Leaden Skies

I was once again plagued by incredibly bad cell reception yesterday and a further foray into Live Blogging from a contest was thus thwarted. Consequently, the post from yesterday morning has only appeared today - once we had returned home!

For anyone interested, FMMPB took the honours in Grade One, pursued by Ballycoan and Cullybackey, in that order. The rest of the Grades threw up few surprises, although it was interesting to see Seven Towers performing strongly in Grade Two - one to watch in that Grade next year, with Ravara safely out of the way in the Premier Division.

The town was packed to the gills and by noon today, we could still count some 35 or so Camper vans in the Lansdowne Crescent carpark. Proof that at least some of them were bandsmen came in the form of a football shirted youngster diligently practising with his Mace Pole - clearly keen to ensure that he doesn't become ring-rusty over the off-season!

The only contest of note which remains is the Cowal Games in Dunoon - beloved by many bandsmen - by me - not so much. It has always struck me as an excuse to go on the tear for a full weekend when most of the important competition business is out of the way. Alcohol fueled tomfoolery results. Not my kind of thing.

In any event, I took a dander round Portrush with my father this morning and took a few shots of the town and the coast - although the skies were less kind than yesterday, some of the shots still pleased me, so I have uploaded the gallery. Sobering to note that my favourite shot of the weekend was probably the lead picture from the post yesterday - which was again taken on the iPhone! Today's efforts are with the trusty SLR - and I don't see the equal of the phone picture!

There Can be Few More Beautiful Places...

The pipe bands round off the local season with the North West Championships in Portrush today.

I came up here last night and have staked my claim in the completely packed car park good and early. It's as well I did, as the camper van brigade has almost totally commandeered the town! If you are thinking of heading this way, you would need to get a move on!

The weather is beautiful at the moment and the scenery sings out its beauty from even the most casually taken snapshots. What are you waiting for? Come on up!

The Video Cometh

The promised video uploading is beginning and this is a small sample of what there is to come - including a mildly disconcerting wink at the camera from Jim Kilpatrick!

I am currently wrestling with the YouTube uploader and will hopefully get a few other clips up pretty quickly. There is a crisp ten pound note awaiting someone who can create a piece of software which will automatically Title and Tag an uploaded video - that exercise may be the definition of tedium...

A Project Completed

I have finally been able to post the gallery of the Worlds 2010 photos in its entirety. As you may recall, I had hoped to add to it as the day went on, but that proved impossible, bearig in mind the well-documented network problems.

If you are interested, you can find it here.

The photo above was taken (as were the rest) using my phone camera, on the Sunday night after the Worlds - and I'm using it for no other reason than that I quite like it. I'm starting to acquire a sense of liberation. Can you tell?


You would be forgiven for wondering why our suitcases are sitting at our side in the Glasgow Airport Starbucks when they should, by rights, being vandalised and violated by baggage handlers. That's easyjet for you.

When we left Belfast on Friday night we had stopped at the sales desk to enquire about the return flights. Our curiosity had been piqued by the fact that the online checkin was describing those flights as "disrupted" but was assuring us that, should the flight be cancelled, we would be sent a separate email. In between hair twirling and pouting, the staff reassured us that it was probably just a mistake and that the flight was still on their system with all the same particulars.

The journey to the airport had already been fraught. The first of the Glasgow Flyer buses we saw sailed past us, without slowing down, while we were about twenty yards from the stop. The next again didn't slow. Mrs Ulsterscot waggled her arms frantically and considered exposing a little of a well-turned ankle - but all for naught. The driver kept his foot to the floor and as he belted past us, took both hands from the wheel and waved them above his head. Rather than being an act of bravado or triumphalism, scanning the bus revealed that this was the International Bus Drivers' Guild signal for "sorry, this bus is full". Mrs Ulsterscot adjusted her garments and we settled to wait at the stop. All the time, we were conscious of the ticking of the clock. Less than an hour now until checkin would be closed. The comedians at the bus company next decided to send past another liveried Glasgow Flyer - but one emblazoned with "Largs" as its destination. The driver glanced at us disdainfully as he handbraked and donutted down the street. It was hard to know whether we had missed that bus, or whether we had simply (and quite properly) failed to get on a bus going to Largs.

Salvation! A correctly badged Flyer! And one that stopped as well!

Twenty minutes and we were at the Airport. We bustled through the door, knocking pensioners and children to the floor. Glancing at the screens, we stopped dead. This gave the pensioners time to struggle to their feet, so we had to look smart. Where was our flight? The words of the hairdressers in Belfast echoed in our ears. "Probably a mistake". No matter, time was wasting. We galloped to the checkin and presented our passports and printouts. "Two for Belfast, my good man", I thundered. "Oh. Belfast. What time's that? Oh, that flight's been cancelled", came the less than satisfactory response.


