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What to Spot: February Edition

February is a time when a lovely spring like day can encourage some flowers and animals to start emerging from their winter routines. Buds start to appear, reptiles come out to enjoy the few rays of sunshine, some flowers start to bloom and the birds start to sing. Already I have seen buds on hazel starting to break, flowers starting to appear on gorse bushes and grey herons flying about getting their nests ready for them to breed! Spring is coming! A few species that are likely to start appearing this month are covered below. It would be great to hear from you about when, and where, you first saw these this year. You may be aware but flowering times are getting earlier each year due to effects of climate change and it would be interesting to see how Coigach and Assynt are changing across the years. So, let’s start with having a look for trees, plants and flowers Gorse flowers – a few little yellow heads are starting to pop up over the mountainsides on these prickly bushes. Often

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An Autumn Portrait

One of our Community Grants Scheme recipients this year was Griogair MacAllein who led story walks across the area throughout last year. Here Griogair shares a seasonally suitable poem:   AN AUTUMN PORTRAIT Griogair MacAllein The forest floor, a canvas wet with dripping raindrops. A child brings 4 twigs – the top, the bottom & 2 sides A frame. Another child forages for leaves, 2 Pine cones, pieces of Birch bark. Granda brings reeds and a feather and the hair of a Rabbit. The children build a face on the forest floor Fenced by the 4 twigs the 2 Pine cones, the pieces of Birch bark, the leaves, the reeds, the feather and the hair of a Rabbit. Those moments in time Meant to be made. Granda watched and smiled. ‘’It’s you Granda. Smiley face!’’ Granda smiled back into the mirror on the forest floor The wind’s bite called them home. Even a dog sniffed and left the portrait untouched. The wind stayed. The 4 twigs scattered, the 2 Pine cones, the pieces of Birch bark, the leaves, the reeds,

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Thanks to You for 25 Years

The 19th November 2019 saw the 25th Birthday of the National Lottery and its funding of community projects such as us. The quiz this year was slightly different to the last. Instead of a December Christmas theme we had a Birthday party! Plenty of snacks and, of course, birthday cake, where shared amongst the 31 attendees as well as laughs and frustrations! Questions were based on the wildlife, landscape and people of CALL with added knowledge needed of 1994 to win this quiz. The scores were tight all night and the winners won by a quarter of a point! Congratulations to the winning team, The Indecicives and to the randomly picked team, The Developmentalists, we hope you enjoy your prizes. The baskets had a mix of local produce including the limited-edition Isle Martin Gin from the Highland Liquor Company in partnership with the Isle Martin Trust. CALLP has received £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the end of September 2019, with a further £1.5 million due over the next 2 years. This funding has, so far, helped us

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A Journey through Elphin for Quite an Adventure

Having supported The Journey Through Elphin community wall-hanging. project through our Community Grants Scheme it was a pleasure to attend the unveiling of the finished wall hanging at Elphin village Hall. Earlier in the year my six-year-old daughter had won the Elphin Chicken Day Painting Competition in school. She was now looking forward to counting the chickens on the community textile. We arrived just in time for the unveiling of the sewn artwork by the youngest member of the Elphin community to the delight of the Elphin craft group members who had created the hanging, other community members and visitors. This stunning wall hanging is huge! It measures 2.5 metres by 1.2 metres. It incorporates stories and icons of Elphin on a stylized map. Such landmarks as the Elphin Tearoom and red telephone box orient the map for the observer and are interspaced with historic and personalised memories and locations. Community members explained the meaning of the image of the Elphin women arguing with the bailiffs that recalls the women’s successful actions to confound the township’s evictions during the clearances,,

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Meet our Suilven Artist in Residence!

Hello CALL blog readers, I’m Alex Mackay and I’m this year’s Suilven Artist In Residence. I’m spending time throughout the year in the surrounding areas of Suilven creating a new sound work, but before I talk about that allow me to introduce what I do and what drew me to undertake this work. Broadly speaking, I’m a musician. My work takes varying forms; I play in bands, I collaborate with other artists working in different artforms, and I make music as a solo artist. My work for this residency falls into the solo category of my output; my solo work often consists of music made on conventional instruments (both acoustic and electronic), but also involves working with sound gathered from sources outside of traditional music making. Field recording – i.e. recording the sounds of a particular place/space – is a central part of this, and through this I aim to incorporate the sonic qualities of a place into the fabric of the music to create new perspectives on both the musical material and the place the sounds came from. The

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Heath or Mire? Bog or Swamp? Using Vegetation classifications with AFC

