Saturday, September 15, 2012

A summer remembered

I have really fallen behind on my postings! We've been all over the place; I have to get the calendar out to remember where we've been.

I'll just backtrack to Ireland for now. "Summer" 2012 -

Mike flew to Ireland in March a couple of weeks earlier than Tania, who had one more solo concert to do and a recording session with William Pint and Felicia Dale. By the time Tania landed our first guests of the year, Jesse and Jesus, had already arrived the previous day. This was a serious climate change for them! From sunny Spain, they had flown north to frosty Ireland. We tried to keep warm by hiking all the way up to the top of Brandon Hill, but gale force winds nearly blew us off. The wind did blow down a tree, which we had to shift off the road to get back from our hike. At least we got a little bit of sunshine while they were here. That was a very scarce commodity this "summer"!

Mike got seriously stuck back into house restoration. The weather didn't cooperate for working outdoors, but as mentioned in the previous post, there was plenty to do in the bathroom. And it was great to see some real progress there.

Then it was our turn to go off visiting. We'd been trying for nearly a year to get a small Irish hurdy-gurdy players' gathering started... Turned out to be very small indeed, with just Mike, Tania, Ferris and Sam getting together again. This time, though, we were in Sam & Ferris' new house in Co Leitrim, with loads of space for playing, eating, sleeping, and messing around taking pictures and videos. (We have pictures of our 2011 meet-ups here.) We have so much fun at these sessions that we really want to share the experience with other gurdy and pipe players; hopefully we'll be able to widen the circle next year.

Our second visitor of the summer came over from Canada, breaking away from a Morris Dancing trip to England to spend a couple of days with us. I don't think the sun came out once, even briefly, while Karen was here, but we got her (and her flute) out to a couple of sessions, and a good time was had.

Mike was asked to be the soundman for a concert in the village hall over in Thomastown. It had been a while since the whole PA system got a workout, so to make sure everything was good to go, he first took over our kitchen (future living room) for a trial run. It was good timing, as well as fun, because we needed that PA for our concert in our own village hall the next weekend.

 In the week between the two village hall shows, we went to Galway to meet up with an old friend we'd not seen for too many years. Marc Gunn was leading an Irish tour for a group of his fans, and we met up with them for a few days. On our way there, we found ourselves driving through Moneygall, famed in story and song as the birthplace of Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather. All done up for the American tourists, of course. As we stood, bemused, in front of the Obama Cafe, a helpful passerby offered to take our picture. How could we refuse?

Late June and early July, Tania and Mike parted company for six weeks. Renaissance festival season beckoned, and Tania was off across the ocean to roast in renfaire costumes in Eastern Washington heat while Mike stayed behind in the coldest, wettest Irish "summer" since records began. We avoided talking about the weather in our frequent phone calls.

No sooner did Tania get back to Ireland than it was time for what is becoming an eagerly anticipated annual tradition - Nan's visit from India. This was great, because we love to see her, we always play more music when she's around, and she brings out the best in the Irish weather! We had some great sessions in the two weeks Nan was here.

That change in the weather came none too soon. Shortly after Nan's departure, we had a day of outdoor music lined up with Sam and Ferris for Cashel's Medieval Walled Town Day. The ground may have been soggy from a "summer" (we got in the habit of referring to it in quotes) of rain, but at least the sky stayed dry for us all day.

Some of the folks we've met through the local sessions invited us to come for an afternoon boat trip on the Barrow. We set off from Tinnahinch, passed through several of the locks between there and St Mullins, and shared sunshine and music all the way.

Then there was a trip over to England and Scotland for gigs and visits with friends and family. If I can find any photos from that trip, I'll add to this. Since then, we've been all around Puget Sound, and back home to Alaska, and all up and down Vancouver Island...

We've just been traveling too much to find time to blog about it.