Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unwelcome visitors

The containers are doing OK so far this season. The hostas enjoy being in the pots, out of range of the things that like to eat them.

I've had some unwelcome visitors at Skip. Now, nasturtium flowers are quite tasty in salads, but I don't treat them as 'cut and come again'. Someone else has been eating them.

Spotted the culprit yesterday afternoon. What do you mean, you can't see him?

Is that better?

In the absence of a shotgun, shouting loudly, "Please leave my garden immediately" (or words to that effect) produced the result that the little bunny headed straight for my wall at the bottom of the garden and just bounced over it!

As you can see from the pond, this is something of a wildlife garden anyway, so I'll just have to share some of it with the local rabbit population, like it or not.

Another unwelcome visitor is attacking my Solomon's Seal. It's not a spectacular plant, but I like it. It flowered a month or so back, as above. Last year, all the foliage was stripped off after flowering.

The culprits are back.

I spent a bit of time trying to identify just what these little caterpillars are, only to discover that they are not caterpillars at all, but the larvae of the Solomon's Seal sawfly (Phymatocera aterrima), shown here. There's a rather splendid close-up photo by Rob Brown of a larva here.

Who's a pretty boy then? The siskins have been dominating the thistle seed feeder recently. I've been asking him to go after the sawfly larvae, but to no avail.

Pics are all mine, except for the close-up of the Solomon's Seal flower. There are some interesting facts about Solomon's seal here, on why it is so-called, and what it has been used for.

June 30

I am a great admirer of the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It was set up in 1917, and recognises some 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. The Commission has constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erecting headstones over graves and where the remains are missing, inscribing the names of the dead on permanent memorials. The Commission's principles are that each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or memorial, that these should be permanent, that headstones should be uniform, and that there should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

I have visited several WW2 cemeteries in Thailand and a number of WW1 cemeteries in France. I am always very moved, but also impressed by how well kept and maintained they are.

Last December, I found my way to this (relatively) small cemetery - the Maroc British Cemetery, in the village of Grenay, not far from Bethune.

The cemetery was begun by French troops in August 1915, but it was first used as a Commonwealth cemetery by the 47th (London) Division in January 1916. During the greater part of the war it was a front-line cemetery used by fighting units and field ambulances, and protected from German observation by a slight rise in the ground.

The Maroc British Cemetery now contains 1,379 Commonwealth burials and commemorations from the First World War. 264 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 89 casualties known to be buried among them. The cemetery also contains 45 French and German burials.

It is somewhat sobering to see one's own name on a headstone. Section I, row J, plot 45 holds the grave of Sapper Robert Cowan, of the Royal Engineers, who was serving with the 1st (Lowland) Field Company. He died today, June 30, 1916.

Robert was my father's older brother. He would have been my uncle. It's his name I was given when I was born all these years later.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Erzurum

I don't think I ever imagined in the long years I've been associated with the sport that a major curling competition would be held in eastern Turkey! But it looks as if it will really happen. The city of Erzurum, in Anatolia, will host the 2011 University Winter Games, and our sport will be represented once again at this event, as it was in Harbin. The website is here.

The World Curling Federation has accepted Turkey's application for membership, and the country now has provisional status, set to become the 45th Member Association of the WCF.

In the press release of the WCF Annual Assembly, which was held in Moncton in April (see here), it was noted that Erzurum is in the process of building a dedicated curling facility.

I thought David Murdoch's performance on Sports Weekly on Saturday was first class, and he came across confidently. Perhaps though he might have established, in the telephone interview with a representative in Ankara, was a bit more about this curling facility in Erzurum. Where exactly is it? How large is it? What is it like? What facilities does it have? Cost? What is the current state of the construction? David asked about the ice technicians who would make the ice, and I thought this a bit premature.

Anyway I was sure that there would be something about the facility on the Web. But I couldn't find anything (let me know if you can), but, as always in ploughing the Internet, I learned a few things along the way. There's lots about Erzurum itself here. It is indeed a fascinating part of the world.

