Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 561

Issue # 561                                                   Week ending Saturday 18th July  2020

Spare A Thought for All the Poor Bankers Who Have Decided Hike Up Overdraft Rates
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Working in banks is not easy. Endless TV shows like Rip Off Britain with Angela Rippon and some other mature troublemakers tell us how awful banks have been to unfortunates who have lost out. Then MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis is never off the box telling us how to avoid high overdraft interest rates. Many banks are going to be charging us about 40 per cent starting this month.

Tear into them, Martin.

Meanwhile, Mrs X has been tearing all over the east part of Lewis taking photos of families on their doorsteps and doing other lockdown activities. She has been so busy that she has given me a job. I am now a waiter. She is not the best navigator so she is using me to drive her around. You would think that would make me her chauffeur. The big part of the job is not the driving, it’s the waiting.

She always says she’s going to nip in and will be back in 10 minutes. It never is a quick job and 10 minutes can be up to an hour. I’m not one to say women talk a lot but something seems to delay her every time. I worry because she often comes back to the van and says: “What nice people.” I wonder whether she is not just eyeing up the men from the Point area. Point is Rudha in Gaelic, so anyone from Point is a Rudhach.

I mention that because she had me really worried the other night. Having decided to nip out for a copy of the P&J, I asked whether she want me to bring anything back? She said sleepily: “Bring me a Bounty and a Rudhach.” How dare you? I will bring you a coconut bar but I will certainly not bring any men from Point back here for your delight. She opened one eye, looked up from the armchair and explained that with the Bounty she wished a copy of the Point community news magazine, which is called Rudhach. Oh heck. “Just joking. I knew that,” I said, as I bade farewell.

It’s farewell too to Johnnie Beattie. He was always one of these irrepressible Glaswegians who were often on the telly telling jokes and singing. They often dressed up as women. That wasn’t a wee private thing. He and buddies like Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy and Stanley Baxter were pantomime dames. Big demand for panto in Glesca always. Money in the bank.

I will always remember Johnnie for one particular gag from the 70s. He said: “This man shouted down to the landlady that there was no towel in the bathroom with which to dry his hands. She shouted back: “You don’t need a towel. You can hang your hands out the window.” The man replied: “OK. It’s just as well I’m not having a bath.”

The Westminster government has not been bathing itself in glory either these days. Face coverings were made mandatory in all Scottish shops and places serving the public. Westminster laughed at us and despatched Michael Gove to TV studios to say Nicola was wrong. Trust the people of Great Britain to socially distance, he said. Now, possibly to show that Mr Gove is not to be trusted to be PM, Boris Johnson popped up and announced that face coverings will be compulsory.

That’s the sign of great government - unambiguous guidance, consistency in communications, everyone on-message ... my hat. They don’t know what they are doing. If the UK government actually wanted to do it properly, all they need do is follow Nicola Sturgeon. Just do as she does - but a few days later to try and disguise the fact it wasn’t their idea.

On Friday afternoon I had a bill to pay and, of course, everybody wants you to pay by card so they do not have to handle cash which has come from your potentially-virus-smeared sticky little fingers. That’s the theory. Good idea, it’s probably a safer way to do it. Until the card machine breaks down. These devices are failing in their hundreds and thousands now because they have been in constant use for months. So I told the shopkeeper to send me a bill in the post.

Ah no. He didn’t want to do that. Things were very tight, you see. Any chance I could pay cash? Please, pretty please, he said - or words to that effect. OK, I would have to go to the bank but I would do that to help him out. I’m a nice person, you see. I even phoned up the bank to make sure it was open. I told them I would be round to pick up the cash. The manager said to hurry up as they were closing soon. So off I went and as I pulled up outside the bank, it slowly dawned on me what I was about to do.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would screech round to a bank, pull a mask over my face, rush up to a teller and ask him for the money.

