Open Mic at SEALL’s An Crùbh

   My weather report for Friday, March 16, promises sunny skies in your eyes and balmy warmth in your heart for the coming spring. With clear roads to literary expression, all you need to do is get yourself ready with a bit of poetry or verse to read and head to the Sleat Peninsula for the Reading Room’s Open Mic, starting at 7:00 p.m.
   Our own Francis Mitchell has connected with SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes, to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook and selection of beguiling dishes, desserts and beverages for purchase. Bring your appetites and enthusiasm.

    Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. Duncan has requested that readers book their 5-minute slot if possible, via the Seall website The Reading Room 16th March.

   If your inclination runs to sitting on the sidelines, we have that too. Please join us for some wonderful entertainment from our talented participants. There is no entry fee for this event.

  An Crùbh, Duisdale, is on the A851, on the right, about half a mile after passing the Isleornsay turn-off.
   Please direct questions for the Reading Room to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

 

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Writers are winners

The Skye & Raasay Schools’ Gaelic and English writing competition, organised by the Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh), as part of Book Week Scotland 2017, proved to be a resounding success. Over 60 entries on the theme of ‘Nourish’ were shortlisted and put before a panel of experienced judges, which included four retired Head teachers and three distinguished Gaelic speakers

The objective of the Writing Competition was to encourage children and young people of all abilities to write, and to reward both the best and those who had made great progress in their writing.

The quality of the winning entries was exceptional. The young authors explored the theme of Nourish in diverse ways: feeding the heart, the spirit and the mind, as well as the body. Some entries were humorous and others were descriptive or sensitive. The judges enjoyed a feast of good writing from all age groups.

The Reading Room is grateful for the substantial prizes donated by:

        • Alexander McCall Smith
        • Ian Rankin
        • Gilleasbuig Ferguson
        • Chris Watkiss
        • Alasdair Galbraith
        • the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company
        • Cafesia
        • Sabhal Mor Ostaig
        • Urras an Eilein
        • Glasgow Skye Association
        • the Highland Council
        • the Highland Society of London

     

    Many thanks are due also to all the pupils who took part, their teachers, the panel of judges and last but certainly not least a huge thank you to Ann Galbraith for all the time and energy she devoted to this project – a great achievement indeed.

CANCELLED: Open Mic to be Hosted at An Crùbh in Sleat

DUE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL ON SLEAT PENINSULA, OPEN MIC HAS BEEN CANCELLED, TO OUR REGRET. THANKS FOR BEING HERE–RE-SCHEDULED ASAP!!
(This month’s Reading Room meets on Friday, January 19, 7:00 p.m., at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.)
~
  It’s dark outside the meagre, oval window next to my face. Below me, I’ve been watching North America switch on its evening lights, but now, as we near Greenland, no twinkles beckon in the darkness so I turn my mind to the Hebrides as the airline pilot heads toward the Continent. As Skye is denied to me for the present, those who live on the isle seem even more fortunate, and Reading Room gatherings appear with a misty golden aura around them.
   Our recent venture into open-mic-land satisfies my yearning for a platform that supports established writers and those whose writing voices have been silent but ferociously or tentatively scribbling…the latter compositions perhaps crafted on bleak days of winter, jotted down in spare moments between B&B duties, or conceived during walks on windy shores or drives for the monthly Inverness shopping spree. 
    Whence comes inspiration for the experienced and the neophyte, alike? And the passion that drives the need to write–why must we do this? Why, also, are we compelled to read what others write?
   Why would anyone miss the chance to share the essential stream of creativity that flows through our gifted people? The yield from one’s work is always a gift. Francis Mitchell is the perfect host for our Open Mic, because I believe he honors each artist who stands before our audience, and which one of us of us can’t use a champion at our back?
     As my aircraft nears the tip of Iceland, I envision my image of Skye as the rampant lion with its clawed peninsulas pawing and Trotternish roaring its lion head, and I think, “Roar, all of you wild folk down there, pick up that bright little poem you just worked out, that lovely musing verse that arose with the first spark in your morning stove, and get out there and read.”
   More to my point, read at this month’s joyful occasion when the Reading Room is connecting with SEALL (thanks to Francis and SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes) to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook (scrumptious dishes and desserts and beverages are available for purchase). SEALL organizers say, “Our ambition at the outset was to put Skye firmly on the map as an arts and cultural destination and to celebrate the wealth of home-grown talent in the area.” What a jolly plan to get the two organizations together and hopefully concoct more occasions.
   Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. If you shy from expressing yourself in the spotlight or don’t even jot down those important but unappreciated stories and poems that pop out of the heather or kettle, come along to brighten the event and enjoy the good cheer and maybe weep a tear. Duncan has requested that readers book a slot  (via the Seall website and if possible): http://www.seall.co.uk/events/the-reading-room-19-jan/
   There is no entry fee for this event.
  Please direct questions for the Reading Room to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

