Monday, 17 October 2016

Bothy Knitters

Oh my, I was blown away by this.
Up in Portsoy we played in the Salmon Bothy and behind the stage area was this huge big painting, as I thought.   Until I got closer and realised it was a knitted painting.  Two of them.  

So just for you crafters out there here are a few pics ...

Firstly, the Harbour

And what would you find in a Harbour of a Salmon Bothy?
A salmon of course!

Have you been knitting anything unusual recently?
It's getting around to that time of the year isn't it.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Last tour of the year - Around Scotland

Stirling Castle
It seems strange to realise our touring year is over - I have loads to do and projects to plan, but I kinda feel bereft not having any concerts to worry about or look froward to for several months.   How-and-so-ever, that's how the planning went for this year (note to self: don't let it fall this way again if possible) and it's quite fortuitous in a way as we have a new album in the planning stages plus uncertainty with family health matters and so on.  So I'll be coming up with various tricks to keep myself engaged and not get so far removed from it all that I start wondering what I'm doing!!

But we had a lovely time in Scotland.  It was great to catch up with friends and revisit clubs we've been to many times over the years and also take in a couple of new venues.   The weather turned almost overnight from Summer to Winter the day before we left so I ended up taking a suitcase full of unsuitable clothes but before we got home Autumn had arrived in all its glory.

We travelled almost the full length of the country this time, starting in the Borders where we hooked up with a wonderful textile artist friend Mirjam - the Borders are simply beautiful at all times of the year - rolling green fields and the classic Scottish granite buildings.

Then it was up to Fife to see some more friends in whose house we did a very enjoyable house concert and spent a day travelling around the Forth Bridges and St andrews and even got to see Minnie the Minx and Desperate Dan in Dundee - lovely city which I'd like to see more of.
The sails of the supports on the new Bridge
across the Firth of Forth
A mini  version of us set up by the lovely Ciara
before our house concert at her Gran's -
I wish all the instruments were this small :)

Minnie the Minx

Desperate Dan and Dawg
Not sure what he was advertising on his shirt
From there further north, first to Stonehaven and then on up to Portsoy an area we'd never been to before.   It is simply glorious up there.

Blue skies and blue sea - fabulous Sunday walk at Portsoy

The remains of the Salt House

Topping up the Vitamin D reserves

The Old 17th century harbour
Then back southwards again - to Stirling and then Glasgow and down the Ayrshire Coast home.
Someone recently was singing about Gold Bars in the Sun
 .... referring to these bales ... beautiful.
Ailsa Craig - next stop Ireland 

Every Scottish town has a signpost as you leave, saying "Haste Ye Back" - Aye indeed we will.   Can't wait to see you all again soon.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Tree of the Year

The Holm Oak, Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor
Our tree is in the NI final of the Woodland's Trust's competition.  Fancy helping out by voting? Here's the tree's story...

Hi everyone
Isn’t it great! I’m a finalist in Tree of the Year Competition.
I have been chosen by the Woodland Trust as one of the six best trees in Northern Ireland, for this Europe wide competition.

Most of you know me - I’m the old leaning Holm Oak just in on the left at the Fairy Glen entrance to Kilbroney Park and I have been selected from numerous great trees in Northern Ireland for this big Tree of the Year competition.

The Woodland Trust heard that I’m loved by lots of people in Rostrevor and they think I now deserve to become Internationally famous.  

Over the years I have really enjoyed small children and their teachers from local schools talking under my evergreen leaves, as well as musicians playing during Fiddlers Green Festival. Many of you have hidden behind me on summer days or joined the laughter from family groups (or sheltered when it rains), You older ones have often climbed my strong back to swing from my bigger branches. I’ve even seen some of you holding hands and kissing, of an evening!

Now some of my great limbs have become very tired and heavy with age and it feels as if they might need a little bit of remedial help.

I want to win the N.I. final, as then there will be a £1,000 TLC grant for the local community to look after me. If I get 1,000 votes I only receive £500.

So I need as many votes as possible to win
Please get everyone you know over 18 to Vote:

Vote ONLY on the Woodland Trust Website until Sunday 9 October:

Thanks for voting
Your Holm Oak

Friday, 30 September 2016

September Photo Hunt

Joining in today with Hawthorn's monthly scavenger hunt.   I love this challenge of putting pictures to her words.   Go and check out the link and play along if you fancy joining in and have a look at all the other wonderful photos from around the world.  

