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October 2017

You may immediately recognise the front cover photo as the new and iconic Queensferry Crossing. My family was lucky enough to get tickets for the ‘once in a lifetime’ Open Day to walk across the new bridge which gave my daughter, Chloe, the chance to take some fantastic photos, one of which adorns the front cover. On the day, the weather was beautiful and everyone involved in marshalling and security was most helpful, making the whole occasion feel very jolly. Buses took us from outside The Gyle in Edinburgh to the south side of the bridge, where we had about an hour to walk across to the north side. At each gantry there were information boards with details of the bridge construction. Once on the other side, we were bussed back to our starting point over the original road bridge, giving us a fantastic view of the new bridge.

Following on from last month, I’m delighted to see that the seagulls are avid readers of the magazine and they seem to have gone off to bother some other community. I’m all for feeding the birds, but please remember not to leave food out in the open for them as this seems to encourage the gulls to visit.

There’s nothing slower than watching paint dry! Other than sitting in the lengthy traffic queues at Deafhillock roundabout. However, I timed it this morning and, when I’d just missed a changing of the lights, surprisingly it only took 1min 40secs before I had a green for go. Maybe I just got lucky. Although, to be honest, that short stationary spell still felt like a lifetime. Deafhillock roundabout roadworks are still causing a lot of grief for drivers. Our Councillors are taking note of our comments and hopefully the Council can apply some pressure to the developers to get a move on and get it finished. Meantime, all I can suggest is that you keep lobbying your local Councillors to keep them aware of your concerns.

Staying on the theme of disruption, developers/builders are happy to show us pretty architectural proposals of landscaped streets and houses, but the reality is often upheaval and upset, certainly little or no benefit short-term or even long-term for the existing residents. A prime example being the Gladman Developments proposal for the fields aside the Knapps Loch in Kilmacolm. We have further information on p12, and an article on p43 from the newly formed Kilmacolm Greenbelt Alliance who encourage anyone concerned by this and any other proposed developments to get in touch with them.

Gladman Developments seem to specialise in this sort of development and are also behind the plans to build in the fields approaching Bridge of Weir from Kilmacolm. Although the application has been refused by the Council, Gladman has appealed and, following a site visit from the Reporters in August, the evidence will now be reviewed and a decision is expected around November.

Running low? With no local petrol station we now need to make a journey just to fill up. The nearest ones are almost all located at supermarkets with the likely consequence that a trip to fill up also becomes a shopping trip, thus depriving our own local shops of much needed trade. There are suggestions of a new supermarket and petrol station on the east side of Bridge of Weir, but that would be just as counter-productive for the retail core of the village. How about saving the petrol facility that already exists at the former Bull’s Garage and integrating this into any new development of that site? Hopefully some common sense will prevail when our planners are considering the future.

Finally, I hope you’re sitting down as this month I am mentioning the ‘C’ word. Yes, the season for Christmas Fayres is approaching - we’ve got a few already mentioned in the village news. These are great for picking up Christmas gifts and catching up with friends, and all for good causes, so please support them if you can.

Optical Blog

by Kerry Taher, New Vision Opticians

Presbyopia comes to us all!

Presbyopia is part of the natural ageing process of our eyes and starts to affect most of us in our early forties. The crystalline lens in the middle of each eye, responsible for focusing on things close-up, becomes progressively less flexible and unable to focus properly. This usually first presents as a difficulty in reading small print, holding the print further away to focus (“arms aren’t long enough” syndrome) or the need for brighter light when reading.

There is no cure for presbyopia, but there are solutions! Simple reading glasses can be prescribed. Care should be taken with over-the-counter readers though - the prescription will be the same for each eye, astigmatism won’t be corrected and the centre of the lens may not match the eyes perfectly. Prescribed glasses are made-to-measure so the frames and lenses will be fitted professionally. Bifocals or varifocals can be better options if a distance correction is also required. Bifocals have a visible line on the lens, separating the distance and near powers. Varifocals are the most popular option nowadays due to the fact they have many powers to allow focusing at many different distances but with no visible line. Trifocals are rarely used - they have 2 lines separating three powers.

Contact lenses are another popular choice with options available for daily, two weekly or monthly disposables. Monovision, where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for reading, is another option and although it sounds strange it can be surprisingly effective. With all options, whether it’s glasses or contact lenses, it may take a few weeks for the brain to adapt.

As always, if you notice any changes in your vision, you should have an eye examination to identify the exact cause.

For further information please contact the practice on 01505 614700.

Dental Blog

by Sheila Macintyre, Practice Owner, Kilbarchan Dental Practice

True or False?

