'GOOD DOG' is a Nauticat 331.Her owner Mark Ashley Miller is taking part in a charity sailing challenge, circumnavigating GB with the aim of visiting every harbour master in the country, whilst raising money and awareness for The Seafarers' Charity. Mark has been asking each HM two questions for his instagram blog and eventual book:
What is the most unique fact or feature about your harbour?
What is the most unusual thing you have done or experienced as a harbour master?
Our hastily-composed answers:
Unusual dog-leg shaped harbour entrance under our imposing medieval castle.
We once had a dredge-boat working here for several days. It managed to break down several times, sprayed the castle with hydraulic fluid and then promptly sank by holing its own hull with its own crane. (NB: the dredging was unsuccessful and expensive)
“Dunbar’s will be my 137th harbour master!” announced Mark Ashley Miller.
Photo of Skipper Mark and Crew-member Peter, by Kenny Maule
Painting Classes “Oi, keep yer fingers aff they fine artistic murals, right?”
These decorative murals are now in place, above the benches along the North Wall of Victoria Harbour, with an explanation underneath. The official opening will be later in the year. These first artworks have been produced by the children from the Primary school, directed by Gail Wallace. Each mural was painted on an 8' x 4' marine-ply panel.The P5 classes designed their panels and painted them, then the Sailing Club volunteers did the varnishing, and AG Thomson erected them.
It is hoped that this will be just the beginning of having all the spaces above the seats decorated with artworks, making the harbour an even more attractive place to visit.
Photo by Kenny Maule
Rescue, but no drama from James.
On 30th June, between 6 and 7pm, a group of friends visited the harbour, including two children, Daniella and Samuel, who got into difficulty behind the Battery at Dunbar. Daniella had been swept off the rocks into the water and Samuel had jumped in to help her. With both children now in danger, a local fisherman, James Bisset was alerted by shouts of 'Help!' and swiftly sped to the rescue, dragging them to safety. Daniella suffered some scratches and Samuel suffered a suspected broken wrist.
James Bisset modestly commented afterwards: "I just saved a couple of bairns, that's all."
Harbour master Quentin Dimmer commented: "If anyone gets into difficulty, or sees anyone in difficulty, don't hesitate, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Remember that the ingestion of water can later bring 'secondary drowning'. The Coastguard will ensure that this is investigated as soon as possible.”
The raw beauty of our coastline presents possible dangers for the unwary. Sometimes these dangers are not easily seen, as the above photo shows: the rocks at low tide beyond the Battery, by Kenny Maule
Rowing Club tasters
Would you like to row our beautiful coastline in cheerful company? Now that Covid restrictions are being eased, the Rowing Club is boosting membership by giving ‘taster’ sessions, usually on a Thursday evening. Previous rowing experience is not necessary, just a love of the water and reasonable fitness. So far, on our list are twenty volunteers.
Sign up to try a row; just email Claire email@example.com
On Monday the 19th of July, a film team busied itself for several hours under the Castle and along the North Wall, photographing mainly kittiwakes to establish a pattern of nesting sites. We explained that Dunbar’s kittiwakes used to nest in the Granary until its renovation. Then they ‘flitted’ to the castle walls, both east and west sides.
“We’re filming in the United Kingdom and Norway, both of which support globally important seabird populations and are home to growing urban colonies.
UK locations: Northumberland coastline, Marsden, Scarborough, Dunbar, The Shetland Islands, Gateshead and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Norway locations: Tromsø and Vardø (Finnmark)
In Newcastle they nest eight miles upriver on the city’s bridges and buildings. Kittiwakes are true seabirds, they only come ashore for nesting and depart afterwards. They do not scavenge in the city but search along our coastline for sand-eels.”
Photo by Kenny Maule.
‘Man Overboard’ exercise
Recently a ‘Man Overboard’ exercise was held for the UK's fishing community. Organised by the RNLI with funding from Trinity House and Seafish, the aim was to give fishermen the opportunity to gain an understanding of the reality of falling overboard.
Dunbar Sea Cadets stated: “The Commanding Officer would like to congratulate Able Cadet Peter, appointed as HM The Queen’s Lord Lieutenant Cadet 2021 for the Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian Council.
