Saturday was another “car free day” and we spent the whole day in Balloch - to be more precise, we spent the day following Clanadonia around Balloch! The band played three sets, at three different venues, and we were at each of them.
The day started at the Lomond Park Hotel and once again Clanadonia pulled in a great crowd. The front of the hotel was packed, the pavement blocked by people and, at times, even the road was blocked with people! Tu-Bardh was the true showman, as ever, and had the crowd screaming for more by the end of the set. This band may not be known by many south of the border but on their home turf they are true stars - just ask any member of the Tartan Army!
After the Lomond Park Lynda and I walked to the far end of the village and The Stables Restaurant for another outdoor performance. It was now getting on a little so food was high on the list of wants - two bacon rolls (very nice bacon rolls) killed off our hunger pangs for a while. The pint of lager was rather good too. When we arrived at The Stables there were only another three or four people sat around waiting for the band. Would this venue prove to be just a little off the beaten track for the tourist and folk festival visitors? Not a chance! By the time the band arrived the restaurant owners had had to fetch just about every chair in the place outside for the crowd. Many, many more people chose to stand, me included.
The show was another success with even more humour and interaction with the crowd than at the previous two sets at the Lomond Park. As the band had chosen to play right in the middle of the car park - plenty of space to move around - it meant that they were very close to the road, and a bus stop! As luck would have it a bus pulled up at the stop whilst the band were playing. Right on cue, all the band turned around, faced the bus as the doors opened and met the passengers that were getting off with a full blast of tribal drumming! The crowd outside the restaurant loved it; the people getting off the bus were left wondering just what had hit them! After The Stables, Clanadonia took a bit of a breather before playing the final set of the day outside the tourist information centre in the heart of the village. Lynda and I also took a bit of a break and returned to the holiday home for a while.
Tu-Bardh talks with the crowd.
At 6:00PM we met up with Tu-Bardh and crew again for the final “gig” of the day. Word was definitely out that the band were about to play; every available vantage point was taken up with people and that included the tops of walls, the wall outside the Tullie Inn opposite and, once again, the road at times. Heads were even appearing through the middle of trees and bushes that surrounded the information centre!
After watching this last, and most watched, set of the day Lynda and I retired to the peace and quite of our holiday park for the evening, complete with a Chinese take-away. The food was great, the weather just as good, and the whisky even better! A great end to a great day!
On Sunday, we drove up to Callander for the highland games and also to see Clann an Drumma play again. The day started off very dull and overcast with just the hint of rain in the air when we first arrived in Callander, but it soon turned into a scorcher of a day. When we returned to the car at around 5:00PM it was still 28°C! I hate to think just how hot it had been up on the games field in direct sun - luckily, Lynda had smothered me in sun tan cream! Well, I’m a fragile little thing ya know!
The highland games were very good again this year but were lacking a few of the “big names” that we have seen here in the past; no Wout Zylstra, no Larry Brock and no Mark Felix for example. Gregor Edmunds, Sebastian Wenta, Scott Rider and Stefan Solvi Peterson were there though so it was still a quality field. The final result went the way of Sebastian Wenta, with Gregor Edmunds second and Scott Rider third.
The highlight of the day was the setting of a new games record throw for the “56lb For Height” of 17’ 2”. Stefan Solvi Peterson beat the old record, of 17’ 1”, and then, with the very next throw, he was matched by Sebastian Wenta! Not to be out done, Gregor Edmunds put on a terrific show in the Caber and scored a perfect 12 o’clock toss, the only competitor to do that all weekend.
Between the events on the games field I took time out to watch Clann an Drumma play three different sets - one in the games arena, one in the beer tent and the final one on stage in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. I had been impressed by Clann an Drumma at Scone a week earlier but at Callander, without the restriction of having to work to the TV camera schedule, the band could really let their hair down and “go for it”! Despite the stifling heat the final set of the day was simply superb. The timing was as tight as one of their drum skins, the energy flowing from the stage more overpowering than the heat of the sun. I have to admit I was sweating like a pig just taking photos and watching them play. Quite how the band managed to bounce around like they did, I don’t know.
All too soon the games came to an end and it was time to say our goodbyes. Joe and Maggie were kind enough to gather the band together for a quick photo and I was presented with a CAD T-shirt by Joe, another very kind gesture. After handshakes and farewells all round we headed back to the car. I was sorry to have to leave the games but at the same time I was over the moon to have been able to see Clann an Drumma play two weekends on the trot.
As we arrived back in Balloch a quick check on the time revealed that, if we were very lucky, we may just catch up with Tu-Bardh and the rest of Clanadonia as they packed up after their final show of the weekend. Luck was more than with us... we managed to hear the final three tracks the band played. In an attempt to see, as well as hear, the band I finished up stood on top of a wall holding onto the Lomond Park Hotel’s sign! Hey, it was every man for himself and I wasn’t going to miss seeing the band’s final set of the weekend!
Once again, we had to go through the bitter sweet parting of the ways. Meeting up with Tu-Bardh again was a real pleasure, seeing the band play again one of the highlights of the holiday, saying goodbye is always a sad time. If all goes to plan, Clanadonia are heading off to a secret little hideaway later in the year and will return with a new album in the bag. I for one really can’t wait for that to be released.
Scotland - we will be back!