Portree Quay on Isle of Skye

The quay of Portree on the Isle of Skye, home to the Skye Antiquarian Book Festival.

This coming Thursday, the Skye Antiquarian Book Festival holds sway in the Aros Cultural Cenre in Portree on the Isle of Skye. The three-day event that runs from September 1 through 3, is a popular one in this Scottish coastal town. Ephemera and all manner of antiquarian books—from natural history to English literature—will be for sale.


Skye Antiquarian Book Festival


Skye Coastal Chair by Bruce Andrews Design

Our new Skye Coastal chair, which debuted earlier this month at the Cashiers Historical Society’s showhouse.


Given we named our first introduction of handcrafted furniture Collection Skye, after furnishings contained in Bruce’s grandfather’s study on this very island off the coast of Scotland, we enjoy keeping ourselves abreast of what’s going on in the country that inspired it. Oh how I wish I could be strolling through row upon row of books with the other eager seekers of inspiration in a few days-time because it looks as if the offerings of historical design and architecture books from the exhibitors will be stellar!


Portree Isle of Skye

Portree harbour on Isle of Skye, Scotland, a beautiful backdrop for a book festival.


Being Bookish on the Isle of Skye

A number of interesting events are taking place during the festival, as well. Professor Norman Macdonald—Eòlaiche Eachdraidh agus Neach Rannsachaidhat Sabhal Mor Ostaig at the Gaelic College on Skye—and Cailean Maclean—a lecturer, researcher, publisher, broadcaster and photographer living on the Isle of Skye—will hold the official launch of the second volume of their comprehensive study of the people of the Isle of Skye titled The Great Book of Skye. The first volume, which featured nearly 600 significant Skye people, launched at the book festival in 2014 to great acclaim.


The Great Book of Skye

“The Great Book of Skye,” a comprehensive study of the people of the island.


The new volume, timed exclusively for the 2016 festival, brings to notice 275 new women and men who have left their mark on the island’s past. Compiled from local and national resources, oral and written, its medley of themes makes it of interest to the scholar as well as to the person who wishes to find out about the ordinary (and the not so ordinary) people of Skye and their kin.


Blaven from Torrin on the Isle of Skye

Blaven from Torrin, in the ancestral lands of the MacAlisters, a dramatic scenic shot of the Scottish countryside in the forthcoming “The Great Book of Skye.”


I’m thinking Bruce may need to snag a copy of these volumes given his heritage—there are bound to be relatives lurking within those pages! We at Bruce Andrews Design would like to salute the authors for the amount of work it takes to pull together a book of such depth and breadth. The number of hours of research and the amount of interviewing must have been staggering!


Foraging the Outer Hebrides with Fiona Bird


Fiona Bird foraging for seaweed.

Fiona Bird snapped while foraging for seaweed. Image courtesy of Kris Miller and the Courier & Advisor.


Also on tap is a workshop by Fiona Bird. It caught my eye due to the author’s penchant for foraging, which she remarks may rate as one of the latest food trends but passionate cooks have been enjoying the practice for ages. The Forager’s Kitchen demonstrates how scouring the land for edibles can result in some truly scrumptious dishes, and in looking at her dynamic Facebook page, it’s clear she knows a great deal about gathering food in order to eat fresh wherever one lives.


Loch Scolpai Tower

Loch Scolpaig Tower, North Uist’s only folly, built in the 1830’s in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, illustrates the beauty of the region.


The mother of six, graduate of the University of St. Andrews and BBC Masterchef finalist remarks, “You will find more ingredients growing in the wild than you could imagine. With a little bit of expert knowledge and some handy tips to guide your fingers, you’ll learn the best spots and seasons to find your favorite foods, for free.” You don’t have to attend her workshop to benefit from her knowledge: the simple recipes in her book number more than 100.


Fiona Bird gathering seaweed at Askemish.

Fiona Bird gathering seaweed at Askemish. Image courtesy Island News & Adviser.


Bird divides her time between Angus and South Uist on the Outer Hebrides where she forages en famille as a way of life. It’s no surprise that her favorite place is in her kitchen, and she notes you will likely find her wearing wellies there rather than Jimmy Choo’s! You can see her foraging for seaweed in a bright pink pair in this wonderful article on the “Fish on Friday” site in which she is captured practicing what she preaches!


Lives of the Queens of England

“The Lives of the Queens of England,” a book found while browsing through the dealers exhibiting at the Skye Antiquarian Book Festival.


I’m truly green with envy of anyone who is able to attend the festival (can you imagine how quickly I’d snap up the above volume of The Lives of the Queens of England?). If you happen to find your way to Portree and have the chance to make it to Fiona Bird’s event, please let us know what you bought at the fair and what you learned from this gastronomic dynamo, okay?

This post, Being Bookish on the Isle of Skye, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.