The Three Craws An The Doonfaw O Cockenzie Power Station Lums

It’s a year ago today since the chimneys were demolished!

With a very full programme for the Literary Festival and time being limited, P4 class teacher Janey Nicol suggested delaying The Three Craws script.  She sent out forms with the children to ask families and friends for their memories of Cockenzie Power Station, and also for the children to describe their feelings and impression of the chimneys falling to the ground.  This would form the basis of ‘The Three Craws An The Doonfaw O Cockenzie Power Station Lums’.  I carried out research into the history of the Power Station and interwove this into the script.  Coincidentally, a lead person that features in my book about the clipper ship City of Adelaide was once a Manager of the Power Station.

I wanted to present the script in booklet form rather than A4 sheets stapled together that my troupe uses, for ease of handling by the children and for a professional look.  I was absolutely delighted with the result, printed by  .The scripts were delivered to the school in early June, along with badges for the children of families who took part in the research, and prizes for the most impressive contributions.

The Three Craws An The Doonfaw O Cockenzie Power Station Lums
The Three Craws An The Doonfaw O Cockenzie Power Station Lums















1 December 2015

29 November 2015

under construction


September 2013 – Irvine, Scotland

When I was at Callander Poetry Weekend, Finola Scott knew of my interest in clipper ship City of Adelaide/aka Carrick.  We were ensconced in poetry when she told me ‘my’ ship was leaving Irvine.  I was absolutely devastated.  I thought I would never see her again.  I thought this was her leaving for Australia.  Two weeks later I just happened to check the website the group of Australians had created about the ship.  Lo and behold I read a newsflash that ‘the ship would be leaving today’.  I dashed over to Irvine, a drive of around 2 hours, to see the ship leave.  I discovered she had previously just been removed from the slipway onto a barge.  The ship didn’t leave as the weather was deemed too unsafe for her.  I couldn’t go the next day as I had commitments.  Again, I was devastated.  I looked at the website that night.  The weather had saved me again!  The next morning I went prepared.  I packed my harp, my poem and an extract from a diary and did this …

Rita Bradd with clipper ship City of Adelaide on 20092013 when she was towed from Irvine.jpg

September 2013 – Callander Poetry Weekend

100_5746100_5766100_5739100_5748100_5768100_5772 Leather Hides Kings Bookshop 09 2012.jpg100_5763100_5736Me at Callander Poetry Weekend 2013 Sally used this photo of me and GypsyRose she took in 2013 for the 2015 CPW programme.

April 2013

Whilst Tangles was having his levers tweaked at EIHF in 2013, I amused myself with a demo model of another Teifi harp, a Telor.  The lighter tension of strings appealed, and I decided it was time for a change.   For a while I had the privilege of having 3 harps, but since July 2015 Tangles has a new home.

September 2012

Alastair invited me to play harp at the Absent Voices launch of Filmpoems at the Scottish Poetry Library on 6 December 2012.  For this I composed this music to accompany Jennifer L Williams poem, ‘Trinities’,

and also for the poem ‘Revenant’ by Rebecca Sharp.  Rebecca had composed music for her poem but was unable to be present on the night.  Alastair asked me to improvise and I used Rebecca’s composition as a base for my music.

September 2012 – Callander Poetry Weekend

I raced up from Moniaive with my new harp which I named GypsyRose, and Tangles, to meet Alastair Cook at Callander Poetry Weekend.  Sally Evans, Organiser of CPW had invited him to talk about his Filmpoem projects.

Susie Goodwin of North Light Arts had commissioned him to make a Filmpoem of my poem, The Herrin(g) Trail and he had asked me to come up and play Tangles whilst he showed the film and read the poem.  Happily I have now remedied Alastair’s comments about me not having a webpage.

This is Magi McGlynn who is a regular attender at the CPW and blesses the whole event with his presence.  He had a ‘jam’ session on bohran with Alastair’s 7-year old son, to whom I loaned a wee Indian Rosewood harp I had recently bought.  He had a natural affinity with the instrument.


September 2012 – Moniaive, Dumfries & Galloway

In September 2012, I took up the challenge to build a Bohemian harp at Moniaive, Dumfries & Galloway. Wendy Stewart and husband Alan host a course each summer

To have a harp I built and customised from a kit under the watchful eye of expert Christoph Locherbach, is enriching and fulfilling.  I designed the sound-holes to represent a square-rigged ship in full sail.  After a lot of sanding down, I chamfered the sharp edges all round the pillar (front) and saddle (top) of the harp by flicking slivers of wood out with a scalpel type tool.  I wanted to stain the harp pink, quite a consideration with the wood for the harp being grown by Christoph himself.  I used 25 parts water to 1 part stain to make sure the woodgrain would show through, then anguished for 50 minutes over whether to go for it or not.  The final challenge was to carve a horse’s head into the pillar.  The initial very pink of the harp has now darkened down to a gorgeous sherry colour.

