Oct 132017
 

The final curtain at ARI.

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

That’s me back from ARI. It’s a fine place if you are just visiting if truth be told. If you are an inmate, then maybe that’s quite a different story.

I went in with an open mind. After all the nice admission nurse only asked me stuff about the months of the year and my CHI Number. Seemingly if you are old and ill, they need to check that you are not mad.

What the feck is a CHI, I wondered while reciting the months backwards from D to J.

“Who is the Queen?” she said. I reflected on the various times I have almost met the monarch and still had no answer.

How should I know? After all she – that is if she is a she and not an ageing robot – only asked me what a spurtle was. Or was that her dead sister Margaret?

Fortunately, she refrained on this occasion from asking the dates of the beginning and end of the first war. I had that in my sights. Well it really depends on whether you think that the war ended on Armistice Day in 1918, or on Peace Day in 1919 or in 1946 after the surrender of Japan. Revisionist historians all around the globe have been arguing the point for decades and who am I to disagree.

Whatever, I doubt if Royals eat porridge anyway. And, if they did, they would probably deny it.

The folk in hospital-land were mainly really nice.

When the queen came to open the Chelsea Roof Garden, they served cake on a red tray complete with a bowl of Royal soup and something called Balmoral Chicken.

The folk on the ward ate it if they could apart from the man in bed four who was on a fast – before a procedure.

Like in Ramadan, we all – apart from the man in bed 2 – tried to eat unsuspiciously lest bed four became jealous.

In the end it came down to the keeping of the Royal menus. Bed 4 donated his meal to newly arrived bed 1 on condition that the Royal menu was kept for him as a souvenir.

More fool him. The kitchen staff, who normally issued copies of the food order, had that day decided to keep the food trays pristine.

Not for us the usual check-list of what we had – often in a morphine-induced dream state – ordered. For today there would be no auditing of food and no chance of complaining about a mis-order.

In my case, I ordered Glamorgan Cheese something or other from the Duchy of Cornwall plus a bowl of Royal Game Soup.

What arrived was Balmoral Hen complete with a stuffing of Game Haggis.

It was fine. And I can’t really complain. In fact, in all of my ARI days – the food was fab.

The company was generally good and there was a fine view of the new Wood multi-story car park from the window of the day room.

The dark side of the coin …

Well, there was the blood man.

Sad and a relic of a former self, he made me feel humbled as he stumbled around the ward.

Here is his tale. Read it if you dare and reflect quietly that it could be you or yours in a future year:

‘After the bloodbath of the night before, all seemed quiet in the ward. The blond bigmouth in the corner lay curled up beneath his hospital blanket and the sun streamed in through the blinds at the far end. An occasional phone went and the buzzers summoned the bustling staff.

Us of us patients who could, slept or read. And, just above the hum of the air-conditioning, an occasional snore could be heard.

The blood-man, for that is what we called him after the night before, had quietened down and was brought back into the ward. Bigmouth continued to complain to anyone who walked past. Seemingly he had been a victim of the night before and had had to have his bed changed due to spilt blood-soaked urine. Shamefully he told the night’s tale to the relatives next day despite ample warning from bed four that all that happens in the ward, stays in the ward. Such abominable patients can be a pain.

Naked and full of good intentions, the blood-man had – in the best possible taste – become unpopular. But what he had done must remain secret, for if revealed then heads might roll and his unpopularity might become infamy amongst his peers. And, we shouldn’t countenance that at any cost.

Suffice it to say that he had lost both his Press and Journal newspaper plus a full three pages from the Daily Telegraph. The loss of the P and J was easily solved. They say they sell 60 thousand of the bloody things each day in Aberdeen alone and the man in bed two happily donated a copy to compensate the blood-man’s loss.

As for the Telegraph, we were all at two’s and three’s. After all, the blood-man’s wife had seemingly taken the missing pages.

“I can’t find three of the pages of my Telegraph” he had said.

“My wife has probably taken them. It’s exactly the sort of thing she might do” he concluded.

