The Rampant Scotland Newsletter - your insight into what has been happening in Scotland, snipped from the Scottish media, for Scots in Scotland and abroad. Bringing you news and events, plus a Scottish magazine section. Published every second week, with 100% recycled electrons.
Previous editions of this Newsletter are available in the Archive> and the Index to the other pages of the Rampant Scotland site is available here>.
The Scottish Snippets Newsletter in its original format began in April 1997 and continued in an unbroken series for 591 issues. Although no longer produced in that format there is now a regular update on the new and updated pages on the Rampant Scotland site and also "Scottie's Diary" on an intermittent basis, To receive this, kust send an e-mail to Scottie with "Subscribe Newsletter" in the subject line.
Big Improvement in Hospital Waiting TimesThe latest statistics on patient waiting times for treatment at hospitals in Scotland are at an all-time low. Both in-patient and out-patient waiting times have been reduced, with fewer people waiting for access to hospital care, with no patient waiting more than 18 weeks for a first out-patient consultation, following a GP referral. A nine-week maximum waiting time for key diagnostic tests continued to be met, with 99.7% compliance. Accident and Emergency departments delivered 98% compliance with the four-hour target for admission, discharge or transfer. The number of people on waiting lists for treatment has dropped to 66,813, the lowest level since records began in 1992 and down 25,980 (28%) on a year ago. The number of those waiting for a first out-patient consultation following referral was 159,997, down 29,411 (15.5%) on a year ago. Maybe now hospitals can look at dealing with patients at the appointed time, rather than being in waiting rooms for hours before they are dealt with?
Full Public Enquiry for Trump Golf ResortUS entrepreneur Donald Trump expressed disappointment last week when the Scottish finance secretary John Swinney announced that the controversial plans for a £1 billion golf resort on the coast of north-east Scotland was to go to a full public enquiry. The government minister says that the application raises issues of importance that require consideration at a national level. Mr Swinney says it is important that the process to examine the issues is "as efficient, transparent and inclusive as possible." Donald Trump has previously warned that he would walk away from the project if it got mired in a lengthy planning process. Many projects on a much smaller scale in Scotland have been known to get bogged down in enquiries and appeals, resulting in an escalation in the cost of the project. It was being unofficially estimated that it would now be October before a decision on the plans can be made. While Trump is continuing with the process, he has said that "Nobody is going to invest in Scotland" as a result of the lengthy planning approval process. He added: "I have one of the most popular developments in Scotland and yet we can't seem to get it approved. It's an amazing phenomenon."
Picture via Wikipedia.
Worst Postal Deliveries in Five YearsRoyal Mail only managed to deliver 83% of first class post on time during the last nine months, with the performance down even further over Christmas, when almost half of first-class post missed the next-day target. The company blamed severe industrial action last year, which saw official and wildcat strikes bring deliveries to a halt. Edinburgh, Falkirk and Dundee were amongst the 20 worst-performing postal areas in Britain, with Dundee only managing 78.5% of first-class mail being delivered the next day. Only Inverness made it into the top ten postal areas in Britain, with a success rate of 86.8%, but that was well short of the 93% target.
Royal Bank Makes £10.3 Billion Profit
Scotland's largest company and the UK's second biggest bank announced profits of £10.3 billion this week, 9% higher than last year. That was in spite of the global credit crunch which created losses of £1.6 billion for the Royal Bank itself and another £900 million for write-downs for ABN Amro, the Dutch bank it bought last year. Outside of the losses due to the US sub-prime market, "a more cautious approach to lending" (locking the stable doors after a large herd of horses had bolted) had meant that its overall bad debt losses fell by 1%. Retail banking profits rose by 10% helped by increased interest margins and higher bank charges. The bank cheered shareholders, however, by pointing to capital ratios within target ranges - and increased the annual dividend pay out by 10%.
The picture above is of the Royal Bank HQ, Gogarburn, Edinburgh.
