Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Thank you to all you wonderful folk who find time to visit my wee blog.

During the first 2 years I had 20, 000 visitors, however in 2012 alone, I had 27,000 visitors!

Perhaps what I contribute some folk may find a little interesting.

In 2013 there is going to be ( i hope ) some significant changes in my professional and family life - so keep lookin in!

Also Loughries Lodge/Society are planning fundamental changes to our work - keep lookin in!

Hopefully Loughries will have a FaceBook page to promote our work.

Happy New Year Folks.


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Newtownards 400

In 2013 my old home town of Newtownards and indeed the Borough of Ards is 400 years old!

King James I - back in 1613 bestowed the Royal Charter upon this area and to a number of other areas in Ulster.

There will be quite a number of events taking place to celebrate this historic event in 2013, however more on that later.

I was at the newspaper library recently looking at some family history matters and came across this  - what do you think?



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Newtownards Christmas Rhymmers 2010 - 2

A few weeks ago I posted about the Christmas Rhymers who were planning to perform - update.

I was able to assist Darren Gibson with 2 x schools for the Christmas Rhymers -

1/ Movilla High School - the rhymers performed at the annual Carol Service and 1 local nursing home - Mrs Kelso and Mr Forbes worked extremely hard over a number of days to get the children released from class in order to rehearse and prepare. It was all worth it as the rhymers were very well received - well done Movilla.

2/ Castle Gardens Primary School - the rhymers performed for their parents and other classes with in the school, also they had a visit from the BBC A Kist O Wurds (Ulster Scots Programme) who duly recorded the children's performance, this also went down very well with the school - well done to Mr. Mawhinney and staff.

This project was planned and carried out without any help, guidance or assistance, financial or other ways from any organisation - just good work by dedicated / interested Ulster Scots Folk Fae The Ardes -Mark Thompson, Darren Gibson, Laura Spence - with a little bit of help from me.

But a huge thank you must go to the principals, staff, children and parents of both the schools for taking on the project, developing it and doing such an excellent job.

Well done everyone!!

A few snaps will follow soon.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Mud, Blood and Bullets

I have been continuing my research into the Anderson Family Tree over recent weeks, a few bits n pieces at a time. I have been concentrating on the enigma and perhaps a bit of a family mystery, however ever so slowly I am getting to the bottom of William Anderson.
To help me understand what it may have been like for some one to enlist, then be selected/transfer/drafted into the Machine Gun Corps back in 1915/16. William as I have previously stated was in the 13th Battalion RIR, however with his motor cycle background he ended up in the Motor Machine Gun Corps until he was gassed by the Germans in France in 1917.
I recently blogged about the Time Team Channel 4 TV programme about the base and training ground for the Machine Gun Corps at Grantham in England, so in order to learn a little more I have bought this book to read over Christmas to further familiarise myself with what life may have been like for William.
Details below - Lookin forward to the read!

It is 1915 and the Great War has been raging for a year, when Edward Rowbotham, a coal miner from the Midlands, volunteers for Kitchener's Army. Drafted into the newly-formed Machine Gun Corps, he is sent to fight in places whose names will forever be associated with mud and blood and sacrifice: Ypres, the Somme, and Passchendaele.
He is one of the 'lucky' ones, winning the Military Medal for bravery and surviving more than two-and-a-half years of the terrible slaughter that left nearly a million British soldiers dead by 1918 and wiped out all but six of his original company. He wrote these memoirs fifty years later, but found his memories of life in the trenches had not diminished at all.
The sights and sounds of battle, the excitement, the terror, the extraordinary comradeship, are all vividly described as if they had happened to him only yesterday. Likely to be one of the last first-hand accounts to come to light, Mud, Blood and Bullets offers a rare perspective of the First World War from an ordinary soldier's viewpoint

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Loughries Summer School 2012 - At Greenhill YMCA

This is a wee late post, however I have been meaning to do a post on Loughries Summer School since August - but sadly never got round to it.
However, once again Loughries residential summer school took place in August - when we travelled back to Greenhill YMCA, in Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down. There were 18 young people and 3 leaders, Heather, Jonny and myself.
It was a fun filled packed programme of events including laser tagging, deep and medium bouldering, archery, climbing wall, rafting, cookery, musical items, quiz and a visit into Newcastle town centre.
Another successful event - my thanks go to Heather, Jonny, the children and the parents for showing continued faith in Loughries as we strive to provide a learning opportunity for our young people in a safe, fun and friendly environment.
Plans are well advanced for Loughries Summer Schools in 2013 - there will be a distinct change to the planning and direction of both summer schools, however more on that in the new year!!
Laser Tagging
Deep Bouldering Gang

Rafting at Castlewellan Lake 1

Rafting at Castlewellan Lake 2

Loosing rafting team

No Fear at deep bouldering!

A musical interlude

William on the bagpipes


Saturday, 8 December 2012

What If!

As 2012 begins to draw to a close, as always it is time to reflect to the last 12 months. Perhaps we reflect on matters that were successful, enjoyable and that's we hope to repeat or continue the following year.

Then of course there are 'things' that get you down, are upsetting and were a mistake - I think we all at some point have the same thoughts.

So as Christmas, another birthday and the New Year approaches I will be taking time to reflect and make some very important decisions that will have a huge affect on my professional and family life.

Here is a very interesting YouTube clip that has had a degree of influence on my train of thought.
Alan Watts - What if money didn't matter

I will spill the beans (explain more in depth early 2013)


Rock'n'roll I Gave You All the Best Years of my Life

I had a lovely email through the week regarding my last musical post - Neil Young and my confession that I had never taken or even tried illicit drugs. The person who sent the email reminisced about their misspent youth, sitting up late at parties enjoying a glass or two of wine and a good old sing song, etc !

Well, that brought many distant memories flooding back to me, of similar evenings I used to enjoy - long before I met the present Mrs A of course.

Here is a tune that brought all those memories back - it is by Kevin Johnson - Rock'n'roll I Gave You All the Best Years of my Life!

In the last verse he refers to meeting a girl called Susanne who sympathetically listed to him, visited hotel rooms as he searches forlornly for a record company to sign him up, eventually as many girls have to do - that is to save men from themselves - she took him by the hand and told him.......... he was never going to be a star................ (It is called a reality check)
I believe that ever man needs a Susanne at sometime!!

Ever happened to you?


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Neil Young - After The Goldrush

Well, with only a couple of weeks to work until I ........ well, here is a tune to help me unwind and prepare for the holidays.

Now, before you contact me, I have never taken illicit drugs, ever - This is another song that I listen to that mentions drums 'drummer drumming' is the words he uses in this song - like Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Ponies 'you and I travel to the sound of a  'Different Drum', you get me, OK too deep - but it is a wonderful song and one my good friend Brian Jamison performs.

Relax and enjoy!!


The Ulster Covenant

If you are unsure of the events surrounding the Ulster Covenant here is an excellent T.V. programme, presented by William Crawley. I am a fan of the BBC, but I am not a fan of the news / journalism / current affairs departments of the BBC in Northern Ireland - with, in my opinion, biased Republican reporting.

I watched the Ulster Covenant programme on BBC NI recently and was pleasantly surprised and somewhat pleased with the presentation and content of the show - a rare gem. The BBC NI should report the facts and let the viewers make their own minds up, not the BBC deciding what they think the story should portray.

If you have an hour to spare have a look............. and make your own mind up!


The Dubliners The Old Orange Flute

My late Father Blakely loved this song, I think he prefered the tune more than the words of the song, nevertheless it is a great tune/song.

Here is The Dubliners version of the Aul Orange Flute.... I have been playing along this evening on my whistle - great !