Posts Tagged ‘scotland’

This week’s Tunesday is a double play because I just could not decide on which song to feature. To tell you the truth I could probably feature a new song every day and not get bored, but I think a lot of you would stop reading!

I suppose when I started this feature I only wanted to let you all know what I was listening to and perhaps encourage you to listen to it as well. I hope this has worked, especially for the two bands I am featuring today who are both Scottish and definitely bands I think you should wholly support.

The (first) Song: Things

The (first) Band: Frightened Rabbit

(pardon the non-video video, but I REALLY want you to hear this song!)

S is the one who introduced me to Frightened Rabbit, I think after reading a review in some newspaper or another. “Things” is the opening track of their third album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which I can confidently say will blow your mind. Every track on this album is equally amazing; I could have chosen “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”, the first single from the album, which is a shockingly fierce and emotional song. I could have chosen “Nothing Like You” which is threatening to be my favourite song of July, if not of the year.

Instead, I chose the opening track, “Things”, and once you listen to the song, and listen to the album, I think you will see why; because it is simply fantastic, because it is the first song of theirs I ever heard, and the one I keep coming back to over and over and over.

Anyone can tell you that I am a complete sucker for an audible accent in a rock song, especially a Scottish one, and lead singer Scott Hutchison’s voice completely floors me. He could say anything to me, from “hello” to “rubbish weather” and have me gibbering and nodding my head like an idiot. “Things” is deliciously upbeat, an anthem for sloughing off old skin and deserting useless reminders of the past.

Listen to it. Love it. Let me know what you think, and, of course, buy the album.

Things by Frightened Rabbit

Here is the evidence of human existence;
A splitting bin bag next to two damp boxes,
And I cannot find a name for them,
They hardly show that I have lived,
And the dust it settles on these things,
Displays my age again.
Like a new skin made from old skin
That had barely been lived in

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
Pointless artefacts of a mediocre past.
So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh
Down to the bone and burned the rest

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
I took them all to bits, turned them outside-in
And I left them on the floor
And ran for dear life through the door.

Useless objects, a gathered storm of shit
A dim and silent shed filled of your life’s supplies
When all you need’s a coffin and your Sunday best
To smarten up in the end.
At the front gate what a reward awaits,
One bite of loaf from a Holy Ghost;
An eternity of suffering in the company of
All those Christian men.

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
Pointless artefacts of a mediocre past.
So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh
Down to the bone and burned the rest

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
I took them all to bits, turned them outside-in
And I left them on the floor
And ran for dear life through the door.

I’ll never need these things; I’ll never need them,
It’s just you I need; you’re my human heat.
And the things are only things
And nothing brings me like you bring me.

I’ll never need these things; I’ll never need them,
Never going back, so we can drop the past
And we’ll leave it on the floor
And run for dear life through the door.

Once again, these lyrics are my own approximation and I apologize sincerely (mostly to the artist) if I have gotten something wrong.

On to the second tune!

The (second) Song: Home

The (second) Band: The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

The Boy Who Trapped the Sun is actually just Colin Macleod, one crazy talented Scot from the Isle of Lewis. When you listen to the album there is no way you will believe that this is just one guy intent on playing all the parts himself (except strings and female vocals). And yet here you have a debut album resplendent with gorgeous melodies and insightful lyrics which is refreshing and inviting and wonderful. He is beautiful, his voice is indescribable and this album is breathtaking.

I liked Fireplace from the get-go and wish I had a few days set aside to listen to nothing but this. The album places you smack dab in the middle of the isolated northern islands; the ocean, waves, loneliness and longing.

The opening track, “Golden” is melancholy and achingly beautiful, and is followed by the upbeat single “Katy” which is humorous and fun. I can’t decide on a favourite track between “Dreaming Like a Fool” which has an up-tempo waltz beat that echoes Elliott Smith, or the emotionally draining “Copper Down” which sounds painfully autobiographical. In fact, I can’t decide on my favourite track out of the whole album – it’s that good.

I have chosen “Home” as my song for Tunesday because, while I may not have gotten the lyrics down 100% (sorry, Colin!)[update – I have confirmation that these lyrics are, in fact, “spot on”], there is a video to go along with it and I wanted you all to see this remarkable talent in action.

