I have just returned from a very pleasant holiday in Virginia and The Carolinas. Despite the usual struggle to overcome jet-lag and the profound displeasure of returning to work, it is nice to see the weather in better shape than we left it. The prospect of a Twelfth under sunny skies would be a nice one indeed.
The above footage is from Colonial Williamsburg and I must apologise for the shaky iPhone camera-work. Interesting to see the fascination of the crowd when just one band goes past. What would they make of the parades here?
Notwithstanding the recent re-emergence of my BPPV, we loaded up and headed off to Dungannon on Saturday to catch the first contest of the local pipe band season in Dungannon. The County Tyrone Championships could scarcely be described as the most glamorous of the local fixtures, but a decent entry was attracted, including three bands in Grade One.
We made it to Dungannon Park for most of Grade Two and then the big bands. The day was very considerably dampened by the driving rain which swept across the area several times. Ravara had just started to play in some of the worst of it - it's a wonder they didn't drown.
Standards of playing were perhaps a little variable - partly due to the weather and partly ring-rustiness, I suspect. Despite that, the big names in Grade One were clearly out to set the tone (no pun intended) for the rest of the season. Unusually, Field Marshal Montgomery started the season with the underdog tag. The reigning world champions, St Laurence O'Toole had made the journey North and obviously wanted to kick off by taking the biggest of local scalps.
However, the Ulstermen (if we can really call them that, bearing in mind the number of overseas players in their ranks) won out and took the fancy of both piping judges and the ensemble man. The drumming went to SLOT and Cullybackey produced a nice performance but couldn't break into the top two on any sheet.
Hopefully the rest of the season will be characterised by better weather but in the meantime, enjoy the winning performance from FM above. The rest of the Grade One outfits can be seen on the YouTube channel, here. The results sheets are here.
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...