Smart, Turriff, Aberdeenshire and additionally you did not disclose that you had not been staying at the address at 25 Knockie Road since approximately 01 June 2009 and you did thereby obtain Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit of £2000 and £400 respectively to which you were not entitled; CONTRARY to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 Section 111A(1)(a).”

[4] Kelly Cable signs for loan with her then partner from his parents and their parents; she claims subsequently she never signed for the loan – a handwriting expert disproves her claim.

[4.1] proof Cable claimed to lawyers her signature on the loan agreement was not hers but a forgery.

cable-claim-no-forgery

[4.2]  A handwriting expert proves conclusively Kelly did sign for the loan – so her claim her signature was a forgery was a lie.

cable-handwriting-expert

cable-handwriting-expert2

[5] Northfield’s sign – there is no indication on here that the type of animals pictured are sold for slaughter, just that they are rescued, rehomed, etc.  Kelly subsequently claimed ‘everyone’ knew she also sold animals.  In October 2016 she claimed to add her first ever sheep (called Joffrey) to the animals she decided not to sell but to rescue.  That is quite a few years between erecting a sign picturing a sheep and finally rescuing one.

nah-sign

[6.1] Kelly Cable on the subject of breeding animals.

cable-breeding-1

[6.2] In the screenshot above, Kelly says birds are only available for people to buy when over 22 weeks.  Apparently the birds are ‘broody’ – but rather than upset them, she prefers to let the eggs hatch; coincidentally having some animals she can turn a profit on – from her rescues.

Here are birds from Northfield at only 2 weeks old in someone’s home from the looks of it, not a farm.  The person who had these Northfield chicks sold them – their current welfare is unknown.

A simple solution for those not wanting to breed chickens they have rescued – use the eggs before they hatch.

nah-sale-of-animals-1nah-sale-of-animals-2

[6.3] Fiona Manclark represented in her letter to Aberdeen Sheriff Court that she bought a rabbit from NAH.  The letter was viewed by Suzanne Kelly and Fred Wilkinson.  Suzanne Kelly used shorthand to transcribe the letter.

“I went to Northfield Animal Haven to buy my son a rabbit for his birthday.”

[6.4] Manclark claims she bought rabbits from NAH.  Here is what Manclark posted when selling them. If the rabbit was brought to NAH after its ear had been bitten off, that is one thing.  If not, and the rabbits were bred at NAH:  Is this adequate care that such a situation took place?  What do the people who say Kelly Cable is brilliant with animals, loves them, and everything is fine at NAH say to this rabbit?  Either way, NAH is giving out animals that are later passed around for sale.  Aberdeen Voice would like to know what the fate of this poor rabbit is.  This and the chick story alone proves that far from adopting ethical practices found at most animal shelters, ‘rescued’ animals are bred, the offspring meet uncertain fates. Manclark says Kelly does this for money; she admits to selling birds at 22 weeks. This is breeding from rescue for profit. It is unethical to create more unwanted animals that will meet uncertain ends to raise money, even if it is allegedly somehow saving other animals from the fate the offspring are condemned to.

manclark-sale

Note: It is a fact that dogfighting takes place in Aberdeenshire. The criminals involved in this activity are always on the lookout for pets going cheaply or for free.  Please do not give / sell an animal to a home you have not visited – if you must get rid of a pet at all.  Getting tired of your pet is no excuse.

[7]  Thainstone.  Kelly Cable may be in the business of saving ‘all farm animals’ per NAH’s sign.  Here is a listing from Thainstone Market where animals are bought and sold for breeding (often for meat) or sold directly for meat.  This causes no ethical issue for Cable, except when she wants to save Shetland ponies on occasion from the very same fate that she condemns other animals to. Donors were shocked when they learned this side of the business from Aberdeen Voice, despite Cable’s claim ‘everyone knows’ she sells animals – this is not featured in her appeals or her signs. This is only one listing; there are many more.

nah-thainstone

[8] comments from John F Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line about Northfield:

“A sanctuary simply should not be breeding or slaughtering any animals! If she [Cable] wants to harvest eggs for personal use or to sell she can do that by rescuing end of lay battery hens, most of which make a good recovery and become free range egg producers for several years.”

