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.
Nationalists Win Sensational By-Election VictoryThe UK parliamentary constituency of Glasgow East has been one of the safest seats for the Labour party in Scotland for more than 50 years. When the incumbent Member of Parliament stepped down (quoting health grounds), even the most optimistic member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) must have thought that winning the seat was an impossible task. After all, it would require overturning a Labour majority of 13,507 at the last election in 2005 and a swing to the SNP of over 22%. The Labour party got off to a bad start, however, when their initial candidate withdrew and Margaret Curran, the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Baillieston stepped into the breach. And the UK Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is going through a very bad patch with his popularity at an all-time low. Then after an election campaign in which First Minister Alex Salmond dominated the media as he supported his candidate, the impossible happened on polling day on Thursday. After a recount of the votes as the result was so close, Nationalist candidate John F Mason won the seat by 365 votes. The numbers voting for Labour plummeted from 18,775 at the 2005 General Election to 10,912. Of course, the Labour party can argue that historically voters often turn against the government in by-elections and then return to traditional loyalties at the next general election. But the result was so remarkable that many Members of Parliament with smaller majorities, particularly in Scotland, must be getting nervous..
Europe's Biggest WindfarmThe Scottish Government has given the green light for a 152-turbine windfarm on either side of the M74 motorway near Abington in South Lanarkshire. The M74 is the main artery between Glasgow and the north of England. Named Clyde, the windfarm will be Europe's biggest onshore on a single site. First Minister Alex Salmond, speaking about the project ahead of the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow, said that it was an important step in the development of renewable energy in Scotland and in meeting shared European targets. The Scottish Government has an ambitious target to generate 31% of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020. The announcement of the new development makes it virtually certain that the 2011 target will be met early and exceeded by the end of the present Parliamentary term. The new windfarm will be built in clusters of turbines on either side of the M74 motorway. It will have a total capacity of up to 548 Megawatts (MW). Currently the biggest operational windfarm in Europe is the Maranchon windfarm in Guadalajara, Spain which has a generating capacity of 208 MW. Approval of the Clyde windfarm means that the total installed capacity either built or consented and under construction in Scotland will be 4.55GW
Scottish Employment Rises, Unemployment FallsThe latest seasonally adjusted employment figures for Scotland for the period March-May 2008 show that employment rose by 16,000, standing at 2,554,000, a historic high. Unemployment in Scotland measured under the International Labour Organisation method, also fell, down 25,000 over the previous three months, standing at just 105,000. That was in contrast to the UK as a whole, where the jobless total saw its biggest rise for over 15 years.
Aberdeen City Council Cash CrisisA report by the Accounts Commission earlier this year said that Aberdeen City Council faced "extremely serious" challenges. The extent of the problem has now been revealed by the council's chief accountant who says that budget savings of nearly £50 million will be required immediately to balance the books. That is nearly double the amount previously suggested and has resulted in major cuts to services and threats to job within the local authority. An "expert panel" has been set up to help the council sort out the crisis. The cash shortfall is being blamed on the previous administration in Aberdeen, but so far it is unclear how the crisis came about.
Scotland's Highest Population for 25 YearsThe latest official estimate of Scotland's population - 5,144,200 - is the highest for 25 years and an increase of 27,300 on the previous year. The Registrar General for Scotland says that part of the reason was that there were 1,100 more births than deaths, the first time this has happened since 1997. But it was net migration gain that caused the greatest increase, with 90,000 people coming here to stay, but only 63,000 people leaving. That was the highest net in-migration figure since records began in the early 1950s. A lot of the "immigrants" (51,500) came from other parts of the UK. But mothers from eastern Europe also accounted for a third of the increase in births (though only 2% of the total births). Based on the latest figures, Scotland's population has increased by 1.6% since 2001. Even so, Scotland's population growth has lagged well behind that of the UK. A steady increase in population and a vibrant labour market have the potential to boost Scotland's economic growth and help the nation to prosper.
