Thursday, 26 September 2013

EAFS - The Nithraid

It was the Autumn equinox and the highest tides of the year at the weekend. So, the Environmental Arts Festival marked this event in style with The Nithraid.

My preparation for The Nithraid began with a mammoth baking session. Lots of hungry sailors were due to arrive up the Nith and The Stove were making sure they were well catered for.

I didn't speed round any corners with this lot sitting in my car boot on the way to Dumfries!

Beautiful banners swirling into the Nith as the boats arrived at The Caul, in the centre of Dumfries.

Artist Stan Bonnar, maker of the salt cow, playing his 'pipe' instrument!

Stan Bonnar with his Salt Cow - which was about to be dunked in the Nith.

The Salt Cow rises above the Nith.

The cow is lowered into the Nith by Stan, Sam Booth and his winning crew.

My neighbour Morag arrives with her crew.

Morag looking very proud, and so she should after tackling such a challenging route. She was sailing for Relationship Scotland and Dumfries Historic Buildings Trust

The Nithraid - a daring raid up the Nith into the centre of Dumfries on Saturday- was quite a spectacle. The boats left from Carsethorn and made a 20 mile journey up to The Caul in the centre of Dumfries.

As the boats were setting off, the Salt Cow was leaving The Stove and journeying through Dumfries. It was followed by an enthusiastic percussion group, expertly led by Christine Hester Smith. Christine had written a song for the cow and lots of different drumming rhythms. I joined in with the band but I'm not sure how much I added to the Samba Rythmns as a complete novice!

The cow was symbolic of the trade between Dumfries and the rest of the world - at one time Dumfries had a thriving port and exported beef preserved in salt. It had been beautifully sculpted by artist Stan Bonnar.

As the cow was being transported out to the middle of the river the first boat arrived, skippered by artist blacksmith Adam Booth. The cow was ceremonially dunked by the winning crew and the salt dissolved into the Nith to join the incoming salty tide.

I met up with some neighbours and we were lucky enough to see another neighbour, Morag, arrive on her boat and we gave her a big round of applause.

Then it was time for soup and cakes and home for a well earned rest.

Many thanks to Kevin for such great photos - you're a star!

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