looking forward to 2018

A quick preview of the next few events planned for the Reading Room – suggestions welcome for future dates/events etc

7pm Friday 19th January 2018 – an Open Mic evening at  An Crùbh, Duisdale – organised in conjunction with SEALL –  all welcome. More here

7.30pm Tuesday 27th February 2018 –  an evening with crime writer Alex Gray Edinbane Community Hall.

7.30 Tuesday 27th March 2018 –  another evening event at Edinbane Community Hall awaiting final confirmation – watch this space

Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay

Please join the Reading Room at 10-trig-pointEdinbane Community Hall for an illustrated talk by the authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay, on Tuesday, September 27.

Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie have written what readers dub ‘a cracking little book’ and ‘simply the best’. The comprehensive walking guide is a wee, pocket-sized gem that includes 56 walks to the best viewpoints on the islands of Skye and Raasay; 26 are ‘family-friendly’.

Keen walkers love to tick off the walks as they follow the routes that have been described with passion by the authors. With the well-drawn writing and photos, Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay has become a classic for Skye and Raasay walkers and is delightful for arm-chair trekkers.

The authors will have plenty of island tales to tell and no doubt you’ll be able to share your favorite trig point stories with them. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Admission is free for members; £5 at the door for non-members.

Ian and Alistair will be signing books and be sure to check out our little cache of good reads. The Reading Room’s Volume 2 of our ‘Words from an Island’ Anthology Series, A Stillness of Mind, is also available for £8.5.

If you would like to make an evening of it, feel free to join some of us around 6:00 dinner at Edinbane Inn. Reservations are needed, unless you do first come, first served in the pub.

 

For information, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us at The Reading Room – Skye on Facebook.

 

 

Claire Macdonald to Tell All – we hope!

If you have ever been within the energy field of Lady Claire Macdonald, her stories about her life at Kinloch Lodge won’t surprise you. Neither will the fact that she is the author of almost twenty best-selling cookery books, including Seasonal Cooking, The Harrods Book of Entertaining, The Claire Macdonald Cookbook and Entertaining Solo.ClaireMacDonald

In 2012, Birlinn published her autobiography, Lifting the Lid, and in 2014, the paperback was released. The famous, self-taught cook and writer will be sharing stories from her book at the June meeting of the Reading Room.

In Lifting the Lid, Claire looks back over four eventful decades to tell the story of how she, her husband, clan chief Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald, and their family built up Kinloch House Lodge, from insignificant beginnings in a remote but spectacularly beautiful corner of Skye, to the great culinary institution it is today. Full of anecdLifting the Lid3otes and humour, it also reveals how hard it was to achieve their dream.

Cited as one of the world’s top 25 small hotels in Conde Nast Traveller magazine, Kinloch’s restaurant is one of only 16 restaurants in Scotland to have been awarded a coveted Michelin star in 2011.

Claire Macdonald is one of the best known figures in the culinary world today. A hugely successful and critically acclaimed cookery writer for over thirty years, she has garnered numerous awards and has appeared regularly on TV and at cookery demonstrations and courses all over the globe.

