52% of the votes cast in the referendum last week were for leaving the E.U. and we now find ourselves in unknown territory, the entire U.K. political system in turmoil.
What may be most ominous however is the encouragement this result has given to the far-right throughout Europe. In each country we see the xenophobes, racists and ultra-nationalists renewing their foul messages of hate. Here in the U.K. more than a hundred racist abuse and hate crimes were reported in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.
In Scotland however the leave vote was only 38%, with the large majority wanting to remain in Europe. The E.U. may be flawed, but most Scots still see it as a symbol and protector of peace and cooperation between nations, and long may that continue.
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The cruise ship industry is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the mass tourism market, and here on Arran we see more and more cruise ships passing, and sometimes stopping. Many of us also enjoy our own cruising holidays.
But, as with so many aspects of the modern tourist industry, there is a dark side.
In an article in the Guardian last month, John Vidal described how when the gargantuan Harmony of the Seas slipped out of Southampton docks last month on its first commercial voyage, the 16-deck-high floating city switched off its auxiliary engines, fire up its three giant diesels and headed to the open sea.
But while the 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew on the largest cruise ship in the world waved goodbye to England, many people left behind in Southampton say they will be glad to see it go. They complain that air pollution from such nautical behemoths is getting worse every year as cruising becomes the fastest growing sector of the mass tourism industry and as ships get bigger and bigger.
For Colin MacQueen, who lives around 400 yards from the docks and is a member of new environment group Southampton Clean Air, the fumes from cruise liners and bulk cargo ships are “definitely” contributing to Southampton’s highly polluted air.
“We can smell, see and taste it. These ships are like blocks of flats. Sometimes there are five or more in the docks at the same time. The wind blows their pollution directly into the city and as far we can tell, there is no monitoring of their pollution. We are pushing for them to use shore power but they have resisted.”
Marine pollution analysts in Germany and Brussels said that these large ships would probably burn at least 150 tonnes of fuel a day, and emit more sulphur than several million cars, more NO2 gas than all the traffic passing through a medium-sized town and more particulate emissions than thousands of London buses. According to leading independent German pollution analyst Axel Friedrich, a single large cruise ship will emit over five tonnes of NOX emissions, and 450kg of ultra fine particles a day.
Bill Hemmings, marine expert at Brussels-based Transport and Environment group said: “These ships burn as much fuel as whole towns. They use a lot more power than container ships and even when they burn low sulphur fuel, it’s 100 times worse than road diesel.” “Air pollution from international shipping accounts for around 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, at an annual cost to society of more than €58bn [ $65bn],” says the group on its website.
Daniel Rieger, a transport officer at German environment group Nabu, said: “Cruise companies create a picture of being a bright, clean and environmentally friendly tourism sector. But the opposite is true. One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.”
Nabu has measured pollution in large German ports and found high concentrations of pollutants. “Heavy fuel oil can contain 3,500 times more sulphur than diesel that is used for land traffic vehicles. Ships do not have exhaust abatement technologies like particulate filters that are standard on passenger cars and lorries,” says Rieger.
Perhaps we need to look again at our love affair with cruising?
The public are invited to mark 100 years since the start of the Battle of the Somme.
So many people in the UK have a close link to the Somme. The Government and The Royal British Legion are working together to encourage communities across the country to mark the battle in their own way. This can be through a vigil at sundown on 30 June or during 1 July, or with a Remembrance event on one of the 141 days that battle raged until 18 November.
The ambition is for villages, towns and cities across the UK to gather at a meaningful place or in their home, to light a candle, read a poem, listen to music, share a photo of a family member who fought at the Somme.
The vigils will mirror the apprehension 100 years ago as those in the trenches waited anxiously for the “zero hour” at 7:30am when they went over the top.
Alison Prince writes:
The battle of the Somme began on July 1st. Since my parents were in the thick of all that, I wrote a poem about it.
Of his entire battalion,
only my father and one other man
survived the Somme.
