Town mouse meets rural talent

You know how it is at parties: sometimes, you don’t catch the name of another guest, and spend most of the conversation that ensues trying to deduce who the person could possibly be. I had an excuse last week, when attending a dinner for The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards at The Connaught.

A cooper demonstrated his barrel-making technique over drinks, and the noise was quite something-enough, I hope, to excuse my failure to recognise the famous television personality I was introduced to.

Six coopers are employed at The Balvenie’s Banffshire distillery-this one, from his size, being proud to be known as the Mini Cooper. At dinner, I sat between two weavers: Iain Finlay Macleod from Lewis, whom readers may know for his luxurious tweed, and Louise Martin, part of a team that has spent nine years creating a set of The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries for Stirling Castle. Other finalists included pargeters, potters, glass-blowers, a violin maker and several cobblers.

Not old cobblers either-Ruth Emily Davey is young and stylish, and her funky footwear can be seen on the most glamorous of feet. All these talented craftspeople seem to live in idyllic rural locations: what a plus for the countryside.