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83. Loch Ness Monster and the Man with the Black Face - 13th March 2010

 Nessie in Italian attic mystery

Mystery drawing may have been done by master illusionist

Published P&J: 13/03/2010

Our Loch Ness Monster is famed the world over, and pops up in very strange circumstances from time to time.

Now she has surfaced at the centre of an art mystery in Italy.

This centres around a charcoal drawing dating from 1949, which is described as Loch Ness Monster and Black Man without a Face, and which could possibly have been drawn by famous Dutch artist, MC Escher.

This story of the mystery painting starts in 2005 in Volturara, a small village in the Italian province of Avellino, where traffic police officer Raffaele De Feo lives.

When clearing out his family’s attic, he found what he called “the strange picture”.

Initially he did not take any notice of it, but later, in removing the frame, he sees an inscription on the back of the picture, signed by MC Escher, which reads: “With all my heart to a friendly remembrance.”

Now some Italians are urging art experts to authenticate the work as being done by Maurits Cornelis Escher, nicknamed “Mauk", and contacted the Press and Journal to spread the world that Nessie “lives” in Italy.

Escher (1898-1972) was hailed by many as one of the world's most famous graphic artists. His art is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, as can be seen on the many web sites on the internet. And for several years he lived and travelled in Italy.

He is most famous for his so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, Sky & Water I or Reptiles.


82. Dr Rines dies 2nd November 2009

My own  views of the poor quality of Dr Rines work is contained within these pages. Nevertheless I shall miss him. Webmaster 3rd November.

Robert Rines, inventor who plied murky Loch Ness for creature

rines.jpgEven if Robert H. Rines had never seen what he believed was the hulking hump of a creature break the surface of Scotland's Loch Ness, his life would have captured imaginations and filled a lengthy resume.

Patents on his inventions number more than 80, including those for devices that sharpened the resolution of radar and sonar scanning. He founded Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire and helped push patent and intellectual property law into the legal spotlight. He taught at Harvard and MIT and, along with being a lawyer, had degrees in physics and microwave technology. He also composed music for Broadway and shared an Emmy for a show that ran on TV and the stage.

Then there's the anecdote about an encounter with a man who heard Dr. Rines, then about 11, playing violin at a camp in Maine. Impressed, he asked to borrow a violin and played a duet with the young musician.

"That gentleman turned out to be Albert Einstein," said his wife, Joanne Hayes-Rines. "People just don't have stories like that in their lives."

monster2.jpg A 1975 underwater photo by Rines appears to show the body, flipper, neck, and head of a large animal in Loch Ness.
Few people have lives to match the one lived by Dr. Rines, who died of heart failure Sunday in his Boston home. He was 87 and had spent the past 37 years lending his hefty intellectual bona fides to the search for a creature in the waters of Loch Ness.

"It looked like the back of an elephant," he told the Globe in 1997, recalling that moment in 1972 when he looked out the window of a friend's house in Scotland during a tea party and watched the curve of something he couldn't identify repeatedly disturb the water's surface. "I know there was a big unknown thing in that lake. That's why I haven't let go."

Clinging tightly to a pursuit that many dismissed as a fool's errand inevitably brought detractors, but Dr. Rines shrugged off criticism of his search, which never was rewarded with conclusive proof.

"There are few of us willing to risk our reputations on something as improbable as this, judged with such ridicule," he told Boston Magazine in 1998. "Scientists think there are other things to do for fame and fortune than something this crazy. So we do it quietly as a private venture and don't have to hear that we're 'crazy people chasing monsters and wasting public funds.' "

"Nessie," as the Loch Ness creature is known, was but one of the passions that kept Dr. Rines working at an exhausting pace until a couple of years ago, when a stroke forced his body, if not his mind, to slow down considerably.

"He was still working," his wife said today. "He had a meeting with clients the week before he died."

A significant figure in the fields of intellectual property and patent law, Dr. Rines never lacked for students, lawyers, and clients who wanted his time, teaching, and counsel.

"I think we've lost a tremendous advocate for those who have deep technical training as a first base, and go on to shape law and policy around the globe," said Dedric Carter, assistant dean of engineering at MIT.

"Bob Rines was a true visionary in a field of endeavor -- law -- in which visionaries are in short supply," said John Hutson, dean and president of Franklin Pierce Law Center. "Lawyers tend to look back for guidance, to things like precedent and legislative history. Bob always looked ahead. He steered by the stars, not by the wake."

Born in Boston, Dr. Rines grew up in Brookline, the younger of two children born to two lawyers. He began playing violin at 4 and was so good that many friends were certain he would make music his career.

Instead, he graduated from high school early and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942 with a bachelor's in physics. By his college years, he had begun composing; but World War II was raging, and he joined the Army Signal
Corps as a radar operator.

While serving, he developed the modulation technique used in the military's Microwave Early Warning System. After the war, he worked in the federal patent office while getting a law degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from which he graduated in 1947. In 1972, he completed a doctorate in microwave technology at Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

Dr. Rines initially worked with the Boston law practice run by his father, also a patent attorney. In 1963, he founded the Academy of Applied Science, now based in Concord, N.H., to promote innovation and encourage youths to delve into the sciences. He began teaching, too, and spent about 40 years in classrooms, mostly at MIT.

"He focused on the lawyer who was the engineer, the scientist lawyer," Carter said. "He wanted people who focused not only on the current generation of law and policy but the next generation. His greatest legacy is training a generation of leaders and trying to seed the next generation of lawyers, engineers, and scientists."

Dr. Rines's sideline writing music might have become its own career had he not been busy as an inventor and lawyer. "Drum Under the Windows," a musical adaptation drawn from the work of dramatist Sean O'Casey, drew reviews in 1960 such as one in The New York Times that said, "You won't find anything more eloquent in any theater in town. ... There is joy in every song."

Dr. Rines was married to Carol Williamson, who died in 1993. A couple of years later, he married Joanne Hayes.

"People who would read about him would expect to meet someone who had a great aura about him and maybe was standoffish, unapproachable," his wife said. "He was so far from that. He was one of the most loving and approachable and funny people -- and humble. I think when people are really brilliant, they are humbled by the things they don't know. Even though his accomplishments were amazing, he was still searching."

Hutson said there was "a twinkle in his eye and a puckishness in his demeanor that you don't always see in lawyers."

"I think that's what made him the poet and the composer and the renaissance man that he was," Hutson said. "There were so many facets and sides to Bob Rines that as great a lawyer as he was, and as great an educator, he was more than that. He was fun to be around."

In addition to his wife, Dr. Rines leaves two sons, Justice of New York City and Robert of Concord, N.H.; a daughter, Suzi Rines Toth of Duxbury; a stepdaughter, Laura Hayes-Heuer of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.

 

I trust the Boston Globe will forgive me infringing their copyright on this occasion. Webmaster.


81. Our new Second Life sim is now open ~ 17th April 2009

Do come and see our new simulation of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands. Just click this link to our Second Life Welcome Point. The map is shown below.

Map of the Virtual Scottish Highlands


80. Aleister Crowley Land Sale ~ LAND ONCE OWNED BY SATANIST GOES ON THE MARKET ~ 11th April 2009

A plot of land once owned by the man dubbed the most evil in the world has gone on the market.

The 1.9 acre site at Boleskine Bay, Foyers, has been put on the market for £176,000.

It ws part of an estate owned by self-styled satanist Aleister Crowley, who considered himself the Devil. Crowley, who was world-renowned for his occult and black magic practices, allegedly carried out human sacrifices on children a the remote spot.

He bought Boleskine House, a hunting lodge built by thee Honourable Archibald Fraser, in 1889 and lived there for 20 years.

While the bay has been owned by the same family for 40 years, Crowley's former home at the site was bought in 1971 by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, who was said to be obsessed with Crowley.

The site has planning permission for a three-bedroom log house and includes 140 foot of Loch Ness foreshore which is considered "like gold dust".