When the next war came
I noticed how his hands shook
in the London blitz.
My mother had been nursing
in Flanders on the theatre squad
in that first war.
Helped amputate, dressed wounds
with saline – all they had - washed bandages
and re-rolled them.
She taught me to roll bandages,
and where to find the pulse within a wrist,
small skills like that.
It's by good luck that I was born to them,
a soldier and a nurse who met
in No Man's Land.
in No Man's Land.
Peter Finlay writes:
Summer is upon us now. Bright summer with blue, green, golden sunshine. It won’t last for ever. Nothing does. And so it is precious. Not more so than winter or autumn or spring. Or life itself. All is wonderful if we’re in the right mood!
Please leave it like that. Please don’t wreck it as it is wrecked every summer with the human propensity to destroy this gift. How? Just listen and you will find out. So many of the wreckers guard themselves from listening. Ear protection it is called. They wield these instruments that churn out noise that travels to the end of summer with ears muffled - strangely seeming to think little, if at all, of other ears! Neither do they seem to be aware of the stench of the little 2-stroke engines that drive the whirring nylon. Perhaps they might think to wear gas-masks too! Surely they must be aware of the fumes that easily carry 200 yards in all directions on a still day.
No, they are not aware of such things. Any more than they are aware of the the wild-flowers cut down in their prime, before they have had a chance to seed, or aware that grass, or rather grasses (there are so many wonderful varieties), could be such a beautiful part of our surroundings.
Oh, if only instead of these horrible pathetic little machines that almost daily can turn our summers into a noise and smell hell, people were to rediscover an instrument almost as old as time itself - think Father Time if you like - the ancient scythe, which whispers (Frost) through the grass and leaves no trace of any smell so all you smell are the scents of the flowers and the mown grass - so amazingly different from the unpleasant smell of grass mashed by machinery!
And have you ever seen the way a man moves with a scythe and contrast it with the way he waddles aggressively with the screaming little machine determined to whack the grasses and everything else into oblivion? You can dance with a scythe - never with one of these unmentionable little noise polluters.
If only people would learn again how to dance! And sing with joy! And hear the wisdom of the fields again!
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground ……
…… The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make. (Robert Frost, "Mowing")
I have lived on Arran since I retired in 2001, having worked as a minister of the Church of Scotland in many places from the huge rural parishes of Zambia, to the northern Highlands. By way of contrast I worked in housing schemes in Paisley and Glasgow’s East End. I have used scythes in the past but rediscovered how lovely they are when I bought an Austrian scythe 8 years ago. A scythe skilfully used can keep the grass even on a lawn in perfect trim. In view of the pollution from strimmers (both noise and their huge CO2 output) I would dearly love to see a movement away from their use. Perhaps the Scottish government with its commitment to a cleaner environment (see Beverley Walker’s article in June issue) could encourage young people in learning the delightful art of scything and we could look forward to a time when you could get your grass kept beautiful by a silent gardener! Bliss! Sadly a very serious back injury 5 years ago has made it not so easy for me to scythe - and yet people with bad backs have testified to the soothing effects of the gently swinging motion. You wouldn’t ever get that from a strimmer!
There is much more about scything here.
It hardly seems a year ago that I had the privilege of being elected to serve the people of North Ayrshire & Arran, securing 53.2% of the vote and a majority of 13,573.
The trust placed in me and the SNP is something that I and my party take very seriously and have worked hard to try and repay.
Over the last year I have spoken in 49 debates, speaking out for my constituents, Scotland and party on a range of issues from funeral poverty to the menace of fixed odds betting terminals, threats to tax credits and shameful arms sales by the UK Government to repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia. I have also dealt with several thousand constituent enquiries undertaken hundreds of constituency engagements and held regular advice surgeries. Indeed, I was one of the first of the new MPs to establish a constituency office, which is based in Ardrossan.
