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.
Aircraft Carrier Order Sails In - At LastThe companies involved in bidding to construct two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy were in detailed discussion with the Ministry of Defence in 2002. This week, at last, plans for the two warships are to be put to the UK parliament for approval. That brought delight - and relief - to shipyards on the Clyde and Rosyth in Fife. HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be built by a consortium to be formed between BAE Systems and its rival, VT Group, with much of the work being done at BAE's Govan shipyard in Glasgow and by Babcock Marine in Rosyth, Fife. The rest of the work will be carried out in Barrow-in-Furness and Portsmouth. The 65,000-tonne carriers, capable of holding 36 fighters and four early warning aircraft, are scheduled to enter service in 2014 and 2016.
Action to Stub Out SmokingIn March 2006, Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public buildings, including workplaces, restaurant & bars. But with around 25% of the adult population still smoking (down from 30.4% in 1999), the Scottish Government has announced new measures to discourage the taking up the addiction, particularly by young people who ignore the health warnings. The proposals would restrict the display of cigarettes and tobacco products - sending them effectively under the counter. Also being considered is outlawing the sale of packets of ten cigarettes (popular with teenagers) and cracking down on smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes. In conjunction with the UK government, consideration is also being given to insisting on plain packaging for cigarettes, to make them less attractive. Government figures show that 80% of smokers start in their teens - and that someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer as a result, than someone who starts in their mid-twenties.
Rural Homes Get More BroadbandFour years ago, urban dwellers in the UK were twice as likely to have broadband data connections than those living in the country. But the latest figures show that now 59% of rural households now have broadband compared to 57% of urban homes. Glasgow has the lowest take-up of broadband in the UK at just 32%, while in the Highland and Islands, 62% of homes have the faster system. On the other hand, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee are all well ahead of the UK average. The English town of Sunderland has the highest take-up level, with 96% of households connected to broadband. Other figures show, however, that 95% of households in Glasgow own a digital TV set. Perhaps it is the attraction of lower call costs, but Aberdeen has 26% of households using VOIP (voice call over the internet) while the UK average is only 12%.
Bus Fares Rise 25%For many years bus fares have been controlled by a Competition Commission. But a few weeks ago the price cap on First Bus fares were removed and, of course, the company has almost immediately increased fares by as much as 25% in some cases. The company blames soaring fuel costs and driver's wages. While some fares are "only" going up by 8% to 14%, an all-day unaccompanied child ticket, which is used a lot by kids travelling to school, has risen by 25%, from £1.60 to £2. Since last August, the price of a "value" return ticket, valid after 9am, has risen from £2.00 to £2.85, an increase of 42.5%. The increase in fares will mean that the Scottish Government will have to pay more under its free bus travel for all those over age 60.
Bottom of the Rubbish TableAlthough Scotland's record on recycling is improving, we have a long way to go before achieving the Scottish Government's aim of a "Zero Waste". And Glasgow, the country's largest city, is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to recycling household waste, with only 17.9% recycled or composted - the lowest of any of Scotland's 32 local authorities. Over 300,000 tonnes were dumped in landfill sites by Glasgow City Council last year. Clackmannanshire (Scotland's smallest county) led the way with 42.9% recycled household waste, while South and East Ayrshire also managed a creditable level of over 40%, with affluent areas such as East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire reaching 33/34%. Glasgow's poor performance has been attributed to the larger number of people in the city living in multi-storey apartments and tower blocks. It seems that 31% of Glasgow households haven't even been supplied with any type of recycling bin - in East Renfrewshire 99% of homes have access to recycling boxes and bins (and more often have houses with space to accommodate the burgeoning number of these). Spurred (again) by the figures, Glasgow City Council announced this week a £135 million plan to use "autoclave" machines to clean and sterilise waste into re-usable fibre that can be sold on. The first machine would start operating from autumn 2011 and eventually 80% of all waste would be recycled by 2013. If achieved, that would put the city at the top of the recycling table.
