Booksellers gather in Portree for fair

Specialist booksellers from all over the UK and Ireland, including from the Isle of Skye itself, will be crowding into the Aros Centre, in Portree, for the PBFA Antiquarian Book Fair this week.

There is free entry for people interested in browsing the antiquarian; second-hand; collectable and rare books; and other printed material offered for sale at the centre coinciding with Skye Book Festival.The event is open on Thursday 12noon–5.30pm; Friday 9.00am – 5.30pm; and Saturday 9.00am–4.30pm.

One island-based specialist who will be at the fair is Gilleasbuig Ferguson Rare Books based at Taigh na Mara, Skeabost Bridge, on the drive which leads to the Skeabost Hotel.  This is run by Gilleasbuig Ferguson whose specialisms include Early Scottish books, Highlands, Hebrides and Scottish Gaelic; Geology; Darwin; natural history; evolutionary science; and fine bindings.

Another islands-based bookseller is Kenny Macleod, of Hebridean Books, Eoropie, Ness, Isle of Lewis, who deals with secondhand Scottish, Highlands and Islands, Gaelic, Football and Sport books.Kenny said he thought there were many benefits in having a fair of this kind in the island. 

“It gives the dealers an opportunity to get out and about and see a beautiful part of the country, meet new dealers, make new contacts but, above all, sell books.  I feel the fair is getting busier as more and more people find out about it.”He adds that he is one of the new sellers to the fair – this will be his third year of attending.  “As the festival becomes more established we will see more and more people attending.”

On the wider benefits of that having a festival of this sort on the islands, Gilleasbuig Ferguson said:" Though the internet has changed the book trade radically forever there will always be room for bookfairs.  There is nothing to compare to being able to handle and experience books for real and the benefits of having a book fair like this in the Isle of Skye is two-fold.  It gives book-lovers who have perhaps not considered collecting rare and antiquarian books a chance to see and handle such items, when they come to the venue for festival events.  It also gives local book collectors who may not have the opportunity to visit bookfairs in the cities the chance to view and purchase items from a number of respected dealers from all over the country.

"Having a bookfair so near to home is great.  There is no need to book accommodation for starters, and if I forget something, I'm only 6 miles away!  It also gives us a chance to show some Highland hospitality to book-dealers who have travelled the length of the country in some instances - our Friday-night bash for the dealers at our home is now a firm fixture.  It also gives me a chance to introduce many Skye folk to my stock and the trade which I love, who might not have considered paying my shop in Skeabost a visit."

And what will Gilleasbuig himself have to tempt buyers? "I will have a number of interesting items for sale from out-of-print Gaelic books for £3 each to a first edition of Darwin's Descent of Man (two volumes - 1871) for £3950.  It's important to encourage people to come and have a look; it's free  to browse and there's no pressure to buy.  Just come along and enjoy the opportunity of handling some remarkable pieces of history and please ask lots of questions!"

Among those travelling from afar, there is Creaking Shelves Books, from Fort William, Lochaber, which specialises in general non-fiction (especially natural history), mountaineering, medicine, Scottish topography and history.  There is also Hilary Farquharson from Forfar, Angus, who specialises in Scottish, travel and fine bindings in many subjects; Michael Moon's Bookshop, Whitehaven, Cumbria, covering Lake counties, History, Cinema, and Antiquarian; Mr Mac books from Tynron, Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway, with general stock and anything of Scottish interest; and RGM BOOKS from Hallglen, Falkirk, specialising in general antiquarian books, comics and ephemera.

Barra protest in air-service row

Another plea has gone to Councillor Angus Campbell.  Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, over why the Council decided that Barra and Vatersay's views on the future of Western Island Air Services were not required.

This follows furious protests from councillors covering the Barra and Vatersay about a consultation process on island air services which did not include a meeting any further south than Balivanich.

Barra Councillor Donald Manford, one of four members for Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eiriosgaigh agus Uibhist a Deas, who is Vice-Chair of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee, as well as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee, said in early August: “I see the community of Barra and Vatersay are to all practical purposes” excluded from the drop-in events on "our air services.  This community would be most grateful to have an explanation of why that is.”

