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News Project Updates

The Riverrun Series

Wild Goose Festival 2021

The Stove Café is proud to present, as part of this year’s Wild Goose Festival and in partnership with Wigtown Festival Company, the RIVERRUN SERIES.

Over three days, within the festival programme, Riverrun celebrates poetry and literature and features special guests including: Tom Pow, Hugh Bryden, Robin Crawford, Malachy Tallack, Alec Finlay and Esther Woolfson.

The Stove Café will host two of the Riverrun events on the 18th and 19th at its venue on Dumfries High Street, the third will be hosted online as part of the Wigtown Wednesday series on the 20th.

First in the series is Riverrun 1 – Life Is Still Life which sees the launch of two new pamphlets published by Roncadora Press and featuring poetry by Tom Pow and artwork by Hugh Bryden both of these are responses to the natural world during lockdown. The first, Life, through a range of emails sent to Tom, which he shapes into moments of haiku; the second, Still Life, through Hugh’s painted observations of an immediate world of plants and objects, which Tom responds to in poetry.

Hugh Bryden and Tom Pow have collaborated on many publications over a long period of time. Initially with Cacafuego Press, which they ran together, and then with Hugh’s own Roncadora Press. With both presses, Hugh’s visual presentation and attention to detail have been paramount and recognised by a number of awards.

This evening’s illustrated launch will be an opportunity to see and to hear this new work and to buy the pamphlets.

Riverrun 2 – The Lure Of The River, on Tuesday 19th October features Robin A Crawford, author of ‘Into The Peatlands: A Journey Through The Moorland Year’ (2018) and ‘Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers: A Treasury of 1000 Scottish Words’(2020).

Attendees at this event will enjoy a special preview of two new books about life on the river; The first, ‘Along the River: A year’s journey on the Tay’ (Birlinn, 2022) by Robin Crawford which interweaves history both human and natural from the Highland crannog on Loch Tay to the V&A at its North Sea Firth, an extract.

You never enter the same river twice and yet it remains. Heraclitus’s river flows, everything flows but the water that my great grandfather swam in as a youth is the same river that ferried my Granny over from Fife before the First World War, that I road bridged as a boy, heard the wintering geese return to as a student, saw from the window of the maternity ward at Ninewells as my wife’s waters broke as our son was born. It is all rivers, it is unique.” 

The second is Malachy Tallack’s; ‘Illuminated by Water’ (Doubleday, 2022), a combination of memoir, nature writing and reflections on culture and history, examining why angling means so much to so many.

Malachy Tallack is the award-winning author of three books, most recently a novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World (Canongate, 2018). It was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize and longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. His first book, Sixty Degrees North (2015), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and his second, The Un-Discovered Islands (2016), was named Illustrated Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. Malachy is from Shetland, and currently lives in central Scotland.

On Wednesday 20th October, Riverrun 3, The Urban Naturalist, forms part of the Wigtown Wednesday programme and will be hosted online, featuring authors Esther Woolfson and Alec Finlay.

This special event explores the idea of what it might mean to say, ‘we are all naturalists now’; and, in the light of covid and COP26 questions what our relationship to the natural world might be.

Esther Woolfson, author of ‘Field Notes from a Hidden City and Between Light’ and ‘Storm – How We Live with Other Species’ (both Granta) argues that encouraging children and adults to talk about urban nature is one of the most important and neglected areas of possibility for change that there is.

Woolfson began her writing career with highly acclaimed short stories. She has been Artist in Residence at Aberdeen University’s Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, Writer in Residence at the Hexham Book Festival and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen.

Esther Wolfson

During the pandemic, Esther has become increasingly interested in the boundaries between human and non-human, the links between how we treat other humans and other species and in finding ways of altering the traditional, accepted ways of treating other species which appear to have led to the development and spread of SarsCov-2 and the drastic loss of species which is further endangering all life on earth.

She’s joined by poet and artist, Alec Finlay, who has developed a practice that draws attention to urban nature as a way of stimulating our imaginations and our well-being.

