Winter Finally Arrives in Caithness
It has been a long time coming but winter finally caught up with Caithness and the highlands this morning. this photos is of Wick early this morning.  If you have some photos of the snow in Caithness or Sutherland send them to over the next few days to add to this gallery.  The weather forecast suggests more snow over the next few days and low temperatures for the north of Scotland.  Brrrr.

A New Era For Thurso Town Hall As Councillors Hold Last Meeting Before Closure
The doors of Thurso Town Hall were locked this week - marking the end of the current use of the Victorian building and a start to a £3.5 million redevelopment to create a new community, cultural and tourism centre. Last users of the building were The Highland Council's Caithness Area Committee, who met there on Monday (27 February 2006). They will meet at Thurso College until returning to the town hall following refurbishment in early 2008.  The first phase of the facelift will involve the letting of an enabling works contract, which will include stripping out of fixtures and fittings and further structural and condition surveys. This work will allow the detailed design to be completed ahead of the letting of phase two which will see a contract let for the major refurbishment of the town hall and the museum.  Go to Caithness Horizons to see what it will look like after it reopens in 2008.

Caithness And Sutherland Enterprise Approvals For Grants - January 2006
The latest list of grants to businesses has just been published

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has received confirmation from Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm that the successful Central Heating Programme for pensioners will continue beyond 2006. Mrs Macmillan said,"The Minister has advised that the scheme will continue after the current programme is due to end next month. This is good news for those over 60 who qualify and have still not taken advantage of the programme; which provides insulation and new central heating systems free of charge.

Is This A Chance For Northern Actors As New Online Media Company Go For Online Auditions
OK everyone in the film world is struggling at the start and you cannot afford to trek to the big centres for auditions. Grass Roots Media are a young company breaking new ground in film and in the way they are going to cast their next film.  Their latest production The London Affair is available to see for FREE online.  The BBC are to show some of their work and they are definitely innovative in using the web to promote themselves and now to cast their next film.  Yet another change coming via the web.  Any Caithness actors fancy their chances for a starring role?

Halkirk Brownies and Guides take part in World Thinking Day on the Air
Halkirk Brownies, Guides and Guiders joined up with local Amateur Radio enthusiasts Donnie McKay, Erik McKay, John Crowden, Denny Morrison and Laurie Dickenson in the Ross Institute, Halkirk on Sunday 19th February to take part in ‘World Thinking Day on The Air’. This is an annual event held on the third weekend in February where members of Guiding from all over the world send greetings to each other over the airwaves to celebrate World Thinking Day. World Thinking Day (22nd February) is a special day in the Guiding calendar as it celebrates the birthdays of the founder Lord Baden-Powell and his wife Olave (World Chief Guide).

Walk A Mile In My Shoes - BBC Scotland Radio Programme - Listen Again to the programme broadcast on Sunday
Edie Stark speaks to MSP Jaimie Stone - Click on the tiny speaker beside Walk A Mile In My Shoes
Hear George Bruce at Stepping Stones, North Action Group and others speaking to Jaimie Stone about representing Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.  Jaimie Stone takes Edie Stark out into his constituency - speaks to Thrumster mums on their nursery campaign and more...

The Inverness Half Marathon and Fun Run takes place on Sunday 12 March and motorists in the city are being warned that during the event roads along the route will be temporarily closed to traffic.

Vacancies In Our Jobs Section Just Updated  - Employers Advertise Free On
PhD Studentship - Thurso - Postdoctoral Research Associate (1 post) - ICT Technician - Thurso
Research Fellow / Senior Research Fellow (3 posts) - Clinical Nurse Manager, Grade I, Sutherland
Social Worker (Community Mental Health Team) - Teacher of Mathematics (temporary)
Test Technicians - Social Worker, Wick - Community Care Assessor - Temp - Bettyhill
Cleaning Operative, Halkirk Primary School - Cleaning Operative, Wick High School
Art Residency - Stained Glass

Caithness & Sutherland Tourist Businesses - VisitScotland – coming to a place near you
Following on from the success of the December road shows, where Business Relationship Managers visited every location in the Highlands to speak directly to our tourism businesses, the format has now been extended. On one particular day of each month, barring July and August, a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) will spend an hour at each Tourist Information Centre or other location, specifically to meet anyone in the tourism industry and to offer help and guidance.

Message Board Folk Set Up FREE STUFF - Now You Can Give Away What You Don't Want
Recycling takes another leap forward thanks to some a discussion via our Message Board.  Thanks to the Orgers on the board a new Free Stuff section has been set up in the Classified Ads for anyone to advertise things they wish to give away.  The idea is already running in other places and its growing as a way to pass things on that you no longer have use for.  You can offer anything within reason and await offers to pick up the goods at suitable time.  You cold also offer to make it available only to charities etc and see if any groups are interested. Obviously there is still the charity shops and Homeaid who are always on the lookout for things you do not want but it may be something they could not use.  Its bound to grow.

Otters Spotted On River Thurso
They are always around somewhere along the riverbanks in Caithness but you may need to be careful and quiet to spot them.  This pair were seen on the River Thurso but several other places such as the Wick river, golf course, streams and others are places where they be spotted especially in the early morning or before it gets dark.  Sometimes to be seen swimming about or playing around the banks and great to watch the antics of this agile swimmer.
     More Caithness Wildlife    Nature And Environment

Sunset From The Causeymire
Thanks to Robert Bain for this set of sunset photos taken a few days ago.  The open Caithness countryside certainly makes for long uninterrupted views.


Home - The First Production Of Scotland's New National Theatre A Huge Success In Wick
Home in Caithness was one of 10 themed plays across Scotland to mark the historic start of Scotland's new national theatre that is to operate without a theatre of its own. its firs production collaborated with local groups and was a stunning success taking folk on a journey of an old lady at the end of her life looking for her old and final home. Great ideas put together with music and full of vivid sets and superb acting.  Vicky Featherstone the national theatres first director came to Caithness to see the new production last night and she must have been over the moon about its success.  It was first for Caithness and hopefully we will see them here again often.  In only 4 weeks they had put together the production with the cooperation of many local groups and businesses. Well done to everyone concerned. National Theatre Of Scotland

A Few Items From The Sunday Papers
City Prepares To Clean Up On Nuclear -
Call To End Lifestyle Surgery - Sunday Times - Freedom of Information gets figures including highland
Curtains Rise On National Theatre - BBC The story of the new Scottish National Theatre that will have no buildings and perform across Scotland.  They did so over the past couple of days with packed houses especially here in Caithness where they were performing in the old Caithness Glass factory.  A big hit with everyone who saw it.

Brodie McHaggis Goes Under The Hammer For Local Charities
Update on Brodie McHaggis. He is quickly capturing the hearts and minds of those who have followed him through his first adventure and they are asking when they can read his next adventure. He's turning into a right wee star! Brodie continues to create more mayhem in his second book, which is due out later this year. A copy of "Brodie McHaggis and the Secret of Loch Ness" will be auctioned at the MFR Charity Auction 2006 which runs from 3-5 March. The First Edition Book is number 299 of 300. All other copies have now been sold by Chloe Publishing Ltd. A unique framed copy of the book cover illustration will also be auctioned with the book. The picture has been signed by the Author, Helen Campbell, and has been dedicated to the MFR Charity Auction. It is the first of its kind and is the only one in existence.

Residents Welcomed Back To Bayview Home
Residents at Bayview House, Thurso, were welcomed back to the residential home this week following a £380,000 refurbishment to meet new standards. Councillor David Flear, Convener of The Highland Council's Caithness Area Committee, and Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Caithness Area Social Work Committee, greeted the first residents to return to the home following an eight-month absence. The home was closed in June last year to allow contractors to upgrade bedrooms by removing sinks to create more space and installing showers instead of baths. Separate entrances have been created for day care users and residents while doorways have been widened for wheelchair access and a full sprinkler system installed.

Fight To Wear his Kilt End With Nathan Warmack Getting His Wish To Visit Scotland Come True
Syndicated Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Waves Travel Fairy Godmother Wand Over Nathan Warmack, Sending Him and Kilt to Scotland

You may all remember a few weeks ago the petition to support Nathan Warmack and his quest to change the school dress code at Jackson High.  Well click through the link to see that an American Radio host Stephanie Abrams has made it all come true with the help of various companies in the US and the UK.  Nathan and his parents are being sent on a nine day trip to Scotland where they will stay in 5 Scottish castles be driven round for the whole stay in a mercedes, get new kilt outfit and much more .
Story as at 5 January   The petition reached almost 12,000 signatures and the school changed its dress policy.  Clan Gunn members particularly in the US rallied behind the petition and we here at joined in and soon it was roaring around the globe.  Well done to Stephenie Abrams for putting together this great trip for Nathan and his parent.  Enjoy the trip Nathan.

