2002 Golden Jubilee Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Castle, from Princes Street Earlier this year, the invitation was extended by the Cape Town Highlanders to the SA Irish to provide pipers for the 2002 Golden Jubilee Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The invite was accepted by 4 pipers: Craig Herwill, Patrick Dean, Andy Dippenaar and Dave Harris. Only once we had committed to the trip, did our Bearded Leader present us with the encyclopedia of music which we had to learn. Our mad scramble to evacuate the premises was thwarted by Craig, who used underhanded tactics by stating that he would buy the next round. He obviously never attended the school of fair play.

While we were, at the time, right in the middle of a VERY compressed and stressful competition season, we managed to find time to have a few Tattoo practices at various homes, which were more often than not occasions of great hilarity. One Sunday, while we were all trying to learn Willie, the Royal Fendersmith, affectionately termed "FenderBender", a piper of great distinction was heard to make the astute observation: "What a stupid place NOT to put a B", as his fingers insisted on adding this fine note to the tune. After picking ourselves up off the floor, twice, we managed to play the tune, eventually. This profound comment has wormed it's way into the annals of SA Irish history.

Finally, July 27 dawned, and after competing in the Championship Finals, we meandered off to the airport, met up with the contingent from 1 Medical Battalion who were also forming part of Cape Town Highlanders, and said our emotional farewells to loved ones and friends. We were finally on our way !!

Landing at Heathrow on the early morning of July 28, we found ourselves with 12 hours to kill before flying to Edinburgh. We caught the tube into London, and wandered around Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. Craig had the dubious priviledge of paying 4.95 for an alcohol-free Becks in a doughnut shop in Piccadilly, which still horrifies him. We found some marvellous little pubs in Covent Garden though, which appeased him a little.

We took off from Heathrow and arrived in Edinburgh that evening, and guess what? It was raining. I hear you say "Rain in Scotland?? How odd." Bravely soldiering through the wet stuff with our luggage, which didn't weigh far short of a ton, we loaded the bus, and off we went to Redford Cavalry Barracks, which was to be our home for the next 4 weeks. Upon arrival, we were shown to our barracks which were on the second floor, and made our acquaintance with the 2 flights of stairs which needed to be climbed to get there. Climbing these things never got easier, not once, for our whole stay there. Their only redeeming feature were the fantastic "stair parties" we had on them on numerous occasions. On the bright side, in the barracks were members of the Cape Town Caledonians, also forming part of Cape Town Highlanders, with their Pipe Major, Tony Reis. The wicked twinkle in his eye was the beginning of a lasting friendship. The wicked twinkle was quite apt by the way. He is a very naughty boy. (We love ya, Tone!!)

Redford Cavalry Barracks Inside our barrack room


After unpacking and settling in, and meeting the rest of the crowd, we sampled the haute cuisine on offer in the mess, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was palatable. So began an experience which will never be forgotten.

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