Polish is Now Scotland's Second LanguagePolish is now the second language in half of Scotland's school areas. Children from Polish-speaking homes now outnumber other newcomers to Scotland in areas such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Shetland, Highland and West Lothian. Government figures show that last year there were 3,347 youngsters whose main language was Polish. There are larger numbers of school kids speaking Punjabi (4,682) and Urdu (4,002) as their first language, but they tend to be concentrated in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. Polish children are more spread out across the country. Of course, they are still just a small percentage of the total numbers in school. Last September there were 692,215 on the roll - 375,946 in primary, 309,560 in secondary and 709 in special schools. But the total number of pupils who are not fluent in English has risen by 62.5% between 2006 and 2007, from 9486 to 15,411. Of these, 3595 had no English at all. That is putting pressure on language support specialists.
Subsidy to Provide Cheaper Ferry TravelThe Scottish Government is providing a subsidy of £22.5 million to provide lower ticket prices on ferries from the mainland to a number of Western Isles destinations over the next three years. The objective is to make costs equivalent to that of similar length journeys by road. In some cases, travel costs will be halved. The scheme is described as a "pilot", but there were initial complaints that the subsidies only benefitted the Western Isles (with Scottish Nationalist MSPs) and not Orkney and Shetland (with Liberal Democrat Scottish Members of Parliament). But it has been pointed out that a "road equivalent tariff" from Aberdeen to Shetland currently costs less than a road journey of an equivalent distance. There is more validity perhaps in the argument that the subsidy will encourage visitors to those destinations with lower fares, to the detriment of others not covered by the new arrangements.
Borders Rail Link Costs DoubleMembers of the Scottish Parliaments (MSPs) were told this week that the cost of reopening the rail line linking Edinburgh with the Scottish Borders could be more than twice the original estimate. The proposed Waverely line could now cost £295 million - and the completion date has fallen back from 2011 to 2013. The budget takes account of another new station (requested by Parliament) and rising land values in the Borders. The previous government had been accused of dithering and delay and the new transport minister claimed the previously stated completion date of December 2011 was never achievable. Work will now start by 2010 and be operational by the end of 2013.
More Destinations from Edinburgh AirportBudget airline Ryanair has announced that it is to introduce another twelve direct routes from Edinburgh airport to European destinations as part of expansion plans, with services to Berlin, Bratislava, Stockholm, and Polish destinations such as Poznan, Krakow, Lodz and Wroclaw. The extra routes are expected to attract more than 1.2 million passengers and will take the number of routes served by Ryanair from Edinburgh to 19 - last year it had only two. Edinburgh Airport now has more than 40 airlines serving more than 100 destinations, handling more than nine million passengers a year.
Blaze in Glasgow's West EndAshton Lane in the heart of Glasgow was closed to the public after fire ripped through some of the well-known bars and restaurants. It began in the kitchens of the Cul de Sac bar and restaurant and spread to the Grosvenor Cinema nearby. Diners were evacuated from the Ubiquitous Chip bar and restaurant just as staff were getting ready for lunchtime. At the height of the blaze, there were five fire appliances and firefighters had to wear breathing apparatus inside the buildings, with aerial appliances standing by in case the fire spread further. The design and old age of the buildings made it difficult to bring the conflagration under control. The cobbled lane is one of Glasgow's best-known destinations for nightlife and is filled with bars and restaurants.
Scottish Hotel of the YearWhen Queen Victoria visited Inverlochy Castle near Fort William, she described it as the most romantic place she had ever seen. Now a five-star hotel, the 19th century building is still impressing people - including the judges in this year's Oscars of the Scottish hotel industry, when it was voted "Scottish Hotel of the Year". The nominations are made by consumers and members of the hotel industry and attracted votes from over 20,000 people. In other categories in the annual awards, the "Inn of the Year" title was won by Buccleuch Arms in the heart of the Scottish Borders and the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh came first in the luxury hotel category. Ken McCulloch, who co-owns the Dakota Hotel at Eurocentral Park just off the M8 motorway, became hotelier of the year. His partner in the hotel (named after the legendary Dakota aircraft that revolutionised air transport in the post-war years) is Formula One racing star David Coulthard.
