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2014 is an extraordinary year for Scotland.
So much is happening across the length and breadth of the country.
And it's not all about politics and sport.
We're here with a brand-new series.
A journey to discover the events worth celebrating.
And the stories behind them.
Everything from theatre to comedy.
Great music AND festivals!
Activities we can all get involved in.
We're exploring what's happening inside our buildings.
And what's going on in your street.
We'll tell you about the quirky...
..and the exciting.
We'll delve into Scotland's tastiest food and drink.
And meet the people creating these
incredible experiences for all of us.
So plan your summer with us.
Join us as we head On The Road 2014.
CAR HORN BEEPS AND ENGINE REVS
On our route tonight...I'm in Edinburgh to conjure up some fun
at the International Magic Festival.
-Is it quite safe?
-Safe? Yeah, perfectly.
Martel's in Orkney, uncovering the incredible story behind the
island's stunning Italian Chapel.
And find out why on earth I'm scoffing ice cream,
all in the name of the Commonwealth Games.
-There you go, sir.
-What great service!
But first, we volunteered DJ Ally McCrae to sign up for
a big event this coming weekend.
This week is the 700 year anniversary of the
Battle of Bannockburn, one of the most significant events
in Scottish History.
The great battle will be commemorated
this weekend in Bannockburn near Stirling with a two-day event -
There'll be traditional and contemporary music,
food and drink stalls, historical workshops
and most importantly, dramatic re-enactments of the battle itself.
Ally went along to get a preview of the preparations
and a taste of the action.
Everybody loves the idea of being the hero,
but as exciting as that sounds,
it's another thing altogether to actually put on
an authentic battle from seven centuries ago.
It takes a lot of passion,
serious knowledge, and I'm kind of hoping, some really cool weapons!
Putting the blood and guts into the battle performances will be
100 members of Clanranald, a living history and re-enactment group.
They've done TV, they've done movies,
now they'll be joined by hundreds of other historical re-enactors
from across Europe and America to create a spectacular live event.
Clanranald are passionate about history and have
been bringing the past to life for 19 years.
They've even built their own medieval village
called Duncarron a few miles away from the battlefield.
How many people have we got working on the site today?
-Probably about 70.
-About 70? Amazing.
We've got joiners, bank clerks, plumbers, financiers -
people from all walks of life.
Anyone can join a group, although the beards are a must.
It helps to have a beard, it gets you work. My beard's...
-..been on a few jobs.
We've worked on films like
Gladiator, Robin Hood, King Arthur...
People like Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe and folk
give us a shout, and I could be in the back garden cutting the grass
and I get a phone call.
"Charlie, I need 40, 50 of your guys, and you of course."
-And off we go.
The group have weekly combat training sessions, and they've been
practising hard for over a year
for their performance at Bannockburn Live.
So you're going to have a new recruit in the ranks today.
-I hear, aye.
-Where do we start?
Well, first we need to get you into the proper kit.
You mean the skinny jeans aren't OK?
Nah, you'll no last five minutes in those.
'Right, time to get some kit off and some clobber on.'
See, I've got the physique for it!
'Starting with the woollen under garments, then the
'padded gambeson jacket.'
-These were filled with either straw or goose down...
It would soak up some of the impact.
-Imagine it would soak up some of the blood as well.
'Next, the chain mail, which weighs in at 2st.'
You could do yourself a serious injury putting this on.
'Then, the all-important weapons - a handy dagger and a sword.'
That's got a good bit of weight in it.
That's a hand and a half, basically, it's not quite a two-hander.
'But the Scots also had another secret weapon,
'and it swung the battle for them.'
-..is a large body of men all moving together in one unit.
Basically a massive hedge of sharp-tipped spears.
The schiltron formation created an impenetrable wall of spears
that on the day defeated the English cavalry.
It was one of the clever tactics used by
Robert the Bruce to win - despite being totally outnumbered
three-to-one by King Edward's army.
700 years later, and Clanranald are
bringing the battle to life once more -
although not all 48 hours of it.
This time, with a series of 30-minute performances
across the weekend.
