Rena drove up through Harris having arrived on the boat from Skye on Wednesday morning. She eventually found her way to Jennifer’s and after a quick cup of tea we set off in her car for a drive. She hadn’t been up to Ness before so off we went, up the road to the north again – well, “again” for me! At least the weather was a good deal calmer than it had been the other day so at the Butt of Lewis we were able to get out of the car with relative ease to take the photos I hadn’t dared to take before.
There was a camera crew filming shots where they wouldn’t have dared to stand the other day. It appeared to be screenshots for a film called Funeral! Keep your eyes peeled!We were able to walk around the other side of the lighthouse that day too so that’s it on the right of the photo above.
and there were seabirds resting on the top of the seastack. You could hardly even see the stack the other day.
We tried to find somewhere to have a bowl of soup or a sandwich but the cafe at Eoropie was closed, so we decided to head for Stornoway for a bite to eat instead, passing through Upper Barvas again on our way. Do you remember I mentioned the old guy at Upper Barvas who lived in a blackhouse similar to the one at Arnol? Well, I reckon his house stood somewhere in the region of these two houses. I must do some digging in the attic to see if I have the photo my mother took all those years ago. The bodach – old man – was very keen to have a copy of the photo and I am sure my mother sent one on. I wonder who he was. Maybe he lived there all his life and was a young man in the 1911 census….. If I could find his name I’d go to the Barvas cenetery next time I’m out there, as I should think he’d be buried there.
On Thursday Rena and I met up in town to go to hear the Rural Choirs competitions. My cousin Neil was singing with the Tarbert Loch Fyne choir, conducted by his wife Hilary – that’s Neil on the right, standing at the end of the row,though it looks like he’s second from the right
and their daughter-in-law was conducting the very new little choir from the Inchnadamph area. They had only one man – Piotr from Poland, no less, and while he sang bass some of the women sang the tenor part. Mull choir was also competing – Tina from Bunessan was in that choir - she was on the same Gaelic course I went on last year – and of course Carloway choir - left - made their Mod debut, to great cheers from the audience who knew the story of them rehearsing their parts through Skype!
The next day was our big day, competing in the Puirt a Beul (mouth music) competition in the morning and for the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield in the afternoon. We were on first thing at 9.00a.m. so were all up early at Shawbost. Tim and his wife Maddie had joined us on Thursday evening as had Chera, our Canadian member, so a rota for the bathroom had been worked out the night before!! Jennifer prepared bacon butties for breakfast so well fortified we all piled into Tim’s car for the 40 minute drive to Stornoway again. The town hall is right on the main esplanade by the harbour front, and with a car park right opposite it was very handy for us. After a quick voice warm up in a side room, we were on! Four judges sat at a table in front of us – two for the music and two for Gaelic – and a small amount of people had gathered to listen. We sang well, and then, gathering up our belongings from the side room, came down into the hall to listen to the rest of the choirs. There was a visiting choir from Canada too, who were delighted at being awarded third place when the results were read out later! Surprisingly, we were considerably further down the ratings! Not last though!
At the Nicholson Institute, Stornoway’s school for the 11 – 18 year olds , a room had been allocated to us for practising before the L&T, so as we were not singing till well into the afternoon we had a good time to prepare. One thing about the Mod is that there is a lot of hanging around, being moved from one holding hall to another before finally reaching the stage. We had one of the squash courts as one of our moves, where there was sufficient time to take pictures. This is not the whole choir by any means but a selection of my favourite photos.
Mairi, Rena, and Hilde, from Holland, enjoy a laugh.
There are always more sopranos than anything else, and these are only the ones who could come to the Mod!
Finally we were up on that stage standing in our two rows in front of the An Comunn logo, and ready to go. The hall was dark but we could see there was a big crowd out there, as well as the judges looking very official at their table down the front! Afterwards Jackie said we had sung very well, so it was a bit of a disappointment to find ourselves in last place. They say it’s because the standards are so high, but we didn’t deserve that. Anyway, Jackie took it on the chin and said we had done all that she expected of us and more, and not to worry about our placing! We STILL haven’t actually received our adjudication, a month after the competition! Hmmm!
So that was that! The serious work was over and it was time to ceilidh – and ceilidh we did! After a choir gathering to eat in an Indian restaurant where we sang a few songs to the delight of the other diners, several of the choirs met up in the same pub and we sang our hearts out, and drank a few Coca - colas (well, I had to as I was driving home, but the rest had smaller glasses, taller glasses, or glasses with stems, containing varying tipples.) Despite being quite sober my ceilidh photos weren’t brilliant – personally I think it’s because no-one else was that sober!!!!!
I think it was about 2.00 a.m when I arrived home at Shawbost and I had left early! I bet there were a few sore heads next day!
Talk again soon