‘Nine is fine’ is the message as Quick Golf launches in Dunkeld

There’s nothing more enjoyable than playing 18 holes of golf, but playing nine is a fine way to enjoy it too, says the team behind Quick Golf, launching next month [May] at Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club.

As more and more players face pressures on their time, Quick Golf offers a solution for regular players and those new to the game: a quick nine holes at the value price of just £5 for non-members and £2 for members.

Quick Golf will take place weekly on Wednesdays beginning on 4th May and will run until September at one of the most picturesque golf courses in Highland Perthshire. Play is open to men and women with or without a handicap and will be on tees selected by Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club.

Laurie Foster, one of the people behind Quick Golf, commented:

“Everyone these days is time crunched and as a result there has been a steady move towards 9-hole golfing, not to mention a drop-off in the popularity of golf generally. Quick Golf formalises a trend that we have been witnessing for some time now at Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club and worldwide. We hope it sends a message to all players, seasoned and new to the game, that although playing 18 holes is great, nine is a fine way of enjoying the game too.”

Douglas Ogilvie, Match Secretary, commented:

“We believe the timing of this is perfect. Not only will Quick Golf run during the summer months, but it launches at a time when golfers want something different. Cutting the game in half is an ideal solution for those with less time on their hands. And what better place to enjoy a game of Quick Golf than our own historic course at Dunkeld.”

For more information about Quick Golf and Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club, visit www.quickgolfscotland.com or www.dunkeldandbirnamgolfclub.co.uk

Broadband a new property must as homeowners’ needs change

Access to the Internet has become a high priority for househunters as leisure activities shift, according to a survey just out. A good, reliable broadband connection – one strong enough for streaming films and TV – ranks above a TV signal and having enough space for a flatscreen TV, says the survey of househunter must-haves by gocompare.com.

And although central heating, double glazing and a garden topped the list, the fact that 53% of respondents wanted a decent broadband connection speaks volumes about homeowners’ changing needs, according to Tayside based solicitors and estate agents Miller Hendry.

Elaine Kerr, Head of Property Services at Miller Hendry, commented:

“It’s more important for househunters to have reliable broadband than it is for them to have a mobile phone signal, according to the findings of gocompare.com’s survey. A good TV signal ranks lower than a broadband connection too. Clearly, homeowners’ needs are changing in parallel with the way people spend their leisure time. Rather than watching traditional TV programmes on a traditional screen, people are streaming films and television on different gadgets.”

Highly rated local schools and properties with period features failed to make the top 20, while home security (70%), offroad parking (58%) and rooms with a bath (57%) feature highly. Only 15% of those surveyed said access to good local schools was an essential factor in buying a new home.

For the full details of the survey go to www.gocompare.com

For further advice or information on property law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk

Your Easter holidays are sorted: visit Perthshire, ranked one of the UK’s coolest counties

There’s no need to hop a flight to Tenerife or a train down south over the Easter holidays. Instead, stay local and soak up the delights of Perthshire, recently ranked as one of the UK’s coolest counties by The Sunday Times.

Perthshire received top billing in The Sunday Times’ Style magazine this week as the newspaper listed the UK’s most fashionable rural retreats.

The Highlands county scored high for its celebrity connections: Crieff-born Ewan McGregor; Alan Cumming, born in Aberfeldy and brought up near Carnoustie, Angus; and J K Rowling, who owns Killiechassie country estate on the banks of the River Tay.  Also mentioned was the fact that Taylor Swift was reportedly eyeing up the Tower of Lethendy near Meikleour.

Star spotting aside, Perthshire has more than its fair share of sweet spots for tourists, and locals, ensuring that it’s not just a cool but a clever place to be. May we recommend:

The Famous Grouse Experience. Located at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, this is Scotland’s oldest working distillery and centuries ahead of the hand crafted movement trend (whisky ingredients are still hand mashed.) It’s also the winner of several tourism awards and fast becoming a must-see for visitors. More at www.thefamousgrouseexperience.com

Perth Concert Hall. State of the art and with some of the finest acoustics in Europe, this is a venue that pushes the envelope with its programming. Upcoming shows included Lulu, Bryan Ferry, Gregory Porter and Voicemale, a collaboration between 71 primary school boys’ choirs, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Christopher Bell. www.horsecross.co.uk

Scone Palace. This historic landmark, which re-opens on Friday 25th March, has it all: history (the crowning place of the King of Scots), stately home grandeur (eat your heart out, Taylor) and a 50th anniversary to celebrate. The first visitor through the gates receives a free season ticket and a bottle of champagne. Don’t miss the Easter Pirate Fun Day, plus ticket offers all season. www.scone-palace.co.uk

