Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sainsbury's Nairn - one week countdown begins tomorrow!

(Please see UPDATE at end)

Yes, only about a week to go until the new Sainsbury's supermarket just on the eastern edge of Nairn is scheduled to open on Wednesday 3rd August 2011. The last time I passed nearby was a few days ago, on my way to do some shopping at rival store Tesco in Forres and it seemd then that the infrastructure for the new Sainsbury's outlet was just about complete - obviously I haven't been able to see inside the new store yet, but my comments relate to the car-parking area and to the dedicated petrol station near the entrance to the site. The new roundabout on the A96 seemed complete, with only minor work still to be done before the new road infrastructure would be complete.

As part of the planning for the new Sainsbury's, several (5 I believe) new sets of traffic lights have been installed at various parts of the A96 as it passes though Nairn and these were switched on a little over a week ago, since when the traffic seems to have been flowing through the town remarkably smoothly at most times of the day, with only a little congestion for what seem to be quite brief periods and certainly a lot fewer than there were before. From my apartment I get a good view of a part of the highway as it passes through the town so these comments are based on my personal observations.

Over the past couple of days I have crossed the threshhold of the main branch of the Co-op in Nairn on a couple of occasions (most recently earlier today). Unlike some in the town I am not 'boycotting' it per se and will probably still visit it occasionally from time to time for small purchases, just as I have in the past, but the vast bulk of my weekly shopping requirements will probably shift from the large Tesco store on the eastern edge of Inverness, with lesser but still significant shopping being done in the smaller, but somewhat closer Forres store, to the new Sainsbury's outlet in Nairn - that is the reality and I expect I will not be the only one who will relegate the second-rate Co-op to the bottom of my list for shopping preferences.

I notice that there is a page in Sainsbury's website dedicated to job recruitment for the new Nairn store - I have no idea of course how many if any of these jobs remain available, but one imagines that for the store to be opening next week, many job vacancies have already been filled.

Roll on Wednesday, 3rd August 2011
- for the new Sainsbury's store in Nairn!

UPDATE: (Thursday 4th August 2011 13.51 BST) Please see my article yesterday entitled Sainsbury's Nairn - first visit, written following my first visit to the new store on its opening day.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Nairn - new Highland Council refuse collection schedules

(Please see UPDATE at end)

Earlier this month Highland Council introduced new recycling procedures, which involve all households being issued with an additional blue 'wheelie bin' to supplement the green 'wheelie bin' everyone already has, plus of course the brown 'wheelie bin' that some housegolds have for the collection of garden waste.

All households in the Nairn area received a pack a couple of weeks ago with a calendar of the new collections schedule for different categories of waste, together with a leaflet explaining in some detail what may be put in each type of 'wheelie bin'. Of course it remains possible to visit the Nairn recycling centre outside Nairn on the Grantown-on-Spey road (see my blog article about that and some other issues here) to dispose of bulkier items, specially between the dates when regular kerb collections are made; that earlier article contains a photographs of the opening times in November 2009 - current opening times are listed here, which at this time are shown as:

Nairn Recycling Centre
Park Quarry on the A939
IV12 5QN

1st April - 30th September
Monday to Friday 10.00am - 7.00pm
Saturday - Sunday 10.00am - 4.30pm

1st October - 31st March
Wednesday to Sunday 10.00am - 4.30pm.
Below are images of the front cover of the 'Recyclying Guide' and of the collection calandar for the year 2011/12 (July 2011 through June 2012), but enlargements of both these images and of the rest of the 'Recyclying Guide' and of the collection calendar for the following year (July 2012 through June 2013) are available here; this link is also shown in the table below:

Nairn - new Highland Council refuse collection schedules
from July 2011

Click here to see enlargements of both the photographs below,
together with several additonal photographs.

Click here to see enlargements of both the photographs above,
together with several additonal photographs.

When it was first announced some months ago (perhaps late last year, or perhaps earlier this year, I don't remember exactly when) that there were going to be changes to Highland Council's refuse collection procedures, my recollection is that it was said to be an exercise to reduce refuse collections from once every week to once every two weeks, with the aim of saving money, to help plug the gap between what income Highland Council receives in various forms and what it spends (in other words to reduce its large budgetary deficit). However, this exercise seems to have 'morphed' into a completely different exercise, with the aim of 'reduce', 'reuse' and 'recycle'. I don't necessarily quarrel with this, but it does seem to be VERY good business for the manufacturers of 'wheelie bins' - shares in such companies must be very buoyant at present, I would imagine, as Highland Council is certainly not the only local authority in the wider UK and Scotland which is undertaking this kind of exercise. Also, weekly refuse collections have simply been replaced by weekly collections categorised into the different kinds of refuse - with the requirement on householders to separate their waste into those categories, not perhaps a 'bad' or terribly 'cumbersome' requirement in itself, but what it does require of householders is to provide space for not just one 'wheelie bin', but at least two and in some cases three - not everyone has the space to store these additional 'wheelie bins' conveniently or in a tidy manner. Finally, it is hard to believe that this massive exercise will result in the saving of any money whatsoever, but if I am wrong about this I shall be glad to have evidence provided.

