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The mobile library that’s running just fine

Scott Brown has been serving book lovers on his rounds in Grandtully for 17 years.

With so many ways to consume literature from e-books to audio books, mobile libraries may seem like a thing of the past.

But residents living in some of country’s most remote communities say the service is a lifeline.

We joined mobile librarian Scott Brown, who has been serving book lovers for 17 years, on his rounds in Grandtully.


‘My ten days in coronavirus self-isolation after Asia trip’

STV employee Cecilie Corso was tested for Covid-19 by 'someone who looked like a Martian'.

Coronavirus fears: Cecilie Corso and her sister.

STV assistant producer Cecilie Corso spent ten days in self-isolation after returning on a trip to Asia.

Doctors advised her to exercise extra caution – which she did – but she also grappled with worries about infecting friends and co-workers if she had indeed picked up the virus while on holiday.

STV head of news Steve Ladurantaye sat down with her to find out more about what the experience was like.

Why were you considered a potential coronavirus carrier?

I was in Thailand on holiday in mid-February, we moved around the country. I was on a trip with my sister for two weeks. I don’t believe it was classified as a danger country when I went, but that changed while I was there. I knew there were some cases, but it wasn’t an emergency.

The locals were all wearing masks – anyone in hospitality was wearing them. If you asked them about it, they’d say they weren’t worried but they had to wear them. It didn’t freak me out, because it’s quite common for people in Asia to wear masks when they have a cold to not pass it along. 

What was the flight like on the way home?

They sprayed a product to clear the air and said it was because of coronavirus. You’re just aware of it everywhere in Asia – they warn you in hotels, on transportation apps and it was the same on the plane. They are constantly making you aware and reminding you not to panic.

We wore masks whenever we were in airports, but lots of tourists and their children in Thailand weren’t wearing any. But generally I felt everything was under control in Thailand – then you land in Heathrow and it just seemed like nobody cared.

What happened when you landed back in London and then Glasgow?

I was surprised more people weren’t taking their safety as seriously as they did it Thailand. It felt like as soon as people landed, they took their masks off. That surprised me in an international airport. I bought mine in a one-pound type store – it is an Avengers mask. It was the only one they had, but we got a lot of compliments on it from the Thai people.

Then you get home. Why did you decide to warn us that you may be sick?

As I often do after a long trip, I tend to get a cold. I was really tired, but was going to go to work. Then I thought about it being an open space. It wouldn’t be fair to make the decision to come in without checking first so I called my GP and they said that I should self-isolate.

Then I was contacted by Health Protection Scotland. They told me to wash all my clothes at the highest temperature, to only use the dishwasher and my husband was to stay in the next room. I was asked to avoid contact with people – anything I needed would have to brought over to me.

‘They said someone will come to get me, and they would look scary because they’d look like Martians, in green with goggles and a mask.’

Cecilie Corso, who was tested for coronavirus

Did it freak you out?

Pretty quickly they asked me to come and do a test on my birthday. They were lovely about it and wished me a happy birthday. They told me to come into the car park at the back of the hospital and then asked me to remain in the car. They said someone will come to get me, and they would look scary because they’d look like Martians, in green with goggles and a mask. They came and got me and made a wee joke about their appearance, but it wasn’t scary. They swabbed my nose and throat – a bit of spit and that was it.

Were you anxious to get the results?

It didn’t panic me, I kind of felt the whole thing was administrative. I didn’t think I had coronavirus. But it took a bit longer than I expected so I got a bit nervous. I started to go mental thinking they were trying to find a way to tell me I was the first case in Scotland.

And when you got the results? 

We celebrated with a bottle of prosecco. I didn’t know if I could go back or needed to stay isolated – I had a cold and it was practically gone but the guidance wasn’t clear. I mean, it’s February in Scotland – we’re all going to have some symptoms.

You were isolated for ten days before you were told you could back to work. How did you spend your time?

I did walk my dog in the garden when nobody was around – I’d wrap myself in a scarf. I thought I would lose my mind without fresh air. The rest of the time was Netflix and lots of Skyping with friends. I was pretty bored. My husband wasn’t allowed in the same room, we’d text and talk across rooms. Charlie my dog was able to stay with me because dogs can’t get it from humans – so that was good. 

This will probably happen to more people – what advice do you have for making it through the isolation?

Don’t stay in your pyjamas watching Netflix – it’s nice for a day but you lose your mind. Open a window and let some fresh air come in. Get busy, work if you can, speak to loved ones on the phone. And if you have to get tested – it’s not scary at all and they were all lovely. No needles or anything.

Coronavirus: Tenerife hotel lockdown as tourists quarantined

The four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace went into lockdown after an Italian man tested positive for the virus.

Marc Ryckaert / CC BY-SA
Hundreds of guests have been told not to leave their rooms.

