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Ballads and Bairns

The Ballads and Bairns projects are part funded by Aberdeenshire Council's Youth Music Initiative with YMI funding from the Scottish Government via the Scottish Arts Council.

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The songs for the 2007 Ballads and Bairns concert are a mix of traditional songs from the north east of Scotland and new songs.  Over a period of several months the children worked with the team of Norman Chalmers, David Francis, Christine Kydd and Rod Paterson.   The aim for 2007 was for the children to learn an old song from their own part of the world, write a new song to a traditional tune, and, for some, to learn a tune on the whistle with Norman. 

The concert programme is listed here complete with the words to the new songs.

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1. Banff, Ordiqhuill, Portsoy, Whitehills

Song of the Fishgutters

(Ewan MacColl)





The Black Cat

(Banff School/ Rod Paterson.  Tune: The Overgate)

4. Portsoy

Tramps and Hawkers



Fae Fitehills to Chongqing

(Whitehills/ Rod Paterson, David Francis.  Tune: The day we went to Rothesay)

My name it is Liaxing Dong
I hope I won’t detain you long
I’ve come to sing you this wee song
About my life in Chongqing


Duram a doo a doo a day
Duram a doo a daddio
Durram a doo a doo a day
Fae Fitehills to Chongqing


My name is Keiran Addison
And I salute my Chinese friend
I’ve also got a song to sing
About my life in Fitehills.

The Yangtze River’s long and wide
Tall buildings tower along its sides
And on its waters big ships ride
Sailing out of Chongqing.

6. Banff

Let the wind blaw high

(Banff School/ Norman Chalmers, David Francis.  Tune: Donald where’s yer troosers)


Let the wind blaw high, let the wind blaw low
A the loons doon the street they go
A the quinies shout ‘Fit like?
Fit ye gan tae dee the night?’


I’m awa to the trampoline
I’m awa to the TV screen
I’m awa to the sweetie machine
Then we’ll aa scoff jeely beans

Chicken korma, peshwari nan
Wee willie winkies in a fryin pan
I’ll eat pizza, as much as I can
O Brussels sprouts I’m nae a fan

Żurek is a Polish food
We’ve never tried it, but we’re sure it’s good
We’d eat crisps all the time if we could
We like chocolate when we’re in the mood

7. Portsoy

Games through time

(Portsoy School/ David Francis.  Tune: Mistress Greig)

Mair nor fifty year ago
In the days o my great granny
They played games like hide and seek
Chasies, hopscotch, kick the cannie


But we do
dancin, swimmin, basketball and go karts
trampolinin, golf, and if it’s rainin – darts!

On a lovely simmer’s day
We a heid up tae the Death Wish
Say a prayer, count 1 – 2- 3 –
Jump right in and swim like monk fish

And we do
dancin, swimmin, basketball and go karts
trampolinin, golf, and if it’s rainin – darts!

In a thoosan years fae noo
We’ll eat holographic quick snacks
We’ll a play in virtual games
an bairns’ll fly to school in jet packs.

8. Ordiqhuill

Cornhill Highland Games

(Ordiqhuill School/ Team.  Tune: Wha saw the Forty Second?)


Cornhill in early summer
Brings fowk oot frae their hames
Bring on the pipes and drummers
To the Cornhill Highland Games

In a corner o the playin field
Stands a red and fite marquee
Lucky Dip and a big tombola,
Strawberries, biscuits, cups o tea


Fermers, crofters, milkmen, posties
Pey their twa pun to come in
Join the crowd aroon the sports ring
Mak a racket, raise a din.


See the big men toss the caber
Heave the wecht richt ower the bar
High jump, long jump, throwin the hammer
Come and see the tug o war


See the quinies Highland dancin
Neat and tidy, trig and trim
See the loons sae braw and handsome
Line up for the Fernie Run.


