After a lot of anticipation, on Friday morning, FyneFest finally started for real!
After a pancake with bacon and maple syrup from Hector & Harriet for breakfast, and securing some T-shirts from the merch tent, it was time to get properly started. The ‘doors’ of the main tent opened at 11.00, and I managed to order the very first beer of the first official festival day there! The line of keg pumps and beer engines was impressive, as were the beers listed behind the bar, but as it would be a long weekend, and the servings relatively large for a beer festival—1/3 pint (19cl) or 1/2 pint (28cl)—I decided to take it slow, alternating and combining beer tastings with concerts and food… Speaking about the music: one of the first acts was a proper ceilidh band!
The second festival day had plenty of variation as well. Pellicle’s Matt Curtis was hosting a couple of interesting talks with brewers, and in between I walked up to the Walkers Bar, five kilometre upstream, where they served some gravity poured cask beers.
In the evening the highlight without a doubt was the Massaoke show, which got the whole crowd singing their lungs out.
The last day of the festival started with an awesome bacon roll with egg from Prime Street Food. The beer boards were a bit more sparse, since it was basically leftover day. Still enough beers I hadn’t tried yet to keep me occupied for a while though!
I also booked a Fyne Ales brewery tour this day, so I could see where our host’s beers come from.
After having gone through most of the festival beers, I spent some time in the brewery courtyard to enjoy some of their Origins beers.
After six, the Brewers Lounge tent was the only place still open, but there still was beer—just to drink and enjoy, done with rating—live music, loads of happy and nice people, and a gorgeous sunset!
If you’re in Brussels and would like to celebrate Burns’ Night somehow, next week Friday — I know, still a long wait — the Caledonian Society of Brussels is hosting a special Burns’ Ceilidh. As usual, The Hoggies will be playing, and Gavin will be calling the dances. Always great fun!
I haven’t been able to go a ceilidh for quite some while, so I really hope I can make it to this one… Kilt up!
Saturday was the day of the Lochearnhead Highland Games, including the Clan MacLaren AGM, Stone of Strength, Tug o’War and lots of other (heavy) events. In the evening we celebrated Donald MacLaren of MacLaren’s fiftieth year as our chief with a supper and ceilidh in the Balquhidder Village Hall.
No day to day report of my trip this time, a couple of photos after our return will have to do. Later I will post a follow-up with some photos from the cameras and iPhone of my travel companion and girlfriend h–na as well.
The journey by bus was more troublesome than ever before: the trip to London has taken us six hours longer than intended, mainly due to problems in the Eurotunnel. We made it to London eventually, but headed straight to the hotel to get at least some sleep before our first full day in the city.
After some time in the museum, we needed a drink, so we enjoyed some tea and scones at the Tea and Tattle. And I must say: it was the best cream tea I’ve had so far!
After a short visit to theScience Museum, it was time to start drinking… 😉 As an avid BrewDogfan, I wanted to visit as many BrewDog bars as possible, so we started at the latest London addition:BrewDog Shepherds Bush. After a couple of beers, we moved on to Camden. First fish and chips at Hook, where the dishes served looked and tasted remarkably like those at Bia Mara in Brussels… That means excellent, in case you were wondering! 🙂
Then a beer in the nearby BrewDog Camden, and after a short stop at the Dean Swift, our third BrewDog bar: BrewDog Shoreditch. Since they were about to close, we were ushered into UnderDog, the beery cocktail bar of BrewDog.
Since we didn’t feel like switching to cocktails, and preferred to sleep a little before another day of playing tourist, we decided to go back to our hotel. The previous night we were quite happy with the service provided by our Uber taxi, and the very reasonable ride price of £7.92, so even when the app warned us it the cost would be 2.4 times the normal rate, we went ahead and ordered another one. Oh boy, was that a mistake… Apparently we were quite a bit further from the hotel this time, since the total added up to £34.58!
After arriving in Edinburgh, we checked into our hotel ( easyHotel ) for a little nap — I’m never fully rested after a night on a sleeper bus — and shower.