Festival Accommodation Bookings Down?Although ticket sales for this year's Edinburgh International Festival in August are around the same level as last year, there are reports that bookings for accommodation are well down. Normally August is a lucrative month for hotels and guest houses, when accommodation usually sells out - and at a premium. There is widespread availability this year, especially after the Fringe and the Tattoo end their run - a situation described as "unheard of" at this time of year. It would appear that numbers of overseas visitors are down due to a combination of a world-wide credit squeeze and the high exchange rates for the pound, especially against the US dollar zone. Ticket sales, on the other hand, are holding up, supported by local demand.
Aberdeen Builder Cutting 20% of StaffStewart Milne Group, an Aberdeen-based firm which is one of the UK's largest house builders, has announced that it is to cut staffing levels by nearly 300 - 20% of its workforce. 120 jobs will go in the north-east of Scotland and the rest in central Scotland and England. The company was founded in 1975 and has grown to become one of the leaders in the field. Lack of liquidity within the company and lower consumer confidence has resulted in a marked downturn in sales. The UK housing industry, which was going through a boom in recent years, has now been badly affected by the recent credit crisis, with banks reducing lending and increasing rates.
Credit Crunch Topples Elphinstone TowerConstruction of what was to have been the tallest building in Scotland has been abandoned as a result of the downturn in the economy. 40-storey Elphinstone Tower, on the edge of Glasgow's city centre, was to have been built on the site of the former Strathclyde Region Council offices, not far from Charing Cross. But the credit squeeze has resulted in the project being shelved, just weeks after construction had been delayed "because of planning issues". The tower was to have been a unique teardrop design, housing 200 luxury apartments, 171,000 square feet in office space, retail outlets, swimming pool and 230 car parking spaces. It would have been 9 metres (30 feet) taller than the Glasgow Tower, a slender observation platform beside the Glasgow Science Centre.
Edinburgh Gas Guzzlers To Pay More?Edinburgh City Council is looking to charge up to £240 a year more for resident parking permits for vehicles with high exhaust emissions, while reducing charges for greener cars with lower levels. The owner of a Lexus IS250, who currently pays £160 to park in the inner zone of the city, will see charges doubling to £320. The plan would be the first of its kind in Scotland. It is claimed that 20% of residents would pay more, with 64% paying less. Many families are being hit also by a proposed surcharge of 25% on second permits - households with more than one car will thus suffer the most at a time when they are already coping with higher fuel costs. The move is intended to encourage people to switch to less-polluting vehicles. It may also reduce the number of cars being parked on the street - and complaints that even with a permit, many owners cannot find a space to park as far more permits than spaces are sold by the council. There are currently around 17,000 resident parking permits in Edinburgh, with 3,500 of these for "second cars". Richmond, a London borough, was the first local authority in the UK to introduce such differential parking charges. The same council is now to introduce a charge for permits allowing car owners to drop off their children on the school run. The Edinburgh plans are considered to be "controversial" and may meet opposition when debated by the full council.
Taxi Drivers Recharge BatteriesGlasgow taxi manufacturer Allied Vehicles is showcasing a revolutionary electric taxi at the British International Motor Show which opened in London this week. The vehicle is powered solely by lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. It covers 100 miles per charge (which takes 8 hours, however) and produces no harmful exhaust emissions. With a top speed of 60mph, the vehicle costs 10% more than the normal diesel taxi, but costs less to run and will not pay the usual road tax. It is the first electric taxi to be produced in the UK. Allied Vehicles began 15 years ago and now has a workforce of 384 people and an annual turnover of £50 million.