'Risk, Not Politics' Will Decide Border Restrictions
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said any move to place restrictions on visitors from England to Scotland would be based on risk, not politics.Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, she said quarantine for visitors from elsewhere in the UK could not be ruled out.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called the idea "astonishing and shameful". Scotland has been recording a lower rate of Covid infections than England.Figures released on Sunday indicated that 19 people had tested positive for the virus in Scotland in the previous 24 hours. This is the highest figure for three weeks.  But for the fourth consecutive day, no deaths were recorded.  The first minister said the UK nations need to work together on outbreak management in a way that "mitigates against having to put any border restrictions in place". Ms Sturgeon told Andrew Marr: "One of our biggest risks over the next few weeks, as we have driven levels of the virus to very low levels in Scotland, is the risk of importation into the country.  "That's why we've taken a very cautious decision about international quarantine. And - this is not a position I relish being in - it also means that we have to take a very close look at making sure that we are not seeing the virus come in from other parts of the UK." The first minister pointed out that in countries such as Australia and the United States, controls have been put in place to limit movement across state or regional boundaries.  The Scottish government would look at similar measures on a public health basis.  Ms Sturgeon said: "That's not political. It's not constitutional. It's just taking a similar view to countries across the world in terms of protecting the population from the risk of the virus.  This is not about saying to people in England you are not welcome in Scotland - of course people in England are welcome in Scotland," she added. The topic of quarantine for visitors from England entering Scotland was raised at Prime Minister's Questions, with Mr Johnson describing the idea as "astonishing and shameful".  He added: "There have been no such discussions with the Scottish administration about that, but I would point out that there is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland."

'Up to A Third of Jobs Could Go At Edinburgh Airport'

Around a third of the 7,000 employees who work at Edinburgh Airport are facing job cuts, says the airport's director of communications Gordon Robertson. He says the airport will not return to 2019 levels for another few years, and "certainly not back to any kind of normality until 2021".  "We employ 750 people there, and the airport employs around 7.000 people as a whole, and we think there will be up to a third of job losses across that, so it is a very challenging time," he tells BBC Radio Scotland.  Mr Robertson says Spain - for which quarantine measures are still in place for people arriving from there into Scotland - is "one of our biggest markets" and a big chunk of the summer schedules for airports like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick. "More importantly, decisions made now means aircraft might move to England and not come back for next year’s summer schedule," he adds. "It has long-lasting impacts and we hope the Scottish government can make decisions quickly so we can get back to flying to Spain soon." Nicola Sturgeon said this week the government will review the quarantine decision on Spain on 20 July, and every three weeks after that.

Getting Inverness Back to Business – New Normal Brings New Opportunities

Reopening of pubs and bars was long anticipated, with interior areas reopening on Wednesday, in the wake of beer gardens.  Bruce MacGregor, who runs MacGregor’s bar in Academy Street, said it had been an “intriguing business” initially reopening the beer garden, especially with the “good old Scottish weather” not being as reliable as he would like.  He said: “We’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at the take-up and bookings, and our pop-up kitchens with street food vendors have proven to be a real hit.  It’s been wonderful to work with other local businesses and I can see us doing a lot more of this kind of collaboration.” Mr MacGregor said the lockdown had opened his eyes to other business opportunities, such as their online Live at Five shows massively increasing their following on social media.  Preparations for reopening were helped because one of the bar’s investors is a full-time health and safety specialist who developed a full working assessment for the bar and how it would operate.   Mr MacGregor said: “The booking-only system to start things ensured we were happy that we were complying with the rules and that customers and staff felt safe.”

Anger Over Damage to Three Brethren
The public has been urged not to climb on the Three Brethren cairns near Selkirk after one was found to be damaged.  The three cairns date back to the 16th century and they are a popular viewpoint for many walkers on the Southern Upland Way.  They also act as a waymarker for Selkirk Common Riding, with many people heading up to watch each year’s royal burgh standard bearer lead his mounted followers to the site.  However, in the past month, some of the stones making up one of the cairns have been dislodged.  It’s not known whether it was an accident or if the cairn was intentionally vandalised.  Keith Miller, provost of Selkirk Common Riding Trust, said the damage would be repaired, but he pleaded with people not to climb on the structures.  He said: “It’s possible that it wasn’t deliberate but caused by climbing on it. Even so, these cairns mean a lot to the people of Selkirk.  “Selkirk Common Riding Trust will ensure that the damage is properly repaired.  The cairns are probably more fragile than they look, so people should be aware that climbing on them could lead to an accident and, if serious, might need a helicopter rescue.”