Helmsdale - Painting The Town
Dropping in on Helmsdale the other day you could not help noticing the bright colours. La Mirage has been brightly painted in red for many years and the Bridge Hotel and Tackle shop have sported a green and white for the past couple of years. Now the former Bunullidh restaurant has had a makeover, changed it name to Wayfarer under new management and is now a rich shade of blue. The colours fairly lift the spirits on a cold winters day.  Wonder if they have been watching Balamory the children's TV programme based on Tobermory?  It works for them so why not Helmsdale.  Go for it  - we love it Helmsdale.  And now for Wick!!!!!

Job Ads - They Cost A Fortune But Not On - Check It Out It's FREE
Employers just need to register and then post the jobs completely FREE.  What's the catch?  None.  Simply we get more traffic and other businesses maybe even yours buys one of our low cost banner ads. Does it work.  Well something is as our traffic continues to soar with over 4 million visitors last year and rising all the time.  Not sure?  Well check the P & J for 28 days    We do not demand anything - no partners no number of jobs.  Simple  - just post any number of jobs - even one - same cost (FREE) same services for everyone.  Employers have nothing to lose and you can reach a wide audience at no cost.  Takes minutes. 

Highland Convenor To Meet Youth Voice Representatives
The Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Alison Magee, is to meet representatives of Highland Youth Voice next week to assure them that pupils wishing to take Advanced Higher courses will still be able to do so.  Councillor Magee will be joined by Councillor Andy Anderson, Chairman of the Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee and Director of Education Culture and Sport, Bruce Robertson, at the meeting to be held on Tuesday at Inverness. She said: "I look forward to meeting with Highland Youth Voice to explain the background to this matter. The impression has been given that there are to be significant cuts in curriculum options across all Highland schools and I will take the opportunity to assure our students and their families that this is not the case."

Home Start Volunteers Get the Full Treatment At North Highland College
Local family support group Homestart took their Volunteers to the North Highland College in Thurso this week for some beauty treatments and a few hair do’s. The staff and students at the Hair & Beauty Academy worked to fit in 14 volunteers all of whom volunteer to help families.  Even though they were a big group of Fourteen the Hair and Beauty Academy fitted them all in.  The catering section provided tea, coffee, assorted fruit juices, sandwiches and nibbles. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxing experience.  A couple of volunteers had to leave early so missed the photo.

HomeStart Is looking For Experienced Parents
If you are an experienced parent you might be able to help another family.  Check out Homestart for further details.

Wow  - Even We at Are Impressed - Cars At Dunnets Are Already Selling
They have barely hit the web site and they are being marked as sold already.
Car Dealers Now On
Wm Dunnet who have garages and car show rooms in Wick and Thurso are now placing their used cars on the web site in the Cars For Sale section.  You can now have quick look to see that they have on offer 24 hours a day.  The firm are now adding vehicles to this new section so check back if you are looking for a used car as the list will grow over coming weeks.  The used car section has already proved incredibly popular with both sellers and buyers with more cars, motorbikes and spares going in. There have even been cars given away for FREE for spares from owners who wish to get rid of an unwanted vehicle.  A few bargains have passed through the pages.  But don't blink as they disappear very fast.  If you are looking for vehicle or have one to sell then is fast becoming the place to look in Caithness.
Vehicles For Sale

'More needs to be done to achieve a proper rail line to the far north' - Gibson
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibsonhas branded as derisory news of a new train service from Wick to Inverness which will be 15 minutes shorter. The new service will save 15 minutes on the journey by missing out certain stops on the way south. This time saving measure will mean that the journey from Wick to Inverness will be 4 hours. Mr Gibson says the move is far too timid....
"I can hardly see the people of the far North rejoicing in this announcement, the hard fact is that this move still makes it 4 hours by train from Wick to Inverness, so it will hardly bring in the crowds. The news of the two jobs is encouraging, however the question would have to be put how many extra jobs there would be if there was an even faster rail connection to Inverness."

Can You Help With Some Caithness Research?
We have been contacted to see if people in Caithness would be interested helping with sociological research. See below this message from the researcher who will be coming to Caithness and get in touch with her if you would like to assist. Not too much research on this has been done in Caithness so this could be a very useful exercise. - Social Research on ‘Family’ and ‘Belonging’ in Caithness.  Kimberley Masson, a postgraduate researcher from the University of Edinburgh, is about to begin sociological research in Caithness. Her work is concerned with life-stories about family (particularly generational relationships) and a sense of ‘belonging’ to Caithness. The region has been largely overlooked in the social sciences and this research, towards a PhD in Social Anthropology, aims to tell its story. The research is based in wider academic concerns about ‘Scottishness’, fertility decline, and the repopulation of rural areas. In hearing stories of Caithness, we might illuminate ‘Scotland’ and ask what terms like ‘family’, ‘belonging’, and ‘community’ mean at all.  Kimberley is looking at how people identify themselves and others (who is a ‘local’? an ‘incomer’? a ‘local who left’? one who returned?).  More...

Alarm over possible exam cutbacks - BBC
Chris Oughton, who is a representative on the executive of the youth parliament Highland Youth Voice, said the reaction amongst pupils had been one of "outrage".  See yesterdays story below -
Highland Secondary Schools Staffing Levels To Hit Advanced Highers
Comment From Mary Scanlon MSP    Highland Youth Voice  - Were they consulted before this decision was made and if not why not?

Drop In Meeting Reay Village Hall - Thursday 23 February Between 7.00pm and 9.00pm
An alternative location for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste from decommissioning Dounreay has been identified by the site’s operators after listening to the views of local residents.  UKAEA has reconsidered its choice of location for a series of shallow engineered vaults following feedback received during the first round of consultation meetings held with residents and the local community in December 2005. A better location that uses part of the existing Dounreay site and an area immediately beside the boundary fence will now be put forward for formal consultation for the disposal of wastes that arise during the clean-up and demolition of the former fast reactor research site. More important is that the new area is further away from the nearest home. The revised plan is being outlined to local residents at meetings being held this week with project staff from Dounreay.

Lyra Celtica Are Wildcat Traditional Music Group Guest Artists In Caithness
Friday 24 February 8.00pm At Pentland Hotel

Wildcat Traditional Music, the local group who are intent on bring quality music into the area have pulled off another excellent choice with an appearance of Lyra Celtica.  Lyn Tocker, Frank McGuire and Chuck Fleming are the musicians in the usual trio of Lyra Celtica but expanded with the talents of Mark Canning (guitar and vocals).  They play energetic, high spirited jigs and reels and beautiful airs with a few songs mixed in for good measure. Switching between fiddle, accordion, whistle and percussion each instrument shines in its own right and then blends seamlessly with the others to form a rich tapestry of quality music and fun.  A lively night for those who head over to the Pentland Hotel On Friday night.

UKAEA Donation Of £1000 Helps Thurso High Get New Minibus
As part of UKAEA's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2004, UKAEA donated £1000 towards the cost of a new minibus for Thurso High School, which has now been delivered to the school. Funds for the minibus were raised by Thurso High School's PTA through various fund-raising events and other donations. The minibus will now allow pupils to cost-effectively travel distances to football, rugby, athletics, swimming, young engineers, drama and music groups. It will give the school the convenience to transport pupils south to further enhance the quality of educational activities for pupils.

Calling All Hotels - Bed and Breakfasts And Other Businesses In Caithness & Sutherland
Add Your Disabled Access Information To The Business Index - FREE

All businesses in Caithness and Sutherland can tell potential customers what their disabled access is like at their premises FREE of charge.  Just add a short description to your FREE page by completing the description box in the Submission form Make sure you put in the business name and we will do the rest.  You do not need to pay to let people with disabilities know your access arrangements and you could bring more business to your premises if access is easy.  Tell everyone about the access to your premises and do it FREE on the Caithness Business Index and the Sutherland Business Index

Ardvreck Castle - The MacNicols and Macleods of Assynt By D B Miller
Another in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin series on Castles and Families of the north.  This article was first published in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin of October 1978  Photo Of Ardvreck Castle
Caithness Field Club Bulletin Articles List    Caithness Field Club Pages
The road from Lairg to Lochinver which passes Ardvreck Castle
Sutherland A - Z   Caithness Castles  Sutherland is six times larger than Caithness but does not have as many castles.  It does have spectacular landscapes.