Alec Finlay’s work crosses over a range of media and forms and considers how we relate to landscape and ecology, including recent projects on place-awareness, hutopianism, rewilding, and disability access.

His recent publications include the Scottish Design Award best publication winner a far-off land (2018), made for Marie Curie, exploring landscapes of healing; gathering, a place-aware guide to the Cairngorms, published by Hauser & Wirth (2018); and th’ fleety wud (2017), a response to climate change and flooding, as part of an artwork being created in Hawick, in collaboration with Andrew MacKenzie and Gill Russell.

In 2018 Alec Finlay turned his focus onto the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces. In collaboration with The Walking Library (Dee Heddon & Misha Myers), he created a generous mapping project, Wild City, which is available as a book. This features photographic and written documentation of a series of participative walks through Glasgow exploring wild nature,reflecting on the politics of green spaces and the commons, and proposing imaginative pathways to adapt to and reverse climate breakdown.

This fascinating conversation of ideas and experience will interest any naturalist and any urban dweller. Tickets for this online even are free but need to be booked in advance.

For more details on each of the River Run series of events, visit the Wild Goose Festival page, or book your free tickets below:

Monday 18 October RIVERRUN 1:


7:00pm – 8:00pm The Stove Café, 100 High Street, Dumfries Free but ticketed

Tuesday 19 October RIVERRUN 2:


7:00pm – 8:00pm The Stove Café, 100 High Street, Dumfries Free but ticketed

Wednesday 20 October RIVERRUN 3


7:00pm – 8:00pm

For more information on the Wild Goose Festival check out the festival page:

News Project Updates

Rushes from Trading Journeys

The Stove Network’s Trading Journeys began with artist Alice Francis and her fine friend Douglas setting off for Wigtown

Alice and Dougal travelled the highways and byways of Galloway for three days to get to Wigtown
Alice and Dougal travelled the highways and byways of Galloway for three days to get to Wigtown
Alice Francis and Dougal in Creetown
Passing through Creetown
jam making in Gatehouse
Meanwhile in Gatehouse of Fleet some serious outdoor science was underway
Phoebe Makes Jam
Artist Phoebe Marshall explains the finer points of bramble and apple jam making
Charcoal Making
Charcoal making was also on the agenda….crucial to what was to come in Wigtown
Bicycle Powered Foundry on the move
On the Morning of 27th September Uula, Lorraine, Arny and Inti were first on the road – pedalling the bicycle powered foundry through the Galloway Forest Park towards Wigtown
Creetown Ferry Bell
Meanwhile in Creetown the Ferry Bell was decked out with it’s flags
Ringing the ferry bell
…the Bell was rung
Boat Launch Creetown
…and the boats were launched
Boats heading for Wigtown
carrying their precious cargo of charcoal, the boats headed for Wigtown following the long disused route of the Creetown-Wigtown ferry
Flyers in Wigtown
Word was getting around in Wigtown
 Alice and Dougal in Wigtown
Alice and Douglas had arrived in Wigtown and made a standard from the tins they had collected
Trading Journeys Camp
The Wigtown Showfield was transformed into a Trading Journeys Camp
drumming in field
Where you could drum….
Moxie and her Troubadours
….compose a ballad with ‘Stove Herald’ Moxie and her troubadours…..
Mould making 1
…..make a mould for one of the 45 Wigtown Spoons under the close eye of artist Katie Anderson….
Jam making in showfield
….make jam……
Tea and scones
… jam with scones and tea…..
Boat arriving Wigtown
Then the boats arrived at Wigtown Harbour
Procession 1
It was time for the Trading Journeys procession to move everything we had gathered from the Showfield to the Town Centre
Boat in Procession
One of the boats joined in
…so did the foundry and the horse and cart…
arriving at County Buildings
…the procession arrived at County Buildings and made camp once more
Will and Megaphone
Will explained what would happen next
Firing up the foundry
everyone had a shot of firing up the foundry with pedal power
Dampers and Jam
Dampers and Jam were cooked
moulds waiting
the moulds people had made waited patiently
when the scrap aluminium melted in the foundry it was poured into the moulds
when the scrap aluminium melted in the foundry it was poured into the moulds
waiting for moulds to cool
Katie knows how long to wait….
opening the moulds
A Wigtown Spoon fresh from the mould
spoon moulds
freshly cast spoons waiting to be claimed by the people who had made the moulds
Finished Spoon 1
One of the first finished spoons – cleaned up by its owner……the wee copper tags had edition numbers 1-45
Finished Spoon 2
This beauty was made by our new friend Helen who had travelled all the way from Manchester to be part of Trading Journeys!
Spoon Dancers
The mysterious Spoon Dancers brought the day to a spectacular climax
Spoon dancers + tribe
The Trading Journeys Young Team who had been part of things all day – joined the Spoon Dancers for their exit stage left