These guys are so authentic
even helping out with the rehearsals looks risky.
Right, what I want to know is how you recreate such an epic
and bloody battle, and one in which a lot of people
met some right grizzly ends.
The answer? Clever choreography and tricks of the trade
that avoid real bloodshed.
So I'd say to you, "Come at an overhead," which is
basically coming over at my head like this, and I would block.
-So you react now...
-I've got you here.
And I push your own weapon into you.
Or if I wanted it to look like I was doing it,
-I would put it here and go...bang.
-OK? Something as simple as that.
I don't think I'm going to be able to get back up here.
'Perhaps I'll be safer at the back of the schiltron.
'At least I'm the right height for that.'
In many ways, I feel like my whole life
has been leading up to this moment. Bring it on!
The schiltron will be just one element of a display
recreating the battle that will be taking place at
Bannockburn Live, this Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th June
I think I love this! A life in battle for me.
That's it, I'm away. Tell my mum I love her!
There are three battle performances on both days of Bannockburn Live,
or if you fancy having a go at wielding a sword yourself,
then there are lots of re-enactment groups across Scotland.
For more information, check our website...
This month, the streets of Edinburgh will be filled with mystery...
MUSIC: "A Kind Of A Magic" by Queen
Because the International Magic Festival is coming to
Edinburgh for the fifth year running...
..attracting 40 top magicians from all over the globe -
everywhere from America to South Korea.
They may be pros, but I bet they don't know
my phone-in-the-balloon trick.
Ahhh - it's in! And that's magic.
We all like a bit of magic,
even if it's from a complete novice like me,
AND I got a new phone into the bargain.
MUSIC: "Magic" by Pilot
At this year's festival, you'll see the best of the best acts
amazing audiences with their new and inventive shows.
Magic has come a long way since the day of TV variety acts.
It's no longer about knife-throwing or cutting
your glamorous assistant in half.
Nowadays, it's big-name illusionists
like David Blaine and street tricksters that wow the crowds.
The city is the perfect place to host the festival,
as it's no stranger to grand illusionists.
Edinburgh is actually the final resting place of
a true magic legend - The Great Lafayette.
The illusions of this Victorian master were
so popular you had to book ten years in advance to see him.
Sadly, in 1911, whilst performing in Edinburgh, Lafayette was
tragically killed in a fire,
when one of his own tricks went badly wrong.
His funeral was a testament to his talent and huge following,
with 250,000 people turning up for the procession.
His stunning illusions may have died
but the legacy lives on.
Next week's festival will see thousands turn out once again,
to enjoy today's great magicians, at ten venues across the city.
Perhaps one of the most appropriate is here -
the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
The perfect place to meet Kevin McMahon, the magician who
conjured up the idea of bringing magic to Edinburgh.
Kevin? Kevin? Kevin?
'When I finally tracked him down, I asked him
'why he set up the magic festival.'
The festival came because we thought,
"Nothing else out there exists,"
so we've developed it, and over the last five years we're really
lucky to have worked with a lot of different people.
And you're in the Magic Circle, yeah? How did you get into it?
I started when I was 25, which is quite late at the game.
I was a physicist at that point,
and I had the opportunity to go on a reality TV programme.
I had to learn to be a magician in four weeks.
And it was at the end of the four weeks that
I decided to stop doing physics and start doing magic,
which was a real surprise to my mum especially, and my family.
They're over it now.
Today, Kevin's as passionate about magic
as when he first discovered it.
Now, the secret is when you think the ball is in one place,
it's actually in...
That goes in the pocket, this goes under,
BUT - doesn't explain how...the kiwi fruit!
And if you like the kiwi, you're going to love...the lemon!
And if you like the lemon, you'll go crazy for the banana!
No, I'm only joking.
Magic's always been popular -
I would say these days it's become even more popular, in fashion
and zeitgeist than it has been maybe 10, 20 years ago.
You could say the stars are aligning for magic now,
people are really getting into it,
and I hope that's what we're delivering with Magic Fest.
You can watch more of Kevin and his fellow magicians at work
all during the festival, which starts this Friday 27th June
and runs until 4th July.