Safety Will Be Uppermost in High Life Highland 'Bounce Back' Campaign
High Life Highland (HLH) has reiterated that safety will be the top priority as it seeks to "bounce back” from the global pandemic.  The charity – which provides culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing services across the region – wrote to members to outline its plans in line with the latest developments in Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.  New booking systems will be put in place at a number of venues, while safety measures will include the introduction of hand-sanitising stations.  CEO Steve Walsh said: “We care passionately about what we deliver to enhance the health and wellbeing our communities and are really looking forward to welcoming customers back to our facilities and services over the coming weeks and months, and I am delighted that our 'bounce back' campaign is already taking shape across all of our services.  In physically reopening our facilities, HLH will place the safety of its customers, its staff and its communities uppermost at every step of the way. This means that our bounce back will be a gradual process, where we will bring back services carefully, in a structured way that allows our customers to enjoy our facilities feeling safe and well protected at all times. The next phase of our recovery will see more of our staff returning to prepare venues and services for reopening. We have an increasing number of staff returning to their workplaces, working hard and making bounce back plans for the safe return of their customers and colleagues. Our bounce back programme will see many of our sites reopening over the next few weeks to offer services that will take into account the guidance in the Scottish Government’s route map. We have been in touch with members advising them of the measures put in place to offer customers the reassurance needed that it is safe to return to our facilities."

'Just Crazy' to Exclude Carers From Fast-track Visa Scheme
The decision to exclude social care workers from a new UK fast-track health and care visa when freedom of movement with the EU ends in January has been labelled as "just crazy" Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said he was "immensely disappointed" with the decision, which his organisation campaigned strongly against.  Scotland has distinctive needs because of its ageing population and despite a recruitment drive, staffing "depends on inward migration", he told BBC Radio Scotland. "The fact it’s happening in January, just at the point where we could potentially have another wave of the pandemic, and flu at its peak, is just crazy," he said. "This is policy taking over practical common sense and it’s based on a presumption of carers which is devoid of reality." Mr Macaskill said around 6-8% of Scotland's workforce come from Europe, and the UK Westminster government's "toxic and xenophobic approach" could put off those already here.

'Fancy A Ride in Our Trishaw?'
Borders care home residents will soon have the chance to embrace the great outdoors again - by riding in three-wheeled e-bikes.  Volunteers in Hawick set up the town’s Cycling Without Age (CWA) scheme last year.  The project involves cyclists jumping in specially-adapted e-bikes - which can carry two passengers - and offering free rides to people who have mobility difficulties.  Volunteer Keith Irving said: “This is a great project because it allows many who used to be able to explore Hawick get another chance to experience the sights.”  The charitable organisation CWA began in Denmark, but it has become international - and Scotland itself now boasts 60 electric trishaws.  Hawick received two bikes in September and the town’s first passengers were welcomed two months later.  The official launch had been scheduled for this Easter, but COVID-19 put paid to those plans.  Now, though, volunteers are readying themselves for a return to the saddle - and they look forward to rides around Wilton Lodge Park.  People living in care homes or sheltered housing are being encouraged to contact the group. Anyone with mobility problems is also being urged to get in touch.  Volunteer Jim McPherson said: “This is a different way to give mobility-limited people who are stuck inside a new view.  One lady who we took out said she had not seen the park in over six years and was amazed at the change.  It is truly a great feeling to help people experience the pleasure of cycling around the park.” He added: "Right now, everyone in the Hawick chapter has a feeling of real frustration at the current situation, having put in a lot of time and effort.  We are unable to make use of the trishaws as we'd previously planned.  But we've had fantastic support from the Hawick community, with many groups and individuals having helped us to raise the money to get two trishaws in a record time.  And we really want to be able to pay back this support and get back out in the park and elsewhere in Hawick.”  Currently, there are six trained volunteers and a further three awaiting training.  Training includes PVG checks, instructions on how to use the e-bikes, and guidance on the safety checks involved with loading and unloading clients.  The trishaws combine an electric bicycle with a passenger compartment fit for two at the front. A hood can be unfolded quickly if the weather turns wet. Each ride lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.  Hawick is not the only Borders town which takes part in the scheme - the Peebles group has been running since 2017.

