seaboardgàidhlig

bilingual blog dà-chànanach

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Sgrìobh mi an-uiridh mu Thaigh-solais a‘ Chinn Àird ann am Baile nam Frisealach. https://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2023/11/06/2023-an-t-samhain-an-ceann-ard-nov-kinnaird-head/  Dìreach ri thaobh tha Taigh-tasgaidh nan Taighean-solais Albannach, agus tha sin a-nis fosgailte a-rithist às dèidh obair is ùrachadh a’ gheamhraidh. Mar sin innsidh mi dhuibh beagan ma dheidhinn am mìos seo, agus mholainn tadhal air seo cuideachd, còmhla ri turas tron Taigh-solais a’ Chinn Àird fhèin. 

Tha an togalach làn stuth tarraingeach ceangailte ri taighean-solais agus cuideachd ri eachdraidh nan taighean-solais Albannach, gu h-àraidh cruinneachadh sònraichte de sholasan (“optics”) à iomadh taigh-solas air feadh na dùthcha, far an deach na stèiseanean sin ùrachadh. Tha cuid gu math mòr, àrd, agus faodaidh tu dol glè fhaisg orra fhad ‘s a bhios tu a’ coiseachd nam measg tron talla-thaisbeanaidh mhòr. Tha lionsaichean is lampaichean eile ann cuideachd, mòra is beaga, agus mìneachadh soilleir aig gach fear, m.e. tha solas taigh-solais Rubha na Cananaich ri fhaicinn an sin.

Tha storas an taighe-thasgaidh air a sgaoileadh thairis air dà ìre, le eachdraidh nan taighean-solais air a sealladh ‘s a mìneachadh sa phàirt suas an staidhre. An sin ionnsaichidh tu mu theaghlach ainmeil nan Stevensons, ach mu einseinnearan, dhèanadairean-lionsaichean, is luchd-togail cudromach eile cuideachd, a chluich pàirt mhòr, is mar as trice pàirt gu math dana, ann an cruthachadh sreath de thaighean-solais timcheall air costa carraigeach na h-Alba. Tha uidheam, cairtean, modailean ann, sgeulachdan mu mhi-shealbh is shàbhaladh, a h-uile rud a’ toirt beatha do sgeul tarraingeach nan togalaichean suaicheanta seo. Tha rudeigin inntinneach ann do gach neach, inbhich mar chlann. Chunnaic mi teaghlaichean gu lèir air am beò-ghlacadh leis na mìorbhailean an sin. As t-samradh tha geamaichean is cur-seachadan a bharrachd ann dhan chloinn cuideachd.

Tha aon rud sònraichte drùidhteach a chì thu thairis air an dà ìre, is sin solas taigh-solais Sanda à 1882 – tha feum air toll mòr eadar an dà làr gus a shealladh, is e cho àrd. Agus air a’ bhun-ùrlar tha barrachd ann mu na bàtaichean a dh’fhritheil na taighean-solais, agus na criuthaichean a sheòl iad tro na siantan – gaisgich gu leòr an sin cuideachd,  comhla ris na glèidheadairean-taigh-solais calma fhèin.

Fiù ‘s nach eil sibh uile nur luchd-leantainn taighean-solais mar a tha mise, tha mi cinnteach gur e sgrìob gu math tarraingeach a bhiodh ann do gach neach a bhuineas do choimhearsnachd na mara, gu sònraichte air a cho-cheangal ri tadhal air Taigh-solais a’ Chinn Àird.

Tha buth is cafaidh anns an taigh-tasgaidh, agus tha e fosgailte as t-samhradh gach latha 10m gu 5f.  Barrachd fiosrachaidh an seo: https://lighthousemuseum.org.uk/

Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

Last year I wrote about Kinnaird Head Lighthouse in Fraserburgh. https://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2023/11/06/2023-an-t-samhain-an-ceann-ard-nov-kinnaird-head/  Right beside it is the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, and that’s open again now after its winter work and update, so I thought I’d tell you a bit about it this month. I can highly recommend a visit there too, along with a tour round Kinnaird Head Lighthouse itself.

The building is full of fascinating stuff connected to lighthouses and also to the history of Scottish lighthouses, especially the outstanding collection of the lights (“optics”) from the many lighthouses around the country that have now been modernised. Some are very large and tall, and you can get right up to them as you walk among them through the big exhibition hall. There are other lenses and lamps there too, large and small, with clear explanantions for each of them, e.g. you can see the Chanonry Point lighthouse optic there too.

The museum’s collections are spread over two levels, with the history of the lighthouses displayed and explained in the upstairs part. There you learn about the famous Stevenson dynasty of lighthouse-builders, but also about all the other engineers, lense-makers, and important builders who played a large part, and often a daring one, in the creation of the chain of lighthouses around the craggy coast of Scotland. They have equipment, charts, and models, tales of disaster and rescue, all bringing to life the fascinating story of these iconic structures. There’s something of interest for everyone, adults and children alike. I saw whole families captivated by the marvels on display. In the summer there are also extra activies for children.

There’s one very special item that you’ll see over the two levels – that’s the Sanda light from 1882; they had to make an opening between the two floors to display it, it’s so high. And on the ground floor there’s more about the boats that served the lighthouses and the crews who sailed them through the elements – plenty of heroes there too, along with the hardy keepers themselves.

Even if you’re not a lighthouse fan like me, I’m certain that this would be a great day out for anyone from a coastal community, especially when combined with a visit to the neighbouring Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. There’s  shop and a cafe too. Summer opening hours are daily 10am to 5pm. More information here:  https://lighthousemuseum.org.uk/

Guest article by Anne Barclay of Golspie. Mòran taing, Anne!

A book and a film: East Sutherland Gaelic Heritage Night featured “Mar a Chunnaic Mise: Nancy Dorian is a’ Ghaidhlig “ – a documentary following linguist Nancy Dorian, who studied the last of the East Sutherland Gaelic speakers. What an interesting evening it turned out to be!

Aileen Ogilvie introduced Professor Neil Simco from the University of the Highlands and Islands, Dornoch Campus, who explained his own interest in the Gaelic language. He is an Englishman who studied Gaelic at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and is fluent in the language albeit with an English accent for which he apologised. He attained his fluency by using the Gaelic language at every opportunity. He told us how there is research going on at present into the crisis within the Gaelic language and the state of Gaelic in the Western Isles. At UHI, they try to make the student experience bilingual, corporate communication is also bilingual, and staff have the opportunity to learn Gaelic. Prof Simco switched easily from Gaelic to English right throughout.

Aileen Ogilvie, herself a Gaelic speaker, introduced the film which had been made some time ago, probably in the 1980’s, and featured Nancy Dorian, a Professor of Linguistics from the eastern seaboard of America who studied the last of the East Sutherland Gaelic speakers. East Sutherland Gaelic was spoken mainly in the fishing communities pf Brora, Golspie and Embo. Of the three villages only Embo was a totally fishing village. Brora’s fishing community was confined to Lower Brora beside the mouth of the river, while in Golspie it was the West End of the village. Gaelic was not spoken in the rest of Brora nor in the East End of Golspie. In the film we saw Nancy Dorian at work in her study in America, checking her pronunciation of Gaelic words over the telephone with the friends she had made in East Sutherland. She wanted to have the authentic East Sutherland accent and spelling of words and this she certainly achieved.

Her friendship with the last Gaelic speakers from East Sutherland lasted throughout their lives and the film is testament to the work she did over many years. Nancy Dorian also wrote a book called “The Tyranny of the Tide” where she documented the oral history of the fishing in East Sutherland, the stories of the people, the local fishing, the role of women in the family, religion, their beliefs and practices. This she wrote down largely in the words of the people she spoke to and lived among from time to time over many years.