We, apart from the blond bigmouth – who was by that time AWOL and possibly meeting a friend with vodka at the lift on level three – remained sceptical. But, of course you never really know what’s going through a man’s mind.

Maybe Mrs Blood-man had it in for the man. Or maybe she was simply looking out for him. Or maybe it was all in his imaginary world of pain, urine and shit.’

Grumpy Jack.

P.S. A huge thanks to the folk on 209. You do it well.

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Aug 112017
 

A royal visitor helped to crown celebrations marking the 150-year history of Aboyne Highland Games on Saturday (Aug 5). With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Her Majesty The Queen at Aboyne Highland Games

In bright sunshine and warm temperatures, with occasional showers, an estimated crowd of over 9,500 visitors from around the world descended on Aboyne Green to enjoy the town’s annual celebration of Scottish heritage.

Among the crowd was Her Majesty The Queen, who was making a private visit to the games.

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games has grown to become one of the highlights of the Royal Deeside summer events calendar, taking place annually on the first Saturday in August. 

A packed programme of 98 events, featuring solo and massed piping, highland dancing, light and heavy athletics and fiddle competitions, kept the gathered crowds entertained throughout the afternoon.

Her Majesty was welcomed to Aboyne Highland Games by its chieftain, Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, Scotland’s premier Marquis, and chairman Alistair Grant. Mr Grant’s granddaughter, 11-year-old Carlie Esslemont presented The Queen with a posy of flowers.

During her visit, The Queen dedicated the new Aboyne Caber which was specially commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary and featured in the afternoon’s events. Local heavy athletes, Jamie Dawkins and John Fyvie had the honour of presenting the caber to Her Majesty, who also met its creator, Murray Brown, and other members of the games’ committee.

The Queen, who was making her first visit to Aboyne Games, followed in the footsteps of her forebears. In 1876, her grandfather, George V, and great-grandfather, Edward VII, attended the games along with Prince Leopold, the youngest son of Queen Victoria. While in 1922, Princess Andrew of Greece – the mother of The Duke of Edinburgh – attended the games with her daughters Princesses Margarita and Theodora of Greece.

The visit also came just two months after long-serving committee member Peter Nicol was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to highland games, the economy and voluntary service in the north of Scotland. 

In further recognition of his contribution to highland games, which has included nearly 50 years on the Aboyne Highland Games committee, Mr Nicol was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the sports governing body, the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA). Honorary president of the SHGA, Jim Brown, presented the award which has been introduced to commemorate the association’s 70th anniversary and acknowledges the outstanding service given by individuals in support of highland games across the country.

Organisers of Aboyne Highland Games have worked hard to mark the event’s milestone 150th anniversary in a number of ways, which in turn has helped shape the future story of the event. This included a memory book containing photographs and written reminiscences contributed by members of the public and charting a century and a half of the games.

Ten pipe bands also performed throughout the day, providing a stunning spectacle

Four events that have been a fixture of Aboyne Highland Games since its inception in 1867 were classed as Gold Events this year. With newly commissioned trophies – designed by local teenager Angus Fraser – and increased prize funds, competition in the four events was hotly contested.

Kelty piper Alan Russell claimed the first trophy when he won the Piobaireachd open piping event. Clocking a time of 10.48 seconds, Sam Lyon of London beat a strong field of 12 runners to lift the Gold Event trophy in the 100 Yards Race. In the Heavy Hammer, Vladislav Tulacek from the Czech Republic threw a winning distance of 109ft 6ins to collect the third trophy. On the highland dancing boards, the final trophy went to Rachel Walker from Fettercairn, who was placed first in the Highland Reels aged 16 and over category.

In the late afternoon, spectators were treated to display of pole vaulting. The event, which featured in the inaugural games, returned to Aboyne Green after a near 40-year absence. Nine competitors took part in the event, which was once a staple of highland games across Scotland and is now only staged at a handful of games.

