Working the land in Breasclete

Aonghas Ruadh a man who was there, maintains “That the Breasclete Re-seeding turned out better than any other re-seeding on the island” The very first re-seeding scheme created in the Isle of Lewis in the 1950s. No tractors or spreaders were used on the area, with the work of spreading lime and grass-seed all done by hand. All the men lined up with buckets and moved forward together in a straight line “Mar a bhiodh iad a’ cur a’ chorc uaireigin, làn do dhùirn do shìol air a fhrasadh fad do làimh”.

A representative from each croft in Breasclete turned to and they are pictured below with Angus Macleod from the Board of Agriculture.

Angus Macarthur treasurers this picture as a momento of how the village men worked together and it has pride of place in his room in the care home. After naming everyone in the picture, Angus spoke in his native language about his memories of life on the croft and his first job working in the Harris Tweed Mill in Stornoway in 1952.

 

Air a lot :Bhiodh sinn a falbh leis a bhò a h-uile madainn a-mach ga na cnuic air cùl Bhreascleit. D’fheumadh gach duine a dol a-mach leis a’ bhò aca fhein, neo bhiodh iad a sabaist. Bhiodh crodh Ceann a Muigh Bhreascleit a sabaist ri crodh Cheann a Staigh Bhreascleit, mar gum biodh iad ag radh “Seo an area againn”. Thigeadh an crodh leotha fhein aig àm bleòghainn.

Nuair a bhiodh Faing Beinn Chrionaig ann, bhiodh làraidh An Charaich a falbh làn dhuine, a-mach am Pentland mu ochd uairean. Thòisicheadh an trusadh agus bhiodh sinn air ais anns an fhaing am Breascleit ma aon uair deug neo da-reug. ’S a toirt an latha a rùsgadh mas e àm an rusgadh a bh’ann. Cha robh creag nach robh ainm orrra. Bha aon àite ann air an robh An Anail. Aite air Rathad a Phentland far a faigheadh tu air stad le claibh, do chùl a chur ri aghaidh na creig’ agus bha sloc anns a’ chreag a gabhadh cuideam a’chliabh.

Bha Rathad a Phentland gu math feumail do mhuinntir Bhreascleit ’s e Cailleach Perrins a fhuair an teàrr air an rathad. Cha robh air a bhith ann roimhne sin, ach rathad morgain làn chlachan. Bha i na Councillor aig Ross and Cromarty County Council. Bha i air ceann na daoine a choisich air a’ mharch le piobaire, saoilidh mi gur e Calum Piper a bh’ann. Bha i a’ deanamh ructions mu dheidhinn an rathad agus choisich i fhein agus crowd eile à Breascleit a Steòrnabhagh. Sin man a fhuair sinn an teàrr.

Tha cuimhne agam na bodaich a cruinneachadh an taigh mo sheanair, a tighinn a d’èisteachd ri naidheachdan a’ chogaidh aig naoi uairean air an Home Service. Bha an accumulator agus battery a dol a Steòrnabagh air làraidh An Charaich airson a’ chargeadh. Bha an taigh, dubh le ceò nam pìob, leis a Bhogey Roll. Bhiodh na bodaich ann a suid a toirt am beachdan air cuisean gu meadhan oidhche.

Bha rations ann aig àm a’ chogaidh bha coupons ann. Bha Niall Alasdair an ceannaich à Ciribost a tighinn air an eathar, bàta sùil, a d’ iarraidh na rations gu Cidhe Bhreascleit. Bhiodh sinn a faighinn sail anns an eathar uaireannan nam biodh tìde aige. Bha Shed An Charaich a’ faighinn tòrr ga na coupons. Bhiodh iad a tighinn à Tolsta Chaolais dhan an t-seada aige.Bha na leabraichean coupons a tighinn bhon a Mhinistry of Food ann an Steòrnabhagh.