Road Opens In Time for FestivalThe A7 trunk road south of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway on 9 July, collapsed as a result of a landslide following heavy rain, meaning that the town was cut off from the south. That had a devastating impact on trade in the town and there was a major concern about whether it could be reopened in time for the "Common Riding" event on Friday, 25 July. This historic pageant (which mirrors similar ceremonies in other towns in the south of Scotland) involves up to 200 horse riders going out to ride round the boundaries of the burgh. This is a major tourist attraction and visitors come from all over the world. About 10,000 tonnes of rock had to be poured in to shore up the road and contractors worked flat-out to complete the work in time to allow traffic through from the south. They managed it - but only just and with only one lane, controlled by traffic lights. Once the festival is over, the road will be closed again to allow the completion of the repairs to the carriageway.
New Bridge On TargetThe new "Upper Forth Crossing" is on schedule to open on 5 November - large bill-boards confidently proclaim the achievement on the approach to the existing bridge at Kincardine. Work started in the summer of 2006 and for much of the project was ahead of schedule. Despite the major road-works, including the construction of a new fly-over and approach roads to both the new and old crossings, traffic has kept flowing smoothly for most of the time. The £120 million project has 25 supporting piers and decking that stretches 1,300 yards from Kincardine on the Fife side of the river to Airth on the Falkirk side. But with only a few months to go before it opens, no decision on what to call the bridge has been announced. There are competing claims from Fife and Clackmannanshire Councils (both on the north bank) with "Kingdom Bridge" or "Clackmannan Bridge" vying for the distinction. Falkirk, on the south side, doesn't seem to have made any effort to make it a three-way contest.
The Most Expensive Place to DieRecent research has found that the most expensive place to die in Britain is in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that funeral costs in the city for burial or cremation were twice as much as in other cities and the most expensive outside of London. The study looked at the cost of a standard funeral, including director's fees, a coffin, transfer of the deceased and provision of a hearse. In Edinburgh that cost an average of £1,600 but that rose to double that figure once the cost of burial, cremation or embalming were included.
No Robert Burns AirportEven though it is 30 miles from Glasgow and causes confusion with the main airport which is just six miles from the centre of the city, Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire is keen to retain the connection with Scotland's largest city. So when it was suggested that the airport should be redesignated "Robert Burns Airport" in honour of the 250th birthday of Scotland's national bard, the suggestion fell on deaf ears. The owners said a name change would confuse tourists (despite some travellers turning up at the wrong airport, mistaking it for Glasgow airport) and that Glasgow Prestwick was the right name, given that it is in Prestwick and its closest major city is Glasgow. On that reasoning, just wait for Oban Glasgow Airport...
Scottish Grannies Get on Their BikesMost folk who make to their 70th birthday are starting to make things a bit easier for themselves. But two grandmothers from Scotland wanted to do something different when they reached that milestone - like cycling across Canada... Penny Weir and Mave Paterson (both now 70) left Vancouver on May 21. But a month into their arduous journey, Penny had to return to Scotland - to get an artificial heart pacemaker fitted. Apparently her heart wasn't beating fast enough going through the Rockies... But after the operation she flew back to rejoin her companion after a month on her own. She had reached the Prairies by that time and described that as "tough" - the road just went on and on and on - and on. The harsh winter climate can take its toll on parts of the Trans-Canada Highway and they had to watch out for potholes at times. And large trucks flying by stir up a lot of wind, making control tricky. The journey isn't just about celebrating their 70th birthday though - they are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support as well. They have now reached Sault Sainte Marie in Ontario (their story was in the local newspaper and arrived on my PC via Google Alerts under "Scottish") and hope to reach Newfoundland by September. Wonder what they'll do to celebrate their 80th birthday?
Butterfly Survival ZonesThe Butterfly Conservation Society has launched a network of "Butterfly Survival Zones" across the UK (with ten of these in Scotland) in an attempt to arrest the decline and extinction of some of the country's rarest species. The Butterfly Conservation charity is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year but during the time it has been existence it has seen a major decline in the number of butterflies in the country. Scotland has fared slightly better and has become a refuge for butterflies in decline in England. But by establishing suitable habitats in key locations, including Argyll, the Solway Coast, Highland Perthshire, Lochaber and the Moray Firth, the hope is that new colonies can be established. Intensive agriculture and forestry have reduced the areas where butterflies can thrive. The new initiative will enlist the aid of landowners and land managers, helping them to make use of European Union and government grants to improve and restore habitats. Projects include introducing conservation grazing by livestock into woodlands for some of the most endangered species, including Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the Chequered Skipper. Grazing will be reintroduced on abandoned farmland for the rare Marsh Fritillary. This would also benefit many other species, including moths, orchids and even lichens.
