seaboardgàidhlig

bilingual blog dà-chànanach

Briosgaidean Teòclaid Dhorcha Dà-fhillte / Double Dark Chocolate Devastators

Dhan fheadhainn a tha seachd searbh sgìth de riaghaitean-bìdh an Fhaoilltich, no a tha feumach air trèat beag ro Àm a’ Chargais, seo reasabaidh airson bhriosgaidean teòclaid dìreach sòghail. Fhuair mi e bho Cam NicRath, aon de na ‘caraidean Gàidhlig’ agam ann an Ameireaga, a fhuair e bhon phiuthar aice, Molly, còcaire air leth agus sgrìobhadair sgeulachdan-muirt gu math sònraichte – thoiribh sùil air an làrach-lìn aice:  http://www.mollymacrae.com/

An dòchas gun còrd iad ribh!


Choc biscs ingredsBriosgaidean Teòclaid
Dorcha Dà-fhillte

2 chupa min-fhlùir

1/2 chupa còco

2 spàin-tì pùdair-fuine

3/4 spàin-tì salainn

4 uighean mòra

2 spàin-tì faoineig

2 spàin-tì grad-chofaidh

10 spàin-bhùird ime air a mhaothachadh

1 1/2 chupa de shiùcar donn

1/2 chupa de shiùcar gràinneach

16 unnsachan teòclaid searbhag-mhilis, air a leaghadh

2 chupa spealgan teòclaid leth-mhilis

Ullachadh:

1  Ann am bobhla mòr measgaich a’ mhin-fhlùir, an còco, am pùdar-fuine, agus an salann ri chèile le sguabag. Ann am bobhla eile, measgaich na h-uighean, an fhaoineag, agus an grad-chofaidh ri chèile gus am bi an cofaidh leaghte.

2  Ann am bobhla mòr, buail an t-ìm agus an dà sheòrsa siùcair còmhla gus am bi iad aotrom mothtanach, 3-6 mionaidean. Cuir ris measgachadh nan uighean. Cuir ris an teòclaid leaghte le bhith ga bualadh agus sgrab taobhan a’ bhobhla ma bhios e riatanach.

3  Cuir ris measgachadh na min-fhlùir gus am bi a h-uile nì air a mheasgachadh còmhla. Cuir ris na spealgan.

4  Dèan buill leis an taois, le 1-3 òirlich a leud agus cuir iad air clàr-fuine, mu 2 òirleach air falbh bho chèile.

5  Bruich ann an àmhainn aig 350 fad 10 gu 12 mionaidean neo gus am bi a’ phàirt anns a’ mheadhan fhathast bog agus gun làn-bhruich.

6  Fàg na briosgaidean air a’ chlàr-fuine fad 10 mionaidean, agus an uair sin, gluais iad gu racais.

Gheibh thu 30 gu 60 briosgaidean, a rèir am meud.

 

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This sinfully scrumptious recipe for chocolate biscuits is for those of you who are sick of the January diet, or who need a last wee treat before giving up chocolate for Lent. I got it from Cam MacRae, one of my North American ‘Gaelic buddies’, who got it from her sister, Molly. Molly’s not just a great cook, but also a crime-writer with an unusual approach – have a look at her website for details: http://www.mollymacrae.com/

Hope you enjoy your treat! 

Double Dark Chocolate Devastators 

Choc Biscs2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant coffee

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted 

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 

 

1 Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl whisk eggs, vanilla and instant coffee together until coffee is dissolved.

 2 Beat butter and sugars together in large bowl until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Stir in egg mixture. Beat in melted chocolate, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. 

 3  Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in chips. 

 4 Scoop dough into balls, 1-3 inches in diameter, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. 

 5  Bake at: 350º F until edges are set and tops are cracked but centers are still soft and underdone, 10-12 minutes.  

 6  Let cookies stand on baking sheet for 10 minutes, transfer to wire rack.

 Yield: 30 – 60 cookies, depending how big you make them

 Note: a ‘cup’ is approx. a large teacup or small mug.

More details on ‘cups’ here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/how-to/44/cooking-conversions.aspx

Gdańsk

P1170846San t-Sultain am bliadhna bha mi ann an Gdańsk air costa tuath na Pòlainn – airson an darna turais, às dèidh seachd bliadhna. Bha sinn fortanach – bha sìde sgoinneil againn, deireadh-seachdain mu dheireadh an t-samhraidh, agus chunnaic sinn Gdańsk, agus am baile-mara faisg air, Sopot, anns a’ ghrian.

‘S e baile fìor bhòidheach ann th’ ann, làn beatha agus làn eachdraidh, le ceàrn acarsaid tarraingeach faisg air òs abhainn Vistula, agus fàileadh glan na mara. Tha na seann stràidean trang, beòthail, agus tha taighean-bìdh is cafaidhean gu leòr ann, gach uile fear le blas sònraichte aige fhèin. ‘S e ‘Red Door’ an taigh-bìdh a b’ fhearr leinne – bha sinn ann an turas mu dheireadh cuideachd. Agus aon rud math eile a tha aig Gdańsk – chan eil cus turasachd ann (fhathast).

Dh’èirich an Seann Bhaile mar ainneamhag on luaithre às dèidh lèirsgrios an Darna Chogaidh. Thòisich muinntir a’ bhaile sa bhad leis an ath-thogail, is iad airson cruth a’ bhaile aca a chumail dìreach mar a bha e roimhe, gun a bhith a’ cur thogalaichean ùra foincseanach ach grannda an àite nan taighean, eaglaisean agus geataichean-baile eachdraidheal brèagha. Mar sin chruinnich iad na seann bhricean, fiodh is iarann, eileamaidean sgeadachail, na dèilean, fiù ‘s na dorsan agus frèaman-uinneig nach robh ro mhillte, agus, leis a bhith a’ cleachdhadh seann dealbhan-ola, phlanaichean eachdraidheil agus dhealbhan-camara, ath-thog iad am baile. Agus sin ged nach robh fiù ‘s biadh
P1180041gu leòr aca aig an àm sin, agus cuid gun àite-fuirich ceart aca fhèin. Drùidhteach gu dearbh. San latha an-diugh, leis an t-seann bhreigearachd agus na sràidean caran cam mar a b’ àbhaist dhaibh a bhith, chan aithnicheadh tu gun do dh’fhuiling am baile cron-cogaidh sam bith. Tha na taighean, na ceàrnagan agus na cidhean ri taobh na h-abhainn ceart cho brèagha ‘s a bha iad aig àm a’ Cho-bhanna Hanseataigeach.

Chaidh sinn air an trèan gu Sopot, baile-mara tùrasachd leth-uair a thìde tuath air Gdańsk. Bha Sopot ainmeil mar àite shaor-làithean spaideil nan oifigearan àrda Comannach, le cilemeatairan de thràigh-ghainmhich agus cidhe fada eachdraidheal. San latha an diugh faodaidh muinntir nan trì bailtean Gdańsk, Sopot agus Gdynia ( an ‘Tricity’) an tràigh a chleachdadh agus brath a ghabal air na bùithtean agus taighean-osta spaideil agus na coilltean ‘s na slighean-baidhseagail air cùl na tràghad. Bha sinn fiù’s a plubraich ann an sàl blàth na Baltic.

Bidh Fèis Shakespeare air ann an Gdańsk gach samradh agus am bliadhna chaidh taigh-cluiche ùr a thogail aig oirthir an t-seann bhaile gus àite-fuirich maireannach a thoirt dhi. Tha e gu math connspaideach, mar bhogsa mòr dubh air an taobh a-muigh – coltas annasach am measg breigearachd ruadh bhlàth nan seann taighean – ach soilleir is ealanta na bhroinn. ‘S e taigh-cluiche ‘The Globe’ ann an Lunnain a bh’ anns a’ bheachd air cùl an togalaich seo. Bha companaidhean-cluiche aig P1170754Gdańsk aig àm Shakespeare cuideachd, is iad a’ cleachdadh na seann sgoil-fheannsaireachd a bha suidhichte dìreach fon taigh-chluiche ùr.