Visitor Numbers Up and DownFigures produced by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) show that Edinburgh Castle was the only Scottish site in their list to make it into the 20 "most-visited" in Britain last year. Visitors to the castle totalled 1,229,703 in 2007, a slight increase of 2%. Attractions such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow (with over three million visitors) and the Burrell Collection were not included as they are not members of Alva. Falkirk Wheel increased its number of visitors by 18%, exceeding half a million for the first time and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness had a 12% increase to more than a quarter of a million. But many other locations such as the National Galleries complex, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art and Dean Gallery, all in Edinburgh, saw numbers fall. That may in part have been due to a very successful 2006 season with some special exhibitions.
Four Star Hotel for PaisleyRetail shops in the centre of Paisley may be struggling to survive, with "to let" signs on too many premises in the retail heart of the town. But plans have been approved by Renfrewshire Council for a £30million project which will create a 139-bedroom four-star hotel, 26 designer apartments and 70,000 square feet of office space, next to the White Cart river, close to Gilmour Street train station. The seven-storey complex will include a gym and conference facilities. It is hoped that Paisley's first four-star hotel will provide a catalyst for the regeneration of the town centre.
Aberdeen's Bruce Statue SelectedLast year, Aberdeen City Council decided that the Granite City should recognise the debt owed to King Robert the Bruce as a benefactor. Not before time, either... Aberdeen was one of the cities to shelter King Robert the Bruce when he was deposed by King Edward I's army in 1307. In return, when he returned to power, Robert the Bruce issued the Greater Charter in 1319 and granted Aberdeen the Forest of Stocket (now Mid Stocket) in feu. The money generated by the Forest has been used to create the Common Good Fund which has helped to build some of the city's great landmarks such as Marischal College, Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Central Library, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Hazlehead Park. A design competition for a statue was organised and the public were asked to vote on which of three submissions should be selected. Now the winning design by Alan B Herriot has been announced. It shows Robert the Bruce in defiant pose on a war horse, holding high the charter. Now the council has to decide where to locate the statue - Alan Herriot says he favours near the historic and impressive Marischal College. The three short listed designs can be seen at Bruce Statue Candidates.
Calyx Fails to OpenCalyx, the £40 million Scotlandís Garden project at Cherrybank in Perth has been abandoned, following the failure to win the backing of the Big Lottery fund last October. Calyx (named after the sepals of a flower) had hoped to obtain £25 million of lottery funding for the project which would have extended the present Cherrybank Garden's six acres to an overall 61 acres of a National Garden.
Every Little Walker HelpsSports personality, World Champion gold medalist (1991), Olympic silver medalist (1988) and London Marathon winner Liz McColgan does more to encourage others to run these days. So she was happy to join a media photo opportunity at Liff Primary School in Dundee to promote the "Great Wee Scottish Walk" along with her young daughter. Sponsored by supermarket giant Tesco, this is the leading children's charitable walk. They take place at venues across the country, introducing children to the fun of taking part in physical activity while at the same time raising funds to benefit individuals and communities across Scotland. Liz commented: "I am always happy to be associated with events like The Great Wee Scottish Walk that encourage children to take part in exercise and which encourage them to get out there and raise money for charities and worthwhile causes - especially childrenís charities, so they are effectively helping themselves and their peers." For more on the Great Wee Scottish Walk, see Great Wee Scottish Walk
A Dram Good CleanerA team from Aberdeen University is claiming that it using a by-product of whisky distilling which will help to clean contaminated ground and waste water. The " Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants" (or "Dram" for short) uses a secret waste product from the Glenfiddich distillery in Speyside. The university team estimate that there are 330,000 contaminated sites in the UK, such as former industrial areas, small dry cleaning firms, car servicing companies, large refineries and chemical plants. And there is a massive global market for a product that removes multiple pollutants simultaneously in a process that is quicker and more cost effective than current techniques. They claim it is environmentally friendly, sustainable and has the potential to put Scotland at the forefront for remediation technologies.