79. Murdo the Piper Dies

Loch Ness ‘concrete’ piper dies
Highland News Published:  02 April, 2009. A POPULAR piper who became one of the greatest ambassadors for the Highlands has died in Raigmore Hospital.
Murdo Urquhart (79) played for royalty including the Queen and King Hussein of Jordan. But it is by tens of thousands of summer visitors to Loch Ness he will be best remembered.
Last year, Murdo, of Dunnabban Road in Inverness, earned himself the nickname of the ‘concrete piper’ when he underwent an operation which involved having a bone cement compound in the vertibrae of his spine so he could continue his playing career.
A colourful character, he regaled tourists with his playing at the lochside and performed all over the world.
He will be buried in his home village of Gairloch on Saturday in full Highland dress with his pipes by his side.
Speaking from his home yesterday, Mr Urquhart’s eldest daughter Pat Macaskill (53) paid tribute to ‘a special person’.
‘He was such a great man, always happy to see anybody from the family,’ she said. ‘He always kept the table set, just in case anyone popped in. It’s such a huge loss and we will all miss him terribly.’
She explained that her dad loved telling stories about his Highland heritage to foreigners and lived for playing the pipes.
‘He just loved being around people and making them happy. The pipes were his life and last year, before his operation to his vertebrae, he was devastated at the thought of not being able to play again. But of course he came out the other end and continued to play up until the end.’
The plucky pensioner believed the spinal injury was caused when he worked as a gamekeeper as a young man.
He was retrieving a dead stag from the hillside on Strathconon estate when it slipped off a pony and he twisted his back.
The injury finally caught up with him and Murdo thought he was going to be confined to a wheelchair.
But doctors at Raigmore Hospital came up with a solution. Liquid cement was used to fill cracks in his vertebrae and Murdo joked his pals had begun calling him the concrete piper.
Director of Loch Ness Marketing Willie Cameron, of the Clansman Hotel, said: ‘He will be sorely missed. He was a real character. He was always resplendently dressed and was a great advert for Scotland. He was a handsome chap who will also be missed by the thousands of visitors who used to see him each year.’Murdo being filmed by In Search Off at Webmaster's home

The photo above was taken when Murdo was piping for the In Search Of team at the Webmaster's house. Murdo had at least one sighting. His piping scared our cats completely off the property.

78. SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HUGH GRAY PCITURE - THE FIRST PICTURE EVER TAKEN OF THE LOCH NESS MONSTER 12TH NOVEMBER 2008

The very first picture of Nessie, supposedly, was taken by Hugh Gray on 12th November 1933. While the picture is very indistinct, some believe it could just be Mr Gray’s Labrador Dog swimming towards the camera … with the help of some camera shake.75th anniversary of the first pictue of the Loch Ness Monster


Still from the Dinsdale Film77. MORE ON THE DINSDALE FILM

I was recently challenged about the object obviously not being a boat because it submerged as it approached the far side of the loch. In fact this can be shown to not be the case. This image contains a dark band running up the left hand side of the object. This band is the same shade of grey as the object itself.

Note how it vanishes at the top showing that the object did not submerge, but was just lost in the greys of the darker water. I hope that puts that particular argument to rest. Naked Science's methods used on the sequence parallel to the shore adequately put that to bed too.


76. SO AMAZING I HAD TO PUT IT HERE - ARE YOU IN THE 55%?

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghi t pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs tlel frenids to try it out.

75. SECOND SCOTLAND, LOCH NESS

As a major new venture, we have developed an exciting region within Second Life called SCOTLAND, LOCH NESS.

SECOND LIFE SCOTLAND, LOCH NESSWithin it we have created a simulated Loch, surrounded by croft houses and other attractions including a fully detailed Loch Ness Exhibition, a complete Story of Scotland Exhibition and, after months of work, a fully working on-line version of Nessie Hunt which you can play free and win thousands of in-world dollars to spend on clothes, games, jewellery and in-world property.

If Second Life is new to you, it is the most exciting networking site you will ever find. Think of the Sims game and then replace the computer simulated characters with REAL people. Everyone in Second Life is a real person (with one or two exceptions ... in world "search engine characters") from all walks of life.Character Avatars in Scotland, Loch Ness The picture below shows a number of avatars, real people, in their Second Life forms. Gerald Wylie is on the left!

When you join, which is completely free of charge, you choose an in-world name and avatar (simulated person). After a short session training where you learn how to move, change your appearance, put on or change clothes, buy things, fly ... yes fly, etc. you move into the main simulated world which often has more than 50,000 people in-world at any one time. Come and find me in-world and we can have a real time chat!

Within this simulated world thousands of people have created their own environments for others to share. My SECOND SCOTLAND is very realistic and is meant to give you a real feel for the country, but some areas are more fanciful. Others are pure fantasy and some areas are private, owned by large companies or political organisations etc.Loch Ness Exhibition in Second Life

As may be expected, sex has crept into this world, but despite some bad press a few months ago, you will encounter sex and violence in Second Life no more than you encounter it on the Internet. Simply if you want it you will find it. Most places, like most Internet sites, have nothing to do with it yet they all get tarred with the same brush. Don't be put off by journalists who try to find the worst in anything new and then sensationalise it. My own SECOND SCOTLAND LOCH NESS is in a PG area which means you are 100% safe within it.

Story of Scotland Exhibition in Second LifeJoining Second Life couldn't be simpler and its FREE! But when you join, if you say you were recommended by my in-world character "Gerald Wylie" then, when you come to see my SECOND SCOTLAND LOCH NESS, you will get a free NESSIE HUNT tee-shirt and fashion jeans for your avatar to wear! To find me in-world, cut and paste this Second Life URL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Spectre/52/168/47, but only when you are actually in-world.

Why not go along and join now. Just click this Second Life Website link ... and remember "Gerald Wylie" recommended you. That way we get a $1 towards our costs.

29th February 2008 - see update at no. 81


74. Water Horse - the film. 

I have been approached by the distributors to provide readers with the following streaming links to the film trailers:

Windows

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_330k.asx

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_850k.asx

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_1500k.asx

Real Player

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_330k.ram

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_850k.ram

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_1500k.ram

QuickTime

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_330k.mov

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_850k.mov

http://ukpress.waytoblue.com/media/video/waterhorse_trailer_1500k.mov

Enjoy.Watch this space!


73. Scottish National Party Win A Simple Majority In The Scottish Parliament. 

Alex Salmond - SNP LeaderAmazing. After centuries of domination by England since our own king, James VI, gave away our independence to a greater Britain, the second step has been taken on the road back to freedom. The first being the formation of the Scottish parliament in 1997.

Watch this space!


72. Latest Sighting of the Loch Ness Monster 27th March 2007 

HIGHLAND NEWS 14TH APRIL: English holidaymaker thinks he may have taken the first picture of the season of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
Sidney Wilson was in the city with his wife Janet when they decided on a cruise down the loch to take in the sights.

And it was as they approached Urquhart Castle that he ended up taking his photograph.

Sidney, who comes from Nottingham, said: "I was just taking pictures of everything as we sailed down the loch."As we approached the castle, two power boats appeared and circled us at speed, leaving a large wash in their wake. "Thinking that it would make a good photograph, I fired off two quick shots and on the second, there appeared to be something in the water."

After enlarging the image, Sidney could swear he could see a head and fin in the boat's wash. "After showing the image to staff at the National Hotel in Dingwall, they advised us to contact the Highland News," he added.

The sighting took place on Tuesday, March 27.

Although he realised that the boats had created a wake, he didn't seem to appreciate how much turbulence that creates. In my view it was just disturbed water. I've seen it often.


71. Check Out the Inverness Titanic website. 

Many passengers on my tours have seen the giant Titanic model in a local resident's garden on the B

eauly approach to Inverness. I have just discovered that he has a website so check it out and send some support to him.

www.TitanicInverness.com


70. One of our cats is starring on YouTube.com


69. Strong Winds Spoil Hogmanay ... but not in Drumnadrochit!

With both Edinburgh and Glasgow having to cancel their Hogmanay celebrations, the sheltered village of Drumnadrochit managed to stage a very credible event for its established annual street party. Well done to the organisers who battled

against horizontal rain as midnight approached.


68. Heavy Rainfall in the Highlands - December 2006

Once again climate change is having its effect on the Highlands. No snow at all, but very wet and this causes minor flooding in the Great Glen, although some places like Dingwall had more serious problems.

