Sunday, October 21, 2018

Pitlochry and the Pitlochry Highland Games.

The following quotes were taken from the website of the Pitlochry Highland Games:
  • It was a tremendous gathering for what is the end of the outdoor games season and people told us they built their trip to Scotland around the Pitlochry Highland Games.
  • We had a crowd of around 7,000 from all over the World, who witnessed great competitions throughout the day, bathed in glorious sunshine.
  • The turnout was the largest in the games’ history.
In fact, we did pick our travel dates to include the Pitlochry Highland Games! September 8, 2018 the temperature as about 70 degrees and sunny. It did get a bit cloudy later but stayed warm and dry. We happen to overhear some games officials talking about how great the day was starting out, and it would likely makeup for the past two years where rain had put a serious damper on attendance.

But first of all, the town of Pitlochry is a must visit for tourists. It is centrally located in Scotland and near lots of landmark spots to visit. It is close to Blair Castle and the village of Blair Atholl, with its wonderful, working watermill, the Falls of Bruar, Killiekrankie visitor centre and the close by Braes of Killiekrankie (where one of the first Jacobite battles was fought in July of 1689), the Birks of Aberfeldy, Dunkeld, the Queens View near Loch Tummel, Tay Forest, Cairngorms National Park, and so much more.

The town itself has great restaurants, shops, bed and breakfasts, hotels, a helpful visitor centre and, wait for it, two distilleries, The Blair Athol distillery (spelt with one l) and the Edradour distillery. The question on your mind.... well of course we did!

Back at the games, there were 16 pipe bands competing, as well as numerous dancers and athletes. I included photos and videos that I took that day. Notice how young some of the competitors are among the dancers, pipe bands and athletes. (Makes me wonder why some of the organizers of some festivals in the USA claim that by bringing in “Celtic” rock bands it brings in a younger crowd. Do you really think that these young folks are interested in “Celtic” rock bands?)

Also, take notice that the way it was arranged with the large oval field and from the terrace on one side of the oval you could watch everything at once, dancing, pipe bands, highland athletics, track and field, cyclists, and tug of war all going on in front of you in one big field.

A truly great event!

The massed bands at the end of the day.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The 2018 Pitlochry Highland Games

A man in a kilt....... finish the phrase.
While attending the Pitlochry Highland games (September 8th 2018) recently I found myself surrounded by six lovely lassies from Germany, curious to know what a Scottish festival was all about and what the most important event was. I pointed out that the most important events were equally the pipe bands, the dancers and the athletes. These events are essentially what a Scottish festival is all about. At these games there was also track and field events and cycling competitions but as I said not as important as the first three. Here in Scotland there are hardly any clan tents set up and no music tents. Believe it or not I was only one of a handful of spectators wearing a kilt not including the dancers, pipe bands and athletes. I will later on this week write more about the Pitlochry Games on my blog on my website It is by the way the last Scottish festival of the season in Scotland and it finished with a bang, lovely weather, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky to start the day. More later.

Monday, October 8, 2018

My 2018 Scotland Trip, you're never too old

Having spent the entire month of September in Scotland and constantly sending photos and info to friends on facebook I realized that I still had so much to share when I got back home to the US. It was an incredible trip unlike any other I can recall just for the sheer number of experiences and places we visited, meeting up with family and old boyhood friends and meeting so many new friends. What I intend to do now is write a series of blogs on my website to go through the highlights of this trip.

John and Billy McGee with Carl (June 2016)
I must admit that at my age, nearly 75, I thought this might be my last visit to my homeland but after the trip was over I am anxiously looking forward to many more. Let me explain. Two years ago while visiting Scotland I was playing golf on the Whinhill Golf course and met up with the McGee brothers, John 76 and Billy 68 and myself being 72. They helped me out finding the flag for the eighth hole, I believe it was. The course is hilly, and you can't always see where the flag is that you're hitting toward. I ended up finishing the round with them, and we had a great time. I contacted them again this time and we played another round of golf. We're all still going strong

Ross & Dot with Carl
 I also met a couple of new friends, Ross and Dot in “The View”, a restaurant and bar in the Cloch Caravan Park, in Gourock. They had just gotten married earlier in September, and both at age 75. Had a good sing-a-long with them and others in the bar that evening.

 I met up with my oldest friend in the world, Leslie McMahon; friends since we were 9 years old from school and cubs and scouting days. I called him, he was out jogging but could meet him later in the day while he played table tennis. We eventually met up twice more at the RAFA club for drinks and a music session where I met more old new friends or is that new old friends. I was progressively feeling younger as time wore on.
Carl with Leslie McMahon

The trip started Friday August 31st until September 30th. I was accompanied by my good friend Susan Engard who by the way has been my sound and recording engineer for most of my CDs and among other things has been a great friend for almost 30 years. My wife Dory could not take the time off this time of year due to her work commitments and another couple who had planned the trip with us had to cancel out at the last minute almost. So it was just the two of us, consequently it was easier to decide what to do on a daily basis.

I will make this short and sweet for now but in upcoming blogs and facebook posts I will detail more of the trip bit by bit. Highlights include visiting Killiekrankie, the Pitlochry Highland Games, the town of Pitlochry itself, the Blair Athol distillery, Blair castle, the Falls of Bruar, the Birks of Aberfeldy, 5 music sessions in pubs across Scotland, the Isle of Arran, standing stones and that’s just to name a few. 30 days of pure fun, with each day starting off with a good Scottish breakfast of either porridge or haggis, black pudding, Scottish bacon, eggs, beans with tea or coffee and ending each day with good single malt Scotch whisky, Glayva and Scottish beers like Tennents, McEwans or Arran beers.