|Volume 33 #2||September/October 2016|
Greetings fellow dancers! Well, summer is over, and the inevitable fruits and veggies continue to relentlessly invade my kitchen. I hope you are also enjoying some of summerís bounty.
The August Mixer was great fun, and although we missed some of our regulars, we did have a few new dancers, as well as some long lost and returning dancers, to welcome to the fray.
I'm looking forward to seeing all of you in classes, all of which start in the next couple of weeks, as well as the dance socials and other activities that make up our dance year.
This would be longer, but I hear the grapes knocking down the door. Must run, Linda Mae.
This summer, a lifelong dream of the MacKenzies of Clackamas was fulfilled in our August trip to Scotland. We made a rather whirlwind tour of the country traveling to each of these cities in turn; Glasgow, Perth, Ballachulish, Dornie, Huntly, Aberdeen, Edinburgh then back to Glasgow for the flight home. Because I'm the writer and was the leader of the expedition, this will reflect my own unique perspective. We're still digesting our experiences thus it makes sense to publish this in dribs and drabs.
We started out after arriving in Glasgow, with Tom and Hazel Ryan graciously picking us up at the airport then transporting us to the IBIS hotel near Charing Cross in downtown Glasgow, perhaps suspecting just how green we are at the whole international travel thing. Thankfully, this bypassed a bus journey from the airport after a long flight with our luggage in tow. After at least having a notion of where we were and managing to get some food in our bellies and a wee bit of sleep, we started exploring the nearby neighborhood. Just two blocks north from the IBIS hotel is Sauchiehall street. Some of you might remember that this sounds similar to "The Sauchie Haugh" strathspey dance which many of us have done http://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/dance-crib/sauchie-haugh.html One of my primary objectives was to check out St. Columba Church of Scotland as our little twig of the MacKenzies was reputed to have attended there before emigrating to the New World. We learned from a very helpful Session Clerk, Duncan Mitchell, that the current church is not the church that would have been around in those days. This church was built with railway money when the railway took over the land that the old church was built on. As Duncan described it, "We started with a more modest church, then we built a cathedral." Here's a few details concerning this church and its history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Columba_Church_of_Scotland%2C_Glasgow Like all but the most modern buildings, every bit of architecture here oozes history and ghosts of the past. Glasgow itself is on the one hand very old and on the other hand full of new energy and new construction and innovative architecture and ideas. In addition to our local walking about, we also took a hop on, hop off bus tour to become acquainted with the major sites. We also took in the various restaurants along Sauchiehall street, Hong Kong Chinese food, pub grub, and local coffee shop eats. As many of you know, I have an almost non-existent sense of smell. At the coffee shop I imbibed a fresh cup of peppermint tea that was so fresh I could actually detect its odor.
After Glasgow, we travelled by rail to Perth, near where the Ryans live in Scone. That was rather an adventure in and of itself as we discovered that one's initial information about a journey on the rail system is almost immediately out of date due to delays and other events. The key to understanding what was happening minute to minute was the automated reader boards that showed each train's ultimate destination, stops along the journey, and time of arrival at the platform. This is Scotland's main passenger rail system and is primarily used by commuters between Glasgow and Edinburgh but carries passengers between all of the major cities, including outliers like the capital of the Highlands, Inverness. We discovered quickly that this system is not necessarily friendly to tourists that are not travelling "Rick Steves light" but mistakes aren't terminal and railway employees and everyday Scots all helped us get "back on track." The system itself is very comfortable, very smooth, and swift.
Upon arrival at Perth, the Ryans kindly transported us to our hotel, The Salutation, in the downtown area. From their own website, "Reputed to be one of the oldest hotels in Scotland, the Salutation Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1699. Situated in the heart of the historic City of Perth and the Gateway to the Highlands, the welcome is as warm as it ever was, offering traditional hospitality with all modern comforts." It has seen many famous visitors from the Beatles to David Bowie as well as a former British Prime Minister. This was a good place for us to continue to somehow bring our bodies and minds into the new time zone and to begin exploring modern Perth. Perth is very old, once a port town, with a compact and very easily walkable downtown area. There's a very old church in the downtown area called St. John's which has an unusual way of entering the building. Instead of climbing stairs into the building, one goes down stairs. The reason for this is that the church has not sunk into the ground but the surrounding earth has been climbing up the sides of the building in the centuries since its initial construction. Perth was the base from which we began other journeys, up to Glen Lyon and Kenmore in the Highlands. Also, once the rental car was picked up, we began initial forays onto Scotland's roads and a wee journey to Scone palace where we enjoyed learning of Scotland's history and a little bit of Hanoverian propaganda, i.e. the British royal family's attempts to trace themselves all the way back to Celtic Scotland in an apparent bid to obtain more legitimacy. We also enjoyed "scaawwwns in Scoooone" in the tea shop in the basement area of the palace and the company of a former teacher from Southhampton in England. We also enjoyed a lecture from a local archeologist that was called in to excavate and document a plot of land that was slated for developement but was found to have the remains of an abbey on site. I also began learning just how narrow the roads were there but with care, they were safely navigable.