Click for video of the River Ness from the Ness Islands: video/rivernessinspate.avi. The shrubs in the foreground are usually on the banks of the river. Note that this video may take several minutes to download.

While watching the river we saw a seal break surface on several occasions, but, I'm afraid, we failed to get any video of it. Perhaps it doesn't exist!!

67. New Tour Business Launched December 2006

We have just launched our new Inverness Excusive Tours website. Details here: www.InvernessTours.com.

66. Hard Drive Failure 6th September 2006

Owing to an exceptional power surge at 06.50 we lost a hard drive which contained all emails sent to us between 07.00 on 5th September and the time of  the power surge. If you sent us something important during that period please send it again. Our Discover Loch Ness ticketing server was unaffected. 


65. Bird Flu Fizzles Out 1st July 2006

The isolated case found in Fife now appears to have been a stray wild bird and there have been no further cases.  


63. Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

I don't normally use this area for off-subject items, but I have always been a great fan of Douglas Adams and remember H2G2 with great fondness, the books, the TV series and the radio series.

On the evening of 4th February 2006 we watched the film version. Stoically we sat through well over an hour of absolute rubbish. It had no humour in it, the book had as good as vanished. Readings from the book were rushed and edited. The characters were too believable - somehow they had missed the total insanity of Adams' writing! The special effects were either unnecessarily elaborate (planets) or even worse than the TV series (the Vogons). Sections were so severely edited that the storyline had been made unintelligible and scenes were obviously rushed to keep the film length down i.e. in the pub, outside the house, the book's explanation of the Babel Fish and many, many other aspects. 

If, like me, you loved Douglas Adams and his writing, for goodness sake avoid this  film. It was awful and so, so disappointing. See also www.DouglasAdams.com and www.h2g2.com


61. Naked Science Documentary going out in the USA w/c 8th November 2005.

I have just spotted that there is a documentary going out in the USA in the next week or so, but we cannot get it in the UK. I'd be interested to know peoples' opinions of it 

and what it contains.


59. Nessie Hunt For Christmas?

Just a reminder to passengers that Christmas is approaching and  if you'd like a copy of my Loch Ness game to arrive overseas, you need to order as soon as possible. By 1st November for overseas surface mail. By 5th December for overseas air mail and UK parcel post. Click here: NESSIE HUNT!


58. Dr Rines' In The News Again!

Early reports of Rines finding Nessie's flesh were found to be rather exaggerated. 

This is the man who will not admit the flipper and gargoyle head pictures were fake and mistake respectively.

His latest expedition has recovered material from the loch bed which is likely to be organic, but not animal. I'll report further on it here when there is an official release, but, in the meantime, can reassure everyone that it is unlikely to be a significant development in Rines' crusade to prove that Nessie is some sort of huge predator!  It doesn't take a brain sturgeon to realise that the latest news is yet another premature release to hype up his work!

Must admit it is good for business though! An early picture of Rines working from the search vessel Hunter is shown on the left.


57. Richard Fitter dies aged 92.

The Loch Ness Phenomenon Investigation Bureau was founded by David James MP, Sir Peter Scott (founder World Wildlife Fund, now Worldwide Fund for Nature), Constance Whyte (More Than A legend) and Richard Fitter, a prominent naturalist. Mr Fitter, the last survivor of the four died September 3rd 2005 aged 92. I regret that although I had dealings with Sir Peter Scott and became a friend of David James, I never had the honour of meeting Richard Fitter.

Richard Fitter was a broad naturalist and wanted to popularise the understanding of the natural world. He was born on 1st March 1913.

He wrote London's Natural History; London's Birds; British Birds In Colour; The Pocket Guide To Wild Flowers (with David McClintock); The Ark In Our Midst; Guide To Bird Watching and others in collaboration with his wife and Sir Peter Scott.

He was also director of the intelligence unit of The Council of Nature.

When he became involved in the Loch Ness Investigation it was a brave thing for a reputable scientist to do for others had lost their posts for lesser involvement.

The LNIB was an important step forward in research at the loch. Its comprehensive surface surveillance operations did not achieve a great deal, but eliminated that method of research. It also taught us that if monsters disported themselves at the surface in the way and with the regularity which eye witnesses had claimed, then the mystery would have been solved long ago.

The bureau's founders wanted to see the investigation pushed forward and, without a doubt, surface surveillance needed to be fully explored. Later it moved into an underwater search under directors such as Professor Roy Mackal. Richard Fitter's contribution was certainly important.


56. Hurricane.

Our sympathies go to those experiencing the total disruption of their lives in the southern USA. We have already received tour cancellations from people who have lost relatives or friends who were to be travelling with them. This really brings home the scale of the disaster and the huge numbers involved. Hopefully they can get back to some sense of normality as soon as possible. 


54. Multiple Land Sighting and Stunning Photograph - added 7th August 2005

Anyone spending time on this site will know that I gave land sightings of the monster no credibility whatsoever, but something has happened to change all of that.

A couple on holiday, Barbara and Tony Stone had the most amazing experience the other day. They had the first ever multiple sighting on land of Loch Ness monsters. I must admit that I thought it was a joke until they showed me the picture.

I have studied it carefully and can see no sign of any tampering. Whether or not it is a hoax I'll let you judge. We may even consider computer enhancement to see if we can bring up any more detail. Even Adrian Shine can't deny that this is a real picture.

The picture is shown on the right. If you have difficulty viewing this sort of file just click on it for a standard version.


53. Dan Scott Taylor 1940 - 2005.

It is with great regret that I must announce that Dan Scott Taylor died of complications after surgery on Saturday 23rd July 2005.

For some years Dan had been working towards his lifelong ambition to return to Loch Ness with a really effective submarine and finish the work he started using Viperfish in 1969.

Unfortunately, Dan didn't make the best financial decisions when he first started to plan his new expedition and money which could have been used to seek professional sponsorship was apparently squandered by a third party.

By the time of my own involvement in late 1999 there was insufficient funding to complete the project and although we had some interest in a brief I produced in early 2000, big bucks were needed to permit funding to be chased in earnest. The brief cover is shown to the left. Dan always hated the over-sized propeller it depicted, although it actually matched Dan's hand drawn sketch almost exactly. His lack of proper technical drawings was always one of the drawbacks in seeking a sponsor.

Dan had continued since then to work away on completing the Nessa sub so that all that would remain would be the logistical costs and I had made some headway on them already. The lack of a certain completion date was the main stumbling block.

I never actually met Dan, but we had many, many long telephone conversations and I feel a distinct loss of someone who was obviously a real gentleman. I would have liked to have worked with him.

I remember one conversation when he told me that the sub would be capable of more than twenty knots. I expressed concern that running into one of the side walls could cause a catastrophe. He replied that he "had sonar". When he realised I was still very concerned he reassured me by saying that he had built in a crumple zone! 

Such was Dan's great optimism that no obstacle would stand in his way. Well it appears that the ultimate obstacle, has finally stilled his progress. I am sure he would have brushed aside any lesser barrier, such was his determination.

I am sure many of the old school of Loch Ness research will really miss him and his boundless enthusiasm for his project. 

There is a touching poem on his website which is: http://www.NessaExpedition.com/index.html. There is more about the Nessa Project in my old Inquirer pages which can be found here: Loch Ness Evidence

Goodbye Dan.


52. Caetano Problems in April 2005.

Some of our passengers were inconvenienced on a few days in April when we had the most amazing problem with our purpose-equipped Toyota Caetano.

The unexpected closure of our usual filling station and a number of other reasons which are not important to go into, we had run low on fuel (no passengers on board) and the bus coughed once and we stopped immediately. A can was used to add diesel and the bus started first time. It did not need priming or any other attention.

However, it began a number of weeks of problems because the vehicle kept unexpectedly and randomly dropping into "safe mode" which means engine revolutions were automatically restricted. This was very inconvenient for us as guides, although it didn't actually disrupt any tours and would not have been noticed by the passengers.

Caetano asked us to remove the fuel pump and take it 500 miles overnight to Northampton where it was checked and discovered to require more than £2,000 worth of replacement parts! It later turned out that there was nothing wrong with it except that it was badly reassembled after cleaning by the Northampton company.

