Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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September 2012 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg, Arisaig
Coastguard Railway news
Birdwatch & Ranger Report
Book reviews

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Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

With the anticipated completion of the sale of the Fishermen's Mission Centre at Mallaig to a Trust imminent, Mission Chief Executive, David Dickens, spoke to West Word about the future for the Mission in Mallaig.
'All around the coast of UK and Northern Ireland the Mission's emphasis is on providing highly effective emergency and welfare services to all fishermen, active and retired, as well as their families. The Mission has had to respond to radical changes in the fishing industry and the closure of the large old centres, especially where there are now substantially fewer boats, has been part of that process. These changes have not been driven by the need to cut costs, although the Mission like any charity is required to use its resources properly and to be able to assure its supporters and beneficiaries that their money is being used wisely. Rather the driving factor is the Mission's commitment to provide a service which is relevant, focussed and that meets the real need.
'The Mallaig community has been assured that the Mission is not abandoning its active fishermen, its retired fishermen, visiting fishermen, or their families. The plans for the future have been carefully constructed to meet that objective. Our new Welfare Office, to be situated within the old Centre, will provide a base from which our new Area Manager will operate, and will be a very visible sign of the Mission's presence. Our current Centre Manager, Karen Calder, who is well known to so many and who has done such an excellent job, will become our new Area Manager. Working 20 hours a week, she will be responsible for ensuring the delivery of the Mission's emergency and welfare service and will be able to respond to any situation as and when required, both in Mallaig and in the wider area, including Skye. Through her, arrangements will be possible for visiting fishermen to access a laundry service and for the provision of access to emergency accommodation. Through her, the Mission will be able to maintain its ability to provide practical, financial and emotional support when required, to active and retired fishermen and their families. She will have the responsibility of ensuring that the Mission maintains a high profile and that all are aware of the services it can offer. In addition, she will ensure that strong relationships are maintained with the local community, with the harbour authorities, with fishing organisations and with those that the Mission works closely alongside, including the MCA and the RNLI. Where appropriate she will be involved in the delivery of special projects - for instance the Mission is increasingly involved in the promotion of fishing safety and fishermen's health. 'Karen will be supported by one of the Mission's uniformed staff, former fisherman, Matthew Ramsay, who will visit from time to time as appropriate, ensuring that the full range of Mission services are available, including its commitment to providing spiritual support. 'The big old Centres, such as that in Mallaig, played an important role at a time when ports were much busier and the number of 'away' fishermen requiring hospitality services was much larger. In more recent times, such buildings have often proved a distraction, sucking up very large quantities of staff time and valuable Mission resources. Often this has prevented the Mission from taking forward important work and targeting real need. We know that closing the Centre in Mallaig has been unpopular and we have listened carefully to what the community has been saying. However, it is our experience around the coast that our new approach to buildings and to staff deployment, together with a new training regime, enables us to serve fishing communities more effectively. Communities that were fearful of losing "their Centre" have found that something better emerges. It is our hope and intention that this will be so for Mallaig. We know that with Karen Calder at the helm there is every chance of making this a reality.'
Centre manager and soon to be new Area Manager at Mallaig, Karen Calder, who took up the role of Centre Manager last year, said: 'I am looking forward to the future and I believe that we will be in a position to offer a better service to the wider fishing community in all aspects of Mission work'.
David Dickens, added: ' I see the sale of the old Centre at Mallaig and establishment of a Welfare Office under Karen's leadership as exciting developments for Mission's work in the area.'
A flyer indicating how facilities will be delivered from the new Mission Welfare Office will be issued next month.
Read next month's West Word for more details of the services available and the future of the building itself.

Left to right: Kevin McDonell, Chair of the local Mission Advisory Council;
Mission Superintendent Matthew Ramsey, based in Kintyre;
Manager Karen Calder; and Chief Executive David Dickens.

By the time you read this, hopefully you will also be taking the opportunity to once again have Nevis Radio on in the background.
As you are probably aware, the main Nevis Radio transmitter at Treslaig, just opposite Fort William broke down several months ago and without it the other transmitters which carry the signal across Lochaber were receiving no signal and so shut down.
During this time of inaction it would appear that the transmitters which serve Mallaig and the West (which are both based on Skye) also suffered major problems which on examination, meant total replacement of all the equipment.
Apart from the cost of many thousands of pounds it was not just a case of picking up the new equipment and it had to be sourced and specially built for each site, then installed, tested and approved by a qualified engineer, of which there are few in the country.
Unfortunately despite the best efforts of Nevis Radio and the transmitter manufacturers, one component was not available, which then had to made, built in to the equipment and fully tested, delaying plans for several weeks. Finally, everything is now ready for installation, which should be completed by mid-to-late September, depending on when the engineer is available.
Nevis Radio Chairman, Iain Ferguson said: 'It has been a long process trying to raise funds, get access to all the sites, identifying problems and source the equipment to get us back on air across Lochaber.
'I and everyone at Nevis Radio would like to apologise to all listeners on the West Coast for our absence. It was not because we forgot about you or weren't trying, because we have never lost sight of getting these transmitters fully operational as quickly as possible.
'We would also like to thank the communities, businesses and individuals who helped raise money to help get these transmitters back on air. We are touched by your generosity and thank you so much.
'I hope to have more news for you in the next issue of West Word'.

