|Volume 34 #2||September/October 2017|
Wow, another season of dance classes is about to start! That means it's time (high time!) to dust off the ghillies and start moving again. And with the class season also begins the season of dances, workshops, and balls that pop up all up and down the coast. Hooray!
The Southwest Washington State Branch (that's us!) is already in various stages of the planning of a Fall Dance, a Winter Ceilidh, and our Dinner Dance. But we (the Board) would like to do more for the dancers, and do more to entice more non-dancers to join us in this wonderful activity. For example, one avenue we are exploring is greater collaboration with the Portland Branch of the RSCDS, not only coordinating our dances so that they don't conflict, but also with the goal of having more and better dances, with more occasions for live music in the area.
So, I encourage everyone to think of ways to make our events even more enjoyable, and how we might get more people to try out Scottish Country Dancing; and then send along any ideas to me or others on the Board. We are all excited about this pastime that we share, and will diligently pursue any suggestions that come our way.
Thank you, and Happy Dancing!
After Martin MacKenzie heard from Mel a description of the origins of Scottish Country Dances and the various contributions from across Europe and that there were Nordic contributions to the form, the question was asked, "Could you describe the Norse bits that are in SCD for me? Are they from Shetland or the Orkneys or are they more directly from Scandinavia?"
"My understanding is that the influence is predominantly in the dances (and music) that are/were more common in the northern islands, including Shetland. We don’t see it much in the dances published by the RSCDS but over the years, I’ve been taught a variety of dances at workshops or in classes where the teacher indicated the dances had roots in Nordic dance traditions.
Some of these dances are reminiscent of quadrilles but done with much exuberance, large numbers of dancers, multiple changes of positions around the floor. The connection of the steps to the phrasing of the music can be a bit loose, particularly depending on the musicians and their tune choices. If the dancers arrive too early at a destination, they may step in place until the musical phrase comes round for the next figure.
There are two examples I can point to that were published by the RSCDS. One is The Foula Reel and the other is the Hebridean Weaving Lilt. Notice they use a running step, which is a good indication they have different roots. Also note that both of these dances include kneeling.
The Hebridean Weaving Lilt came from Scandinavia to the Hebrides. This dance is said to be a simplified version of the figures of the Swedish weaving dance, Vava vadmal. In general, it appears that dances that include weaving figures (said to mimic weaving looms), may be examples of the Scandinavian influences. Of course, we can’t say that about the modern dances with weaving figures. And of course, eventually Scotland had its own extensive weaving industry so may have incorporated weaving figures in dances as a result of that.
In terms of music, in the traditional tunes from the northern islands and the Shetlands one can hear the Nordic influence. Some of these tunes have migrated over into the tunes musicians use for SCD. But of course, a lot of the Nordic sound is about the style in which a tune is played, not just the tune itself. Some of the Shetland fiddlers, such as Willie Hunter, or the Wrigley sisters from Orkney, have distinctive sounds that reflect the “melting pot” of their island heritage."
THE FOULA REEL (J4x48) 4C set RSCDS Book 4 Running step 1- 8 1s lead down the middle and back 9-24 1s turn RH, 1M turns 2L LH as 1L turns 2M LH, turn partner, turn 3s, turn partner, turn 4s (as Strip the Willow) and cast up own side to top 25-32 2s+3s+4s kneel and clap as 1s with nearer hands joined dance down Ladies' side and up Men's side over the kneeling dancers 33-48 All hold partners 2H and 1s dance in and out to bottom as 2s+3s+4s in unison shuttle first to Ladies' side and back to Men's side moving up as 1s pass The Hebridean Weaving Lilt Mary Isdal MacNab S C D Book of Four Set Dances Schottische 88 bars 4 Couple Repeat 4 Couple Set Lengthwise Set FIGURE 1: 1-4 all dos-à-dos (advance, pass partners by the right, pass back-to-back and retire, passing by the left); 5-8 repeat bars 1-4; FIGURE 2: 9-12 all turn partners by the right and dance back to the side lines; 13-16 all turn partners by the left and dance back to the side lines; FIGURE 3: 17-18 1s cross down to finish between 4s; 19-20 1L4M 1M4L turn by the left and 1s turn by the right; 21-22 1s repeat bars 19-20 with 3s; 23-24 1s repeat bars 19-20 with 2s, finishing in original places; FIGURE 4: 25-28 WHILE 2M3M4M kneel and clap at the