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.
Programme for GovernmentThe Scottish Government this week laid out its programme for the year ahead. There are 15 bills, including proposals for replacing Council Tax with an increase in the basic rate of income tax by 3%, tackling climate change and strengthening the criminal justice system. There will be tougher legislation on the sale of alcohol and tobacco, particularly to young people, with an increase to 21 for the sale of alcohol and levying a "social responsibility" fee on pubs and clubs. The referendum on whether or not Scotland should leave the United Kingdom will not be introduced until 2010. The First Minister said he had a "single over-arching purpose to increase sustainable growth" and "that purpose is supported by our strategic objectives of building a Scotland that is safer and stronger, greener, healthier, smarter, wealthier and fairer." You can read the full statement on the programme made by the First Minister to the Scottish Parliament at Programme for Government.
Liberal Democrats Elect New LeaderThe Scottish Liberal Democrats have elected Tavish Scott as their new leader north of the border. The former transport minister and Member of the Scottish Parliament for the most northerly constituency of Shetland, won 59% of the votes. His nearest rival, Ross Finnie, won just 21.3% of the votes by party members.
Photograph courtesy of the Scottish Parliament> © Web site.
Record Low for Hospital A&E Waiting TimesThe length of time some patients had to wait in Scotland's accident and emergency (A&E) departments used to be a national disgrace as was the length of time before getting an appointment to see a hospital consultant, after being referred by a patient's doctor. Reducing those times has been a major policy of successive Scottish governments, with targets set - and outcries when they failed to be achieved. It has been a long process, but now the latest statistics show that the Scottish National Health Service (NHS) is continuing to reduce waiting times for patients, effectively meeting national maximum waiting times targets, including for first outpatient consultations, hospital inpatient and day case treatment. In June this year 98.3% of patients spent less than four hours in A&E between arrival and admission, transfer or discharge - the times for many were often far less than this, of course. And on June 30 2008, only two patients had been waiting more than nine weeks for key diagnostic tests - again the best performance ever by NHS Scotland.
Hospital Car Parking Charges ScrappedThe controversial car parking charges introduced in the last year at 17 National Health Service hospitals across Scotland have been scrapped at all but three of the locations as a result of pressure by the Scottish Government. The exceptions are Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, all of which were built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangements. A cap on charges of £3 a day was introduced in January, but now they will be dropped totally in 14 hospital car parks after 31 December this year. The government is allocating just an additional £1.4 million (equivalent to three months income) and the hospitals will lose income of £5.5 million each year. The government argues that some health trusts can manage without having charges - and that they should all be able to do so, even in the larger cities. Trade unions welcomed the move on behalf of staff who had to pay the charges (or park in streets around hospitals, if available, creating congestion in residential areas). Those attending hospital appointments or visiting friends and relatives welcomed the move which was sometimes called a "tax on illness".
More Vehicles on Scotland's RoadsDespite soaring fuel and insurance costs, the number of vehicles on Scotland's roads continues to rise. In less than ten years the number of licensed vehicles has increased by almost a third. Scottish Government figures show that there are now 2.65 million vehicles on the roads. Although car sales have declined this year, there was a 3% increase last year in new vehicle registrations. Despite the record levels of road traffic, casualty numbers from road accidents are falling, with 10% fewer people killed and 12% fewer seriously injured. The number of passenger journeys on local bus services and the railways has also been growing - numbers using ScotRail services increased 5% last year to the highest level for 40 years. Rail passenger numbers are now 45% higher than ten years ago. The number of passengers using Scotland's air terminals also reached a new record - 25.1 million, up 3% on the previous year. Despite all those extra journeys, the statistics also report that the percentage of the population who said they had walked for pleasure or to keep fit had also increased since 1999.
Gas Prices Rise By 34%Energy company ScottishPower, with 2.5 million customers in Scotland, has announced that the price of its domestic gas supplies are to rise by an average of 34%. The company did point out that nearly half of its customers have "fixed price" contracts which will at least delay the implementation date for the price hike. It is argued that the price of wholesale gas has doubled this year. 2008 has set a new record for energy price increases, eclipsing even 2006 when average prices rose by 32%. Most consumers will just cough up and put on an extra sweater at home in the winter. But there is major concern for many elderly people on fixed pensions and low-income families who will shiver in the winter as they turn off central heating for longer hours of the day. There are some expectations that the UK government will announce a raft of measures, but these have been slow to emerge.
