One of Captain Bruce’s great-great-granddaughters invited me to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival which is held every two years in Hobart, Tasmania. I was so excited to be going back to Adelaide as my first port of call, especially as I was giving two talks on board City of Adelaide, on the weekend of 3 and 4 February. I was met at the airport by my lovely, generous hosts Ian and Jeanette, who are always very welcoming, fun and helpful, and friend Rosemary who was waving the Saltire.
I could hardly contain myself the next morning when we went to Port Adelaide to see the clipper ship. She is still sitting on barge Bradley, however a good amount of work is going on inside the hull, such as scraping off the old paint from the iron beams in the ‘tween deck and painting them with the original colour from 1864, planning out for replica 1st class cabins. New windows have been fitted into the stern where Captain Bruce’s cabin was, as well as a very smart new South Australia Coat of Arms.
It was such a thrill to have two fantastic musicians involved with the first talk. I had understood City of Adelaide‘s honorary piper, and Commander of Clan Ross in Australia would not be able to come along for the evening. As I immersed myself in the sights, smells and feel of the ship in the ‘tween deck where I was giving the talks, I heard the lilt of the pipes permeating through her planks. I rushed out and saw Des in finest regalia, playing the pipes. I was also hugely honoured that Adelaide-based international singer/harpist Siobhan Owen accompanied me on her clarsach (small lever harp) with my composition City of Adelaide : Farewell to Scotland whilst I read my poem City of Adelaide Bleeds before launching into my presentations to a well-attended audience.
I was lucky to meet Siobhan again in Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe in August 2017, when we repeated our performance on two evenings. https://siobhanowen.com/
Hannah 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.
1. This afternoon I was in Edinburgh for Bizarre Guitar and Terse Verse. Outside the Blind Poet I passed two girls. One had pink and blue hair. I heard her say ‘Adelaide’. I stopped dead in my tracks and spoke to her. She had come across especially to take in the wealth of Edinburgh Festival.
2. I caught a wee bit of Ade At Sea (http://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week12/ade-sea) and lo and behold, after a map appeared with Plymouth on the map, he visited the Eddystone Lighthouse.
150 years ago today City of Adelaide picked up passengers from Plymouth and set off for Adelaide, South Australia on her maiden voyage. Diary entry for 12 August 1864:
August 12, 1864 – Friday
A beautiful day. About 9.50 A.M. a boatman came to tell us that the City of Adelaide was in sight. Tom and I took a walk and bought several little things. At 1 P.M. we took a boat and sailed to the ship. Blanche and I wrote letters to the Patersons. Tom stayed on board for about two hours. We sailed at 4 P.M. We stayed on deck till after we had passed the Eddystone Lighthouse and then went down to bed but not to sleep. We were dreadfully seasick during the night.
This is Day One. My diary of City of Adelaide‘s final voyage as cargo on the deck of heavy lift ship MV Palanpur begins on 26 November 2013 and is written in tandem with this diary from the maiden voyage.