beginning of each bar, 1s make an arch over the Mn's side and run to the bottom of the set; 29-32 WHILE 2L3L4L kneel and clap at the beginning of each bar, 1s make an arch over the Ls' side and run to the top of the set, finishing in places; FIGURE 5 - THE SHUTTLE: 33-34 all take both hands with partners, 2s 3s 4s run straight towards Ls' side and back WHILE 1s (THE SHUTTLE), going diagonally down, run towards Mn's side and back so as to finish between 2s and 3s; 35-36 repeat bars 33-34, 1s finishing between 3s and 4s; 37-38 repeat bars 33-34, finishing 1s below 4s, 2s3s4s in places; 39-40 taking nearer hands, 1s lead up to places; FIGURE 6 - THE LOOM: 41-41 all join nearer hands with partners, 1s lead down under arch made by 2s WHILE 3s lead down under arch made by 4s; 42-42 2s (at top) turn about to face down WHILE 3s (at bottom) turn about to face up WHILE 4s lead up under arch made by 1s; 43-48 repeat bars 41-42 three times from new positions, all finishing in original places; FIGURE 7 - THREADING: 49-49 Ls move half a place down the set, cross arms left over right and take partner's right arm with left, next M's left arm with right; 50-56 without breaking the holds and led by 4L, all dance up the centre line under the joined arms (4M 3M 2M turn under their own left arms) and dance anticlockwise to finish 1M1L2M2L on the Mn's side, 4L4M3L3M on the Ls', 1M4L briefly taking hands to finish by completing the circle; FIGURE 8 - WINDING THE BOBBIN: 57-60 4L, dropping 1M's hand, continue anticlockwise, winding the dancers tightly around 1M (the BOBBIN) who does not move; 61-64 without breaking the holds and led by 1M, all dance under 4s joined hands and continue clockwise, finishing in the circle as at bar 56; FIGURE 9: 65-66 all face partners, put left hand on hip (to make an EYELET) and turn by the right 1½ times; 67-68 all face next dancer (M to L), put right hand on hip (to make an EYELET) and turn by the left 1½ times; 69-72 repeat bars 65-68 from new positions, finishing facing partners halfway round the circle; FIGURE 10: 73-74 all join crossed hands with partners, lean outwards and dance round once; 75-88 repeat bars 73-74 ad lib while progressing anticlockwise around the room and, led by the 4s, dance out through the exit.
Dance Notes The official step is a running step with four steps to each bar and strong accentuation on the first (right foot) step of each bar; making arches should be similarly staccato. One hand turns are made with linked arms, ceilidh style.
The reader might enjoy this recording of Calum Kennedy singing Brochan Lom, a tune commonly used for this dance https://youtu.be/YxVlmUn3K8g
When we last left our heroes, they were making their way against insurmountable odds to Loch Lomond. Well, maybe they were going by train, but you know what travel is like these days.
Balloch - There was a mix up with our train tickets and we found out the hard way that it is more expensive to buy tickets on the day of travel. The ticket clerk pointed out it would be cheaper if we didn’t go directly to Alexandria but stopped in Glasgow. He had a slight accent and it wasn’t until later we realized that not only did we change trains but we changed stations! From Glasgow Station it was a bit of a mad scramble to find said station, or rather to find the right one since there were at least three within several blocks of each other. We finally found the Queen Street Station (after visiting Argyle Station) and made our way to Balloch, which is at the mouth of Loch Lomond. We stayed at the Innkeepers Lodge, which is on the edge of Balloch Castle Country Park, complete with Balloch Castle, a walled garden, and numerous trails that run along Loch Lomond. We visited the nearby tourist information centre (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) and a lady there told me photographers were allowed on the fourth floor viewing deck of the Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium without having to buy a ticket. When I asked the lady at the front desk of the Aquarium, she very nicely showed me to the lift. The view from the top was amazing and I was very glad to have found out about it.
Dumbarton - This deceptively bustling town is bordered by the Rivers Clyde and Leven. We checked in at the Dumbuck Inn and some of us walked to Dumbarton Castle while others took the bus. There were the usual thousands of stairs getting up to the top but the views of the River Clyde and the city with Ben Neven and Ben Lomond in the distance were worth it. The inn was in the shadow of Dumbuck Hill and I attempted to find a path to the top but after some research, it turned out there was a quarry there that was off limits. I still did some exploring the morning before we left (there may or may not have been some climbing over a barbed wire fence involved) and got a nice view of Dumbarton Castle sitting on its rocky perch.