Having to remove the pump and wait for a new one required us to hire in PCV vehicles and, with the agreement of the Vehicle Inspectorate, some tours had to be conducted in a non-PCV Convoy vehicle similar to the one in which we won our four stars in 2001. Pic below!

It is priority in our business that we maintain standards and as well as providing partial refunds for everyone, we also hired in portable PA equipment and offered full refunds to anyone who felt the standard of our tour had dropped. We also offered passengers the opportunity to cancel and go with our competitors. No one did this.

Despite the problems on those days, our visitors' book was full of glowing testaments to the quality of what we provide. I was particularly pleased when a passenger told me that it is the way things are handled when something goes awry which really demonstrates the quality of the management and staff of any business.

In the end the problem was pinned down to a fault with the Caetano's accelerator pedal and its connection to the on-board computer. Once that was replaced the problem disappeared. We'd had to spend a small fortune removing and replacing a perfectly good diesel pump for no reason whatsoever.

We mention this here partly to make other users of the Caetano aware of what occurred, but also so that we can never be criticised for not mentioning the extremely rare occasions when we cannot provide world class service to our passengers.

We did have a further problem and we are planning to produce a page about those mechanical problems, which are now, thankfully, resolved.


51. Sympathies to the victims of terrorism, poor government and poverty everywhere.

The dreadful events in London on Thursday 7th July brings to mind that we should all feel for victims of oppression, terrorism and poverty wherever they are in the world. It is only when it happens in your own country that you can really understand the horror others are experiencing in their own countries worldwide, sometimes on a daily basis. 


49. Frank Searle, notorious hoaxer dies.

Frank Searle has died. I shall put the detail up here when I have time. 


48. Danny Alexander

Those of you from overseas may not be aware that we had a General Election here on May 6th 2005. Boundary changes meant 

that our sitting MP, leader of the Liberal Party, Charles Kennedy, was no longer in our constituency.

I remember Charles as a fresh-faced young man in the early eighties and our new MP, Danny Alexander seems to be in the same mould and I wish him luck. 

The picture on the right shows Charles Kennedy at the official opening of my Heritage Exhibition at Fort Augustus Abbey in 1993. The exhibition used Sony Walkmans to present the history of Scotland which we now narrate on our tour. On the right is the late Abbot of Fort Augustus, Dom Mark Dilworth OSB with Archbishop Keith O'Brien, now a Cardinal and head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.


47. 25th Anniversary!

I am writing this on the evening of 3rd May 2005 which is a quarter of a century exactly after I opened the Loch Ness Exhibition in buildings to the rear of the old Drumnadrochit Hotel. The biggest mistake of my life was not employing a lawyer to look after my intellectual property and I have regretted it ever since.

The exhibition quickly developed into the most successful private tourist attraction in the Highlands and in 1989 we moved the presentation into the old Drumnadrochit Hotel building which had been damaged by a fire in 1984. Adrian Shine consulted on this new exhibition and it was my job to ensure that he was not too negative. This always sat uneasily with me as it actually meant the exhibition was lying about the Surgeon's picture and others.

In 1990 I left the centre to become a poor, but honest businessman.

Today, as I watch many businesses making money at the centre I established I certainly have regrets, but you have to move on and that is what I have done. 

It would be nice for my name to one day join that of the man I made wealthy on a "Co-Founded by" plaque, but I don't hold my breath for it as all mention of me has been methodically expunged from the site, even though I hold the copyright to certain photographs being used. Perhaps one day.


45. Drumnadrochit Pub Wins Award

CAMRA have voted the Benleva Hotel, Drumnadrochit as their Highland Pub of the Year for 2005. The Benleva also won this award in 2003, but this time it is more prestigious owing to the increasing number of establishments serving cask-conditioned ale in the Highlands - around 150 at the last count and still rising. The award reflects the fact that the Benleva consistently sells excellent quality ale, primarily from the many Highland breweries, to complement their high quality food. 

Click here for CAMRA and Benleva Hotel.


43. The High Street Banks - they don't just think we are stupid, but they also treat us as if we're stupid. The trouble is that we still stay with them, so, let's face it, we must be stupid!

I normally keep these news items relevant to Loch Ness or Scotland in general, but a recent letter from Halifax Bank of Scotland really cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

In writing to us about our mortgage, they state, "Rather than pass our costs on to all our customers through increased interest rates, we feel that it is fairer to pass them on to the individual requesting the service. This means that you only pay for the services you receive."

This letter then advised that in future revaluation fees would be based on the property value rather than the amount of the mortgage. This means that a person with a small mortgage is subsidising those with large mortgages - sounds really fair doesn't it?

The property re-inspection fee is increasing by a huge 27% (inflation is 2%)!

A replacement annual mortgage statement charge will increase by a massive 50%!

Requesting a current mortgage statement charge will increase by a whopping 200%!

If you request a certificate of mortgage interest, previously free it will now cost £20.

If the bank's consent to any legal documents is needed, previously free, it will now cost £75.

What the letter did not tell us was how much we would be saving in interest charges. The paragraph in italics clearly implies a saving, does it not?

Of course we all know that to all intents and purposes the bank is apparently lying through its teeth for the following reasons:

Halifax Bank of Scotland profits are now in the billions of pounds. They make these profits by ripping off their customers as follows:

It is about time the people rebelled against this callous and uncaring attitude towards them. We are treated despicably by these High Street banks.

And, do they really need to lie about these extra charges? When I am notified about our interest rate reducing as implied by the recent letter I will, of course, report back to this page.

I somehow imagine that we'll be ducking low flying pigs as we break the ice in hell before that will occur!

Apologies to all except the bank for this rant. It takes a lot to get me so annoyed as this!

Postscript: On 31st March I called into the bank to make a small deposit in my personal account and had to wait to find parking in the ridiculously small parking area (how did they get planning permission for a bank in their Longman location with so few parking spaces?). When I finally got into the bank I found a queue of about eight people waiting in the non-business section and about six in the business section - THAT, of course, is why there is no parking. I was told this was because it was lunchtime. Obviously a "Bank Manager's lunchtime" as it was nearly 2.30pm!

Eventually the lady in front of me was asked what she wanted. She had about four bags of silver that she wanted to change to a banknote. She was asked if she was with the bank and when she said "no" she was summarily sent on her way. The member of  staff told her, "We only take change from our own customers."

What a crass and typical banking attitude! This person and everyone she talks to about this event, will forever have a bad feeling towards the Bank of Scotland yet a simple piece of customer service (actually just best business practice) could have had a really feel-good effect:-. "We usually only take change from our own customers, but as you have been waiting in a queue (of our making), for so long we will do it on this occasion."  Would that have hurt the bank? Would that have been too much trouble for the staff? Would that have upset the customer behind her? No, because that customer was me and I would far rather have seen some real customer service and wait a minute longer than the despicable rejection of this poor lady. What way is that to behave towards anyone?

Where do these multi-billion pound businesses get off being so obnoxious? Can you figure it out? I certainly can't! Pig ignorant.


42. Storms & Floods Hit Loch Ness

We have had a very wet start to the new year. By 6th January the level of water in Loch Ness had risen by at least five feet (1.6m) meaning that all of the harbours and jetties were submerged and our tour could not offer any boat trips. Things were back to normal on Friday 14th January.Boats tied up in Urquhart Bay

This was coupled with gale force winds on the Tuesday and we had to cancel the tour on Wednesday on the advice of the police. The gales plus the high water means that all of the boats in this picture were flooded and sunk. No doubt they will be OK though.

However, if you are visiting the area let me assure you that this is not normal for Loch Ness and we often get just great weather, even in January and February ... just don't expect to be sitting outside sunbathing unless you're an Eskimo!


41. Andrew Tullis's Documentary

Andrew has been commissioned to come up with a new documentary for Channel Four.

I met him today and he tells me Steve Feltham is fine and will be back at the loch soon.


40. Steve Feltham Setback

Apparently Steve had his mobile research station at Dores vandalised. Currently he is having a break in the south of Britain, but says he will be back as soon as he can. He does not want to comment on any reasons why his HQ was damaged, but says it is not as bad as reports had suggested. 


