Brecon Baroque Festival

We made our second visit to the Brecon Baroque music festival in October 2019. We arrived in Brecon along with some torrential downpours and there was widespread flooding in the area.

The River Usk in Brecon

Most of the concerts went ahead as planned although one of them had to be relocated from Cantref Church due to flooded roads.

Elizabeth Kenny’s theorbo before her concert in the Plough Chapel
Brecon Baroque in Brecon Cathedral

We managed a few walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park, including a circuit of the waterfalls after the flood waters has receded.

Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall
Sgwd y Pannwr

Spring Fling

The Spring Fling arts and crafts festival took place as usual on the late May bank holiday weekend. This year we had one of the exhibits just along the coast at Carrick. It was called “The Edge” and consisted of an artificial tide line along the top of the beach made up of all sorts of objects.
The Edge installation at Carrick
Some of the objects contained pieces of information or stories connected with the area and its history. At the end of the exhibit there was a working harmonium and people were encouraged to play on it. We enjoyed the warm spring evening and the view across to Ardwall Island while listening to these two playing a few tunes.
Harmonium and Ardwall Island

Anniversary!

It was our 40th wedding anniversary on 3rd January. We spent a couple of days up in Ayr with relatives and friends and attended the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s New Year concert. The picture is from a walk at Culzean Castle with Ailsa Craig in the background.
40th Wedding Anniversary
On the way back from Culzean to Ayr we called in at Rozelle Park for a walk around the grounds. Unfortunately the Maclaurin Gallery was closed on 3rd January but we enjoyed a tour round the park grounds and a new sculpture park themed on the First World War. Most of the sculptures are chainsaw carvings in wood but there are other too, including these doves made from wire mounted on woven willow columns.
Willow and wire dove sculpture

More July Activities

Wine o’ Clock has been taking place most Friday evenings through the year but it’s good to be able to venture outdoors now that we have a taste of summer weather. There are still a few fleece jackets in evidence but some hardy souls are in short sleeves.
P1030856

We had a trip to the deep south and one of the highlights was a visit to the amazing gardens at Great Dixter, near Hastings. Here are a couple of pictures of the riotous planting there:
Great Dixter gardens

Great Dixter garden & house

Kirkcudbright was visited by the Kelpies in July and August. These are models of the enormous ones that are installed near Falkirk but they fitted well with the scale of Kirkcudbright harbour.
Kelpies in Kirkcudbright

Following on from the wine-tasting in June, we had a seashore wildlife walk in July, led by local naturalist Jim Logan as another fund-raiser for Kirkandrews Kirk. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious on the day but a small band of hardy souls ventured out into Kirkandrews Bay and discovered a range of interesting shells and marine creatures. Here’s Jim identifying a specimen for Howard.
Seashore Walk

Wine Tasting at Kirkandrews Kirk

In early June we held a wine tasting fund-raiser in the wee kirk at Kirkandrews. The event was very well attended, helped enormously by the provision of a mini-bus to transport people from and back to Kirkcudbright. Twelve wines were sampled in a blind tasting quiz format although after the first six most people just seemed to be happy to enjoy the drinking part! Members of the kirk trust provided tasty snacks to accompany the wines and the event raised a few hundred pounds to assist with the ongoing repairs and maintenance of the kirk.
Wine Tasting in the kirk

Kirkcudbright Choral Concert

The Winter concert for the Kircudbright Choral Society took place in the newly-refurbished Cochran Hall in Kirkcudbright on Sunday evening. Gabrielle and a number of our local friends were performing. The choir were accompanied by some very good professional musicians, including Hedley Benson, the principal trumpet player from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Here they are at the rehearsal in the afternoon before the performance.

