Gibraltar..
02 May 2022

It was our great pleasure to welcome Rotary District Governor Heather Stuart to our meeting of 2nd May. Following a meal and business Heather briefly spoke about what was going on around the District and then opened an informal question and answer discussion, which was much appreciated. 

Business included the Primary Schools Quiz, interviewing a RYLA candidate from Waid academy and the ‘Gavel’ competition.

We then enjoyed an excellent talk by club member Allan Wood, who spoke about Gibraltar. Allan is a retired RN officer and he brought great insight to a comprehensive, illustrated talk which covered the geology, geography, political history and military importance of this limestone feature of southern Spain. The strategic importance of Gibraltar was made very clear when we learned it had been besieged no fewer that 14 times over a 500 year period. 

The rock has many natural caves, the largest being St Michael’s cave, with evidence of Neanderthal people going back 30,000 years, as well as, much more recently, a long period of Moorish occupation.

With very much a Royal Naval perspective, we heard that the natural caves have, over time, been extended by some 30 miles of man-made tunnels and both defensive and offensive strongpoints. It was interesting to learn that much of the rock from more recent excavations now forms a runway for the airport. Of critical importance during WW2, Gibraltar continued to play a significant role during the cold war years. 

Altogether a most interesting talk and, following many questions, an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed by Eric Dewhirst.

Bike Packing..
18 April 2022

Business at the meeting of 18th April included confirmation that a candidate for RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) was to be interviewed and that preliminary planning is in hand for a Coastal Path charity walk later in the year. Sadly we also heard that the Inner Wheel Club of Anstruther is to close after 55 years. following discussion it was agreed that an invitation should be offered to any member with an interest in Rotary. 

The talk following business was entitled ‘Bike Packing’. This proved to be an entertaining tutorial on how to efficiently pack a motorcycle for a trek by club member Findlay McLaren, who is a motorcycling enthusiast noted for his regular long distance safaris to distant places.

We saw that every inch was efficiently utilised with panniers, tank bag, roll bag, carry bag, document holder - and no doubt others too. 

We learned that the variety of kit needed for these journeys is quite remarkable. Tent, sleeping bag, tarpaulin, tools, self amalgamating tape, jack, puncture kit, first aid kit, cooking stove, food, folding umbrella, maps - and a kilt! Findlay explained that this latter is particularly useful when changing on the beach.

What was also clear was the sophistication of the modern motorcycle. Findlay rides a 500cc Honda CB500X - and for those of us who rode motorbikes in the 1950’s or 60's the modern machine is sophistication indeed. Electric starter, powerful fuel injected engine (with no oil leaks!) hydraulic disk brakes, antilock braking system, GPS navigation, USB ports and 12 volt electrics with auxiliary outputs.

But heavy - 200Kg plus luggage - hence the need for a jack in case the bike falls over! It was a fascinating talk and Allan Wood expressed warm thanks on behalf of the club.

 

Russia..
21 March 2022

We were pleased to welcome a number of visitors to our meeting of 21st March and, following a meal and business, were privileged to also welcome John Lloyd as speaker. Born in Anstruther, John pursued a career as a journalist. A twenty-year career working for the Financial Times followed, having begun as an industrial reporter and labour correspondent (covering, among other things, the Miners Strike of 1984-5). He later became East European editor and then, from 1991 to 1995, Moscow Correspondent. He is a member of the advisory board of the Moscow School of Political Studies

 Presently contributing editor to the Financial Times and an Associate Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, he has too published a number of books including his 2020 ‘Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot’ about Scottish independence.

John is also a Russian Speaker with a considerable knowledge of that country and his topic for the evening was the current conflict in Ukraine. This proved to be a fascinating insight into the more recent history of Russia, covering the events and political changes that led to Mr Putin and the regime that currently exists. It was interesting to have an educated view of the environment that led to the rise of ‘oligarchs’ and the wealth and power that a relatively small number of people have. 

We heard something of Mr Putin’s own career and his rise to power, as well as some insight to the way that Russia views Ukraine and also NATO - and how they view the balance of world power. 

It was altogether a fascinating talk, albeit one tempered with knowledge of the violence and horror  of the war in Ukraine. A great many questions were asked and an appreciative vote of thanks  was proposed by John O’Neill.

Iceland..
07 March 2022

The club met for its fortnightly meeting on the 7th march. Once again able to enjoy a meal at the Rockies Restaurant in Anstruther Golf Club.

The business items included a report on the collection for Ukraine, held outside the Co-Op store in Anstruther. We heard that a total of £1546 had been raised and that this is intended to be used to purchase ‘Shelter Boxes’. Grateful thanks to the generosity of all who contributed.

Following business David Mann gave an illustrated talk about Iceland and the Faroe islands. This featured his excellent photographs from a visit there, part of a cruise from Rosyth, which included a circumnavigation of the country.

It was interesting to see the  the mix of wooden and modern concrete buildings which exist side by side. Many of the wooden structures had the red painted walls  so familiar in many Scandinavian countries.

We saw rugged yet beautiful scenery, rough roads (even by Fife standards!), ancient boats, crystal clear waters and then the many interesting places which are part of the ‘Golden Circle’ tour centred on Reykjavik. Apparently the most sparsely populated country in Europe, Reykjavik is home to some 65% of the population. 

With an interior plateau of sand, lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, the coastal areas are most productive with the Gulf Stream providing a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, and most of its  islands have a polar climate. 

Altogether a very interesting talk and following questions an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed.

Thanks to 'The Posties'..
22 February 2022

The club meeting of 21st February was special, as we invited friends and family who had helped with the Christmas Post, for a meal. We are indebted to members of the Anstruther Golf Club for allowing us to use their members lounge, where we enjoyed a meal served by The Rockies Restaurant. 

We are delighted that so many were able to join us and it made for a great evening of fellowship and chat.

Following the meal we were treated to a most entertaining illustrated talk by Elizabeth Riches and entitled ‘galloping through the Galapagos’. It must be said that the ‘galloping’ part only became clear at the very end when Elizabeth was to be seen seated on what looked like a rather large horse!

The talk and photographs were from a 2018 visit to those distant islands, which are situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent. These 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.

We learned something of the history and geography of the Galapagos - and much of the flora and fauna. The photographs were spectacular of tortoises, iguanos, swallow tailed gulls, Darwin finches, frigate birds and blue footed boobies. Rats and goats too - these latter having been brought by sailors. So many exotic plants, as well as abundant colourful fish and other sea life.

It was interesting to see that there is still a letter box there, for passing sailors to leave / pick up mail.

Apart from the island of Floreana there is no fresh water and most is now supplied through desalination units. The islands also remain actively volcanic and we learned that it takes 30 to 40 years for plants to re-establish following an eruption. 

Elizabeth’s talk was hugely enjoyable and altogether fascinating and, following questions, Ian McBain proposed an appreciative vote of thanks.  

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