New Products from JuteDundee used to be the jute capital of the world, with many factories processing the fibre and producing a wide range of products. The invention of synthetic materials resulted in a rapid decline in the industry but there are still factories in Dundee creating products from the natural fibre. They are always looking for new markets - and the latest one is the manufacture of coffins. It seems that more and more people are looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional coffins made of wood - and jute is completely biodegradable. And when used in cremations, it records extremely low carbon emissions.
Recent Weather in ScotlandAfter a cool start to this week (13C/55F maximum in Aberdeen on Sunday), temperatures started to move up. Aberdeen reached a maximum of 25C (77F) on Tuesday and had lots of sun, though the rest of the country did not reach that level. By Thursday, however, most of the country enjoyed a good amount of sunshine with Glasgow reaching 24.4C (75F). The sun continued to shine on Friday for a good part of the day but on Saturday there was a lot of cloud except in the Western Isles. But temperatures kept up, with most places reaching 20/21C (68/70F). The outlook for the next few days is a mixture of cloud, sun and some showers but maximum temperatures are forecast to hover around 21C (75F).
The illustration here is of a rose named "Mellow Yellow" at Drummond Castle gardens in Perhshire.
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 large, tall Sunflower (Helianthus) which grows to over five feet high, with flowers up to a foot across;
~ A Ringlet Butterfly, showing the circles on the upper wings which gave rise to its name;
~ A close-up of the large mop head of a pink Hydrangea;
~ Finlaystone House, with the blue of Campanula and the fiery red of Spirea in the foreground;
~ Tall thistles in a large meadow of wild flowers;
~ Lavatera (the Tree mallow), a showy plant with large flowers similar to Hibiscus - see thumbnail here;
~ Drummond Castle in Perthshire with a bed of white roses in the foreground.
For all the photographs, see This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Archaeological Discoveries at Scone PalacePainstaking work to discover more about the ancient abbey which was located at what is now Scone Palace near Perth has uncovered an outline of the building and part of a skeleton, as well as fragments of objects from up to a thousand years ago. The area lies between the present palace and the graveyard. It is thought the Augustinian abbey stood there as far back as the 10th century. Scone was at one time the centre of power in Scotland, with royal and law-making assemblies.
Confederate Gun Runner "At Risk"The paddle steamer "Iona II" was built in 1863 at Govan in Glasgow and was used as a fast ferry around the river Clyde. With 20 feet paddle wheels, it could reach 24 knots. But after only one season on the river, it was bought by Confederate agents to transport guns for use by the South in the American Civil War. On its first trip in that role, however, it was pounded by heavy seas and began taking on water. It sheltered in the Bristol Channel but sank east of the island of Lundy. It was rediscovered in 1976 and was designated as a protected vessel. But now English Heritage has put the ship in the top 10 of its protected wreck sites at risk because of concern at the rate of erosion. The director of the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies at St Andrews University, commenting on the situation has said: "Iona II is a fascinating example of the use of high-speed steam-powered vessels built on the Clyde that were used in the American Civil War as blockade runners. That is what gives it its significance."
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- July 27 1689 - Battle of Killiecrankie in which Graham of Claverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) leading an army of Highlanders in support of the Jacobite cause, defeated King William's army under General Hugh Mackay.
- July 29 1565 - Mary, Queen of Scots, married Lord Darnley.
- July 29 1567 - King James VI (aged 13 months) crowned at the Church of the Holy Rude, beside Stirling Castle, following the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots, five days earlier.
