Last Day in Westport

Today is Don’s birthday, not sure if we’re doing anything special for it, but we’ll have to honor it in some way. Yesterday was a low key day. First one we actually had since we arrived. We worked on some new songs. James is singing the lead on Handsome Cabin Boy, he and I are sharing vocals on Slip Jigs and Reels and Don’s got the lead on Across The Western Ocean. We pulled them together, in the rough, pretty quickly. As James observed we’re getting very economical in our arranging and practicing, which is quite true. We’ll have at least two of the three ready for our performance in Clarinbridge.

We headed into Castlebar late afternoon to check out restaurants to take Padraig and Els to as well as just to walk around. It’s a fairly large city in transition. You can tell it was more of a bustling town at one time but the 2008 crash took parts of it down pretty hard. I had an interesting exchange with a man across the road from where we are staying. We’ve been watching him and others working on an impressive wall that runs parallel to the road and surrounds a good sized meadow that we’ve seen sheep grazing in. The thing is, it’s a very elaborate and seemingly expensive wall for one field and we didn’t understand why anyone would go to that much trouble and expense! The main wall is cement block, nicely laid and then faced with native stone that is being recycled from the old wall that runs about 6′ closer to the road. I saw one man working on it so I walked across and put the question to him, “Why would anyone spend that much labor on money on a wall around a paddock”? His answer was “Cause he’s mad”! I chuckled with him and he continued, “It’s either him or me that’s mad…….I’m the owner”. That took me aback and I was afraid I’d put my foot in it, but he wasn’t offended. He explained that the City Council was paying him to do it. There was no foot path for people to walk on, it’s a very narrow road with a lot of cars and trucks that travel it. So now it makes sense. I spoke to him then about the area and how we’d noticed that the town had the appearance of having been more prosperous .He told me that Castlebar and most of Ireland for that matter is suffering from another diaspora of the young having to leave the country for work. It’s not nearly as vibrant as it used to be.

Padraig and Els called and wanted us to meet them at a garage down the road closer to Westport. We thought it was going to be a nature walk but it was a famine graveyard in Islandeady. There are thousands and thousands of unmarked graves in the midst of an older graveyard and it’s a sad feeling to think of all those who died that way. Padraig told us that in the height of the famine between 1843-45 in county Mayo 1000 people died every day. The population before the famine was approx. 8.5 million after the famine and subsequent emigration to the USA and Canada the population sank to 3 million. It’s now a little over 4 million and is the only country in Europe whose population is less than it was 150 years ago. The island was awash in food by the way; it was all being exported. Native Irish were treated no better than the new American Republic treated its native population. Human beings have this capacity to dehumanize one another, and it’s a trait that I just don’t understand. I find it repellant and pray we can as a species rise above it, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon. Once you look into the eyes of another and listen to their story it’s nearly impossible to ignore the commonality we share in the joy and suffering of our human experience.

We took Padraig and Els to Bar One a nice pub and restaurant and had a great time sharing stories listening to Els and Padraig tell Barney stories and generally great craic. After the meal we repaired to McCarthy’s Pub to have a pint or two, or three and met with a young man named Brendan who is the second cousin of a woman who works with James. Turns out he’s a great guy full of wonderful stories (of course he – is he’s Irish) and we had a wonderful time bouncing between conversations with Padraig and Els, and Brendan and had a wonderful evening. Brendan told us to let him know the next time we’re over and he’ll get together with us. Once you start to make connections over here the networking is amazing. This second trip our network has increased many fold. Today we went to the McGings to play tunes for Maggie’s mother Kathleen. We had a nice lunch, great conversation and then repaired to Molloy’s for a last pint with Padraig, Els and John Deery. Called my beautiful partner Ally on Face Time and she was able to meet our wonderful Westport friends. We were in high spirits when I called and Ally seemed to enjoy the banter. It was great to see her and speak. This is our last day in Westport for tomorrow we’re off to Drumshanbo in County Leitrim. Tonight we’re going to Grainne Uaile pub for a session with Julie Langan and Tom Doherty. We’re hoping that Brian Lennon will be there, but believe he’s out of town. The session will be great regardless as long as Julie and Tom are there.

