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between-the-shadow-and-the-soulJura is the backdrop for much of the action in a hard-hitting new psychological thriller about a fragile young woman who steals a baby and flees to the island. Author Marguerite Valentine delved into her experience as a childcare specialist and psychotherapist for the novel, which has launched at Foyles bookshop in Bristol last month.

Flori is a successful, attractive young woman living and working in London when in the early hours of the morning, in a moment of madness, she steals a tiny baby. With the reluctant assistance of her best friend, Rose, and Matt, an erstwhile lover, she flees with the baby to Jura, a remote Scottish island. Living in extreme isolation and without the support of Rose or Matt, traumatic memories from her childhood return to haunt her and her life begins to unravel.

Marguerite explained: ‘Some experiences have seared my mind, particularly cruelty to children. The idea for the book came with an image I saw years ago on the TV news of a woman caught on CCTV stealing a baby from a maternity ward. I wondered what had prompted such a drastic choice. ‘Having worked with children at risk, I also know it’s heartbreaking and profoundly disturbing for social work professionals whose actions are so restricted by bureaucracy and poor funding. They carry a huge burden of responsibility. It’s all of these dynamics that I wanted to write about.”

You can order your copy for £9,99 online at Amazon

September is now upon us and the island of Jura is gearing up for another fantastic weekend of great music and craic. The island comes together with true community spirit to stage this amazing event! Last year’s 20th celebratory festival was enhanced by having an extra special concert in the Jura Distillery cooperage early Sunday evening with the mighty Wolfstone. A concert in the cooperage was going to be a ‘one off’ event. However, by popular demand theyhave decided to stage another one this year the top band being the mighty Skerryvore.

Jura Music Festival 2014

Jura Music Festival 2014

And Saturday’s line-up of Blazin’ Fiddles, Kathleen MacInnes, Rura and the Robyn Stapleton Trio and a ceilidh by Fergie MacDonald Ceilidh Band in Craighouse village hall will ensure that this will be a memorable event. Wherever you wander in and around Craighouse during the weekend, music and dance will draw you in. Continue Reading »

Jura Fell Race 2014 took place on Saturday 24 May and once again the turnout was impressive. There were 255 entrants in this years race including eleven from Islay and Jura. The weather held well all day and all runners finished. First past the post was Hector Haines who set a new record with a time of 3h6’ and the first local home was Grant Rozga from Jura with a time of 3h 54’.

The video below shows scenes from the start, finish and along the course. Enjoy!

jura-store-openingOn 26th April the residents of Jura gathered to celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished Jura Community Shop. Carol Wright, whose Grandfather John McKechnie started the first Jura Stores, cut the ribbon of the Community shop and gave a fascinating account of the shop’s history. Carol said, “… it is hoped that the enterprise which my Grandfather began over 130 years ago will continue to grow and flourish and serve the island for many years to come.”

Over the last six months McEachern Brothers and CP Architects of Oban have worked together with the Isle of Jura Development Trust to repair and extend the community shop, funded by The Big Lottery Fund. While the refurbishment took place the shop continued to trade from the Antlers Bistro, but now everything is back in it’s rightful place with both the shop and Antlers open and ready for the summer.

The shop came into community ownership in March 2013 when the Isle of Jura Development Trust used funding from The Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise for the purchase. Since the beginning of the project in 2012, over two thousand volunteer-hours have gone into making the Community Shop a reality. Everyone from residents to first time visitors have been involved with the project, and support at home and from afar has been overwhelming. We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has played a part in making the ‘new’ community shop a reality; all the staff at MacEachern Bros and other contractors from Islay who worked hard over the winter and have done a top job. The shop looks great!

Story published with kind permission of the Ileach newspaper

Isle of Jura Annual Events

jura-music-fest2Jura is a small island, inhabited by a little over 200 people and therefore not an island with as many large festivals as its neighbouring islands of Islay and Mull. But the festivals and events that they do have matter very much and are worth looking out for. Below is a listing of the confirmed events for 2014.