Home by The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

Home is where you lay your head
My head lies between the cracks
Breadlines lead to wasted days
Maybe I’m better put to longer days

Oh, this city’s not a home
But it’s somewhere to get lost

Maybe I’m lying to myself
I’m not a grafter; I’m not a man of earth
I have a habit; it’s a full time occupation
‘Cause the grass is always greener
When you can see the garden

Oh, this city’s not a home
But it’s somewhere to get lost

I’ve spent my life
Watching other people
Have a life

I can guarantee you that there are many bigger and better things to come from this talented individual, and I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next. In the meantime, listen to this album and love it like I do.


p.s. Have I mentioned before how lucky I feel to be living in Scotland? I may complain about the weather sometimes, but I really to love it here.

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What a wonderful day we’ve had!  We woke up to gray skies and decided to take a drive further south to where the sun promised to be. I’ve always wanted to visit the Gem & Rock Museum in Creetown so away we went down to Dumfries and Galloway to see it.

We took the forest road down which didn’t take too long.  It rained on and off for a while, but there was nothing too heavy. Creetown was lovely, a typical main-street village with tons of little shops and such.  We did not spend any time there at all, just went to the museum and the left again after that. I’d like to go back, though because it was beautiful!

As a precursor let me say that I am a sucker to gems and rocks and minerals and anything that comes from the Earth.  In another life I am pretty sure I was a geologist.  I love crystals and all of that, so the museum was right up my alley.  S on the other hand, well, he only went to please me!  Which is lovely, don’t you think?

Anyway, we spent the most of our time in the gift shop where I bought some tumbled stones and lusted after some jewelry. It was a nice place if you like rocks, pretty boring if you don’t.

We took the coast road back home through Stranraer and Girvan and stopped at Turnberry Hotel for afternoon tea.  I have always loved Turnberry Hotel.  I got a certificate for a free night’s stay there in January of 2008 which was lovely. The certificate was for dinner, bed and breakfast and we still managed to spend £160 in just over 24 hours.  How did we do that, you ask, well… The certificate only entitled us to £50 each for dinner which covered only food, so any beverages were on top of that.  And we took tea the day we arrived, and had a coffee I think the next day.  Anyway, it all adds up pretty quick in a place like that.

Last summer we went down to The British Open at Turnberry and it was amazing.  The hotel is just iconic, sitting on a rise above the water all windows and white wash – it truly is a sight to see.  I love it.

So on the drive home today we stopped in to have afternoon tea.  For £24 per person.  No joke.  Why would we agree to pay £24 each for a few finger sandwiches and a couple of cups of tea?  Well, this may give you a small idea of how very worth it it was:

Also, just as a note, there has never been a better time to go to Turnberry – they had an all over renovation last year for The British Open and it is absolutely gorgeous inside. Honestly, it is a sight to see. Especially on a day like today with the sun seeping through the clouds and sparkling off the water and the hulking mass of Ailsa Craig in the distance. Swoon.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic day.


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That is the question.

With winter well and truly set in around these parts the skoosher conundrum is presenting itself daily.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about – because you do.  Even if you don’t know you do, you do!

Imagine this:

The overnight temperature was -7*c.  It’s half-past 7 in the morning and you’re in the car on the way to work.  You have scraped the ice off your windscreen. You may have even scraped some of your windscreen off your windscreen in your haste.  You have scraped your wing mirrors. All is clear. You have, of course, been running your car while scraping so it has begun to warm up and all is well with the world.  So you back out of the driveway and are headed merrily on your way.  Which is when all the problems begin.

Not only does the windscreen fog up completely the second you pull onto a street that has traffic on it, but your previously spotless windscreen is now impossible to see through.  Why?  You know why! There is a mysterious browny-grey slime that appears on your windscreen as if from nowhere the second you move an inch in the winter.  And it STICKS.  To make it worse you can’t see the extent to which the brown/grey slime has set-in yet because your windscreen has fogged up.