Ag obair anns a’ mhuillin

Chaidh mi a d’ obair dhan a’ mhuilinn an uair a dh’ fhag mise an sgoil ann an 1952. Bha tòrr mhuillin ann an Steòrnabhagh an uairsin Newall,Tod, Muillean Smith, Stickie agus Stephen Burns .Bha grùnn bhusaichean a tighinn às an Rudha agus bhon a’ Bhac le na bha ag obair anns na muillean.

Bha sinn a toiseachadh aig ochd a h-uile madainn gu sià uairean ach gun robh sinn a sguir aig meadhan latha Dihaoine. Bha hooter ann a Muillean Smith a chluinneadh tu air feadh Steòrnabhagh agus bha sin a’ seirm gach lath agus sinn a faighinn uair a thìde aig tràth diathad. ’S ann aig na spinning flats a bha mise.

Thall againn fhìn ann am Breascleit bha small producers ann. Daoine man Dòmhnall Iain a’ Chidhe agus bhiodh e deanamh clòithtean agus a’ cumail spares nam beart. . Nuair a thòisich mise a’ fithe, bha ma 60 breabadair anns a’ bhaile. ’S e boireannaich bu mhotha bha fithe. Bha dhà neo trì bheartan anns a h-uile seada beart an uair ud. Bha na teaglaichean cho mòr agus air a sguireadh aon daoine, leumadh cuideigin eile air a’ bheart. Bha thu ag ionnsachadh man a bha thu a fàs an àrda, bha a’ bheart man pìos den fhurnadair.

Aonghas MacAmhlaigh Breascleit

 

 

Winter Newsletter

November News

We started our fishing memory box at Harris House this month, please contribute!

We were featured in Luminate’s publication Late Opening

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Textiles at the ward ceilidhs

A session at Erisort Ward Ceilidh developed our worry doll kits from Chris Hammacott into worry mermaids! Chris created some lovely mermaids for us as part of our set of kits. These started as kits for carers but we have identified several uses for them since, for work in care centres, for joint projects with families and as post hospital recuperation projects. We have seen a fair few Christmas gifts being made through the kits, too.

Printmaking

Our print making naturally strayed into Christmas card creation this month! We held several sessions with Gill Thompson in care centres, day centres, An Lanntair and some kits are in progress through Margaret Joan MacIsaac in North Uist.

Textiles at Harris House We held some sessions at Harris House with Chris Hammacott for making textiles in silk painting, quilting, patch working and worry doll making.

Mhairi Law led our Photography Walks and our Cyanotype print making sessions in November.

We held some dance sessions with Louise Davidson and Maggie Smith.

And a Me Time session with duff and flower arranging with Chris Hammacott in Ness.

December News

Textiles at Harris House We returned to Harris House with Chris Hammacott to deliver completed projects and to start some new ones during December. We also started to talk about what the new wall hangings will look like and how we might make them interactive.

We attended the Life Changes Trust gathering in Perth and Paula gave a very well received talk on hand memory (incorporating muscle memory and art as a language). The journey home was through a winter wonderland with a lovely opportunity to see Beauly Priory in the snow.

Our Duff Day at Stornoway Library Cafe filled our crofting memory box with lots of stories, techniques, joke recipes, sayings and recipe tips.

And finally, before our Christmas break, the ward ceilidh at Erisort Ward featured a festive Arora Film Club film,  lots of dressing up and Christmassy bakes.

Paula went along to the Alzheimer Scotland Christmas lunch and met a jolly beardy man in a red suit.

And finally, we attended the Museum Gaelic singing session on Friday 22nd December with Euan, who learned some new songs from Cathy, while in return, she learned how to play a traditional drum.

January News

Happy New Year, everyone!

Our lovely Chris Hammacott is out of action for a while, as she has unfortunately broken herself on some ice in the New Year. Get well soon, Chris!

Guitar lessons via Me Time began at the Retirement Centre at Bayhead, Stornoway this month and are on a Wednesday 1-3pm on 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st January. Please contact Maggie@lanntair.com. All welcome.

