HAPPY Committee Wick Confirm Hogmanay Street Party Goes Ahead As Planned
The committee in charge of the Wick Hogmanay Street Party have been in touch to confirm everything is ready to go as planned.

Thurso Hogmanay Street Party
 9.00pm - 10.00pm Redwal
10.15pm - 10.30pm Junior Pipe Band
10.30pm - 11.45pm Whisky
11.45pm - 11.55pm Alan Plowman (Piper)
11.55pm - 12.10am Welcome to 2007
12.10am - 01.00am Whisky and Finale
Wick Hogmanay Street Party
9.40pm - Just Yesterday
10.00pm - High Voltage
10.20pm - Jingle Bells
10.40pm - Liquid Blue
11.15pm - Betsy Twinkler
11.45pm - Wick Pipe Band
11.55pm - Count Down To The Bells
12.05pm - Wick Pipe Band And Strip the Willow
12.15am - Sing-song Betsy
12.20am - Betsy Twinkler
1.30am - Grand Finale - Auld Lang Syne

No Hogmanay Web Cam This Year
A combination of circumstances means we cannot set up a web cam this year.  Partly this because Bill and now Niall have been hit by a flu-like bug.  Bill has been in bed for the past few days taking heaps of medication and hence the reason why no updates have appeared on the web site.

Don't Believe Everything You Read On the Web - Wick Is Not as Hot As This
Earlier today was showing that Wick was baking in 43 degrees but although the frost has now disappeared after yesterday's minus two we are definitely not in the middle of a heat wave.  Check out later to see if the web site has corrected our weather HERE


From all of us at we wish you all a very Happy Christmas.  And to all of the men of SF Platoon, Wick out in Basra we hope you can all enjoy a part of the day in difficult circumstances as many folk back here are thinking of you.  To everyone around the globe  - thanks for looking in from time to time on Caithness.  We hope everyone has nice day.

Tabby Missing From Janetstown - Hill Of Forss Area
Cat Missing from Janetstown/Hill of Forss Area - 3 Year Old Tabby. He has been missing for about 3 weeks. He is known for wandering but not normally this long. He tends to head over the fields towards Thurso Golf Course area (we think) so he may have gone as far as Ormlie direction. If anyone has any information can you please e-mail or phone 01847 893466.


Ackergill - The Seal And The Sunset

Often at this time of year you might find a seal pup and be tempted to try and help it in some way.  However the advice from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue is to be wary and not to touch the animal as its mother may be nearby and may abandon it if you interfere with it (They can also bite).  The one in this series of photos seemed happy enough and was rolling over like a kitten so we kept well back and carried on our way.

Christmas Carols With the Caithness Orchestra And The Choral Society

Christmas Poster Competition Fro Primary Schools
During the last week UKAEA Dounreay has been hosting a series of Seasonal Safety Roadshow's for staff on the site. As part of the road show, UKAEA invited all local primary school children to participate in a Christmas poster competition to draw a picture of hazards to watch out for at Christmas. The winners from two categories; primary 1 to 3 and primary 4 to 7 were chosen during the roadshow. Pictured here are the winners receiving their prizes from Elaine Cameron and Jacqueline Budge from Dounreay's Assurance Team.

Latest Grants From Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise

Don't Drink And Drive This Holiday Season Take A Taxi
Why not print the taxi listing and keep it in your wallet or handbag.  Remember losing you license might cost you thousands of pounds in fines, higher insurance premiums, resitting your driving test and the theory test now getting harder.  Worse than that someone including you might be seriously injured.  Have a good night out but Take A Taxi - It will probably only cost the price of a couple of drinks

A Farm House Flitting 1949 by Elaine Smith
First published in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin of April 2002.  Thanks to Janet Mackenzie once again for preparing the text.  More articles from the 2002 Bulletin will follow over the next few days.

More Photos Of Old Wick From Hamish Gunn

More photos from Hamish Gunn of Old Wick showing a number of areas of the harbour, riverside and other parts still recognisable although much changed.  To see many more photos of Old Wick it is always worthwhile visiting Wick Heritage Centre from April to October as they have a huge collection of photos and copies of many of them can be purchased in range of sizes. Early Caithness Postcards  Caithness History
See lots of Wick today in the A to Z of Caithness   Wick Heritage Centre On
Some Wick History

Calling Local Voluntary Groups and Charities - Check Out These Possible Funding Sources
Just in are details of more possible funding sources for wide range of projects and groups for committee members and project workers to check out.

The Department of Trade and Industry has announced that Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) will open for applications on the 8th January 2007. Grants for over the next 18 months to help fund the installation of micropower technologies such as solar panels, micro wind-turbines and ground source heat pumps on schools, not for profit and public sector buildings.
The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation has announced that in 2007 they expect to make grants of £29 million across the UK. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK and makes grants to organisations which aim to improve the quality of life.  The Foundation makes grants through four programme areas: Arts & Heritage, Education, Environment and Social Change: Enterprise and Independence.
The Tree Council, a national charity that promotes the planting and conservation of trees in town and countryside has two grant schemes available for 2007. These are the Trees for Schools Fund and the Communities Tree Fund. Under these funds grants of up to £700 are available both to schools and community groups
The Camelot Foundation has announced that the next deadline for applications under its "Transforming Lives" programme is the 26th January 2007.
Help the Hospices, the national charity in the UK for the hospice movement, has announced that it is seeking applications under its Carers Seedcorn grants programme.
The BT Schools Awards, which aims to improve speaking and listening and communication skills of young people, has now been replaced by two new award schemes known as the BT Speaking and Listening Awards and the BT Seen and Heard Awards. The BT Speaking and Listening Awards offer prizes of between £500 and £5,000 to UK schools and youth groups

People across the Highlands are being urged to be well organised over the festive season so that those who really need healthcare can get it. The Christmas and New Year period are traditionally busy times for the health service in general - this is particularly the case when GP surgeries are closed. There will be the usual full range of Emergency services and Out of Hours services in place for the festive period to ensure that people who need services can access them quickly and appropriately.