Ach an rud a rinn drùidheadh a bu mhotha orm, ‘s e   an taigh-tasgaidh ùr mu ghluasad Solidarność, ann an Ionad Dlùth-phàirteachais Eòrpaich, a chaidh a thogail ann an gàrradh-iarainn Lenin, far an do thòisich crìonadh smachd nan Comannach. Taobh a-muigh chì thu siotaichean ana-mhòr meatailt meirgiche, a chuireas cuimhne air slige luinge, ach na bhroinn tha atrium an tigh-thasgaidh àrd is soilleir, le craoban agus lusan. Shuas an staidhre tha taisbeanadh Solidarność gar stiùreadh, air dòigh uabhasach cumhachdach, tro thachartasan nan làithean agus bliadhnaichean dràmadach sin. Tha e a’ foillseachadh dhuinn na buaidh mòir a bha aig na tachartasan sin air an Roinn Eòrpa air fad. Seo aon de na taighean-tasgaidh as fheàrr air a thadhail mi riamh (agus tha cuid mhath dhiubh anns a’ Phòlainn – tha iad fìor mhath orra…). ‘S e sgeul mu ghaisgeachd daoine àbhaisteach, mar Lech Wałęsa, ann an sùidheachadh neo-àbhaisteach a th’ ann – agus mu dheidhinn na dìleib a dh’fhàg iad againn.

Uile gu lèir ‘s e baile brèagha, beòthail is eachdraidheil a th’ ann an Gdańsk: mholainn dhuibh uile a dhol ann.

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Gdańsk

P1170575In September this year I was in Gdańsk, on the Polish Baltic coast – 7 years after my first visit. We were very lucky – we had brilliant weather, the last weekend of summer, and saw Gdańsk itself, and its beach resort Sopot, in sunshine.  

Gdańsk is a really lovely town, full of life as well as history, with a fascinating waterfront on the Vistula delta and fresh sea air. The old streets are busy and lively, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafés, each with its own special character. Our favourite restaurant was ‘Red Door’, which we had also been to on our first visit. And one other good thing about Gdańsk – there isn’t too much tourism (yet). 

The Old Town rose like a phoenix from the ashes after the destruction in World War 2. The people of Gdańsk set about rebuilding their historic town as closely as they could make it to what it had been before, rather than building functional but ugly buildings in the place of the beautiful historic houses, churches and town-gates. They retrieved much of the original material from the rubble with their bare hands – bricks, wood and iron, floorboards, ornamental elements, even the doors and window frames that weren’t too badly damaged, and using paintings, old plans and photos as reference, rebuilt their town. And that was despite the fact that they didn’t even have enough food at that time, and some didn’t actually have a proper home themselves. Truly impressive. Nowadays,
P1180215with the use of the old bricks and the original irregular street layout, you wouldn’t realise that the town had suffered any war damage at all. The mediaeval and Renaissance houses, the squares and the waterfront now look just as beautiful as they did at the time of the Hanseatic League.
 

We took the train a few miles up the coast to Sopot, Gdańsk’s seaside resort. Sopot was famous as a smart holiday resort for the Communist party elite, with its long sandy beaches and an incredibly long historic pier. Nowadays the people of the three towns (the ‘Tricity’) of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdańsk can use the beach and enjoy the shops and smart hotels, and the woods and cycle-paths behind the beach. We took the chance to paddle in the (warm) Baltic. 

Gdańsk has a Shakespeare festival every summer, and recently a new Shakespeare Theatre has been built to house it just outside the Old Town. It’s controversial, its almost black brick exterior contrasting with the surrounding warm red brick of traditional Gdańsk. But inside it’s light and elegant. It’s inspired by both the Globe in London, and its rectangular Gdańsk equivalent, the 17th c. Fencing School, whose remains lie below the theatre. 

P1170785But what I was particularly impressed and moved by was the Solidarność Museum in the new European Solidarity Centre, built in the old Lenin Shipyard where the fall of communism started. On the outside rusty metal plates, reminiscent of a ship’s hull, inside a high, light atrium, with trees and plants. Upstairs the atmospheric rooms of the Solidarność exhibition lead us powerfully through the dramatic events of the time, illuminating their subsequent great influence throughout Europe. This is one of the best museums I have ever been to (and some of the others are also in Poland – they are very good at them). The exhibition is the story of the heroism of ordinary people, like Lech Wałęsa, in extraordinary circumstances – and their legacy. 

All in all, Gdańsk is a beautiful, lively and historic town.   I can really recommend a visit!

Barrachd fiosrachaidh / More informationhttp://www.inyourpocket.com/gdansk 

San aithris bheag seo aig NOSAS (North of Scotland Archaeological Society), a bha air an Seaboard sna làithean seo,  tha na dealbhan rim faicinn gu math soilleir taing dhan teicneòlas ùr, photogrammetry:

https://nosasblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/picturing-the-shandwick-stone-the-art-of-photogrammetry/

3 model depth colours

Tha coimeasan ann cuideachd eadar na dealbhan mionaideach a rinn Petley (tràth san 19 linn) agus Allen is Anderson (1903), nuair nach robh  a’ Chlach  cho caithte.

Balaich an iasgaich – the fishing lads

P1320423Seo òran ainmeil a sgrìobh fear Leòdhasach, Dòmhnall Moireasdan, tràth san 20mh linn. Ged a bha e a’ smaoineachadh air luchd-iasgaich Eilean Leòdhais, tha an dealbh seo den t-saoghal aca ceart cho freagarrach do bheatha chruaidh nan iasgairean againn fhèin ann an Ros an Ear, ginealach air ais, agus gu ìre do dh’iasgairean air feadh an t-saoghal, gus an latha an-diugh.

Here’s a famous song written by a Lewisman, Donald Morrison, early in the 20th century. Although he was thinking about the Lewis fisherfolk, the picture he gives us of their lives is just as relevant to the hard lives of our own Easter Ross fishermen a generation ago, and probably the lives of fisherman around the world even today.

Balaich an iasgaich

Fàilte gu fearann air balaich an iasgaich
Iomradh is tarruing is gearradh a’ bhiathaidh;
Coma leam leabaidh no cadal no biadh
Gu faigh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

Tha ‘n geamhradh cho fada ‘s an gallionn cho cruaidh,P1280534
Droch shìde le cabhadh, clach mheallain is fuachd,
Cha mhòr tha chuir-seachad aig balaich ‘an Ruaidh
Ach cèilidh is bualadh eòrna.

Bàtaichean Gallach a’ gearradh an t-siabain,
Biotadh gu caladh an aghaidh sruth lìonaidh,
Bàtaichean biorach aig Nisich is Siaraich
Fada mun iar air Rònaigh

Thig an Fhèill Phàruig mu ‘m pàigh sinn na fiachan
Ri dorghach nam biorach air lios an Taobh Siar;
Tha prìs air an langainn an Sasuinn am bliadhna
‘S gheibh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

‘S i leabaidh as fhearr leam na gàbhadh nan tonn;
Tha plaide mo mhàthar ‘s mo làmh fo mo cheann
Na ‘s fheàrr na bhith lapadh ri fasgadh nan crann
Ag èisdeach ri srann nan ròpan.

P1050289Sud agaibh na balaich nach gearain air cruadal
Sìnt’ air a bhallaist gun pheallaig m’ an uachdar,
Còignear mo seisear ‘s an lethcheann air cluasaig,
Ulpagan cruaidhe Cheòsain.

