Dumfries and Galloway Gathering – `Wild and Wonderful` – held on 15th September 2013


An exciting afternoon of wild and wonderful outdoor activities had been planned for our first gathering.  Unfortunately, after a week of sunny weather, the arrival of an Atlantic storm was predicted for Sunday morning, with gale force winds and heavy rain…

The rain and winds did arrive, along with Trevor Jamison, who had come down from Edinburgh to preach at the morning service at St Ninian`s, Moniaive. His sermon was about the precious resource of clean water and our responsibilities in sharing resources with others.

After coffee in the church, we travelled to Allanton for lunch.  Allanton House has a large walled garden which is used by schools and community volunteers and our lunch was almost wholly sourced from here, and prepared by Caroline, Uma and their team. It was organic, delicious, and low in food miles. As we finished eating, the clouds began to part and the rain cleared. By the time the afternoon activities were due to start, the sun was shining. Prayers had been answered!

The activities had  been designed to appeal to a wide range of people.  For those who wanted something calm and creative, there was an opportunity to learn about spinning and felting.  It was so peaceful to sit in the sunny front room and watch Katie and Lorna at their wheels, or to roll a piece of wool in your palm with Fairy soap to make a felt ball.  In the room next door, Kath and Hamish had set up a virtual hive to demonstrate the art of beekeeping.  In another room of the house was a singing workshop with a  local community choir, the Cairn Chorus.  We learned to sing some beautiful rounds, with simple and moving words, adding in harmonies as we grew in confidence.

The outdoor activities went ahead as planned.  Children enjoyed pond dipping with Morag in the walled garden.  Tom Henry, a local ranger, showed people how to forage for wild foods.  Quentin Palmer, from the Energy Saving Trust, led a tour of Allanton’s new biomass boiler.  There was also a chance to meet the Gardener, Duncan, who volunteers here every Wednesday.  In between activities, visitors could walk the labyrinth or explore the Tree Trail or just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and wildlife.

At 3.30, we all gathered for tea in the kitchen, serenaded by the Cairn Chorus.

Although the visitors were almost exclusively from Dunscore Church, it was a wonderful event, enjoyed by participants and organisers alike.  I am not sure what more we could have done to encourage people from other congregations to attend, since there had been extensive publicity for weeks beforehand.

Thank you to our hosts at Allanton, to Trevor and Margaret, and to everyone who helped with the activities and the publicity.  The only costs for which we claimed from ECS were for the venue (room hire and grass cutting) and for the singing tutor`s workshop fee (total £200).  Everyone else gave their services for free.

Alison Boyes