Zoom GroundedLow-cost Canadian airline Zoom - owned by Scottish travel entrepreneurs John and Hugh Boyle - was forced to go into administration last week, grounding all aircraft and leaving thousands of passengers stranded in Canada and Britain. The transatlantic airline blamed an "unprecedented rise" in fuel costs for the failure. There was confusion about whether those with flights booked and paid for would be able to recoup the cost of tickets. In some cases, credit card companies will be forced to cover the loss With many transatlantic services flying with large numbers of empty seats, travellers should be able to make alternative arrangements with other airlines - if they can afford the ticket price. Zoom has 450 staff in Canada and 260 in Britain.
Milestone for Hydro-Electric SchemeThe first major hydro-electric power station to be built in Scotland for 40 years reached an important milestone this week when Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, closed a sluice gate to allow the water to build up on the reservoir at Glendoe, near Fort Augustus, above Loch Ness.The bulk of the construction is underground, with the only visible feature being a dam on a reservoir high up in the mountains, to the south of the loch. The drop from the reservoir to the turbines of over 600 metres is the biggest of any UK hydro-electric power station. This increases the efficiency of the system, which will produce enough energy for 250,000 homes when it begins generating electricity in early 2009. Scotland has an ambitious target of meeting 50% of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020. It has been suggested that by progressing a large number of smaller hydro electric schemes along Scotland's rivers, the target is more likely to be achieved.
National Art Collection Under ThreatThe core of the art exhibited at the National Galleries of Scotland are on loan to the collection by the Duke of Sutherland. They include four works by Titian, three by Raphael, an important self-portrait by the Dutch master Rembrandt, as well as works by Rubens and Tintoretto. The Bridgewater Collection, as it is known, is estimated to be worth a billion pounds on the open market and has been with the national collection in Edinburgh since 1945. After a "prudent review" of the family assets, the duke has decided to sell part of the collection. However, after talks with the galleries, he has proposed an arrangement which could see the collection staying in Britain for the next 21 years. But the National Galleries of Scotland, together with the National Gallery in London, will have to raise £50 million by the end of this year to buy Titian's Diana and Actaeon (see graphic). It would then be displayed on a five-year rotation between the galleries in London and Edinburgh. If that is accomplished, the two galleries would then have another four years to raise another £50 million for a second Titian, Diana and Callisto. If both paintings are bought, the rest of the Bridgewater Collection will remain in Edinburgh, on public display, for a further 21 years. On the open market each of the paintings would be worth over £100 million, but the duke says he is keen for the works to remain in public view. But if the initial £50 million is not raised, the duke will sell an unspecified number of works in the collection. It is hoped that funds for the purchase can be obtained from government and/or the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Hotel Celebrates 140th BirthdayCrieff Hydro in Perthshire is celebrating 140 years of business as Scotland’s oldest family-run hotel. The Leckie family and their staff dressed up in traditional Victorian garb to host a themed celebration - and blow out the candles on the birthday cake. It has seen many changes and modernisations since it opened in August 1868. Crieff was chosen by its Aberdonian founder as the site because it had a drier and warmer climate than Aberdeen. In the early days, guests who turned up late after the dinner bell had sounded were fined a penny. Nowadays, there are 550 employees in an establishment which is famed for its healthy and wholesome activities for families. More than £26 million has recently been invested in facilities and accommodation and the hotel won the VisitScotland Tourism Business of the Year Award last year.
Borders BanquetThis year, due to popular demand, the Borders Banquet is being held in November, with a 10-day celebration of the best restaurants, the best chefs and the best locally produced ingredients available in the Scottish Borders. The area boasts some of the best fish, game, beef and lamb in Scotland - not to mention the succulent fruit and freshest vegetables. There will be something to tempt every taste, from mouth-watering gourmet dining with wine tasting in award winning restaurants to scrumptious afternoon tea in the picturesque surroundings of the many delightful cafes. And anyone visiting the area should take their camera - autumn is a beautiful time of year in the Borders. The Borders Banquet runs from 7th - 16th November. Their Web site has recommendations for cook books, details of their favourite foodie web sites and delicious recipes featuring local produce. See www.bordersbanquet.co.uk.
Graphic courtesy of VisitScotland.
