Runrig, “Hearthammer” and A Bit Of Shameless Marketing

Well, another week on and another Saturday morning blogging session. As I sit down to type I am as yet undecided on today’s subject matter/featured song, so it’s going to be interesting. I occasionally take to “tipsy blogging” (just the one glass of red, so not too tipsy) when I’m lost for inspiration, but not really the done thing before elevenses so a mug of tea it’ll have to be instead.

But of course I’m not lost for inspiration today, it’s just that I had a bit of a rant last week so feel I’m going to have to reel it in a bit this week. I had been a bit upset by the lack of empathy for those going through tough times. I shouldn’t have been surprised however as we are most definitely not all in the same boat during these early days of the crisis. Socio-economic factors have created a massive divide in terms of the lockdown experience and for many, their lives haven’t changed much at all. The economic/social crisis now developing from the health crisis is going to impact the young most, and also those who cannot work from home. In time, a new fairer balance will be found, but how many years will that take? I hope I’m still around to see it happen.

View across the Beauly Firth to Ben Wyvis

I included this picture in last week’s post so shouldn’t really share it again but it’s a bobby dazzler isn’t it and taken from a place just 15 minutes walk from the holiday hideaway which has now been put into mothballs. Regulars around here will remember my foray into the world of tourism last year and how it didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped. Alyson’s Highland Adventures (AHA) soon became Highland Adventures (HA) as it became apparent people generally just want a lockbox, good Wi-Fi and for me to bugger off!

This week was spent cancelling the remainder of my bookings for the calendar year as we have no idea when we will be able to safely operate such businesses again. Being positive however, I think by next year people will start to have holidays again, and the Staycation will be a popular choice. Some shameless self-promotion here but my Orcadian blogging buddy Graeme from Imperfect and Tense came to stay with his family just before it all started to go horribly wrong, and shared some great pictures over at his place. I was nervous, as he lives in such a beautiful spot himself, but over the course of the week he found all sorts of interesting outdoors-y places that were even new to me. The bonus of course of having a self-contained holiday house on the edge of town, is that your guests have the duel benefits of access to great scenery but also an M&S Foodhall for holiday treats. (Don’t want to sound scary, but has to be said, also useful to have a large acute NHS hospital nearby too.)

Not sure as yet when I shall reopen for business but as I said last year, if any regular visitors want to give me a whirl when the time is right, feel free to get in touch via the Contact Me link at the top of the page. I’m pretty sure Graeme would be more than happy to provide a reference.

As the focus of this post seems to have been on local scenery, it would seem sensible to include a very local piece of music too. There are loads of small venues around here where bands perform in the summer months but of course not going to be easy for them to operate for some time, which is sad. As for the local festivals and gatherings which pepper the annual calendar, again, not going to happen this year. Thank goodness for aforementioned good Wi-Fi as at least many musicians have been able to take to online platforms, but must be said, not the same at all and of course won’t pay the bills.

A band who were able to stream their 2018 Farewell Concert the other week on social media was Runrig. They have featured around here before when I wrote about their version of the traditional song Loch Lomond. Despite looking a bit dated now, in the absence of coming up with a better alternative I’m going to revisit that video clip again (really gets lively after 3:00), as it’s a great reminder of how only weeks ago it would not have seemed unusual to attend such mass gatherings. When will we see their like again? Not for some time I suspect.

Loch Lomond was on the B-side of an EP released in 1991 and of course I bought it, along with the rest of the population of the Highlands. The main song on the EP was Hearthammer which made it into the UK Singles Chart and even got them a slot on TOTP. Looking at the lyrics properly now for the first time, they most definitely come from the memories of people who were youngsters in the 1960s, and I have found out about a famous Argentinian footballer called Di Stefano who was previously unknown to me. Sounds as if he was a remarkable player.

Hearthammer by Runrig:

Runrig’s lead singer Donnie Munro was Mr WIAA’s art teacher at school in the 1970s but by the late 1980s he was very much a full-time musician. When he’d told the class he was involved with a band, and that they played a kind of Gaelic/Celtic rock, the class were highly sceptical (this was the decade of glam rock, punk and disco after all) but he certainly proved them all wrong. In the period 1987-1997 they were signed to Chrysalis and released five very successful studio albums.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Wasn’t sure where this one would go but it seems I’ve ended up shamelessly plugging my temporarily mothballed holiday house. I would hope that by next year we will start to see visitors return to the Highlands of Scotland but with widespread foreign travel probably a thing of the past, and with Airlines going out of business, they are more likely to be of the home-grown variety rather than the myriad of nationalities I welcomed last year.  I’m sure local businesses will adapt and the smaller intimate (but not too intimate) venues will probably be the first to showcase live music again, but as we all keep saying, strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Hearthammer Lyrics
(Song by Calum Macdonald/Rory Macdonald)

With the eyes of a child
The wonder of it all
I used to search the stars at night
And I felt so safe and small
Sweet sounds from a Mersey town
And my nursery god
And I wanted to ride with Yuri Gagarin
As he circled all around my world