Loch Lomond Hill Rescues Spark Police Safety Plea
Police are urging members of the public to be properly prepared before venturing out on the hills after a spate of rescues around Loch Lomond and the surrounding area.  An 18-year-old man from the Glasgow area fell and sustained an ankle injury near the summit of Ben A'an on Thursday, July 9, with police and the Killin mountain rescue team called out to help before the man was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.  And the following day, police joined the Lomond mountain rescue team in going to the aid of a 25-year-old man from the Edinburgh who fell and injured an ankle while descending Ben Lomond. He, too, was airlifted off the hillside and taken to the QEUH for treatment. Other incidents over the weekend saw a 30-year-old man taken by helimed to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock after collapsing on Ben Ledi, near Callander, on Thursday and a 56-year-old man who fell in the Ledard Glen area taken by road ambulance to Glasgow after falling in the Ledard Glen area following a descent of Ben Venue.  Police Scotland's local area commander, Gill Campbell, said: “We fully understand the public’s desire to get outdoors again, but it is essential that hill-walkers and those venturing out into the hills take the appropriate steps to keep themselves, and others with them safe.  Suitable footwear, weather appropriate clothing and plenty of water are essential, while you should always carry your mobile phone with you in the event of an emergency.  Please also tell people where you are going and when you intend to be back, so that they can raise the alarm if you fail to return. Over the past few days we have been incredibly grateful for the vital assistance and support of our mountain rescue teams.  These individuals bring with them extensive levels of experience and a range of resources that aid in the recovery of people injured or stranded on hillsides."

£161,000 to Be Spent on Recreating Twists and Turns in River Near Selkirk
Twists and turns are being lined up for a stretch of river in the Borders straightened out in the 19th century to create more farmland.   A kilometre-long stretch of the Little Yarrow, a tributary of the River Tweed west of Selkirk, is going back round the bend, thanks to a grant of almost £103,000 from the Scottish Government’s biodiversity challenge fund.  That money, along with £10,000 from the environment fund set up by the operators of the Fallago Rig wind farm near Lauder, is to be spent by the Tweed Forum on a £161,000 landscape project including restoring part of the Little Yarrow to its natural meandering course.  That stretch of the river was straightened out over 150 years ago to provide extra grazing land, but work is now being planned to restore its twists and turns, adding wetlands and woodland to help absorb carbon and increase habitat diversity to support wildlife species including otters, brook lampreys and Atlantic salmon. Trees planted alongside the rerouted river will provide shade to keep water temperatures low to help fish surve climate change, and new features such as deep scour pools will provide habitats for spawning salmon.  It is also hoped that new woodland and wetland habitats will attract the likes of frogs, toads and common newts, as well as birds such as dippers, sandpipers and kingfishers.  On top of that, reconnecting the river with its 12-hectare former flood plain will ensure more water is stored upstream after heavy rainfall, reducing the risk of flooding further east on the way to Selkirk.  That recreation of the river’s bends complements a series of habitat restoration activities being carried out by landowner Wemyss and March Estates, and it is also providing £48,000 worth of in-kind support for the project.  Work on unstraightening the Little Yarrow is to begin next month and it’s expected to be completed by October in time for salmon and trout to return upstream to lay eggs.  Tweed Forum director Luke Comins said: “Natural, meandering waterways provide many benefits which were not fully appreciated when sections were straightened over a century ago.  We’re extremely grateful for this generous grant, which will enable us to restore this part of the Little Yarrow to a more natural state and help to create a landscape that encourages wildlife, boosts water quality, absorbs carbon and helps to mitigate flooding and enhance one of the most scenic areas of the Borders.”

V&A Dundee Returns with Mary Quant Exhibition
Dundee's V&A Museum will reopen on 27 August with a major exhibition on British fashion designer Mary Quant.  The show was meant run from April, but was delayed due to the museum closing as part of the nationwide lockdown.  The exhibition will run until January. The museum has also curated a new exhibition in response to the coronavirus pandemic, looking at how designers responded to the crisis.