There are numerous examples in the book where the stories are told by the people. One woman talking about her lack of education is quoted here. “I used to get rows Nancy, from the teachers….They thought I should be in school….my mother was very keen to send me when she could….sometimes she would keep my eldest brother off school but it was mostly me. Because I was handier in the house than a boy anyway.” When describing the decision of where to fish on any day, and she is talking about line fishing, it was supposed to be by common agreement, but the young men always deferred to the older men. “ If the older man says, ‘We’ll go here’ they never said yes or no, whether they thought otherwise or not…..they never mentioned it. They always gave “an t-urram do’n aois “(Honour to age).

Nancy Dorian had the ability to insert Gaelic words, still in use when she made her oral history recordings, to great effect throughout the book. “The Tyranny of the Tide” is a book I have read several times in the years I have spent in Golspie and I am always struck by the similarities there are to the Seaboard fishing villages. As in the Seaboard Gaelic has died out but words and phrases remain to remind us of our heritage.

This is a snatch of an old song that Nancy Dorian recorded from the Sutherland family she spent much time with in the 1970’s.

“S iomadh caileag bhoidheach

Eadar Dornach ’s a’ bhail’ seo

‘A do chuuir i treimh brog air

Bu bhoidhich’ na mo chaileagas. “

There’s many a bonny lass Between Dornoch and this village:

There didn’t step a foot (A girl) bonnier than my lass.

(Chaochail Nancy Dorian 24.04.24, aois 87, dìreach às dèidh foillseachadh an artaigil seo. Fìor bhana-ghaisgeach na Gàidhlig. Clach air a càrn. / Nancy Dorian died on 24.04.24, aged 87, just after the publication of this article. A true hero of Gaelic. May her memory live on.)

Na h-uain a’s t-earrach, le Runrig

Seachdain sa chaidh bha mi aig Eden Court gus am fiolm The Last Dance fhaicinn, clàradh den chuirm-chiùil mu dheireadh a ghabh Runrig, ann an 2018 fo sgàil Caisteal Shruighlea. Tachartas làn faireachdainn a bh’ ann, leis gun robh fios againn uile mar-thà aig àm a’ chonsairt nach biodh iad a’ dèanamh turas eile no fiù’s cuirm-chiùil eile tuilleadh. Agus a-nis, a’ coimhead ‘s a’ cluinntinn a-rithist, thuig sinn gu h-obann is gu soilleir gun robh fios mar-thà aig an àm sin aig Bruce Guthro, prìomh sheinneadair den chòmhlan, fios nach robh againne idir, gun robh aillse air. Cha do sheall e sin, agus bha a ghuth cho brèagha ‘s cho làidir ’s a bha e riamh. Ach san eadar-àm chaochail e, ann an 2023, gun dùil againn ris, is call mòr a bha sin dhan choimearsnachd Riggie, gun ghuth air a theaghlach ‘s air a charaidean sa chòmhlan. Bha sinn uile a’ coimhead le sùilean is cluasan ùra, agus cha mhòr nach robh duine sam bith san taigh-dhealbh gun deur no dhà. Bha ar gaisgich bàsmhor.

Ach chan ann mar sin a chunnaic Ruairidh is Calum Dòmhnallach an saoghal ann an 1978, is iad dìreach air aon de na ciad òrain Ghàidhlig aca a sgrìobhadh – Na h-uain a’s t-earrach. Agus ‘s ann mun òran seo a tha mi airson bruidhinn am mìos seo. Bha an còmhlan dìreach a’ tòiseachadh ri bhith na b’ ainmeile, is a’ cleachdadh Gàidhlig na bu trice, rud nach robh cumanta airson chòmhlan-ciùil òga fhathast, agus a bha gu math connspaideach. Ach bha misneachd na h-òige aca, is iad a’ faireachdainn òg is làidir, deiseil is deònach an saoghal atharrachadh – agus taic a chumail ri Gàidhlig.

Dè math bhith suidhe fàs nas aosd
‘S làithean earraich a’ falbh bhuainn

Chuir sinn ar cànan na’r chridhe.. ‘s le chèile togaidh sinn fonn.

Tha na sèistean làn iomraidhean air dè cho òg ‘s a tha iad (agus ‘s iad a bha!):

Òg tha sinn òg, òg na’r cridhe
Beatha na’r coinneamh, Coinneal na’r làimh
‘S ann againn tha neart, Is ann againn tha ‘n cothrom
Na’r cridhe gu bràth
Tha sinn òg, òg.

Agus a-nis tha na h-uain a’s t-earrach a’ nochdadh, agus an turas seo tha na Dòmhnallaich a’ gairm na Gàidheil òga eile – a’ cleachdadh “sibh” seach “sinn”:

Tha sibh mar na h-uain a’s t-earrach
Siubhal ‘s a leum, tapaidh, saor
Ach an fhaca sibh na caoraich aosd’
Nì aon dhiubh gluasad ‘s leanaidh ‘n corr
.

Cha ann mu chaoraich a tha iad a bruidhinn.

Tha fios aca gum bi daoine a’ fàs sean, agus nach bi cùisean cho furasda an uair sin, ach sin dìreach carson a dh’fheumas na h-òganaich barrachd a dhèanamh cho fad ’s a bhios iad òg:

Nuair bhios na bliadhnaichean ‘dol bhuaibh
Làithean doirbh, làithean dorch’
Cùm do choinneal an àrd is laiste
‘S coisich an saoghal le cridhe òg.

Agus ‘s e sin a rinn Runrig, gun teagamh sam bith. Thug iad a’ Ghàidhlig ‘s an cultar Gàidhealach is Albannach thairis bhon niche folk gu rock, bhon talla-bhaile bheag gu lannan-cluiche mòra, leis an sgioba-ciùil teann is tàlantach a bh’ anns a’ chòmhlan. Chùm iad an coinneal ud an àrd fad an cùrsa-beatha, is bhrosnaich iad luchd-ciùil òg eile ar cànan ‘s ar cultar a thoirt air adhart ann an saoghal caochlaideach, ceòl ùr a chruthachadh leotha, agus pròiseactan ùra a stèidheachadh, mar iomairt nam Fèisean, no duaisean Na Trads, no tachartasan mar Bhlas.  Is iomadh seinneadair is còmhlan-ciùil cliùteach san latha an-diugh, mar Julie Fowlis, no Skipinnish, no Niteworks, a tha toilichte innse mar a bha Runrig na bhuaidh mhòr orra.

Thàinig Na h-uain a’s t-earrach a-mach air an album Highland Connection ann an 1979 agus bha e ri chluinntinn aig cuirmean-ciùil aig an àm sin. Seo an clàradh:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KdT9m5gBiY

Leis an ùine dh’atharraich e bho òran air a sheinn gu pìos ionnsramaideach drùidhteach airson giotàr is drumaichean, mar an seo beò ann an 2015:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ1h-YQgFzQ

‘S dòcha gun robh fios aca nach biodh “tha sinn òg, òg” cho freagarrach tuilleadh!

Ach 40 bliadhna air adhart on a sgrìobh iad an t-òran, bha an aon spiorad làidir, misneachail ri fhaicinn ‘s ri chluinntinn – is ri fhaireachdainn – aig a’ chuirm-chiùil mu dheireadh, àrd is soilleir. Thàinig na “làithean dorch’ “, gu dearbh, ach tha na coinnlean ud a’ lasadh fhathast, is na mìltean dhiubh. 

Agus tha sinn an dùil ‘s an dòchas gum bi na h-uain agus an t-earrach againn a-rithist cuideachd a dh’aithghearr!

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The lambs in springtime, by Runrig

Last week I went to Eden Court to see the film The Last Dance, a recording of Runrig’s last concert in the shadow of Stirling Castle in 2018. It was an emotional event, as we all knew already at the time of the concert that Runrig wouldn’t be doing another tour or even a concert any more. And now, watching and listening again, we suddenly and clearly were aware that the lead singer, Bruce Guthro, unlike us already knew at that time that he had cancer. He didn’t show it – his voice was as beautiful and powerful as ever. But he died in 2023, unexpectedly for us, a huge loss to the Riggie community, not to mention to his family and his bandmates. So we were all watching the film with new eyes and ears, and there was hardly anyone in the cinema who didn’t shed a tear or two. Our heroes were mortal.

