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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Huskies, Sparrows, the Insider and Celtic Connections.

I have been away from the blog for a few weeks now, largely because there has been so much going on. Last weekend was the annual husky racing championship, being held on snow for the first time in 15 years. There were over a thousand dogs, 200 teams and I pinched this photo from Aaron Sneddon who (unlike me) was actually there.

I wasn't there simply because Sparrow and the Workshop were playing at the Old Bridge Inn and a session ensued that went some way past licensed hours. We have finally got round to incorporating Backwoods Productions (for producing and publicising events) and have focused our musical attendance somewhat because the Insider 2010 is alive. Last week Sam Lee, the promoter behind the Magpies Nest folk nights in London came to stay and has made himself very much involved. His current specialist interest (among many others) is the hereditary traveller ballads of Aberdeenshire so we may introduce a 'Balladlands', and there is talk of combining with the Cairngorms National Park to introduce a much greater firewood and renewables element to the festival. We are also going to start recruiting volunteers, stewards, waitresses etc etc, ideally from Aviemore, so if anyone would like a job please get in touch

Sam and I, and two lovely lady Morris dancers then headed for Celtic Connections to further our causes and catch a few of the potential bands. It put a smile on my face that the 2 headlining bands of Celtic Connections were Session A9 and Lau, who headlined for us in one shape or form last year. The Insider seems to have generated a ripple of goodwill through artists and their management and though we are going to have to put our tickets on sale without a full line up, trust us, it will be a belter.

So, next weekend at the Old Bridge Inn is the official launch party for the Insider, with lots of bands I have mentioned here over the last year including the Horndog Brass band, Woodenbox and a Fistful of Fivers and King Arthurs Men playing. The festival itself will be Friday 18th to Sunday 20th June. Watch this space for updates.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Conde Nast Traveller.

Here we are again, this time being Wintery in Conde Nast Traveller just in time to encourage people to come here in the Spring. Click on the picture and you can see the enormous icicles that surrounded the house a fortnight ago.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

More Snow.

There has been so much snow sitting in the trees that sometimes just the noise of a pheasant taking off is enough to break branches. The bigger trees give a biblical groan, creaking and cracking as they go. Only as the snow has thinned round the house are all the broken trees visible so a few days back it became time to dig out our elderly Massey Ferguson, gas up a chainsaw, improvise a snowplough, try to get the drives passable again and start an epic tidy up.

Two days of serious shovelling and sawing brings me to a recommendation. Just when I had totally tied myself in knots I cashed in a token I had been given for a massage from Sally Ann Westcott at Aviemore Beauty. I came out feeling like I was wearing someone else's shoulders, someone much younger, fresher and more lithe than myself. Whether you were in off the hill, had been cycling, canoeing or shovelling, or just fancied being a little realigned, it is a revelation.

The hill has been closed these last few days, it was gusting 70 plus miles an hour and there were 10 foot drifts blowing over the ski road as soon as the plough had past. It's a lottery you face by choosing Aviemore as your skiing destination. That left the Old Bridge Inn as the best alternative, Calum Wood and some of City City Beat played the last 2 nights and the pub was heaving with a great atmosphere and lots of friendly faces. It is going to go from strength to strength this year.

The breaking news is that we have quietly started planning the next Insider. It's to be the 18th to the 20th June, we don't know who will be playing yet so you are just going to have to trust us but there are some big names in the hat. Watch this space.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Winter Sports / January - February availability.

The snow round the house is knee deep and the icicles in some of the windows now join top to bottom. It feels as though the whole house would be encased in a fortnight if this were to carry on. I have put some pictures on our flickr page. Conditions on the mountain are the best anyone can remember, with 33 runs open, deep fresh snow and blue skies (yesterday at any rate) and as yet none of that horrible noise I remember from my childhood of skis graunching on refrozen pistebasher tracks. It's making it very difficult to get on with admin and invoicing and tax returns when the hill is so tempting.

If anyone fancies a last minute holiday and doesn't mind having to leave their car at the bottom of the drive (50 yards away) or the possibility that (at minus 22 last night) some of the pipes might stop working, Inshriach is available between the 25th January and the 5th February. There is a solid week of skiing in there but I would recommend avoiding the weekends when the hill becomes something of a madhouse.

Has anyone seen a piece in this month's Conde Nast Traveller? I haven't found a copy in Aviemore but I'm pretty sure we are in it somewhere.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy Hogmanay.

To everyone who made it to Aviemore this festive season and especially to those who joined us both for a fabulous week in the house and for an almighty party in the barn. Aviemore has been heaving all week, with musical evenings in both Ord Ban and the Old Bridge Inn, from whence the John Langan band first footed us and took us through to the small hours. The hill has been packed with skiers, the snow conditions are the best for years and the forecast predicts little change over the next few weeks.

There have been the predictable repercussions of life below zero. It hit minus 18 last night and hardly scraped above minus 5 during the day, the sledging here has been brilliant, not all the bathrooms have worked all of the time, the farm flat burst some pipes and flooded the garage and every day has included time spent digging and towing out cars. With our next booking 10 days away there are still 9 folk who say that its safer to stay on than to try the roads and who I suspect will remain cautious as long as the food and whisky keep flowing.