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A yellow weather warning has been issued for heavy rainfall in the west Highlands.

The alert comes into force at 3pm and covers Monday as well.

The spell of heavy rain is expected across parts of western Scotland which may lead to some flooding and travel disruption.

It reads: “Rain will affect western Scotland through late Sunday and Monday before clearing on Tuesday morning. This will often be heavy and persistent, especially over hills.

“Many locations in this region will see 25-50 mm of rainfall, with the heaviest rain over high ground where 100-150 mm is likely to fall. The rain will be accompanied by strong winds, bringing a spell of coastal gales and gusts to around 50mph over hills and headlands.”

You can watch the full forecast from the Met Office above.

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Amateur bakers from an Aberdeenshire community centre will being going bread to bread this month in a new television programme.

Staff from the Old Mart Community Resource Centre in Maud will star in the BBC Scotland show Flour Power on Wednesday, July 31 at 8pm.

The contestants will face off against each other in a workplace bake sale competition, to find out who will rise to the top.

Don Allan, a mental health local area co-ordinator, will test his baking skills against his resource centre colleagues Suzanne Nicol, Calvin Little and Lesley Lawrie.

He said: “As part of our mental health service we run a community conversation cafe, which we started up five years ago, so everybody at the resource centre is really into their baking.

“We’ve got some cracking bakers, so we’re really excited to see ourselves on the TV.

“It was a really fun, challenging experience for everyone.”

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A historic locomotive is on track to visit Aberdeen multiple times this year.

No 60163 Tornado, affectionately known as The Aberdonian, rolled into the city in March following the restoration of a turntable.

Volunteers from the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust (FRHT) had tirelessly worked to restore the equipment, which dates back to 1906, and required £86,000 of funding.

The locomotive will be visiting the city on four separate occasions on August 1, 8 and 31 and again on September 7.

Andrew Meff from FRHT said: “It came here on March 14 for the completion of the turntable restoration and now these other trips have been chartered.

“It is great for us and great for the city after an important restoration.

“The work was the culmination of three years of efforts.”

The Tornado will travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and it is operated by the AI Steam Locomotive Trust.

North-east MSP Liam Kerr added: “This is fantastic news and a credit to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers at the FRHT.

“This will be a great attraction for visitors, local residents and railway enthusiasts alike.

“And I am sure people will turn out in good numbers to see this steam train over the summer.”

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Aberdeenshire bikers are being asked for their views on local road safety initiatives aimed at them, as part of an ongoing study into their effectiveness.

The online survey is looking for views and opinions about bikers’ experiences to see how much impact such courses have on bikers’ attitudes and behaviour.

Robert Gordon University (RGU) is working with Road Safety North East Scotland (RSNES) on the project, which may help inform the development of future safety initiatives.

RGU research assistant Caroline Hood said: “We’re keen to hear from local bikers and our initial engagement with them is through our online survey, but we hope to supplement this with interviews later in the summer with bikers willing to participate beyond the scope of the survey.”

Ewan Wallace, chair of RSNES and head of transportation at Aberdeenshire Council, added: “This academic research, in partnership with RGU, is a new approach for RSNES and it’s important we try to learn how bikers perceive attempts to improve their safety.

“The views of bikers themselves aren’t always given or taken into account, so we hope the local community can give us some feedback to help make sure any efforts to increase their safety are as effective and as useful as they can be.

“As the Scottish Government’s ten-year road casualty reduction period draws to an end, we need to be prepared for the years ahead and this research will assist in our longer-term planning for this vulnerable road user group.”

The survey is open until August 14 and can be accessed here. 

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Work begins tomorrow for five nights to undertake road improvement works on the A90 at Newton of Sandford.

The £150,000 overnight resurfacing works will address any road defects in the carriageway and create a smoother and safer journey for road users.

The project will take place overnight between 7.30pm and 6.30am and are due to be completed by 6.30am on Saturday, July 27.

To ensure the safety of roadworkers as well as motorists, a 10mph convoy system will be in place during working hours, however all traffic management will be removed during the daytime to keep disruption to a minimum.

Andy Thompson of BEAR Scotland said: “This £150,000 investment from Transport Scotland will allow us to repair a number of cracks, potholes and other issues which will improve the general condition and safety of this section of the A90 for motorists.