We Know It Seems Like Yesterday Since The Westminster Elections
But The Scottish 2007 Runners Are Off With Labour Announcing Their Candidate For Our Area
This time it looks like Labour are pulling out all the stops with an intellectual candidate. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency Labour Party have selected their candidate for the 2007 Scottish parliamentary elections. He is John McKendrick, a 29 year-old barrister. John was born in Alexandria, on the shores of Loch Lomond almost thirty years ago. He grew up in the countryside in Stirlingshire, where his family still live, went to school in Glasgow and studied at the LSE and Oxford before qualifying as a barrister.
New 2007 Election Section set up for information, photos etc as it comes in.

Local Government Pension Changes - Boring Topic But Huge Implications For Low Paid
Women May Fare Very Badly Under The Local Government Pension Changes Proposed

Bill Fernie Highlights The Unison Campaign On The Proposed Changes
Bill Fernie is a local councillor for Wick West and is very concerned about the impact of the changes in the Local Government Pension Scheme being proposed by the government and in Scotland by the Scottish Executive.  The topic is one which most people do not think much about until retirement is looming.  However this is one that will have a dramatic affect on many local government workers and especially on low paid women workers.  The changes are being instigated apparently to comply with European legislation.  However various European spokesmen have denied that it is necessary for the UK to do so and that the decision is finally one for the UK government.  Unions are lobbying to prevent the changes adversely affecting their members as is their job.  One group in particular may fare worse than others.  They are women.

Calling All Poultry Keepers
Only Days Left To Register  with the Great Britain National Poultry Register

The new registration scheme was only agreed in December but due to the Avian Flu virus around the globe you must register by 28 February 2006 if you have 50 or more poultry including ducks, geese, chickens and various others.  Failure to do so may incur penalties.  For further details see the Veterinary surveillance: Great Britain Poultry Register

Careers Convention At Assembly Rooms, Wick - Wednesday 8th March 6.00pm - 8.30pm
People living in Caithness are being offered expert advice and information on taking the next step in their careers.  The Caithness Careers Convention will be held on Wednesday 8th March 2006 in The Assembly Rooms Wick and will offer people of all age’s comprehensive information on careers, employment, training and education.  The event, organised by Careers Scotland in Thurso, will bring universities, colleges, training providers and employers all under one roof.  More than 40 organisations and businesses will be at the event.....

Almost 30 volunteers turned out to help plant trees at Dunnet forest last Saturday. The planting was organised by Highland Council's Planning and Development Service countryside rangers and Dunnet Forest community forester, Jon Hollingdale as part of the Caithness Countryside Volunteer and Caithness Critter programme of events. A mix of approximately 400 broadleaf trees were planted, staked and guarded in a recent felled area. The event was part of the Community Service Volunteers Action Earth supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. After the tree planting, all the volunteers rested at the Northern Sands Hotel where a sandwich lunch and refreshments were provided.

Massive Fines and Prison For Animal Cruelty
Fines are to be raised from £5000 to £20,000 for cruelty involving animals. Prison sentences will double from 6 month to 12 months.  Tail docking of dogs will become an offence. Tough new powers relating to all aspects of illegal dog fights in Scotland were announced today. The proposals will make it an offence to make, show or distribute film of animal fighting in the UK. Offenders will also face increased fines and prison sentences under the plans. Environment and Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie revealed the changes to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill today and said they will put an end to criminals profiting from films to make money out of promoting illegal fights and gambling. He said: "We are committed to reducing the needless suffering of all animals in Scotland and to protecting animals from one of the most shocking acts of cruelty.

Highland Secondary Schools Staffing Levels To Hit Advanced Highers
This coming school session (2006-2007) will see teachers across Scotland spending one hour per week less directly in front of pupils, with 22.5 hours being the maximum class contact time, both in secondary and in primary schools. The impact of these changes is now being realised throughout Highland Secondary schools. The Scottish Executive identified additional funding for the implementation of this national agreement, and in the case of Highland Council, the allocation is £769K. Bruce Robertson, Highland Council's Director of Education, Culture and Sport said: "If we were to give every school in Highland an additional hour for each teacher, the total bill would be £2.7M, and in the case of secondary schools, £1.4M. It is clear therefore that we are not in a position to allocate additional funding to all schools for this purpose.  Comment From Mary Scanlon MSP

Can You Help Hillhead School, Wick Make Rag Rugs?
Hillhead primary school are looking for help from anyone locally who knows about making Rag Rugs.  Artist Sally Orr will be teaching the children how to make rag rugs but help from anyone with experience would be of great assistance.  Also the school are would be interested in hearing about Rag Rug making in the past to build up a picture of what it involved.  Maybe you rag rugs were made many years ago and are still being used.  Get in touch with the school at 

Castletown Residents Advised Test Bore Holes At Former Landfill Site To Be Drilled Shortly
The Highland Council has written to residents in 150 properties in Castletown, Caithness, to advise them of work which will begin next month to identify if gases are being generated in the nearby disused landfill site and if the gases are moving towards the town. Work is due to start on 16 March and continue for eight weeks. Monitoring will continue, initially, for a period of three months. Test bore holes will be drilled on the perimeter of the landfill site. As soon as the results are known, the Council will again contact residents and businesses.

Visit Lybster And Put Some Zing Back In Your Lungs
If you have lived in the far south for any length of time you really appreciate living near the sea.  Take a step on any beach in Caithness or walk on the windswept cliffs and feel the fresh air on your cheeks and breathe the fresh salty air.  A few breaths soon let you know that this is good for you - Visit Lybster and see for yourself.  Lybster index

Wick Traditional Music Day At Halkirk

It was another good day for everyone who attended the Wick Traditional music sessions at Halkirk.  The workshops are tutored by professional musicians ensuring that participants are able to get first hand practice under experienced eyes and ears.  The workshop was followed by a family dance in the evening, with music by Gordon Gunn, Alastair Macdonald and the dancing was enjoyed by all. Future workshops will be posted here and on the Gordon Gunn web site

Place Names From Our Mongrel Tongue
A talk by Nan Bethune - Thursday 23 February 2006  - Pentland Hotel, Thurso - 7.30pm
Organised by Caithness Field Club

Caithness Archaeological Trust 2006 Programme
A variety of activities for young archaeologists and a number of digs and the chambered cairn project that might be of interest to anyone who would like to volunteer to work on the projects.
Caithness Young Archaeologists

A Winter Walk In Dunbeath Strath

A few walkers ventured out with the Caithness Rangers on Sunday for a walk through the Strath of Dunbeath.  There is a considerable range of interesting things to see on this walk as apart from the scenery with the river flowing by the area is full of archaeology, and places made famous by Neil Gunn's books not mention the wildlife.  Dunbeath Index    Ranger Pages    More Caithness Walks

They Lived By the Sea - Folklore and Ganseys Of the Pentland Firth
This booklet now out of print was written by the late Hetty Munro and we have obtained permission from family to publish the booklet.  We have made a start with two patterns and will eventually get round to publishing the rest of the booklet at a later date.
An example of Caithness Gansey can be seen in the Wick Heritage Museum.
Ganseys Section


North Airports’ Passengers Continue to Increase
Dramatic 41% Increase At Wick Due To New Early Flight

The number of passengers using airports in the Highlands and Islands increased by 20% in January compared to the previous year, according to figures released today.  A total of 79,476 passengers used the 10 airports operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited in the month compared to 66,326 in January 2005. The airports which showed the greatest gains in the month were: Inverness (+28%); Islay (+18%); Sumburgh (+17%) and Wick (+41%).

County Singles Snooker League
We have today added a league table for the County Singles Snooker League.  If anyone else runs snooker competitions and would like page set up and then results added to the web site from time to time get in touch with us.

Fancy Dress For Big Heart Day At North School, Wick
Big heart day Overall winners of the fancy dress competition were Lee -Anne McAdie and Owen Harrold and the total raised was £220.

