Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Honour For Big Brother.

New Year’s Honour for former Hillsborough Head.

David Anderson MBE, MVO.

One of Northern Ireland’s longest serving and most distinguished public servants has been awarded the Personal Order of the Sovereign in the New Year’s Honours List.
David Anderson, until recently Household Manager at Hillsborough Castle, has become a Member of the Victorian Order.

The Royal Victorian Order was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1896, and is given as a reward for personal service to the Sovereign and members of her family. The order is prized as a mark of high esteem and favour, and is bestowed directly by the Monarch without the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

David Anderson was educated at Movilla High School, and the College of Business Studies, Belfast, where he was awarded a scholarship to study in Switzerland. On his return, he held senior positions with the Hastings Hotel Group, before being appointed Household Manager at Hillsborough Castle in 1984.

During his 25 years service at Hillsborough, David has worked for 12 Secretaries of State, 4 Prime Ministers and a single Sovereign!. Amongst a range of historic events, he has overseen the hospitality arrangements for the Good Friday Agreement and peace negotiations, the Bush/Blair visit of 2003, in excess of 250 royal visits to Northern Ireland and countless visits of Presidents, Prime Ministers, ambassadors and world leaders. David was also responsible for the introduction of the Gallery to Hillsborough Castle which has subsequently hosted both the Downing Street Silver collection and a selection of HM The Queen’s dresses. The award of MVO will be David’s second trip to Buckingham Palace. He was previously awarded MBE for Services to the Northern Ireland Office in 1997.

David Anderson departed Hillsborough Castle in October 2009 to pursue new projects. Speaking today he commented that he was overwhelmed and deeply honoured by this very special and particular award, which he dedicated to his three children Connor, Lauren and Neve.

Congratulations to David - the Anderson family are extremely proud of his achievements.



Well 45 today! Not sure if I celebrate birthday's or glad that I reached another one! - I still feel in my 20's though!

My boy's Matthew, Christopher and Mrs A gave me some lovely Birthday presents this morning, they are so very kind and generous.

Having a birthday on New Years Eve means a few things - the whole world celebrates your birthday! - if I was born a day later I would be a Year Younger! - I share a birthday with my great friend Eric Cully from Portavogie and well Alex Ferguson Man U Manager.

I shall take it easy today and plan my year ahead - I have a good feeling that 2010 will be a memorable year, for all the right reasons.


Hard Times Come Again No More

As I mentioned I would post a few of my favourite American Civil War Tunes. This was written by Stephen Foster - more on Foster on a later post. Keith Lyttle, Matthew Warwick, George Holmes and myself played in Newtownards one evening George Holmes played and sung this song brilliantly and also told a very moving story of Stephen Fosters death, as only George can!

Hope you like the video.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Blue - ray

Technology arrives during the sales; I recently converted my roof space into a DEN or PLAYROOM for the boy's - for me a room to escape to. One of the must have items is the blue-ray DVD player, I am sure almost everyone has one by now but yesterday I took the plunge and visited the Hanna & Brownne Sales to purchased one. All connected up to my Sony Baravia TV and the difference between DVD and Blue-ray DVD is absolutely remarkable!

Sadly the device refused to play my Val Dunnigan DVD - ah well!


Christmas Presents 2

Mrs Anderson was so very kind as to but me a G whistle for Christmas. It is a Dixon whistle and a lovely deep sound from it, I have had a little time to play a few of my favourite tunes and they do sound a lot better in G rather that C or D that I would normally play my tunes in.
Now I am not a great whistler Mr Average - I prefer to fife, however when you learn to play the fife the whistle is always used as a teaching aid, as the fingering technique used are very similar - until you go into the 3rd octave on the fife of course!
I will later post a few of my favourite tunes - as I am into American Civil War tunes and songs of that time. It would be keen to point out that coincidental many of the tunes/songs are written/composed by Scots Irish / Ulster Scots immigrants.

Cold Snap Passed

Well the Bangor cold snap appears for now, to be over, Frosty our pre-Christmas mini snowman has all but slipped away into a distant memory. This is all that remains of it today, however he did bring a lot of fun for the boy's a few weeks back, usually snow is here today and gone tomorrow, this one managed to stay a little longer - I will recycle the coal and hat though!

Mr. McGuigan

I am not a heavy drinker by any stretch of the imagination, although I would have consumed a lot more alcohol in my days in the RUC / PSNI. Now retired from that job thankfully - and a lot more stress free, my alcohol consumption has reduced significantly, to now an occasional good bottle of wine.

My favourite tipple is McGuigan Black Label Chardonnay, its smooth and crisp and is easy on the palette, not vinegary in any way.

Strange blog post I know but it something I do and perhaps an interest to someone.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Montalto House 2

Mrs Anderson put on her special wellie boots for the visit - the building behind Loraine will be David's in a few months time. The family that own the Estate and Grounds are developing the whole place and they have invested a huge amount of money and time restoring the House etc. David is in sole charge of the Project - having given up his job at Hillsborough Castle to take on this momentous project. Bye the way check the New Years Honours List to see if any familiar name appears, sadly not mine!