New Apprenticeship For Local Food Growers - A Great Opportunity
Highlands and Islands Local Food Network (HILFN) is to set up a food apprenticeship to train a new generation of food growers in the area - the first course of its kind in Scotland. More and more consumers in the Highlands and Islands are choosing to eat healthily and shop locally which is leading to a shortage of locally grown fruit and vegetables in many parts of the north. The new course, called Local Food Apprenticeship in Horticulture is aimed at existing farmers, crofters and new growers. It will cover practical production in field and polytunnels as well as the planning and marketing of fruit and vegetables. The course is part time, with three days training each month for a year and starts in February 2007.

Last Wick High Prom Photos

If any one at the dance would like to add more photos just email them to

More Wick High Prom

More photos from the night later................

Wick High Prom

Wick High Prom got underway tonight with everyone looking to have an excellent night out.

Wick Around 1920 - 1930

A couple of old photos of the centre of Wick from Hamish Gunn.  We have zoomed in on parts to give a better view of parts of the photos for you to see better how things have changed since those days.

Wickers Gaining From Many Short Term Offers At New Tesco Store
Many Wickers think Christmas came early with the arrival of Tesco in the town.  But they did not expect the range of short-term offers that they have been grabbing.  As the store sorts out its ordering their have been a number of offers being picked up by local folk keeping their eyes peeled.  25% off wine saw huge amounts of buying and almost at the booze cruise stage as folk came over from Orkney on the ferry and left laden with the offers.  For two days an offer that started as two cases (40 cans) of Tennents lager for £16 was increased to 3 cases of 20 (60 cans) for £16.  An avalanche of lager left the shop in those two days as canny Wickers stocked up for the festive season. Offers still seems to be coming unannounced with clothing currently being marked down on some lines by 33% and 50% and maybe more if you look hard. The clothing sale now on is possibly to make way for a winter sale that might start as early as Christmas Eve. The store is bracing itself for a huge rush this coming weekend.  This season of offers has also been reflected in local Wick shops where several having been slashing prices with their own offers so its well worth shopping in Wick at the moment.

A Face Identified In A Photo
From time to time we get an email identifying another face.  Today Pat Grant from the Isle of Lewis has been in touch to tell us that the lady looking over the shoulder of the scout master was in fact her mother Hetty Bain then of Henrietta Terrace, Wick.  Now all the faces in that photo that dates from 1939 are now listed.



Another Caithness Exists In The World Of Role Playing
Just in from the Blogland - Orc Lands/Zarak/Caithness - "The Orcs have been beaten back and the Dwarves, Humans, and Elves seem to be prepared. Dain wish to find the Lost City of Grinnel. They believe however that the Orcs number in the hundreds of thousands and that they will return."  Caithness folk get everywhere even fantasy lands...............

SF Platoon From Wick In Basra For Christmas
This photo just in today is of the Caithness men of SF Platoon currently serving in Basra.  The will their for 6 months having only gone out in November.  Their unit is Territorial Army - Wick Platoon and they are part of SF Platoon - C Company - 7 Scots - Royal Regiment of Scotland formerly C Company - 51st Highland Regiment before the recent changes to the Scottish regiments. If any family or friends of the Caithness men would like a higher quality photo for printing purposes just send a request by email to and he will forward the full size file to make a better print.  You can send Christmas messages via our forum to the men in Basra.  They are checking out the web site as and when their duties allow.  From all of us at the web site we hope you guys have a happy but quiet Christmas.  Caithness TA Index

Pulteneytown Parents and Toddlers Group Christmas Party

The Papers
NHS Highland had the lowest take of immunisation of the number of two-year-olds receiving the triple jab for mumps, measles and rubella out of 14 health boards in Scotland.
Mapping a path to access that will benefit us all - The Herald
Evidence has concluded in the case of Tuley v Highland Council, but it will be several weeks before the sheriff's judgment is available. This case has a landowner appealing against a notice under the Act that requires him to remove barriers preventing access by horse-riders.......................
Deliveries to north 'cost more' - BBC
John Thurso MP joined four other MP's in accusing the delivery companies of excessive and discriminatory charging for customers in the north.
Green light for oil exploration - BBC
This item on the BBC web site was confirmed when Caithness councillors granted planning permission for a test drill at Swiney, Lybster to go ahead next year.  Drilling will last for several weeks.  See Planning Application for details - (PDF). The Org wonders if Caithness will become the Abu Dhabi of the north with so many energy sources - Wind, Tidal, and maybe Oil.  In addition Caithness is moving to Alternative energy with Solar Roofs, Small Wind Turbines (Tesco Wick), Heat And Power from wood chip (Wick Scheme) and ground source heat pump to be installed at Thurso Town Hall as part of the New Horizons Centre.

Off To Thurso High Third and Fourth Year Christmas Dance
Here are a few of the girls in their stunning dresses of to the Thurso High third and fourth year Christmas dance tonight.  This is the first year that Thurso High has run a formal dance for third and fourth years and joins the popular fifth/sixth year dance at the end of the year.  If anyone else would like to add photos from Thurso to this gallery email them to and we will try to get tham up as soon as we can.


