Category Archives: Scotland

For Auld Lang Syne – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post is on time for a change – –

It’s really great to re-connect with an old friend and it’s always interesting how it comes about.

Another old friend Fraser Bruce was researching for a book he’s just published about the early days of the folk music scene in Scotland in the 1950s and 1960s. One of his informants was me and another was Andy Hunter.

Andy was an important early folk revival singer of old ballads he learned from the great Jeannie Robertson when he was attending Aberdeen University. He also wrote many songs in a traditional style.

He eventually moved to live near me in Fife and we became close friends. When he recorded an album of ballads and songs in the 1980s I was honored to be asked to accompany him on guitar on some of the songs. Around that time he was one of the folk who began planning the degree program in Scots music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow (now The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and he invited me to be the external examiner in Scots song.

Also around that time Jeannie’s daughter Lizzie Higgins would stop off at Andy’s house on her way either south or north and he’d invite me over, so another big connection. Lizzie recorded one of Andy’s best known songs – ‘Up and awa wi the Laverock’ on one of her albums. That was a song I accompanied Andy on when he made his.

He was a professor of French at one of the Universities in Edinburgh and eventually moved to France some years ago and I had lost touch which was a great sadness to me.

I’m glad to say that he is active as a folklorist and piper and living in his beloved Brittany.  And we are back in touch.

He played a quiet but important role in the beginnings of the folk music scene of the 1960s in Scotland and continues to do so – –

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Fruitful Dividends – –

Jack creeps over the line just in time for the Wednesday guest post – –

Back when Wendy and I were first married we lived in a very small rural village in Scotland. We were surrounded by the ‘fruits of the land’ – wild raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, apples etc. So I got into making wine, some of which was tasty and some not so much. All I had was a book, a carboy, a bucket and an airlock! The best was elderflower and rice but there were others that turned out pretty well too.

Now that we’re again living in a rural area and with lots of stuff growing in our backyard it was time to get back to wine making.

But it had been so long that I struggled to remember the process. I knew I needed the aforementioned carboy, bucket and airlock, so we got that and various other bits and pieces.

I started with left over juices from the fridge that had gathered over time, put them in the bucket with sugar in water and some baker’s yeast. But nothing much happened, so I consulted with my friend and wine expert Beth and she pointed me to a source of specialist wine yeast and it was duly ordered. That didn’t make much difference so it was time to consult Dr Google and it looked like temperature might be the problem. In the end I just racked it into the carboy and hoped for the best.

Meantime I started another batch with homemade apple butter, firethorn berry juice and banana. Now that brought back memories as it started frothing and bubbling! So I combined the two in our bigger carboy and it’s bubbling just like I remember.

In a few months we might have a palatable rose – – –

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Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch