‘Arran Dawn’ and Whistlebinkies

As part of the “Learning New Tricks” programme at Glen Estate we had a concert this afternoon by ‘Arran Dawn’ aka Heather MacLeod on harp and Stuart Farrar on recorders and small pipes. We also had some amazing baking by Ann Dandy who used to be housekeeper to Lady Jean on Arran. Her millionaire’s shortbread was the baking equivalent of Arran Dawn’s music. Magical.

We got to talking about Mick Broderick who was a weel kent (well known) figure in Scottish folk music along with his wife Irene. They lived in Whiting Bay so we were privileged to hear them play and sing on many occasion.

Mick played and sang with the band Whistlebinkies who toured the world representing Scottish folk music. On one occasion Mick asked me if I would knit him a Blue Bunnit to wear on tour to China. When they came back, he told me he had much trouble keeping the Bunnit on his head because people kept trying to steal it for a souvenir. He asked me to make a few more to have available with their CD’s so he could hang on to his own. On one of their album covers is Mick proudly wearing his Bunnit.

Layers of memory happened in those few minutes this afternoon. The present moment with Stuart and Heather’s wonderful music, memories of the wonderful folk scene on the island with musicians like Mick.

This has inspired me to add the history sheet and the 1980 pattern for the Blue Bunnit on to my website http://www.lynngrayross.co.uk. If you check in a few days it should be there when I gather the information fragments and bring them all together. Watch this space.


Mick Broderick donning the Blue Bunnit before a concert


“Whistlebinkies” with Mick Broderick and his Blue Bunnit from Silverbirch Spinning and Weaving Workshop




grey seal portrait - shutterstock

Today a surprise visit from friends Norman and Althea brought back memories of the time they used live in Whiting Bay and the astonishing fact that it is 20 years since they left and moved back to Morayshire. We’ve kept in touch and thankfully exchanged visits when I was able to visit Findhorn a few times and a wonderful trip to Pluscarden Abbey, still a working monastery. Plus the bonus of driving up to Lochranza, catching the Claonaig ferry and then driving via Oban up the Great Glen, stopping off at Fort Augustus to watch the boats manouevering the locks on the Caledonian Canal and arriving to a welcome at Roseisle where our friends live now.

Today was about reliving those times and choosing our favourite Whiting Bay memory. When our kids Jenny, Kirsty and Simon were pupils at Whiting Bay School, Althea and I were both at work and child minding was an issue. Many thanks are due to Kate at the Coffee Pot, just where the school bus stopped. The kids arrived there fifteen minutes before their harassed parents and were served carrot cake while they waited for their Mums, who were then served carrot cake and cappuchinos and an afterschool tradition was born.

The Coffee Pot is still in the same place,  and though all the rest of us have moved away from that neighbourhood, those times live on in our memories, especially Kate’s Carrot Cake.

Daughter and family are in Copenhagen this week, bringing another layer of memory for me as Copenhagen was the stopover place in the years I was travelling between Stockholm and Kilmarnock. Some of my best friends were Danish and I remember especially the day I left Sweden after finishing my oral exams for my Masters (I passed), going down on the train on my way to teach English in summer school in St. Helier in the Channel Islands. My friends met me off the train with tickets to hear Wilhelm Kempf playing Beethoven in the summer night at Tivoli Gardens, followed by a trip to a jazz cafe and dancing until the wee small hours. Great!

I’m so grateful for memories and the friends who shared them, especially when we can get together now, reminisce and create new ones – like eating crab rolls at the Wineport and seeing grey seals on the rocks on the way to Sannox Beach.

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