Motorway Going Places - At LastIt's only five miles long, but the link between M8 motorway south of the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow and the existing end to the M74 to the east of the city has been in the pipeline for decades. An off-ramp was even built at the Kingston Bridge when it was completed in 1970, to eventually link up with the M74 extension. Now, after many delays and public enquiries, work began this month on the new link. (That 1970 off-ramp will not be used - the final line is now a few hundred yards further south). The estimated cost is £445 million, plus a £12 million contingency. That's in addition to the £200 million already spent, including £180 million compensation to businesses along the route that have had to relocate. The completion of the new motorway link is planned for 2011.
Ferry Service SunkThe Greece-based company which runs the daily Superfast Ferries from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium has announced that the service will stop operating in mid-September. The service was launched in 2002, saving passengers and truckers having to drive via Hull or the English Channel ports. The crossing to the Belgian port takes about 18 hours and each ferry can carry more than 1,000 passengers, 120 cars and 100 commercial vehicles. Over the years, there have been reports of the company struggling to make a profit on the route. While passenger numbers have been good, it struggled to attract the more profitable commercial vehicles in the early years. The Scottish Transport Minister said the decision was "very disappointing" and undertook to pursue all viable options to achieve continuity of the service. The ferry link is an important part of Scotland's access to European markets and now carries a significant percentage of freight to and from the continent.
The picture shows a Superfast ferry, with Edinburgh in the background.
Aberdeen City Council's Financial ProblemsA report by the Accounts Commission for Scotland says that Aberdeen City Council "lacks a full appreciation of the seriousness of its current [financial] circumstances" and goes on to say that it is facing extremely serious challenges and needed support. It goes on to say that Aberdeen City Council has extremely serious problems with its management, governance and finances as well as the effective delivery of major services such as social work. The Granite City's is currently struggling to find budget savings of £27 million to balance the books, after over-spending by £50 million between 2002 and 2007.. This is resulting in pressure on services and low morale among council staff. The council's chief executive sensationally resigned just before he was grilled over claims of mismanagement at the Audit Commission hearing earlier in May. The council has also been embroiled in controversy about selling a number of council properties at below market value.
Marischal College RedevelopmentNew architects' impressions have been published this week of what the redeveloped Marischal College in Aberdeen will look like. The historic building is the second largest granite structure in the world and is to be transformed into Aberdeen City Council’s new corporate headquarters. The images show the archway to the courtyard converted into the new main entrance to the council HQ (seen here), a remodeled and re-landscaped courtyard, and an internal perspective of the proposed reception area. The plans include the demolition of the present interior and its replacement by a 21st century office building, providing 17,000 square metres (183,000 square feet) of modern office space on four floors for up to 1,300 city council staff. All the present granite elevations will be preserved.
Edinburgh's First Business Improvement District
Edinburgh's city centre businesses have voted in favour of creating a Business Improvement District (BID), the fifth such scheme in Scotland. Businesses in an area covering the length of George Street, Princes Street, and Rose street from the East edge of Charlotte Square Garden to the St James centre will contribute 1% of the rateable value of their property to provide finance for promoting the area, creating a clean team with specialist equipment, improved street décor, enhanced CCTV, better lighting, transport marshals, and PR and marketing campaigns. 58% of the businesses who voted were in favour of the scheme.
DNA Study in Orkney and ShetlandsThe genes of hundreds of residents in Orkney and Shetland are to be studied to try to establish why Scotland - and the northern islands in particular - has the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. Residents who suffer from MS as well as those who have no history of the disease, will be asked to give blood. Scientists will then compare the two samples in the expectation that they will be able to unravel the mystery as to why rates of MS are so high in Orkney, Shetland and Scotland and also to provide possible answers for patients who suffer the disease around the world. They hope to be able then produce new drugs to combat the effects of the debilitating illness. Due to the stable population and lack of immigration in Orkney and Shetland it will be easier to pick out the signal of a genetic effect there from all the "background noise".