North School Index    Caithness Schools Index


Crimson Tide CD Competition Winner
There was plenty of interest in this CD competition with over 100 entries.  The winner selected at random was Alana Macdonald from Lybster and the CD will be sent out shortly.  This is signed copy of the CD so maybe it will be worth a lot when the band hits the big time.  Watch out for more competition on


Winners Of the Build Your Own Web Site Book Competition
The winners randomly selected in our Free book competition were
Ian Westmorland, East Kilbride
Matthew Thain, Wick.
Joyce Farquhar, Bristol
David Mitchell, Thurso
We are arranging to have the books sent out.
Let us know if you get a web site up and running

Caithness Night Sky Section Begins
Gordon Mackie has long been interested in astronomy and has kindly offered to contribute to this new section.  This section will consist of a bi-monthly newsletter with photos and information about what might be seen in the night sky over Caithness. A photo gallery will shortly be added where anyone can send in their photos of the Caithness Night Sky.  Gordon has offered to answer questions which can initially be emailed to for forwarding. To start the section going Gordon has prepared a February March 2006 newsletter with details of what he has seen recently. At the end of the newsletter are details of events or items to look out for in coming weeks.  Anyone can contribute to this new section and Gordon is keen to stimulate interest. Let us have your suggestions and ideas and we will consider them.  Another easy web site address

Early Evening At Dunbeath As Breakers Crash In
Dunbeath Index   
Caithness A - Z
for thousands of photos of the county



From The Sunday Papers
Caithness Family Stage Demonstration - Grampian TV
How The Baby Shortage Threatens The Future - Observer
This article echoes pretty well what is happening in Highland.  Women putting off having children, more single men and women living at home, less children in schools - the rolls are now dropping fast, more elderly people in the population and rising fast, harder to get housing and more expensive leading to two income mortgages, leaving it too late to have a baby - yes that's exactly Highland now.
Dream Theatre Becomes A Reality - Scotsman
This item is all about the new National Theatre for Scotland and its first production taking place in 10 locations including Wick called Home

Caithness Heat And Power Makes First Move To Reduce Heating Costs In Pulteneytown
Over 250 People See New Heating System At Open Day

Over 250 people from Pulteneytown and other parts of Wick attended the open day to find out if they could benefit once the new wood chip heating system is in place later this year.  With gas and electricity prices about to be increased by 22% there was no doubting the potential savings that users of the new system could make once it is installed.  Council house tenants will have the system installed free by the Highland council.  House owners can have the system installed by purchasing the equipment.  Most folk agreed that they would all save money on the system once installed. Highland Council formed CHaP to take forward the £5million development and work will start on the ground in Pulteneytown in March.  The Heat And Power system produces electricity as well as heat for homes and other buildings.
If you are looking for the Heat and Power web pages on the site in future check the left hand column or simply type chap after as per -  CHaP is going to be around for a long time as the pipe system is expected to have a 100 year life.

Are You Paying Over The Odds To Advertise Property - Why Not Do It FREE On
One of the busiest sections in our Business Index is the property for sale and rented property sections.  currently we have 70 properties advertised for sale and how much did the owners pay to advertise on our extremely busy web site - Absolutely Nothing.  Properties are moving through our pages all the time and for these ads the owners are saving a fortune.  Try our FREE ads yourself and it is easy to do.  Just complete the Online Form and add a photo and your ad is up and running immediately for anyone anywhere in the world who might want to buy a house in Caithness.  Now it is possible to do your own advertising without incurring huge bills.  Its FREE for now.  Why pay more?  You have nothing to lose.  Remember your ad can stay on the site until it is sold even if it takes 52 weeks.  Do the sums yourself.
How is this all possible you might say.  Well its the internet!!!!  Changing things faster than ever.

Exciting New Music and Media Project For Young People
A great new opportunity for young people to take part in music and film workshops over the next two years will soon be available in a new project Music Link Media. This well funded project will have five part time staff led by Douglas Cowie a well known local musician. Young people from age 14 upwards can take part in the drop in workshops running from 6.00 - 10.00pm on Thursday evenings from early March. 
A wide range of topics will be covered including playing instruments. but the project is much wider and will cover recording, use of amplifiers etc. in addition the media side will include filming and cameras and sound equipment has already been purchased. The project will be FREE to participants and will include borrowing music books and other manuals. Other consumables used such as recording on CD or DVD will also be FREE.
There are several jobs currently being advertised in connection with the project

Kevin - Missing Harrow Hill, Wick Since 12 February
Kevin is a large brown/grey male stripey tabby who has been missing since Sunday 12 February. He lives in Harrow hill but is known to wander towards Albert street and Kennedy Terrace. He is well known in this area but appears to have disappeared without a trace. He is very partial to cars and may have wandered into one and been transported elsewhere. His distinguishing features are his white whiskers, quite a small head for such a large body, almost non existent meow and sooty paw pads. Contact us at 01955 605865 if you have seen him or know anything about his disappearance.
Missing Caithness Pets  Pets Corner  Send photos and details of missing or other pets to

'Listen fully to the crofters' - Gibson
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has pressed the Scottish Executive to listen carefully to crofters before they publish the Crofting Reform Bill at the end of this month.   See Crofting Reform Bill Consultation - now closed.  M r Gibson has lodged a question with Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie after he became concerned that the Executive has so far ignored crofters responses to the Scottish Executive during consultation on the Bill because SEERAD has only published its views last December on submissions that directly answer the specific questions that were laid out in the consultation.

Win A Copy Of the Latest Crimson Tide CD - Last Few Hours To Enter FREE Competition
Closing Midnight on Saturday

Local Photographer John Baikie Snaps Up New Techniques Overseas
Local photographer John Baikie has just returned from an intensive International photography training programme held on the beautiful sub-tropical island of Madeira. The course was aimed to improve technical skills, artistic awareness and creativity in photography. The training included many new aspects, including digital imaging, advanced lighting, composition and business acumen together with presentation and image manipulation skills.

Scottish Gas prices rise by 22% - BBC
Electricity and gas prices are being raised by 22% by Scottish Gas from 1 March.
If you live in Putlenytown you better get to the Caithness Heat and Power Day on Saturday to find out if you can save money on your heating bills

Caithness And Sutherland Women's Aid On Hand For Women and Children
Caithness And Sutherland Women's are now firmly established with premises in the area to offer temporary accommodation to the victims of abusive relationships.  We have revamped their web page with all the relevant contact details for women seeking advice or who need to escape from a situation where they are under threat.  Women's Aid in Caithness and Sutherland are in close contact with all the relevant authorities and have an outreach worker locally based for advice.  The message is loud and clear - don't put up with abuse in silence - get help as soon as possible.

Thurso Gala Dates for Diaries - 5 - 13 August 2006

Caithness Amateur Radio Society Members Contact the International Space Station
Amateur Radio Enthusiast Interview On Radio Scotland News Drive Programme This Evening

Caithness amateur Radio enthusiasts have shot to fame after managing to contact American astronaut Bill MacAthur on the International Space Station.  Denny Morrison from West Murkle and Donald Mackay of Sarclet near Thrumster both managed to make contact.  Denny Morrison has been interviewed today for the BBC Radio Scotland News Drive programme and will be on about 4.25pm.  If you miss it live you can hear the programme by clicking on the Listen Again button.  Denny has recorded his conversation with the astronaut.  Other members of the Caithness Amateur Radio Society also managed to make contact.  They also managed to make contact with an old space suite released about a month ago as it has battery powered transmitter.  Click Here For The International Space Station Web Site  Well done folks.  Send us more details and copy of your recording.

Latest Newsletter From Pulteneytown Academy School, Wick Hot Off The Presses

8 Caithness Pupils At Scottish Schools Swimming Championships
Recently, eight pupils from Caithness competed in the Scottish Schools Swimming Championships in Tollcross Glasgow. Only swimmers who had first qualified in their Regional Events attended. The Highland Event had been held in Inverness last November. Four pupils from Hillhead Primary, Rhona Plowman, Lauren Sinclair, Rachel Munro & Erin Mackay & four from Thurso High, Craig Spargo, Ryan Sutherland, Ashley Mackenzie & Martin Cowie.  Craig Spargo from Thurso High took a bronze medal in 100 metres fly.

Wick Gala Week 22 - 29 July 2006
The Wick Gala committee are looking for new ideas from the public for Gala Week and any groups wanting to put something on during the week should contact a committee member to be included in the new programme being prepared. Wick Gala Art Exhibition will once again be held in Wick Youth Club From Sat 22 July until Thursday 27 July.  Items for display to be handed in on 20 July.  Details will be sent to previous exhibitors but nay new exhibitors should contact Marjory Mackenzie, 19 Smith Terrace, Wick.

Installation work for the Community Heating scheme in Pulteneytown is due to start in the next few weeks.  To let the public know what this means for them Caithness Heat & Power (CHaP) is holding an open day at South Primary School on Saturday 18th February. This is an opportunity to ask questions about the system. It will run from 11.00am to 5.00pm Everyone from Pulteneytown is invited to drop in anytime during the day. Representatives from CHaP, the Council and the contractors installing the under road pipe network and the heating systems within the houses will be available to answer questions. The house fittings can be seen at the PPP flats in Murchison St. To recognise interest in the scheme CHaP will have two free draws, one for the tenants who answered our initial questionnaire last year and one for those who have had their houses surveyed. The prize in each section is £100.00.

