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Skye The Husky

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Newmilns Tower

towerNewmilns and Greenholm is a small burgh in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It has a population of 3,057 people (2001 census) and lies on the A71, around seven miles east of Kilmarnock and twenty-five miles southwest of Glasgow. It is situated in a valley through which the River Irvine runs and, with the neighbouring towns of Darvel and Galston, forms an area known as the Upper Irvine Valley (locally referred to as The Valley). As the name suggests, the burgh exists in two parts - Newmilns to the north of the river and Greenholm to the south. The river also divides the parishes of Loudoun and Galston, which is why the burgh, although generally referred to as Newmilns, has retained both names.

Newmilns means "the new mills", from Old English niwe "new" and myln "mill", the name being recorded as Nawemeln in 1126 - the plural Newmilns is a recent addition.

At the end of the 16th century, refugees from France and Flanders settled in Newmilns, bringing with them skills and techniques in lace making. Most houses had a loom by the end of the 18th century. The introduction of the power loom in the late 19th century marked the beginning of the golden years for the lace industry in Newmilns. By the end of the Second World War, there were 12 lace and madras factories in Newmilns. The importance of lace is reflected in the architecture of public buildings in the town centre, such as Lady Flora's Institute and the Morton Hall.

The subsequent decline of lace making in the town, due to growing competition from overseas, led to a decline in the fortunes of Newmilns. Town centre buildings fell into disrepair and an aura of dereliction and depression led to historic properties becoming uninhabitable, roofless or being demolished. From 1999 to 2005 a Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project known as the Newmilns Townscape Heritage Initiative carried out extensive building restoration and renovation works, including the environmental improvement of open space and waste ground in Newmilns and reinstatement of architectural detail and features.

Newmilns Tower (which once had impressive gardens and orchards surrounding it), was erected in the centre of the town about 1525 by Sir Hugh Campbell, Earl of Loudoun. Newmilns Tower was built following the destruction of Loudoun Castle by the Kennedys of Culzean, during which Sir Hugh's wife and nine children were all killed. The attack was apparently in retaliation for the role Sir Hugh had played in the murder of a kinsman of the Kennedys. The Earls of Loudoun continued to reside at Newmilns Tower until 1615. It is sometimes suggested that the Earls of Loudon later built what is now the Loudoun Arms as a town house.

Newmilns Tower saw further use in the religious wars of the mid 1600s as a prison for Covenanters. Some of the prisoners held here were freed in a raid on the tower, but at least one was killed during the escape.

The tower was fully restored by the Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust in the 1990s and is now a privately owned residence.

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Know the way, Go the way, Show the way



Over my many years in business, whether the business of the military or the business of commerce, one of the core threads of weakness in almost all but the best managers/leaders I have worked with has been an inability or perhaps an unwillingness to communicate. All too often I have witnessed poor management communication not only down through the command structure but also, quite frequently, within what would be considered the first tier of communications. Their direct reporters.

Many such businesses have, it seemed, succeeded or perhaps survived, in spite of rather than because of these individuals for whom communication should be the centrepiece of their toolbox. Usually in these situations, the intentions are top drawer but the reality is bargain basement. Individuals in such positions of authority resting on their past achievements or being reasonably content with the status quo and pulling up the drawbridge to their rarefied level perhaps feel like they should maintain an authoritative distance or refrain from fraternising with the ranks. Ridiculous as such a stance may sound on paper, it is all too often manifest in management positions in all levels of business with the reality for the organisation far more serious than any ridicule may reflect.

Directionless authority figures who fail to capitalise on the talent within their organisations because of their inability to communicate beyond their own lieutenants can lay waste to layer upon layer of that which makes an organisation truly prosper, its people. This is especially true in the world of the startup where those in authority and indeed in control have the greatest of vested interests in seeing the business boom.

As managers, and most especially as managers within small businesses for whom hierarchical structures are not best fit, communication is what ensures that our own value systems are properly superimposed on the wider team around us. We need to accept our weaknesses. Work on them. Learn by placing ourselves in the uncomfortable situations we could easily avoid and the best way to measure this and truly understand it is to get down and dirty every day. Do sweat the small stuff. Truly understand the small stuff because when we get the small stuff right and we can communicate down and listen up effectively, communicating all the way down and listening all the way up, we will find ourselves at the centre of a team that really will begin to reflect the hopes and dreams we all have for our own organisations.

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Quorn Beef Roast with Roast New Potatoes and Tomato and Fennel Tapenade

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This is a delicious meal that is both low fat and can be made in no more than the time it takes to cook the quorn roast from the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 1 Quorn Beef Roast

  • 200g New Potatoes

  • 3 Coarsely Chopped Medium Tomatoes

  • 1 Bulb Fennel

  • 2 Cloves Garlic

  • 1 Large Lobe Ginger

  • 150g Low Fat Chopped Feta

  • 150g Low Fat Chopped Halloumi

  • 10g Butter

  • 1 Medium Gren or Red Chilli

  • Fresh Coriander

  • 200ml Vegetable Stock

  • 1 tsp Turmeric


Instructions

First set the Quorn Roast to cook in the oven in accordance with the instructions. Once this is in progress chop the potatoes into equal size pieces about the size of a squash ball and set aside.

Next finely chop the Garlic, Ginger and Chilli and gently fry in the Butter until golden. Add the green ends of the Fennel and about a quarter of the white bulb coarsely chopped. Allow to fry in the butter for a few minutes until the Fennel is soft then add the Vegtable Stock and simmer until the Fennel is nearly soft.

Remove the mixture from the pan, puree in a food processor and set aside.

Next, boil some salted water for the potatoes, add the Turmeric and boil until just softening, (approx 5-10 mins). Drain the potatoes and mix in a little of the pureed tapenade through them. With 20 minutes remaining place the potatoes in the oven beside the Quorn Roast.

Place a small amount of the tapenade from the food processor in a pan and add the tomatoes. Turn up the heat and allow the the pan to sizzle for a minute then add the Halloumi whilst turning down the heat. Once the pan has cooled add the Feta, most of the Coriander and the remainder of the tapenade from the food processor. Season to taste and serve with the Quorn Roast and the Crisped Potatoes. Garnish with the remaining Coriander.
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Venus Over Irvine

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I got home tonight at about 8 pm at the end of what has been a very clear day. The kind of day that just about suggests that winter is over. The skies are still clear now and the stars are looking great as they almost always do up here in the hills. So, lately Ive been experimenting with my camera. Its a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40. It seems like its quite a good camera. It takes great shots and seems to have loads of gizmos and functions. One of the functions I've been intrigued with lately is the one where it takes a long exposure shot of the night sky. You need to hold it really still or it just produces a mess so I've lately taken to just putting it down on something to take a picture as I dont have a tripod.

I took this picture from my upstairs windowsill looking west over Kilmarnock and Irvine and, if it wasnt so dark youd see Arran out there over the water. The resulting picture looks pretty good.
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