Photography by: Kim Ayres, Matt Baker, Colin Hattersley, Will Marshall and Colin Tennant

Musings News Project Updates

Trading Journeys: Part Two

If boats aren’t your thing, and you like a more measured pace, keep your eyes open for Alice Francis is travelling with her horse who are making a three day trip to Wigtown from Auchencairn.

As they travel Alice will be creating a standard that will form the head of the Wigtown Trading Journey’s procession that will take place on Saturday afternoon. She will also be recounting the story of Billy Marshall, who supposedly had lived 120 years in southern Scotland and always claimed to be the “King of the Gypsies”. He was ,also, referred to as the “Caird of Barullion”. Caird (a skilled gypsy) referring to ceardon (a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft). Barullion is the name of a range of hills in the county of Wigtonshire in the council area of Dummfries-Galloway, in southern Scotland. Another so-called title of his was “King of the Randies”. The word Randies in this context may be referring to a type of macho, virile, man that despised all rule and authority.

Billy Marshall is buried in Kirkcudbright, and his grave features the curious crossed spoons on the reverse.

The crossed spoons possibly may represent a wish for his people that they may never go hungry, for the coins at his grave site may have been left there with a goodluck wish, but originally they were left there for a poor travelling gypsy to be able to buy another meal. The spoons probably represent horn spoons, which have been popular in Europe and Scandinavia as far back as medieval times, being, also popular with the Vikings. Horn spoon making has been a tradition among gypsies since the 1600’s, and possibly had been a labor of love for Billy Marshall.

If you find that you have a hidden talent for spoon playing, bring that new talent along to Wigtown on Saturday, it’s bound to come in useful!

For more details on the stove network’s Trading Journeys, head across to our project page here

Trading Journeys has been created as part of the Wigtown Book Festival

News Project Updates

Crossing the Cree

Suffering from withdrawal symptoms from last weekends Nithraid? Never fear, there is another opportunity to join us as we make the journey to Wigtown Book Festival on Saturday, 27th of September. And we’re not just taking the A75 from Dumfries. Stove members are each making their own journeys the the former county town with its inheritance of martyrdom in Covenanting times and its modern booktown status, once the central crossroads in trading routes and pilgrimage routes through the West of the region.

First off Mark Zygadlo will be hoping for a little more wind than on Nithraid day as he and a flotilla of intrepid sailors make the journey across the Cree from the Ferry Bell at Creetown across the water to the old Wigtown Harbour. This flotilla is being kept to small numbers for safety reasons but if you wish to join the sailors there may still be an additional space left, please get in touch asap to Mark: [email protected]

button and uula-2lowres
Maneuvers 1 and 2, the boats are to be launched from a small slipway alongside the A75 before paddling under the road bridge.

Each boat will carry a small cargo of charcoal made at Creetown Primary School with the help of Phoebe and Will Marshall. This will be used to power Uula Jero’s pedal-powered foundry… but more on that later!

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 16.37.09
The route follows the Cree before making it’s way up the Bladnoch. The flotilla will be guided by Alan Wykes in his motor who knows the Bladnoch channel.

For more details on the stove network’s Trading Journeys, head across to our project page here

Trading Journeys has been created as part of the Wigtown Book Festival

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