“Regretfully the time is long overdue when all animal sanctuaries and rescue centres need to be licensed, inspected by an independent authority and maintained to high minimum standards. A true animal sanctuary does not send any animals to slaughter, does not breed animals and does its best to find good homes for life for the animals it rescues. Numerous times a year we hear of “sanctuaries” which are really no more than well-meaning animal hoarders where one or two people, without the necessary space, financial resources or expertise take in numerous cats and/or dogs and sometimes farm animals and horses . Before long they discover they cannot pay for vets’ bills or even for food for the animals. The animals end up ill, emaciated and infested with worms, ticks, fleas and other parasites. Sometimes by the time the authorities realise there is a problem all they find are dead and dying animals.  If you are requested to donate to an animal sanctuary there are several questions you should ask first. Is the sanctuary a registered charity? If the answer is yes double-check with the Charity Regulator. If the answer is no ask why not and how can they survive without the extra money charity status provides. Ask for copies of its constitution and most recent accounts. Find out what animals it has and how it rehomes them. Are the animals neutered and is the sanctuary registered with a local vet? If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre expect to pay a realistic fee to cover veterinary costs such as neutering, vaccinations and micro-chipping. Do not agree to pay a rescue centre large sums of money for pedigree dogs or fashionable cross-breeds. Expect the rescue centre to home-check you to ensure your premises are suitable for the animal you are taking on. If they do not do a home check they are not doing their job properly. Do not confuse animal sanctuaries with commercial enterprises such as working farms with visitor facilities, petting zoos or commercial falconry centres.”    

[9] Kelly explains why the (misleading) imagery of sheep and cattle in fundraising appeals is done – when these animals are destined not to be rescued (in this screenshot NAH also says she would rather the Shetland ponies not be rescued than go to other shelters.  The other shelters would have taken the animals for no donations – Kelly was trying to raise £5000 for the Shetlands – two of which at least were other people’s animals in need of no rescue):

nah-no-other-shelter-ponies

[10] For details and images of the ‘Shetland 6’ fundraising appeal launched with images taken from websites without permission – of ponies needing no rescue, see this article.  No explanation was ever made of how the 6 became 4; but Kelly and her supporters have taken this article and decided to mock it, writing off the incident incorrectly as AV asserting incorrectly the ponies were fake.  It is clear she took in some Shetlands – whether she bought or rescued them, the owner of the 6 never came forward to explain why they would only let Kelly have them, and why they were going to be killed

http://aberdeenvoice.com/2015/09/animal-rescues-appeals-are-for-other-peoples-animals/

[11.1] AV is told that Kelly Cable’s health is none of our business.  However, she regularly makes claims on social media about her health issues; in this shot she references a brain tumour, an illness mentioned in other places.

cable-health-no-av-business

[11.2] her friend references Cable’s health on an internet fundraising appeal Kelly was well aware of.  This extract also leads potential benefactors to believe they are giving money to a person who helps all animals, not a person who saves some animals and sends others to slaughter. Note as well the passage about an animal never being put to sleep; Kelly waivers back and forth on this point in her own posts.  If Kelly is someone with a disability, a brain tumour, cervical issues (mentioned in a letter Kelly wrote) and is using cannabis for her symptoms, perhaps she ought to get her own living conditions in order so as to be able to better singlehandedly care for the 170 animals.

Lisa Marie Mathieson you caring page re NAH  https://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/support-animal-rescue-in-helping-animals-have-a-safe-hom

Nb – Kelly was aware of this page and commented on it.

“Kelly and her family could see there was so many unwanted neglected animals out there since opening they have saved over 600 animals that probably would have ended up being pts or worse, most of them are in forever loving homes and the rest which is over 170 are still in the sanctuary, no animal is ever pts unless the vets says so, everything is tried to help the animals. The only reason they would turn an animal away is if they dont have the funds to care for the animal once it arrives.  If All of that isnt enough this has been done by one human being with very little financial help.  Now my friend needs your help as I can see just how important it is to have a safe place for the animals where they can live out there lives without a care in the world and thats exactly what they get at the sanctuary but without money, one person cannot do anymore than she already has.  I would also like to point out that Kelly is disabled herself but no matter what the animals are cared for, the house she bought isnt habitable but rather than do her house so that she can be warm everything is spent on the animals, so Im asking if everyone could give £5 this goal would be reached, funds for the sanctuary are in the bank and Kelly then can use her own money to get her house warm before winter as all donations and kellys own income goes to the sanctuary.”  