First Jewish TartanThe first record of a Jew in Scotland is in 1691 and since then they have been an integral part of the country and its people. Jews were never persecuted and there were no pogroms, no Holocaust, no national or state sponsored antisemitic laws. When England was burning and exiling its Jews in the Middle Ages, Scotland provided a safe haven from English and European anti-Semitism. Now, after over 300 years, an official Jewish tartan has been created and registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority. It was designed by the only Scottish-born Rabbi living in Scotland, it's 100 per cent Kosher - being a non wool-linen mix. It incorporates many aspects of Scottish-Jewish cultural and religious history, with the colours, weave and number of threads picked for their relevance to Judaism.The blue and white represents the colours of the Israeli and Scottish flag with the central gold line representing the gold from the Biblical Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and the many ceremonial vessels. The launch of the new tartan coincided with Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
50th Chick for OspreyThe female osprey resident at Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld in Perthshire has been nesting with her mate for 17 years now. During that time, she has hatched an average of around three chicks a year. In osprey terms, she is regarded as "elderly" so there was delight amongst the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) staff when the 50th chick emerged last weekend. The event was witnessed and recorded by new high definition cameras trained on the nest. The unringed female osprey has laid 52 eggs at Loch of the Lowes and so far has successfully fledged 43 chicks - an amazing feat for one bird who has thus contributed so much to the recovery of the species in Scotland. For a daily diary and video footage of key events, see Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Après Ski CelebrationsAfter several years of doom and gloom and lack of snow, the Scottish ski centres have concluded one of the most successful winter seasons "this century". The final figures show that there had been a record-breaking 165,089 ski-ing days this season. The season started early in January, but high winds and higher temperatures in February produced few skiing opportunities. Then more snow and settled conditions prevailed in March and the snow in the mountain resorts continued until the end of April. Some centres even reported "champagne powder" conditions, which is rarely seen in Scotland.
Games and Clan Come TogetherThe Clan Donnachaidh Society has always attended the Pitlochry Highland Games but this year it will be participating by holding its annual "gathering" at the sporting event on 13 September. The change to the later date came about at the request of the American members of the clan society who had asked that the gathering be held in the autumn, rather than the summer. Pitlochry is in the clan's heartland and the "twinning" of the two events may become an annual affair. These days, the clan is principally that of the surname Robertson - when surnames began to emerge, Clan Donnachaidh adopted Robertson of Struan from Robert, their 4th chief. There is a Clan Museum between Blair Atholl and Struan in Perthshire.
Golf Legend RememberedAround 100 golfers gathered in St Andrews to mark the centenary of the death of Old Tom Morris, a legendary golfer who died in May 1908. Some of the participants in the Old Tom Morris Memorial Tournament completed the round in period costume. Morris is regarded as one of the most influential figures in golf as a player, club maker, green keeper and course designer. He set up the Open Championship - and won it four times (in 1861, 1862, 1864 and 1867). He is credited with designing and remodelling about 75 courses.
Hired Killers - For GullsA falconry centre in Fife has branched into pest control and is hiring out falcons and hawks to disrupt, scare off and kill nuisance gulls and other pests. Elite Falconry now has between 30 and 40 clients around the country and their staff circulate round the sites to check on progress. Some customers just want the gulls scared off, in order to discourage large birds that go through waster bins or swoop on people sitting outside having lunch.
Recent Weather in ScotlandIn the last two weeks, the weather was initially cloudy, with some sun - the Western Isles, furthest from the impact of the easterly winds, fared best with lots of sunshine. Maximum temperatures were largely in the range 12/14C (54/57F). In the week just past, there were a few (much needed) showers, overnight in some cases. The Glasgow Evening Times trumpeted that on Monday (a Bank Holiday), the city had recorded temperatures higher than in Spain. They forget to note that the wind chill factor, with stiff easterly breezes, made it felt much cooler than that! But Glasgow did reach 24C (75F) on Saturday, with blue skies and just light winds. Aberdeen, affected by those winds from the North Sea, managed only 16C (61F) and cloudy skies.