Jobs Now In Jobs Section
Maintenance Technicians - Thurso - Designers, Thurso - Design Office Managers, Thurso
Engineering Manager  Thurso - OFFSHORE MECHANICAL TECHNICIANS - Worldwide

Employers  - You can advertise for staff FREE of charge via our Jobs Pages.  Week or even months of advertising free and then repeat the ad if you do not find the right candidate first time round.  Finding staff can be expensive so why not try our pages.  If you need more help try HiJobs

Tavish Scott's Announcement Today About Rail Spending
Friends of the Far North Line (FoFNL) has given a cautious welcome to plans announced by the Transport Minister Tavish Scott to make significant improvements to the interiors of the 17-year-old class 158 trains used between Inverness, Wick and Aberdeen. FoFNL congratulates First ScotRail (FSR) on drawing up the new layout and Transport Scotland on finding the money to install new seats and to create more room for luggage and enable the carriage of four bicycles, rather than just two, in each two-car unit. This will be particularly welcome to long-distance cyclists carrying out the Lands End/John O'Groats marathon.

Pre-school Children's Christmas Party For Dounreay Staff
UKAEA Dounreay has again hosted their children's Christmas parties for children of UKAEA employees. Three parties were held; preschool, ages 5-8 and ages 9-12. The parties this year were held in the Ross Institute in Halkirk where great fun was had by all, with Santa Claus's visit being most favourite. With safety being top priority on the Dounreay site and all entering the site now wearing hi-viz jackets it was thought to be appropriate to pass this safety message onto the children. All children attending were given a hi-viz waistcoat courtesy of CH2MHill. Pictured here are the children and parents who attended the pre-school party.

Latest Addition To Herring Queens Section
Thanks to Val Duffield for sending this newspaper photo of Alice Taylor who was Herring Queen in 1938 and court.  If anyone else would like to add to this section send itesm to


Eat, Drink and Be Healthy
Did you know that on Christmas Day we eat our way through three times as many calories as we actually need? That's about 6,000 in total, and that's just Christmas Day! However, there are still plenty of treats to be had over the festive period that won't add on the pounds. Evelyn Ogilvie, Lead Dietitian at Raigmore Hospital, is keen to point out that Christmas doesn't have to be about overindulging and unhealthy food. She explained: "On average people gain about 5lbs over Christmas. We're surrounded by lots of lovely food and tend to drink more than usual. So it's very easy to see where the temptation lies. However, it's not all bad news, you can still enjoy the usual Christmas food without piling on the pounds."............
Highland Health NHS Highland North Highland Community Health Partnership

Prom N Aid - A chance To Relive That School Celidh In Wick
Relive prom night with wild ceilidh dancing. Friday 29th December Back Bridge Street Club
open to all (except current pupils) 8pm till late
£10 each for two, £12 for one, incl. Finger buffet (all the fingers you can eat) Addie Harper, Gordon Gunn & friends, Dust down your prom frock or your kilt in aid of Wick High school funds to support a wide range of extracurricular activities Numbers are strictly limited so get your tickets now. From J. Gunn & co, McAllans Menswear, Poltney News, Corner Shop, Wick High Reception Reception

The Aurora As Seen From Shetland

Jimmy Taylor has sent in a few photos of the Aurora seen from Shetland.  Keep you eyes open and camera handy on a clear night and you may see something spectacular.  Keep the camera handy

Kids Saw Santa In His Castletown Grotto 
Children in and around Castletown saw Santa in his grotto on Saturday.  The event held at the Drill Hall raised £300.



Sleeping Beauty Panto Pics - That's All Folks
85 - 96                                                           97 - 99

Sleeping Beauty Panto Pics 73 - 84

Sleeping Beauty Panto Pics 61 - 72

More Sleeping Beauty Panto Pics - 48 - 60

Enter British Small Business Champions 2007
If your business employs less than 50 people you can enter the competition with chance of winning £10,000 plus £20,000 of advertising plus a £5000 donation to charity of your choice.



Emergency Works Due To Flooding On 26th October Approved By Highland Councillors
Highland Councillors agreed to a range of expenditure for emergency works following the severe flooding that took place on 26 October.  Councillors were asked to note the authorisation by the Chief Executive of £1.699m of emergency expenditure under delegated powers provided by Financial Regulation 11.5 and the authority for the Council to incur such expenditure through Section 84 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973; to approve further emergency expenditure of £1.090m; a letter has been sent to Ministers to discuss the possibility of financial assistance. Councillors also agreed to note that a further report will be presented to the Budget Working Group on funding the remaining costs of approximately £2.7m arising from the flooding.  In Caithness it was agreed to allocate £150,000 for work on the culvert in South Road, Wick which caused flooding and £50,000 for a culvert at Forss.  A further paper on flooding that took place on later dates will be brought to councillors at meeting early in 2007.

Key Decisions Taken on Council Post 2007
The Highland Council took a number of key decisions on Thursday 15 December 2006 in preparing for the creation of 22 multi-member wards from May next year, as well as changes to planning and licensing legislation.

Highland Council Agrees Distribution of Additional Funding For Highland Schools (Pdf)
The Scottish Executive has announced an additional round of resources for schools and Education Authorities. The Highland Council has received an additional £1.85M Revenue Funding for schools’ and £896,000 for the School Building Improvement Fund. In both cases the additional resources have to be spent this financial year. Every school in Highland will receive the additional funding.  See the listings in for actual amounts.