- July 30 1938 - First edition of the long-running "Beano" comic was published.
- July 31 1786 - "Kilmarnock Edition" of the poems of Robert Burns "Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" first published.
- July 31 1965 - Cigarette advertising banned on television in Britain.
- August 1 1747 - Proscription Act introduced, banning tartan and the carrying of weapons. The penalty for a first offence was six months in jail and a second offence resulted in transportation for seven years.
- August 2 1894 - Death duties introduced for the first time in Britain.
- August 3 1305 - William Wallace betrayed and handed over to the English.
- August 4 1870 - Birth of the entertainer Sir Harry Lauder.
- August 5 1695 - The Scottish Parliament established a General Post Office.
- August 6 1678 - First Glasgow/Edinburgh coach service began from White Horse Inn, Edinburgh.
- August 8 1296 - King Edward I removed to England the Stone of Destiny on which generations of Scottish kings had been crowned.
- August 9 1935 - Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire opened after David McIntyre set up Scottish Aviation Ltd. Aircraft had been flying from the area since 1913.
Fanfare for Military TattooThere will be more than 1,000 performers from America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK at this year's Edinburgh Military Tattoo which starts next week and runs to 23 August. It is being televised by BBC1 on 23 August. In addition to the long-established massed pipes and drums and the lone piper on Edinburgh Castle battlements at the end of the show, there will be the first performance by an Indian military band in 46 years, with 40 musicians from the Indian Army Chief's Military Band. Melbourne's Rats of Tobruk from Australia will be making their sixth appearance at the Tattoo, while the Singapore Police Gurkha Pipes and drums are returning to Edinburgh after a 17-year absence. The 100-strong Golden Eagles Marching Band from South East Missouri is also performing and the all-girl Lochiel Champion Marching Drill Team from Wellington in New Zealand. is making a return visit to the sell-out show.
Tickets for 2009 Rock Concert Sell OutThe reputation of the T in the Park rock concert at Balado near Kinross is such that when half of next year's tickets for the July event were put on sale, they had sold out within hours. The early bird allocation went on sale soon after the audience had departed and were being sold at the same price as 2008. Those who missed out on a ticket will get another opportunity early next year when the initial line-up of artists will be announced.
Aberdeen International Youth FestivalThe North East's most hotly anticipated cross cultural event kicks off this weekend, with companies arriving from the UK, Switzerland and Trinidad. Over 1000 participants will take part in the 2008 Aberdeen International Youth Festival, which sees over 80 events across Aberdeen and the North East - music, dance, theatre, concerts, plays, family shows, workshops, there's something that every family member is sure to enjoy. Included in the programme is "Teechers" (sic) a fascinating and hilarious play looking at a modern comprehensive school. A total of eight new theatre productions are taking place, including "Geordie" at His Majesty's Theatre by Scottish Youth Theatre and "Monsters", an exploration of civil war by West Lothian Youth Theatre, set in the Bathgate Hills. And there are ten nights of music at the Lemon Tree arts venue with blues, indie, rock, jazz, fusion and world music on one stage. For more details, see www.aiyf.org.
Radio Six InternationalThese days many live radio shows are being broadcast over the Internet and Radio Six International from Glasgow is one of them. They broadcast a range of programmes and have recently launched a new series of Scottish music presented by the popular singer Moira Kerr. There's a wide selection here of music from Scotland - including a sprinkling of her own material. Her introductions to the tracks are based on her wide personal experience of the Scottish music scene. "Moira Kerr's Scotland" goes out on Sunday at 5pm GMT (6pm British Summer Time) and is repeated on Saturday at 1am GMT which is 9pm EST in the US. For the entire programme schedule, see www.radiosix.com.