Ach well here we are again. The summer at an end, stacking wood and hoping that the rain means the midge is away. Maybe one last summer blast in September would be good for us all, although the rest of the country maybe deserves it more for the rain they've been having. Knoydart has been much of a muchness over August. Maybe visitor numbers a bit quieter. And there is no doubt where the yachtie fraternity come from - the Scottish schools went back and the yachts almost disappeared from the bay. Teachers and what they do with their well-earned rest.
So the kids are back at school with Kitty proud in her new uniform. Some changes this year as Stuart Poole continues to bed in and the range of the school cluster extends. The older ones of the kids head off to Morar on a Friday now which seems like a good way to extend their social base before going up to the big school.
Stuart and his wife Julie have moved into the house along at Scottas corner vacated by Jim, Claire and Oren. Very sad to see them leave, we all wish them well and hope to see them soon. Also sad that Paul and Elaine have decided to give the Knoydart Experience a rest, at least for the winter if not longer. That time of year it seems: bar staff are slowly trickling away with Toby gone already and a few to follow this month. Nat and Megan also headed off back to the southern hemisphere, slightly earlier than expected - our thoughts to Nat and his family. Jack who worked with the Forest Trust over the summer is also away. But Frank and Denise, a newly married Frank and Denise, have now fully moved in to join the hardy readying for all the winter can throw at us - the main trick is to go outside as little as possible.
But I nearly forgot the arrival of the new most important member of the peninsular population - Odin the Scandinavian Bengal Eagle Owl that Mark Harris has taken on. I think it is safe to report that after a very difficult courtship, when the relationship was strained almost to breaking point, Odin now officially likes mark and has fed from his hand!
Ok - maybe there is a dispute here as there is also the arrival of the new pony for the hill, Cowrie. Horses and ponies are a big thing here, we've always had the hill ponies but since Angie and Anna started building up their stable and taking the kids out riding on a Sunday lots of the kids, especially the lassies, have fallen in love. Any new arrival is greeted with great excitement. Cowrie, who came from Joyce in Arisaig, with some funding from the John Muir Trust, has provoked much discussion on colour. One mention (in the pub it has to be said) had it that Cowrie was iridescent!! The official line is the slightly more prosaic dun.
And what else? Work has started on Tigh na Feidh roof as well as on a new conservatory at Sandaig. The hole in the roof at manitoba's has been patched, as has the hole in the floor. Mark Woombs' has been survey work in the Uists. Rowan Cottage has been sold to a local couple. There has been Festival planning, LEADER claims, a land management meeting, fencing at the bull park and by the time you read this the Community Garden Open Day. The work at the larder was completed (almost) in time for the holy of holies - the beginning of the Stags. And the parties - there's been Amy's at Druim Bothy (where Calum's sunburn was readable!) and Evelyn's at Cable Bay, both of which involved copious amounts of pyramiding. There's been a Knoydart Construction night out and the Abandon Ship musical extravaganza.
I was ready to say that there hadn't been any emergency evacuations and that the only helicopter trip had been for Tom's birthday. Unfortunately this changed the night before I wrote with a casualty being evacuated by lifeboat.
I think that is about it. I do though have to give a mention to Jo Wilson who this month saw her first badger by daylight. Which I think is great.
Davie Newton

The summer is drawing to a close and it is certainly worth a mention. It is hard to remember what happened 50 years past but I can safely say that in 2012 the last six months have enjoyed some of the finest weather of my lifetime. So it should have been a record summer for visitors and it has been a good one particularly for visits by yachts and ribs. Nearly every night Port Mor has had half a dozen yachts at anchor and the highest tally has been fourteen. The Green Shed, the Craft Shop and 'Quiet Waters' shellfish sales have been among the beneficiaries. Camas events in the Hall have also been well supported. On the other hand visits by whale watchers from Tobermory have been rare despite a reasonable supply of sea life.
The Small Isles Sports were on Eigg this year and the Muck children did well, though the Muck adults were thin on the ground. Highlights of the afternoon were the almost perfect caber by Colin Carr (who is no youngster) and the two shooting events - archery and air rifle - which were immensely popular. There must be a strong unfulfilled demand for participation sports among the younger locals and visitors though in this event participation was free.
Back in Muck and later in the month we had a 'slide' show in the Hall by Polly Pullar author of Rural Portraits and a number of other books. Part of the show was about her work with injured and abandoned wildlife and part was the incredible results of a lifetime in photography.
Next month the agricultural sector comes to the fore with sales at Fort William and Dingwall. So far it is looking good. More in next month's West word.
Lawrence MacEwen
Apology: Last month in West Word I stated that the price tendered by Scottish and Southern for the construction of the new Muck Power Scheme is similar to the sum offered by the Lottery. This is incorrect. It is much less and I apologise for the distress caused. Lawrence Mac Ewen.

We have had a very busy month here on Canna and the highlight has to have been Fèis Chanaidh! A super active and really well attended week of Gaelic workshops and Taigh Ceilidhs, wool spinning and dyeing, storytelling, farm tours and exhibitions followed by the big Ceilidh day on Saturday. Almost 200 folks were here making it just extraordinary! Full of high spirits, dancing and song…We had some amazing people over to help and perform for us and the official big thank you is on our island website, but it was a great day all round. Sunday was officially a day of rest on the island!
The weather has been brilliant ...still! Plenty of sunshine, and just enough rain to stop Murdo and Gerry getting too worried although we have been taking care not to overdo the laundry! Ach, when the sun is out plenty better things to do. Canna House garden is producing loads of salad and veggies now, and we have been serving them up in the restaurant of course, and they are for sale in the garden shop. The community shop at the pier is doing really well too, with lots of visitors leaving with knitted chicks, shawls and souvenirs. Must also mention Olivia's photography here, do check it out on the website for some very pure, honest landscapes and abstracts of our lovely nature both here on Canna and further afield. The bay has been full of boats most evenings, and the moorings should be in place anytime soon now which bodes well for next season… the hebnet system is still shaping up well, and definitely looking forward to having speedy access to the outer world!
Canna House is looking very smart now, the windows have been UV filmed and curtains in place, Magda is delighted that the collections have finally been given some shade and protection. (Magda the Mole is the new nickname). The tours of the house are very popular so it is good to know things are in order there! September, Aart and Amanda will be off the island for a bit, big long awaited back operation so for updates on the Gille Brighde Opening times keep an eye on the website www.cannarestaurant.com
And finally a huge happy belated 50th to our Winnie - she celebrated it with an Aquaxplore Rib trip round the bay with the gang! Brilliant.
Take care all and have a good September
Amanda Lastdrager