For the very fit athletes there is the annual Isle of Jura Fell Race. With a length of 28 km crossing 7 mountain summits (including the Paps of Jura) they are in for another very tough race. Mind you, there is a total of 2370 m. of climbing and the fastest time is a little over three hours. For this years event there are 240 people on the list. The Jura Fell Race will take place on Saturday 24th of May 2014 and the start is at 10.30am in Craighouse. More info is available at www.jurafellrace.org.uk

Second event on the calendar is the Jura distillery Whisky Festival, coinciding of course with the Islay Festival. This years Jura Open Day, or should I say #Tastival, will be held on the 28th and 29th of May and it promises to be great: “Join our Taste Revolution at the Jura Distillery on the 28th and 29th May. This year, we will be taking you on a sensory adventure in flavour that will empower you to explore and create your own tasting notes. Our expert ambassadors will be on hand to guide you through a variety of multi-sensory experiences in whisky, food and art to open your mind and palate to infinite possibilities. In addition to our exciting ticketed sessions, the dramming bar will be open in The Cooperage and we will be running free distillery tours throughout the day.” For the full programme visit this link

Now in its 21st year, The Isle of Jura Musical Festival is a well-established favourite for lovers of the traditional music scene. To celebrate this 20th landmark, the weekend is going to be even bigger and better than ever. From the locals Friday night ceilidh right through to a brand new Sunday night concert in the distillery co-operage, headlined by Wolfstone, enjoy a weekend packed with fantastic performances, stimulating workshops, spontaneous sessions and great craic. This years Musical Festival will be held on 26th – 28th September. More info and online ticket booking is available via www.juramusicfestival.com

Also, keep an eye out on the Sound of Jura website for updates on concerts. The first concert will take place on the 7th of June 2014 in Jura Hall when The Corn Potato String Band will entertain the locals and visitors! And even more info is available in the Jura Jottings. A 12 month online subscription of the monthly newsletter is £18. More info on www.jura-jottings.co.uk/subscribe.htm

I have never seen so many builders at work in the centre of Craighouse as we did this week. The reason for all this is that the old Jura Stores building is undergoing a huge renovation. The only things that were left standing were the outside walls. All this is part of the community buyout of the only shop on the island, which took place last year. The Antlers, the café across the road, has been temporarily designated as post office and community store for the time being. Another good addition to the village centre is a new parking place next to the village hall. The planning is that the renovated Community Store will open around Easter. Below are some impressions of the renovation works and the temporary shop.

The new entrance of the Jura Community Store

Work at the back of the building

The temporary Community Store

Builders and new parking place left from Village Hall

Entrance to the new parking place

Camping on the Isle of Jura

isle-of-jura-campsiteThe Isle of Jura doesn’t have an official campsite, at least not in the way you and I expect one to be: A reserved space with numbered pitches, places to park a motorhome, a shower building, a reception etc etc. That, however, does not mean you can’t camp on Jura. First of all you can camp somewhere in the wild, as long as you don’t use someones garden, and there is the nice grassy spot opposite the Jura Hotel. I myself do not holiday in a tent so I have not had the pleasure of using Jura’s campsite and can therefore not share any of my experiences. Fortunately someone else did, David Ross to be precise, and he wrote a nice travel report about his camping trip on Jura. David wrote:

In these recession blighted times, what better holiday accommodation could you wish for than a hotel that lets you camp in its garden for nothing. This admirable establishment is the Jura Hotel in Craighouse. Allowing people to camp in the hotel garden free of charge might appear uncharacteristic behaviour for a famously “thrifty” race such as the Scots (I’m allowed to say this as I’m Scottish), but it actually makes sound commercial sense. All but the most parsimonious campers use the bar for eating and drinking. Considering that the only other place on the island in which to do so is the Antlers Bistro along the road, prices were reasonable.

