Poetry / Word Collages / Stories

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I Don’t Know You ..

I don’t know you
But a Siarach by the blàs
My mother was from Carloway
We had cousins over your way in Keose.

They would come to the communions over the moor
Twice a year, rain hail or shine.
And stayed the entire week.
We gave them room and lay in the barn.

My father went to Uig to buy a cow once
He walked all the way to Valtos and back in one day
Oatmeal when the sun was at its highest point
And water from the moorland stream.

My father, he was in the war with a man from Lochs
Crossbost -Alasdair Mor a big man
He became one of the Oatmeal Monuments
Then the Clyde Trust -The Skye Navy.

I prefer the land and the sky myself
The moor between Tolsta and Ness
I was a herder when I left school at 14
2 shillings a ewe we got to keep
Then from treacherous bogs and cliffs

I can still walk that moor today
Know it like the back of my hand

Oh well it so lovely that you came to see me
I hope it is kippers or salt herring tonight
No fresh fish nowadays
We were brought up on fish.

See and bring me some haddies the next time
Don’t be long till you call again
I just knew I knew you when you came in.

Maggie Smith



Oh yes, we made crowdie
With thick milk,
Left to stand.
Just off the boil,
Nearly an hour.
It comes together,
A little salt.
Oh it was lovely!
The girls learned to make it,
The boys went out.
They knew what it was to eat it, though!
We would tell them they had had enough.

Catherine MacLennan
Dun Eisdean 7th Sept 15


I’m a Town Girl

Granny made lovely stewing steaks.
And the cakes!
Big ones with fat, juicy raisins in.
Oh they were gorgeous.
She died off and that was the end of the cakes.
No, I didn’t learn to bake with her.
She was up in Aberdeen and I was down in Glasgow.
I went to Aberdeen on my holidays.

No, I’m not a baker at all.
I’m a town girl.
If we were going to have something baked…
I’d go to the shops!

Helen, Dun Eisdean
7th Sept 2015


We Don’t Really Appreciate Trousers

I played golf. I had a handicap, a big one!
The course, it’s not bad, it’s small
But it could be a lot worse.

Yes, I carried my own clubs.
They were heavy,
To a certain extent.

We don’t really appreciate trousers, in the Highlands.
A tweed skirt – that was a good thing to wear
Because the rain didn’t get through.

And a tweed jacket
Like a suit jacket.
It kept the rain out.

And it always rained.

Helen, Dun Eisdean 7/9/2015


Through the stairs

Look at all those busy legs,
My hip is sore
And my knee, today.
Look at them hurrying up the stairs!
And the little ones, little legs.
Look at her skirt, swooshing round her knees
And her toes
Going upstairs.
What’s up there?

Margaret Anne Macleod
*this was collaged together from what Margaret Anne said while waiting for the lift and looking through the steps at the people going to the café at an Lanntair.
I love the way that older people living with dementia often notice and celebrate people’s bodies and take time to focus on things we often take for granted.


Have you been round all the neighbours?

I’m going to town but I’ll see how big my brood is. At the school.
I’ll finish up here and get washed, take off my apron. God be with you.

Have you been round all the neighbours?
Will you have a cup of tea?
Sit down, stay a while, come in, sit with me. Tell me what the neighbours said.

Put the dog out. The fire is going out.
I’ve been to the shore. I’m late for the postman.
Is it raining? The washing is out. I’ll get it.

I’ll just put these to bed. It’s getting late.
The fire is getting low, put some more on.
We’ll sit by the fire and talk, oh yes.

Shifting back in time through dementia is not always a negative experience, as these words show. Often, there are memories relating to a time of great purpose, a bygone era of village life, of crofting, of nursing, of caring for each other’s children and each other, of visiting neighbours, of talking by the fire as it burned down. These memories were shared with a warm smile and a glow of contentment.
Paula Brown







Fishing on Loch Erisort
Peggy Cook
The Minister would go fishing with my father, one each end of the boat.
I could only go out with my father the days the Minister was taking a christening or a burial.
I loved those times with my father, my mother said ‘You will soon be tied to your father’s trouser leg!’.

My father was out fishing, the postman was back and forth to the ship so they knew who he was I remember a Navy ship in the bay (the Titania) and they were watching my father go back and forth, back and forth fishing and the Captain called to my father, “Mr MacRae, Mr MacRae, I’ve been watching you fishing every day and all the villagers waiting to see if they could get a fry.”
Their fish was in salt and the boys didn’t like it, he explained. He noticed my father had fish in the bucket, catching all that lovely fresh fish. “The fish we have is salted and the boys don’t like it.”
My father said, “Sling a bucket over the side”.
The rope was already on the bucket, in hope.
My father put the fish in the bucket, lots for the boys…
The Captain said “That’s enough.”
My father looked up, realising it wasn’t for the boys at all, it was for the captain’s table!

Later, my mother was baking in the kitchen, she had to bake every day, and there was somebody at the door. She rolled up her apron and held her hands up and there at the door was the Naval Captain. My mother said “I nearly died!”, she was so shocked. Anyway, the Captain said “Mrs Macrae?”

“How did you know my name?”, she asked.

“Oh the postman has been coming back and forth to the ship and he told me about your husband and the fishing and about you and that you are a keen baker.”

“Have you come for some baking?”, she asked.

“No, I came to give you this, because your husband has been so kind.” he said, as he handed over a bag filled with wonderful things that you couldn’t get on the islands. Spices, dried fruits, flours, sugars. An amazing bag of wonderful things.
My mother was so thrilled.


Daisy – Peggy Cook

We had a cow, when I was a little girl – Daisy. I loved her.
My father made me a little stool, I sat one side, with my head to her side and my mother sat on a bigger stool on the other side, her head to her side. And she would sing Gaelic psalms while she milked. It’s how I learned my Gaelic psalms.
And when their cows went dry, people would come from miles around with a little jar on a string with a candle in it, just to get some of Daisy’s milk because it was the best.
Daisy had a boyfriend. She was very fussy! When the cows went one way, up the road, she always went the other way to see her boyfriend. Over three rivers, she went! It was love! You wouldn’t see men doing that for their ladies. They had beautiful calves.