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South America #2 - Journeying through Perú 

Wow, Perú!

I’m blown away by the welcome we’ve found in this country; and especially that here in the town of Huaraz, in the neighbourhood just east of Avenida Confraternidad Internacional.

We’ve been staying in this barrio for just four days – and yet I already feel like it’s my own, and I would defend it and its residents to anyone.

A classic proof that you should trust your instincts, the streets leading up to the Casa del Montañista appear exactly the sort you’re told not to go through in South America.…

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South America #1 - At altitude in Ecuador!  

It took over a week to realise that altitude sickness was affecting my state of mind as well as my body.

A sea-level creature by nature, I may occasionally climb to 30 or 40 metres to rig a topgallant or royal; or even the occasional Munro at a little over 1,000 metres. 

But, feeling a loss of appetite and a revulsion towards all food, drink and comfort along with the headache and fatigue, it eventually dawned on me that my emotions were as washed thin as the air here at 3,600 metres; and I had not given…

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Two festivals, and a trial by weather!  

After playing the excellent Ardersier Folk Festival - what a great bunch of folk run this club! - I headed to Inverness on Monday 19th September to pick up the Lady of Avenel, bringing her to Buckie for the Findhorn Bay Festival - and what a line-up the organisers here had prepared! Our own role was to sail out of Buckie twice a day, as Stories, Sessions and Sail.

Fair winds brought us along the Moray coast, and we tied up in Buckie Harbor; there we decorated the ship with the spectacular signal flags made…

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The Springbank Voyage - meeting Jackie Royal and family, descendants of Captain Dennis Royal. 

When I began researching #The Springbank Voyage, I knew it as a local tale, as the crew included four sailors from Yell – Nicky Tulloch, Tammie Irvine, James Hardy and Lawrence Tait. (There turned out to be an Arthur Harrison from Aithsting aboard as well, plus some Orcadians). 

The crew of the Springbank; photo courtesy of Leslie Tulloch

I was intrigued by the elusive Hannah Royal, wife of the Captain and stewardess on the voyage; I wanted to find out as much about her and her husband, Dennis Royal, as I…

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New album announcement! 

New Album - 'The Springbank Voyage' - coming in Summer 2022


I'm very excited to announce that I've got a new album underway - and it was a great boost just before Christmas to learn that I'd got funding from Creative Scotland to help me make it!

In May 1908, the four-masted barque 'Springbank' departed Leith, loaded a cargo of coal in Hamburg then sailed for Cape Horn and her destination of Santa Rosalía, on the west coast of Mexico. Among her crew were four Shetlanders; one of whom was a fiddle player…

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Sessions and Sail 2021 

Sessions and Sail 2021

The possibility of running a musical sailing trip seemed like a dim hope just a few months ago. But with a hopeful, music-starved group, and a careful regime of testing and preparation to avoid any virus problems onboard, we gathered in Oban on July 18th.

This was always going to be a Sessions and Sail trip with a difference. The usual ethos of mixing with communities, gathering ashore in community halls and pubs and meeting local tutors to learn tunes had to be replaced with a plan…

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Sailing Lady of Avenel back to Scotland 

It's hard to say who had suffered more from the 18 months enforced 'lay up' - me or the sailing ship Lady of Avenel.

While I've been isolating in a Glasgow flat or a Cullivoe croft writing music, gaining new skills in music production, and finishing a music degree, the ship has been sitting in fresh water in Heybridge Basin, awaiting a crew to get her back in sailing condition. 

There's an old saying that 'ships and sailors rot in  port', and while I would argue that my own time hasn't been too badly…

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Soren Larsen voyage #7 - Galápagos 

This January has thrown up a few highlights; the incredible concerts being unveiled every day by Celtic Connections has to be among the best of them. I'm spending much of every day with a world-class concert coming through my speakers in my own house. And what a fantastic way of bringing people together - shared experience is one of the finest things about going to a concert; and it's warming to know that so many of my friends are also watching these shows.

The weather is another source of variety -…

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Lyrics with English Translation - 'Whaar Tide Meets Tide' 

As promised at my Celtic on Campus concert ( here's the Shetland lyrics, and the English translation! 

Hope you enjoyed the song. 




Whaar Tide Meets Tide  

Barry Nisbet  


Skrime da Noup abön Charlie’s Holm,  

Whaar da affrug casts strings o foam;  

And da skarfs beat da Flugga on da helicks by da shore,  

Hear der mantin cry whaar tide meets tide.  


(Ch.) Whaar tide meets tide, da skorie glides,  

Da selkie hunts and da solan dives.  

Whaar wi a mortal peester…

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Søren Lasen voyage #6 - to Cocos Island; and Captain Jim Cottier 

The arrival in the post of Jim Cottier's memoir (Thank you Geoff Saunders!) just before Christmas brought back memories of stories, both lived with and heard from Captain Jim. As soon as the book arrived I put down the one I was reading - Wiliam Dampier's 'Memoirs of a Buccaneer'. (I do occasionally read something that's not the memoir of a swashbuckling seafarer, honest...)


It was in Panamá that I first met Jim - in fact, it was 25 metres above the turquoise waters of Balboa Bay, where I was hanging off…

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