A Difficult Challenge to Be Welcomed
by The Very Rev Susan Brown
Years ago, when the children were in primary school, they used to get on the school bus on the Black Isle and I would nip into Inverness for a swim.  I liked to get a mile of swimming in to set me up for the day.  My schedule, though, was tight and I found myself getting really narky with anyone who got into “my” lane and slowed me down. Like I had any more right to that particular part of the pool than anyone else.  Sadly it is a trait in me I recognise in the present, too.  It’s amazing how possessive we can become about our own wee part of the world.  Is that something that feels familiar to you?  I am conscious that since the lifting of the five-mile travel restrictions, there are a lot more people in and around Dornoch.  Part of me realises that the town depends on visitors to help local shops and restaurants and other businesses survive, and for people to earn the income they need to pay the bills; there is another part of me that resents having to share the miles of beach and the walks around, with others.  Maybe it is just me who feels that way but I suspect others do, too.  There seems to be something in human nature that makes us want to see to ourselves before we see to anyone else.  I want my quiet morning walks because the dog can be off the lead and I can walk at whatever pace I want.  I can look for sea glass or shells and don’t have to worry about getting in anyone else’s way.  When there are visitors around, I have to take them into account and keep the dog in check because he thinks every dog exists to play with him.  On top of that, these days there are the added pressures of making sure we keep a safe distance away from each other so as not to pass on any bugs.  And I guess that’s the biggest concern: A bug. More precisely: “The” virus.  We have got off very lightly in these last few months in the Highlands, but with the influx of visitors there is the increased risk of someone from somewhere bringing an unwelcome visitor with them in the shape of Covid-19.  It seems easier to adopt the stance of Portmahomack, in Ross-shire and have a notice up saying we love visitors but not right now.  But battening down the hatches cannot continue to be an option, not if we want our town to be able to get back on its feet.  The challenge is to be safely welcoming in the hope that the visitors, too, will be equally careful and respectful.  And it is a challenge. You do have to choose not to walk past people with that resentful look that says: “What are you doing here?”  Mainly because there are so many new houses around that in fact they could be residents who are normally at work, but who are out walking because they are furloughed, or working from home.  The challenge is the same for every community, though. And not only in times of a pandemic. How do we make room for those who come in to what we see as “our” world and change the dynamic of “our” comfort zone?  It is something that has happened all the way through history.  People have always been on the move – not just holidaying but looking for new adventures and for places to settle.  It never ceases to amaze me to discover more and more weird and wonderful places where there are people who have strong links to Scotland.  From the obvious Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, to Taiwan, the Czech Republic, various other parts of Europe, to Russia, numerous African countries, as well as the 100,000 Argentinians who claim Scottish ancestry.  In all these places Scots have been welcomed.  Often carrying with them traditions and ideas, faith and practices that are quite different from the ones held by those they settle among.  These days Scots still go a wandering.  But there are also many who make their way to Scotland bringing with them, as Scots have done in the past and do still now, cultures and traditions which might be very different from what has prevailed in this land in the past.  Again, if we are looking to see our nation thrive, we cannot pull up the drawbridge and tell people to go away. Instead, we need to find ways of living together which are mutually respectful and which recognise that no one of us has any more right to claim a part of this planet than any other. This too, needs to be something we do consciously and deliberately.  Refusing to let anything reduce us to selfish self-interest.  I am off now, to head out with the dog. I would love it to be a people-free walk but that is highly unlikely.  In which case I will make sure I smile to all those I see and have a word of welcome ready for all those who walk this tiny corner of the globe with me. The Very Rev Susan Brown is minister of Dornoch Cathedral and the former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Skye Care Home Worker Retests Positive for Virus
A member of staff at a coronavirus-hit care home on Skye has retested positive for the virus. NHS Highland confirmed the worker at Home Farm care home in Portree had been advised to isolate following the positive test.  Contact tracing has also been carried out.  More people will be re-tested following the new case with NHS Highland saying results will be issued "as soon as they are available".  The home, which was the subject of a court hearing earlier this year after 10 residents died amid the Covid-19 outbreak, has been closed to new admissions. A statement from NHS Highland health board said evidence was emerging internationally that some people had "prolonged positive swab results", while others could have intermittent negative and positive results over many weeks. "As such, an ongoing positive result does not mean that an individual is still infectious or that they pose a risk to others," the statement said.  The statement added: "However, the virus can recur even in rural communities and so everyone should continue to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, wear a face-covering when in enclosed spaces, clean your hands and surfaces regularly and immediately self-isolate if you develop symptoms."

