Expect a weekend of iconic performances from musical legends, themed venues, pop-up performers and an unrivalled festival atmosphere.
On Saturday 15th June, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) will open their doors for Geography Day! An annual celebration of all things geographical, the theme this year will be Films, Photos and Funny Animals.
As part of the event, which lasts from 11am to 4pm, there will be inspiring talks from a wealth of talent from the RSGS network, opportunities to observe some of the Society’s most intriguing collections items, and a chance to view the hilarious winning entries from the prestigious Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018.
On the bill of speakers is Eilidh Munro, a young wildlife and conservation filmmaker, who has just returned from a filming expedition to the Peruvian rainforest to document an illegal road being built there. Presenting images and video clips from the journey, she’ll uncover the potential impacts this road may have on the communities and biodiversity of the area.
Lorne Gill FRSGS, the staff photographer for Scottish Natural Heritage, will be discussing a lifetime spent capturing the very best of Scotland’s wildlife and landscapes and offering tips on how to capture the perfect shot.
And there will also be talks by RSGS Writer-in-Residence Jo Woolf who recently published The Great Horizon, a book summarising the 50 greatest adventure stories wrapped up in the Society’s archives. She’ll be sharing these stories and some intriguing findings from a brand new collection of glass lantern slides she recently happened across.
Additionally, for just £15 including lunch, there will be the chance to peruse the very best of the Society’s historical archives, from sketches and sea charts to portable globes, polar books and peculiar maps. And the well-informed volunteers of the RSGS will be on hand to uncover the secrets behind each piece.
Commenting on the upcoming event, Chief Executive Mike Robinson said:
“The breadth of geography is one of its key strengths – it joins up a vast array of disciplines, approaches and skills, allowing it to be both highly useful and relevant to wider society. Our upcoming Geography Day celebrates this diversity with talks from filmmakers, photographers, curators and storytellers alike on subjects as diverse as deforestation, wildlife conservation and cartography!
“There’s something for everyone at Geography Day and everyone is welcome, both Members and visitors alike.”
Geography Day will run from 11 am to 4pm on Saturday 15th June 2019 and will be held at the Fair Maid’s House in Perth city centre. Tickets are just £15 including lunch and are available to buy on Eventbrite. All proceeds will support the work of RSGS.
So, what are you waiting for?
When the good folks at Perth City Centre asked me to do a “foraging” walk along the edge of the River Tay, from Rodney Gardens to the new Willowgate Activity Centre, I was intrigued. One – I’d get the chance to find out more about our native edible plants in their natural setting, and two – I’d get a tour of the exciting new Activity Centre. I couldn’t miss the chance!
My guides for the foraging walk are Margaret and Andrew Lear, founders of Plants with Purpose & Appletreeman, a family business that has been supplying edible and wildlife-friendly plants for over 16 years. As well as guided foraging walks they also offer workshops, talks and courses on sustainable horticulture, orchard management, forest gardening and beekeeping.
They can even supply many wild edibles for garden cultivation, including rare and special pear trees, all home-grown without chemicals or artificial fertilisers, so you wouldn’t have to forage too far to find something tasty for dinner!
We start at Rodney Gardens, part of the lovely Riverside Park. Margaret and Andrew have brought their foraging basket, along with some useful books: Food for Free by Richard Mabey, Wild Food by Roger Phillips and A Handbook of Scotland’s Wild Harvests, an invaluable guide that Margaret helped to write.
(That brings me to a really important point, which is – please don’t forage unless you’re in the hands of an expert, or you’ve gained plenty of knowledge in the subject. We came across a few plants that would be poisonous if eaten.)
We’ve barely left the car park when Andrew spots a walnut tree. I must’ve passed this tree dozens of times without giving it much thought, but to my surprise he points out little edible green fruits on the leaves.
About 30 seconds into our walk, Margaret stops with delight. She’s spotted at least five edible species within one patch of ordinary-looking greenery. She points out:
Not much further on, we stop at a cherry tree and pick a couple of juicy-looking little cherries. Margaret offers me one – it’s a little sour, but I would definitely eat some if I’d forgotten my picnic!
