It’s a Shore Thing: 2013 Sea Change Festival at Rosneath Peninsula West

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Rosneath Peninsula West’s 2013 Sea Change Festival – Its a Shore Thing,  takes place over the weekend of Friday 21st-Sunday 23rd of June.

Expect mermaids, music, salsa, sea shanties, a ‘bikes and prams’ parade pretending to be everything else and a sustained focus on the Linn Botanical Garden at Cove.

There will be art on lampposts, dancing at Cove Burgh Hall, choir and drama at Rosneath Gardens, an artist at Linn Grdens and the bike-and-pram-in-disguise parade from Kilcreggan to Cover Burgh Hall where prizes will be awarded.

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At one level, this is a festival created by the west peninsular community for itself, re-familiarising, estranging and celebrating its place and its relationship with its place.

At another level, this is a community opening its doors to all comers, sharing the best, the daftest and the most inspriring.

The Rosneath peninsula is full of charm, dreamtime, a serious chill-out place – very different from the busy Inverclyde conurbation just across the Clyde.

It’s hard to think of a more fun weekend away for Inverclyde than to hop on the ferry from Gourock to Kilcreggan, stay over and get the vibe. A five hour plane journey could not take you any farther from home.

Knockderry hotel

There’s accommodation at all levels, from B&Bs, to the Kilcreggan Hotel to the 4-Star Knockderry Country House Hotel. There’s a great cafe and a pub in Kilcreggan – with competition from a brief pop-up cafe at Cove Burgh Hall with refreshments serves by – you’ve guessed it – mermaids.

k ilcreggan Kilcreggan

Last year the community organised its first Sea Change Festival and the local response was highly positive about the impact it had on community spirit, so the 2013 programme is guaranteed to be ‘a Shore thing’.

The Linn Gardens at Cove – one of the ‘Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute‘ – is the focus of two events in the festival programme, in fact one of these opens festivities from 7pm to 9pm on Friday 21st June.

An Evening with Alison Turnbull, at Cove Park has the artist discussing her collaboration with writer, Philip Hoare, in producing a book of photographs, texts, plant lists and interventions to document these extraordinary gardens.  Alison Turnbull’s talk is t 7pm and there’s a buffet from 8pm.

Then, on Sunday 23rd June, topping and tailing the weekend, Alison is at Linn Gardens themselves from 11am to 12 noon. She is planning an artwork for the gardens and she’ll be there on the Sunday morning with both Jamie and Jim Taggart  – creators and owners of the late 20th century gardens – describing her plans and showing how the planned book will work.

The gardens are dramatic – and ingenious. They stride across an old sea cliff, riven by the Meikle Burn gully and its waterfalls. We’re in the territory of Mid Argyll’s Crarae Gardens here, replicating the Himalayan home of rhododendrons. At Linn as at Crarae, the burn’s gully has been planted with a feast of exotic rhododendrons.

And the ingenuity? The burn provides water to the fountains in the lower garden, themselves feeding surrounding bog plants.

kilcreggan hotel

The views from Linn over Loch Long, in which it dips its feet – and the Clyde are, of course stupendous. The tranquillity of the gardens and the reflectiveness they induce will be a counterpoint to the hip swinging salsa session at Cove Burgh Hall the night before, and the songs and sea shanties beforehand from television’s Joyce Falconer.

It’s a Shore Thing takes the ebb tide at 4pm on the afternoon of Sunday 23rd June, after a Midsummer gala performance at Rosneath Park, starting at 3pm, led by the Peninsula Choir.

The full programme for the 2012 Sea Change Festival is here: Programme Sea Change Festival 2013. It’s hard to think of an away-weekend of more gentle communal fun than this promises to be.

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