 
Fàilte gu fearann air balaich an iasgaich
Iomradh is tarruing is gearradh a’ bhiathaidh;
Coma leam leabaidh no cadal no biadh
Gu faigh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

 

 

 

The fishing lads

P1320481Welcome on land to the fishing lads
Rowing and hauling and cutting the bait
I care not for bed or for sleep or for food
Till I get my nets in order


The winter’s so long and the gale so fierce
Bad weather with blizzards and hailstones and cold
Hardly any other pastimes for the boys of Point
But ceilidhs and threshing barley

Caithness boats cutting the foam
Tacking to port against a flowing tide
Sharp-prowed boats of Ness men and West-siders
Far to the west of Rona

It’ll be St Patrick’s Day before we pay our debts
Line-fishing off the West Side
There’s a good price for ling in England this year
If I get my nets in order

I’d prefer a bed to the dangers of the waves
My mother’s blanket and my hand under my head
Better than being numb in the lee of the masts
Listening to the snoring of the ropes

P1310929These are the boys who don’t complain of hardships
Stretched out on the ballast without a blanket over them
Five or six of them, with their cheeks on a pillow
Of the hard stones of an Ceòsan

Welcome on land to the fishing lads
Rowing and hauling and cutting the bait
I care not for bed or for sleep or for food
Till I get my nets in order

 

Listen to Norrie Maciver and Bodega singing it: https://youtu.be/3lN-6jq4Cb4

or an older version by Archie Mactaggart: https://youtu.be/5XrD_lHsXH0

 

Toradh an t-samhraidh / Fruits of the summer

caora-dhromain - elderberry

caora-dhromain – elderberry

Anns na seachdainean a dh’fhalbh (san Lùnasdal agus san t-Sultain) bha mi fìor fhòrtanach gun robh an t-sìde math gu leòr na làithean a bha cothrom agam a bhith a’ coiseachd a-muigh air an dùthaich. Mar às àbhaist chòrd e rium gu mòr na h-atharrachaidhean a leantainn anns na lusan, na craobhan agus na preasan, mar a tha an samhradh a’ falbh agus am foghar a’ dlùthachadh.

A dh’aindheoin na sìde measgaichte agus ro thric na briseadh-dùil thairis air an t-samhradh, tha coltas gum bi toradh math air na preasan ‘s na craobhan, do dhaoine agus do dh’eòin am bliadhna: ubhail, peuran is plumbaisean, smeuran, caoran-dromain, geanmh-chnòthan, cnòthan-castain is daraich, caoran, sgeuchanan is mucagan, ‘itealain’ gu leòr air uinnseann, leamhan-bog agus craobh-shice, sìol neòinein-ghrèine, dearcan-eidhinn … tha fiù ‘s ròpannan trom de shìol a’ slaodadh ris na dionntagan. B’ àbhaist dhuinn a bhith ag ràdh gur e seo comharradh geamhraidh cruaidh ri tighinn, ach tha sinn an dòchas gu bheil sin ceàrr an turas seo. Sna làithean seo cha ghabhainn orm ro-innse sam bith a thaobh na sìde!

Cha bhi mi a’ dol ro fhada gun chamara uair sam bith, agus seo taghadh dhealbhan a thog mi de stòras nàdair am bliadhna – measan, dearcan, cnòthan agus sìol nam craobh. Deagh bhliadhna a bha ann dhaibhsan co-dhiù!

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caoran - rowan berries

caoran – rowan berries

 

In the last few weeks (August and September) I’ve been lucky enough to have had reasonable weather at times when I’ve been out for country walks. As always I’ve been enjoying following the changes in the wild flowers, trees and bushes as the summer passes and autumn approaches.

Despite the very mixed and often disappointing weather over the summer, the bushes and trees are promising a good harvest for humans and birds this year: apples, pears and plums, brambles, elderberries, chestnuts and conkers, acorns, rowans, hips and haws, ‘aeroplanes’ galore on ash, hornbeam and sycamore, sunflower seeds, ivy-berries …. even the nettles are laden with ropes of seeds. We used to say this was a sign of a hard winter ahead, but let’s hope that’s wrong this time. These days I would not risk predicting anything to do with the weather!

I never go very far without my camera, so here’s a selection of recent images of the harvest in store – fruit, berries, nuts and seedpods. It’s been a good year for them anyway!

 

 

 

Veere, Tìr Ìosal: Na Dùitsich agus na h-Albannaich

Banais rìoghail - royal wedding

Banais rìoghail – royal wedding

Anns an Iuchar bha mi ann an Veere, baile beag bòidheach ann an Zeeland san Tìr Ìosal, gus Grèis-bhrat Diaspora na h-Alba fhaicinn; bha an taisbeanadh-siubhail mòr an sin fad dà mhìos. Bha mi air pàirt beag dheth fhaicinn ann an Inbhir Nis an-uiridh mar-thà, ach b’ e seo an obair-ghrèis iomlan, barrachd is 300 pannalan tarraingeach. Tha iad air an grèiseadh le coimhearsneachdan-fuaigheil saor-thoilleach air feadh an t-saoghail, ann an Canada, Patagonia, san Ruis, sna h-Innseachan, ann an Astràilia, Sìona, san Roinn Eòrpa … anns gach àite air an t-saoghal far an do leig Albannaich an acair bho na Meadhan-Aoisean a-mach. ‘S e aon de trì “peathraichean” a th’ ann – Grèis-bhrat Blàr Sliabh a’ Chlamhain (2010), Grèis-bhrat Mòr na h-Alba (2012-13) a sgrìobh mi mu dheidhinn an-uiridh, agus Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora (2012-14) e fhèin, gach fear fo stiùireadh neach-ealain Andrew Crummy.

Cha bhi Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora ri fhaicinn ann an Alba a-rithist ro 2017 – tha e a’ siubhal tron t-saoghal san eadar-àm; mar sin bha mi ro thoilichte cothrom fhaighinn fhaicinn ann an Veere. (Ach tha Grèis-bhrat Mòr na h-Alba ri fhaicinn an an Cair Chaladain an-dràsda, gu 20mh den t-Sultain.)

Tha na dealbhan de Ghrèis-bhrat an Diaspora a thog mi ann an Veere rim faicinn an seo, ma bhios ùidh agaibh annta: https://www.flickr.com/gp/seaboard/151th6

Sisteal - Cistern

Sisteal – Cistern

Ach carson a bha e ann an Veere, anns an Tìr Ìosal, idir? Tha sinn buailteach dìochuimhneachadh gur e an fhìor rathad-mhòr a bha anns a’ mhuir gus o chionn ghoirid, agus mar sin bha e nàdarra gu leòr gun robh ceanglaichean-malairt agus iasgaich làidir ann eadar taobh an Ear na h-Alba agus an Tìr Ìosal. Bha luing Albannach air acair ann an Veere anns an 13mh linn mar-thà, ged a bha Brugge na bu chudromaiche an toiseach, le bathair-a-steach Albannach saor o chìsean. Ann an 1407 fhuair Brugge cùmhnant mar aon phort-inntrigidh dhan Roinn Eòrpa ( ‘staple port’) airson bathair Albannach, le còirichean sònraichte, ach às dèidh dhan abhainn an-sin stopadh le eabar, fhuair Middelburg, baile-malairt ann an Zeeland, an t-sochair seo ann an 1518. Ach bha Middelburg fhèin beagan fad’ air falbh bhon mhuir fhosgailte cuideachd agus mar sin chaidh Veere, port na bu lugha ach glè fhreagarrach – air a’ chosta ach faisg air ionad-malairt mòr Middelburg (agus na bu bhàidheile ri Pròstanaich) ainmeachadh mar ‘staple port’ airson bathair Albannaich ann an 1541, rud a mhair gu 1799.