Crieff Hydro. Gold star to the hotel for not just being a perfect getaway, but for putting its weight behind the Perthshire Big Tree Country Initiative, a scheme to preserve and promote Perthshire’s countryside. The resort is collecting donations and plans to add information points about the tree species on its sprawling 900-acre estate. www.crieffhydro.com

For more tourist tips visit www.uncoveredscotland.com

Scone Palace celebrates 50 years as one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions

This Friday, Scone Palace will mark half a century since it first became a visitor attraction, by opening its gates to the public for 50th time throughout the summer months. At 10.00am on Friday 25th March, Lady Mansfield of Scone Palace will officially open the Palace to the public and present the first visitor through the gates with a Palace and Grounds Season Ticket (number 20160000001) and a bottle of champagne to mark the special anniversary.

First opening this iconic Palace and Gardens to the public in 1966, Scone Palace is celebrating this 50th anniversary year by offering all visitors throughout 2016 the opportunity to upgrade their Palace and Grounds Entrance Ticket to a Palace and Grounds Season Ticket at no extra charge, meaning visitors can enjoy unlimited entry throughout the season, from March 25th – October 31st, 2016.

The Long Gallery has been spring cleaned, the State Rooms have been aired and dusted, the coffee shop painted and the team are ready to welcome thousands of visitors throughout the summer in this special anniversary year. Margo Baird, Marketing Manager at Scone Palace, commented:

“As one of Scotland’s most beautiful and historic landmarks, we are delighted to be able to celebrate 50 years as a visitor attraction with the public. Scone Palace has welcomed millions of visitors from all over the world in the last 50 years, and we plan to continue welcoming millions of people through our gates for many years to come. We hope visitors will take advantage of our fantastic Palace and Grounds Season Ticket, so they can enjoy returning and make the most of everything we have to offer here.”

As well as officially opening for the season this Friday, Scone Palace is hosting an action packed Pirate Fun Day for families looking for an extra special Easter treat. As extra special Treasure Hunt will take place from 1pm-3pm and a host of activities will be taking place from a Pirate Cannon Game, to traditional dockside rope demonstrations.

To find out more about Scone Palace visit www.scone-palace.co.uk

Golf pro David Murchie named as Chieftain of Crieff Highland Gathering

Golf professional and Crieff resident David Murchie has been named as the Chieftain for the 2016 Crieff Highland Gathering.

David, the Golf Professional for Crieff Golf Club and current Chairman of the PGA, said he was “bowled over” at being asked to head up the annual event, to take place on Sunday 21st August.

A resident of Crieff since 1980 and a long-time ambassador for the Perthshire town, David was born and raised in Auchterarder. After working in local government he became a professional golfer. He has been Head PGA Professional at Crieff Golf Club since 1989. He is midway through a four-year stint as Chairman of the PGA, is former Captain of the PGA in Scotland, and is on the Board of the Ryder Cup Ltd.

David Murchie commented:

“To get this accolade for someone who comes from Auchterarder is really quite something! The Crieff Highland Gathering is a big part of what happens in the summer in Crieff. I know how passionate the locals are about it. You can tell when it’s coming up to the gathering because there’s a buzz in the town in the run-up to it. This event is exactly what it says – a gathering. It’s a meeting of people, and the term gather is a very apt one in that respect.”

Dating back to 1870, Crieff Highland Games is one of Scotland’s longest-running games. Last year, thousands of locals and tourists took to the streets of Crieff to enjoy pipe bands marching past the Square in Crieff, before gathering at the natural amphitheatre in The Market Park for bands, Highland dancing and the traditional Highland Games.

Some of David’s earliest memories are of attending Blackford Highland Games as a young child. He has paid many visits to Crieff Highland Games with his wife Fiona and two children, who are now grown up. His favourite event to watch is tossing the caber. “It’s such a significantly Scottish thing,” he said of the caber event.

Ian Stewart, Chairman of Crieff Highland Gathering, said:

“David has not only been a long-standing servant and friend to the golfing fraternity in Crieff, but has been a real ambassador to the town itself over the last 30 plus years. He deserves this recognition. We at Crieff Highland Games are absolutely delighted that he has accepted our invitation to be Chieftain for 2016.”

For more information about Crieff Highland Gathering visit the website http://www.crieffhighlandgathering.com/

Image: ©Richard Wilkins/Perthshire Advertiser

Renowned Scottish Artist joins Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail

One of Scotland’s most prolific and popular artists, John Lowrie Morrison OBE, is embarking on an art project with a playful twist, as he designs and paints one of the life-sized Oor Wullie sculptures that are set to descend on Dundee for ten weeks this summer to raise money for The ARCHIE Foundation Tayside Appeal.