[11.3]

In a further extract from Fiona Manclark’s letter to the Aberdeen court in answer to my lawsuit against her for defamation (a legal action I prevailed in), Manclark wrote:

“Living on the farm [NAH]was her brother and his girlfriend… was there most days, as was her daughter.  Each of these people were admins on the site.   Later that day she told me that her brother’s girlfriend was heavily into drink and that she was addicted to prescription drugs and (I had said nothing) but had made up my mind to avoid her at all costs.  Later that day just before I was leaving, the owner [said] that she also smoked cannabis, but that was for medical reasons…”

Aberdeen Voice has had contact with one of the girlfriends – who is adamant that it was not her – but the Cable family who routinely used drugs and alcohol at the farm.

[11.4]  One of my sources told me that Kelly once said her many health problems included fibromyalgia; cannabis is commonly used for this.  In this blog, Kelly adds other disabilities to her list:

“  I run my sanctuary with the help of a few volunteers but I am disabled with a few conditions ie spondilitis, emphasimia [sic] and others [very sick] but regardless of that every day I will be there to help the animals that need it.”
– 
Kelly Cable blog http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:yTRPmmgGRdoJ:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/downside-animal-rescue-kelly-cable+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

[12.1]  Cannabis use is not in itself a problem.  The problem is when animals are clearly suffering, when donations are being sought by people buying and selling cannabis, and when someone involved in this is also doing ‘animal assisted therapy.’  Turning again to  Fiona Manclark’s letter to the courts (above) and additional sources who say that cannabis is regularly used and sold from NAH.

[13]  While attempting to move 17 equines, the horses were all cut, Eric Cable injured, and it was… Aberdeen Voice’s fault.  When I worked with horses, moving them in small numbers, after they had their legs and tails bandaged, ensuring safety of the people involved (always 2 or more) and the horses was paramount.  Kelly Cable refuses to explain who was there, how the horses were being loaded.

cable-17-horses

[14.1] Kelly Cable posts on social media no animals will be put to sleep; a noble sentiment but one she herself contradicts when she appeals for money [14.2-4]

cable-states-no-pts

[14.2] Kelly says her animals are suffering in the cold and might be better off put to sleep.

cable-animals-best-pts

[14.3]  And again Kelly uses the threat of animals being put to sleep in a Voom fundraising appeal.

cable-animals-best-pts2

[14.4] In her own words again, Kelly finds it ‘sick’ to threaten to put animals to sleep. NB  – does she not realise that the animals she sells at market are put to sleep?

“This to me is the downside, having daily worries and stress of wondering where the animals food will come from, or what do I do threaten to have them all put to sleep as I have seen this happen before and I find that sick and I would rather find new homes for the animals if i could than threaten them with the worst case scenario, so if we can all help the small animal charities who tend to help more than the big ones, it would be alot less stressful for some owners of these charities especially able bodied ones.”
– Kelly Cable blog – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:yTRPmmgGRdoJ:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/downside-animal-rescue-kelly-cable+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

[15] Lucy was a very elderly horse. Kelly already made a fundraising appeal in which she mentions the cold is a big risk to her elderly animals. Rather than finding temporary stabling elsewhere, warmer, Lucy died in the cold at Northfield.

cable-horse-dies-cold

[16]   A horse dies of a broken heart; a horse it was attached to had recently died.  If Kelly would allow Aberdeen Voice to access her vet’s records (she claims we already have these records – we do not), it would be interesting to see what the vet considered the death to be from.

cable-horse-dies-broken-heart

[17] Animal feed is an expense Kelly often complains of. It is a pity an orphaned lamb was allowed to over eat to the point it died.

cable-lamb-overeats

[18]  The complex story of the ‘Shetland 6’ rescue ponies is addressed here.
http://aberdeenvoice.com/2015/09/animal-rescues-appeals-are-for-other-peoples-animals/

Jan 242014
 

willowsgingerBy Suzanne Kelly.

Most Scottish animal welfare organisations get no government support: the charities must rely on private donations to keep going.

The cost of keeping animals, their food, shelter, heating and care, continues to rise, while the economy shows only modest growth.

Our local charities are not only struggling for donations, but they are also struggling to home animals which are being abandoned at an alarming rate.

Without shelter places, animals such as horses may wind up in the slaughterhouse, and other animals may be put down.

With no end to these problems in sight, help from the private sector is more important than ever. These are some of the organisations that home and rehome animals; your donations, whether goods, food, money or even time will be appreciated.