Last weekend I was lucky enough to join the Assynt Field Club (AFC) on their Training course on NVC Heaths and Mires identification, the funding of which was awarded in CALL’s Community Grant Scheme this year. It allowed AFC to bring in experts in the field Alison and Ben Averis to teach a training course to learn how to classify our heaths and bogs in order to look at how best to manage them or to evaluate their condition. NVC stands for National Vegetation Classification, developed in the 1980’s, and is the standard way to class vegetation types in Britain. It breaks down into many vegetation types, this course looking at heaths and mires only. There are 38 mire communities and 22 heath communities to decide on from the species of vegetation found in an area and their dominance. On day 1 we spent our time near Glencanisp Lodge, walking up the hill behind the walker’s carpark. Looking at the flora, lichens and liverworts we learned how to identify key species to help with classifications. This meant we could decide

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Orographic Performance comes to Little Assynt All Abilities Path

Last Tuesday we had some visitors to Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape by the name of Oceanallover. Currently they are on a tour of Scotland, performing their amazing Orographic piece. When we were first contacted about hosting a performance, we were intrigued and a look at their website and past events just made us want them to perform in the amazing landscape Coigach and Assynt have to offer event more! Myself and Laura spent days brainstorming on a place that would be perfect for their performance which is inspired by mountains, emotion and ecology. One site visit to Little Assynt and we knew it had to be there. We sent pictures of our walk and the views over to Oceanallover and Feral Arts, who are the producers for the show, and they all agreed this would be the place! After months of planning, the time came for us to meet Oceanallover on the Monday before the performance and show them around the site. The weather had other ideas and thick cloud and heavy drizzle obscured the mountains and most of

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Woodland Activity Leader Training Oppertunity

We at CALL are delighted to announce that we have placed available for the residents of Coigach and Assynt to join us in bringing a new training course to the area. Wild things!, from Findhorn (https://wild-things.org.uk/), have agreed to come over to our beautiful part of the world to deliver their Woodland Activity Leader Training (WALT) programme. So, what is this course all about? Let’s hear from Wild Things! “If you are interested in enhancing your skills to lead groups in a woodland environment, training to become a Woodland Activity Leader will provide you with the learning and knowledge you require. Woodland Activity Leader Training is an accredited outdoor learning course and an alternative to forest school training. The General Teaching Council of Scotland has accredited Woodland Activity Leader Training with professional recognition. Teachers from across Scotland attending our Woodland Activity Leader Training can apply for GTCS professional recognition, towards their continued professional development, upon successful completion of the course. Accredited as a Level 2 Award, Woodland Activity Leader Training is a practical training course, filled with inspirational ideas and activities, that will provide you

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Orographic outdoor performance comes to CALL

Heard about our exciting performance coming up? Intrigued by the man on the banner on Culag Playing Field in his fantastic costume and face paint? Wondered what it’s all about? Wonder no more! Find out more about Orographic below, a wonderful performance being brought to Little Assynt All Abilities Path on July 23rd, 2pm. Not to be missed!   Oceanallover in association with Feral presents Orographic Spectacular outdoor performance fusing street theatre, live music and sculptural costume design inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s landscape paintings and humankind’s relationship to mountains. Orographic is a new outdoor performance by leading physical theatre performance troupe Oceanallover inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s landscape paintings and humankind’s relationship to mountains. During July the company will be thrilling audiences across Scotland with FREE performances at unique outdoor locations showcasing their unique brand of street theatre combing carnival costume design and live music. Oceanallover’s Artistic Director, Alex Rigg, has a long time interest in the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and in particular his lesser known landscape paintings.  By the early 1920s, Mackintosh had abandoned his architectural practice entirely

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Assynt & Coigach Creative Trail

Guest blog by Lesley Muir, Chair of Assynt & Coigach Creatives, on the release of their Creative Trail leaflet, funded through our Community Grants Scheme Assynt & Coigach Creatives (ACC) is an association of local Artists and Makers who have come together to create an attractive, map-based Creative Trail leaflet bringing and guiding visitors around the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) area to exactly where (and when) locally made creative work of all types can be seen and purchased. The Creative Trail map leaflet is intended to enhance visitor experience in the area – opening eyes to the work of local creative people using local materials: wood, horn, wool etc, local recorded music, work by local writers, ceramics, art, photography, and sculpture which all heavily reference the flora, fauna, landscape and cultural heritage of the CALL area and which all contribute so much to its current cultural flowering. Alerting visitors to the main local markets and art and craft outlets also helps local producers of specialist foods. Download Assynt & Coigach Creative Trail Leaflet (pdf) The main funding for

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