The picture here is of Hawthorn blossom - the May flower.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Ross Priory, at the southern end of Loch Lomond, an 1812 Gothic addition to a house created in 1693;
~ A view of Loch Lomond (and Ben Lomond) from the grounds of Ross Priory;
~ An unusual variety of Magnolia - Magnolia Wilsonii;
~ A Viburnum with its blooms on long stems that march along its branches like soldiers on parade;
~ The small, pea-like flowers of Broom (Cytisus) in a mixture of red and yellow;
~ A garland of wedding flowers round one of the pillars to the entrance to Ross Priory, with Loch Lomond in the background;
~ The bare branches of the large deciduous Halesia, covered by clusters of white, bell-shaped flowers - Halesia's popular name is the "Snowdrop Tree" (see thumbnail here);
~ Cornus (Dogwood) with its delightful white flowers. See all the pictures at This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
MacDougall Clan Seat to Reopen?The MacDougall of Dunollie Preservation Trust has announced plans to make the ruinous Dunollie Castle in Oban safe for the public and the neighbouring historic house open to visitors. The trust has received an initial project planning grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and hope to apply for a larger grant later this year. If this is successful, Dunollie House could open as a museum and clan centre by 2010. The aim is to create a house full of interesting objects telling the stories of the family and of life in the big house. The trust has archives which go back to the Jacobite rebellion in 1715. The MacDougalls have been at Dunollie since around 1130.
Greek Thomson's Egyptian HallsThe Egyptian Halls, designed by the Glasgow architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson in the mid-1800s, have been lying empty and derelict for nearly 20 years. The building in Renfield Street in the centre of the city, is regarded as Thomson's commercial masterpiece and architecture of world-class significance. Various attempts have been made to put together the finance to bring them back into use, but they have all fallen by the wayside. There was a major effort to restore the building when Glasgow became European City of Architecture and Design in 1999, but that ground to halt due to disputes over ownership. Now, at last, it seems that all the problems have been resolved and the building will undergo a £5 million refurbishment, before being marketed as a retail or office development. Finally, the blackened stonework may get cleaned up, which will considerably improve the look of a major shopping street in the city.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- June 1 1679 - Covenanters defeated John Graham of Claverhouse at Drumclog.
- June 1 1878 - First Tay rail bridge opens. It was to collapse 18 months later in the Tay Bridge Disaster.
- June 2 1941 - Clothes rationing introduced as a war-time measure. It was not lifted until 1949.
- June 3 1931 - The company formed by John Logie Baird televised the Epsom Derby which was then transmitted by the BBC.
- June 4 1818 - First recorded inter-club golf match - between Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society and Bruntsfield Links Golf Club.
- June 4 1977 - Damage estimated to cost £15,000 caused by fans who dug up the pitch at Wembley after Scotland defeated England 2-1.
- June 5 1723 - Adam Smith, author of "The Wealth of Nations" born Kirkcaldy.
- June 6 1560 - Treaty of Edinburgh between France and England, recognising sovereignty of Mary Queen of Scots and her first husband Francis II.
- June 7 1329 - Robert the Bruce died, Cardross Castle.
- June 7 1811 - Sir James Young Simpson, pioneer of anaesthetics and chloroform, born.
- June 8 1333 - King Edward III orders the capture of the Isle of Man from the Scots.
- June 9 1942 - First US troops (over 10,000 men) disembark from Queen Mary on the River Clyde.
- June 10 1688 - James Francis Stuart born. In honour of the "Old Pretender", this is known as "White Rose Day" in Jacobite circles.
- June 10 1903 - The floral clock in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, began operation - driven by clockwork and with only an hour hand. But it was the first of its kind in the world.
- June 11 1975 - First oil pumped ashore from British oilfields in the North Sea.
- June 13 1975 - Rate of price inflation reached 25% in the UK.
- June 14 1940 - Queen Mary, Aquitania, Empress of Canada, and Empress of Britain arrive in the River Clyde with the first contingent of Australian and New Zealand troops.