Highland Council To Lead In £70 Million Broadband Development For Highlands And Islands
Highland Council is the lead authority covering 5 councils in the north for Broadband project that will see all public buildings including schools and libraries.  The total budget for the 7 year contract is £70m, with £62m coming from the Scottish Executive, the remainder coming from the Partner authorities existing spend on network connections. Part of the project has been to upgrade the Connected Communities network in the Western Isles to the level being procured across the rest of the Highlands and Islands under the Pathfinder project. £1million (in addition to the £62m for the core contract from the Scottish Executive) has been allocated for this purpose. The main benefits of the pathfinder project which will see very high levels of bandwidth delivered to 850 sites across the Highlands and Islands (some 484 in Highland).  It will lead to significant improvements in the telecommunications infrastructure across the Highlands and Islands which will have benefits for the public and private sectors.

Caithness Woman Still Taking On Challenges For Caithness MS Group
Tracey Macleod has already walked the Great Wall of China to raise funds for MS.  Now she has selected the Grand Canyon for her next fund raising exploit.  You can sponsor her online at her Just Giving web site.

More Panto Pics
37 - 48

Sleeping Beauty this years pantomime by Thurso Players has now ended.  We still have more photos to come over today.

Sunday Papers
Britain turns to Bechtel as it plans giant nuclear waste site -

Is John Thurso the sexiest man in the Liberal Democrats?
The Liberal Democrat Voice web site is running a poll and our local MP is out in front.

Playbox Play Group Christmas Party
Christmas Party season at play groups and nurseries is in full swing in Caithness and Playbox in Wick had there own with a visit from Santa.



Wick Pipe Band and Santa At Tesco Today

Wick Pipe Band entertained the shoppers today at Tesco In Wick.  Meanwhile Tesco had arranged for Santa to pay a visit throughout the day and was speaking to children as they walked around the store and gave them gifts of sweets and selection boxes.   The Tesco manager had a go at the pipes but he will need a few more lessons.  We think he suits the headgear!!

Young Thurso Musician Joins Virtual Concert
A young lad From Thurso with his French Horn has sent in a piece to join in the Virtual Christmas Concert.  The web site Mr Golding's Brass Place offers FREE lessons in music theory with short tests to check progress and has some pieces to practice.  Mr Golding is regular on the forum and his new site is expanding.  There is still time for any young brass player to send in a small film of themselves playing their brass instrument.  all instructions are on the site.

Santa And Coffee At Bridge Street Church, Wick Today

NORTHERN Constabulary raised concern this week as the number of people involved in collisions during the first week of the Festive Safety Campaign as a result of drink driving rose compared to the same period last year. The Force detected 10 drink drivers across the Force area after they had all been involved in a road collision, compared to six during week one last year. The number of positive breath tests in non-collisions dropped. Six were detected during the first week, compared to 11 the previous year. In total 16 people were found to be over the limit during week one, a drop of two on last year.
Think About It - Lose Your Driving License possibly for up to three years, Huge fine perhaps more than £1000,  Walking or taking the bus.  Maybe lose your job, All that followed by massively expensive car insurance and lost no claims bonus that will take five  years to recover.  Forced to sit another driving test before you can get back in the car.  Possibly go to jail if someone is seriously injured.  Take a taxi.  A lost license might end up costing thousands.  Don't even think about stepping in your car if you are over the limit.  That might get you arrested even if you are just sitting reading a paper. Keep taxi numbers in your purse or wallet with enough cash to pay for it.

Aurora From Caithness Last Night
Thanks to Gordon Mackie for these photos of the Aurora from Caithness taken last night. Gordon said, "Although not particularly colourful this is the first significant auroral display I've seen for some time and was well worth braving the cold for the short period the clouds allowed observation. The photos show part of an auroral display that filled the northern sky last night just before midnight. It was bright enough to be clearly visible from in the town. This display was due to a recent solar flare and more displays are expected over the next few days due to further solar activity - see:  &  If out observing the aurorae be on the lookout for meteors (shooting stars), as you might see a few stragglers from the Geminid meteor shower which peaked on the 14th Dec."

Caithness & Sutherland In Latest Floodwatch Alert
SEPA has once again issued floodwatch warnings for many parts of Scotland again today with rivers and lochs rising.

More Panto From Thurso - Many more to come as time allows...........
25 - 36

Sleeping Beauty Pantomime In Thurso Off To A Flying Start Last Night
Thurso Players hit the ground running last night with the first night of Sleeping Beauty - a traditional Christmas pantomime.  Only a very few tickets were left for tonight and Thursday and some for Friday and Saturday but going fast so be quick if don't want to miss out.  Thurso Players put on an extra night due to the refurbishment of Eden Court in Inverness meaning there was no Panto this year.  This has proved a good move as schools that usually head for Inverness have come to Thurso. Thurso Players Web Site    More photos from the panto coming later..............

New Dynamics - Promoting Inclusion Through Public Art
Works created in seven exciting visual arts projects for young people across the Highlands have been captured on a new web site which will be simultaneously launched in the seven communities today Wednesday 13th December 2006.  features all the work of the artist-led residencies in Upper Fort William, Kinlochleven, Glenuig, Ormlie (Thurso), the North Coast of Sutherland, Alness and Merkinch (Inverness). The projects, carried out in 2004-2005, aimed to engage young people living in these areas with visual arts projects using media, such as projection, film and animation where the results are immediate and reflective of the participants' interests and identities.

