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News ... Naidheachd

07 July 2015Auchindrain and Lismore

On the last Saturday in June we had another busy day at Auchindrain. At one point we were in full waulk when we noticed that a lovely gentleman sitting on the bench watching us was squirming in a peculiar manner. We thought he maybe had a skelf in his tòn, but no, he had caught his trousers on a wee nail head sticking up. His wife tried to help, but the only way he could free himself was by removing his trousers! Sgioba Luaidh had an attack of the vapours! Nail has now been hammered down, so future audience members should be safe! (And Sgioba Luaidh’s blushes spared!) Click here for some pics. (No, we didn't take one of our friend removing his trousers!)

“An t-eilean beag uain’ an caidreamh a’ chuain …” Into July, and we were off to Oban to catch the Lismore ferry. We had previously made two short visits to waulk on the lovely wee island, but now we were away for a weekend. On the Saturday we led a workshop with ten "students" eager to learn the intricacies of waulking. They were soon all singing away heartily, with a few laughs thrown in.

Later in the afternoon we put on a show for a small but discerning audience. We performed our basic programme, telling the story of tweed from the sheep to the finished garment. ("From Ewe to You".) In the second half we presented part of our "Feuds, Fights and Fairies" series, with some bloodthirsty stories from Hebridean history, finishing off with "Trod nan Cailleach", the poetic contest between the Uist woman and the Barra woman.

We enjoyed our sojourn on Lismore, and were lucky in having pleasant weather for some nice walks to enjoy the peace and quiet and breathe the lovely clean air. Sgioba Luaidh feel very blessed to be able to travel to such beautiful and interesting places. Click here to see some pics of our trip to Lismore.

24 June 2015Busy days and maple syrup! And yet another tweed up our sleeve!

Saturday 16 April was the day when Sgioba Luaidh were almost overwhelmed! Every year the Scouts from Bonnyrigg descend on Auchindrain for the weekend, doing things like planting totties and helping with conservation work. They were sent in to waulk with us in small groups, and there was also a constant stream of “normal” visitors, so we were hard at it all day. It wasn’t too easy, because we would be in the middle of working with one group, when more folk would come in. But we coped! And we shouldn’t even have been at Auchindrain that day! We made an extra visit at the request of three ladies from Prince Edward Island, who had contacted us saying that they would be visiting Scotland, and were really keen to see us perform. So how could we refuse? It was lovely to meet them, and they enjoyed waulking with us. They gave us Canadian pins for our fleeces, and two cans of wonderful maple syrup. We stuffed ourselves with pancakes and syrup at our next few practice meetings!

Click here for some pics. (Prepare to drool at the sight of those lovely pancakes!)

The following week we were back at Auchindrain for another busy day, but with visitor numbers a wee bit more manageable!

After a couple of weeks’ respite we had a nice sail to Rothesay to perform for St Andrew’s Ladies Group. They were a small crowd, but they sure were up for a laugh! And they gave us a lovely afternoon tea! You can see some pics here.

Frances and Pauline had an interesting day at Paisley Museum for an event celebrating Scottish textiles in the nineteenth century. There were some fascinating displays: Paisley shawls, of course, and everything from Ayrshire lace to Singer sewing machines; lots of information about dyes, as the move was being made from natural dyes to synthetic. (Our spinner, Innes, was gnashing her teeth at missing all this – bad timing of holidays!)

Our friend Dan Coughlan, the weaver at the Mueum, was giving a demonstration. Frances bravely had a go at the loom, but her wee legs weren’t quite long enough to reach the treadles. However she is now a dab hand at throwing the shuttle! Pics here.

Dan had a demonstration tweed on the loom and when he has woven a good length he will invite Sgioba Luaidh back to the Museum to waulk it! Sgoinneil fhéin! We now have no fewer than three tweeds up our sleeve!

The first one, a gift from our friend Alison Ross, will be waulked at Auchindrain on Saturday 25 July. The second tweed was given to us by Sam Goates, who also wove the “Kelp” tweed which we waulked last year. (And she is trusting us with another!) We hope that Sam will be able to join us at Auchindrain on Saturday 26 September for our second full waulking of the year. Two dates for your diary. Do try to join us.

12 May 2015"The best after-dinner programme..."

We were delighted to be invited back to Balclutha Care Home so soon after our previous visit, to be part of their Tartan Day celebrations. All the residents were festooned with tartan, one gentleman resplendent in full Highland regalia. Even Sgioba Luaidh dug out our tartan beannagan. We did a short programme, with some of the residents once again joining us at the table. We then enjoyed some refreshments, and had a wee dance to some great accordion music. We have posted some pics here.

The following day six off us took off for Edinburgh to perform at the Business and Professional Women's UK annual conference in the Crowne Roxburghe Hotel. They treated us to dinner, after which we did an hour's programme to a brilliant audience. We were flying – we really take off when the audience are so responsive straight away! One kind comment was: “This was the best after-dinner entertainment I have ever experienced!”

The following week was our first visit of the season to our beloved Auchindrain Township. It was a quiet day, with not many visitors, but in the course of the afternoon we were joined by three delightful young men: two from Barra and a former trapeze artiste from Peru. We felt he was a kindred spirit when he told us how they used to toughen their hands for the trapeze. (Think maistir, and soaking tweed!)

Our next gig was with Dunoon Senior Citizens Club. We always enjoy a wee sail across the water.

Coming up next in our diary is another trip to Auchindrain on Saturday 16 May. This was an unscheduled visit which we slotted in at the request of a group of ladies from Canada, who will be on holiday in Scotland. They were so very anxious to see us perform that we couldn't refuse!

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