Over the Border, Na-Mara's 2017 mini-tour of Scotland (II), October 8th- 9th 2017

After the exertions of Thursday to Saturday, it was time to ease back a little on Sunday. We had no formal playing commitments that day so we took the opportunity to go for a walk with friends alongside The Water of Leith, down to the bustling area of Stockbridge in Edinburgh, where we had lunch. Then, in the afternoon, Dave and another friend, Ross, were on hand to help us with a little photo and video shoot during an impromptu house concert. Watch this space in the coming weeks for evidence of their hard work over the course of that afternoon.

In the evening, we took in a film at the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival and I will draw a veil over the beers and the junk food I consumed thereafter – it was definitely not on the good food diet.
On Monday, Rob had various people to meet and, so, I took up Dave’s invitation to go and visit the school where he works and meet some of his colleagues and staff.

However, we had our own role to play in the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) that evening and, mid-afternoon, I met up with Rob on the South Bridge and we made our way over to George Square, the city heart of the University of Edinburgh.

That evening the ESFF were showing Steve Bowles’ award winning documentary film, The Guernica Children, that tells the story of the Basque child refugees from Bilbao in May 1937, narrated by Siân Phillips . Very kindly, we had been invited by the festival organiser, to perform our two songs about the Basque child refugees at the showing of the film. We were to play Only For Three Months before the film was shown and The Silver Duro immediately afterwards. Rob was then to join a panel with three other children of the Basque children to discuss their parents’ recollections of the evacuation and the resonances of their experience for current times.

The film was being shown in the early evening in a lecture theatre at the University of Edinburgh’s Department of European Languages and Cultures and, by the time Rob and I arrived, Simon and Barbara of the Basque Childrens’ Association of ’37 (BCA37) and others were hard at work putting up the travelling exhibition to inform attendees of the story of the child refugees from Bilbao.

We arrived in good time to get tuned up before the lecture theatre filled to capacity (around 90-100 people).

The Guernica Children is a powerful and moving testimony to the Basque child refugees, highlighting the atrocities in Guernica which accelerated the tide of refugees into the city of Bilbao and eventually led to the evacuation of the children on the SS Havana to Southampton and onwards. The dockside scenes of parting at Santurce are particularly highly charged emotionally and I would urge anyone to see the film if the opportunity arises.

We were content to play our small role in supporting the ESFF and the BCA37 in bringing the story of the Basque children to a wider audience and the subsequent panel session involving Rob, Simon and others was both informative and thought-provoking. Thanks go to ESFF organiser, Marian Aldaz Aréchaga for her kind invitation to participate in this element of the film festival and to thank her and her colleagues for making the evening run so smoothly.

Being an early evening showing, there was time afterwards for us to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues in Edinburgh. I took the opportunity to meet up with some old university buddies of mine and, yes, more beers were consumed.

Rob was staying up in Scotland on the Tuesday but I was returning to St. Albans and, by 9.00am on Tuesday morning, I had said my goodbyes to friends. An hour later I was at Waverley Station to catch the train home to St. Albans and was home in time for a cuppa, mid-afternoon.

The previous days had produced a truly memorable trip to Scotland where we met up with longstanding friends, made some new friends, played some highly enjoyable concerts with Gallo Rojo, performed at the ESFF and experienced both lovely countryside and the invigorating and beautiful city that is Edinburgh. We have so many people to thank but keeping things short especial thanks go to Dave and Chris and Gaynor for accommodating us so wonderfully on our travels and to Rahel, Euan, Charlie and Marian for facilitating our performances over four unforgettable evenings in West Yorkshire and Scotland.

We will now be turning our attention to recording duties. Please watch this space for occasional updates as we start putting the new album together.