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.
Bendy Wendy Performs U-TurnScottish Labour Party leader Wendy Alexander shocked members of her party - and the other opposition parties - by suddenly announcing that she would back a referendum on whether or not Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom. Until now, it had looked as though the Scottish Nationalist-led government would not be able to get its plans for such a referendum through the Scottish Parliament as all the opposition parties opposed the idea. They had argued that since there was clearly no majority support in the country, spending parliamentary time on debating a bill to hold a referendum was a "distraction". Wendy Alexander's abrupt U-turn clearly had no support from Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, even though he is the leader of the UK Labour party. He is adamant that there will be no change of policy until the Calman Commission report has been produced later this year (despite the fact that the commission does not have a remit to look at Scotland leaving the United Kingdom). The confusion and other factors led to Labour Party support, as measured by a YouGov opinion poll, falling to its lowest level for 90 years. The poll was a UK-wide survey of voting intention for the UK parliament in London. In Scotland, Labour could muster only 26%, compared to 32% for the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). If these poll results were replicated in a General election, the SNP would win 23 seats to Labour's 21. Admittedly, the Scottish sample size was small, but some Labour activists are muttering "Wendy must go"!
Economic Growth FallsScotland's economy appears to be declining for the first time in five years, according to the latest edition of the Purchasing Managers Index, compiled by Royal Bank of Scotland. The index for overall Scottish private-sector output fell to 48.3 last month, down from 51.4 in March. A reading above 50 denotes expansion; a sub-50 score marks contraction. Scottish companies reported fast-deteriorating market conditions and weakening consumer confidence in the face of the ongoing credit crunch, surging prices for oil, food and other commodities, and rising utility bills.
Local Income Tax CalculatorThe Scottish Government is pushing to replace the present system of local taxation (based on the value of people's homes) with a system of local income tax, based on earned income. Local taxes help to pay for schools, roads, refuse collections and a host of other services (though the bulk of the finance for these services comes from central government these days). Of course, as always with tax changes, there are winners and losers. Glasgow City Council's Labour-led administration is unenthusiastic about the proposed changes by the Scottish Nationalist-led Government in Edinburgh, pointing to the city's high number of households with more than three adults where earned income may be high. So the city council has produced an "on-line calculator" which will allow people to enter how much local tax they pay now and how much they earn. The system then calculates the net gain or loss, assuming that the new tax will be based on increasing the basic rate of tax on earned income. See Local Income Tax Calculator
The graphic shows the City of Glasgow coat of arms with its motto "Let Glasgow Flourish".
Subsea Power Line FloatedThe Scottish Government has confirmed that it is still considering a subsea cable along the west coast of Scotland as an alternative to the transmission of electricity produced by the proposed massive electricity pylons and overhead cables down the scenic landscape of the Highlands from Beauly, north of Inverness, to Denny in the Central Lowlands. The public enquiry into that plan is still underway - the biggest such enquiry in Scotland's history. Some form of improved transmission of electricity will be required to transport the power generated in the north by renewable sources such as wind and waves, to the centres of population in the south.
Wind Farm Inquiry Opens
Just a matter of weeks after plans for Europe's biggest wind farm on Lewis in the Western Isles were refused, a public inquiry has opened on the island on another controversial wind farm proposal. This time, it's not wildlife and a site of scientific interest under threat, but setting the prehistoric Callanish standing stones into an industrial landscape of wind turbines. The turbines, standing 125 metres (410 feet) high would be visible from the circle of 13 standing stones at Callanish. In addition, 30 of them would be located in the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist Scenic Area (NSA). Over 20,000 people travelled to Callanish last year and it is argued that the setting is as important as the stones themselves.
Picture via Wikipedia.
900 Call Centre Jobs AxedAround 900 jobs with Goldfish credit cards (now owned by UK banking giant Barclaycard) are to go as a result of work being transferred from Cumbernauld in North Lanarkshire to England. The job losses come just weeks after Barclaycard bought Goldfish when it acquired US-based Discover Financial Services. The work done at Cumbernauld will be absorbed by Barclaycard's existing call centres in England. Barclaycard say that some Scots staff will be offered relocation to the English operations. The disappointing news came soon after a recent announcement by Japanese electronics giant JVC to halt television production in East Kilbride, in South Lanarkshire, with the loss of 360 jobs.