Glasgow - We traveled by train to Glasgow and alighted a mile or so from the Glasgow Botanical Gardens. We had about two hours before meeting Muriel Bone, chair of the Glasgow branch, and several other members of the Glasgow branch for lunch. There were some scattered showers but the weather cooperated enough for us to enjoy the gardens. The four of us split up, and I took the trail that went along the River Kelvin and saw several good examples of the old and new that is Glasgow. The next morning, Sunday, I got up early and went to Glasgow Cathedral and then explored the streets around the cathedral before going back to the hotel. What a feast to the eyes of colors and textures with very little traffic, pedestrian or otherwise.
Paisley - We spent another day in Glasgow and then walked to Paisley. It was a quiet haven after the noise and activity of Glasgow. We somehow got split up on the way (something to do with Linda Mae, Patrick, and Sally heading to a cafe across the street and me darting off into Rosshall Park). It was a lovely diversion, but I’m not sure the others thought our brief separation was as much fun as I did. After we reached Paisley, our navigator realized we’d missed Crookston Castle, one of the sights we were to visit on the way. It was about three and a half miles back along the footpath to the castle. After a look at Google maps, I headed back the way we’d come. Crookston Castle was originally built in the 1200s, was rebuilt around 1400, and today sits on a hill above a main street. Two boys were playing nearby, and it struck me that to them playing in the shadow of a 15th century monument is an everyday occurrence. Our hotel in Paisley was the Milton Watermill Hotel, which is on White Cart Water (it joins with Black Cart Water to form the River Cart, and it seems obvious that it should be called Grey Cart Water, but I’m just a tourist).
We were so impressed with Paisley Abbey that Sally and I visited it again on our last morning so she could get some things from the gift shop. We enjoyed talking with the two volunteers there, one of whom was an elderly woman who had a real twinkle in her eye and a definite zest for life. We explored several other parts of town we hadn’t seen the day before and seriously considered getting lost and missing the plane, but then thought better of it and showed back up at the hotel like the obedient little travelers we are. I hope the next adventure is just around the corner!
The new RSCDS Book 51 has published the first RSCDS dance authored by a member of the Southwest Washington State Branch. Liza Halpenny devised Fair Enough, a 32-bar jig for four couples, for a performance
at the Clark County Fair. The cover of the book and accompanying CD display a photo of the dance performance with Liza Halpenny, Holly Gibson, Rebecca Mintz, Elisabeth Soohoo-Hui, and Lilyana Soohoo-Hui
in view. We believe that the sixth dancer may be Antonya Pickard. We can access the dance description and preview Book 51.
The dance has the rare 3 1 4 2 progression in a 4-couple set, which is the reverse of the somewhat more-frequent 2 4 1 3 progression. The Book 48 dance titled Monica's Way was the first RSCDS dance to have the
3 1 4 2 progression, followed by the Book 49 dance titled The Library of Birmingham. We can read the item titled Progression in a Longwise Set for more info.
Dancers usually walk around the room to warm-up muscles for dancing. This July - August it was walking miles just to get TO classes! The UBC Vancouver Campus is five and a half square miles, though more long than wide. It is a complete city unto itself; students use bicycles, skate boards, scooters, buses to and from classes; there are malls, banks, restaurants and more. Talk with anyone of the fourteen dancers from SW WA and Portland Branches for full details. Of the fourteen area wide dancers, three of us also attended the Teachers Conference.
At Summer School, we joined dancers from nine countries, more if the UK is divided into its separate countries. This year was filled with exuberant dancing to the extraordinary music keyboard, two accordions, three fiddles, and bass guitar, under the direction of Lisa Scott. The lyrical music lifted spirits so high that tired feet were forgotten even as the week ended.
The venue for next year will be quite different. The small, intimate, Minneapolis Campus of the University of Minnesota has facilities close together 'just for us.' It offers a different feel, but will undoubtedly involve enthusiastic dancing with great music. The Teachers Conference Weekend is scheduled for 27-29 July, and Summer School 27 July - 5 August 2018. Teachers Candidate classes for Units 2, 3, and 5 will be included, 22 July - 5 August. This will be another not so far from home Summer School for all dancing abilities (except those with no experience) that we can enjoy without a lot of expensive travel.
