Road signs in Gaelic and English, snapped by my daughter from a moving car en route to Oban this week. A long and winding road through the Western Highlands, but eventually Oban begins to appear on the signs.
Oban is the venue for this year's Royal National Mod, Scotland's main festival of Gaelic music and culture. All traditional instruments are represented, as well as story-telling and traditional forms of song and dance, and various cultural aspects. Culture extends to a competition class for under 13's in 'precenting' a psalm from The Scottish Psalmody. Precenting is where a leader gives out the words and tune of a psalm to a church congregation, line by line. You can listen to the precentor's line here. At church services I've attended on the West coast the congregations have improvised very freely on the line, and it has a scalp-tingling, un-European feel.
The Mod is held in a different location each year, and basically takes over the town. My husband and daughter were staying in a B&B just outside Oban (I couldn't go because of work commitments, sadly). Also staying at the B&B were some American visitors, who remarked innocently at breakfast, "Is there some sort of music festival thing happening here this week?". In a town hosting the Mod it's as if someone pitched up in Vancouver in February 2010 and asked 'Is there some sort of winter sports thing happening here just now?" To the American visitors' credit, once they were enlightened they went along to the clarsach and song events that my daughter was taking part in, so they had good cultural value from their night in Oban.
If anyone is passing through Oban and looking for a good B&B, my husband and daughter had a very pleasant stay at theLagganbuie B&B. Here's a quick shot my daughter took of the view from the front garden on her way to load the harp in the car.