How the International Olympic Association describes curling! The link is here. At first look it is quite funny, but it really is a disgrace!

I did stumble across a website with fabulous photos by Robin Lush of steam trains in Turkey in the 70s. The pic above was taken east of Erzurum on March 26, 1976! There are hundreds of photos to look at in the site.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sports Weekly

I've heard David Murdoch speak in a variety of situations, and he handles himself very well indeed. Others obviously think so too, and the world curling champion skip has been asked to be the guest presenter on BBC Radio Scotland's Sports Weekly programme tomorrow, Saturday, June 27. It's being trailed here.

And if you miss it on Saturday morning, you can always listen to the programme via the iPlayer any time next week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ogle Linn

Today was my weekly walk... and I ventured out again onto the Raehills Estate, near St Ann's. I had the camera with me again to do some Geographing. Four new squares, so that was fun. OK, not everyone would think that Mollin Moor is the most attractive place in Scotland, but on a day like today, warm and sunny, I could not have been any happier to be there. The pic above is of a little burn called Ogle Linn (this is not an instruction).

Wildlife encounters were with some horse flies which found me very tasty. Or they might have been clegs. Anyway, if you are interested in insects in the order Diptera, family Tabanidae, this is the place to start. These things fair packed a bite!

Then I had a real 'Bambi' moment when I nearly stood on a young fawn sheltering in the long grass and bracken! One more step and I would have been on top of it. As it was, I think I was the one who got the bigger fright! It jumped up, I fell back, it ambled off, I picked myself up, and then I had to find my camera which I had dropped in the excitement. And no, I didn't get a pic!

The estate manages its deer well. So I wish this little fawn a long and happy life, and a quick painless end when it comes to that.

Anyway, back to my favourite burns and Ogle Linn. It's interesting how a name on a map does trigger a train of thought. How many Lynnes, Lins, or Lynns do I know in curling? I note that Lynne Fraser, who is currently the Area Curling Developement Officer for Inverness, is giving up her post after three years in the job. Well done to Lynne for her hard work. The post is being advertised here.

It seems to be the season for retirals. George Karrys, the World Curling Federation's Media Relations Officer, is standing down at the end of this month, see here.

Having spent a couple of years living, working, and curling in the USA, I follow what's happening there quite closely. I note the news today (here) that Ed Lukovich, Canadian and World Champion, who has been the athlete development director with the United States Curling Association for nine years, is also giving up. The US teams for the Vancouver Olympics have already been decided in their trials competition. Brad Norman gives his take on the move here.

More Ogle Linn to ogle.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Highlanders and Bravehearts

I've had the opportunity to look at the programme for the Homecoming Scotland International Junior Camp, organised by the RCCC, which gets underway on July 19. Judith McFarlane and Graham Sloan have put together a varied and interesting programme... and it looks to be a lot of fun too.

On-ice activities and classroom sessions at the Dumfries Ice Bowl (one led by Olympian Rhona Martin, for example) are interspersed with highland games, welly boot challenges, ten pin bowling and the final night ceilidh. There are two groups: The Highlanders will be instructed by Claire Milne with Graham Sloan and Shari Leibbrandt assisting, and the Bravehearts will be instructed by Mark Neeleman with Judith McFarlane and Laurens van der Windt. The accommodation is at the Barony College.

I'm not sure what in involved in speed pairs, or even Sumo races, but I hope to find out next month.

The camp is modelled after the successful and popular camp run by Keith Wendorf for the World Curling Federation. And of course the Royal Club runs two other summer camps based around the Dolphin Outdoor Centre at Culzean. They are successful and fruitful.

At a higher level, the two GB Olympic Squads spent a training week recently in Cyprus. David Murdoch insisted it was no holiday, hard work, and immensely valuable for the squads. Testing, but fun too, as two YouTube videos of the girls show. These have been posted by Zephyros Adventure Sports who organised team building activities which included mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing and coasteering.

The original links are here and here. I've embedded one of them below.

Advisory. If you are nervous of seeing Jackie Lockhart in a wetsuit, leave this website immediately!