Bha luchd-malairt Albannach steidhichte ann an Veere fada ro sin, ge-tà. Bha na ceanglaichean cho làidir ‘s gun do phòs a’ Bhana-phrionnsa Màiri, nighean Sheumais 1 Alba, Wolfert à Borselen, Morair Veere, ann an 1444. Thairis air ùine dh’fhàs coimhearsnachd Albannach làidir ann an Veere, aig an robh sochairean sònraichte, mar eaglais agus lagh aca fhèin, tobair mhatha meadhan sa bhaile (mar An Sisteal, ri fhaicinn fhathast), saoradh bho chìsean air fìon is leann, lighiche is ostair aca fhèin, amsaa. Bha Taigh na h-Alba ann airson choinneamhan malairteach agus comannach, agus Gleidheadair (‘Conservator’) mar cheannard na coimhearsnachd Albannach san Òlaind. ‘S e dreachd gu math politigeach a bh’ anns a’ Ghleidheadair uaireannan – m.e. gus luing-cogaidh Bhreatannach a chur air dòigh, no rèisimeid Albannach a thogail, mar dhìon nuair a bha Veere no an Tìr Ìosal ann an cunnart, m.e. an aghaidh nan Frangach no nan Spàinnteach. (Fiù’s san Darna Chogadh ‘s e saighdearean Albannach a shaor Veere, mar phàirt de Ghnìomhachd Infatuate, 1944.)

Cuileann-Ros, Culross

Cuileann-Ros, Culross

Agus dè am bathar a chaidh a mhalart? Sa phrìomh àite bha a’ chlòimh Albannach, bho na Meadhan-Aoisean, bho thùs rùsgan corralach bho mhanaich Abaid Mhaolrois. Chaidh seo tro Veere (mar ‘staple port’) a-steach dhan Roinn Eòrpa, far an robh margadh prothaideach a’ feitheamh. Ach thar nan linntean dh’fhàs bathar eile cudromach cuideachd, leithid sgadan, bèin, lìon, uisge-beatha, agus gual agus salann gu h-àraidh à Cuileann-Ros ann am Fìobha (baile-cèile Veere an-diugh, agus fianais e fhèin de na linntean-malairt tarbhach sin).

Agus dè chaidh air ais sna luing-mhalairt? Bha bathar gu math eadar-dhealaichte ann, leithid fìnealtasan-bidh is dighe Eòrpach, aodach, leathar, bathar-pràis, taidhleachan Dùitseach. Aig àm a’ Chogadh Chatharra ann am Breatainn, chuir luchd-malairt Dùitseach an t-uabhas de dh’armachd gu Alba. Ach rud ceart cho cudromach, ‘s e na leacagan-phana dearga a thàinig a dh’Alba mar bhallaist agus a tha rim faicinn an-diugh fhahast air mullachan nan taighean taobh an Ear na h-Alba, gu h-àraidh ann am Fìobha – leithid Cuileann-Ros, Dìseart is Cathair Aile.

Leis gun robh ceanglaichean cho maireannach agus seasmhach eadar na coimhearsnachdan Albannach agus Dùitseach, is beag an t-ioghnadh gun robh iomlaid-fhoghlaim sgairteil ann cuideachd, seòrsa de phrògram-Erasmus tràth, le oileanaich Dhùitseach a’ frithealadh oilthighean ann an Alba agus oileanaich (agus ollamhan) Albannach aig Oilthigh Leiden.

De Schotse Huizen

De Schotse Huizen

Nuair a chaidh sochairean agus inbhe ‘staple port’ a thoirt air falbh aig àm Napoleon, lùghdaich malairt le Alba (dh’fhàs Rotterdam na bu chudromaiche), agus re ùine chaidh coimhearsnachd nan Albannach ann an Veere às a chèile, às dèidh nan linntean mòra. ‘S e baile sàmhach ann a th’ ann an Veere a-nis, a thaobh malairt co-dhiù (gu h-àraidh nuair chaidh dam a thogail aig beul na linne ann an 1961), le marina beòthail agus meadhan a’ bhaile eachdraidheal bòidheach, làn de chraobhan agus flùraichean, nam measg mòran ròsan-malla brèagha àrda. Ach dè tha air fhàgail de na h-Albannaich ann an Veere an latha an-diugh? Tha fiosrachadh agus cunntasan oifigeil gu leòr ann, agus dealbhan agus buill àirneis a bha aca, cuid dhiubh rim faicinn sna taighean-tasgaidh, ach gu mì-fhòrtanach chan eil mòran de na togalaich aca ann tuilleadh. Ach tha muinntir Veere uabhasach moiteil às an fheadhainn a tha air fhàgail.

A-mach on t-Sisteal, taigh-tobair cloiche às an 16mh linn, tha dà sheann taigh drùidteach ann, faisg air a chidhe, air a bheil De Schotse Huizen, an dà chuid air an togail san 16mh linn cuideachd. Bha sgèimheachadh nan taighean seo a’ nochdadh inbhe an luchd-malairt Albannach. ‘S e Het Lammetje (an t-uan) a th’ air aon dhiubh, fear math ghlèidhte, a’ toirt tarraing air a’ mhailairt-chlòimhe, agus e na dheagh shampall den stoidhle Ghotach Dhùitseach, air an taobh a-muigh ‘s a-staigh. Chaidh am fear eile, In Den Struijsch (an struth) atharrachadh gu ìre ri ùine, ach tha e brèagha fhathast, le eileamaidean clasaigeach air. Tha taigh-tasgaidh inntinneach mu àm nan Albannach anns na taighean an-diugh, agus sin far an deach Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora a thaisbeanadh.

Nach math gu bheil fianais mar sin ann air an dàimh fhada eadar Alba agus an Roinn Eòrpa – bha Alba riamh gu math fosgailte a thaobh cheanglaichean do ar nàbaidhean thall thairis. Faodaidh mi turas gu Veere, Middelburg is Brugge a mholadh – sgìre is bailtean brèagha iad fhèin, agus iad nam pàirt cho inntinneach den eachdraidh againn fhìn.

 

Veere, NL: the Dutch and the Scots

Margadh - Market, Veere

Margadh – Market, Veere

In July I was in Veere, a small town in Zeeland, the most southerly province of the Netherlands, to see the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry; the travelling exhibition was there for about 2 months. I had already seen a small selection of the panels in Inverness last year, but this was the full works, more than 300 fascinating panels. They were embroidered by volunteer groups all round the world, in Canada, Patagonia, Russia, India, Australia, Europe…everywhere in the world where Scots dropped anchor, from the Middle Ages on. It’s one of three “sisters”: the Prestonpans Tapestry (2010), the Great Tapestry of Scotland (2012-13), which I wrote about last year, and the Diaspora Tapestry itself (2012-14), each one under the artistic diirection of Andrew Crummy.

The Diaspora Tapestry won’t be back in Scotland until 2017 – it’s touring the world in the meantime, so I was delighted to have the chance to see it in Veere. (But the Great Tapestry is on show in Kirkaldy till 20 September.)

My photos of the Diaspora Tapestry can be seen here, if anyone is interested: https://www.flickr.com/gp/seaboard/151th6

But why was the Tapestry in Veere in the first place? Well, we tend to have forgotten altogether that it was the sea which was the real highway until comparatively recently, and that there were therefore close trade and fishing links between the East of Scotland and the Low Countries. Scottish ships were already anchoring in Veere in the 13th century, although Bruges was more important initially, with duty-free imports of Scottish goods. In 1407 Bruges negotiated the contract to be the ‘staple port’ for Scottish imports, i.e. the sole entry-port for Europe, with special rights, but when the river there silted up, Middelburg, a trading centre in nearby Zeeland, was granted that privilege in 1518. Middelburg itself however was also a bit too far from the open sea, and therefore Veere, a smaller but more suitable port right on the coast, close to Middelburg’s commercial hub (and more open to Calvinism), was declared ‘staple port’ for Scottish imports in 1541, a role which lasted till 1799.