Trade Union Education Available In Caithness From 2007
Trade Union education is designed to improve the performance of Safety Reps, Union Reps and Union Learning Reps at the workplace and in the union. It is free to all union reps and is now available at the North Highland College, Thurso.  The TUC accredits its education programme through the National Open College Network (NOCN) to provide clear national recognition of the quality of courses and the achievement of union reps. At present the courses are accredited through Stow College in Glasgow but it is intended that North Highland College will become an accredited NOCN centre in early 2007.
See the core TU education programme in Scotland (2007)

Want To Learn To Play Brass Or Read Music - One Of Our Forum Users Has Set Up A Web Site
Mr Golding's Brass Place is new web site recently launched by one of the people who inhabit the forum. The web site is designed for practice and has music to play along with and for you to record.  A Christmas section is now running and young people are invited to record themselves with a backing track and send it to Mr Golding for inclusion on the web site.  Mr Golding is a music teacher so the lessons are all accurate.  Even if you just want to learn the basics of music you might find it helpful.

Caithness Horizons Appoints Marketing Firm And Goes For A Geo Thermal Heating System
Caithness Horizons has this week appointed Shetland based marketing consultants Shaw Marketing and Design Ltd. to develop and implement the pre-opening marketing plan in preparation for opening the new facility in 2008. Isabel Johnson, Director of Shaw, said: “Immediately on reading the project brief, it struck a chord. Here was a project about a core community asset that had been in danger of becoming extinct. Living in a similar remote community where people have strong links with each other, are proud of their culture and heritage". The Thurso Town Hall refurbishment continues to progress with the main building construction work going out to tender very shortly, with a number of local companies having expressed an interest. A state of the art geo-thermal drilling rig, the first of its kind in Europe, will shortly be carrying out test bores of up to 300 metres in order to test the level of water beneath the Town Hall site. The trials are expected to prove a success, allowing plans to go ahead for a sustainable and eco-friendly ground source heat pump heating system.
Thurso Town Hall - Another Step Towards Alternative Energy Systems In Caithness
Caithness is moving to Alternative Energy in several ways now with Wind Farms, Caithness Heat And Power scheme in Wick using renewable wood sources, Photovoltaic roof at Wick Harbour (roof has now produced over 12,500KwH) and not forgetting the water power at Mill At Westerdale probably the oldest form of alternative energy in the county as it supplies heating to Dale House.

Another Message Regarding The Halkirk Teachers Photo Of 1958
From Ernie White -
Miss Swanson is my Aunt who I am pleased to report is alive and well. At the time I believe she taught one day a week at Halkirk School and the remainder of the week at Castletown School where I was a pupil from 1954 to approx 1960.  She left Castletown (with her mother Jessie Swanson) to teach at a school in Bearsden, Glasgow and then moved to teach in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire where she retired. She celebrated her 90th Birthday last year and can remember everyone in the photo.

Lucky Winners To Have Inside View Of Scotland's Wildlife
Local people have got the chance to win a special trip to one of Scotland's most scenic National Nature Reserves in a competition run by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Guided by a wildlife expert, four lucky people will experience the sights and sounds at first hand. The trips are on offer in a prize draw for people who complete a questionnaire on the SNH 2006 Annual Review by mid January 2007. The review sets out the work of SNH over the last year, from management of reserves to supporting Scotland's new access legislation and encouraging biodiversity by offering more than £15million in grants. The accompanying short questionnaire enables people to have their say about the review and also be entered into the draw.

Before you Spend, Spend, Spend this Christmas - Know Your Shopping Rights
With only two weeks before Christmas Day, The Highland Council's Trading Standards Service is advising shoppers during this busy time to be aware of their consumer rights. Head of Trading Standards, Nigel MacKenzie said: "Some shoppers have taken the option to shop on-line this Christmas in order to beat the car park queues and crowds thronging around the busy towns throughout the Highlands. Whether you buy on-line or shop till you drop a reminder of what your shopping rights are (..and your shopping wrongs) may save you time and money this Christmas!"  See Also Only Santa Should Be In The Red This Christmas

Hothouse Youth Challenge 2007
The search continues to find the Highlands and Islands' answer to Richard Branson as the ICT Hothouse Youth Challenge 2007 enters its final month for entries. The challenge is looking for young entrepreneurs with bright ideas to submit their ideas for information technology and communications of the future. The most promising ideas are then selected and teams invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in Inverness next month. After a number of rounds, the competition culminates with six teams being chosen to go forward to the Hothouse - an intensive week of team work and expert advice focusing on turning ideas into a reality and producing working prototypes of the ICT gadgets of the future. Those who applied before November were entered into a prize draw and winners were announced last week, from Speyside High School (Team "Hillbillies"), Dornoch Academy (Team "MBA") and Mallaig High School (Team "now for something completely different").  The application deadline is 20 December and organisers are currently visiting schools, from Caithness to Argyll on the mainland, and on some of the major islands.

Newsletter From South School, Wick December 2006

In And Around Gairloch

A few views from Gairloch and the surrounding area taken in September.

Basra Calling Caithness.Orgers
A message from Captain KC Mackay in charge of SF Platoon, Wick currently in Basra received this morning.

Sunday Papers
Neil Lyndon takes his hat off to Mazda's new coupé convertible
The new Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupé was running around Caithness for the launchDid anyone spot it?
Caithness has seen quite few new cars launched in recent years as the empty roads and coastal views seem to make for good conditions.
Conflict of interest’ over nuclear waste - Sunday Herald
Article calling into question the conflict of interests over "The appointment of the NDA is regarded as problematic by some because of its agenda to promote short-term efficiency and its dual role as waste creator and waste disposer" The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the state agency responsible for dismantling nuclear plants at Sellafield, Dounreay and elsewhere. Nirex, the nuclear waste agency, is being closed down and taken over by the NDA.
Trident's Footprint - Sunday Herald
Item on Britain's nuclear deterrent in relation to Trident. "The cradle of Britain's nuclear programme, the Dounreay plant in the far north, is still used to test submarine reactors. At HMS Vulcan (next to Dounreay), the naval reactor test establishment, a small naval team liaise with 300 Rolls-Royce workers. The testbed gives naval crews hands-on experience of running nuclear reactors while safe on shore."
Ewan McGregor To Take Motor Bike From John O'Groats to South Africa - Sunday Times
Essentially this article is about his latest film role in Beatrix Potter with Renée Zellweger and the snippet about his next trip on motor bike is included.  So keep your eyes peeled at motor cycles in the next year or two in the far north.