But that’s not how Rory and Calum Macdonald saw the world back in 1978, when they wrote one of their first Gaelic songs – Na h-uain a’s t-earrach, The lambs in springtime. And that’s the song I’m going to look at this month. The band were just beginning to be better known, and singing in Gaelic more often, something that wasn’t common at the time for young bands, and was quite controversial. But they had the confidence of youth and felt young and strong, ready and keen to change the world – and to support Gaelic.

Whats the point in sitting, growing older

The days of springtime disappearing from us

We put our language in our hearts

We found a song and sung it

The chorus is full of references to how young they are (and they were!)

Young, we are young, young in our hearts

Life ahead of us, a candle in our hands

We have the enthusiasm, we have the opportunity

In your attitude forever stay young, stay young

And now the young lambs of spring of the title appear, and this time the Macdonalds are summoning other young Gaels to the standard – using “you” instead of “we”.

You are like the lambs in springtime

Running around, jumping and carefree

But have you ever noticed the older sheep

When one moves they all follow

It’s not sheep they’re talking about.

They know of course that people grow old, that things won’t be so easy then, but that’s precisely why young people have to do more as long as they are young:

And when the years start departing from you

The difficult days, the darker days

Keep your candle aloft and lit

Walk this world with a young heart

And that’s what Runrig did, no doubt about it. They kept that candle aloft throughout their musical career, and inspired other young musicians to carry our language and culture forward in a changing world, creating new music with them, and founding new projects like the Fèisean, the Na Trads awards, or the Blas Festival events. And there are countless celebrated singers and bands today, like Julie Fowlis, Skipinnish, or Niteworks, who are happy to tell us what a major influence Runrig has had on them.

The song Na h-uain a’s t-earrach / Lambs in springtime came out on the album Highland Connection in 1979, and was played at concerts then – here’s  the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KdT9m5gBiY

In the course of time it changed from a vocal to an impressive instrumental piece for guitar and drums, as heard here live in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ1h-YQgFzQ

They probably realised that singing “we’re young, young” wasn’t quite so appropriate by that point!

But 40 years on from when they wrote the song, the same strong, confident spirit could be seen and heard – and felt – at that last concert, loud and clear.  The “darker days” did indeed come, but those candles are still burning bright, and in their thousands.

And we live in hope that the the lambs and the spring will be back with us again soon too!

Original lyrics and translation here: https://runrig.rocks/lyrics/the%20highland%20connection.html  

Druidean

Tha beachdan nan daoine gu math measgaichte a thaobh dhruidean. Gun teagamh sam bith tha iad dìreach àlainn mar eòin, agus na “murmurations” aca iongantach, ach faodaidh iad a bhith nam burraidhean cuideachd, a’ putadh nan eun beaga air falbh bho na biathadairean agus a’ glamhadh sios a h-uile rud dhaibh fhèin.

Chan fhaca mi nam ghàrradh iad fad mìos no dhà (am faca sibhse?), is mi a’ gabhail iongnadh an e eòin-imrich a bhiodh annta. Chuir mi roham barrachd fhaighinn a-mach mun deidhinn agus rannsaich mi sna leabhraichean-eòin agam agus air làraichean-lìn nàdair. An toiseach, cha bhi iad a’ falbh idir – ‘s ann fiù ‘s gum bi mòran druidean ag imrich bhon Roinn Eòrpa a Bhreatainn sa gheamhradh, ag àrdachadh an uimhir air spiris. Mar sin faodaidh gur e co-thuiteamas a th’ ann nach robh iad agamsa, no ‘s dòcha gum bi badan eile aca san sgìre, nas fhreagarraiche a thaobh bidh no cothroman-cruinneachaidh. Co-dhiù, ‘s urrainn do mo ghealbhonnan ‘s mo chailleachagan ithe air an socair.

Bidh na druidean a’ neadachadh as t-earrach ann an tuill ann an seann chraobhan, togalaichean no creagan. Tòisichidh am fireannach ri an nead a thogail, an uair sin tarraingidh e boireannach leis a sheinn tlachdmhor, agus cuiridh ise crìoch air. Beiridh i 4 – 5 uighean gorma a nochdas às dèidh mu dà sheachdain. Gu tric beiridh i dà thuras sa bhliadhna, sa Ghiblean agus san Iuchar, agus bidh an dithis aca a gabhail cùram de na h-iseanan agus gan beathachadh. Nuair a dh’fhàgas iad an nead thèid an teaghlach a chadal air spiris, còmhla ris na colanaidhean aca, air craobhan no mullaichean no creagan. Ruigidh iad mu chòig bliadhna deug a dh’aois.

Tha caochladh òrain aca, bho sheinn bhinn gu sgiamhail ghrannta, agus tha iad math air atharrais de dh’eòin eile no fiù ‘s fuaimean teicneagach. Abair racaid nuair a bhios iad nan suidhe sna craobhan nan ceudan!

Fhad’s a bhios iad òg, bidh na h-iseanan donn doilleir ach aithnichidh thu an cruth druid suaicheanta (agus an giùlan!) mar aig na pàrantan. Tha ceann gu math fada aca le bathais ìosal a’ dol dìreach chun a’ ghuib, a thòisicheas faisg air an t-sùil, rud a bheir coltas caran  buaireanta dhaibh. Mar a dh’fhàsas iad, gheibh iad na breacan agus an dath-lainnreachadh a tha aig na h-inbhich, gu -àraidh aig na fireannaich. Sa gheamhradh fàsaidh iad nas dorcha a-rithist, ach bidh na breacan bàna fiù’s nas fhasa rim faicinn.

Tha iad math air biadh a lorg, is iad ag ithe cha mhòr a h-uile rud, ach tha iad sònraichte measail air meanbh-fhridean, larbhachan is boiteagan nuair a bhios iseanan aca, agus air measan àm sam bith. Fhad ‘s a tha iad a lorg bidh, tha iad a’ coimhead air adhart no sìos, ach ‘s urrainn dhaibh cuideachd an sùilean a chùl-sleamhnachadh gus dèanamh cinnteach nach bi bagairt a’ feitheamh air an cùlaibh!

Tha na druidean uabhasach deidheil air cuideachd agus mar as àbhaist nochdaidh iad ann am bagaidean, tartail is èasgaidh. Faodaidh na buidhnean a bhith gu math mòr, agus ‘s urrainn dhaibh biathadairean-eòin fhalmhachadh gu luath, a’ putadh na h-eòin nas lugha a-mach às an rathad. Mhothaich mi gun ionnsaich na h-iseanan an giùlan seo glè thràth.  A rèir coltais chan ann air sgàth ‘s gu bheil iad sanntach a nì iad seo, ach air sgàth ‘s gun do leasaich iad gus ithe gu luath is ann an sgaothan, air adhbharan-dìon. Bidh iad a’ cruinneachadh cuideachd ann an sgaothan glè mhòr air craobhan no mullachan airson cadal gach oidhche.

Agus le sin feumaidh sinn sùil a thoirt air aon de na rudan as iongantaiche mu dhruidean – na “murmurations” – sgaothan sònraichte mòra. Sa gheamhradh bith sgaothan de na h-eòin sòisealta seo a’ cruinneachadh ann am beul na h-oidhche nan ceudan no nam mìltean mòra, a’ gluasad ‘s a’ tionndadh ‘s a’ dannsadh san adhair mar aon eun aibhseach, ann an cumaidhean sruthach a’ sìor-atharrachadh gu bras. Mar as àbhaist cha mhair seo ach mionaidean, agus gu h-obann teàrnaidh iad agus laighidh iad, fhathast mar aon, air an àite-spiris – ann an runnaichean, coilltean, no creagan. Abair sealladh drùidhteach! A rèir coltais s’ e seo cuideachd ro-ionnleachd-dìon – tha e doirbh do dh’eun-creachaidh aon druid a chomharrachadh airson ionnsaigh, agus nuair a bhios iad nan laighe, ‘s e sluagh teann, dùmhail a th’ annta air raon ach aon sealgair-oidhche (leithid comhachag), agus mar sin cha bhi iad a’ call na h-uimhir de dh’eòin. Bha mi fortanach murmuration mòr fhaicinn dà thuras, ach anns a’ Ghalltachd agus san Fhraing, chan ann an seo.  Am faca sibhse a leithid san sgìre?