An t-Sisteal - Cistern

An t-Sisteal – Cistern

Scottish merchants had established themselves in Veere long before that, however. The links were so strong that Princess Mary Stewart, daughter of James I of Scotland, married the Lord of Veere, Wolfert van Borselen, in 1444. In the course of time the Scottish community in Veere became very strong, and acquired special rights, such as their own church and courts of law, good wells in the town centre (like the Cistern, still there today), freedom from duties on beer and wine, their own doctor and innkeeper, etc. There was a Scots House for trade and social meetings, and a Conservator as head of the Scottish community in the Netherlands. This could be quite a political role at times, e.g. deploying British warships, or raising Scottish regiments, when Veere or the Netherlands was in danger, e.g from the French or Spanish. (Even in World War II it was Scottish soldiers who liberated Veere, as part of Operation Infatuate in 1944.)

And what kind of goods were traded? Primarily it was Scottish wool, from the Middle Ages on, originally superfluous fleeces from the monks of Melrose Abbey. These were channeled through Veere, as ‘staple port’, for trade in Europe, where a profitable market was waiting. But over the centuries other exports became important too, such as herring, flax, whisky, and especially coal and salt from Culross in Fife (twinned with Veere today, and itself testimony to the prosperous centuries of trading).

Taigh-tasgaidh, museum

Taigh-tasgaidh, museum

And what came back in the merchant ships? There was quite a variety of goods, such as European food and drink specialities, textiles, leather, brass-work, Dutch porcelain tiles. At the time of the Civil War in Britain, vast amounts of weapons were also exported to Scotland by the Dutch. But just as importantly, the red Dutch roof-tiles that were used as ballast in the returning ships (as the holds of coal-ships were too dirty for anything other than building materials) still leave their mark on house-roofs in the East of Scotland today, especially in Fife – for example in Culross, Dysart and Crail.

With such a strong, long-term relationship between the Scots and the Dutch, it’s hardly surprising that there was a lively educational exchange too – a sort of early Erasmus programme, wiih Dutch students attending Scottish universities, and Scottish students (and professors) at Leiden University.

Once Veere’s ‘staple port’ privileges were removed by Napoleon, trade with Scotland decreased (Rotterdam became more important), and over time the centuries-old Scottish community in Veere disintegrated. Veere today is a quiet backwater, as far as trade is concerned (especially since the building of the dam over the mouth of its firth in 1961), but it has a lively marina and a very pretty historic centre, full of trees and flowers, among them beautiful tall hollyhocks. But what is left of the Scots in Veere today? There’s plenty of information and offical records, and paintings and furniture, which you can see in the museums, but unfortunately not too many buildings any more. However the people of Veere are extremely proud of those they do still have.

De Schotse Huizen

De Schotse Huizen

Apart from the Cistern, a stone pavillion housing the well dating from the 16th century, there are two impressive old houses beside the quay, called De Schotse Huizen, both built in the 16th century too. The richness of the decoration showed off the status of the Scots merchants in Veere. One of them, a well-preserved example of Dutch Gothic inside and out, is called Het Lammetje (the lamb), referring to the Scottish wool trade. Its neighbour, In den Struijsch (the ostrich) has been altered over the years but is still attractive, with classical elements. There’s an interesting museum about the time of the Scots merchants inside them nowdays, and that’s where the Diaspora Tapestry was displayed.

Isn’t it great that there are still such witnesses to the historic relationship between Scotland and mainland Europe – Scotland was always very open as regards links with our neighbours over the seas. I can certainly recommend a visit to Veere, Middelburg and Bruges – the area and towns beautiful in themselves, and with a long heritage they share with us.

 

 

Càl-colaig càise beagan eadar-dhealaichte…

Càl-colaig le buntàta is càise

Càl-colaig le buntàta is càise

Gritheidean

1 càl-colaig meadhanach mòr
mu 750 gr buntàta
mu 125 gr càise cruaidh sgrìobte, leithid Cheddar, Parmesan
mu 150 ml uachdar singilte no uachdar-còcaireachd soya (m.e. Alpro)
salann
piobar dubh garbh-bhleithte

Cuir am bùntata do phana le uisge agus salann agus leig leotha bruich fhad ‘s a tha thu a’ deasachadh na gritheidean eile.

Geàrr an stoc a-mach às a’ chàl-cholaig, ach fàg an càl-colaig fhèin ann an aon phìos.

Rùisg an stoc agus cuir am pàirt geal às a’ mheadhan, ann an dà no trì pìosan, do mhàs a’ phana. Ma bhios duilleagan òga ùra ann, nach eil ro thiugh, cuir iadsan dhan phana cuideachd. Còmhdaich an stoc agus na duilleagan le salann agus uisge teth às a’ choire – ach 1 – 2 òirleach a-mhàin; bidh an càl-colaig a’ bruich san smùid.

Cuir an càl-colaig air muin nam pìosan-stuic, agus còmhdaich e le mullach a’ phana. Thoir chun a’ ghoil e agus leig leis earr-bruich mu 7 – 10 mionaidean gus am bi an càl-colaig al dente. Thoir sùil air gu tric – chan fhaod e fàs ro bhog!

Anns an eadar-àm sgrìob an càise.

Nuair a bhios am buntàta agus an càl-colaig deiseil, tilg iad ann an sìoltachan.
Geàrr am buntàta na dhà leth agus sgaoil iad air màs soithich-quiche. Brìs an càl-colaig ann am pìosan agus cuir e am measg a’ bhuntàta.

Sgap cuid mhath den phiobar dhubh gharbh-bhleithte air, sgaoil an càise thairis air, agus mu dheireadh dòirt an t-uachdar no Alpro air a’ mhullach.

Cuir fon ghrìosach gus am bi a h-uile rud òir-dhonn.

Tionndaidhean eile:

Ma bhios tu ag iarradh rudeigin nas susbaintiche, faodaidh tu sliseagan beucoin a chur air.

Nuair a bhios buinneagan-Bruisealach ri fhaighinn, bidh iadsan uabhasach blasta seach càl-colaig san reasabaidh seo cuideachd, gu h-àraidh leis a’ bheucon.

Faodaidh tu broccoli a chleachdadh an àite no còmhla ris a’ chàl-cholaig.

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Slightly different cauliflower cheese…

Buinneagan le buntàta is beucon

Buinneagan le buntàta is beucon

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower
c. 750 gr potatoes
c. 125 gr hard cheese, grated, e.g. Cheddar, Parmesan
c. 150 ml single cream or soya cooking-cream (e.g. Alpro)
salt
rough-ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a pan with water and salt and let them cook while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cut the stalk out of the cauliflower, but leave the cauliflower itself in one piece.

Cut off the tough skin of the stalk and put the white middle part in the bottom of a pan, cut into two or three pieces. If there are any tender fresh young leaves, put them in the pan too. Add salt and cover them with boiling water from the kettle – only 1 -2 inches; the cauliflower will cook in the steam.

Sit the cauliflower on top and put the lid on the pan. Bring it to the boil and then simmer for 7 – 10 minutes until the cauliflower is al dente. Check frequently – it mustn’t get too soft!

Meanwhile grate the cheese.

When the potatoes and the cauliflower are ready, turn them out into a colander. Cut the potatoes in half and spread them over the bottom of a quiche-dish. Break the cauliflower into pieces and spread them among the potatoes. Scatter the rough-ground black pepper over it all, then the cheese, and finally pour the cream or Alpro over the top.