Then, to my disbelief, Margaret picks up what looks like a giant piece of polystyrene from the undergrowth and declares it to be a giant puffball mushroom. For some reason I’ve always assumed they’re poisonous but Margaret says: “You can slice it up, fry it, and it’s delicious – like steak for vegetarians.” It goes into their foraging basket to take home.
A little further on, she picks up something I’m familiar with. Sticky willow, sticky willie, or “cleavers” – call it what you like, I’ve only ever used it for sticking to the back of an unsuspecting family member’s back as a comedy prank. Margaret says that it can be used for making tea, for putting in stir-fries (get it young before it goes sticky), and for putting in a jug of water overnight to make a fresh drink.
It’s only about five minutes into our walk and I’ve learned so much already. Margaret’s knowledge of plants is like nothing I’ve heard before: the kind of knowledge that’s built through years of study and a passion for her subject.
I won’t go into detail on all of the plants, because we spotted over 40 on our hour-long walk, which took us on a lovely meandering path along the river, through forested and open areas, past ponds, under bridges and into the open river plain.
But just to give you a “flavour”, here are some highlights:
Just as importantly, Margaret tells me which plants to stay away from, such as ragwort (keep dogs and horses away from this), giant hogweed – a well-known plant that can cause burns if you touch it. It’s so useful to know all the “don’t eats” as well as the “do eats”.
As we move along beside the widening river, the path also widens, and we come across some pear trees. This is Andrew’s area of expertise and he explains that there was once a huge orchard stretching from here up to Kinnoull Hill.
He points out a beautiful, healthy pear tree with dark green leaves and reveals that he was involved in getting the tree DNA-tested. And… wait for it… the tree’s DNA has been found nowhere else in the world. Where did it come from? Andrew says monks may have brought it from France, but no one knows for sure. So Andrew and Margaret have taken the chance to name it informally as the “Willowgate sausage pear”, due to its sausage-shaped fruits!
Andrew tells me that he propagates rare varieties (as well as common ones) of apple and pear trees, and he and Margaret manage an orchard from which they sell the trees. If you’re interested in buying these or any of their “wild plants for your garden”, you can contact them through their website.
We’ve arrived at the Willowgate Ponds area, so it’s time for our fascinating walk to end. I say thanks and goodbye to the Lears and, walking (carefully!) past some anglers who are fishing in the ponds, I stroll under the Friarton Bridge and on to the Activity Centre.
If you were at Perth’s Fun Day in 2017, you’d have been forgiven for thinking our city had drifted over to the coast. There were deck chairs, painted wooden huts, a Punch & Judy show, boat trips and a sandy beach. It was all thanks to the Willowgate Activity Centre who were having a fantastic Fun Day, both on Tay Street and at the centre itself, where over 1,200 visitors were able to try all the different activities throughout the day.
Funded by the Tay and Earn Trust, the Willowgate Activity Centre is opening up a large stretch of the Tay to the public for fun, recreation and sport.
At the centre I’ve arranged to meet Jim Findlay, Head of Development at the Tay & Earn Trust, who tells me all about this exciting new place:
“Our main aim is the physical regeneration of the Tay, improving access, putting in footpaths and the River Tay Pontoons, putting in the Activity Centre and the Riverside Café. It’s really designed to bring people down onto the river, make it more accessible. We call the river ‘the lost jewel in the crown for Perth’, as it has been underused until now, and we want to help to get more people using it.”
There’s so much to do here – you can try paddle-boarding, kayaking, canoeing, archery, bushcraft, aqua-zorbing, coracle-making and boat trips.
There are summer camps for kids that are booking up quickly (book yours here!) and any group can try out a new activity or skill. Schools, community groups and businesses can book the facilities or have whole activity days out.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an indoor classroom, outdoor classroom, training room, toilets, changing room with showers, and a seating area for picnics.
Check out the Willowgate Activity Centre website and the Tay and Earn Trust website for more information on the centre and all the other exciting projects funded by the Trust, or visit the Willowgate Activity Centre Facebook page.
You can book a variety of boat trips from now until the end of October, through the Perth City website. See you there!