There is lots of misinformation about oral health so we thought it would be good to put the record straight! Here are our top 5 myth-busters:

1. White teeth are healthier - FALSE

Teeth vary in shade from person to person and we still find cavities and infections whatever the shade. A good oral health regime and regular check-ups are the most important factors in maintaining healthy teeth.

2. Scrubbing your teeth when brushing causes damage to teeth and gums - TRUE

Vigorous over-cleaning and/or applying too much pressure can lead to enamel damage, gum recession and tooth sensitivity. Ask your dental hygienist about the best teeth-brushing technique or invest in an electric toothbrush with pressure sensor and timer.

3. Over-brushing makes your gums bleed - FALSE

The truth is that bleeding gums are often a sign that plaque and food particles are accumulating along your gum line and the gums have become irritated and inflamed. You actually need to brush more thoroughly (take note of 2. above) to remove the offending articles if you want the bleeding to stop. We recommend the use of inter-dental brushes to get rid of hard-to-reach areas. If the bleeding persists go and see your dentist.

4. Sipping drinks is better for your teeth - FALSE

“Chugging” or gulping down sugary or acidic drinks is much better for your teeth. You will limit the time that your teeth are exposed to a low pH and you are less likely to continually coat your teeth in a film of sugar and provide a feast for bacteria. We recommend water as the most tooth-friendly drink.

5. Chewing gum is good for your teeth - TRUE

Evidence has shown that incorporating sugar-free gum into our busy lifestyles can improve our oral health. Saliva helps replace the minerals that the enamel has lost after eating. Chewing sugar free gum after eating or drinking helps you produce more saliva to significantly speed up the recovery process.

Financial Blog

by Carl Melvin, Affluent Financial Planning Ltd

Pension Death Benefits - Nominee or Successor?

What happens to your pension fund when you die? What choices do your beneficiaries have?

Following on from last month’s blog on pension death benefits, the newly introduced Pension Freedoms created a new class of potential beneficiary – the Successor. However, if your pension plan provider does not offer the flexibility of beneficiary drawdown to all classes of beneficiary, or you do not update your death benefit nomination, your beneficiaries could be denied the full range of options available.

A successor is someone not nominated directly by the pension plan holder but a person who could potentially become a beneficiary of the pension on death. Let us look at examples;

  • You do not make a death benefit nomination and you are survived by your spouse and brother. The spouse is keen for some benefit to be paid to the brother. The scheme cannot offer the brother beneficiary drawdown because he was not nominated by the plan holder, and the scheme cannot nominate him because there is a dependant.
  • You nominate your spouse and subsequently divorce. You are survived by your ex-spouse and adult children. Your adult children cannot access beneficiary drawdown because they were not nominated by you, and the scheme cannot nominate them because your ex-spouse has been nominated.

So, the key is to make sure that beneficiaries have the maximum flexibility allowed under the Pension Freedoms. Check that your plan provider can offer your potential beneficiaries the full range of options on your death.

This information is not financial advice. If you require advice you should consult a professional adviser. The first meeting is normally free and there is no obligation. Carl Melvin is a regulated pension transfer specialist.

Call us for a FREE financial review on 01505 59 50 60 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively, pop into the Affluent office opposite Amaretto restaurant on Main Street, Bridge of Weir. www.affluentfp.co.uk

IT Blog

with Colin Fyfe of Colcom

On October 17th we can expect Microsoft Windows 10 to begin its ‘Fall Creators Update’. This update will be quite a large download and install procedure making both cosmetic changes and deeper security and system alterations across the windows platform.

The procedure may well get underway of its own accord, leaving you to guess whether or not you have been updated. A quick and easy way to tell will be to attempt to diagonally alter the size of the Windows 10 start menu, like you may do to a window. I gather this will be one of the more cosmetic changes that will take place along with disappearing scroll bars and some other visual thematic changes.

Microsoft Edge, the internet browser bundled with 10 is due a substantial improvement too, I am yet to be impressed by the browser but I gather that it is set to improve with this update in many ways. With this release, Edge now has better PDF and EPUB support, a new read aloud feature, an updated favourites system and a load of stability issues have been addressed. Maybe it is time to have another look at the browser.

Further general improvements that I am interested to see are the inactive program throttling function, this could improve slow and bogged down computers. Battery life improvements are always a blessing for those working on the hoof and I am also interested to hear that Windows Cortana, the Siri-like voice that frightens the bejesus out of me when I am in the office late at night, she can now talk to Alexa, Amazon’s in-home media player cum salesperson. I don’t think the conversation will be up to much, they will be too busy monitoring each other like North Korean border patrol guards.

The History Spot

Coal: A Hidden Secret

The Gryffe area is not often associated with the working of coal. In 1912 it was claimed that Renfrewshire “is not a great mining county -? it lags behind its neighbours,” yet, 130 years earlier, Semple described the county as “abounding with coal”. Thus early coal mining is one of the hidden secrets of the area.