-This is a new trick for the festival?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-Is it quite safe?
-Safe? Yeah, perfectly!
If you fancy learning a few tricks to impress
family and friends, there are also workshops
and magic masterclasses running throughout the festival.
It's all right. I got his watch.
Orkney...a land of ancient remains
This unusual chapel, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year,
and is about to turn 70, is what's brought me
to Lamb Holm in Orkney.
Its story begins with World War II,
when Scapa Flow was the location of
Britain's most important naval base.
Though just a month into the conflict, a German U-boat managed
the unthinkable - breaching its defences
and torpedoing the HMS Royal Oak.
More than 800 sailors were killed,
and as a result, Churchill ordered defensive barriers to be built,
work that was carried out by Italian prisoners of war.
The prisoners began the two years of back-breaking labour to construct
these massive causeways to defend Scapa Flow against further attacks.
Because of their incredible efforts, the POWs were eventually seen
as part of the community, and in 1943, after Italy surrendered,
they were allowed to build a chapel here on Lamb Holm,
south of Kirkwall.
Finished in 1944, it encapsulates the story of Orkney's war.
But much more than that, this tin tabernacle is a monument
to peace and reconciliation
So I've come to meet John Muir, one of the people responsible
for its preservation.
What are your memories of the Italian POWs?
They had football teams, they played the local teams,
put on shows...they did mix into the community very well.
The prisoners also proved to be incredibly resourceful,
building the entire chapel out of two Nissen huts
and using scavenged materials to create everything else.
Though from the corned beef tins and scrap metal that
form its decorative pieces, to the altar crafted
from an actual ship wreck, the end result is...breathtaking.
'It's testament to the vision of Domenico Chiocchetti, who rallied
'his fellow inmates to create this tribute to peace and goodwill.'
Before he went off to war, his mother gave him
a little prayer card which he carried in his pocket all his time.
The picture on that prayer card is
the basis of the Madonna and child painting above the altar.
Chiocchetti was so dedicated he even stayed on AFTER the other
prisoners were released, in order to finish his work,
but he wasn't the only one to leave his mark.
There is a story that goes with the wrought-iron screen -
the man who made it fell in love,
but had a wife in Italy and she didn't just quite approve, you know?
But when he left Orkney,
he left his heart and you can see his heart in the floor there
where the gates come together.
My goodness, that's exceptionally moving.
-You're not going to cry, are you?
-I might cry, yeah.
Though perhaps the last word should go to Chiocchetti who said,
in an open letter to people of Orkney,
"The chapel is yours, to love and preserve. I take with me to Italy
"the remembrance of your kindness."
To me, it's a story of the human spirit,
and our ability to forgive, and find the best in each other.
While the chapel is celebrating 70 years since its completion,
that's just one of the reasons to visit Orkney.
Another is the St Magnus Festival.
Hear the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
this Wednesday, live from this event on Radio 3.
For more information on this or any of tonight's stories,
see our website:
Stay with us as I head to Tarbert and the new Viking Festival -
another celebration to add to a town re-inventing itself
as the festival destination of the West Coast.
The pride here is absolutely palpable.
And Fred goes global at the Glasgow Mela -
the biggest multicultural festival in Scotland.
Very colourful, very active,
and I think it's going to get even busier as the day goes on.
But first, this...
The Queen's Baton Relay. It's travelled 70 nations,
almost 120,000 miles
and on June 14th, it entered its final strait,
sailing up the River Tweed,
and crossing the Coldstream Bridge into Scotland.
And naturally that's a party I didn't want to miss.
I think it's fair to say that the Baton has finally arrived!
Though it has a pretty intense schedule -
a 40-day tour, requiring around 4,000 baton-bearers,
as it passes through more than 400 of our villages,
towns and cities.
Ten days into its journey, the Relay has so far crossed the Lothians,
the Borders and much of southwest Scotland.
Though it's not just the Queen's Baton people are coming to see -
this 40-day event is also showcasing countless performers.