Rehearsal
The main work performed at the concert was “Stella Natalis” by Karl Jenkins which took up the whole of the second half. The first half featured a variety of winter and Christmas themed pieces from a number of different composers.
Programme Cover
Concert Pieces
Here’s the choir, soloist and musicians during “Stella Natalis”.
Performance

Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival

The Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival takes place over a long weekend in June. This year, we went to a dinner concert at the Auld Alliance restaurant, featuring local ace pianist, Tom Kincaid. On the Sunday evening we saw a gypsy jazz group called Rose Room, led by the amazing fiddle playing Seonaid Aitken.
We even had some good weather this year for the Brolly Parade through the streets of Kirkcudbright.
Brolly Parade

Panto Time

December is pantomime time and Gabrielle was performing in the Kirkcudbright panto this year. The pantomime was “Aladdin” and Gabrielle took the part of Scheherazade who introduces the two acts of the show and delivers the closing speech. She was also in the singing/dancing chorus which required some quick costume changes.
The full cast at the end of the show
There were performances on three successive nights and they were all sold out. We helped the numbers on Saturday night when we had Anna & Nigel and Miriam & Phillip visiting us.
On the Sunday night, Gabrielle was performing again – this time in the Kirkcudbright Choral Society Christmas Concert. This featured works by Britten and Gorecki as well as the traditional Christmas carols. The choir were accompanied by harp, organ and a brass ensemble.
Choir Concert Programme

Nithraid

The Nithraid is a celebration of the River Nith in Dumfries. It takes place on the highest tide of the Autumn Equinox and the main event is a dinghy sailing race following the tide up the estuary, negotiating a number of low bridges on the way. Some boats are able to lower their masts but others have to capsize at each bridge to get underneath. There are also other entertainments including hands-on art sessions, a parade and local foods. Here’s the scene at the footbridge in Dumfries.
Nithraid
Normally, the boats can sail up the estuary on the rising tide and get to Dumfries just at high tide but this year there was no wind at all and the boats had to be paddled most of the way. When they finally arrive at the finishing line at Whitesands, they are greeted by a statue of a cow made from salt – the “Salty Coo”. Here she is, about to be hoisted up into position.
Salty Coo

Outdoor Art around the Clints of Dromore

Last weekend we went for a hike over the Clints of Dromore. The Clints form a rocky ridge overlooking the head of the Fleet Valley a few miles inland from Gatehouse of Fleet. The walking route is well way marked with wooden posts but the conditions underfoot are quite challenging with deep heather and quite a few boggy sections. Luckily we have had very little rain here in the last few weeks so the boggy sections were about as dry as they ever get. At the top of the first part of the ridge we came across an installation of “Rosnes Benches“. These benches can be found at a number of well-hidden locations around the Galloway Forest Park. The idea of the benches is to get people out into the countryside to experience the special atmosphere of selected locations. You can sit on them and admire the view or lie on them to watch the clouds float by.
Gabrielle sampling a Rosnes Bench
We hiked on up and along the ridge and on the next section of the ridge we could see a sculpture called “Hush” by Matt Baker. You may need to click on the picture to see it in more detail.
"Hush" in the distance
From a distance it looks like a few boulders perched on the ridge but when you get up to it you can see that each boulder has a mouth carved out of it.
Hush, by Matt Baker
Hush title
Hush kiss
The sculpture’s title is carved into the bedrock nearby and is already blending in amongst the lichen. Gabrielle could not resist the sight of all of those lips puckering up, waiting to be kissed!
Mountain end path
The route continues through increasingly rough terrain, indicated by marker posts strategically placed so that you can usually just see the next one as you reach east post. Eventually we reached the end of the ridge and dropped down to contour along beneath the Clints of Dromore and back to the line of the old railway track that took us back to our starting point.
Clints of Dromore
"Ocean" by Matt Baker
Newt
Hanging from the side of an old railway cutting was another Matt Baker sculpture called “Ocean” and we also saw a newt lurking in a puddle on the track. There are three other sculptures in remote locations within the Cairnsmore Nature Reserve so we will have to plan another trip to the area later in the year.