Concerns About Promotion of Scots LanguageThe Scottish Language Centre in Perth and Scottish Language Dictionaries, which supports dialects such as Doric, Dundonian and Orcadian, were unsuccessful in securing funding from the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) for next year. They received a total of £158,000 this year, but that funding runs out next April. As a result, concerns have been raised about the future promotion of the Scots language as both organisations could be forced to close unless funding is secured from elsewhere. The SAC grant amounts to 75% of the funding for the Scottish Language Dictionaries project and it is reported that redundancy notices for staff will have to be issued in November, unless a solution is found. New Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament. He argued that the rich diversity of language we have across Scotland is something to be valued and must be protected.
Double Glazing in the Frame?As part of the preservation of Edinburgh's historic character, there is a ban on the installation of double glazing in the Old and New Towns. So residents in category A and B-listed buildings cannot replace draughty old windows with double glazing, in case they change the appearance of properties. 75% of the buildings in Edinburgh's World Heritage Site are listed, so many are affected. Now rising fuel costs and environmental concerns are pushing Edinburgh City Council to looking at relaxing their rules. Many of the buildings have high ceilings - and large windows which, even with discrete draught excluders, let out a lot of heat. A trial is to be launched in Lauriston Place where an earlier study of draught excluders was carried out. But if Edinburgh Council officials are warming to the idea of allowing double glazing, the response from government agency Historic Scotland is less enthusiastic. A spokeswoman is quoted as saying: "Double glazing is not the only way to mitigate heat loss, and more economic non-invasive steps can have a good impact, without altering the original fabric of the building."
Double Award for Highland RetreatThe Torridon Inn on the shores of Loch Torridon in Wester Ross was named Pub of the Year, Scotland this week at the AA Centenary Awards 2008 held at London's Grosvenor House Hotel. And there was further good news for owners Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow when the Inn’s sister Torridon Hotel was awarded four AA Red Stars for its exceptional standard of hospitality. The Torridon Inn provides all the trimmings of a proper Highland pub - log fires, a whisky bar stocked with 80 different malts and locally sourced hearty Scottish food. The AA Hotel Services running the competition said The Torridon Inn was relaxed and stylish and the staff friendly, professional and always on hand to give advice on food, wine, whisky or the plethora of activities on the inn’s doorstep such as kayaking, guided glen walks and clay pigeon shooting. The 19-bedroom Torridon Hotel, a former shooting lodge built for the first Earl of Lovelace in 1887, has recently been sympathetically and stylishly upgraded, marrying the original character of open fireplaces and the wood-panelling throughout the previous whisky bar - boasting some 320 malts - with elegant modern fabrics, fittings and furnishings. See also www.lochtorridonhotel.com.
World Haggis Eating ChampionshipMaybe news item on the "World Haggis Eating Championship" should be in the sports section or even the entertainment section of this newsletter - but maybe not... Competitors from around the globe turned up at the 125th Birnam Highland Games in Perthshire to eat a pound of traditional haggis (made from sheep innards, oatmeal, and spices) in the fastest time. The winner was a local man, Willie Robertson from nearby Dunkeld who downed it all in two minutes and five seconds. Willie won the contest four years ago and walked (staggered?) away with a trophy and a bottle of whisky. One of the contestants, who has been trying for the title for the past three years, is the son of the mayor of Livermore in California. He has vowed not to stop until he wins. The contest is made even more difficult because only plastic knives and forks are supplied - and sometimes they break. A can of beer is provided to aid digestion, but that could be more of a hindrance than a benefit....
Pink Tartan Blossoms for JapanA designer, who has previously created tartan for ten European countries including Poland, France and Norway, has now come up with one for Japan. The design by David McGill from Edinburgh is named "Sakura" - the Javanese word for cherry blossom. So it is predominantly pink with white, green and brown. The inspiration was not just cherry blossom, but Fraserburgh-born Thomas Glover (1838-1911), the "Scottish Samurai" who did much to establish modern industrialisation in Japan. There are now an estimated 7,000 different tartans, with 150 new designs being created every year.