Able Cadet Peter will accompany the newly-appointed Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian, Roderick Urquhart, to formal engagements, promoting the Sea Cadets. Peter is the new Lord Lieutenant’s first Cadet, and he follows in a distinguished line of Lord Lieutenant’s Cadets provided by Dunbar Unit in recent years. For the first time this year, Dunbar provides two Lord Lieutenant Cadets, for Able Cadet James is the Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire’s Cadet. James lives in Berwickshire and travels each week to Dunbar to support the Sea Cadets.
Toastie Van (ssssh, maybe soon the Kittiwake Cafe)
The running of our favourite coffee snackbar, Tasty Toastie, has passed from Rhona to James & Cheryl Bisset.
All Rhona’s customers wish her all the best in her future plans and we also wish James & Cheryl all success: “Dae ye dae hot Bovril on a cold day fur a shiverin’ seafarer?”
Now that the Rhona’s Toasty Van has been transferred to its new owners Rhona may finally have some well-deserved time on her hands.
Interview with Rhona Bell, previously owner of the Toastie Van
Rhona, you’re a Dunbar person, born and bred?
I’m more or less born and bred… I was brought up at East Saltoun until 11 then I started at Dunbar Primary in P6, when our family moved back to Dunbar.
Was your family originally from here?
My mum was brought up at Meikle Pinkerton, which incidentally is my home now and my Dad was brought up at Little Spott.
My mum, dad, younger sister and I have all attended Dunbar Grammar School. It was at the old Woodbush site where mum and dad attended school.
And your teenage years?
I started working in the Gift Shop on the High Street, I think it’s now Paris Steele. I then moved to the Castle Hotel and worked in the kitchen and as a waitress, I was there for nearly 5 years. With Dougie and Vanda Todd my first boss and then Tony and Barbra Wright. I also had stints in the Bayswell under Mr and Mrs MacAusland. The George Hotel, Smith's the bakers and the Grammar School kitchen for work experience. After 5th year I headed to Queen Margaret College in Corstorphine to take an HND in catering Management.
Where did you work after college?
After leaving college I moved to London with a friend and spent 7 years there, although the family had bet that I wouldn’t last 6 months. During that time I had 8 different jobs with 5 different companies. It became a standing joke that I changed job every 9 months…
Do you have children?
No children, but I love my wee dog Brulee, a cream Dachshund; his predecessor was a Yorkshire Terrier called Rowgie.
Have you always worked in Dunbar?
After my spell in London I moved back to Dunbar and luckily became the Caterer at Winterfield Golf Club, I loved it. It was here I met my ex husband, he was from Grimsby so after a few years I moved to Grimsby. In 2000 we moved back to Dunbar and Winterfield again as Bar Steward and Caterer. The marriage broke down and he left, but I was home and intended to stay and haven’t looked back. I then bought the Food Hamper and later the Sweetie Shop. After selling both I took a year out and decided there was still another business in me so I bought 1650. 5 summers ago I bought the Toastie Van from Louise and David, sited at the harbour.
Have you worked in catering all your life?
More or less, I have an adult education teaching certificate and have taught food safety. I am also qualified to teach English as a foreign language, but grammar and spelling are not my strong points so that put an end to that aspiration. I love learning but we don’t have enough space to list the other courses and hobbies I’m interested in.
Most people know you as owner of the Toasty Van 1296 and previously Dunbar 1650?
Why 1296 and 1650?
Well, 1650 was the second battle of Dunbar and also when the first coffee house opened in London, coincidentally. I also shut the door at 16.50pm.
1296 was the first battle of Dunbar and seemed appropriate. The business name is actually 1296 Cocoa Van aka the Toastie Van. It gets called a lot of things, but most folk just know it as the yellow hut.
You seemed to get on with everyone at Tasty Toastie, fishermen, local walkers, visitors, how did you manage that?
Having been in catering all my life I’m adaptable, I was once told it’s a type of show and you’re playing to an audience. I’m not sure if that’s how I’m perceived or not. Most of the time what you see is what you get. I do have my moments. And when I go home I like the solitude.
