Category Archives: After 8 Mince


04:50 a.m., been awake since 02:40, nothing new there and I may manage to go back to sleep yet.  A year ago I had just retired, and was hosting a birthday party in our room at the Kenmore hotel, with Paul, the band, and the folk club.  This one couldn’t be more different but hopefully the weather will be decent and the cake will be edible.

Stay safe.

Stay home.

Be kind.



Kenning Yew

Up in Kenmore with the folk club, A8M, celebrations, music and jaunts.  For some reflection we visited the Fortingall Yew; debate rages, quietly, about its age but it’s definitely very old*. It felt pretty humbling and impressive to be in its company.  I note from Wiki that part of it has changed gender.  Mum always said there is nothing new under the sun.  She would have enjoyed the pre-dinner-drinks drinks  in our posh verandah room.

When I’ve done my work of day,

And I row my boat away,
Doon the waters of Loch Tay,
As the evening light is fading
And I look upon Ben Lawers
Where the after glory glows;
And I think on two bright eyes
And the melting mouth below.

She’s my beauteous nighean ruadh,
My joy and sorrow too;
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her,
For my heart’s a boat in tow,
And I’d give the world to know
Why she means to let me go,
As I sing horee horo.

Nighean ruadh, your lovely hair
Has more glamour I declare
Than all the tresses rare
‘tween Killin and Aberfeldy.
Be they lint white, brown or gold,
Be they blacker than the sloe,
They are worth no more to me
Than the melting flake of snow.

Her eyes are like the gleam
O’ the sunlight on the stream;
And the songs the fairies sing
Seem like songs she sings at milking.
But my heart is full of woe,
For last night she bade me go
And the tears begin to flow,
As I sing horee, horo.

She’s my beauteous nighean ruadh,
My joy and sorrow too
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her.
For my heart’s a boat in tow
And I’d give the world to know,
Why she means to let me go
As I sing horee horo.

*3 – 5000 years.

Fortingall Yew tree
A8M, Kenmore
Room and terrace
Kenmore Bridge
Some cards



Thanks to Colin Hay for the picture of the band taken last night,  when After 8 Mince played a Christmas gig for our local chums.  Special thanks to everyone for turning up on a freezing cold night, and to the ladies for serving the refreshments.








Also cheers to my old school chum Campbell for this, the 13 Yule Lads of Iceland.  

Yule lads









Ex Africa semper aliquid novi.

Travellin’ folk

Well, the dearth of posts lately will surely suffice to indicate that once again it has been a very busy time here.    Since our holiday we have also had a memorable trip to Glasgow to spend time with the Whites and Burgesses,  the main driver of which was to have a meal together at the Chip.   Happily all those invited were able to attend and 75% of us bagged a hotel room overlooking the Clyde.   Not content with that, we also took a power boat ride up past the Museum of Transport, and some of us tried on a posh frock, just to see….

After 8 Mince played three gigs in one week, each one unique and with very different audiences.  Good experience all round.   We saw this play which was excellent,  and gradually came round to the idea that autumn is here.  Dark evenings and glorious leaf litter abound.

The end of an era in Beadnell was announced as Mick and Allyson move on from the Beadnell Towers Hotel,  I understand that a makeover is planned but I do hope they keep the objets d’art in the rooms, and the gold fish.  We wish them all well.

Beside the Clyde
Finnieston Crane
Rainbow Armadillo




















Peter Pan, Beadnell
Mermaid, Beadnell



After 8 Mince played to raise money for West Fife Guide Dogs on Friday, which was fun, as many of the canine superstars were in attendance, and some even joined in the singing.  Here we all are with Innes the puppy, many thanks to Karen Yates for the picture.

A8M with Innes









Yes, I did have to be helped up from that pose, but in my defence I had just stood for an hour in a fairly cramped space, wondering what was going to happen when I started playing the penny whistle in a room full of dogs.*


*Nothing.  They are very well trained, you know.

Fly pie

I reckon about a month is a long enough gap, jings, who knew?  The intervening period has seen the usual blend of life and all its pleasures, vicissitudes, ironies and fleeting glamours. Stand out items include: making your niece, nephew and sister in law walk along Aberdour beach in a howling gale, whilst happed up cosy and warm with your mother in law having a cheery blether; visceral and redemptive theatre in Charlie Sonata,  a new play by Douglas Maxwell with peerless Sandy Greigson in the lead role; jaunts with my new ‘scope; Lily’s Christening.  All amongst the challenges and changes of family life, best feet forward in one respect which is particularly pleasing.  Like the poet John Bunyan we may have times in the Slough of Despond*  but we pick ourselves up and carry on.

With that in mind, here is a beautiful poem from the latest by Liz Lochhead, the collection is entitled Fugitive Colours and this is In The MId-MIdwinter.  It also appears in the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Poems of 2016, edited by Catherine Lockerbie, who besides being the person who set up the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and a long time arts correspondent for The Scotsman, was also in the year above us at school.

It includes the lines “I saw the new moon late yestreen, wi’ the old moon in her arms” which I do not have to tell you come from the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens. Espousing the synchronicity with which BTW is slightly akin, that very  ballad will have its musical debut next week.  The tech rehearsal for this was marred by me having a throat like barbed wire, let’s hope that resolves itself.

Last words: it turns out that the word outwith is Scottish.

