This summer has seen me more in demand for presentations of waulking, traditional songs and Highland culture than ever before!
I am encouraged and delighted to find that intangible heritage is becoming increasingly popular among visitors to the Highlands. By this, I mean those things that make the heritage of the Highlands special, aside from the mountains, rivers and castles that you can touch.
Not so long ago, I expressed an interest in a UHI post-graduate reseach project into tourism related to intangible heritage; little did I expect at the time that my involvement would turn out to be less academic and more immersive.
I was surprised that some people considered that Disney's cartoon feature film, "Brave" would still be inspiring visitors to come here, but a couple of weeks ago I met some of those very visitors. I was providing a hands-on presentation of traditional Gaelic song in general and waulking in particular for a groups on a tour of the Highlands organised by Disney, promoted in association with "Brave" and featuring a chance to try your own hand at archery.
More recently, I provided similar entertainment for a bespoke tour for fans of the "Outlander" television series, still a current favourite on both sides of the pond. So many of the presentations I give are not for themed tours, nevertheless, speaking to the guests afterwards, it is common to find that "Brave", "Outlander" and even "Braveheart" and "Highlander" are part of their reason for coming to the Highlands. Perhaps soon we will be welcoming fans of the "Outlaw King" film.
For these guests in our homeland, their inspiration comes from the Hollywood version of our culture. This inspiration takes them further and draws them to find out more about the truth behind the fantasy.
It is a pleasure for me (and often an absolute hoot) to share more of our authentic culture with these guests. Long may they continue to pursue an interest!