After a two year break due to COVID, the Brecon Baroque Festival was back in business again this year. We made the trek down there, via a wet afternoon at the new RHS garden at Bridgewater, and enjoyed five excellent concerts over the four days of the festival. The first two concerts were in Brecon Cathedral and the others were in the Theatr Brycheiniog. We stayed at Camden Lodge, a very comfortable bed & breakfast and also enjoyed some good local food at the restaurants and pubs around Brecon.
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.
Most of the concerts went ahead as planned although one of them had to be relocated from Cantref Church due to flooded roads.
We managed a few walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park, including a circuit of the waterfalls after the flood waters has receded.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the choir, soloist and musicians during “Stella Natalis”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.