Another Day In Musical Paradise

I wake up at John and Maria’s around 10:30. John’s already taken off for work and everyone else is still asleep. So I type up the previous days activities and get my bearings. It’s hard work enjoying yourself; playing music til’ the wee hours, but what the heck, somebodies got to do it! So after having a nice breakfast at the McGing’s we hopped in the car and came back to Castlebar. After I went to bed at 3:00 am James and Morgan stayed on with Maria, Maggie Kelleen, and John and Maggie McGing and kept at it until 4:30. That’s some serious partying. Their stamina is impressive and I’d say it puts them in the professional category. So we all come back and everyone but me hops into bed for a nap.

After naps we get ourselves together to visit Mick Mulcrone and his wife Mary. They moved over here from the States about 15 years ago. Mick was a professor of media studies at Portland State and retired. By his last name you can tell he is of Irish heritage and the home that they renovated had once been in his family and had come up for sale, so it’s now in the family once again. Its a very nice old stone cottage that had fallen into real disrepair and Mick and Mary have put a tremendous amount of work into it and it’s now a beautiful, tidy and cozy place. Mick says they never stop working on it but it certainly looks to me like it’s worth the effort. Mick is also a fine musician on both flute and bouzouki and a fine singer as well. He has a nice tenor voice that cuts right through the noise of a pub. Gary Leahy joined us so we met at his place and followed him over to Mick and Mary’s. Padraig and Els were there when we arrived, so good company all around. It was nice to play tunes with friends in a relaxed environment.

While we were there Gary got a call from Julie Langan to tell us she would be at Grainne Uaille this Thursday night for the normal session. We love Julie and really wanted to sit in with her and Tom Doherty again. Julie just had twin babies and they’ve been in hospital because of low birth weight, so it wasn’t a certainty that she’d be there, but the babies aren’t going to be released before Thursday, so our good fortune. We’re going to put off our drive to our next stay in Drumshanbo, county Leitrim until Friday and stay and extra day so we can play with Julie and company. After enjoying Mick and Mary’s hospitality we drove into Westport to meet at Matt Molloy’s and see if we were going to sit in another session with Matt. The pub was packed, which seems to be its normal state; from observation it has to consistently be the busiest pub in Westport.

We ordered pints and a little later Maria and Maggie McGing arrived. Maria handed me my down vest that I’d left at her and John’s and as I was putting it on I felt something in the left hand pocket. I put my hand in and found a silvered paper box and looked inside. There was a beautiful silver pin. I’d told

Maria I wanted her help and asked if she’d help me find a nice silver pin to put on my beret, so she and Maggie McGing found a beautiful pin that represents the children of Lir, an ancient tale in which an evil queen transforms the children of King Lir into four white swans. It’s a beautiful pin and was such a touching and generous gesture. I’m going to have to be careful and not wish out loud for fear of initiating more gift giving. What wonderful friends we’ve made and what lucky men we are!

Matt arrived a little later and took one look at the size of the session and begged off. Matt’s well into his 70’s and prefers some quiet to a busy, noisy space. We understand. He’s been on the road as a professional musician since the early 1970’s. He’s earned his time to call his preferences. He asked us if we’d come back this evening for a quieter session, but then heard through Maria ( she’s a good friend of Matt’s ) that he had said that because he didn’t want to disappoint us. We asked Maria to let Matt know that we were honored to play with him the night before and had no desire to impose. We were grateful for the time spent with him. He’s a real gentleman! Instead of playing at Molloy’s we walked across the small alley to The Porter House just next door and sat in with Mick Mulcrone and John Deery for an impromptu session which was low key, relaxing and great fun. Also present was a fine gentleman named Paul whom we’d met at McGing’s two years ago playing box. He has a fine baritone and sings wonderful songs as well. Tonight we’re going to take Els and Padraig out for dinner and then try out a session here in Castlebar that we were told about at McCarthy’s pub. More on that later.

OMG We Play With Matt Molloy!

We needed to catch up with Gary Leahy, who lives out Newport way, just past Newport proper out on a spit of land surrounded by water and some of the prettiest land you could ask for. Gary is a bow maker of world renown and a colleague of Morgans. They’ve both exhibited at some of the same conventions and contests and both have received prestigious awards for their craft. Gary is one of the nicest men you’d ever wish to meet and it’s always a pleasure to visit him. I’m afraid we were all rather starved for internet access and the need to catch up and Gary let us hog his bandwidth which we managed to crash at one point when James and I were both using Face Time to catch up with our wives. A little reboot and no harm done.