Place under the grill until golden brown.

Variations:

If you want something more substantial, you can add bacon rashers to the topping.

When Brussel sprouts are in season, they are extremely tasty instead of the cauliflower, especially with the bacon.

You can also use broccoli as well as or instead of the cauliflower.

Flùraichean an Earraich / Spring flowers

Snowdrops, Gealagan-làir

Snowdrops, Gealagan-làir

Tha sinn daonnan toilichte nuair a nochdas na ciad fhlùraichean den bhliadhna – na gealagan-làir agus na lusan a’ chrom-chinn, agus beag air bheag na dìtheannan beaga earraich air na lòintean, an uairsin na preasan agus na craobhan fo bhlàth. Ged a dh’fhaodas an geamhradh a bhith fada, tha dathan nam flùraichean a’ comharradh gum bi an t-earrach agus an samhradh a’ tighinn.

Seo cruinneachadh beag de dh’ainmean lusan an earraich sa Ghàidhlig – agus mar a tha sa Bheurla, tha feadhainn inntinneach, neònach no dìreach bòidheach nam measg. Agus cuid mhath le ‘cuthag’, an tosgaire an earraich ud, nan ainmean.

Daffodils, Lusan a' chrom-chinn

Daffodils, Lusan a’ chrom-chinn

We’re always happy when the first flowers of the year appear – the snowdrops and the daffodils, and gradually the little meadow flowers, then the bushes and trees in blossom. Although the winter may be long, the colours of the flowers are a sign that spring and summer are coming.

Here’s a little collection of the Gaelic names for some spring flowers – and as in English, there are some interesting, curious or simply pretty ones among them. And a good few that mention the cuckoo, that ambassador of spring.

 

Blackthorn-Sgìtheach-dubh

Blackthorn-Sgìtheach-dubh

blackthorn /sloe: sgìtheach/sgeach dubh – the black briar (the white blossom comes on the bare black twig before the leaves)

bluebell: bròg na cuthaige – cuckoo’s shoe, or bogha-muc – pig’s bow

broom: bealaidh or bealach – the bright one

buttercup: buidheag an t-samhraidh – little yellow one of the summer; creeping buttercup: gàircean

lesser celandine: searragaich – the flask-like ones, or bròg na làrach – shoe of the ground

clover (red/white): seamrag-dhearg / -gheal = shamrock

Red-Campion-cow-parsley-Lus-nan-ròis-costag-fhiadhain

Red-Campion-cow-parsley-Lus-nan-ròis-costag-fhiadhain

cow parsley: costag-fhaidhain – wild chervil

daffodil : lus a’ chrom-cinn – plant of the bent head

daisy: neòinean – little one of noon, or dìthean caorach – sheep flower

dandelion: beàrnan-Brìde – the little gapped plant of St Brigid (from the leaves, and St Brigid’s day in Spring); dandelion clock: dathan-gobhainn – the smith’s darts

dog-violet: dail-chuach – meadow-goblet

Germander-speedwell-Nuallach

Germander-speedwell-Nuallach

forget-me-not: lus-midhe – louse plant (not as romantic as in English!)

germander speedwell: nuallach – roarer, howler (!), or lus-crè talmhainn – ground clay-plant

grape hyacinth: bogha-mucag –piglet’s bow

greater stitchwort: tùrsach – sorrowful

hawthorn: sgìtheach/sgeach/droigheann-geal – white briar

hyacinth: lus nan coinnlean gorm – plant of the blue candles

Greater-Stitchwort-Tùrsach

Greater-Stitchwort-Tùrsach

lady’s smock: spòg na cuthaige – cuckoo’s claw

marsh-marigold: beàrnan-Bealltainn – gapped one of Beltane (May Day), or lus-Màiri – Mary’s plant, or bròg-an-eich-uisge –kelpie’s shoe

primrose: sòbhrach/sòbhrag, soisgean

red campion: lus an ròis – rose herb, so called as it was used to ease ‘the rose’, a name for St Antony’s Fire, a severe skin complaint, or còrcach coille – forest hemp, or cìrean-coilich – cock’s comb

Marsh-marigold-Beàrnan-Bealltainn

Marsh-marigold-Beàrnan-Bealltainn

ragged robin: flùr na cuthaige – cuckoo flower, or bròg na feannaig – crow’s shoe, or caorag-lèana – wee sheep of the meadow, or cìrean coilich – cock’s comb (again)

Scots bluebell / harebell: currac-cuthaige – cuckoo’s cowl

snowdrop: gealag-làir – wee white one of the ground

tufted vetch: peasair nan luch – mouse’s pea, or peasair-radain – rat’s pea

whin: conasg, or gunnas (Ross-shire variant)

white dead nettle: deanntag-mharbh – dead nettle, or teanga-mhìn – smooth tongue

 

 

Ainmean Gàidhlig gu ìre mhòr bho Dwelly / Gaelic names mainly from Dwelly

Dealbhan agus eadar-theangaidhean leam fhìn / my own photos and translations of Gaelic names

 

A’ Chuthag

1.An t-Earrach - Spring

1. An t-Earrach – Spring

Aig an àm seo den bhliadhna bidh mòran daoine – agus chan e na ‘twitchers’ a-mhàin – ag èisteachd gu faiceallach do gach ceilearadh eun a chluinneas iad, an dòchas gum bi an ceilear sunndach sònraichte a chiad chuthaige san sgìre nam measg. Bha na cuthagan riamh nan dearbhadh gun robh an t-earrach ann agus gun tigeadh an samradh a-rithist às dèidh a’ gheamraidh fhada, is iad a’ tilleadh mu dheireadh bho Afraga gu Breatainn. Tha iad air an comharrachadh ann an iomadh òran is pìos bàrdachd, tradiseanta is clasaigeach, bho Sumer is icumen in (13mh linn) gu On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring le Frederick Delius (20mh linn). Tha òrain Ghàidhlig gu leòr ann cuideachd far a bheil sinn a’ cluinntinn mun chuthag agus na bàird a’ cur fàilte chridheil oirre, mar O Fàilte ort fhèin, a chuthag ghorm, le d’ òran ceòlmhor milis! no Thig an smeòrach as t-Earrach, Thig a’ chuthag ‘s a Chèitein.

Tha iomadh abairt no seanfhacal ann mu theachd na chuthaige:

“Sneachda na Caisge, sneachda nan uan agus sneachda na cuthaige”. Ma thig na tri sneachdan sin, bidh an samhradh math.
“glasadh na cuthaige” an sneachd beag a chuirear tràth ron t-samhraidh
“glasanach na cuthaige” – beul an latha
– San linn a chaidh seachad, nan do dh’ innseadh cuideigin do chàch gun cuala e a’ chuthag “gun bhiadh na bhroinn”, bha e ag ràdh nach robh e air ithe mus cuala e goirsinn na cuthaige airson a’ chiad uair den bhliadhna; agus bhathar a’ meas gur e bliadhna mhì-shealbhach a leanadh sin. Air an adhbhar sin dh’itheadh daoine “grèim-cuthaige” (rudeigin beag) nam b’ fheudar dhaibh a dhol a-mach tràth sa mhadainn ron bhracaist aig an àm seo den bhliadhna.
– agus “cuthag-chluaise” a theirear ri cuideigin, gu h-àraid clann, a bhiodh ag innse air daoine eile – a’ seinn mar a’ chuthag. Mar sin, tha ràdh ann a tha cur sìos air sin; “Ge binn leinn a’ chuthag cha bhinn leinn cuthag-chluaise.”