Readers can follow my Westminster and constituency activity at www.patriciagibson.org
In Westminster it is generally agreed that SNP MPs have acquitted ourselves well, participating enthusiastically, energetically, constructively and in numbers to every Commons debate, working with others where we find common cause and can improve the lives of people in Scotland. There is a growing consensus that the SNP is providing the real opposition to the Tories at Westminster.
We opposed the deep and unnecessary cuts put forward in the Welfare Reform Bill and spoke out against Trident, whilst Labour abstained. We made sure that the concerns of people across the UK about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have been fully aired in parliament, whilst other parties took little interest.
Furthermore, consistently at Prime Minister’s Questions whilst SNP Leader Angus Robertson holds Cameron’s to account on issues such as state pension equalisation and cuts to benefits for disabled people, the scattergun approach of other party leaders lets Cameron off the hook, contrasting sharply with Robertson’s statesmanlike self-assurance.
Tory attempts to cut Scotland’s budget by £7billion thwarted by the SNP, welfare cuts, the deep divisions on Europe, the Panama Papers exposition of how hopelessly tax avoidance laws have been drafted and presided over by successive UK Governments to benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations, the shambolic state pension equalisation, the Chilcot Report delay and a continuation of the austerity agenda, all required a strong opposition which the SNP provided whilst Labour is riven by infighting and factionalism.
The SNP in Westminster has made its presence felt by voting to protect terms and conditions for Scotland’s workers in the retail sector, fought hard to have Scottish workers excluded from the pernicious trade union legislation, where we were opposed by Labour, and secured a freeze on both fuel and whisky duty. We continue to fight for equality, social justice and progressive change, always standing up for Scotland’s interests.
I will continue to be an accessible, visible and hardworking MP for North Ayrshire & Arran and, with my MP colleagues, will continue to be a strong voice for Scotland at Westminster.
Patricia Gibson has released the following statement following the murder of Jo Cox MP last month:
“That anyone should be murdered in broad daylight as they do their job is truly horrific. Jo Cox was well respected by her constituents and worked hard to promote humanitarian causes.
“Above all, she was a loved wife and mother who now will not see her children grow up. Two very young children have been deprived of their mother in the most cruel way imaginable.
“However, Jo would not want her death to change the way elected representatives do their work and that is why all MPs and MSPs must continue to go about their business in their constituencies, having the very necessary direct contact with their constituents, of which she was so fond.
“Fortunately, such attacks are rare but this should serve as a timely reminder that we all need to work harder to ensure our politics is respectful and tolerant, with no place for hatred. Our weapons in politics should be the force of our arguments, not knives, guns or personal insults - which some people feel free to hurl often in a cowardly, anonymous way online. One can only hope that people reflect on how they criticise - an essential part of political discourse - before doing so.”
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Bodley Head.
Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer. He held degrees in English literature, human biology, and history and philosophy of science and medicine from Stanford and Cambridge universities before graduating from Yale School of Medicine. He also received the American Academy of Neurological Surgery’s highest award for research. His reflections on doctoring and illness have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Paris Review Daily. He died in March 2015, aged 37, of lung cancer, just as he was completing his decade-long neurosurgical training. He wrote this short book during his last months. He is survived by his wife Lucy and their daughter Cady.
Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times describes it like this: "It turns out not really to be about dying at all but about life and how to live it ― though the closeness of death gives it an urgency and economy… When Breath Becomes Air is a Renaissance book from a Renaissance man. It is a work of philosophy and morality, a reconciliation of science and religion. There is even plot and excitement… It was only with the restrained, elegant epilogue written by his wife Lucy Kalanithi that I found myself weeping helplessly… When Breath Becomes Air tells us what means to live a good life, by giving us a glimpse into an exceptional one."
Paul Kalanithi died while still working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’”
When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.
