Highland Gathering at the Peiner Stadtpark
Walking towards the municipal park of Peine via the North-South-Bridge on Saturday we can already hear the dignified tones oft he pipes. The romanticized memory of the movie „Braveheart“ comes quickly into my mind. Flashback: sping of 1996 in Egypt. It is a nearly sold out cinema hall in the centre of Cairo. The place is packed with young men. Fairly in the first rows there are two women: my friend and me. I will never forget the bawling and the cheers of the guys upon the battle scence. Just as much as the soundtrack which I bought weeks later in a shop in Amman for about 2.50 Euros – on a tape of course. Well, in this moment of rememberance a pleasant shiver runs down my back. I think, this is the right place for us.
The glory of the clans
There is already a queue in front of the pay office on this sunny afternoon when we arrive. Quiet quickly we get our festival wristband. And here we are. The tunes of the pipes and drums are getting louder. Right at the first band, the …, we stop and listen for a while. We do not sense yet that there are about 17 bands altoghether today. The competition between the music groups has already started and will end around 17:30 p.m. with the handover of the cups.
Next to the musicians the fairground is loaded with tents, food trucks and booths that offer Scottish devotional objects. The information stands of the clans catches my eyes. We have already noticed that the Pipe Bands wear different kilts with different patterns on it. At the Mackenzie booth we learn that the clan tartans have a certain order of colours and shades.
Bonnie Prince Charlie – the white hope
The Roll-ups of the clan infatuate me. And there it is, my „Braveheart moment“. It is about the bloody battle of Culloden in the year 1746 and the handsome Charles Edward Stuart, called „Bonnie Prince Charlie.“ Charles in his capacity as white hope of the Scotch clan chiefs shall defeat and expel the British. Born in Rome and adventuresomeness in his heart Bonnie Prince Charlie reaches the Scottish westcoast in the year 1745. The good-looking young guy proceeded to become a ladies‘ men soon. With his army he conquered Manchester and Lancaster and was about to take London. However the clan chiefs urge him to back down. The tide turns and the British manage to build up a new effective army and beat the Scotch on the battlefield of Culloden on April 16th, 1746.
Bonnie Prince Charlie can escape. An odyssey lasting for month crossing the western highlands starts. It is the encounter with Flora McDonald that saves his life. Being dressed up like a woman he flees to France. From there he returns to Rome where he dies in the year of 1788 as an drunkard.
The deployment oft he Pipe Bands
After all that history and adventure we need a break. Burkhard helps himself with a Bratwurst, I enjoy the warm sun beams on a bench. Watching the people passing by philosophize about Scottish heritage we get lazy. About 5 o’clock p.m. we walk towards the main stage. Right here the best Pipe Bands will be awarded. We are already late. The place is packed and we can hardly find a spot at the barrier where we can see the arena. Slowly but surely we move further down and finally get hold of a standing room in the crowd. The deployment of the Pipe Bands starts.
We have to swollow one drop of bitterness though. Unfortunately the organizers missed to fixe microphones also in the back. Therefore we can hardly hear anything. Only a few syllables reach us. Still, the parade oft he seventeenth Pipe Bands is really awesome and one of the most remarkable moments of the day.
A whisky tasting completes the day
An hour later the cups are distributed, the salutes fired, the photos taken and the videos done. It is time for our last item on the agenda: the whiyky tasting. As expected the liquor booth is crowded. We decide on a 12 years‘ old Knockando whisky, a mild Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It is good to have a real connoisseur at my side, otherwise I would have been lost in the face of the great choice. At first the warm sunbeams heats us up from the outside – for the remaining the whisky warms from the inside. Slàinte Mhath: that is how to say „cheers“ in Scottish.