There’s even more outdoor fun to be had at the ActiviTay weekend on 8th – 9th July at the North Inch and in Perth City Centre – find out more here.
No matter what time of year, you will always find something to keep you entertained in Perthshire. The Winter Festival sees thousands of locals and visitors alike come to the city centre to celebrate the Christmas Light Switch On, the Chocolate & Gin Festival and of course the Riverside Light Nights. While Spring and Summer marks the return of a diverse programme of events catering to a wide range of interest and age groups.
So to make sure you don’t miss out, here are a few of our favouite events coming to Perth & Kinross over the next couple of months!
With the sunshine returning to Perthshire, there’s few better feelings than to enjoy some great music on a beautiful summers day! And this Spring we are spoilt for choice for amazing music. Here are a few of our favourite music events you don’t want to miss this Summer.
For ten days every May, the city of Perth becomes the gem in Scotland’s cultural calendar. It is also one of the oldest, continuously-running independent arts festivals in Scotland.
International artists will join local bands in the City of Perth Salute. This breathtaking display of Military choreography will include a 50-minute show featuring a selection of the centrepiece acts.
There’s certainly no shortage of family fun in and around Perth City Centre. In fact, there’s so many family-friendly events this summer it was a challenge to shortlist our favourites!
Join Solas for their tenth anniversary festival in brand new location at Errol Park, Perthshire and enjoy our signature blend of music, talks, workshops, theatre, dance and much much more!
A curated weekend of excitement and adventure for children and their families unlike any other in Scotland; an exploratory, artistic experience
Need some culture in your life? No problem, there are plenty of great events that will give you an insight into Perthshire’s rich history and heritage. Or if you fancy visiting some of our cultural attractions, take a look here!
There will be inspiring talks from a wealth of talent from the RSGS network, opportunities to observe some of the Society’s most intriguing collections items, and a chance to view the hilarious winning entries from the prestigious Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018.
Throughout the summer months, you will find a brilliant range of Highland Games throughout the villages and towns around Perth & Kinross. Whether you fancy a stop at Kenmore, Aberfeldy, Crieff, Perth or Blairgowrie, you will find traditional Scottish games in a beautiful Perthshire backdrop.
Grab your pals and head along to some of the best social events in Scotland! From unmissable sporting events to unforgettable days out – there is something for every friend group in Perthshire.
Set to push you to your limits, both physically and mentally, the Cateran Yomp will take you on a journey through the foothills of the Cairngorms where you’ll attempt to conquer the gruelling 54-mile gold hike within 24 hours.
It’s one of the highlights of the racing season – The Gold Cup! The prestigious annual race is worth £40,000 to the winner on a racecard worth nearly £100,000 in total.
Perth is home to Scotland’s 14th largest population, but to students, it’s number one when it comes to having fun. While about 50,000 people in size may not seem like much, you don’t want to be caught off guard when you head to Perth for university. If you’re an international student or Scottish native, keep this advice in mind before you head to “The Fair City.”
Even with scholarships and financial aid from your university, you’ll still want to experience what Perth has to offer — but that requires careful considerations regarding your student finances. For example, Perth is littered with numerous historical castles, like the Scone Palace and Kirk of St. John the Baptist. You should study for your classes, but you should also save up to experience what Perth has to offer.
Get a RailCard Card
While you could take your own car in Perth for convenience, it would be much cheaper to get a RailCard for people aged 16-25. You get 33% off rail fares as you travel across Britain. Once you settle into your routine at Perth, you’ll want to explore more on your off days. Discounted travel fare is the best way to do that.
Be Prepared for the Weather
It’s often joked that you can experience all four seasons in one day in Scotland. Don’t think it’s a joke. It’s actually true, which can surprise you if you’re an international student. As a general rule, layers are your friends, but still familiarise yourself with common Scottish words for the weather. You’ll most likely hear your classmates cursing the fickle skies.
Grow Your Palate
Perth has many outlets for food lovers. There’s the famous Max & Ben’s Bistro, which has become one of the top eateries in the Strathearn area. We know university life means eating ramen all day, but you should splurge to find the best food Perth has to offer. Depending on how enthusiastically you frequent their establishment, some might look to hire you for business or serving purposes.
