A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘Glasgow’

Festival Ends and almost Home.

(Sunday morning) Relaxing morning before heading out to the in-law’s. Yesterday found me in the Science Museum for wander about. Lots of parents escaping with their small kids. A great place for them to mess about and learn at the same time. In the passing I noticed a relevant quote from Winston Churchill no less. 50th anniversary being celebrated, mainly on the Thames, I think, he said of Scotland, ” Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind”. Sort of makes you a little proud of being from here and it is little wonder that so many people want to own us and our lands. Strange that we do not see ourselves as being capable of looking after our own. This must be where the Waverley lives when she is not paddle steaming up and down the west coast in the summer months.


After a meal in the Rotunda across the road, amongst all the Strictly goers, it was up to the Old Fruit Market for some more music. Did not know too much about the two acts but was  fine night of entertainment. Steel pedal guitar of Sweden and a little backing from Denmark with Maggie Bjorkland


and this was followed by the brilliant Lambchop.


Off beat Americana and apart from the mildly annoying couple standing beside me it was a fine two hours. (They would have been better chatting in a noisy pub). It is a fine music venue.


Taxi back down to the Clyde was very entertaining when we got the low down on the Weegie boy racers who are using the city centre for their night-time shenanigans. According to the taxi driver they have been closed out of other towns in the central belt, gravitated to Glasgow, and get away with it as they “are the sons and daughters of policemen”. The opinion is that they are better racing around town rather than doing drugs and breaking into people’s houses!! Taxi driver had a couple of amusing suggestions for what else they could do. Such a quiet life up north.

And now back at the hotel on Sunday evening after yet another fine, fine night of music. Afternoon spent out in Lenzie with a personal taxi service which also picked up son No4 and Rachel. Plenty of time for lunch and chill out before heading up to the Old Fruit Market again. Ended up walking all the way due to lack of taxis,but perfect timing as Chris Drever came on stage for a warm up set, late fill in and very enjoyable it was. Calexico were simply awesome.


Had a great wee chat with a lady from Zimbabwe, living in Peckham and we swapped community stories. Told me she was a journalist after I had mentioned the blog. Would not have done so if I had known early enough in the conversation. Love dipping into another world if just for a few minutes. The change over on stage just flew by and before we knew it the sounds were blasting out from the stage. Trumpets,


accordion, looks so like a young Seve,


keyboards and guitars were a great mix of Tex/Mex sounds. Journalist knew Donald Shaw who told her that if the band were in a good mood they would play one hour forty, bad form it would be one twenty set. It was one forty-five and they looked in good form. Irish guys beside us were rocking. Cold and fresh walk back with not a taxi in sight.

Journey up the road was early, quick and uneventful. Beautiful snow scenes all the way north especially as we neared home. Saw this ruin in the snow on the way down but so often am not able to stop as we are going somewhere and trying to get there on time. It is such a stark reflection on the history of the Highland depopulation. Must have been a hard life based on subsistence living then.


Better Laws.

(early Sunday evening). Tiring but have to keep going as we are starting out on the last leg, the Oran Mor next for ALDOC and Songhoy again. Morning was the first laid back one as our outing was on for 2.30 at the O2. A series of five acts of which three were very good


and the other two were okay.


Had a bit of a weird experience on the way there. Just crossed the road in front of a marching band and did not like it at all.


Felt the aggression from them as they passed. Strident music with loud harsh drumming making a statement of who they were and almost daring me to look at them, of course the camera came out.I reckon I am passionate about a few things but they took the biscuit. The other downside is walking past the beggars, quiet, polite and looking pretty miserable. No doubt everyone has a story behind them and who knows but them, made me very uneasy and sad they could not enjoy what we were. The music was fine with three of the five very, very good and the other two good, but not to my taste. Busy place this town.


(Later) Just back from the Oran Mor and buzzing. Love writing these snippets when you still feel the music in you. Find of the weekend was ALDOC, a mix of Irish, New Zealand, Dutch and others, playing bass, electric and acoustic guitars, with flute, whistles, trumpet,drums and decks.


At one stage the could be described as rapping to a reggae beat but the flute was still prominent….simply fantastic.


Set too short but iTunes getting a visit tomorrow. Longish before stage set for Songhoy and we thought we had heard what they could do as they played last night. The venue, intimacy and crowd made for a special end to the weekend. Sometimes not knowing the language of the songs matter but not in this case, music is universal.


