Friday, 29 July 2011

Danse Macabre in Blair Atholl

We managed to squash the children, PieDog, food, toys and us into the car and headed for Blair Atholl.

Now a word of warning.

Firstly, never buy anything which is preceded with the word 'Braveheart'.
I have it on good authority that the difference between a burger and a 'Braveheart' from the burger vans in remote beauty spots is £2.50. Just saying.

The Farmer decided to try the 'Braveheart Special' at the local hostelry. After a bit of a wait (agonising as the dining room was massive, full yet oddly silent) four pieces of meat arrived ON A SWORD, I kid you not.
We died a little.
I died a bit trying to stifle hysterical laughter, made worse as the place was so quiet. The Farmer died a bit when he burned his hand on the sword and said bugger. Loudly.

Secondly, don't try to find out what the time is in Blair Atholl. There are no clocks to be seen.
None of our family wear watches and although there is a clock in the kitchen, it is hidden behind mail To Be Dealt With or the motley collection of herbs and spices. It is either morning, afternoon or evening.
Anyhow, we knew the evening was about to start as people arrived in dribs and drabs then headed towards the bowling green.

Past the nest of watching haggis.

Everything seemed to be happening all at once; fire engines, pipe band, clowns, horses, stalls and a bouncy castle. There appeared to be nothing here an hour before apart from the watching haggis.

An elderly and very elegant gentleman had a collection of tools which were to be identified. A crowd huddled around the stall, held the objects up to the light and discussed what they were. Answers were put onto a proper postcard and a bottle of red wine for the best entry.

There was a stall selling tea - the best cup of tea ever plus a huge slab of home made fruit loaf.

There were tombolas and sales of work - all in aid of the Folk Museum.

The Pipe Band made a circle and played 'Highland Cathedral'. I stood and wept as it was such a beautiful rendition of a beautiful tune. I thought of my dad.

A clown held the attention of the children in the palm of his hand.

A wonderful group of ladies sang waulking songs as they worked a length of Harris tweed.

Young lads tossing the caber, trying to throw it into a 12 o'clock position.

A sheep shearer gave a demonstration of shearing a very reluctant ewe. He had probably shorn hundreds of them and this was the last one. Shearer and sheep scowled at each other.The shearer's bunnet fell off.
It took him about a minute and a half and anyone watching the pipe band or dog show missed the shearing.
The sheep was led into a little trailer. It looked very miffed after it's moment in the limelight had gone so quickly.

The bairns all clambered up onto a trailer and went for a hurl around the grounds (the only concession to Health & Safety was the big bloke saying "I've got my eye on you" to some of the more 'spirited' children. Everyone waved to them as they went past.

All too soon it was time for the raffle and the answers to 'guess the tools' which were all done simultaneously.

"Number one tool was a detonator crimper and green number forty two, green forty two for a nice tin of talc'.

We had guessed wrongly at the leather workers being castrators but did get the loaf sugar cutters correct. The Farmer won a bottle of T Cut.
No one was sure what tool number six was, including the owner but Mrs McKenzie waved her raffle ticket and was given a small box wrapped in pink paper. Everyone clapped and cheered.

Then it happened.

A twitch or two in the crowd then a slap. People started to do their own personal Highland Fling. They were slapping their own heads and arms, bunnets were flapped and slapped back on the head with force. Dogs scratched and bairns howled.
It ended up like a colourful Danse Macabre, everyone twitching and flailing and loupin' about.
The culprit being the dreaded Highland midge or thousands of them.

The raffle came to a swift end, stalls put away in record time and all too soon the park was empty again. The whole evening had been very Highland and magical, like Brigadoon; the home made fruit loaf now a lingering taste and a hankering for more.

They are a lovely community in Blair Atholl and the Glens, welcoming and kind.

But beware the Blair Atholl midge.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! I want a little haggis to watch me! :O)