Friday, October 23, 2009

Scottish Tales

Right, time to catch up. I'm sitting by myself in a deserted pub in Invarary, and pint of Black and Tan next to me (Scottish Guinness, only not so heavy) and rain on the window. I have an hour or so before the dinner crowds start rolling in. Time to bring the blog up to date I think! We've been a bit hampered by the lack of internet connections in the wilder parts.

We arrived in Edinburgh at about 7pm, and by 9 we were showered, changed and playing in a session with Angus Grant an Luke Plumb from Shooglenifty. It was one of those wonderful coincidences. The magnificent carmen told us that Luke (a Tasmanian mandolin genius whom we often bump into around the festival traps) usually did a session on the night we were arriving. We nearly didn't go. It was a long drive up and by the time we'd lugged the gear up tow flights of stairs (none of the older, smaller hotels here have lifts) we were about ready to go to bed. Luckily, we decided to go for a wee drive as the folk club were were performing at the following night was just around the corner. The bar looked deserted, so while I drove around the block looking for a park, the girls nipped in to see if there was anything happening and bumped right into Angus. It was a great session, nice and laid back, with lots of really interesting tunes that we tried to soak up. We're going to see if we can hook up with them again on the way back.

The Session at The Reverie with the Shoogles

The next day was spent wandering the streets of Edinburgh, then that night we played a lovely spot at the Edinburgh Folk club, supporting the great Rab Noakes.

Edinburgh in Autumn is just beautiful

We finally got to meet up with Queensland songwriter Bec Wright, who made the train trip from Glasgow just to come and say hi. Funny how we've never met properly until now, considering how many mutual friends we have.

Edinburgh Folk Club

It's a lovely little specifically-designed venue inside Edinburgh University, with great sound and extremely attentive people. It's the kind of place that Brisbane is sorely in need of. We've been invited back during our next trip, so the night was a great success.

From Edinburgh we hit the road to Skye. A beautiful 7-hour drive that took us through Glencoe, Fort William and across the bridge to Skye. It took us nearer to 10 hours as we had to keep stopping for photos!


We also passed the stunning Eilean Donan castle on Loch Duich, which was the location for parts of Highlander (although he calls it Glenfinnan on the shore of Loch Sheil. Fail). It's shame the tide was out, but the sun was setting so it was majestic.

Eilean Donan Castle

From there we pushed through to Skye, and the utterly stunning drive up to Dunvegan. The Cullain mountains (named for Irish myth-hero Cuchullain) were just breath taking. We've been truly blessed with weather so far, and even up on Skye we had blue skies.

So, Skye. We were here for a monster session with local band the Peatbog Faeries, and once again, by the time we'd settled into the beautiful Dunvegan hotel, we were knackered. We met up with John, the manager, who is the brother of a friend of ours back in Brisbane, and he set us up with great food and drink. Sleepies beckoned, but of course the tunes had other ideas, and we were jamming away until the wee hours. The whisky flowed (the local Talisker, of which I am a huge fan), the cider was there and a gallon of Guinness was drunk, as Peter, Ian, Seamus don't do anything by halves. It was easily the fastest, most rampaging session I've played. It was also the best fun. Even the border collie that chased the bar mats was mental. Nothing was done slowly, and it was simply fantastic. Thanks so much guys, hopefully our paths will cross again soon.

Even with the shadow of a sore head, I got up early so I could wander around the shores of Loch Dunvegan. The stillness is just incredible, as was the urge to go climbing. Alas I think I'm about 6 months of exercise and diet before being anywhere close to being mountain fit again.

We had breakfast in Portree, which is a wonderful small town on Skye. The weather was still perfect, and after some very strong organic coffee, we drove back across the bridge, stopping for a moment to visit Plockton, the village used in the TV series, Hamish MacBeth

Plockton, ala Loch Dubh. No sign of Hamish or Wee Jock

It's been about a decade since the show was filmed there, but landmarks like the building used for Barney's Pub and the police station are still recognisable.

So, tonight we play the second of our two gigs here in Invarary, in beautiful Argyll. Last night was fantastic. Lots of dancing and incredible Scottish hospitality. Apparently tonight there will be a few shinty teams in (Scottish hurling) so things might get fun!

1 comment:

  1. Keep an eye out for the Queen of all Argyll (the swan is in her movements and the marvel in her smile....) ...enjoying your blogs and pics :-) Bronwyn x