39. Inverness Tourism Awards 2004.

We have been amazed and delighted to learn that we won "Best Visitor Attraction" at the Inverness Tourism Awards in November 

2004. This is an extraordinary and unprecedented compliment to our tour as no tour has ever won a Visitor Attraction award previously. We beat some fabulous visitor centres to this award and if you are wondering how a tour can be voted "Best Tourist Attraction" then all we can say is that you must get out of your car and find out! Sadly too many visitors seem to be attached to their cars by a bungee cord, but you must get out of your car for a boat trip or to visit a castle, museum, visitor centre or even a shop ... so why not get out to take our history and heritage tour and cruise? 

At the award ceremony it was said that they had been inundated with praise from all over the world for our guide Alison Cameron who certainly put in most of the work last summer. We have also had letters of congratulations from other visitor centres and from the Scottish Tourist Board.

The winner of the award in 2003 was Urquhart Castle who had over two and half million pounds to spend on their production so we are in excellent company. 

In 2003 we were the first tour to be awarded five Scottish Tourist Board stars and in 2001 we were the first Highland tour to gain four stars. 

We're still striving for perfection which can only be good for our visitors in the future.

Added 8th December 2004.


36. Father Abbot Mark Died - 1st March 2004

Further to the item below Fr Mark has died.

On 5th March I joined a surprisingly small number of local people for the Abbot's funeral Mass at the the small RC church in Fort Augustus which now occupies what was once the Abbey's backpackers lodge.

Among those present was the new Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation and, most inappropriately, Fr Francis Davidson who was the individual responsible for closing the monastery at Fort Augustus. It was nice to see Ronnie Mackay there who told me that the new owners are spending substantial sums on the buildings which may see them saved.  

As I assisted the abbot into his grave I could not help but think about what might have been.

See Fort Augustus Abbey for details of what happened to the abbey in the fateful nineties.


35. Father Abbot Mark Dilworth Seriously Ill - 9th January 2004

I was recently talking to Fr Nicholas of Downside Abbey who was the accounts manager at Fort Augustus Abbey during the time of the visitor centre, and he was telling me that he had been to see Fr Mark in Edinburgh and he is very poorly and has now lapsed into unconsciousness with a brain tumour.

I consider Fr Mark to be a true friend and an honest and upright person with total integrity. I am sure everyone who knows him will join me in my sadness over his illness. 

He is shown in the photograph in his beloved cloisters at Fort Augustus Abbey with Archbishop Keith O'Brien who has since become a Cardinal.

Fr Mark's heart was broken when the abbey closed in 1998 though when I spoke to him a couple of years ago he had become more philosophical about it and admitted to enjoying some aspects of his new life in Edinburgh.

An expert on mediaeval monasticism he taught me a great deal in my time at the abbey.


33. Dr Rines' Academy Team Success

Those who have studied this site will be aware that I have a dim view of Dr Rines' work at the loch, particularly 

during the 1970s.Loch Ness from Borlum Bay Fort Augustus

However, recently by accident, his team discovered evidence that Loch Ness may have been open to the sea after the last Ice Age.

Previous work by the Loch Ness Project had found no marine diatoms in the sediments of Loch Ness, but these sediments only date back close to 10,000 years.

The Academy find dates to about 12,800 years ago, although there is some dispute as to whether this may have been 125,000 years ago.

If the latter then the find is irrelevant as the loch was fully glaciated after 125,000 years ago.

If the former, however, it is a little more interesting as it may mean that there was a salt water incursion after the main period of glaciation.

There is a problem though.

Loch Ness in the winterThe Loch Ness Project work indicates that although the main glacier had shrunk away, there was then a very cold spell of climate between 11,000 years ago when the surface of the loch would have been frozen solid for much of the year and certainly throughout the winter. No air-breathing creature could have survived  this.

Then, around 10,000 years ago there was a cataclysmic flood which was caused by an ice plug, which had been blocking the entrance to Glen Roy, breaking up and allowing a huge lake to escape. This lake would have washed through Loch Ness in a catastrophic way, washing out anything of any size in the loch and, simultaneously clearing out any evidence of the sea entering the loch.

Whatever the actual sequence of events, that large air-breathing animals came into the loch after the ice age when the loch was open to the sea and continued to survive through the Lomond advance (the cold period about 11,000 years ago) and the Glen Roy flood is as near impossible as the classic Nessie image!

Nice to see Dr Rines presenting some real science for a change, however. What a pity he still will not admit the errors from the seventies as well. I fear the ageing Dr Rines is missing an opportunity to be seen by everyone at the loch as a real credit to the search. Why do people find it so hard to say, "Sorry, I was wrong."?

Regarding myself, I have told many people on the tour that the sea didn't enter Loch Ness after the last ice age, well, sorry, that information was wrong! Now how about you Dr Rines. Admit the retouching of the flipper and the garbage of the gargoyle head. Get it out of the way and earn some real respect.

Now be prepared to duck ... there could be some low-flying pigs heading this way!


32. MICROSOFT AND THE $25 CAR WHICH DOES 1,000 MILES PER GALLON

The following amused me recently:

At a recent computer expo Bill Gates, comparing the computer industry with the auto industry, said, "If General Motors had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

General Motors issued this response:

"If we had developed technology akin to Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics.

"For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you'd have to buy a new car.

"Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would accept this. I would like to add that when it did restart, you would find yourself back where you had been three hours earlier!

"Occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

"Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would only run on 5% of the roads.

"The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.

"The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?" before deploying during an accident.

"Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

"Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car. I'd like to add that you would then have to spend hour upon hour reinstalling your old map books, chamois leather, cassette tapes, back support and anything else you had removed from your old car and wanted to continue to use in the new one.

"You'd have to press the Start button to turn the engine off."

I was recently contacted by email to the following effect:

Hi Tony,
I wanted you you know how much I enjoyed the site.  Also, the photography is beautiful!

You did mention that you would appreciate a note re: any inaccuracies.  I'm not sure if the article on Bill Gates vs. General Motors was supposed to be real or a joke.  I thought you presented it as fact.  I checked it out through Google and found it on many joke sites, and could not find it on any sites that discussed the talks at the last couple of COMDEX meetings. If you put it on your site as humor, I apologise.  If you thought it was true, you might want to revise it.
Thanks again for your very interesting website and good luck with your business.
Cheryl Murray
USA

Can anyone else throw any light on the accuracy of this item. It appeared in the British Daily Mail so I assumed it was real, perhaps not!


31. NEW DOCUMENTARY ON BBC ONE ON SUNDAY 27TH JULY 2003

In 2002 a BBC documentary team spent three days filming passengers on our Discover Loch Ness tour. The plan was that Adrian Shine would stage an event where an object would emerge from the loch. My tour groups, unaware that it was going to happen, would then describe what they saw.

On the first day an hilarious situation arose because a German student realised what was happening. On the second day no one saw anything, but on the last day there were some interesting results.

Interestingly the BBC asked me to tame down my "truth about the monster" presentation so as to have passengers in the "right mood" which was a little disappointing and the bulk of the experiment ended up on the cutting room floor. Still, the lady from Texas had the classic line, "So I've come all this way to see the Loch Ness stick!".

Those viewers who had been on my tour will note that they lost the opportunity to mention the other great Nessie candidate which is a shame. They seemed to have decided it is not a plesiosaur therefore it is nothing which is a bit sad. See the "Candidates" subsection of the "Evidence" section of the "Mystery" index for some other solutions.

The bus shown in the documentary was replaced earlier this year see news item 27 & 16.

I heard about the transmission date very late, so sorry to all those who did not get an email from me. I will send out an email when I know the Discovery Channel broadcast date.


30. DISCOVER LOCH NESS TOUR AWARDED A PRESTIGIOUS FIFTH STAR

On 1st July 2003, incognito, two Scottish Tourist Board inspectors took our guided tour. Alison Cameron was guiding at the time.

Since taking the decision to purchase our new bus, see news item number 27, we have been working extremely hard to obtain an additional star, having been given four stars in September 2001.

As part of our improvements we now show some archive video on the bus to help tell the true story of Loch Ness. 

In addition we have written a twenty page guide book, following the general tour content. This has been translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish. These are provided free of charge to people who have those languages as their main or second language.

