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Balintore, Sept 2017

The MA Music and the Environment begins with a residential trip to Balintore in Easter Ross, one of the Seaboard villages in the northern stretch of the Moray Firth. The trip from my home town of Stewarton in East Ayrshire involved a dynamic journey of villages, cities, trains, buses and delays. Embarking on such a journey through the heart of one of Scotlands largest cities through some of the most changeable countryside in the United Kingdom brings with it some personal perspective and inspiration.

Our pre-assigned task was to create some Haiku which could be shared with the residency group upon arrival. I had felt most motivated by the work of Yosa Buson, an 18th century poet and painter. The brilliance of the true Haiku having only 5 syllables in the first and last line and 7 syllables in the second line is to express as much feeling and imagery as possible in such as short amount of words.


My Attempt at Haiku poetry...


Grey sky at midday,

Geese flying in arrows,

Green blossoms dying


Dusty sand swirls,

A thunderclap resonates,

Rock pools ripple



Nigg Church


On the second day of the residency we visited Nigg Church which houses the Nigg cross-slab. The cross-slab is an intricately carved pictish monument thought to date from around the late 8th century. The slab is said to be second to none in the history of western medieval art.


Pictish Cross-Slab

One curiosity to be found within the Nigg Church graveyard is the Cholera Stone. The Stone is party to a particularly dark period in Scottish history. In 1832, Scotland had a serious cholera epidemic which had killed several thousand people in the cities and was beginning to spread across coastal communities on the west coast. An elder at Nigg Church reportedly saw a cloud of what he thought was cholera floating in the grave yard. He quickly threw a blanket over the cloud and buried it in the ground, covering it with a large stone.


The Cholera Stone



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©2017 by Jacob Hodge