2. Beathachadh -Reed-warbler feeds cuckoo

2. Beathachadh -Reed-warbler feeds cuckoo

Ach chan ann airson na dreuchd seo mar thosgair an earraich a-mhàin a tha cliù sònraichte aig a’ chuthag – tha taobh eile aice nach eil cho tlachdmhòr: fàgaidh i a h-uighean ann an neadan eun eile. ‘S fheàrr leatha neadan eun le uighean coltach ri uighean cuthaige, agus air monaidhean na Gàidhealtachd ‘s e an t-snàthadag, le nead air an talamh, a bhios a’ fulang as trice. Nuair a thig an t-àl a-mach, fàsaidh an t-isean-chuthaige mòr gu luath agus cuiridh e na h-uighean no na h-iseanan nas lugha eile a-mach às an nead. An uairsin bidh na h-eòin aig a bheil an nead a’ toirt biadh is cùram dhan isean-cuthaige a-mhàin, ged a dh’fhàsas e a dh’aithghearr nas motha na a ‘phàrantan’. Fiù ‘s nuair a bhios e a-mach as an nead, leanaidh iad e airson grèis gus a bheathachadh. ‘S ann bhon chàirdeas neònach seo a gheibh an t-snàthadag an t-ainm eile sa Ghàidhlig, an gocan-cuthaige – ‘s e ‘neach-frithealaidh‘ a th’ ann an ‘gocan’.

Agus seo abairtean eile a tha a’ dèiligeadh ris an taobh seo den chuthag.

– “Tha e coltach ris an t-snàthadag a’ leantainn na cuthaig” – nuair a bhios cudeigin daonnan a’ leanntain cudeigin eile, mar leanabh beag a bhràthair mòr.
– “cho sona ri cuthag ann an nead a coimhearsnaich
– “cur air ruith na cuthaige” a’ cur neach air ghocaireachd, no air gnothaich gun fheum, gu h-àiridh a’ chiad latha den Ghiblean.
– Agus “gheibh thu e nuair a gheibh thu nead na cuthaig” – chan fhaigh thu a-chaoidh e!

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The Cuckoo

3. air iteal - on the wing

3. air iteal – on the wing

At this time of the year many people – and not only ‚twitchers‘ – pay particular attention when they hear birds singing, in the hope of catching the distinctive call of the first cuckoo in their area. Cuckoos have always been seen as evidence that spring is here and summer is on the way after the long winter, as they return at last from Africa to Britain. They are celebrated in many songs and poems, traditional and classical, from Sumer is icumen in (13th century) to On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring by Frederick Delius (20th c.). There are many Gaelic songs too with the poet welcoming the cuckoo warmly, such as O Fàilte ort fhèin, a chuthag ghorm, le d’ òran ceòlmhor milis! (Welcome to you, blue cuckoo, with your melodious sweet song!) or Thig an smeòrach as t-Earrach, Thig a’ chuthag ‘s a Chèitein (The mavis will come in spring and the cuckoo in May).

There many Gaelic expressions or sayings about the coming of the cuckoo:

“Sneachda na Caisge, sneachda nan uan agus sneachda na cuthaige”(Easter snow, lamb snow and cuckoo snow) If these three snows come, it will be a good summer.
“glasadh na cuthaige” – the ‘greying of the cuckoo’, light snow which falls shortly before the summer
“glasanach na cuthaige” – ‘the lightening of the cuckoo’ – the dawn
– In the last century if someone said they had heard the cuckoo “gun bhiadh na bhroinn”, on an empty stomach, i.e. before breakfast, it was supposed to mean a bad year would follow. People therefore would grab a “grèim-cuthaige”, a quick ‘cuckoo snack’, if they had to leave the house very early at this time of the year.
– and “cuthag-chluaise”, an ‘ear cuckoo’, meant a tell-tale, a child who would ‘sing’ on his friends. This led to the expression “Ge binn leinn a’ chuthag cha bhinn leinn cuthag-chluaise” – although we find the cuckoo itself pretty, we’re not so fond of the ‘ear-cuckoo’.

4.  a' laighe - perching

4. a’ laighe – perching

But it’s not only for this role as harbinger of the spring that the cuckoo has earned its special reputation. It has another, less attractive side: it lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. It prefers the nests of birds whose eggs are similar to its own, and in the uplands of the Highlands it’s the ground-nesting meadow-pipit who is its most frequent victim. When the litter hatches, the cuckoo chick grows big very fast and throws the other eggs or smaller chicks out of the nest. Then the birds whose nest it is devote all their time to feeding and caring for the cuckoo chick alone, even though it soon grows bigger than its ‘parents’. And even when it leaves the nest, they follow it around for a good while and continue to feed it. It’s from this curious relationship that the meadow-pipit gets its other name in Gaelic, ‘gocan-cuthaige’, ‘cuckoo’s attendant’.

And here are some sayings related to this side of the cuckoo:

“Tha e coltach ris an t-snàthadag a’ leantainn na cuthaig” – ‘He’s like the pipit following the cuckoo’ when someone trails along behind someone else, like a child following his big brother.
“cho sona ri cuthag ann an nead a coimhearsnaich” – as happy as a cuckoo in her neighbour’s nest
“cur air ruith na cuthaige” – send someone on ‘the cuckoo run’ – sending him on a fool’s errand, especially on April Fool’s Day.
– And “gheibh thu e nuair a gheibh thu nead na cuthaig” – ‘you’ll find it when you find the cuckoo’s nest’, i.e. never!
Taing airson na h-abairtean agus an fhiosrachaidh do /Thanks for the sayings and information:

Dwelly air loidhne, Uicipeid agus Ruairidh MacIlleathain air làrach SNH.
http://www.cairnwater.co.uk/gaelicdictionary/ , http://gd.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuthag ,
http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B1163343.pdf )

A h-uile dealbh / All photos: Creative Commons
1. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:K%C3%A4gu_%C3%B5unapuul.jpg
2. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reed_warbler_cuckoo.jpg
3. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuculus_canorus_vogelartinfo.jpg
4. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuculus_canorus2.jpg

Rubha an Tairbeirt agus na ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’

P1310958[1]‘S e aon de na comharran-stiùiridh as ainmeile ann am Machair Rois a th’ ann an Taigh-solais Rubha an Tairbeirt. Le a thùr àrd geal agus a dhà bhann dearg, agus a shuidheachadh fàbharach air ceann creagach an leth-eilein, tha e a’ cumail faire air Linne Mhoreibh agus Caolas Dhòrnaich. Tha e ri fhaicinn bho mhìltean a-muigh air a’ mhuir agus air feadh na h-oirthir, sealladh a thogas inntinn mharaichean, muinntir an àite is luchd-tadhail. Ach dè cho eòlach a tha sinn air an taigh-solais agus a eachdraidh? Cò thog e, agus cuin, agus carson?

Gu ruige toiseach an 19mh linn, cha robh ann an taighean-solais – ma bha iad ann idir – ach tùir no càirn le teine air am mullach. Cha robh iad idir feumail ann an sìde fhliuch fhiadhaich, nuair a bha am feum orra a bu mhotha. Chaidh àireamh ana-mhòr de luing fodha gach bliadhna timcheall air oirthir Bhreatainn, gu h-àiridh ann an Alba, agus barrachd dragh aig na marsantan agus an luchd-seilbheachd mu am bathar chaillte na mun chriutha. Le leasachadh sgilean innleadaireachd aig deireadh an 18mh linn – smaoinich air Telford agus a shlighean-uisge is a dhrochaidean aige, chunnaic an luchd-seilbheachd cothrom an call malairteach sin a lughdachadh le taighean-solais na b’ fheàrr agus ann an barrachd àiteachan, agus beathannan a shàbhaladh aig an aon àm. Chaidh impidh a chur air an riaghaltas gun cuideachadh iad sin a chuir air dòigh agus a mhaoineachadh, agus rè ùine chaidh Bòrd Thaighean-solais a’ Chinn a Tuath a stèidheachadh.