West End FestivalThis year, Glasgow's West End Festival runs from Friday the 13th until Sunday the 29th of June, with its usual conglomeration of art, music and theatre events. This is Glasgow’s largest cultural event, attracting over 110,000 people to free events and 39,000 to ticketed events last year. This year the West End Festival continues to expand the variety of its programme, adding new venues, exhibitions, theatre productions, concerts, fairs, events and walks to a list of events which reflects Glasgow’s enthusiasm for all facets of culture and entertainment. For more information, see West End Festival.
New Shows for Scottish OperaUnder its new artistic director, New Zealand born Alex Reedijk, and with its painful period of restructuring and financial woes behind it, Scottish Opera's 2008/2009 season sees the company launching five main stage productions, four of which are brand new. "La Traviata" and "Cosi Fan Tutte" will be co-productions (with Welsh Opera and Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg respectively). Other productions include Smetena’s "The Two Widows" which will be staged when the company returns to the Edinburgh International Festival.
Joan Rivers Debut at Edinburgh FringeAt the age of 75, Joan Rivers, the notorious queen of comedy one-liners, is to make her acting debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year in a self-written autobiographical play "Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress", for a run of 19 performances at the Underbelly's Cow Barn, on Teviot Place. The show will then transfer to London and then Broadway, New York, next year. The veteran performer says she can't wait to return to "magical" Edinburgh - so she can stock up on tacky souvenirs. She is quoted as saying "You better bring out all your cheap, tacky Scottish stuff when I come over, because me and my friends just love that stuff and we're gonna buy it all in spades." They will be spoilt for choice on Edinburgh's Royal Mile... Although this is her acting debut in Edinburgh, she has previously performed in her usual stand-up comedy role. In 2001 she famously insisted that the dress and upper circles of the theatre be sealed off - because of an aversion to playing to audiences "above" her.
Picture of Joan Rivers via Wikipedia.
All Shook UpThe Dance School of Scotland’s Musical Theatre Course is presenting the Glasgow premiere of a smash Broadway and West End Musical based on the works of Elvis Presley and William Shakespeare. " All Shook Up" will be performed at the Citizens Theatre from 1th to 14th June. It brings a classic tale of love and mistaken identity to an iconic era, taking the king of rock and roll’s greatest songs and reinterpreting them with a version of Twelfth Night set in the 1950’s. Featuring Heartbreak Hotel, Burning Love, Jailhouse Rock, All Shook Up and many more Elvis classics! For more information, see Citizens Theatre.
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.
Highland Gathering in JohannesburgJeppe High School for Boys is Johannesburg’s oldest public school, having been established in 1890 in Fairview, Johannesburg. Recognised as one of South Africa’s Top 20 boys' schools, it has a long history of pipe bands. Earlier this month they held their annual Highland Gathering. The gathering was organized by Jeppe school bandmaster Rory Bellingan, a former pupil. Rory is also the bandmaster of the African Skye Pipe Band which has been featured at the Edinburgh Tattoo in the past.
Victoria Highland GamesThe 71st Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival was held on 17/18 May in Topaz Park, Victoria, British Columbia. Saturday events included kilted mile athletics, tug of war competition, sheep dog herding competition, heavy events workshop and novice competition, pipe bands, Celtic rock bands, and Celtic dance, music and entertainment activities. On Sunday, there were the traditional Scottish Games featuring competitions in highland dancing, bagpiping and drumming; massed pipe band performances and a spectacular opening ceremonies at noon with massed pipebands and the Fraser Highlanders cannon and musket demonstration.The invitational Heavy Events Competition (e.g. caber toss) included the 5 time world champion. For more information, see Victoria Highland Games
League TablesA helicopter was positioned half-way between Aberdeen and Dundee on the last day of the current football season, with Celtic and Rangers, equal on points but with Celtic in pole position with a better goal average. Rangers, playing their 7th competitive match in May, were playing Aberdeen. Celtic, playing Dundee United, had not played for 11 days. At half time, it was 0-0 in both games. Then Aberdeen scored. That news soon travelled to Dundee - and Celtic edged closer to the title with a goal from Vennegoor of Hesselink. A deflated Rangers then sank after another goal by Aberdeen and Celtic were champions. This was a remarkable achievement, having fought back from earlier in the season when they were seven points behind, having played a game more. Then the Parkhead side won their last six games, while Rangers stumbled. The Celtic Manager Gordon Strachan became just the third in club's history to win three consecutive league titles. For Rangers, those three years are the longest barren spell of winning the SPL since the dark days of 1979 to 1986.
