Bagpipes Galore!

Love them or hate them Bagpipes seem to be associated with Scotland. I say that because I’m well aware that other countries play bagpipes too. I remember feeling just a little bit homesick when visiting the old Roman town of Jerash in Jordan and heard the sound of bagpipe playing from the amphitheatre. Intrigued, I went closer to investigate and found 2 Jordanians were the source of the playing.

This weekend it was the European Pipe Band Championships and they were held in a town 12 miles away. Perhaps, after 28 years away from traditional events like these I was really keen to go. It was certainly an experience- over 100 bands were competing in different categories including juniors.

One of the many pipe bands.

One of the many pipe bands.

The bands are made up of bagpipe players and drummers.

Every band has a large drum too!

Every band has a large drum too!

Drummers practising.

Drummers practising.

Checking out the competition?

Checking out the competition?

Giving her husband support?

Giving her husband support?

And there were plenty of refreshment options for the 20,000 people who attended.

mmmm?

mmmm?

Besides the pipe bands there were competitions for Highland dancing, Drum Majoring and baking the best ‘tattie’ (potato) scones.I read today in the newspaper that this last event was won by a Welshman and one of the winning Pipe Bands was from Ireland so the Scots certainly didn’t have it ‘all sewn up’! 

Highland Dancers.

Highland Dancers.

I have a feeling I’ll be searching out a Highland Games to visit next to continue my repatriation to Scotland!!

Over the sea to …..Harris!

I first visited the Isle of Harris in The Outer Hebrides in the 1980’s but it wasn’t until I revisited them 12 years ago that I truly fell in love with this Scottish Island. Over the years I have visited many islands in Scotland and around the world but Harris is one I find myself being drawn to again and again. Luckily, my husband shares this love so I regularly manage to get a Harris ‘fix’.

What makes it special?

I suppose one thing is its beautiful beaches. Even on the dullest, rainiest day the sand has a magical luminescence that just never fails to lift my spirits.

Traigh MheileinThe colour of the water is absolutely amazing and definitely makes one think of much warmer climes!

Harris beach.

 

 

Another is the people who live up to their Gaelic saying:

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– ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ although to be honest this applies to my experiences of the inhabitants of other islands too.

Added to this is their trust in humanity. Sadly, something that was very evident in my town during my childhood, but nowadays not very apparent. Coming across ‘honesty’ shops lifted my spirits to think that someone had such faith in their fellow humans to be honest and pay for the goods they wished to take.

This lovely food shop had crabs, lobsters, scallops, salmon as well as newly baked bread, rolls, cakes and quiche. Such a joy to find.

Food Honesty Shop at Northton.

Food Honesty Shop at Northton.

and further along the road this little honesty shop stuffed full with all kinds of handmade items including Harris Tweed bags and jackets.

A cornucopia of handmade goods.

A cornucopia of handmade goods.

Even using a camping place is left to your conscience whether you pay or not….

Camping fees on trust.

Camping fees on trust.

As a lover of textiles a visit to Harris is always a great opportunity to add a few pieces of the world famous Harris Tweed to my fabric stash!

Beautiful, Harris Tweed.

Beautiful, Harris Tweed.

I suppose,though, when you have a liking for a place it’s more than a few ‘concrete’ reasons but more a feeling of ‘belonging’ or ‘feeling at home’ that makes it a place that you want to return too. For me, Harris is definitely one of those places and one that I can imagine I will continue to visit for a very long time.

If you’re reading this I would love to hear what your special island/place is:)

Bring on the summer!

It’s been a long slog but I’ve made it to the end of my Open University course and submitted the last assignment:)

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Books!

Having been a Primary School Teacher for 30+ years children’s literature featured daily in my life but it didn’t prepare me for what I experienced from doing this course. I was a little surprised when I first looked at the reading list to find I had only read a couple of the books- Treasure Island and Peter Rabbit. Of course I was familiar with Peter Pan, but only through watching the Disney cartoon! So a lot of new reading experiences were in store. As you can imagine some I loved and some I was thoroughly sick of by the time I’d completed the relevant assignment. I was surprised to find myself really enjoying Swallows and Amazons and I absolutely loved Role of Thunder by Mildred D. Taylor. Her account of growing up as a black child in the American South in the 60’s was both educational and entertaining and, I should imagine, would definitely give older children something to think about. Perhaps the set of books that I found most of an eye-opener myself, were the dystopic, teenage books- Junk, The Bunker Diaries and Divergent. Their topics of drugs, violence, teenage pregnancy, kidnapping, death and teenage prostitution were definitely a lot different to anything that I read as a teenager- and probably from the books I read now! I definitely learned a lot and I doubt I’ll ever read a children’s book in the same way again! As in those long ago school and student days, the exams are over -Bring on the long, lazy days of summer:)