A trip to the sales counter and we were shunted on to what will doubtless be a flight crowded to Indian train proportions. "I'd definitely get in touch with them, honey", the girl behind the counter opined. Seemingly, there had only been four people booked on the flight and it had been cancelled "for ages". Cleverly, the customer service woman was doing her best to distance herself from having any relationship with easyjet itself. Her parting shot was to repeat - "Get in touch with them..."

So, I have now drunk so much tea that my bladder is likely to explode. We'll be home about four hours later than planned and I'm tapping away furiously on an iPhone in a bid to prevent myself from tapping away furiously on the skull of an easyjet employee. Mrs Ulsterscot is on her fifteenth Valium tablet, washed down with Buckfast, which she swears is the local tipple of choice.

City Breaks. Can't beat them.

The Day After Yesterday

I suppose it's the same for everyone. After a big event, there is the hangover. For my part, that refers not to the slow and painful exodus of alcohol from the system but to the sense of deflation felt when the big day has passed.

Today was wiled away strolling between shops and cafes, trying to avoid the day turning into a post mortem discussion with a wife who hadn't been at the event!

I allowed myself a short review of some of the captured video but am saving the savouring for my return to Ulster.

I see from the web that SFU will be returning to Vancouver tomorrow, so I imagine that they, like most other bands, are en route as I type. An enterprising piper from Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band was busking in Buchanan Street earlier and seemed to be plying his trade successfully. It was interesting that he was forsaking the technical Grade 1 repertoire in favour of Scotland the Brave and Amazing Grace. The crowd pleasers.

Cruising round the town, Northern Ireland accents can still be heard but Glasgow has a truly continental feel at the moment with Spaniards, French and Germans everywhere. If the crowds on the train on Friday night are anything to go by, the Festivals and Tattoo in Edinburgh clearly have an impact on the numbers drawn to Glasgow as well.

It might be interesting for Belfast to try to borrow a little of that trade by seeing if the RSPBA would shunt the European Championships into the weekend beside the Worlds. Perhaps a few of the international competitors could then be persuaded to "double up" and if a festival could be built around it all, we could lure a few tourists in?

Anyway, dinner is the next stop and then an unusually lazy Monday morning stretches ahead before the flight home.

Results - a rider

SFU (pictured) challenged the results yesterday and the official RSPBA sheet now records them in third with Boghall fourth - on ensemble preference.

One would think that they could get it right for the Worlds. It shouldn't be for the bands to challenge.

The RSPBA should be fit to interpret their own rules and apply them properly. By the by, I would have said it went on MSR preference if pressed for a view, so would have made the same mistake. Though I think I might have consulted the rule book first!

Blogging Almost Live!


The crowds have made their way from the park and are infesting the clubs, pubs, bars and eateries all round Glasgow. Amongst the mini-skirted and stilettoed ladies can be spied bandsmen celebrating their victories and blaming judges for defeats. There seems to be a suggestion that SFU may in fact have beaten Boghall to third and they have tweeted that it may take a while to sort out. Certainly, Terry Lee looked none too happy when collecting his cup. So, what to make of it all?

Well, firstly it seems that Glasgow has started to cotton on to what the Worlds can be. The better promotion and organisation doubtless played a part in the size of the crowd, although I'm sure that the weather helped. It seems that we have moved away from the era where one or two big bands would dominate Grade One which is to be welcomed. However, I harbour the suspicion that we are still giving the odd Final place to bands on the basis of miles travelled rather than tunes played. You know who you are.

Ravara will be pleased with their victory in Grade 2, although whether they can "stick" in Grade 1 this time round remains to be seen. The jump from 2 to 1 is massive and Grade 1 itself has the look of a Premiership and First Division combined.

Awful luck for Ballycoan not to qualify. I was told that it was a tuning problem. It was made all the worse by the fact that they had been getting great reports from those watching their practices in the last few days. Better luck next year, boys.

Well done to Cullybackey who deservedly made the Final again. They are sniffing round the edges of becoming contenders. I'm quite sure more would occur to me if I wasn't so exhausted but I'll leave it there for now.

If you were with me throughout the day, I should apologise for the way the posts came out of order but it was a network problem which apparently plagued almost everyone in Glasgow Green.

So, put it in your diary. 13 August 2011. The next World Championships.

Game on.


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To the Victor the Spoils...

A giant Terry Tully loomed over the throng and suffered the indignity of the compulsory winner's interview.

As stated elsewhere, I didn't really get to hear SLOT or FM, so I'm declaring a moral victory. If it turns out that Auckland were last, I'm going to buy a lottery ticket.

Apologies for the weird posting order but it was due to crummy cell reception which meant I couldn't reliably post. Next year I'm bringing my own cell tower.

Food is the next order of the day. I'll try to post a few post Worlds thoughts later but I have to admit that I am totally wrecked after today. The BPPV hasn't totally departed and I have been increasingly wobbly as the day has worn on. Ah well. Sure I haven't the wit to lie down....

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