I hope you enjoyed listening to the two of our efforts in Gaelic choral singing in my last entry! We have a lot of work still to do on both songs, and at choir practice last night we worked all evening on the third song which was too awful to put on U-tube, apparently!!!
Anyway, the Cludgie Sessions on Saturday afternoon, as that practice was later dubbed, were our last before we had to make our way to the Aros Halls to do the thing for real in front of an audience and the adjudicators. The building to the left of the church railings is the hall in about 1900. Not a great deal has changed here, but there was another church built on the other side of it at some point!
We had quite a lot of hanging around to do, as we were passed from one hall to another to another, before we finally reached the stage where we were singing. There weren’t that many people in the audience, and the adjudicators were hidden from view so it felt less nerve wracking than it will do in Caithness next month! We sang the first song, and waited for the bell to ring to signal that we could go on to the next one. When it came we were amused to hear it being spoken – ting a ling a ling - by one of our adjudicators ! Who lost the bell then? It lightened the mood as we launched into the second song. The third song eventually over and relief on Jackie our conductor’s face, we plodded off stage again and downstairs to collect our raincoats and umbrellas again . The results and adjudications would be given out later so as going into the hall to listen to the next choirs was not allowed, we were free for the time being.
Rena and I took a walk along to the little local museum where we found out a bit about the history of Tobermory, and Mull in general. That was very interesting. I took a few photos here, this one being of a picture of ayoung man and woman of maybe the 1890s, working in a field, he using a foot plough to make the furrows he would later plant. A hard life in those days! We really don’t know we are born today!
Cooking was done over a peat fire, the peat blocks having been cut by hand with an instrument not unlike the one the fellow in the above picture is using; left to dry; carried back to the house and stacked ready for the next year’s use. The notice at the back of this mock up fireplace tells us that the iron swee, a lowland invention, and chains were made by the local smith and the thickness of the iron indicated how much the buyer could afford to pay. There was so much more to see . I recommend a visit if you are in the area. It’s free too!
What I found quite extraordinary was that the group of young lads sitting with their pints of beer, were just as happy to join in the singing – in Gaelic – and one actually sang solo for us!
Later that evening, Rena and I decided to go to the final concert featuring the prizewinners of the weekend’s competitions. We still didn’t know what marks we had got but knew we weren’t going to win anything! The concert was very enjoyable and gradually more and more of our group came along to listen, and to join in the dancing. Renate, and her band were competition winners, the surprise being that she is German. She was a recent member of our choir so was well known by our group of course. We also have a Dutch lady in the choir, the lovely Hilde, who achieved a Silver card for her command of the Gaelic language this year! Three others achieved bronze status. How pleased were they!!! The prize-winning choir – which was Taynuilt, from near Oban – had already left for home, presumably only being over for just the day, so much later in the evening any and all choir singers were invited to go up on the floor for a bit of “choir nonsense” which was just what it turned out to be, none of us knowing all the words of all the songs. We just la-la-la’d along to tunes we recognised, but the audience loved it and it was fun!
Here she is – “The Isle of Mull” .
Back to Oban we sailed, passing the imposing 13th century Castle Duart, home of the chief of the McLean clan, on its rocky outcrop, on the southern end of Mull.
Our journey home was leisurely with again some stops for refreshment and photos! We crossed the Connel Bridge just to take a look at the Falls of Lora from the opposite side – those white water canoeists were out again - and watched a black labrador having fun swimming for thrown sticks…….
then shaking the water from his coat….
Looking back, this is the Pass of Brander from the car park of the Cruachan Power Station visitor Centre. When I was growing up this road was being improved, so I remember lots of roadworks, traffic lights and traffic holdups! Now it is a wider road than my grandfather could have ever imagined as he drove on the narrow track through the Pass in the 1920s and 30s. I should imagine it would have been fairly hair raising in those days, but now the road traverses the water on stilts. Wonder what grandfaither would have thought about that! He’d have been amazed at the power station too, inside a mountain that he and my dad had climbed on various occasions! – the hollow mountain, it is nicknamed – and you would never know the power station was there.
In grandfaither’s day there were steamers on the loch, bringing visitors to the Victorian Loch Awe hotel. Quite a striking looking building! The railway line runs right by the foot of it. Recently the old station here was reopened, but I suspect the visitors are far fewer than in Victoria’s time. Imagine arriving by steamer, staying the night in the hotel then continuing your journey north by steam train! Mmmmm! I like that thought!
Well, time was getting on and we suddenly realised we had better scoot a bit faster down the road, so apart from a stop for tea later, that was our last photo opportunity!
What a weekend! I think I’ve just about come down to earth again now.
Talk again soon.