More rainbows

After a few weeks of dry weather, Skip eventually had a good soaking last week. The showers produced some good rainbows, here seen over Gateside.

The perennials have made good growth and the bottom of the garden is looking at its best.

I have a seat at the bottom of the garden, but if I sit there any longer than a minute or two I see things that need to be done!

The potatoes are doing well in the new raised beds and I should be eating these next week. The poppies were grown from seed last year. I usually grow a few things from seed each year, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. This year it has been dahlias and nasturtiums - both doing well - and this weekend I pricked out wallflower, honesty and sweet william biennials.

Talking about rainbows, it is great to see friends' children grow up and do well. It seemed just yesterday when I was playing with two toddlers, but Moira and Allan Gaw's son Stephen and daughter Alexandra celebrated twenty-first and eighteenth birthdays this weekend.

Thanks to Alex and Stephen for including this old codger in their birthday celebrations.

I hope they find pots of gold at the end of their rainbows!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Royal Club AGM

The Annual Meeting of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club took place at the Braehead rink yesterday. It was well attended, with some 180 clubs sending representatives. I was there, not in any media capacity this year (although the new Scottish Curler had both reporter and photographer there), but to represent my own club, Reform.

The headlines were that Bob Tait, the current Chairman of the RCCC Board, was not re-elected to serve another term on the Board. This had been the result of a postal vote, announced yesterday. Anne Malcolm was re-elected (with 112 votes) and Bob Kelly (with 102 votes) was elected as a new Director. Bob was in fourth place with 86. (The full voting will no doubt appear on the RCCC website on Monday)

Bob's disappointment was palpable. But, as he said, "Members had the opportunity to vote, they have voted, and I accept that result."

It is likely that Bob's failure to be re-elected has been, in part at least, a consequence of the failure to get the Vernon issues resolved in a timely fashion. This was a situation he inherited, but despite his efforts it has hung over his time as Chairman. He was forthright in his comments about what happened in Vernon. "No preparation," "Abject communications," "Poor leadership," "Inept media handling," were just some of the words he used. He highlighted the Royal Club's own shortcomings in procedures.

He emphasized that the Board is looking to the future. He stated categorically that the National Coach should be an employee of the Royal Club, rather than of the Scottish Institute of Sport, as at present. The mood of the meeting certainly was to move forward, lessons learned, whatever that means.

I was appalled to see that in the postal vote in which 259 clubs had voted, only 228 votes had been valid. Not for the first time the ignorance and ineptness of some club secretaries had led to votes being declared invalid (thirty-one of them), for all sorts of stupid reasons, like failing to sign the form, or voting for more than two candidates!

However, the democratic right of members was upheld when the proposal to give voting rights to individual members, rather than clubs, was passed... just. In the card ballot at the meeting, 176 clubs voted, with 133 in favour and 43 against. For the motion to pass, a 75% majority was required and this was achieved by less than one percentage point! In the debate prior to the vote, the cost, particularly for mailings to members, seemed to be the biggest concern. However, democracy was the winner on the day, and the Royal Club may well see considerable change in the years ahead, as a consequence. I personally am pleased that 'One Member One Vote' was passed.

Sandy Morton has more about the day on the Scottish Curling Forum here. And of course the Annual Report can be downloaded from the Royal Club website here.

Bill Marshall (left) is now the President of the Royal Club. Robbie Scott defeated Pat Edington in a ballot for the Vice President position.

In his speech, Bill empasized the importance of the ASC and said he hoped it could move back to have it being more like the old Council, in the days before the Board. He also tantalisingly mentioned the posibility of a 'mixed tour' in the future.

This is the new Area Standing Committee.

It was not all politics. Here World Curling Federation Vice President Kate Caithness presents the winners' banner to World Champion skip David Murdoch.

Pics by Bob.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Curlink rink at Dumfries

The possibility that Dumfries Ice Bowl will have a second ice pad, dedicated to curling, has come a step closer this week. Currently the rink's ice is shared by curlers, skaters and ice hockey players. The adjacent indoor bowling facility is underused, and it has been proposed that this be converted into a curling rink.