Started off quite busy and but has quietened down considerable now with the end of school hols and the change in the weather, back to wind and rain… Despite the school roll being down to zero, the school opened for the new term with one in the nursery and two due to start in January. Nursery assistant Coryla Jones and her partner Paul are settling in nicely and Corlya has already got herself (a nursery related) nickname - Crayola. Looks like the schoolhouse will remain empty for the year on the off chance that children of school age move to the island; this is a shame, as with quite a number of people in temporary accommodation, it could have been made use of for the duration.
Big news for Rum is the gargantuan effort put in by Ian Bolas and the team in hauling cable, satellite dish, cabinet up to Loch Iain (above the north side) to get a stronger main signal for a much faster broadband connection, which will also mean a signal for Canna. The existing dish is on Tattie house and after a successful trial period in which most of the village ended up getting connected, the decision and funding came through to upgrade. After mentions on Facebook and Twitter, the BBC contacted Rum and Ian made a brief appearance on the radio to talk about it. We are all massively in awe of the hard work Hebnet has put in to make all this happen over the past year or so. The fast broadband has had a huge impact for online activities here, it has enabled more websites to spring up, online sales to take place and at least three regular blogs to appear out of the ether, and stress levels are much lower as incidents of 'slow internet rage' are now few and far between.
Other news is our Blasda event of the 15th September, to celebrate the opening of the community polytunnel among other things, we are having a bid food feast in the hall. A meal made of all things Rum, so expect venison, mackerel, fresh fruit and veg, chanterelles, foraged wild productions and more preserves and pickles than you can shake a stick at - we are falling over ourselves for brambles at the minute! Check out www.blasda.org.uk for more info.
Mull theatre are visiting on the 19th and 29th September, the first visit to hold a workshop with the children and the second for a performance of Scota-Land, their play which is currently on tour. Given that we barely get any theatre at all, it will be a pleasant treat. Nature news - Ranger Ranger Mike has put together a programme of autumn events and is hosting another volunteer weekend to get more done on the Rhodie eradication programme. Also a Shearwater event on the 13th comprising of a trip up the hill to visit the colony. See the news and events page on www.isleofrum.com for more details.
Dave, Sylvia and baby Andrew are home after a spell away; we're glad they're back for many reasons one of which is getting Dave to mow the castle lawns, which in his absence were starting to look like a healthy hay crop ... welcome home!!!
Fliss Fraser

The isle of Rum celebrated our first Midgefest on August 4th. Kids craft activities, fun, games, treasure hunt, midge flags and bunting, giant willow midge, evening disco, feed the sundew challenge, special appearance by the Midgecatcher, barbecue and raffle all kept us busy on a beautiful sunny day with the only notable absence the midges themselves! Fliss had one solitary midge on her arm in the afternoon but it was the only one spotted all day!. Look out for next years Midgefest date to be announced soon.
Nic Goddard

Hearty congratulations to Eilidh Kirk and Jamie Ardagh who got married on 25th August. Friends and family flocked to the island for the couple's big "do". Eilidh, Alastair and the bridesmaids were piped down to St Donnan's church in Cleadale by Donna. The bride looked stunning in a full-length dress with lace sleeves and a gossamer silk wedding shawl knitted by Jenny Robertson (which took two months to make and is surely destined to become a family heirloom). The weather stayed fine and blustery while guests enjoyed drinks at Laig bay, followed by a feast at the hall, including 54 lobsters and a ceilidh courtesy of the Squashy Bag Dance band. The happy couple are off enjoying the Corsican sunshine for their honeymoon. As the summer holidays draw to a close, the kids have gone back to school. With 12 on the register, and Maisie and Maggie in nursery, it's the highest roll for 20 years.
Eigg hosted the Small Isles games this year with visiting teams from Muck and Rum. Greg Carr revealed himself to be a caber-tossing champ while Emily Boden won the sack race, 50-yard sprint and ladies shot put. One of the most popular events was the bungee run over a slippery tarpaulin, which might have had something to do with the prize: a bottle of whisky. Eigg won the shield this year and it's proudly hanging by the bar in Galmisdale Bay.
The Donald Dhu Band provided a great ceilidh after the games, and we were also fortunate this month to have a concert by Battlefield Band founder Alan Reid and Rob van Sant, and the Horse and Bamboo theatre group stage a very poignant production of Angus Weaver of Grass.
We're saying cheerio to Dan Leaver, who has cooked some fantastic evening meals at Galmisdale Bay over the summer, and is heading south to chef at Diner 7 in Leith. His seafood platter was a hit with islanders and visitors alike. Best wishes, also, to Yasmine who has gone up to Raigmore to have her baby.
Finally, our thoughts are with Jodie Robertson and family for a strong and speedy recovery. Sarah Boden

The painting Letters and News at the Lochside, by Henry Tanworth Wells, will not be taken to be put on display in the West Highland Museum, but will remain where it belongs in the porch in Arisaig House.
Arisaig campaigners have been fighting for over a year to keep the painting in its rightful and intended place after the Trustees of the West Highland Museum announced they were selling it to raise money to buy a piece of waste ground for access to their proposed extension to the Fort William building. This plan was dropped after much local opposition made national news (an Arts magazine applauded the temerity of a small group to challenge a museum on their policies) and the Trustees instead decided to take the painting to display it in Fort William.
Over 70 signatures were raised on a local petition to keep the painting where it has hung since 1883 when it was gifted as a wedding present to Gertrude Astley by her sisters. It depicts their father, with various well known friends, plus local employees who still have descendants in the area.
Miss Joan Becher inherited the house and in her will left the painting to 'a museum or museums' willing to have it. This was done, we are sure, with the intention of safeguarding it for the local people, as the future of the House would be unknown.
So the painting became the property of the West Highland Museum - but because of its size, 9ft by 5.5 ft, and possibly its local significance, it has remained in its niche in the entrance porch of Arisaig House with subsequent owners happy to have it there. It has survived fire and occupation by the SOE - and now the plans to remove it.
The WHM Trustees wrote announcing their decision at the end of August. There are some conditions:

Elizabeth MacDonald, speaking for An Comunn Eachdraidh Arasaig, said 'It's fantastic news. We didn't let up in the fight to keep it, and we are delighted to get this result.'
Miss Emma Weir, owner of Arisaig House, said 'I am very happy that this issue has been resolved and that the painting is going to remain in its rightful place where it has hung since it was originally gifted in 1883. Now that Arisaig House is both a bed and breakfast and has a restaurant, the painting is seen by a considerable number of people every day and it is very easy for those who live locally just to come and view it as they wish as it sits right inside the front door.'
Emma and her sister Sarah, who manages Arisaig House, plan to hang an information panel beside the painting to explain its history.

