Aug 152013
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The third Open Day organised by the Friends of Duthie Park, and the first since completion of the park’s major restoration work, takes place on Sunday 18 August, from noon until 4 pm.

It will be an afternoon of chock-full of family-friendly entertainment, explains chairman Tony Dawson.

“The Bon Accord Silver Band will be performing at the Bandstand between noon and 2 pm, whilst there will be various acts on the temporary stage in front of the Winter Garden including Uniform, Spindrift and The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

“In the sunken area, we’ll have bokwa, zumba and power-hoops demonstrations and there will magicians and face-painters as well.

“At our own stall, we’ll be encouraging people to join the Friends and purchase our 2014 calendar, produced in association with the Craig Group. And, of course Spike and McPuddick will both be there too.

“Last year more than 3000 attended and with the interest in the park following the completion of the restoration, we will be disappointed if we don’t top that number this weekend.”

Other attractions will include children’s rides, paddle boats, vintage vehicles and demonstrations of woodturning and military fitness. The Dons Community Department will be there and Wrestlezone Scotland will be performing at 2 pm.

Tours to show off the park’s restoration work will run at 1 pm and 3 pm.

The full timetable for the day is at www.friendsofduthiepark.co.uk

 

 

Jul 012013
 

With thanks to Charlie West.

The Folk of Stonehaven will be celebrating the town’s 25th annual Folk Festival this July. The weekend festival began in 1989 with a series of concerts in the Town Hall and a number of fringe activities including workshops, sessions and a Tradition Bearers singing concert.

The festival has grown over the years to include many more events such as the World Paper’n’Comb Championship – a fun ‘competition’ with a different theme each year and the unique Aqua Ceilidh held in the Open Air swimming pool.

Dancing is to a live ceilidh band and includes well known favourites such as the Splashing White Sergeant and Drip the Willow. Rain or shine this is one for all the family.

This year the organisers have placed an emphasis on highlighting some of the exciting new young talent alongside well-established artists such as Scotland’s Dougie MacLean and Paul Brady ( pictured above ) form Ireland. Dougie is well-known as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and is famously the composer of Caledonia.

In the 70’s Paul started with the supergroup Planxty, going on to establish a very successful solo career in America before returning to his roots in Ireland.

Among the new breed of up-and-coming talent is Rura – a five-piece band featuring pipes, fiddle, bodhrán, guitar and vocals and including three BBC Young Tradition finalists, and Zoe Bestel, the girl with the ukulele, a singer-songwriter of amazing talent and depth of understanding whose repertoire of self-penned songs covers a range of subjects, often with an interesting twist.

There will also be the North East Folk Collective led by Sharon Hassan – a group of 13-18 year olds with some amazing tunes and tight arrangements all ensuring the good health and future of Scottish folk music.

In addition to the Town Hall concerts, there is also a full programme of activities on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday there is, weather permitting, a concert in the square, featuring festival artists and local singers and musicians.

In case of rain the concert will be held in the Town Hall. At 12 noon in the Belvedere Hotel, a tutor from Scottish Culture and Traditions (SCAT) will lead slow sessions giving less-experienced musicians a chance to learn some tunes and join in the fun.

There will be a big singaround during the afternoon with Danny Couper and Arthur Johnstone showcasing some of the best of traditional Scots song and singers and a series of hosted sessions and workshops throughout the afternoon.

At 1600 the World Paper’n’Comb Championship kicks off, with the theme Loud Shirts. Just about anything goes and fancy dress is optional.

Sunday starts with the unique Aqua Ceilidh in the Art Deco open air pool. The pool has heated seawater so it is always at a pleasant temperature for dancing to the NE Folk Collective Ceilidh Band. This is followed by the Cowie Fringe in the nearby recreation club. This is a mix of festival artists and guests with additional fun things for kids of all ages to do, rounded off with a fun Family Ceilidh.

Also around the town there is the Tradition Bearers concert featuring four of the best traditional singers in the UK followed by the Chorus Cup – a fun completion to see who can get the loudest chorus. There will also be workshops with members of the band Breabach and sessions around the town.

For full details, visit www.stonehavenfolkfestival.co.uk.

Tickets are available online from the Town Hall Trust web site http://stonehaventownhall.org.uk/ from Celtic Chords in Barclay Street, Stonehaven or from the ticket line 07766 851596.

Thursday 11th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival weekend starts here :

Opening Concert in Stonehaven Town Hall – featuring Dougie MacLean, one of Scotland’s most successful, respected and popular musicians, Singer-songwriter, composer and ‘magical’ performer, he is also a fine guitarist and fiddle player.   He will be supported by local singer and musician Ken Clark.