Guests at a hotel in Tenerife believed to be full of British holidaymakers have been placed in quarantine after a visiting Italian doctor tested positive for coronavirus.

The four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace went into lockdown on Tuesday after the diagnosis, with hundreds guests told not to leave their rooms until further notice.

Hundreds of thousands of Scots visit Tenerife every year, making it one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations, with dozens of flights from Scottish airports every week.

The holiday package firms Tui and Jet2holidays confirmed they use the hotel, which has nearly 500 rooms, four pools and a gym.

The Canary Islands’ health authorities confirmed in a statement that the doctor is being kept in isolation and his test results will be sent to Madrid for a second analysis.

In a letter sent to guests, the hotel said: “We regret to inform you that for healthy (sic) reasons, the hotel has been closed down.

“Until the sanitary authorities warn, you must remain in your rooms.”

It comes as the UK Government issued fresh official advice to travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy that they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of Scots visit Tenerife every year.

A spokesman for Jet2 said: “We are aware of reports that a non-Jet2holidays customer staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Under the advice of the regional and the Spanish government authorities, the hotel has been placed under quarantine.

“The health and safety of our customers is our absolute priority, and we will release more information as it becomes available.

“In line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, our flying programme remains unchanged.”

The four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace went into lockdown.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock said official advice, updated on Tuesday, has been changed to say that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.

Covid-19 disease, caused by coronavirus, is causing a range of symptoms including a fever, cough or sore throat.

Meanwhile, Britons who have been in lockdown regions of Italy – including those in the Lombardy and Veneto region – should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms, Hancock said.

No cases have been identified in Scotland so far but health regulations have been updated to require doctors to inform health boards about any cases of the disease.

Patient information must be shared “if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a person they are attending has coronavirus”, according to the guidance.

More than 80,000 cases of coronavirus have now been identified worldwide and World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus warned the spread of the virus has the potential to become a pandemic, although it has not reached that stage yet.

‘The rows of sleeping bags on the streets … they are people’

Rough sleeper Kerry Anne Meiklem attended special event designed to help homeless people in Fife.

Life has thrown major challenges in the direction of Kerry Anne Meiklem.

She’s spent time in prison, while heroin addiction has robbed her of many things.

Now on methadone and trying to get her life together, the 29-year-old continues to face homelessness.

“I’ve had to sleep rough on and off since I was 16,” Kerry Anne says during a visit to the Kirkcaldy Kitchen, which provides hot food and drink to those in need.

“Last year, I was living in Fife, but then thought it would be good to go to Glasgow to live. But I ended up having nowhere to go and had to spend three weeks over Christmas and New Year on the streets.

“Those rows of sleeping bags you see on the news … they are people, I was one of them.”

The pop-up event at the King’s Theatre in Kirkcaldy also saw haircuts, hand massages and other support offered to homeless people.

Organised by the Co-operative Venture group, run by ENABLE Scotland and the Co-operative College, the group is made up of 16-30 year-olds with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism and aims to help them into education, volunteering, training and employment.

Around 30 homeless people gathered to use the services on offer during the three-hour session.

“I got the chance to get something to eat and got a hand massage which I really enjoyed,” says Kerry Anne.

“I got to speak to other people and it made a big difference to me. It made me so glad I came back to Fife. I’d just like to thank everyone, especially the young people for what they did for us, it is so nice to know they care.”

Liam Flinn, ENABLE Scotland/Co-operative College project coordinator, said their initial idea was for a pop-up shop, but as interest and support came in from the local community, the event grew.

“It has been amazing for them to bring their ideas to life,” he says. “It’s given them a focus and shows they can make a difference.”


How to make the perfect pancake stack on Shrove Tuesday

Laurie Macmillan from Cafe Strange Brew in Glasgow gave us a few tips on how to make the best pancakes.

Whether you like thick scotch pancakes or thin crepes, everyone can agree that Pancake Day is one of the best days of the year. 

A day dedicated to the delicious combination of eggs, milk and flour, Pancake Day’s origins are thought to have begun around 1000 AD and are intrinsically linked with the celebration of Easter.

Taking place exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, each year the date of Shrove Tuesday varies and it can fall anytime between the start of February and the beginning of March.

But how do you make the best pancakes?

According to Laurie Macmillan, the owner of Cafe Strange Brew in Glasgow, the perfect stack consists of thick pancakes enriched with butter with baking powder to make them extra fluffy. 

She adds that pancakes are often full of nostalgia, and while the stacks she serves in her cafe are topped with everything from bacon and banana to pineapple and panna cotta, she says that sometimes the classic lemon and sugar topping is the best.


Thousands seek help to stop child sex abuse picture urges

A total of 6010 people sought support from Stop It Now! Scotland in 2019 - a rise of 135% from 2018.

Pixabay
Illegal: Thousands of people have sought help over the past year.

