Song in a lighthouse guestbook

“I’ve got a strange request,” my friend Karen said on Messenger. “We’re staying in a cottage, it has a guest book, and someone’s written a song in it. Could you play it and send me a recording? It’s for the cottage owners. I’d be so grateful.”

Karen and I were friends when we were ten years old, in a suburb poetically named Cowplain in Hampshire, England. I lived on Eglantine Walk and Karen’s family was around the corner on Celandine Avenue. They had an orange Beetle and I always heard its low purr as it slowed and rounded the corner, passing my house.

Karen lives in Portsmouth now. If there’s anything I can do for her, I want to do it! She’s on holiday, in Scotland maybe? Yep. She gave me the website of the place where she’s staying.

Holy cow — it’s a lighthouse!

Here’s a photo of the song in the guest book.

Cantick Head Lighthouse Cottage is owned and run by Alan and Vicky MacKinnon, and the guest — Richard from Glasgow — wrote the music about being at the cottage, Karen said.

I got my Hammond Pro 44H melodica out, thinking it would sound a bit more like bagpipes than the piano.

The song is in 6/8 compound time (a “1-2-3, 4-5-6” triplet feel). It has an irregular metre, and there are repeat dots after the first three bars, an accent and staccato over the last quaver and mf for dynamic expression. Blimey, the detail! I love the crooked freehand stave. He’s drawn the semibreves with thicker lines and a femata (pause) over them! There’s even tempo direction at the beginning — one dotted crotchet is equal to 54 beats a minute, and to be played in a “stately” manner. He must have loved staying at the cottage.

My Hammond Pro 44H melodica

You’re in an incredible place, Karen! I hope your friends like hearing the song. You and I need to do Zoom — soon! ❤️


  1. Hello Joanna, we were intrigued with this beautiful message. You have made a lot of people very happy. Well done. Take good

    • Thank you Maureen! The composer sent a message to the Lighthouse proprietor. He said he hasn’t composed for a melodica before 🤣. Lovely!

  2. I am so pleased that you did this for them; Richard loves the melodica as do I! orange be beetles, brown bikinis, your lovely mothers noodles and my love 😍 f listening to you play… does life get any better xxx

  3. Thank you so much for doing this for us. The guest was actually a composer from Glasgow called Richard Greer. We were so pleased that he took the time to write a short piece just for the cottage.

    Best wishes

    Alan Mackinnon
    Cantick Head Lighthouse

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