Seeing by José Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, Vintage Books
First published in English in 2007, this book is acutely relevant again as the ballot on whether to stay in Europe yields its unsatisfactory and ill-thought-out result. José Saramago is Portuguese, and his country stands in a relationship to Spain not unlike that of Scotland to England, linked but with different assumptions. His work is as near to apocalyptic as can be while remaining casual and unruffled, but once read, you can't forget it. His previous book, called Blindness, reported in great detail an imagined loss of sight that gradually overwhelms a city's population, and this one, Seeing, is about what happens when a nation's people decide they will not vote.
It starts casually. 'Terrible voting weather, remarked the presiding officer of polling station fourteen as he snapped shut his soaked umbrella …' The reality is laconic and persuasive. So few votes are cast that the government declares the result null and void and issues an edict that every citizen will vote in a repeat poll. It results in thousands of blank papers. The prime minister points out that if one makes a mistake and the other corrects it, then both are right. Straight-faced idiocies multiply like rabid rabbits. The end – which I am not going to reveal – is small, neat and devastating. At this moment in our history, we should most certainly read this book again. It's funny, laconic and devastating.
An update from Arrangirl in India
Months ago, a colleague Katherine and I decided to take advantage of a long weekend and head to Udaipur - a beautiful city built round some lakes in Rajasthan. It's a short flight from Delhi, but the drive to Udaipur from the airport took almost as long. The road was shut, we were taken to the wrong hotel (twice!), then had a rather long and tedious argument with an auto driver …
We got there in the end 'though, and arrived at our charming haveli to be greeted with cups of chai & Oreo cookies.
Settled in, we decided to head out. We were yards away from the City Palace, and the sunset terrace sounded like the ideal place for a beer.
Turned out it was! Unfortunately we kinda missed sunset, but we drank Kingfisher, gazing out across Lake Pichhola, watching the ginormous bats flying overhead, wondering what the rich people over in the Taj Lake Palace were up to …
The next morning it was time for a boat ride round the lake. It doesn't take very long, but they do drop you off on Jag Mandir, a beautiful water palace built in 1620, and was once the hiding place for Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal) when he was merely Price Khurram and fighting with his father. The island is guarded by rows of elephants, and the preparations for a wedding were well underway.
These Maharanas sure did spoil themselves.
Then it was back to dry land and a tour of the City Palace. Construction started in 1553, but bits were added and embellished for the next 400 years. It's pretty spectacular as Indian palaces go.
Full of pretty courtyards, pavilions, terraces, steep winding staircases and hanging gardens, you could easily get lost. Signage is not the best in any tourist attraction …
It was rather a warm day, and we'd been warned that the crystal gallery - a separate part of the palace - wasn't worth the money, so we headed off to the rope way, or cable car, to get a view of the entire city. On the way we passed the camel park:
Unfortunately we mistimed our adventure again. The queue for the cable car was so long, we missed sunset again, and it was almost entirely dark by the time we stepped off the car and onto the terrace for the view.
Fairly fabulous, even in the dark, but it would have been good to see it in daylight!
Dinner time, and we found a lovely spot by the lake.
A warning here however - the butter chicken portions are huuuuuge!
The next morning, we decided to visit the hotel that the auto drivers thought we should have been staying at, and we were not disappointed. The restaurant was on the first floor, with lovely views of the lake, and a brilliant banana lassi. Then sadly it was time to return to Delhi - but at least the road was open this time!
With thanks to Arrangirl
How many people fit into Whiting Bay Lesser Hall? An awful lot was the answer on the evening of Sunday 5th June when a packed house assembled for the launch of Alison Prince’s handsome collection of poems ‘Waking At Five Happens Again’. Organised by Alison’s duet of publishers, the Fife-based Happenstance Press and Mariscat Press from Edinburgh, the event was attended by folk from many areas of Alison’s long and varied life as a writer, campaigner, teacher, mother , musician and Unique Arran Phenomenon.
