Friday, 4 December 2009

Burns in Wormit

Wormit Primary: P6 & 7

The Bard and I were delighted to visit the charming village of Wormit in Fife, today.

With a delightful view over the River Tay, this school seems a wonderful place to learn. The children were very well behaved and the staff very friendly. We spent a very pleasant hour and a half talking about Scotland's Bard. The youngsters - from P6 & 7 - proved quite knowledgable and very enthusiastic. They also sang well and scored a 7/10 on my totally arbitary scale.

Moosey proves a hit did the Twa Dugs and even the cuddly louse!
The cup of coffee after was very welcome too.....and a huge thanks to the teacher who took the photos for me.

Auld Lang Syne

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Burns in Donibristle: Fife

The Bard and I travelled to Doibristle Primary school today to deliver a show in front of a large crowd! Over 200 youngsters enthusiastically listened to RB's story with off-shoots into the Jacobites and Bannockburn..
The Twa Dugs steal the show

The youngsters were well informed about Bannockburn having re-enacted it last year! Their knowledge of Burns was a little patchy but they showed much enthusiasm joining in songs with gusto. The behaviour in such a large group was superb and they are a credit to themselves and the school. Well done all!...and a special thanks to the teacher who took the photos for me...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Burns in Abernethy...again!

The Bard and I were delighted to return to the village of Abernethy. This time to visit the primary school.
P6 & 7 were an attentive audience in this new (2002) school.
The Twa Dugs steal the show (again)
Although needing some prompting to join in the singing(!) their knowledge of some of Burns work was not bad at all: especially Tam O Shanter, the story of which they managed to tell me in detail.
Auld Lang Syne with enthusiasm!
A big thanks to Ian and Abernethy Burns Club for sponsoring this event and also for taking the photos....

Burns in Carnock: St Andrew's Day

The Bard and I spent St Andrew's Day at the lovely village school in Carnock, Fife, after some initial problems finding the way into the school car-park ("Go back OUT of the village and turn into the housing estate....."). In a well decorated hall, with many pupils sporting some tartan for the day, Burns story once again entertained and educated.

The pupils listened well and joined in with the singing enthusiastically. Several in particular were keen to answer questions, with P4/5 doing especially well about the Jacobite period.

It was great to see all the tartan for St Andrew's day and always a pleasure to work with an enthusiastic group of young people, who also asked some interesting questions at the end. With special thanks to the teacher who took the photos.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Burns in Abernethy

The bard and I travelled to Abernethy recently (famous for its Pictish Tower - shown above ) to visit Abernethy Burns club for an evening show for a change! The locals turned out in force and we had a great evening enjoyed by all. Thanks to the ladies who provided tea and baking and to Ian for organising it all. As often before I ran over time but no-one complained! The audience joined in the singing enthusiastically and many compliments were received after the show.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Burns in Biggar

The Bard and I visited Tinto Primary, just outside Biggar, recently and on the way stopped to shoot this wonderful sunrise...

After a good run down, despite some heavy traffic, the pupils were raring to go....and they know their bard too! Well some of them do. They explained the story of Tam O Shanter beautifully but hadn't met Ceasar and Luath of Twa Dugs we addressed that!

They sang well and listened attentively to lots more. Many searching questions at the end showed they had paid attention and were up to learn more. Hopefully some photos and drawings to come ...

Thnx to the teacher who took the photos for me......

Monday, 7 September 2009

Burns at Brodie Castle

The bard and I were in Moray recently visiting the fabulous Brodie Castle. A very enthusiastic audience were full of praise for the show. It is a great venue for anything of an historic nature and Burns fitted the bill perfectly. A big thanks to Andy Ross for all his help making it happen and to the staff of the castle for their hospitality. Well done too, to the duo Pur who used the event to launch their own CD of Gaelic and Scots singing.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Burns in Irvine

The Bard and I were in Irvine recently at the invitation of the Irvine Lassies Burns Club to help them celebrate the Homecoming year. When last there, Burns had an illuminating experience as the workshop he was using for flax dressing burnt down at New Year!

The Bard & the club piano - a story in itself!

What a fantastic night we had in the music room of "Wellwood" - the club house for the prestigious Irvine Burns Clubs. There is so much history in that club it would need a whole day to view all the artefacts alone. More information can be read here on the club website

We had a full house of 70 plus who sung their hearts out and seemed to thoroughly enjoy my interpretation of the Bard's story.

One of the stain glass windows in the club

The ladies put on a splendid spread at half time and the whole night flew by. We finished off with a small gathering into the small hours, at the house of Margaret & Davie Cook , who also accommodated Fiona and I. A HUGE thanks to them for their very warm hospitality.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Burns in Edinburgh

Taylor's Hall Hotel - Cowgate - Edinburgh

The Bard and I had a busy weekend! After the Globe in on Saturday we had two gigs lined up in Edinburgh on the Sunday. The first was a short guest spot in Taylors Hall Hotel. This was a charity night for Children of Chernobyl - a very worthy cause which I was delighted to support. Fellow Fencible David Purdie started the night off with his slide show of Burns Edinburgh. This was followed by a group of children who were all Burns Competition winners and were simply superb.....well done all! The first half was finished with a short spot from yours truly encouraging some audience participation (from the 200 strong crowd) for the first time in the evening. Well done to Mike for arranging all this for a very worthy cause.