Since it was h–na’s first time in Edinburgh, we decided to get on one of those tour buses to get an overall view of the city. We had a small, standing lunch at Oink, and then went for an Introduction to BrewDog Tasting and Talk with Five Craft Beers to Taste Each with Cheese and Meats at BrewDog Edinburgh. Mostly beers from their core range, but I’m happy to say I was able to identify each and every one of them, before the staff told us which ones they were! 🙂
It was the 25th of January that day:Burns’ Night! So we went to a ceilidh with a haggis, neeps & tatties buffet. Not the best of combinations for me, since I wasn’t really up for more dancing after having a go at the buffet…
All was digested by the next morning, however, so plenty of room for a proper Scottish breakfast! 🙂
This day we went on another bus to see Leith as well, and in the afternoon we had a private tour of Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, after the tour most museums in the castle were closed already. Winter isn’t the best time of year to be a tourist, so it seems…
But there’s always BrewDog Edinburgh, the place where I first discovered decent craft beer outside of Belgium and became a BrewDog fan. And as an Equity Punk, it is especially interesting to get there and order before five o’ clock to enjoy a very attractive Daytime Discount! 🙂
The culinary discovery of this trip must have beenWings: only chicken wings on the menu—well, and a few side dishes—but dozens of different sauces or dry rubs, and delightfully geeky!
To finish the day, a visit to the Bow Bar — they even had beer from De Natte Gijt! — and one last drink at the Ghillie Dhu before turning in.
Our last day in Edinburgh we went to the National Museum of Scotland, where we rushed to the roof to hear the one o’ clock gun and see the ball drop on theNelson Monument, only to miss it by seconds… It was the third time in Edinburgh for me, and I still haven’t actually seen or heard it!
Lunch at another newcomer in Old Reekie:Reekie’s Smokehouse. Here it was the first time I had brisket — tasty — but I’ll have to come back to try the ‘burnt ends’. Or maybe I’ll just get the whole Meatfest next time! 🙂
Last night I went to my first Boombal: a popular Flemish folk dance event. The first two dances they taught us—the tovercirkel (‘magic circle’) and the chapelloise or gigue—were remarkably similar to respectively the Circassian Circle and Gay Gordons (described below)… These Boombal versions were both ‘mixer’ dances, changing partners all the time, while this isn’t very common for the Gay Gordons.
Other dances were less familiar.
A Boombal apparently usually starts with an initiation, with just one instrument on stage, and an instructing couple in the middle, taking you through each dance step by step, and practicing each step before moving on to the next one. Quite a bit more extensive than the explanations I had at ceilidhs so far, but basically the same principle.
After the initiation — the first hour or so — the ‘real’ band gets started, and unlike ceilidhs, there are no more instructions or calls. I even didn’t always hear the band announce the dance, but that could have been just me…
So if you’ve never been to a Boombal, better come early!
Oh, I was—not surprisingly—the only guy in a kilt, but some really did seem to appreciate it!
The Circassian Circle
Formation: Large circle round the room, ladies on the right of their partner. Music: 32 bar Reels.
Bars 1-4: Hands joined in a circle, all advance for four steps, retire for four steps. Bars 5-8: Repeat. Bars 9-12: Drop hands, ladies advance and retire. Bars 13-16: Men advance, turn round and walk out to the next lady clockwise (the one who was on their left; the one who is now to the right of their partner as they view). Bars 17-24: All spin with new partners Bars 25-32: Hands crossed in front (right to right and left to left), ladies on the outside, promenade anti-clockwise around the room.
Repeat ad lib.
The Gay Gordons
Formation: couples around the room facing anti-clockwise, ladies on the right. Music: 2/4 or 4/4 march. E.g. “Scotland the Brave”, “The Gay Gordons”.
Bars 1-2: Right hands joined over lady’s shoulder (man’s arm behind her back) and left hands joined in front (allemande hold), walk forward for four steps, starting on the right foot. Bars 3-4: Still moving in the same direction, and without letting go, pivot on the spot (so left hand is behind lady and right hand is in front) and take four steps backwards. Bars 5-8: Repeat in the opposite direction. Bars 9-12: Drop left hands, raise right hands above lady’s head. Lady pivots on the spot. (The man may set). Bars 13-16: Joining hands in ballroom hold, polka round the room.