The Skye Magazine is an exciting insight into Skye and Raasay, as well as providing information on new up-and-coming businesses, and new ventures on the island. The Skye Magazine in its printed form, appears once a year from May, and thousands are distributed throughout the islands.
And the on-line edition - below - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.
So, just click download, enjoy learning about the beautiful isles of Skye and Raasay, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!
Farquhar Macleod Funeral Directors was established on the Isle of Harris for many years. Thus, it is fitting that one of the quality coffins stocked is a Harris Tweed coffin - made of solid oak and overlaid with a strip of luxury Harris Tweed.
Now, though, owner Farquhar has relocated his independent, family-owned business to the Isle of Skye. Although he still returns to Harris when requested, Farquhar's business is now based in Broadford.
With his mother hailing from Harris and his father from Staffin, Farquhar is familiar with the funeral traditions on both islands and is able to accommodate his clients.
Farquhar devotes himself to customer care, saying that he finds satisfaction in giving the family of the deceased less to worry about. "They have so much on their minds and we are able to take some of that strain away from them," he points out. "Being independent, we can make our service more personal. If someone makes a request, we will do anything for them as long as it's legal."
Being independent also enables Farquhar to keep the expenses down, as much as possible, for his clients. "I'm always conscious of costs and try and keep them to a minimum for people," he explains. "When clients come into the office, we establish what their requirements are and then give them an estimate. They are not going to get hit down the line with a bill for double that estimate. However, if someone thinks they will struggle to pay, that initial meeting is the time to tell us, so we can work on reducing costs and helping them out as much as we can."
Farquhar Macleod Funeral Directors is the only member of the Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) on Skye. "This is a guarantee of quality and uprightness," says Farquhar. "SAIF are like the VisitScotland of funerals - they inspect our premises and our paperwork to make sure we are doing things correctly. They are there
for the customer and that's a good thing."
Being a member of SAIF means that Farquhar Macleod Funeral Directorscan offer Golden Charter Funeral Plans. "They offer a combination of the best value and the best quality," Farquhar says.
Farquhar's top advice for the family of the deceased is to always have the correct paperwork to hand. "Know where the deceased's birth and marriage certificate is, as you will need them immediately," he advises. "The law has changed and now the death must be registered before the funeral can be arranged. So have all the paperwork in order and choose an independent funeral director who will take all the strain."
A range of events took place on Days Two and Three of the Skye Book Festival 2016 – sadly, we were unable to cover the first day as no staff member was available. Here, Skye-based photographer and writer, Roz Skinner, reports on some of the key sessions on Friday September 2 and Saturday September 3.
The first book in Peter May's best-selling Lewis Trilogy, The Black House, almost went unpublished.
Speaking to a large audience in the Aros Centre, Peter said: "My agent sent it to various publishing houses in London, and every single one of them rejected 'The Black House.' I was devastated, as I was sure it was the best thing I had written at the time. However, I virtually forgot all about it until a chance conversation with my French publisher. She said she'd love to read it and six weeks later she called and said she loved it! I was so delighted that someone finally liked the book. It was translated into French and became a huge success. My publisher sold it all round Europe and, finally, the Brits bought it!"
After finishing the last book in the Lewis Trilogy, Peter revealed he had received many requests to return to the Isle of Lewis in future books. He even had a vision for the opening of a book set on Luskentyre Beach. A man would be washed up on the pure sands, with no idea of who he was or how he got there. But, Peter remarked, that vision was not a story in itself. It needed something more.
Writer for The Skye Magazine, Katie Macleod - now based in New York and author of storiesmysuitcasecouldtell.com - interviews musician and composer Freeland Barbour before his visit to the Skye Book Festival on September 1.
“I always wanted to play,” says Freeland Barbour of his introduction to Scottish music. “Though I had piano lessons from age five to about 14, it was the accordion that took my fancy, goodness knows why. Maybe I liked its dissonance!”