As Happenstance’s Helena (‘Nell’) Nelson explained in her introduction, it is unusual for publishers to join forces to publish a book, and the fact that she and Mariscat’s Hamish Whyte elected to do so on this occasion is testimony to Alison’s unique voice as a poet. To warm applause she recounted how she and Hamish had been struck by the quality of the body of work written by Alison since winding down her day job as a writer of biographies and children’s books. This, she said, was a unique publishing initiative.
And then it was time for Alison to read a selection of poems from her book. Being for the most part quite short and accessible they read well to an audience and cover a long arc from a childhood during the London Blitz via many by-roads to her arrival on Arran in the 1980s. Their range is impressive from memories of her childhood years – ‘My father was playing Chopin. / . . . Clear notes . . . floated. / And then, perfectly timed, / the siren went.’ – to life as a young woman –-’I can only love dangerous men’; from the sex life of butterflies (Cabbage Whites) and old-fashioned travelling (Van), to the perplexities of bureaucracy (The Form).
Many of the poems touch on details of island life (Missing The Boat, or Early Bus) but a recurring theme is the joy of quiet miracles that are around all of us every day if we stop to witness them (Raspberries). The poems are by turns delightful, astonished, funny, meditative and heartbreaking, and despite their light touch they do not shy away from the darker side of life. In an especially moving sequence, November Week, Alison charts days confronting her own mortality due to deteriorating health: ‘Time is shortening. / . . . While the imagined span dwindles / its value concentrates, just as the earth / presses itself into diamonds.’ (Sunday).
With a musical interlude of typically high quality from Tim Pomeroy (and an unscheduled vocal intervention from fellow Jazz Café member Biff) this was an evening of warmth and celebration, a night to remember.
I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The opening stanzas of Tennyson’s famous poem require no introduction. Learned by generations of school children they are one of the best loved poems by someone who is still one of Britain’s best loved poets.
Music Society concerts are always hugely enjoyable, but the most recent one, on Saturday June18th, was also great fun. The mandolin, I'd always thought, was of a size that sat comfortably within the arm (rather like a cat, but more compliant), making quiet, plucked sounds that evoke old paintings of musicians in some peaceful room. Well, forget that. The largest mandolin was as big as a double bass, but with a generously swelling belly that made its lower half almost circular. The smaller one, admittedly, was cat-sized, quick and light in its range, and a classical guitar gave the trio a brio, as one might put it.
Simon Mayor, urbane, witty and very funny about the quirks of the Russian language, was the player of the normal, cat-sized mandolin and Gerald Garcia on guitar provided splendid harmonic stability, but by virtue of sheer size, the star of the show was the 'mandobass' or bass mandolin, played by Hilary James, who also turned out to have a lovely singing voice. Tuning a mandolin is tricky, as the instrument is double-strung so there must be perfect unison in each pair – but no hint of any technical difficulty was visible or audible, and the evening's programme was fluent and varied as well as highly amusing. The programme was eclectic, ranging trans-world from Leroy Anderson to Brazil and from the Gaelic to the songs of India, and Simon's own compositions were immensely enjoyable. Everyone had a thoroughly good time and the whole evening was both memorable and highly entertaining.
Arran Music Society’s next concert is taking place a little earlier than planned, on Saturday, 9th July, and it is one for connoisseurs and fans of classical music. Echo Chamber Ensemble features the perhaps less familiar combination of Ruth Morley on flute, Hannah Craib on viola and Sharron Griffiths on harp.
Based in Scotland, all three are distinguished musicians who have performed both in the UK and in several European countries. The sound they produce promises to be not only new to many, but most beguiling. Their reviews speak of “an absolutely magical performance” and “dedication and splendid musicianship”. Their programme on the 9th ranges from Bach (both J.S. and C.P.E.) through Ibert and Debussy to the contemporary Scottish composer Thea Musgrave. The members of the trio will introduce the pieces “in a relaxed manner”.
The concert, in Brodick Hall, starts at 7.30, and again seating will be in café style. Tickets are available at the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from www.arranevents.com.