Small amounts of coal had always been worked from outcrops, but more organised workings were in the form of numerous holes, or ‘bell pits’ (shallow shafts worked close together) at Goldenlee (Houston), Brookfield and Quarrelton.

The earliest workings followed the valleys of the Gryffe, Black Cart and Locher, where the coals were shallower, and to where the workings could be drained. From Bridge of Weir, coal was worked down the Gryffe at Kaimhill, Locherside, Sandholes, Craigends and the appropriately named Coalbog. Along Barr and Castle Semple lochs, coal works appeared at Nervelston, Blackdyke, and Lochside, then down the Black Cart from Coalhouse (Howwood), and Corseford to Elderslie. The earliest and most intensive workings were in the Quarrelton area, which had one of the thickest coal seams in the country.

From the 1770s, ambitious estate owners were seeking sources of income beyond farming. Landowners, such as Speirs of Elderslie who drilled bores on his lands of Newton, was soon working coal from several pits. By the 1790s the availability of coal was described as one of the main advantages of local parishes. At Quarrelton, Corseford and Kerse, the pits were initially kept dry using pumps driven by water wheels or horses. Gradually, larger pits including Nervelston, Thorn and Elderslie added steam engines to lift out the coal and pump out water.

To anyone passing through the area around 1800, coal workings would have been a common sight. By the Victorian period, much deeper coal was worked under the flatlands of Linwood Moss and Fulton. The only visible signs were pitheads, which came and went in a few decades, leaving little trace. This led to the perception that coal working barely existed in the area. A local supply of coal had been crucial for the growing settlements such as Johnstone, Kilbarchan, Houston and Bridge of Weir. However, the biggest use of coal was not to ‘boil the pot’, but to process another little-known mineral: limestone. This will be investigated next month.

© 2017 Stuart Nisbet, Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Pet Blog

by PetVets

Fireworks Phobias

Many pets find Bonfire night a very frightening, stressful experience. Signs of anxiety and fear can include:

  • Cowering or hiding
  • Trying to run away or escape
  • Passing urine or faeces in the house • Restlessness e.g. Pacing and panting
  • Dogs barking

There are many products designed to help pets cope with scary situations, including diffusers which release calming pheromones, oral products to reduce anxiety and in some severe cases mild sedatives may be useful.

here are a number of things you can do to help your pet cope.

Before the fireworks begin:

  • Walk dogs before it gets dark. Keep cats indoors.
  • Feed your pet. A high carbohydrate meal may help make dogs sleepy and calmer.
  • Ensure the house and garden are secure. A very frightened animal may try to escape.
  • Settle your pet down. Animals will cope better if they are in safe, familiar surroundings.
  • Provide a safe hiding place for your pet. Cats will often prefer to hide in an elevated position.
  • Turn on the TV or radio to provide some background noise and close the curtains.

During the fireworks:

  • Keep your pet indoors.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone during the fireworks.
  • Never punish your pet for expressions of fear.
  • Try not to reward fearful behaviour by providing excessive attention. However, if your pet comes to you for reassurance provide comfort by stroking gently and calmly.
  • It may help to keep your pet busy e.g. with games or training exercises.

After the fireworks:

It may be beneficial to visit a behaviourist for a desensitisation programme. This type of programme takes several weeks to months and can be very beneficial in dealing with noise phobias, which helps with fireworks fears as well as many other day to day noisy events such as vacuum cleaners or loud traffic.

Contact Petvets on 01505 800366 to arrange an appointment with our qualified behaviourist Catherine Lindsay.

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

Do Smartwatches influence health/fitness attitudes?

Within the health and fitness industry there’s an accelerating pace of technological development, and in recent years the most common wide-spread product is smartwatches. Regardless of makes and models, you see more and more people wearing them daily. As these become more common, cost-effective and fashionable, the question is, do they influence long-term behavioural change?

I wear one myself, but, in my opinion, it takes a certain type of person to allow it to influence your attitude towards fitness and exercise. Anyone that has been there knows that when it starts to beep/vibrate to say you have completed your 10,000 steps, or whatever your daily target is, you do feel a sense of achievement, it’s a natural human reaction.

I have many types of clients that work with me, and many of them wear a smartwatch. I decided to ask two of them their opinions and behaviour changes since getting them.

Client 1 has an active job and is in the gym 2/3 times a week. They said that the watch hasn’t actually increased their activity, but they do have a weekly competition with themselves to see if they have beat last week’s total step count. If they have that’s great, but if they haven’t they really aren’t too fussed about it. The watch itself is more of a fashionable statement and provides information that they find interesting.

