Bàta – Sealastair

Earlier this month everyone has been sharing memories at Trainaid (North Uist) and Sacred Heart (South Uist) Care Homes…

Bàta – Sealastair / Iris Boats

We used to make a very similar thing in Edinburgh and float them in the river.

There was a stream by our house that ran into the sea. We would play there with iris boats. I was keen to play but the other boys were always at their books. One of them went on to Glasgow to study and write.


Yes we wore clogs but only for school and smart not the in between bits. They took a while to get used to but then your foot took shape with it.

Gaolag bheag – isn’t that lovely. Oh gràidhean.

I went to school in Iochdar and there was a neighbor, a friend who lived nearby he was a similar age to me but he wasn’t at school. He would come to the school though at break time and he would bring tea for us to share.



The children had these sort of satchels but we had canvas bags that would go over one shoulder. I think they came from the army, there were lots of army folk around then.

It used to be that you would take a peat to school for the fire but that had stopped just before I started school.


(Local blanket from my Papa’s loom at our home in Croismoraig)

It’s very warm.

That’s lovely, really thick.

The loom wasn’t very wide so you would have to stitch the two pieces together.

Sometimes when a blanket had worn through the middle you cut the middle piece out and then you would stitch the two pieces back together.

We got blankets from the Tweed shop in Locheport, they were such good quality they even sent blankets to people in America.

We would send the wool away to TM Hunters and then when it came back my mother would knit for people. We never got money for the wool like some people we just got the wool back ready for knitting.

In the war everything was rationed so it wasn’t just having the money to buy the wool it was the rations you needed too.

With Fair Isle you knit jumpers all the way around the middle so there’s no joins visible.



Sarah Jane who is a student nurse took along a winder to make skeins of wool. It has a clamp to attach it to the table.

Feàrsaid – that’s a spindle.


‘fulag’ – Oh well maybe in North Uist but in South Uist we would call it an ‘udalan’. A sort of swivel that stops the rope from getting knotted when you tie up an animal.



A’Bhiast Dhubh

There was an otter down behind my house at the loch and you know this it always stayed on the far side away from people, it never came near us.

On other views in the calendar…

I just love sunsets, all of those colours.

I could see a great view of Heisgeir from my house. Yes, I’d like to go there and we could take a photo – I’d need to show you.





What is happening in June?

1st June – We set out early to drive to the ferry and go across to meet Margaret Joan with the Crofting Memory box to take to the Tommy Whitelaw event at Sacred Heart Care Centre in South Uist. Margaret Joan did an excellent job talking about the project with Tommy and really enjoying his company. Great pictures and blog too!

2nd June – What a busy day!
Projecting Alex Boyd’s images for the DEEP vinyl at Western Isles Hospital
Ward Ceilidh with Tonkan and Alastair
Talk for NHS staff
Remoage technology session at Grianan
Planning for 14th June DEEP gathering in Inverness
Planning call for Edinburgh event later in June – Creative Scotland and Care Commission
Opening of Memory Garden

Sat 3rd June – Supporting Alzheimer Scotland Memory Walk as volunteers with a walk to the event and then celebrating 30 years of the branch with them.

Tues 6th June – Formal photographs of Blar Buidhe Vinyl

Weds 7th June – working with Gill Thompson on Memory Garden Art with people at the hospital am, then pm – screening Arora Film Club at An Lanntair Pocket Cinema.  Please book with paula@lanntair.com

13th June, travel to Edinburgh with local people to the DEEP gathering. 14th is the event and travelling back on 15th.


Later in the month

Doing Dementia Differently
Visit to Dementia Friendly East Lothian
Creative Scotland/Care Inspectorate talk in Edinburgh

Maggie Smith is largely working on other projects this month, as she is so valued in the Gaelic arts and tourism industries and projects. She will be working more on the project as her time becomes free-er.

We will be building the carers project with Margaret Joan MacIsaac, craft based support as people feel appropriate with their caring roles. This is funded in part by the William Grant Foundation.

Jon is working on our final Conference/exhibitions for April 18 and he is also working on Intelligent Textiles and further exciting developments with the Woven Communities work.

Paula will be sharing more of the Food and Craft Festival from An Lanntair.

Every Tuesday 1-3pm, there is a ceilidh at Western Isles Hospital and Duncan Mackinnon and Kate Macdonald are working on more sessions for Barra and Benbecula hospitals.

Reminiscence and music sessions across the islands continue.

Arora Film Club will develop across the community. Watch out for posters of the next events in the venues.


May newsletter

Soundcloud link to spoken word version of this newsletter

This is the Arora Dementia Friendly Community at An Lanntair Newsletter for May 2017. I will make another newsletter about June as so much is coming up!

Tuesday 2nd May at Lionacleit Library – 4-6pm we held a drop in Launch of our Memory Box Scheme and Archive Film Project in collaboration with Western Isles Library and Museum Nan Eilean. Featuring archive film from Uist in the 1950s.


Weds 3rd May we held the Arora Film Club in An Lanntair’s Pocket Cinema 1.30pm-3.30pm. We screened Mamma Mia, by request. This is now going to be the first Weds of each month at 1.30pm, to create a regular slot.


Thursday 4th May, we started working with Gill Thompson, Printmaker, at Western Isles Hospital, to create art panels for the Memory Garden at Clisham Ward.


Jon went to North Uist on 3rd May to meet with NHS teams and Taigh Chearsabhagh team about future work as well as catching up with our own extended team.Tuesdays 2-3pm, Erisort Ward, Tuesday Ceilidh at Western Isles Hospital continued every week.

Tuesdays 2-3pm, Erisort Ward, Tuesday Ceilidh at Western Isles Hospital continued every week. There were soldiers and food festival foods this month!