‘S e aon de na rionnagan am measg luchd-togail taighean-solais tràth a bh’ ann an Robert Stevenson (1772 – 1850), a thòisich mar neach-cuideachaidh dhan oide aige, Thomas Smith, e fhèin innleadair-taigh-sholais ùr-ghnàthach den chiad ghinealach (thog esan solas Kinnaird Head ann an 1787), agus às dèidh sin mar a chom-pàirtiche. Fhuair Robert an cothrom na sgilean agus an leanailteachd iongantach aige a dhearbhadh anns a bhith a’ togail an taigh-solais drùidhteach air Creag a’ Chluig, sgeir làin-mhara chunnartach taobh a-muigh inbhir Linne Tatha (1805-1811) – euchd do-dheànta, a-rèir beachd na mhòrchuid aig an àm. Bha an dà chuid, an tùr agus an lampa casta fhèin, nam mìorbhailean den linn. Bho sin a-mach bha an-còmhnaidh fèill mhòr air, agus thog e mu fhichead taigh-solais timcheall air Alba airson a’ Bhùird, bho Linne Foirthe gu Sealltain, cuid mhòr dhiubh ann an suidheachaidhean cunnartach dùbhlanach. Agus nam measg bha Rubha an Tairbeirt.

Swallows' nests Tarbat Ness

Swallows’ nests Tarbat Ness (photo W. Huggan)

Thàinig an co-dhùnadh a thogail às dèidh caill de 16 luing ann an stoirm làidir ann an Linne Mhoireibh ann an 1826. Bha farpais ann eadar Covesea (Inbhir Lòsaidh) agus Rois an Ear airson togail taigh-sholais, ach choisinn Rubha an Tairbeirt. Bhathar an dùil gum biodh e riatanach do shoithichean a bhiodh a’ cleachdadh Sligh-uisge a’ Ghlinne Mhòir, a bha dìreach air a crìochnachadh le Thomas Telford. Thòisich an taigh-solais ag obrachadh ann an 1830, le lampa cumhachdach paireafain agus lionsaichean iomadh-fhillte – bha Robert na eòlaiche a-nis. Mhair seo gu 1907, nuair a thàinig lampa-dealain na bu làidire na àite. Cha deach an t-inneal-solais fhèin ath-nuadhachadh ach ann an 1892, le David Stevenson, ogha Robert, agus mhair seo gu fèin-obrachadh an taigh-sholais ann an 1985. (Tha an solas sin ann an Taigh-tasgaidh na Mara ann an Greenwich a-nis, agus ‘s e sealladh drùidhteach a th’ ann, ri fhaicinn air YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6AZ0wnjwms ) Thog na h-innleadairean Bhictorianach obraichean a mhaireadh gu bràth, agus bha na taighean-solais Albannach nam buill-sampaill do chàch air feadh an t-saoghail.

Fhuair Covesea an taigh-solais aige fhèin cuideachd air a’ cheann thall; chaidh a thogail ann an 1846 le Alan, mac Robert, a thog taigh-solais Chrombaidh cuideachd. ‘S ann a nochd rè ùine sreath sàr-innleadairean san teaghlach Stevenson, mic is oghaichean, a thog na ficheadan de thaighean-solais timcheall air oirthir na h-Alba, is iad an-còmhnaidh a leudachadh crìochan teicneolas an latha. ‘S e ogha Robert, mac Thomas, a bhrìs an tradisean sin: an sgrìobhadair Robert Louis Stevenson, a bha an toiseach na bhriseadh-dùil mòr dha na pàrantan. Ach tha an ceangal ris a’ mhuir a bha cho buadhmhor ann an eachdraidh a theaghlaich ceart cho làidir anns na sgrìobhaidhean aige fhèin, leithid Kidnapped, Treasure Island:
Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors. When the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father!’

‘S urrainn dhuibh a h-uile rud mun deidhinn a leughadh anns an leabhar The Lighthouse Stevensons le Bella Bathurst, agus am film aithriseach BBC fhaicinn air YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_tSajYoqe8
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Tarbat Ness and the ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’

P1170826[1]One of our most famous landmarks on the Seaboard is the lighthouse at Tarbat Ness, with its tall white tower with the two red bands, and its advantageous position at the craggy head of the Fearn Penisula, watching over the Moray and the Dornoch Firths. It’s visible for many miles out to sea and along the coast, a cheering sight to mariners, locals and visitors alike. But what do we know about the lighthouse and its history? Who built it, and when, and why?

Up until the early 19th century, lighthouses, where there were any at all, were simply towers or cairns with a fire on top. They were at their least useful in stormy wet weather, just when ships needed them. Huge numbers of ships and their crews were lost each year round the British coast, especially in Scotland, the merchants and investors more distressed about the loss of goods and ships than about the men. As engineering skills evolved in the late 18th century – think of Telford and his canals and bridges, investors saw a chance to cut their losses with more and better lighthouses, and save lives into the bargain. Pressure was put on the government to help organise and fund this, and in due course the Northern Lighthouse Board was founded.

One of the rising stars among early lighthouse builders was Robert Stevenson (1772 – 1850), first assistant then partner to his engineer step-father, Thomas Smith, himself an innovative lighthouse builder of the first generation (he build Kinnaird Head light in 1787). Robert got the chance to prove his extraordinary skill and tenacity by building the amazing Bell Rock lighthouse on a dangerous tidal reef outside the Tay estuary (1805-1811) – a feat previously considered impossible. Both the structure and the complex lamp itself were marvels of the age. After that he was always in demand, and built around 20 lighthouses for the Board around Scotland’s coast, from the Forth to Shetland, many in dangerous and daring locations. And one of them was Tarbat Ness.

P1060816_zps5f6eab3c[1]

Spring flowers Tarbat Ness (photo W. Huggan)

The trigger for its construction was the loss of 16 vessels in a storm in the Moray Firth in 1826. There was competition between Covesea (Lossiemouth) and Tarbat Ness for a lighthouse. Tarbat Ness won, as it was considered essential for traffic from Telford’s Caledonian Canal, newly finished at the time. Tarbat Ness entered service in 1830, with a powerful paraffin lamp and complex lenses – Robert was an expert by then. This was only changed in 1907 to an incandescent pressurised lamp, and the lightroom machine was updated in 1892 by Robert’s grandson, David, lasting till the automation of the lighthouse in 1985. (The optic is now in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and is a wonderful sight – see it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6AZ0wnjwms ) Victorian engineers built to last, and Scottish lighthouses served as models around the world.

Covesea also got its lighthouse in the end, built by Robert’s son Alan in 1846, who also built Cromarty lighthouse. In fact there was a whole dynasty of Stevensons, sons and grandsons, who built scores of lighthouses around Scotland’s coasts, always pushing the limits of the technology of their time. The one who broke the tradition was Robert’s grandson, son of Thomas, the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who was initially a great disappointment to the family. But his writing – Kidnapped, Treasure Island – was inspired by the same sea that inspired his light-house-building family:

‘Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors. When the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father!’

You can read all about them in Bella Bathurst’s book The Lighthouse Stevensons, and see the BBC documentary about them on YouTube:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Robert_Stevenson_%28lighthouse_engineer%29_-_Google_Book_Search_-_Biographical_Sketch_of_the_Late_Robert_Stevenson.jpg

Robert Stevenson (Creative Commons)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_tSajYoqe8

Robert Stevenson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Stevenson_%28civil_engineer%29#/media/File:Robert_Stevenson_%28lighthouse_engineer%29_-_Google_Book_Search_-_Biographical_Sketch_of_the_Late_Robert_Stevenson.jpg

Bell Rock Lighthouse (Creative Commons)