Basket Cases on Tanera
16 April 2010
With blazing sunshine, cottages full of happy families and kayaks full of happy paddlers, we were suddenly plunged into a different season last weekend. It was wonderful to see the island being thoroughly enjoyed by so many people, particularly as everything is looking so lovely. Daffodils of all different varieties are shining out all over the place, the willow is bursting with soft downy buds and catkins like dainty little loo brushes.
We also had our first course of the season, and it could not have been better. Jane Wilkinson (ably assisted by her daughter Derry) led seven of us through the elements of weaving a willow shopping basket. There was some awkward grappling with ‘slaths’, ‘bodkins' ‘slipes’ and ‘wales’, but we all got the hang of it under Jane’s patient tuition. Fuelled by homemade bread, soup and cakes, with salad from the Achiltibuie Garden, something recognisable as wicker began to emerge by suppertime on Saturday.
The blissful weather continued on Sunday, and didn’t make it easy to sit still and concentrate; in fact this is ideally an activity for dark, dank conditions because the soaked willow rods need to stay damp to be weavable. But Jane kept us focused on the peaceful, methodical activity, and by around 7pm on Sunday, after two days of gently coercing (and sometimes bashing) wisps of willow into place, seven – quite impressive, we think - baskets were finished and ready to proudly take home.
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