Royal Navy Visits Stornoway Port
Sharp-eyed naval enthusiasts will have spotted the three Royal Navy P2000 Archer Class Patrol Boats which were tied up in Stornoway harbour on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. The ships – HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express are currently visiting the west coast of Scotland as part of their summer deployment.  With the easing of lockdown restrictions it was hoped that the ships would be able to host visits from local groups and organisations. At just over 20-meters long, the P2000s are some of the smallest ships in the fleet and perfect for navigation and seamanship training. It also means they can access smaller harbours which, because of their size, usually can’t host Royal Navy ships.  The Royal Navy has 14 Fast Inshore Patrol Craft which together form the First Patrol Boat Squadron.

New Distillery Venue and Dram Planned for the Outer Hebrides
Another hotspot in the Outer Hebrides for whisky fans is being planned, as North Uist Distillery announced that they have taken on Nunton Steadings in Benbecula as their new base of operations.  Distillery owners Kate MacDonald and Jonny Ingledew confirmed the purchase via social media, which is set to become their new venue for the established Downpour Gin and for their new tipple, as they take their first steps into the whisky market. The steadings project will see the 18th-century building - where legend has it Bonnie Prince Charlie once sheltered in – transformed into a community hub and visitor centre.  The company tweeted earlier today (Thursday, July 16th): “We’re very excited to be able to share our big news... We have made a pretty special purchase - investing in a brand new distillery building that we will soon call home. The gorgeous Nunton Steadings will be our new site for whisky production!” In another tweet, they added: “Our main goal has always been to put the islands on the whisky map and therefore we are incredibly excited to have secured Nunton Steadings which will allow us to fulfill our whisky dream...”  The creation of this new dram will mean it will be the first legally distilled whisky to be created in the Uists.  The new kid on the Outer Hebrides’ whisky block will join the likes of the single malt produced by Abhainn Dearg Distillery at Uig on Lewis and The Hearach which is produced by the Isle of Harris Distillery.  The Islands could once only boast a distillery in Stornoway, which was demolished by Sir James Matheson 170 years ago, but now with distilleries across the region producing several gins, two whiskies and this latest dram being planned, the Islands are once again firmly on the tipple-lovers’ map.

Decision on Edinburgh Hogmanay Next Week
Edinburgh's Hogmanay will learn its fate on 21 July when the city council decides if and how it will go ahead.  The Christmas and New Year celebrations are unlikely to attract anything like their normal numbers in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.  Cammy Day, deputy leader of City of Edinburgh City Council, said the street parties would be "different but exciting".  He said "having 80,000-100,000 people in one street was not reasonable"   Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Day said: "Will there be so many big en masse events? That is unlikely but can we have things like the markets spread all across the city? Can we have displays all over the city? All these things are being considered behind the scenes. We do have to make that decision quite imminently about what we do at Christmas and New Year".

Major Shetland Subsea Power Cable to Mainland Approved
Plans for a £600m subsea power cable which would take energy from Shetland to the Scottish mainland have been approved by energy regulator Ofgem.  Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) wants to build a 600MW electricity transmission link.  It would allow new wind farms on Shetland to export renewable electricity to the rest of Britain.  Ofgem said it was conditional on it being satisfied by the end of 2020 a major wind farm was likely to go ahead. That planned £580m Viking Energy project would involve 103-turbines. It would be the UK's largest onshore wind farm in terms of annual electricity output.  It is estimated that the subsea cable project would cost more than £600m. The power cable project would connect Kergord in Shetland to Noss Head on the Scottish mainland, near Wick in Caithness.

Lifeboats Called Out to Reports of Capsized Jet Ski Near Broughty Ferry

Crews from the Broughty Ferry lifeboats launched on Friday evening after reports of two people in the water with a capsized jet ski.  It is believed the people were not far from Broughty Ferry Castle. A spokesman for the Coastguard said: “We received the call at 7.30pm. We sent out the Broughty Ferry all weather lifeboat and the inshore lifeboat as well as Coastguard teams from Dundee, Arbroath and St Andrew’s.”  The people were brought back to the lifeboat station to warm up and an ambulance was called to provide further checks. It is understood there were no injuries.

