November 24, 2010

2011 Harp in the Highlands and Islands Tours

As promised, the 2011 Harp in the Highlands and Islands Tours information is now available!  We have two dates scheduled:
  • 11 - 18 August
  • 22 - 29 August
We are looking forward to having six travelers on each tours (and remember non-harpers are also welcome - musicians need an audience!). 

If these dates don't work for you and your friends, don't let that deter you - contact me if you'd like to schedule an alternate date - we need at least four travelers to go, so find your friends and we'll see if we can schedule you a custom trip!

Get more information and download the new brochure:

Looking forward to seeing Scotland's Highlands and Islands over a Harp with you!

November 17, 2010

Day Eight – Homeward bound

The day dawned clear. We had our last wonderful cooked breakfast – the kind we’d been enjoying all week – eggs, back bacon, black pudding, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, coffee, tea, jam, porridge, cream. But all good things must come to an end, so we all packed up, loaded up and David started us all on our journey home.

But, we should have known, it wasn’t over. David continued the tour all the way back to Edinburgh – pointing out sites, highlighting bits of interest, entertaining us! He got us and all our luggage safely back so we could complete our travels – having seen so much of the country, learned the history, lore, geography that lies behind our music, having learned some excellent tunes – enhanced by the location.
David and I had a great time this year
and we can't wait to see you in 2011!

We can’t wait until next year!

Harp in the Highlands and Islands Tours 2011

We are excited to announce that the 2011 Harp in the Highlands and Islands Tours will be 11 – 18 August and 22 – 29 August . These dates assure that you’ll see Scotland in its glory – the weather is usually brilliant at this time.

In addition, if you want to augment your visit, there are excellent opportunities to do so with these dates. You can attend the Edinburgh Tattoo you can participate in Harp Village, an amazing weekend workshop in Cromarty, or you could plan other events.

But remember, there are only six seats on each trip, so be sure to reserve your seat now! Go to the Harp Tour website for further details and booking information.

November 10, 2010

Day Seven – Highland Spirit

We had seen the beautiful mountains that help make the Scottish scenery both iconic and memorable, but today we were actually going to be in it!  We departed Aberlour for the Cairngorms.  Although the area is popular for hill walking, we were (fortunately) going to take the funicular railway to the top!

The end of the funicular railway on Cairngorm. 
You wanted to see the mountain?  Come with us next time!
Alice checks out other accommodations
in the Cairngorm displays - but
decides to stay with her original arrangements
At the top are some very interesting displays – about the weather, about the mountain, about skiing, information for people of all interests. We, being an interesting group, were interested in everything. Cairngorm refers the range and to the mountain we were on. It is spectacular and very hard to leave.

But we did leave because we were bound for Ballindalloch Castle – home to Lady Clair McPherson Grant-Russell. She had graciously allowed us to have our harp event in her dining room. And, as harpers, we wereglad to be granted the honor and privilege of being invited to play in someone’s home. And what a home!

Ballindalloch Castle is a beautiful home inside and out!
  Mrs. Russell joined us for much of our harp event – if we’d only had another harp, she could have joined us - hopefully next time! While there we worked on tunes specifically related to the Castle. One of two people poked in and enjoyed observing our playing too. When we were done playing we visited the castle and then it really hit us how very lucky we were to have been invited to play there!

Mrs Russell chatted with us during our harp
event in the Dining room of Ballindalloch

On that high note (pun intended!) we departed for our last night’s accommodation.  We were all riding high from our incredible day – but we were not done yet! We all made ready for a lovely, homemade dinner in the style of hospitality for which Scotland is famous. David and Heather invited us into their home for a traditional dinner on our final evening. Heather made us a sumptuous feast and we all ate ‘til we were full to burstin’! I only wish any of us had had the presence of mind to take a picture – but again – if you want to see it, you’ll have to come with us next time!

November 3, 2010

Day Six – The Battlefields

On this day we had more somber history to explore. We started out driving through the beautiful, flower filled Forres with its incredible, community built and maintained gardens. We always hear how in the UK people are mad for gardens – but this town is amazing! Here’s one of the amazing flower pictures:

Beautiful Floral Peacock in the gardens at Forres
David also took us to one of those off the beaten path, locals know but tour buses don’t places. I’d show you a picture, but I’d rather let you see it yourself!

From there we went on to Culloden Battlefield. There is a new and fantastic visitors’ center there which really presents the entire event in an understandable way, even for those who know nothing about it. It is multimedia and prepares you to see the field as a battlefield – even as you walk on it now. Before we went there, I thought I knew the history, but I learned so much more and it made so many other bits of history make more sense!

But as moving as Culloden is, we still had more to see – perhaps much more! We drove along the shore of Loch Ness – mysterious, moody, enchanting…enchanted? We all looked but no glimpse of Nessie on this trip! We arrived at Urquhart Castle on the western shore of the Loch. We followed David’s excellent directions on arrival and had a marvelous time (and some really good soup!).Urquhart is another place with a very interesting history and we got to see the remnants of that – as well as the setting for a tune we would share later. But this view gives you an idea of the scale.

After Urquhart, we meandered back to the Dowans via a quaint and scenic area where we had a little photographic fun before heading back to learn a lovely tune before enjoying another incredible meal. Then on to rest before the next adventure filled day!