31st January, which is a Wednesday, 2.30pm-4pm, we will be offering a rummage opportunity to get up close and involved with some of our memory boxes at Tarbert Library. refreshments will be served and you can have a look at our crofting box, sensory box and fishing memory box. Please feel welcome to bring along any images, stories, artefacts, notes, anything at all which might add to any of these collections to share with your local community.

Have a look at our facebook page for specific events.

Looking ahead to Spring

Early in February, we will be going to Ireland with DEEP, for a gathering. If you are living with dementia and would like to attend, free of charge, please let us know. paula@lanntair.com

Photography walks continue, reminiscence sessions, film screenings, ward ceilidhs, dance and cultural movement, Me Time sessions, Art Ceilidhs, sessions in care centres, day centres and community centres  please see our facebook page for details.

Our Cuimhne Symposium is in April 2018, more news early in February as the programme and speakers are fixed.
Expect a celebration of the past three years filled with ceilidhs, workshops, keynote speakers, project work, work between islands, baskets, inspiration, performance and exhibition art works, and gathering of inspirational people.
The main An Lanntair events are 23rd – 27th April, with a Gallery opening on Friday 20th April. There will be events in several locations and opportunities to enjoy films, performances, art, academic inspiration and each other.

Scalpay Community Centre is going to be the focus of some community arts events during February and March, based largely around textiles but also incorporating some techniques which will support textile art such as printmaking and cyanotype photography, photography itself, and later in the season creating textile art works in different forms. These sessions will be free. Poster to follow with details of Artists and dates/times. Please contact paula@lanntair.com

Jamming at the Museum

Here are Euan and Cathy at the Museum at Lews Castle this afternoon, teaching and learning Gaelic songs to and from each other. There was plenty of chat about which songs are sung to which tunes and how wonderful Euan’s Gaelic is 🙂 Cathy tried out a traditional style of drum for the first time.

There was also plenty of chat about the castle building itself, Gaelic, punishments for not learning Gaelic psalms perfectly (!) and about Bragar and Ness.

Have a look at the Museum facebook page for when the traditional song afternoon sessions are on (usually Fridays at 3pm but please check!).

 

Christmas Lunch

I enjoyed the Christmas lunch at the Caberfeidh Hotel yesterday with Alzheimer Scotland friends. It was a happy, seasonal gathering with lovely food and a festive atmosphere.

There was some gorgeous carolling from the DWP singers (assisted heartily by myself and the lady I was sitting with, who is mostly non verbal these days and communicates emotionally… but knows ALL the words to popular carols and the chorus of the less known ones!). My reindeer antlers had jingle bells sewn on to them and these made a handy percussion instrument to ‘jingle bells’ to peals of laughter from my companion.

Santa even made an appearance, assisted by two wonderful elves!

The crackers had some lovely traditional toys in them, prompting reminiscence of yoyos and what makes a good one and how to do tricks etc. The water pistol and spinning top were also fun to play with.

Merry Christmas everyone, and wishing you love, health and happiness for 2018.

 

 

Christmas on the Ward

We screened Miracle on 34th St at Western Isles Hospital on Tuesday, plus the wonderful Alistair (catch him at Childsmile at the dentist) singing carols and Gaelic songs. We had around 16 patients, around 10 staff (including some of the National Elf Service!) and the team from Alzheimer Scotland supporting the afternoon with some lovely home and donated baking.

We sang and chatted, munched, drank hot and cold drinks and enjoyed the film together with visitors coming and going. The decorations were sparkling and the elf outfits and reindeer outfits added so much to the occasion.

Merry Christmas, everyone! There will be a staff training session on 30th January, after which, we will be able to screen films at the hospital regularly.

Textiles at Harris House

We enjoyed a brilliant session at Harris House in Tarbert today, with Chris Hammacott, textile Artist, delivering completed projects and starting new ones.

