Monday, January 20, 2020
The skye times mobile

Pick up a book from Sollas Bookbinding and you hold in your hands a complete original.   Owner, Corinna Krause, not only binds every book herself, she also creates her own unique paper for each cover.

"I developed my own way of making decorative papers by adapting wax paper-making to suit what I need for my covers," she reveals. The result is that no two papers are ever the same! 

Corinna describes her technique, saying: "It starts off with a plain sugar paper, to which I add layers of ink and wax.  At the end, I iron out the wax and end up with a paper that has really warm and vibrant colours.  It is sturdy and tactile at the same time - people just love the feel of it."   Corinna's work will be showcased at the Aros Centre in Portree, where she is involved in The Skye Book Festival on the 4th and 5th of September.

"I am doing two separate workshops, but they work together as a series if people want to attend both," explains Corinna.  "The first workshop will show how to make a hand-sewn notebook using a very simple sewing technique.  People will be able to leave the workshop with a memorable but simple way of creating their own books."

The second day workshop will feature the oldest form of bookbinding - coptic binding.  "The beauty of this technique is that the books lie perfectly flat, so it's a brilliant structure for artists or writers," Corinna says.  

The Skye Book Festival 2015 saw the launch of a new book entitled A’ Ghàidhlig air Aghaidh na Tìre: Ainmean-Àite an t-Sratha An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (Gaelic In The Landscape: Place-names of Strath, Isle of Skye).
Strath is one of the seven parishes in Skye and extends from Kyleakin and includes Broadford, Elgol and the islands of Scalpay, Pabay and Longay.  Over 100 lesser known place-names from this area have been gathered and recorded in the book.  Dr Jacob King, who co-authored the bilingual booklet with Eilidh Scammell, hopes that the book will be a source of reference for years to come.
Both Jacob and Eilidh work for Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba, the national advisory partnership that researches and determines authoritative forms of Gaelic place-names across Scotland.  This particular project has been coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage, which is charged with protecting Scotland's nature and landscapes for people to enjoy.
Robyn Ireland, SNH's Gaelic officer, stated: “Gaelic focuses on the link between the people and the landscape.  Launching this book celebrates that link and is a great achievement.”
The process of writing the book involved finding local, knowledgeable informants and recording their opinions and memories.  Wells are particularly prone to being forgotten, and a section of the book is devoted to recording the names of wells.  Other chapters discuss coasts, rivers and lochs, hills, skerries and stones, as well as man-made areas.
The booklet is available online as a free download.
Even a brief glance at the book reveals that painstaking attention to detail has gone into it, from establishing the correct names, to memorialising the stories behind the names.  The Gaelic and English text means it will be of use for many years to come. Glè mhath!

How do you remember going to school?  By bus?  Maybe you walked, carrying heavy books?  Perhaps you enjoyed riding there on your bicycle?

Few people can say they have taken the route that Portree-raised Ian George MacDonald used.  Speaking at The Skye Book Festival, he told the audience:  "I was in Primary Two and I decided one day to cross the river hand-over-hand on a rope!  That took me into what is now the car park in Bayfield, but that time, it was a very wet, muddy jungle.  I can still feel the pain of the experience!"

Ian George, commonly known as I.G., was dipping into the past as he discussed his latest book, Memories Of A Portree Kid.  I.G. said: "I wanted to write a book for my grandchildren, so that they could know what Portree was like when I was growing up."

Chairman, Alister Ross, remarked that the book will “remind you of things you thought you had forgotten.” In it, I.G. takes his readers on a reminiscent journey through various aspects of Portree living – including school days, shopping, sports, attending church and crofting history.

There was a sense of nostalgia as I.G. talked about his childhood, and especially when he screened photographs of bygone Portree. However, listeners were left with the positive conclusion that the past has not been forgotten.  It can be visited in I.G.'s book, where you can share his memories and relive your own.

