Squirrel selfies and squashed apples

My best side? Red squirrel admirer goes for the close-up.

Ardentinny Community Trust held a Harvest Fair at Glenfinart Walled Garden on Saturday 12 October. Now a regular item on the Cowalfest programme, this year the garden could offer so much more and it did!

In addition to the recently completed Sensory Garden, inspired and recorded by the BBC’s Beechgrove Community Garden’s programme, there was a host of other attractions. There was apple juice pressing by young and old alike with John Hancox from The Commonwealth Orchard.

Argyll chef, Alison Sycora, provided harvest cooking demonstrations which produced delicious vegetarian dishes such as oat groat risotto. Artist and ceramicist, Bill Williamson attracted crowds all keen to learn how to throw a pot or two and the Walking Theatre Company’s time traveller, Scot Ansgeulaiche, had visitors entranced by ‘stories that have been hidden in the stones of the walls and plants in the grounds of Glenfinart Walled Garden’.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Volunteers provided bird-box-making lessons and Cowal Red Squirrel Group were on hand with information, advice and a very special friend – a giant red squirrel who, with the garden’s resident fairy, ensured that the kids were entertained.

Of course, there was also an abundance of the now renowned Ardentinny home baking to take away or wash down in the spacious tea tent and for a glimpse at the far and nearer past, there was an audio/visual record of the garden’s progress to date.

Among the visitors was MSP Mike Russell who had this to say about the day:

“The walled garden has become a tremendous asset for the community and the amazing progress made since I was last there is a huge testament to the hard work of so many. The open day was tremendous fun and very informative and it was good to see so many people from outside the area there and keen to participate. All those involved deserve a great deal of praise for what they have done, not least for creating such a peaceful and positive space which touches many lives.”

The garden will have its last regular opening to the public this Saturday from 11am until 3pm. and will reopen at Easter 2014. However, during the winter months, Glenfinart Walled Garden will be open to volunteers and groups and individual visitors are welcome to come along by appointment. Those interested in visiting the garden during the winter should call 01369 810275 or email info@GlenfinartGarden.org.

[Click image to enlarge]


Ardentinny: Planning the bigger picture

Though seldom a well-attended event, this last Community Council meeting, prior to the forthcoming Community Council elections, was down to just four Community Councillors in attendance, with a representative each from The National Park and Argyll and Bute Council and a single member of the public. As there was no representation from the Police, Actual Reality, or Forestry Commission Scotland, no reports from these bodies were submitted.

The Shore Road – 20’s Plenty?

One particular area of concern raised was the safety of the groups of escorted children from the Outdoor Centre on the single-track village road. The possibility of “20’s plenty” signs being erected in the village was discussed. However, Councillor Bruce Marshall suggested that these would not be appropriate in the village as they were mainly erected in housing estates. It was agreed that the Community Council would write to Actual Reality outlining their concerns, as well as the possibility of asking Argyll and Bute Council to investigate additional road signage at a later date.

At a previous meeting it was reported that the public toilets at the church car park may have to be closed due to cut-backs by Argyll and Bute Council. However, it appears that this has now been delayed, at least until February 2014. At the earlier meeting it was suggested that one possibility to retain the toilets would be for the community to take over the running of the facility. This is the second time in recent years that closure of the toilets has been discussed, see here. It would indeed be a great loss to Ardentinny and its visitors should these immaculate, award-winning loos be lost.

National Park Authority board member David McKenzie outlined the Park’s new Wild Park 2020 consultation which sets out a strategy for achieving the long term vision for the National Park’s biodiversity. The plan outlines some 80+ projects which the Park Authority and its partners aim to achieve over the plan period. The consultation period runs from 23 September until 6 November, 2013. See here for more information. The Park welcomes comments related to the draft plan throughout the consultation period.

As part of reinforcing Cowal’s presence in the National Park, Convener Linda McKay will be visiting Ardentinny with David McKenzie later this month, as part of a wider Cowal tour. Several areas of the village, including Glenfinart Walled Garden, Coronation Wood and the Laird’s Grave were suggested for the visit and two Community Councillors volunteered to meet with Linda McKay on the day.

The Community Council also discussed an application for funding received from Ardentinny Community Trust. The historical background to the request was that, when the Community Trust previously set in motion its dissolution process, the remaining funds were passed to the Village Hall, which in turn passed £1,000 of these to the Community Council. Those Community Councillors present at this week’s meeting unanimously rejected the request on the grounds that the Trust had already received some Community Council funding; that the Trust’s funding application lacked detailed financial data and supporting reports; and that the Trust had access to a number of grant funders which the Community Council does not. One Councillor added “A lot of public money has been spent on the Walled Garden and there are other things in the village that might need funding. As we have already given them some money, I would not want to give it to the Walled Garden”. Another Councillor echoed this view and added that there were a number of village projects requiring work where funds could be better used. 

A suggestion was made that the remaining funds should go towards the provision of a ‘pictorial’ signboard to be sited at the entrance to the beach path at Coronation Wood. The sign would depict various places of interest in the village. The estimated cost would be £2000. The cost may be able to be met with the assistance of a grant from the National Park. It was agreed that the remaining £401 from the previous Trust funds should go towards the cost of this signage. The car park near Coronation Wood previously had a graphic information board (near the phone box) which was provided by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. However, this was destroyed some years ago and has not been replaced.

The meeting concluded at 20:45.

The next Community Council meeting will take place on 3 December, 2013 at 19:30.


Misty Moments in Ardentinny

The concert, entitled ‘Misty Moments’, held in Ardentinny church on Saturday 28 September, produced a misty eye or two, such was the quality of the music produced by the 8+1 group of singers under the direction of and accompaniment by John McIntosh. Their repertoire ranged from the jazz standard ‘Misty’ by Erroll Garner through a medley of ‘Gershwin for Girls; ‘Georgia on my Mind’ by Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell; Cole Porter’s ‘Every time we say goodbye’ to Bob Dylan’s ‘Make you feel my love; Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’; and an old Irish Folk song ‘The Parting Glass’.

The group’s vocal range and wonderful harmonies particularly excelled in pieces from ‘the deep south’ but such is the flexibility of their talent that they produced equally moving renditions of ‘J’attendrai’,  originally composed in Italian by Dino Olivieri and John Rutter’s ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’.

While a delightful afternoon of song was enjoyed by a most enthusiastic audience, this was not the sole aim. The concert was held in aid of the Princess Royal’s Maternity Baby Fund to which those who attended donated generously. If you were unable to attend but would like to know about and/or donate to this worthwhile cause you can do so by contacting Susan Provan, Neonatal Coordinator, Neonatal Department, 16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow, G31 2ER. Susan.provan2@ggc.sco.nhs.uk. Phone 0141 211 5247. Cheques made payable to ‘PRM baby fund’ may be posted to the above address.