New Car Sales Steer Steady CourseDespite the recent credit crunch and soaring fuel bills, new car sales in Scotland had a surprising increase in the month of April, with demand up by 3.2%, compared with the same month last year. This was the second consecutive month that there had been an increase in car sales. As is often the case, there was a wide regional variation in the figures, with the Scottish Borders out-performing the rest of the country with a surge of 36.7%, while Central Scotland car dealers experienced a 7.9% decline. Strathclyde (which includes Glasgow) is by far the biggest area and the market grew there by 6.8% in April. But clearly fuel consumption is influencing purchasers, as diesel car registrations have reached 45% of the market, their highest month on record. The biggest selling car was the Vauxhall Astra (pictured here), with the Vauxhall Corsa in second place.
Scots Win European Inventor of the Year TitleThree Scotsmen have won the title "European Inventor of the Year" awarded jointly by the European Commission and the European Patent Office. The three men have created a laser-scanning technology called Optomap which allows powerful but painless examination of the retina of the eye. Previously it had been difficult to scan the retina of small children because of the duration and discomfort associated with traditional eye tests. A child of one of the trio lost the sight in one eye because a detached retina was detected too late. That set him to work on the scanning problem and an engineering firm developed a non-invasive test that takes just a quarter of a second, using low-powered laser beams that produce a digital image of over 80% of the retina - compared with a scan of only 5% using conventional methods. This year's title of Inventor of the Year was based on inventions patented and successfully marketed between 1993 and 2002.
Scotland's Top Visitor AttractionsFigures published by the tourism agency VisitScotland show that the number of visitors to Scotland's tourist attractions grew by 1.7% last year, reaching 45.7 million. The most popular paid-for attraction was once again Edinburgh Castle (with 1,200,000), with Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum heading the table of free attractions, with 2.2 million visitors. Glasgow Science Centre did well, with an increase in visitor numbers of 17% but the Scottish Sea Bird Centre in North Berwick had the biggest rise in visitors, with 26% more than the year before, rising from 225,500 customers to 284,702. There were also increased visitor numbers at the Falkirk Wheel, St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and the Shetland Museum and Archive. But the People's Palace museum in Glasgow saw its numbers dip by 18.4% - the largest decrease in the country. The VisitScotland figures show that English tourists account for the highest proportion of visitors to Scotland's attractions - despite the attractions being on our doorstep.
Highland Airports Take OffLast year, 1,270,023 people used the ten airports operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), a rise of 3% over the previous year. That was despite Inverness losing the only air service between the Highlands and London's Heathrow (though there are still services to London airports at Gatwick and Luton). Local airline Loganair, which operates to the Hebridean islands, increased both frequency and capacity on its routes and Dundee (newly transferred from the city council to HIAL) saw a growth in passenger numbers of almost 22%.
Church Membership Continues to FallSince 1981, the number of new members joining the Church of Scotland each year has fallen by nearly 80%. New figures show that membership has now decreased to under 500,000 for the first time - down to 489,118 members last year, compared to 520,940 in 2005. The decline is due in part to the number of elderly members and the younger generation no longer prepared to make the same commitment to the church. The church would argue that there are those who go to church regularly but are not members - the figures show that there are nearly 20,000 in that category.
Makeover for 140-Year-Old BridgePaisley's Abbey Bridge, built in the 1860s, was designed to carry horses and carriages over the White Cart river in the heart of the town. Now Renfrewshire Council is to strengthen and renovate the bridge as part of an overall plan to restore the town's Victorian industrial heritage. The bridge doesn't have expansion joints, which has led over the years to the original cast iron buckling. Now engineers are looking at ways of ensuring that the parapet can withstand a collision from a 40-tonne truck - as well as last for another 140 years.
New Catamaran Service for OrkneyWhile the main ferry route from the mainland to the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland, runs from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, there is a shorter sea crossing across the Pentland Firth. Of course, that can involve travellers from the south of the country in a long journey north. There are three companies competing in the area and the privately-run Pentland Ferries is preparing to offer a fast, twin-hulled catamaran service between Gills Bay (a few miles from John o' Groats) and St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay. There is then a direct road link to the Orkney mainland. The new Pentalina service will take just 45 minutes across the (often stormy) Pentland Firth and will replace two traditional roll-on-roll-off ferries, which have been in use for the last seven years. The new ship, with a cruising speed of 18 knots, was designed by an Australian company and built in the Philippines. She can accommodate 250 passengers, nine trucks and up to 85 cars.
