Reading My Way Around the World

Monday 31 October 2016

Celtic New Year

Beautiful journey through Co. Armagh
Such an unexpected pleasure having the extra hour in bed with the time change this weekend - I can never remember whether we gain or lose an hour when the clocks fall back, so it was nice to find we'd gained it.

Coming in to Ederney
This has been the most beautiful Autumn I can remember for a long time - the colours are just fabulous - last time I saw a prolonged colour like this was in New England.   But we've had dry crisp gorgeous weather and the leaves are hanging on and glowing.

On my journey west from Co. Down to Co. Fermanagh and back again the views just kept getting better and better.
Sunset over Lough Erne

Well it's Celtic New Year again.
I wrote about the traditions of Samhain here  but for this Halloween I thought I'd share this lovely Van Morrison song with you.   People either love or hate Van - I think he's a great creative force out of Belfast and always has a song for every occasion.

"If I don't see you through the week, I'll see you through the window" - a great local saying.   It's a bit like "pick your window, you're leaving!"

Blessings of the season to you.

Monday 24 October 2016


Rostrevor Community Choir has a new name ... Singmarra .... what do you think?

I suppose we could guess that it means Songs of the Sea, or Sing about the Sea - but actually it's just a play on words from a beautiful Aboriginal song called Lingmarra that Therese Virtue at the BoĆ®te World Music Cafe in Melbourne taught me when I visited earlier this year.   Her choirs all sing it and it's a sort of non specific native language that means Welcome Everybody  

Rostrevor Community Choir has been going now in various guises for nearly 6 years and for most of that time I've been thinking "we should have a name!, we should have a name!"   So finally we have.

The artwork is an original painting by one of our members, Susan Farrell, who is also chair of the local art group.  I love the lightness of her paintings.  You can see more of her work here

We meet on Wednesday nights in Rostrevor, so if you happen to be in the area on holiday and fancy joining us for a sing for an evening, you'd be more than welcome.  Membership is closed now until after Christmas but we'll open it again for a few weeks to take on the New Year's Resolution singers.

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