Archive for October, 2008

Forgotten about the Chinese earthquake yet?…

October 18, 2008

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake which measured at 7.9 magnitude occurred at 14:28:01.42 CST on May 12, 2008 in the Sichuan province of China. It was also known as the Wenchuan earthquake, after the earthquake’s epicentre in Wenchuan County, Sichuan province. The epicenter was 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, with a depth of 19 kilometres (12 mi). The earthquake was felt as far away as Beijing (1,500 kilometres (932 mi) away) and Shanghai (1,700 kilometres (1,056 mi) away), where office buildings swayed with the tremor. The earthquake was also felt in nearby countries.

Official figures (as of July 21, 2008 ) state that 69,197 are confirmed dead, including 68,636 in Sichuan province, and 374,176 injured, with 18,222 listed as missing. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless, though the number could be as high as 11 million (the population of Greece is 11,215,000). Approximately 15 million people lived in the affected area.

Strong aftershocks, some exceeding magnitude 6, continue to hit the area even months after the main quake, causing new casualties and damage.

My wife’s immediate family live 50k from what was the epicentre in the town of Mianzhu.

Their house used to look like this …

My wife has just made her first visit back to her hometown since the disaster struck.

Her childhood home now looks like this…

Not sure how many of us used to our fitted kitchens would react to this being the extent of out kitchen facilities…

The amazing thing is these people constantly comment on how fortunate they are in comparison to others, they probably mean those who were living in buildings like these…

and these…

It’s only natural that what is out of sight becomes out of mind, but it is important we remember that this was a once in a lifetime disaster, and will take a generation to rectify. Obviously some people’s losses are irreplaceable.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the relief effort can still do so via:

 

 The Chinese Embassy in UK has opened a special account for donation for Earthquake in Sichuan province in Bank of China(UK).

  

1)CHEQUES,TRAVELLERS CHEQUES AND POSTAL ORDERS SHOULD BE MADE
PAYABLE To
:
The Chinese Embassy In UK
Sichuan Earthquake Donation Account
ACCOUNT No:
10196750
CORRESPONDENT ADDRESS
:BANKING DEPARTMENT,
BANK OF CHINA(UK) LIMITED
,
90 CANNON STREET
,LONDON,EC4N 6HA


2)UK AND OVERSEAS DONATIONS CAN BE MADE QUOTING
:
Beneficiary Name
:The Chinese Embassy In UK
Sichuan Earthquake Donation Account
Account number
:10196750
Sort code
:405037 BANK OF CHINA(UK) LTD LONDON


3)CASH can be deposited at any branch of Bank of China(UK)Limited
,please
quote a/c no. 10196750

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The Solway Coast, the Home of my Fathers…

October 16, 2008

 

The home of my fathers, or specifically, my maternal grandfather is oft forgotten, strangely ignored and frequently overlooked in any trawl around the United Kingdom. And yet this one corner of the Scottish Borders has me returning time and time again like a prodigal son.

 

Genetics is a strange thing. Like all of us I had four grandparents and yet I could only tell you where one of them hailed from. If you asked me which one I was most like I would have no idea, but if you asked me which one I most identified with I would tell you instantly it was my mother’s father – James Ferguson, son of William Ferguson, son of William Ferguson. One and all border-country men. One and all hailing from the beauty that is our Solway Coast.

 

My grandfather was born on the Solway Coast and lived there until his father presented him with a £10 pound note and told him to go and buy an engagement ring. A wedding match had been arranged. Not keen on the match James spent the £10 on a train ticket to London and as a consequence spent most of his life away from the land of his birth, but upon reaching retirement he returned with a bride of his own choice to live out the remainder of his days.

 

Fortunately for his young grand children his retirement days were to be long and rewarding and so were the numerous family holidays our family enjoyed twice a year at his home in Kirkcudbright. Over long summer holidays we got to know the surrounding region visiting some of his 15 brothers and sisters.

 

For me the Solway Coast evokes many images: rolling green countryside that the Fergusons worked and farmed; frozen in time market towns and small villages where they lived; sandy beaches where they played; and picturesque harbours where a returning trawlerman would often proffer a part of his catch for some favour owed to a brother’s cousin’s niece’s husband.

 

Despite the occasional midges and the more frequent rain I have no hesitation in recommending the Solway Coast, below I will highlight some of the area’s attractions, but take my advice and give it a try, it hasn’t changed that much since I started visiting some 35 years ago. But, truthfully the main reason to visit the area is that it is a designated Area of Outstanding beauty and you can be sure it has something for everyone. It’s glorious beaches and rolling countryside play host to an incredible number of plants and animals, especially wild birds. For more information on the region’s wildlife the Solway Coast Discovery Centre in Silloth is an excellent place to start. The centre also has extensive information on walks with local experts.

 

Situated in the bottom Western corner of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway is an unspoilt county and the poetic heart of a countryside with ample destinations for great day trips. Steeped in lore and legend, the area has attractions that are ancient and modern, small and grand. Notable places to visit include all the attractions on the Robert Burns trail, Threave castle and the wonderful Castle Kennedy Gardens.