Friday 12th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival big Concert Ceilidh night in the Town Hall starts at 7:30 ‘till late (well 1 o’clock). Featuring Ray Moore, Rura, Mairearad Green and Anna Massie plus the Occasionals Ceilidh Band.

Saturday 13th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival Weekend : things gets going at 11 o’clock with workshops, sessions, afternoon Open Stage at the Plainstones (Town Square) featuring local artist and Festival guests. Evening concert in the town Hall, guests are the North East Folk Collective, Kristina Olsen and Braebach.

During the day there will be a singaround led by Danny Couper and Arthur Johnstone. There will also be the Steenhive Big Sing with Christine Kydd – a chance to join a group of people and sing together, no experience is necessary and Christine will ensure everyone has fun while learning some songs and harmonies. Don’t forget the World Paper’n’Comb championships – this year with a “Loud Shirt” theme.

Sunday 14th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival Weekend – the day gets going with Aqua Ceilidh in the town’s open air pool, a great way to clear the cobwebs. Dancing to the North East Folk Collective with dances such as Drip the Willow and the Splashing White Sergeant. The day continues with the Cowie Family Fun Day at the Recreation Club plus more sessions around the town.

During the afternoon there is a Tradition Bearers concert with four great traditional singers Henry Douglas, Bella Hardy, Jerry O’Reilly and Moira Stewart followed by the  Chorus Cup competition.

The Festival closes with an evening concert in the Town Hall featuring Zoe Bestel, Bella Hardy and legendary singer songwriterPaul Brady.

Workshops with members of Breabach and day two of the Steenhive Big Sing with Christine Kydd.

MC For the weekend will be Martin Kasprowicz

Although tickets are usually available on the door, people are advised to buy tickets in advance as most concerts sell out.

Tickets are available from Celtic Chords, 8 Barclay Street in Stonehaven (01569 763193) or by calling the ticket ‘phone 07766 581596 or visiting the Stonehaven Town Hall web site http://www.tickettailor.com/checkout/view-event/id/7885/chk/0d5c

There will also be a Festival Office located in the Upper Town Hall over the weekend; it opens from 4 o’clock on the 11th July for ticket sales and programme information.

Mar 142013
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid

One of the objectives of the ongoing DuthiePark restoration project is to create, in conjunction with the Park Ranger Service, a natural wildlife area with frogs, ducks and swans which, it is hoped, will attract a variety of new visitors to the park can also be utilised for school projects.

To assist in this becoming a reality, the Friends of Duthie Park and Aberdeen Greenspace have organised for the Middle Lake to be planted with natural Scottish wildlife plants this Sunday, 17th March and are seeking volunteers to help with this exercise.

Duthie Park Outreach & Training Officer Arthur Gill commented:

“Members of the public are invited to join us on Sunday for what will be a different type of planting than that we normally tackle.  

“It will be muddy so wellington boots are a necessity.”

Anyone interested in assisting should come to the Middle Lake at noon this Sunday.  All ages are welcome!

Mar 192012
 

A proposal to build a road through woodland in Ellon has come under fire from a group set up to support the management of the area. The intended purpose of  road is to provide access for the development of 250 new homes. Those opposed to the plan believe the road is unnecessary, destructive, and in contravention of a Blench Charter. Friends of McDonald Park founder member Lynn Gilbert brings Voice readers the story.

The plan is being opposed by Friends of McDonald Park, a group set up by Aberdeenshire Council in 1990 when the Council bought the superiority of the Park from the charity Barnardos.
The aim of the group is to support the management of McDonald Park for the benefit of the community. We have done this by planting bulbs, trees and a hedge as well as regularly clearing litter from the ground and from the Modley Burn.

The Park was given to the Burgh of Ellon in 1928 by Sir James McDonald and is governed by a Blench Charter.

The terms of the Charter state that the Park should be used for recreational purposes only, that nothing should be done which is detrimental to the Park and that its area is not to be reduced in any way.

In 1996, we successfully opposed a plan by Aberdeenshire Council to use part of Caroline’s Well Wood, the east section of McDonald Park, as a bus park for Ellon Academy. On that occasion we raised the terms of the Blench Charter and an alternative solution was found without destroying any of the Park.

In 2010, builders Barratt East Scotland and Scotia Homes were given Council permission to construct 250 houses in Ellon’s Castle Meadows but it was only when marks appeared on trees in the east section of the Park, that it became apparent that the plan was to construct a road through it, from the development site to Golf Road. I made enquiries on behalf of the Friends and was told that the road had been approved by councillors.

In August 2011, the Friends were informed in a Council Estates Department letter that an S75 Legal Agreement for the application had still to be signed, and were asked for their views on the proposed access. The same letter stated that legal advice given to the Council was that:

“vehicular access must facilitate/improve public access to the park and cannot be granted purely to allow development”.

