I have just returned from a Weekend Residential held in the village of Cromarty, the Achcraggan of the My Friend… series of books. For only the second time since I started my Creative Writing course at college last September, I met up with my classmates in a non-virtual fashion, so it was a great chance to catch up. Courses like ours are mainly done online nowadays, with lectures being given via Video Conference. ‘Tis the times, but the weekend was a resounding success so more will follow no doubt.
The centre where we stayed is an old brewery, so what better name for this quite fabulous centre for the arts than, The Old Brewery. I am local-ish, so know the village well, and my husband’s very first job was at the local pottery (it is a very artsy place), but for people who have never visited before, it really is quite something – Almost a time capsule from the 18th century when Cromarty was one of the most prosperous places in Scotland because of trade with Northern Europe, and because of the vast shoals of silver darlings (herring to you and I) that were caught off its shores.
I did say it was almost an 18th century time capsule however, and that would be because if you look west along the firth, the view is something like this. I went out for an evening walk amongst the quaint streets of the old fishertown, but when I joined the shore road, I was quite mesmerised by the scale of the lit-up structures attached to the oil fabrication yard on the north side of the firth.
However, in the morning, I woke up to this – What a weird mix of old and new, but strangely alluring too, as it brings a modern-day sharpness to the quaint and slightly twee village.
Over the course of the weekend, an invitation went out to give readings of either your own work, or that of a favourite author. Of course for me it was simple, as what better to read when in Cromarty, but a couple of excerpts from My Friends the Miss Boyds. The two I chose have already featured in this blog, The Freedom of the Individual and The Difference between Townsfolk and Countryfolk.
I think they both went down quite well.