Tha aon bhaile ann far a bheil àireamh nan druidean cho mòr (na milleanan!) ‘s gun abhraich am buachar aca trioblaidean uabhasach gach oidhce – an Ròimh.  Thoir sùil air a’ bhideo seo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVko9jyAkQg  Ten Million Starlings Swarm (7 Tonnes of Bird Poo) | Superswarm | BBC Earth BBC Earth

Agus rud inntinneach eile mun deidhinn – bha druid aig Mozart mar pheata-gràidh, a dh’ionnsaicheadh criomagan a chiùil. Fhuair an druid fiù ‘s tiodhlacadh sa ghàrradh, agus sgrìobh Mozart pìos bàrdachd air a’ chlach-chinn!

Ach chan fhaod sinn an cuspair tarraingeach seo fhàgail gun iomradh air a’ CD Murmurations le còmhlan-ciùil The Shee, is Olivia Ross chòir againn fhìn na ball – ‘s urrainn dhuibh pìos a chluinntinn an seo:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlCeAFnuHDs  The Shee: Starlings

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Starlings

The starling is one of the birds people have mixed feelings about. On the one hand they’re beautiful to look at, and their murmurations are astonishing, on the other hand they’re often seen as bullies, gangs of them shoving the wee birds off the feeders, and gobbling down everything themselves.

I haven’t seen them in my garden for a couple of months (have you?), and wondered if they actually migrate. I decided to find out a bit more about them, so consulted my bird books and the various nature websites. First of all, they don’t normally migrate – in fact many European starlings migrate to Britain for the winter, increasing the roosting numbers. So it may be coincidence that I haven’t had any, or they just favour somewhere else in the area at this time of year, perhaps for better feeding or congregating. My sparrows and bluetits can feed in peace.

They nest in holes in old trees, or cavities in buildings or cliffs, in spring. The male starts the building, sings to attract a female, and she finishes it. She lays 4 – 5 blue eggs, which hatch about 2 weeks later. She often lays eggs twice a year, around April and June, and both parents look after and feed the fledglings. Later they all roost at night on trees or buildings or cliffs, or in reedbeds, in their local colonies. Starlings live for about 15 years.

They have a wide range of song, from musical to raucous, and they are excellent mimics and and copy other birds or technical and mechanical sounds they hear. They make quite a racket when they’re perching in trees in large numbers!

When they’re young, the birds are initially a dull brown, but have the distinctive shape (and behaviour) of their parents. Starlings have a long flattish head ending in a long beak that seems to start at the eye, giving it a pugnacious look. As they mature, they develop the speckles and brilliant iridescence of the adults, especially the male. In winter they go darker again, but the pale speckles are even easier to see.

They’re good foragers, eating most things, but especially fond of insects, larvae and worms when they have young, and fruit at any time. While foraging, they look ahead or down, but can also swivel their eyes backwards to check for threats!

Starlings like company, and tend to appear in groups, noisy and active. The groups can be quite large, and they can empty bird feeders in record time, pushing the smaller birds out of the way.  I’ve noticed that young starlings learn this behaviour early! Apparently this isn’t because they’re greedy, though, but because they evolved to feed quickly in flocks, for safety. They also settle in large flocks on trees or buildings to sleep in the evening.

Which brings us to one of the most amazing things about starlings – their murmurations. In winter dusks, flocks of these gregarious birds will gather together in their hundreds or many thousands and perform aerial aerobatics like one vast bird, forming and reforming amazing shapes at great speed for several minutes, before dropping as one to the roosting area – reedbeds, woods, or cliffs. This is a truly impressive spectacle. Apparently this too is a safety precaution – it’s harder for predators to pick out single birds to attack, and once landed, they will be concentrated on the territory of just one night predators (like owls), so are less likely to lose many birds. I’ve been lucky enough to see a couple of murmurations, in England and France, but not locally. Have you seen any?

One city where the murmurations are so huge (millions) that their tons of droppings every night cause a massive problem is Rome – have a look at this video on Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVko9jyAkQg  Ten Million Starlings Swarm (7 Tonnes of Bird Poo) | Superswarm | BBC Earth BBC Earth

And another interesting fact: Mozart had a pet starling that he loved, and which learned snippets of his music. He even gave it a funeral in his garden when it finally died – and wrote a poem for its gravestone!

But we can’t leave the fascinating subject of starlings without a mention of the CD Murmurations by the band The Shee, featuring our own Olivia Ross – here you can listen to a piece from it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlCeAFnuHDs  The Shee: Starlings

Milseag-arain le dearcan-coille is liomaid

Seo reasabaidh eile bhon charaid agam, Molly MacRae, le taing! ‘S e milseag a’ gheamraidh a th’ ann, ach le blas is fàileadh an t-samhraidh – math airson làithean gruamach a shoilleireachadh. Faodaidh tu ar dearcan-coille Albannach a chleachdadh, ma bhios poca agad sa reòthadair, no na fraochagan Ameireaganach a chì thu nam bùithtean. Agus tha cha mòr gach seòrsa arain freagarrach – chleachd Molly aran geal agus pìosan lof rois-Moire, agus chleachd mise taois-geur is aran le raosaran. Fìor bhlasta, an dà chuid!

Tha an reasabaidh a’ cleachdadh cupannan Ameireaganach, ach bhiodh muga beag ceart gu leòr cuideachd, no 250 gr/ml gach cupa. B’ fhearr dhut saoitheach-àmhainne leathann eu-domhain (mu 8”x8”x2”) a chleachdadh, gus a’ chuid as motha de mhullach cruasbach fhaighinn.

Tàthchuidean

¾ cupa dearcan-coille

4 – 6 pìosan lofa (seann, no air an tòstadh gu goirid), gu leòr airson dà fhilleadh san t-soitheach-àmhainne.

2 cupa bainne (seòrsa sam bith)

½ cupa siùcair dhuinn

1 spàin-tì extract faoineige

1 spàin-tì extract liomaid (nas làidire na sùgh, gun a bhith cho geur)

rùsg-liomaid sgrìobte

2 ugh mhòr

ìm – gu leòr airson nam pìosan-lofa

Ro-theasaich an àmhainn gu 350°F / 175°C.

Stiùireadh

Smeur an t-soitheach le beagan ìm agus cuir an darna leth den aran, taobh le ìm suas, ann. Sgoil an dàrna leth de na dearcan-coille air an aran. Cuir an dàrna filleadh den aran gu rèidh air feadh na dearcan agus cuir an còrr de na dearcan air a’ mhullach.

Teasaich am bainne leis an t-siùcar gu faiceallach gus an èirich beagan smùid. Cuir ris an fhaoineag is an extract liomaid.

Buail na h-uighean ann am bobhla, agus beag air bheag cuir am bainne blàth mun chuairt annta.  Dòirt am measgachadh-uighe air an arain san t-soitheach.  Sgaoil an rùsg-liomaid air a’ mhullach.

Bruich san àmhainn i gun chòmhdach 25 – 30 mionaidean, neo gus an tòisich am mullach ri fàs donn, agus an tèid sgìan glan a-mach às a’ mheadhan.

Ìth a’ mhilseag blàth no fuar, dìreach mar a tha e, no le uachdar, iogart, reòiteag no ughagan.

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Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding

Here’s another recipe from my friend Molly MacRae – many thanks to her! It’s a winter pudding, but with the taste and smell of summer – good for brightening up gloomy days! You can use our Scottish blaeberries, if you have a bag in the freezer, or the American blueberries you see in the shops. And virtually every kind of bread is suitable – Molly used white bread and slices of rosemary loaf, and I used sourdough and currant loaf. Both absolutely delicious!