The hugely successful multi-instrumentalist – who has founded two cèilidh bands, been a member of four, held the role of music producer with BBC Radio Scotland, and was the first accordion tutor on the traditional music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – will be at the Skye Book Festival on September 1st to discuss his latest project, The Music and the Land.
“The books are huge!” says Freeland of the two-volume work, published by Birlinn, which reaches more than 700 pages. “About 35 years ago I had the idea to link tunes that I had written with photographs of the places that had inspired me to write them.” To do that, he enlisted the help of two photographers, Robin Gillanders from Edinburgh, and Cailean Maclean from Skye, who will be chairing the event at the Aros Centre.
The books are divided into geographical chapters, with introductions from well-known figures in the Scottish music world, including the likes of Dougie Maclean, Phil Cunningham, and Runrig’s Calum Macdonald. “I feel so lucky to have so many talented folk make a contribution to my efforts,” says Freeland.
In Scotland, the music and the land are inextricably linked – a link alluded to in the work’s title. As Freeland explains, “Traditional or folk music generally relates to the topography that it has sprung from, and because Scotland has such a varied landscape, we have quite a large range of style relating to these various landscapes.”
In fact, it was the view from Glen Fincastle of the hills above Blair Atholl, on a clear summer’s evening, that inspired the initial idea that became The Music and the Land. “I wrote a melody, and thought it would be good to have a picture of the scene as well, for those who would not be familiar with it.” With that, the motion for the books was set in place.
For the photography in the books, Freeland said he “was keen that we showed aspects of the countryside that perhaps don’t make it onto calendars and postcards, and I’m pleased with the results… I knew Cailean would straight away understand the link I was trying to reinforce, and of course he did. I armed him with a list of possible places and people, and what he came back with is, I think, stunning.”
“I think it’s fantastic that Skye has its own book festival,” continues Freeland. “It’s terrific to see cultural variety all over the land, and book festivals have a big part to play.” At the Skye Book Festival, Cailean, whose photographs will be on show during the session, will be joining Freeland in discussion. And as Freeland reveals, “I’ll play a tune or two as well, and there’ll be a few reminisces I’m sure, and one or two faintly humorous tales perhaps!”
A photograph of Wentworth Street, Portree, by Margaret Fay Shaw…the few cars that there were there, each took up so much less room!
Report by Roz Skinner
In 1929, a young American woman named Margaret Fay Shaw relocated to
South Uist to nurse her disappointed hopes. Her dream of becoming a
concert pianist had been crushed due to arthritis and she was
returning to the only place she had ever felt truly happy.
Her love of the Gaelic language blossomed as she shared a croft house
with locals, Peigi and Mairi Macrae. Wonderstruck with the culture
and the landscape, she took to documenting her surroundings with her
Her skills threw her into the path of John Lorne Campbell, who was
writing a book with Compton Mackenzie of Whisky Galore fame. Margaret
agreed to supply photographs for the book, marking the beginning of a
lifelong collaboration between the couple. They were married in 1935,
and Margaret always reminded John that he never actually paid her for
the use of her photographs that resulted in their meeting!
Both cherished a deep love of Gaelic culture, particularly when that
culture was expressed through music. This resulted in a lifetime's
worth of photographs, sound recordings and film collections.
Their story will be retold during The Skye Book Festival. The show,
entitled Campbells of Canna In Words And Music, begins with Hugh
Cheape, John's executor, talking about John's early life. Author, Ray
Perman, will then discuss John and Margaret's life together and their
preservation of a vanishing culture. The third stage will see singer
and archivist, Fiona Mackenzie, reveal a beautiful picture of the
couple's life and work. As well as bringing the songs to life on
stage, Fiona will also be showing excerpts of Margaret's films and
Fiona currently works as an archivist at Canna House, on the Isle of
Canna where Margaret and John spent 40 years of their life before
gifting the island to the National Trust for Scotland. She explains
why their life-long passion for preserving culture is so valuable,
saying: “Margaret and John collected a disappearing lifestyle, taping
songs and stories, taking over 6,000 photographs and making films.
John made over 1,500 recordings. Together, they created incredible
jigsaw pieces of Scottish life that you won't find anywhere else.