  • Blaikiewell Animal Sanctuary

Deeside, Aberdeenshire
Website and donation information: http://blaikiewell.com/

Mavis Petrie, her brother Bert, and volunteers take care of “over 60 horses and ponies, two Jersey cows, and six pigs as well as cats, dogs and any other animal or bird that needs a safe place”.  They have been going since the 1970s, but are now facing their biggest challenge. The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route cuts through the countryside and through Blaikiewell.  This charity has already lost prime grazing fields, and as a direct result faces higher feed costs.

  • Willows Animal Sanctuary

Lambhill, Fraserburgh AB43 6NY
Website;  http://www.willowsanimals.com/
Donate here:  http://www.willowsanimals.com/SupportUs.htm

Willows is home to hundreds of animals, from pigs to peacocks, and lately it has taken on a considerable number of the abandoned horses and ponies that might otherwise have been put down.

Rescues come from all over the UK. Willows’ Animal Assisted Therapy programme is designed to improve the physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning of the patient, as well as to provide educational and motivational effectiveness for the participant. It has been running for over eight years.

  • Scottish SPCA

Various locations in Scotland, including Aberdeenshire
Website:  http://www.scottishspca.org/
Donate here:  https://www.scottishspca.org/donate

As well as rehoming a wide range of animals including budgies, cats, dogs and equines, the Scottish SPCA investigates cases of animal neglect and cruelty.  There have been recent high profile cases of neglect and abuse in the Grampian area. In some instances animals were in such a poor state that they had to be put down.

The Scottish SPCA relies on the public not only for donations, but also for information about animal cruelty. Their hotline number for anyone with information about possible animal abuse or neglect is 03000 999 999.

  • Mountains Animal Shelter

Forfar, Angus
Website and donation information:  http://www.mountainsanimalsanctuary.org.uk/

Mountains has been going for thirty years and has helped over 600 horses. However, it faces the same struggles as the other organisations, and last year received a blow.  Just after a successful nativity play early in December 2012, thieves broke in and stole goods and cash worth thousands. Even their CCTV system was stolen.

Thankfully no animals were harmed or taken. Its founder, Alan Beaufort Fraser, passed away in 2010 after a lifetime helping animals throughout Europe.

  • Cats Protection League

Various locations in Scotland
Website:  http://www.cats.org.uk/
Donate here:  https://www.cats.org.uk/donate/?b=0 or call 0800 917 2287

This long-established organisation has rehomed thousands of cats and neutered feral strays over the years. As well as donations of money, new and used goods would be welcome for sale in their Aberdeen shop on George Street.

Anyone concerned for the welfare of a domestic or feral cat can call their helpline on 03000 121212.

  • Animal Concern Advice Line

Dumbartonshire
Website:  http://www.adviceaboutanimals.info
Donate here:  https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/animal-concern-advice-line-acal-11179/donate

Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL)’s John Robins has been an active voice for animals in Scotland for years now; ACAL campaigned actively to save the Tullos Hill deer, and is currently highlighting the shooting of seals and the cruelty involved in intensive salmon fish farming.

ACAL offers advice and assistance and has a great deal of expertise focused on improving the welfare of animals whether wild, domestic or farm.

  • The New Arc

Ellon, Aberdeenshire
Website:  http://www.thenewarc.org/
Donate here:  http://www.thenewarc.org/page_2067122.html

The New Arc recently changed from a rescue and rehoming centre to a rescue and sanctuary. They are no longer taking in unwanted pets, but are to widen their wildlife rescue work. They will still assist with lost and found pets, cruelty and abandoned animals, but will refer unwanted pets to other organisations who may be able to help.

  • Mrs Murray’s Cat and Dog Home

Aberdeen
Website: http://www.mrsmurrays.co.uk/
Donate here:  http://www.mrsmurrays.co.uk/Donate

Mrs Murray’s Home cares for lost and stray dogs and cats, and helps rehome animals whose owners can no longer care for them. Each year 1500 animals pass through their gates, and they depend on public donations and legacies to help them secure each and every one with a happy future.

Any of these organisations will be happy to hear from you, or to explain more about their work. Your financial support, donations of food and/or goods will be welcome.

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Feb 212013
 

Duncan Harley reflects on Life, the Universe and Everything. A sideways look at the world and its foibles.

What’s in the Box?

For reasons best known to herself the daughter of the Laird of Balquhain made a bet with a stranger that she could bake a batch of bannocks in less time than it took him to build a road to the top of Bennachie.