UPDATE (Sunday 9NOV2014 16.55)You can download a calendar of the refuse collection schedule for your street/area within Highland Council by visiting its website here. Enter your area/town by clicking on the drop-down menu in the "category" box and your town and/or street name (leave out 'street', 'avenue', 'terrace' etc, insert only the actual name) in the "keywords” box. Once you find your area, you can download the collection schedule, which will be in .pdf format. Currently available are refuse collection schedules for the period April 2014 to March 2016.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Internet speeds in Nairn

I've noticed over the past few weeks that the responsiveness of the internet in Nairn has grown very patchy, particularly during peak 'business hours' between Monday and Friday - certainly between 9am and midday and between about 2pm and 5pm. We are being promised 'high speed interet' fairly soon in Nairn and I can only surmise that business usage of the internet in and around Nairn has grown steadily in recent times, or perhaps the data links between this part of Scotland and the wider world have become saturated. My rated internet speed here is the ubiquitous "upto 8mB", whereas at my home in Spain it is rated at only "upto 2mB", but I have to say it seems better and more reliable in Spain - perhaps because my internet connection there is via an optical-fibre network, whereas I think in Nairn we are still reliant on good old copper wires so far as I am aware.

I did think at one point it may be my own internet connection that was faulty, or that my own PCs (I have a few which I use regularly) were somehow at fault, but I think I have established this is not the reason. However, I would still be interested to know if anyone else in the Inverness - Nairn - Forres - Elgin area is having similar experiences of late.

Friday, 8 July 2011

An era of spaceflight ends with the last Shuttle flight scheduled later today

(Please see UPDATE at end)

Later today, if all goes as planned, Shuttle Atlantis will be launched on the last ever Shuttle Mission, designated as ST-135. Full details of all Shuttle missions are listed here, from the first test flights until the later operational flights.

I am lucky enough to have been on vacation in Florida during the time of one of the launches in 1985 and because my itinerary was flexible I extended my stay in the Daytona Beach area for a couple of extra days, staying at an hotel on Cocoa Beach just south of Cape Canaveral (aka Cape Kennedy) so that I could line up on the beach with several hundred others to watch the launch and even although we were in fact some miles away from the launch site it was quite impressive. A couple of days earlier I had in fact visited the Kennedy Space Center on a regular tourist bus picked up through my hotel and enjoyed it very much - quite apart from visiting the various exhibition halls there (for example the displays relating to the Apollo moon missions and the old mission control room used for them) we were taken on a tour of a small part of the base, which is vast, with the various launch sites pointed out in the distance even although for security reasons we were never taken very close to them - but because the assemble halls and launch structures are so huge one never had any difficulty in seeing them.

So that was pretty exciting, but a few months later my memories of watching the launch of mission STS-61-A on 30th October 1985 (the 22nd Shuttle mission) became somewhat bittersweet, because that was the penultimate mission of Shuttle Challenger, which exploded soon after its launch on 28th January 1986 (Shuttle mission 25).

Now the International Space Staion will be reliant on manned flights provided by the Russians and in future it seems possible that the major space-faring nation will be China. Who knows? All of this will probably come when I am far too old to know or care, or perhaps after my demise. Near-Earth flights seem to be what we will be limited to for the forseeable future.

My hope of course is that today's planned launch of Shuttle Atlantis will see its 12-day mission completed successfully and safely.

UPDATE (Friday 08JUL2011 16.40 BST) Shuttle Atlantis was successfully launched about 10 minutes ago, I am very happy to record.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Nairn bank fraudster fined for "ringing the changes" offences

The Highland News is reporting that a fraudster called Andre Rostas (from Thornton Heath, Croydon) has been fine at Inverness Sheriff Court for an attempted fraud and a further successful fraud at the Nairn branches of Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland respectively.

The fraud involved trying to confuse bank cashiers ('tellers') when asking for largie sums of money to be changed into different note denominations, then changing his mind and asking for another denomination, abstracting some of the notes in the process by sleight of hand. The report mentions that this individual had a conviction for a similar offence last February, although it does not mention where that offence took place.

The court warned Rostas that if he came before a Scottish court again the matter would be dealt with very severely. One does wonder whether this man, clearly a serial and habitual offender, has not been dealt with too leniently this time with only a fine (of GBP2,000-) being imposed.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Nairn Dunbar to host Scottish Boys Open Strokeplay Championship

The Scottish Boys Open Strokeplay Championship is to be hosted this year in Nairn at the Nairn Dunbar Golf Club.

Success at the event is coveted by aspiring young Scottish male golfers. Nairn Dunbar Golf Club last hosted the event in 1999. The event will take place this time between 19 July and 21 July 2011.