Sunday, 28 August 2011

Grow Your Own Vegetables

Over recent years I have developed ‘green finger’ and spent some time growing my own vegetables. It has taken a while, but finally I have grown a bumper crop of carrots. The boy’s and I harvested some of the carrots and a few onions this morning for Sunday lunch.

The colour and aroma of the freshly picked vegetables is fantastic, something the shop vegetables seen to lack – let’s hope they taste as good as they look and smell.


American Civil War - Wearin of the Gray

I am sure you can tell by a few of my recent posts that I have an interest in the American Civil war, in particular the music.

So I am also sure you can tell what new tin whistle tunes I am learning? - yes, well, hear is a great tune, easy to pick up but affective - Wearin of the Gray.



Friday, 26 August 2011

Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 17

A few Army Officers - all worth a read, too much for me to type!


Confederate Song - Battle of Pea Ridge

Death and or glory on the battlefield where many a hero fell - not great day for the Confederate Army into the second year of the civil war.

The Battle of Pea Ridge (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) was a land battle of the American Civil War, fought on March 6–8, 1862, at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, near Garfield.

In the battle, Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn.

The outcome of the battle essentially cemented Union control of Missouri. The battle was one of the few during the war in which a Confederate army outnumbered its Union opponent.

Here is a ballad that commemorates the battle: - great artwork throughout the song.


Hector The Hero - Jenna Reid with Aly Bain

For all you fiddle players and lovers of all good music - Hector the Hero.

Hector the Hero is a classic lament written by Scottish composer and fiddle player James Scott Skinner in 1903 - it was written as a tribute to Major-General Hector MacDonald, a distinguished Scottish General, at the turn of the 20th Century.

Hector MacDonald was a close friend of Skinner and had committed suicide amid allegations of homosexuality - the tune is a lament, played slowly and sadly using fiddle, flute or bagpipes.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

J. Enoch Powell

Politics is not really my thing, I do occasionally keep tabs on matters that interest me - this was one of those occasions that interested me.

On Wednesday afternoon, on the BBC Parliament programme, I watched Lord Norton (Conservative Peer) give a great talk 'The Centenary Lecture' on the life of J. Enoch Powell.

It was wonderful to hear in great detail - although squeezed into a 1 hour presentation, the life of one of the most famous and controversial British Politicians of the 20th Century.

Famed for his 'Rivers of Blood' speech in the 1970's he was subsequently made a villain by the English tabloid press because of it, nevertheless, Enoch Powell was a fascinating character of high intellect and a committed Unionist.

Many interesting facts were revealed, including one - Enoch held a deep mistrust of the Americans, who he felt, were the greatest threat to his beloved British Empire – I share that view!

If you have an hour to spare view the lecture here -


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

American Civil War - I Am A Rebel Soldier

War is futile - American Civil War brought much death, bloodshed, heartache and sorrow, especially to the Confederate nation and to us later day Confederate sympathisers!!

Double click on YouTube icon to hear and see video - thanx


Back to the Civil War Again

I am not a great fan of female folk singers (not yet anyway) however, here is a great song - this time sung by Joan Baez - the night they drove old Dixie down)



Friday, 19 August 2011

Royal Black Institution - Black Day

For me the Royal Black Institution is the better of the Protestant Institutions.

I have been a member of the 'The Black' for almost 30 years now and have enjoyed all my time with in this wonderful organisation. I was a member of RBP 799, when I first joined the Institution back in 1982. I stayed in this Preceptory for around 5 years, before I transferred to my fathers Preceptory, Ards Chosen Few RBP 290 - and have remained an active member since.

In 1999, I was elected Deputy Master (100th anniversary of the Preceptory) and then elected Worshipful Master in 2000 / 2001 - following that, I was elected Registrar (secretary) and have served in that office since.

In 2007/8 I was elected Deputy District Master of Newtownards Royal Black District Chapter, then in 2008/9 I was Elected District Master serving for 1 year. I now hold office as Assistant District Treasurer and County Committee member and now I believe Assistant County Marshall.

