Exploring the Isle of Skye!

Well, the Isle of Skye is a pretty stunning spot! We may all want to move here…..can we be professional recorder players and wake up to these views every day??!

Hosted so warmly and generously by Angus for two nights with delicious home cooked meals (and homemade pavlova!),
we were so lucky yesterday morning to get the best part of the day for our exploration around the north of the Isle. Beautiful sunshine and beautiful views, from gorges to fairy glen, cliffs to waterfalls.

After a yummy lunch back with Angus, looking out at the sea view, we headed to Portree for our rehearsal at St. Columbas church. A perfect acoustic for our recorders.

With a great turn out for the concert, we had some lovely chats with audience members over tea during the interval. One lady told us how she had seen us back in England while visiting her sister about 2 years ago and when she saw that we were playing in her neck of the woods she had to come along again. Another lady told us that one of our pieces/story reminded her of a chapter from The Wind in the Willows, so we’ll have to check that one out and see can we add it to our readings 🙂

We’re now on route through the mountains (with views of snowcapped ones!) to Gairloch and looking forward to our 5th concert of the tour there tonight.

Day 5 – Thank you!

Last we night we performed out final concert of the tour in Melrose, a historic town with impressive abbeys all around. Now we are sat at Edinburgh Waverley Station, waiting for our trains to London and York. We can’t quite believe that our Scottish adventure has come to an end! From Banchory, up to Inverness and down to Penicuik, New Lanark and Melrose we have seen incredible scenery, beautiful towns, venues ranging from the impressive Inverness Town House to the charming and intimate Penicuik Arts Association. Most appreciated of all, we have had generous hosts who have made us feel comfortable and at home, which makes all the difference when moving to different locations each day.

All that remains to say is thank you to all the hosts for looking after us, to the Music Societies and Associations and their audiences for having us, and to the Tunnell Trust for organising everything and giving us this opportunity. We have every hope of returning in the future, both to explore more, and also hopefully to play again!

Finding our sea legs!

Our stay on Eigg at St Franny’s Bothy gave us the cosiest view of a storm we’ve ever seen! Unfortunately our stay was cut short, but we have to say a big thank you to the islanders (particularly Lucy!) who helped us to squeeze in as much sight seeing as we could before catching an earlier ferry.

The rest of the day (including a hair raising couple of hours on the water) was spent travelling to our destination for the concert tonight: the Isle of Skye.

Thank you to Lucy for these pictures of us performing at Eigg, first at the Island’s primary school, and then the concert itself!

Day 4 – Keep eating Border Biscuits!

We started the day yesterday with a short walk to see Penicuik House – it was great to get some fresh Scottish air and stretch our legs. Our descent down into New Lanark brought more beautiful Scottish scenery, as we entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site. New Lanark is a restored 18th-century cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde. The mill was famously transformed under the management of the philanthropist and utopian idealist, Robert Owen. In fact in his time, ‘The Institute’, which is the venue in which we were playing, was used by him and the villagers for music and dancing – or, as he regarded it, the cultural education of his mill workers.

We arrived in time for a rehearsal and tour of the museum and then, as has been the theme of this whole tour, we were warmly looked after and treated to a meal in the hotel next door. When we returned to The Institute, the Music in Lanark Committee had set up some fantastic atmospheric lighting for us, which they then perfected with us in position.

It was a fantastic turnout despite the cold weather and heavy snow which had been falling all afternoon and a pleasure to perform on Ruth the piano (named after the Head of Keyboard Studies at Yehudi Menuhin School). It was also heart-warming to hear of the generous support of Border Biscuits who helped fund the purchase of the piano.

We are currently on our way to Melrose and have just stopped in a Forestry Commission cafe for some lunch surrounded by mountain bikers! Looking forward to our last concert of the tour and to coming full circle as we play the programme which we last played on our first night of the tour, ‘Across the Pyrenees.’

A One of a Kind Journey from Green Room to Stage!

We had such a surreal adventure on the Isle of Eigg yesterday! It was wonderful to see a great community spirit among the people we met. All so friendly and a real inspiration.

After a windey drive through the stunning mountains from Fortwilliam to Mallaig to catch the ferry to the Isle (reversing on board!), we went straight to Eigg primary school where the five children treated us to a tour of the school and a mini whistle recital. We had great fun performing for them and getting to know them, learning some stories about the Isle.

Lunch was had at the pier tea room where we met Luna the dog and experienced the best ‘Dirty Chips’, complete with haggis.

With our luggage transported up the hill by quad bike, we stayed in the cutest little hut, St Frannys Bothy, with a wood burning stove, snuggly pod beds and an incredible sea view. After our rehearsal in the community hall (fairylights in abundance!) we had a lovely home cooked meal back in our bothy, before getting concert ready and then venturing through the dark with our torches on a muddy track back to our performance space in the hall. Lots of laughs were had along the way!