Starting on Thursday September 3rd and running until Saturday 5th,  the 2015 Skye Book Festival brings another series of events presenting chapters in the lives of internationally famous authors alongside local writers, artists and story-tellers.
This year’s Festival welcomes Val McDermid who is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Val will talk about her latest book Splinter The Silence her most gripping, chilling, suspenseful novel yet, featuring two of the most distinctive and unforgettable characters in crime fiction: Tony Hill and Carol Jordan.
Further murder (of the fishy kind) follows, as depicted by Donald S. Murray at his Herring Tales book launch - the story that was of central importance to the lives of our ancestors, noting how both it - and those involved in their capture – were celebrated in the art, literature, craft, music and folklore of life in northern Europe. He will be joined by the fantastic illustrator Douglas Roberston who, as a visual artist, has worked on a number of Donald’s books.
Ian G Macdonald will also launch his new book Memories of a Portree Kid which looks at village life from a by-gone period whilst DJ MacLennan examines the future with his new book Frozen to Life: A Personal Mortality Experiment.
A further new title launched at the Festival will be Gaelic in the Landscape: Place-names of  the Isle of Skye. Eilidh Scammell and Dr Jacob King have worked with local people to record many of these place-names that might otherwise have been lost – the presentation will be given by Robyn Ireland SNH’s Gaelic Officer.
Award-winning children’s author Theresa Breslin has collected the best-loved tales from all over Scotland in her book An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures.  Retelling each in its own individual style, she presents funny tales, moving tales and enchanting fairy tales. Each story is brought to life with exquisite illustrations by Scottish fine artist Kate Leiper. And, Anne McAlpine  will share her exciting new children’s book The Silver Locket to the children of Staffin and Kilmuir Primary Schools.
Michael Russell will introduce his captivating debut novel, Lie of the Land, set in a post-apocalyptic near-future Scotland, predominantly in the fictional Highland coastal village of Inverlair. And, Rody Gorman presents his latest work, Sweeney: An Intertonguing which is based on the medieval Gaelic romance The Frenzy of Sweeney. It consists of a multiform, multilingual and polysemantic series of poems, songs and prose passages in Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and English.
Add to the programme the annual PBFA Antiquarian Book Festival, Poetry Readings, Book-binding Workshops and a Poetry Walk around Portree and the three days of the Festival seem just too short a time.
But to finish off, on the Saturday evening The Highland Voyage of Para Handy and the puffer crew comes to life again commemorating a voyage from Glasgow to Skye. What results is a comedic tongue-in-ear romp by three troubadours of this cross-culture: Iain MacLeod, Russell Hunter and Allan MacDonald, who add their own diverse musical talents to put the icing on the black pudding. So, it’s anchors a-weigh for a musical cruise aboard the good ship Vital Spark, Neil Munro’s iconic Clyde puffer. A fitting climax to another exciting Skye Book Festival.
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Gilleasbuig Ferguson, who specialises in selling antiquarian books, has another talent – swimming!

When he leaves The Skye Book Festival, where he has been exhibiting his rare and collectible books, he will be swimming from Kyleakin to Kyle. “I'm so glad it's warmer today!” he grins.

Perhaps the swim will help him relax after an intensive three-day festival, where visitors were able to enjoy viewing his collection of rare books, many of which are so rare that they cannot be obtained online.

Gilleasbuig has always been interested in antiquarian books, saying: “I love the way they are made, the historical value and the publishing history of the authors. That's all something I'm very interested in.”

Most of what Gilleasbuig sells is non-fiction, as that is his particular field of interest – however, a notable novel for sale is a first-edition of Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me..

Gilleasbuig became involved in The Skye Book Festival after he heard about it from the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association and he has very much enjoyed being present.

The 2015 festival has been a most exciting event, encouraging visitors to embrace their inner bookworm, celebrate the Gaelic culture and enhance their appreciation for rare books.

To see more of Gilleasbuig's stock, you can visit him at Tigh na Mara, Skeabost Bridge, Isle of Skye or view his website at

How did three men, using only accordion, pipes, mandolin, piano and inventive percussion, manage to make their audience feel like they were on board Para Handy's puffer, The Vital Spark?

That is exactly what Allan MacDonald, Iain MacLeod and Russell Hunter (A.K.A. The Crew Of The Puffer) were able to achieve in "Para Handy: A Highland Voyage" - the final event in the Skye Book Festival, held at the Aros Centre.

Originally featured in Neil Munro's short stories, Para Handy was the captain of The Vital Spark - a steamboat that delivered essential supplies around the west coast and Hebridean islands. Allan, Iain and Russell were bringing a musical touch to the stories as they took their listeners on a journey, starting from Glasgow to running aground on the Isle of Skye, and finally to The Grand Ceilidh at Dunoon.

Allan, Iain and Russell put great energy into their performance. Their foot-tapping songs were irresistible, with the audience happily chanting the choruses. If you closed your eyes, you could easily believe you were on The Vital Spark, as the sound of the engine was brilliantly mimicked by the men.

Displayed as a backdrop was an evocative picture of a puffer, dwarfed by the dramatic Scottish scenery. That, and the talents of Allan, Iain and Russell, made the audience feel as if they were just watching three friends playing music and having fun on calmer waters as their puffer carried them home.

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