Cameron's most recent book, Scotland End to End, describes the 470 mile Scottish National Trail, a superb long distance walking route that runs from Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders to Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on the Scottish mainland. The book is accompanied by a 2-disc DVD.
It was wonderful to escape the dark news that seems to continually emanate from our tellies and radios for a few days. The insane antics of Donald Trump and the ill thought out and desperate partnerships that Theresa May is trying to forge seemed a long way away and on a different planet.
You're probably thinking I escaped to the mountains for a while but I didn't. I was in Glasgow for a week for the wonderful Celtic Connections festival.
It's always difficult to select a few days together for CC - inevitably there are concerts that I'd love to attend that fall outside my allotted block of dates and this year we did fairly well. We managed six concerts and one afternoon talk, although I have to confess a couple of the concerts were a disappointment.
But first the good ones, and they were really good. Indeed I was suggest that Duncan Chisholm's The Gathering bordered on genius. This is the kind of music that makes me proud to be Scots, tunes and slow airs that get under your skin and make you tremble in delight. During one particular piece the words of Norman MacCaig's A Man in Assynt were read and the combination of the music and the wonderfully eloquent words brought the tears running down my cheeks.
The other brilliant show was brought by the Irish-American all female band, Cherish the Ladies. I'm a long-time fan of this band and I love their treatment of Irish music. This time they brought some superb Irish dancers to the stage, including a wonderfully confident 5-year old, and a beautiful trio of singers from Newfoundland. It was a superbly uplifting evening.
Who would have thought that in the early days of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny that the folk-rock band Fairport Convention would, one day, celebrate 50 years on the road. It was a joy to hear them, although Thompson and Denny are no longer with the band. (Sandy Denny sadly died at a ridiculously young age). The others were in good form, including another of the originals, Dave Pegg, and the old guys rocked the Fruitmarket like young things.
I was looking forward to hearing Robyn Stapleton singing Burns but we were a bit late turning up for the concert at the St Andrews in the Square venue and had to sit through the concert on the hard wooden pews of the balcony. Up there, high above the stage and the audience, the acoustics were dreadful and what should have been a great concert turned out to be pretty poor, simply because we couldn't make out any words and the sounds were distorted. We won't make that mistake again.
Two concerts disappointed us. Four Men and a Dog were talented enough but insisted on playing reel after reel at full speed with little respite. Their chosen songs weren't that impressive either. Going at full speed for most of the set can be exhausting, for the band as well as the audience and that was also the problem with Dirk Powell. I like this Appallachian singer and multi-instrumentalist but after a couple of songs he seemed to hand everything to an cajun accordianist who simply took over the show. I had come to hear Dirk Powell, not someone I'd never heard of, and this show was a major disappointment. I suspect many others were disappointed too because a lot of people left well before the end.
We went along to one of the afternoon talks. Actor David Hayman was supposed to take about the healing effects of music on those living close to the age, in poverty, both at home and abroad, but David just plugged his charity Spirit Aid. I would point out that this charity is definitely well worth supporting but when someone in the audience asked "What about the music?" David shrugged and told us we'd been conned by the festival's organisers. Apparently he didn't know he had to talk about music until that day.
Such festivals can often be a hit or miss affair and this is the first year in many that we were disappointed. However, the good concerts more than made up for it and Celtic Connections is the best music festival I know. I just hope it doesn't grow any bigger and I sincerely hope it won't be tempted to go down the route of bringing in "pop" music to swell the popularity. Keep it as a roots and traditional festival and it will continue to delight the thousands who faithfully attend each year.