The Friends voiced total opposition to a road through the Park, stating that it would be in contravention of the Blench Charter since it would not improve public access to the Park, but was solely for the development. It would also involve the felling of a large number of mature trees in an area inhabited by red squirrels, bats and spring/early summer migrating birds.

It would seem that councillors were not satisfied with the legal opinion offered and they sought further advice several times from Sir Steven Stuart QC. This was given in a privately-heard report presented at a Formartine Area Committee (FAC) meeting on 6 December last year. It suggested that temporary construction access could possibly be granted, subject to a number of safeguards and agreements being in place.

  The Friends and many others have lodged objections to the planning application

On 17 January, a report to the FAC, again heard in private, proposed a temporary five year construction access which would become a pedestrian and cycle path once the five years had elapsed. This temporary access would be a tarred road with lighting and other services and which would involve the felling of at least 99 mature trees.

It would take a fifteen metre slice of the woodland at the Golf Road end, this increasing to nearer thirty metres at the top, a significant area of the Park.

It seems that when councillors first approved this access, they were not aware that they themselves were in fact Trustees of McDonald Park. It was in this capacity that councillors had to consider the application at their 28 February meeting, and as Trustees they rejected it.

This application is to be considered at a Planning meeting on Tues 20 March.

The Friends and many others have lodged objections to the planning application, and I have asked to speak at the meeting should it be heard there. Quite apart from the effect of this road on the woodland, a precious asset to Ellon, there is another matter to be considered.

Construction traffic using Golf Road would access the Park at the rear of Ellon Academy, an area used by a large number of Academy pupils and mothers with buggies walking into Ellon. There are two other access roads to the development, but some residents along these routes would rather see part of McDonald Park destroyed than have traffic pass their homes.

Interestingly, the site of this proposed access is given as ‘Castle Meadows’ on the planning application, when in fact it is McDonald Park. This makes it easy to overlook the reality of the situation.

Further info: Save McDonald’s Park Caroline’s Well Wood Ellon : Facebook Page
Image credit: Ian Jukes 

Jul 012011
 

Calling all groups in Seaton, Tillydrone, Bucksburn, Danestone, Bridge of Don, Middlefield, Dyce, Woodside, Bucksburn, Muggiemoss, Stoneywood….Aberdeen City Council is offering you a chance to air your views on the Don.

Over July and August the Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) Aberdeen project is keen to hear your views on the quality of the environment along the River Don.
Do you use the paths?
What about signage?
What do you like or not like about community woodlands, parks, playing fields or other open spaces?

How could they be better and better used?
What are the barriers to use?
How would you like to be involved in improving your local environment and open spaces?

If you would like Stephen Bly, Community Woodland Ranger, to come to one of your meetings, events or informal get-togethers to have a chat about your views and suggestions, then give him a ring on 07824 626303, or email him, StephenBly@aberdeencity.gov.uk.  Stephen can come along with maps and aerial photos of the area and you can tell him a thing or two.

The Aberdeen SURF project is working to improve the environment and open spaces along the River Don so that they can make a positive contribution to the quality of life of residents, businesses and recreational users. The project recognises that urban fringes – the areas on the edges of towns and cities – need as much attention as urban centres.

SURF Aberdeen is being managed by a partnership Steering Group which brings together officers from the City Council, SEPA, Aberdeen Greenspace, Forestry Commission Scotland and the River Don Trust.

Following on from initial consultation the SURF Aberdeen project will work to deliver a series of improvement projects in the project area.

So, why not take this opportunity to tell us what’s important to you?

For more information on SURF and SURF Aberdeen, visit the website at www.sustainablefringes.eu, or contact Sinclair Laing, email SiLaing@aberdeencity.gov.uk, tel (01224) 522725.

Notes :

•           The Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) Project Partners are:-

UK: Aberdeen City Council (lead partner), School of the Built Environment at Leeds Metropolitan University, City of Bradford and Norfolk County Council;

Netherlands: City of Enschede, Saxion University, City of Almelo and City of Hengelo;

Belgium: Province of East Flanders, Province of West Flanders and Province of Antwerp;

Germany: City of Hamburg; and Sweden: Municipality of Harryda.

•           The project is part of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, which promotes trans-national co-operation through four priorities. The SURF project was approved in 2009 under the “Delivers Sustainable and Competitive Communities” category. http://www.northsearegion.eu/ivb/home/.

Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme is part of the European Territorial Co-operation Programme which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This programme is designed to encourage cross-border, trans-national and interregional co-operation and balanced development of the European territory.

For more information visit: europeanregionaldevelopment