Authors flock to Skye Book Festival

 

The Skye Book Festival springs to life again from the start of September (Thursday-Saturday September 1-3)
Over the last five years, the Festival has become firmly established as one of the highlights of Skye’s cultural calendar. 
This year’s programme explores everything from gripping crime thrillers, Skye family history, music and Gaelic culture to wild outdoor activities in a series of events, discussions and debates.
A range of personalities, local and national, are involved, including The Campbells of Canna, Joanne Harris, Peter May, Ian Stephen, Cailean Maclean, Norman Macdonald and Fiona Bird.
Thursday September 1 sees a major event in the history of Skye at midday – with the launch of the The Great Book of Skye Volume 2, by Professor Norman Macdonald and photographer and writer Cailean Maclean.  The first volume of this comprehensive study was launched at Skye Book Festival in 2014 and featured almost 600 significant Skye people.
The new volume, timed exclusively for Skye Book Festival 2016, brings to notice a further 275 women and men.  Compiled from local and national resources, oral and written, its medley of themes makes it of interest to the scholar as well as to the person who wishes to find out about the ordinary, and the not-so-ordinary people of Skye and their kin.
Later the same day there is an event based around Cuimhneachan – Remembrance, the first anthology on Gaelic verse from the First World War.  From spirited patriotic verse composed at the beginning of the war to the final tragedy of New Year’s Day 1919 and the loss of over 200 returning servicemen in the sea off Stornoway on the Iolaire, this work – published by Acair in Stornoway - is a poignant view of the war as experienced by Gaelic speakers.
Then there's Alan McKirdy, with Skye Landscapes 
in Stone.  Skye’s geological history involves some of the most ancient rocks on the planet; a grandstand view as the Highlands of Scotland were formed over 400 million years ago and the development of one of the mightiest volcanoes ever to blow its top.
In the evening there is Stornoway-based author and storyteller Ian Stephen with his novel A Book of Death and Fish at Portree Community Library from 6.30pm and a double event at Aros starting at 7.30pm, Freeland Barbour - The Music and the Land 
with photography by Cailean Maclean, and Campbells of Canna in Words and Music.
Freeland Barbour is a well-known on the Scottish music scene.  He is a former member of ground-breaking folk group Silly Wizard, and a founder member of two of the country’s most successful cèilidh dance bands, the Wallochmor Cèilidh Band and the Occasionals.  Freeland Barbour will present his books in words, photographs and musical notation through the lands that have inspired him - covering the whole of Scotland and beyond.  ‘Campbells of Canna in Words and Music with Ray Perman, Hugh Cheape and Fiona J Mackenzie looks back at how for 60 years the remarkable partnership of John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw fought for the rights of the inhabitants of the West Highlands and Islands and sought to preserve their vanishing Gaelic culture of song and story.  Together they farmed the island of Canna for 40 years before gifting it to the National Trust for Scotland to preserve for the nation.
On the second day, Friday September 2, renowned storyteller Ian Stephen will be involved in the festival’s Community and Schools Engagement programme.
Hailing from the Isle of Lewis, Ian Stephen made his name initially as a poetry-writing Coastguard in the 1990s and is now a full-time writer, storyteller and artist who draws great inspiration from being a sailor, often of traditional sailing boats. 
His prose, poetry and drama have been published around the world and garnered several awards.  He was both the first winner of a Robert Louis Stevenson Award and the first artist-in-residence at StAnza, Scotland’s annual poetry festival. 
As a storyteller Ian sweeps listeners of all ages away into the realms of his own imagination, creating superbly crafted experience in which narrative, song, music and evocative visuals all combine to draw you into other parts of time and space. 

Barra Airport turns 80

Barra Airport, famous for its runway on the beach, turned 80 this year. 

The airport, which sees planes landing onto the sands of Traigh Mhòr, situated on the North tip of the Isle of Barra, was first opened in 1936. 

Pictured below at Traigh Mhòr on August 8 2016, marking this special anniversary, are: Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL; Cllr. Donald Manford; Humza Yousaf MSP; and Angus Brendan MacNeil MP. 

Roux-training chance for winning chef in contest

Budding chefs across the Highlands and Islands are being given the chance to win work experience at one of the UK’s top restaurants. Entries have now opened for Young Highland Chef 2015.

The top prize for this year’s competition is a week of work experience at Le Gavroche, the Roux family’s double-Michelin starred restaurant in London, and a cheque for £500.