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15 December 2018Ending the year in style

Our last few engagements of 2018 were memorable.

In October at Auchindrain we had the first of several visits from Irish Knitting Tours. They were mostly from Canada and USA. (I know - it's complicated!) Then in the afternoon we had a delightful group of children from Tayvallich Primary School. But the real drama of the day was the failure of the electrics in Frances's car. Luckily we had almost arrived at Auchindrain when it happened: car wouldn't steer properly (no power steering), no lights, no indicators, no hazard lights... Garage found no fault, but gave some highly technical advice: If it happens again, turn off and turn on again! It didn't happen again, and we drove cautiously all the way home to Greenock. We live to waulk another day!

A couple of weeks later the electrics held out for a nasty run down the coast to Troon, through lashing rain and big puddles on the road. But the ladies of St Annes’ Guild greeted us with a welcome cuppa - a sure way to Sgioba Luaidh's heart! The cuppa seemed to give us extra energy - our performance went with a swing, and great hilarity. We featured several Barra songs for the sake of Rhoda from Barra, who sat in the front row, and was one of those who joined us at the table. As we tucked into the lovely supper afterwards, we enjoyed chatting to the Guild ladies so much, we could hardly tear ourselves away - except Anne and FRL, who were rushing off to catch the Dunoon ferry. Weather was much improved on the return journey, and we all made it home safe and sound.

Quite nice to get to an engagement in the daylight! We had an afternoon spot with the Tuesday Club at St Bride's, Bothwell. It was a lovely crisp day, and we enjoyed the drive down, arriving really early, as we found the place more easily than expected. We had a good session with an enthusiastic crowd, and a fair number of very competent volunteers at the table. In honour of the imminent St Andrew's Day, several of the audience were decked out in tartan, and afterwards we were regaled with oatcakes and cheese - and tablet. Lots of tablet! Oh man, we fair enjoyed our trip to Bothwell!

What a fantastic St Andrew’s night we had in South Queensferry! A long run, but my goodness, it was worth it! The venue was Priory Church, down near the river, practically under the Bridges, a beautiful, very old church, with stone barrel-vaulted roof, so great acoustics. We arrived about 6pm, to be regaled with soup and sandwiches, and, of course, lashings of tea.
They were a great crowd, really lovely people. We did our spot, with a special rendition of "Mile marbhaisg air an t-siucar", which is the song Frances made for her ancestor, blinded in an accident in a Greenock sugar-house. Very emotional for her, because present in the audience was her (far out) cousin Jim, who, while searching the internet for that very ancestor, found a film of Sgioba Luaidh singing the song. Tonight was the first meeting between the two long-lost cousins! 
The other highlight for Frances was singing puirt-a-beul for the step-dancers, Sheila and Cheryl. Considering they only had one practice - over the phone! - and a quick rehearsal in the kitchen, it went pretty well. Frances says: "It was a bit nerve-racking, because if you are singing for dancers there is absolutely no let-up - you daren't miss a beat! It was a real thrill to see the steps meshing so well with the puirt. I want to do it again!" Click here to see them in action

A great finale to 2018 for Sgioba Luaidh!

We are not posting any photos meantime, because we normally link them to our Flickr account. But Flickr are changing the goalposts, so we'll have to make other arrangements. Remember, you can see some of our pics on our Facebook page

25 October 2018Busy schedule!

Phew! We have hardly had time to draw breath in the last three months! We have had our usual monthly visits to Auchindrain, plus a couple of extra visits, to meet up with a summer school from Glasgow University, and a group from Irish Knitting Tours. We are looking forward to meeting more of the knitters over the next few months.

We took part in some special events: Clanscape at Ardess, way past Rowardennan on Loch Lomondside; Lochgilphead Pictish and Celtic Festival (Click here for pics.); “Museum Memories” in Paisley, an event to mark the closure of the museum for refurbishment; and Meur Dhunomhain ceilidh in September, when we sustained the programme for the whole evening.

We enjoyed performing for Guilds in Rutherglen and Ayr, despite the fact that the one in charge of the tweed forgot to bring it both times! We improvised with a car blanket – as we usually do when she forgets the tweed!

Then in mid-October, a highlight when we waulked Tweed No. 10. This was the second half of the tweed we waulked in July at the MacGregors’ Clan Gathering. This time we gathered at Dalmally Station, where Liz Gaffney-Waite has her studio: Heartfelt by Liz. Sgioba Luaidh have waulked in many unusual locations, but surely a station platform must be a pretty unique venue! There was a moment when we thought we would have to refill the tub before we could soak the cloth, as Angus, the station dog, decided that he needed a good long drink! It’s a good thing we hadn’t yet added the maistir to the brew!

Then in our enthusiasm we overdid the soaping of the cloth – foam everywhere! You’d think we had rubbed it with whipped cream! We had to do an extra rinse. Nearly had to rinse Innes as well. She had suds on her face, in her hair, on her pinny…

Dalmally is still a working station, so the Glasgow and Oban trains stopped, with the passengers waving at us. Our intrepid Christine was allowed to board one of the trains to explain what we were doing.

It took just about an hour to shrink eight-metre tweed, with fourteen songs plus two for rolling. Acting on Innes’s careful instructions, Liz and Graham re-rolled the following day. (We hope they sang as they did it, or bad luck will ensue!) Our latest information is that the tweed was hung up and is drying nicely. Thanks, Liz and Graham for another great day at Dalmally – and for a great lunch! Click here for pics.

Every move was followed by a crew from Flint TV, who are preparing a documentary for Channel 4: The Most Beautiful Railways in the World. To be screened in the New Year.

The only thing that could top a full waulk was the event which took place on Mod Friday in Dunoon. Six of Sgioba Luaidh crossed the Clyde to gather in St Mun’s Hall along with two groups who had taken part in the luadh competition the previous day: Comhlan Luadh Bhàideanach (from Kingussie) and Clò nan Nighean (from Barra). We have long talked about the possibility of getting together with other groups for a mega-waulk, and at last we did it! There were two dozen of us at the cliath, including a few friends who came in to take part. It was so good to enjoy each other’s songs and company, in a relaxed atmosphere, with tea and cakes, courtesy of St Mun’s. Many thanks to Ruth, the hall-keeper, for being so kind to us. A historic occasion, which we think is unique! But we hope it won't remain unique, as we are keen to repeat the experience, which we all enjoyed so much. See some pics here.

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