Auditorium Sessions

We are planning Auditorium Sessions specifically for people living in the community with dementia to choose the performances they would like to see and then to come and see them in a supported environment. The performances will be short, maximum 20 minutes.

There may be one or two short performances per session and the rest of the session will be for participants to talk about anything they have brought along (pictures, items with a story behind them) or a story they would like to share. The sessions will be recorded to share among the participants of the Dementia Friendly Communities project.

This is a trial of three sessions to see how it works and how we can develop, modify or tour it.

THE SESSIONS ARE: afternoons 2pm-3.30pm. An Lanntair Auditorium.

Tuesday 20th October – Jane Hepburn, Violinist. Ian Stephen reading the poetry of Frank Thompson. Theme – Autumn. Session supported by Paula Brown.

Monday 16th November – TBC (likely to be a Gaelic choir). Theme – Our Gaelic Language. Session supported by Maggie Smith.

Monday 14th December – Christmas screening of film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Theme – Christmas. Session supported by Paula Brown. 

Please book with Paula the sessions are free and carers are welcome and encouraged to stay and enjoy the performances.

Splitting Herring at Dun Eisdean today

Working at Dun Eisdean today, Maggie held an impromptu ceilidh with her melodeon and singing traditional songs, while a lady I had been speaking to about the Food Festival recently treated me to a lesson in boning and splitting herring with her hands. Look away now, all those with a weak stomach……

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Mhairi Law Alternative Process Photography Sessions next month

Mhairi Law has kindly agreed to offer two workshops for local groups through our Dementia Friendly Communities project to co-incide with her workshop later in October.

We aim to be collecting meaningful items for individuals to print using alternative process photography.

Mhairi and Pat Law Workshop

Eilean – Island Exhibition

UPDATE: Workshops are at Harris House, Tarbert and at Solas Day Centre, Stornoway on Monday 26th October.

Spotlight Session at an Lanntair today

Alzheimer Scotland, together with Deirdre Nelson and Kevin Black held a Spotlight Event for practitioners, carers and family members of people living with dementia today, focussing on how to co-design art projects with groups and individuals in a supportive and open way.

Deirdre spoke about how stereotypes can prevent participation and how sessions of ‘snooping’ and listening to people over lunch informed the first session in Glasgow, where some coasters and placemats came from the co-design sessions held there. People in Glasgow participated in their own way, explained Deirdre and Kevin, some organising and ordering, some talking, some collaborating and working on designs which came from others. One lady was able to draw a beautiful vase of flowers free-hand. Some computer design was incorporated, creating chosen background colours and creating relevant colouring pages.

The group had a go with tracing, trying out watercolour pastels and pencils, colouring outlines and free hand drawing before lunch.

One lady entertained with wonderful stories of how she has never cleaned a potato, handled a sheep or cut peat in her life, despite the stereotypes of Lewis life.

The completed designs from Glasgow were brought to share with us and inspire us and were used for the lunch in our Round Room.


Deirdre Nelson website

Alzheimer Scotland

Specialist products


Many people ask me about how to offer a basic music player or telephone for their relative (some resorting to taping down unnecessary buttons and switches on an existing player or phone).

This link came through on the Dementia Friends newsletter and it has a wide selection of products to solve problems that could improve living independently or with care.

Our local branch of Alzheimer Scotland sells a brilliant and basic mobile phone that gives a place to write the name of the person to call in a short list on the front plus a panic button to call in an emergency (also available here). The Alzheimer Scotland website shop has useful products tested by a circle of people.

Here’s another website alzproducts but shop around – some sites have the same product considerably cheaper.

Net Mending and Yarning



What a brilliant session at a local nursing home today! Coy and Ian Stephen came along to offer a session of net mending (from Coy) and yarning (from Ian). This was mostly to offer this session to a retired fisherman, who had worked with Coy and was unable to travel but it was also very much appreciated by other residents and their families and friends.

I was hoping to see some hand memory and I did. He held the nets, inspecting the knots, taking the net mending needle into his hand and showing me how to hold it, moving it in the motion of the rhythmic weaving.


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The storytelling was very entertaining, a captivated audience belly-laughed until lunchtime. Many thanks to all involved, especially to Artist Pat Law, who came up with the concept of ‘Net Mending & Yarning’.

The Guga Has Landed

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As a Grand Finale to the Visit Scotland Year of Food & Drink 2015 (Yesterday’s Fare Today from An Lanntair’s successful Food Festival in the summer) theme at a local care home, where I also work part time, one of my fantastic colleagues managed to procure some much-requested guga, salt mackerel and Bragar potatoes. This went down so well with everyone and spirits were high all afternoon. So many people had strong memories of the hunters going out from Ness and waiting for them to come home, and of the strong, seasonal flavour of Guga. The salty flavours evoked a strong recollection of foods of the past, as salting was a vital way of preserving foods. Some people dived in with their hands, traditionally, others delicately nibbled with cutlery, some opted for the mackerel instead.

Preceding this grand finale meal were discussions and then sessions of butter making, herring splitting, frying oatmeal herring, making duff, bread and making scones with the buttermilk.

I found a BBC video of a film crew filming this guga hunting tradition recently. Here’s a link.

BBC film about the guga hunters of Ness

Hebridean Connections have a brilliant page about the 1912 hunt (which does have a part 2!). I first read about this in a commemorative issue of the Stornoway Gazette I was sharing for a reminiscence session.

Guga Hunt of 1912