January 2020

A well attended evening witnessed some splendid performances  by our in-house team of speakers, Richard Fyfe, in the dual role of Master of Ceremonies and presenting the Immortal Memory, Tom Richards with his address to the Haggis, Terry and Cindy Burns addressing the Lassies and recitations from Mike and Carol Rattenbury.


One of the best attendances of all our meetings, which was no surprise given the popularity of the speaker. Alastair Rose's talk "A Merchant Navy Adventure in photos and memories" was well received and it was a pity that we didn't have time to get to the end of the presentation. Still, part 2 can be programmed for later on. Having travelled the world it must be fascinating to watch the world news and be able to relate to the countries being referred to. Once again the ladies did us proud with the selection of baking that was available during the excellent fellowship that followed.


An excellent turnout was treated to a fascinating and interesting talk on the military career of Sir Hector Macdonald, "Fighting Mac". His rapid promotion and demonstration of his organisational skills on the battlefield plus his developing relationship with his nemesis, Kitchener, held us spell-bound. So extensive was the coverage of the subject that we had to curtail the talk and will invite Johnny Black back to continue, hopefully, soon in the New Year.


Once again a Black and White Comedy Film Evening went down well the film being "Laxdale Hall" featuring the Bealach Na Ba and Applecross area - plus some very young Hollywood stars.


This evening was to be a Beetle Drive but although there were plenty of Beetles there were insufficient Drivers to make an evening of it. Perhaps an unfamiliarity with the concept was partly a reason.


Well, we certainly know how to enjoy ourselves with an evening of playing croquet and unwinding from our tensions and worries as we wound our way around the labyrinth. After one and half rounds of a simplified set of rules for croquet a certain amount of competitiveness was creeping in! We got away with the weather as it threatened to rain at the start and fortunately the midges weren't too hard on us.


In glorious evening sunshine and blessed by not too many midges we had a most enjoyable meeting learning from Becky the art of communicating with horses. We were put through our paces as to how confident we felt being guided, blindfolded, around the training ring. (Felt a bit like at being at the circus!) We were then introduced to "Bob" and given the opportunity of leading him where some of us were better than the others at asserting our authority. On such a wonderful evening it was hard to drag ourselves away after putting the world to rights.


In order to avoid the same situation as occurred in April it was decided to have an in-house session of musical entertainment. This was based on displaying videos of musical clips stored on YouTube based on suggestions from the Group. The theme was to have been those tunes that had significant memories but developed into favourites. The range was significant, from Gospel through 70s pop, classical, cajun and the highlight being some vintage Colin Campbell - 'Balinaheuchter Air Traffic Control'! After an hour plus it felt as if we had only just started exploring our interests. We now have the answer as to how to spend an evening if we are ever let down by a speaker.


Due to a lack of response to request for a Speaker we had to abandon the evening.


Douglas Willis took us and the ladies on a trip to Nepal to view the reconstruction work being carried out in Nepal after the devastating earthquake. Douglas impressed on us the reilience of the Nepalese and the fact that a very sensible decision was taken to use the money raised under the "Let us build a house" scheme was used to concentrate on the building of schools with a special emphasis on making them suitable for girls. The supreme dificulites of coping with the geography of the region was very obvious especially with the continuing evidence that the Himalayas are constantly rising!


Everyone had a good chuckle over the antics of "The Ladykillers", a classic Ealing Comedy all the better for being in colour. As a bonus Mike had organised for us a viewing of "Crofter Boy" filmed in 1955, in the Poolwewe area which is available on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaOwJ1uOY3E. Whilst there wasn't any of the traditional popcorn available we finished off the surplus wine and nibbles from the Burns Supper.

January 2019

It is hard to believe but we seem to manage to provide a better Burns Supper each year. Piper Lucy MacIver entertained guests as they arrived and then accompanied our master of ceremonies, Richard Fyfe has he delivered the Chieftain Haggis to the top table. Tom Richards addressed the Haggis and was followed by Terry delivering the Selkirk Grace.

The supper went very well and following last year's innovation the Cloutie Dumpling was well received.

The assembled company were in good voice singing a selection of  Burns songs which led to local historian Dr. Jim Mackay giving the Immortal Memory, who not, unexpectedly, managed to bring in references to Ferintosh and Kirkmichael, disappointment being expressed that the Bard didn't make it onto the Black Isle!

Brother and sister, Ewan and Eilidh did the honours with regard to the Toast to and Reply from the Lassies. With recitations from Mike and Carol Rattenbury rounding off the evening a good time was had by all.

November Richard Fyfe held us enthralled with his description of the role of SEPA in ensuring our environment is not damaged and expanding on his role within the organisation. A role that covers many aspects ranging from "Is it all right to extract 5 gallons of water from Loch Ness?" to "Will you use your eDNA analysis methods to tell me what worms there are in the mud under a fishcage." Considering the temptation to stay at home by fireside it was testament to the expectation of an interesting talk that saw a very good turnout.