Putting the pieces of their collection together gives us a picture of
a long-gone lifestyle that we can show to future generations.”
One of the films currently stored at Canna House shows Margaret's
dream finally coming true. After moving to Barra with John, she used
the money from wedding presents to purchase a Steinway piano from
Glasgow. The film shows the piano arriving at their tiny house in
1935 and being manhandled up the stairs.
The collection makes accessible a world that was lost – a world where
sheep were driven through the middle of Portree on the way to the
mart – preserved in Margaret's photographs from Skye, the
Uists, Barra and Canna. The rich and fascinating collection is stored
at Canna House, currently in the throes of renovation. Fiona says:
“We still accommodate requests for information and people can still
visit the gardens. I'm very keen during the summer to have the door
open and people can hear the music or archive recordings wafting out
into the garden. I want them to feel the house is alive and has music
in it. I will also be singing at various events, reminding people of
the worth and potential that is here in Canna House. I'm very much
looking forward to the show in Portree. It's a beautiful story. You
get a feel for the tale of two slightly eccentric characters and how
their lives intertwined and together they achieved something they
probably couldn't have done on their own.”
The story of this ground-breaking couple will be brought to life at
the Aros Centre on Thursday September 1 at 8:30pm.
Writer for The Skye Magazine, Katie Macleod - now based in New York and author of storiesmysuitcasecouldtell.com - interviews author and cook Fiona Bird before her visit to the Skye Book Festival on September 3.
“Foraging is about using your senses,” explains Fiona Bird, the author and cook who lives in South Uist and will be speaking at the Skye Book Festival at the Aros Centre next month. “Once you’ve got your eye in, you’ll see wild food everywhere.”
For Fiona, a BBC Masterchef finalist, it will be her first time at the Skye Book Festival, now in its fifth year. She’s “looking forward to an island hop without a long drive”, and will be headlining two events on September 3rd: The Forager’s Kitchen, based on her 2013 cookbook of the same name; and a workshop for children drawn from her most recent book, Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside, released in April of this year.
Foraging may be the latest trend in the food world, but Fiona has been an enthusiast for years, as her book – and kitchen habits - show. “My paternal Granny was a pretty keen forager. One of my earliest childhood memories is of identifying wild flowers with a good whiff of honeysuckle thrown in,” she remembers.
“My Masterchef final recipe used ingredients that deer (venison) might have grazed upon. I cook like this. Ingredients growing in close proximity often work well together. I am not however, a hard core forager. I don’t put a myriad of wildness on a plate just to prove a foraging point. It’s about taste and scent and often this is minimal.”
Fiona’s foraging exploits expanded when she moved from Angus to South Uist in 2012, when her husband took up the GP post on the island. “I started foraging seaweed because trees and hedgerows are lacking in the Uists,” she explains, although she adds that the ditches are more fruitful.
It’s something children can get involved with too, as her children’s book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside aims to show. At the festival, a hands-on workshop will include the likes of outdoor craft making, seashore discovering, and even a wild tea party at the end of it all – all pursuits that Fiona and her own children were familiar with growing up. In fact, many of the activities and rhymes in the book came from Fiona’s own childhood; she describes it as a “privilege” to have been able to document her memories.
“Our younger trio… had a more relaxed upbringing, not quite feral but I no longer saw the need to rush to the wackier after school activities such as Kumon Maths,” says Fiona of the youngest of her six children. “Some of the second trio are rather good chanterelle hunters. From an early age they were seeking gold mushroom treasure in beech woods and ditches. They soon knew where to peep under moss and bracken – a wild treasure hunt.”
“The book contains a little about toxic berries (and fungi) and the dangers of being out and about in the countryside. Parents may want to protect their children but a child needs to learn about the realities of wildness, as well as treasuring bramble-stained memories.”
There will be plenty for her audience to treasure at the Skye Book Festival on Saturday September 3rd. “The audience makes an event, and with my foraging hat on, local folk always know more than I do,” says Fiona. “It’s a shared learning experience.”