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
By neil macphail
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
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
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
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”
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
Robert Rines, inventor who plied murky Loch Ness for
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
"That gentleman turned out to be Albert Einstein," said his wife,
Joanne Hayes-Rines. "People just don't have stories like that in
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
"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
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
"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
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.
By Bryan Marquard, Boston Globe Staff:
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
80. Aleister Crowley Land Sale ~ LAND ONCE OWNED BY SATANIST GOES ON THE MARKET ~ 11th
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
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.’
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
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.
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.
Within 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.
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.
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.
Joining 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:
73. Scottish National Party Win A Simple Majority In The
Amazing. 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
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 UrquhartCastle that he ended up taking his
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. Have you seen the Titanic in Inverness?
Many passengers on my tours have seen the giant Titanic model in a local
resident's garden on the Beauly approach to Inverness.
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:
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!!
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
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
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
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
58. Dr Rines' In The News Again!
Early reports of Rines finding Nessie's flesh were found to be rather
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
Must admit it is good for business though!
An early picture of Rines working from the search vessel Hunter is shown on the
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 was a broad naturalist and
wanted to popularise the understanding of the natural world. He was born on 1st
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
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
Changes in interest rates reflect the Bank of England's base rate. The Halifax
Bank of Scotland have no intention whatsoever of reducing our interest rates by
x% and, anyway, to cover the cost of these services would be a negligible effect
on the overall mortgage rate. Apparently, therefore, it is a deliberate lie to suggest that
there will be a saving by everyone because of these new charges coming into
effect. All these charges will achieve is yet more profit for the bank!
Where is the statement in the same letter telling us how much interest we are
going to save because of these charges? Of course there is no saving, the whole
premise is a lie.
Halifax Bank of Scotland profits are now in the billions of pounds. They make
these profits by ripping off their customers as follows:
Allowing maximum length of queues in branches to inconvenience the customer to
"a maximum tolerable level". They want to save labour costs and have
to try to judge the aggravation level at which the customers, whose time is
totally wasted in these queues, will rebel and leave.
Causing us to go through lengthy telephone systems to get to the most simple
information. They waste their customers' time by making them hang on and hang on
with messages such as "your call is important to us", but never do
they give you the option to leave a message and get them to ring you back. That,
of course, would need real customer service and would reduce the
absolutely obscene profits they are making!
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
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!
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.
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
41. Andrew Tullis's Documentary
Andrew has been commissioned to come up with a new documentary for Channel
I met him today and he tells me Steve Feltham is fine and will be back at the
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
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
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
RC church in Fort Augustus which now occupies what was once the Abbey's
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The 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
"The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be
replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning
"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
"You'd have to press the Start button to turn the engine off."
I was recently contacted by email to the
I wanted you you know how much I enjoyed the site. Also, the photography
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.
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
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
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
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
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.]
Next 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 Mrs Wickremesinghe could enjoy a quiet walk in Scotland's most
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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 -
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
TOP AWARD FOR
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 content and range of information provided on the tour was excellent and was delivered in a
natural, easy-to-understand manner.”
“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
“The ongoing link to sites of interest and places to go in the city and surrounding area was
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
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
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.
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.