unite environmentalists in a haze of hatred it’s not Shell Oil. Nor even French nuclear testing. It’s rhododendrons. Yes, those beautiful bushes with the purple flowers in spring are the bane of many a naturalist’s existence.

The problem with your Rhododendron ponficum is that, unlike the ornamental varieties lovingly tended in many a suburban garden, it simply does not know when to stop. The thing spreads and spreads, with a tenacious ability to send down roots which can surface hundreds of metres away. What’s more, it has no natural predators in this country, so once established in an area it just keeps on going.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t do so much harm. Not content with displacing the natural flora, it actually poisons the ground so that few other plants can grow. llor can anything eat it. So under those great impenetrable thickets of rhody bush, nothing can grow and nothing can eat. You might as well have a desert.

Worse, the plant loves areas of high rainfall, high humidity and acid soil. Which pretty well sums up the habitat in much of the West of Scotland.

So what can be done about it?

" ~' 'lr .: . Up for the chop Chopping the blighter down doesn’t do any good: it just grows back. Thicker, stronger and worse than ever. Nuclear and chemical attack have their own drawbacks. Which leaves the long, painstaking task of hoiking the stuff out by hand: chopping it down, winching out the roots and burning the lot. if you fancy venting your spleen on a poor defenceless rhody, then the various branches of the Conservation Volunteers would like to hear from 5 you. in Strathclyde, phone Green l Action on 0141 248 6864 for details. In 5 other areas, phone the Scottish 1 Conservation Projects Trust on 01786 479697.

This section gives details of selected events taking place in and around the central belt of Scotland this fortnight. Events are listed by area and then alphabetically. All submissions should be accompanied by a contact phone number

Thom ledin.


I RUBERS LAW ORGANISEO HILL WALK Sun 28 Jan. l-—4pm. Meet at Denholm Green. £1 (50p). Details from 01835 830281. Rocks. Romans. winter wildlife and the possibility of some fine Borders views are all part of this enjoyable walk to the rugged summit of 'Denholm's local mountain‘. Wear stout walking boots.

I TRAOUAIR TO TiBBiES ORGANISED HIKE Sun 4 Feb, 10am—4pm. Meet at Traquair Village hall (two miles south of

from 01835 83mm. No dogs. but take a packed lunch and waterproofs and wear stout walking boots. A fairly strenuous hike along the Southern Upland Way over Blake Muir and Blackhouse and then along the shore of St Mary’s Loch to 'I'tbbie Sbiel's inn, with opportunities to learn about the history of this scenic area.


I OPEN EVENING AT MULS OBSERVATORY Fri 26 Jan. 6—10pm. Mills Observatory. Balgay Park, Dundee. Free. 01382 667138. Planetarium shows at 7.15pm. 8pm and 8.15pm. 1f the sky is clear

innerleithen on the B709). £2 (£1). Details

? enough there will be views of the moon ! through the main telescope. The

‘; Observatory is open Mon—Fri 3—10pm; 1 Sat 2-5pm.


for our information. Days out compiled by I gusg yucxen wmr me $911 Thurs 1

1 Feb. 7.30pm. 33 Melville Street.

g Edinburgh. Free. 0131 661 3444. An open

i meeting of the Lothians branch of the

Scottish Wildlife Trust with a talk from

ian Edwards on the Rainforests of Eastern Australia. Edwards is head of public

. education at the Royal Botanic Garden

é and will be featuring information in his

j talk on such delights as bush tucker, as

1 well as the traditional Aboriginal way of

5 life and the rich and varied resources of

l the rainforests on which Aborigines

i depended.


I Jan, 7.30pm. Royal Observatory.

1 Blackford Hill. Edinburgh. 0131 668

I 8405. £2 (£1.50). Russell Eberst gives a

1 lecture on what you can expect to see in

i the heavens during February. During the winter the observatory‘s telescopes are

| open for public use every clear weekday


;_ evening (7-9pm, £1.50). Phone after 4pm Y

on the day to book a place. The i ‘Universe‘ exhibition with models, A videos. computer games and photographs 1 of space continues to make good Days I Out visiting and is open Sat—Thurs, ~ 1—5pm; Fri, 1—9pm. I WALTZING CYDERIA Fri 26 Jan. , 11am~3pm. Cyberia Cafe. 88 Hanover ' Street. Edinburgh. 0131 220 4403. l £2.50/ha1f-hour. To celebrate Australia

Day. those wacky net-nerds at the C yberia intemet cafe will be hooking up to a host of key Australian websites and handing out free bottles of Ozzy lager to anyone who books half an hour on the machines. Surf that net, Bruce and Sheila: The Big

: One will be along in five minutes.


I ANIMAL MAGIC Sun 28 Jan. 2—4pm. Calderglen Country Park. Strathaven Road. East Kilbride. Free. info on 01355 236644. Another hands-on event organised by the Calderglen animal keepers. This time focusing on Flopsy Bunny and all her cuddly friends with a view to providing information on all the different species of rabbit available as pets. with advice on where to get them and how to look after them. Just don't keep them in the sitting room or they‘ll nibble through the electric wires and

you'll end up with rabbit toast. Yum Yum. I ANIMAL TRACKING Sun 4 Jan. 1.30pm.