National Theatre Of Scotland Offers Free Theatrical Events Including Caithness
In Caithness 23  - 26 February - A unique Scotland Wide Simultaneous Project of Events
A completely unique, never-to-be-repeated event: ten inspiring directors, ten surprising locations, ten brand new pieces of simultaneous site-responsive theatre created across the country to mark the launch of the National Theatre of Scotland. Ten places including Wick with ten directors - Mathew Lenton at Wick.  The National Theatre of Scotland has commissioned ten of the best theatre directors working in Scotland today to each explore the theme of ‘Home’, one of the most evocative words in the English language. Each director will offer their own unique vision and interpretation, working together with artists and local communities and drawing inspiration and relevance from their surroundings. The 10 projects include physical spectacle, intimate story telling, multimedia installations, verbatim theatre, children’s theatre, live music, documentary film and sound-scapes. HOME CAITHNESS - Former Caithness Glass Factory & Visitor Centre.  Get on the phone as this is going to be very popular and ion Caithness there is chance they put on an extra performance if demand is high but they need to know soon.  Here is an ideas for all you Message Board folk - Why not go along to the show in your area and then compare notes on the Message Board so we can hear about the event in your area.  This is free event by professional cast with input from local folk in your area.  Big experiment but it should be fun. We have published all ten events in the Arts page.  The events are being held in Aberdeen, Caithness, Dumfries, Dundee, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness Shetland and Stornoway.  Go on book a couple of tickets now.  Book at Lyth Arts Tel 01955 641270


Good News As Runrig the Cat Missing In Thurso Turns Up 4 weeks Later
There are celebrations in one house in Thurso after Runrig missing since the beginning of January has turned up at his old house.  Lost a lot of weight and very skinny but apparently nothing else wrong.  Some good feeds ahead in the next week or two.


Caithness Arts Week 2006 - Dates Confirmed As 16 - 24 September

Sandside Landowner bans experts from beach - Scotsman

Transport Minister Tavish Scott Announced Up To 40% Discount On North Air Fares
Transport Minister Tavish Scott,  announced innovative proposals to deliver lower air fares for people who live in the Highlands and Islands.  (Tavish Scott is the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland) In a UK first, the devolved Scottish Government plans to employ the Aid of Social Character scheme. This allows public sector support to reduce air fares in remote and peripheral regions on approval from the European Commission, improving access for remote communities. Under the ground breaking scheme, residents of Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Islay, Jura and Caithness will be eligible for an estimated 40 per cent discount on trips to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. These innovative proposals are a crucial step in delivering on the commitment made by the First Minster, Jack McConnell in 2002. They will stimulate the market and open up competition - boosting the capacity, frequency and number of air routes available in these areas. An annual budget of £11.2 million has been allocated to deliver the scheme over the next two years (2006/07 and 2007/08).

1. Eligibility

  • a. Discounts will be available to people whose main residence is in one of the defined eligible geographical areas - Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Islay and Jura, Caithness.
  • b. Discounts will be available on any scheduled air service to and from any airport within the eligible geographic area to:
    * One of four main population centres within Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness; and to
    * Another airport within the eligible geographic area
  • c. There will be no restriction on the number of trips per eligible person.
  • d.The discount will be available for both single and return journeys.

Bill Fernie who coincidentally was in Edinburgh met Tavish Scott and spoke to him about his announcement earlier in the day and he said " I am confident this will make big impact on the areas where the new fares structure applies".  Tavish Scott is a Scottish Liberal Democrat and in addition to being the transport minister is the MSP for Shetland.  Bill congratulated the minister on his announcement that will be welcomed by the business community and people in the areas concerned who would like to use air travel to shorten the long trips to the centres in the south.

Win A Copy Of the Latest Crimson Tide CD
We have one of Crimson Tide's latest CDs on offer. We will randomly select a winner from whoever can answer the following question -



Sodexho Staff & Rolls Royce Health Promotions Group Raise £570
Sodexho Staff & Rolls Royce Health Promotions Group at the start of there wheelie Bin Push on Friday at Vulcan which raised £570.00.  The campaign supports charities operating within the UK & Ireland that combat poor nutrition in our local communities.


Soaring Prices For Gas and Electricity
Are You On the Cheapest Tariff With The Cheapest Company?

ScottishPower announced higher gas and electricity prices, but extended availability of its Capped Price Offer shielding customers from further increases until October 2007. From 1 March 2006 electricity prices will rise by 8% and gas by 15%.  We know its a drag but you really need to get calculating those prices and use the price comparison sites such as Uswitch or Energylinx.  Think about a direct debit as there is often a reduction if you pay by this method as it saves the company money in collection.   Have your latest fuel bills handy before you go to the comparison web sites as they need this to check your fuel usage to be able to tell you which supplier is best for you.  Scottish Power also has capped price scheme if you are with them but you need to sign up for it and that will keep prices level for you until October 2007. Check out all deals as they often do not come automatically and you could save if you sign up.  There is no option but to do your homework.  If you don't check then you could be paying more than you need to for gas and electricity.  If you have your bills handy it will probably not take more than 10 or 15 minutes and maybe less.  Since the potential savings might be over £100 a year it is worth spending a few minutes on this.  Once you have done it its easy to check it again in another year.  Do it now.

Still Seeing Spectacular Skies From Dunnet Last Night
The cold weather continues to gives us extremely clear skies and spectacular light shows as seen by these photos from Martina Cross.
For more recent stunning Dunnet photos
Start Here      Dunnet Main Index 
More Sky and Weather related photos
Caithness A - Z

Farming Round Up From The Web
Calls to reform ‘indefensible’ farm subsidies - Sunday Herald
Scotland's less favoured areas face uncertain future - Scotsman
Transfer of Single Farm Payment Scheme ( SFPS) entitlements - Scottish Executive 17 January 06
Scottish Farm Income Estimates 2005 - Scottish Executive
Rural Development Consultation - Scottish Executive
Agricultural Subsidies Payments To Farmers Under The Freedom Of Information Act - Northern & Northern Isles (includes Caithness)  Highland Farms
Scotland's Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease Contingency Plan - Scottish Executive

The Old Bachelor’s Yarn - Or, The Scornfu’ Maiden
Another David Grant poem from the Huna book sent by Hugh Ross  We are happy to publish poetry from Caithness poets or about Caithness from non Caithness poets.  We would also be interested in hearing from any writes in Caithness or Sutherland who would like to publish essays or shot stories in the Arts Index.

Update on the Wick High 54 - 56 Reunion – Friday 21st July 2006
From Janis Paterson (nee McGee}
Although quite a few people have now responded to say they are attending the reunion, I’m still hoping for a “Yes” from even more of you.  Get those keyboards and pens out! We’d also like to know which band we should be booking for the event.  I know that there is a lot of musical talent in Caithness, but what type of music would you like to hear?  Please let me know by email or post, as soon as possible, so that we can get the booking made.   Caithness Reunions Index

Impact Of Smoking Ban In Highlands Revealed By New Statistics
With just a matter of weeks to go until the ban on smoking in enclosed public places comes into force, in order to protect people from passive smoking, newly released statistics from the Scottish Executive's Scottish Health Survey has found that just under half (49%) of people in the Highlands are regularly exposed to potentially deadly second-hand smoke. In addition to this 58% of people in the Highlands exposed to second-hand smoke are bothered by it, as well as 55% of former smokers and surprisingly 18% of current smokers.  The Scotland wide ban on smoking in public places comes into force on 26 March.

A Few More Army Cadets Photos From Earlier Years

Beaver Drive Raised £400
Beaver Scout "Beaver Drive". This Annual event raises money for a boys home in India and the event helped Second Thurso Beavers achieve their "International" badge. Just over £400 was raised and as the photos show, fun was had by all.


Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People
This important paper was launched by the Scottish Executive this week.  "By 2007 every school in Scotland will participate in delivering Integrated Children's Services" This announcement received less publicity than the announcements about Social Work, but is also very welcome, and reflects the lobbying that Highland Council has been involved in over recent years. The Executive have acknowledged that the Integrated Community School agenda is now effectively one and the same as Integrated Children's Services.  Councillor Bill Fernie is the Caithness area chairman of the Housing and Social Work committee and acts as the Children's Champion for Caithness.  Bill said "These changes coming over the next 18 months continue the process that Highland has been embarked on in Education and Social Work and aim to make sure that every child gets the best from their school and home life."  Bill would welcome any comments from local people about the current strategies or whether there is need for more information to be made available in addition to what is already available via the Highland council web site.  Any comments should be sent to  or

More Schooldays Photos From Wick High Sent By Don Sinclair
Wick High 3A  About 1950   Wick High 1949                          Wick High 1951 - 52

Latest Newsletters From Pulteneytown Academy School Wick

Thurso Town Hall - A Chance For A Last Look Round
Sunday 12 February 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Highland Council are closing the Thurso town Hall earlier than had been expected as everything is in place to begin the £4million refurbishment. There will be display of photos and anyone can take along items to share for the afternoon.  When the town hall reopens it will have been completely altered inside to a modern building with the most up to date facilities and conforming to the disabled access regulations. So if you want one last look at the old town hall go along on Sunday afternoon.  To get a glimpse of what it will look like go to Caithness Horizons