Mallaig's Severn Class Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat was called into action seven times during the month of August, the first log entry being reported in last month's West Word.

Wednesday 1st August: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 21.41 hrs when tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to investigate an EPIRB distress broadcast which appeared to be emanating from a position north of Mallaig around the Isle Ornsay area. The Lifeboat headed down the bearing provided by the emergency beacon and at 2210 hrs a strong radar signal was picked up. Shortly afterwards a white hull became visible in the mist. As the Lifeboat got closer, it was realised that a fairly large catamaran had capsized.
In between the two hulls on the upturned deck, seven survivors were huddled together. After communicating with them and ascertaining that everyone was accounted for, the Y-boat was launched and this plus the catamaran's own dinghy soon ensured that the casualties were soon safely aboard the Lifeboat. All were given blankets and jackets to keep then warm as the Lifeboat headed back to Mallaig. Once there (2311 hrs) the seven crew of the Pampero (a 15 metre catamaran) were taken to the Fishermen's Mission for dry clothing and warm food. A local charter boat was able to tow the upturned vessel into Isle Ornsay Bay out of the way of other shipping.

Friday 3rd August: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 1525 when requested by Stornoway Coastguard, to go to the assistance of a swimmer apparently in difficulties off the Arisaig coastline. Whilst proceeding to the location of the swimmer, it became apparent that someone in a rowing boat had recovered the casualty who was now safe and well. Lifeboat stood down and returned to station. Ready for service at 1545 hrs.

Sunday 5th August: Lifeboat launched at 1340 hrs to convey Paramedics to Inverie to assess injury to a holiday maker who had fallen, injuring her knee. On arrival at Inverie, (1355 hrs), paramedics and crew were transported to where the casualty was located. After examination, the injured lady was placed in a land rover and carefully transported to the Lifeboat waiting at the pier. Once aboard, the Lifeboat departed for Mallaig, arriving there at 1450 hrs, where the casualty was assessed again with a friend agreeing to transport her to hospital in Fort William.

Sunday 5th August: The second medivac of the day occurred at 1620 hrs when Stornoway Coastguard tasked the Lifeboat to transfer a sick female from the Isle of Rum to Mallaig. This was speedily done with the Lifeboat docking at Mallaig at 1750 hrs, placing the sick woman into the care of the local Ambulance personnel.

Thursday 23rd August: Lifeboat launched at 1400 hrs by Stornoway Coastguard to got to a assistance of the 10 metre yacht Nan Gillean in difficulties off the west coast of Skye. The yacht had picked up a large length of rope in its propeller and, being unable to sail due to very light winds, informed the Coastguard of the predicament. As the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 1515 hrs, a slight breeze had enabled Nan Gillean to make some headway, but it was agreed that a tow be established and once done the vessels headed for Mallaig. Just outside the harbour, the Lifeboat's starboard engine failed but, proceeding cautiously into harbour on one engine, the yacht was safely berthed at the pontoons at 1900 hrs.

Thursday 30th August: Lifeboat launched at 1845 hrs when tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the aid of two people stranded by the tide off the coast at Traigh Golf Course. In good weather conditions, the Lifeboat arrived on site within 15 minutes and a straightforward launch of the Y-boat saw the two casualties recovered and delivered ashore to the local Coastguard. Y-boat back on board, the Lifeboat was soon underway for Mallaig, and was refuelled and ready for service at 2000 hrs.

Friday 31st August: Launched at two minutes to midnight on the last day of the month, the Mallaig Lifeboat was responding to a medivac call from Inverie where a young man was suffering from chest pains. On arrival at Inverie at 0020 hrs, the casualty was quickly assisted on board by Lifeboat crew and his companions and the Lifeboat departed for Mallaig, arriving there 0051 hrs, handing over the casualty to the care of the Paramedics and the Ambulance Service. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 0115hrs.

On and Off the Rails

How can it possibly be September? I have hurtled through May, June, July and August with not a backward glance - usually pushing a Co-op trolley that I have had on permanent loan (thanks Co-op) with compost, plants etc, with watering cans hung on either side of me, plus hosepipe attachments! I have even been spied sucking on the flexible down pipes that feed the water to the flowering hanging baskets at Mallaig Railway Station! The automatic system gets an air-lock every now and then so has to be persuaded to work! In between times I have travelled many and various routes by train and, whether it be steam of diesel, I have loved every one. The excitement and relief that I felt as a child putting my trust in the safe hands of the railway and the railway staff never leaves me. Long may it continue.

Club 55 ScotRail offer returns
To help financially those of us who are fortunate enough to be 55 years of age or over, ScotRail are offering again a return train journey anywhere in Scotland for £19, available for travel between September 3rd to November 30th 2012. full detail sof the offer can be obtained at any staffed railway station, or by calling 08457 550033, or by visiting scotrail.co.uk/club55 online. Not only are we lucky enough to be able to visit anywhere in Scotland for £9.50 each way (I mean, how good is that) but it should result in tourists flooding into the area for an overnight stay sandwiched between two days of scenic travelling. Thanks ScotRail.

Jacobite News
As I write this column (Sunday 26th August), the last 'regular' weekend Jacobite for 2012 is passing the house. However, there will be a regular Jacobite service from Fort William to Mallaig and return from Monday to Friday for the whole of September and October, plus some occasional Saturday 'specials' running to Jacobite regular timings, which will help. On Saturday September 29th and Saturday October 6th as part of two West Highland and Jacobite Statesman touring train holidays, The Jacobite will come to Mallaig at lunchtime. The guests are staying in accommodation for two nights in the Fort William area and will eat lunch in Mallaig. the first weekend tour starts from Cambridge, the second from Swindon. The final scheduled Jacobite train for 2012 will be on Friday October 26th.

