Sunday, 13 February 2011

Out and about in Edinburgh

The days are getting longer, the evenings lighter and I am beginning to bring my head above the crafting parapet. It has become a habit with me to pack away all my crafting materials after my last craft fair in December and I don't look at them again for at least 2-3 months. This time last year I had little inclination to do much in the way of making but having had a good year I am motivated to get things going once more. I have already booked a number of craft events and yesterday Suzanne and I went through to Edinburgh on a bit of reconnoitre; initially to check out a new craft fair venue there, launched this weekend, and also to spend some time in the upmarket area of Morningside - where we regularly attend a lovely, monthly craft market - but as stallholders we never get much time to explore the area.

Ghillie Dhu Makers MarketThe venue for this market is simply stunning. The recently rennovated Ghillie Dhu (whose website says it is a "traditional Scottish pub" - but in my limited knowledge of Scottish pubs I'd say that was quite a bit of an overstatement!) It is owned by the Glasgow-based G1 group so you get the idea. The craft fair takes place in the opulent setting upstairs.

Audrey of Prettyful was there with her beautiful glassware and jewellery. You are immediately drawn to her table of very colourful products.

This is my favourite piece

The venue is in a great location at the end of Princes Street near Lothian Road and the standard of crafters, as you would expect, was high and though not overcrowded with shoppers,it was after all the first event, I should imagine when word gets around trade will pick up. I am undecided whether or not it is a venue for me though.

We then jumped on a bus and headed for Morningside for some lunch and a bit of a meander. Morningside is just lovely especially on a clear, dry and sunny day. Obviously a wealthy area with lots of lovely little shops, cafes and lots and lots of charity shops where no doubt there's many a bargain to be found - just not by us!

We had lunch at Falko's in Bruntsfield Place

which I would highly recommend. Terrific selection of German breads and amazing selection of cakes and pastries.

Next trip to Edinburgh will be to my first craft fair of the year Morningside Makers Market - on 05 March - and I am so looking forward to it. It will be great to get into the swing of things again.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Barra revisited - "An Island Parish"

Having recently blogged about my trip to the Isle of Barra - the most southerly inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides - you can imagine my delight when I discovered that the BBC have made this programme - An Island Parish - a 12-part series about this wonderful little island.

On last week's programme I was surprised and delighted to see someone we had met when travelling on the local bus during our trip, which I always think is a great way to get talking to the locals. We got involved in conversation with "Scraggie Aggie" who was clearly a bit of a character on the island. "Scraggie Aggie" is how she introduced herself - in fact the full title she gave was "Scraggie Aggie from the Eiffel Tower" - and now she can add "TV personality" to her title! Aggie told us a bit about herself and how she combs Barra's beaches every day, weather permitting, for scallops and cockles - and judging by the bagful she had with her it was clear that she was a bit of an expert - as the second programme in the series portrays - and that she'd had a very good day!

Aggie was a bit of a star on the programme and what I loved about her appearance in it was that she was as natural in front of the camera as she had been when we she spoke to us on the bus. Clearly not at all phased by 'the BBC' - superb!

Here are a couple of pics of Aggie - before I knew I was in the presence of a TV personality!

Every day during our visit the same two divers would pass the windows of our house, which was right on the edge of the famous Barra Airport Beach, and they would head for the exact spots where they knew they could successfully dive for bags and bags of cockles, which they would gather up and leave along the shoreline to be picked up later by jeep.

The cockles they were picking were not for consumption on the island but for selling on to very lucrative markets in Spain.

I did try to pick up this enormous bag of cockles but it was impossibly heavy.

I'm looking forward to next week's programme as I am now on the look out for another of the very helpful locals that befriended us when travelling around the island on the local bus. He had a bit of a story to tell - apparently in a past life he had been an extremely successful restaurateur who, back in the sixties, owned the restaurant which is today known as "The Ivy" in London. It's surprising who you might sit next to on a bus....!