Rosemary Randall and Andy Brown are the originators of the award-winning Carbon Conversations project, and have recently launched their new book In Time for Tomorrow?. Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine said “This lovely handbook covers it all...it reckons honestly with the psychological impacts of a crisis that is far too easy for many of us to deny in our everyday lives”.
Despite the urgency of climate change, most people close their eyes, turn away and hope that someone else will sort it out. Psychotherapist Rosemary Randall and engineer Andy Brown brought their unusual combination of psychological and technical skills together and set out to discover why.
“As a psychotherapist, I’ve spent my life helping people face their deepest fears and conflicts,” says Rosemary, “and I was sure that was relevant somehow.” “Engineering and science give us the tools to tackle the problem,” says Andy “but they’re no use if we can’t get people to listen and act.”
The pair formed hundreds of small groups across the country where they created a safe and welcoming space, encouraged people to ask searching questions about their lifestyles and climate change, and provided them with the information they needed to make real changes. “It turns out that many of the barriers to fixing climate change are really about our fears, our aspirations and our sense of aloneness,” says Rosemary.
In Time for Tomorrow? offers practical ways to help us face one the most uncomfortable truths of our time – that we are responsible for climate change and that our lives need to change as a result.
Ro and Andy were recently on Arran, and the Voice caught up with them on holiday in Kildonan.
Ro and Andy, thank you for talking with the Voice. Can I begin by asking how you first became involved in this work?
Ro: Eleven years ago I was speaking at a conference about the psychological concept of disavowal: the psychological process that allow us to know something in one part of the mind but act in the rest of our lives as if this isn’t true. This seemed a useful idea in helping to think about how and why we avoid facing up to the reality of climate change.
Andy: Ro’s talk made a lot of sense to me, since as an engineer I couldn’t understand why our responses to climate change seemed so irrational.
Ro: At that time CAT (The Centre for Alternative Technology, in Wales) was developing a carbon footprint calculator for individual lifestyles. Andy and I realised that we could combine the psychological and the technical in helping people to explore their everyday carbon usage. This led to the Carbon Conversations Project, in which folk meet in supportive, facilitated groups to look at how they can make changes in their lifestyles in order to reduce their carbon footprints.
Why is it so difficult for people to change their behaviour and reduce their carbon footprints, given what we all now know about climate change?
Andy: Well, for one thing, it requires us to make technical choices e.g. what sort of car should I choose next? Often the advice is conflicting, and no individual benefit might be seen for a long time.
Ro: Also, the unthinking use of carbon is so built into society and all of our systems, that to keep this in awareness involves going against the flow, and challenging social norms (e.g. giving up flying for holidays). This feels difficult and risky, so we use the unconscious defence mechanisms of splitting, projection and disavowal instead, to defend ourselves against the anxiety of knowing that we are both causing, and doing little to ameliorate, climate change.
Where is the project at now?
Ro: It feels that as there is more public knowledge of climate change today, so anxiety has increased and people have become even more defensive in order to cope – attitudes have hardened, in effect – so the focus now is much more on just how to talk about all this, given the immediate defensiveness of folk. For example, people often say that because they recycle their household rubbish, it’s fine for them to take cruises or fly to Spain. How to open up a non-defensive discussion of the relative importance of different elements of our lifestyles? Certainly it can’t be done without sensitive consideration of the psychological processes involved in this.
How do each of you avoid disillusionment and burn-out, given the reaction of most people to climate change, of “closing their eyes and turning away”?
Andy: It’s very hard, and we don’t have an answer! Certainly we have had to step back at times.
Ro: I’ve recently been researching how climate scientists, and climate change activists, cope. There are different ways, with differing degrees of effectiveness.
How do you think the future is going to look?
Ro: I’m pessimistic. Our responses to climate change will be too little, too late, and there may be civil disturbances (as well as natural ones, of course) and increasing restrictions on civil liberties, I fear.
Andy: And that seems characteristic of the politics of today generally – look at how we are responding to the refugee situation. So many of our structures and processes seem to make effective, timely, and humane responses impossible. Nevertheless, we will continue to try to make a difference.
