Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Monday, 31 January 2011

A 'Deer' Old Time....

It was a case of a mad dash round the farm house, flinging PJs into an overnight bag and dishing out instructions, as the younger family members grabbed a quick bite, before quickly changing from school uniforms into the appropriate attire for a Burn’s supper. Finally all loaded into the jeep; we hurtled off down the brae to catch the last ferry across the Sound to the Isle of Jura, grabbing our resident American whisky journalist along the way.

The ferry berthed under the glare of an orange spot light, into the tiny deserted port of Feolin, and we were transported into another world. As we began to make our way along the meandering single track road, enveloped in complete darkness, we were confronted with some twenty deer or so, the car headlights picking out their eyes and the faint silhouettes of the stags’ antlers. It gradually became a case of dodge the deer, as at various points along the way a hind or a stag would jump out in front of the jeep, as they made their way down off the slopes and onto the beach in search of a healthy bite of seaweed.

We reached Craighouse, jeep still intact thankfully, in spite of a few near misses. Luggage was unpacked into the hotel and then after a swift ‘half’ at the bar we headed for the village hall, a bustling hive of activity. Tables laid, accordion and fiddles playing, and tartan throws adorning a picture of The Bard, Robbie Burns. We were ushered to the top table as the ‘kilted clad’ happy farmer had the honour of ‘toasting the lassies’. Following a welcome from the chairman, the haggis was piped in and duly attacked with a knife, before grace was said and the feast of haggis, neeps and tatties began. I needn’t have worried feeding the younger ones; they happily cleared their bowls of soup and discovered that haggis was quite tasty after all. More words from the chairman followed, and then a recital of the ‘Immortal Memory’, before the happy farmer stood up to do his bit, and so the evening proceeded, a haze of toasts, speeches, piping, singing, and recitations, the ceilidh was in full swing and youngest was completely flaking, happy, but tired. We scooped her up in my coat and the happy farmer gave her a piggy back to the hotel where she was tucked up in bed with a book and some supper.
The happy farmer left us to return to the hall, which was by now in full swing with the ceilidh band playing, tables cleared and partners grabbed for the ‘Gay Gordon’s, the Scottish country dancing began in earnest.

Son arrived back sometime after midnight, daughter, in the wee small hours, but the happy farmer didn’t get in until around 5.00am. I have completely given up on waiting for him to grow up and act his age, I think he is rightly choosing to grow old disgracefully. As one of the points in his speech went, ‘Women are frustrating creatures, the age old question they ask after you have had a night out
‘What time did you get in last night’, your truthful response, ‘the back of midnight’, ‘No it wasn’t, it was 2.33am’…….why did they bother asking the question to begin with?’

A hearty breakfast at the hotel and we were soon home on the farm. The happy farmer was out greeting the animals, stood at their various posts, the highland cows, bellowing away by the fence. The hens, having flown from the coop, were waddling through the field, slipping through the gate, and making a hasty dash towards the farmhouse. The tupps, with their throaty bellows, stood by the troughs. The happy farmer was delighted to see he was most successful in the latest round of his continuing battle with his errant teenager,  Marmite the lawn mower, having barricaded in the damson bushes, ever resourceful with his old tractor and a wooden pallet…

Until next time…..


Pondside said...

This post needed two readings - such a lot going on! It's been years since I was at a proper Burns celebration and I loved the description of yours, which is so much like what we do. The deer on the road could have been here - that's the story any night as we drive up the road. We just hope to catch their eyes with the headlights. In fourteen years I've only hit one - and that one really jumped into me from the side.
Re your Happy Farmer - he sounds like a grand fellow to me - the energy to party all night and then work all day!

mollygolver said...

Posie your blog is an absolute joy to read. The Burns Celebrations sounded wonderful! I have never tried haggis or neepes but I would if the opportunity ever arose. I have known a few deer to mill around on the the back roads, but never twenty! They're a bit unpredictable so I'm glad they didn't jump in front of the land rover. Thank for your comment on my blog - always love hearing from you!

jane said...

Posie what a wonderful celebration - I have never been to a ceilidh -or to a Burns evening - the nearest I have been was to a Scottish evening at Glenshee in Scotland - I love the sound of the pipes - but I have danced the Gay Gordons ! x

Frances said...

Posie, I agree with Pondside, you post was so rich and full of what a Burn's night might be. Many thanks to you for for enriching my knowlege of this event.

I still harbor the notion that some day I might actually attend a Burns night and feel the spirit all around me.

You've kept that wish alive. xo

Posie said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments. Maybe one day you might get up here and come along to a Burn's supper with us!!

Mummy Boo Bear said...

Sounds like an amazing night for you all! Wow your Happy farmer can really party! very impressive.

Loved your account of what sounds like a magical evening. It sounds quite amazing.


bayou said...

I would have loved to join you for that great party, celebration, food and ceilidh! Bless.
Did you get your resident American whisky journalist back to the Island after that?

Posie said...

MBB - It was a magical evening as an island ceilidh has so much atmosphere, in the village hall it is truly something which cannot be recreated anywhere else, and just has to be experienced. The whole community turns out for it and is involved.
Bayou - our journalist came back home with us too, he is passionate about whisky and has been over sampling and discovering the home of the whiskies, he is incredibly knowledgeable about the aromas and flavours, the happy farmer is very impressed!!