So, we all met at PDX with no difficulty, and plenty of time to wait around. Janice was kind enough to pick Patrick and me up at our house and take us to the airport, and Kathlleen and Rebecca Mintz were due to take up residence at our house for the duration, and my friend Cheryl had offered to do any watering that needed to be done, so our anxiety about leaving was at an all time low. There was a cool diorama near the restrooms closest to our gate of jellyfish suspended in a glass container – the cool thing was that they were made from fabric and felted wool, including the urchins and rocks on the “sea floor”. The flight, which left on time at 3:40pm was uneventful, but extremely long, and in brilliant sunshine the whole way to Reykjavik, which made it very difficult to sleep. Reykjavik itself was pretty fogged in. The landscape around the airport is rather flat and bleak. We were heartened by seeing familiar lupines blooming along the runways. The plane taxied seemingly randomly around the airport like it was looking for a place to park, and eventually stopped out in the middle of nowhere, so we had to take a bus to the terminal. Once there, we did a pretty decent job of running through our daily dance, Flights of Fancy, with just two couples. Some of us got a little sleep on the next leg of our journey into Amsterdam, but we were a pretty red-eyed, sorry looking lot by the time we managed our train from the airport and our walk to Conscious Hotel Vondelpark. It was about 3:30 on Wednesday by the time we got settled in. We took naps, declaring that that was the end of Tuesday, and got up around 6:00pm on our Wednesday. This caused a bit of consternation over when to take morning and evening pills, but apparently our bodies worked it out.
We wandered into Amsterdam to find some dinner, and wound up at a Thai place about two blocks from our hotel. After dinner we wandered through the large Vondelpark, that was chock full of very fit Amsterdammers, riding bikes, doing exercise classes, running, playing tennis, or just generally being outside. Our mission was to find the Van Gogh museum so we would know where to show up the next morning and how long it would take us to get there. We wandered for several hours, trying to stay awake until at least 10:30pm – Patrick’s foolproof jet lag adjustment plan. We stopped at a bar for a Heineken – cold and delicious – could have been that we were totally dehydrated, but in my estimation, it was the best Heineken ever. I’m pretty sure we walked more than 5 miles just sightseeing – very enjoyable. Eventually, Holly and Sally declared themselves done, and went to bed. Patrick and I went to a nearby pub, Raleigh and Raymonds, and had another lovely beverage before retiring. Amsterdam is truly a city of bicycles. The middle of the street is for cars, trains, and buses, the lanes outside those are for bicycles, and the lanes outside those are for pedestrians, who should be careful not to stray into the bike lanes without looking, even if there is a truck parked in the pedestrian lane.
Thursday, June 15
Patrick and I got up early to hunt down some coffee. Not before the sun came up, like Holly did, but before most of the coffee places were open. Eventually we found one, enjoyed a small, decent cup, and very much enjoyed our little wander in the cool morning air. We met up with Sally and Holly at 9:00am to retrace our steps from the previous evening to the Van Gogh museum, to arrive at 10:30, the time on our pre-paid tickets. After spending a couple of exhausting hours slowly – ever so slowly – shuffling past all the Van Gogh and friends paintings, we set off in search of lunch. We passed through a park where they were replanting a huge area with rolls of turf. I found this fascinating. We found a lunch place that served breakfast and watched a street musician play his stand up bass and sing while we enjoyed our omelets. Then we walked and walked. Patrick wanted to see “The Old Church”, which is down in the red light district. We saw several old churches, in fact, but it took us a while to find the correct Old Church. We also saw a couple of things that we can’t now unsee, which is unfortunate. We saw a lot of people on bicycles, boats on the canals, and listened to many accents and languages. After we saw The Old Church to our satisfaction, we headed back to the Rembrandt Museum, which is housed the most beautiful building! This museum was much less crowded that the Van Gogh, and the pictures were much easier to see and appreciate. After another couple of hours of art, we were glad to do something else. We had to tempt Sally back to the hotel with the promise of ice cream. There was a certain amount of grumbling about how we were promised only five miles a day and we’ve surely done twice that in each of the last two days. Ice cream is more difficult to track down in Amsterdam than one might think, though, and we ended up finding small cups of Ben & Jerry’s in a seedy little snack joint (very likely a money laundering operation) about a block from our hotel. Over our ice cream, we agreed that we would certainly lose Sally altogether if we didn’t eat down the copious amounts of food she had brought with her. We sent Patrick and Holly back to the grocery store for additional supplies (wine), while I helped Sally limp back to the hotel. We had a lovely picnic in Holly and Sally’s room, which included, but was not limited to, cheese, crackers, carrots, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, tilapia, grapes, apricots, edamame, blueberries, olives, pea crisps, and large bars of chocolate. Obviously we could not have Sally lugging all that across England and Scotland. Once fed, rested, and showered, we got a second wind. Holly went with her camera to explore nearby Rembrandt Park, and Sally, Patrick and I moseyed down to Raleigh and Raymonds, now our favorite pub in Amsterdam to socialize with the locals. We chatted for some time with Vanessa and Rick over a lovely Heineken. We learned a lot about Amsterdam, including where to find the best coffee and apple pie, and a few Dutch words, which were impossible to come by without asking, because as soon as you say “Hello”, the very accommodating locals switch seamlessly to English. We chatted with the bar tender as well – his name was Pepe, but it wasn’t his fault. His English was so good I thought he was from England. Turns out he was born and raised in Amsterdam, but he was pleased that I didn’t think so.