We also now provide a quiz book for under-sixteen year old children.

Although achieving five stars with a comfortable margin, our objective is to continue improving what we provide to the public and to become the tour that others are judged by.

Many thanks too, to all of the people who have recommended our tour to the various British, Scottish and Highland guide books. 


29. PRIME MINISTER RANIL WICKREMESINGHE AND HIS WIFE VISIT LOCH NESS

Tony with Mr & Mrs Wickremesinghe on the steps of Culloden House HotelTony Harmsworth was extremely honoured to have been chosen to guide Mr and Mrs Ranil & Maithree  Wickremesinghe on their recent visit to the Highlands. Mr Wickremesinghe is the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The tour was on Thursday 26th June 2003 and incorporated Tony's usual Discover Loch Ness Tour plus his planned new Discover Wilderness Tour to Glen Affric.

[The picture at left shows Tony with the Prime Minister and his wife on the steps of Culloden House Hotel. This house has hosted royalty and is built on the remains of a house where Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed before the battle of Culloden in 1746.]

Contact was originally made through the High Commission and an itinerary drawn up which would give Mr and Mrs Wickremesinghe the opportunity to experience the best of the Highlands in as short a time as possible.

One of the problems when visiting the Highlands is that there is a tendency to try to do too much. Friends and relations tell you dozens of places you "must see", but when time is limited to a single day it is important to ensure 

that as much variety as possible in scenery, heritage, natural history and folklore etc. is encompassed within a short drive or time can quickly be lost trying to cover great distances.The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and his wife with Robbie Bremner

After leaving Culloden House Hotel we went to Muirton Basin where there was an opportunity to view the staircase of locks used to raise boats on the Caledonian Canal from the docking area to almost the height of Loch Ness. As luck would have it we saw not just the system of locks working, but also the swing bridge in operation.

From here we went to Dochgarroch where the main lock is situated which controls the level of water in the main stretch of canal. 

On the Wellington Beach Tony did his famous presentation on the truth about Loch Ness, before we moved on to the Loch Ness 2000 exhibition where they were greeted by managing director, Robbie Bremner, son of Tony's former partner at the centre. [Picture at right.]

Adrian Shine with the Prime Minister of Sri LankaNext a lunch at Urquhart Castle where a private room was provided and Willie Cameron of the Loch Ness Coffee Company "addressed the haggis" for the couple alone.

By kind permission of Jacobite Cruises, the Loch Ness Project Research Vessel, Deepscan, collected the party from the castle jetty and Adrian Shine F.R.G.S explained the more recent project work on the environment, fish populations, water chemistry and climate change.

From here we headed for Glen Affric so that Mr and MrsThe Honorable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and his wife enjoy a peaceful walk in Glen Affric Wickremesinghe could enjoy a quiet walk in Scotland's most beautiful glen.

Glen Affric has one of Scotland's last stands of Caledonian, or Scots, Pine. It was saved from extinction at the last minute and is now cared for by Forest Enterprise. Many of the trees in the glen are granny pines and they stand in spectacular surroundings beside rivers and waterfalls.

At various places along the glen even VIPs with the most serious security issues are able to relax and feel that they are really on holiday, for, when all is said and done, this was a private visit by Mr and Mrs Wickremesinghe and their own personal holiday.

After watching some deer on the road from Mullardoch they returned to their hotel for dinner in one of the Highlands most exclusive hotels.


28. WEBCAMS CLOSED DOWN

Scotland on Line have closed down their two webcams. Other cams can be found on our links page. News item dated 11th May 2003.


27. NEW BUS 2003

We have finally taken the plunge and purchased a slightly larger vehicle with 26 seats. Our Discover Loch Ness Tour has become increasingly popular and we are fully booked most days. It would be tempting to go for a much larger vehicle, but we intend to concentrate on maintaining the intimate and personal nature of the tour, especially when some of our competitors are going for pre-recorded commentaries and whistle-stop speeds.

The new bus will represent absolute luxury and in addition to our guides' new mikes.

To book the tour click on the "Loch Ness Tour" button above. You can save £1 on most tickets by booking on line through our secure server or, alternatively, through PayPal.

The picture shows the bus parked above Urquhart Castle on its first tour - Wednesday May 21st 2003.


26. DRUMNADROCHIT HOTEL RE-OPENS

The Bremners have just reopened the Drumnadrochit Hotel which had been closed for refurbishment. Robert, managing director, is moving back to the village and taking personal control of operations. The new layout is primarily self-service, but there are now two floors joined by a new staircase. We wish them well in this new venture.


25. COBBS - THE BISTRO ON THE GREEN

The former franchisees of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, who run the catering at Urquhart Castle, have now opened a bistro in the village. We sampled the cuisine on their first night, Good Friday, and it was excellent. We've been back twice since. Seriously good cooking.


24. NEW GUIDE

We have just taken on two new guides who are currently being trained. This will allow us to introduce new tours. Our objective is quality of information and presentation.Alison Cameron with the current vehicle.

Prior to Anita Hanggi and Skye McDonald joining us the only guides were myself and Alison Cameron (right with our old bus) which became problematical if one was on holiday and the other unwell.


23. INCREASED PRICES AT URQUHART CASTLE

When they opened the new centre in November 2001 we expected a substantial price hike and it went from £3.50 to £5. Now they have increased it another 10% to £5.50 in a year when inflation was running at 2.5%.

It is interesting, too, that although they had known about the increase since August 2002, they have only just realised that the signs needed to be ordered in advance and so are looking very amateurish.

I have just received an email saying that the price will be increased yet again to £6 in January 2004.

Historic Scotland may carry out a wonderful job for Scotland's heritage, but they are the most naive and incompetent administrators and should not be allowed to run tourist attractions.

At the castle the new AV show requires a member of staff to announce each eight minute show, usher people into the auditorium and open a door for people to exit. All of this could have been easily automated. They also have people jumping over fences which are not even monitored by CCTV, and have built invitingly low walls around the viewing area which are now plastered with "KEEP OFF THE WALLS" signs.

They are also trying to grow a thicket of broom and holly to prevent people taking pictures of the castle unless they pay to go in.

They really are the most amazing load of Wallies! 

STOP PRESS 2nd February: With less than 5mm (quarter of an inch) of snow today, the castle panicked because there was heavier snow in falling in Inverness ... which stopped by 10am, and closed the place. Our tour, of course, operated as normal, as always!


22. FRODO FAILED!

It's not really a news item, but I must admit to being very amused at this picture which was forwarded to me by a friend! 

With apologies to those who are not amused by such trivia ... so what are you doing on a Loch Ness website?!


21. LAST COMPETITION WAS LAUNCHED 13TH OCTOBER 2002 AND WAS WON BY STACY TOUP

The prize was a signed Nessie Hunt, worth over £30.


 

20. NEW PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE UNDERWATER WEBCAM

Probably the biggest problems with the webcams is that they cause more problems than they solve.

Whether you set up your own CCTV cameras to capture footage or watch ours, sometimes errors and funny moments are captured instead

Anyone expecting to see the Loch Ness Monster swimming up to the underwater camera and posing when the range is only about three metres, has a bad case of optimism.

However, sometimes things do occur in front of the camera and these can also be interpreted as animals by those with an overactive imagination.

What I have here are two sequences from the webcam which had been produced into movie sequences by hi-lands.com (see links page).

The first of the two sequences has been described as showing an animal opening and shutting its mouth behind a post.

The second sequence is supposed to show an animal approaching the camera and then displaying a flipper before disappearing into the depths.

Both of these sequences will take some time to load as they are large images, so please be patient.

SEQUENCE ONE

SEQUENCE TWO


 

19. BBC SCIENCE UNIT EMPLOY DISCOVER LOCH NESS TOUR'S HELP

Passengers on the Discover Loch Ness tours on 7th, 8th and 9th August 2002 had an even more special tour than normal as the BBC Science Unit had planted secret micro-cameras on board and two undercover staff members. 

On 7th August, after Tony's regular presentation of the monster material on the loch-side, an object rose out of the water. Several passengers saw the object, but it was quickly dismissed as a staged event.

On 8th August Tony was asked to water-down his "truth" about the monster until after the experiment, but only one person saw the object and the event was a bit of a disaster.

