Saturday was the annual Loch Normal Highland Games at Rural Hill. I’ve been to the games once at Grandfather Mountain and once at Rural Hill. I was looking forward to this year’s games and Scottish Festival and scheduled the date with my aunt.
The night before, my mom and my aunt came over, along with her husband and 2 step grand-children ages 5 and 8. There was much laughter, jicama and humus (or is that hicama and jumus?), the movie Cars on the big screen, flames in the fire-pit and tiki torches by the patio, wine and Guiness, and the usual refusals to go to sleep at a decent hour.
The next morning we tempted everyone out of bed with bacon on the grill (the good news – no bacon smell in the house 2 days later, the bad news – no bacon smell in the house that morning), French toast with powdered sugar, fresh strawberries, eggs cooked to order, and lots of coffee. We loaded the dishwasher, packed up some of the stuff, and headed out!
We parked and waited in line to buy tickets (the cash line moves faster than the credit line, just a suggestion). First thing in the gate was a booth from the Raptor Center so we got to see a hawk and owl. Then the boys got to do a bungee/trampoline thing. By now we’d missed the opening ceremonies (pretty cool if you get a chance to see them) so we headed off to get something to drink for the wee one. I had forgotten to pack water bottles as planned. I bought my first haggis pocket of the day (yum!).
We got passports for the kids and had them start working around the clan tents getting the passports stamped. We were briefly stumped by the Clan Donnachaidh (or something like that) but were happy to see Duncan on the same banner. Then it was time to walk back toward the entrance to the rock music tent where Albannach was playing. The music was loud and rowdy but wonderful! The 5 year old loved all the drum work.
As that performance ended we began the walk back toward the field to see the massed pipe bands. This is a wonderful display, but we missed it this year. We got to the field after the crowds had thinned out a bit, in time to see a bit of the Heavy stone Lift & Carry and the flag retirement ceremony. This went well until the 8 year old made the 5 year old think about how sad it was the flags were burning and made him cry. We quickly left the field and went in search of some distraction. The boys were interested in the pieces of the kilt uniform, especially the sporran (a purse that hangs around the waist, like a fanny pack but cooler). Due to our wandering and trying to chase down the boys, we also missed the sheep herding demonstration, a truly fascinating skill to watch (think Babe).
The boys’ parents still hadn’t arrived, it was getting close to time for Albannach to perform again but neither boy wanted to sit still for that again, so we headed to the car for lunch. We could hear the band from there and I made sandwiches for everyone, including the parents as they showed up with the baby (food works like a magnet every time).
We did pass a fairy a few times – the 5 year old was very well aware that it was just “a costume” but he let me call her a fairy anyway. (The Irn-Bru wagon is where you buy haggis pockets. And Irn-Bru, a softdrink.)
After lunch, the boys and their parents headed in to explore. We who had been with the boys headed to find a seat and listen to some traditional music and eat another haggis pocket. Then one more set with Albannach, no more haggis pockets (they sold out), and the boys were heading home, so we did too. Tired and happy and carrying 4 cans of haggis.