After rush hour delays in Edinburgh, and howling winds and drifting snow on Greenlaw Moor, I was glad of a very warm welcome when I arrived in Reston, Berwickshire. I had visited Fiona and Mike’s house before when Lisbee Stainton included it in her ‘Living Room Tour’ in the winter of 2011; this time an exhibition of work by local artists was provided alongside another musical performance. To raise money for 2013 ‘Comic Relief’, the event had been arranged for the Friday following ‘Red Nose Day’ to ensure that key people were able to attend and perform.

Music was provided by Where’s George?, members Amelia Stokes, Penny Osborne and Chris Robinson, accompanied by Alexandra Prentice. Whilst a wonderful selection of artworks were available for both viewing and purchase. The art was provided thanks to the following, all local except for John Heywood, who lives in Edinburgh and exhibits widely ( RSA, Morningside Gallery, Barcelona etc.):

John Heywood – prints –
Lita Murray – Reston
Vicki Hardie – Grantshouse
David Lochhead – Cranshaws
Catriona Anderson – Cranshaws
Sharon Simpson – glass (and bespoke gemstone) – Oldhamstocks
Colleen Henderson Heywood – HeartArt,

With a very healthy attendance and so much to view, a decision was taken to leave the artworks on display over the weekend to allow people to return at their leisure. After an initial opportunity to meet and chat, the focus moved to the ‘music room’ where we were treated to an enchanting acoustic performance. My previous experience of the band has been when they have been playing electric instruments with Amelia mainly on drums. It was very interesting to experience another aspect of their musical expertise, as Amelia and Penny shared vocals and guitars. Chris alternated between guitar and cajon – I had only recently come across the Peruvian box drum (cajon) when interviewing London duo Jules Phoenix & Remy F, and was fascinated to see and hear one in ‘person’. Alexandra’s atmospheric violin playing added extra depth to the masterful yet relaxed performance. Following my interview with Jules & Remy I sourced plans for the construction of a cajon and am now even more determined to make one.

Sadly the drifting snow in the hills had spooked me and as a result I opted to play safe and leave early. Perhaps if I hadn’t got stuck in snowdrifts for the first time earlier in the week I might have been more prepared to take a chance on staying! As a result I didn’t take up the opportunity to sample to extremely appetising catering that had been provided, and also missed the second half of the performance.

In addition to general donations via the ‘standard’ ‘Comic Relief’ bucket, all artists gave a 20% commission to Comic Relief, and as I write this, it is so good to report that £448.32 has so far been raised for the charity with over £1000 worth of art having been sold. As somebody who only called in and spent a relatively brief time there, everything seemed to go so smoothly in a very relaxed atmosphere. My previous experiences suggest that such an event didn’t simply happen – it is extremely encouraging that some people were prepared to expend a tremendous effort to ensure such a well organised smoothly run evening.

In particular huge thanks must be extended to Fiona and Mike for providing the venue and supper, and to Lita Murray, Lynn Harris and Janet Anderson for their help, for both setting out the exhibition in advance, and being on hand during the night. Thanks also to the aforementioned artists, both graphic and musical who helped to provide the focus of the event. Finally, thanks to Mel Watkinson, Brockholes Farm, Grantshouse, who kindly lent the handmade cajon for the evening. Mel makes musical instruments and furniture from recycled material –


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