GLASS PLINKS LIKE XYLOPHONE
Which brings me to a rehearsal of what's possibly
the most unusual act of them all.
ALL: # Start your engines, what is it you're having?
# Queue up for your chocolate. #
It's called the Pokey Hat,
staged by a small children's theatre company with big ambitions.
Puppets performing a play might be the last thing you expect
from an ice cream van, but that's actually what's going on
around Scotland over the course of the summer.
Aw, come on, gie it big licks for me!
# Ya, la, la, la, laaaa... #
So, Clare, what is the play all about?
It's all quite nostalgic, all based on people's memories
and associations with ice cream.
ALL: # La, la, la, la la-la-la-la-la
# La, la, la, la, laaa... #
And what are the audience going to take away with them?
I think people will get a wee flavour of Glasgow, really,
and what the East End is like and what Glasgow humour's all about.
ALL # Fill your boots and have another scoop
# A trip to the ice cream... #
Over the next two weeks,
as the Queen's Baton continues its journey across Scotland,
the Pokey Hat will joining the Relay at Dundee and Perth,
with plenty of ice creams for everyone.
For more information on the journey to Glasgow, see our website:
There you go, sir.
-Thank you for great service. Cheers!
-It's on the house.
On Scotland's West Coast sits not only an enchanting fishing village,
but the location of eight different festivals,
as here in Tarbert, on the banks of Loch Fyne,
you can indulge an interest in everything from food, music and film
through to traditional boat-building, which,
by the way, is something else this rather happening spot is famous for.
In fact, that's what inspired the building of this -
a 50ft Viking longboat
which, in turn, has inspired festival number nine!
When she's launched she'll start the final countdown
to Tarbert's first ever Viking Festival,
and I'm here to help her get in that water.
After all, in the 1,000 or so years this village has been
a welcome port to travellers, it has indeed seen everyone
from Robert the Bruce to - you got it - the Vikings.
'And, in true Viking spirit, the idea of building the longboat,
'and creating the latest festival, came about over a few beers.'
It looks amazing. Hard to believe this was a back-of-a-beer-mat idea.
Started in a pub with a bunch of guys on a Friday night
and look what happened.
What have you loved most about building the boat?
I think...seeing it grow from nothing, really, you know,
and getting larger every day you're working on it.
'All up, it's taken six months to build, but soon it will be
'the proud centrepiece of the five-day Viking Festival.'
You must have had a master plan that you worked from.
-All in my head.
-All in your head?
-All in my head, yeah.
'Once, Tarbert was all about fishing and boat-building,
'but after these industries went into decline,
'tourism became a valuable asset.
'Mind you, those old skills now seem to be making a comeback.'
'Just ask Willie Leitch, who comes from a long line of sail-makers,
'and is happily providing one for the longboat.'
Wow, that's absolutely enormous.
It's the size of a small flat. How big is that?
258 square feet.
For today...24 square metres.
'Using local craftsman links the community today
'back to its distant past, something Jill Kirkwood,
'of the Glasgow Viking Society, is hugely excited about.'
The public are going to be able to see Viking raids
as they would have happened.
Axe-wielding, swords, everything?
Yeah, all the weapons that they would have had at the time.
The men trained very, very hard for the combat displays,
and none of the fighting is choreographed. It's all freestyle.
If you're brave enough, come up to the warriors, have a look
at the weapons and armour - it's a fantastic opportunity.
'With just a few of days to go, the whole town is behind the event -
'getting the final preparations and costumes ready...'
'..and it's all hands on deck as well to get the boat in the water.
'First job - the 22ft mast.'
Just dinnae drop it.
'Then the all-important figure head.'
She looks beautiful, really just makes the boat.
'Then just time to christen the launch
'with some good old Viking beer.'
'So, if marauding Vikings are your thing, the festival
'starts this Wednesday and runs until Sunday 29th June.
'And don't forget, Tarbert has eight other festivals you can
'take part in - everything from seafood through to yacht-racing.'
The pride here is absolutely palpable and the passion's contagious,
and doesn't she look pretty?
This is the fabulous Glasgow Mela.