Bid to Open Sports Centres on SundaysWestern Isles Council has been reported to the Scottish public services ombudsman over its refusal to open up its arts and leisure facilities in Lewis and Harris on the Sabbath. An on-line petition also claims that the council may be in breach of human rights and equality legislation. The council opens up leisure facilities in Barra and South Uist, where the Free Church of Scotland does not have such a strong influence. But new leisure centres in Stornoway, on Lewis, and Tarbert, on Harris, several all-weather football pitches and tennis courts, and the new An Lantair arts centre, in Stornoway are all closed on a Sunday. Two years ago, health professionals issued a public plea to lift the Sabbath ban on council-owned sports centres, but this was rejected. The Western Isles Health Board's coronary heart disease group has branded it "bizarre" that people can drink alcohol in a hotel on the islands on Sundays, but not exercise in a sports centre. The Health Board points out that they prescribe the highest number of obesity pills per head of population in Scotland and the incidence of coronary heart disease is at its highest ever - but all are denied sports facilities on Sundays, whether they support the church or not. Meanwhile, Stornoway Golf Club have made a number of unsuccessful bids to have a ban on Sunday playing rejected.
Stamp of approval for Orkney CathedralThe latest set of postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail illustrates seven UK cathedrals and it's the stunning interior of St Magnus in Orkney that is Scotland's representative in the collection. The stamp will be on the 81 pence value, which is often used for international letters, so it will get a world-wide audience. The level of detail on the stamps is very high and it captures the grandeur and beauty of the St Magnus Cathedral.
Jumping Ship to BahamasHundreds of Glasgow engineers and tradesmen responded to an advert by a local recruitment company seeking workers to move to a shipyard on Grand Bahama, off the coast of Florida. Swapping the Clyde for a sun-drenched spell in the Caribbean islands obviously sounded attractive. Temperatures range from a minimum of 70F in winter to a high of 85F in summer and, like the UK, traffic drives on the left. Wages are on a par with the UK - but there is no income tax. But there is no danger of the shipyards on the Clyde losing too many workers. BAE Systems in Govan and Scotstoun have a workforce of 3500 and the Bahamian company is looking for just 60.
Bird's-eye View of Sea EaglesVisitors to the island of Mull off the west coast of Scotland will now have an even better opportunity to see the rare white-tailed sea eagles that have been nesting there since 1998. A new wildlife watching hide has been opened, the only location in the UK where these magnificent birds can be viewed from an organised hide. Overlooking Loch Frisa, it sits on wheels, making it easier to move into position each year, depending on where the sea eagles nest. It has a glass front for viewing and is equipped with two TV monitors showing live pictures of the birds from cameras placed close to the nest. Mull Eagle watch has seen the number of visitors increasing from just over 1,000 in 2000 to 5,500 in 2006.
Picture via Wikipedia.
April's Weather in ScotlandThe aggregate weather data for April published by the Meteorological Office shows that the mean average temperature was 0.2C (0.36F) above the 1961-1990 average. Even so, it was the coldest April since 2001 - and felt even chillier as a result of frequent, strong to gale force winds. There was an appreciable amount of snow in the Highlands, especially in the earlier part of the month, but Aberdeen and the north-east of the country recorded a high of 18.5C (65F) on the 26th April. Rainfall for the month was 126% of the 1961-1990 average, while sunshine was marginally above the historical trend.
Recent Weather in ScotlandIn the last two weeks, Scotland has seen a lot of sunny weather, initially accompanied by above-average temperatures in the range 20/21C (68/70F). Prestwick on the Ayrshire coast reached 23.6C (74.5F) 0n 7th and 8th May. Gradually, however, the temperatures declined so that in the current week 12/15C (54/59F) has been typical. But although there was an increasing amount of cloud, there has been little rain. For much of the time the east coast has suffered from clouds blowing in from the North Sea, sometimes producing a "haar" or mist. Overnight rain in the west on Friday night has moved to the east, with Edinburgh experiencing a number of showers on Saturday.
