Arran Banner letters – week 44

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Castle woes

Sir,

We are just back from our third visit to lovely Arran this year. We are still getting over the shock of both of our ferries running to time as advertised.

During our holiday we visited many establishments for food and drink and shops for the purchase of gifts for our offspring. Our general feeling was that businesses on the island continue to thrive and, as ever, are offering service with a smile. Long may that continue.

There was one visit that we found disappointing and that was to what should be the jewel in Arran’s crown, Brodick Castle. We approached by the Fisherman’s Walk and entered by the steps from the Wineport. The cabin that used to issue tickets was closed and there was no control over entry. It did not matter to us as members, but the cabin appeared to have been closed for some time with lost opportunities for revenue and memberships. The castle itself is closed, and has been for some time, after being shut for refurbishment, which seems to have gone on for ever.

The thriving and lovely terrace cafe has gone. We walked on to the visitor reception. The busy National Trust shop has been replaced by a few shelves of odd items and the shop area filled with tables and chairs which looked most uninviting and, although we arrived over lunchtime, only one person was using the facility, and he appeared to be a member of staff. Similarly, the area that used to sell plants lay empty and neglected.

I inquired if it was possible to get a bus back to Brodick but was told the open-top service which called at the castle visitor reception had ceased some years ago.

Of course the grounds are still impressive and there have been improvements, the massive play area (our grandchildren love it but I struggle at 65) and the new squirrel hide is impressive but the impression left after our visit is an attraction that has gone backwards while others have progressed. Come on, National Trust for Scotland, get the crown back where it belongs.

Yours,

Michael Smith,

North Shields.

Priority route

Sir,

Being a simple and naive person, I read of the preparation for winter on Arran roads by NAC and was immediately heartened by the thought that the higher parts of the String Road would, on the occasion of snow covering the surface, be treated as a priority route, in particular between the hours of 8.30am and 9pm when there is a significant amount of traffic that includes a school bus.

This is the time when previously the safety of motorists and passengers has been neglected or ignored. Therefore no longer will the cry of ‘ where is the gritter’ echo in the snow covered hills and the traffic strewn roads. Oh well, I can only dream.

Yours,

Mr J Stewart,

Blackwaterfoot.

Musicians help raise cash for SSPCA

Sir,

The Arran branch of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raised £592 in the recent Animal Week collection. Thanks are due to all who gave generously, the volunteers who collected and, especially, our wonderful musicians, Beverley and Patrick on bagpipes, Alice and Anne on fiddles, and Colin on guitar, who entertained on Lamlash Green as we collected outside the Co-op.

Our next fundraiser is upstairs at Arran Active on the Saturday of the Shop Arran weekend, November 17, between 11am and 3pm. More music is planned, with mulled wine and mince pies, home baking, Christmas decorations and lots more, so please come.

Yours,

Christine Drennan,

Arran branch SSPCA.

Decembeard

Sir,

I’m calling on dads, brothers, sons, nephews, granddads and uncles to grow a beard this December and raise money for Bowel Cancer UK.

Taking part in Decembeard is simple. All you need to do is clean shave on November 30 and let your facial fuzz grow throughout the month. Already bearded? No problem. Dye, ditch or decorate your beard and join the campaign.

Bowel cancer is Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer. However, it shouldn’t be. It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Grow a beard this December and raise funds to support vital services and lifesaving research. Sign up at bowelcanceruk.org.uk/decembeard

Yours,

Jim Rosenthal,

Sports broadcaster,

c/o Bowel Cancer UK.