Anyway we had a great day out, the food was great, company excellent and the venue memorable!

Visit to Montalto

Big Brother David recently became manager of Montalto House in Ballynahinch. I have been told it played a role in the 1798 rebellion.
Loraine, Matthew, Christopher and myself were invited to join David at the Estate for lunch other members of the family were there also. The entrance and the whole Estate was completely frozen, here you can see the House and Lake completely frozen over. The grounds were magnificent and we all enjoyed an adventure around the woods and grounds.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Music on Christmas Morning

I was in the scullery - kitchen as it is referred to in Bangor, most of Christmas morning preparing the Christmas lunch so in order to keep me sane, I took in the Laptop to listen to a few pieces of music I knew were on the web.

I visited the Thompson Brothers site and they have a few pieces of their music uploaded as tasters - I think the title of their snippets is Scullery Table Demo. Well it is really worth a listen as it got me through the morning singing (very badly) along with the tunes. My favourite 'Victory in Jesus' it is a beautiful piece excellently well played and the harmony of the boys was great.

I don't know how to put a link on but visit Bloggin fae the Burn - link from there.

Thanks Mark I may even buy your CD!


Christmas Presents

December Bride: Laura Spence who I worked with on a few occasions this year recommended a book to me, December Bride - written by Sam Hanna Bell. I am not a great reader of books however I am really looking forward to this read. It is a novel centered around the Ards Peninsula - my home and it involves a lady and two brothers. Not going to say too much more now until I have finished the book - but we will see how it goes.

I am very much into the Lambeg Drum Tradition here in Ulster and Laura very kindly sent me a photocopy of an article Sam Hanna Bell wrote about the Lambeg Drum almost half a century ago. He really grasp the tradition - his observations were terrific, you can tell he is not immersed in the tradition the way I am nevertheless it was a very well written piece - Thanks Laura.


Fry In America

Fry In America: I have just been thoroughly entertained by Stephen Fry - Dave programme on Sky. He is travelling across America in a black London Cab, not sure why, however he certainly knows how to make me chuckle. Tonight he was travelling through parts of the deep south and what I gleaned from the programme, he may well have been travelling through Ulster. Many of the towns / places / buildings / countryside and the people he talked to were so Ulsterish it was surreal.

In one of his snippets in Kentucky he visited a school where the locals gathered on a Friday evening to play music, bluegrass, fiddles banjo, double bass, guitar, mandolin and other instruments. He interviewed a young man who was a complete wizard on the banjo - he attributed all his musical talents to his Scotch - Irish ancestors. Note - Not Irish American!

Brilliant, totally Brilliant programme. I will have to buy the DVD now it has me enthralled.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Shopping Complete

Wednesday 23 December 2009 witnessed the end of the Christmas rush - for me anyway at the shops. 0715am I was at Primacy Food Village for the the Turkey, boned and stuffed, Ham and all the necessary vegetables. It is very surprising just how many people are up, out and about at that time of the morning - most bleary eyed including yours truly.

Back home to rehouse the turkey in my fridge unpack the rest of the items, quick cup of tea then round to Tesco at Bloomfields for the annual Christmas shop - I arrived at 0750 hrs and felt quite embarrassed as I, along with several other folk, queuing to get into Tesco's! - 1 1/2 hrs later after a little trolley bashing and a few well placed dirty looks, I emerged relatively unscathed but £150.00 lighter!

No, I was not finished there, no, over to M&S for a few more items to overfill the fridge. Their store was frantically busy with some very irate and frustrated shoppers - and it was only 0930am! I returned home storing all the items in there rightful place.

1130am I drove to Donaghadee to pick up my good friend Eric Cully from Portavogie, we then travelled to Jimmy Cousley's near the International Airport. Jimmy makes the best Lambeg Drumming canes/sticks in Ulster, I had ordered 10 pairs for schools, classes and a new pair for my self, Eric also picked up a new pair of canes - Jimmy also breeds bees and up to 3 months ago geese, however the bees attacked the geese and killed them all! If you are interested, which I wasn't, you can pick up a bottle or two of poteen - but not for me.

Back home again then sadly a quick visit to Asda to complete the Christmas shopping.

Mrs Anderson and the boy's were at Greenwell Street Church most of the day for the Christmas get together - 170 children in total! Then they were off to the cinema with their wee friends to see Alvan and the Chipmunks 2

Is life fair!

That was my day interesting and varied but one I was very glad to see back off.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

New Group

N.U.S.C.F. - A lot of letters but it means Newtownards Ulster Scots Community Forum. This Forum was set up in November 2009, after consultations with the Good Relations Office at Ards Borough Council - Jim Murdock.

