Archive for January 2011

One-pot Beef Curry

This is adapted from a recipe in the Hamlyn All Colour Indian Cookbook. It has a fairly long list of ingredients, but takes only minutes to prepare. Serves four.

750g diced lean braising steak

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb-sized piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsps ground coriander

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp chilli powder (not curry powder)

1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsps sugar

1 tsp salt

4 fl oz oil

400g tin chopped tomatoes, with juice

Beef stock cube, crumbled

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mk 4.

Put everything into a roomy ovenproof casserole, then pour over enough boiling water to only just cover. Cover and put into the oven, stirring occasionally during cooking.

Now the best bit. Sit down, pour a glass of your chosen beverage, and sip it while the kitchen fills with a delicious aroma.

For a vegetarian version, prepare as above (omitting the meat and using a veg stock cube, obviously!) then stir in a can of chickpeas about half an hour before the end of cooking time.

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Wind Turbine Shadow/Flicker Survey

Shadow / Flicker Survey

Islanders deeply concerned about the detrimental effects that the proposed Turbine will unleash on the community and visitors, have commissioned a survey.

The survey was undertaken with the express purpose of determining the incidents and duration of Shadow/Flicker and will show both the dates and the times of this effect on houses on Easdale, particularly those houses near to and in the square. 

For the purpose of obtaining these measurements it was necessary to build a structure rather like a goal post, as you will see from the photographs. 

The vertical posts represent the turbine blade diameter. The crossbar is set at a height of 5.5 metres and forms a horizontal to take sextant readings from. The height of the turbine tip would be a further 12 .25 metres on top of the horizontal bar.

Shortly a helium weather balloon will be deployed at the given height for the Turbine of 17.75 metres. This will effectively provide visual evidence of where the turbine blades will be seen, not only to the Community but also to our neighbours at Ellenabeich, Seil, Cuan and Luing and will include visitors and holiday makers passing Easdale by sea, in small pleasure boats or on Ferries.

The highest  point on the island is the  plinth on the top of our mountain at 124 feet.  The proposed Turbine height would be 100.129 feet.

However, Mr Liam Wright, Area officer for Scotish Natural Heritage, states “We have no objections.” he continues “Given the scale and location of this proposal, with its clear association with Easdale village, we feel that it will not be inappropiate to the surrounding landscape and built environment.” If you disagree please tell him so. His address is Liam Wright, Area Officer,Lorn and North Argyll, Scotish Natural Heritage, Cameron House, Albany Street Oban, Argyll PA34  4AE

When the worked answers are available we will publish them for your interest and attention.

Eilean Eisdeal Planning Applications

We have been informed by Argyll and Bute planning Department that all current Eilean Eisdeal planning applications are incomplete and Fiona Scott, the case officer, is awaiting further information and data to complete the applications. This means all interested parties who want to make submissions and objections will still have a 21 day period to do so as and when the applications are complete. We will post this date when we are notified by Fiona.

Easily confused …

It’s often difficult to distinguish between species of bird with similar plumage, especially if you only get a quick glimpse, and this is particularly true of that large group of garden visitors “Small Brown Birds”. Here are three which can easily be mistaken for each other.

House Sparrow

Usually seen in groups, chattering loudly and argumentatively, they always seem to be in a state of hyperactivity! Amazingly, house sparrow numbers are declining, to the extent that they have been given “Red Status” by the RSPB, and are listed as being “globally threatened” by BirdLife International.

What they eat: Seeds, and scraps of all sorts.

Tree Sparrow

Scarcer, and shyer, than house sparrows, from which they can be distinguished chiefly by their chestnut brown (rather than grey) heads and the distinct black splodge on their cheeks. The tree sparrow is also on the Red List as a species under threat.

What they eat: Seeds and insects.



Quiet and fairly solitary, dunnocks are most often seen on the ground, scuttling busily and somewhat furtively with their shoulders hunched as they search for tasty fare. The meeting of two males results in an animated and aggressive display. Often darker and plumper than shown in this illustration, and the facial markings are difficult to see because the bird is concentrating on looking at the ground. The dunnock has “Amber Status”, indicating that its population is contracting.

What they eat: Insects, spiders, worms, seeds.

Extracts from the Statistical Accounts (part 1)

The two Statistical Accounts of Scotland, covering the 1790s and the 1830s, are among the best contemporary reports of life during the agricultural and industrial revolutions in Europe. Based largely on information supplied by each parish church minister, the Accounts provide a rich record of a wide variety of topics: wealth, class and poverty; climate, agriculture, fishing and wildlife; population, schools, and the moral health of the people. They are a fascinating insight into not only the parishes, but also to the ministers views as well!

Copies are available online for both the 1791-1799  and the 1834-1845 Statistical Accounts for the Parish of Kilbrandon and Kilchattan and the following extracts are from the earlier 1791 – 1799 document:

“The wind blows here, at least two-thirds of the year, from the S and W. It constantly conveys fog and vapour from the Atlantic, which make the air generally moist, damp and penetrating, but seldom proves fatal to the inhabitants, except a few children carried off by the croup in cold rainy seasons.”

“The Easdale Slate quarries are well known over the most of Britain. They are within a few minutes sailing to every vessel that passes through the Sound of Mull, round the western coast of Scotland, whether bound for the Baltic, Ireland, Leith or London.”

“Character of the People – The inhabitants in general, are not inferior to those of any country in hospitality and charity.”

“The rheumatism is the most prevalent disorder in this country. It is supposed to be more frequent since linen shirts have become the substitute of flannel or pleading, which was once the general clothing over the Highlands of Scotland.”

“Dropsies are likewise observed of late to be more frequent, particularly since potatoes have become the principal food of the lower classes of the people. And certainly, though this useful and wholesome root contains no hurtful quality, yet change of diet must gradually affect and change the constitution.”

Copies of the Statistical Accounts are also available to view in the museum.

The Big Garden Birdwatch

It’s time for the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch.

Just take an hour over the weekend of 29th/30th January to note down which species of birds land in your garden (not counting the ones that fly over), recording the highest number of each species that you see at any one time. Don’t total them all up over the hour, as you might be counting the same sparrow or blackbird several times over! Putting out generous portions of seed, fatballs, bread etc. should ensure a good response from the local birdlife. Return your results to the RSPB before 18th February, either on paper to


The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch,

Halifax Road

Melksham SN12 6YY

or online at

The website has lots of information about the different birds, including guides to identification. and recordings of their songs. The top ten birds seen in Argyll & Bute during last year’s event were:

1. Chaffinch

2. House sparrow

3. Blackbird

4. Blue Tit

5. Robin

6. Great Tit

7. Coal tit

8. Starling

9. Dunnock

10. Greenfinch

Wildlife Watch

Although Easdale is only tiny it has a wide variety of wildlife, and it seemsn interesting plan to try to compile a dossier. Who knows, ultimately we might even be able to print a guidebook. (Why not? Let’s think big!)

 So, folks, please use the comment facility on this post to add your sightings of birds, bugs, butterflies, mammals, wild flowers, grasses – everything, whether common or unusual.

 To start the ball rolling, I saw my very first water shrew the other day. A plump little fellow with a dark grey back and white underside, and a slightly waddling gait. It was in the bathroom, strangely enough, but it must have come in from somewhere! When I looked them up I discovered that they have red-tipped teeth, and a bite that causes a burning pain – even in humans. Must remember to look carefully before I leap out of the shower …

Eilean Eisdeal AGM part 2

Application for moorings

Published in the Oban Times on 23rd December. Representations can therefore be made until 20th January.