Friday, June 16
We met at 8:00am Friday morning to search out the ‘best coffee in Amsterdam’. It was a bit more windy and therefore more chilly than previous mornings, but having had perfect weather up to this point, we really couldn’t complain. A brisk walk through streets filled with bicycle commuters, plus a little wandering up and down because we either didn’t understand the street numbering or didn’t have the right number brought us to Lot Sixty-One. It was overflowing with people getting coffee. Patrick and I had changed some money to Euros the day before, and each got an Americano. We went outside to drink it, as there was no room in the shop. Sally did not have Euros, and tried to purchase a coffee with her credit card, which didn’t work, so she came out, resigned to a morning with no coffee, when a random guy came out of the shop and put a coffee into her hand. He had witnessed her disappointment and bought her a coffee. Pretty nice! We agreed that it was the best coffee we had had in Amsterdam, but it was not as good as or as large as the coffee we’re used to. We did not try to track down the best apple pie.
Back to the hotel to clean up, pack up, check out, and head for the bus. We had to take two buses to get from Amsterdam to IJmuden (aye moy den). I had spent a good twenty minutes the day before with the desk clerk at the hotel, and had my little card with instructions on how to make the bus transfer, etc. The bus drivers were very helpful, although they did not speak much English, taking care that we got off at the correct stops. When we eventually got to IJmuden, we wandered around the charming but deserted town to see what we could find in the way of lunch. We tried the Gastrobar, but it wasn’t open, so ended up at the Bellevue Café. The food was excellent. Then we headed over to the ferry terminal, where we were all pretty happy to sit still, out of the wind, and drowse in the chairs for an hour or so until it was time to board. Our ‘two berth outside rooms with en suite bath’ were very nice little apartments. We did a little orientation exploration, then had an hour for a proper lying down nap before the ferry actually got underway.
Patrick, Sally, and I went to a wildlife talk where we heard all about all the dolphins we might see. We didn’t go out to the prow for the watch, though, as it was quite cold and windy outside. We went to the night club instead. We watched a preview of the night club act that was due to happen at 10:30pm, listened to some live music (not too bad), had some lovely beverages, and played trivia night with our fellow passengers. We did so well, fifteen correct out of twenty questions, that we were good-naturedly accused of cheating by a raucous group of young Dutchmen at a nearby table, but we didn’t win. Holly joined us, and we went to find a quieter location. We found an almost deserted bar which wasn’t open for drinking with a small dance floor. We tried to adapt the dance A Trip to the Netherlands to a two couple set, but found it quite impossible, and the disco music being piped in overhead wasn’t helping. We wandered over to the “café” for a snack or whatever, enjoyed looking out the big window at the ocean flowing past as we made forward progress, and the gulls passing us on their way to somewhere. We all headed to bed pretty early – a nice restful day in preparation for what’s next.
Saturday, June 17
There isn’t much dark at this latitude at this time of year. I was pretty much asleep when my head hit the pillow, but I was awake again every couple of hours, thinking it was morning. I really enjoyed being out on a big ship on the big ocean, seeing just the water and the sky from my perch on the top bunk. Morning did arrive eventually – clear, chilly, and windy – and Patrick and I moseyed down to the “café” again, hunting for coffee. We ran into Sally on a similar mission. That was the best coffee we had had on that ferry so far – what I mean to say is that even though they printed “quality” on the cup, it didn’t necessarily reflect what was inside.
