Win a Highland Safari for 4 people, worth £160!
Visit the Enchanted Forest
Ellis O’Connor, an Interview
Little’s Fish Restaurant Review
C ONTENT S P4
T HE FAT CO O ! Of the Wild - The Enchanted Forest Review
Ellis O’Connor - On her Inspirations, P14 Work and Life on North Uist The Perthshire Magazine, The Story P18 So Far
Hamish Matters Festival
Perthshire in Pictures, Autumn
Charlie Ward, A Review
GrowBiz Creative Care Project
Autumn Watch with Highland Safaris P60 and Competiton.
Monkfish in a Church! - Restaurant P30 Review
Creative Perthshire, an Interview with P67 Kim McGillivray
Battle Sites and Battle Sights - Perth P34
Outlander Day Out
From Sports to Spirits and the Search P40 for Gold
November Events Listing
A Day Out in Perth
“To me this issue epitomises how far we’ve come in a few months of publication. It’s more exciting, stylish and packed than ever, and we’ve had the opportunity to try some fantastic things. You can read more about our accomplishments this year in the article on page 18” Abigail Shepherd , Editor of Perthshire Magazine
Of The Wild
’m sorry to have to admit that The Perthshire Magazine team were unable to view their invitation to the opening night of this year’s Enchanted Forest event with any cool, calm, journalistic professionalism. Instead, as we climbed off the bus and headed for the entrance we tried to find parallels for the excited feeling in the pit of our stomachs. A child on the way to a firework display or the first day of a holiday were the nearest we could get. The still quite faint pulsing of music and outlines of colourful lights behind the trees only added to this feeling and put us in the perfect frame of mind to be both amused and slightly creeped out by the appearance of a ‘tree-person’ greeting us on the path. The actual entrance was then marked by Bernard, a huge woven sculpture of an imaginary woodland creature. All this fitted in nicely with the theme of this year’s event ‘Of the Wild’, inspired by the creatures of the forest, both real and, well... not.
â€œWhile we eat we have a fascinating conversation with a very friendly druidâ€?
One of the first things we do is visit the storytelling yurt, in which Claire is telling ancient folklore tales with the help of songs and musical instruments. We are asked to put our phones and other distractions away while we listen to the story and itâ€™s wonderful to see the various young children initially fidgeting, then quietening down as they become more and more enthralled in the tale. Although intended for these young people, we enjoy the storytelling yurt very much indeed and it sets the tone perfectly for the evening ahead.
“The actual entrance was then marked by Bernard”
The first light installation is ‘Fluid’ by Squidsoup. This is described as visualising ‘the flow of energy real and imagined by the water and surrounding landscape’ and is incredibly beautiful and complex. We stand watching it for ages and it always seemed to be different. As always, the bridge is then a perfect vantage point to see many of the lights at once and gives us a little hint about what might be to come. Turning a corner after the bridge we gasp at the seemingly hundreds of little red lights covering the forest floor. To me it conjures up thoughts of forest fires and how fragile this ecosystem can become with one tiny spark.
“Marshmallows on a stick become an irresistible option to a certain member of our team, who disgraced us by becoming a sticky mess”
The next installation is truly special and one of my favourite parts of the evening. ‘On the Loch’ proves to be the source of the exciting music that we heard before and is basically a film projected onto a spray or water out on the loch. In it we see the forest transformed with each season, moving through different weather patterns and affecting all the creatures within as they go through their own life cycles. It’s absolutely charmingly done and we watch all seven minutes of it through at least three times. By now we’re getting hungry, which is a good thing because there’s a Lov Events grill van set up just here and we can’t wait to try their burger and fries. Both live up to, indeed surpass, our expectations, particularly the fries, which are among the tastiest we’ve ever had. While we eat we have a fascinating conversation with a very friendly ‘druid’ who tells us that we still have plenty to see and the best is yet to come. We’re astonished at this point to see that we’ve already been in the Enchanted Forest for two hours, yet are still just as excited to see what happens next.
After playing with the radios at the ‘Forest Calling’ installation we come across another van from Lov Events, this time selling ‘sweet treats’. There’s a couple of wood fires burning brightly next to it, so the marshmallows on a stick become an irresistible option to a certain member of our team, who disgraced us by becoming a sticky mess. I content myself with having the marshmallows in a hot chocolate instead and it’s a perfect interlude to a great evening. We’d liked to have had a little go at the ‘Illumaphonium’, a ‘dynamic and interactive multi-sensory, music making installation’, but don’t have the heart to displace the children, who are enjoying themselves immensely, making as much noise as they please without being told off. This is because no matter what they do it sounds very pleasant and indeed, before seeing this structure, we’d had no idea that the sounds we were hearing were random. Instead of having a go we move on to ‘Flash!’ which is an appealing walk with lights in the background and shadows of woodland animals in front.
The finale, called ‘In the Woods’ we’ve already heard is one of the best parts of the evening, and I have to agree. As a woodland glade is illuminated with all sorts of lights, beautifully choreographed to match the music, all the wondrous impressions from the event solidify in my head. We see all the different personalities of the forest one after the other. ‘Of the Wild’ has captured all aspects of the woodland, an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. At one moment it’s been a benign, kindly place, where sunlight dapples through the trees and friendly rabbits and squirrels come to say hello, in the next it has transformed into a misty, indistinct setting,
where ghostly branches reach towards you and the rustle of leaves signifies anything from a wolf to a terrifying monster of your own creation. It can be a place where thunder crashes and trees creek alarmingly overhead, or a place of almost complete silence, blanketed by softly falling snow, dusting the trees like icing sugar. The different seasons change it to green, red, brown and white and everything in between. In one evening I’ve seen them all and I don’t think I’ll ever look at the forest in quite the same way again. One thing though is certain, I can’t wait to see what the Enchanted Forest has in store for us next year.
Thanks Chris and team ﬁrstly, for “giving me my smile and conﬁdence back and secondly, for the continual great service.
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Ellis Oâ€™Connor On Her Insprations, Work and Life on North Uist
llis O’Connor is a contemporary landscape artist based in North Uist. We have long been fans of her amazing work, so when we heard some of her paintings were being included in the end of year show at the Strathearn Gallery in Crieff (running from the 17th November until the 3rd January) we were cheeky and asked for an interview! Can you tell us something about your journey to becoming the artist you are now? Sure! I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2015 with a Masters Degree in Fine Art. Since then I’ve been travelling a lot working in artist in residence programmes in the very north of Iceland for 6 months to the Archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic. I’ve also been developing my practise as an artist and exhibiting my work regularly with galleries locally and internationally. Having grown up in Dundee, I now live on the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist, where I work full time as an artist from my studio, drawing inspiration from the environment around me and running art workshops.
“My work is dark, energetic, gestural and full of cold colours”
What inspires you? I’m drawn to and inspired by places that are raw, where the elements are unforgiving. It feels real to me and I’m fascinated by untamed lands and how they make me feel alive. Being in nature gives me perspective and it is this feeling of awe and my own experience of being in a wild place that I aim to put across to the viewer, so they too can feel the sheer significance of the landscape. What other artists would you say have influenced your work? Anselm Keifer for his darkness and quality of texture, Norman Ackroyd for his incredible use of printmaking to convey atmospheric haunting sea-scapes and Frances Walker whose work embodies the call of the wild landscapes and elements of the West coast. How would you describe your paintings to someone who hasn’t seen them before? My work is dark, energetic, gestural and full of cold colours. It is my aim as an artist to show my experience of being in these wild landscapes and put across the feeling of being immersed in an environment through the use of oil painting and drawing to others.The dynamic energy to be seen in my paintings are my response to observed changes in the landscape: the movement and rhythms of sea and land, the merging of sea with air, advancing rain and mist, ever changing light - elements that seem to be about something intangible.