“We’ve taken steps to minimise disruption by carrying out the works overnight and ensuring that all traffic management will be removed outwith working hours. We’ve also planned the improvements to avoid the weekend period. Our teams will do all they can to complete the project as quickly and safely as possible.

“We thank motorists for their patience in advance while we complete these works and encourage all road users to plan their journeys in advance by checking the Traffic Scotland website for up to date travel information and allow some extra time to reach their destination.”

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Nature laid on a perfect feast for our journey from Aberdeen to Douneside House on Royal Deeside for dinner in a former country mansion.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but after a quarter of a century living in these parts, it was the first time we had taken in a view which had a profound effect on Queen Victoria, whose love affair with this part of Aberdeenshire is well known.

She was mesmerised by a sweeping panorama across the Howe of Cromar, not far from Tarland, with the summit of Lochnagar clearly visible 20 miles away.

The spot where she always stopped her coach to take it all in was named Queen’s View in her honour, and a roadside sign marks the spot.

The Duke of Rothesay has described it as his favourite view of all time.

We arrived at palatial Douneside House soon afterwards and discovered this also had a jaw-dropping view from the front door.

It used to be a holiday home for the MacRobert family, but remains the jewel in the crown for the estate and is now owned by the charitable MacRobert Trust.

There is not enough room in this review to tell their extraordinary family story – suffice to say, it combines great success and achievements with terrible tragedy and enormous fortitude.

Chef David Butters has crafted beautiful high-end cuisine here.

After making our menu selections in a sitting room with the great view outside and roaring fire close by, canapes arrived.

Tasty morsels of salmon and caviar, and bonbons of haggis and Lochnagar cheese, signalled a special dining experience ahead.

For starters, east-coast crab, with ice cream, cucumber and avocados for my wife, and rabbit loin and braised leg, with chicory, parsley and mayo for me.

Rabbit is a dish I am not naturally drawn to for the usual soppy and illogical sentimental reasons, but it was tender and delicious.

The crab was also plentiful and tasty, but the ice cream showstopper was on the bitter side for my wife’s taste. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be to get right, so we would not allow this to detract from the overall impact of the dish and its boldness.

For mains, lamb cooked three ways, with spinach, chantenay carrots and potato terrine, and for me, fillet of Loch Etive sea trout with petit pois, bacon and Shetland potato.

There is a little story about the lamb.

I called the hotel on the morning of the visit to explain apologetically that having looked at the compact table d’hote menu online, my wife was not keen on the main offerings of venison or fish.

In a flash, the delightful lady on reception offered to go out at lunchtime to buy chicken for the chefs to cook instead for my wife.

How about that for five-star service? I can’t imagine that happening anywhere else.

As it happened, the menus were being changed and lamb made a welcome appearance.

It was just as well she plumped for that because it was an absolute charmer.

Lamb belly, shoulder and sweetbreads complemented each other superbly for taste and subtle variations in texture. They even cooked it well done at her request, even although we knew the “chefs’ union” nearly always err on the side of pink.

Meanwhile, I had decided that Douneside finally convinced me that I now preferred trout to my long-time favourite of salmon. The trout here was fleshy and packed with flavour, and fairly substantial, too, in portion size.

I almost forgot to mention a virtuoso little taster from the kitchen which arrived before the mains: garden beetroot with beetroot ice cream and beetroot meringue.

OK, they were showing off their skills again, but why not? If you like beetroot, you’d be in heaven. We loved its originality and the delicate use of the beetroot flavouring, which was not overpowering.

We rounded off with lemon curd, with berries, meringue and sorbet, which put predictable cheesecake to shame, and an artisan cheese board. The Blue Murder blue cheese was the star for me.

We sauntered out of The Conservatory dining room and gazed at personal MacRobert family pictures and mementos displayed here and there on the walls, which gave the place a homely and poignant feel.

This has a lot to do with Lady Rachel Workman MacRobert, I suspect, whose wish was to leave a legacy of peace and tranquillity here.

We had been taken on a journey of delightful and unexpected twists and turns by the chefs, too. We were sorry to leave, but we were looking forward to the views on our return trip.