One gentleman spoke of the meaning behind colours. He said green is for grief and you wouldn’t put green on anything to be given as a gift. And that red is for danger. Blue is for love. There was much hilarity as to the ‘danger’ of a red headed woman and the Gaelic phrase about ‘don’t get between the redhead and the cliff’ came up too!

One lady was doubtful she could ever create a cushion but was thrilled at how the paints flood into the spaces created by the gold gutta. She is from the same village as Chris Hammacott and they talked excitedly about a shared neighbour. ‘Please tell her I think of her often and remember her kindly. I miss her.’

A gentleman working with me on a cushion had trouble gripping the brush but really enjoyed watching the colours flood into the flowers in front of him. ‘Look at that!’ ‘I like the red’.

Another lady had her finished cushion returned to her and in typical island humility, she could hardly accept that it was a gift to her. ‘Oh no! Really?’

A gentleman was thrilled at how his cushion had turned out. The blue background that he chose to match his football team colours was very much a striking contrast against his bright red poppies and he was excited to give it to his sister as a Christmas gift.

We met a lady from Bradford on Avon and had a session of three southern girls laughing together as we created a worry doll mermaid. The shells covering her modesty were a great source of hilarity as well as her long, flowing green hair.

Perth Gathering with Life Changes Trust

I’m just back from Perth, where I presented a talk on Hand Memory to the Life Changes Trust gathering. It as very well received, I have had some wonderful feedback and I am still in touch with lots of people and projects about working together and about our forthcoming Cuimnhe Symposium in April 18.

Other speakers were:
Dementia Enablement Pilot Project – Care and Repair
Self Reliant Groups (Wevolution)
Community Empowerment Scotland from the Scottish Government
Ceartas Peer Support
The Great Lafayette By Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

It was a wonderful day. I always leave inspired and full of ideas and plans.

The drive home was a winter wonderland of icicles, Beauly Priory, and I always look out for the Ullapool creel tree, especially the crab star at the top.

The Christmas events all start next week, which will be a busy time. Newsletter coming later today.

Me Time Duff & Flowers

Today’s Me Time session in Ness was based around taking up the ideas of carers to talk about duff and the different ways of making it plus the flower arranging with Chris Hammacott, requested at the last session.

The Alzheimer Scotland Carer’s session runs each month on the first Friday of the month 1.30-3.30 and we were supporting it today with some Me Time project work as Chris Macleod was away.

I took along a Polish plum cake, which is very similar to Austrian and New York versions but this was did not have whisked egg whites and had yoghurt, vanilla paste and lemon zest to flavour the batter.

Nobody wanted to be recorded talking about the duff but we had some wonderful chat about the microwave versions and how to make them, the fact that boiled duff is the only one with the skin, and that when you make the microwave version with eggs, you need to cool the batter after the initial microwave for a few minutes, so that the eggs don’t scramble.

We talked about how we all adapt recipes and it was decided from a taste test that Margaret’s duff recipe was really good but cutting corners with a half sized one does not mean that I can cut an hour off the boiling time! The smaller ones were well cooked, though, the ‘dufflings’. There were 1/4 size and cooked in an hour and a quarter. I dried them in the range over to set the skin.

Chris Hammacott led a floristry class, with everyone creating a gorgeous floral centrepiece that they were proud of. I managed to get a picture of all of them.

There were 7 of us in all and we had a brilliant time.

Comments during the flower session included:

‘well, it looks do-able!’
“I’ll tell my friends and neighbours that I made this and they won’t believe me!’
‘It’s very therapeutic, isn’t it?’
‘Mine looks round, like a duff.’
‘Oh I like that! Doesn’t it look wonderful?’
‘I’ve had a lovely time, thank you.’
‘are we taking them home? I thought we were going to sell them, we could, you know.’
‘It’s amazing that a few bits from the garden and a handful of flowers can make this.’