- Coltness Woodlands. end of Glen Road.

Wishaw. Free. info from 01698 230055. A walk through the woods to look for the tracks and signs left by the woodlands

a wildlife. Dogs presumably do not count in

this category. so best leave them at home. I CREEPIM} THING Sat 27 Jan. 10am—3.30pm. Chatelherault. Femiegair. Hamilton. 01698 426213. Free. A spot of rhody winching. Lunch provided. but phone first to book. See panel.

I GIVE AND TAKE Sun 28 Jan. 2—5pm. Gamethill Community Centre. Rose Street. Glasgow. Free. Information from 0141 945 5604. The real free market goes into overdrive to help you swap those unwanted Christmas pressies. Take anything you don‘t want along and swap it for something you do. Organised by the Glasgow Women's Environmental Network and Kelvingrove LETS.

I HARTHILL HEARTWARMER Sun 28 Jan. 12.30—3.30pm. Meet at West Main Street. Harthill. Free. info from 01698 230055. A walk to keep you wami and discover the Rights of Way in the Harthill area. This will be quite an arduous walk and not suitable for small children. Take a snack. I OUTDOORS ’96 Wed 7—Sun 1 1 Feb, 11am-9pm (Sat/Sun: 1 1am—6pm). Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Finiestoun Quay. Glasgow. 0141 248 9999. £5 (£3). See photo caption.

I SCOTTISH CAT CLUB SHOW ’96 Sat 3 Feb, Ham—5pm. Hall Five, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

5 Finiestoun Quay. Glasgow. Details on

013552 39800 after 7pm. £4 (£3). Over 650 cats will be in competition and on exhibition for this. the 39th championship show. Included are 86 household moggies. 1 up for the final heat of the Arthur's

' Katomeat competition (at 3.30pm). Arthur

himself will be there with copies of his book and video to paw. or rather Arthur number three. Besides the exhibition pens for breeds not yet recognised for competition will be all manner ofcaLs, from longhaired Persians and Chinchillas to Ragdolls (the floppy ones) and Orientals.

Mild weather has been the bane of the

Scottish slopes this year. The whitest stuff

around is the hair on the heads of the operators as they worry about how they

are going to pay for all their expensive ' equipment without any customers. At the

time of writing only one run was open in

the whole of Scotland. but you never } know: the weather might turn seasonal.

Stranger things have happened.

; I Ski Clubs Now is the time to contact 2 your local ski-club for a serious attack at

1 the social life and non-ski piss-ups. When

the white stuff dues fall. they organise mini-buses to slopes on most weekends and can put you in touch with other people who might want to car share. Glasgow Ski Club meet every Thursday at 9pm in The Scaramouche. Elderslie Street. Details from 0141 632 9762 or 0141 883 6665.

3 Edinburgh Ski Club meet every Tuesday from 9.30pm at the Royal Circus Hotel,

Royal Circus. For an information pack phone 0131220 3121.

; I Dry SIti Slopes Your best bet for a bit of

, practice. jUst in case the much dreamed of cold front does materialise!

; llewmilns 35 High Street, Newmilns.

I Ayrshire. KA8 9EA. 01560 322320.

Ninety-metre run with button lift. Evening

classes. Public Skiing Sat/Sun. 2—4pm.

£3.50 (£2.50). Hillend Ski Centre Hillend. Edinburgh.

0131 445 4433. Mon—Sat 9.30am—9pm;

. Sun 9.30am—6pm. The longest and most

? challenging artificial ski run in Europe.

, Ski maintenance. coaching days. kids

; clubs. telemarking and snowboarding.

I GLENCOE Chairlift company: 01855 851 226/232 (ski report). ‘Nothing like

sufficient to get going.‘

; I NEVIS RANGE Chairlift company: 01397 705 825/855 (ski report). Good views

from the top of the gondola system. The

dry ski slope is open.

I CAIRNGORM Chairlift company: 01479 861 261. At least Aviemore is close. so

5 there are a few things to do if you can't be , bothered to make it up the two chair lifts

; and one ski-tow to the Ptarmigan run.

right at the top of the mountain.

I GLENSHEE Chairlift company: 013397 :41320/41343. ‘We've run out of snow!’

I THE LECHT Chairlift company: 019756 51440. ‘No snow at all. but the dry ski

f slope is open.’

I ourooons

. {3.311488 , .

’96 Wed 7—Sun 11 Feb, Ham—9pm (Sat/Sun: Ham—6pm). SECC, ' Finnieston uuay, Glasgow. 0141 248 9999. £5 (£3). After ten years, the Scottish , Caravan and Camping Show moves into the more active end of the outdoor leisure

usual stalls selling all the hardwear you need to take to the great outdoors, there will be a range of free, hands-on activities. These include a ski slope, an indoor golf range, a 50-foot high indoor climbing wall, a pool for scuba diving and, for the

i completely foolhardy exhibitionist, a chance to windsurf on an artificial lake.

1 | I market as it expands to accommodate the full range of outdoor sports. Besides the l

oz The List 26 Jan-8 Feb 1996