Even the subway not working did not matter, taxis ten a tenner. Banter on the way out was superb, he tries to stay clear of Sauchiehall Street, Saturday nights as the lads “after three pints of lager tops think they are King Kong”. His wee story of the Commonwealth Games. His neighbour, an elderly wifie was telling him she was watching the opening ceremony when she heard thunder and rushed to get the washing in. He could not understand it as weather great, worked out after she told him a couple of times that it was the fireworks she had heard…. she was watching them on telly but never twigged. It felt a short journey out. Bit of football on now and it just occurs to me that we have probably spent less on the whole weekend than we would have if we had gone to see overpaid superstars kicking a ball about a pitch for 90 mins. Poor comparison I know but makes think about priorities.

And home, it’s a long journey and a stop in at Birnam for a coffee and scone before Alison taking the van up the A9.


Roads clear, Treacherous playing on the iPod, and head full of memories of an epic weekend. Straight through to Applecross with a brief stop at the top of the Bealach for a view across the Sound.


Just a bit of House and a sleep. Busy in the other room as the tenders are in for the Hydro and lots of big, important and informed decisions to be made in amongst all this music. As we had stopped in Birnam on the way I sometimes stop and wonder how more people do not know about land issues, generally issues over legal rights and the like. I sat beside a tenant farmer who would not say where he was from, bit damming considering we have abolished Feudal Law. Outside Dundee we were told about a development which was objected to by all residents and CCs but went through at higher levels, the developer is based in the Isle of Man. It must be what the Africans on the ground feel when their land and resources are sold from under them by their own governments. Interesting to hear other people talking about the value of land and why as soon as you put planning permission on it does the value go through the roof. Housing a human right?….. it does say that in the laws we are supposed to be following, so many considerations that will be regarded as being less radical in the future. I often feel I am a little out there is what I believe in but am somewhat protected by my lack of desire on things. Collecting and selling holds nothing of importance as opposed to giving and helping . There is a structure and legal system to live within but when you read about how these laws come into being…….Why is it shooting a deer has become a right but cleverly the deer remains a wild animal so liabilities are nullified if the deer “causes” a car crash? Why can no one catch a wild salmon, a fish that has swam 4000 miles to Greenland and back, without paying a private individual extortionate amounts of money? Why do Sporting Estates have tax exemptions? The only reason I can think of is that those who make the laws actually benefit from them and they will argue to keep them the way they are. The way ahead is for the people to get together and make better laws in which the many benefit over the few. So three consultations to reply to in the next week or so, otherwise how can I continue to complain.


Land and Music, Universal Needs

(Very early Saturday morning). After nipping out to the boat for a few prawns for the Inn, a few jobs, quick dog walk and even quicker pack it was into the van by 1.30pm and down the road to Glesgow. Did it in fairly good time although messed about with the parking. Missed the car park and parked on the street, walked to the Royal Concert Hall for a stunning Fiddletree Concert. Beautiful music, found myself closing my eyes and kept imaging tumbling, flowing water across the Highland Hills. Not surprising as there was a mix of Cape Breton and Scottish fiddles, American cello with Irish harp. Brilliant mix and really loved Mairi singing “Smile or Cry”. Haunting powerful song, also liked the words put to the tune about what grew in Otis’ garden. Alison ended up sitting by a group of Cof S ministers and met some one who did not know where Applecross was. Left early as we were going to hear Shooglenifty and that was simply a beezer. As it was their twenty-fifth they had guests and they were special. The whole concert was stunning and it finished with a crescendo of Indian drumming. There was an encore with more drumming, Ross Ainslie and Angus, still on his feet, leading the rest of the guys. Just have n’t got the words and maybe a wee bit tired having walked around half of Glasgow to properly describe the joy of music. No photos as we ended up a little rushed in getting to the music but Shooglenifty’s fb page worth a visit. Finally got to the hotel around 1.00am, seemed to go on for ever, the hotel that is.


(Early Sunday morning). Well I was well content if tired last night tonight, Treacherous were absolutely out of this world. I cannot remember a night of music coming to such an epic finale.