And I lose control

Lying under the covers
With the radio on
Settle down with Caroline
As she sailed all summer long
Sweetheart of the rodeo
Mining hearts of gold
I think it was somewhere pre stand-up time
Somewhere post Rubber Soul

And I lose control

There was the first caress
There were the Labour years
There was the man who walked the moon
Something you never really believed
The Di Stefano twists
The Charlton goals
Now I’m still here with the eyes of a child
The wonder never grows old

And I lose control

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

11 thoughts on “Runrig, “Hearthammer” and A Bit Of Shameless Marketing”

  1. Hi Alyson, Thanks for the plug for I&T. Funnily enough, this afternoon we were discussing our postponed Summer holiday plans, and agreed that if the situation improved and we were able to travel, then we would happily enquire if the Inverness hideaway was available. With hindsight, the holiday at the beginning of March was a work of pure genius, which has already attained legendary status within our family due to its timing, weather and general Inverness-ness. We too watched the Runrig concert the other week, though we had not previously heard any of their work. It was a very moving experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t think I would dare blog under the influence, there would be a wee voice in my head screaming “Step away from the keyboard!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Graeme – Yes I still cannot believe how much the world has changed since that first week in March and I don’t think we even mentioned it as an issue back then. I was all set for visitors from all over the world but that’s just not going to happen now. Feel free to ask about the holiday house should restrictions ease as it could make for a fine wee location for a break from the norm for you or any of your Orkney friends.

      Runrig were massive around here back in the 80s & 90s and despite a change in line-up kept going until just a couple of years ago. Glad you enjoyed that emotional concert.

      I haven’t tipsy blogged for ages (last time I think I had a bit of a rant about Britney Spears low-rise jeans) but as long as you just stick to the one glass it shouldn’t be too much of a car-crash!


  2. I hope you get your business out of mothballs soon, Alyson, and that the Staycation proves a boon. Beautiful scenery. I could use a bolt hole right now!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had a tricky couple of years what with giving up my secure job, my mum’s illness, the college course having to be dropped, trying to set up a new business and then Mr WIAA giving up his secure job – What I really didn’t need right now was a global pandemic to top it all off! Health trumps everything though so until this thing is a bit more under control, no-one can plan ahead for much at the moment. If tourism is off the cards for this year I am hopeful next year might be better. If the restrictions ease and you & the family have some time off, who knows?


  3. Maybe a good vaccine will be developed sooner than expected. Things then will start to right themselves slowly but, hopefully, surely.

    You’re probably right about travel. People might decide to vacation in places they can reach by car.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The key word there is “slowly” start to right themselves – It’s going to take some time I fear. Bet you’re glad you had your big trip last year now. Hope you’re all doing ok over there and that your state Governor is doing a good job.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will make it up there one day, I am determined! I just know I’ll like it. Was so looking forward to Edinburgh as my first taste of Scotland too, I even dreamt about our planned meet-up the other night!. This year is full of disappointments but I know they pale within the bigger picture, so just having to make them into things that we can look forward to doing eventually. Hope too that you’ll be able to open for business as soon as it’s safe and I’m sure, as said above, the ‘staycation’ will be more popular than ever when it is.
    Love that about Donnie Munro surprising his old art students.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am hopeful Edinburgh will still happen but might be a bit later in the year and the whole accommodation problem will no longer exist as all the big events are now off. As I said above though, however desperate it is for people’s lives and livelihoods, health trumps everything and until people feel confident about going out and doing things again without fear of the virus, we will have to be patient.

      Funny to think the Donnie Munro in the video clip, who could hold court in front of 1000s of festival goers, was the same chap who got Mr WIAA through his art exams. When it came to his band however they all just said, “Nah, that’ll never work”!


  5. In an ideal world, by next year I will have sold this house and left the ghosts far behind. Then I’d like to do what I’ve wanted to do for many years (but Mrs S was never keen on the idea) – namely get out and see a bit of the UK. I’ve mentioned before how my Dad’s legs deteriorated badly in later life and he became very frustrated at being unable to walk more than a few steps after leading a fairly active life. I want to do plenty of walking in lovely places before my own mobility becomes an issue as I get older. With every new mention, your bolthole it sounds more and more up my street and it’s high on my to-do list. But first, Edinburgh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, not a nice thought is it not being able to go for long walks – I’ve been making full use of our hour of daily exercise and keep remarking on how walking is just something you don’t have to think about, the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other becomes an automatic motor function and can take you to all sorts of interesting places. Not as easy for everyone granted but can be such a joy.

      Like I said in my first blog post about the current crisis 8 weeks ago, we were suddenly blindsided and things like your house sale and my welcoming of summer guests are now on hold. Really hoping things can start to get moving again as the summer progresses but it’s not going to be easy. I’m optimistic that by next year we can travel a bit more however so if you do make it this far north you would be made very welcome.


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