“The dynamic energy to be seen in my paintings are my response to observed changes in the landscape”
Could you give us an idea of what a normal day is like for you? I live on a croft with my partner so we tend to check the sheep every morning depending on the time of the year (through the winter we feed them everyday) then I’ll head off to my studio which sits on the east coast of the island, overlooking the Isle of Skye. It is here where I work on whatever is on my to do list for the day, sometimes it’s packing up work to go to clients, getting paintings ready for exhibitions, photographing work for my website or, if the weather is amazing, I’ll be out on a hike (you have to take advantage of the good weather when it hits the Outer Hebrides!) Quick fire: Tea or coffee? Coffee. Sweet or savoury? Sweet. Hotel or camping? Camping! Hotels can be clinical and there’s nothing better than waking up outside. Red wine or white? Red! Cats or dogs? Dogs, always. Out partying or quiet night in? Quiet night in by the fire with a whisky. Theatre or cinema? Well ,we have none of these on the island, but I love going to the cinema when I’m on the mainland. Shopping or hiking? Hiking, obviously! You can see some of Ellis stunning work at the Strathearn gallery; http://www.strathearn-gallery.com See more of Ellis work on her website; https://www.ellisoconnor.com All photos in this article were kindly provided by Ellis O’Connor, studio photos by Maureen Du Preez.
THE STORY SO FAR...
he beginning of October saw The Perthshire Magazine hit the significant milestone of 100,000 all time hits. (We are now up to 127,742 - it goes up quite quickly these days!) We’re immensely proud of this achievement in just six months of publishing, so we thought in this article we’d tell you about some of the other things we’ve accomplished in that time. Settle yourself down because there’s quite a few!
Reach 100,000 total hits breaks down to a rough average of 16,600 per issue. (We remember just a few short months ago thinking 6,000 was a lot!) This means we have the most popular magazine about Perthshire on the entire Issuu site. Even more impressively, that doesn’t take into account our own website and social media reach. After hearing that, you won’t be surprised that The Perthshire Magazine is read in 15 different countries, including Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Bulgaria! But, we are first and foremost a local magazine and we love that the statistics show most of you live in Scotland and regularly browse what’s happening on your mobile phones.
“A modern, classy, but fun
style of our own”
News We get sent so many press releases now that we’ve had to start our own blog on the website! This has turned out to be a brilliant resource for businesses, who often have great stories happening that they can’t give us a lot of advance notice for, or are time-sensitive. It’s been particularly useful for local theatres and art galleries to announce upcoming shows and exhibitions. Check it out here: https://www.theperthshiremagazine.com/latest-news/
PR We now work closely with several PR companies to deliver fantastic publicity and thoughtful, engaging reviews. In fact, we are becoming rather well known for our reviews, as well as the stunning photography that accompanies them. We now even offer these photographs to participating businesses as part of our service, because so many were asking for them! Some of our favourite reviews include afternoon tea at Gleneagles, a pampering session at Senses Health and Beauty, our stay in Brae Cottage on the Monzie Estate and this month’s review of The Enchanted Forest.
One business said of our review “You really have encapsulated my business ethos perfectly and portrayed exactly the image that I have strived for years to achieve.” “The images that Nathan has captured are incredible.”
Content, Photography and Design We are continually improving all aspects of the magazine and taking into account your feedback on what you like to read. This has meant more of a focus on the gorgeous Perthshire landscape, family activities to enjoy, and unique arts and crafts. In the coming months we will also be rolling out more content on outdoor pursuits and, well, food. Of all kinds. We’ve been improving in other ways too. We’re sure if you look back on our first issues you’ll see a big difference in the design as we’ve learnt what works and developed a modern, classy, but fun style of our own. This style relies heavily on our photographer’s beautiful photos, and we wish you could see how much work he puts in to getting them right for you!
Competitions The Perthshire Magazine has quite regularly offered competitions or exclusive discounts to its readers. But as we’ve grown so have our prizes, as shown this month by the fantastic opportunity to win a highland safari for four. We also ran a Facebook giveaway to celebrate our 100,000 hits milestone with the generous cooperation of The Highland Chocolatier. Our successful entrant and their chosen guest won a voucher for an amazing audio chocolate tasting! (If you didn’t win, or missed the competition entirely, don’t despair. You can book your own here: https:// www.highlandchocolatier.com/visit-us-W21page-7) Next month we have an exciting prize again, so watch this space…
“We are becoming rather well known for our reviews, as well as the stunning photography that accompanies them”
“Roll on 2019, because we are just getting started!”
We hope you agree that we’ve come a long way in just a few months! Readers love our modern and fresh take on a local magazine, as well as the huge variety of local things they can learn about. And businesses and agencies love that they can easily reach a huge number of people around the world, as well as locally, and our social media support, website and email links and great quality pages make us the perfect place for forward-thinking businesses to advertise. Especially since advertisers get priority on being featured in our articles. So, yes, 2018 has been great for us, we’ve achieved a huge amount and had enormous fun doing it. And we have big plans for next year too - we’ll let you know about them in our December issue. Roll on 2019, because we are just getting started!
If you’re interested in advertising with us in future months please click here, or here if you would like to learn more about our reviews.
A Day Out in
or lots of people, shopping is an inescapable part of November. Of course, these days much of our shopping can be done online, but this can be a bit hard on our high streets, many of which contain unique independent retailers and small local businesses, all needing footfall. The Perthshire Magazine believes we should all support these businesses if we can and Perth, though small, has everything necessary for a great day out. It’s not all about shopping either, we have lots of alternative suggestions for weekend fun too. So let us talk you through our ideal day out in Perth and see if it doesn’t make you want to spend some time exploring the Fair City.
Breakfast at The Bothy. If a full Scottish breakfast is what you’re after you can certainly get that here, but there’s plenty of more sophisticated options available too, as well as excellent coffee.
Shopping in the High Street Perth has all our high street favourite retailers as well as itâ€™s own independent gems. We recommend The Cheese Byre and Boo Vake.
Lunch at Coffee and Things Perthâ€™s Cafe Quarter is full of truly charming lunch spots. We had vibrant pea soup with focaccia at lovely Italian style cafe, Coffee and Things.
Help lunch go down with a short stroll We headed over the river to the Norrie Miller park and enjoyed the lovely autumn colours.
Photo provided by Willowgate Activity Centre
Make your way to Willowgate Activity Centre If you have a spare hour and a half try your hand at Archery and Zorbing for just ÂŁ24 per person!
Or take a look around the Threshold Artspace at the Concert Hall Perfect if something less active and more cultured is more to your taste. Perth Museum and Art Gallery is right next door too.
Dinner Finally, we recommend a delicious dinner at Cafe Tabou, back in the cafe quarter. View their menu here.
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Monkfish in a Church! Little’s fish restaurant in Blairgowrie
“He’s particularly pleased to see a squat lobster on the dish, an under-rated and under-used little creature in our opinion”
ou can’t really miss Little’s fish restaurant in Blairgowrie. Opening in February 2018, it took two years for the old Rattray Church to be renovated into it’s present state, and you can see why. It’s been beautifully and sympathetically done, and many of the old features are still present. Nathan and I really enjoy walking in and seeing the bell ropes overhead and a captivating little stone stairway winding it’s way up to meet them. The reception desk itself is the old pulpit, and even the tables and chairs have been chosen to not look out of place. Of course, the most striking aspect is the beautiful stained glass windows. These, with the high ceilings and thoughtful lighting, all combine to give the restaurant a luxurious and spacious feel. The atmosphere is great too, a kind of gentle buzz, with the music nicely in the background where it should be.
The menu itself has a great selection, with something to suit everyone’s taste. Even if you don’t like fish. The specials board in particular was very varied, so much so it was hard to decide what to have. Fortunately, the staff are attentive and friendly but unhurried, so you can relax and take your time about choosing. In the end I go for the potted shrimps with hot toast, which are deliciously sweet and salty and come zinging to life with a squeeze of lemon. Nathan has the calamari, a favourite of his, and having stolen a few pieces off his plate (for review purposes only of course) I can confirm that they are piping hot and crisp and beautifully accompanied by a spicy mayonnaise. For the main course Nathan has ordered monkfish and prawn pasta and I decided to try the lemon sole and straw chips with… wait for it… banana. I’m really intrigued to see what the combination is like.
When the plates arrive they’re beautifully presented and we can’t wait to dig in. Nathan’s pasta sauce is creamy and herby and vibrant, good enough to lick the bowl out, he says. He’s particularly pleased to see a squat lobster on the dish, an under-rated and under-used little creature in our opinion. And of course, as you would expect, all the fish is beautifully cooked. So how about the lemon sole and banana? I admit I find it slightly challenging for the first bite. It’s just so different to anything I’ve had before. But it’s been given a really tangy citrus flavour and a little bit, eaten with the sole and a salty, crisp, straw chip is a revelation. It’s like a grown-up version of one of my favourite childhood combinations of french fries and banana milkshake at a certain famous fast-food outlet which shall remain nameless. After a few bites I definitely feel there’s something missing if I have some of the fish without the banana. The lemon sole itself is incredibly delicate and as for the straw chips, well, they are the future of fries in both of our opinions.