West Coast Railways' Driver announces his retirement
It has just been announced that West Coast Railways' Driver Mike Elkin has decided to retire. For the past two years Mike has been a popular member of The Jacobite team.
After West Coast Railways announced that their steam train operations on the Cambrian Line in Wales were to cease Mike, who lives in Aberystwyth, Wales, transferred to their Scottish operations. For the past two years he has driven the 'afternoon' Jacobite, sharing the job with Alex Iain MacDonald and Bobby Duncan. Having just turned seventy years of age, Mike said that although he has enjoyed the job very much, the travelling between home and Fort William has influenced his decision to retire gracefully! All his friends and team mates at West Coast Railways wish him a very happy retirement in Wales, and hope that he will make a 'Guest' appearance from time to time! Haste ye back.
Mike's last Jacobite turn was Friday August 31st, departing from Fort William for the very last time at 2.45pm and finally returning from Mallaig at 6.40pm.

Retired West Coast Railway Jacobite Driver Mike Elkin is pictured standing under The Cambrian headboard,
with the Jacobite crew at Glenfinnan.
The headboard was used on that day to honour Mike's loyal service to that railway line.
Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts

Two Competitions this month
Competition One - Tins of Glenfinnan Viaduct Shortbread and tablet
Whilst The Jacobite is still running, and thinking ahead for gifts to take away or purchase to 'put by', Mallaig Visitor Centre has offered an embossed large tin of Stewart's Shortbread with a wonderful picture of The Jacobite Steam Train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is sold in the Mallaig Visitor Centre, plus a wee round tin of Scottish Tablet/fudge from the same manufacturer and sold in the shop, as prizes if you are correct in answering the following question and are drawn as a winner.
Question: When is the final scheduled date for The Jacobite train of 2012?
Answers on a postcard please by Friday September 28th to Sonia Cameron, 'Fasgadh', Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD.

Competition Two - Steam to Kyle DVD
To add to the amazing collection of DVDs (which used to be called train videos), Producer and Photographer Bill Williams has just released a brand new DVD called Steam to Kyle. Following on from his very popular DVD Steam in the Hills featuring the Fort William to Mallaig Extensions (still available), it depicts various Steam Locomotives working hard on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh Line. His lineside shots of views not normally accessible by road, have become his trademark. They require long treks across rough terrain!
I can highly recommend it to all you Steam Train enthusiasts, and at £9.99 it is excellent value for money, currently on sale at Mallaig Visitor Centre.
However, I do have a copy of the DVD to give away, if you would like to enter a fairly simple competition. In order to try to win a DVD of Steam to Kyle, just answer the following question: How many miles long is the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh Railway Line? Is it a) 42, b) 82 or c) 62 miles?
Send your answer to me, Sonia Cameron, 'Fasgadh', Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD no later than Friday September 28th. Incidentally, the DVD also includes a 'slideshow', plus a taster version of Steam in the Hills, mentioned earlier. If you should not feel lucky or wish to buy the DVD by post, it is available for £9.99 from Famedram Publishers Ltd, PO Box 3, Ellon, AB41 9EA (www.northernbooks.co.uk), part of the Famedram and Cinécosse group of companies.

Saturday September 15th: RAF Leuchars Jubilee Air Show ScotRail have co-ordinated with RAF Leuchars to offer a combined advance through rail and entry ticket on the date plus, if travelling by rail to it with up to two children aged between 5 and 15 years of age, the adult pays and the children go free on the railway. The children pay £12 advance admission to the Airshow. Please visit www.airshow.co.uk for more information, or call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950 or visit www.scotrail.co.uk. There will be an enhanced train service to Leuchars Station with a 15 minute walk to the Airshow entrance.

Advance ScotRail Information
The lunchtime Class 156 Sprinter service Mondays to Saturdays reverts to the arrival time in Mallaig of 1.34pm from Monday October 1st - restaurants please take note!
The morning and lunchtime Class 156 Sprinter service on Sundays ceases for the year (well, until next March actually!!) Sunday October 28th. In my opinion this is far too early in the year, especially with Club 55 being on until November 30th!!! Surely it is time that ScotRail considered a service on a Sunday in and out of Mallaig other than the late afternoon out and a late night into Mallaig. 'Connectivity' was the new mantra earlier this year. What happened?

See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

Traigh Golf Club held their Open Championship on Saturday 25th August.
The winners (l to r): W J McLean; D. MacDonald; S Jameson; S Cameron; J Fowler; R Summers.

'A Band On Ship' played in Arisaig House on Sunday 2nd September.
A line up of excellent musicians and singers dressed as pirates,
brought to our shores by Inverie’s Captain Drew Harris (centre).
Photo by Richard Lamont

Mallaig & Morar Highland Games
Dave Thompson MSP for Skye Lochaber and Badenoch took the role of Chieftain once more at this year's Mallaig and Morar games on Sunday 5th August.
Dave was piped to the games, in fine form, by the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band and a grand time was had by all in a friendly games in wonderful scenery.
Mr Thompson said, ‘I’d like to thank the organising committee for another well run, heart warming and friendly gathering here in Morar. A great time was had by all, and I was particularly impressed by the considerable skills of the youngsters in the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band.’
Photos by Christine MacMaster

Dave Thompson MSP heads theparade of the Lochaber Schools Band


Mallaig and the Small Isles Coastguard
On Thursday the 30th August at 1830 hours the Mallaig Coastguard team and the Mallaig Lifeboat were tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to go the aid of two persons cut off by the tide on one the small islands off the Traigh beach.
The Mallaig Coastguard team were assembling at this time for training so were on scene within minutes.
Two of the Mallaig team in dry suits made their way across to the pair and made sure they were not injured or hypothermic. They stayed with them until the arrival of the lifeboat's Y boat which ferried them across to the waiting Coastguard's and Police Officer. The couple, a male aged 30 and a female aged 32 both from London, had been camping and thought to go for a walk not realising that the tide was coming in.
On the 27th August three members of the Eigg team assisted with the medical evacuation of a 22 year old female who had been hit by a car whilst out cycling at 0730. The Coastguard helicopter airlifted the casualty to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where her injuries although serious were not life threatening. The casualty who lives in Lochaline once lived on Eigg with her parents and was visiting the Island as a guest at a wedding dance.
On the 1st September the Charter yacht Goldrush of Clyde dragged her anchor and ended up grounding on the Canna shore. Canna Coastguard proceeded to the stricken yacht to establish the crews safety and that there was no ingress of water. The four persons on board were uninjured and the offer to be helped off the boat for light refreshment was taken up by all except the skipper. Mallaig Lifeboat had been diverted from a training exercise to assist and stood by until the tide had flooded enough to refloat the vessel.
Phil Wren, HM Coastguard Sector Manager