The picture here is of cherry blossom.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
- A Rhododendron with reddish buds which open to reveal apricot flowers with an orange tinge at the edges (see thumbnail here);
- An unusually dark coloured Trillium which has gathered "popular" names like Lamb's Quarters and Wet Dog Trillium;
- An obliging Damselfly on the back of my hand, posing while I took its portrait;
- A scary close-up photo of a Large Red variety of Damselfly;
- Abutilon flower with unusual deep red and black markings;
- A pure white Mecanopsis, originally from the Himalayas;
- Mistle Thrush, which is larger than the more frequently seen Song Thrush;
- A brilliant, golden-yellow Azalea.
See This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Fuel Shortages, Credit Crunch, Binge DrinkingSome things never change... A complete archive of Scotland's Parliamentary activities recorded between the 13th and 18th centuries shows that major issues in those days included fuel shortages (Mary Queen of Scots banned the export of coal as a result), tolls over the river Forth (by ferry, rather than by a bridge), excessive drinking (those found in a bar after 10pm were to be subject to corporal punishment or imprisonment in a law passed in 1617) and Members of the Scottish Parliament faced scandals over expenses and falling standards. Researchers have spent the last eleven years turning 16.5 million words covering meetings, minutes and legislative acts discussed by the old Scottish parliaments, into an easily-accessible online archive. Some documents had to be translated from Latin, French and Old Scots to modern English. See Records of the Parliaments of Scotland.
Commemorating Glasgow's First Prime MinisterOn the centenary of his death, a campaign has been launched in Glasgow to create a memorial to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was born in the city and led the Liberal government of the UK from 1905 until 1908. He was the first leader to be officially known as "Prime Minister" as the title for the head of the UK government until that time was "First Lord of the Treasury." His Cabinet included three future Prime Ministers - Herbert Asquith, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. He came to power in one of the biggest landslide election victories of the 20th century and died three weeks after resigning from office as a result of a series of heart attacks. Apart from a plaque at the High School of Glasgow where he was educated, there is no memorial to one of Glasgow's most famous sons. There is a statue to Sir Henry in Stirling (where he was the local Member of Parliament) but as statues seem to have gone out of fashion a bit, it is being suggested that a suitable plaque near one of his former homes in Glasgow would be a suitable memorial.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- May 18 1313 - Robert the Bruce invades Isle of Man.
- May 19 1795 - Death in Auchinleck of James Boswell, biographer of Dr Johnston.
- May 20 685 - Battle of Dunnichen (also known as Nechtansmere), south of Forfar in Angus, as a result of which the Picts stopped the advance northwards of the Angles of Northumbria.
- May 21 1916 - Clocks and watches went forward for one hour as the Daylight Savings Act brought in "British Summer Time" for the first time.
- May 22 1915 - Britain's worst train disaster at Quintinshill (near Gretna Green) in which three trains collided, with the loss of 227 lives. A troop train carrying the Seventh Royal Scots Regiment hit a stationary train and the night express from London then hit the wreckage. Two signalmen were later jailed.
- May 24 1153 - King David I died at Carlisle and Malcolm IV crowned at Scone.
- May 25 1713 - John Stuart, Earl of Bute, Britain's first Scottish Prime Minister, born.
- May 26 1424 - The parliament convened by King James I approved the arrest of a number of the Scottish nobility - and also banned the playing of football.
- May 27 1936 - Maiden voyage of liner Queen Mary.
- May 28 1503 - Papal Bull signed by Pope Alexander VI confirming the marriage of King James IV and Margaret Tudor and the "Treaty of Everlasting Peace" between Scotland and England.
- May 29 1630 - King Charles II born.
- May 29 1660 - King Charles II returned to England. Royal Oak Day.
- May 31 1727 - The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed from a company of debenture holders.
Programme for Edinburgh Film FestivalThe line-up for this year's Edinburgh Film Festival (the 62nd) has been announced and it includes such works as Wall E, the latest animated blockbuster from Pixar, Shane Meadows' Somers Town, Errol Morris's Standard Operating Procedure and the British romantic comedy Faintheart. The complete programme has 142 feature films, including 15 world premieres. For the first time the film festival is running outside of the main Edinburgh International Festival in August and will instead be held from 18 to 29 June. Patrons Sean Connery and Tilda Swinton are expected to attend the event.