A Breath of AyrA new coastal path along the coast of Ayrshire is nearing completion, linking up nearly 100 miles of beaches, tracks and clifftops - all looking out over the Firth of Clyde and the islands of Arran, Bute and Ailsa Craig. Running from Glenapp in the south to the village of Skelmorlie in the north, the Ayrshire Coastal Path covers rugged shorelines, sandy beaches and passes by ruined castles and cliff-tops. It began as a vision by members of the Ayr Rotary Club to build a path linking Troon to the Heads of Ayr - but soon became something much bigger. It involved digging paths, adding waymarkers and gates to make farmland accessible. It will be officially opened in June with a charity event involving 500 walkers. There are future plans to link up with the Southern Upland Way (which crosses Scotland from Stranraer in the west to Eyemouth on the east coast of Scotland) and north through the Greenock Cut and on to the Forth and Clyde Canal and access to the West Highland Way, which links with Fort William and then the Great Glen Way to Inverness. Quite a walk!
The graphic here is the start of a "Lang Scots Mile" walk at Ayr seafront.
Warmest February Since 1998The summary of the weather in Scotland in February has been published by the Meteorological Office and it shows that overalll it was a mild month, despite some cold spells that produced snowfalls in the central lowlands as well as the Highlands. The month started with north-west gales gusting as high as 70mph and blizzards producing six inches of snow in Aviemore. But a period of better weather, particularly in the east, followed shortly after, with temperatures reaching over 14C (57F) in Edinburgh. High pressure in the middle of the month produced sunny spells with temperatures reaching a well-above-average 16C (61F) in some locations in the north-east. Gales returned on 26th February, again with gusts of 70mph and heavy rain. Overall, the month had a mean temperature that was 2.2C (nearly 4F) above the 1961-1990 and the warmest February since 1998. Rainfall was 154% of the 1961-1990 average and sunshine was 131% of the same average. During the month there were five days of gales (defined as sustained wind speeds of 40mph or above and gusts of nearly 60mph)
Weather in Scotland This WeekAfter a fall of snow last Sunday/Monday produced the heaviest covering this winter for the central lowlands, but the last two weeks have also seen recurrent high winds and gales. On 26 February, strong winds gusting at up to 70mph battered the west coast of Scotland, accompanied by heavy rain. The high winds returned three days later, causing more minor damage, this time with Edinburgh and the east of Scotland most affected. Forecasters are predicting more storms this weekend, on Sunday night to Monday. Temperatures this week have fluctuated, with Aberdeen reaching only 4C (39F) on Tuesday but 13C (55F) on Thursday. Elsewhere, 8/10C (50/52F) has been typical, with frequent showers, but also sunny spells in between.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include the purple striped crocuses from last week, now surrounded by snow-covered ground; Snowdrops living up to their name, struggling through the snow; yellow crocuses also nearly covered by snow; a Robin looking a bit puzzled by the snow - but then accessing a peanut cake in a cage designed for finches; the height of the snowfall on Monday of this week in my garden. See This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
500 Years of Printing in ScotlandOn 15 September 1507, James IV of Scotland granted Walter Chepman, an Edinburgh merchant, and his business partner Androw Myllar, a bookseller, the first royal licence for printing in Scotland. The document was put on display by the National Archives of Scotland last year to mark the 500th anniversary of the grant. The first printed book from this press with a definite date was a vernacular poem by John Lydgate 'The Complaint of the Black Knight' which was printed on 4 April 1508. The only known copy is held in the National Library of Scotland's collections. The quincentenary itself is to be marked by a wide range of local events and initiatives across Scotland and by a dinner hosted by Edinburgh University's Centre for the History of the Book in the Playfair Library Hall of the university on 4 April 2008. The only known copy of 'The Complaint of the Black Knight' will form the centrepiece of a major exhibition at the National Library in the summer of 2008. See also 500 Years of Printing in Scotland.