 

The are has never been avant garde, mobile phone reception is intermittent and with the majority of roads being lined by dairy farms cows seem to outnumber the human population with a comfortable majority. Most distinctive of all the bovine inhabitants are the Belted Galloways, with their broad white belt dividing their torsos.

 

My grandfather’s place of retirement was the town of Kirkcudbright, perched on the banks of the River Nith, known today as the Artists’ Town – and an amble around it’s streets will explain the nomenclature.

 

Kirkcudbright, along with castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart and Creetown  all share another claim to fame. They have all been used for locations for the 1973 film “The Wicker Man”. Dundrennan, a short way down the road from Kirkcudbright, now plays host annually to the Wicker man Music festival, and is reminiscent of how Glastonbury used to be, recent headlining acts have included Fun Loving Criminals, The Orb, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jah Wobble and Gary Numan.  

 

But if music festivals aren’t your cup of tea then there is plenty more to do: golfing, walking, fishing, shooting opportunities scatter the countryside as do historic castles. Once upon a time Dumfries and Galloway were part of the frontline against an expansionist England. Caerlaverock castle today is the host of re-enactment battles but was laid siege to by Edward I at the turn of the 14th century.

 

Harking back to my own school holidays the entertainment was limited, but in the tourist high season there were always the occasional organised farm walks and the highlight of the local tourist season calender – the Kirkcudbright tattoo.

 

Nowadays the tourist calendar has extended considerably and some of the more notable attractions include:

 

June

Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival

 

July

Annual Riding of the Marches Ceremony

Galloway Children’s Festival 

 

August

Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail

Bladnoch Folk and Blues festival

Gaelforce festival

Galloway Country Fair

Kippford Craft fair

Moffat Show

North West Dumfries Muckle Doo

Portpatrick Folk Festival

Scottish Alternative Games

St. Ninian Festival

The Border gathering

The Kirkcudbright Tattoo

 

September

Creetown Country Music Festival

Dalbeatie Rock Weekend

Dumfries Film Festival

Gaelforce festival

Moniaive Action project

Morris and Mummers

Robert Burns Festival

St. Ninian Festival

Wigtown Literary Book Town Festival

 

October

Gaelforce festival

Hightae Annual Craft fair

Lockerbie Jazz Festival

Moffat Walking Festival

Tango Extravaganza

Wigtown Literary Book Town Festival

 

November

Moffat Christmas festival

 

December

Mabie Fayre

 

However, no matter when you visit there is bound to be a local attraction on your doorstep. Below you will find a list of attractions by location:

 

Caerlaverock

Caerlaverock Castle

Wildfowl & Wetland Trust

 

Canonbie

Gilnockie Tower

 

Castle Douglas

Brewery Sulwath Brewers Ltd.

Cardoness castle

Cream O’Galloway

Mill On The Fleet

Old Buitle Tower

Orchardton Tower

Threave Castle and Gardens

 

Creetown

Carsluith castle

 

Dalbeatie

Drumcoltran Tower

 

 Dumfries

Arbigland

Burns House

Mersehead Nature Reserve

New Abbey Corn Mill

Robert Burns Centre

Sweetheart Abbey

 

Dundrennan

The Wicker Man Festival

Dundrennan Abbey

 

Kirkcudbright

Broughton House and Garden

Galloway Hydros Visitor centre

Harbour Cottage Gallery

MacLellan’s Castle

 

Langholm

Samye Ling Monnastery and Tibetan Centre

 

Lochmaben

Lochmaben Castle

 

Lockerbie

Carlyle’s Birthplace

Mossburn Animal Centre

Rammerscales House

 

Mochrum

Druchtag Motte 

Morton

Morton Castle

 

Newton Stewart

Creetown Exhibition Cenntre

Creetown Gern Museum

Galloway House Gardens

Glenluce Abbey

Glentrool Visitor Centre

Kirroughtree Visitor Centre

Monreith Animal World and Museum

 

Stranraer

Castle Kennedy Gardens

 

 

Thornhill

Drumlanrig Castle, Gardens and Park

 

Twynholm

Cocoabean Chocolate factory

David Coulthard’s home town and museum

 

Most of the above charge an admittance fee, but for free entertainment you can (weather permitting) head off to one of the regions fine beaches, such as:

 

Carrick Shore Beach, near Gatehouse of Fleet

 

Brighouse Bay beach, near Kirckcudbright

 

Castle Point beach Rockcliffe

 

Doon Beach, near Kirckudbright

 

Kippford beach, Kippford

 

Mossyard bbeach, near Gatehouse of Fleet

 

Rockcliffe Beach, Rockcliffe

 

Cardoness Beach, near Gatehouse of Fleet

 

Sandgreen Beach, near Gatehouse of Fleet

 

Sandyhils Beach, near Dalbeatie  

Southerness Beach, near Dumfries