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.’