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TITLE
'The Heart is Highland' (4)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_MAISIE_STEVEN_04
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Maisie Steven
SOURCE
Maisie Steven
ASSET ID
40983
KEYWORDS
audio
Literary Landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'The Heart is Highland' by Maisie Steven, first published in 2001.

'If memory serves correctly, it was in February that the annual Ploughing Match took place; possibly the date varied according to whether the weather was suitable or not. Just how far back this local event went it is difficult to say, but it seems unlikely that the glen's version was as old as the first 'Ploughing Match' recorded in the old Statistical Account as having been held in East Lothian in 1784! My own earliest memory of it is extremely vivid; it is of sitting perched on our front gate as 'Andack' passed along with his splendid pair of Clydesdales, on his way to Jock Tolmie's field. The horses were decorated from harness to tail with gaily-coloured ribbons and bells; spellbound, I would not be moved until I was sure that every single horse had passed.

We would always be desperate to go to watch the ploughing early, but my memory is of having to wait until the afternoon before joining the rest of the populace walking round and marvelling at the straightness of the furrows. While the attendant flock of gulls were enjoying their tasty morsels, we would be enjoying ours - in this instance hot sausage rolls, quite a novelty to us in those days.

The prize-giving was of curse awaited with the keenest interest. Everyone knew who the best ploughmen were, and the competition was fierce. There could have been disappointment - and doubtless there sometimes was - but the real thoughtfulness of the committee who drew up the prize-list ensured that few competitors were left without some reward. Apart from the coveted prize for excellence, there would be one for the ploughman with the biggest family or the best-decorated pair of horses, as well as for the shortest, the tallest, the best Gaelic speaker... and so on. It is hard to convey those unfamiliar with such events just how much enthusiasm was generated by this single gathering; in addition it must have dome a great deal to ensure the passing on of highly-valued skills to each new generation.'

Maisie Steven wrote 'The Heart is Highland' in celebration of her childhood in Glen Urquhart near Loch Ness in the 1930s and 1940s - the kind of outdoor life sadly denied many children today - in a warm and lively month-by-month account which begins with the first snowdrops and ends with the holly-picking at Christmas.

At the same time the book offers the reader an insight into the community life of the glen with its emphasis on strong family values, and a moral and religious ethos which still left room for a great deal of enjoyment and fun. The book, with its evocation of simplicity and freedom from today's materialism, has brought a warm response from readers far and wide, and is now into its third edition. The author emphasises that it should not be regarded as mere nostalgia, although of course is that as well!

As a nutritionist concerned with Scotland's food habits, she also wrote 'The Good Scots Diet', a review of diet and health from earliest times. Introduced to 'The Old Statistical Account' by her late husband, Campbell Steve, a prolific writer on outdoors Scotland, she fell under its spell, and after many years of research produced 'Paris Life in 18th Century Scotland; (Scottish Cultural Press, 1995) which was short-listed for the Longman History Prize, and 'Gems of Old Scotland' (Argyll Publishing, 2008), aimed primarily at schools and colleges.

Maisie Steven is the mother of Dunkeld-based poet and writer, Kenneth Steven.

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'The Heart is Highland' (4)

2010s

audio; Literary Landscapes;

Maisie Steven

Literary Landscapes: Maisie Steven

This audio extract is from 'The Heart is Highland' by Maisie Steven, first published in 2001.<br /> <br /> 'If memory serves correctly, it was in February that the annual Ploughing Match took place; possibly the date varied according to whether the weather was suitable or not. Just how far back this local event went it is difficult to say, but it seems unlikely that the glen's version was as old as the first 'Ploughing Match' recorded in the old Statistical Account as having been held in East Lothian in 1784! My own earliest memory of it is extremely vivid; it is of sitting perched on our front gate as 'Andack' passed along with his splendid pair of Clydesdales, on his way to Jock Tolmie's field. The horses were decorated from harness to tail with gaily-coloured ribbons and bells; spellbound, I would not be moved until I was sure that every single horse had passed.<br /> <br /> We would always be desperate to go to watch the ploughing early, but my memory is of having to wait until the afternoon before joining the rest of the populace walking round and marvelling at the straightness of the furrows. While the attendant flock of gulls were enjoying their tasty morsels, we would be enjoying ours - in this instance hot sausage rolls, quite a novelty to us in those days.<br /> <br /> The prize-giving was of curse awaited with the keenest interest. Everyone knew who the best ploughmen were, and the competition was fierce. There could have been disappointment - and doubtless there sometimes was - but the real thoughtfulness of the committee who drew up the prize-list ensured that few competitors were left without some reward. Apart from the coveted prize for excellence, there would be one for the ploughman with the biggest family or the best-decorated pair of horses, as well as for the shortest, the tallest, the best Gaelic speaker... and so on. It is hard to convey those unfamiliar with such events just how much enthusiasm was generated by this single gathering; in addition it must have dome a great deal to ensure the passing on of highly-valued skills to each new generation.'<br /> <br /> Maisie Steven wrote 'The Heart is Highland' in celebration of her childhood in Glen Urquhart near Loch Ness in the 1930s and 1940s - the kind of outdoor life sadly denied many children today - in a warm and lively month-by-month account which begins with the first snowdrops and ends with the holly-picking at Christmas.<br /> <br /> At the same time the book offers the reader an insight into the community life of the glen with its emphasis on strong family values, and a moral and religious ethos which still left room for a great deal of enjoyment and fun. The book, with its evocation of simplicity and freedom from today's materialism, has brought a warm response from readers far and wide, and is now into its third edition. The author emphasises that it should not be regarded as mere nostalgia, although of course is that as well!<br /> <br /> As a nutritionist concerned with Scotland's food habits, she also wrote 'The Good Scots Diet', a review of diet and health from earliest times. Introduced to 'The Old Statistical Account' by her late husband, Campbell Steve, a prolific writer on outdoors Scotland, she fell under its spell, and after many years of research produced 'Paris Life in 18th Century Scotland; (Scottish Cultural Press, 1995) which was short-listed for the Longman History Prize, and 'Gems of Old Scotland' (Argyll Publishing, 2008), aimed primarily at schools and colleges.<br /> <br /> Maisie Steven is the mother of Dunkeld-based poet and writer, Kenneth Steven.