Drawing enthusiastic cheers from the watching crowd, competitors planted the rigid aluminium pole into the grass and with apparent ease – defying the great dexterity required – twisted and turned their bodies to vault increasing heights. Clearing the bar at a height of 8ft (2.43m) and jointly winning the competition were Callum Robertson from Aberdeen and Evyn Read from Canada.

Four heavy athletes jointly won the open caber toss competition, giving them honour of attempting to toss the new 23ft 6in (7.15m) long Aboyne Caber to land in the perfect 12 o’clock position. However, neither Craig Sinclair, Lorne Colthart, Lucas Wenta nor Scott Rider could achieve the feat with the 130lbs (59kg) log.

The hill race was closely fought, with a field of 92 runners taking on the 6.8-mile route that follows part of the Fungle Road and circles the base of Craigendinnie. The first male home was Kyle Greig who finished ahead of second placed James Espie. In the ladies event was won by Stephanie Provan, with Sally Wallis finishing second.

Ten pipe bands also performed throughout the day, providing a stunning spectacle and sound when they played en masse. Those participating were Ballater and District, Banchory and District, Clan Hay, Ellon Royal British Legion, the Gordon Highlanders Association, Grampian and District, Huntly and District, Lonach, Newtonhill, and Towie and District.

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said:

“It was an honour and a privilege to welcome Her Majesty to Aboyne Highland Games to mark our 150th anniversary. She took a real interest in how our new Aboyne Caber was crafted and seemed particularly taken to learn about the visits her ancestors had made to the games. Our first royal visit was in 1873, when the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, attended and it is wonderful to continue that long association with the royal family today.

“We have had a superb crowd on the green who have been kept thoroughly entertained by our packed programme of 98 events. The atmosphere has been excellent. Visitors have travelled from near and far, which goes to show the huge appeal that highland games still have. That is really positive for the future.

“The standard of competition was excellent, with some really strong fields. Tossing the caber, tug o’ war, the hill race and children’s race all drew passionate support from the crowd. While the skill of the pole vaulters held everyone’s attention. Our thanks go to all those who have participated, visited, supported or helped organise today, making it a truly outstanding day and ensuring the 150th anniversary of Aboyne Highland Games will be long remembered.”

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August. The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year.

Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber, piping and fiddle competitions, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy. Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.

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Jul 282017
 

A leading sporting facility in Aberdeen will welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay this summer with a series of events celebrating the 2018 Commonwealth Games. With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

Aberdeen Sports Village

Team Scotland has revealed an exciting five-day programme of events and celebrations which will be held around the country, to mark the visit of the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) on its global tour, ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, including a day of sporting events at Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) on Thursday 24 August 2017.

In Scotland from 22-26 August 2017, the presence of the Baton will bring Gold Coast 2018 one step closer for athletes and supporters, as Team Scotland aims for its best ever medal haul at an overseas Games.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates the Commonwealth’s diversity, inspires community pride and excites people about the world-class festival of sports and culture to come.

The Queen’s Baton carries a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that calls the Commonwealth’s athletes to come together in peaceful and friendly competition.

Designed for each Games by the host nation, the 2018 Queen’s Baton has a distinctive loop design and has been made using macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic, sourced from Gold Coast waterways, and inspired by the region’s vibrant spirit and indigenous heritage.

With only five days in Scotland this year, compared to the extensive 42 day tour of the country in 2014 as Commonwealth Games hosts, the focus is on not just passing through, but spending quality time in each community it visits. The programme includes school and community events with a strong youth and sport theme, showcasing our rich heritage, links to Australia, The Commonwealth and a number of exciting Glasgow 2014 legacy projects.

Paul Bush OBE, chair, Commonwealth Games Scotland said:

“The Queen’s Baton Relay is an iconic symbol of the Commonwealth Games and we look forward to welcoming the Baton to Scotland next month. We have had tremendous enthusiasm and support from local authorities, schools and community groups across the country, helping to organise an exciting programme of events which will use the QBR to connect their communities with the Games and embrace the values of the Commonwealth movement as a whole.