Life Changes Trust took the team on an awayday (or two) in sunny Glasgow 9th/10th May, to look into where the project goes at the end of the three year funding period.

Tommy Whitelaw came to the Western Isles through Dementia Carer Voices on 31st May and moved up through the islands 1st and 2nd June to Lewis for the Memory Walk with Alzheimer Scotland. Margaret Joan met him first in South Uist and showed him the Memory Box, which he blogged on Dementia Carer Voices. Then Paula heard his emotional talk in Stornoway (many tears there!) and gave a talk about the project’s current work, and then sharing the Friday ceilidh, Alex Boyd’s projections and the opening of the Memory Garden, and finishing off at the Remoage session with him. What wonderful energy he brings to any event and to every heart.


We unveiled our DEEP project vinyl in Blar Buidhe Care Centre on Monday 29th May


And at Western Isles Hospital we projected Alex Boyd’s set of potential images on Friday 2nd June during the extra Ward Ceilidh (for Dementia Awareness Week). This was a wonderful occasion, with plenty of interesting conversations happening about the Memory Garden, which was open for a walk around and looked fantastic in the rain, which was testament to the incredible fundraising and purchasing of well placed and colourful flowers and birds, windmills and plants, which are already creating height, colour, interest and joy on a dull day.



We have been sharing the craft and food festival from An Lanntair with global and local foods  across the community. We showcased foods and drinks from Morocco (Mint tea), South Korea (Kimchi), Syria (Labneh and Halloumi), France (flognarde and Red Carmargue rice), England (Plum upside down cake), South Africa (Rooibos), Russia (Sharlotka), Belgium (Chocolate), USA (Wild rice and a New York Plum Torte), Italy (Antipasti), Venezuala (Arepas), Ireland (dulse), Orkney Beremeal (scones and bannocks) and and Western Isles Carrageen – there is plenty more to come over the next month. We now have a big world map to place everywhere we have ‘been’ with our global food tour.


Our PhD student commenced conversations with Jon about Intelligent Textiles applications for the community here, supporting people with dementia with locally produced textiles which have added benefits in technology.

Dementia Awareness Week DAW2017 saw several events that we ran, supported or were involved with in some way.

  • We dressed the KJ Macdonald window for DAW2017 with our first DEEP vinyl image
  • We installed the vinyl at Blar Buidhe Care Centre (formal images next week)
  • We made progress with our second DEEP vinyl image when Alex Boyd had his set of potential images ready, taken through a collaboration process with people in Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway and we projected them on to the wall on Erisort Ward.
  • There were two ward ceilidhs on Tuesday and Friday.
  • We screened our first Arora Film Club film at Erisort Ward on Weds 31st May on the new smart screen from Remoage.
  • We took delivery of a gifted projector for Erisort Ward!
  • We did a final push on the Memory Garden at Clisham Ward and opened that for a walk around on Friday June 2nd.
  • We took the Crofting Memory Box across on the ferry to North Uist for Margaret Joan to meet Tommy Whitelaw with in South Uist on 1st June.
  • Maggie held two reminiscence sessions in Lewis Care Centres.
  • We supported the Alzheimer Scotland Reunion Ceilidh at the Town Hall.
  • We attended the Technology Open Afternoon at Grianan.
  • We spoke at the Tommy On Tour event in Clinical Skills area of NHS Western Isles.
  • Jon Macled presented a project poster in Edinburgh.
  • We worked with people with a new diagnosis of dementia through Mairi MacIver, post diagnostic nurse.
  • We did some one to one work with a carer around transition of the person cared for into a nursing home.
  • We supported the Alzheimer Scotlland Memory Walk as volunteers on 3rd June with a separate walk to the event, raising over £250. These vital funds provide the means to operate community dementia cafes, singing groups, walking groups, gardening groups and community support. Whatever you donate to Alzheimer Scotland makes a massive difference to local people living with dementia.
  • We finish it all off Sat 3rd June by celebrating 30 years of Lewis & Harris Branch of Alzheimer Scotland.




Things from Home

Angus Murray from Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway brought along some household items. Here are some of the responses during our visit to two care homes.
Oxydol, Rinso: That stuff was white and there was no froth in it. It was added to water from the well in the wooden tub and we washed the blankets to kill the winter bugs. The blankets were laid out in the sun, that would bleach them.
Fairy Soap: I remember the red carbolic soap, you used to wash your hair with. Sunlight soap was owned by Lord Leverhulme you know.
Piggy: There were small ones, middle size ones and big ones. You could buy them in Charlie Morrison’s. Kept your feet warm all night, still warm in the morning. It was the clay that kept the heat. They were used as doorstops.
The older people thought the rubber ones were dangerous.
A piggy was better than a bodach.
They had wooden piggies for taking water to the shieling, it was strapped to your back.
Tilley: A heater and a light used in loomsheds, when there was a blow-down and in the post-office. The torch was kept in a jar with meths. The mantle is missing off this one and Charlie Morrison’s is shut. The torch was lit under the mantle, then you adjusted the paraffin with the pump and used the air wheel to give it air in the vapouriser.
Butter Clappers: I used them when I was making butter in Duncraig (Domestic Science school near Kyle of Lochalsh which island girls attended)

Radio: They used to have accumulators to power the radio before the electricity came in the 1950s. They took the accumulators to Stornoway to charge them up.
Creel: The creels were not for the children to play with, the children had too much to do. The islanders used them for peats, seaweed, potatoes. Sometimes they put the children in them on long journeys. These women were amazing, a creel of peats on their back, knitting, watching where to put their feet on the moor and they had a conversation all at the same time.