Caithness Represntatives Were Among The Visitors To The PURE Hydrogen Project
Unst, in Shetland, is to benefit from jobs, inward migration and new investment with the establishment of a hydrogen company that will commercialise the work of PURE (Promoting Unst Renewable Energy). The PURE project was set up in March 2004 by a community group, the Unst Partnership, and within two years has developed a unique facility for generating hydrogen using wind power to supply an industrial estate on Unst. The hydrogen is stored and used when there is no wind to supply electricity, which means that the estate is powered solely from renewable energy resources. The project has helped put the Shetland Isles on the map for innovative renewable energy developments.  Wind Power might yet run Shetlanders cars if this Shetland project can prove it works.....Could Hydrogen made from Pentland Firth power Caithness Cars?  These and other questions might be answered if Lb Dem MPJohn Thurso is successful in persuading the DTI to set up a new facility in Caithness to research the science as backed by SNP MSP Rob Gibson earlier this week - wow two parties backing each other - this must be good idea.  And we better get a move on as Sweden is already way ahead of us  - see Sweden Plans First Oil Free Economy - Guardian Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970.  With higher electricity  and gas prices announced this week we better do something soon.

Say What You Like About NHS Highland But they Do Balance The Books
The recent meeting of the board of NHS Highland received the welcome news from their finance director that they are on course to bring an end of year balanced budget.  With health trusts all over the UK in serious financial trouble we have to congratulate NHS Highland on achieving a balanced budget.  Whilst we might all wish more spending on all sorts of things from improved clinics, dentistry and a scanner not mention the pressures on recruitment for a range of services including maternity at Caithness General.  We would all be casting caustic comments if they were in financial trouble like so many others. So after spending over two years criticising NHS Highland over the Caithness maternity issue we can say well done on this issue.  Could this be the reason NHS Highland was brought in to help with Argyle and Clyde. Let's hope they can help fix things for that area and improve their health services.  Just don't take your eye off Highland folks.

NHS Highland Brings In Smoking Ban Ahead Of New Laws
Wednesday 8 March is National No Smoking Day and this is when NHS Highland’s new Tobacco Policy will come into effect. This will ensure that NHS Highland is acting in accordance with the legislation of the Smoking Ban in public places which comes into effect on 26 March.  There will be no smoking permitted anywhere within NHS Highland premises. This will include doorways and entrances to buildings.  Highland council introduced its new policy on smoking in council premises from 1 January.  Contraventions of the new rules are being treated as a disciplinary matter.  There was some controversy in the press when the council announced it was making cash available to support smoking cessation courses amongst its staff.
Teenagers who currently smoke may die 21 years sooner than the average age - Fact Sheet
Cost of Employee Smoking In the Workplace In Scotland            Smoking And Sudden Infant Death

Eight O'Clock Club Reunion Preparations Well On Schedule
The closing date for registration for the Eight O'Clock Club reunion is now past and some sixty folk have indicated their intention to be there on Friday April 7th at 7pm when the reunion will take place within Pulteneytown Parish Church. A Praise Band has been formed for the occasion and an interesting nostalgic programme plus a buffet supper has been arranged. Former members of the Club are coming from all over the country and a few who are still reside in town, have made it known that they plan to be there.
The Caithness Reunions Pages  If you are running a reunion in Caithness we will set up FREE pages for you.

Beatrice Wind Farm Demonstrator Project Environmental Study Now Online
The Environmental Statement (over 400 pages) for the Beatrice wind Farm demonstrator project is now available online.  The statement has been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry and marks the start of a three month consultation period.  To see the whole study go to the Beatrice Wind Farm web site  The study look at the visual impact all around the coast including Caithness in addition to many other factors on sea life, birds.  A copy of the newsletter Windward is also available at the web site.  A Fife based company Burntisland Fabrications Ltd has won the contract to fabricate the two substructure jackets and foundation piles for the project.  The turbine sub structures will be 85 metres high and will be more than 23 killometres from shore in water depths of 45 metres.  The project will create around 60 jobs in the fabrication phase.

Kyle Gunn Makes Big Rubber Band Ball
Featuring in this months Hillhead school newsletter newsletter is Kyle Gunn and his big Rubber Band Ball made from a collection of rubber bands.  The challenge is to find anyone with a bigger one.  If anyone has a bigger one send a photo to

Schools In Caithness

Volunteering and The Council Tax Blame Game - Two Topics From Our MSP's
We only publish snippets from our Highlands and Islands MSP's and if you really want to dig deeper into the weekly events there is link on the page to the Official Report of the daily happenings at the Scottish Parliament.

Calling Local Charities - Lots of Possible Funding Sources On Offer For Your Projects
Just added to our funding For Charities links are 8 places to look for possible funding for your organisations projects and work in the coming year.  They cover wide range of possibilities.  Grants for summer play schemes of between £200 and £500.  Sustainable Action Grants of up to £40,000 for three years from the Scottish Executive.  B & Q Awards of £500 for local communities.  £1500 - £5000 from a TESCO charity for projects fro children or elderly.  The Clore Duffield foundation is currently offering grants of anything from £5000 to £1million for projects for children and young people.  apply in the next few weeks to Comic Releif for grants Older People, Mental Health, Disadvantaged Communities.  Applications are considered from voluntary groups and organisations throughout the UK for up to £5000.  Microsoft is  offering grants of £2500 to assist projects aiming to assist young people and adults with disadvantages in Information Technology.  There must be plenty of projects looking for money and these are just a few suggestions.  Go get it now.

North Highland Archive, Wick - Opening Hours Reduced From 27 February
Following a request by the archivist the Caithness and Sutherland manager for Education Culture and Sport at the meeting on 30 January presented arguments to reduce the opening hours at North Highland Archive in Wick.  Councillors from the Caithness Area committee were split down the middle in the vote on the opening times.  The reason given for the need to reduce public access was to allow staff to do more back office work such as cataloguing and referencing which was difficult to do when the archive was busy with customers.  Councillors Bill Fernie and Katrina MacNab argued strongly against the move which reduced the opening times, closed it on a Wednesday and removed the one late night opening. As the archive does not open on a Saturday it is now extremely difficult for anyone in full time employment to access the archive.  There are no changes in staffing numbers.  Councillor Roger Saxon the chairman of the ECS committee used his casting vote to support the reduction in hours suggested by the archivist. Library hours opening times are unaffected.  The North Highland Archive situated in Wick library lies within the Wick West ward of councillor Bill Fernie.  Councillor Fernie also highlighted the difficulty for the public in trying to deal with three different sets of opening times for facilities within the same building - library, archive and art gallery and a similar situation in Thurso for the library and the gallery.  Gordon Johnson a well known local genealogy researcher in a letter to the John O'Groat Journal today (Friday 10 February) says "the archive has the potential to attract many more tourists to the area with exponential increase in family history research all over the world."

Evolution Martial Arts and Fitness BJJ Workgroup At Dunbeath
Contact this group if you want to get fit and have some spare time on Sundays.

Rob Gibson Supports John Thurso's Call For An Energy Study Centre
SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has welcomed Far North MP John Thurso's call for a energy study centre to be based in Caithness and has called on John Thurso's Lib Dem colleagues in Edinburgh to follow his lead. Mr Gibson's comments follow Mr Thurso's submission to the Trade and Industry Committee in which he called for a national research facility into renewable energies to be sited on the former nuclear site at Dounreay...
See This Is north Scotland web site and add your comments to the article printed in the Press and Journal

You Can Help Give Caithness General Hospital Radio Funds A Boost
Hospital Radio Charity Music Quiz On Sale Now (Entries in by 18th March) Radio Remedy is based in Caithness General Hospital and is a Registered Charity. Radio Remedy is totally run and funded by volunteers
Annual Outgoings  -Licence Fee, Insurance, Telephone and Music Purchases.  Let me tell you, It all adds up. You can help Support Your Very Own Hospital Radio Station by Buying a Copy of the Lyric Quiz Sheet 'Name that Tune' It only costs 50P and you could win a Music shop voucher for your troubles.
Available now from the following Outlets: Thurso: Highland Hospice / Jim Bews Newsagent / Raffles Newsagent / Music Shop  Wick: DR Simpsons / Poultney News / Music Shop  Castletown: Spar Shop
Dounreay: Bob Johnson

A Few Night Sky Views From Thurso
These photos taken in Thurso show just how clear the night sky can be in the north of Scotland.  Thanks to G Mackie for sending them to use to share with you all.  The larger moon shots were taken with a telescope and camera and others with a long zoom lens.