On Wednesday 1st August 2012 Rt. Rev. Joseph Toal, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles made his first Pastoral Visit to the Isle of Canna. Canna falls under the Parish of Morar, in the West Highlands.
The Parish Priest Fr. Joe Calleja took this opportunity to organise the day as a Pilgrimage, a day of prayer and retreat.
A small group of pilgrims led by Bishop Toal, set sail from Mallaig on their way to Canna. The sky was grey, the sea was choppy and intermittent rain made visibility difficult, but like so many generations of 'saints and sinners' before them, the pilgrims were not deterred and sitting in friendship groups, prayed quietly or meditated on the awesome power of these waters.
The Ferry left Mallaig at 10.15 a.m, and the intrepid group were told that the Captain was uncertain whether they would make Canna of it or not, due to the forecast winds; so they were expecting a bit of a rough trip. Although there was rain they arrived at Canna and Bishop Toal presided at the Mass and preached an inspiring homily. Their time on the island seemed brief after the peace of the Mass and soon they were back aboard bound for Rum and the return trip to Mallaig during which they had Stations of the Cross.
Each Pilgrim was given a booklet which included Prayers of St. Columba, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the Divine Office, Mediations, Angelus and the Rosary, hymns for Holy Mass, the Stations of the Cross and some other prayers. Each Pilgrim could choose to spend their time of prayer alone or with a small group; during the ferry journeys and on the island. The Pilgrims had time to speak to the bishop/priest as they travailed through the 'troubled waters'.
The beautiful little chapel on Canna, with seats dedicated to past seafarers and fishermen, was full with people from all parts of the diocese and beyond. Bishop Toal celebrated Holy Mass assisted by Father Joseph Calleja Parish priest and in his sermon, the Bishop reminded the pilgrims of the men of past generations who had preached the Gospel to the people of the Western Seaboard and its Islands, thus linking all the people of the area both past and present, through the teaching of Christ.

Bishop Toal (left) and Fr. Joe Calleja outside the chapel on Canna

The focal point of this Pilgrimage was Holy Mass, Bishop Joseph's homily centred around Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop and Doctor, and his spiritual legacy.
As it happened the congregation included parishioners from Canna, Muck, Rum, Mallaig, Morar, Dunoon, Arisaig, Fort William, Taynuilt and Oban, and even as far a field as Cambridge, London, Spain, Malta and New Zealand.
The close of the day saw the sun come out, and a beautiful rainbow spanned Mallaig bay to welcome the Pilgrims home after a day made memorable by its prayerful simplicity.
It was a blessed day of prayer and reflection, played out against the backdrop of the ancient spiritual landscape of the Dioceses of Argyll & The Isles.
Felicity Blackburn & Fr. Joe Calleja


Old Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig
Of interest to those readers who enjoy seeing old photographs and postcards in West Word is this latest volume by historian Guthrie Sutton.
The 50 page soft cover book charts the changes wrought by the coming of the West Highland Railway to this once inaccessible area. Photographs of small crofting communities along Loch Morar and in Arisaig, some now deserted and desolate, are juxtaposed with images of a vibrant and bustling harbour at Mallaig.
Once the railway was established it enabled fish to arrive at the London market in record time.
The overall effect of the book is of inevitable change held in check by the immutable grandeur of the Highlands themselves. Guthrie Sutton, as always, provides insightful commentary on the photographic collection.
Published by Stenlake Publishing Ltd it is available at £9.00 at Mallaig Book Shop, Mallaig Heritage Centre and Arisaig Post Office.
There is also a companion volume by the same author, with the snappy title of Old Ardnamurchan. Moidart, Sunart, Morvern and Ardgour.

Shooting: A Season of Discovery is a glossy coffee table book which chronicles twenty shoots which took place all over the country. One of the chapters, 'Snipe and Woodcock', tells of the author's trip to the Isle of Muck last October.
The author is Emma, Duchess of Rutland, who co-hosts one of the country's finest pheasant and partridge shoots at Belvoir Castle (pronounces 'Beaver') in Leicestershire. She set herself the target of visiting more than twenty contrasting shoots in one season, and talking to everyone 'behind the scenes' who make them happen. A crucial lesson she learned was that shooting today is about conservation, bio-diversity and the sustainability of rural communities.
This last is demonstrated in the case of Muck, where the whole population is involved in the shoots, which have given a huge boost to the island's economy.
Emma and her companions visited Muck on a truly dreich day last October, travelling on the Sheerwater from Arisaig, for a shoot arranged by her friend Emma Weir, the owner of Arisaig House. Her account of the day, like all the others in the book, includes personal anecdotes, some history of the location, and insights into life on the island.
The shoots are organised by Toby Fichtner-Irvine, who is married to Lawrence MacEwen's daughter Mary; together they run the Port Mhor Guest House.
The book is full of colour photographs, and those in this chapter were taken by Richard Lamont of Arisaig - 'my type of shooting', says Richard.
There are also half a dozen recipes for cooking the game, by chef Mike Robinson.
The book is published by Quiller Publishing Ltd and retails at £30, and is also available from Amazon at £19.50, free delivery.

Nice photo of Romasaig (Jon Schueler's Glasnacardoch Studio 1970 - 1992) and expert essay by New York based writer Phyllis Braff in the catalogue prepared for an exhibition entitled Jon Schueler, The Mallaig Years, 1970-75. The catalogue, which also contains photographs of some of the exhibits, informs us that the Exhibition is being held throughout September at the David Finlay Jr Gallery, 724 Fifth Avenue, New York.
More information can be obtained via www.davidfinlayjr.com
There is also an exhibition of some of Jon Schueler's large paintings currently ongoing and lasting until 4th January 2013 at The Lobby Gallery, 499 Park Avenue, New York. For more information on this show, contact Dorothy@dsafinearts.com

"An inspiring festival on the shores of beautiful Loch Sunart"
20th/22nd September 2012
The Sunart Centre, Strontian, Acharacle, Argyll
Patron: Alexander McCall Smith, CBE

