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Sunday, 24 November 2019

Graemsay Harvest Home

The band playing many good tunes
Many parishes around Orkney will hold a "Harvest Home" in November.  It's a non-religious event to celebrate the end of the harvest and includes a meal, followed by a night of dancing to traditional Scottish music. Sadly these days some parishes don't hold these festivities due to lack of support.  But Graemsay has held the annual event for as long as anyone can remember.

Traditionally it would have been a meal of minced beef, with clapshot (neeps (swede) and potatoes mashed together).  However on Graemsay this event has now evolved into a meal of soup, cold meats, clapshot, new potatoes, and mixed veg, all with gravy.  Followed by, this year, sticky toffee pudding, with cream of course!  All of this is organised and provided by the women on the island. 

The week before the hall is thoroughly cleaned, china, cutlery and pots washed and checked before use, and the hall set up for the night.

Numbers are limited by the number of spare beds on the island, but there are always a few folk from Hoy or the Orkney Mainland who come along to join in.

After the meal there is coffee/tea and after-dinner mints while we relax and listen to the speaker.  This year it was Vera Butler from BBC Radio Orkney who gave a very entertaining and informative speech which was enjoyed by all.

The youngest participant, wee Alfie, tucking into the after-dinner mints while listening to our speaker.

Then it was time to clear the tables and let the musicians get set up, because of course there is a band for the dancing..... this year a local group Hullion (well 60% of them!) kindly agreed to come and play for us, along with their friend Kitty (we got 100% of her!).  There is probably less dancing on Graemsay than at other harvest homes as some people are no longer fit to dance, or don't know the dances.  But the music is always appreciated and enjoyed.

A bit of a discussion about the dance...

I'm no longer a party babe so I headed home about 10.30 as the dancing was getting going.  The band stayed overnight with me at Sandside, I think they rolled home about 3.30 in the morning!  But they were up for tea and toast before the boat on Sunday. 

We all had a thoroughly good time once again - we hope all our visitors and the band members did too!


  1. Wonderful!! Lovely to hear about your harvest home

    1. We are lucky to be able to continue the tradition!

  2. Sounds wonderful. I'm with you - 10 30 and I turn into Cinderella!

    1. I do feel rude leaving so early, but if I stay till midnight I will just be found sobbing in a corner like an overtired toddler! LOL!