Loch Leven is experiencing a major cloud of non-biting midges.  Dear knows there were enough last weekend, but now it seems to be an veritable explosion, helped, I wonder, by the six week drouth.  Having ingested way more than the intended total of zero, we might give it a by today.  But we did see a pair of ruffs and heard tell of a long-tailed duck.  However, no view equals no write up in the journal.

Flying Scotsman goes through the Bay tomorrow evening, if I can work out the timing I’ll try for another photo.  Oh, and this song is keeping me cheery on the walk home from work.

*spell check gave me the Slough of Desmond which puts a wholly different slant on it.


I know, I know, it’s been ages,  some things just overwhelm one and the time flashes by.

One enjoyable weekend was spent in Kenmore, with the Folk Club, the Mincers, Yard of Ale and Colin Ramage. Paul & I went half way up the hill, then for a sail on the Iolaire on Loch Tay, only its second trip, then round Taymouth Castle, and then into the deli.

But the best part of the trip was when nephew Nick phoned me to say that he and Beki had become engaged, I was (as usual) bubbling like a loon.  We wish them every happiness.

A8M also played at Oakley Church, where we received a very warm reception and most agreeable home baking.  Usually when we are playing it is possible to see the organisers preparing the food, it’s tempting to skip a few numbers just so it’s sausage roll time.

No pictures just now, we have updated the wifi router and now nothing talks to anything else.   So WordPress cannot see the photies, even though they are on the same machine.  Poor Paul has had a wearisome time fixing each component part, we’d be completely stuck if he didn’t have the knowledge and perseverance to deal with it.

Cash for questions

“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I keep my eyes wide open all the time”

Currently playing Johnny Cash on repeat as we are learning a medley of his tunes.  Hadn’t realised that he changes key for each verse in Walk the Line.

Some pictures below, we sat in a restaurant on George IV Bridge as a protest march went by, and then we went to a very storm tossed Aberdour beach.

Lastly, meet Dolly, my bullfinch, made from reclaimed tin by the hugely talented Barbara Franc.  The weird shadow below is me holding up my phone, since you ask.

Marchers, taken from the Angus Fling cafe
St Giles from Chamber Street


On Saturday we continued on our mini project of walking the Loch Leven Heritage trail one metre at a time, this hejira was from Vane Farm to East Brackley viewpoint and pavilion.  Along this whole route there are many benches, most carved with local lore set in rhyme.  One of my favourites, which I am sure I have put here before is “Droning hum, orange bum, blaeberry bumblebees buzz busily to meadow flowers with pollen-laden knees“.  It sits above the wild flower meadow which itself is adjacent to the Carden hide on the reserve.  The pavilion (we’ve discussed all weekend what to call it, that’s the official title) has sculptures by David F. Wilson.  I had to Google them to find that out, we could not see any accreditation at the site, which is rather naughty and I know one Fife champion of the arts, and artists, who would be spitting feathers if I told her.    Anyway,  I liked the works very much.  It was a crystal clear day so the views were forever, and the gliders at Scotlandwell were taking full advantage of their opportunities.  Very few birds were in evidence and those which were, were too far away to identify but at least included the first Whooper and scaup of 2017.  Widdershins – our out bound route was anti-clockwise.

Afterwards we went up to Tormaukin for the Mincers’ annual nicht oot.  Unfortunately we couldn’t all be there for the meal, thoughts are with those concerned.  There has been some negative input on TripAdvisor lately, have to say we found the place to be fine, staff were cheerful and helpful, food was lovely and the drinks interpretive.   I have never minded waiting to be attended to when the staff acknowledge that there is a delay, and deal with it – it’s being ignored that really riles me.   Suffice to say we plan to return and have pre-booked the accommodation above the dining room so that we can play without bothering anyone.

Bumblebee bench
Bumblebee bench
East Brackley pavilion
East Brackley pavilion
East Brackley pavilion goose sphere
East Brackley pavilion goose sphere
Stone benches
Stone benches
Carved silhouettes by Carden flood
Carved silhouettes by Carden flood
Frozen patterns on the flood
Frozen patterns on the flood
Skein of geese descending over Loch Leven
Skein of geese descending over Loch Leven

Beggar’s mantle

If you haven’t already gathered, we live in the Kingdom of Fife, which King James VI described as “beggar’s mantle fringed wi’ gowd”, a reference to the fishing and trading villages of the coast.  Whilst it’s a handy and memorable phrase, especially in terms of the economics prevalent at the time, it has been superseded.  Not minding all that, this morning I found the loveliest interactive map of the Kingdom,  which I hope you can view here.  I know that the artwork should be credited to Wil Freeborn, I came across him when I read that he has designed new info signs for the Glen (Pittencrieff Park) in Dunfermline.

On Wednesday we attended a Pecha Kucha event, the format for which is that speakers have 20 slides to talk about for 20 seconds each, and it was a highly entertaining and informative evening.  It was curated by the team behind excellent Fife blog Avocado Sweet and  their Blueprint Dunfermline initiative.  We heard about the history, care of, and forthcoming changes to, architecturally connected issues.  Not least the new Museum, scheduled to open next year, and an installation of an eclipse in the Free School Close. Other highlights were bumping into Diana, and the picture of the woman hoovering her patio.

After 8 Mince were on the road again after the usual summer hiatus, we had the honour of playing at Henderson House care home yesterday, where a very warm* welcome was received.  They might even have us back!


*we may never play “Scotland’s No A Hot Land” again.  Roasty toasty.