Search for Culloden DescendantsThe National Trust for Scotland is looking for descendants of those who fought at the Battle of Culloden (in 1746). The winners of the competition will officially open the new Culloden visitor centre on 16 April this year. The aim is to find two young people whose ancestors fought on opposing sides in the battle between Prince Charles Edward Stuart's Jacobite army and the government forces led by the Duke of Cumberland, a younger son of King George II. Twelve young people from as far away as Exeter in the south of England have done their researches and submitted their family tree. Anyone of school age who would like to take part in the competition should send their family tree by email to the NTS at email@example.com.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- March 9 1566 - David Rizzio, Mary Queen of Scotland's secretary, murdered by Lord Ruthven in the Palace of Holyrood.
- March 9 1776 - "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith published
- March 10 1916 - Birth of James Herriot, author of "All Creatures Great and Small"
- March 11 1955 - Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, died.
- March 13 1395 - Death of poet and historian John Barbour, author of "The Bruce" recounting the history of King Robert I.
- March 13/15 1941 - Blitz of Clydebank by German Luftwaffe.
- March 14 1952 - First television programmes broadcast in Scotland.
- March 15 1689 - Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh founded Advocates' Library "equipped with works written by lawyers".
- March 16 1309 - King Robert the Bruce convened his first parliament, at St Andrews.
- March 16 1995 - Death of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, chief of the Fraser clan. He developed the Commando force in the British army and was active in the Dieppe Raid (1942) and the D-Day landings (1944).
- March 17 1328 - Treaty of Edinburgh between King Robert I and Edward III which recognised Scotland's independence, ending the 30 years of Wars of Independence.
- March 17 1984 - Scotland won Rugby "Grand Slam" at Murrayfield - the first time in 59 years.
- March 18 1689 - Earl of Leven raises a Border regiment to hold Edinburgh against the Jacobites. It later becomes the King's Own Scottish Borderers.
- March 19 1286 - King Alexander III died after crossing the river Forth to Fife at Queensferry.
- March 19 1813 - David Livingstone, missionary and explorer, born Blantyre.
- March 20 1141 - King Malcolm IV born.
- March 21 1859 - National Gallery of Scotland opened in Edinburgh.
- March 22 1727 - Neil Gow, first of a famous family of Fiddle players and composers, born at Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire.
- March 22 1868 - Last fully public hanging in Scotland - that of Joseph Bell at Perth.
Major Art Collection Secured for ScotlandOne of the most important private collections of contemporary art in the world has been secured for Scotland at a fraction of the market value. Anthony d'Offay's internationally acclaimed collection is valued at £125 million, but has been secured for what d'Offay had originally paid for it - just £26.5m. As a national resource, the collection will tour the country from Glasgow to Orkney, and put Scotland firmly on the international map with a renowned world class modern art collection. The National Galleries of Scotland estimate that next year around 500,000 people will see the collection, known as Artist Rooms, and that up to 60% will be attracted from outside Scotland. Over decades, Mr d'Offay cultivated this unique private collection of contemporary modern art amounting to 725 iconic works. It has now been passed to the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate Gallery in London jointly, resulting in a significant gift worth around £100 million. The art benefactor studied art at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1962. Whilst at University, he fell in love with the collections of the National Gallery of Scotland, describing walking round the galleries as "the defining experience of my life".
What's In a NameThe organisers of the 20th Edinburgh International Science Festival have invited members of the public to give their name and say whether they think they are intelligent, successful or lucky - in an experiment to see if a child's name can influence how he or she turns out to be. That's just one of 100 events being staged during the 12-day Edinburgh International Science Festival which runs from Tuesday March 25 to Saturday April 5. The programme of special events and lectures is expected to attract around 70,000 visitors. It features a number of hands-on experiences for youngsters, including a journey through the Amazon jungle at night, a chance to unwrap an Egyptian mummy, scrub up and go into surgery and star in their own video. There's a tour of the planets and stars based on the TV series "Cosmos" and there will be a discussion of the ongoing exploration of Mars, making use of the very latest results and images from NASA's probes.