Go west - to the scenic shores of Loch Sunart - next month for the second 'Three Lochs Book & Arts Festival' which takes place at the Sunart Centre, Strontian, from 20th - 22nd September.
This biennial festival of literature, film, art, music and photography - which for 2012 embraces a general theme of 'the great outdoors' - will enjoy an extra dimension thanks to appearances by popular comedians Mark Steel and Hardeep Singh Kohli.
With events aimed at outdoor enthusiasts as well as book & film lovers, the Three Lochs Festival will feature a number of films, writers' workshops, a programme for local schools, and contributions from a variety of authors. A busy programme geared towards youngsters will include storytelling from Maisie Dennison and Scot An Sgeulaiche as well as art workshops with Room 13 and 'campsite' cookery sessions led by Abernethy Kids Cookschool.
The Festival - which this year attracted an £8200 Awards for All grant as well funding from Highland Council's Ward 22 Discretionary Budget and local community councils - kicks off on Thursday 20th September with a programme for youngsters from local schools. A film & food evening (open to all), hosted by The Sunart Centre Film Club, will present Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which was partly filmed in Glen Nevis, while Friday evening (21st), will see comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli introduce his own favourite film, Gregory's Girl, preceded by a Scottish 'taster plate' style buffet and bar.
Saturday's programme includes a writers' workshop with Linda Cracknell, award-winning author of short stories, radio drama, and creative non-fiction. Author events will feature Iain Banks -acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation for both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks); Donald S Murray, author of The Guga Hunters and Special Deliverance; and Gaelic singer, folklorist, writer and storyteller Margaret Bennett.
Dan Bailey and Kirsty Shirra will join forces for a presentation on the specialist art of writing outdoor activity guides while budding authors will be able to pick up some useful tips on getting published at a workshop run by literary agent Maggie McKernan.
The 'Lochaline Literates' Reading Group will host a 'Big Read' event while other attractions will include a photographic workshop and exhibition, local food stalls, the return of Waterstones' mobile bookshop and a BBQ and bar, before activities draw to a close with a live comedy performance featuring writer and comedian Mark Steel.
Internationally renowned author Alexander McCall Smith - a guest at the enormously successful inaugural Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival, held in September 2010, is patron of this year's event.
Mr McCall Smith, author of more than 60 books which have been translated into 42 languages, said: 'The Three Lochs Festival is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most interesting of Scotland's arts festivals. It may be smaller than some, but that, in the world of festivals, is no bad thing. Large festivals are frequently over-crowded and difficult to navigate.
'A small festival, located in a community and attended by members of the community, has a great deal to recommend it. At this festival, visiting performers will have the opportunity to meet their audience and enjoy the hospitality for which the area is justly famed. There will be friendly conversations; there will be moments of real artistic sharing; there will be everything that only a small and much-loved festival can provide - and all in the setting of one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. Let's all join in!'
For further information about the full Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival programme - and details of how to book tickets - please check out the website: www.threelochs.co.uk and look for updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Dalies, Mentlegen and all those still willing to take the time to peruse my verbarianism, there comes a time in the life of all columnists when the river of inspiration becomes no more than a trickle. Thus, after a summer of drought such as we have had, the trickle slowly dies and the little remaining pools become stagnant and uninviting. So dear readers, after much deliberation, I have decided that this poor offering shall be my penultimate encyclical. Hopefully some fresh blood will, in time, fill my slot and breathe some life into a page of your beloved monthly. For now I will try to cobble a few words together to satisfy your cravings for what may have been happening in the not very secret world of your local ranger!
As seems to have been the trend for most of this season, the numbers joining me for walks have continued to go down, and I was quite surprised last week when "Arisaig Past, Present and Future" produced no takers for the very first time. This walk was the first one that I started with all those years ago, so perhaps it was a warning that I have now gone the full circle and that it is really now time to stop. I do know that it has been a fairly quiet season for many with even some of the camp sites not regularly filled, so what do we put it down to? Certainly, in general, there is a rein on spending, and the fact that the wonderful spell of weather that we have had was surely not broadcast enough by the media wouldn't have helped, but I suppose one must lay a good proportion of the blame at the door of the London Olympics. Don't get me wrong, I was just as proud of all of our athletes as all of you were, and there is no doubt that I spent as much time as I could watching their exploits and can quite understand people who might have dragged themselves up here being quite happy to either go and watch things "live" or be glued to the television coverage. I suppose that maybe we will have to wait for next year to see whether we are really on a downward spiral for visitors, or will the fact that those who did take the trouble to visit us went home with a super tan be enough to bring back the numbers that we need. Time will tell!
Although my previous words have been rather downbeat, I did manage to have a couple of bright spots in my month! Following on from my golden eagle sightings last month, I was again lucky enough to see these magnificent birds on two occasions on recent walks. Not being a professional "tweeter" (more of a twit) I was unable to say whether these birds were the ones that I had previously spotted, but I strongly suspect that they were. If this is the case, then it looks like we have at least one breeding pair locally, which bodes well for the survival of the species. During the course of the last few days I was contacted by Scottish Natural Heritage to investigate a complaint that some fishing in the local conservation area was proving detrimental to the otter population. Obviously, with otters being a protected species now, this was of some concern to me and I donned my Sherlock Holmes garb and did some sneaky research into the matter! Although I could not comment on the actual numbers of otters in the area, never having been able to do any kind of a count, I investigated the area in question looking for obvious fresh signs and was pleased to find evidence of at least a reasonable population. However, I would be very pleased if any of you out there happen to see any otters would you kindly let me know where and when as it would be of considerable help in trying to get an idea of the local population. If you happen to get photographs then better still as it may be possible to spot different animals. I know that I am always asking you for feedback from my articles, but this would be a big help if you do happen to spot any of these compelling creatures.
Well it's finally back to school for the children and who can remember when they have had such a glorious summer, day after day of sunshine and even not too many midgie nights! However it is now back to the grind and best of luck to the teachers, especially those who have changed places or just started the long haul! I still have a little path project at Morar Primary, but should any of the other schools require my presence please be aware that I will be as available as possible! Not sure that I have worded that properly, but I'm sure that you get the gist and anyway I told you that the trickle was running dry!
Finally I spent a very interesting day in Strontian where I walked the tracks in the woods at Ariundle studying "plant life". I have to say it does you good to be reminded of how ignorant of your surroundings you can be when an expert leads you by the nose and rubs it into things that you would normally walk past! Ah well, I'm only part way to expert status! So that's about it folks, you can still see the August programme in last month's glorious technicolour magazine, so maybe you will have pity on a punter starved Ranger. In the meantime stay well and please do notify me of any otter sightings - or any other exciting wildlife.
Angus Macintyre
Tel: 01687 462 983