Scottish CupAfter the disappointment of losing both the SPL title and the final of the Uefa Cup, Rangers were looking to end the season on a positive note by winning the Scottish Cup by defeating opponents Queen of the South. On paper, Rangers should have walked to victory - Queens play in the First Division and only one team outside the Scottish top flight has ever won the Scottish Cup - and that was in 1938. It looked as though the game would go as scripted as Kris Boyd emerged from the shadows to become Rangers' hero as he fired home a superb free-kick and American midfielder DaMarcus Beasley slotted in a second as Rangers eased ahead by half-time. But in the second half, Queen of the South looked as though they might produce the biggest shock in cup final history as they scored twice within minutes to level the score. Rangers were visibly tired, playing their 68th game of an arduous season. But Kris Boyd - as he has done so often - scored the winner. Rangers had won their 32nd Scottish Cup, their first for five years. While disappointed at not winning the SPL, the players could take heart from winning the League and Scottish Cups and reaching the final of the Uefa Cup. That European cup run will have brought a substantial sum of money into the club and may allow Walter Smith to strengthen the team during the summer transfer window.
Picture of Scottish Cup via Wikipedia.
Czech Republic 3 Scotland 1Although the final score looks flattering to the Czech Republic, Scotland could take a lot of positives from this friendly match, part of the Czech build up to Euro 2008. It took to the 60th minute before the Czech side scored. Then they scored another before David Clarkson, playing for Scotland for the first time, pulled one back. The Czech third goal was scored in injury time. Scotland had been depleted by a number of call-offs by players at the end of a long, hard season.
Gretna Demoted to Division ThreeEven if they survive - and there is less than a week to go before expulsion from the League all together - Gretna Football Club will be demoted from the Scottish Premier League to the Third Division as a result of being in administration. Gretna only entered the Scottish League structure in 2002 and completed a hat-trick of title victories in successive seasons to pull off an amazing rise to the Premier League, funded by a local businessman. Now that support is gone, the financial viability of a club in a town with a population of 3,000 has come home to roost. As a result, Airdrie United will step up to Division One and Stranraer get a place in Division Two. If Gretna do not survive, as seems likely, the Scottish League will invite applicants to take their place.
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
Cardoness Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
Cardoness Castle is first mentioned in the records in 1220, when a Nicholas de Kerdenes and his wife Cicely were in dispute with the monastery at Dundrennan over Cicely's dowry - the litigation went on for over 20 years! Nicholas was probably descended from one of a number of Anglo-Norman lords who were persuaded by the King of Scotland to settle in the area in an attempt to reduce the power of the Lords of Galloway. The newcomers were well advised to build strong castles and many of these fortresses survive. In the 15th century the McCullochs (from Wigtownshire) acquired the estate from the laird of Cardoness, probably through marriage and built the present castle. By 1628 it was legally owned by the Gordons of Upper Ardwall, though the McCulloch descendants committed sometimes violent deeds in their attempts to win it back. Godfrey McCulloch killed the head of the Gordon household and was eventually executed in Edinburgh on "The Maiden" - the Scottish equivalent of the guillotine. For more on Cardoness, with illustrations, see Castle Photo Library - Cardoness Castle.
Great Places to Stay in Scotland
Castle Venlaw, Peebles, Scottish Borders
Vivien Devlin, British Guild of Travel Writers, has visited Peebles dozens of times over the years to stay at Peebles Hydro, Macdonald Cardona or Stobo Health Spa. So she found it a welcome change to take the steep curving drive up the hill to Castle Venlaw. Under the new ownership of Pierre Alban Guy (who lives nearby and is a hands-on proprietor), this traditional country house is now being transformed into a chic boutique chateau oozing romantic charm. The friendly staff offer a warm welcome where you immediately feel at home. This is an idyllic hideaway for a get-away-from-it-all break in the Scottish Borders to enjoy fresh air, inspiring good food and perhaps learn about a few whiskies along the way. For an illustrated review of Castle Venlaw, see Great Places to Stay - Castle Venlaw, Peebles.