University Life is Unique
And you must take full advantage of it. Your uni years will fly by before you realise it, but these tips will make that experience much more memorable. You don’t want to be broke in the city wishing you could do more, don’t want to be stuck in one place, and don’t want to miss the hidden joys Perth has to offer.
Written by Jennifer King
Burleigh Castle sits just outside the village of Milnathort. It is open to the public and you can visit free of charge, the key can be obtained from a nearby cottage if the castle is not already open. If you do pay a visit to this fantastic castle, spare a thought to the anguish felt by Lord Balfour, fretting over his part in the downfall of his son, the story goes.
Robert Balfour lived with his father Lord Balfour in Burleigh Castle in the early years of the 18th century. Robert was seeing and had fallen hopelessly in love with the daughter of the local minister, he wanted to make this young girl his wife. But Robert’s father Lord Balfour was horrified at this suggestion, for he thought this girl far too low born for his son. The Lord wanted his son and heir to marry a young lady from a titled family, a girl whose family’s connections and status would have enhanced the marriage. Not the lowly daughter of a minister.
Try as he could, the laird could not put an end to his sons’ relationship with this unsuitable girl. No amount of gentle persuasion or threats seemed to get through to Robert who was smitten and planning his future with his young lover. At a loss as how to win his son around, and at his wit’s end, Lord Balfour decided to force his son to take the “grand tour,” a journey lots of sons of the aristocracy would take, these young men would travel, soaking up the history and culture of distant lands. Robert was not very happy at being forced to go on this trip, before he left he angrily stated that he would kill any man who got involved with his woman.
Robert Balfour was abroad travelling for a year or two, his young lover was never far from his thoughts. When he finally returned to Burleigh Castle he was informed that his girlfriend had married another, she was now the wife of Henry Stenhouse, the schoolmaster in Inverkeithing. A violent rage seemed to take over the whole of Roberts body, it was an anger that the young man could not shake off, he felt he had been made to look a fool and his head buzzed with thoughts of revenge.
April the 9th 1707 was market day in Inverkeithing and Robert Balfour travelled to the Fife town accompanied by a servant. Robert may have spent a large part of the day drinking in one of the towns many taverns, sitting alone, he would have looked as if he was surrounded by a dark air of melancholy, his blood boiled with a passion-filled fury. Robert Balfour finished his drink and walked out into the street. He made his way to the house of the schoolmaster. Banging loudly on the door with his fist Robert stood waiting to confront the man who had stolen his love. Henry Stenhouse opened the door, unable to hide his displeasure at being interrupted in this way. After an angry exchange, Robert drew out a pair of pistols and shot Henry in the left shoulder twice. As Henry staggered and fell backward into the house, Robert drew his sword and using the weapon to threaten the gathering crowd he made his way to his horse and escaped.
Henry Stenhouse died from his wounds twelve days after the shooting and Robert Balfour was arrested for the murder. For some unknown reason, there was a long delay in bringing the killer to trial. Eventually, Robert was tried and found guilty, he was sentenced to be beheaded at the Market Cross of Edinburgh on the 6th of January 1710. The prisoner was held in Edinburgh’s Tolbooth until the sentence of death could be carried out. One day Robert received a visit from his sister, the two of them talked privately in the condemned cell fomenting a plan. Brother and sister quickly changed clothes, Robert dressed as his sister managed to fool the jailers and make his escape, he hid in a tree near Edinburgh Castle, when things had quietened down, he managed to slip out of the city.
Robert Balfour managed to flee overseas but returned to Scotland to take part in the Jacobite uprising in 1715, he fought for the Stuart cause at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. Again forced to flee after the Jacobite failure Robert Balfour died a poor exile in 1757.
If you enjoyed this article, why not take a look at Garys book ‘No Fair City’?
Battles, regicides, executions, conspiracies, murders, floods, fires, crimes, punishments, and mayhem No Fair City by Gary Knight has them all. Delve into the darker side of historical Perth, where witches, smugglers, grave robbers, murderers, and thieves conduct their ghastly business. Learn how the guilty (and innocent) were tried, punished, and executed. Read how, in a world before health and safety, plague, fire, the merciless River Tay, and the Perth s lade, railways and roads, took their daily toll of townsfolk and visitors. Find the book here.