“The public support Team Scotland enjoyed for Glasgow 2014 was phenomenal and I look forward to seeing that passion sparked once again, as the Baton’s journey through Scotland marks the final countdown to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. I hope everyone across the country will get behind the athletes vying for selection for the team and play their part in supporting them as they prepare to compete with distinction on the other side of the world next April.

Duncan Sinclair, CEO, Aberdeen Sports Village said:

“Everyone at ASV is looking forward to welcoming The Queen’s Baton Relay to Aberdeen. ASV is dedicated to offering sporting opportunities for everyone, helping people achieve their very best, so we are delighted to be a part of this exciting event warm up to the Commonwealth Games.

“ASV will be getting into the spirit of the Games with a wide variety of sporting activities for young pupils from schools across the city, culminating in an exciting Australian-themed high tea.”

A summary of the programme is given below and includes a number of open events each day which members of the public are encouraged to attend. Many events will also include the participation of past or current Team Scotland athletes and the attendance of the popular Glasgow 2014 and now Team Scotland mascot, Clyde.

PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

Tuesday 22 August – Glasgow

  • The QBR will arrive at Glasgow Airport and spend the first day visiting legacy projects and youth and community groups related to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Game, including:  
  • Welcome to Scotland at the Glasgow School of Sport, Bellahouston Academy
  • Commonwealth Games Village – Meet permanent residents of Team Scotland accommodation
  • Cunigar Loop Woodland Park – Bike Town community group bike ride through the park*
  • Emirates Arena – Schools participation event linked to the 2017 World Badminton Championships
  • The Legacy Hub, Dalmarnock – local community event *
  • University of Strathclyde Innovation Centre – Commonwealth Youth Leaders Conference
  • George Square – Starting point of the Glasgow Commonwealth Walkway. *

Wednesday 23 August – Islay

The QBR will make its first ever visit to Islay in the Inner Hebrides for a unique range of youth and community events including:

  • Bowmore – Primary Schools festival featuring the Schools Gaelic Choir and Highland Dancing *
  • Visit to the Bowmore distillery
  • Bowmore Town Square for community meet the Baton opportunity*
  • Talk at Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle (the Columba Centre Islay). *

Thursday 24 August – Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling 

The QBR heads to Dundee, Aberdeen and Stirling for a series of events including:

  • Clepington Primary School, Dundee – a sportscotland gold standard sports award school for Australian Commonwealth themed activity
  • Kirriemuir – a visit to the Bon Scott statue to celebrate the famous Australian-Scot lead singer of ACDC *
  • Aberdeen Sports Village – a multi-school ‘One Big Sports Day’ of Commonwealth themed activities incorporating an Australian high tea
  • Stirling Castle – Team Scotland reception & Bahamas 2017 Youth Games team celebration.

Friday 25 August – Stirling, Falkirk

A big day of school and community activities in Stirling and Falkirk before visiting the home of Team Scotland at the University of Stirling.

  • St Ninian’s Primary School , Stirling – Joining children for their Daily Mile. St Ninian’s is linked with Coolangatta State School as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Schools connect programme.
  • Helix and Kelpies, Falkirk – A multi-school Commonwealth themed festival for the schools and the community *
  • Stirling University Campus – meeting with students linked to the Commonwealth Games
  • sportscotland Institute of Sport – meeting the ‘team behind the team’ who help to prepare Team Scotland athletes for the Commonwealth Games.                   

Saturday 26 August – Grangemouth, Edinburgh

Visits to two major sports events where Scottish athletes are striving to be selected for Team Scotland for the 2018 Games. The day concludes with a visit to the Military Tattoo, an iconic Scottish showcase that is now a firm Australian favorite, broadcast to bring in the New Year down under.

  • Grangemouth – Scottish Athletics Senior Championships *
  • Portobello – Scottish Beach Volleyball Championship *
  • Edinburgh – Edinburgh Military Tattoo

For further information about the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay and its journey across the Commonwealth so far visit www.gc2018.com

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford has signed the petition to the UK Government opposing an official state visit by Donald Trump during his term as US president. 