O'Neill Europe Proud to Announce
Return of O'Neill Highland Open to 2007 ASP World Qualifying Series
At least 150 of the world's top surfers are set to return to Thurso from 24 April to 1st May as O'Neill announce £125,000 of prize money in the second year of qualifying competition for the world series.
To see what happened in the 2006 Highland Open at Thurso Go HERE
You can still check out the videos HERE     Putting 59 Degrees North On The Scottish Map
Who will pick up the Highland champions sword in 2007?

Wind farms 'are failing to generate the predicted amount of electricity'  - Telegraph
The study shows that even wind farms in Cornwall on west-facing coasts, which might be expected to be the most efficient, operated at only 24·1 per cent of capacity on average. Turbines in mid-Wales ran on average at only 23·8 per cent. Those in the Yorkshire Dales ran at 24·9 per cent and Cumbria 25·9 of capacity. The only regions with turbines operating at or above 30 per cent of capacity were in southern Scotland, which averaged 31·5 per cent, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland at 32·9 per cent and offshore (North Hoyle and Scroby Sands on opposite sides of the country), which came in at 32·6 per cent.
Wind Farms Index  See Also the Blue Climate Blog

Santa's Grotto In Thrumster Today

Many Parcels Were Posted From The Seaview Nursing Home To The TA Men In Iraq
This photos taken yesterday shows just a few of the parcels made up by the staff at the Seaview Nursing home to send to the Caithness Territorial Army soldiers now serving in Iraq.  Once it was known that the Seaview staff were collecting residents and relatives joined in and son they had quite job on their hands.  Even home owners Barchester put in a £50 contribution to buy a few things.  The postmaster in Wick says there has been a steady flow of items heading for our men in Iraq and the big rush was yesterday to ensure arriving in time for Christmas. If you are reading this out in Iraq guys - "Have a nice Christmas".

Christmas Lights Switched On At Dunnet Today
The Christmas lights at Dunnet were switched on today and villagers held small party in the hall with games for the children and excitement with the arrival of Santa Claus.  More photos from Dunnet may be available on Sunday.


Warning Signs Removed From Sandside Beach As Perceived Particles Threat Lessened
The third report of the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group states that the possibility of coming into direct contact with a particle at Sandside is extremely small and would not cause any discernable health effect. As a result existing signs, which were erected by the estate, were removed at the weekend by the estate of its own choice. Following this Sandside Estate invited UKAEA to enter preliminary discussions about new signs to provide current information to the public. These initial discussions have now taken place. Sandside Estate offered to discuss in conjunction with UKAEA the need, wording and positioning of future signage at Sandside with the Highland Council, SEPA and Highland Health Board subject to a speedy decision.


NORTHERN Constabulary has launched its annual Festive Safety Campaign and warned those who drink and drive they stand more chance than ever of being caught. The number of drivers continuing to flout the drink drive law across the Highlands and Islands is completely unacceptable and Northern Constabulary is urging people to ensure their Christmas is one to remember for the right reasons. The Force will be carrying out intelligence-led patrols and will be out in numbers across the Festive period to detect drink drivers, as well as those taking part in the equally dangerous practice of drug driving. Another part of the Festive Safety Campaign, labelled Enjoy It Don’t Destroy It, will include a crackdown on those not wearing seatbelts.

Invercassley Windfarm Development Application Turned Down
Highland Councillors today (Thursday 7 December 2006) refused planning permission for a 23 turbine windfarm development at Beinn Rosail, Strath Oykel, Invercassley in Sutherland. Following a site visit, a special meeting of the Full Council was held in Lairg Community Centre so Councillors could consider the application made by Airtricity Developments UK. During the meeting both objectors and those in support of the application had the opportunity to put forward their representations. Councillors then debated the application before voting 19 votes to 11 to refuse the application in accordance with the notice of amendment.

Wick Accordion and Fiddle Club Send Thanks After Winning Award
The members of Wick Accordion and Fiddle Club send thanks to everyone who voted for them online to make them winners of the title Club Of The Year in this years Scottish Traditional Music Awards.  A huge audience of nearly 700 were in the Nevis Centre, Fort William for the event.  A few Orcadians were also there to pick up an award for the Orkney Folk Festival.  Well done folks.

Car Boot Sale - Thursday 14th December 6.00 - 10.00pm Janet Street Club, Thurso
To book a table Tel Alison on 07717 167614 

Caithness FM Annual Christmas Toy Appeal
Caithness FM are once again running the annual toy appeal for disadvantaged children in the Caithness area. This year the appeal has been considerably boosted by a very generous donation of toys and gifts for children of all ages from the Dounreay employees charity fund and the new alliance at Dounreay. Donations for the toy appeal can be given at Somerfield stores in Wick and Thurso, North Highland College and the CFM studio until 15th December.