“Straw chips, well, they are the future of fries in both of our opinions”
The portion sizes have been perfect. We are now full, but not so much that we can’t manage a dessert. Nathan orders the Eton mess and I pick the berry parfait. When they arrive we both make the ‘oooh’ sound that is the only appropriate reaction to a good pud. The flavours live up to the presentation too, creamy and sweet but sharp with intense fruit all at once. A little tuile provides some crunch. The meal is rounded off by coffee and a square of tablet. I can’t really manage this last, but eat it anyway. It’s the perfect ending to a wonderful foodie experience and chef and owner Willie Little’s love of seasonal, fresh, local produce really shines through. It’s the perfect venue if you’re looking for something a bit special, but not overly formal. I’ve already picked out what I’m having next time!
Book your table here: 01250 875358
Photo by Roben Antoniewicz
Days Out Around Perthshire: Battle Sites and Battle Sights - Perth
By Dr Paul Philippou
his rather long article, the last in the series, brings the Scottish Wars of Independence to a close. Next month, a new feature - ‘This Month in History’ - will grace the pages of the Perthshire Magazine. As with the death of Alexander III, the loss of the king of Scotland in 1329 was the opportunity for those with designs on the Scottish crown to re-emerge. The new king of Scotland, David II, was only four years old. This time the contender for the throne was Edward Balliol, son of King John Balliol. Funded by Edward III and with the assistance of most of the exiled Scottish barons and nobles, Balliol organised an invasion army of English troops and foreign mercenaries. The commander of the army was Henry Lord Beaumont, an experienced soldier who had fought at Falkirk and Bannockburn.
“Yet the English seamen fought like devils”
A fleet of ships left Ravenser, Barton, and Hull on 31 July 1332, and deposited the invaders at Kinghorn, Fife, on 6 August 1332. Opposition to the landing was minor and a local militia force commanded by Duncan, Earl of Fife, was easily overcome. Balliol’s Army moved inland, to capture Dunfermline and then Scone. At the River Earn, the passage of the invaders was halted by a huge Scottish Army camped near Dupplin Castle, on the Gask Ridge, commanded by the King’s Regent, the Earl of Mar. Balliol occupied one side of the Earn (Miller’s Acre by Forteviot) and Mar the other. The bridge was controlled by Scottish troops. A second Scottish Army, under the Earl of March, lay at Auchterarder. Balliol had no choice but to fight the nearer of the two armies before they could unite. In the meantime, the English fleet sailed up the Tay Estuary to offer an escape route if required and to supply the invaders should they reach Perth. The night before the Battle of Dupplin Moor of 11-12 August 1332, Beaumont ordered an attack on the Scottish camp. The attack was successful and caused disruption in the Scots Army. The main part of Balliol’s Army located a ford at Dalreoch and crossed the Earn before deploying for battle. Beaumont arranged his force between the narrow passage of a glen with steep wooded banks, thus protecting his wings and forcing the numerically superior enemy to fight on a reduced frontage. Beaumont next deployed his troops in three tiers: the front layer of three ranks of dismounted men-at-arms; the second, four ranks of infantry; the rear tier of spearmen. Behind them, he positioned his longbow men and finally guarded his rear with his mounted mercenaries. The front ranks were protected from cavalry by the protruding spears of his spearmen; Bannockburn had taught Beaumont about the susceptibility of troops to cavalry charge. In front of Balliol’s Army, on Dupplin Moor, the Scots Army prepared to attack. An overconfident Scots Army formed up in two/three huge and unwieldy schiltrons. Robert the Bruce’s Battalion (led by his illegitimate son, Robert Bruce) took the front. Disagreement amongst the Scots Army commanders caused tactical confusion that added to the failures of that day. The Scots advanced on Balliol’s defensive line and, as they approached, arrows rained down on the unprotected heads and faces of the advancing Scottish troops inflicting terrible injuries. Still Mar’s army continued to attack. Soon, the first Scottish schiltron made contact with the frontline. Sheer weight of numbers forced Balliol’s men back thirty feet, but they did not yield. All the while the Scots pressed forward arrows were causing havoc across their lines. Mar sent all his troops into action, believing that the English line would break. These further troops and the effectiveness of the longbow men broke up Mar’s formations and added a crushing pressure on those at the front. Men fighting in the front were pressed on English spears or crushed underfoot by their own men or, falling, became easy targets for the English spearmen.
“Sir Thomas Ughtred had no reason to feel insecure about his position”
Eventually, Mar’s Army broke and fled. Beaumont then deployed his cavalry unit, who harried the fleeing Scots. Both Mar and Robert Bruce fell and command of the Scots Army fell to the Earl of Fife. His attempt to organise an orderly retreat failed and he was captured. Scots losses were in the thousands and included the Earl of Moray, the Earl of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, and Sir Robert Keith, the hero of Bannockburn. For many years, a ninth century Pictish standing stone, the Dupplin Cross, was considered as a marker of the Battle of Dupplin Moor. It is now housed in St. Serf ’s Church, Dunning. There is no evidence with which to locate the actual battle site. It may have been near to the Dupplin Cross; equally, it may have been to the west at Upper Cairnie. There are a number of deep ditches on Dupplin Moor traditionally associated with the battle casualties. A victorious Balliol marched his army to Perth where the town opened its doors to him. Aware that the second Scots Army of 30,000 men under the Earl of March, the Earl of Dunbar and Sir Archibald Douglas was approaching Perth, Balliol ordered a strengthening of fortifications and the building of palisades. March’s soldiers marched deployed on high ground outside Perth. The Scots prepared for an assault by cutting large quantities of brush and branch at Lammerkin Wood to fill the defensive moat, and yet the order to attack was never given. The Scots dug in and the battle for Perth moved to the Tay Estuary.
Although Perth was surrounded, the English fleet deployed at the mouth of the Tay supplied the town. The Scots called upon the services of a renowned mercenary sea captain, John Crabbe. Crabbe brought his fleet of ten Flemish ships from Berwick-upon-Tweed, reaching the Tay on 24 August 1332. The Battle of the Tay Estuary (24 August 1332) began immediately. Initially Crabbe was successful: the main ship in the English fleet, Beaumont’s cog, was captured easily. It seemed the superior mercenary ships would take the day. Yet the English seamen fought like devils and not only saw off the attack but inflicted significant losses on Crabbe’s squadron. Many of the Flemish vessels were set alight and Crabbe was forced to walk back to Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Photo by Roben Antoniewicz
This setback, compounded with March’s difficulty in providing for so many men in the field, persuaded the Scots commander to withdraw from Perth. Far to the south, in Galloway, troops loyal to Balliol, commanded by Eustace Maxwell of Caerlaveroch, were on the march and so the Scots Army moved to meet them. By September of 1332, Balliol, having made the decision to support the Galloway rising, garrisoned Perth and marched south. Before he left, he was crowned at Scone (24 September 1332). He remained king for only a few weeks. His camp at Annan was subject to a surprise attack by a force under Sir Archibald Douglas. Balliol and his supporters fled to England. Perth’s new commander was the Earl of Fife who had joined Balliol after the defeat at Dupplin Moor. Very little time elapsed before the town was re-secured in the name of David II. There was little fighting involved with this attack and Fife was given only a token prison sentence for his shift in loyalty. Once more Perth’s defences were reduced. Within a year, Balliol was back in Scotland alongside Edward III, his Lord Paramount, and with a new invasion force. Just outside Berwick-upon-Tweed, a Scots Army under Douglas met the invaders and the Scots were crushed - Battle of Halidon Hill (19 July 1333). As part of the re-occupation of Scotland, Perth was again garrisoned. Utilising money forcibly extracted from the town’s religious houses, Perth’s fortifications were improved. They were tested in the summer of 1339.