Casino Comes Up TrumpsWhen the UK government reviewed the policy on the possible expansion of casinos in Britain, there was disappointment in Glasgow at not being allocated a "super casino" with that prize going to Manchester. However, a number of smaller casinos were given the nod and one of those was in Stranraer in the south-west of Scotland. Since then, Gordon Brown has become the UK Prime Minister and the original policy appeared to be under threat from the "son of the manse". Now the super-casino plan has been dropped, but 16 regional gambling centres with up to 80 gaming machines will still go ahead. Supporters in Stranraer are jubilant, claiming that it will help to rejuvenate the economy of the ferry port which links to Northern Ireland. The casino would be part of a wider seafront development - but there has been opposition to the plan and its encouragement of gambling. Dumfries and Galloway Council has promised full consultation before any final decision is taken to proceed.
Scottish Culture Around the WorldThe main focus of the Scottish Snippets is news items, usually about Scotland. But the "Scots Abroad" section, invites folk to write in about Scottish-related events in their part of the world. It allows publicity for them and an appreciation by others of just how much Scottish culture is perpetuated in every corner of the globe.
Bundadoon is Brigadoon
Brigadoon was the mythical Scottish village that appeared for only one day every hundred years. Bundadoon, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, on the other hand, doesn't wait a hundred years to become Brigadoon. Each year in April it hosts a traditional Highland Games, attracting around 15,000 spectators from all over the region (Sydney is 2 hours drive away and Canberra only 1.5 hours). The gathering is a non-profit making, registered charity event that distributes the funds from the day to local charities and groups that assist the organisers in the administration of the gathering. "Brigadoon" begins with the sound of bagpipes drifting over the village and the street parade features 20 Pipe Bands from all over the State as well as decorated floats and marching Clan Societies. There are over 150 specialist stalls with Scottish food and memorabilia, a full programme of Highland and Scottish Country dancing, heavy events - and a Ceilidh in the evening for those with energy left. See also Bundadoon is Brigadoon.
Buenos Aires Tartan Day ParadeThe Tartan Day Parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, starts from the Yacht Club Puerto Madero on Sunday 6 April at 3 p.m. All Scots and their friends are invited to participate by displaying something with tartan. The opening celebrations will take place on the esplanade in front of the club and will include the installations of the Grand Marshal, the Queen of the parade and the Key Bearer of the symbolic key to the gate of Arbroath's Abbey. The Buenos Aires Scottish Guard and the Highland Thistle pipe band will lead the parade and a ceremony will take place with the participation of descendants of the Scottish settlers of 1825 who arrived on the ship "Symmetry" at this same port. See also Buenos Aires Highland Heritage Society.
League TablesRangers defeated Aberdeen 3-1 last Saturday, the result producing the 11th straight win for the SPL leaders - the first time they have achieved that in 15 years. Rangers remain 4 points ahead of Celtic at the top of the SPL, with Motherwell 18 points behind the Parkhead side and one point above Dundee United (but with two games in hand). Gretna remain fixed at the foot of the SPL, 11 points adrift from St Mirren.
In the First Division, Hamilton remain out in front, with a 5 point margin over Dundee, but have played one more game than the Dens Park side.
In the Second Division, Ross County have a substantial 9 point lead over Airdrie United.
In the Third Division, East Fife maintain an unassailable lead of 23 points over Stranraer, with 23 wins out of 29 matches.
Queen of the South Reach Cup Semi-FinalQueen of the South defeated Dundee on Saturday to qualify for the semi-final of the Scottish Cup. In the other match, St Johnstone and St Mirren were on equal terms at 1-1 and will have it all to do again in the replay on 18 March. The other quarter-final ties (Aberdeen v Celtic and Rangers v Hibernian) will be played on Sunday 9 March.