Dunnet Forest Log Sales - Saturday 13 February
Logs, rounds, splits, chips as usual. Please bring bags if you can, there is always a shortage.

Merchant Seamen and Fishermen Who Served In The War Will Be Honoured In Wick
The service and sacrifice of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets will be honoured on Sunday 19th. February at the 11.30 am. service in Wick Old Parish Church. A Red Ensign, the famed Red Duster, will be unfurled by Mr Bill Harper, a M.N. veteran and Elder of the congregation, and dedicated to the memory of all Merchant Seamen and Fishers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our Lord Lieutenant, and office bearers of the local M.N. Association will be attending, and a very warm invitation is extended to all present and ex - M.N. and Fishers and indeed any one with a sea connection or interest to come along and swell the ranks for this unique occasion.

Naver Says Goodbye To Bayview Staff And look for New Tenants
During the recent refurbishment of the Bayview Nursing Home in Thurso, approximately 5 staff were temporarily housed in serviced office accommodation at the Naver Business Centre. Now that work has been completed, they are heading home.  General manager Hilda Morrison said, 'We like to treat our tenants like hotel guests, except we provide them with desks instead of beds'. She added, 'We always knew the Bayview staff were only going to be with us for 6 months but, after this length of time, you get to know folk quite well and it's always sad to see them go'.

S I D Building Services Delivering Roofing And Cladding Solutions
S I D Building Services based in Caithness have established themselves as a building firm able to deliver a range of building work. Two of their services in particular are gaining more attention due to the severe weather experienced in the Highlands.  Without a doubt roofing can be a nightmare when it goes wrong leading to leaks and flooding of homes and buildings. SID builders are registered installers of Firestone RubberGard roofs that are put to the ultimate test in the north of Scotland with its sometimes ferocious weather conditions.

SNP attacks Treasury over rural fuel costs - The Herald
Always a talking point in the far north and the islands.  John Thurso MP is quoted i this article today as attacking the treasury for its views on pricing asserting that "the costs hit some of the poorest people in the country"  Let's hope the MP's trying to do something about rural petrol prices are successful as fuel poverty looks set to really bite if stories about a 25% price increase for gas are confirmed leading inevitably too a similar hike in electricity prices as a high proportion is made from gas. the price increase are dramatic with for example Highland council experiencing a total increase in energy costs this year of over £1.5 million now partly to be reflected in the increased council tax rate to be set on Thursday.  High fuel prices are much worse than a "Double Whammy" as they feed on through the system multiplying the effect and the pain.

Changing Lives - Major social work modernisation programme
The biggest overhaul of social work for 40 years was unveiled today.  It will deliver better care and a more motivated, focused profession, Education and Young People Minister Peter Peacock said today. The Minister said radical change was needed to provide social work services that could meet the challenges of the 21st century. He said the current system needed national priorities to help set direction, stronger leadership and new confidence to act quickly and decisively. Responding to the 21st Century Social Work Review's report Changing Lives, Mr Peacock announced an immediate action plan for improvement

BBC Radio 3 Choir Of The Year Competition - Is Your Choir Ready To Compete?
BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year Announces New Competition - Search For Britain's Best Amateur Singing Groups Now On 7 February 2006: BBC Radio 3's Choir Of the Year. The UK's largest national amateur group singing competition - is looking for Scotland¹s most talented and diverse choirs and singing groups to take part in this year's competition.

Pennyland P7 1991
Another schooldays photos of a Pennyland class from Thurso sent by Linda Clarke.



Budget threat to Highland jobs - The Herald
This short article highlights the threat to council staff jobs as Highland council faces a £15million bill to settle equal pay claims.  All local authorities have this problem.

Highland Council to Debate Structural Changes
As the council faces up to the equal pay settlement mentioned in the Herald today councillors on Thursday 9 February will debate a paper from chief executive Arthur McCourt "The Highland Council Beyond 2007".
these days the council works in a number of partnerships with Community Health Partnership (CHP), Area (or LEC such as Caithness And Sutherland Enterprise) and community.  Huge changes are coming with proportional representation and multi-member wards from 2007.  The Scottish Executive is bent on changing the face of Scottish government and much more is to come on real issue such as Housing Stock transfer whereby council houses will go to a Housing Association after a vote by tenants, changes of the planning laws under legislation going through the parliament, a possible restructuring of Social Work services aligning them more with health rather than local authority.  These and other changes will see the councils become much smaller with later changes possibly amalgamating councils similar to the restructuring already under way with Health Boards.  Restructuring is not new and has happened several times in the past as in 1998 and 2001.  However these changes are many times more significant and will affect the way services are delivered across the whole of Scotland.

The amount of household waste produced in Scotland is growing at an alarming rate and if changes aren't made it may double within 20 years. The average Scottish consumer wastes £1597 per year on goods and services that they don't use, £438 of this is uneaten food. In a bid to stem this disturbing growth in waste, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have published a consultation paper detailing actions which could be taken by everyone.

Seaforth Highlanders Postcard Sent Golspie
Alex MacManus has sent this postcard to add to the growing collection. This one shows in a very personal way the tragedy of the First World War in separating people never knowing when they would see each other again.... "I am attaching a postcard sent from Ripon to Golspie by a friend of my maternal grandmother before she was married. The Seaforth Highlanders trained in that area during the 1914/18 War. The chap was telling my granny that although he and my future maternal grandfather were both down hearted to be there they understood that the War would not last much longer. The date on the postcard was 16th August 1916. If only they had known."

The Dominie's Yarn By David Grant - 11 August 1858
Hugh Ross has sent in this poem that was written in the Huna Guest Book. 
We will in future run poetry into the Arts index and existing items will be moved gradually over.  If any budding poets in Caithness want to send in items in future they will be added to the Arts Index and linked to the authors page.  We already have some new poems and they will be added shortly.  Meanwhile take look at the latest one by David Grant in 1858 campaigning for new harbour wall to protect fishermen at Wick.

Highland Councillors will be asked to approve a rise of £49 at Band D, a 4.5 % increase, when it meets on Thursday (9 February) to set the Council Tax for 2006-2007.
In setting a budget of £488 million, the Council is asked to agree the following charges in 2006-2007: -
A £756.67; B £882.78; C £1,008.89; D £1,135; E £1,387.22; F £1,639.44; G £1,891.67 H £2,270.
The Council is also being asked to confirm that an increase in council house rent in the new financial year should be contained to the Retail Price Index plus 1 % i.e. 3.4%. The average rent increase in 2006-2007 will be £1.86 per week, increasing the current weekly average rent to £55.64 (over 48 weeks).

Build Your Own Web Site
Enter Our FREE competition to win a copy of this book.
Do you have something to say or to share? Would you like to reach the widest audience imaginable? Then what you need is a website - and this book to show you how. Web design is easy. The revolution has come in the main through blogs, which let anybody build a fully-featured site with ease. We look at blogging in detail, with step-by-step guides and expert tips and tricks.

Cyanide – Another Caithness Band Gaining Popularity
Playing local gigs is another up and coming Caithness band - Cyanide are gradually gaining a following in local clubs, hotels and other venues. Their music sits in the melodic rock band easy listening variety but no doubt they will from time to time let rip with something off the wall.  They are honing their skills covering a wide range of popular classics such as 'Brown eyed girl' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' with the likes of Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac alongside some classic Celine Dion which is a popular one in our. As their repertoir widens they experiment and will try a bit of everything.

Lets Do The Show From Wick
the Radio Scotland Show recorded in Assembly rooms Wick a few months ago as part of a fund raiser of the Memorial Garden for the Bank Row bombing.  You can play it again from the BBC Radio Scotland web site.  Just click Listen Again when you are on the page   Memorial Garden pages

Nuclear industry looks to Finland - BBC
As Scotland considers its future energy options, which might include a new nuclear power station, BBC Radio Scotland's Simon Willis was given exclusive access to a new reactor project in Finland for this month's Investigation series. You can hear Simon Willis' special report on BBC Radio Scotland's Investigation programme on Monday 6 February at 0850 GMT.

Another Entry In The Caithness Transport Section
The van for the Caithness Handy Person scheme is to be seen around the county.  We snapped it at Smith Terrace a couple of days ago.  The scheme aims to carry out small jobs for the elderly and disabled at no charge except for materials.  It has been very successful in carrying out a range of small repairs and everyday jobs that some people may find difficult to do.  the project is run under a partnership of Caithness Community Care Forum and Pentland Housing Association.