Following on from Ro and Andy’s visit, it is intended that ACLI, the Arran Community Land Initiative, will host some talks and activities using the Carbon Conversations framework at different venues around the island in the coming months. Watch this space!
Felicity at Eden Lodge has been in residence for a year now, much to the relief of folk in Whiting Bay, who feared a bleak future without their pub.
So a group of old friends celebrated a reunion by gathering there recently for a cheerful meal. We looked more for a relaxed atmosphere and easy food than gourmet surprises - oh, and did I mention the drink? And this is just what Felicity's provides.
From a cheerful greeting - we were early but they not fazed - to a table with a great view of diving gannets, we were excellently looked after. Ok, the range of starters didn't appeal much - dredged scallops, farmed salmon, soup on a hot night, olives and hummus for just short of £6? - but when we settled for sharing plates of said expensive hummus we were pleasantly surprised to find it tasty, (we would have liked a more generous serving) and accompanied by excellent olives and garlicky flatbread. Old Engine Oil beers were delicious and the selection of gins fashionably impressive.
Fish n' chips is usually a safe choice on Arran and so it proved, with crunchy batter, hand cut chips and crushed peas. Sea bass was nicely cooked but came with 'seasonal vegetables' of baby corn, carrots and green beans, rather boring and surely not seasonal on Arran? Come on Felicity, you have a great seasonal grower in whiting bay. And if not Robin, perhaps ACLI could help out from its new demonstration allotment.
The smoky burger was good and meaty, accompanied by great local smoky cheese, but the so-called chorizo was hard to recognise, being insipid and bland. The high point of our mains came with the tuna nicoise, dirty great big hot steaks - they checked how we wanted it done and it arrived beautifully cooked - and the accompanying green beans, eggs and potatoes were warm, the lettuce cold, an interesting combo. We failed to check if it was line caught, perhaps by now having enjoyed too much of the Old Engine Oil.
We enjoyed a variety of puds as you would expect from Felicity. Rhubarb and apple crumble boasted a nicely judged crisp crunchy crumble, properly cooked and not too sweet, though more of the in season rhubarb would have been welcome. Arran Gold creme brûlée had an unusual problem in that there was so much brûlée on top that a chisel would have come in handy to reach the soft creme beneath; after fighting through the crust, Arran Gold was perhaps just too elusive in flavour to be found. The cheesecake was judged pretty standard but a zingy, intensely flavoured raspberry sorbet/ice cream came to its rescue. And finally in Mystery Muncher's chocolate corner, I come to the Millionaire's Sundae, disgracefully full of ice cream but perhaps not quite enough of the crunchy, caramelly chocolatey stuff.
Our raucous and occasionally argumentative crew were looked after with good humour and professional attention.
The quest for the perfect chocolate pudding continues and the Mystery Muncher goes on in hope.
This month's Action on Hearing Loss drop-in clinic will be in the Arran War Memorial hospital on Tuesday 26th from 11am to 1pm.
The full brochure of all the clinics throughout Ayrshire and Arran from July – September 2016 can be found here.
A recent letter from the Red Cross says that, due to lack of funds, they will have to withdraw the minibus service to hospitals from Ardrossan. This is grim news for Arran patients, with no service now to Crosshouse, let alone more distant hospitals such as the Royal Jubilee. Scheduling appointments will now be very difficult, and in the case of the Royal Jubilee, will almost certainly mean an overnight stay. The question of how rather sick people are to struggle their way by public service bus even to Crosshouse now becomes quite technical.
From Alison Prince
The Arran Medical Group have issued the following:
We are aware that the Red Cross patient transport service is due to be withdrawn from June 30th. Arran Medical Group has sought to clarify arrangements via the Arran Operational Group. We have also asked for a simplified flowchart to be made available to help patients decide which services/options they can access for transport to hospital appointments.