As the Bucket Trail gathers momentum, it is one of over 50 Oor Wullie sculptures waiting patiently to be uniquely decorated by an array of local and national artists. Organisers The ARCHIE Foundation, along with partners Wild in Art and DC Thomson, have been overwhelmed by the wealth of creative talent, with over 250 designs submitted.

Born and raised in Maryhill, Glasgow, and trained at Glasgow School of Art, John Lowrie Morrison, who also goes by the name Jolomo, worked as a teacher and education adviser in Argyll for 25 years before taking up painting full-time in 1997.

One of Scotland’s most successful and best loved contemporary artists, John is best known for his dramatic and colourful paintings of Argyll and The Hebrides, coasts and croftscapes, as well as capturing the light of the West of Scotland in all its magnificent glory.

John’s work is exhibited all over the UK every year. He was the subject of a retrospective at Clydebank Town Hall Museum & Art Gallery in summer 2013 and a major exhibition at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow in November 2015.He is also the founder of the Jolomo Awards, awarding grants to emerging artists painting the Scottish landscape.

Receiving his OBE for services to art and charity in Scotland in 2011, John has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Dundee’s Abertay University in 2009 and The University of the West of Scotland in 2008 for his significant contribution to Arts and Scottish Culture.

Speaking about the project, John commented:

“I am extremely honoured to be asked to paint one of the Oor Wullie sculptures for The Bucket Trail. Like most folk of my age, Oor Wullie was part of my childhood and I never missed an issue of the Sunday Post or the Oor Wullie Annual! It’s also a privilege to be helping towards raising funds for The Archie Foundation, a wonderful charity which needs to be supported.”

The project is part of The ARCHIE Foundation’s Tayside appeal to raise two million pounds to help create a brand new twin operating theatre surgical suite for the Tayside Children’s Hospital at Ninewells and is set to capture the public’s imagination around Dundee and surrounding areas this summer, before each sculpture is auctioned off at a special auction in Dundee in September.

Cassie Thompson, Head of Fundraising at The ARCHIE Foundation commented:

“We’re delighted that John has joined the Bucket Trail and is designing and painting one of our very special Oor Wullie sculptures. He’s one of Scotland’s greatest artists, creating beautifully unique and colourful paintings and we can’t wait to see what he has in store. This is a fantastic opportunity for artists to showcase their creative talent in a new and exciting way and be part of this special project, raising money for a great cause.”

Dundee was recently recognised as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design, joining cities such as Berlin, Beijing and Buenos Aries for their contribution to the creative arts.

To find out more about Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail, visit www.oorwulliebuckettrail.com

Blimey! Pirates invade Scone Palace this Easter Sunday

Land Ahoy! 18th century pirates are set to land at Scone Palace, the crowning place of Scottish Kings, to recruit some budding young pirates, as the palace plays host to an action packed Pirate Fun Day on Easter Sunday, 27th March.

Visitors can take part in traditional pirate training, with children getting the chance to hear tales from lands a-far, practice their swashbuckling songs and learn how not to end up in Davey Jones’ Locker! Once graduating into their notorious pirate ranks, the new recruits will be asked to join a special quest to locate the famous Scone Palace treasure chest, following their ancient treasure map.

Other activities taking place include a Pirate Cannon Game, traditional dockside rope demonstrations and the treasure hunt taking place at 1pm and 3pm. Opening for the summer season on Easter Friday, 2016 will mark 50 years of welcoming visitors from across the world to Scone Palace.

Margo Baird, Marketing Manager at Scone Palace, commented:

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming families to the Palace and taking part in all the pirate shenanigans we have planned. We’re asking for children to come dressed up in their finest Pirate costume, ready for a day of fun and games. We pride ourselves on offering visitors an unforgettable experience at Scone Palace and I can’t think of a more fun and memorable to spend Easter Sunday!”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Scone Palace is offering all visitors throughout 2016 the chance to upgrade their Palace and Grounds Entrance Ticket to a Palace and Grounds Season Ticket at no extra charge. Visitors can then enjoy unlimited entry throughout the season, from 25th March to 31st October 2016 by filling out a short Season Ticket application form.

With the grounds being invaded by pirates, tThere will be 3 treasure hunting sessions – 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pmhere is also plenty to see inside the Palace, in particular, the Dido Belle – Her Story exhibition of which a Hollywood movie was made about Dido Elizabeth Belle whose famous painting hangs in the Palace’s Ambassador’s Room.

For more information, visit www.scone-palace.co.uk

A taste of the tropics in St. Andrews as aquarium opens The Reef

If you go down to St. Andrews Aquarium this Easter weekend, you’re in for a tropical surprise. The Fife attraction has created The Reef, a spectacular showcase of themed tanks holding 15 different species of tropical and marine fish.

