Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sunny Dunny

It’s community spirit season! Yes, the time of galas, common ridings, games and shows is here. Safe oot, safe in, humorous floats, fancy dress parades and a small girl being crowned “queen” in a tent by a dinner lady. We’ve been on a bit of tour of them recently.

A couple of weekends back the Bairn and I hopped on a 26 to soak up the atmosphere of the 3 Harbours Festival. Each year Port Seton, Cockenzie and Prestonpans break out the bunting and lay on all sorts of art exhibitions and craft events. (Note to bunting-hangers: a little higher on the lampposts next year. We got quite a thrill on the top deck of the bus as the little flags strung across the main street slapped into our window at 30mph.)

Cockenzie - The art of East Lothian
It seemed every other house in Port Seton had a sign in the window saying Open House - Please Come In. Small children were handing out art guides and the harbour was buzzing with well-heeled couples in corduroy and cashmere. The real highlight for us was a visit to Sam Burns’ junkyard where a piano and a pianist had been installed for the afternoon. Raking through old furniture and books to the sound of tinkling ivories. Weird and wonderful.

We also recently paid a visit to the family fun day at Fisherrow Links in Musselburgh. The Bairn had the pleasure of having her face painted by the Honest Lass.

Last weekend we set our controls for the heart of the sun, to steal a phrase from Pink Floyd. That’s right - Dunbar. It rivals our former habitat, Nairn, as the sunniest town in Scotland. Dunbar has the highest average sunshine in Scotland and the lowest annual rainfall. Any time I’ve ever been it’s been sunny and dry. I bet there’s nowhere on Dunbar High Street that sells cagoules, it‘s that dry.

The birthplace of conservationist John Muir is also home to a cement works, nuclear power station and landfill site. I like to think old John would have had something to say about those but instead those who act in his name these days get worked up about wind turbines. Go figure.

It's alive!
Anyway, it seems a band of merry mums has revived the town’s Civic Week and what a great job they’ve done. There was no shortage of things to do. We met lobsters, crabs and urchins at the harbour, and went rock pooling at the East Beach. I don’t know if Wife-features had ever been rock pooling before because there was a wee bit of scepticism before we ventured out. However when we were well out on the rocks and starting to scoop with our nets she let out a yelp: “This place is alive! It’s absolutely full of creatures!”

Even the Bairn had to admit there was something of a “rock pool party” going on for miles around. We found brittle sea stars, hermit crabs and shore crabs. I even got to pick up a decent sized green crab, for probably the first time in 30 years.

We then found ourselves in a story tent - sorry, story yurt - in the park. A lovely old bloke was reading extracts from John Muir’s boyhood memoirs - this doesn’t sound utterly thrilling but I tell you the Bairn was entranced. Either that or just glad to be in the shade and knackered from all the rock pooling.

There’s a whole heap of great stuff going on in Dunbar, mainly through the organisation Sustaining Dunbar. Bicycles, local food, energy production - you name it, they’re doing it. It’s also incredibly refreshing to see a High Street looking so diverse, alive and independent. Apart from a wee Co-op I’m struggling to think of any other chain stores on the main street. Money spent in Dunbar stays in Dunbar.

Next up? The Haddington Agricultural Show. I’m a sucker for a massive combine, and maybe at long last I’ll live the dream and wear a badge saying “Judge” and walk nonchalantly into the home-baking tent to sample as much as I can before being rumbled.

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