The recipe uses American cup measures, but a small mug would do, or use 240 ml to a cup. You’re best to use a wide, fairly shallow baking dish (around 8”x8”x2”), to get the maximum crunchy topping.

Ingredients

3/4 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)

4-6 slices old bread or leftover rolls or buns sliced horizontally into ½ -inch-thick pieces (enough bread to make 2 layers in an 8” x 8” x 2” baking dish)

2 cup milk (dry nonfat, 2%, whole, or half-and-half – however indulgent you feel)

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract (not juice)

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

Butter – enough to spread on one side of each piece of bread (2-3 tablespoons)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Fit half the bread, buttered side up, into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle half the blueberries over the bread. Fit the rest of the bread, buttered side up, over the blueberries. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over all.

Heat the milk and sugar just until steaming. Stir in vanilla and lemon extract.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, then gradually stir the warm milk into the bowl. Pour egg mixture over bread.

Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes, or until the top is beginning to brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Serve warm, cold, or reheated, with or without custard sauce or ice cream, or yoghurt.

An Ceann Àrd – Kinnaird Head

O chionn greis mhath sgrìobh mi an seo mu Thaigh-solais Rubha an Tairbeirt agus na “Lighthouse Stevensons” (https://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2015/04/04/2015-an-giblean-rubha-an-tairbeirt-apr-tarbat-ness/) agus am bliadhna fhèin mu Grace Darling agus Taigh-solais Longstone (https://www.seaboardgaidhlig.com/2023/08/30/2023-an-t-sultain-sept-grace-darling/). Chithear gu bheil mi gu math measail air taighean-solais!  Mar sin bidh mi a’ dol air adhart leis a’ chuspair le bhith a’ sgrìobhadh a-nis mu Thaigh-solais a’ Chinn Àird, ann am Baile nam Frisealach, far an robh mi a’ chiad turas san Ògmhios, agus ‘s e togalach fìor dhrùidhteach a th’ ann.

Tha an taigh-solais seo sònraichte ann an iomadh dòigh. An toiseach, ‘s e seo a’ chiad taigh-solais a thog Bòrd Thaighean-solais a’ Chinn a Tuath, ann an 1787, dìreach aon bhliadhna às dèidh a stèidheachaidh. Aig an àm sin chan e ach lanntair a bh’ ann air tùr seann chaisteil air a’ chreig– Caisteal a’ Chinn Àird às an t-siathamh linn deug. Ach ann an 1822-23 chaidh taigh-solais gu tur ùr a thogail, tro theis-meadhan a’ chaisteil, le prìomh-einnseanair a’ Bhùird, Robert Stevenson, is esan a’ chiad einnseanair-taigh-solais san teaghlach ainmeil sin. (Sin an dearbh Stevenson a thog taigh-solais a’ Bell Rock, agus a dhealbhaich Rubha an Tairbeirt.) Mas fhìor, bha Robert airson an caisteal a leagail roimhe, ach chuir a charaid Sir Walter Scott ìmpidh air am plan seo atharrachadh. Mar sin, ‘s e an aon taigh-solais san t-saoghal a th’ air a thogail tro chaisteal!

Faodar tadhal air an taigh-solais còmhla ri neach-iùil snog is eòlach às an taigh-tasgaidh ri thaobh, agus tha e tarraingeach faicinn mar a bha beatha an luchd-taigh-sholais – chan eil an togalach ga chleachdadh tuilleadh a-nis (tha solas ùr fèin-obrachail ann san tùr bheag ri thaobh o chionn 1991), agus mar sin tha na seòmraichean is an àrneis air am fàgail mar a bha iad roimhe. Sa bhun-ùrlar chì thu fhathast na tancaichean-ola mòra, agus na canaichean uaine anns an do ghiùlain iad am paireafain suas an staidhre fhada shnìomhanach – bha lampa-paireafain aca gus an d’ fhuair iad lampa-dealain ann an 1975. Air ùrlaran eile chì thu an stòbha, an seann telebhisein, an leabaidh chumhang, leabhraichean is geamaichean, cairtean is uidheam an obrach, gus am bi thu fìor àrd, faisg air an t-solas fhèin leis an uidheam-uaireadair is an acfhainn ceangailte ris – a h-uile rud ag obrachadh fhathast, blàthachadh mìorbhaileach de ghlainne is chopar. Faodaidh tu fiù ‘s feuchainn ri bun an lampa trom a thionndadh le làmhrachan mòr. (Spòrs gu leòr do chloinn!) Tha ullag làidir le slabhraidhean fada, cuibhlichean-ullaig is cuideaman a’ crochadh bhon uidheam-uaireadair dìreach sìos tro mheadhan na staidhre cearcallaich domhain gu bun-ùrlar an taighe-sholais.

Bhon ùrlar as àirde sin faodaidh tu dol a-mach dhan ùrlar-amhairc timcheall air an tùr, le rèile làidir.  Tha deagh shealladh ri fhaighinn bhon nead àrd sin, thairis air Baile nam Frisealach fhèin, ach cuideachd fada a-mach air a’ chuan. B’ urrainn dhuinn bataichean-iasgaich, longan cuairte-mara agus soithichean-bhogsaichean-luchd fhaicinn – ‘s e latha brèagha soilleir a bha againn. Agus tha fios agad gum bi na saoithichean sin toilichte cuideachd solas a’ Chinn Àird fhaicinn air an oidhche bho mhòran mhìltean a-mach air a’ mhuir.

Tha Taigh-tasgaidh nan Taighean-solais Albannach dìreach dà mhionaid air falbh, agus tha sin tarraingeach cuideachd (ach dùinte sa gheamhradh seo) – ach sgrìobhaidh mi ma dheidhinn-sa turas eile! San eadar-àm faodaidh mi tadhal air Taigh-solais a’ Chinn Àird fhèin a mholadh – fosgailte Diciadain gu Didòmhnaich sa gheamhradh airson tursan. Barrachd fiosrachaidh an seo: https://www.facebook.com/LighthouseMus/  agus https://lighthousemuseum.org.uk/kinnaird-head-lighthouse/

Kinnaird Head

A good while ago I wrote here about Tarbat Ness Lighthouse and the “Lighthouse Stevensens” (April 2015), and more recently (Sept 2023) about Grace Darling and the Longstone Lighthouse. You can see I’m fond of lighthouses! So now I’m continuing with the theme and writing about the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse in Fraserburgh, which I visited for the first time in June – and it’s an impressive building.

This lighthouse is special in various ways. To start with, it’s the first lighthouse built by the Northern Lighthouse Board, in 1787, just one year after its establishment. At that time it was only a lantern built on a tower on an old castle on the cliff – Kinnaird Castle from the 16th century. But in 1822-23 a completely new lighthouse was built, right through the middle of the castle, by the Board’s Chief Engineer, Robert Stevenson, the first lighthouse-engineer of the famous dynasty. (That’s the same Stevenson who built the Bell Rock Lighthouse, and who designed our own Tarbat Ness.) Robert allegedly wanted to demolish the castle first, but was persuaded to change his plans by his friend Sir Walter Scott. Thus it became the only lighthouse in the world to be built right through a castle!

You can visit the lighthouse on a tour led by a friendly and knowledgeable guide from the neighbouring museum, and it’s fascinating to see the keepers’ way of life in the old days of manned lighthouses. The lighthouse is no longer in use (in 1991 a new automatic light was installed on a smaller tower close by), so the rooms and furniture have been been left as they were. On the ground floor you can see the big oil-tanks and the green cans they used to carry paraffin up the long winding staircase – it was a paraffin lamp they had until an electric one was installed in 1975. On other floors you can see the stove, the old TV, the narrow bed, books, games, and charts and equipment for their work, until you get up really high, beside the light itself with its clockwork and associated machinery – everything still in working order, a marvellous flowering of glass and copper. You can even try to turn the heavy lamp-base with a big handle. (Fun for any kids!) There’s a hefty pulley with long chains, wheels and weights hanging from the clockwork machine straight down through the middle of the deep circular stairwell to the ground floor of the lighthouse.