The restaurant
  • Douneside House
  • Tarland, Aberdeenshire AB34 4UL
  • t: 01339 881230
  • w: www.dounesidehouse.co.uk
The bill
  • Three-course table d’hote menu x 2 £90
  • Cheese supplement £5
  • Tonic water plus dash £3
  • Glass of prosecco x 2 £19
  • Total: £117

 

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Inverness Airport is closed today as strike action by air traffic controllers begins across the north.

The snap decision was made on Friday  after talks broke down earlier this month.

The air traffic controllers are seeking a 10% pay rise.

With negotiations between HIAL and the Prospect Union having stalled, the industrial action may be the first of many strikes during the summer months.

Inverness Airport is closed today, while Sumburgh in Shetland and Kirkwall in Orkney will close tomorrow, and the airports in Stornoway and Dundee will not operate on Tuesday.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon has urged the Prospect union to get back round the table and help deliver a solution to its long-running pay dispute.

Richard Hardy, Prospect national secretary, said HIAL and Scottish Ministers had left members with no option but to strike.

Read more here. 

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A 63-year-old man has died after a three-vehicle crash on the A9.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the collision near Alness at 10.30am.

A blue Renault Clio, a silver Vauxhall Vectra and an orange Vauxhall Mokka were involved.

Police said the 63-year-old was the driver of the Clio.

The 80-year-old driver of the Vectra was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where he is being treated for injuries which are not considered life-threatening. The driver of the Mokka was not injured.

Sergeant Chris Murray from the road policing unit said “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the male who sadly died in this incident this morning, we would ask that anyone who witnessed the collision and has not already spoken with an officer to contact us on 101 and quote reference number 1384 of the 20th July.

“The public are thanked for their patience during the closure of this main route, while investigation work was carried out”.

The route has been closed for most of the day while police carried out an investigation.

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Police are currently dealing with an accident involving a pedal cyclist.

The B9170 is closed between the A947 at Turriff and Cuminestown until investigations are completed.

The public are advised to avoid the area.

More to follow.

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An army of climbers are wanted to help locate rare and endangered – but hard to find – plants on Scotland’s mountains.

Botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh are appealing for mountaineers to help them find alpine plants that are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

A plea has gone out for people who see particular plants to report the sightings so that they can be better studied.

Gavin Powell and Chris Ellis, of the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE), said: “Anyone who has survived a mountain storm cannot fail to be impressed by the plants and animals clinging to existence under extreme conditions.

“There are many British plants found exclusively in our mountains, not just eking out their existence, but making a home of high and remote places. Such plants face many threats, including climate change.

“Seasonal weather seems to be increasingly erratic, and a general trend for milder winters has left some of Scotland’s rarest mountain plants vulnerable.

“Of special concern to botanists are the tenacious alpine plants, relics of Scotland’s post-glacial landscape that emerged at the end of the last Ice Age.

“Monitoring is a key step in helping these plants and lichen to survive into the future. Because they grow in remote mountain locations, conservationists remain unsure of exactly how many populations exist, and where monitoring and protection should be focussed.”

They added: “Nowadays only observant climbers and hillwalkers are likely to encounter these three plants – and you can help by making new discoveries.

“For example, alpine blue sow-thistle was thought to be restricted to two sites low down Lochnagar’s north face, on the west side of the Black Spout couloir.

“However, small pockets were once found across Lochnagar’s north face at a range of altitudes, and in 2017 it was rediscovered above 1000m, spotted by an SNH officer walking along the top on his day off. This small clump was growing just 30m away from some belay tat.

To help with Scotland’s plant conservation, the RBGE are appealing to Mountaineering Scotland’s members to report sightings of three plants – Cicerbita alpina (alpine blue sow-thistle), Saxifraga cespitosa (tufted saxifrage) – when on Ben Alder, Ben Avon, Ben Nevis or in the mountains of Torridon and northern Skye – and Alectoria ochroleuca (alpine sulphur tresses) found in areas of wind-clipped heathland, typically between about 750 and 950 metres altitude, on mountains in and surrounding the Cairngorms.

Details should be sent to raremountainplants@rbge.org.uk and the botanists stress mountainers should not put themselves – or the plants – at risk.

 

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