While we were enjoying – well, drinking – our coffee, Holly was apparently putting in 4 miles running back and forth on deck. Following the coffee, there was a good deal of wandering around on deck for all. It was very exciting to enter the mouth of the Tyne, and lots to look at once we were making our way up the river. We made landfall, got through customs, and took a cab (with 4 of us it was cheaper to take a cab than to buy 4 bus tickets) directly to our first sight-seeing opportunity in Newcastle Upon Tyne, the Millennium Bridge. It is a very cool pedestrian bridge with an arched counterweight, so that it can be raised for river traffic. We walked across and back, found out that there was a “tilt” scheduled for noon, so settled in for brunch at a nearby restaurant to wait. The food was excellent! After watching the “tilt”, we walked back across the bridge and walked along the south shore to the historic Swing Bridge, which we crossed back to the north shore, and that brought us almost directly to the castle steps. There is a very cool castle in Newcastle, and we arrived on a Free Day! Climbing up the steps to the castle on a rather warm day was quite arduous. There were a LOT of steps, and we were still carrying our packs. It was certainly worth the effort though, as there were entertainers in costume, vendors, and a fun, festival atmosphere among the stone steps, multiple alcoves, and hideaways. There was a musician playing a hurdy-gurdy, which, when I asked he was very happy to show me how it all worked – very cool.
Once we had sufficiently explored the castle, we decided we had tortured 70-pound-pack-Sally enough, good thing we had eaten most of her food, and went to look for our hotel. It turned out to be at the top of a long hill, and there was a LOT of additional grumbling about the miles we were putting in. Eventually we found it – the Grainger Hotel – in a fairly dirty part of town, got checked in, and rested for a few minutes. It was further from the city center than anticipated. We walked back into town without packs, as we had errands. We needed local money, a sim card for our local hotspot, and some decongestant. All that being accomplished – took about an hour or so – and we went to hunt down an acceptable pub. Sally pointed out a nearby pub. There was a large bouncer at the door, the hallway was painted flat black, and the stairs took us down to a lightless pit that smelled a good deal like bleached vomit. We decided this was an example of an unacceptable pub. We searched out an acceptable pub, The Charles Grey. We had a lovely snack and a restorative beverage amongst various groups of “mates”.
Upon leaving the pub, Sally wanted to go back to the hotel – by bus. No other options were acceptable. We had to walk down a longish hill to get her to a bus that we knew would go back to the hotel. Then Holly, Patrick, and I walked back up through town to a large park for a wee wander through nature before heading back. I’m afraid our impressions of Newcastle were not completely favorable. It was pretty dirty, not so charming, loud, not friendly, and the dearth of good pubs was fairly sad. After a nice shower to wash off the accumulated layer of scum, though, and a good night’s sleep, all was better again.
Sunday, June 18
We met to head for the train station at 8:00am. We all seemed to be pretty good at getting up and getting going. The walk down the hill in the cool morning air was quite nice. Sally is fine with down. Newcastle Central Station is quite spacious. We found a ticket kiosk and got tickets for the 9:10 train to Bardon Mill, which left us time for a wee coffee or juice. The train ride itself was uneventful, but it was great to finally be out in the English countryside. We were the only four people to get off at Bardon Mill – a tiny station in the middle of nowhere – completely silent once the train had pulled away. There were no signs, but only one road into town, and eventually we found the footpath with a sign pointing to Vindolanda – this is a very large ruin of a Roman Fort, with a museum of artifacts. It was a two-mile hike through very pleasant forests and fields with a great overlook of the site. There was some grumbling about climbing up, only to have to climb down, but most of us were getting immune to such things by then.
We spent about an hour and a half individually soaking up as much information about Roman Centurions and Cavalry, along with everything that went with an encampment of that size. Apparently, wives and children encamped along with their soldier husbands. There was an amazing display of leather shoes that had been preserved in layers of mud – very ghillie-esque. Also preserved in the mud were letters on tablets – thrilling to the archaeologists, as so much of the history is so well preserved. We got back together at the little café for lunch. I had a gigantic baked potato, overflowing with tuna salad and a side salad. All the food looked amazing for a museum café. We ate outdoors on the patio surrounded by charming little beggar birds, some so bold as to join us on the table!
“How’s the flat you’re living in in London, Jock?” asks his mother when he calls home to Aberdeen.
“It’s okay,” he replies, “but the woman next door keeps screaming and crying all night and the guy on the other side keeps banging his head on the wall.”
“Never you mind,” says his mother, “don’t you let them get to you, just ignore them.”
“I do,” he says, “I just keep playing my bagpipes.”
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