French Waitresses in the Scottish Borders

Live Music Now – Garvald

West Linton and Corn Mill Court -  Galashiels (03/07/2015)

It’s always nice to travel somewhere new when a concert opportunity arises and luckily through Live Music Now Scotland this is quite a common occurrence. We all packed into our hired sporty Fiat 500 and set off towards the borders with ‘car tunes’ playing away. We were treated to highlights including Will Smith’s rapping and some old school NSYNC (“is that the one with Justin Timberlake?”). The journey ran quite smoothly until we hit a spot of bother when we lost all traces of phone signal and GPS deep in the Scottish Borders. We missed a crucial turning but our instincts told us we had gone wrong and actually we ended up being quite early anyway.

Garvald is a truly special and unique place hidden away south of Edinburgh where adults with learning disabilities are offered a range of residential care and creative day opportunities. They also proactively encourage residents to participate in the arts, reaping the various social and emotional benefits that they can provide. As we made the approach to Garvald in the glorious sunshine, we were staggered by what a beautiful setting it was. The grand central building surrounded by sprawling countryside reminded me of the film "The Secret Garden" and as we were early, I took the opportunity to have a short walk around the site as you can see in the pictures. As the weather was so glorious it was suggested that it might be nice to perform outdoors on the terrace, which we thought would be a grand idea. However, we did have a few things to contend with in this regard such as wind, brightness and heat. Luckily, the Garvald had some pegs we could use to counter the wind! Then, as we were getting set up we had a further mishap as Thomas discovered that he his good reed box was missing! However, every good musician has a backup plan and he had some spare reeds in another box which turned out to work just as well. The performance itself was really well attended and full of interactive activities including looking at pictures of Mozart (from the statue in Vienna to Mozart chocolates), dancing along to Joplin ragtime and looking and talking about postcards from our favourite holidays. After the performance, it was lovely to speak to the residents and let them get up close and personal with the instruments. Even one of the residents helped Thomas pack away his bassoon!

Next was to get straight off to our next concert destination but stopping off somewhere en route to grab dinner. We decided that Peebles was probably our best option and so we set off desperately in need of some nourishment to perk us up for the next performance. Peebles is a really beautiful town and we all said how we wished we had more time to have a good look around all the cute little shops on the high street. We settled for dinner in a local pub, The County Arms, and had a funny experience with a waitress who decided to bring us all of our food in French! “Une baguette”, “pommes frites” and “une salade” were placed on the table before she announced “I don’t know why I’m speaking in French!” We came to the conclusion after many intrusions of “do you need anything else?” that she was on trial and was trying to impress the manager. Before we headed off, Thomas had chance to pop into the local to find a Porter to add to his collection (obviously not to drink there and then!)

The road to Galashiels seemed long, probably because we were drowsy after filling our bellies with hearty pub grub. Galashiels also gave us a few navigational issues due to its one-way system but eventually we worked our way to Corn Mill Court. It was an enjoyable performance for the residents and we finished with a sing-along to a collection of Scottish tunes which we call our ‘Scottish Celebration’. Before we left, we had time to go around and have a chat with lots of the residents for them to find out a bit more about us before we made our way back to Glasgow.