Bruce FestivalThis year's Bruce Festival takes place in Dunfermline between June 6th and 15th. It includes "Warriors" a spectacular outdoor theatre performance by students of the local Carnegie College. Each performance will begin in the gardens of Abbot House to the sound of a harp playing. The audience will then move to the graveyard of Dunfermline Abbey, stopping briefly at the grave of William Wallaceís mother - to hear about her son's contribution to the cause of freedom. Lepers will then pass the audience and gather in the opening of the Abbey where the narrator will give a brief history of the Abbey before going into the historic Nave of Dunfermline Abbey. Later, actors will be involved in combat sword fighting. At the weekend of 14/15th June, a number of Scotlandís top re-enactment groups will take part in a spectacular pageant celebrating King Robert the Bruce. A medieval encampment will be set up in Pittencrieff Park and visitors will be able to view an authentic and colourful battle camp where soldiers will be preparing for war. There will be displays of the speed and power of the mighty longbow and crossbow and also falconry.
470-Mile Pipers' MarchThe British Army and the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association have combined to create a Pipers' Trail (dubbed the Tatoo on Tour) which will see hundreds of pipers covering over 470 miles from Lerwick in the north to Ayr in the south. The showcase of military and civilian bands will end with a week-long stay in Edinburgh to coincide with the Fringe Festival. Eleven bands have been booked to start the event in Orkney and Shetland. Along the way, there will be workshops for beginners or those looking to improve their piping skills. The Pipers' Trail will coincide will the 100-year anniversary of the Territorial Army and the centenary of the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, which has a strong tradition of piping tuition.
Scots Violinist Wins Classical Brits Award21-year-old Nicola Benedetti from Ayrshire picked up the prize last weekend in the Classical Brits Awards 2008 as Young British Classical Performer. It was the fifth time that she had been nominated in the competition.
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.
Rhode Island Highland GamesThe 10th Annual Rhode Island Highland Games held on Saturday 17th May were a complete sell out. The grey skies and heavy rain overnight turned to balmy 72F clear skies for the opening of the games. The Heavy Athletics field soon dried out and the parade ground was perfect for the 12:00pm opening ceremony with bands having travelled from as far at Nova Scotia in Canada to appear. Advance publicity thanks to generous support from regional papers and television meant that by 1pm the event was a sell out with no more programs available and organizers working hard to squeeze in every car in the parking spaces. The Irn Bru was "ice cold" and the massed bands were together and in tune with each other! What more could you ask for? Kid centric games including the "Welly Boot hurl" and "Color your own (cardboard) targe" made this a real family day out!
Picture courtesy of Graeme J.W.Smith, Atlantic Technology Group.
4th Annual Brigadoon Beltane FestivalThe Scottish American Society is sponsoring its fourth annual Brigadoon Beltane Festival on Saturday the 31st May at Maize Valley Winery, just east of Hartville, Ohio. The MacCallum Highlanders Pipes and Drums and the Gleann MÚr Pipe Band will perform at the opening and throughout the day. Sample the taste of Scottish foods, hear the pipers playing, watch dancers from Scotland and Wales as they perform jubilantly and perhaps invite you to take part. The athletes will demonstrate their athletic prowess, casually tossing a telephone pole sized "caber" in the fields. The youngsters will be encouraged to try their own hands at this with the children's versions of the same events. Vikings demonstrate their ability to defeat foes in battle and tell you of their lore. A Highland soldier, recently returned from fighting on the side of King George in the American Revolution, will tell you his story and show you his kit. There will be a display of vintage cars next to the festival and wine tasting is readily available at Maize Valley Winery.Traditional music from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales will also be featured.
League TablesRangers, faced with an unprecedented number of games at the end of the season, stumbled in the race for the Scottish Premiership title when they could only manage a draw against Hibernian at the start of May. They did win their next two games but, three days after being defeated in the final of the Uefa Cup, could only manage a draw against Motherwell on Saturday. That put rivals Celtic in pole position, three points ahead. If Celtic win their remaining match (against Dundee United), their superior goal difference will mean that even if Rangers win their final two matches (against St Mirren and Aberdeen), Celtic will win the SPL title. Meanwhile, in the frantic end of season timetable of matches, Rangers will also be playing in the final of the Scottish Cup against Queen of the South. The fight for third place in the SPL (and the opportunity to play in the Uefa Cup next season) has been won by Motherwell, who defeated Aberdeen last weekend.