Scottish Poetry and Song
The Battle of Harlaw was fought near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, on 24 July 1411 between Donald of Islay, Lord of the Isles (MacDonald) and an army commanded by Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar. The battle formed the culmination of a long-running dispute and rivalry between the Lord of the Isles and the Regent Albany. A force numbering some 2,000 under Mar consisted almost entirely of well armed mounted cavalry - a local mustering raised by the barons and knights of the region which featured nearly every notable lord of the area. The battle was fierce and continued until dusk. Many of the lowland knights were unhorsed and forced to fight on foot. Despite their lack of numbers and poor tactical situation, Mar's army continued to fight through the day and inflicted great losses upon the highlanders. The contest earned its traditional designation "Red Harlaw" as a result of the fierceness of the fighting.
Here is Sir Walter Scott's vivid (and perhaps biased?) account of the conflict. He certainly has a distorted view of the numbers fighting on each
Now haud your tongue, baith wife and carle,
And listen, great and sma',
And I will sing of Glenallan's Earl
That fought on the red Harlaw.
The cronach's cried on Bennachie,
And doun the Don and a',
And hieland and lawland may mournfu' be
For the sair field of Harlaw.
They saddled a hundred milk-white steeds,
They hae bridled a hundred black,
With a chafron of steel on each horse's head,
And a good knight upon his back.
They hadna ridden a mile, a mile,
A mile, but barely ten,
When Donald came branking down the brae
Wi' twenty thousand men.
Their tartans they were waving wide,
Their glaives were glancing clear,
The pibrochs rung frae side to side,
Would deafen ye to hear.
The great Earl in his stirrups stood,
That Highland host to see;
'Now here a knight that's stout and good
May prove a jeopardie:
'What would'st thou do, my squire so gay,
That rides beside my rein,
Were ye Glenallan's Earl the day,
And I were Roland Cheyne?
'To turn the rein were sin and shame,
To fight were wondrous peril;
What would ye do now, Roland Cheyne,
Were ye Glenallan's Earl?'
'Were I Glenallan's Earl this tide,
And ye were Roland Cheyne,
The spur should be in my horse's side,
And the bridle upon his mane.
'If they hae twenty thousand blades,
And we twice ten times ten,
Yet they hae but their tartan plaids,
And we are mail-clad men.
'My horse shall ride through ranks sae rude,
As through the moorland fern -
Then ne'er let the gentle Norman blude
Grow cauld for Highland kerne.'
Meaning of unusual words:
carle = peasant,
cronach = loud shout
sair = hard, severe
chafron = cheveron
branking = bearing oneself proudly, prancing, strutting
brae = steep hillside
glaives = gloves
pibrochs = music of the Scottish bagpipe
kerne = rabble
Magnus McMagnus was greatly overweight, so his doctor suggested he should go on a diet. "I want you to eat regularly for 2 days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for 4 weeks. The next time I see you, you should have lost at least 5 pounds." When Magnus returned, he shocked the doctor by having lost nearly 25 pounds. "Why, that's amazing!" the doctor said. "You followed my instructions?" Magnus nodded and said... 'I'll tell you, doctor, I thought I was going to drop dead that 3rd day." The doctor nodded and observed that going hungry was the idea. Angus shook his head. "It wasn't the lack of food, doctor, it was "skip a day" - all that skipping you told me to do all day...."
Lachlan's Laws - # 66
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: "If you don't go to your friends' funerals, they certainly won't come to yours."
Facts of Life
A farmer was helping one of his cows give birth in a field and noticed that his son was watching from the fence. The farmer thought it was maybe time to tell his son about the "birds and the bees" so when the calf was duly born, he walked over and casually said to his wide-eyed son, "Well, do you have any questions?" The boy blurted out "Just one question - how fast was that calf going when he hit the cow?"
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