Resistance to English rule continued throughout the occupation, so by the time of the 1339 Siege of Perth, much of Scotland had been liberated. However, the English garrison commander, Sir Thomas Ughtred, had no reason to feel insecure about his position. A lade protected the town on three sides. The Tay secured its fourth and enabled supplies to be brought by ship. A new Battle of the Tay Estuary followed. Hugh Hardpile, a French pirate, and his fleet of five mercenary ships, was commissioned to disrupt the English supply vessels in and around the Firth of Tay.
“Visitors to and residents of Perth will have no trouble finding places to eat, drink, and relax”
The Scots commanders, the Earl of Ross and Sir William Douglas of Lothian, now applied themselves to the assault of Perth. Brushwood was thrown into the Lade as its level fell dramatically after its feed, the River Almond, was diverted. The date for the assault of Perth was set for 7 July, but the operation coincided with an eclipse of the sun and so the attack was abandoned. This allowed Ughtred to enter into surrender talks. Ughtred and his garrison were allowed to leave Perth safely and return to England on their ships. By 1341, the whole of Scotland was liberated and King David returned from exile in France. The wars of independence were at an end. The Lade that played a part in Perth’s medieval defences (not always, as has been seen, effectively) is the oldest extant construction in the city, dating as it does from the mid-twelfth century. It begins three-quarters of a mile north-west of Perth at Low’s Work by Almondbank where a sluice gate links it to the River Almond. In order to allow small craft to transport goods around Perth from larger boats moored on the Tay, the Burgh added several spurs, including one between Canal Street and Methven Street. For most of its course through Perth, the Lade runs underground within stone-lined channels, having undergone covering between Canal Street and Marshall Place in 1887. The Lade surfaces at Red Brig Port (Mill Street), the medieval entranceway into Perth, just before it enters the Tay. Visitors to and residents of Perth will have no trouble finding places to eat, drink, and relax. The city was awarded ‘Food Town of the Year’ at the Scottish Food Awards 2018 and there are some 150 cafés and restaurants in and around Perth. Many are located in the streets of the city’s central shopping area, but there are many other streets worth exploring. North and South Methven Street, for example, are home to a variety of eating and drinking establishments including the recently-opened 269 Vegan café; an authentic Italian café, Pino’s Italy; Watsons’ traditional fish & chips Chinese takeaway; Cafe Coco, a coffee house, breakfast, and brunch café; The Smoke Pit, serving slow smoked-meat takeaway food; pizza chain Pizza Express; the Espresso coffee house and ice-cream parlour; the Everest Inn, serving fine Nepalese and Indian cuisine; Delicious, a sandwich shop, coffee shop, and restaurant; The Nawaab, Perth’s largest Indian restaurant; and the Marmaris Kebab & Pizza House.
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From Sports to Spirits and the Search for Gold
itness is all I have ever done work wise and will always be a part of my life. Looking up at posters of Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali as a kid I just wanted to be great like them. See I have always been a dreamer or a daydreamer depending on whom you talk to. I became one of the most qualified and experienced instructors around and have many years of fond memories putting it all into practice at some amazing venues. But all of the skills and experience made no difference to my bank account. I am not motivated by money, I am motivated by passion but when youâ€™re in your thirties and still working for minimum wage then something has to change and so I decided to chase a new dream. Whisky has always been in the back of my mind as something I want to be involved in and so I decided to start educating myself on the history, production and enigma that is Scotch whisky.
â€œA dram reminds me of all the beautiful things in lifeâ€?
“You will give them a free taste and when your back is turned they bolt like Usain”
I have always had a love for words and storytelling and after teaching around 4000 fitness classes which require me to guide a group through an experience I felt like that’s where my skills would translate well and so I emailed almost every working whisky distillery in Scotland trying to find work as a tour guide. When that didn’t work I took to driving to many distilleries and hand delivering my CV and cover letter. When that didn’t work I started offering my services for free and asking if I could volunteer at a distillery just so I could be around it and learn more about the craft of making whisky. I handed in my notice at my old job in the gym to give me that motivation I needed to keep going and find work in the whisky industry. In the past I had previously turned down job offers from Dewars and Deantson distilleries respectively as I didn’t think I could make it work. Needless to say I regretted it and so I told myself that I would not turn down another job offer no matter what distillery, no matter what location, No matter what the terms were, I would make it work. Anytime Kelly and I would walk into a distillery and those beautiful sweet smells of mainly sherry casks, bourbon casks and pot ale would hit us I would always say “I just love being around this”. There is just something bout a whisky distillery that makes me walk taller and speak more articulated and luckily enough the job offer eventually came. I was offered a job at Cragganmore distillery in Speyside as a Tour Guide/Storyteller. It is only for a couple of months until the end of the season but it’s a foot in the door and the start of my whisky journey. It’s as convenient as global warming but I promised myself I would make it work. I live in Bridge of Earn and Cragganmore is well over 100 miles away and takes around two and a half hours to get there. My girlfriends mother lives in Lossiemouth which is around 30 miles from Cragganmore and so she kindly enough offered me a room to stay in whilst I am working. I then come back down to beautiful Highland Perthshire on my days off to spend time with my girlfriend and volunteer at a hospital radio station.
Gone are the days when I would wear shorts, t-shirts and trainers to work. I now wear smart trousers, shoes and a shirt, which make me, feel as suave and sophisticated as the gold in my glass. I arrive at the distillery and after my safety checks, such as testing the level of carbon dioxide in the air, then it’s time for set up. Cragganmore offers three tours. The £6 standard distillery tour (40 minutes long, which ends on a taste of one Cragganmore whisky in the shop), The £10 Taste of Speyside Tour (1 hour long tour of the distillery which ends on the tasting of three Speyside whiskies in John Smith’s Victorian style study. Very Monarch of the Glen), and finally the £30 Range Tour (1 hour and 30 minutes long, starting with tea/coffee in John Smith’s study, followed by a tour of the distillery and ending on a tasting of four Cragganmore whiskies - three from the core range and one drawn straight from the cask; each paired with a certain local food sample). A tour (after the initial meet and greet) will typically start with me standing in the courtyard, warmly welcoming everyone to Cragganmore Distillery and taking them through its history, from its beginnings in 1869 right up to the present day. We will then enter the distillery and, after talking about the 3 raw ingredients: spring water, barley an yeast (enter a joke about the fourth ingredient being love), we will then go through the five stages of single malt Scotch whisky production, which are malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. Enter a joke about consumption, which usually gets a chuckle. Good old harmless fun. Each stage of the tour comes with different stories, sights and smells. Especially when walking past the beautiful copper stills, where you smell the sweet pot ale which can remind you of anything sweet, there is no right or wrong, but it reminds me of melting chocolate and what kind of nutter doesn’t like melted chocolate?
Before finishing with a dram of liquid gold, the tour culminates in the warehouse, which, despite it always being freezing cold (the perfect conditions for maturing whisky are cold, dark and damp), is still my favorite part. Walking into a whisky warehouse and being hit with those heart-melting fumes of sweet bourbon and sherry, whilst looking at thousands of casks, is something to behold. I can just imagine myself sitting on a barrel after a hard days work, 5 o clock shadow creeping in, whisky down my shirt and a dram in hand, pondering life as I am tucked away in my own little corner of the world. Then its time to say, “Shall we go get a dram?” which funnily enough always has the same reaction. Depending on the type of tour we will either go back to the shop, John Smith’s study, or the clubroom to taste whisky. I will offer guidelines on how to nose and taste for anyone who is interested, as well as my own tasting notes. Some will bring notepad and pens to make their own notes and some will just prefer to enjoy the dram without trying to work out the enigma that is whisky. In between tours we may have those who arrive but for whatever reason can’t tour and so we will often offer them a free wee dram to show our appreciation for them coming to Cragganmore. The other day it was ten minutes before closing and some people walked in. My manager said, “we can’t do a tour or a paid tasting, but we can give you a dram for your troubles” to which I quipped “you can’t have a paid tasting but we will give you it for free.” To which they replied “darn!” accompanied by a sarcastic arm swing.
