Bridge of Allan? Brigadoon!

This Sunday is one of the strangest of days in Bridge of Allan, being the day of the Strathallan Games – one of the larger Highland Games meets that there is. It is a day when the skirl, yes the skirl, of the pipes can be heard throughout the village as the many pipe bands warm up and then compete.

I have known visitors from North America come to Bridge of Allan on Games’ Day and be delighted that they have found the true Scotland that they were looking for – countless people wearing kilts wandering the streets and that uncanny wailing sound filling the air. I even had hard work one year telling someone it was not like this all the time.

The day began in suitably surreal fashion. One of the pipe bands comes from Texas to compete. The come from an Episcopal school which has a strong Scottish Arts programme. (Well, program, probably). They turned up this morning for the early service, which is normally half a dozen of us quietly enjoying a very traditional Eucharist. This morning there were 55 present, most of whom wearing full pipe band regalia. I was expecting them, but not quite so many of them.

They were last here three years ago – since when I have occassionally heard: “Do you remember when that pipe band came? That was really something that was.”

The sound that will stay with me longer than the pipes themselves is the tremendous thud during the eight o’clock service when I said “Let us pray” and 50 young pipers fell to their knees.

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