9. Ordiqhuill and Fordyce

Fareweel to Tarwathie


10. Macduff

The Bonnie Ship the Diamond


11. Aberchirder

Herrin’s heid


12.            Macduff

The Star o Doune

(Macduff School/ David Francis, Christine Kydd.  Tune: The Battle of Harlaw)

The Star o Doune’s a bonny ship
wi sic a happy crew
they’ve sailed the oceans far and wide
fae Troup Heid to Peru


Ecclemacdhu, Ecclemacdhu and the Star o Doune
Ecclemacdhu, Ecclemacdhu, fit’s in store for you?

Ae nicht in early spring they sailed
and hoped to mak good time
The crew was swaying to the motion,
hopin they’d be fine.

Plenty were the fish they caught
Some near the size o a whale
They stacked the crates, the haul-man said
‘I think we’re in for a gale!’

The clouds turned black and dark, they did,
the boat went up and doon
An awfa storm wis pickin up
they couldna see the moon.

The boat turned roon, the nets got ripped,
‘Oh no! we’ve hit the rocks!’
A cry o pain, the haul-man’s airm
wis broke wi a fa’in box.

Intil the lifeboat they a jumped
and left the Star o Doune
and drifted ower the salty sea
by the licht o an April moon

Till at last they reached some shore
and fell upon the sand
When they looked up they fun themsels
in unfamiliar land.

They heard a voice that said ‘Eat this!’
The food it looked richt fool
but when they pit it in their mous
it tasted sweet and cool.

The crew woke up in tiny beds
wi sheets sae white and clean
Surrounded by wee mannies
Wearing singin hats o green

The haul-man’s broken airm was fixed
But nae wi doctor’s pills
But wi a strip o chequered breeks
and ‘e sap o daffodils.

Their sleep was deep and full o dreams
And then when they awoke
They a’ sat doon an rubbed their eyes
and then the skipper spoke:

‘We’re back hame in Macduff, ma loons
Did you anes hae dreams too?
Did we get caught in a batterin storm
And land in Ecclemacdhu?


‘We’re shair o what we saw, my boys,
I ken it’s hard to thole,
But naebody’ll believe us, lads
we canna tell a soul.’

13.  Aberchirder

Oor Scotland

(Aberchirder School/ David Francis.  Tune: The Gadie rins)


There’s whisky, tartan and hielan coos
Eagles, craws and cushie doos
Highland dancers wi braw new shoes
An the hill o Bennachie

We aa hae a favourite dish
It’s nae chips and it’s nae fish
Haggis, neeps and chappit spuds
Are aa that we could wish.

There’s bluebells, thistles and prickly whins
Playfu salmon wi flappy fins
The scary monster in Loch Ness
Squirrels, hare and deer.

There’s Turra, Fyvie and Strathbogie,
Aiberdeen, Macduff and Foggie
And Glesca, Lewis and Dundee
An the back o Bennachie!

14. Fordyce

A Song for Europe

(Fordyce School/ David Francis, Norman Chalmers.  Tune: The rakes of Mallow)


Greece and Spain and Germany
Ireland, England, Scotland tae
Norway, Finland, Sweden, France
Let’s all join the Europe dance.

400 different kinds of cheese -
Puts a smile on the Mona Lis’
Red wine, white wine, and rosé
The French drink a coupla bottles every day.

The Netherlands they have no hills,
They get their pow’r from windy mills
They had a famous artist called Van Gogh
Who went a little mad and cut his right ear off.

In Spain they like to fight the bull
Tho’ others often find it cruel.
The poor wee bull never stands a chance
We’d be better watching a flamenco dance

15. Bracoden


(Bracoden School/ David Francis, Rod Paterson.  Tune: The barren rocks of Aden)

Oh no we’ve hit the rocks (x3)
Oh no we’ve hit the rocks
Sparks’ll send the signal



Dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot SOS
Dot dot dot [clap clap clap] dot dot dot SOS

Help help an avalanche
We need the mountain rescue

Oh no the aeroplane
is running out of fuel

Help help the submarine
is leaking

Oh no we’re in Loch Ness
the monster’s going to eat us.

16. Bracoden

The rovin ploughboy


17.  Aberchirder, Bracoden, Fordyce, Macduff

The barnyards o Delgaty