From the top floor you can go out onto the viewing platform round the tower with its stout railing. There’s a great view from that high nest, over Fraserburgh itself but also far out on the ocean. We could see fishing boats, cruise liners and container ships – it was a beautiful clear day. And you know too that these vessels will also be glad to see the Kinnaird Head light during the night from many miles out to sea.

The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses is also just two minutes away, and that’s fascinating too (but closed this winter) – but I’ll write about that another time. Meanwhile I can highly recommend a visit to the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse itself, open for tours Wed – Sun in winter. More information here: https://www.facebook.com/LighthouseMus/  agus https://lighthousemuseum.org.uk/kinnaird-head-lighthouse/

Am Foghar

Nuair a tha mi a’ sgrìobhadh seo, tha am foghar dìreach air tighinn, leis na h-àireamhan a’ dol sios air an teas-mheidh is air na mapaichean-sìde air an tbh. Bha làithean brèagha grianach againn fhathast san t-Sultain, ach faodaidh sinn beannachd fhàgail aig tuinn-theasa an t-samhraidh. Ach chan eil mi toilichte idir bathar Oidhche Shamhna fhaicinn sna bùithtean o chionn toiseach na Sultaine, gun guth air stuth na Nollaige a tha a’ tòiseachadh ri nochdadh mar-thà. Bidh cuibhle nan ràithean a’ tionndadh luath gu leor mar-thà!

Tha mòran daoine ann a-nis air a bheil fadachd gus an till an t-Earrach, no àm na Nollaige co-dhiù, ach ‘s toil leamsa am foghar agus tha am blas sònraichte den àm seo den bhliadhna a’ còrdadh rium gu mòr. Ged a tha na cuaranan air ais sa phreas, bidh na brògan-coiseachd a’ tighinn a-mach. Tha e math a bhith taobh a-muigh air an dùthaich no air an traigh, no a’ dràibheadh air feadh na  Gàidhealtachd a-rithist gun dragh a bhith oirnn a thaobh cus luchd-turais no trafaig air an t-slighe no anns na h-àiteachean as fheàrr leinn.

‘S e dathan nan craobhan a dh’ainmicheadh a’ mhòr-chuid mar phrìomh chomharra an Fhoghair, agus tha an t-atharrachadh sin air tòiseachadh mar-thà, beag air bheag. Gus an tig deireadh na Dàmhair agus a-steach dhan t-Samhain, ‘s urrainn dhuinn coiseachd tro dhuilleagan ruadh òir a tha air tuiteam – faireachdainn is fuaim shònraichte a chòrdas ri gu leòr dhinn.

Tha fios aig na h-eòin is na beathaichean cuideachd gu bheil na ràithean ag atharrachadh, agus chì sinn geòidh agus ealachan air an sgèìth, cuid a’ tighinn, cuid a’ falbh. Seo cuideachd àm dàmhair nam fiadh – sin freumh ainm a’ mhìosa. Beiridh na ròin an cuileanan bàna, agus bidh na bradan ri cladh shuas nan grunndan-cladha às dèidh an strì ghaisgich air an t-slighe air ais bhon Chuan Siar.

Bidh buain ann do dhaoine is do bheathaichean: measan liosa, an gràn mu dheireadh ‘s am buntàta dhuinne, agus dearcan is cnòthan do dh’eòin, do fheòragan ‘s do luchan. Agus bidh an storas anns na biathadairean-eun againn a’ dol sìos fada nas luaithe!

Faodaidh na h-oidhcheannan a bhith a’ fàs nas fhaide, ach nuair a tha ùine againn ‘s an t-sìde math, tha e dìreach àlainn a bhith a-muigh fo ghrian an fhoghair, a’ cur sùim ann an dathan nan craobhan ‘s nan dearcan ‘s nam flùraichean fadalach, agus a’ coimhead air na h-eòin sna speuran ‘s na tuathanaich trang sna h-achaidhean. Cha bu chòir dhuinn idir a bhith a’ gearan mun fhoghar – gabhamaid dìreach tlachd air!

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Autumn

At the time of writing autumn has just arrived, with the numbers going down on the thermometer and the TV weather charts. We’ve still had some fine sunny days in September, but we can say goodbye to the heatwaves of the summer. But I’m not at all delighted by the sight of Halloween items in the shops since the start of September, let alone the Christmas goods that are now appearing. The wheel of the seasons turns fast enough as it is!

There are plenty of people who now can’t wait till spring comes back, or at least Christmas, but I like the autumn, and really enjoy the special flavour of this time of year. Although the sandals are going back in the cupboard, the walking shoes are coming out. It’s great to be outside in the country or on the shore, or driving around the Highlands without having to worry about too many tourists or too much traffic on the roads or in our favourite places.

The colour of the trees is what most people would mention as the main sign of autumn, and that change has already begun, little by little. By the end of October and into November, we’ll be able to walk through the red gold of fallen leaves – a feeling and a sound that plenty of us enjoy.

The birds and the animals also know that the seasons are changing, and we can see the skeins of geese and swans on the wing, some arriving, some leaving.  This is also the time of the rutting of the stags – that’s the origin of An Dàmhair, the Gaelic name for October – “dàmhair” means rutting. The seals are giving birth to their white seal-pups, and the salmon up in their spawning grounds are laying their eggs, after their heroic struggle all the way back from the Atlantic.

There’s harvest too for humans and animals: orchard fruits and the last of the grain crops and the taties for us, and berries and nuts for the birds, the squirrels and the mice. And our stocks in the bird-feeders are going down much faster!

The nights may be getting longer, but if we have time and the weather’s good, it’s just lovely to be outside in the autumn sun, appreciating the colours of the trees, the berries and the late flowers, watching the birds in the sky and the farmers busy in the fields. We shouldn’t be complaining about autumn at all – let’s just enjoy it!

Bana-ghaisgeach nan cuantan, Grace Darling

CC

O chionn 185 bliadhna air an 7 latha den t-Sultain shàbhail Grace Darling agus a h-athair naoinear às an long-bhriste HMS Forfarshire. Mar bhana-ghaisgeach na mara tha e iomchaidh gum bi cuimhne againn oirre nar coimhearsnachd chladaich air an ceann-là seo.

Rugadh Grace ann an 1815 ann an Northumberland, mar nighean neach-taigh-sholais, agus ann an 1838 bha Grace a’ fuireach còmla ris agus a màthair anns an taigh-solais Eilean Longstone, air fear de na h-Eileanan Farne. Bha Grace 22 aig an àm sin agus a’ cuideachadh le obair an taighe agus an taigh-sholais, nam measg le cumail faire.

Sna h-uairean tràtha den 7 den t-Sultain, a bha gu sònraichte stoirmeil, chunnaic Grace briseadh-luing eagalach bho uinneag an t-seòmair-chadail aice – bhuail bàta-smùide eilean ìosal creagach, Big Harcar Rock, mu mhìle air falbh, agus bhris na dhà leth. Thachair sin mu 4 uairean sa mhadainn. Ruith i dhan phrosbaig feuch am faiceadh i duine beò sam bith, ach bha e fathast ro dhorcha, ach an ceann ùine dh’aithnich iad daoine air a chreig.  Cho-dhùin Mgr Darling agus Grace gun iomraicheadh iad an sin, a dh’aindeoin staid uabhasach na sìde ‘s na mara, gus feuchainn ri na truaghanan a shàbhaladh. Bha fios aca gum biodh sin na bu luaithe na feitheamh air a’ bhàta-teasairginn à Seahouses (e fhèin bàta-ràmh), nach toisicheadh idir, ‘s dòcha, leis an t-sìde ‘s an astar na bu mhotha.