The petition states that Mr Trump should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to the Queen.

Over 1.8 million people have already signed the petition. Cllr Ford signed it on Sunday, 29 January.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The petition has coincided with world-wide protests at Mr Trump’s shameful and discriminatory travel ban.

“The information with the petition specifically describes Mr Trump as a vulgar misogynist, which, amongst other things, he certainly is.

“The petition makes the point that since, unbelievably, Mr Trump is now the President of the United States, the UK will have to deal with him and admit him to this country in that capacity. However, we don’t have to give him the honour of an official state visit and meeting the Queen and we clearly shouldn’t.

“Mr Trump is a deeply unpleasant individual with abhorrent views. So while we can’t ignore Mr Trump, the UK must do nothing that suggests support or approval of his behaviour.”

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Jun 302016
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

BVW Panto Horse TrialsResidents of a Deeside community are being called on to have sandbags at the ready – for a fun stunt designed to put a smile on faces as it prepares for its annual summer extravaganza.

Hundreds of sandbags were filled and put to use to try and defend Ballater from Storm Frank and the deluge it brought to the Deeside area in December last year.

Now with the floods firmly behind them, organisers of Ballater Victoria Week have come up with a tongue-in-cheek competition which they hope will raise a few smiles.

They are appealing to villagers to decorate leftover sandbags and share photos of their creations on social media.

As well as injecting a bit of humour, the novel competition points to how the community has galvanised and moved on following the flooding. The most liked picture on Facebook will be judged winner of best decorated sandbag – earning its owner £50.

“Just for fun we are inviting people to decorate a sandbag,” said Ade Scipps of the Ballater Victoria Week committee.

“There’s bound to be a few spare ones knocking around and they could be turned into a favourite character, use it to plant flowers, or whatever people like. We just want to cheer the village up and give people something to chuckle about as they go about their day. It’s a smaller scale creative competition which complements our scarecrow trail, which sees a weird and wonderful array of life-size scarecrows popping up in locations around Ballater.”

Ballater Victoria Week takes place from August 5-14 with its biggest programme to date.

As well as established favourites, like the vehicle parade and Sunday fayre, duck race, scarecrow trail, pantomime horse trials, ghost tours, films, quizzes, sports and music there are a few new events are in the offing too, like a Rio 2016 Onesie Party when villagers are encouraged to get into party mode by gathering together to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in the V&A Halls and the ‘Weel Kirkit’ heritage walks led by a professional story teller.

Over the years Victoria Week has raised thousands of pounds for local causes and continually seeks to renew and refresh itself by reflecting current trends and initiatives.

It offers another chance for the community of Ballater to celebrate and enjoy some fun after the floods gave the area the most challenging start to the year.

DSCN2916With its close connections to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s summer home, Ballater pulled out all the stops to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday earlier in June when hundreds of people of all aged gathered for the Happy Birthday Ma’am street party.

Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week hope to see the same show of community spirit with another well-earned opportunity for villagers to have fun and let their hair down. The annual party week has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession, raising thousands of pounds for local charities along the way.

Among the highlights of the 10 day extravaganza is Ballater Highland Games which takes place on Thursday, August 11 and includes sports, hill race, Highland dancing and much more.

With Ballater Victoria Week enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike, Richard Watts, chair of the Ballater Business Association is pleased to see it develop and grow in 2016.

“The resilience and determination to get over the floods has been quite remarkable and everyone is keen to get over the message that Ballater is back on its feet and is very much open for business,” says Mr Watts.

“Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week work really hard to put together an action-packed programme with events to appeal to people of all ages. Locals and visitors alike will be welcome to join in the fun and there will be plenty of cheer and chuckles along the way.”

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

For more information about Ballater Victoria Week visit the website http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

BVA is also active on social media at http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

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Jun 022016
 

90th-party2With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A band of volunteers from the village of Ballater have organised a Royal knees up in the form of the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party to celebrate the monarch’s milestone birthday on Saturday, June 11.