We get a lot of hikers, cyclists, and minibuses full of all nationalities and we even get those who pretend to have a look around when really all they have come for is to use the toilets. My personal favorite is when someone acts as if they are really interested in buying a special edition £400 cask strength bottle. You will give them a free taste and when your back is turned they bolt like Usain. Whatever the reason, it is a beautiful thing seeing that whisky brings people together from all walks, all corners of the world, as without distilleries and meeting places where people can get together, learn and discuss whisky then the drink itself is meaningless. When there is not much happening I am constantly soaking up all of the information I can, which starts from the moment I am driving to or from work through “whisky country”, spotting different distilleries, admiring the pagoda roofs, learning new names of distilleries and what they’re all about, their core range, their whisky’s characteristics, their story. I am constantly nosing whiskies in the shop and trying to figure out what it reminds me of, which I note down. It may be the colour reminds me of the leather on a Harley Davidson’s belt that my dad once bought me, or the taste might remind me of a certain sweetie I would munch on as a sprog. Either way, I try to associate all parts of whisky with something familiar, that way I will most likely remember it when I come across it again. When someone on a tour asks a question to which I do not know the answer I will write it down and find out. Every day is a school day and I am constantly learning and soaking up information like a sponge. Knowledge is power.
“Every day is a school day and I am constantly learning and soaking up information like a sponge”
Being a Whisky Tour Guide/Storyteller isn’t the end goal. It’s not even much of an achievement. It’s just the starting point. It is a job that anyone could do and there are a lot of students working at distilleries for nothing more than beer money. Some distillery workers whom I have talked to don’t even like whisky, but may have a connection due to family members being involved with the art or are just fascinated by the history. That being said, there is a real whisky boom happening right now. It’s massive and there are so many who are passionate and starting from the bottom, with the plan on working their way up to whatever their dream destination is. Almost everyone who I have come across at distilleries have always been great brand ambassadors and, for the most part, there is so much passion with continuing the art of single malt scotch whisky production and spreading the word with the rest of the world. The people and their characters leave a warm feeling in the heart of those visiting and it makes me feel proud. So I will continue my apprenticeship in this new but familiar world. I will not stand still, I will forever be moving forward and although tomorrow isn’t written in stone I am very excited to see where this journey takes me. I plan on achieving great things.
By Jonathan Dalley.
All photos kindly provided by him.
amish Henderson was a Scottish poet, songwriter, soldier and intellectual who was born in Blairgowrie, on 11th November, 1919. Through his work in the fields of folk song and poetry, he has been referred to as the founding father of Scotland’s 20th century folk renaissance. In 2016, a documentary was produced in Scotland by film-maker Robbie Fraser about the life of Hamish Henderson–having been 14 years in the making, it was premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival. There were immediate calls from locals for the film to be screened in his birthplace. And so from this, and spurred on by the enthusiasm and determination of a group of locals, the idea of a Hamish Henderson Festival was born. The inaugural Hamish Matters Festival took place last year, at which the documentary ‘Hamish’ was shown and which culminated in a Cèilidh evening which celebrated many elements of Hamish’s legacy to Scottish culture. Such was the success of the event that this year a bigger and better Festival takes place from 7th–10th of November. Highlights of the Festival include author Fred Freeman talking of his friend and mentor Hamish in Blairgowrie Library, plus an evening of Poetry and music with inestimable local poet Jim Mackintosh, accompanied by Jon Plunkett, Morag Anderson and Stuart Patterson, along with musicians including Hamish MacGregor and friends. There are events for children in the programme too, including local primary schools performing songs and poems written and collected by Hamish Henderson and a Perthshire tales storytelling session with Lindsey Gibb; we’ll also hear ‘The Tale o’ the Wee Mowdie’ and there’s a Bookbug session for babies and pre-schoolers where stories will be told in Scots and Gaelic.
“It’s important we take care of our heritage, be proud of our various cultures and celebrate them” Jim Mackintosh
Folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster Margaret Bennett, and Scottish radio broadcaster Fiona Ritchie MBE will be in conversation about Hamish and his legacy. The programme of events will be rounded off with a People’s Cèilidh in Blairgowrie Town Hall–with songs, music, stories and poems in the spirit of Henderson’s ground-breaking 1951 Festival Cèilidh in Edinburgh, which has been cited as a catalyst for the modern Scottish Folk Revival. Perthshire poet Jim Mackintosh, who is one of the team who have organised this year’s Festival, said “It’s important we take care of our heritage, be proud of our various cultures and celebrate them whether they stand alone or sit comfy thegither weaving words and song into joy.” “Hamish Henderson recognised and embraced all of that, but most importantly appreciated that the folks who created our culture and those who continue to do so today have a rightful place on the world stage – and oanyweys Hamish Matters is aboot haein a richt guid hooley wi yer pals and aiblins makin neu yins!” And with 2019 marking the centenary of the birth of Hamish, it is only right that this should be marked with a further celebration of his life. The Hamish Matters Festival has already taken its place firmly on the calendar of annual Perthshire events. If you would like to get involved, or find out more information, please contact John Corrigan on JCorrigan@pkc.gov.uk or phone 0774862397. Or call into Blairgowrie Library–you can take a look at the bust of Hamish while you are there. You can also buy tickets this year’s events from the Blairgowrie Library. For more information on events & tickets go to our Facebook page - @HamishMatters. You’ll also find details of some of the events on Eventbrite. Follow us on Twitter too!
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Perthshire in Pictures
utumn in Perthshire has to be one of the most beautiful sights around and it’s something we look forward to every year. For this photography article we asked our social media followers to suggest the best places to capture this wonderful time of year, and the response was overwhelming. It seems everyone has a favourite spot to view the autumn colours. Our photographer wasn’t able to visit every one of them, but he managed to get the The Hermitage at Dunkeld, the Black Spout walk in Pitlochry and the Garry Bridge near Killiecrankie. So if you didn’t make it there this autumn you can still feast your eyes on the beautiful scenery over the following pages.
Charlie Ward A Review
t’s not quite what you expect to see when ushered into a theatre studio—no chairs or stage, just an enormous black tent. Going in through the flaps there’s a simple set of two lines of hospital style beds and a strong smell of carbolic soap, which has the effect of taking you instantly back in time. Sound&Fury have certainly excelled as far as attention to detail goes. We are told to choose a bed and make ourselves comfortable… and be prepared for total darkness. Settling down in this, there’s a hum of chatter in the background, like the nurses are about somewhere nearby, but my brain is too foggy to listen properly. Or at least that’s how it feels in my head. But a lot of ‘Charlie Ward’ is open to personal interpretation, so it could have meant something different to everyone there. There’s laughter too, which makes sense once scenes of Charlie Chaplin begin playing on the tent ceiling above us. Apparently, this was a relatively common practice in hospital wards during World War One, with laughter being considered a medicine in its own way.
s s o cr
e s s r Ho Art
The main parts of the experience are the voices. From speakers somewhere near your pillow, they feel almost like they’re in your own head. To me, they seem like a somewhat jumbled mix of memories, sparked by what’s happening on the screen. There’s something very evocative about them, and they range from the almost impossibly peaceful to the rude violence of the war. The ending is ambiguous and intriguing. This is an experience that gets in your head and stays there, slightly unsettling and somehow deeply moving. It makes you part of the story, rather than just telling it to you. It’s a new version of theatre to me, but one I’d definitely recommend. Click on the Horsecross icon to see the current programme.
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Enterprising Rural Perthshire
rowBiz provides a free community-based enterprise support service throughout rural Perthshire. The ‘Enterprising Rural Perthshire’ programme, with funding support from LEADER, provides support to anyone who is considering becoming self-employed, or starting (or growing) a small business or social enterprise. This is regardless of your age or experience, and in fact, it works right across the community to include people from all backgrounds and sectors. All of our services are free and confidential, and include one-to-one meetings, peer support, learning sessions – both online and throughout Perthshire - training and networking opportunities.
“All of our services are free and confidential”
GrowBiz Creative Care Project In addition to supporting and connecting a wide range of local enterprises in sectors including tourism, technology, creative services, food & drink etc., GrowBiz has helped to develop and support the unique Care & Wellbeing Cooperative based in Highland Perthshire. Based on our experience of developing the Cooperative, we are now delivering a ‘Creative Care’ project across rural Perthshire We want to help communities increase the range of care, support and wellbeing activities available to people in rural Perthshire. GrowBiz can support you if you have an idea, a service, an activity or skill which could help someone stay at home, maintain contact with their community, improve wellbeing or simply help people have the life they want. This could result in a new enterprise, volunteering opportunities or employment.