There was a consultation, and earlier this week the Council resources committee agreed to go ahead with the proposal to replace the bowling hall with a second ice pad for curling at an estimated cost of £900,000, pending a successful funding application to sportscotland to assist with costs. The committee has already approved a £1.6 million upgrade to the refrigeration plant and refurbishment of the building. The Dumfries Standard has the story here.

Not all are happy. The directors of Lockerbie's rink, a privately owned facility, have expressed concern that expansion at Dumfries could lead to closure of their rink. The Lockerbie rink has already received funding to upgrade that facility, and this all was completed at the beginning of last season, see here.

This bowling rink will disappear and local curlers will benefit if the new plans for the Ice Bowl go ahead. Those involved at the Dumfries rink have certainly been pro-active in recent months and have to be commended. There are plans to bring the World Junior Championships to the region. The Homecoming Camp will go ahead next month, July 19-25. And the Summerspiel, July 17-19, has been well supported.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vernon: the end?

In my last post about the Vernon issues here, I was premature in hoping that all had been resolved. The Conduct Panel had reported, and I summarised what I assumed was about to be released. I had not realised that there was an appeals procedure, and it transpired that Derek Brown, the National Coach, appealed the Conduct Panel's decision.

Then, at the Ladies' Branch AGM, Gail Munro revealed that Brown and his advisors had instituted further action against her because she 'leaked the Conduct Panel's decision to the media'. This dispute now seems to have been resolved, or so I assume, and Bob Tait, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Chairman, has made good his promise, made at the Ladies' Branch AGM, to communicate the panel's decision as soon as possible. This he has done so today, in a post on the Royal Club's website here.

Tait makes a number of points today. Significantly, he indicates that the Board wants to draw a line under the issue, saying, "The Board, having considered the reasons the Conduct Panel has given for dismissing both complaints, will not be instituting further complaints against any of the parties."

He has also apologised on behalf of the Board to everyone for the time it has taken to conclude the matter. He emphasises that the Board is moving forward to deal with the shortcomings in RCCC procedures which have been exposed. He says, "The groups established to review Discipline and Performance are at work on this to address the issues highlighted by the unfortunate and unprecedented events from a year ago." We may well hear more about these committees and their deliberations at the Royal Club AGM this Saturday at Braehead.

You can download the Conduct Panel's decision from the Royal Club site here. (It's a Word document). It was originally issued in the form of a letter to Bob Tait, sent on April 6. I've copied out the download below, rather than summarise it. Note that some paragraphs which contained closing comment by the Conduct Panel have been removed by the Royal Club 'on legal advice' before the letter was put up for download today. We are left to draw our own conclusions of why this has happened.

"On or about 30 May 2008 Sheriff Richard Scott accepted an invitation by Mr Frank Gill to chair a Conduct Panel appointed by him under the provisions of the RCCC’s Ethics Manual and its Policy and Procedure for Dealing with the Conduct of Participants. Mrs Pam McKay and Mr Ewan Malcolm accepted invitations to be members of the Panel.

The Panel had before them two complaints, namely (1) a complaint by Mr Derek Brown against Mrs Gail Munro and Mrs Lyndsay Wilson, dated 11 April 2008 and (2) a complaint by Mrs Munro against Mr Brown dated 28 April 2008. The complaints related to events at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championships in Vernon in March 2008 which resulted in the Scottish team playing two games with just three players.

In his complaint, Mr Brown states that he believes disciplinary action may be required against Mrs Munro and Mrs Wilson “for breach of the Royal Club Players Contract”. He goes on to give a “summary of events”, which it is not necessary to set out in full. In her complaint, Mrs Munro states that she does not feel that Mr Brown conducted himself in a manner consistent with the codes of conduct and ethical standards as set out in the Ethics Manual. It is not necessary to set out the terms of her complaint in full, but the salient points are as follows: “Following upon his decision to allow Scotland to take to the Ice with three players, he did not allow any alternatives to be considered and at no time gave me or [Mrs Wilson] an opportunity to discuss or attempt to resolve the situation……[H]is conduct showed a complete lack of leadership through non-existent communication and management skills which resulted in him providing me and [Mrs Wilson] with no support, no guidance and no direction……He represented to the CEO and to the World Media that I had been asked to stand down and had then refused to take to the Ice……”

The RCCC’s Ethics Manual contains among other things its Policy and Procedure for Dealing with the Conduct of Participants (“the Conduct Policy”).