Of course the stranger was the devil himself and on losing the bet he turned the unfortunate lady to stone as she fled from his advances.

This late Pictish monolith dates back some 1200 years and stands 3.2 metres tall.

There are over 200 known symbol stones in Scotland and many more of them displaced or built into walls and dwellings. The Maiden Stone is probably the finest example of these.

In the last 10 years or so the Maiden Stone has been boxed up during the winter months. It’s not a pretty sight. An upright coffin like box greets the visitor with a sign which reads:

“This temporary shelter will be in place until the spring. It has been fitted to protect the site from the combined effects of rain and frost over the winter months.”

Inside the box is The Maiden Stone, one of the finest Pictish monuments in the north east of Scotland.

Or is it all an illusion?

Royal Mail (Type C) Pillar Box – Painted in Post Office Red

In 1840 Rowland Hill suggested the idea of roadside pillar boxes for use in the UK mainland. Folk at that time seemingly took their letters to the post office for posting and the postal authorities were keen to grow the communication business using modern innovations. These were pre-internet days of course but the railways were about to revolutionise both transport of goods and mass communication.

Letter boxes were already being used in Europe of course. However there were no roadside letter boxes in the British Isles until about 1852, when the first pillar boxes were erected at St Hellier in Jersey at the recommendation of one Anthony Trollope (author of Barchester Towers and Framley Parsonage), who at the time was working as a Surveyors Clerk for the Post Office.

In 1853 the first pillar box on the UK mainland was erected at in Carlisle. A similar box from the same year still stands at Barnes Cross in Dorset and is seemingly the oldest pillar box still in use today on the mainland.

In Scotland there were protests when the first boxes made in the reign of Elizabeth II were produced. These bore the inscription “E II R” but there were objections because Queen Elizabeth is the first Queen of Scotland and of the United Kingdom to bear that name, Elizabeth I having been Queen of England only.

After several “EiiR” pillar boxes were blown up and vandalised by Scottish Nationalists protesting “No Unlimited Sovereignty for Westminster in Scotland” including one in the Scottish capital, the General Post Office (as it was at that time) had the remaining boxes North of the border replaced with ones which only bore the Crown of Scotland with no Royal cipher.

This is one such box and it sits proudly outside the main postal depot in Inverurie.

It is I think a Royal Mail (Type C) Pillar Box of 1950’s circa and is painted in that familiar Post Office Red paint unlike its Irish counterparts which are in Green or those strange metallic pillar boxes from the Greek Games of 2012.

I use it often but wonder who would want to spend their entire working day cooped up inside such a confined environment.

Bus Shelters.

Bus shelters were once boringly functional affairs built by local councils. Some were iron-and-glass edifices covered in peeling municipal green paint. Others were made of brick and some in rural areas even had thatched roofs.

Then in 1969, two advertising billboard companies, “More O’Ferrall” and “London and Provincial”, joined together to form a company called Adshel.

The idea behind the new firm was simple.  Adshel would supply bus shelters to local authorities for nothing in return for the right to display advertising on them. In the early 1970s, it began installing its very first shelters in Leeds.

It’s a big market. But quite how big can be hard to find unless you dig into the National Public Transport Data Repository at http://data.gov.uk/dataset/nptg

There you can find out which place in Britain has the least bus stops – and which the most. Seemingly the Shetland Isles have the least at only 168 while Greater London has a massive 24,122!

I think that this inequality is a brilliant argument for Scottish Independence.

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Feb 032012
 

By Bob Smith. 

Trees are fair perfection
Shapes ti please the ee
Soughin in the  gintle breeze
Hames fer the birdies ti

Green fin in first canopy
Syne gold in autumn’s glow
Stark fin in winter’s depths
Gales blaw them ti and fro

Shelter ti a traiveller
Fae the faain rains
Hivven ti danderin luvvers
Waakin doon widdit lane

Deein leaves fae the trees
Turn inti a gweed mould
Gairdeners ken the value o
Aat fit is naitur’s gold

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
Image Credit: Mike Shepherd

Dec 222011
 

Temperatures are plummeting; Holiday lights are being blown down on Union Street, and it’s been snowing in Aberdeenshire.  Local wildlife needs your help to make it through another winter writes Suzanne Kelly.

Seasons are getting wetter; winters are more unpredictable – at least according to the Met Office data.  Animals need to be able to access clean water, food and shelter – your help couldn’t be easier or more important.