We headed back into Newport and had dinner with Gary at Grainne Uaile pub where we shared a great meal and pints. We’d been told the night before that there was a chance that we’d be able to go back to Matt Molloy’s and have a few tunes with Matt himself. None of us was certain that would actually happen, Matt is a busy man and plays at such a high level that it seemed a remote possibility, but Maria told us to meet her there at 9:00 to 9:30. We were all pretty knackered, having had the flight over, several late night sessions so we arrived at Matt’s feeling like maybe we should just go back to home base. We called Padraig to tell him just that and tried to call Maria but she didn’t answer. We decided we’d best wait so Maria, both Maggie’s and John McGing didn’t come down to find us gone. I stepped out front because it was so hot inside and there was Maria and the others just arriving.

I told them how we were feeling and just as I turned around saw Matt arriving with his flute on his shoulder. The manager, Seamus, of Molloy’s asked us if we were going to play and we told him it didn’t look like there was much room for us but he assured us that we were expected and they’d held four stools for us. Just then Matt graciously came out to where we were sitting and inquired of us and said he was fine playing or not, but it just hit us that he’d made the effort and we’d be idiots to not sit in. Don was feeling poorly so he took the keys and went back to Castlebar. We got back into the session room and were welcomed into the circle and OMG are we glad we stayed. Matt grabbed a pint (As Noel Kelly said, ” you own the feckin’ place ) and put his flute together and we were off to the races.

Noel is one if the finest banjo players I’ve ever sat next to. The man is a roaring freight train, a storm force gale, a….. you get the picture. I was watching his right hand and the economy of motion was a beautiful thing to behold. He can play a running series of triplets with his right hand that are so beautiful and forceful you want to weep with both pleasure and awe. He asked if we were a band back in The States and I said yes, but when we come to Ireland we’re not here as a band, we’re here to learn. After the first set he leaned over to me and said, “Well, you’ve learned, you’re doing fine” and that was that. An honest recognition of our efforts and a gracious respect. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I told Noel that I was in frank admiration of his playing and that he was the engine driving the rest of us and he nodded and said that his brother John was much better than he, that he could drive a session like no one else; just spin off tune after tune and that he and Matt were amazing together. I can barely wrap my head around that. Matt was enjoying himself and played nearly the entire session. As we wound down he leaned over to us and invited us to come back and play again tomorrow. Maria assured us that this is not a common occurrence, that there are musicians that would kill to have such an invite, so we feel blessed to be asked. Matt wanted a copy of our CD to have in the pub and Noel wanted to buy one which we refused and gave him a copy as well. What a great night.

We catch a cab and go back up the hill to John and Maggie McGing’s for a bit of sustenance and a night cap. Maggie and John are gracious, treating us like family and keeping us entertained with some riotous talk and commentary. We learned some new phrases such as; “He’d skin a flea for its hide”, “He wouldn’t give you the steam off his piss , and “As tight as a fish’s arse”, all these implying a miserly bugger! I’m beginning to fade and Maggie insists that I stick around for a hot whiskey. I’m shaking my head no and she’s shaming me in a good natured way, as I’m heading out the door to sleep in a spare room at John and Maria’s I hear Maggie saying: “For feck’s sake, he’s only 66 and acts like his 87!” I’m laughing all the way ( must be 20 yards ) to bed and some needed sleep.

Return To Boul Biddies

We got to Boul Biddies at half ten (10:30), yes sessions begin rather late, hey we’re talking musician’s hours! Anyway…..we were delighted to see Johnny Fagin, whom we met here our last trip. The session was great. Lots of energy and fun with songs added by locals out to have a pint and social connection. I believe I wrote about this on the last trip but it bears stating again. The Irish pub is not about hanging out at the bar and pounding down pints, although pints are imbibed. The drink certainly lubricates the tongue but it’s not about working to get drunk either.