Being located in the heart of Royal Deeside, organisers will use the Queen’s 90th birthday to continue to build up the community spirit which has been evident in the village since it was affected by flooding last December.

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

Many of these businesses have already reopened or are on track to reopen in the summer, and the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party is one in a number of events planned to welcome tourists back to the picturesque village.

Both visitors and residents are invited to join in with the celebrations which will see the whole community come together. The free event takes place from 2-11pm on Saturday 11 June at the Churchyard Green in Ballater and will feature live music, a bouncy castle, old-fashioned games, and family karaoke. Funds raised from donations made on the day will go towards those affected by flooding.

In honour of the momentous occasion, Ballater resident Lorraine Barr is encouraging people to sponsor a tree in what will be known as ‘The Queen’s Ballater Wood’. Lorraine and those involved wish to leave a legacy which will remind others of the spirit of community in Ballater. The wooded area will feature 90 trees of different varieties known to be favourites of Her Majesty The Queen.

Rev David Barr, who is helping to organise the Queen’s birthday street party, says that the event is giving those affected by floods something positive to focus on.

He says,

“All of the volunteers involved in the planning of the street party were affected by the floods in some way. We all really wanted to give something back to the community which allowed everyone to get together and celebrate what a fantastic place Ballater is. Visitors are more than welcome to join in the celebrations with us on the day, we’re all keen to show people how far we’ve come as a village and that Ballater is on its way back to its full glory.

“The Royal family took a great interest in Ballater after the flooding and we received daily encouragement through telephone calls from the palace. It meant a great deal to us all, so the street party is our way of saying thank you to the Queen and also to everyone who reached out to us with messages of support, help and donations.

“The support has been absolutely phenomenal and for that we are forever grateful. From individuals to companies, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the general public.

“The whole situation has definitely brought us all closer together, we’re such a tight knit community and everyone is helping to spread the word that Ballater is still open for business. It’s such a great place to visit, I’m very much looking forward to celebrating with other residents and visitors from far and wide on June 11.”

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“There’s been a real buzz in the village in the run up to the Queen’s birthday street party. Local businesses have been getting involved by donating goods and money towards the event, whilst all the volunteers involved have done a brilliant job at organising the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party.

 “It’s so inspiring to see how far Ballater has come as a village and as a community. This will be very apparent during the street party and we hope that visitors join us in celebrating in the Queen’s birthday and how far Ballater has come in 2016.”

The ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party takes place from 2-11pm at the Churchyard Green in Ballater. Those attending are encouraged to bring their own picnic.

For more information about the street party then contact Rev. David Barr on revdavidbarr@btinternet.com. If you would like to know more about how to sponsor a tree in ‘The Queen’s Ballater Wood’ then contact Lorraine Barr on 01339 756111.

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May 192016
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford, Parliament [2015]feat

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the release of the SNP’s Alternative Queen’s Speech at Westminster, saying it offers “a real alternative to Tory austerity.”

The Queen’s Speech today will highlight the Conservative Government’s legislative agenda for the coming year, and will likely include increases to tuition fees at English universities, and a weakening of the prerogatives of the Lords – where the Government has suffered a string of recent setbacks.

Speaking in advance of the Speech, Dr. Whiteford said:

“We now have a situation where the UK Government has failed to meet its own targets on key economic indicators. Debt, deficit, borrowing, productivity, innovation, trade, exports – you name the target, the Tories have missed it. Austerity has choked off economic growth – and the UK’s trade deficit is now at its worst position since 2008.

“The upshot of austerity is that, inevitably, it’s the poorest in society who pay the most. We’re calling for a modest – 0.5% – increase in public spending, which would help mitigate the worst impacts of austerity, and boost economic growth.

“The only way to tackle the deficit is to grow the economy, and it’s a lesson this Government has singularly failed to take on board. Choking off investment when it’s needed most is economic madness.

“With Labour mired in in-fighting, the SNP represents the only real alternative to a Tory Government. We want a fairer country, and that’s what we’ll keep fighting for at Westminster.”

