WooHoo! It’s the day I leave for Scotland. My brother-in-law dropped me off at the train station in Preston, England just in time for me to maneuver my big suitcase, backpack and zipped tote bag to Track 5 to catch the 9:41 to Glasgow.
My first class ticket only cost 35 GBP and because it was on the weekend the train was far from crowded. I had a whole 4 seat/table to myself (which was good because my ‘stuff’ took up two seats). The ride to Glasgow is 2 hrs 20 minutes and my plan was to do some more research for the Scotland trip on the way. Wrong! Not thinking, I made the mistake of sitting backward facing on the train and we were probably less than ten miles out of the gate before I was digging as quickly as I could in my backpack for the Dramamine. Took two (please work before I need a plastic bag to be sick in), moved to the other side of the table, got too comfy and fell asleep until 11:50. Yikes - but at least I woke up with no motion sickness and in time to zip everything back up and get my suitcase from the rack.
Generally when traveling to a new destination I try to do something unique and a bit off the beaten path. From the second Scotland was on my travel map I knew I wanted to do a bagpipe lesson. A little Googling later I was set up for a two hour session with a Master Bagpiper (Donald Mackenzie).
First Lesson: There's more to bagpipes than meets the eye! There are about a dozen parts to a bagpipe. You learn on a practice chanter. The chanter reminded me of the flutophone we played in elementary school except that the mouthpiece was completely different. Ok. I guess the only resemblance is that they both have holes that you cover with your fingers but flutophone was what I was thinking at the time. With one hand you use the pads/tips of your fingers but with the other you have to use the second pads - almost to your knuckles - to cover the holes (otherwise the pinky finger won't reach) and that takes some getting used to. I also learned that the amount of air you blow into the chanter determines whether the ensuing sound is melodic or causes others that can hear you to start looking for injured animals in the area.
My clarinet playing days helped me out a bit and Donald is also a master teacher so I was actually able to play a scale and a few grace notes before the lesson ended!
After teaching me the basics on the chanter Donald played a few tunes on the whole bagpipe. Ok. I've heard bagpipes before in person but never in a small room. When he first started playing it was so loud that I was looking for the windows to break or me to fall out of the chair or something. Those puppies are powerful loud! I love the sound of bagpipes though and it was a real treat.
Bagpipe lesson was great fun! The practice chanter and lesson book are coming home with me and I want to learn to at least play Amazing Grace. Hopefully, the walls in our apartment are thick enough to prevent noise complaints. (Don't worry, when I learn a song I'll be sure to post a video for your enjoyment. LoL.)
Happy & Safe Travels.
p.s. If you are going to Scotland and are thinking of a bagpipe lesson contact Donald at Mackenzie Bagpiping.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.