The Panel held a procedural hearing on 9 June 2008. At that hearing, Mrs Munro and her solicitor told the Panel that what she wanted was an independent investigation into the events that gave rise to the complaints by her and Mr Brown. She pointed out that that a statement dated 29 March 2008, on the RCCC’s website, stated that a full investigation into the circumstances and actions that led to Scotland taking the ice with three players at the Women’s World Championships would take place when the team returned. The statement also indicated that the investigation would be led by an independent lawyer who would advise the Board on any actions which should be taken.

The Panel decided that it would write to you to ask you to take whatever steps you considered appropriate to ascertain whether or not the independent investigation referred to was to proceed. The Panel subsequently learned that the independent investigation was to proceed. The Panel agreed to suspend its consideration of the complaints until the outcome of that investigation was known.

On or about 6 March 2009 the Panel received copies of the report of the independent investigation, together with appendices and witness statements. The investigation and subsequent report were the work of Mr Michael Nicholson, of Harper Macleod LLP. Appendix 1 to the report sets out his remit, which was agreed by the Chairman of the Board of the RCCC, Mrs Munro, Mrs Wilson and Mr Brown. They agreed that the report should b admissible as evidence at any proceedings that might follow but that the report was not binding on any individual or panel hearing these proceedings.

The Panel held a further procedural hearing on 25 March 2009. The hearing was attended by Mrs Munro. She was represented by her solicitor, Mr Alan Cowan. Mr Cowan also represented Mrs Wilson, who was not present. Mr Derek Brown was neither present nor represented at the hearing, although he was aware of where and when it would take place. The Panel was assisted by their clerk, Ms Sara Grewar.

The Panel had before them all the papers they had before them on 9 June 2008. In addition, they had the report of the independent investigation and appendices (“the Nicholson report”), a letter from the Chief Executive of the RCCC dated 6 March 2009, with enclosures; a copy of a statement posted on 6 March 2009 on the RCCC’s website; and email letters to the Panel’s clerk from Mrs Munro’s solicitor, dated 17 and 25 March, and from Mr Brown’s solicitors, Mr Mike Townley, dated 17, 23 and 25 March 2009.

Mr Brown’s solicitors, writing on behalf of his client, adhered to the statement in earlier correspondence that it was not his client’s intention to prosecute a complaint under the RCCC Ethics Policy and Procedures against Mr Munro and Mrs Wilson. To the extent that his initial correspondence with the RCCC could be construed as a complaint, that complaint had been withdrawn. Mr Brown’s solicitor also pointed out that his client freely submitted to interview for Mr Nicholson’s investigation and provided all information and documentation that was requested of him.

On one view, there never was a complaint by Mr Brown. Mr Gill held, though, in terms of section 14(b) of the Conduct Policy, that disciplinary action against Mrs Munro and Mrs Wilson was warranted, in the sense that it would be reasonable or justified if in the legal sense a prima facie case had been made out. Applying that test, he was satisfied that the correct course of action was to proceed by way of a formal hearing, under sections 19 to 25 of the Conduct Policy. that being so, it appeared to the Panel that it had a wide discretion in relation to Mr Brown’s complaint. Section 22 of the Conduct Policy provides that the Conduct Panel shall govern the hearing as it sees fit. There is nothing in the Conduct Policy about withdrawal of complaints. The Panel took the view that it could, if it thought it appropriate to do so, consider the complaint on its merits. Or it could choose not to do so, and take note of the fact that Mr Brown had intimated, through his solicitor, that he did not wish to make “an ethical complaint” and if he had done he now wished to withdraw it. Mr Cowan suggested that the RCCC could, if it wished, seek to take over a complaint and prosecute it itself.

