‘Perfect’ Highland soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan is named

Corporal Michael John Pike
Corporal Michael John Pike

Sad to report that the soldier killed on Friday 3rd June was from Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

Father-of-two Corporal Michael John Pike, 26, of 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, died on Friday. His commanding officer described him as

“the perfect example of a Highland soldier- loyal and fiercely courageous”.

He added

“The loss of Corporal Mike Pike has been felt deeply by all ranks of the Battalion. He was an enormously popular, charismatic and engaging character; a natural leader in every way. As a junior commander he was entirely dedicated to his soldiers, leading from the front with every step and they would follow him anywhere.

“A natural practical joker, his innate sense of fun was a constant source of amusement and relief for the whole Platoon. He was marked out by his constant wry smile whether leading his company from the front at PT or pushing his section on when under pressure; simply unflappable.

“As one of the brightest stars in the Battalion, he had already been earmarked for having potential for the very highest promotion. Whether as a commander or as a friend he was the perfect role model.

“As a soldier, he was one of the most professional I have known, and he was the very epitome of a Highland soldier: fierce in battle, compassionate to all and unswervingly loyal to his friends – a code he lived by to the very end.

“Our thoughts and prayers are entirely for his family, and especially Ida, Joshua and Evelynn in Germany; above all else he was a deeply loving and caring family man. His loss has left a hole in the Battalion, in his company and especially his platoon. However, I have a strong suspicion that he would not want us to dwell on his loss, I suspect that he would simply put his kit on, make a joke about it and carry on in the same dedicated, professional manner.”

My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

BBC News – ‘Perfect’ Highland soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan is named.”

Two men hurt in serious ‘spillage’ road accident

UPDATE: I have just heard that the driver of the Corsa has sadly died in Hospital. My thoughts are with his family and all his friends on this sad night. May he Rest in Peace.

Sadly the driver of the Black Corsa above was a friend of my eldest son’s. He is now badly injured and in hospital. My thoughts are with his family.

This is the third accident for friends of my son in as many weeks, and luckily the first two only involved damage to walls and cars.

As you can imagine with my son just coming up to 17  his mum is worrying herself sick about how he might drive. Happily, at least at the start, he will be restricted to my trusty and very slow Skoda Fabia 1.9SDI.

I hope that some of the kids in this area will start to take a look at accidents like this and learn. If they don’t, then soon, they will be attending the funeral of one or more of their mates. This is not the way to learn about how to drive.

Whilst the article refers to a possible spillage, in 90% of these accidents, speed has been a contributory cause.

Drive carefully.

BBC News – Two men hurt in serious ‘spillage’ road accident.

I have Voted , Have you?

Vote Conservative

It’s time to get out and exercise your democratic right, It’s time to vote. Of course I would prefer if you voted Conservative but any vote is better than none. There is nothing worse than listening to someone who says ,

“Oh I didn’t Vote, they are all the same”,

arguing political points.

Time for Change, Vote for Change, Vote Conservative on May 6th, Vote Alex Johnstone in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle, originally uploaded by fitaloon.

Not quite open again but looking resplendent. A beautiful day on Saturday and we went along to Craigievar to see how it is doing with being refurbished. Still abit to go but the exterior looks superb.

Some More Photos

Craigievar (1)
Craigievar (1)
Craigievar (2)
Craigievar (2)
Craigievar (3)
Craigievar (3)
Craigievar (4)
Craigievar (4)
Craigievar (5)
Craigievar (5)

Craigievar Castle is a pinkish harled castle six miles (10 km) south of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was the seat of Clan Sempill. The setting is among scenic rolling foothills of the Grampian Mountains. The contrast of its massive lower story structure to the finely sculpted multiple turrets, gargoyles and high corbelling work create a classic fairytale appearance.
Craigievar Castle in Autumn.

An excellent example of the original Scottish Baronial architecture, the great seven-storey castle was completed in 1626 by the Aberdonian merchant William Forbes, ancestor to the “Forbes-Sempill family” and brother of the Bishop of Aberdeen. Forbes purchased the partially completed structure from the impoverished Mortimer family in the year 1610. Forbes’ nickname was Danzig Willy, a reference to his shrewd international trading success. The Forbes family resided here for 350 years until 1963, when the property was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland.

Land of the Standing Stones

Tomnaverie

To play the tune click: Land of the Standing Stones

How do you capture the spirit of an area through music? How can one piece of music reflect the diversity of an area such as Aberdeenshire?

Aberdeenshire Council’s Arts Development Team has commissioned renowned local fiddler Paul Anderson from Tarland to compose a piece of music which captures the spirit of Aberdeenshire and provides a vibrant and creative dimension to Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations.

Composer Paul Anderson said he wrote the piece at the Tomnaverie Stone Circle near Tarland as it is a place he often goes to compose music.

He said

“The title of the piece was partly inspired by it being composed as Tomnaverie, but its more to do with it being representative of the whole of the North-East. I believe we have one of the greatest concentrations of standing stones and stone circles in the world and so Land of the Standing Stones seemed very appropriate as a title.”

Land of the Standing Stones is an evocative slow air which encapsulates much of the pride and emotion felt by Scots around the globe about their home and place of origin.

The north east of Scotland, as the seat of Scotland’s fishing industry, provides a natural link to our patron saint and the principle of engagement and inclusion through musical culture.

The tune will act as the thread that will unite Aberdeenshire in celebration of St Andrew, and will be “gifted” in a range of ways to other musicians and local people within Aberdeenshire’s towns and villages over the autumn months.

If you want to see Paul and others play in person check here.

To play the tune click: Land of the Standing Stones

Land of the Standing Stones.

Cyaaker Army twins retire after 100 years

I should have really titled this “A right pair of Cyaakers'”

The BBC reports that identical twins from Aberdeenshire are retiring from the Army after notching up a century of service between them – in nearly identical careers.

Majors Jimmie and Ron James, 64, both joined the Army on the same day in 1959 and were promoted on the same day for almost every rank in their careers. It culminated in the Buchan brothers serving as Regimental Sergeants Major and being commissioned as officers. The pair are due to retire on Thursday, after serving 50 years each. The brothers, from New Pitsligo, were 15 when they joined the Army at the same time, after seeing an advert.

All I can say is my admiration know no bounds for this pair of Cyaakers who have served their country for 50 years each,  I thought my father who served for over 40 years had done well but this pair take the biscuit.

Just as a matter of interest my great-grandfather was born in New Pitsligo back in 1857.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Army twins retire after 100 years.