Robert Louis Stevenson's House - Edinburgh

A quick dash up the road then, for David and myself, to Robert Louis Stevenson's house which was the venue for a dinner of the Atlanta Burns Club - currently touring Scotland. A very enthusiastic audience of around 30 joined in some of the Bard's well known works with gusto and were left wanting more...... Good luck to them on their up-coming tour of Scotland in the capable hands of Ian MacMillan, President, Wester Ross Burns Club and a friend of the Bard from a previous tour......

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Burns in Dumfries

Some of the audience with the 'Bard' in the Howff Club room

The Bard and I were delighted to return to Dumfries this weekend as guests of the Howff Burns club. The show which was originally planned for the Theatre was rescheduled into the Club room in the Globe Inn due to small numbers. This was a double edge sword....unfortunate because the numbers were small but exciting in that it meant the show would take place in the very building Burns frequented.
Rantin Rovin Robin

However, those that were there had a great time and joined in the songs with much enthusiasm. A special mention to the lady from Australia who found her way to join us. It was a long way to come for a gig but hopefully worth the trip!

As an additional bonus I got to sleep in the room RB shared with Anna Park - how cool is that?! (A big thanks to Jane, Manager in the Globe, for making that happen).

The Burns Room in the Globe Inn - the room RB used to meet Anna Park

Of course the love song Burns wrote for Anna - Yestre'en I had a Pint o Wine - went down very well and it was quite an emotional event singing it in the very place where it all happened! Thanks to the Howff Club members who showed up to support the show - and for their fine hospitality.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Burns in Poolewe

Laide Caravan Park
The Bard and I visited lovely Wester Ross this weekend at the invitation of Wester Ross Burns Club. Poolewe village hall echoed to the Burns' story with club members, locals and some holiday makers attending.

Poolewe Hall

Thanks to the ladies who put on a great spread at the interval and a BIG thanks to Ian and Jean to who set the whole thing up and accommodated us in their lovely house over the weekend.

We also managed to visit Inverewe gardens and take in the fantastic array of plant-life there.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Burns and the Ulster Scots: Aughnacloy

The second night of the mini-tour was near Aughnacloy. This time for a wonderful little community, many of whom are farmers. A big thanks to Bertie Graham for setting this up and showing me his farm up on the hill.

The support this time was provided by the local Pipe Band who put on a creditable show, and also some local Country Dancers, who even let RB join them for a Virginia Reel! Then an audience of some 70 or so, listened to the Bard's tale. We had a great evening and stayed on quite late....with all the crowd remaining to the end - always a good sign! A HUGE thanks to Lorana who put me up for the night.
Willie Wastle's wife woos the crowd

.....and that was it.....the second of our fleeting visits to NI.......a superb time, in lovely weather...and hopefully one we can repeat another time.

Burns and the Ulster Scots: Lisnaskea

The Bard meets a Lambeg drum!

The Bard and I travelled to Northern Ireland recently at the invitation of the Ulster Scots Association. It is great to see such interest in the works of Burns over in that part of the world. Outside Scotland, Ireland was the first country to publish the Works of Burns back in the 18th Century.

Lisnaskea High School, in Lisnaskea near Enniskillen, was the venue for a concert including Burns story but also supported by a two local bands - the Brookeborough Flute Band and the Lisnaskea Accordion Band.

Although not huge the crowd was enthusiastic joining in where asked, and were most appreciative of Tam O' Shanter!

Some of the crowd...after the show

With a HUGE thanks to Trevor Watson for setting up the whole event.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Burns for the SNP

The Bard and I were invited to the Sands Hotel in Burntisland recently, by the SNP to help celebrate the Year of the Homecoming. A very enthusiastic crowd of around forty, including some councillors and even an MSP, enjoyed the Bard's story and a selection of his songs and poems - some more well-known than others. They were in great voice especially with Scots Wha Hae. ...seen here.
The hotel supplied a well received Taste of Scotland at the interval, which added to the enjoyment. Many positive comments were received at the end of the evening and particular favourites mentioned were Tam O Shanter and The Gowden Locks of Anna.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Burns in Kirkcaldy

Sunday saw the Bard visit Kirkcaldy Museum for a lunch time show. Fife council are currently hosting a small sub-section of the Murison Collection - a huge library of Burns books and other material - in Kirkcaldy and this prompted the show.
The Murison Collection is normally housed at Dunfermline's Carnegie Library and more can be read about it here
As to Sunday's show.......the turnout was disappointing but those that came were very enthusiastic and had an enjoyable 2 hours listening to the Bard's story and singing some of his songs. The feedback was certainly very positive from those present. Looking back perhaps 12 noon was not the best time to host such a show but we had to fit in with museum opening hours ...with special thanks to Julie for the photo ;o)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Stuartfield

The mini-tour came to an end in the village of Stuartfield where youngsters were joined by pupils from nearby Auchnagatt. We had a packed room of over 70 very enthusiastic young people who responded very well to pre-questions and took part in the proceedings with much energy.
On balance Auchnagatt were slightly ahead with speed of answers to questions - so well done to them.. I especially recommend the local butchers Beef and Ale pies too!