A long day and we had planned to take the train to Birnam but NCP do not like vans in their car parks. That meant me sorting out a two-hour meter charge that cost £6, breakfast and then out onto the motorway and North to Birnam…….not before heading south on the M74 for a few miles in the direction of Carlisle. On the boat if going south and want to go north I turn the wheel to port and head north, bit different on these pesky motorways, but we got there in plenty of time. And then ensued a very informative and interesting day of views exchanged, new people met and bumping into acquaintances from other meetings. Very glad not to be a note taker, having volunteered if no one else would. Great conversations with people from Orkney to the Borders. Met “Gentle Otter”, some people you think you know even if you only have contact through social media, but so much better to meet in the real as opposed to the virtual world. Problems are the same the length and breadth of the country and sometimes I wonder if enough people are trying to tackle them. Phase of the day was “Scotland belongs to all of us and to none of us”. That sort of fits in with my lack of interest in things, it is about experiences and what you take with you. All I have bought this weekend is the Treacherous cd, and it is  pretty reasonable, the rest is memories. The strongest feeling I left Birnam with was the laws of the land are there to be followed and respected, and up till now have been mainly influenced by landed folk. If we want them changed then the people have to influence the lawmakers that change is necessary for the benefit of the many and not the few. It will not be a 70 page submission but there will be two going in from the Schoolhouse to the Scottish Govt this month and we are able to give instances where community comes a very bad second to the Establishment.Had to leave sharp to get back just in time for tonight’s extravaganza. Met up with other representatives from Dallas, Applecross, Ardelve, briefly, and pretty sure there were many other Highlanders in the RCH. Started with a fantastic lady from Cameroon, then The Micheal McGoldrick Band,


followed by some Malian blues from Songhoy.


A night of mixed emotions, I was rested at times and excited by the sounds. After three hours it was T.O.


These guys make me laugh with unadulterated pleasure.


Played a lot of the new album and, if possible, it may be even better than what has gone before. I thought of the Hydro as they were moving around the stage and wondered if there was any way you could store the energy they produced.


They looked so into their music it made everything so special although I did wonder if Ali Hutton was going to do himself an injury on the finale. The folk behind us provided lots of amusement for Alison as she was over hearing comments, not favourable of the night entertainment. They had not done their research and were at the wrong gig. One of them had switched off his hearing aid and they left before the end. What a weekend so far, the Festival Club will be jumping tonight but not jealous and now for sleeeeeep.

Celtic Connections…sublime


4 o’clock this morning saw me trying to dig out the van from a snow drift on top of the Bealach in near white out conditions, but on reflection it was all worth it. This was almost the culmination of a two-day trip to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. The finale was I did dig ourselves out and then reversed down to the top hairpin bend, turned and headed off around the Coast Road, an unwelcome 35 extra miles to the trip, and home at 5 am.

Leaving on thursday morning as usual was a bit stressful as there are always things to do and matters that are overdue but with Dougal settled in with his uncle and his mum and granny set up with their carer it was off down the road. Going over the Hill at this time of year is pretty much always spectacular and a couple of stops for the view essential.IMG_1274

After a stop off at the Pier’s accountants at Inverness we headed down the A9 and arrived at Sauchiehall Street around 6ish, settled in met with Ruairidh, had a bit to eat, then across the road to the Royal Concert Hall for what turned out to be a truly amazing night of music. As the Ruairidh said yesterday, Chris Stout came on with Finlay Macdonald and Ross Martin you thought this was great but it ,if possible, just got better and better.An array of class musicians trooped onto the stage, Cara Dillon, Rod Patterson, Capercaillie, Flook, there is something about one-legged flautist, Sheena Wellington. The list just went on and on. After a short break we went back into the Hall and we greeted with what we thought were a string section that were there to back the continuing talent on display. The show just seemed to get bigger and bigger where at one stage you had Capercaillie and some members of Flook, with Finlay Macdonald, Chris Stout, the “string section” all playing rocking traditional tunes with the Scottish Power Pipe Band arranged around the back of the stage…..awesome, just awesome. Even Mark Stevens, compere from Radio Scotland, was blown away and was at a loss to describe what was happening on stage. Thinking back on it now there must be very few occasions when you are able to say you saw Sheena Wellington, Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis, Eddie Reader and Karen Matheson all on stage at the same time. For me it was a “I was there ” moment. Hard to pick highlights but Eddie Reader singing Wild Mountainside came very close to the top. Talking it over yesterday we all loved the idea of the string section and towards the end of the evening we realised it was packed with front line talent such as Aidan O’Rouke, Alister Fraser, Natalie Haas and they were just the ones we recognised.