Forming a central part of the Culture 2014 Programme
for the Commonwealth Games,
the festival is designed to bring together and celebrate
the many different cultures across Scotland.
And getting its first outing for 15 years
is the revamped Kelvingrove Bandstand.
Well, as you can see, it's really busy, we've just got here,
we've seen some street performers...
..people on stilts...
..and I think it's going to get even busier as they day goes on.
Last year this multicultural event brought an incredible 35,000 people
to Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow's West End.
This year, despite a wee bit of rain, it's looking just as popular.
-We're having a really good day.
-Very nice, we love them.
The cooperation and the atmosphere they have here.
And the man making sure it all runs like clockwork is Harminder Berman.
He's been involved since the festival began 24 years ago,
when it was just a South Asian event.
Now it's grown to embrace the many communities that thrive in the city.
I love what I do. I think it just gives me the opportunity
to share the kind of cultural heritage that is present in Scotland,
and Glasgow in particular.
The word "mela" in Sanskrit means to meet or gather.
I can't think of a more appropriate name
for this all-embracing cultural feast.
It brings people together, it connects people together,
and it provides opportunities for those small groups who would not get
a platform to perform.
'what's not to like about two days of entertainment
'from every corner of the globe...
'..a little retail therapy...'
I've only got a fiver, what can you do for me?
Well, I normally don't do cushions as well as cushion covers.
Right, so I'm getting the cushion thrown in?
-And a cover.
-And a cover, for £5.
'..and the national dishes of more than dozen different countries.
'My pick - some delicious bhelpuri - street food from Bombay.
'Rachna's going to show me how it's done.'
-Get a cone.
-You fill it up with the puffed rice.
And you get some of the puris, crush them in.
I like your... Look, you've done this before.
Then we're going to put the three sauces - red chilli...
It's going all over.
-And some chaap masala.
-You do that.
-I can't wait to tuck into this, thank you so much.
-Thank you, Fred.
I would pay you but my hands are dirty, can't put my hands...
Can't get my pound out.
'And that's a trick I might use again.'
Even though I say it myself - absolutely perfect,
just what you need on a day like this.
'Nothing reflects the fusion of cultures better than this group -
'the Desi Bravehearts...'
Girls, can I come in?
'..who are best described as Bollywood-meets-highland-dancing.'
Where did the name come from, Desi Bravehearts?
"Desi" means, basically, Asian.
That's an Indian word but because we're based in Scotland,
but have an Asian culture, as well, so different backgrounds.
That's why we're called Desi Braveheart.
'It's not just that the members are Scottish, Indian,
'Chinese, Greek, German and... well, you get the picture.
'But they also come from all walks of life.'
What do you do for a living?
-I'm a student, I study chemical engineering.
-OK, and you?
I study neuroscience and I'm working in Parkinson's research.
Neuroscience, good on you.
Well, have a look in there, see if you can find anything.
While the Desi Bravehearts are a definite highlight,
it's also a big weekend for the Kelvingrove Bandstand itself.
After lying in disrepair for years,
it's enjoying it's first public performance with the festival -
looking buffed up and beautiful after it's £2m refurbishment.
BOLLYWOOD MUSIC PLAYS
What does it mean to have performed at Mela again?
It's a big thing for us, because Desi Bravehearts is Glasgow,
and to perform in Glasgow, it's kind of home.
Well done, to the performance, well done. Brilliant.
The Glasgow Mela returns in June 2015,
but if you missed it this year, its Edinburgh counterpart
runs from August 29th to 31st.
Or why not visit Kelvingrove Bandstand
and enjoy it's great summer programme,
including myself on the 28th of July?
While we won't be here next week, join us again on Monday 7th July
at 7:30pm, when Martel discovers what gifts are fit for a queen.
I'd love to know what the Queen thought of that one.
Comedienne Susan Calman is let loose in a secret nuclear bunker.
I'm in charge now.
Yes, very reassuring.
And In Balado, DJ Ally McCrae finds out what it takes
to put on Scotland's biggest festival - T in the Park.
It's a phenomenal amount of work and effort.