Thousands of people have sought help over the past year to stop viewing indecent images of children.

Stop It Now! Scotland – a service that supports those who are worried about their own sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards youngsters – has reported a steep rise in the number of people reaching out for help.

Data released on Tuesday revealed a total of 6010 people sought support from the charity in 2019 – a 135% increase from 2018 in which 2554 people got in touch for themselves or someone close to them.

Stuart Allardyce, director of Stop It Now! Scotland, said: “We know that thousands of men across Scotland are viewing and sharing sexual images of under 18s.

“So we must work proactively to prevent them from doing so.

“There is no one type of person who commits these sorts of crimes.

“They come from every background and every part of Scotland. They may be our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues.”

Mr Allardyce said most of the people the charity works with are adults, but a “growing proportion” are teenagers.

He added: “Many start to look at indecent images of children as part of their pornography habit, somehow not noticing or perhaps caring that these were images of children being abused.

“A few are struggling with a long-standing sexual interest in children and think that looking at ‘only pictures’ is a way of containing that interest.

“Everyone needs to know that this behaviour is illegal; that children are harmed by it; that serious consequences await those involved in it; but that our services, UK helpline and website give anonymous and confidential support and advice to stop and stay stopped.”

The Stop It Now! UK helpline opened in 2002 with Stop It Now! Scotland established in 2008.

Both are run by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the only UK-wide child protection charity dedicated solely to preventing child sexual abuse.

Since 2015, more than 188,000 people in the UK have used the charity’s site – which has been given a recent makeover.

Run by an experienced team of trained advisors, callers to the helpline are given practical advice to help them to stop their illegal online behaviour in both the short and long-term.

Helpline advisors also explore with callers the possibility of any direct risks to children, including in the caller’s own family, to ensure these children are protected.

Calls can remain confidential and anonymous, unless identifying details are given and a child is at risk of harm or a crime has been committed.

In 2018, the National Crime Agency estimated that 80,000 people in the UK posed a sexual threat to children online.

Those who are arrested by Police Scotland are provided with a leaflet about Stop It Now! Scotland’s services and are urged to seek help for their behaviour.

Family members of those arrested are also given details of how they can access support through the charity.

Chief constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection, said: “Accessing these images is not a victimless crime and viewing them creates more demand for these appalling offences.

“We are arresting more offenders than ever before – at least 500 people a month – and our tools for investigating and tracking down those responsible are the best they have ever been.

“We are committed to targeting the perpetrators of these crimes and bringing them to justice.

“The consequences of being caught are huge and include losing your job, your family life, being imprisoned and registered as a sex offender.

“Anyone who is having inappropriate thoughts about children should seek help from Stop It Now!, otherwise they should expect a visit from police officers.”

Support services

Stop It Now! Scotland

Upstream

Website: theupstreamproject.org.uk


‘Significant’ concerns over children’s care in Orkney

Care Inspectorate report finds major weaknesses in the way children and young people are supported.

The health board and council have accepted that improvements are needed.

There are major weaknesses in the way vulnerable children and young people are supported and cared for in Orkney, according to inspectors.

The leadership of children’s services in Orkney was deemed unsatisfactory by the Care Inspectorate, which felt more work was needed to meet the needs of children.

Some children and young people experienced “physical neglect for too long” before they were given alternative care arrangements, the report said.

It also found that staff involved were “not confident in the effectiveness of local child protection arrangements”.

The inspection looked at services provided by the Orkney Partnership – made up of NHS Orkney, the local authority, Police Scotland and charities.

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “A significant amount of work is needed to reduce the risks created by inconsistencies in key child protection processes.”

The health board accepted that it needed to make improvements.

Gerry O’Brien, chief executive of NHS Orkney, said: “Considerable improvement is clearly needed. The inspectors set out recommendations we will follow to set a clear path for improvement – a path that will be closely monitored by the Care Inspectorate to make sure we do this as effectively and as rapidly as possible.

“It must be noted, however, that inspectors also found good practice already in place. As we develop our improvement plan – and look to other agencies to see what works well there – we will ensure that this work is maintained and enhanced.”

The report found that the Orkney partnership would need additional support and expertise if it was to make improvements.

John Mundell, interim chief executive of Orkney Islands Council, said: “Acting on this report and making the necessary improvements is an absolute priority for all involved.

“This work is already underway and will strengthen, change and improve future arrangements and practice and result in more effective inter-agency working in providing care and protection for children and young people.”


Free period products set to be made available in Scotland

Scotland set to become the first country in the world to make free tampons and sanitary pads a right.

The Scottish Government believes the products will cost around £24m per year.

Legislation for Scotland to become the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all is expected to pass its first hurdle at Holyrood.

MSPs from all parties are expected to endorse the general principles of a member’s Bill from Labour’s Monica Lennon.