Longstone Lighthouse, Michael Spiller from Bradford, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Às dèidh saothrach anabarraich, chaidh aca air an copal aca a stiùreadh dhan àite, far an deach Mgr Darling suas air a’ chreig a’ fàgail Grace na h-aonar a’ cumail am bàta faisg air làimh sa mhuir fhiadhaich ‘s san stoirm fheargach. Lorg iad naoinear luchd-teasairginn, cus rim toirt dhan taigh-sholais ann an aon bhaidse. Dh’iomair iad a’ chiad fheadhainn air ais – boireannach, fear air a ghoirteachadh, agus triùir den chriutha, agus an uair sin dh’iomair Mgr Darling agus an criutha air ais airson chàich. Dh’fhuirich Grace san taigh-sholais gus coimheadh às dèidh an fhir lèonta agus a’ bhoireannaich, a chaill dithis cloinne san tubaist. Ro 9 uair sa mhadainn bha a h-uile naoinear sàbhailte ann an Longstone.

Bha an HMS Forfarshire air an t-slighe bho Hull gu Dùn Dèagh le 62 daoine air bòrd. Bha na goileadairean air am fàilneachadh agus mar sin bha an t-einnsean gun fheum, agus cha robh aig a’ chaiptean ach nàdar de sheòl ri chleachdadh san stoirm. Shaoil e am mearachd gur e taigh-solais Inner Farne a bh’ anns an Longstone agus dhrioft am bàta-smùide air an eilean chreagach neo-fhaicsinneach. Bhrìs an long na dà leth, agus ron ghlasadh an latha cha mhòr nach robh e air a dhol fodha.  Chaidh aig naoinear eile air teicheadh anns a’ bhata-teasairginn aig an long fhèin agus chaidh an sàbhaladh le long eile san dol seachad. Chaidh na cuirp-chloinne a lorg cuideachd leis a’ bhàta-teasairginn à Seahouses (is bràthair Grace air aon de na ràimh). B’ feudar dhan bhàta sin cuideachd feitheamh fad 3 làithean aig taigh-solais Longstone air sgàth na sìde.

Grace le ràmh / Grace with an oar

Nuair a nochd an naidheachd, chaidh Grace na bana-ghaisgeach chliùiteach air feadh na dùthcha. Fhuair i urraman, duaisean (nam measg £50 bho Bhanrìgh Bhictoria!), agus fiù ‘s tairgsean-pòsaidh. Chaidh bàrdachd is òrain a sgrìobhadh mu a deidhinn agus chaidh iomadh portraid a pheantadh. Gu mi-fhortamach ge-tà, cha robh mòran ùine air fhagail dhi gus tlachd a ghabhail na cliù (ma ghabh idir) – chaochail i leis a’ chaitheamh dìreach 4 bliadhna às dèidh sin. Thàinig na ceudan dhan tiodhlacadh ann am Bamburgh, far a bheil carragh-chuimhne brèagha san chladh aig eaglais eachdraidheil Naomh Aodhan, agus tha an iomhaigh-chloiche shnaithte àlainn a bha air an tuama aice air a gleidheadh am broinn na h-eaglais. Bha cothrom agam tadhal orra nuair a bha mi ann an Northumberland an-uiridh.  Tha taigh-tasgaidh RNLI Grace Darling ann am Bamburgh cuideachd. https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/museums/grace-darling-in-10-objects

Tha bana-ghaisgeach iomraidh againne ann am Machair Rois cuideachd – Oighrig an Dà Raimh; cuimhnichean, còmhla ri dìleab shònraichte Grace, gun do chluich na boireannaich cuideachd riamh am pàirt ann am dràma nan cuantan.

Eaglais an Naoimh Aodhan / St Aidan’s Church

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Maritime heroine, Grace Darling

Jug in Bamburgh Castle

On 7  September it will be 185 years since Grace Darling and her father saved the lives of nine souls from the wrecked HMS Forfarshire. As a maritime heroine, it’s fitting for our coastal community to remember her on this anniversary.

Grace was born in 1815 in Northumberland, daughter of a lighthouse-keeper, and in 1899 Grace and her mother were living with him in Longstone Island lighthouse, one on of the Farne Islands. Grace was 22 then, and helping with household and lighthouse duties, including taking turns at watch.

In the exceptionally stormy night to 7 September Grace saw from her bedroom window a terrible wreck happening – a steamship hit a low rocky island, Big Harcar Rock, about a mile away, and broke in two. This happened about 4am. She ran to the lighthouse telescope to see if she could spot survivors but it was still too dark, but eventually they could make out some people on the rock. Mr Darling and Grace decided to row there, despite the dreadful conditions, and try to rescue them – they knew that would be quicker than waiting for the lifeboat (also a rowing boat) from more distant Seahouses, which might not even have launched due to the weather conditions and distance.

With immense effort, the two of them managed to get their coble to the scene, Grace on her own holding the boat steady in the raging waters and storm while her father went onto the rock. They discovered nine survivors, too many for one trip back to the lighthouse. They brought back the first batch, a woman, an injured man, and three crewmen to Longstone, and then Mr Darling and the crewmen rowed back to get the remaining survivors while Grace and her mother tended the injured man and the woman, whose two children had been lost. By 9am all nine were safely at the lighthouse.

The ship was the HMS Forfarshire, en route from Hull to Dundee with 62 people on board. The ship’s boilers had failed, so the engine was useless,  and the captain only had a makeshift sail to use in the storm. He mistook the Longstone light for the Inner Farne one, and drifted onto the unseen rocky island. The ship broke in two, and by morning was almost completely sunk.  Nine other people had managed to board the ship’s lifeboat and were later picked up by a passing ship – all others were lost. The two drowned children’s bodies were also picked up later by the Seahouses lifeboat (with Grace’s brother on one of the oars). That lifeboat also had to shelter at the lighthouse for 3 days because of the weather.

Once the news broke, Grace was celebrated as a heroine throughout the land. She received honours, rewards (including £50 from Queen Victoria!), and even proposals of marriage.  Poems and songs were written about her and her portrait was freqently painted. Sadly, however, she didn’t live long to enjoy the admiration (if indeed she did) – she died of tuberculosis only four years later. Crowds turned out for her funeral in Bamburgh, where she has an ornate monument in the churchyard of historic St  Aidan’s Church, and the beautiful recumbent carving from her tomb is now preserved inside the church. I was able to visit them while in Northumberland last year.  There is also a RNLI Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh : https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/museums/grace-darling-in-10-objects

On the Seaboard we also have our rowing heroine – Effie of the Two Oars; a reminder, along with Grace’s remarkable legacy, that women too have always played their part in the drama of the seas.

by Charles Achille D’Hardviller, Dallas Museum

“Cobbler” Shùbhan-làir agus Rùbraib / Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

(Taing dhan Naidheachd Againne, iris den Chomunn Ghàidhealach Ameireaganach airson cead an reasabaidh seo a chleachdadh, agus gu h-àraidh do Janice Chan airson a cho-roinneadh!)


Chan eil rud sam bith nas fheàrr na blas sùbhan-làir agus rùbraib le chèile. Gabh tlachd air seo nuair a tha e caran blàth, le reòiteag!