Harp in Progress 092012Harp Lineup Moniaive 092012201_4634  Here is Chris, with Wendy’s husband Alan on mandolin.  Each day Alan was our master chef, concocting very tasty, nourishing lunches and dinners in their home.  We gathered after dinner, armed with instruments, voice and laughter to finish the day.


Harping for North Light Arts Community Events

The first time I performed in public was for North Light Arts.  This has spanned from the first event in 2011 up till 2014’s event

Susie's Summer Solstice Event


April 2011

I joined the Edinburgh Branch of the Clarsach Society which gave opportunities for harping weekends and courses with harpists in various bonnie places in Scotland.  I took part in the Edinburgh International Harp Festival’s Host of Harps on 13 April 2011.  The Clarsach Society celebrated its 80th anniversary and the Edinburgh International Harp Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.  We also produced this over the weekend of 25 and 26 June that year, recorded in Broughton High School to commemorate Isobel Meiras’s 70th  birthday, who directed us.  There are many opportunities to join in at any level to learn about harps and to play them.  Each year there is a festival held in Merchiston Castle School.

Here’s a link to some snippets from various harp events, including Harps of Gold which happens every December in The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh.

April 2009


I was lucky that Harpist/Storyteller Heather Yule lived 5 miles away from where I live.  We arranged fortnightly lessons at my home and I found skills gained on piano up to Grade V as a child/teenager were transferable to the clarsach.  Heather very generously loaned me a harp her father had built 30 years previously.  Six months later at EIHF in April 2009, I came home with this gorgeous fellah, whom I named ‘Tangles’.  He is an Eos, from the stables of Teifi  It was on Tangles I composed ‘The Herrin(g) Trail’ and ‘City of Adelaide : Farewell To Scotland’ amongst others, and played him at the Scottish Poetry Library at Alastair Cook’s Absent Voices event in December 2012 to accompany a few poets included in the programme.

October 2008

Here’s how I began learning the harp, or clarsach or small lever harp

After years of attending the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and coming home saying ‘I wish I could play the harp’, my eldest daughter Melissa presented me with this for my birthday.

Harp Card from Melissa

Cockenzie Primary School Literary Festival 2016 Poetry Workshop

I was thrilled to be invited by Janey Nicol, P4 class teacher at Cockenzie Primary School, East Lothian, to be involved with the school’s first ever Literary Festival in February 2016.  She requested a poetry workshop with P1s.  With over 50 children in the group, we had lots of fun with a poem for children I wrote and used a few years ago.  We messed about with props, and I showed them on flip chart paper how I illustrated the poem using skills I learned at Edinburgh College of Art summer schools over three years, with Robbie Bush and Mina Braun.

Here are P1 doing a noisy nosey warm-up mantra, where they discover the joy of ‘sneezing’ out words, whilst also learning how to keep germs to themselves!

img_0758I was also really pleased to be able to assist in recommending authors and poets to be involved in the festival.  Over the last few years I’ve been privileged to get to know poets and authors and their work.  This came in really handy.  Cockenzie pupils delighted us all with this ‘Thank you’ poster.  We loved the imaginative, artistic way they designed it.  Well done Cockenzie Primary School!  I wish you well for your new academic year, with a new set of P1s joining the school as the P7s move up to secondary school.

Here I am amongst a fabulous line-up of poets and authors …

... amongst a fabulous line-up of poets and authors ...
A few more images of the poetry workshop, with two of my characters, ‘Poppy’ and ‘Jake’.img_0759 img_0760 img_0761 img_0765


Cockenzie Primary School Perform ‘The Three Craws An The Bairn In A Manger’

In November 2015 Cockenzie P4 children recorded ‘The Three Craws An The Bairn In A Manger’ in the school to be broadcast on local radio East Coast FM .  Station Manager Ian Robertson came down to the school and recorded the show for transmission over the airwaves in the run up to Christmas.  I was really thrilled to watch the children record for the show and to later hear it over the radio.  My little troupe of The Three Craws with me as Narrator, have been a regular feature on East Coast FM during 2012/13 with several of my scripts.  It’s been my dream to have children perform the scripts.  The temporary Three Craws looked brilliant in their ‘The Three Craws’ skip caps which I gifted them for taking part.