They include Green and Leopard Moray Eels, Pufferfish, Lionfish, Clownfish and Seahorses spread over five brand new exhibits located at the end of the visitor tour.

The aquarium invested approximately £30,000 on The Reef as part of a four-month winter refurbishment. It brought in leading European aquarium company Aquarium Technology Ltd to reproduce the look of tropical waters using replica corals and imitation rocks, with displays that create the feel of walking through a reef.

John Mace, manager of St. Andrew’s Aquarium, commented:

“The Reef really does bring the tropics to St. Andrews and the Fife coast, and we can’t wait to show off our bigger, better collection of tropical and marine life to visitors. It not only reels visitors in but it’s a fabulous experience for them to end their visit on.
“We’re home to more than 100 animals from all parts of the world, making us a go-to for locals and visitors from further afield. The Reef provides an extra reason to visit the Aquarium over Easter and during the school holidays.”

FROM WORLD-FAMOUS PIPER TO GLOBAL WHISKY ICON: STUART CASSELLS SCOOPS TOP AWARD FOR THE FAMOUS GROUSE EXPERIENCE

The Famous Grouse Experience continued its award-winning streak last night with another accolade: Whisky Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year at the Global Icons of Whisky Awards.

The award, organised by Whisky Magazine, was given to General Manager Stuart Cassells on Thursday night for his work in cementing The Famous Grouse Experience, part of the Glenturret Distillery, as one of Scotland’s must-visit destinations.

The founder and former frontman of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Cassells joined The Famous Grouse Experience in 2014 after medical retirement forced him to hang up his bagpipes. After years of travelling the world as a musician and ambassador for Scotland, Cassells turned to promoting Scotland on his home turf as part of Edrington, owner of The Famous Grouse Experience. No stranger to topping the charts, Stuart’s illustrious career as an international musician was itself finely tuned by a winning the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2005.

This latest award is one in what is rapidly becoming a long line of accolades for Scotland’s oldest working distillery, the only place in Scotland to still produce malt whisky using the traditional hand mashing process. In December The Famous Grouse Experience scooped three regional Icons of Whisky Awards: Whisky Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year; Distillery Manager of the Year; and a Highly Commended for Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year. In November The Famous Grouse Experience was voted Best Visitor Experience at the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) Awards. The attraction was also recently listed as the number one sight to see in Crieff on TripAdvisor, the website that features advice from millions of travelers.

The awards, which celebrate whisky producers across the world and acknowledge whisky’s growing strength as an industry, were handed out at black tie event in London on Thursday night. Attending the event, General Manager Stuart Cassells commented:

“After coming to terms with not being able to play the pipes again, this award feels like I’ve completed my transition from music to whisky. This award reflects how hard the team at The Famous Grouse Experience and Glenturret Distillery have worked and I am proud of everyone who has put the distillery on the tourist map, not just nationally but globally. We’re delighted to be helping to boost Scotland’s tourism as a result. It’s an exciting time for whisky and Scottish tourism, and we can’t wait to take Scotland’s oldest working distillery even further as a tourist icon.”

Top soul band Big Vern n the Shootahs makes debut at Perth Beer Festival

One of the UK’s hottest live bands is making its debut at the sixth annual Perth Beer Festival on May 7th, 2016.

Big Vern n the Shootahs, known for their classic soul and funk numbers and a big band sound, have been rocking audiences all over the UK since 1989. The Glasgow-based 9-piece is renowned throughout the live music circuit as the ultimate feel-good party band – perfect for headlining the day of fun, games and beer that’s planned at Perth’s North Inch.

Martin Bell, spokesman for the band, commented:

“We love playing live and we are delighted to get the chance to spread the band’s wings coming to the Perth Beer Festival for the first time.  There really is nothing to compare to a Big Vern n the Shootahs gig. We have the tightest horn players, the best rhythm section, the funkiest guitarist and the best vocals in the business. Perth Beer Festival is an opportunity for a great day out, and we’re just the band to put a smile on people’s faces.”

The beer pumps will be in action from noon on May 7th, pouring out beers from around the country. There will also be a selection of fine wines and a bar, as well as food and refreshments, and a kids’ zone in which pint-sized visitors can run off steam and learn a few rugby moves.

The Festival’s main sponsor is Tan International. Organisers Perthshire Rugby are seeking other sponsors to join them in helping raise money to promote the game of rugby in the community.

Anyone interest in sponsoring the event or in making a donation of goods or services should contact Ros Orr at info@perthbeerfestival.co.uk or visit www.perthbeerfestival.co.uk