Just returned from a ‘summer’ holiday on the Isle of Skye, in the Highlands of Scotland. It rained almost continuously, so we were hardly surprised when we learned that our visit was part of the most prolonged spell of wet weather recorded on the island since 1861. The mountains and lochs had their own beauty in the swirling mists. In a way, bad weather seems to suit them more than sunshine.
One evening we escaped the rain by going to the Plockton Inn on the mainland. First we had a terrific seafood meal in the dining room. Then we moved through to the bar, where a notice on a corner table advised: ‘Reserved for musicians after 9pm’. At that time, some local musicians gathered to sit round the table, playing traditional Scots folk music on mandolin, guitar, violins, banjo and whistle.
To say ‘some local musicians’ gives completely the wrong impression, because these players were extremely fine. Plockton hosts the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, and it turned out that some of the musicians were tutors at the school. They sat round with their own pints of beer on the table, chatting and laughing until someone picked up their instrument again and drifted into a new tune, which the others would gradually take up. Music flowed in and out of the conversation, and the cosy bar was crowded with appreciative listeners. It was a delightful scene and I only wish I lived near enough to attend their Tuesday and Thursday night sessions more often.