Brave Rangers Lose in Uefa Cup FinalAn estimated 100,000 Rangers fans descended on Manchester on Wednesday for the final of the Uefa Cup, a European-wide football competition. While most of the fans arrived without a ticket, they enjoyed the carnival atmosphere before the game and Manchester had set up giant screens in large open areas so they could watch the game in the sunshine. Although Rangers came close to scoring, and kept Zenit St Petersburg at bay during the first half, the Russian side scored after 27 minutes into the second half. That brought to an end Rangers' dream of repeating their 1972 European Cup-Winners' Cup success. Rangers manager Walter Smith brought on more attacking players, but that left them more vulnerable at the back and Zenit scored again in the closing minutes of the game. The event was marred in Manchester when one of the large screens broke down and a number of fans went on the rampage. Riot police with horses and dogs were required to restore order. So the images in the media reports afterwards focused more on the hooligans than the match itself.
Picture of the Uefa Cup via Wikipedia.
Tommy Burns, 1956-2008Many in Scotland mourned the death of Tommy Burns this week, after a two year battle with skin cancer. Tommy was a former player and manager of Celtic and until a month ago he was a coach at the Parkhead club. Highly regarded as a player for Celtic and for Scotland. He joined Celtic in 1973 and was a vital part of the side which won the league and cup double in the club's centenary season, 1988. In total, he made 352 league appearances and scored 52 goals for the club before moving to Kilmarnock, becoming player-manager there in 1992. He became manager of Celtic at the start of the 1994-95 season and the club won the Scottish Cup in 1995. Failing to beat the dominance of Rangers at that time, Tommy was eventually forced to leave Celtic in 1997. He returned to Celtic, the club he loved, firstly in charge of youth development and latterly as First Team Coach. He will be remembered not just for his contribution to football but for being a great family man and being an absolute gentleman. One long-time friend noted: "You could have walked to the ends of the earth and you would never find anyone who had a bad word to say about Tommy Burns. He had universal respect."
Clock Ticking for GretnaThe administrators currently running Gretna Football Club have confirmed that the club will be forced to close at the end of the season unless a buyer is found. Gretna went into administration at the end of March with debts of around £4 million. It has continued to play only as a result of receiving an advance from the Scottish Premier League of funds that would normally be paid out at the end of the season. If the club is not sold by 17 May, it will fold and the 40 staff will be made redundant.
Edinburgh's Activcity Sports ProgrammeThere are over 68 events listed in Edinburgh's 2008/2009 sports activity calendar for children which has just been published. Formerly named Futuresport, the Activcity Programme is part of the councilís mission to make Edinburgh the most physically active city in Europe by 2020. They have teamed up with sponsors Juice Up (who make a range of smoothie bars) who were on site at the official launch of the programme at Meadowbank Stadium in the Capital. The Activcity programme of events emphasises the importance of physical activity and staying active.
Benromach Three Tens SeriesThe Benromach Three Tens cross country mountain bike endurance events are being held at Fort William, Kirroughtree and Fochabers this summer. The first of the Benromach Three Tens Series events, 10 Under the Ben, the flagship of the series, will be held in Fort William - the UK's premier mountain bike destination - on Saturday 31 May. The Fort William event has already attracted in excess of 750 entrants travelling from all over the UK and many countries throughout the world, including New Zealand and Canada, to experience an awesome course on some fantastic trails within Forestry Commission Scotland's Leanachan Forest. 10 at Kirroughtree will take place in Galloway on Saturday 12 July and 10 More in Moray will round off the Benromach Three Tens Series in Fochabers on the Saturday 23 August. The events are being sponsored by Benromach Distillery, located on the outskirts of the ancient market town of Forres. A four star visitor centre is open to the public there throughout the year for tours and tastings.
Graphic courtesy of Andy McAndlish.
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.
Scottish Castles Photo Library
Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire
Located high above the precipitous cliffs of Buchan, 20 miles north of Aberdeen, the ruins of Slains Castle still look impressive. "Old Slains" castle, a few miles away, was destroyed by King James VI after the Hays had taken part in a rebellion in 1594. The 9th Hay Earl of Errol returned from exile in 1597 and began rebuilding and extending an original tower of Bowness, renaming it New Slains Castle. The Hays had owned the estate since the 14th century. It was expanded over the years to become more of a palace than a castle, particularly in 1664 when a corridor was built within the courtyard and again in 1707 when a new frontage was added. Large extensions were also made in 1836. At one time, despite its windswept position, there were extensive gardens. For more of the history of Slains Castle and aerial views of the building and sea cliffs, see Castle Photo Library - Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire.