We understand the health and social care sector and recognise the challenges in keeping communities well. We work alongside our local Health and Social Care Partnerships, voluntary organisations, private care providers, local community members and people who use services and who need support. Would you like to play a part in helping deliver care, support and wellbeing in rural Perth and Kinross? Do you have an idea you would like to develop further? Please contact email@example.com or message us via our website. To find out more about GrowBiz, and to book for any of our free events, go to growbiz.co.uk - you can also join the GrowBiz mailing list via the website to stay up to date with news and events, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or email us on contact us by email – connect@ growbiz.co.uk and we’ll get in touch. The Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER provides funding and support for community and enterprise projects in rural Perthshire. More information at: www.pkleader.org
“Do you have an idea you would like to develop further?”
Autumn Watch with Highland Safaris
ack in our July issue The Perthshire Magazine visited Highland Safaris for their red deer feeding and recommended it as a great place for the entire family. But none of the team had ever tried an actual safari before, so myself and Nathan were delighted to get the opportunity to go along on the popular Autumn Watch Safari, which runs in October and November.
We can all agree that the autumn colours have been spectacular in Perthshire this year, and the trees made a stunning backdrop as the Land Rover wound its way up from Dull. We normally pass this way on average at least once a week, but wonderful tour guide Tony is nevertheless able to impart some truly fascinating tidbits of information that we didn’t know before. I was particularly interested to find out what ‘Coshieville’ means. We’ll let you find out for yourself, but if you’ve ever thought this little hamlet’s name is strangely un-Scottish sounding there’s an excellent reason. There are various places of interest along the way to the safari track itself, with a bank used for nesting by sand martins, some farmed deer visible on a nearby hill and beautiful views over Loch Kinardochy among the highlights. Tony is ever so slightly dismissive of the farmed deer though, promising us some wild ones.
“After a fleeting glimpse of some grouse, we spot a stag up on the hillside”
As we turn off onto the rough track which will eventually take us up to a bothy, we notice the differing landscapes on either side of the road, one planted closely with conifers, the other a smaller, more natural woodland. Tony gives us a detailed and interesting explanation as to why this is, as well as some of the difficulties the Scottish environment experiences, often from the deer itself because of there being too many of them. In fact, the safari is a lot more focused on the fragile eco-systems all around us than I thought it would be, which adds a lot of depth and helps you understand your environment so much better. But of course we want to see some wildlife too, and we’re not disappointed. After a fleeting glimpse of some grouse we spot a stag up on the hillside, standing on the horizon. Tony tells us this is called ‘skylining’. Later we spot another doing the same. Unfortunately, it’s too windy to hear them roaring, if they are, but it’s amazing to see them in their natural habitat and it seems fitting that these wild animals content themselves with majestically watching us from the hilltop.
â€œTony is able to impart some truly fascinating tidbits of informationâ€?
The final stretch of track before reaching the Mountain Bothy is incredibly steep and rutted, which makes for a fun ride! The bothy itself proves to be a cosy and reasonably modern building with spectacular views back over the valley, the perfect place for a hot drink, shortbread and a wee dram of Dewars White Label. Then it’s back down the hill, but the fun is by no means over if you don’t want it to be... On reaching the Highland Safaris base there’s an opportunity to get up close and personal with some red deer at the red deer feeding previously mentioned. But there’s so much more too, enough to last the rest of the day in fact, with facilities for biking and gold panning, a beautiful gift shop and, best of all in our opinion, a great cafe. We’re hungry after our trip up the hill and a warming lunch here really hits the spot. There’s a great choice on the menu, which features good home-cooking, and a soup and toasty, or a burger and salad in Nathan’s case, is the perfect end to a wonderful experience. Book your very own Highland Safari here: https://www.highlandsafaris.net/ land-rover-safaris/ Or enter our competition to win an Autumn Watch Safari for four over the page. Worth £40 each!
WIN A FABULOUS AUTUMN WATCH SAFARI FROM HIGHLAND SAFARIS
ee the amazing autumn colours of Highland Perthshire at their most dramatic with Aberfeldy based Highland Safaris, whilst listening for the primal roar of the stags in the annual red deer rut – one of the most dramatic outdoor experiences you can witness in Scotland! Hearing a stag’s primal roar resonate around the stunning, rugged hillside is an iconic sound of the autumn, and Highland Safaris are privileged to operate in an environment which is shared with these magnificent creatures. On the safari you will also look out for some other Highland wildlife such as famous grouse, mountain hares, ptarmigans and golden eagles. In the company of the experienced and knowledgeable Safari Rangers, guests can witness the wilderness environment as they’ve never seen it before. Family friendly Autumn-watch Safaris run until November, and include a choice of hot drinks including tea, coffee or hot chocolate, shortbread, wildlife identification sheets & fact files, binoculars and a dram of Dewars Whisky in a stunning hilltop bothy. Hats and hand-warmers can also be supplied if needed. Visit https://www.highlandsafaris.net/land-rover-safaris/seasonal-safaris.html to find out more. To win an Autumn-watch Safari for 4 people, worth £40 each (lasting 2 & half hours), all you you have to do is email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to this question:
Autumn is known as what in the United States: * The Jump * The Fall * The Drop (This competition is being held in conjunction with the Facebook competition and will close at midnight on the 7th of November 2018, after which winner a will be chosen by random prize draw. You may enter here even if you’ve already entered the Facebook competition. Any more than two entries will not be counted. There is no cash alternative available. By entering you agree to receive email communications from The Perthshire Magazine. You must be over 16.) This article and competition has been offered with the kind cooperation of Highland Safaris.
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An Interview with Kim MacGillivray
Kim MacGillivray is a felt maker with a lifelong love of wool and textiles. Kim began selling her knitted work as a teenager and spent many years working to commission while pursuing a successful career in education. Nowadays, Kim works full-time in her own Auchterarder-based business, Proggy and Tweed Designs. Working mainly in wet felting, sometimes combined with knitted and stitched elements, she creates a vibrant range of accessories and clothing. Born and raised in Perthshire, Kim also lived on the Isle of Skye and on the east coast of Scotland for several years before returning to Perthshire in 2012. These coastal locations have a strong influence on her designs and she continues to regularly spend time by the sea, drawing inspiration from the marine environment.
Thanks so much for joining us Kim! Most of our readers will probably know you as ‘Proggy and Tweed’ which gives us a clue to some of your creations, but can you describe them in more detail? I enjoy making things for people to wear. Neckwear is my favourite—scarves, collars, necklaces—but I also enjoy designing hats, wraps and larger items of clothing. I am very bad at throwing things away, so I make smaller items like brooches and pins designed to use all the little pieces of fabric and wool that I can never bring myself to put in the bin. My designs are not for shrinking violets and I’m certainly not known for my subtlety or minimalism! I love colour and irregular shapes and many of my pieces are bold and bright. A lot of my clients use big, statement scarves to dress up a plain outfit or to give longevity to a favourite dress or top by changing the look of it. I’m always happy to work with people to make something special for them. I predominantly use merino wool, as well as alpaca, silk and cotton, so all my work feels soft and luxurious and is comfortable to wear. Most of my designs are made using wet felting, but at this time of year I also make a small stock of knitted accessories. I like to knit with British wool wherever possible and often seek out hand dyed or painted yarn from artisan producers. I think it’s really important for artists and makers to support each other and if I’m looking for things like buttons or trims, I always buy from other makers. My accessories and clothing are quite individual and not for everyone, but fortunately there seems to be plenty people out there who are looking for something unique.
“My designs are not for shrinking violets and I’m certainly not known for my subtlety or minimalism!”
They sound like the perfect winter accessories! How did you first get into making them? I come from a family of knitters and stitchers. My mother and my older sister both knitted, my grandmother sewed, my godmother did lovely embroidery and they all shared their skills with me. From an early age, I was making things for my dolls and teddies: a scarf for Sooty was the first thing I remember knitting when I was only three. We had a big button tin and kists full of old clothes, fabric and blankets, and these were like treasure chests to me. I grew up with a love of making things and playing with textiles and I feel that’s still what I do now! I first came across felt making in my early teens, but at that time in this country it wasn’t very well known or widely practised at all. This was back in the seventies, so long before the internet, and I found it really difficult to learn more about it. I carried on with knitting and picked up snippets of information about felt making as and when I could. It was a long and painful journey, but I did eventually find people willing to share their knowledge with me and I am always grateful to them for their encouragement and generosity. I learned largely by trial and error and I made plenty of mistakes, but in some ways that constant experimentation has given me a sound basis for my current practice. I always tell people never to be afraid of getting it wrong. Having always made wearables, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I would use felt in the same way. Nowadays, most of the items I produce are designed and made in felt, usually merino wool for its softness. Having worked to commission for many years, alongside my career in education, I stopped taking commissions for about ten years as my job filled more of my time. I found that I missed the creativity and the physical act of making more and more, so in 2015 I took the opportunity to retire early and started ‘Proggy and Tweed Designs’. It’s been hard work, but I am so glad I did it and am now able to work in a creative business full time.