Celtic Knocked Out of Champions LeagueHaving been defeated 3-2 at home in the first leg of their Champions League knock-out stage match by Spanish side Barcelona, Celtic were going to have to overturn their past poor away game performance in the return game. Although Celtic fought hard and kept the score to a very creditable 1-0 loss (after a goal inside the first three minutes), it means that they are now out of this season's European competition.
Rangers Progress in Eufa CupRangers skipper Barry Ferguson was playing his 77th game in Europe - a new Scottish record - when German side Werder Bremen visited Glasgow for the first leg of their Uefa Cup last 16 clash. Two goals either side of half-time gave Rangers a commanding advantage - and it might have been three goals. Daniel Cousin and Steven Davis scored for Rangers with both coming after errors from Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese. The next leg in Germany is on 13 March.
Scotland Win Calcutta CupHaving "won" the wooden spoon in last season's Six Nations rugby tournament and no games so far in this year's contest, there was not a high expectation for Scotland being successful against England at Murrayfield on Saturday. History was against the Scots as well - they have won against England to take the Calcutta Cup only twice in the last 19 years. So there was delight when Scotland came out of the blocks showing hunger and determination and went in at half time deservedly 9-3 ahead, thanks to the kicking of Chris Paterson and the discipline of the side in not giving away unnecessary penalties. Two more penalties in the second half put the Scots 15-3 ahead. England tried hard to fight back and did score two penalties of their own. But the final score was 15-9, giving Scotland's rugby a much needed shot in the arm - and the Calcutta Cup trophy. It may a side issue compared to the overall Six Nations tournament, but it has been contested between the two countries since 1879.
Crisis Talks for GretnaThe fairy-tale rise of Gretna Football Club to the Scottish Premier League after joining the Scottish Football League only in 2002, looks like it is about to nose-dive. Not only is the club struggling to avoid the almost inevitable relegation after just 16 points from 28 games this season, the club is having to consider going into administration to stall the prospect of liquidation. The club's benefactor, millionaire Brooks Mileson, who bankrolled the club's rise, is seriously ill and has spent time in hospital recently. It seems likely that the Scottish Premier League would support Gretna financially to the end of the season - recouping any subsidy from the year-end payout to clubs.
Andy Murray - More Highs and LowsScottish tennis star Andy Murray is sometimes accused of being inconsistent as he hovers around 10th spot in the international tennis rankings. Well, he certainly reinforced that this week at the Dubai Championship. Unseeded in the competition, he came up against four-times champion Roger Federer in the first round - and promptly defeated him, even after losing the first set on a tie-break. This was the second time that Murray has defeated Federer - he won in Cincinnati in August 2006 and now boasts a 2-1 head-to-head record against the world #1. In the next round he struggled a bit, but overcame Fernando Verdasco, having to play all three sets to achieve the win. But playing 5th seed Nikolay Davydenko in the last eight, Murray lost 7-7, 6-4, showing a great deal of anger and frustration as the game progressed.
Return of Coldest Surfing ContestFor the third successive year, what has been dubbed "the world's coldest professional surfing contest" will be held in Scotland. The O'Neill Highland Open by Swatch will be held near Thurso, Caithness, from 23-30 April. Six venues have been identified near Thurso and the event counts towards the World Qualifying Series. But organisers admit that temperatures experienced in the two previous years had been more suited to polar bears than an exotic water sport.
Meadows MarathonThe Meadows in Edinburgh is a parkland area, close to the city centre, where folk can go for a quiet stroll. But anyone turning up last Sunday who didn't know about the half-marathon organised by Edinburgh University students would have got a shock. This was no ordinary half marathon as the runners were encouraged by the sound of opera singers and bongo drums. The Meadows Marathon, now in its second year, is the UK's largest student-run road race. They hope to raise at least £60,000 for charity.
The "Magazine" section includes songs/poems of Scotland, Scottish humour and brief descriptions of Scottish Culture items added recently to the Rampant Scotland Website - with a link to the page where you can find the full feature, if you find the subject of interest to you.