If you have a window box or a large garden; if you live near a park or open waste ground, here are some tips.

Water

All living things need water; birds need it to drink and to bathe.  Can you keep a shallow bowl of water outside, keeping it clean?  Then you’ll be doing a large service to wildlife.

Food

If you can afford to buy specialist bird seed or suet and seed balls, that’s great.  But birds will also be grateful for your kitchen scraps, particularly in winter.   Bits of cheese, pet food, cooked pasta, suet, fruit, cereal, and nuts – even cooked eggs and eggshells will be appreciated.  Whatever you choose to feed your birds on, make sure it is kept clean and is out of the reach of predators.

Shelter

Insects, bees, butterflies and birds will greatly appreciate it if you can leave a patch of lawn to grow tall.  This is crucial for many species.  A pile of old wood makes a shelter for insects and small animals.  Bird houses and bee boxes can likewise be bought or made (you will find instructions on the Internet)

Domestic Animals

Domestic dogs and cats do not have the same qualities for surviving harsh weather as wild creatures.  Do not leave your animals outside overnight.  Some cats may like to come and go at all hours, if you can put in a cat flap that might be a solution.  But domestic animals will suffer or possibly perish in extreme weather.  Do not assume it is OK to leave them outside – it is not.

And just in case there are some people who have not got the message yet – do not leave animals unattended in cars.  This is advice from the RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA.  In the summer we are still reading stories of dogs dying – they can’t sweat; a closed car which might be a bit uncomfortable to people is an oven to them.  And unfortunately there have been more than a few incidents of dogs being stolen from cars and from in front of shops.

Whatever the weather, if you are leaving an animal alone, if something happened to you out of the blue – what would happen to them.  The advice is – don’t do it.

Gardening for Wildlife

It might not seem like the ideal time of year to do any gardening, but it’s a great time to do some planning.  A wildlife garden even in the city can help our overall wildlife population.  Habitats are being lost at an alarming rate to development.  People are increasingly getting rid of their lawns in favour of parking or paving.

Grass is integral to wildlife survival – birds need to hunt worms; the soil supports all sorts of life, and plants are essential to all forms of wildlife.

It’s never been easier to plan a wildlife garden – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has an online service which will tailor a gardening plan to your exact situation.  The Homes for Wildlife scheme will give you dozens of suggestions – most of which couldn’t be easier to implement.

Visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/applications/homesforwildlife/home.aspx for details.

Dec 092011
 

Old Susannah reviews the news of Aberdeen’s who’s who for you, blow by blow. 


A chilly wind blows through town today; it is almost as if the very heavens are in sympathy with Mr Milne, who has lost his £1.7 million pound battle in the Supreme Court.

Who’d have thought it possible? It’s not as if Mr Milne is used to having any losses. So – what’s been going on this week?

The answer is Blowin in the Wind.

Wind Damage: (compound noun) damage to person, property or land caused by extremes in atmospheric wind speed.

The winds have knocked down our brand new City Holiday lights as well, which don’t seem quite so vibrant even if they were briefly very dynamic as they crashed to the ground.  Don’t you worry – I am sure that the City has these brand new lights fully insured.

I don’t know if our ever-dwindling Common Good fund bore the cost of these fabulous lights (I feel better looking at them and bet you do, too), but I know it was money well spent.  Then again, it could have been bought from BiD money, the wonderful scheme wherein some city centre shops voted to stump up money to clean up our high street.

Who could have ever guessed that a gust of wind could show up in the Northeast of Scotland in December, and that giant balls might not have been the best thing to hang over the heads of our pedestrians?  I would say it is a massive  ‘balls up’, but sadly, the balls are going down.  I shall think on these lights fondly, as I  realise this was the best possible expenditure the City could have made.

(I will put out of my mind the story that a  homeless person may have died from exposure on our beach.  The city can’t pay for everything, you know).

Blown off Course: (phrase) To have a person or thing forced off of its course  by adverse wind conditions.

Also because of the wind, there is one less bird of prey at the Scottish Parliament.  A peregrine falcon was being exercised, and a gust of wind blew it off course; it was lost.  Some pigeon fancier who lived very nearby took his trusty gun and blasted this annoying falcon out of the skies.  I guess we’d best re-prioritise and start protecting our endangered pigeons.

Mr Hutchison, of Newmills, Fife, was found guilty of maliciously shooting and killing a working falcon with a .22 air rifle.  Nice work!

