Songs from Northern Britain

With thanks to Teenage Fanclub for the post title. Never heard of Teenage Fanclub?! No? Try this: Ain’t That Enough?

I’ve been driving about northern Britain for the past week, windows down and enjoying almost sunshine and one or two rain showers. Then the windows go back up. They’re also back up whenever I start to sing, seems only fair to the people living here.

St. Andrews Castle

I never lived in northern Britain, but visited often over the years. I felt a little nostalgic for a place I don’t know that well, but I think it was more the music I’d chosen. My driving playlists had a northern leaning, and they made for better listening than the ongoing Brexit/Bloody Boris Johnson stupidity dominating the airwaves. Grrr.

Where was I? Teenage Fanclub, excellent listening for the past three plus decades, and very appropriate for the Scottish leg of the trip. I remember an album review from over ten years ago that described them as “wizened” even then – they were younger than my age now! So this wizened listener enjoyed hearing the old songs, particularly from the Songs From Northern Britain album. “Here is a sunrise, ain’t that enough?” Well, yes, sometimes. The last three tracks on that album are even better than the opening three. Cue beer fuelled debate with sibling.

The pale ale was better, unless you asked my brother…

When I drove away from St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife earlier this week, having caught up with Junior McPlaidCamper, the weather was a touch misty – or I may have had something in my eye. Whatever the cause, I’m pretty sure I passed a sign for Angle Park. Let the memories from distant youth flood back. Angle Park? The bonus track on The Crossing by Big Country? Big Country! I was in a big country alright, with high hills and low mountains accompanying me through the Kingdom of Fife. What pleasant surroundings to find yourself in. The North Fife coastal path will call me back for further exploration. Never heard of Big Country?! Try this: Big Country – The Seer

Sunny St. Andrews

Junior is happy enough in St. Andrews, working hard in several of the hotel kitchens, and producing good food mostly made from local ingredients. We visited the store that provides ice cream to the hotel, and if you’re ever up there, can I recommend the pistachio? And the rum and raisin? And the mint choc chip? And the salted caramel? And pants with an elastic waistband? Yup, that’s how some of the evening went.

I get a brain freeze just looking

Before St. Andrews, I stayed a few days with younger Brother PlaidCamper, allegedly to help him out a bit as he recovers from a hospital stay. Mostly we sat in his sunny backyard, talking nonsense about books, movies, and music, and drinking a beer or two. Then more nonsense. He’s on the mend, and probably not because of my medical bedside manner…

Didn’t see a purple moose on this trip. Next time?

My final stop on the northern Britain tour was in North Wales, and an overnight with Pa PlaidCamper. He’s also on good form, pretending to be annoyed with Blue, his constant canine companion. They’ve sold the farm, and will be moving to a small hillside cottage located a few minutes away in the same valley. We drove past it yesterday, and it is in a beautiful location with spectacular views in every direction. If you can imagine steep green hillsides dotted with sheep and stands of trees all about, then that’s where they’ll be. Green and pleasant is an understatement.

Blue!
Green! And pleasant.

Thanks for tuning in this week, and so to a final rousing song – if you know the words, feel free to sing along (I’ll roll the windows up): In a Big Country

There will be more about St. Andrews – and far less music, I promise – next week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Published by

plaidcamper

I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

18 thoughts on “Songs from Northern Britain”

  1. The ice cream looks delectable; the brews no doubt are killer; the PlaidCamper family grounds in northern Britain beckon the poetic heart, and damn, it all ends up like a glorious rockin’ song– Big Country, indeed!

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    1. Thanks, Walt! I enjoyed the time spent in a northern Big Country – and if Junior stays out there, I’ll be looking forward to a return visit. There are many trails and beers to discover. If I remember rightly, you’ve spent some time up in Scotland? It’s a spellbinding place, drawing in the traveller in so many ways…

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  2. Thanks for sharing the wonderful trip and scenery, absolutely adorable dog, great music and the new discovery of medicinal beer and that one can never have too much ice cream!! How wonderful you were able to see Junior, your dad and brother and hopefully not raise your brother’s blood pressure too much during recovery and the beer fueled debates. I missed out on listening to either band back in the day and while I can see Big Country already showing up on a playlist, I’ll have to check out more by Teenage Fanclub on Songs From Northern Britain. Looking forward to reading more about St. Andrews (hope to visit someday) and hopefully more music!!

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    1. Thank you! I think I got close to exploring the outer limits of too much ice cream…
      It was a great trip, hastily arranged but so good to catch up with the family I did see.
      The music was a bonus, as it all came flooding back and matched the locations. Any of the first three Big Country albums are worth listening to, especially with the volume turned up to 11. They were often ambitious songwriters, reaching out to tackle interesting themes. But mostly, I like the Scottish sound!

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    1. Thank you, Kelly! I’ll drink Peroni on a sunny day, but my brother will only drink Peroni – it’s his lager comfort zone and there’s nothing we can do to tempt him away!

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      1. I was a beer, enthusiast when I traveled. I love to try different brands where ever I am, but when I am home. I only drink Sleemans Cream Ale, I have lost my taste for anything else and when you find something you enjoy why keep looking? Peroni has a nice taste.

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  3. Teenage Fanclub! Bandwagonesque was in heavy, heavy rotation for me back in ’91-’92. Still listen to it quite a bit, though I should familiarize myself with their latter output. Now I’m going to have to visit the borderlands, ancestal homeland and all. A healthy dose of Scots Irish blood flows through these veins (or Ulster Scots if you prefer). Remember, in a big country dreams stay with you.

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    1. Bandwagonesque is one of my favourite albums – I saw Teenage Fanclub play live several times in the early 90s, and they were loud! They’ve turned down the volume since then, but their run of albums from A Catholic Education through to Howdy was excellent, and even the more mellow stuff since then has been worth listening to. New album promised soon…
      Yeah, if you can go visit the borderlands you’ll have a blast – nature, beer and music all great reasons to be there, plus your ancestral connection. It’s a Wonderland!

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  4. What a fun trip this was, pc, thanks for taking to the UK. Really enjoyed seeing the old St. Andrews Castle and other emerald photos, including the umbrellas and beers. You had quite a round of family to visit, it sounds like it went well. Must have been very nice to see Junior, too, no doubt. I laughed out loud at the ice cream flavors you recommended, especially the part about elastic waistbands. I’m glad your trip went well, in spite of the Brexit upset that is going on, and I look forward to seeing more. I find it fascinating.

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    1. Thanks, Jet! I enjoyed catching up with family, and went out of my way to avoid reading/listening to news while I was there – hence the music on the road! Northern Britain is beautiful, rain or shine, and I’m sure we’ll be back. I liked St. Andrews, a genteel Scottish town, and I’m happy for Junior that she’s chosen to work there for the time being. I think Brexit will drive her away eventually, and back into the arms of Canada! We’ll see…
      Thanks again, and I hope your week is going well.

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