Grìtheidean airson an lìonaidh-mheasan


6 cupan rùbraib, air a ghearradh ann am pìosan garbh
3 cupan sùbhan-làir, slisnichte
1 1/4 cupan siùcair
3 spàintean-bhùird min-fhlùir
1 1/2 spàintean-tì caineil
1 1/2 spàintean-tì rùsg orainseir, sgrìobte gu mìn


Grìtheidean airson aʼ mhullaich


1 1/3 cupan min-fhlùir
3 spàintean-bhùird min-choirce
3 spàintean-bhùird siùcair
1 1/2 spàintean-tì pùdair-fuine
1 1/2 spàintean-tì sòda-fuine
1/4 spàin-tì salainn
3 spàinteain-bhùird ime, fionnaraichte
1 chupa bainne (no blàthach)


Stiùiridhean
1. Teasaich an àmhainn gu 400°F.
2. Ann am bobhla mòr, measgaich le chèile na grìtheidean tioram airson aʼ mheasgachadh de mheasan (siùcar, min-fhlùir, caineal). Cuir an rùbrab, na sùbhan-làir agus an rùsg orainseir anns aʼ bhobhla agus cuir mun cuairt iad gu socair gus am bi na measan còmhdaichte gu math. Sgaoil am measgachadh gu cunbhalach air soitheach-fuine meud 13 òirlich x 9 òirlich. Bruich seo ann an àmhainn aig 400°F fad 10 mionaidean. Cuir seo an dàrna taobh.
3. Ann am bobhla mòr, measgaich le chèile grìtheidean airson aʼ mhullaich thioraim (min-fhlùir, min-choirce, siùcar, pùdar-fuine, sòda-fuine agus salann). Cleachd do
chorragan no dà sgian gus an t‑ìm a mheasgachadh a‑steach gus am bi e coltach ri peasairean beaga.
4. Cuir am bainne ris (no am blàthach) agus cuir mun cuairt e gus am bi an taois maoth. Leag le spàintean-bhùird den taois tuiteam air aʼ mheasgachadh de mheasan teth.
Bruich seo ann an àmhainn aig 400°F fad 25 mionaidean no gus an èirich e agus tha e donn-òir.
5. Leig leis fuarachadh. Bidh na measan nas tighe nuair a tha e nas fhionnaire.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

(Thanks to Janice Chan and An Naidheachd Againne, magazine of the An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach, for permission to use this.)

Thereʼs nothing better than the taste of strawberries and rhubarb together. Enjoy this when itʼs a bit warm, with ice cream!

Ingredients for Filling


6 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp orange zest


Ingredients for Topping


1 1/3 cup flour3 tbsp rolled oats
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp chilled butter
1 cup milk (or buttermilk)


Method
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry filling ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon). Add the rhubarb, strawberries and orange zest, and toss well. Spread the mixture in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and bake in a 400°F (c. 200°C) oven for 10 minutes and then put aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using fingers or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas.
4. Stir in the milk or buttermilk with a fork just until a soft dough forms. Drop by
tablespoons on top of the hot fruit filling. Bake in a 400°F (c. 200°C) oven for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and has risen.
5. Allow to cool before serving. The filling will firm up when cool.

Cup measurements: If you don’t have one of these bunches of scoops for measuring in American cups, just use any container that holds 250 ml liquid instead (= 1 cup), for wet and dry ingredients. There’s also a conversion tool here: https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/cooking/cups-ml.php



Gealach-lus

Tha aon lus, gu ìre mhòr fiadhain, as toil leam gu sònraichte faicinn sa ghàrradh aig an àm seo den bhliadhna, le a fhlùraichean purpaidh cùbhraidh ‘s a dhuilleagan mòra biorach – an gealach-lus, no “honesty” sa Bheurla. Chanadh cuid luibheanach ris, ach dhomsa ‘s e lus brèagha a th’ ann, a bheir dath dhan ghàrradh tràth sa bhliadhna, agus ùidh a bharrachd as t-fhoghar ‘s sa gheamhradh leis na buinn-airgid àlainn air.

‘S ann à ceann a deas na Roinn Eòrpa a tha e bho thùs, agus is cinnteach gun tàinig e do Bhreatainn ro dheireadh an 16mh linn, an toiseach mar fhlùr-gàrraidh, ach san eadar-àm tha e ri fhaicinn air feadh na dùthcha far a bheil an aimsir measarra – nochdaidh e ann am faichean, ri taobh an rathaid, agus anns na gàrraidhean againn. Ach na gabh dragh mura h-eil thu ga iarraidh an sin – tha e glè fhurasta an lus còmla ris a fhreumhan a tharraing a-mach. Cha dèan mise sin ach nuair a bhios cus ann, no nuair a bhios e a’ fàs san àite cheàrr, is mi cho measail air.

Nuair a tha thu a’ coimhead air, cha bhiodh tu a’ saoilsinn gur ann dhan teaghlach brassica a bhuineas e, còmhla ri càl, snèap, raip no mustard, ach seall gu dlùth agus tha na fluraichean den aon chruth. A rèir coltais faodaidh tu seòrsa mustaird a dhèanamh às na sìl, agus na duilleagan òga (mus nochd na fluraichean) a chleachdadh ann an sailead.

Ach ‘s ann airson rèiteachadh fhlùraichean a cleachdar iad mar as trice. Fhad’s a tha na flùraichean air an lus fhathast chì thu na siliques a’ fàs – is iad seo seòrsa sligich cruinne còmhnaird anns a bheil meamran leis na sìl. As t-earrach tha iad fhathast beag agus an aon dath ris na duilleagan agus mar sin cha bhi thu cho mothachail orra, ach tha na sìl rim faicinn mar-thà tron t-sligeach thrìd-dhealrach – ‘s ann air an adhbhar sin (mas fhìor) a fhuair an lus an t-ainm honesty, fìrinnteachd, is e a sealltainn a shìl gu firinneach. As t-fhoghar, nuair a tha na sligeachan tioram is na sìl deiseil ri sgaoileadh, thuitidh am plaosg a-muigh air falbh agus às a dhèidh na sìl bhon mheamran, agus chan eil ach am meamran fhèin air fhàgail, geal-airgid agus cho tana ri pàipear-sìoda. Tha iadsan gu h-iongantach buan, agus gu tric tha cuid air fhàgail gus an earrach. Dìreach ann an gruaim a’ gheamhraidh tha iad feumail is brèagha mar sgeadachadh.

‘S e lunaria annua a th’ air an lus sa Laideann, bho luna, gealach, agus chì thu carson. Am measg nan ainmean Beurla tha cuideachd moonpennies, agus siniomradh air a’ choltas eile a th’ orra – ri buinn-airgid. Cluinnidh tu silver dollars orra cuideachd. Mar sin, le buaidh mhathasach na gealaich, geall soirbheachaidh nam bonn-airgid, agus a chliù firinnteachd, cò air talamh nach iarradh na lusan àlainn seo na ghàrradh? ‘S dòcha gum bi sibhse a’ coimhead orra le sùilean ùra a-nis. Tha mi an dòchas gum bi, co-dhiù!

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Honesty

There’s one plant, more or less wild, which I particularly like to see in the garden at this time of year, with its fragrant purple flowers and its large pointed leaves – honesty (“moon-plant” in Gaelic). Some would call it a weed, but to me it’s a lovely plant which brings colour to the garden early in the year, and adds interest in autumn and winter with its beautiful silver “coins”.

It actually comes from southern Europe but has been in Britain since at least the end of the 16th century, first as a garden flower, and in the meantime all over the countryside, wherever the climate is moderate – it shows up in meadows, at the roadside and in our gardens. But don’t worry if you don’t want it there – it’s very easy to pull out, roots and all. Being so fond of it myself, I would only be doing that where there was too much of it, or it was in the wrong place.

When you look at it you wouldn’t automatically think that it’s in the brassica family, along with cabbage, turnip, rape or mustard, but look more closely at the flowers and you’ll see they’re the same form. Apparently you can make a kind of mustard out of the seeds, and use the young leaves (before the flowers come) in salad.

But it’s for flower arrangements that they’re most often used. While the flowers are still on the plant, you see the siliques appearing – they’re a kind of round, flat casing covering a membrane with the seeds attached inside it. In spring they’re still small and the same colour as the leaves, so you don’t notice them, but the seeds are already visible through the translucent casing – that’s allegedly the reason they’re called honesty, as they display their seeds so “truthfully”. In the autumn, when the siliques are dry and the seeds are ripe for spreading, the outer pod falls off, followed by the seeds dropping from the membrane, leaving the membrane itself in the round silique “frame”, silver-white and as thin as tissue-paper. These are amazingly long-lasting, and many often hang on until the spring. They’re especially useful and attractive as decoration in the gloom of winter.

The Latin name is lunaria annua, from luna, the moon, and you can see why. Among the many English names the term “moonpennies” also refers to another similarity – to silver coins.  You also hear the name “silver dollars”.  So, with the benign influence of the moon, the promise of prosperity of the coins, and the reputation for truthfulness, who wouldn’t want these beautiful plants in their garden? Maybe you’ll look at them with fresh eyes now – I hope so, anyway!