Globetrotter

A WORLD OF TRAVEL NEWS AND DIS­COV­ER­IES

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‘Pip­ing at the Old Man of Storr in Scot­land was out of this world. The weather was pretty bleak (clas­sic Scot­land), but it cleared up for a bit and I was able to play a few tunes. The ring around the Storr formed a nat­u­ral am­phithe­atre, so you could hear me all the way down the val­ley.’

Few peo­ple in­clude bag­pipes on their pack­ing list, but for Ross OC Jen­nings they have been a main­stay of his trav­els to more than 60 coun­tries. We caught up with the man who has a plan to pipe in ev­ery coun­try of the world:

Where has been the most sat­is­fy­ing place to play the bag­pipes?

So far, the Mid­dle East has been the great­est place to play the pipes. Ev­ery­one seems to ab­so­lutely love it – it’s prob­a­bly some­thing to do with the fact that bag­pipes come from that part of the world. Oman, Jor­dan and many other Mid­dle East­ern na­tions have their own adap­ta­tions of bag­pipes, so it’s fairly in­grained in their folk cul­ture and mod­ern pop cul­ture too. I was pip­ing at the In­land Sea in Qatar, which marks its bor­der with Saudi Ara­bia, when a gi­nor­mous 4WD launched over a dune be­hind me. The car skid­ded to a stop and out popped a Qatari man. He shouted ‘Yalla! Again!’ I piped up again and he calmly said, ‘They’re slightly out of tune.’ It turns out he was part of the Qatari pipe band. He then pro­ceeded to tune the drones as I played again.

Have you had to make any changes to your usual ap­proach?

The bag­pipes (and kilts) aren’t suited for all cli­mates, so I do have to mix it up. In South Africa we went shark div­ing and I’d been given the go-ahead to pipe on board – (ap­par­ently loud noises are great for at­tract­ing great white sharks). I had already suited up, so I de­cided I’d just throw on my kilt over the top and pipe away. Not the eas­i­est! When I vis­ited Latvia mid­win­ter, it was so bloody cold that my pipes to­tally seized up. It was made even worse by the fact that I had worked up a bit of crowd af­ter tak­ing a few cheesy snaps in Riga’s Old Town. My fin­gers were frozen and my face was so numb I could barely feel it, so when I started to pipe I just couldn’t get any­thing out. I scut­tled away to shouts of ,‘You’re not Scot­tish!’ Next time I vis­ited a coun­try in mid­win­ter (Slo­vakia in Jan­uary this year) I was prepped with a ski-suit and all means of win­tery kit.

What’s the most am­bi­tious place on your short-term must-visit list? Hands down, the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo. De­spite on­line ad­vice and me­dia cov­er­age, it’s not to­tally off lim­its, but it’s a fairly volatile place. I toed the bor­der with my brogues and kilt when I vis­ited Rwanda in 2014, and I’ve wanted to visit the DRC ever since. Find out more at the­first­piper.com or fol­low Ross’s ad­ven­tures on @the­first­piper

Ross with his bag­pipes on the Isle of Skye. ABOVE FROM LEFT Sin­ga­pore, Laos and Ar­me­nia

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