After considering the matter, the Panel decided to dismiss Mr Brown’s complaint. It did so for three principal reasons. One was the fact that Mr Brown did not wish to pursue his complaint, whatever his position had been initially. The second was the Panel could not find anything in the Manual that spelled out any relevant obligation that was incumbent upon either Mrs Munro or Mrs Wilson. The Panel noted that Mr Brown, in his “summary of events”, had stated that Mrs Munro or Mrs Wilson, or both, had done or not done various things. But before these acts or omissions could form a basis for the imposition of disciplinary sanctions there would, in the Panel’s view, have to be something in the Ethics Manual, and the Conduct Policy in particular, that spelled out the obligations on Mrs Munro and Mrs Wilson in regard to those matters. The Panel’s view was that there was not. The third reason acknowledges the fact that the independent investigation has now taken place. The report is in the public domain. Although the report falls short of attributing fault or blame for what happened in Vernon, it deals exhaustively with the facts of the case. Any intelligent observer can read the report for themselves and draw their own conclusions. It is difficult to see that any new facts of any significance could emerge from further enquiry. The report makes recommendations, most if not all of which appear to be accepted by the RCCC. The RCCC has announced details, in their statement of 6 March 2009, of the specific action it is taking to implement the recommendations.

As far as Mrs Munro’s complaint is concerned, the Panel was told that Mrs Munro wished to insist in her complaint. She spoke directly to the Panel and explained why it was she felt so strongly about the matter. She noted that the Nicholson report did not reach a firm view on certain matters of fact that were disputed and tended to attribute conflict in the evidence to failures in communication.

The problem for Mrs Munro and her solicitor was the same deficiency in the Ethics Manual and the Conduct Policy that formed part of the Panel’s reasons for dismissing Mr Brown’s complaint. The Conduct Policy does not set out a set of rules or code of conduct, breach of which is stated to result in a liability to suffer any of the sanctions that are listed therein. Section 3 of the Conduct Policy provides: “The participants shall conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the principles, codes of conduct, and ethical standards set out in the RCCC Ethics Manual.” The Manual contains a number of policies, of which the Conduct Policy is just one. Each of the other policies has its own procedures, some of quite different from those laid down under the Conduct Policy. Mr Cowan could not point to anything in any of the other policies that could found a complaint against Mr Brown.

Mr Cowan referred to the Statement of Ethics that comes just before the Conduct Policy in the Ethics Manual. He appreciated that statement of the “values” of the game of curling was somewhat general and did not seem to relate much to the conditions in which international competitions take place. He founded, though, on the words “the honesty and good manners of the players and a sporting approach to the game.” He pointed out that each of the members of the panel was a curler and therefore had a background that should enable them to judge whether or not particular forms of conduct showed or did not show “honesty and good manners”. He asked the Panel to fix a date for a full hearing at which evidence could be led from Mrs Munro and Rhona Martin, the team coach.

The Statement of Ethics reads:

“The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) is committed to organising the sport of curling within the spirit, values and traditions of the game. These values are written into the rule book as follows

Curling is a game of skill and traditions. A shot well played is a delight to see as is a game played in the true spirit of curling. Curlers play to win but never to humble their opponents. Curling has always relied on the common sense, the honesty and the good manners of the players and a sporting approach to the game. This spirit should influence both the interpretation and application of the rules of the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club Rule Book 2005/06, Section J – Etiquette”

As pointed out earlier, the salient points in Mrs Munro’s complaint are (1) that Mr Brown showed a complete lack of leadership through non-existent communication and management skills and (2) that he represented falsely to the CEO and to the World Media that Mrs Munro had been asked to stand down and had then refused to take to the Ice. The complaint goes on to claim that he was unable or unwilling to take responsibility for his decision to play with three players and then refers to four other matters, all of which seem to have some sort of basis in fact but none of which were regarded by Mrs Nicholson as having taken place in the way they are described in the complaint. Essentially, Mrs Munro’s complaint is that Mr Brown was a bad coach.