I joined the Institution to serve not to be served, so I am happy and willing to help where needed. I am not one to look for accolades or self promotion, I quietly get on with my job / role and do so to the very best of my ability.

Looking forward to Newry on Saturday 27th August 2011.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Broken String Band !

Sorry last plug............. take it away boys!!!


Broken String Band !

Sorry folks I must indulge again, I am such a fan!

We are so honoured at Loughries that the band gladly and very willingly play at our events on a regular basis - great entertainment.


Ulster Scots Summer School 2011b

Loughries 5th Annual Ulster Scots Summer School took place in July 2001 - for 1 week, at Castle Gardens Primary School Newtownards.

Once again it was a great success - 60 children per day enjoyed great weather and a fun packed week of activities and workshops - these included football, archery, craft, cookery, dance, music, day trip to Folk Museum, Ulster Scots Highland Games, history, language and so much more!

As you will see from the photo's below the children had great fun exploring their Ulster Scots culture and traditions.

We are fortunate to have such wonderful, dedicated staff who go the extra wee bit to make the summer school a great success.

Enjoy the photo's and if you are interested in a space for your child / children book early!


Loughries Mini Ulster Scots Festival 2011 - Broken String Band

On Friday 14th October 2011, the Broken String Band will be 'Unplugged' as part of Loughries Mini Ulster Scots Festival. They will be appearing in the Londonderry Rooms, Town Hall Newtownards, 8pm to 1130pm with a short interlude around 915pm.

Believe it or not 60 tickets have already been sold, which leaves 20 or so left - if you are interested in going drop me a line, or call at reception at the Town Hall - time is running out!!

Here is a snippet of what you can expect - The Broken String Band playing at the Maiden City Festival, Londonderry a year or so ago - they are fantastic musicians and a great night out!


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Johnny Cash - In the Sweet By and By

Johnny Cash - what ever you thing about J.C. his drug taking, alcohol abuse, infidelity, etc, you could keep going, perhaps it is best not to judge others - that aside he was a fantastic singer, storyteller and entertainer.

Here is a wonderful song, very close to my heart - Johnny Cash voice is so powerful he would have made a brilliant preacher!!

Any way enjoy the song - In the Sweet By and By



Well folks, I have been back on my tin whistle again, after a several weeks without a tune - here is a beautiful tune I have blogged before and love playing - Lorena.

On this video there are some fantastic photos from American Civil War - battlefields, guns, regiments, sweethearts, graves - oh the futility of war!

In some of the schools where I teach the whistle - I encourage the children to learn this tune (slow version). I tell them the story of the tune, all the sadness of the soldiers leaving their sweethearts behind and why the song was banned by the Generals on both sides, because so many soldiers were running off home to their loved ones.

They are all so very quiet! but it soon becomes a firm favourite with them - oh yes and me!


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Breakfast Club Invite

I don't normally receive invitations to speak at events, however a friend Eric Morrison invited me to Carnalea Methodist Church Breakfast Club, on Saturday 8th October 2011.

This group have a guest speaker once per month, to talk on different subjects, Eric wants my talk on my work, Ulster Scots, the Orange Institution, lambeg drum. I am giving a great deal of thought as to how to pitch the talk - probably factual based would be the best route.

The talk is to last around 20 minutes, allowing time for a question and answer session at the end and Eric suggest I prepare to be challenged - well I am happy and confident in my identity so I won't be daunted explaining my views. Well, if people ask you a probing question they should not be surprised by an honest forthright answer!


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Modern Art?

Whilst enjoying a meal on Thursday at the Jamaica Inn with Mrs A and the boys, Matthew had finished his meal quickly and was somewhat bored - so in order to keep him occupied we played draw your Daddy.

After about 10 minutes of peace and quiet (giving us time to eat the meal) Matthew - aged 10 produced this masterpiece of of his Daddy!

Is it a true likeness?