A good late spring record of a long-eared owl at the Harris tree plot on May 22nd was a welcome change for some. Two adult orcas off Muck on the 25th June, with five seen again off Muck on the July 4th, also four bottle-nosed dolphins off Eigg that day. Basking sharks have been a wee bit more numerous this season, but still only a handful of records for Rum including singles in Loch Scresort on July 13th and 14th, and a whopping five off Kilmory on July 21st. Our sea eagles failed this season, but two pairs of goldies were successful fledging a chick a piece.
Other breeding successes include 1 pair of greenshanks, short-eared owl, hen harrier, merlin and at least 10 pairs of red-throated divers. Arctic terns did well too, with over 10 pairs nesting at Kilmory. Other notables include a possible breeding spotted flycatcher, which was seen on numerous occasions around the village in May, June and early July (perhaps breeding due to the warmer dryer conditions and abundant insect life). Autumn migration is now underway, with a flock of 50+ twite at Harris on the 5th August and two juvenile dotterels on Barkeval on the 18th August.
However, it has to be said that the gems of the summer so far have been the Short-beaked common dolphins which are found throughout the northern Atlantic and most of the Pacific region. The best way to identify the species is by their behaviour, as they are usually in large boisterous schools and can be aerially acrobatic, with flipper slapping, bow riding, breaching and sometimes somersaulting, and we've certainly been privy to most of this during the summer! Another distinguishing characteristic is the hourglass pattern on their sides. The highlights on the Thursday Soay trip included c.60 on the 19th June, and c.100 between Rum and Soay on June 21st. Many thanks to Ronnie and Daniel for their enthusiasm and encouragement.
For more, please check out my blog on rangeringonrum.blogspot.co.uk
Mike Werndly

Birdwatch - Stephen MacDonald
A few more birds on the move this month as waders passed through on their journey from Arctic breeding grounds to where they will spend the winter. Some of the birds involved may also be Scottish birds that move from their upland or moorland breeding sites to more coastal areas for the winter.
The first Whimbrel reported was a single in a field at Traigh on the 1st, followed by ones and twos reported in the same area and also at Rhue, Arisaig, as the month progressed. A single Greenshank was seen on the Morar Estuary from the 20th.
On the 23rd, 6 Knot were resting on the rocks at the West Bay car park, Mallaig, and 2 Turnstones were seen feeding on the shore by Traigh Golf Course - both the first reports of the Autumn.
A few more Sanderling appeared and by the 27th there were at least 16 feeding on the shore at Traigh.
One or two Black-Tailed Godwits were reported from Traigh Farm and the Golf Course during the month, however there were at least 7 there on the 30th along with at least 15 Curlew. Great Skuas were seen regularly offshore, and there were increasing reports of Arctic Skuas from mid-month, with close inshore sightings from Traigh and Rhue, Arisaig.
A single Pomarine Skua was seen between Soay and Rum on the 23rd.
Greylag Goose numbers built up during the month as family groups joined up to feed in the fields at Kinloid, Back of Keppoch and Traigh. On the 15th a group of 7 Canada Geese were in the field by Traigh Golf Course, but by the 22nd their number had increased to 20 and they were seen at several locations to the end of the month.
Jays were heard in the woods around Morar Lodge on several occasions during the month and on the 29th a single bird was seen briefly at Rhubana Lodge, Morar, before it flew off in the direction of Riverside.
On the 30th, a female Blackcap was observed feeding recently fledged young in an oak tree near Beoraid, Morar. A late but successful breeding attempt.

Not only has West Word been all over the place again but we climbed Ben Nevis and went on a very long walk, and witnessed some mammoth fundraising!

Mallaig's Jim Morton tells us 'Couldn't find a West Word in Amsterdam so decided to improvise. It must be the only place in Europe where the West Word isn't on sale!'

Kyle and Holly who took their copy of West Word from Mallaig to Amadores Beach, Gran Canaria last month.. (You see Jim, you're meant to take one with you...)

Liz Leck, ex Mallaig, reads her with West Word in Dundee where she now leaves. Mrs. Leck celebrates her 90th Birthday on 17th September. We wish her many happy returns!

Local Postman Andy Gosling did a charity walk up Ben Nevis for the Love Hope Strength Foundation which is benefits people with cancer and leukaemia. Andy says 'Out of my sponsors I managed to raise £800. I would like to thank all the locals for their generosity and support. I read WestWord on the top of Ben Nevis, highest point in the British Isles - a fab day was had by all.'

The group of ladies who fundraised for their walk by giving us the chance to have Indian takeaways and enjoy Sunday brunches finally tackled their Great Wilderness Challenge on 18th August, walking a half marathon (13 miles) route from Aultbea to Poolewe. More information next month. Honoured to go with you ladies - the nearest the Editor will get to a half marathon!


John Bryden, Cleaner Extraordinaire, tells us 'This picture was taken at a conference in Pittsburgh. I had been invited to lecture rug restorers from across the USA and took time out to catch up with local news and promote Kirstyskids. I am pictured sitting on a pile of rugs worth over a million pounds and had a great time instructing on restoration. While there the organisers learned about Kirsty and donated prizes which I was invited to auction for kirstyskids.org. I was auctioneer for the morning and we raised a whopping $8,007.00 USD for the trust.' Wow!
For updates on John's fundraising go to Kirsty's Kids Facebook page where at present he is thanking all the local businesses for placing collection cans on their counters. Cuddly toy Eeyore, who accompanied John on his fundraising trip around Britain last year, is at present fundraising on his own in the US! The Brydens get the odd postcard home and one day he will return and we can give an update on his travels.

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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The paper version of West Word contains approximately 40 pages (A4 size) including:

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