I was later commissioned by the school to write a script for P4 children based on the demolition on 26 September 2015 of Cockenzie Power Station chimneys.  They have been a massive landmark for people on land, at sea, and in the air for several decades.  They are sure to be missed.’s_first_literary_festival/




Book Week Scotland 2015

screenshot-2016-09-20-16-22-42Hannah Lavery, Creative Director of Coastword, invited me to be part of ‘Journeys with Poets’ during Book Week Scotland 2015 which ran from 23-29 November.  Recently appointed BBC Scotland’s first Poet-in-Residence Rachel McCrum cast us under a spell of performance poetry, whilst singer/songwriter Kirsty Law delighted us with a capella ballads, and songs accompanying herself on keyboard.  I brought along my clarsach, and read a few of my sea -related poems.


In the second half I spoke of my voyage with the oldest surviving clipper ship City of Adelaide/Carrick on a cargo ship from Rotterdam to Adelaide, South Australia over the winter of 2013/14.  We had a delightful audience in the cosy environment in the Library in Bleachingfield Centre, Dunbar, with refreshments and warm hospitality provided by Hannah.


It was a grand night, thoroughly enjoyed by all, and a fantastic way to put Winter’s chill on the back burner.

Mugs/Coaster Sets

Today I had news from Dunbar T-Shirt Shop that 3 sets of mugs and coaster sets have been sold. This is wonderful news. I spoke to a friend last night whose partner was working in a house and he was given a cup of tea … in one of my The Three Craws mugs! It’s really exciting to know that people are loving the artwork and are buying the mug and coaster sets. They are available through my website under “Merchandise”. Later today I will be popping into Dunbar T-Shirt Shop to help with shipping the Mug and Coaster sets out, and to discuss expanding the range of products available to buy as t-shirts with the logo I designed on them. Remember (how could you forget!) … Christmas is coming … great presents for fans of The Three Craws!

Thank you for looking. I would like to say the price quoted by Dunbar T-Shirt Shop includes P&P within the UK.

Thank you for looking.

Rita x

Happy 151st Anniversary City of Adelaide/Carrick

I am feeling very nostalgic tonight. Celebrations are taking place tonight on board Bradley Barge on which sits the wonderful, oldest surviving clipper ship in the world, City of Adelaide aka SV Carrick with whom I voyaged on board MV Palanpur. I say “whom” because she is a living, breathing entity.

On our voyage I wrote a diary in tandem with that of someone who was on the maiden voyage in 1864. Her Day One was 12 August 1864, my Day One was 26 November 2013, leaving Rotterdam en route for South Australia. This is an extract for 7 November 1864. This was her day 87, the final one in her voyage from Plymouth, England to Port Adelaide, South Australia. Our diaries are the core of my up-and-coming book which I’m bringing to a conclusion now. Keep looking back for more news. You are most welcome.


“A beautiful day.  I woke about 5am and saw land from the porthole.  We went on Deck nearly  an hour before breakfast.  The land at first looked rather low and barren.  We were busy packing in the morning.  After lunch addresses were presented to the Captain and Doctor.  We anchored about noon.  The health officer came on board immediately ……..”




September Blog

4-6 September

It was an absolute delight to drive to Callander for the annual Callander Poetry Weekend hosted by Sally Evans and Ian King in King’s Bookshop. It’s the first time I’ve gone for the whole weekend, and had I not made a navigational error (satnav-free car, but not for much longer!) I’d have got there for the start. As it was I caught the last of founding Editor Sheila Wakefield’s poems. You can see from the programme what an exciting and varied programme we enjoyed over the weekend. I was honoured to play my clarsach again (the image on Sally’s page is of me from two years ago, on the weekend when City of Adelaide was taken off the slipway at Irvine in preparation for her voyage to South Australia).

I made many new friends that weekend, and it was lovely to catch up with those I know already, including Kevin Cadwallander, who generously made the film as well as read my poem City of Adelaide Bleeds, (see below) the first of many dedicated to my special ship and our voyage together. On Sunday morning some poets gathered at the Memorial Garden along with Magi McGlynn to pay respects to the memory of Tessa Ransford – Founding Director of The Scottish Poetry Library, Elizabeth Burns – poet and good long-standing friend of Sally’s, and Ian’s, and Dominique Carton who was known to many for his excellent photographic recordings of past CPW events

Following this, several of us explored and enjoyed the beautiful vicinity, catching inspiration to write a poem relevant to the weekend. We later shared the feast of glorious words and some music in Sally and Ian’s magical garden where the sun continued to shine on us, the chickens clucked and a dog barked their appreciation, and one of us was lucky enough to be stung by one of their bees. Obviously not a fan of poetry! See also

I left Callander enriched by the wonderful hospitality, company, words, music, laughter, congeniality and environment.

With thanks to Sally and Ian for giving us this very special Callander weekend to put in our calendars!