So you’re driving along peering through the teeny tiny space near the dashboard which is the only un-fogged part of the windscreen, attempting to find a crack in the brown/grey slime and at the same time trying desperately not to run into anyone or any thing and, hopefully, keeping your car on the road.  It would be best if you could also be trying to drive uphill on an icy road which has not been salted (most roads, really).  Or, even better if you live close to the motorway and are trying to merge into rush-hour traffic.

You’re now on the way to work and have approximately 2 square inches of visibility – suddenly the Fog Gods (great name for a band?) take pity on you and miraculously the windscreen clears to reveal the extent to which your car has been coated with brown/grey slime.

This is EVERYWHERE and impossible to see through.  Coming from the roadway, this slush is momentarily liquid and therefore it should be easy to clear off.  One swish of the wipers, however, smears this slime over your windscreen in, admittedly, quite an attractive pattern. Your two square inches of visibility are now reduced to one millimetre of clear space between each streak of slushy muck.

Now what?  Well, the solution is obvious, one skoosh and all will be revealed!  The roadway! You’ll be able to see the roadway! You may even be able to see the entirety of the car you are crawling up the tailpipe of. Imagine that?!  So what do you do?  You pull the lever which activates the skoosher.  Only to be reminded, horribly, that the solution has frozen overnight and your skooshers are dry. However no one told your windscreen wipers this and there they go happily swooshing along thinking for all the world that they are doing you a favor.

They. Are. Not.  They are just making it worse.  Much, much worse.  Your millimetre of clear space has disappeared only to be replaced by one square inch located somewhere above the passenger seat.  Now relying on your car-pool to navigate (and the tail lights of the car in front which are quite foggy and may, in fact, be warning lights on a runway – you have no idea because you can’t see them!) you are cursing yourself, cursing the weather, the brown muck and, most of all your skooshers which have let you down again.

However fifteen minutes later you will tire of craning your neck and surely, surely the heat of your car engine will have thawed your skooshers.  High on anticipation and the promise the skoosher fluid manufacturers made that their product works at temperatures of -700*c and BELOW you pull your lever with your fingers crossed and totally believing that this will work and you will be able to see again (SEE AGAIN!!!).  It doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work the next time either.  Or the time after that.  Or after that.  You think by now you would have learned, but you’ll try anything to stop having to drive with your head in the passengers’ seat.

You reach the point where you are praying for a much bigger car to pass you going faster so they spray your car (and windscreen) with slush fresh from the road.  With that kind of liquid you could really get the glass clean again.  Or maybe it could start snowing again?  Snow is clean, right?  Please snow.  Please rain.  Please do anything that will wet my windscreen.  You even start fishing about in the back seat for that half-empty bottle of water you know is back there (you can here is sloshing!!) so you can awkwardly reach out the side window at the next stop light (forget that, do it now!!) and use that water to clear the glass. You are willing to do anything for the ability to see.

Having finally made it to work, an hour or so late because you had to drive at 35mph the whole way in because you had zero visibility, and out of some perverse desire to make yourself feel worse, you try your skooshers.  And here, safely in the parking lot, with the parking brake on and your hand on the door to leave the car, HERE when you don’t need to see at all, HERE your skooshers work.  Instantly .  You can see the car parked in front of you.  You can see beyond that to the building you work in.  You can even see Sally on the second floor waving at you from the window.  Here in the parking lot when you don’t have to drive any more you can see.

I’ll tell you one thing for free – you say – I’ll never make that mistake again.  You buy new skoosher fluid (guaranteed below -900*c!!!!) and refill your reservoir – ignoring the “In Concentrate” label on the bottle and not putting in any water at all (freeze on me this time, sucker!).

And there you go at the end of the day, having scraped a bit more glass off your windscreen in your eagerness to get on the road and try out your new skoosher fluid. On the way home driving merrily along you try the skoosh again. And it skooshes just fine.  Except it got colder during the day and the skoosher fluid freezes on impact and your wipers drag ice crystals across your field of vision.

But I really don’t even want to talk about that.

Good luck out there in this, the coldest winter in 30 years (apparently) here in Scotland.

Be safe on the roads and, for God’s sake, don’t use your skoosher!!!



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