It is at this time of the year that our beautiful country really does sparkle doesn’t it?
Scotland boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the world and our natural environment is the number one reason why people want to spend their leisure time in our glorious country.
Research shows that nature-based activities are worth nearly 40% of all tourism spend in Scotland and with the value of wildlife tourism being estimated at over £270 million, it’s certainly worth shouting about! Scotland’s tourist industry supports 270 000 people, all of whom are waiting to welcome Scots visitors.
Check out visitscotland.com and you’ll see there are fabulous deals on offer to tempt you.
Hogmanay will signal the start of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, a celebration which is all about getting every man, woman and child appreciating Scotland’s great natural icons and we’re ready to grasp this with both hands, are you?
I want to make next year the year that everyone in Scotland gets out and about and explores not just what’s on their own doorstep - but the amazing natural environment across the country.
For the Outer Hebrides this is the perfect time to shine - there is already so much to see and do, with a wealth of wonderful natural experiences here.
But there is so much more that can be done by sectors to capitalise on this opportunity - that’s why we’ve created a special toolkit so that all businesses can get involved.
Added to this, there is also our Year of Natural Scotland Growth Fund, a £150,000 cash pot for tourism industry groups and communities to boost marketing projects themed around the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 - a fantastic chance for collaboration so everyone can benefit.
So come on - get involved! For more information go to - visitscotland.org/natural2013 and as we move into Year of Natural Scotland, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2013.
Chairman of VisitScotland
WHERE ARE THE CARERS?
Who cares? Says Torquil Macleod (Gazette 13/12/12) Why are there so few carers?
The role of home carers in our society today is as important as that of hospital staff when required, he says.
He gives the answer himself to the first and second question. The system works well for those who are fortunate (but not so fortunate if they have had a stroke or some disabling illness) enough to have a carer.
He beefs about four weeks in hospital or even longer as being unacceptable for an elderly person who is well enough to be in their own home.
That’s negative gratitude for you, when it should be a blessing. Couldn’t relatives or voluntary carers or even the church help out in certain circumstances instead of holding the hard pressed council to obligation, rights, etc?
Those clients he mentions who would rather their independence (a senior citizen preference) than be held up in hospital should thank their lucky stars for all the free care and b&b support of the hospital.
I’m sure the local authority are selective sending out carers to those who qualify, and service is limited, and not to everyone on a whim, a moan or a fancy.
Perhaps Torquil Macleod might have something to learn from Morag Munro’s letter in praise of voluntary organisations and support of the vulnerable. I have to chuckle to myself what she said, in writing this letter, someone being detained in a care home against her will. You can’t win, can you, human nature being what it is.
Donald Murray, Inverness
SAME SEX MARRIAGE
There seems to be no end to the sorry debacle over proposals on same-sex marriage, even after a very sober Scottish public rightly, and loudly, said “no thank you, Mr Alex Salmond.”
Yes, a total of 77,508 responses to the consultation were received with some 65% unambiguously against any change to the definition of marriage.
Yet the Scottish Government would rather ridicule and ignore the vote of the people and unashamedly press ahead to legalise these unions, that wisdom and common sense doesn’t want. What folly and sheer arrogance. What greater folly to ignore what God and the Bible says on this subject. We do so at our peril.
As various articles continue to appear both in the Highland Press and the Lowland Press, on this divisive issue, one cannot disregard what the pressing truths of Scripture have to say…and they do, and with more authority than anyone in Edinburgh or London.
The Bible is as clear and plain on this subject. If anyone disagrees, their argument is with God’s Bible and not with me or any other Christian.
While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention same-sex marriage.
Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female.
Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.
Mr Donald J Morrison, Inverness
My name is Christopher Beuker. I am 66 and live with my partner Conny in The Netherlands in the county of Frisia near the village of Haulerwijk in the country-side.
I am retired after more than 30 years working as a teacher in higher education. I am father and grandfather. My late mother was Irish and my late father Dutch.
During the early seventies I visited the Outer and Inner Hebrides several times.
I am deeply interested and feel a warm sympathy for the people, culture and the special landscape of the islands next to the Atlantic Ocean.
I remember beautiful, barren and attractive islands and densely populated. I always keep them in my memory and with a special feeling in my heart.
Well perhaps I am a little bit poetic, but it’s my feeling. Growing older and reading books, poems, listening songs and music and “googleing” there is still inspiration and longing.
I have a special request to your readers if they could help me find some answers to a few questions.
First: After reading in an old address book I found the name of Flora Boyd of Castlebay, Isle of Barra. “Googleing” I read her house is now for sale.
My question, if she/he still alive and living on Barra, does she/he remember my name/person “Chris” or “Christopher” from Holland?
I am aware.... it is nearly 40 years ago of a pretty meeting on Barra!
Second: One of my favorite spiritual novelists is Esther De Waal. She wrote for example “The Celtic Vision, Selections from the Carmina Gadelica”.
As you probably know the poems, prayers, songs etc. were collected during several visits by Alexander Carmichael during the 19th century on several occasions and visits on the isles of the Outer Hebrides.
My question, are these prayers, poems etc. still used not only in a personal way, but also in a “church-context”?
Are there people on the Outer Hebrides descended from those who spoke with Alexander Carmichael about their deep human and divine feelings of daily life, earth and heaven?
Third question: Is about the composer Granville Bantock. In the Netherlands he isn’t well-known. But I like him very much, although his music!
The long processions of his tone poems, choral works, songs, partsongs and symphonies may be forgotten, but you can listen by CD for example: “The Celtic Symphony”, “The Witch of Atlas”, “The Sea Reivers”, “A Hebridean Symphony”.
My question, is Granville Bantock well-known on the Outer Hebrides? Are there concerts, performances with his music? Did Bantock visit the Outer Hebrides and if so did some people remember him?
Do some people sing the Hebridean folk songs collected by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and also used by Granville Bantock in his composition of “The Celtic Symphony”?
Well, these are my questions and with a special request to help me find the answers.
Christopher Beuker, Hoofdweg-Boven 81, 8433 LE Haulerwijk
EDITORIAL - The positive and negative
Many of the headlines seen in this year’s Gazette have been tinged with doom and gloom with news of budget and service cuts and price increases.
However this week the paper does highlight some of the positive with a hint of population growth, eggscellent amd innovative business ideas for our communities, as well as looking ahead to our summer festival with the Heb Celt’s coming of age event announcements. It seems the news agenda has equalised between the positive and negative.
Yes times continue to be tough in the Islands with the prospect of a ferry price increase looming, but we can also take the time to count our blessings mine are: health, happiness and safety - everything else is a bonus - and I hope these blessings are yours too.