Living FoodLiving Food takes place on Saturday 27 September at Cawdor Castle from 10 am to 5pm. This dynamic Highlands food event, now in its third successful year, is a celebration of organic produce. It is held in marquees in the beautiful grounds of the castle and will be even bigger this year featuring entertainment for all ages including special guests, over 50 produce stalls, informative food and drink lectures, live music and cookery demonstrations. Acclaimed head chef Charlie Lockley, from 4 AA rosette Boath House, an exponent of slow food and organic cookery, will be providing a cookery demonstration at the event. For further event details see www.cawdorcastle.com/news.cfm.
New Highland Movie FestivalIt will never rival Cannes or Berlin, but the "Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams" festival in the Moray town of Nairn certainly has an eye-catching title. Established by Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton in her home town, there will be no red carpets, no designer evening dresses and not many flashing cameras. But entry is just £3 - or a tray of home-baked cakes - in this unusual eight-day event being held in an old Victorian building and former picture house in the town. The emphasis is on classic and cult films which have been overlooked in recent years. The opening movie is "Peter Ibbetson", starring Gary Cooper, which was acclaimed by surrealist artists. Other films on the programme include Busby Berkeley's "Dames" and Kurosawa's "High and Low". There will also be a showing of a film adaptation of Samuel Johnson's travelogue "A Journey to the Western Isles" which stars the Scottish actor Robbie Coltraine as Dr Johnson and John Sessions as his biographer, James Boswell. Roman Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers" will be shown and Federico Fellini's "8˝" will close the event. Unlike other movie festivals, the organisers are ensuring that at least 50 tickets will be on sale at the door before each performance.
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.
Beach Celtic Festival, Toronto, CanadaThe 5th Annual Beach Celtic Festival will take place on: Saturday September 13, 2008, from noon - 7 p.m., at Kew Gardens, The Beaches, Toronto. The theme this year is "The Calling of the Clans & The Gathering of the Greens" and they are asking people to e-mail to register their family name to be announced from the stage on the day. You can also register on the day of the festival. The Beach Celtic Festival talent line-up this year includes the Wallace-Symington Highland Dancers, the Pipes & Drums of The 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion, Brogue (a celebration of Scottish and Irish music) and the Old Comrades of the 48th Highlanders. For all the details, see www.thecelticfestival.com.
MacIntyres Gather in Clan LandsNumbers at the annual Taynuilt Highland Games in Argyll last Saturday were swelled by hundreds of members of Clan MacIntyre from all over the world. The clan originated in Glen Noe, near Taynuilt in Lorn and this was the first World Gathering of MacIntyres in their homeland. Ian Malcolm Grant MacIntyre, 17th chieftain of Camus-na-h-Erie, was the games chieftain for the day. Clan members took part in the games - their tug o' war team were narrowly beaten by the locals from Taynuilt. During their visit, clan members explored Glen Noe, their personal homeland.
Magic Weekend for Murrayfield
Rugby League's "Magic Weekend" when there is a full round of Super League fixtures played over a single weekend, is to move from Cardiff to Edinburgh's Murrayfield stadium next year. The Scottish stadium successfully hosted the Rugby League Challenge Cup final in 2000 and 2002 and now takes over the Magic Weekend on a two-year deal. With one-day tickets priced at just £15 and two-day passes at £25, the event should prove to be attractive.
Aberdeen ArenaEven though Aberdeen City Council has a financial crisis on its hands as it tries to make up a £50 million budget shortfall, they are moving slowly forward on the project to create a new 22,000 seater stadium in the city which would be both a community facility and a home for Aberdeen Football Club. Consultants have been appointed to examine and report on two potential sites that have been identified. Although progress to date on the Arena project has been slow, it is still hoped that it could be built by 2012.
Murray Brothers at OlympicsTennis star Andy Murray (21) and his brother Jamie (22) have been selected by the British Olympic Association to represent Britain in the tennis doubles tournament in Beijing later this year. Andy, currently ranked world #9, will also play in the singles tournament where he may come up against Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. The tournament will take place on August 10-17, with 32 countries taking part and with 64 competitors in the singles tournament.
