This was a strange competition - due to the need to travel down to Grandad's birthday party on Sunday I had to go to the competition, play, and leave right away. This meant not taking the bus, and meant missing most of the day.
Once again, the Scottish Pipe Band Championships were held in Dumbarton, which seems to have become a near-permanent home for this event. This was the fourth of five majors for the year, but was only our second (we missed both the European and United Kindgom Championships).
The day started bright and sunny. It became considerably worse later, but I'd left by then. I got up, got ready, and got in the car. An hour later, I was there. Half an hour after that, so was the rest of the band.
We made ready, and then it was time for us to play. We were the first band on in our grade, which is a mixed blessing - it allowed us to lay down a marker for others to follow, but also meant that we had no idea of what we needed to beat.
The performance went well, mostly. We suffered a little because of a little drone noise at the start (before they should have come in), and some more right at the end. But the performance between those two was pretty good. And our drummers acquitted themselves well, too, given that our lead drummer was on holiday and so they had to manage without. All in all, though, we were quite happy - including, perhaps surprisingly, the pipe major.
At that point I left, so didn't hear the result at the time. But the eventual result was that we came 11th of 13 (11th and 7th for piping, 13th for drumming, and 12th for ensemble). So, not a great result, but a distinct improvement over the British Championships. And, crucially, without the same sort of meltdown that we experienced at that event. Still, we'll need to play much better if we hope to qualify for the final at the World Championships next month (which, frankly, is unlikely).
We're now nearing the end of the season, and I'm surprised to find that I've actually (mostly) enjoyed it. Things have just generally gone much better than last year, the events at Bathgate notwithstanding. It will be interesting to see how things play out over the winter.
That said, it's been a very long, and busy, season. So I'll be glad once that's done and I can get my weekends back.
Next week is the Bridge of Allan Highland Games, and then there are three more competitions. We finish on the 22nd of August, and then I can have some much-needed rest.