The Panel came to the view that the Statement of Ethics affords an insufficient basis for asserting that any of the things attributed to Mr Brown amount to conduct that attracts a disciplinary sanction. The sanctions set forth in the Conduct Policy are of some significance. It is a legal principle of general application that no one should be compelled to suffer in body or goods other than for a clear breach of a clearly expressed rule or law. The spirit, values and traditions of curling are important, and it is desirable that the conduct of curlers and participants should reflect those values, but it cannot be right that anything that some might see as a deviation from these values should carry with it liability for the sanctions listed in the Conduct Policy. The Statement of Ethics is too general and lacking in specification. It fails to describe with sufficient precision the categories of conduct that give rise to the imposition of sanctions.

Any one can read the Nicholson report and draw their own conclusions. The Panel does not think it appropriate to make any comment on the merits of Mr Brown’s complaint, simply because he says he never made a complaint and if he did he has withdrawn it. As far as Mrs Munro’s complaint is concerned, it too will be dismissed, for the reason that even if it is true, it cannot be said that Mr Brown was in breach of any clearly defined obligation incumbent upon him, the breach of which could result in sanctions under the Conduct Policy.

[Obiter comment removed on legal advice]

This letter is the record of the Panel’s decision in relation to each complaint and of its reasons therefor.

Copies of this letter will be sent to Mr Brown, Mrs Munro and Mrs Wilson and to their solicitors. A copy will be sent to Mr Frank Gill. Ms Sara Grewar has been authorised to sign this letter on behalf of the Panel."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dales' Diary

I needed some gardening advice, and on Tuesday I headed for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and to Burtersett, near Hawes, in Upper Wensleydale. It's a lovely part of the world, and I picked a great day for my visit.

This is looking back up Wensleydale, towards Hawes, just a mile away.

Some of you may remember Brian Alderman, sometime top competitive curler and for two years in the 80s the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Secretary. He retired from teaching in Rutherglen a couple of years back and eleven months ago moved to Burtersett. His researches have shown that his house used to be the village pub, the 'Shoulder of Mutton'!

Brian and I have remained friends from the days we used to curl together. We share an interest in gardening, and I am impressed with the progress he's made in the short time since he moved in last July. The vegetable plot is impressive. I certainly got the advice and encouragement I needed.

The greenhouse has gone up, and a lot of plants are getting established. The house is blessed with a fantastic view! Mind you, it is not always so benign, as you can see from some of Brian's own pics here.

Tuesday was market day in Hawes.

I found Charlotte Sotherby in the old station yard car park with some wonderful transport on which to experience excusions in the Dales. This is a licensed hackney carriage! And these are real Dales Ponies. Next time!

This is another possibility.

Sadly the railway no longer runs to Hawes, although the famous Carlisle - Settle line is not too far away. Indeed, on a previous visit to see Brian last year I went by train! The Dales Countryside Museum is in the old Hawes railway station. This loco is a static exhibit, the carriages housing a film room.

A pilgrimage to the Wensleydale Cheese Visitor Centre is a must for all Wallace and Gromit fans, or if you just like cheese!

Alternatively........

On a great day like Tuesday, walking was certainly the best way to get around. (Did you notice the butterfly in the pic?)

I love all the dry stane dykes and stiles.

And the old stone barns.

Sheep country of course. This is a chainsaw sculpture by Andris Bergs, part of an installation called Spring Gathering.

And the real thing seemed keen to make friends!

The animals are removed early from many of the fields which at this time of year are spectacular wildflower meadows, due to be cut in July.

Some of the footpaths have obstacles to overcome!

I'm not sure I would like to attempt this after recent rain! What's the name of this river which flows through Upper Wensleydale? (Answer below)

This old building was at one time a silk mill! Its last use was as a candle mill, making these for the local Burtersett mines which produced a famous type of sandstone, used for building, examples of which can be seen on the fast deteriorating roof of this building. More on the stone and the quarries is here.

(It's the River Ure, of course)