Or if you want to read similar stories from across Scotland, take a look in his new Scottish History Fanzine ‘For the Lion’ available at www.forthelionfanzine.com.
To mark the international golf championship, the Solheim Cup, taking place at Gleneagles in September, come along to Perth’s North Inch this Sunday (28th April) between 11am and 3.30pm for your chance to have your photo taken with the premier ladies’ golf trophy itself.
As well as seeing the Cup on display, there will also be an opportunity to try your hand at golf with an inflatable driving range and chipping target as well as mini golf.
There will also be a display by Perth & Kinross Council’s Community Greenspace Team to highlight the Associated Floral Competition to celebrate the Solheim Cup. An information stall about the major golfing event will also be available.
Running alongside the Solheim Cup event on the North Inch on Sunday are the Caledonia Cup Finals organised by the Scottish Rugby Union, (SRU). Cheer on Perthshire Rugby Club’s Under 15 Team in the Caledonia Cup Final for their age-group and take the opportunity to have your photo taken with the Calcutta Cup and the Pro 14 Cup in the SRU tent.
The first match of the Cup Finals will kick off at 11am.
We are giving you the chance to win two tickets to Lewis Capaldi’s SOLD OUT show at the Perth Festival on the 18th of May!
Lewis is a Scottish singer/songwriter who has shot to fame towards the end of 2018. His hit song ‘Someone You Loved’ has topped the UK charts for 7 consecutive weeks and boasts over 150 million plays on Spotify.
For your chance to win this amazing prize all you have to do is register an account with Mi Rewards. Mi Rewards is Perth’s city-wide loyalty programme. The first of it’s kind in the UK, our smart loyalty programme links with your credit & debit cards to reward you when you spend in Perth! Whether you are taking a stagecoach bus or shopping in over 60 local businesses, you will automatically collect points that you can cash out for a Perth Gift Card.
To fully register your account and be legible for this competition, you will need to add at least one debit or credit card to your account. We need this so we can add Mi Points to your account. Your payment cards will never be charged. For more information on card security, take a look here.
Don’t worry if you have already registered for Mi Rewards, you will automatically be entered into this competition!
For ten days every May, the city of Perth becomes the gem in Scotland’s cultural calendar. One of the oldest, continuously-running independent arts festivals in Scotland, Perth Festival of the Arts is now in its 48th year. It started as an opera and classical music festival in the early 70s and now covers all art forms. The Perth Festival are all about top quality, bringing new arts experiences to Perth, and celebrating the arts with people of all ages.
Over the years, we’ve hosted big names including Bryn Terfel, Van Morrison, The Proclaimers, KT Tunstall, Calvin Harris, and many more. Make sure to take a look at all the festival events taking place this year – there’s something for the whole family to enjoy!
Tales of inspiration and hope at Perth Festival
With Perth Theatre back in play again, Perth Festival of the Arts has increased its dramatic offerings to Festival audiences this year in the form of three award-winning theatre pieces brought from Wales, Teeside and the USA.
With two of the plays telling true stories of the lives of remarkable individuals living in the last century, the 10-day Festival hopes to inspire, inform and entertain audiences with carefully-selected productions that wouldn’t otherwise be performed in Perth.
The trio opens with A Regular Little Houdini for a one-off matinee performance on Saturday 18th May at 3pm. The Flying Bridge Theatre production is a beautiful one-man play set in South Wales at the turn of the last century and is a coming of age story. Written and performed Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, the play follows a lowly dockworker’s son who idolises his hero Harry Houdini and commits himself to a life of magic. But as the harsh reality of working class life in Edwardian Britain gets in the way, audiences watch a young man trying to follow his dreams while poverty weighs him down like mud.
The production has taken home no less than five awards, including ‘Best Actor’ in Wales Theatre Awards. The 1-hour play will be followed by a post-show Q&A with the actor/ writer.