Under the Wind: (phrase) to be in a place protected from the wind

And where in Aberdeen can one (in normal circumstances) avoid strong winds?  Why in the sheltering Denburn Valley of course, otherwise known as Union Terrace Gardens.  It is currently a valley, but we are told it must be raised to the level of the rest of Union Street.  It’s this valley that is the cause of all of our woes.  Nit-picking people might ask what will this fantastic public square be like with gale force winds blowing across its flat street-level surface.

I think it might just get a little windy.  Still, we will all be sheltering under the glass worm.  Even if the drawings of this glass thing show that it is open at the bottom and sides, there is no reason to think it won’t be a really cozy place to enjoy your frappucino.  I might not be that comfortable on the monorail John Stewart proposes when the winds blow 90 mph, but I’ll certainly be on it as often as I can otherwise.

Gusts: (noun) short,  strong bursts of wind.

Old Susannah was  on the road to and from Peterhead today, and thought it was a bit windy.  How wonderful – for who loves wind more than the rich and famous?  Rock stars, actors and actresses, millionaires – these people of course love the winds of north Scotland in winter.  With Mr Trump soon to open the universe’s greatest golf course, the jet-setting rich will be queuing up for a place in the holiday homes in the winter months.

I can just imagine Brad and Angelina walking hand-in-hand on the shore in the kind of weather we’re having right now. These resort visitors will be very important gusts indeed.

Hello! Magazine will have to open a branch office in Aberdeen once Donald’s up and running.  Just as well he fixed those previously moving sand dunes!  They might have moved!  With Don jun (junior Donald Trump – a child or clone I think) on hand this week to see things through, we’ll be rolling in dosh and created jobs before you know it. There is only one obstacle left to conquer.

Windmills: (noun) devices  for capturing energy from wind and harnessing it for practical purposes.

We will not have  these important VIPS if we also go ahead and build windmills that they might  actually have to look at while they stroll the no-longer-moving sand dunes in  February.  As the 90 mile per hour wind howls in their faces as they attempt to golf before the sun goes down at 4pm, the last thing we want to do is make them look at windmills.  These offshore Satanic mills must be stopped at all costs.  The offshore wind turbines must not go ahead – but is there someone up to the job?

Blowhard: (noun) a person who boasts or brags in an irritating fashion.  A loud, brash, showy individual.

I know Donald Trump has a very large staff  working round the clock on his successful developments.  I only hope there is somewhere hidden in the Donald Trump organisation someone who  is a blowhard who can stand up against the windfarm plans.  If anyone with any experience of the Donald Trump organisation can think of  anyone in it who can be a bit of an obnoxious, aggressive irritating blowhard, please get in touch.

Blowing hot and cold: (phrase) to have contradictory characteristics

You could have been forgiven for thinking Mr Milne had some nerve taking us to the Supreme Court.  It would be unkind to suggest such a thing.
Person or persons unknown in Aberdeen City Council sold him land at a discount for a fraction of its cost, and he agreed to share any profit.  It’s not Stew’s fault i selling this land (worth £5.6 million which cost him all of £375,000) meant his legal costs were over £500,000.  It must have been complex, selling land from your left hand to your right hand – the companies involved were Milne entities.  Why exactly he had to sell from one part of his empire to another is a business matter we couldn’t possibly understand.  It might look as if he wanted to avoid sharing profit with Aberdeen City, but I am sure that was the furthest thing from his mind.

Our City council tells us it always gets value for money.  Fantastic. Our city council sold Milne land for some 5,225,000 less than it was worth.  Our city council cannot possibly afford a referendum on whether or not to build a giant worm and/or monolith where we have the Denburn Valley.

I could be wrong, but on the odd occasion I think ACC just might blow hot and cold.

Putting the Wind up: (phrase) to make nervous or upset.

Attention councillors:  the elections are in May.  This may put the wind up some of you.  You know who you are.  Gerry Brough is getting the wind up as well – he wants the garden project underway before the elections.  I don’t think so Ger.  Some council officers might want to start clearing their desks (and no doubt shredding documents) soon, too.

Next week:  Part 1 of  ‘An Aberdeen Christmas Carol’ (with apologies to Charles Dickens).  Unfortunately I am at a loss as to what local  I can possibly cast as a mean, domineering, money-loving megalomaniac.  No doubt something will come to me, touch wood.