Saturday, 13 July 2013

Music and Mayhem

This week has been Feis week.  The Thiriodh Feis is a week of music, language and drama; there are various classes for all levels and the evenings feature more music and dancing.  This year there was also the "muse cruise" where folk could go on the Clansman to Barra and back while tutors and pupils performed around the boat.  I only went to the classes as Jo's parents were up so we wanted to ensure some family time together.

So, the feis first.  We all went to the school for 1ish on Monday and come 2pm we were sat on benches while the tutors introduced themselves and then did a little improv:
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During the week I have learnt how to sing three songs in Gaelic; how to play three tunes on the flute and how to play chords and pluck notes on the guitar.  Considering I've never held a flute or a guitar and not spoken more than three words of Gealic I think I did okay!  I've also been allowed to borrow a Feis flute to practise on and already have my eye on a pay as you go 18 month contract to get my own; just need to be sure I will continue.  The classes were great; big enough you didn't feel too singled out but small enough everyone could get help.

My day started with fifty minutes of flute.  There were four of us learning, two complete novices and two who'd had some experience, we all did well (said by the tutor) and everyone managed to get notes out of their instrument.  We learned a tune that can accompany a dance, another little tune and did a nursery tune that I can't remember the name of.  We also learned tonguing, double tonguing and triple tonguing and after speaking to the kind friend who gave me a lift all week I'm not the only filthy mind who learned flute this year.  We suspect our tutor left off the "of the flute" on purpose to discover whose minds were in the gutter.

After a short break it was on to Gaelic singing.  I love to sing, Jo and the pets can attest to this, but I've never sung Gaelic!  Our tutor was fabulous and was happy to explain and say the same word as many times as it took for us to be able to say it and work out our own way of writing it phonetically.  We learned a waulking song (sung by ladies while waulking/fulling the tweed); a spinning song and a piece of mouth-music that can be sung while people dance a Scottishe. (think I spelt that right)

It was then time for lunch.  Most people brought pack lunches although it was possible to go buy a filled roll or a "cuppa tea" from the H.E. room.

Then it was time for class three; guitar for me.  My first lesson didn't go as well as it could have because my left hand nails were too long, I cut them down as far as possible on Monday evening and they were interfering again come Friday's lesson!  We learnt some E chords in the first lesson and then, as there were two tutors, we were split into two groups: the complete beginners and the not-so-beginners.  I was in the complete beginners and the next two lessons saw us learning to pluck out a tune.  In the last lesson we learnt some more chords to play to a Gaelic song; funnily enough none of us could quite get playing the chords and singing at the same time although we did try.

Then it was on to "Feis song" where we were taught the "Tiree anthem"; by the end of the week most could sing the chorus but the verses were still hummed or mumbled by those not fluent in Gaelic.

Finally it was drama.  I admit, I'm not a fan of drama; I really don't enjoy performing in front of others or improvising, but I stuck with it and did enjoy learning some more Gaelic and some techniques.  I did skip the last class because I wanted to see what the music class involved that ran parallel to drama.

Come the end of the Feis week there was a group strip-the-willow dance on the new pitch at the school.  I admit to not taking part, mainly because this dance involves a lot of spinning and I get ick doing that much, but I did take photos and a little video:

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We had three musicians; guitar, accordian (or Bogsa) and Fiddle:
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The dance went well and after some "hip, hip, hooray" for the tutors, organisers and dancers we were all done.  There was a final dance at the hall with music by the Scott Wood Trio and Trail West (both Tiree based bands) and reports say the dance floor was full for every dance and most enjoyable.

So, that was the Feis.  I've set myself the task of an hour's practice a day of whichever instrument, probably flute, with hopes to improve for next year's feis.

Now on to mayhem.  Well, slight exageration, although five Bennetts in one location can lead to raucous laughter.  Jo's parents and younger sister came up for the week.  Right now they're on the Clansman back to Oban.

Last year one of my aunties sent an oil lamp with my uncle and cousin to Dad at his office.  The intention was for my parents to bring it up with them in May.  Unfortunately they forgot, but with some texting and phone calling they rendezvou'd with Jo's parents and the lamp was handed over.  Jo's parents have a three door car (where you fold the front seats down to get in the back); it was rather a tight squeeze and the lamp travelled up by lap.

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It works!  I did try it with our citronella lamp oil but not only did that reek, it's designed to smoke to deter the midgies so I ordered some bio-oil which smells ever so slightly of coconut and some new wicks as the old ones had gone an interesting colour and were looking rather worse for wear.  While I awaited the arrival of those I learnt oil lamp maintenance and gave everything a good clean.  It's now got all the new bits and is ready to serve come the next powercut.

We were also kindly brought some gifts including a massage bar (eaten by a certain canine within 24 hours; no ill effects) and a beeeeautiful sun catcher:
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Saturday was spent chatting to the family and hearing their adventures getting up here including how the car would travel and a tale of scrambled eggs that may well go down in family history.  During the week Jo went on various excursions with them (no photos, alas) and a couple of evenings we had a trot to Crossapol beach.  The first time Madam Doglet came with us and thoroughly enjoyed herding us all and jumping in and out of the surf:
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Jo's Dad has the much more expensive, DSLR version of my camera and was also enjoying snapping:
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On that trip I found a complete razorshell, sans inhabitant, a piece of pottery stamped "R.A.F. Newhall 1942" and part of a black shell:
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I was also introduced to the impossible-to-crash kite:
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It truly is!
Two feet of line:
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One foot of line:
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No line:
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 It just refused to do anything but soar. 

The second trip down saw three kites being flown:
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Through skillful flight there was only one accidental tangle of the two stunt kites; the rest of the time it was graceful flying with the odd "that's going really well" *crash*  Messrs Murphy and Sod were most definitely in attendance.

There was one moment where it took three people to launch one kite:
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There was also some time where Jo, his Mum and his sister all decided to go swimming:
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I did hear some squeaks as they hit the cooler water, but it was enjoyed by all.

So that's the week just gone.  Lots of things learned and done, happiness shared and memories made.  Now I need to go set up the Tiree Photographic poll so the photo to go in the newsletter can be voted on before the deadline.


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