Meeting To Explore Community Development Of Viewfirth Site In Thurso
Pentland Hotel (Ballroom), Thurso at 7.00pm on Monday 11th December 2006
The Dounreay Stakeholder Group (DSG) is to hold a public meeting for anyone interested in the redevelopment of the Viewfirth site in Thurso under community ownership. The three-acre site currently forms part of the Dounreay estate and until earlier this year was occupied by the Dounreay Sports and Social Club. Structural problems in the former club building mean that the property will be demolished.  The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will consider donating the land to the community if a worthwhile socio-economic project can be identified. As a first step the DSG has been asked to gauge interest in the transfer of the land to a community development. The DSG has set up a project team to canvas interest in the community and assess any proposals that come forward. The first stage is to hold a public meeting on Monday 11th December for interested parties and to set out the process and timetable.

NHS Highland Delivers A Christmas Present For Wick
CT Scanner Approved for Wick - Costing £601,000 plus £149,000 A Year Running Costs

Plans to introduce a CT Scanning Service in Caithness and Sutherland have been approved by NHS Highland, at its meeting in Brora today (Tuesday December 5). Tim Shallcross, Consultant Physician, Caithness General Hospital, advised the board: "It is generally accepted that a CT scanner is an essential piece of diagnostic imaging equipment required to support a Rural General Hospital and to provide modern medical care. Over the years the clinical value of CT has been proven beyond doubt and it is now regarded as a versatile and widely accepted medical investigation."  He added, "CT is a useful technology for all body parts, but is particularly useful for head, spine, chest and abdominal pathology, for many types of cancer, and for neurological diseases including stroke, tumours and trauma." Sheena Craig, General Manager, North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP), said, "Over 600 people per year will benefit from a local CT Scanning service and it will reduce travelling times for patients."  The cost of the scanner and the associated building works is £601,000, with total annual running costs of £149,600, with this being identified as as the highest local priority, and the costs will be met within the North Highland Community Health Partnership.
And yet more good news as
Caithness General Gets £50,000 To Upgrade Bloodbank

More good news for people in Caithness is the investment of £50,000 to improve and modernise facilities in Caithness General's bloodbank, with the aim of getting it re-opened as soon as possible. The money is being targeted at a number of structural changes, including new equipment and fittings, a new ventilation system and modern floor coverings. The work is well underway before a re-inspection in the New Year.

Meat Industry Recognises Mey Selections As The Best
The Mey Selections winning team scooped the Best New Beef Product Award for their recently launched Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Mey Selections Meatballs. At an awards dinner and presentation ceremony at London's Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, the prize was accepted by Anna Grundy and Amy Brech (Product Development) from Sainsburys, Dermot Slade, Development Chef at Dunbia, and John Strak, Managing Director of North Highland Products Ltd. Commenting on the Award, Dermot Slade said, "These meatballs, sold in Sainsburys Ready Cook Range, are a tasty and flavourful product and it is wonderful to see that the industry recognises their quality. We have more ideas on how to extend the range of value added products using Mey Selections meat and I hope that this award is the first of many more."

Food Miles - Scotsman
Did you know they were serving Caithness saddleback pork in the Isle of Skye?  this item in today's Scotsman tells you exactly where the restaurant is along with few other of Scotland's far away restaurants - at least from Glasgow.  Try asking your local butcher for Caithness pork.  It is definitely on sale at Harrold Brothers In Wick from a farm at Watten.  Caithness butchers sell local produce from Caithness farms.  In Thurso A & E Harrold, Mackay and son and Bews Butchers or Castletown Meat company in Castletown. Some butchers are tucked away like Mackay & Sinclair in Dempster Street, Wick or Donald Cormack in Latheronwheel.  Whatever your choice  - beef, lamb or Caithness pork from local farms check out your local butcher in Caithness.  Did you know half the butchers in the county have closed in the last few years.  You don't need to go to Skye for Caithness pork today but we might have to one day. If people are willing to fly to restaurants around the country to taste great food why not buy at your local Caithness butcher. Full list of Caithness butchers

Invitation To Christmas Miniatures Art Exhibition
Julian Smith - Artsmith has set up an exhibition of miniatures for Christmas.  You have a choice of three days from Friday, Saturday or Sunday this coming weekend to see the latest works from a local artist and perhaps get that extra special and unique Christmas present.  to view the works head on over to St John's Loch (directions on the Artsmith web site)


The Return Of The Traditional Winter Pudding
On a cold winter night a delicious hot pudding is the perfect warmer, however health fads and media pressure can push the pudding to the back of the freezer drawer or cupboard. Well no more!  Traditional delights such as Syrup Sponge and Sticky Toffee Pudding have reclaimed their crown - even replacing Christmas Puddings in popularity for the festive season, showing that the great British Pudding is back with a vengeance!

Not Sure If Your Area Might Flood - Check SEPA Flood Mapping
The flood map can show you if the area where you live could be prone to flooding, and if it is, you can follow the links on this website to find out about how you can prepare and protect yourself, your family and your home.

Morven In June - With Caithness Waybaggers
The weather forecast for Sunday 18th June was not good. Heavy rain coming in from the west, due to arrive in Caithness about 1.00pm by the BBC weather, or 5.00pm by the Orkney forecast. We arrived at Braemore and the day was fine and warm. Morven was clear with no low cloud covering it. We walked along the track to Corrichoich before making over the rough moor land to the bottom of Morven. There is a track up but this has become deep and worn in places and does not offer easy climbing. Its just head down and a hard slog to the top with frequent stops for a breather. I think that Morven is one of the hardest hills to climb because of it s steep slopes.  If you want to try a short walk join them for Maiden Pap on 10 December

Caithness Field Club Bulletin 1998
The Caithness Field Club Bulletin from 1998 has been prepared by Janet Mackenzie from the club and takes us within three years of completing publication on the web site of all the bulletins published by the club since 1973.  thanks again to Janet.  the 1998 bulletin includes the following articles -
The Devonian Fishes of Canowindra - Cannon Battery at Victoria Walk - A Second Glance at Brims Castle
Murdo Rivach's Grave - Addendum to Murdo Rivach Story - A Rediscovered Church - Defence of Britain's Project - The Gauge of Slate Quarry Track-Ways - A Bill of Material for Barn at Standstill Farm
Pattern Recognition - Field Club Publications.  The full index of articles added so far
Caithness Field Club  the Caithness field Club run a variety of outings, Walks and talks throughout the year.  the latest is  -
Tuesday 5 Dec- A talk from Aberdeen University - "Tied to the Land - Crofting in the Highlands and Islands" by Doug Willis. 7.30pm in Flagstones Restaurant Thurso College. There will be a small charge for this.