And Dropping In On Portskerra

Back In Melvich Again

Armadale, Sutherland - Yesterday

Thurso Beavers Raise £350 For Children's Home In India
Second Thurso Beavers have been busy "beavering" away in raising funds for a children's home in Goya, India. At recent "Beaver Drive" and through collecting 20 pence pieces in "smartie" tubes a magnificent £350 was raised . All of this money will be donated to the "Father Angel Niketan" Boys Home when Beaver Leader Sandra Carson visits there next week. The money will purchase books, equipment and assist in much needed repairs to the Home.  The Second Thurso Beavers have supported this charity of several years now, but this year there will be an added bonus in that the Home will receive two football team strips, donated to the Beavers. Transporting these to India could have been very expensive but, Emirate Airlines have waived the extra baggage allowance in order that no additional charges will be incurred.

Another Pet For Pets Corner
This is Charlie  - a seven month old golden labrador now goring up with a Caithness family.



The Distribution of the Water Vole in Caithness - E Fraser, D Glass and S Hogg
The distribution of the Water Vole in Caithness was investigated during August/September 2005. Thirty-four locations were surveyed using a consistent survey methodology based on field signs. Positive occupancy was recorded at 56% of locations. The results indicate that the water vole is widely distributed in Caithness. Locations in the peatlands were the most suitable and the best populated.  Caithness is an important stronghold for this threatened species, owing to the relatively undisturbed environment and the absence of mink.  Caithness Biodiversity Pages 

Clear Nights In Caithness - Starry Skies At Dunnet
The extremely clear nights recently in Caithness may have taken a few photographers out to see what they could capture in the night sky.  Keith Parkes of Highland Eye had a go at leaving the shutter open for very long exposures to capture these images near Dunnet.  The first one is of Canisbay Church.  If anyone else has had ago at the night sky in the north of Scotland why not send us couple of shots to add to the galleries.

EasY Sundays To Continue At Park Hotel
The last Sunday of the month will continue to be Easy Sunday at the Park with light jazz sessions being supplied by North Coast Jazz Band on 26th February and After Hours on 26 March.  Before then the hotel is laying on special Valentines Dinners on 14th and 18th February with music supplied by Peter Dyson.

Match Cancelled Due To Frozen Pitch
Rugby Today - Caithness V Newton Stewart
Caithness play Newton Stewart today at Millbank, Thurso with Kick-off at 2.00pm.  If you have not heard the team have yet again made it to a position to be promoted to the next league.  Congratulations to them all.  See the Report on the Caithness Rugby Club web site. This will be the Caithness teams third step up the leagues in four years - a truly remarkable achievement.  The games at Millbank are FREE so why not go along and see a great team in action.  Buy a programme and some coffee to help the club.

The Highland Council agreed savings of £18.7 million (Thursday 2 February 2006) in confirming a budget of £489 million for 2006-7 and were advised that an even more demanding programme of savings may be needed in 2007/8.

Wick Traditional Music Workshop At Halkirk
If you are interested in taking part in the Wick Traditional Music workshop at Halkirk on 18 February get your application form in now. You can get form at Gordon Gunn's web site or phone 01847 871211

Bonnie - Missing From Halkirk
Bonnie cat went missing from Bridge Street, Halkirk on 15th January.  She is one and half years old. She is mostly white with ginger and black markings on her head and back with a black and grey striped tail. She is very friendly and goes to most people. She came from Balmore and was chipped but she did not have a collar on.  If you have any information about Bonnie email the owner at                    Pets Corner

What Do Young People In Caithness Want In the Area? - Survey
Robin Falconer lives in Caithness and will shortly make presentation to the Big Lottery Fund.  He wants your views on what young people would like to see in the area for his presentation next month.  Download the form, save it to your PC, fill it in and email the completed copy back to him at   Find it later in Youth Groups  You can also join in with Robin's debate on the issue on the Message Board

Homestake Affordable Housing - Shared Equity - Naver House

Homestake is a brand new scheme to help people on lower incomes who want to own a home but can’t afford the full price. Pentland Housing Association, in partnership with Communities Scotland is able to offer for sale under the Homestake shared equity scheme 6 flats in Naver Road in Thurso. Each flat has been decorated throughout and comprise of Hall, Lounge, Kitchen, bathroom and 1 or 2 Bedrooms. Prices in the range £55,000 - £67,000.

Consultation On Lottery Funding Distribution From 2009 - Let them Know What You Want
Money for the arts and film, sport, and heritage but how should it be divided up each year.  If you have some ideas and want changes to the distribution from 2009 here is your chance. Every year the National Lottery raises well over £1 billion to be shared among good causes. The National Lottery plays a role in most of our lives, whether as players, grant beneficiaries, users of Lottery funded facilities, or as someone who has enjoyed or benefited from something the Lottery has funded, however big or small; such as new kit for a local sports club, researching the history of a local area, new equipment for an arts group or funding a youth film project.

Forss Business Park Moving Forward
Forss Business Park received planning approval on 18 November 2005. The Forss Business Park is owned by Abbey Properties Cambridgeshire Limited who are part of the Abbey Group. The area of land was the old USAF naval base comprising of a gross area of 126 acres, the planning consent granted is for a development of 76 acres of this site. The planning consent covers a mixed use from renewable energy, office facilities, industrial units/warehousing and an area for an accommodation block. The spokesman for the group has already suggested that plans are being drawn up as a master plan for the area. These plans will be drawn up in conjunction with the Council as a draft master plan for the area allowing for flexibility, sustainability and looking into the future for jobs and usages that will still go forward long after the decommissioning of Dounreay has passed.

Open Day At New Wick Family Centre
Wick Family Centre will hold an open day on Saturday 4th February 2006 to let everyone see the new facilities.  The centre will be open between 1.00pm and 4.00pm for any parents interested in learning about the new services on offer.
Anne Beveridge the children's leader and other staff will be on hand to answer questions about Little Nippers play group, the pre-school provision, Making Waves the After School Club and the holiday club. 
To other nurseries and play groups - make sure your information is up to date as we are creating a new section for the groups.  Let us have more details, photos etc.

South School, Wick Latest Newsletter

Pulteneytown Academy 1961
Picture Sent by Alan Miller
Pulteneytown Academy Photo Index
Main Schooldays Photos Index


Caithness Arts Strategy Launch Today - 4.00pm, the Orange Room, Park Hotel, Thurso
Caithness Arts the group working to promote the arts in Caithness launches its Arts Strategy today at the Park Hotel at 4.00pm.  Professor Ian Brown will be there to talk about the strategy along with committee members who set the process in motion last year.  the strategy has a wide range of ambitious plans but set out with practical solutions to make them work.  If you want to hear about how the arts in Caithness might be taken forward for the benefit of the whole community go along today.

A Lifeboat Guild Meeting - Can Anyone Supply Any Information About This Photo
John Taylor, Vice Chairman RNLI Fundraising Committee has asked if anyone can help supply any information about this early committee that would have been involved in raising money for the lifeboat many years ago. If you know anyone in the photo or have other useful details then get in touch with John Taylor or send it to us for forwarding.


Burns At Mount Pleasant Primary School, Thurso
Mount Pleasant school, Thurso had their own Burns day celebrations as these photos show.
Latest School Newsletter



Wick Artist Fionna Carlisle Attends Unveiling Of Robin Cook Painting
A portrait of the late Rt. Hon. Robin Cook acquired for the House of Commons collection was painted by Wick artist Fionna Carlisle The painting was unveiled by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Michael J. Martin MP. The reception was attended by Mrs Gaynor Cook, Mr Christopher Cook and Mr Peter Cook.  The portrait is an important new acquisition for the House of Commons Collection. Painted by Fionna Carlisle during the months before Robin Cook’s death in August 2005, it depicts the Parliamentarian informally, with his two dogs “Tammy” and “Tasker”, named after the Scottish whiskies Tamdhu and Talisker.

Loch More Lies Tranquil In The Current Freeze
Thanks to Martina Cross for some new photos of Loch More always worth a look but showing some extremely beautiful views in the cold crisp weather we are experiencing.


Early Mornings Sharp And Clear On The Thurso River
Thanks to Wendy Sutherland for these early morning photos from the Thurso river where the fish may not have been biting but there was plenty to see and the otters were not afraid of the freezing water.

Cancer cases likely to rise by 50% in a decade - Herald
The article in today's Herald highlights a problem in Highland that is being looked at -"Cancer sufferers in the Highlands are "significantly disadvantaged" because the back-up machine at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness is "nearly obsolete", according to the report."

Councillors Remuneration Proposals On Scottish Executive Web Site
The revised scheme for paying councillors is now on the Scottish Executive web site.  The new proposals if accepted would come in after the next election in May 2007.  the proposals include moving away from paying allowances to a formal salary system with pension rights and a change in the expenses system.
Highland councils payments to councillors for 2004 - 05 are to be found Here

Front Page Headlines Archive Index From 2000 Onwards