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Another fine mess – part two

22 September 2021

Tomorrow is our Beautiful Scotland Celebration and Award Ceremony. As the excitement builds, John Cruickshank from Stonehaven Horizon Project carries on from his 'Another fine mess - part 1' blog article with these wonderful thoughts and reflections:

The tension is building here in Stonehaven, and we are now less than 24 hours away from hearing our results. I feel like I’m back at school when you’ve worked hard, sat the exams, are hoping you’ve done well and the envelope is about to drop through the letter box.

As we were judged on August the 4th, I’ve had plenty time to reflect on our experiences on the day. The sun was smiling, and we could not have asked for more glorious weather to show off our seaside town at its best. But for sure there was tension in the air as all Stonehaven knew it was about to be judged - and the hopes (and expectations) of the community were high.

It was like a covert operation with a dawn start. We had heroes on sunrise duties with council roads and waste operators starting work at 4.30am. While residents were sleeping blissfully unaware, the lads got their brushes out and set to on the route. They did not start their sweeper wagons until later.

The Horizon campaign clock started at 6.30am. Our Routemaster cycled the field of operations for the last time. Eyes peeled, he spots an unsatisfactory situation, and a report is made. At 7.20am waste boss Mark Gracey calls, and the mission critical event is passed on by George. Council’s Waste services were all over it – unwanted traffic cones removed.

Even a meticulously planned sortie can hit unforeseen difficulties. At judges’ arrival minus 15, a puff of wind blew through our pop-up tent and our display stand was the collateral damage. It took five frantic minutes to rebuild and anchor it more securely and we had only a few seconds to breath before our judges arrived 10 mins early - phew - just in time! An exciting start and so the day went.

I’m sure every town has the same experience – a comedy of people scurrying around, frantic mobile phone calls giving updates on progress, eyes darting in every direction looking for unwanted intrusions of careless litter and the final grooming of floral displays for the dreaded dead-head.

It is now announcement day minus one.

The die has been cast and the whole town waits with excitement to hear how we have done. Out on the streets, doing our jobs with our yellow Horizon hi-viz vest on, the regular conversation with members of the community is: “have you heard yet – how did we get on?

Even the Queen’s representative, our Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire Alastair MacPhie came to our meeting last week to thank Horizon volunteers for all their hard work. He had the same question.

Meanwhile, Stoney has been on the TV. The Tour of Britain international cycle race started in the town. With global television coverage, the town was on display once more. A friend watching from Sussex wrote: ‘’Stonehaven is looking magnificent this morning – a sure-fire winner in the Scotland in Bloom Comp!’

And only this morning I received a message from the Council’s principal roads engineer for Kincardine and Mearns, Ewan Smith: “Hi John, Wishing you all the best. Hopefully we will be able to “update” the entry signs to Stonehaven!

No pressure! See you at the celebration very soon. And actually, Stonehaven will be happy whatever the outcome as we have all enjoyed the experience. Taking part in the competition has helped us cast aside the grey days of Covid and rediscover our Beautiful Stonehaven.

Best wishes to all our Beautiful Scotland family. Keep on smiling and celebrating

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