The Irish pub is a well lit meeting space for friends to meet and catch up, to express joy or sorrow amongst peers or to sing an old or new song and dance steps to a tune that inspires the body to move. I’m sure there are some pubs that are more like some American bars, where people stare into their drinks avoiding one another but I’ve not been in one yet. The other feature is that alcohol does loosen the tongue but does not slow the wits, if anything it sharpens the Irish sense of humor and you’d better be able to take a little wry observation about yourself or you won’t have a good time. A perfect example is one on me. I fell to talking with a very friendly gentleman who was working on his drink and as the evening wore on he sensed that I was a patient listener, so I became the object of his attentions. Later on he was well in his cups and became difficult to avoid, not that I was trying, I liked him as he was a good fellow, but I did want a moment to connect with some others. As we were packing up, again at 2:00 am, Johnny looks at me and says with a sly expression; “you are the master of your own fate “. I looked at him and said; ” and you gave me just enough rope to hang myself “, ” that I did ” he replied, and then we both burst out laughing. Everyone in the bar knew this gentleman and his tendency and watched how I dealt with him. If I needed them they would have helped, but only if I was in real difficulty. Drink sharpens the Irish sense of irony, not dulls it. If you can’t laugh at yourself you’re in trouble.

Standing outside to cool off between sets brought fresh conversations with patrons. Derrick who is the partner of a woman we met at the radio station earlier noted that he’d heard that we were self conscious about playing the music we didn’t grow up with but he assures us that they love our take on it, that he finds it truly entertaining and fresh. He encourages us to keep at it and not feel apologetic. Maria joined in with her observations about pipers and how on average they are the most unsocial people imaginable. They just sit in a corner bent over the pipes ignorin’ everyone. Her partner John she notes would be happiest if he could never speak with anyone and just ask for food. Now we know that’s not true, we love John and he can be quite social, but this is Maria being Maria and once she’s into the story………well she’s telling the story, so just sit back and listen. She continues; (in paraphrase) so they just sit there bent over their pipes ignorin’ everyone. Their the most cantankerous unsocial bastards! I never have to worry about John with another woman, no with John it’s the feckin’ pipes he’s devoted to. “Ya know what the definition of a true gentleman is?” she asks, I shake my head no. “A true gentleman is one who can play the pipes and doesn’t!” At that we burst out laughing. Maria is an absolute gem. A master of the tale. So full of wit and style and we’re so lucky to have met her and John two years ago. I feel blessed that she cares for us not only because she knows everyone to know in Westport but because to have Maria smile on you is a ray of sun in an often sunless place.

Castlebar

We got up this morning all feeling better after a decent night’s sleep. Made some breakfast and worked on some new sets. One of them a set of slides that we’d intended to work on. Saw that Maria in Wesport had tried to call and after a couple of attempts, hers and ours, got hold of her. She tells us she worked out with a friend of hers that hosts a program on local radio and wants to interview us and play live on the show……..for 2 hours. We’re flattered and also a bit concerned but 2 hours? We’re to meet the host of the show tonight so we’ll see exactly what she has in mind.

As we were driving up Pontun Rd. just seeing the countryside, which is gorgeous, we get a call from Padraig telling us he has us booked to play in one of the rooms at Matt Molloy’s from 6-8 on Sunday and then sessions after that. I ask him if he’s joking and he assures me he isn’t. He tells me that as soon as the music starts for us in Westport we’re going to be very busy lads! Wow! Ya think? So we’re off to Westport tonight to meet Padraig at Maria’s tonight and then we’re off for a session at The Quay’s down on the waterfront in Westport. Man, are we going to have fun!

Westport Rocks and Bould Biddy’s Is Our Axis

So we rise the next day at 11:00, this is getting to be a habit what with real musicians hours, and give Padraig a text and he says to meet him in Westport for coffee. He’d like us to meet his wife Els. This is one of the true differences between Ireland and the States. We meet a man through shared interest, that being music, and we like one another. The door to friendship is opened up and that’s it. We’ve all made friends in the States of course but the feeling of connection feels more cautious and hesitant there than here. The Irish are so hospitable. It’s uncanny.

We go into Westport to do some gift shopping and I find a few things for Ally and girls. James tells me that we’re meeting Padriag at Molloy’s and to meet them there when I finish up my shopping. I walk down to Molloy’s and find the door locked, walk around the side looks closed, scratch my head, try the door again and decide to continue shopping. I’m a bit miffed, but decide to let it go and sit down and read in a coffee shop. I come back out on the street and finally see James and Morgan. They ask me where I’ve been and I tell them I tried the door and it was locked. They look askance. I tell them I pulled the door, turned the knob and James observes that the door opens with a push. Christ! I’m and idiot.