Last night at the ABC O2 was as good and so different. The music and venue were perfect. We did a little recce during the day to check up on tickets and where the venue was etc, noticed a 7pm start but turned out that was just door opening so Highlanders seen queuing outside at ten to but no worries we got down to the front. The set up ,I have to say, a little “sleazy” and Ruariadh saying the venue sported the largest disco ball in Europe did not take away anything from this image. Dance floor set up with rows of folding chairs and bar at the back of the main hall, toilets functional with attendant who held the paper towel roll, and a distinct smell of disinfectant everywhere  you get the picture. Darrell Scott came on and was simply brilliant singing a selection of his own songs and a few penned by people like Townes van Zandt. He produced a great sound, just him and his guitar. I chose this concert and was slightly in the dark about Amy Helm and relied a wee bit on reputation and who her father was, but we were stunned by the end of the set. Started off with a very Americana feel and got more and more bluesy with her singing songs by Dylan,The Band and Muddy Waters as well as her own. She has an amazing voice, and her band of Byron Isaacs,Justin Guip and Dan Littleton from her dad’s band were supreme. It has been a long time since I have been immersed in such fantastic,brilliant music of the last two nights and it made the drive north seem not quite so bad and so worth it. This was still the case even although the Stirling turnoff was closed off and we missed the diversion so ended up outside Edinburgh before heading north. Driving between Bruar and Kingussie in a white out at 2 in the morning was no fun as was being stuck on the Hill but all’s well and looking across the Sound this morning….. and Dougal judging by the photos on fb settled in very well visiting his uncle up the road. Already planning a longer trip for next year. Hats off to the guys that organise Celtic Connections, must rank as one of the best Festivals anywhere…..IMG_1285

Trip South

Home from Edinburgh after a fairly stress free couple of days that went very smoothly but it was just as well I had very little expectations. I left about mid-day yesterday and headed for Glasgow to pickup son No3’s kit from his ex-flat on Argyll Street. The weather was beautiful going through Glen Coe, past Loch Lommond and even into Glasgow.I do live in a stunning country. I made it to the flat with only one minor detour,getting back out was the problem. You have to understand I am a country boy, no sat-nav and a borrowed uncharged mobile. About half an hour later after visiting Central Station, Queens Street, Alan Glens school and the Caledonian University I eventually found an M8 sign and made it out of the mayhem that is a Glasgow rush hour. I did feel like a ‘teuchter’ from the Highlands…I suppose I am.

Through to Linlithgow and although I was greeted by a man touting a gun it turned out it was to do with chicken protection and nothing to do with my arrival. Lots of conversations sorting the world, Scotland and Applecross problems punctuated by a Thai curry of squats and prawns meant the evening flew by. The evening concluded with a walk round the small holding and saw the last episode of The Bridge…The Scandinavians do it well. A sound sleep on the couch after a planned assault on Edinburgh the next morning.

This is the first meeting of its type I’ve been to and to be quite honest there was nothing inspiring about it. We are a difficult group to manage but I did think the quote of the day was incredible. Bear in mind that he was talking about the static gear inshore fishermen and he is deputy head of the government department that is in charge of us.”To be fair,Marine Scotland did not know about you.” I did not pick up any actions taken forward from the meeting and I found a lot of the reps there were contradicting themselves, some saying stocks were as good as they have ever been but then saying they could not afford a day of. lots of stats about how much money the inshore fleet is making, but no recognition of the favourable exchange rates that distort the outlook. We are going to get a conference that is going to “celebrate” our industry. Sorry for being so cynical but I think making a mess of our environment is nothing to celebrate. There was lots of discussion about micro-managing various disputes and local difficulties but that was not what I travelled 600 miles for.The possibility of a static gear federation was discussed but not taken forward. It did seem that the important feature of the day was to set up a process where you were able to speak to the minister in charge. I did ask for a policy or a mission statement but was told there was not the data to support my claim that stocks locally are on the brink. White fish was not even mentioned so we are celebrating the process of fishing down the food chain and now all that is left is the bottom feeders. Speaking to a rep from the Clyde, a rather unsettling area to work. There were two students who carried out work on trawler discards over a 10 month period and he claimed even after a bit of positive massaging by Seafish they worked out through sampling,weighing and sexing the fish that 31 and a quarter million fish of 67 grams in weight were discarded dead in order for them to catch their prawns. That would be regarded as criminal in any other industry. So no I am not hopeful but I will still attend because that means I can moan about it.

Another amazing drive back up the road. I find as I get closer to home I subconsciously drive quicker, just to get home earlier. Another stunning sunset and a welcome from Dougal and family. He is adorable and it is just as well. They are getting their paws walked of as boys No 3 and 4 are home just now.

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