On 9th August it was decided to tell passengers that an experiment would take place, but not that they were being filmed. Most of the passengers saw the object and made drawings and estimates of direction and distance.

The results will be shown as part of a documentary some time in 2003. Keep watching this News page for further details.

Incidentally, all of the passengers were delighted to take part and really enjoyed meeting the BBC team and loch-researcher Adrian Shine who had staged the experiment using hidden equipment.

Pictures will be put with this article when Tony has some, but, of course, he couldn't take pictures himself and is awaiting some being emailed by passengers.


18. JOHN COBB

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of John Cobb. He was attempting the world water speed record on 29th September 1952 when he hit waves which caused his vessel, Crusader to bob and then crash. Some think that he may have hit his own reflected wake from his first run, but, naturally, some have blamed Nessie for the disaster.

Although pulled out of the water alive, he died shortly afterwards.

On 5th July 2002 Adrian Shine and his team discovered some of the wreckage of Crusader on the loch bed, 200 metres down.

Adrian said that the decision to look for the remains of the speedboat was taken in part because it was the 50th anniversary of the accident and also to celebrate the achievements of who he calls "this modest man".

Cobb had previously been the first man to pass 400mph on land and had set his sights on beating the world water speed record which stood at 178.4mph.

On his first run he achieved 206.8mph and the record was there for the taking. He never completed the second run to enter the record books.

Loch Ness often appears deceptively calm, but an almost un-noticed breeze can quickly spring up and disturb the surface. It was perhaps not the best of plans to attempt to beat this record on such an unpredictable stretch of water.


17. PREHISTORIC BURIAL CHAMBER AT CORRIMONY

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the cairn at Corrimony near Balnain northwest of Drumnadrochit.

In the care of Historic Scotland, it is strange that this important anniversary has not been celebrated.

The chamber is surrounded by eleven standing stones, not twelve as one is called the heel stone and is not part of the eleven as illustrated by Historic Scotland on the information panel or as stated in numerous guide books.

The cairn is between four and five thousand years old, pre-dating the bronze age Stonehenge which, however, is somewhat more impressive! When looking at the Corrimony cairn it is possible to understand why the stone-age Highlanders didn't get the contract to build the pyramids, although the interior structure is actually more sophisticate than may be expected when the site is first approached.

There are few features on the stones except the mysterious cup marks on the main capping stone and on the back of stone number 9 (walking anti-clockwise from the entrance tunnel). There is also an ordnance survey mark on the back of stone three ... a surprising piece of twentieth century government vandalism!


16. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON FILM

They have been filming closing sequences for this film, due for release February 2003. The director decided he wanted the Discover Loch Ness bus centre scene for the closing sequence so watch out for it when the film is released. Also keep an eye open for yours truly running away from the dragon (presumably)  in the last sequence as an unpaid extra!

This last sequence is rumoured to be bringing the story out of medieval times into the twenty-first century and involved a lot of extras. It was filmed on the lawn of Aldourie Castle.


15. MONSTER FILM

Early in March another sequence of film materialised and was shown on television. Unfortunately, try as I might, I have not yet managed to see it, but I'll comment when I have.


14. DRUMNADROCHIT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LAUNCHES WEBSITE

On 27th February the village Chamber of Commerce launched its new VisitLochNess.com website which provides information on places to stay and things to do in the area. Places to stay in Inverness can be found under Accommodation in the index on the left of the screen, but the new Chamber site opens up the village itself.


13. FORT AUGUSTUS ABBEY IS NOW TO BECOME A TIMESHARE! - Follow up March 2002

I may have been premature dismissing this idea. Apparently the idea is for the Abbey to become a community owned property through a charitable trust which would then let off various parts of the buildings for different purposes. 

It still seems a long way off I'm afraid, but let's hope something comes of it. There is more about Fort Augustus Abbey in the index on the left.


12. RICHARD GREENWELL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR CRYPTOZOOLOGY SERIOUS ILL. - 1st March 2002

A communication from Loren Coleman tells me that Richard is terminally ill with systemic cancer. He has the further problem of his medical insurance having expired which means that his illness is crippling the family. If anyone would like to make a donation towards the Greenwell fund through my site, please email APPEAL CLOSED with the amount and I'll provide the address or a way of paying by secure credit card. Richard has put a huge amount into this subject, now it's payback time!


11. FORT AUGUSTUS ABBEY IS NOW TO BECOME A TIMESHARE! - February 2002

So says the latest news, but, frankly, it seems pie in the sky to me. We'll see.


10. BRITAIN IS FOOT AND MOUTH FREE - OFFICIAL - January 2002

All restrictions have been removed and the Highlands are fully open for campers, walkers and tourists of all types. Welcome back. 


9. FREE COMPETITION TO WIN A SIGNED FIRST EDITION NESSIE HUNT BOARD GAME

A publicity picture of Nessie Hunt from its launch in 1987

There is a new item in the index, FREE Competition. This is a quiz which has been carefully constructed so that it cannot be won just by reading this site. It requires considerable knowledge of Loch Ness and there are some trick questions. Also please read the questions carefully as I have already had the first question answered wrongly more than thirty times and this has obviously occurred because the question has not been correctly read.

The game was voted "BEST NEW PRODUCT 1987" at the British International Toy Fair in London, beating such items as Transformers and Escape From Atlantis etc.

The game is also available from the TopScot website and more information can be found about it in the index under Nessie Hunt.

The game is not a children's game although it can be played with children. It is aimed at young adults and those interested in the study of the Loch Ness mystery. Within it you can organise your own expedition and battle all of the problems experienced by real expeditions to the loch. In addition it contains almost all of the important Loch Ness evidence including the famous pictures, sonar charts and many of the eye witness accounts up to its production in 1987.

The game makes essential reading and is, in a sense, the Webmaster's book as at 1987 ... so without all of the more recent events.


8. RONALD BREMNER DIES.

I regret to announce that Ronnie died on the 1st December 2001 from multiple cancers.

Today, 6th December at 2pm, I stood in the frosty graveyard of Kilmore cemetery and helped lower Ronnie Bremner to his final resting place. 

As Libby and the boys shed tears the Drumnadrochit crows mocked the village's largest funeral for sixty years as Ronnie descended into a grave backing onto his father-in-law Derek Milne and my brother-in-law Derek Colclough. My mother lies a few feet away, Ronnie's parents a little further and, one day, I will be a close neighbour. Few things at Loch Ness are more certain.

Such an event is very sobering and makes one think deeply about one's own mortality. Ronnie was in his sixtieth year and had been physically fit until only a few months before his death. I am only seven years his junior.

Born in 1941 to hoteliers Jean and Willie Bremner, he was their only son.

Always a live-wire and sportsman, he played rugby, tennis, table tennis and golf to a high standard. He and his wife Libby were tennis doubles' champions of Inverness and his table tennis was to international standards. He loved golf and played to a short handicap. Any sport he attempted he was excellent at. He would pick up a set of darts maybe once or twice a year and play to a good club standard. A natural sportsman's eye.

Ronnie had a very generous heart and this was not always obvious to people who did not get to know him properly. I remember one occasion when a villager came to Ronnie in desperation late on a Friday to get a cheque cashed to get matters arranged after his son had been killed in a road accident. This person was an aging father of a large family and was never particularly flush. Ronnie wandered off into the bar of the hotel with the cheque, brought back the money (a substantial sum) and handed it to the villager together with the original cheque. Yet on another occasion he would throw a fit if a car park attendant was under-employed for 30 minutes! This was the nature of the man and it always made him a difficult person to "read".

When his father died he took on the running of the Drumnadrochit Hotel and oversaw the building of a new Motor Inn section which opened in 1979. In the same year he met the webmaster who ran a darts championship for him which saw several international players making the trip to Drumnadrochit on a weekly basis. The webmaster did this in order to get Ronnie's ear over a concept he had for a Loch Ness Exhibition.

