Thursday, August 25, 2005

5 Aug 05: Travelling Northwards

I shall urge myself to write, if doing so would help keep the blues away.

Thank goodness that our rehearsal this evening was cancelled so that I could be at home writing this post.

5 Aug 2005: Initially, there was supposed to be an ensemble rehearsals, but it was cancelled, so this day was a free day. Actually by 4 Aug 2005, many of the orchestra's members have set off for their individual tours, mostly within Scotland.

Here's notes taken from my tour journal:

"I was early for breakfast. As such, I went to browse the articles pinned on the general notice-boards nearby the canteen. I saw a review on our orchestra's opening concert held on 3 Aug 2005. It gave positive comments about the concert. I pointed it to my conductor who happened to be nearby, he said there was also another write-up about our concert which gave a positive review.

Ate breakfast at the hostel. I love breakfast. It is my favourite meal of the day, wherever I am. I like the selection of food available at the hostel's canteen. I don't get to eat such a spread of food for breakfast for my regular breakfasts in Singapore, despite breakfast being my favourite meal of the day.

Here in the hostel, there're cereals, fruits, porridge, various kinds of bread, fruit juices available. Butter there also tasted more fresh than those in Singapore. I must have been biased, but allow me to.

QH, LL and myself left the hostel at about 8.45 a.m. on the bus-service number 20. We headed for the railway station, and by then, we were more confident of getting to the railway station from the hostel.

At the railway station, we bought tickets to Keith. We were going to travel northwards from Aberdeen. It took about an hour to reach Keith. Our first stop was a whisky distillery, the Strathisla Distillery. We were served and treated to a small glass of 12-years whisky shortly after we have paid the admission.

The distillery was not in production that very day so we could not see it in action. Nevertheless, the guide gave us a guided tour and explained the process of whisky-making to everyone of us in the tour. I even had a chance to taste malt and barley. Barley is more hard to chew than malt.

If you would like to know more about the process of whisky-making, please check this link:

We were even allowed to enter the warehouses where barrels of whisky were kept. I asked the question of how the staff move the large and heavy barrels of whisky around. The reply was: 'We push and roll the barrels.' So I have guessed it right.

After the distillery, we proceeded to this station and travelled one railway station southwards from Keith. Our next station was this station named Huntly. We had planned to visit the Huntly Castle in the town of Huntly.

It took about slightly more than 20 minutes to walk from Huntly railway station to the Huntly Castle. Yet, the walk was rather enjoyable as it was scenic."

When we reached Huntly Castle, we did not see anyone asking us to pay for the admission. It was supposed to be about 3 pounds per person per admission. Actually Huntly Castle did not look as magnificient in its scale as Edinburgh Castle. Since we can't find anyone to pay the admission charges to, we went in anyway.

I looked around and took photographs. After spending about 5 minutes in the castle's compound, I saw someone who seemed to be one of the staff. I asked her if there was an admission charge and told her I have yet to pay. She told me I could do so just before I leave. I told QH and LL about it. Well, if you want to know what happened in the very end, you have to find your own way to ask me privately.

Just a moment ago, I searched using Google for "Huntly Castle", and found this site: Historic Scotland - Huntly Castle. Read about it if you would like.

Despite being smaller in scale, Huntly Castle is beautiful and unique in its own special way.

After visiting the castle, we headed back for the railway station. We had not had our lunch as yet then. As such, on our way back, we bought lunch at one of the cafes. I got myself coleslaw and a Coronation chicken sandwich. I discovered that a Coronation chicken sandwich is likely a sandwich where the fillings are chicken in mustard. Did I get it right?

Time was tight then because if we had missed the train, we would have to wait for the next one which would come at least an hour later. As such, we hurried to the station after buying our lunch. I gobbled down my food when I was at the station, and that turned out not to be a good idea.

When I reached Aberdeen by the train, I was feeling a little unwell from indigestion. So the lesson learnt was that we should take time to chew on our food.

"In the evening, we had dinner in the hostel. Thereafter, we took a festival bus to catch a concert by two orchestras: the Sudbury Youth Orchestra and Musica Iuvenalis. I remembered that only XM, LL, QH, our conductor and myself attended that particular concert that evening.

When we were at the concert hall, someone passed our conductor a card from one of the people in the audience. She had attended our opening concert and felt appreciative of our performance. As such, she wrote a card with words of appreciation and addressed it to our conducting. In short, she spoke about what she had liked about the orchestra's rendition of the works during the opening concert. She even praised our conductor's conducting and the violin soloist's playing.

During the intermission, our conductor gave us a treat to a cup of ice-cream each. So generous and kind of him.

By the way, you might be interested to know that in UK, it seemed like there is a culture in the concert halls and performing arts halls to sell ice-cream inside the halls during the intermission. Audience may even eat their ice-cream inside the hall. I wonder if it was a good idea to eat ice-cream when the temperature outdoors is about 14 - 16 degrees Celsius? Anyway, I finished the vanilla ice-cream I was treated to. The very same thing happened in all concert halls and performing arts halls that I went to in UK (including the time when I was in London to watch The Phantom of the Opera). In Singapore, it was quite rare to find people selling ice-cream inside a concert hall! Thank goodness that Emrah had briefly spoke about this ice-cream selling and eating culture in the UK in one of his comments on my blog, if not, I fear I might have been shocked to find people selling ice-cream there.

After the concert, we took the bus back. The cello soloist from Musica Iuvenalis played very well that night. That was what impressed me in this concert. Sudbury Youth Orchestra's members did quite well in observing the various variations in the dynamics.

That night when I was back, I asked to see the double bass that I had asked to be reserved for me to play the next day. However, I could not find it in the place where I was told it was kept. You bet that I was pretty worried when I can't find it there.

In the end, after much walking to and fro places to attempt to find the person-in-charge to speak to, I gave up. I decided to try to find the whereabouts of the double bass the next day. At that time, I wished I had bought my own instrument along. If I were rich, I would definitely have bought at least a business class seat for my instrument to travel along with me. Renting a double bass from overseas just appears to be too unpredictable and unreliable unless one knows the rental company very well.

That's for today. I might not post tomorrow if I get too busy and tired from the evening rehearsals.


mistipurple said...

strathisla distillery looks like fairyland, right out of enid blyton's.

mistipurple said...

to cheer you on, in case my waking and slumber hours got too merged, and i posted this in slumberland instead.

Simple American said...

Wow. You must really be having a wonderful time. I need to go back and read some more so I can understand how long your journey will be.

Must learn some more about your orchestra as well.

Houston has a symphony orchestra and we had tickets last year. They have open house this weekend and my wife shall attend. I don't know if she will buy tickets for the coming season or not.

Emrah said...

Glad to see that you have enjoyed your trip! Perhaps, apart from writing, your Scottish trip might have inspired you like Mendelssohn - enough to attept to write a piece of music. For solo double-bass or with piano accompaniment? Really... Have you ever considered the idea of composing music pieces? Or have you already got some hidden somewhere? ;-)

oceanskies79 said...

Emrah: I only passed grade 5 theory despite passing Grade 7 double bass practical exams. I don't have confidence if I could write a good piece of music composition in the first place. I think I would need some theory teacher soon if I wish to do that.