Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learn to play the bagpipes: Update on #13

You know you want to learn to play the bagpipes.  Have you considered going to a bagpipe summer school? 

Canada's Prince Edward Island has the school just for you:  The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts.  Affiliated with Glasgow's College of piping, this school people come to learn from all around the world.  New Zealand pipers, Japanese pipers, Kuwaiti pipers, Singapore pipers, and yes, even Scottish pipers have learned here.

The College of Piping also has classes in Highland and Step Dancing, and Drumming.  Prince Edward Island was originally inhabited by the mi'kmaq, and the 2006 census identified 90 people who still speak mi'kmaq.  The population identifies itself mainly as Scottish, English, Irish and French (in that order), so the Celtic influence on Prince Edward Island is strong.

Price Edward Island may be just the place to connect with your inner Celt, and learn the pipes.  I'll be learning to play sometime soon, so I expect you will be sitting down for a piping session with me.

If headed to piping school please checkout these cheap flights to Canada.

Friday, April 9, 2010

#22 Go Mumming in Newfoundland

Winter does not seem like the time to visit Canada, but there is more than one reason to make the trek north in the coldest, longest days of the year.  My last winter suggestion for the frozen upperlands was to visit in the winter to experience the Northern Lights.  But, there are even stranger things happening in Canada in the winter than the wondrous Northern Lights.

Newfoundland is home to a 200 year old Christmas tradition:  Mummers visiting from home to home, or as it is also called among the Newfoundlanders "belsnicklers."

Here in Salem, I organized a Mummers Festival in 2008, but this is not the same as a spontaneous event with masked marauders knocking on your door and taking over your home with a party, demanding to be fed and given drink.

In St. John's there is an annual Mummer's Parade, and it certainly would be worth it to watch the parade, but I want to go mumming in Newfoundland!  I want to dress up and go house marauding creating parties as I travel with friends.  Who would not want to do that!?  It must be on your "bucket list" of things to do before you die.

You will need a ticket to Canada first, if you are going in the fun, festive, albeit cold winter season.  Check out the cheap flights to Montreal.

#21 Guinness, Guinness and more Guinness

As strange as it may seem to someone in the United States, the number one tourist attraction in all of Ireland is a brewery.  Of course, this isn't just any brewery, it is the famous Guinness Brewery, and the Guinness Storehouse (as it is called) is high on my list of places to go before I die.

The fact that it is in Ireland is reason enough.  The fact that it is a brewery is enough reason for me to want to visit.  The Guinness Storehouse rises high on the list apart from these reasons.  Its storied history is the reason a stop at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin is in order.

The founder Arthur Guinness heard a sermon from John Wesley one Sunday, and it became inspiration for his life's work.  As Wesley often enjoined people "Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.  Your wealth is evidence of a calling from God, so use your abundance for the good of mankind."  Arthur Guinness went on to practice this command of Wesley's.

He gave large sums to the poor, and helped found Sunday Schools.  This same ethic was passed on to the generations of Guinness family members who took over the company.  During World War II sent every British soldier a can of Guinness with his Christmas meal.

In the late 18th century when the polluted city water was dangerous for one's health, and the country was in a Gin Craze it was the drinking of Guinness which helped stem the tide of sickness and of severe alcoholism.

You'll need a car to get around Ireland, and can find a great deal at this Dublin airport car hire.  Perhaps we'll meet at the Saint James's Gate Brewery.  Its on my bucket list.  Is it on yours?

#20 - County Donegal and a real Irish pub

I want to go to an Irish pub - a real Irish pub.  I am sure I will need to go County Donegal to accomplish this task.

Wednesday Night I was in Boston in an Irish Pub.  Boston is home to a number of good Irish pubs, but when it comes to Irish pubs I am sure I have not really been to one yet.  I want traditional Irish music with fiddlers, and accordions, and tin whistles, but I am sure that will still not be a real Irish pub.

What I will be missing is the Irish language, and for this reason going to rugged northern reaches of Ireland and County Donegal to see the stone circles, the dolmens, the castles, the cliffs, and of course - the pubs is on my list of 1,000 things to do before I die.

This list of 115 pubs is a good starting place for finding your way around the pub life of County Donegal.  You will also need a car, and can find a good deal at this Dublin car rental company.

Donegal is about three hour drive from Dublin.  Along the way you can take a detour and climb Saint Patrick's mountain in Murrisk, but be sure to visit the rugged, beautiful coastline, see the castles, and most of all do a pub tour for the music of Ireland, and the music of the Irish language.  This is on my list of things to do.  How about you?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

#19 - Compete in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships

My business partner Gareth posted something about this on Facebook today, and the post reminded me that it was something I've been needing to add to my list of things to do before I die.  Check out the Youtube embedded video below, and consider what a great accomplishment and wonderful life goal it would be to train for and compete in the Bog Snorkelling Championship in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales.  You just might want to add it your bucket list of 1,000 things to do before you die.