Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Night at Carnegie Hall

We have been without car now for seven weeks and for most things our lack of mobility has not been a problem. But, after a while the charms of our little village get a bit confining and we long for freedom. We long for the sights and sounds of the big city, shopping, restaurants and concerts. So we decided to rent a car for the weekend and do some exploring. Yee Haw!

While Julie finished her work week I caught a ride to Inverness. Enterprise Rental Car in the city centre was having a special. I picked up a black Ford Festiva, four door, about the size of VW Bug. Our magic carpet to an Aladdin's Cave of adventure. I headed north. I stopped to top off the tank with petrol. Stopping next to the pump, I looked high and low for the release to the fuel tank, on the dash, under the dash, on the floor. No luck. Consult the manual, no luck. Ask the guy behind me. He takes a look, no luck. Finally I push the little door and say open sesame, the door magically pops open. Score one for Mr. Mechanically Inclined. I top up the half empty tank. A half a tank for 32 pounds sterling. It cost $50 for half a tank of petrol! Maybe this freedom thing isn't such a good idea.

I return to Dornoch. I pack up a picnic lunch and take Julie to Loch Fleet for some lunch hour fresh air and do a bit of twitching (bird watching). There is a nice park bench overlooking the loch with a field of sheep behind adding the sound track. It was a day of some kind of treatment for the flock as the shepherds were spraying something on some of the animals. This caused the entire flock to sing a chorus of complaint in 200 part disharmony. The twitching was great. Oysterchers, a variety ducks, a great blue heron in full breeding plumage and the highlight an osprey circling the loch looking for a mid-day meal. Oh freedom.

Now with a car we have opened up a plethora of dining possibilities. So for dinner we can go out to the big city. Julie finishes her shift and off we go heading to the big city of Brora, population 2,000. Brora is two burgs up the coast and has a new Indian restaurant we have heard about.

We are motoring up the A-9 and Julie, in her best left side driving voice, says "You're driving a little zippy, aren't you?" Which I, in my best right hand side driving mode, returned with a glare and "Would you like to drive?" As we continued north we were then passed by four cars, a motorcycle and two teenagers on bicycles. Yeah, I am just a zippy driver.

We pulled into Indian Ocean and got a table. After studying the menu and trying to decipher the waiter's accent, we had a crunchy appetizer with a spice tray, some King Prawn Korma, Lamb Tikka, Naan Bread and rice. Really good! The joys of the big city!

Now for the highlight of the evening - A concert. We zipped back down the A-9. This time passed by two lorries hauling sheep and three joggers. We headed for the big city of Clashmore, population 40. Clashmore is adjacent to Skibo Castle, the former estate of Andrew Carnegie. Clashmore was probably home to all the folks who worked at the castle. Carnegie left quite a mark on this area of Scotland. The Carnegie Library in Dornoch, Carnegie Lodge and Inn in Tain, the Carnegie Shield, the prize for Dornoch's most well known golf tournament, and Caregie Hall in Clashmore.

Due to my zippy driving, we arrived at Carnegie Hall a bit after the 7:30 start time for an evening of Scottish Folk Music. We paid our 8 pounds and took our seats just as the opening act began. The Dornoch Primary School's folk group, eight kids from 7 to 10 years old playing a fiddle, guitar, accordian, keyboards, drum and penny whistles. Their three song set earned much applause from the packed house of 50. This group ws followed by Dornoch Academy's Ceildh Trailers, an all girl group of high schoolers comprised of four fiddlers, a guitarist and two whistle players. Their set of reels and jigs led into the main event, Malikke.

Malikke is a four person group who was nominated for Scottish folk band of the year last year. Their first set included a couple of ballads and a series of reels. The songs were from the areas of the country in which the members lived. The female singer was from Glasgow so you could almost understand a couple of the lyrics, almost.

Before the final set of the night we had to stop for tea. Tea and cakes served on real china. How civilized. Bet you don't get that at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The final set included some lively reels. I had to hold my Irish lassie down so she wouldn't start dancing a jig in the aisle. The encore inluded all the girls from earlier joining Malikke on stage for a rousing set of Highland reels. Quite fun. The concert ended at 10:00 p.m., just in time to see the sun setting over the rolling farmland to the west, showing off every color of the rainbow. Brillant!
Just another evening in Scotland and a concert at Carnegie Hall.

Tomorrow we zip off to the west!

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