Within a short period it was agreed that Ronnie would finance the exhibition and provide the buildings to the rear of the old Drumnadrochit Hotel and the webmaster would research, set-up and run the exhibition. The lack of a written contract resulted in a misunderstanding which was forever to drive a wedge between them. The webmaster believed he was providing the intellectual property of the original concept, the research, the text, exhibition content and its ongoing development for a share of the business. Ronnie considered it to be only for a share of the profits as long as the webmaster was employed. The effect on the webmaster of discovering this after the business had become very, very successful can be imagined! The moral ... always put it in writing at the beginning. I don't think Ronnie ever appreciated the effect this had on me and our relationship.

The webmaster continued to work for Ronnie until 1990 improving the original exhibition and then planning its move into the derelict Victorian hotel building and obtaining the services of Adrian Shine as a consultant to the centre.

For Ronnie, the new exhibition provided financial security for him and his family. He went on to franchise out the hotel business and shops leaving the exhibition as the core business.

More recently he and his son, Robert, developed the business further with the assistance of the local Enterprise company into one of the finest visitor attractions in Scotland. Their resources together with Adrian Shine's services as consultant created one of the most innovative and exciting educational exhibition experiences in Britain.

Over the past few years Ronnie and wife Libby had moved to Edinburgh leaving Robert to run their interests at the centre. This semi-retirement gave them both some quality time together.

However, the cancer which took Ronnie was totally unexpected and extremely fast moving. Towards the end he deteriorated very quickly. The funeral was a moving event with best friends, Ronnie Young and Bobbie Davidson recollecting their years of friendship. Robbie and Michael Bremner spoke briefly and stressfully and Adrian Shine read a text by David Bremner and spoke of Ronnie's involvement at Loch Ness and his dreadful habit of losing the keys to anything and everything.

The webmaster has mixed memories of his association with Ronnie. There were some really great times in the eighties with Operation Deepscan, a holiday together in Andalusia, the amazing loss of a full size "flipper" (see Anecdotes) and some great fun with press and VIPs. His passing is the end of an era at Loch Ness and no-one can deny the impact of the exhibition centre on everyone in the tourist industry on Loch Ness side and he is sure to missed by the people of the glen.


7. NESSIE HUNT BOARD GAME WON.

Shannon Paul, while travelling in Europe found a town in 

the Netherlands where there were no Mc or Mac entries in the telephone directory. I was tempted to disallow their page owing to the Makelaardij, but I decided that would have been too hard! 

This was a challenge I had put out on the tour and the prize was a signed first edition of my Nessie Hunt board game.  The competition ran for nearly six months and I'll never forget the Pakastani gentleman I had on the bus who was certain that there would be no Macs in his local directory. He emailed me some time later to tell me that there were not only several Macs, but also Grants and Frasers!

This competition is now closed.

There is still a competition open for the game. You have to provide a one or two page essay on how to smuggle a live Highland cow (hairy cow) onto a Jumbo jet. Just email me and when I have half a dozen I'll put them up on the site and invite votes for the best.

The game is worth about £30 so the prize is worth winning. 


6. TOP AWARD FOR MY TOUR.Inverness Courier Item

During August 2001 my tour was inspected by a member of the Scottish Tourist Board Quality Assurance staff who travelled incognito, only making herself known at the end of the tour. She even brought her mother so as not to give away her identity.

I was awarded 9/10 for most aspects of the tour, but particularly pleasing were the following comments:

“From the start of the tour, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere was created which continued throughout the day.”

“The content and range of information provided on the tour was excellent and was delivered in a natural, easy-to-understand manner.”

P & J item“The variety of subjects covered on the tour was very good with a balance between historical, fact, myths, wildlife etc. This balance should be maximised in a concise but clear format in all print and advertising.”

“The opportunity to visit other attractions and sites was very good and added to the balanced tour provided.”

“The ongoing link to sites of interest and places to go in the city and surrounding area was excellent.”

Details of my tour can be found in the Tour of Loch Ness section of the site.


5. RINES AT THE LOCH AGAIN. 

Dr Rines has just finished (August 2001) another expedition to the loch during which they used a high quality remote controlled submersible and a quality side-scan sonar which was capable of producing excellent results.

Their lack of sonar contacts prompted Dr Rines to say that he thinks the monsters could be dead. He seems to think that because he cannot reproduce the flipper pictures, that this could mean the monster is no longer here. This, of course, presupposes that the flipper pictures were real.

At a meeting at the Loch Ness Centre in the eighties, Dr Rines acknowledged that the flipper pictures had been retouched by a person or persons unknown. This has not stopped him referring to them as if they are real, nor from allowing the retouched version to be reproduced in documentaries and books. The original flipper picture and the NASA enhancement are reproduced here and the expedition is dealt with in detail in the Sonar Contacts and Underwater Photography sections of this site.


4. MONSTER HOAX PERPETRATED ON MY TOUR.  

As part of my tour we descend to the Wellington Bomber beach where I do a presentation on the early development of the Loch Ness story.

On the morning of May 2nd 2001 at about 11.15am we arrived at the beach and my passengers headed down while I locked the bus.

As I went down the steps I could see part of a fish on the beach which appeared, at first glance to be a salmon.  As I got closer I realised that it was the most enormous eel and, in fact, there were two of them just above the water line, dead.  There were 1m (3ft) waves crashing in on the shore and it seemed possible that they could have just washed up, but eels are known to be capable of moving over land so it is difficult to imagine how they could have been beached.

They were about 7 feet (2.15m) long and my passengers thought it was all part of the tour!  

We rang the Loch Ness Project and Adrian Shine collected them within the next 30 minutes.

By the time we left the beach I had become suspicious.  The eels were far bigger than anguilla and were a lighter colour.  One was slightly bloated and had a girth of some 17 inches (43cm) by eye.

We slowly drove along the side of the layby and there were no further specimens indicating that these two fish had chosen to come ashore at the only access point to the loch!!

Later Adrian confirmed that there were mackerel in the stomach (a marine fish) and it now appears that they were Conger Eels ... yet to be positively determined.

If they had not been found so close to the steps it could have been assumed that they had been thrown overboard by a trawler passing through the canal system, but it now appears most likely that they were planted there deliberately.

They had also been killed and had not died of natural causes. I wonder who was responsible.

Great fun and my passengers loved it. The newspaper articles which followed, however, once again raised the possibility of tunnels leading to sea.  This infantile suggestion is always being raised by the media.  Loch Ness is 51 feet (16m) above sea level.  If there were tunnels leading to other lochs and to the sea the loch would drain to sea level very quickly indeed.  If there were a tunnel which was too narrow to drop the water level then it would quickly have become blocked solid with debris.  I do wish journalists would apply some general science to their reporting.

Tony


3. FOOT AND MOUTH never reached the Highlands of Scotland. It is a pity no-one can get it through to the disgraceful www.LochNess.co.uk website which takes all that is bad and then exaggerates it!


2. Fort Augustus Abbey has reopened to the public.  When I visited in June 2001 I was disappointed to find that the interpretation had been done very badly and included a number of spelling mistakes, typographical errors and some inappropriate use of terminology such as "... has been occupied by generations of monks." During our visit the grass had not been cut, the cloister flowerbeds were in disarray and there was debris everywhere. Some areas were blocked off by great lumps of wood and there were scrappy hand-written "no entry" signs.

All of this is, of course, very disappointing for somewhere which was a centre for learning for nearly 125 years.

More recently Terry Nutkins, the new owner, has managed to obtain a council grant of £25,000 to carry out a feasibility study and hopefully this will lead to improvements.

In my view, however, the original feasibility study conducted in 1993 uncovered the majority of the possibilities for the  site and the new study is unlikely to come up with very much which is new. Obviously, without the monks there, there are extra opportunities to exploit the additional spaces, but it is difficult to see how anything other than a visitor attraction, hotel complex, restaurant and retail complex can be successful on this site ... and we had all of that before the closure in 1998. 

I do hope something good can come out of all of this. 

There is more information on the previous centre there in the Fort Augustus Abbey section of this site.


1. INVERNESS - Millennium City.

In April 2001 Inverness was granted city status by Royal decree.

When the cathedral was built in the early nineteenth century funds ran short and the spires were never completed and this meant that Inverness would be a town, not a city.

Now we are not only a city, but, having no spires on our cathedral, we are also the exception to the rule!

Incidentally, inver means "confluence of" or "mouth of" hence Inverness, mouth of the Ness.

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