So our friends Ju & Nick said they’d booked a cottage in Scotland, it had a spare room, did we fancy joining them?…a free hol, a chance to relax, recharge the batteries, have some fun but also get inspired and write some songs? Count me in!…and this is the sight that greeted us as we woke up the first morning.

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I’d never been to Argyle and Bute before, but it’s full of absolutely stunning scenery, and come October the midges have gone (‘cos they always attack me)…I’m big on fires, so first day set to scouring the loch-side for dry wood, and as the sun disappeared behind the hills we got a small but perfectly formed bonfire going on the shore and the guitar came out; wine was drunk, songs were sung, seals were spotted and we even serenaded some passing canoeists with The Skye Boat Song…I was in heaven.

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Next night a visit to the local pub, The Colintraive Hotel, great food, full of characters, all extremely friendly (the whole atmosphere reminded me of something out of “Whiskey Galore”), and there on the wall was a guitar with a sticker on saying “please play me, don’t whack me” …I was eyeing it up when a local lady (Beryl) enquired “do you play?”, I replied that I did, but badly, and don’t really know anyone else’s songs, to which she announced “Jack will join you, he knows lots of songs, we’ll be back 10 minutes with a guitar”…sure enough 10 mins later “Jack” arrived (see pic below) and we spent a hilarious 2 hours entertaining the rest of the pub, who all joined in, some fine singers amongst ‘em…some of the highlights were Ring of Fire, I’m a Believer, Danny Boy, American Pie, Summertime, et al and Beryl sang a wonderful Nova Scotian folk tune that I busked my way through (all the great songs are based round 3 or 4 chords!)…brilliant night, there should be guitars hung up in all pubs – t’would make the land a happier place!..and to cap it all, heading back to our cottage we spotted a huge Red Deer in the middle of the road, dazzled by the headlights.

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Returning home, we passed through Glasgow in order to surprise my brother on his 60th birthday..he was staying with his partner’s sister’s family, all of whom are extremely musical (and I mean proper, violins, cellos, in orchestras, and not just bashers like me)…I knocked on the door with my cap pulled down, a parcel in my hand and announced in my worst Scottish accent “DHL – package for Mr Priestman”…should have seen his face!…in the evening, Aileen and Donald (he’s my brother’s “virtual” nephew) on accordion and cello respectively, entertained us with a short set; difficult to describe the genre, bits of folk, classical, latin, etc, it was all in there, and brilliantly played – and they’re only 16!!!…I got them to join me on a new song of mine “At The End Of The Day”, which they learned in minutes, and my wife said it brought her tears to her eyes…meanwhile upstairs, Donald’s brother Stuart (my biggest fan) was giving his drum kit a good beating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F6Ws_2YADE

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Back home now, really inspired by the experiences of the last week…as my friend Ian says, “sounds like a busman’s holiday to me” and he’s not wrong…we’ll be back!

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Special thanks Ju and Nick for inviting us.