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.
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 ……..”