West end woman hits the Far North


Timespan’s artist in residence Anthony Schrag at The Emigrants statue in Helmsdale

This morning, instead of Avenue G on Byres Road, I had my coffee and Highland toffee in the sunshine on the banks of the River Helmsdale in Timespan’s River Cafe. I’m back in God’s own county for the Translocation Festival which runs until 17 August, with a constellation of events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of The Kildonan Clearances.

It was fitting that the festival began at RNLI Helmsdale Harbour Day on Saturday, a place from where many of the displaced people from the Strath of Kildonan set sail. Visit www.timespan.org for full account; better still, visit in person and come up for the festival

Yesterday at Bunillidh Church, I attended the Bicentenary Service (where I made my bridesmaid debut at my cousin Marie’s wedding in the early 1960s). It was a moving occasion, particularly when a member of the congregation recited the words of I mourn for The Highlands and we  followed a Presenter singing an unaccompanied  Psalm.

Today, Timespan is buzzing with children visiting the virtual village, Linda serving up fresh lemon cake, and the preparations for tonight’s screening of The Silver Darlings, the film based on Neil Gunn’s classic novel which was set in Helmsdale.

As I write, artist Anthony Schrag is preparing tomorrow’s lunchtime lecture (12 noon at Timespan) on Shinty. This will be followed up a Locals v Canada Shinty Match on Friday 9 August at 5pm.

At the next table is North American author Ellie Gunn celebrating her birthday with a mug of coffee while preparing a writers’ workshop which she’s running at Timespan on Thursday 8 August (10am-12noon). Ellie lives in Oregon but can trace her Gunn ancestors to Latheron and has published a novel, One Handful of Earth set in Kildonan during the Clearances. www.elliegunn.com or email elliegunn@mail. Also available on Amazon.

For full programme visit www.timespan.org.uk/bicentenary-programme.org.uk




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