So off to Padraig’s ( pronounced Poorick ) and Els’ where they give Don and I tea and digestives. Padraig shows us some memorabilia of his famous uncle Barney McKenna. I have to admit I’d neglected following Barney and he’s one of the seminal figures in the modern revival of traditional music. James comes over after taking Morgan to Gary’s for bow talk. We all pile into their car with their dog Tessa in our laps and head into the country for a pleasant walk through an oak grove and along a lovely river. Then back to Westport where we’re dropped off at our car and we get ingredients for dinner. Gary and Morgan arrive jut in time for dinner and then off to session. We head up to McGing’s and have a pint and walk down to Bould Biddy’s and things are just starting. A very different feeling than last night though. A different clientele, more settled and when we start playing it begins to feel closer to Cleary’s than anything else. People standing and listening break into song and everyone shushes the crowd silent for a respectful listen. Well we’re rolling along and Padraig the box player who apparently is a fine musician and also a fine drinker is soon leaning into me while talking to some mates, and I’m having to lean into him to avoid being pushed from my stool. I’m twisted around trying to play and it’s like stepping into Ciaran Carson’s Last Night’s Fun. Music, pints, fighting for a perch to play on…..great stuff!

Maggie sings a couple of songs and then after a good many pints belts out an absolutely filthy song that has us all rolling. We’ve got it recorded and I hope it sounds good when I go through and listen to it all.

Don’s got everyone eating out of his hand playing the Paragon and singing blues and old swing. We do Galway Girl which Don seems convinced is a bad choice and the whole pub is singing it in the first couple of measures. We’ve lost any sense of time and hear that Bri­d the owner wants to go home she finally turns off the lights while John is piping the last tune. I grab Maggie and tell her Morgan has a great joke about Limerick’s that she’ll love. As Morgan tells it he delivers the joke which she howls over then grabs his arm pulls it into her breasts, won’t let go and starts chanting one filthy Limerick after another into his ear. Brid insisted on giving me a Mayo hat, and four cigarette lighters for all of us and pays for the last pints as well. As I’m on my way out the door a young man puts out his hand to shake it. I put down my case and as he grasps my hand he tells me he’s been listening to Dan and Johnny for years and it was the first time he’d heard them have to really push to keep up and with a group of Americans, “good on ya” he said. I thanked him sincerely. We had lots of positives from everyone who approached us. From the woman who thought that Raglan Road should be unaccompanied only to effusively praise James’ rendition

 

Visit With A Pipe Maker and Boul Biddy’s

We worked on some new sets and then went to visit a pipe maker by the name of John Butler. John hails originally from Dublin area and now lives on Achill Island. His work shop is in an old school building and when we arrived the wind was blowing hard and it was threatening rain. He’s only been making pipes on his own for a couple of years, had helped another pipe maker at one point build some practice sets, but on his own just a few sets. His skills are evident, his work very clean and well executed. He’d been a designer of medical equipment but was made redundant by the economic times. He’s played pipes since he was sixteen and I’m guessing he’s in his late 30s. He showed us his personal set of Willy Rowesome pipes made in 1924. They’re beautiful things with full regulators and a sound that is sweet and pure. John gave James some advice on his pipes, offered some suggestions and I think James will have him build a new bellows for him.

We got back home and Morgan made a great pasta dinner and we headed into Westport to meet Maria at Hoban’s Pub. When we arrived it was apparent we were going to have to get some pints to catch up with Maria. She did get hold of her friend Padraig who came and chatted for a little while. Maria told us that he loves banjo and had a couple. Once he determined that we were OK ( he asked us several times are you going to play some tunes? ) he said he’d get his banjos. Don was quite pleased at the prospect of having one to play. Padraig gives one case to Don and when he opens it we’re VERY interested. It’s a Clifford Essex Paragon, one of the best English banjos made, bloody beautiful and awesome sounding.

We played for awhile and Padraig suggested strongly that we might want to take it down to Biddy’s a very cool, narrow little pub that was just roaring. Dan and Johnny were leading with the owner’s daughter Jennie on box and young Nigel on flute. They welcomed us into the circle and it took off from there. Some lads show up one in a wig and red dress who’s going to be married and then it really got wild. It got so loud I finally put my guitar away and played drum. Don was the life of the party. He played some blues and some jazz with Dan, A mighty session and great fun.

