Part of our North-East Culture Initiative, the Elphinstone Sessions are a series of videos highlighting the culture and living traditions of the North-East of Scotland. The region is home to an exceptional heritage of language, music, ballad and song, story, craft, history, and lore, which exists alongside the dynamic creativity of those who live and work here today.

Our first Elphinstone Session is of Sheena Blackhall reading her poem 'Allt Darrarie'. Sheena Blackhall is a multi-award-winning writer, North-East Makar, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Elphinstone Institute. 

Discussing the inspiration behind the poem, Sheena says:

Fin we bedd in Ballater ower the simmer months, faither either drave us up Glen Muick or Glen Gairn on a Sabbath. He'd a great belief in the health giein properties o Glen air... hence haein tae drink roostie tastin Pannanich spa watter richt aff the knowe...

Onywye, aside the Glen Muick parkin airt is the Allt Darrarie, burn o the stunnin/rattlin noise... The watter skinklit like Amber Cairngorms, or Deeside hinney. A favourite faimly picnic place fur paiddlin, dookin, an guddlin fur bandies.

Elphinstone Sessions

Sheena Blackhall reads her poem 'Allt Darrarie'.

Poems

Mae Diansangu-"Puddock Spittins"

Mae Diansangu - Spoken word artist & performer Genderqueer poet/performer armed with a ukulele and black feminist rage. Co-founder of Hysteria, a monthly women and non-binary performance night in Aberdeen.

'Fa We Are' by Jo Gilbert

North-East poet and writer, Jo Gilbert, shares her poem, 'Fa We Are', which was commissioned by the Across the Grain festival in 2018. Jo describes the poem as her 'personal love letter to the North-East'. 

'Fa Wid A Thocht' by Elizabeth Chrystall

This video features poet, Elizabeth Chrystall, who reads her own poem, 'Fa Wid A Thocht', a poem written especially for the day. She said, 'I’ve done the Doric part of IMLD for several years now. I started off singing Doric songs but it was always difficult getting someone to accompany me to keep me in tune so I started writing my own Doric poems...This one came about as we had been reminiscing at home about all the changes we’d seen in our lifetime.'

Foodways

Inese Robertson Makes Her Family Stew

As part of our Home - Hame - Дом – Dom project celebration events in December 2020, we asked people to share their foodways with us. In this video, Inese Robertson shows us how to make her family stew. Inese said,"This recipe usually we make at Autumn or Winter time, hearty food. It can be eaten cold or hot. It is my mum's recipe. She was putting everything together what was left in home. It's reminds me about home and memories of Latvia. I love that dish because it's so easy and fast made, even my husband loves it. I changed it little bit, because I put more seasoning than my mum or use vegetable stock."

Lee Sopel Makes Butteries

As part of our Home - Hame - Дом – Dom project celebration events in December 2020, we asked people to share their foodways with us. In this video Lee Sopel shows us how to make Butteries (sometimes called Rowies or Morning Rolls), a favourite baked-good in the North-East of Scotland. They contain lots of salt and fat and were created for fishermen taking long trips to sea. Lee said,"Recipe; a recipe I got off the internet in lockdown. May 2020 I learned. And I taught myself! Practise makes perfect. I don't bake at my work I just I'm a shop assistant. I bake in my spare time. I normally eat one for breakfast and anytime of the day there nice anytime. I like them plain..or if I need too jam! Thick raspberry jam! Its always a buttery to me no rowies."

Song

Stanley Robertson "Busk Busk Bonnie Lassie"

Stanley was one of Scotland's most important cultural figures. A Traveller man from Aberdeen, he was renowned across the world for his depth of knowledge on Scottish Traveller traditions and his fantastic storytelling and singing abilities. He was well known too as an educator. He was comfortable in both community settings, leading workshops for local organisations, and lecturing at major institutions such as Harvard University. He was a celebrated performer who appeared at festivals all over the world, inspiring countless storytellers and singers in the process.