“I come from a family of knitters and stitchers”
It was definitely worth the labour then. Can you tell us a little about your creative process? I draw a lot of inspiration from the environment and my starting point is very often something that catches my eye, probably something colourful, like a piece of seaweed, buoys in a harbour, a plant in the garden… it could be anything really. I’ll then think about shape and form and how that might translate into something wearable. Sometimes I’ll sketch out ideas and details, at other times I’ll just go straight to the wool fibre and start mixing and playing around with it until I feel I have a firm direction. Wet felting is quite a messy process, so you need a bit of space where you can slosh water around without worrying. I work from my studio at home so can be as messy as I like! I lay down layers of wool fibre, sometimes adding in spun yarn or textiles, then wet it out with soapy water. Wool is naturally water resistant, so you do need quite a bit of water to get it wet enough. You then have to put on some music or a film, roll up your sleeves and get rubbing. I like to use bubble wrap, but you can use anything waterproof to cover the wool while you rub. Give it a good massage on both sides until you have a stable fabric. This will take a while. Next, you roll it up in a bamboo mat around a ‘rolling pin’. I use pipe insulation as I can easily cut it to size, but a broom handle does the job too. You roll it until the fabric has shrunk and firmed up, then it’s time to rinse, iron it and leave it to dry. Wet felting is quite a physical process but good exercise! It’s not an exact science and you develop a feel for the different parts of the process through practice. You can buy beautifully made specialist equipment if you want that, but I’ve never felt the need. Wow, that’s fascinating, I’ve never heard of wet felting before. So, what is the best bit about what you do? I never tire of the magic of the process, turning wisps of fluff into a beautiful fabric with just some water and elbow grease. It still amazes me no matter how often I do it. Probably the very best part is seeing someone’s face light up when they try on one of my pieces and you can see they love it. That’s why I enjoy selling directly to my customers at fairs or when they come to my studio. I love seeing people wearing things I’ve made.
I’ve definitely got my eye on one of your scarves for this winter! Ww all know being a creative isn’t a walk in the park though, so what is your biggest challenge? Definitely the business side of things: accounts, marketing, all the necessary paperwork. There is a lot of help and advice available, but I just find all that side of things a real chore. Like most creative people, I’d much rather spend my time creating, so I really need to be strict with myself about allocating time to these tasks. It’s one of the things about self-employment that there’s no-one to delegate to and no other departments to deal with the things you’re not expert in. You’re responsible for it all. Time management is they key, but I’m not entirely convinced I’ve got that right yet! I’m very easily distracted by pretty colours, wool, and Twitter! I can certainly identify with the last one… Do you have any advice for someone who would like to learn to do something similar? Do what you love. In any discipline there will be endless possibilities to pursue, but focus on something that really appeals to you, rather than second guessing what’s popular or trying to do a bit of everything. Your work will have integrity and you will be happier. If you are just starting out with felt making, try both needle and wet felting. People generally take more to one than the other. Start making something small in size and work up. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s how we learn best and it means you’re stretching your boundaries. In wet felting, even if things go disastrously wrong you can always use what you’re left with in another project. If you’re looking for classes, find a teacher that you get on with and who is good at teaching. Not all artists/ makers are. The International Feltmakers Association is a good place to look for advice and information. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying it, try something else. Life’s too short! For business advice, look at what your local council offers, Cultural Enterprise, Business Gateway, for example. Do it from the start so that you are thinking in a business-like way from the outset.
“Do what you love”
Great advice. We know you’re inspired by the seaside, are you also inspired by the Perthshire surroundings at all? The Perthshire landscape is varied and beautiful. The colours changing with the seasons is something I am very conscious of and will reflect in my work. I love watching the hillsides transform themselves from month to month and feel lucky to have a good view of this from my house. I love water, and the lochs and rivers of Perthshire are a rich source of inspiration too. The movement of water fascinates me, and I can sit for long periods just watching the flow of a river or the wave patterns along the length of a loch. I often find myself trying to capture that movement in wool. I think it’s likely to be a lifelong effort! The colours we have in Perthshire are so stunning, especially at this time of year. Lastly then, where can we view or buy your work? Ideally directly from me! I love direct contact with customers, in person or online, to discuss what they are looking for and help them find the right thing for them. I have an online shop and a website and can be contacted through all the usual social media channels as well. I’m always happy to discuss commission enquiries. My studio is open by appointment all year round too, for those who would like to visit and try things on. It’s not always tidy, but it is always welcoming! You can also find my work in ‘Seaweed n Stuff ’, a delightful shop on the beach at Rockfield, Tain. It’s right on the shore and is perfect for the coastal themed wok I love to do. ‘Handmade’ in Aberfoyle has a wide range of my products between Easter and October. I’ll be out and about with my stand at a schedule of festive events in the run up to Christmas in Perthshire and Stirling. I love meeting customers old and new. You can find details of all of this on my website www.proggyandtweed. co.uk and on social media @proggyandtweed Photos by Kim MacGillivray and Heidi Burton Photography
Becky’s Team Reliable, tru◊worthy, hone◊ and friendly.
cleaning small maintenance work shopping & errands firstname.lastname@example.org ❧ 07501 796 84 6 £15 per hour
I’m Jules Akel, designer of wonderful ways to promote your business, things that tell persuasive stories—inﬂuential, eΩective and typographically delicious. ^ Have a look at: www.akel.co.uk; it is worth the visit, promise. ^ After seeing these compelling creations, why not telephone me for a thoughtful chat: 07 802 753 193. ^ If you become one of my clients you would qualify for umpteen bottles of Dalwhinnie whisky—a truly worthwhile incentive, don’t you think ? ^ Actually, even better, you should come round to the studio, sit by the crackling ﬁre, eat Elizabeth’s glorious shortbread and see my portfolio, then commission me. ^ You will soon discover that I am a very useful contributor to your prosperity.
Outlander Day Out
With The Highland Bear
nless you’ve been living in a hermit’s cave recently you must have heard of the Outlander TV series. Whilst maybe not as popular with those of us who live in Scotland, the appeal of Jamie & Claire’s time-travelling universe has travelled across the world and is a big pull to visit this beautiful part of Scotland. The problem with Outlander is, because they have filmed in so many locations across our county, it’s really difficult to pick a small selection to see in one day; however, for our Outlander—Perthshire Tour we have selected a good mix of historic and scenic locations so visitors can feel closer to the characters and experience the best of rural Scotland. With the new season close at hand, I thought I would share with you some of my favourites.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it is listed as on the of the Finest Gardens in Europe”
First off is Tibbermore Church, located a few miles outside of the City of Perth. This beautiful parish church dates back to 1632 and is currently looked after by the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust; it is therefore not always possible to have a look inside this church, but you can look around the graveyard as long as you are respectful to the area. Known to Outlander fans as Crannesmuir Church, Tibbermore has some interesting monuments in its graveyard. I particularly like the one for James Ritchie, a local farmer who died in 1840, that has a Curling stone on it. As a storytelling Bear, I do find graveyards interesting; they are a good place for the imagination to run wild! One of my favourite gardens to visit is also located in Perthshire and it doesn’t surprise me that it is listed as on the of the ‘Finest Gardens in Europe’. Drummond Gardens (based in the estate of Drummond Castle) has been restructured and redesigned since its original 17th Century design and even now you can still marvel at the Renaissance feel that surrounds the grounds. With statues to admire throughout the garden and the centrally located sundial, surrounded by a range of beautiful trees and plants, walking around Drummond Gardens is a real joy. It is not difficult to see why these were used as a location for the Gardens of Versailles in Season 2.