In the pub, the night before I went home, my suggestion that a bridge might one day be built across the narrow channel between their island and Islay elicited a reaction of mild horror from Diurachs. They obviously relished being un-getatable. It’s just a pity no one told the midges, but then midges don’t need bridges.

Jura Hotel

Jura Hotel

For more info visit the Jura Hotel Website

New Isle of Jura Panoramas

I have been going through my large collection of Jura pictures and found a few more sets to create some more beautiful panorama images. There were already fifteen large size Jura Panoramas and two new ones have been added today. They turned out to be quite amazing if you don’t mind me saying so.

The first panorama shows Craighouse from the Pier on a beautiful sunny day while the second one was taken on the access road to Camas an Staca in the south of Jura where you have quite amazing views over the Sound of Islay. Combine the two with clear and sunny weather and you end up with another great panorama view. I hope you enjoy watching the both of them.

Panorama From Craighouse Pier
Panorama From Craighouse Pier
South Jura Panorama Camas an Staca and Sound of Islay
South Jura Panorama Camas an Staca and Sound of Islay


Jura Lives Project

jura-livesJura Lives interviewed people over a two-year period about their living memories of the island of Jura in Argyll and Bute. It resulted in over 180 hours of audio recordings. By hosting some of the highlights from this collection, Scran is enabling access to a great resource for finding out about how life has changed on the island since World War One for residents and visitors alike.

There is also a CD of recordings from the Jura Lives Project which is available from the Service Point in Craighouse (01496 820161) priced £10. The stories on the CD have been selected because of the locations that they feature, in an attempt to cover as much of the island as possible. Jura Lives worked out that this disc represents 0.006% of the whole Jura Lives collection of recordings; they could make 180 different CDs of this length before anything was repeated! The whole sound archive can be accessed at the Service Point, Craighouse, from Monday to Friday 10:30 – 14:30.

The full archive of oral histories was launched in October 2013. Jura Lives is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Argyll and the Islands LEADER Programme 2007-13 and the Jura Development Trust.

To access the archive online you can Visit this link. Jura Lives is also on Facebook and for even more info please visit this link

song-birds-juraMusic and nature are set to come together this autumn on Jura, with an exciting event celebrating the remarkable art and wildlife of the island. Song Birds/Bird Songs will take place on October 11, and will include a whole day of talks, walks, films, and music, all with a natural theme. There will be art workshops and children’s poetry writing sessions as well as birding walks for beginners, and an evening of whisky tasting, with a film commentary and art displays.

The day will culminate in a concert with Dan Haywood’s New Hawks and music from his new album, ‘Dapple’, in association with local music producers Sound of Jura. Dan is an ornithologist himself, who uses his relationship with the natural world as a direct inspiration for his songwriting. On the subject of his concert on Jura, Dan said: “It will be momentous for me to return to golden eagle country, and play these songs in their natural setting for this, our first visit to Jura.”

Giles Perring of Sound of Jura, said: “Jura is an island that boasts a talented native population. But it’s also a place that’s sought out by migratory musicians: by some to write and record music, and by others to play in one of the great wee halls in Scotland, to one of the most appreciative audiences you can find. Song Birds/Bird Songs is a real celebration of this, and will be an amazing mix of activities for everyone to enjoy. Expect creative stuff along the way, with photography, sound installations and some really exciting approaches to how to map birds and the landscape ‘as it happens'”

Featured in all its glory in the BBC’s Hebrides: Islands on the Edge, Jura is an important home for nature, with local wildlife including eagles, red deer and otters. Autumn is the season of the deer rut, and is also a time when many birds are on the move, as they migrate from their summer breeding grounds in the north, to more sheltered areas for the winter.

For further information about Song Birds/ Bird Songs, which is run jointly by The Sound of Jura and RSPB Scotland, go to: www.soundofjura.com or contact louise.muir@rspb.org.uk. Booking is essential for the evening concert.

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