Monday, 25 May 2009

Capercaillie and Cateran

It isn't every weekend that you share a stage with an international supergroup and then follow in the footsteps of marauding clans and cattle thieves. Not to mention the realisations that I am becoming addicted to Britain's Got Talent.

The weekend began at the Fintry Music Festival. The traditional music group I am a member of, Get Reel, was asked a while ago if we could support Capercaille. Unlikely you would think but a fact. Under the able instruction of our tutors Mike (Malinky) Vass and Barry (Spad)Reid we learned three sets to perform. This was our fifteen minute happening.

Karen Matheson passed through our rehearsal area back stage a couple of times and gave us smiles and hellos. I think she probably felt sorry for us as we screeched and droned.
At 8.00pm on Friday night we walked out into the stage in front of the packed hall of Fintry Sports Club and played our wee hearts out. The audience clapped along and gave us a massive applause. The Capercaille show was pretty fine too.

I have heard the bookings are now flooding in.

The Cateran Trail

I found a flyer in a magazine about a new walking trail in Perth and Angus. The circular trail starts and finishes in Blairgowrie. It follows the paths that the Caterans used and takes about five days to complete. Colin and I only had a couple of days so we opted for short sections.

The first section was from Bridge of Cally to Blairgowrie. The track takes a high route over the Cochrage Muir and give the walker wide landscapes of clean ploughed fields and up close and personal access to the many nestling birds in the area. At one point we were surrounded by lapwing mothers flapping over their youngsters, while the fledgling flustered round ground nests wondering what all the fuss was about.

We completed the section in a couple of hours and caught a taxi back to the Bridge of Cally Hotel where we enjoyed a well prepared and presented meal.

The Dalhenzean Lodge B&B, just up the road, was clean, comfortable and gave us the biggest cooked breakfast I have eaten in years. It was just the job to see us off on our next trip.

This time we opted for a variation on the Cateran trail so we could enjoy a circular route. This route took us past Loch Beanie where a fledgling oystercatcher was chirping and birlin in circles like one of those wind up toys you see in Chinese markets, the only difference was this little bird never ran out of spin.

Part of the walk took us on road but it didn't spoil the enjoyment too much. The thousands of lambs we encountered brought back to mind that age old puzzle - Why do such cute lambs turn into ugly sheep? It isn't right somehow.

One lamb made friends with us, I was tempted to stick him in my rucksack but in the end sent him back to his mother.

One lamb trying to make his escape

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Welcome Babey Boy

Yesterday was a big day in my life. A wee babey boy was born at 8.30 in the morning. He is my first grandchild and I am bursting with pride. I was over in Fife yesterday visiting a very tired Mum and Dad and a very contented little boy. I wont say any more otherwise I will turn into a cliche sprouting idiot.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Poor Neglected Blog

The Clutha Vaults - The only place to be seen on a Friday night in Glasgow.

I can't believe it is almost a month since I last created a post. I have been delivering four new courses into the community and the preparation and teaching time have elbowed everything else into the background.

The courses, Excel, Kitchen Gardening X 2 and Creative Writing, are all going well. I am finished with the Excel and one Kitchen Gardening this week and hope this will free up some time to push me out into my own garden and reintroduce myself to my novel.

But it hasn't all been work. Colin won a weekend for two at the Jury's Glasgow Hotel and we thought we would combine it with the Bob Dylan concert.

We came into town on Friday night and had dinner at an old style Glasgow restaurant. It was at one time the place to be seen. We had eaten there before, on Valentine's night, but like all Valentine meals, we were disappointed. This time would be different, I was sure.

But it wasn't. I was served over cooked scallops to start. They were no match for the succulent fresh beasts dished up at the Applecross Inn. There they are so fresh you pass them on the way in still sloshing about in the fisherman's bucket.

The main course of swordfish wasn't too bad, but it wasn't that great either. The most startling thing about the restaurant was the clientele. They all looked like gangsters; old guys trying to impress young straightner-straight-haired women. It was a bizarre experience.

We needed brought back to earth, so we went for a drink in The Scotia Bar, an old Glasgow institution. A live Blues band was belting out many decibels, but a couple of old guys in the corner told me The Clutha Vaults, across the road, was better. And it was. Another live band was playing, this time seventies and eighties rock. Before I knew what was happening I was up on the floor dancing with four women from Pollock. They don't make pubs like that anymore.

After that Saturday night at the SECC could have been a let down, but Sir Bob came up with a show. He played a mixture of old and new material and his band were excellent. I hate Bob Dylan's new staccato singing style, but it was an honour to see what was billed as The Poet Laureate of Rock.

Congratulations to Carol Anne Duffy on becoming the new Poet Laureate. Let's hope she will continue with the excellent work Andrew Motion began with the Poetry Archive.