Songs I love: Kathryn Tickell – Favourite place

Kathryn Tickell is known for being the finest Northumbrian piper around and arguably the best there ever has been. I first heard her play at the Rothbury folk festival about thirty-five years ago. I heard her before I saw her.

Like a few other festivals whose origins go back a long way, Rothbury bases itself (or used to base, I haven’t been back for a long time,) around musical competitions. I wanted to see the open pipes competition, but I had missed the start. As I was making my way into the hall, I could hear this wonderful lyrical pipe music being played. The style wasn’t familiar, it didn’t sound like any of the pipers I knew. On the stage was a girl, maybe twelve or thirteen years old.
“It can’t be her”
was my initial thought, but it was, and if I remember correctly she won the competition.

Having told you what a brilliant piper she is, this “Song I Love” doesn’t feature her pipes.

It is Kathryn’s reconstruction of her mother’s reminiscences of being a girl brought up on a Border farm. Lots of the things she says remind me of my upbringing on a Border farm, about ten or fifteen years later and on the Scottish side of the border.

It features Kathryn’s fiddle (she is almost as good a fiddle player as she is a piper) and her spoken voice.


There isn’t a YouTube video so I have embedded a Spotify track. I’m not quite sure how it works because I haven’t tried it before.You might have to register to listen.

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