Musselburgh Racecourse RevampA redevelopment of Musselburgh racecourse costing £11 million and including a floodlit all-weather track, was rejected last year by East Lothian Council. But a scaled-down version is going ahead and should be completed by the end of this year. It will provide new stable blocks, a community centre, a cafe and replacing the existing BMX track. Even though the scale of the project has been considerably reduced and will cost an estimated £2.2 million, wildlife enthusiasts are not happy as they are concerned about the impact on birdlife and other animals in the area, which is a designated special protection area.
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.
Edinburgh Photo Library
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
It's a while since a new page was added to the "Edinburgh Photo Library" but the Camera Obscura is just a few yards down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. Set up in 1853, it was adopted by Sir Patrick Geddes, the "father of town planning" in 1895. There are magnificent views from the top of the tower and to help you is what is described as the "most powerful public telescope in Britain". This amazing device was installed by an optician and entrepreneur, Maria Short, long before video cameras, using daylight and a powerful mirror and lens system to project a live picture of the views from the top of the tower onto a screen within the building. The building also incorporates the World of Illusions, three floors of hands on exhibitions and curiosities to do with light, colour and chock-full of amazing optical illusions which provide a lot of fun and fascination for all ages. For more on the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions see the illustrated article at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
Best of the Recent Additions
Helensburgh Heroes Many of the finest scientific, creative and business people have very strong links with the Helensburgh area. Helensburgh Heroes is a non profit making organisation that aims to design, deliver and manage leisure and arts facilities that will educate, inform, entertain and above all, inspire future generations to emulate the area’s famous sons and daughters. There are pages giving biographical details of folk with Helensburgh connections who have made their mark on the world (including actress Deborah Kerr; Horatio Scott Carslaw, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Sydney; Jack Buchanan, Britain’s First Major Star of Stage & Screen; and Jimmy Logan an entertainment legend). Helensburgh Heroes has been created to specifically deliver projects that will blend Helensburgh’s natural and cultural heritage with a range of new leisure and arts facilities. Projects that have been identified for feasibility phase and potential execution include a Hollywood style Walk of Fame along Helensburgh’s sea front; the restoration and conversion of the derelict former East Clyde Street School into a Living Arts Centre; and the creation of a natural reserve and outdoor pursuit area. See Helensburgh Heroes.
Scottish Poetry and Song
The shearers in this "bothy ballad" are not working with sheep, but cutting the grain crops with a sickle.
The Band o' Shearers
Oh summer days and heather bells
Come blooming owre yon high hill,
There's yellow corn in a' the fields,
And autumn brings the shearin'.
Bonnie lassie will ye gang
And shear wi' me the hale day lang?
And love will cheer us as we gang
Tae join yon band o' shearers.
Oh, if the weather be owre hot
I'll cast my cravat and my coat
And shear wi' ye amang the lot,
When we join yon band o' shearers.
And if the thistle is owre strang,
And pierce your lily milk-white hand,
It's wi' my hook I'll cut them down,
When we gang tae the shearin'.
And if the weather be owre dry,
They'll say there's love twixt you and I
But we will proudly pass them by,
When we join the band o' Shearers.
And when the shearin' it is done
And slowly sets the evening sun,
We'll have some rantin' roarin' fun,
And gang nae mair tae the shearin'.
So bonnie lassie bricht and fair
Will ye be mine for evermair?
If ye'll be mine, then I'll be thine,
And we gang nae mair tae the shearin'.
Meaning of unusual words:
shearin' = cutting grain crops with a sickle
gang = go
hale day lang = whole day long
owre = over
gang nae mair = go no more
A recent study by a Scottish university claims that elderly people who drink beer or wine at least four times a week have the highest bone density. The report goes on to say that they need that extra bone density - they're the ones falling down the most....
Lachlan's Laws - # 70
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: "A man who goes into a bar optimistically usually leaves misty optically."
Willie commented wryly to his friend "My wife always gives me sound advice - 99% sound... 1% advice..."
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