Other proposals in the SNP’s Alternative Queen’s Speech include:

  • measures to boost exports
  • a Fair Tax Bill to crack down on tax evasion
  • a real Home Rule Bill, including devolution of social security, corporation tax, broadcasting and resource management
  • reform of Westminster, with replacement of the House of Lords by a democratically elected second chamber
  • an end to arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

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Jun 072012
 

By Bob Smith. 

Her Majesty she his bin
Sixty ’ears “on the throne”
She maan hae a sair belly
Littin oot an antrin groan

A gweed laxative ‘tis needed
Ti aise the puir wumman’s woes
Efter sixty ’ears “on the throne”
Ye’d hae ti maximise the dose

Noo am nae an anti royalist
Nor a supporter o the croon
Bit “on the throne” aa iss time
Maan git Her Majesty doon

Raise a gless o Syrup o Figs
As a toast ti Her Majesty
 Efter sixty ’ears “on the throne”
Fae win micht she bide free

A ken richt weel wi iss poem
Een or twa micht nae see reason
An ca upon the powers aat be
Ti hae me jiled fer treason

QueenVictoria micht hae said
We are nae amused
Clap the mannie in irons
Iss canna be excused

So ony mail addressed ti me
An ma trial cwid need fundin
Jist sen it ti “The Poetry Mannie”
C/O The Tower o London 

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
Image: Creative Commons © Terry Johnston
http://www.flickr.com/photos/powerbooktrance/

Apr 262012
 

 The secretary to Animal Concern Advice Line John F. Robins has written to the Queen on the Tullos Hill deer cull issue.

Her Majesty the Queen has been asked to intervene in a row over a controversial cull of roe deer being undertaken by Aberdeen Council.

The deer are being killed to make way for a tree planting operation under the auspices of The Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods initiative to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and ACC’s Tree for Every Citizen project.

Thousands of Aberdonians have signed petitions and written e-mails asking the Council not to kill deer in their names, and it is hoped The Queen, who is Patron of the RSPCA, will not be amused at the thought of the deer being culled in her name.

Aberdeen City Council is killing the deer under advice from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). This is the same quango which is putting pressure on landowners, including Her Majesty who owns deer stalking estates in nearby Deeside, to cull large numbers of red deer.

Many estate owners have expressed opposition to what they see as unnecessarily excessive culling targets imposed by SNH, which inherited a policy of mass slaughter of deer when it took over the work of Deer Commission Scotland last year.

John Robins, Secretary of Animal Concern Advice Line states:

“The Queen is Patron of the RSPCA and the owner of large areas of deer forest on her Balmoral and Delnadamph Estates south west of Aberdeen. I sincerely hope Her Majesty will not be pleased to hear that deer are needlessly being killed as part of a project to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

“Aberdeen City Council has refused to listen to thousands of local voters, at least three local community councils, and numerous animal welfare and conservation bodies who are all opposed to the cull. If we can persuade Her Majesty to express concern over this cull perhaps Aberdeen City Council will listen to her.”

For further info/comment please contact John Robins on: 01389841111 or 07721605521.

Below is a copy of the letter to Her Majesty.

Sunday, 22 April 2012
The Private Secretary to
Her Majesty The Queen,
Buckingham Palace,
London SW1A 1AA

Dear Sir,

I write to inform Her Majesty the Queen of a controversial project being carried out in Her Majesty’s name by Aberdeen City Council (ACC) and The Woodland Trust (WT).

The project in question is planting of trees on Tullos Hill, Aberdeen under the auspices of the WT Jubilee Woods initiative and the ACC Tree for Every Citizen project.

On the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), ACC are embarking on a long-term culling operation to stop any potential damage to saplings by the roe deer herd which has been established on Tullos Hill for at least 80 years. I am quite sure that Her Majesty and the managers of Her Majesty’s Scottish Estates are fully aware of the controversial and, according to many, unsound nature of the vehement deer culling policy being aggressively promoted by SNH and FCS throughout Scotland.