“In concluding my Outlander day out, I do like to stop at the Deanston Distillery”
Unfortunately, you cannot visit the Castle at Drummond, but I do like a castle and one of my favourites is Doune. You might have seen this Castle without realising it, as it’s appeared in movies such as ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ and was also Winterfell Castle in that other popular TV show, ‘Game of Thrones’. In Outlander it is known as Castle Leoch, home to the fictional MacKenzies Clan, but this unassuming castle is really worth a look in its own right! It was built in the late 14th Century by the Duke of Albany, Robert Stewart who is known as the ‘uncrowned king’, because he ruled without the actual title. He must have liked a lot of people around him, as The Great Hall is huge and so are the fire pits in there; they must have needed them to keep warm, especially at this time of year, but you can’t help imagining that they could have been used as a cage for unscrupulous sorts (go and have a look if you don’t believe me). In concluding my Outlander day out, I do like to stop at the Deanston Distillery. Now you may be thinking that I come here just to enjoy a wee dram, but this is the location of the Wine Warehouse belonging to Jamie’s cousin in Season 2, so is a legitimate Outlander attraction, thank you very much! There are many fine distilleries in Perthshire, and here you can learn about the ancient art of whisky making (followed by that wee dram if you like), before it’s finally time to head back home. If you are interested in joining me on any of my Outlander Days Out, visit our website https://www.highlandtoursperthshire.co.uk/ tours-scotland/historic-castles-palaces for more information. Article and Photos provided by Highland Tours Perthshire
Now Available: Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Fair Maid of Perth’ is one of The Waverley Novels, a series that made Scott famous as the world’s best-selling novelist and the pioneer of the historical novel. Set in the late fourteenth century, against a background of feuding between King Robert III and Scotland’s unruly nobility, ‘The Fair Maid of Perth’ follows the fortunes of a pair of lovers caught up in the longstanding conflict between two bellicose Highland clans, Clan Kay and Clan Chattan. ‘Perth: Scott’s Fair City’ is a celebration of Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Fair Maid of Perth’ and a guide to the twenty-first century city through the looking glass of the story. It will delight those who live and work in Perthshire, visitors, and fans of Sir Walter Scott, alike. “My notion of Perth was drawn wholly from Sir Walter Scott, and it seemed to me a magical place which must confer a unique distinction upon its natives.” John Buchan, author The 39 Steps.
‘Perth: Scott’s Fair City’ is available from bookshops and online booksellers. It may also be purchased directly at www.tippermuirbooks.co.uk Tippermuir Books Ltd may be contacted at email@example.com. It is priced at £6.99.
The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry, live gig with Jono, a singer/songwriter from Glasgow playing a mind-blowingly eclectic mix of hits, old & new. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise: T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.)
Amber Market at The Taybank, Dunkeld, 11-4pm. As part of this years Amber Festival, the Dunkeld Craft Collective come together to bring you a fantastic selection of quality, locally handmade arts and crafts on the beautiful banks of the Tay. Elevate Yoga Class, 10.30—12pm, West Carse Hall, Glencarse. And every Saturday thereafter. firstname.lastname@example.org
Vintage Jewellery workshop at Burmieston. Jewellery connoisseur Susie will show you how to make your own bracelet, earrings and Christmas decoration using vintage beads. Perhaps you have some precious pieces you would like to rework? 1.30pm-4pm. £29 including refreshments. Email: email@example.com
The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry, live gig with Chunks. Cracking covers band from Oban, playing all the hits. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise.T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.)
Exhibition Launch Event: 7-9 pm, includes, readings, poetry, music, and more. Entry FREE. Tippermuir Books and the AK Bell Library present an exhibition based around Scott’s time-honoured novel ‘The Fair Maid of Perth’ and the recently-published ‘Perth: Scott’s Fair City: The Fair Maid of Perth & Sir Walter Scott - A Celebration and Guided Tour’. Find on the Local & Family History floor of the AK Bell Library, York Place, Perth.
Bumps@ThePub - Perth & District National Childbirth Trust branch. 7-9pm, The Cellar Bar, 80 George Street, Perth, PH1 5LB. Monthly social evening for mums-to-be to get together and chat all things pregnancy and support through parenthood with the UK’s largest charity supporting parents. Run by NCT Perth & District branch, cost £3, includes cake and refreshment.
A special acoustic set from Gavin Munro of Red Pine Timber Co. at The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise: T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.)
The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry, live gig with Last Orders. Last Orders are our favourite Rock tribute act. They play a dynamic range of rock & pop songs from the likes of Bon Jovi & AC/DC to Katy Perry & The Black Eyed Peas. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise: T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.)
Charlotte’s kitchen returns to Burmieston - after the great success of our summer supper club Charlotte is back preparing a Winter Feast for you and friends. Sourcing as much as possible (at this time of year!) within 20 miles of Burmieston, it’s just £30 for a delicious three course meal. BYOB. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or book online.
Create your own Winter Feast Masterclass at Burmieston. Would you like to be better prepared for cooking for larger groups? Preparing a feast for a group of friends or family perhaps? Join Charlotte Pike in the beautiful surrounds of Burmieston near Perth to learn the tricks of the trade at cooking for a lot of people with confidence and producing really tasty food. 10-4pm £100. Lunch and refreshments included. Book online here.
A special acoustic set from Gavin Munro of Red Pine Timber Co. at The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise: T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.)
Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th
Christmas Design Market, Civic Hall, 2 High Street, Perth, 10-4.30pm, Free Entry. Find unusual, original and contemporary handmade gifts at our pop up Christmas Design Market showcasing the work of 42 local makers over 2 days. The Facebook Event page showcases the artists attending and the different gifts you’ll discover: https://www.facebook.com/events/495323827615387/?active_tab=discussion
Dunning Craft Fair, Dunning Village Hall, from 11.30 am - 4.30 pm. Now celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary, it’s the perfect place to find a quality gift, “Something Different for Christmas”. Contact Lorna Radbourne tel. 01764 684452, Email- email@example.com @christmas_in_dunning on Instagram.
Christmas Willow Wreath Making with local artist June McEwan at Burmieston. Details are still to be confirmed for this session but if you are interested let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org as this will fill fast. The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry, live gig with Lynnie Carson, a talented Glasgow based singer/songwriter playing a mix of originals & covers including the likes of Marvin Gaye and First Aid Kit. Music starts at 9:30pm with free admission unless indicated otherwise: T: 01796 474 020 www.oldmillevents.co.uk | www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk (Bands correct at time of print.) Please check with the individual businesses before attending an event. We cannot be help responsible for alterations, cancellations or errors. To request a free event listing in our December issue email us at email@example.com by the 15th of November 2018.
Yes, yes a snack suggestion. Before we do that there is a couple of things we need to talk about. Firstly we have changed fonts on this page. To American Typewriter, no less. What do you think, is it an improvement? I think so. The other thing I need to chat, actually rant about, is squat lobsters. This has been triggered by our visit to Little’s Restaurant in beautiful Blairgowrie. Atop my pasta dish sat a magnificent little chap. A squat lobster. A dorsoventrally flattened crustacean of the two superfamilies Galatheoidea and Chirostyloidea, in case you were wondering. I’d hate for you to get your crustaceans mixed up. Now my rant is this, why don’t we eat more of these tasty little chaps? Sure, there’s not that much meat on them, but it’s really tasty. So sweet and juicy. If you’ve not tried one, go to Little’s Restaurant and see what you think. Or catch your own on the West coast. I can only presume that the rumour that squat lobsters are not really worth eating must have been started by the squat lobsters themselves. Now I know that sounds funny, but go and look that the photo of him on page 32. Anyone with beady eyes like that must be planning something. A cunning act of self preservation if ever I saw one. So, on to this month’s snack suggestion. This month we are going for one of my all time favourite combinations. Madeira and Madeira cake. Madeira is a sweet wine from, wait for it, Madeira. I guess that’s how they came up with the name. Madeira cake comes from, wait for it, England. Didn’t see that coming, did you? The cake was invented to go with the wine rather than haling from the Portuguese island. The wine is sweet, but the cake isn’t. It’s simply a fabulous combination. Give it a go. Of course, you will need to bake the cake yourself—if you think a shop bought one will suffice, then frankly, I’m disappointed in you. Oh, and one last thing. No, actually two. Join our whisky club if you haven’t already done so. And secondly... actually I’ve forgotten what the second thing was. Sorry.