The Festival’s second theatre pieces come together on the evening of Thursday 23rd May in Perth Theatre, offering a special double-bill. Hailing all the way from Los Angeles, is the internationally-acclaimed Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany. The short play, written and performed by Ingrid Garner, is a theatrical adaptation of her grandmother Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s award-winning memoirs, detailing her youth as an American caught in WWII Berlin. During the great depression, when she is nine, Eleanor’s family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where a new job awaits her father. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic and return to the United States becomes impossible. Eleanor struggles to maintain stability, hope and identity in a world of terror and contrasts.
This true story, with its themes of social and political turmoil, is strikingly relevant almost 80 years later. Ingrid Garner enacts the universal yet seldom reported experience of civilians in wartime. In a thoroughly physical production, accompanied by sound, images and video, the audience will be immersed in her grandmother’s harrowing journey of survival.
The production has achieved great acclaim in Fringe Festival circuits around the globe, including Hollywood, Australia and in 2017, Edinburgh Fringe, where Perth Festival of the Arts first spotted and reviewed the outstanding production. In an interview with Hollywood Fringe, actor Ingrid explained “I hope my audiences feel inspired to inquire with their own parents and grandparents about their experience of war. Many people fall silent after a war… It took my grandmother 60 years to share her story. This is a story about how citizens, especially innocent children, are affected by war.”
The trio of plays culminates on 23rd May within a piece of unique modern folk theatre with 5-star reviews. Presented by three-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners, The Young’s, The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff is the true story of one man’s adventure from begging on the streets in the north of England to fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, taking in the Hunger Marches and the Battle of Cable Street. It’s a timely, touching and often hilarious musical adventure following the footsteps of one working class hero who witnessed some of the momentous events of the 1930s.
The production has a touching back-story. At the end of a gig in 2015, folk singers The Young’uns were approached by Johnny Longstaff’s son who was in the audience and asked to tell the story of his father’s remarkable life. With their trademark harmony, honesty and humour the Teeside trio then brought together 16 specially composed songs, spoken word, striking imagery and the real recorded voice of Johnny himself to tell a remarkable human story oozing with modern relevance.
Tickets for the plays and all Festival shows are on-sale via the Horsecross box office 01738 621031 or online www.perthfestival.co.uk. The Festival runs from 16-25th May 2019 in venues across the city and has 35 events running this year.
Festival Shop Window Competition
Perth Festival of the Arts is launching its annual Shop Window Competition in conjunction with the Perthshire Advertiser this week.
Retailers and shop owners are invited to take part by creating window displays that celebrate the city’s arts-packed 10-day festival which runs from 16-25 May.
Shops will compete to create the most eye-catching and colourful window displays that capture the Festival of the Arts spirit. By taking inspiration from the Festival brochure, such as the vibrant artwork by illustrator Jill Calder and the Festival’s diverse programme, shop owners can turn their window into a stunning piece of art. Shops can pick a Festival theme that suits the nature of their business and with the Festival’s rich range of events, the possibilities are endless. The decorated window displays will complement the colourful Festival banners around the city centre and contribute to the Festival spirit during May.
The competition is split into two categories with prizes for Best Shop Window and Best Charity Shop Window. The prize will be two tickets to a 2019 festival event of the winner’s choice (subject to availability). This year’s programme includes big names such as Jools Holland, Hue and Cry and English Touring Opera. Window displays should be ready on or before Tuesday 14 May, when the judging will take place. Entrants are free to start their displays as soon as they wish and keep them running for the length of the festival.
Festival Administrator Helen MacKinnon explained: “The annual Shop Window Competition is an exciting and long-standing part of the Festival. The efforts and creativity displayed by shops are always outstanding and contribute hugely to the festival vibe within the city centre. We hope that new and long-standing participants will join in the fun”.
Shops can enter the competition by emailing Perth Festival of the Arts on email@example.com calling 07739 836994. The closing date for entry is Tuesday 7 May. For full details of the Festival programme visit www.perthfestival.co.uk
From May until September 2019, discover the nature and sights of the River Tay with our fantastic boat trips. Take a trip from Broughty Ferry to Perth for a great day out or set sail towards Newburgh for a 50-minute trip on the river.