September  has been a crazy month - it's my birthday month which I love - we're on tour at the moment in Scotland and before that we had a load of gigs, plus my poor mum had time in hospital so we were on the road a lot, between visiting, working and caring.   Thankfully all's settling down now.  

So here's this month's mix and match of tenuous links :)

We're evicting spiders constantly at the minute - boy can they spin webs quickly
you get rid of them and five minutes later there's another cobweb somewhere
This one was outside the window - aren't they simply fabulous when the rain falls on them


This windmill looked like it had lost a blade, or was only half built
in the Borders of Scotland


I know this isn't what you traditionally think of as Filigree, 
but I couldn't take my eyes of the beautiful patterns in the Forth Bridge
To me, it looks like lace.

We played a gig early in September on the Tall Ship Soteria on Newry Canal
This was our view before setting sail
OK, another tenuous link - This is in the inside of the lighthouse lamp
at the smallest working lighthouse in the world in Queensferry
The smallest lighthouse in the world
Well, almost asleep, with one eye open.  
This was Mr Magoo - one of two beloved cats who have now passed
- his sister is in a picture below.
Probably the only thing that would make me stop touring is having another couple of fur babies 


Greencastle, Co. Down at low tide.
Hydrangeas drying to a beautiful vintage colour

Sheba, following Tom for a walk on the beach.  I can still feel her fur in my head ... Sigh ..
She and Magoo were left in a box at the doorstep of an office I was doing some temp work in
I took them home for the night and he stayed for 10 years and she for 13 years. 

The new bridge across the Firth of Forth to be called the Queensferry Bridge I think
Apparently somebody commented that it was a good idea
to leave  a gap to stop people driving on it before it opened!!
Seriously though, it looks like it defies gravity - 2 parts hanging in mid air.

With thanks to Hawthorn for organising the monthly Scavenger Hunt.  Great fun.   Off now to see everyone else's pics.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Last Days of Summer

It has been a beautiful week of sunshine - perfect for bringing my Mum home out of hospital.  It reminded me of this song I co-wrote at a songwriters workshop a while back with a lovely singer songwriter called Eugene Brosnan.
Tom caught the sun glinting on the water and it made a perfect match.

We're off to Scotland now (in the pouring rain) for a run of folk club concerts - it is always a pleasure to catch up with friends here and to play in these intimate little venues - the last tour for this year.   Thankfully my brother has come home to be with Mum for the time we're away and by the time we're back she should be back on her feet again.

And I've just realised this is my 300th blogpost - not all published mind you, but still an achievement.

Have a great week and enjoy the colours of Spring or Autumn whichever part of the world you're in.

Monday, 19 September 2016

No rheumatism there.

I spotted this video coming up in a list underneath a video that one of my friends posted on Facebook - it really made me smile.  And as Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens again it seems appropriate. As my father would have said "There's no rheumatism there!"

Have a great week with lots of energy and smiles.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Learning new skills - go gently

Today I'm reminding myself to go gently.

I did a search for some music to go with this phrase and found this artist whom I'd never heard of before ... Suzanne Ciani - she's a synthesist ... I love the melody...


A friend called the other day to get help from my other half with her computer.  She was berating herself for not being able to do basic things on her new laptop,   I was trying to tell her that we all feel like that even if we're using the computer all the time but she wasn't hearing me to go easy and she'd get there.

Recently I've been working on arrangements for singing workshops and for my choir.  It's something I've avoided assiduously for years because the relevant software is sooooo slow to work with and on the face of it quite complicated.  And of course, having a go every 2 or 3 months isn't going to help the learning process.   By the time I get back to it, I've forgotten the little bits I did learn.

We live in a culture that demands instant gratification and that rewards speed and competence.  But what happens if we just slowed down and did a little bit everyday - eventually we get the desired result - a new skill or whatever.   And especially as we get older, or just have too much going on in our heads it gets harder and harder to learn everything quickly.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson - to learn something new, something old has to go out ... or something along those lines...
I love that idea, and it makes sense to me when I'm trying to learn more song words - something simply has to be forgotten to make room to remember something new.

So, deep breath and back to see if I can finally get to grips with this software.

Keep trying y'all and go gently.