What did you like most about being at the Harbour?
Every day is an adventure at the harbour, you just don’t know who or what’s going to happen. I call it my office and have the best view on the planet.
.... and the worst?
Having to watch muppets jump off the castle wall at the mouth of the harbour into the water. Gives me chills. Only seen it a few times but it leaves a mark.
You also took the Launching Fees for boats?
Yes, very happy to help in all aspects of the harbour. I feel like a tourist information office at times but more than happy to recommend places to stay, eat and visit locally.
Do visitors fall into interesting chats with locals over a coffee?
Oh yes.. but what happens at the harbour stays at the harbour.
The Harbour is very windy, do customers mind that?
I don’t think they mind, can’t do a lot about it, it’s part of the character. It does get a bit hairy sometimes if it’s really gusty but I love watching when the waves crash over the harbour walls.
If you could change Toastie Van what would you change?
I’d make it bigger. I’d also like to cover it in fishing-net to tone it down a bit so it blends with the rest of the harbour. I have the net, just haven’t managed to get the time to do it.
Did Covid 19 affect the business?
Covid meant I couldn’t be open when I usually am, April / May time. Since opening at the end of May it’s been busy, especially with more locals and regulars. I think it’s been good for the harbour; when people were in lockdown they walked to the harbour and possibly rediscovered it. There’s plenty of space to adhere to social distancing at our beautiful harbour.
Rotary: In 2019 you were President of Rotary, should we continue to call you Madame President?
No, Sir,… my year has ended, I really enjoyed being president and it was such an honour.
What do Rotary actually do?
Most people have the perception that we’re some kind of secret society. It couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re just a bunch of ordinary people who like to give something back. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. You meet so many interesting people and in little ways make a difference to people’s lives, locally, nationally and internationally.
Anyone interested in finding out more please ask me.
Celebrant: Is it correct that being a celebrant seems to involve weddings, naming ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, and working with the bereaved?
Yes a Celebrant involves all this. I trained to become a celebrant 4 years ago and prefer to concentrate on funerals. It’s rewarding to help put someone’s life into a story while at the same time offering comfort to the bereaved.
What are you planning for 2021?
I hope to continue to keep everyone happy with food and a hot or cold drink.
Stacks of fun Well-attended by young and old, here we see three stacks by enthusiastic youngsters on the ‘Eye’-Cave beach.
European Stone Stacking Competition 2021, the weekend of July 10th and 11th. Amazing ‘structures’ by competitors were erected on the ‘Eye’ Cave beach. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended to watch experts like overall winner Harry Maddox from Cornwall (no shortage of practice stones there!). Mr. Maddox will compete at the prestigious Llano Earth Art Festival in Texas in 2022.
The experts were joined by amateurs and family groups competing in a series of challenges. The event, which was cancelled last year because of the pandemic, continued on the Sunday.
Photo by Kenny Maule
DUNBAR MUSIC FESTIVAL - Thursday 2 - Monday 6 September 2021
We are delighted to announce that the 32nd edition of Dunbar Music Festival will go ahead as a physical event this year. It will take place as noted above and a key focus of the programme will be six musical showcase events at the Dunbar Battery.
6 - 9pm, Thursday to Sunday evening
1 - 4pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The management team, stewards and those providing other facilities, i.e. bar provision, will be on-site from approximately 9am to 10pm each day.
To meet with guidelines and ensure public safety, access to the Dunbar Battery will be
restricted to festival goers only from Thursday to Sunday (2-5th September) and the Battery car-park will be closed to the public for the duration of the festival with access permitted to commercial harbour users and emergency vehicles only.
Both the festival committee and the Dunbar Harbour Trust recognise the inconvenience for those who enjoy visiting the Battery and are grateful for everyone’s support and understanding to enable the Dunbar Music Festival to take place.
We hope you will be able to join us at the festival this year and we will do all we can to
minimise disruption to residents.
Please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Harbour Master if you have any concerns about the restricted access and would like to discuss this further. For details:
A beautiful photo showing a family of swans in their private world of serene grace. Nip round to Belhaven Bay now and you'll find the cygnets are much bigger!
Photo credit: Malcolm Quirie
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