Great Places to Eat in Scotland
Eat With Gusto!
Gusto, George Street, Edinburgh, offers seriously good Italian cuisine at affordable prices. With its cute wee bar and rows of private booths, this is the perfect place for a coffee, glass of wine, business lunch or leisurely dinner. On a Sunday night in winter, the atmosphere - buzzing, style - elegant, mood - romantic, and the food and wine? - devoured with gusto. The focus at Gusto is on freshly prepared classic and modern Mediterranean food to cater for all tastes. There is an enticing menu of authentic Tuscan dishes, from salads and pastas to prime steak and seafood. A highlight of the restaurant is a wood-fired oven to bake freshly made, gourmet pizzas. For more on this Italian restaurant, see the illustrated review at Great Placesw to Eat - Gusto, Edinburgh
Best of the Recent Additions
From time to time, new sites being added to the Rampant Scotland Directory links sections catch my eye:
Mandarin Chinese Dictionary
This is a database of everything to do with Scotland, all translated into Mandarin Chinese (including pronunciation guide), hosted on the website of Inbox Education (Glasgow based producer of educational resources, including a market leading Chinese course). It includes a free lesson for use in schools where kids are learning Mandarin. Apparently "Rampant Scotland" in Mandarin is "Yapengte Sugelan" and "Nessie" is "Ni-si-hu shui-gui"... See Mandarin Chinese Dictionary
Scottish Poetry and Song
The author of this song, Dr Robert Couper (1750-1818) was born in Wigtonshire. He went to Glasgow University with a view to becoming a minister of the church, but his parents both died before completing his studies. In 1769 he emigrated to America where he became a tutor to a Virginia family. He returned to Scotland on the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1776 and resumed studying at Glasgow University - but pursuing surgery and medicine rather than the ministry.
Dr Couper published "Poetry, chiefly in the Scottish Language" in 1804. Much of it is regarded as poor, but with occasional power. Some his songs are more highly regarded, however. This one (sung to the tune "Neil Gow") tenderly describes the feelings of a love-lost young man. Kinrara is in Inverness-shire.
Red gleams the sun on yon hill-tap,
The dew sits on the gowan;
Deep murmurs through her glens the Spey,
Around Kinrara rowan.
Where art thou, fairest, kindest lass?
Alas! wert thou but near me,
Thy gentle soul, thy melting eye,
Would ever, ever cheer me.
The lav'rock sings among the clouds,
The lambs they sport so cheerie,
And I sit weeping by the birk:
O where art thou, my dearie?
Aft may I meet the morning dew,
Lang greet till I be weary;
Thou canna, winna, gentle maid!
Thou canna be my dearie.
Meaning of unusual words:
hill-tap = hill top
gowan = daisy
rowan = mountain ash tree
lav'rock = lark
birk = beech tree
Lang greet = cry for a long time
canna, winna = cannot, will not
Cheap at the Price
Heather was driving home from a trip to Inverness when she saw an elderly Highland woman walking on the side of the road in the pouring rain. Heather stopped and asked the woman if she would like a lift. With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car. Heather tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the woman. The old lady just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the back seat. "Whit's in bag?" asked the old woman. Heather said, "It's a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband." The Highland woman was silent for another moment or two. Then, speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said: "Good trade."
Lachlan's Laws - # 60
That great Highland philosopher, Lachlan McLachlan, propounded a number of irrefutable laws of life, the universe and everything, usually after a "bevvy" in the Auchenshuggle Arms on a Saturday night. One evening, after being accused of being too old to appreciate the latest popular music, he drew himself up to his full height (five feet nothing0 and replied "I'm not old - I'm just chronologically gifted - and a "superadult".
Sharing Troubles and Stresses
Morag told her boy friend "When we get married, I want to share all your worries, troubles, and lighten your burden." Donald, smiled and said: "It's very kind of you, dear, but I don't have any worries or troubles." Morag also smiled - the knowing smile of a woman wise in the ways of the world and responded: "Well that's because we aren't married yet."
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