It comes after a U-turn from the Scottish Government, which announced last week it would back the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill in Tuesday’s vote.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said ministers still had “concerns” about the proposed legislation and would be working with Ms Lennon to produce more “robust” figures about the costs.

The Labour MSP had  originally estimated the Bill – which would introduce a legal right of access to free products such as tampons and sanitary pads –  would cost £9.7m a year.

The Scottish Government estimated the annual bill would be substantially higher at £24m.

Ahead of the debate, groups that have supported the legislation, including Girlguiding Scotland and the trade union Unite, will stage a rally outside Holyrood.


Celtic legend’s European Cup winner’s medal to be auctioned

Lisbon Lion Stevie Chalmers, who died at the age of 83 last April, scored the winner during the 2-1 win against Inter Milan.

Legend: Stevie Chalmers' medals will be put to auction.

Celtic legend Stevie Chalmers’ 1967 European Cup winner’s medal will go up for auction in Glasgow next month.

The Lisbon Lion, who died at the age of 83 last April, scored the winner during the 2-1 win against Inter Milan.

The Scotland international, who spent 12 seasons at Celtic and scored 236 goals, is considered one of the club’s greatest ever players.

His family have put a number of historic items to auction, which will be held on March 13.

Six medals, which include the European Cup, Scottish First Division, League Cup, Scottish Cup and Commemoration medal, will be sold as one lot at McTear’s Sporting Medals and Trophies Auction.

Jerseys: Gianfranco Bedin’s Inter Milan shirt will be auctioned.

Among the other items are Inter Milan midfielder Gianfranco Bedin’s jersey from the 1967 European Cup Final, which Chalmers received at the end of the match.

A match-worn Pele jersey, which he swapped with the Celtic forward at the end of Scotland’s 1-1 draw with Brazil at Hampden Park in 1966, will also be put to auction.

Chalmers’ son Paul reflected on that fateful night in Lisbon.

“I was too young to go to Lisbon but I remember the house being really crowded as we all gathered to watch the game,” he said.

“It was a tight match and when dad scored the winner the house erupted.

Celtic legend: Stevie Chalmers.

“The Brazil game was a real highlight for my dad. He was surprised, but very proud, when Pele came over to swap jerseys at the end of the 1-1 draw at Hampden.

“Although he scored Scotland’s goal the jersey should have gone to Billy Bremner as he was nearest when the final whistle blew, but apparently Billy had been a bit rough with the tackling so Pele turned to dad and gave it to him.”

Memorabilia: Pele’s shirt is also up for auction.

Paul explained the decision to put the medals to auction and said his family believed the “time was right”.

He added: “Dad’s medals and other memorabilia are with his six children and their families and with mum’s blessing we all decided that the time was right to let another football fan become custodian of the archive.

“We will still have a million memories to share and that is what’s important.”


It’s been raining records in soggy Scotland this February

Thousands of gardens have turned into mud baths this month, but not in Aberdeenshire.

An ambulance became submerged in flood waters in Paisley.

Do you know that I’ve said the words ‘storm’ and ‘rain’ 462 times in my forecasts so far this February?

Ok, I haven’t actually been counting, but I’m sure it’ll be close. Most people dream of having outdoor swimming pools, and for many of us our dreams came true last Friday as the rain turned thousands of gardens into mud baths – not quite what we had in mind Mother Nature.

If you live in central or southern Scotland then it’ll probably come as no surprise to you that it’s been the wettest February on record for quite a few locations.

The most noteworthy is Edinburgh Botanics which has broken 78 years’ worth of records with 127mm of rain falling so far this month, which is two-and-a-half times the months normal rainfall.

Bishopton in Renfrewshire has had a shocking amount of rain, at nearly 300mm for the month so far, breaking 20 years of records.

It’s also been the wettest February on record for Millport, Strathallan and Prestwick.

Bishopton has not just had its wettest February on record, but is only 70mm off having its wettest ever month on record. I would say it’s unlikely to break that record, but to be close to that is pretty dire stuff. The amount of rain that’s fallen in the first eight weeks of the year is the same as the rainfall that fell in January, February, March, April and half of May last year.

While most of us are drookit after a horrendous February and it feels like our jackets will never be dry again, it’s been quite a contrast in Aberdeenshire. Fyvie and Dyce are the driest places in the UK this month with just under half the normal rainfall for February.

In contrast to Bishopton’s 300mm, Fyvie has only had about 30mm of rain. The reason this huge discrepancy has occurred is because our airflow has been predominantly westerly meaning the Cairngorms have captured most of the rainfall with drier air then descending into Aberdeenshire.

With another week to go the rainfall totals will continue to go up with further spells of rain and showers to come, although it shouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as last week. We await for the offerings of March, but I do hope it’s something a bit more kind and a bit less soggy.


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