In the meantime, we have received confirmation that any patients who would have been eligible for assistance from Red Cross transport, will be able to use the NHS Highland & Islands transport scheme. The patient will be responsible for paying the first £10.00, unless they are eligible for additional recompense (usually if the patient is claiming benefits). To access this funding:
The Scottish Ambulance have also confirmed that eligible patients can also book via the Patient Transport Service. The link includes a phone number to arrange pick up when leaving hospital.
South to make three hearts. West leads the ♦Q.
East's best play is to ruff the opening lead and return a club to South's ♣K. South leads a second diamond. East ruffs again and returns a trump to ♥K & ♥A. West leads a spade to North's ♠A and North cashes the ♣A. Now there are (unfortunately) two ways of succeeding. For example, South can discard the ♠Q, ruff a spade high and lead the ♥9, North overtaking or not depending on West's discard. If West discards a diamond, South's ♥9 wins. North ruffs a diamond and leads the ♣8, South discarding a diamond. West is endplayed into setting up either South's last diamond or North's ♣7. If West discards a club at trick 8, North overtakes the ♥9 and sets up a long club by ruffing one and losing one (in either order).
Alternatively, South can discard a diamond on the ♣A at trick 6 and then put East in with a spade. East must return a heart to prevent the last six tricks being made on a cross-ruff. South plays the ♥9 and North overtakes or not according to West's discard. The ensuing cross-ruff sets up a winner in the hand that is on the lead to cash it at trick thirteen.
1 Melts broken hat from Cornwall returning? (5)
5 Crack carbon vicar on the rocks (7)
9 Terrorists accountant backing mites (5)
10 A kiss on Sulphur neurons? (5)
11 Retinue from cog tree? (7)
12 Broken canes in part of opera (5)
13 Sock I flip oddly in Star Trek perhaps (3-2)
14 Locks steamship in copse (7)
17 I am harsh and I make an instructor (9)
21 Start being around (5)
22 Whalebones back around tree (5)
23 Sets of broken cries seen (9)
27 Knowall on genius keeps extra paper (7)
31 Smart vehicles reversing (5)
32 Err to the West before East Indian Japanese American (5)
33 Backing Buckie perhaps and making meals for paints (7)
34 Lift a sire away (5)
35 Top notch cardinal slate returns (5)
36 Sixes failed tests after Kent perhaps (7)
37 View daughter's grains (5)
1 No, thirty-one is about crossbeam (7)
2 Dump ash and boil scrap (7)
3 More cheeky sire is worried about donkey (7)
4 Brace broken pole (5)
5 Scar top soldier heading a moment in time (9)
6 Strange ever that is (5)
7 Thoughts from inside asteroid (5)
8 Few ersatz teasets have jugs (5)
15 Pares off javelin (5)
16 Cut off top in pair of drugs (5)
18 Article in abdicated king of space (5)
19 Fort in abuttal a mole dug (5)
20 Dramas make sense, Puss (9)
24 Complete envelopes steer in confusion (7)
25 Dream of three kings tail first in energy (7)
26 Single fourteen is mixed for siblings (7)
27 Jumps to left side after chopper (5)
28 Lends on all necessary savings to start (5)
29 One of nephew's twenty-six? (5)
30 Pinger as investigators arise (5)
Answers for the June puzzle:
1 Alameda, 5 Dispels, 9 Nascent, 10 Sienese, 11 Aggie, 12 Erectness, 13 Spiritous, 15 Eosin, 16 Sheet, 18 Graceless,
21 Olecranal, 24 Toast, 25 Nosings, 26 Tootsie, 27 Sinuous, 28 Assists.
1 Anneals, 2 Assagai, 3 Exegetist, 4 Antre, 5 Dyspepsia, 6 Scent, 7 Elevens, 8 Stemson, 14 Oogenesis, 15 Ejections,
16 Stounds, 17 Erepsin, 19 Elapses, 20 Sateens, 22 Rondo, 23 Lytta.