Care Home Pianist Rebecca Parker, 98, on 100-day Charity Play

A care home resident inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore is set to complete her own charity challenge of playing the piano for 100 days in a row.  Rebecca Parker, 98, has been boosting morale in McClymont House, Lanark, since March.  And to date she has raised more than £10,700 for Lanarkshire Health Board Endowment Funds.  Mrs Parker described the generosity of donors as "quite outstanding."  She told BBC Scotland: "All I play is Scottish tunes.  I always play Over the Sea to Skye and, sometimes, Scots Wha Hae and Loch Lomond."  Mrs Parker started her challenge in March after learning about Capt Sir Tom Moore, who set out to walk 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, before his 100th birthday.  He was knighted by the Queen on Friday 17th after raising more than £32m for the NHS.  On the same day, donations to Mrs Parker's Just Giving page passed £10,700.  Mrs Parker's dedication and determination is especially admirable due the challenges she must overcome on a daily basis.  She said: "I can't lift my head up to read much music so I just have to play the tunes I can remember."  Mrs Parker, who is originally from Skye, has lifted the mood of staff and her fellow residents during the difficult lockdown period.Kathryn Hattie, who works at the home, said the impact of Mrs Parker's daily concert cannot be underestimated. She added: "It has really boosted everyone's spirits.  You can really hear it all the way through the home and it gives us something else to focus on."

People Will Need to Be Quick Off the Mark to Attend Mass At St Joseph's Parish in Greenock

Parishioners will need to be quick off the mark to make a booking for mass at St Joseph's Parish in Greenock. The church is opening its doors for public services, however those looking to attend must book a space online or over the telephone.  Only 50 churchgoers can attend at a time to allow for social distancing and to allow Fr Thomas to able to track and trace everyone attending. A total of 35 bookings will be available online and at todays date Sat 18th  only15 bookings are still available.

Musician Seeks Info on Banchory Great-grandfather
Musician Ferdinand Snow is desperately keen to find out the history of George Nicol Reid Caird, who was born in Banchory in 1903.  Only recently did Ferdinand find out that his great grandfather was a musician like himself. He worked as a violinist with the BBC Variety Orchestra, accompanying stars like Dame Vera Lynn, Jimmy Blair and Jimmy Shand, and performed in the popular TV programme ‘Jiggtime’.  Ferdinand recorded a track “My heart belongs to Scotland” during lockdown to cheer up his Scottish relatives and is now hoping this may help him find anyone who might know about his celebrity great granddad.  Ferdinand says: “George Nicol Reid Caird was born 1903 in Banchory and had to elope with his love, Miss Robb from Aberdeen, and got married in secret in London in 1924. They settled in Glasgow.  I would love to find out more about his life as a musician, find pictures of him and records where he participated. If anyone remembers him and has information to share, I’d be eternally grateful.”  Get in touch at

Climate Risks Avoided with New Type of Blackcurrant
Thousands of tonnes of juicy Ben Lawers, the brand new blackcurrant variety which has been bred to cope with Britain’s changing climate, are being shaken into specialist harvesting machines across the country this week.  The first harvest of 75,000 Ben Lawers blackcurrant bushes in fields from the outskirts of Dundee is the culmination of 20 years of research by the James Hutton Institute (JHI) which aims to ensure the crop can continue to be productive despite increasingly warmer winters. Blackcurrants need a winter chill to bear fruit come summertime, prompting Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) which uses 90% of Britain’s blackcurrants to make Ribena, to invest £10 million in JHI research on the new variety which is able to adapt to shorter, milder chilling.  Dr Dorota Jarret, a soft fruit breeder at the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, James Hutton Ltd, said: “Hopefully this cultivar will pioneer innovation in climate resilient crop category, deliver exceptional quality and make the way for further climate-resilient cultivars that are currently on trials at the JHI thanks to Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s recent investment.”  Andy Husband from East Adamston Farm, Dundee said: “We are in need of varieties that can adapt to the climate, have better disease resistance and are still delicious, which is why we are proud to say that the new Ben Lawers variety is helping to provide a strong harvest this year.  By growing and developing more breeds like this we will be able to keep sustainable blackcurrant growing in Scotland.”