Friday, 12 August 2011

Bob Seger- We've Got Tonight live

A good novel - wind and rain lashing against the window, a little light music on in the back ground, Mrs A and the boy's fast asleep - well, I would choose this classic to help ease the night away.


Pilot Ulster Scots Residential Summer School - 2011 - B

Loughries Ulster Scots summer school has been going for 5 years, yes 5 years - it is hard to believe that we have been going so long. We only consider children from p1 to p7 as the summer school is held at Castle Gardens Primary School.

I will be doing a separate post on the summer school in the coming day's.

This year the Ulster Scots Agency decided to pilot a residential Ulster Scots summer school, aimed at the next age group 11 to 14. Loughries applied to pilot the residential - we were successful and plans were made.

Greenhill YMCA Donard Park Newcastle was the venue for what turned out to be a fantastic adventure. On the trip were 18 very excited children and 3 equally excited leaders, Heather Hutchinson, Carolyn Saunderson and me!

Not to go into too much detail, however I hope you can see by the photo's attached that we had a wonderful trip. Activities included zip line, climbing wall, bouldering, campfire cookery, Scottish and Highland country dance workshop, language and history workshop, music and singing around the campfire and some of the children played.....yes, lets stay up all night!!

It was a great trip and one we may plan for in 2012, I have to say that the children were fantastically well behaved and really had a great time - as coordinator of the trip, I must pay tribute to Heather and Carolyn for making the trip so very special for everyone!

Enjoy the snaps - Thanks to H and C for the snaps.


Nice Weather For It

Well, on a cold, wet and windy Friday in August - what would be more fun than crab fishing, off Bangor Pier!!

Yes, we all ventured down to the pier and during some awful rain showers and gusty conditions, we had a great afternoon's fun with a 3 crab lines and a few bits of bacon.

In all we caught 21 crabs - and a few feet of seaweed in 2 hours.

Hope you enjoy the pics!


Slieve Donard - My Personal Challenge

I have a few 'secret' things I would like to do/achieve - most are just pipe dreams, however I hope to realise one of these pipe dreams later this month.

Well, I plan to hike/climb Slieve Donard! Yes, later this month Matthew Warwick and I have arranged to meet up and climb the highest Mountain in Northern Ireland.

Now those who know me will be aware that my job is like scaling Slieve Donard daily, that aside it has always been an ambition of mine - really just to say 'I did it'.

I started training yesterday 6 miles walked and 6 miles walked this morning, I plan to walk Scrabo on Saturday and continue to exercise by walking up to 8 miles per day in order to build up some level of fitness before I attempt this walk.

I am an asthmatic and I hope that this will not affect my walk - I will have to wait and see how it goes - wish me luck!!

Pictures to prove I did do it will be posted later!

Slieve donard co down northern  ireland


Thursday, 11 August 2011

More Reading - Summer 2011

Well folks, not too much bloggin lately as I have been rather busy organising and overseeing 2 x summer schools - which I will blog about soon, also I needed a break from paperwork / laptop - as I need rest!

In order to keep me sane, I have 2 new books to read - one I bought with a book voucher given to me as a gift from one of my schools, the other was a gift from my assistant Minister.

1/ A History of Ulster - Jonathan Bardon - history my worst subject at school, I was a Geography and Maths chap at school. History in my old High school was 1066, Henry VIII and all that - why would we want to teach our own children their own history, tut, tut!

2/ Rock Solid - 12 gospel truths to live by - several contributors - Our assistant Minister, John Mullan, at Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church, gave this to me to read as a follow up to my Christianity Explored Course.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Pilot Ulster Scots Residential Summer School - 2011

I have been quite busy recently with our normal summer school - last week, now I focus my attention to our new venture, Pilot Residential Summer School at Greenhill YMCA, Newcastle, Co. Down.

Tuesday morning until Wednesday evening, 18 children and 3 leaders will have 2 fun packed day's, enjoying - archery, climbing wall, bouldering, zip wire, dance, music, cookery, language and history project.

Plenty to do and get involved with - report later.