26th June, 2012

Well it's Tuesday & English as a Second Language (ESOL) & Adult learning are here as usual. In the dining room we have the Rotary Club Young Artist of the Year Exhibition featuring pictures and 3D work from the local primary and secondary schools (5 - 18 years). They had their prizegiving  on Saturday, although I felt it was a shame more people couldn't get prizes as there are such a variety of styles - how can you compare? Some of the Higher and advanced Higher work was stunning and there were works of real promise & creativity in all the age groups. Cloe's favourite is the hat from Alice in wonderland - a second year creation made of playing cards and sprouting white rabbit's ears. Both this one and the previous exhibition are on our facebook so why don't you take a look for yourself. The exhibition was on display all last week and so the elderly lunch club holiday from Arbroath Town Mission had some of their meals in the midst of it. They felt it was like being in the middle of an art gallery and wanted to know if any items were for sale. They enjoyed a restful holiday with lots of daytrips and managed to get away with a few sunny days in this rather disappointing summer.

Wholeness Through Christ ( a retreat organisation) is a group who have just rediscovered us after many years of absence & were delighted with their weekend. One person wrote "Dear Atholl Centre Humans, Thank you so much for a brilliant stay. You could not have done more from making sure I had a right room for my needs to the last morning. May the Lord bless you and all you do, as a centre and as people." Kalhan. It was a small group of 12 but they made their presence known with good singing voices.
 The previous weekend we had another small group called Friends International who are students from different countries all over the world & come every year for a get together. It's nice to meet old friends as well as welcome new faces  when groups come year after year.

We've also been open for B&B but haven't had many takers so far. Most hotels and guest houses are experiencing the same slow start to the season as people are put off with the poor weather and attracted south to the Olympics. Although, lets not malign the weather too much because actually in Pitlochry we haven't done too badly compared with the general forecasts, as being in a valley we seem to get the best of both East and West coast weather and are often dry and even sometimes sunny when others are grey and wet.

You'll be pleased to hear that on Friday the automatic door opener for disabled users was finally installed. We'd hoped it would go in when Graham and Aggie  were still here (they stayed for 2 weeks), so they could do a grand opening. Unfortunately Aggie was ill throughout their stay, so get well soon Aggie & we're looking forward to seeing you back  in September.

Cloe's blog
It is my last week at the Atholl Centre and in Scotland and I've learnt more in 6 weeks here than in 8 years of English classes in France. The Atholl Centre has given me the opportunity to do work and to gain experience in every type of work from administrative  tasks to  setting the tables or cleaning rooms.  I would like to thank them for all the experience they have given me and to everything they have done for me. It is thanks to them that I can do my second year of college.

6th June, 2012

It's the day after the jubilee weekend and everything is back to normal - no more parties, fireworks & concerts, well not to celebrate the jubilee anyway. After a glorious weekend we now have London's cold & rain :( However lots of summer events are starting up. The Highland games circuit has begun - Blair Atholl was 2 weekends ago, Kenmore is in July, Birnam & Aberfeldy are in August & Pitlochry is near the end in September. The Festival Theatre has begun its programme of plays & is having good reviews and as well as all the usual holiday pursuits which are all open now, there are garden tours, art exhibitions, golf competitions & lots of musical events.We are just about to start our B&B season with Wilma from Dundee arriving today as our summer volunteer.We also have a French intern called Cloe from our twin town Confolens, who's training to be a PA. We're trying to give her as broad an experience as possible, so it's good she's come while there's so much going on. She's already been to the Blair Atholl Highland Games and helped build the beacon bonfire on top of Ben Y Vrackie. We've been busy - 2 families are with us at the moment, one in the flat and a couple with disabled needs using a couple of the downstairs rooms. Over the long weekend we had an art exhibition as well - posters by local schoolchildren to celebrate the 150 years of the railway in Pitlochry.They'd painted a wonderful frieze too which is on permanent display at the station. Definitely worth a look. Last week was hectic with a group of 44 Germans (including a Brazilian just so Iain could practice his Portuguese again) staying midweek and then a group of international students at the weekend. Scottish Children with Heart Disorders had a great family weekend with us. It was lovely to see the kids running about & having fun & to see how they had come on from the previous year. They inaugurated their new holiday caravan at Faskally while they were here & had a whale of a time. L'Arche foundation, working with adults with learning disablilities, had a annual get together with people from  3 Centres in Scotland coming to Pitlochry for the day. It was very busy with 68 disabled adults & their helpers to feed & water, with a full programme of worship & workshops & lots of wandering about & requests for help with this or that - but very rewarding.

Etape Caledonia was bigger than ever this year with 5,250 people booked, although due to predicted bad weather, only  just over 4,000 turned up. Fortunately the weather was better than predicted, mostly dry but with a strong wind until lunch time. Then the heavens opened. But by then most people had completed the challenge,having set off at 6.30 am. The race was closed early at about 2pm & those still riding in the rain were picked up by truck before hypothermia set in. Etape set up their control & emergency teams in the Centre again & race martials stayed here overnight. The massage team worked hard at their tables in the dining room both before & after the race and cold cyclists were able to benefit from hot showers here too. This annual event raises huge sums for Marie Curie Cancer Care and cyclists can be sponsored for other charities too. Richard & Rulzion riding for the Centre raised over £1,300 (including gift aid) - amazing. Thanks guys!

It's been brilliant! This month we've really benefitted from community fundraising. As well as funds raised by Richard & Rulzion we received a grant of £300 from the Enchanted Forest Community fund and donations from Madcaps fundraising concert, raising £200 and the WA coffee morning, raising £500. All of these have enabled us to start the process of getting the disabled friendly push button entry system installed in our main entrance. We're just waiting for the workmen to set a date.