Great Places to Stay in Scotland
Ramada Jarvis, Glasgow Airport
Airport hotels are functional places to stay rather than designed for a luxury stay. However, every aspect of Ramada Jarvis hotel's modern, sleek design, comfortable, homely accommodation, Bagio Italian restaurant and friendly service was well above average.There are special Park, Sleep and Fly package rates, leisure breaks and good deals. People do fly in and then stay at Ramada Jarvis for a few days, taking bus trips into Glasgow, while enjoying a reasonable place to stay out of town. With prices from £59 per person, this is excellent value for money for the standard of hospitality you will receive. For a full, illustrated review, see Great Places to Stay - Ramada Jarvis, Glasgow Airport.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The next in the series of features by Ian Kendall, which shows how Scottish place names can be found in major towns and cities around the world, covers Toronto in Canada. Of the names of the 671 communities and neighbourhoods that have been identified to date in Greater Toronto, 135 (20.1%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names or Scottish words. Of course, some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 56 of them (8.4%) are uniquely Scottish or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names. For more on the Scottish place names in Toronto, see Scottish Place Names - Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Scottish Poetry and Song
James Montgomery (1771-1854) was born in Ayrshire and in 1794 became editor of the Sheffield Iris. At that time, free speech was not as established as it is today - and the government were nervous of the potential ripple effect of the French Revolution. So, for the offence of printing some verses of a song celebrating the fall of the Bastille, he was libelled as "a wicked, malicious, seditious, and evil-disposed person." He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in the Castle of York. He was condemned to a second imprisonment of six months shortly afterwards, for inserting in his paper an account of a local riot in which he was considered to have cast aspersions on a colonel of volunteers. His spell in jail did at least allow him more time to write poems and songs - such as this one!
Verses to A Robin Redbreast
(Which Visits the Window
of My Prison Every Day)
Welcome, pretty little stranger!
Welcome to my lone retreat!
Here, secure from every danger,
Hop about, and chirp, and eat:
Robin! how I envy thee,
Happy child of Liberty!
Now, though tyrant Winter, howling,
Shakes the world with tempests round,
Heaven above with vapours scowling,
Frost imprisons all the ground:
Robin! what are these to thee?
Thou art bless'd with liberty.
Though yon fair majestic river
Mourns in solid icy chains,
Though yon flocks and cattle shiver
On the desolated plains:
Robin! thou art gay and free,
Happy in thy liberty.
Hunger never shall disturb thee,
While my rates one crumb afford;
Colds nor cramps shall ne'er oppress thee;
Come and share my humble board:
Robin! come and live with me -
Live, yet still at liberty.
Soon shall Spring, in smiles and blushes,
Steal upon the blooming year;
Then, amid the enamour'd bushes,
Thy sweet song shall warble clear:
Then shall I, too, join with thee -
Swell the hymn of Liberty.
Should some rough, unfeeling dobbin,
In this iron-hearted age,
Seize thee on thy nest, my Robin,
And confine thee in a cage,
Then, poor prisoner! think of me -
Think, and sigh for liberty.
No Slacking Here!
Walter McCracken, the new chief executive of the Camlachie Engineering Works was determined to stamp out waste and get rid of any staff not pulling their weight. On a tour of the factory, McCracken noticed a worker leaning on a wall, hands in pockets and just watching the other men working away. McCracken decided to show everyone he meant business, walked up the man and asked, "And how much money do you make a week?" Still with his hands in his pockets, the young man looked at him and replied, "I make £400.00 a week. Why?" Without hesitation, McCracken took out his wallet, handed the man £400 in cash and screamed (so that he could be heard by as many other workers as possible): "Here's a week's pay. Now GET OUT and don't come back!" The man left immediately and McCracken, feeling pretty good about his first cleansing of a slacker, looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone want to tell me what that slacker was doing here?" With a sheepish grin, one of the other workers muttered, "Delivering pizza."
Lachlan's Laws - # 65 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. Here is another example: "An optimist is someone who thinks the future is uncertain."
For the first 50 laws, see Scottish Humour - Lachlan's Laws.
Since many girls are inclined to marry men like their fathers, it's perfectly understandable why so many mothers cry so much at weddings...
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Places to Visit>