Client 2, has an inactive job and also goes to the gym 2/3 times a week. They said that since getting the watch it has made them more aware of how little they move when they are sitting at a desk all day. Now they actively seek to move more often in an attempt to achieve their daily step count. In this situation, the watch itself is actively making the individual move more than they normally would have.

Looking at external research, there are a lot of conflicting answers. Some state a change in people’s habits and an increase in the amount of daily physical activity they do, predominately through walking. Alternative research shows that any change is short lived and abandoned within a month.

Does your smartwatch change your physical activity habits and behaviours?

Lesley

For more information on personal training or nutrition contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit my website at www.fitsmartfitness.co.uk

September 2017

Fly silly seabird

Now I love a bit of nostalgia and the 80’s have a special place in my heart, but when I refer to a flock of seagulls, I no longer think of the great Liverpool band with the interesting hairdos. Residents in Kilmacolm will probably be very aware that we have a pest problem as we seem to have accumulated a rather noisy flock of seagulls in the village. They kick off very noisily around 5am and have been diving at pedestrians and raiding any open bins. It’s not just the noise problem - gulls carry diseases such as salmonella and e-coli. And boy do they leave some stinky droppings!

It seems that they are a protected species so cannot be exterminated (apologies to the bird lovers out there). There are preventative measures such as installing parallel wires, plastic or steel spikes, or polyurethane netting on rooftops but these are expensive to install and not always effective. I even saw them driving off a buzzard, so the raptor method may not work either.

So all we can do is be more careful about our rubbish disposal and to stop putting food out in the open for the birds. These are intelligent creatures and learn quickly where to find easy pickings. By all means, continue to feed the small birds, but food should be put out in feeders or enclosed bird tables. That way the big gulls can’t reach and will hopefully move on.

You spin me right round

The road works are back again. Work begins at Deafhillock roundabout at the end of August, to last until December. Our councillors have information regarding this, but it seems that there are additional underground works which need carried out to the sewerage network. With concerns about long waiting times, the Council will be working with the developer to see if this can be managed better than last time.

On the Erskine Bridge, traffic will be reduced to one lane every Saturday and Sunday, from 8am to 6pm, until 8th October. The only exception will be 30 Sep-01 Oct due to other works on the A82. Maintenance teams are inspecting the cables as part of a £210,000 project to protect the long term integrity of the crossing.

Sadly road works are a necessary fact of life. The Scottish Government is carrying out a consultation seeking your views on proposals for improvements to the regulation of road works in Scotland. The Scottish Ministers advise that they are committed to improving how road works, including utility road works, are managed in Scotland. The closing date is 12th October 2017 and you can have your say at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/transport-scotland/quality-of-road-works-in-scotland/

All things bright and beautiful

My better half was in Comrie recently to check out the Comrie Croft mountain bike facility. Which is excellent by the way! The journey there took him through Greenloaning, Braco, Muthill and Crieff. And he told me as he drove through each village he was wowed by how tidy and attractive they were. Hanging baskets and planters everywhere making the streets bright and beautiful.

Although on his return journey, as he drove back home and passed through Bridge of Weir, he realised that we are just as lucky here, with the whole of the main street through the village bright with flower displays. We are extremely fortunate to have volunteers in each of our villages who enjoy making the roadsides and planters that little bit better, cleaner and brighter. Thank you to all of them!

Sporting Blog

by Lesley Handley

We all have the possibility of living a fulfilling, healthy and happy life. We were gifted an amazing, functional body when we were born, with no aches, pains, injuries or ailments. It is the only body you will ever own – so why when we reach our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s etc, do we allow ourselves to slow down, get a bit lazier, gain excess weight and not treat our bodies the same way we used to?

Now, every year that goes by most of us put off the task of losing the excess weight, getting fitter and stronger and living the healthier, happier life that you really want. Then, with every year that you delay starting it becomes harder, and a seemingly impossible task. The reality is, pressures of life do take over and we all are guilty of living only in the present with all the stresses and strains that brings, with work, family, lack of time, etc. Not many think too far into the future as to how doing something now can change how it will be.

The hard truth is, things won’t be any different next Monday, next month or even next year unless you start to act now. If you don’t like the way you look and feel, think about how you felt this morning, how you look in your clothes, how confident you are in the outside world and the level of energy you have every day. However tough that might be, the truth is that it is essentially your health/training/nutrition that really determines how you will live in the future. The workouts you do today help in determining the quality of life you (and your family) will have 10 years from today.

It isn’t about getting in shape in 21 days for the summer, nor is it about a 4 week detox before Christmas; real fitness is about laying the foundation now for a quality life in the years to follow. Don’t keep putting it off, because every day that you wait makes your chance of finding your way back even harder.

Lesley

For more information or advice on personal training or nutrition please contact me on 0773 627 4925 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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