From there, after three days in Perth, we headed west to Ballachulish, the original home town of my father's family, in Argyll which is Appin and Stuart country. The journey was demanding of my attention thus I spent little time looking anywhere outside the vehicle but at the road and other road users though Eunice and Katherine kept their eyes peeled and photographed sites as we drove along. Katherine did this in addition to her primary duty of managing the GPS system on the phone as unfortunately, the GPS that the Ryans loaned us wasn't usable because the cigarette lighter jack wasn't functional to charge its internal batteries. I must state here that my daughter performed magnificently, especially in our journey later on into downtown Aberdeen. We landed at Taigh na Eilidh (Eilidh's house) in Duror, a B & B down the coast from Ballachulish. During the journey, we stopped to remember the tragic events at Glencoe and tour the site of the Campbell's massacre of the MacDonalds under orders from the British government to teach the then current MacDonald chief a lesson. Though the sadness of that history is palpable, the countryside and surrounding hills are beautiful country. After attending service at St. Mary's in Glencoe 7 August, we made a visit to the old slate mine in Ballachulish. This place is historic as much of Scotland's buildings and housing are roofed in Ballachulish slate and this industry helped support the local village in addition to the usual activities like crofting and raising of cattle and sheep. Scotland rather drowned us that day but having said that, it was well worth the visit.
While waiting with baited browsers for the next page of our little adventure, enjoy a few photos as below.
What do you answer your legs when they say, "Are you kidding me?!" Day one of Technically Skilled High Impact class at RSCDS Summer School Week 2 in St. Andrews, Scotland. Teacher Angela Young took the class title to heart and, as the final dance in the three hour class, taught us something that must have had 536 bars of setting in it. I had counted on the previous four weeks of traveling and hiking to have gotten my legs into shape. But, guess what, hiking muscles and pas de basque muscles apparently aren't the same ones.
Tom and I discussed whether we might enjoy the rest of the week more if we transferred into the Technically Skilled Low Impact class. But were we really ready to weenie out yet? We werenít even the oldest geezers in class. Day two went better. We stuck it out and survived, even enjoyed, the rest of the week.
Summer School at St. Andrews was something I had heard about for years, and here we were actually experiencing it. The hallowed halls of University of St. Andrews, founded in 1413. Friendly fellow dancers who showed us the ropes in the cafeteria, and how to wend our way through the streets of St. Andrews to our class locations. Spending half hour coffee breaks exploring the plethora of fascinating sights in every direction. Being a little fish in a big pond of talented dancers. Fantastic music every day in class and every night at the dances in the Common Room and Younger Hall. Being asked to dance on the team to demonstrate two of the Book 50 dances (with afternoon practices and days of butterfly stomach until after our Thursday night performance). Stone buildings and flowers. Stooging for Unit 3 Teacher Candidate exams, trying to be encouraging while suppressing my own anxious memories. Meeting people whose names Iíve seen for years in Scottish Country Dancer magazine. Sitting with different people each mealtime and making new friends. Long conversations during walks and meals, exploring the world of Scottish Dance outside of the USA, how RSCDS works, Brexit, peopleís lives, and other things under the sun.
Summer school in St. Andrews was challenging and enriching, fun and friendly. I trust that its inspiration will bring new perspectives and improved technique to my dancing and teaching. What a blessing it is to be with people who love Scottish Country Dance as much as I do.
Here are links to some videos from Week 2, for your enjoyment: "Flowers of Edinburgh": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fajRGywZpVc "Margaret Parkerís Strathspey": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdQ9ihBFB_8 Book 50 demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKr0S1DouFk The Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ko3kplmuns
The Branch has introduced a punch card in order to encourage more regular dance class attendance. A dancer writes their name on the card and the date they attended each class on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. After attending nine classes, the tenth class is free to attend any Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday class.
The Teachers Association (Canada) held Summer School at Bishops University, Sherbrooke, Quebec this year. Attendees were from seven countries on four continents. Of the 137 attendees, 34 were first timers, some with many years of experience. Good testament that by moving the Summer School each year, more in that area have the opportunity to attend. Next year more dancers on the West Coast will have their opportunity, in Vancouver B.C.
Some Local Dancers already know I sustained a "dancer's fracture" to my left foot while at Summer School. Thank you all for your concern and well wishes. I am thankful that it did not happen until after I had completed my designated afternoon teaching. This was for afternoon classes which were "your choice" to all participants.
Though I will not actually be dancing for a while, I'll see you on the dance floor both in class and at dances. In appreciation for your concern and consideration, Marge
The Portland and Southwest Washington branches celebrated the summer and brought together twenty-five picnickers at Shaw Acres on August 27. Sydney and Patrick greeted early arrivals with pipe music. Before long the group engaged in a spirited game of bocce ball in a tour around the yard. Akana provided the service of teeing the small target ball (did you know that it is called a "pallina"?) above the grass for improved visibility. Players demonstrated their throwing skills that sometimes nestled their ball alongside the pallina and sometimes ricocheted it far away. Visitors also toured the impressive chicken barn and garden.
The Soohoo-Hui band arrived, consisting of Cynthia, Elizabeth, Alex, and Lilyana. They were then joined by Sally Palmer's sister Elizabeth who was visiting from Atlanta. Liza led some indoor easy Scottish dancing. A couple dances were from the new RSCDS Book 50 -- "Mathilde is a Delight" and "Les Ramparts de Sťville." Liza introduced two dances that she had written, one of which had a figure in the shape of a "plus sign." We can view a video clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b87wogY_Ks
The potluck dinner followed with yummy food that had a mostly salad theme. This flowed into equally yummy desserts. Music jamming continued indoors coincident with a hiking tour of the north acre. We can view a video clip of the music at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrymZb07gio
Picnickers thanked hosts Susan and John as they departed. The Shaws noted that they have long been hoping to have a party with dancing to great live music, and the time had finally come.
If you would like to have a taste of the music we danced to, navigate to: https://youtu.be/T3oD6QPumRY ~ The Editor
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