Well! What a packed 2 days it was but lots of new friends and hopefully the Bard has ignited some enthusiasm in the young people of Aberdeenshire.
My thanks to all schools involved and especially to the HTs for giving me a chance to evangelise in the North East.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Longside

Next day saw the Bard off to Longside - another village towards Peterhead. A HUGE thanks to Dorothy Simpson - Head Teacher here - who arranged all the visits for me. Longside is a splendid new school with many modern features and we had a large screen and a large crowd in the ultra-modern assembly hall. The youngsters were already well-informed about RB's life and works and managed some interesting responses at the start. They enthusiastically took part and hopefully had a fun morning.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Strichen

Off in a Northerly direction to the village of Strichen next, where pupils from Kinimonth joined the Bard for an afternoon of story, songs and poems, in a packed hall. Once again behaviour was excellent and the pupils and staff were very enthusiastic about RB's story with some excellent, thought provoking questions at the end.

Burns in Aberdeenshire: Mintlaw

The Bard and I headed off to the North East this week with six schools in Aberdeenshire keen to hear about RB's life, loves and songs.

First up was Mintlaw Primary - based in Mintlaw - a fair size town with another primary and a secondary school - Mintlaw Academy - which serves all the surrounding area. After a warm welcome, and a cup of tea(!) the show took place in the assembly hall with around 50 youngsters. They enthusiastically joined in the singing and were well taken by the Mouse

Burns in Cramond

The Bard and I visited Cramond Yacht Club last Friday. A night arranged way back last year after a chance meeting at Aberdour Festival. The night went very well with a fantastic atmosphere throughout. The crowd, although not huge, was very enthusiastic with many half-time comments and questions. The club room is also in a beautiful spot with views out to the River Forth. The organisers just sent me these comments from the club Commodore....
Friday evening's one-man Burns show was a really top-rate entertainment - and in best Reithian style very informative and thought provoking too! I particularly enjoyed the illustrated Tam o Shanter, and that was only a small part of a well rounded production. ......... Thanks very much,

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Burns in Newry

Address to the Haggis

The 'Bard' and I were off to Newry, County Down, on Saturday night. A fine city on the border of Northern Ireland and Eire. There was to be a 'Gala Dinner' as part of a week long celebration of Burns 250th with me as principal speaker and performer. I was billed as a 'world renowned Burns Scholar', so no pressure then! The venue was Altnaveigh House and I was made very welcome by the Chair of Altnaveigh - David Hanna - whom I met earlier in the day, along with my friend and colleague Anthony Russell, during the live radio broadcast.

The evening was to be a Burns Supper, with me as adviser, proposer of the Immortal Memory and main singer/reciter, rather than a Burns250 show, but in costume none-the-less. A local ceilidh band 'Rising Stour' were also playing.

For the Immortal memory I used many slides from the show with the addition of some special ones on local Burns connections. As so often happens at these events time was our worst enemy but we managed to get through a varied programme by midnight, although sadly Tam O Shanter had to be omitted. Feedback from the over 120 guests was very positive and it is hoped this will become an annual event.....
A big thanks from me to all the organisers for inviting them to play for them, especially David and Anthony.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Burns on Radio FM5

No costume needed on radio!

Rowan Hand(DJ), myself and Anthony live in the studio

As part of the trip to Northern Ireland, we had a radio interview on the 'Bard'. I also played three songs live in the studio. Broadcasted between 9:15 and 10:00 am today - Saturday.

Burns in Crossmaglen

I was delighted to take the 'Bard' to Northern Ireland this weekend. A huge thanks to my colleague Anthony who has been working hard to set the trip up. As part of the Altnaveigh House (in Newry) Burns Gala Festival, I had two appearances. The first was in Creggan Church of Ireland Parish Hall, in Crossmaglen. I was overwhelmed to have a full, and very responsive, house on this first trip. Only a short week of advertising produced a mixed age range of enthusiastic listeners. Indeed some had travelled an hour and a half to get there which was amazing. Hopefully I can get out to Fermanagh and take the show to them later in the year.
I also had the chance to visit the grave and cottage of Agnes Burns - Robert's sister - who moved out here with her husband some time after Robert's death. Her man - William Galt - was brought over to build Stephenstown Pond, near Dundalk in Co. Louth, making such a good job of it that he was given a good salary to stay on and manage the estate. The cottage which they stayed in - rent free - is now a tea room and has some interesting photos and copies of letters from Agnes to her (and Robert's) mother, back in Ayr.
The crowd were so keen I stayed and performed for about 3 hours delivering the old favourites such as Tam O Shanter and A Man's a Man, among many others. Lots of interest expressed in more shows so I will try to get back again.
The second show of the trip was a Gala Dinner in Altnaveigh House in Newry....more on this later!