Much of Tullos Hill is old landfill covered with a thin layer of topsoil. Gases from the buried waste are vented off at the site. Tullos Hill is exposed to the full force of North Sea gales. A previous tree planting operation on the Hill failed for reasons other than deer browsing and, given the nature of the site, it is highly unlikely that, even if there were no deer in the area, any number of trees would survive to maturity.

ACC have refused to employ deer deterrence equipment such as tree protectors and deer fencing to minimise or eliminate deer related tree damage. ACC have also ignored the widespread local opposition to the deer cull. Thousands of people have protested to the Council through petitions, e-mails and letters.

Three local Community Councils have written an open letter to ACC asking for the deer cull to be stopped. Many animal welfare organisations, including the SSPCA and at least one woodland conservation charity, also wrote to ACC condemning the cull.

Tullos Hill has naturally regenerated into a valuable wild flower meadow and in its current state is an important wildlife habitat and community resource for those living nearby.

As these deer are being needlessly culled in a project to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, we ask her Majesty, both as Monarch and as Patron of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to intervene and make it known to Aberdeen City Council that they should not be killing the roe deer on Tullos Hill in the name of Her Majesty The Queen.

Yours faithfully,

John F. Robins,

Secretary to Animal Concern Advice Line.

Mar 292012
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

THE OBSIDIAN ISLE – Gayle Chong Kwan

The Obsidian Isle is a significant new body of work from Venice Biennale exhibitor Gayle Chong Kwan. The installation of large-format photographs & sculptures documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country’s lost and destroyed buildings and places.
The Obsidian Isle explores ideas of collective history, national identity, landscape, and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories.

Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012 

KIN – Gray’s pre-degree show

KIN is an exhibition by Gray’s School of Art’s BA Hons printmaking students.
The exhibition gives an exciting insight into a great variety of different approaches to print and printmaking and showcases a diverse range of works made in preparation for the students’ degree show later in the year. So come along to support the students and see the artistic talents of tomorrow.

Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012

BIG JESSIE – Donald Urquhart

Drag queen turned draughtsman, Donald Urquhart presents Big Jessie, a selection of bold, new hand printed works in his distinctive cartoon-like black ink style, created at Peacock Visual Arts.

To be shown at The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow.

Preview Thursday 26 April |Brutti Ma Buoni,
The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow | 7pm – late
 Exhibition runs 27 April – 27 May 2012

TEMPORARY ART SCHOOL – Poets in the City Workshop + Meet-up

The Temporary Art School is a one month live project happening throughout the city of Aberdeen in March 2012. TAS was devised by a group of people living and working in both Aberdeen and Glasgow who have come together to put on classes and workshops for all which experiment with what an art school can be and continue in a long tradition of self-organised education.

This Friday Poet Gerard Rochford will be giving a new workshop on the word whether it be spoken, written or sprawled in the streets. Please bring along a poem of two which you have written you would like someone to have a look at it and if you have never written one, in Gerard’s words ‘by the end you will have.’ email atemporaryartschool@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Friday 16 March | 5-9pm

ABERDUINO – Electronic Jiggery-pokery

Aberdeen’s own electronic tinkerers and artist’s hackerspace will be running on the second or third Tuesday of every month from now on – so put the date above in your digi-diary.

Come along if you’re interested in micro-controllers, soldering irons, circuit bending, electronic jiggery-pokery and chin scratching.

Tuesday 17 April | 6.30 – 8.30pm | FREE
*Note – The event is FREE but call us on 01224 639539 to let us know if you’re coming along.

RELIEF PRINTING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Come along to try out the oldest form of printmaking. No experience necessary.

Saturday 7 + Sunday 8 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

ETCHING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience necessary.

Saturday 21 + Sunday 22 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

GET ANIMATED AT PEACOCK

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Well book onto our animation workshops to find out.

Throughout April, July, August & October | 10 – 4pm | age 10 + | £35 

Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place on any of our courses.