"October" We took advantage of an invitation from the Dingwall Fencing Club  to participate in a demonstration and talk on the subject of fencing. The few brave souls who ventured out to the Dingwall Town Hall were treated to a very entertaining evening. Everyone was taken through the step movements and given an opportunity of fencing with an opponent in a very gentle fashion!.Recent articles of the club can be found here and here

September A fascinating insight to the life of a sign language interpreter was presented by our very own Margaret Kinsman. High profile examples of signing for political party conferences, theatres, court cases come readily to mind but to be asked to attend interviews with a bank manager or a job interview brought a whole new meaning to the job. What was of concern is that the job is not without its dangers of being threatened by people who have lost their case in court or even having failed their driving test - yes, it happened. No wonder we were enthralled.

August To take advantage of an offer to conduct a fun Scottish Musical Quiz by Ramsay McGhee we invited the ladies to join us for the evening. We also extended a welcome to neighbouring parishes in the hope that the menfolk would find our fellowship to their liking. A great time was had by the 6 tables of teams of 4 with prizes awarded to the winning team and a booby prize of a kazoo for the losers; not quite the music that had been intended!

July A very pleasant evening was spent in the company of the Conon Bridge bowlers, who, once again were brave enough to let us loose on their green. Well, it would have been green if there had been some rain to encourage the grass to grow. A good time was had by all. Photographs at foot of page, select one to open the slide show.

June For June we were given a very thought-provoking talk on the subject of cancer and how our fellow church member, Ute, carries out her job in the Oncology department at Raigmore on behalf of Macmillan Nurses.

May A trip along the Norwegian coast to the accompaniment of the Peer Gynt Suite was the theme for this month's entertainment. Elizabeth Fraser takes excellent photographs which captured her trip perfectly. For someone who thinks the Skye and Kylesku bridges elegant, the Norwegian ones win hands down. It looks as though we must make this an annual event judging by the other titles Elizabeth offered us.

April For the April meeting we heard from Andy Walters, Black Isle Woodturning of his career in the world of metal-working and carpentry. Thank fully Andy has concentrated on his furniture design and manufacture as he was commissioned by Culbokie Church Centre to design and construct the table and chair. He took us through his busy life in the old Cullicuden School with a young family, house renovations, wood-turning courses and the mass production of whisky bottle stoppers – yes, ask him!

March Russell Turner, editor of the "Chatterbox" talked about the progression of the newsletter from an A5 booklet for the Avoch and Killen Community to the 40 plus page "Chatterbox" as we know it today. He described his route through newspaper journalism in the roles of sub-editor in various parts of Yorkshire etc. to arriving in Inverness to then being manoeuvred into going freelance, this coinciding with the opportuntiy to taking on the role of Editor of the Chatterbox. The entire operation is self-contained with Russell creating the layout and a team of 6 supervising the printing, whilst Russell then takes on the responsibility of distributing the copies around the Black Isle. A highlight in 1916 was being recognised by the judges of the Highlands and Islands Media Awards as the best community newspaper - well done.

February This month we circumnavigated Ireland in the company of Martin Roff, ably assisted at the time by his wife Carol, and their trusty yacht "Rhum". The venture was prompted by a fundraising initiative for churches of all denominations in the Newcastle area. For those of us expecting photos of mountainous seas etc where in for a disappointment becuase the weather for most of the trip was almost Mediterranean! The photography was superb and the range of subjects fascinating from abandoned villages, 5th and 6th Century cells, wonderful seascapes. Almost as interesting as the views was the equipment that Martin used; a double banked projector each projecting alternate slides and a sound system running a pre-recorded commentary.

January 2018 The Church Community or those that manged to snap up a ticket, enjoyed a superb Burns Supper, even better than last year. Piper Lucy MacIver entertained guests as they arrived and then accompanied our master of ceremonies, Richard Fyfe has he delivered the Chieftain Haggis to the top table. Tom Richards addressed the Haggis and was followed by Terry, resplendent in full Highland dress, delivering the Selkirk Grace.  The Rev Doug MacRoberts gave the Immortal Memory using the format of limericks to illustrate his message - most entertaining. Becky and Iain Richmond carried out a double act re. the Lassies. Terry and Cindy were persuaded to recite two poems and we were all in fine voice accompanied by Mairi Mackenzie. The supper went very well with Balnabeen Neeps, Culbokie Tatties and Dingwall Haggis it all had a very local feel and the surprise of the evening was the Cloutie Dumpling provided by Andrew Murdoch. A good time was had by all.

An archive of previous reports is available here

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