Pumpkin pie

Somewhere a long time ago I read that pumpkins were brought over to England from the New World, and were used to make pumpkin pie in Lincolnshire. This new recipe was subsequently re-exported back to the new world in the 17th century. I don’t know if it is true or not but it is fun to imagine this as an old Lincolnshire tradition.

Today I baked a small pumpkin pie following this recipe but with hazelnuts instead of walnuts (Hazels always seem more autumnal to me – I remember occasionally gathering them in the hedgerows).

I have not tried the pie yet; we will sample a slice later with a very fragrant malty tippy Yunnan tea.

The biggest pumkin was a gift from my mother who grew it at home; the others are from the local greengrocer. The pie used an orange pumpkin the same size as the two small ones here.

Ann Heymann in Edinburgh

This past weekend I was in Edinburgh for Ann Heymann’s concert and workshop.

On Saturday night, the concert was presented by Ann Heymann playing a beautiful painted and gilded medieval clarsach, Barnaby Brown playing replica 18th century highland bagpipes and also early medieval triplepipes and singing, and Talitha Mackenzie singing. The programme was a very well balanced selection of old Scottish and Irish music. At first there was some Latin ecclesiastical music, for the theme of St Bridget, but most of the programme was the old Gaelic traditions, with songs and instrumental ceol mor. The music was presented by different combinations of performers, some solo, and some in pairs, and the occasional trio – I like this approach as to my mind this ancient Gaelic repertory works best as an unaccompanied solo art and too much collaboration can dull the edges of the music. The collaborative performances were well chosen – Ann accompanied Talitha for Deirdre’s Lament most beautifully, and all three played and sang Uamh a Oir (the Cave of Gold) very effectively.

Sunday afternoon’s workshop was led by Ann Heymann, and there was a respectable turnout of historical clarsach players there including a strong contingent of my own Edinburgh students. Ann worked through a very interesting series of technique discussions which I think were of interest and use to all attendees, both long-time expert players and complete newcomers. There was also some very nice banter between Ann and Alison Kinnaird, with them both reminiscing about their earliest meetings and work together.

At both the concert and the workshop, half-time refreshments were provided by tea expert Rebecca Mackay who provided a selection of fine single estate Ceylon teas and some amazing homemade honey cake.

The Fife Traditional Singing Weekend

On Sunday I was at the Fife Traditional Singing Weekend, in a fine, airy windowed building in the Fife countryside by Collessie. It was very interesting to see and hear so many different traditional singers, many from the East of Scotland but a number from further afield. So many different styles of vocal delivery, and types of song.

There was little really ancient, to connect with my work here (in a direct form anyway), but I have a lot to think about and it was great to see people like Sheila Stewart there.

My favourite moment was an anecdote from Phyllis Martin, of visiting an old lady in Galloway to collect songs. The lady said “I’ll get some tea”, and came back with a tray with 2 cups of tea and a large sponge cake, cut neatly in 2 down the middle. Phyllis said, she asked if they should have a knife. The lady replied, no, this half is for you, and this half is for me.

It was also a lovely day, sunny and quite warm.