Lybster Feels Gales and Rain Hit The North But No Flood Warnings At Present
The north took a battering last night but the rain was not as severe as in other parts of Scotland.  There are no flood warnings or watches in force in the north unlike other parts of Scotland where there are many.  At 4.50pm there were 17 floodwatch areas and 9 flood warnings and 2 serious flood warnings according to the SEPA Floodline To show how severe the flood threat is in some areas at present SEPA has warned that  - Loch Doon - Scottish Power has informed SEPA that the reservoir gates are being gradually opened, to release water from Loch Doon into the River Doon in south Ayrshire. The last reported time that these gates were used to release such a high volume of water was 1953. (120mm of rain has fallen in the past 48hrs in the Loch Doon area).  SEPA say - "Flooding, you can't prevent it, you can prepare for it"

Dounreay Employees Charity Fund Donates £300 Towards New Goal Posts For Thurso High
Dounreay Employees Charity Fund has donated £300 towards the cost of new goal posts and nets for Thurso High School. John Deighan, chairman of DECF is picture here presenting the cheque to Moira McBeath, Active Schools Co-ordinator at Thurso High School with some of the football team. Back from left to right - Karen Johnston, Bethany Greg, John Deighan, Moira McBeath, Leah Bremner. Front from left to right Jordan Farmer, Chris Stone, Jamie Henderson and Scott Kellman.

More Christmas Drama In Caithness
There is more to see on stage in Caithness than ever before and December is turning out to be just as lively.  Check out the next two links
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 14th & 15th December Wick High
Lybster Drama Club Panto

Reinventing Scotland - Prospect Magazine
Why has it taken so long for the Scottish radical, free-market right to join the cause of independence? George Kerevan.  We wondered if this item strikes any chords for Caithness
Does this statement on Scotland ring any bells in Caithness - "Over half of Scottish GDP is now in the state sector, productivity is dire and economic growth glacial. We have the highest per capita health spending in Europe and the worst health under a Stalinist, super-centralised Scottish NHS. Twenty per cent fewer young Scots finish high school (post-16 education) than the European average".  Any thoughts to the Message Board

The Papers
Payday for pension victims - Scotsman
They include employees of once-illustrious companies such as MG Rover, Allders, AP Hydraulics, Caithness Glass, Sheffield Forgemasters, engineering giant Turner & Newell and financial intermediaries Heath Lambert and Berry Birch & Noble whose pensions all disappeared along with their employer.
Housing transfer policy saved by 71% vote - The Herald
Inverclyde agreed to transfer their homes to a new landlord. A fifth defeat could have fatally wounded the Scottish Executive's housing stock transfer policy, and put pressure on Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm to quit. The overwhelming endorsement in Inverclyde means the council's 7029 tenants will now see their homes taken over by the not-for-profit River Clyde Homes housing association, which has promised to invest £500m over 30 years. The tenants, who already pay the highest council rents in the country, had been warned their bills would rise by 9% a year if they voted against the transfer. The turnout in the postal ballot was 65%.

Rescuers find Wick Harbour body  - BBC

Thurso Christmas Lights Switch On

Send A Card Or Parcel To the Caithness Lads In Iraq - Post FREE
It is only free to send a parcel up to 2kg in weight to Iraq and the cut off date for free parcels is the 8th of December. You pay to send letters as if you were sending to the UK but if you write it on a bluey it will go free. Blueys can be picked up for free, just ask at the post office and they will give you a bunch.
Send mail to -
The e- blueys is like sending an email to a computer and as they don't get access to the computers all the time it is printed off in Iraq and posted to them.
Send any parcels for the guys to Captain Mackay of the Wick platoon as he is the platoon commander and can pass on anything to the soldiers on the ground.  Certain things cannot be sent SEE HERE

Arts Events In December and January 2007 - Pdf
Produced by Caithness Arts

Grey Coast Theatre Presents Butchers Broom At Dunbeath
Butcher's Broom by Neil Gunn was published in 1934. George Gunn and Grey Coast Theatre have produced their own version adapted with songs by George Gunn and andy Thorburn. Directed by Louise Allan and with the children from Lybster and Dunbeath schools making up the cast.
Head over to Dunbeath Village Hall on Friday 8th December at 7.30pm.
Admission is FREE and donations are welcomed.

Caithness Quilters Helping To Raise Funds For A Community Mini-bus
Last Saturday the Caithness Quilters held their monthly workshop and meeting in Pulteney Parish Church Hall. They were visited by the West Caithness Community Transport committee. The occasion was to hand over the group made quilt made to raise funds for a community mini-bus to benefit the elderly and disabled primarily. The quilt will be displayed after Christmas in Elizabeth's in Thurso. It will be raffled to raise LOTS of money. The quilt was made by all the members of Caithness Quilters on an autumn theme. It is a colourful log cabin style, King size quilt with appliqued autumn leaves and quilted in a leaf design.

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