Mayo Proves To Be Our Musical Mecca

This is a summation of several days. Mayo proved to be an engaging place and kept us very busy. On Tuesday we went out to the coast and visited a Neolithic site that’s been very slightly excavated and it was pretty fascinating. The coast is beautiful, rugged and it looks due north. We got up into this tower and looked seaward and it was clear and blue and you can see the curvature of the earth the expanse was so broad. It felt rather lonely looking north and realizing that there was nothing between where we stood and Iceland. In fact it was a similar feeling looking west from Achill. I understand a lot of the songs written about leaving for the New World much better now. If you were watching the ship disappearing over the horizon carrying your loved ones away you would have known that you’d probably never see them again. It was a long, long way off in those days, and looking across that vast stretch of water would have only reinforced that feeling.

We drove back into town and Maria told us to meet her at Molloy’s and she’d introduce us to some good musicians she knows. John the piper is her man friend and he goes over to Dublin mid-week to work for Air Lingus. So off we go to Matt’s Pub at 10:00 pm looking for Maria. We get there and wait for her and she isn’t there yet. The place is a zoo, which is its normal state as far as we can tell. A very popular tourist spot with a mix of some locals, but rarely a place to sit and enjoy a pint or even the music for that matter. We stand around for a while and give Maria a call and tell her we’re off to McGing’s which suits us far more. We order some pints and text Maria. There are no other musicians to connect with this night so we finish our drinks and head home.

On Wednesday we practiced some of our new sets and drove in to Westport to do some shopping. Knocked about for a bit and found a few things. Morgan found an antique lace runner for Peg, I spotted a nice silver bangle for Ally that I think I’ll go back for. Got a call from Maria apologizing for last night. She drank wine at dinner and woke up at 2:00 am. Promised to meet us for a session at the Cobbler and introduce us to a bouzouki player and fiddler who are doing a session there tonight. We were to meet Morgan’s colleague Gary Leahy in Newport and visit him and see his work shop. He’s a nice man and according to Morgan a fine bow maker. We have a fine time with Gary and he tells us that he’ll meet us at a session tomorrow in Newport.

So far this leg of the trip is vastly different than the first. In Clare we were just getting our feet wet and acclimatizing, Beara is rugged and beautiful but the music is scattered and infrequent due to the small population. Mayo on the other hand is music, music and more music. We’ve decided to stay through Monday because Sunday is all day sessions in Westport. We’ve got tomorrow tonight in Newport, not sure about Friday yet, but Saturday again at Biddy’s this tiny little pub in Westport that Maria assures us is the magnet for all the characters in town. So back to the Cobbler. We arrive before Maria and meet Johnny the bouzouki player and apparently he plays many others instruments, and his partner Dan. They’re probably my age and a nicer pair you wouldn’t want to meet. Very inclusive with the dry Irish wit we’ve come to expect and cherish. We played from about 8:30 until 12:00 and went down to meet Maria at Molloy’s. We walked fast and found the front doors locked and shades drawn but went in the side where we found the place roaring! We squeezed in and found Maria with some very good players but there was nowhere for us to join in the place was cheek to jowl. Maria wanted us to go back to her place but we’re learning she’s one of those in the moment gals. She was playing and chatting and we were somewhat forgotten… No problem though, so we waved goodbye and went back to our cottage, played a few hands of Canasta and turned in. We visited Maria in the afternoon, next day. The day was rainy, all day just like last Thursday. We met her dogs and hung out until time to head to Newport. We went to Grainne Uaile pub to meet Gary for dinner and stayed for a session. Julie Langan and a box player named Tom and a fine flute player named Brian were there as well a a woman who played great bouzouki and later an American named Mick and a few other musicians as well as the four of us . Some great playing and great players. Morgan says that Julie is the best fiddle player he’s heard on the trip. She plays with an elegance and grace that is quite lovely. They loved our songs and complimented our playing, as we did theirs. Brian has a strong yet beautiful tone to his flute and Tom is one of the best box players we’ve heard. Julie paid us a rather high compliment by saying that she might try to come play with us on Sunday at one of the sessions.

What we do when we’re not playing

An afternoon at the edge of the world, exploring a neolithic sight, discovered beneath a blanket bog, dating back nearly six thousand years. The Atlantic Ocean lies before us. A panorama so vast that the curvature of the earth is apparent. And the sun is shining!

Our ‘routine’ here involves a lot of practice, as you can see, and occasional laundry…