She is also Patron of Scottish Food Fortnight and The Association of Scottish Farmers’ Markets. In recognition of her contribution to Scottish food, Claire was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

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Kinloch House Lodge

Lady Claire was awarded the OBE in the 2014 New Years Honours List for her services to the hospitality industry and for her services to charity in Scotland, most notably for her work with Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Claire Macdonald is a vibrant presence and a captivating speaker, and we are feeling quite privileged to have her spend the evening with us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, June 28. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., and everyone is invited. Members are free; non-members £3.

Refreshments will be served. Great deals will be found in our book corner and you can pick up our latest Anthology, ‘A Stillness of Mind’, for £8.50. Memberships are always available. For further information, email to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk, or message us on Facebook.

 

 

Author Michael F. Russell to Appear at Reading Room

At last, a writer who isn’t up with the Willow Warblers – or at least, admits he isn’t. Great news for us slackers who always have been given the impression that 6 a.m. coffee was the prerequisite to successful production.MichaelFRussellPhoto

Michael F. Russell, author of Lie of the Land, has given us a novel that questions how far the state will go to preserve an orderly society and examines an Armageddon in which human technology plays a central role. The Reading Room is happy to welcome him as our guest reader on Tuesday, April 19.

It’s always useful to go to the person on the street to see how a product really performs, so I went to Amazon reviewers, all of whom were happy with their book purchase. One wrote, ‘The backdrop of a controlling state, universal lack of privacy and technological advances being used against the population all add to the sense of dread, which contrasted well with some of the richly descriptive passages about the Highland landscape. There are a couple of story strands in particular which were very effective and left me feeling uneasy. We might all like to think we’d behave honourably in difficult times, but would we?’

Michael Russell Lie of the LandAnother person said he bought this book on something of a whim from a bookshop in Portree, whilst holidaying on the West coast of Scotland, and hasn’t regretted it. ‘It’s something more than your standard post-apocalyptic fayre, largely because the author concentrates more on characterisation (particularly the lead, Carl) than on technicalities (though there’s enough of that for the plot to be believable). Altogether, a well-constructed book that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in sci-fi.’

Other readers expressed similar positive reactions:

‘I would not call it anything like ‘terrifying’ as other commentators have, but more an imaginative exploration about what happens when society breaks down.’

‘Loved the atmosphere, great story. What a great book, you can hear the silence as you read, the tension is heavy, like a storm building, slowly.’ 

‘What I liked about this, was the descriptive writing, you get pulled into the book, as if you are walking with the characters. It would make one hell of a TV show.’

The Scotsman’s reviewer, Stuart Kelly, observed that one of the most persistent complaints visitors (and residents) make about contemporary Scotland is the patchy mobile phone coverage. He wrote, ‘This serves as the novel’s clever, twisted conceit…Russell’s premise is similar to Stephen King’s in Under the Dome, but, I have to say, he does a better job with the conceit. While King, as usual, fluffs the ending (childish aliens did it!), Russell manages to give a coherent reason for the predicament, build to a closure without it becoming a black and white shoot-out, and suggest that the story of (the main characters) may not be over.’

Kelly added, ‘Despite the horrors that slowly, slyly emerge, there are also passages of genuine beauty.’ Russell impressed the reviewer by avoiding the ‘cosy catastrophe’ trap, and Kelly finishes with the comment, ‘It is as cosy as a handful of gorse raked across your back. It announces a talent to be followed closely.’

Michael F. Russell is deputy editor at the West Highland Free Press and writes occasionally for the Sunday Herald. His writing has appeared in Gutter, Northwords Now and Fractured West.  Lie of the Land was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award in November 2015. He lives on Skye with his partner and two children.

The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the 2016 AGM, at Tigh na Sgire, in Portree, next to the Community Hall.

Mr. Russell will appear from 8:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us for the evening. Entry for Michael F. Russell is £3, non-members; members are free.

Refreshments will be available. We also have some good reads for sale in our book corner and copies of our second anthology, A Stillness of Mind, are available for £8.50. See you there.