My group, Loughries Historical Society, has been receiving support from Ards Borough Council for several years, which has helping up to develop us as an Ulster Scots Community Group who are engaged in Burns Suppers, Ulster Scots Summer Schools, Educational Trips, local history, etc. Loughries began working in partnership with the Old Priory Society 2 years ago, working in areas for mutual advantage, which has proven successful. Another group the Old Cross Society, has recently formed, hence and initiative from Jim Murdock to assist in the formation of a Forum to help the groups to come together for areas of mutual benefit.

Today Mark McDonald and myself set up a bank account at the Progressive Building Society, Newtownards, which will help us along the way when some of the financial assistance arrives.

The Forum have planned an educational trip to Londondery - to view the museum and historic walls in March 2010 and a series of talks throughout 2010 - a list of which I will list in a later post.

The Forum has been set up to assist Local Orange Lodges who have embraced the Ulster Scots tradition as a way forward to help us develop a better understanding of our local heritage, traditions and associated Cultures.

It is STILL cold outside - now back to that logged fire and glass of strong mulled wine!


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow in Bangor

Snow in Bangor:- Today Sunday, 20th December 2009 witnessed the first snow fall for quite sometime in Bangor. Before the boy's Matthew and Christopher could get a play in the snow, we all went to morning service at Greenwell Presbyterian Church Newtownards - for the children's Christmas Service.

Once home again and after a hastily prepared and eaten lunch, it was out into the cul d sac and back garden for an afternoon of snow ball fights, sleigh rides and snowman building. The snow was not too deep but enough to make a Junior snowman. It was bright and sunny but bitterly cold.

Then it was back in front of a logged fire again - It's cold outside!


Friday, 18 December 2009

Friday Trip

Friday 18 December 2009 saw an early start for me 0800am, defrosted my car then drove the 70 mile journey to Garryduff Presbyterian Church Hall, near Ballymoney Co. Antrim, for Garryduff Primary School's Christmas Show. Keith Lyttle fiddle tutor and myself together with 5 fiddlers and 18 tin whistles from the school, played our part in a wonderful Christmas nativity play / play / music performance / dance in fact it had everything including a pantomime Camel! Keith and I had a great time with these wonderful children.

I then had to drive from Ballymoney to Waringstown - my car is being sold so I left it with Darren the mechanic - to be prepared for sale. That done Darren left me to Lurgan train station where I boarded the train and embarked on a 1 1/2 hour journey to Bangor. I am a people watcher and I had an interesting time watching all the interesting and not so interesting characters board and leave the train - sad I know but you do have to put in a 1 1/2 hr train journey some how!

Having arrived at Bangor station I then caught the Ulsterbus to Newtownards, where our driver, wearing a black leather cap - who thought he was Sir Sterling Moss drove us on our white knuckle ride to N'Ards. I walked to my Mum's to collect my van - arriving home in Bangor for 530pm.

Matthew and I nipped across to the Game Shop to exchange a few DS games, quick visit to Xtravision for a few DVD's - I am now in front of a logged - roaring fire with my feet up! I think I deserve it after that day.

It's Cold Outside.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Strangford Lough

View from Mount Stewart car park as we looked across Strangford Lough on a cool bright Saturday afternoon. To conclude the Santa visit we walked around Mount Stewart grounds completing a very interesting and fun Santa Trail.

Santa Visit

Mount Stewart :- Traditional family outing on Saturday 12th December 2009 to Mount Stewart - a National Trust property on the outskirts of Newtownards. Matthew, Christopher Loraine, our dog Dudley and myself left Bangor arriving in good time for our 130pm slot.

Upon arrival we were greeted by two of Santa's Elf helpers who were quite jolly, while the boys coloured in a picture and made a few craft bits n pieces Loraine and I were treated to a glass of mulled wine - non alcoholic of course, mince pies and shortbread, a customary warm Ulster welcome.

Then it was our time - Santa's helpers took us through the house to a waiting horse and vintage carriage - which was over 100 years old. Once aboard we travelled the short distance to Santa's grotto - where two excited children were met by Mrs Clause who escorted us into the room where Santa was waiting. Having just finished his afternoon nap. The boy's spoke with Santa for several minutes before receiving their gifts and a promise of many surprises on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


A Balmoral Perspective - Today Wednesday 16 December 2009 sees me delving into the world of Blogging. I spend some time on the web mainly for research and emailing, I always find time to explore some blogs that friends and associates have and I enjoy their views. Mark T has encouraged me several times to set up my own Blog but in my nieviety I was unsure what to do, until now!

I will look forward to adding information, personal views, opinions. Most of my blogging will be about my job - I am a peripatetic music tutor working for the Ulster Scots Agency. I travel extensively around Northern Ireland and three Counties of the Irish Republic that makes up the Provence of Ulster.

As the weeks pass you will learn a lot more about me, my family, my friends and what makes me tick - I am really looking forward to this new venture, I hope someone out there is interested!