August Weather in ScotlandThe number crunchers have produced the weather statistics for August and proved what we all knew already - it was soggy and dull. There were some bright spots - Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles enjoyed a lot of sunshine, thank-you very much. Shetland took the title of sunniest place in Britain in August. But most of the rest of the country needed umbrellas for much of the time - and were looking out the "light boxes" sold to counteract SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), normally only needed in the depth of winter. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh had one of the wettest Augusts in living memory. Glasgow's rainfall total was over 160mm (6.3 inches), twice the normal level for the month. Edinburgh, which can usually boast less rain than Glasgow, had a similar total - but that was 250% of the usual amount and the wettest August in the Capital since records began in the late 19th century. The weather measuring station at Salsburgh in North Lanarkshire endured 225.4mm (nearly 9 inches) of rain, beating its previous worst of 189.1mm in 1992. The dullest place in Scotland was Eskdalemuir, north of Lockerbie, which enjoyed only 40 hours of sunshine in the month, compared to the 140 hours it usually gets. Bishopton, the nearest weather station to Glasgow, recorded just 66 hours of sunshine, less than half its usual amount. As if it helps, the weather men say that the poor weather is due to the polar jet stream being much further south than usual, with warm air from southern Europe mixing with cooler moist air from the Atlantic. Experts don't know why the polar jet stream has moved south, however.
Recent Weather in ScotlandAugust ended the way it had been for the rest of the month - dull and cloudy - and any hope that there would be a golden September soon disappeared. Once again it was the far north and the Western Isles that had the sunshine (Stornoway saw some sun every day this week and the island of Tiree had over 12 hours of sunshine on Friday) while most other parts of the country just had to be grateful for some sunny spells, in between the cloud and showers. Maximum daytime temperatures have been declining too, as the leaves start to drift off the trees. Edinburgh and Glasgow did reach 17C (62F) on Thursday but otherwise the maximum temperature has been around 14/16C (57/61F).
The graphic shows the rich colours of the Peacock butterfly contrast with the grey of the conifer on which is was basking.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Scone Palace, rebuilt in 1808 with a castellated roof to make it look more imposing;
~ The ornate tomb adjacent to Scone Palace of David Murray, the first Lord Scone, who saved King James VI from an attack by the Earl Gowrie in 1600;
~ Leycesteria Formosa is also known Himalayan honeysuckle and Pheasant Berry with its small white petals at the end of the long, claret-coloured bracts (see thumbnail here);
~ National Trust for Scotland mansionhouse at Hill of Tarvit, near Cupar in Fife, designed in 1906 by Hugh Lorimer;
~ The European hoverfly whose scientific name is "helophilus pendulus" - meaning "dangling swamp-lover";
~ A larger than life-sized sculpture of Sir Jimmy Shand in the Fife town of Auchtermuchty where the "King of Scottish Dance Music" lived for much of his life;
~ The markings on the upper and lower wings of the brilliant Red Admiral butterfly in the garden of Hill of Tarvit in Fife.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Preserving Scotland's Military HistoryAn appeal has been launched to allow the trustees of the Black Watch Regimental Museum to buy Balhousie Castle in Perth (seen here), where it is housed. The Ministry of Defence wants to sell the castle and over £3 million is needed to purchase the building and develop it. The castle dates back to the 15th century and in 1962 it became the regimental headquarters of the Black Watch and its regimental museum. The museum does an excellent job of showing the story of the regiment from its founding in 1739, through all the major conflicts in which the Black Watch participated - right up to the present day, when it was merged in 2006 (with the other Scottish regiments) into the Royal Regiment of Scotland, becoming a battalion in that unit. The museum trustees want to expand the facilities to ensure that the history of The Black Watch is preserved for future generations. See Black Watch Appeal.
Museum Role for Historic Church?Govan, a district of Glasgow beside the river Clyde, has been a place of continuous Christian worship for 1,500 years. Its burial ground dates back to the 5th century and the church houses 31 sculptures and a sarcophagus dating from between the 9th and 11th centuries. But as a result of the merger with two other churches in the area, the building is no longer required by the Church of Scotland. A study has been launched to look at possible future uses for the building. With its important history and the medieval sculptures already there, a museum has to be a major contender, though other possibilities include a performance venue and a visitor centre linked to local businesses. While it was used as a church, access to the historic treasures was always difficult.
Bicentenary of Brisbane ObservatoryNo, not Brisbane Australia, but Largs (Ayrshire) Brisbane Observatory which was founded by Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860) who was born near the town. Brisbane became a general in the British army and fought with Wellington against Napoleon. He was also an important figure in 19th century astronomy and he built one of the first observatories in Scotland in Brisbane Glen at Largs, charting the position of stars. In 1821, when he went to Australia as Governor of New South Wales, he took his telescopes and clocks with him and set up a similar observatory at Parramatta near Sydney, where he worked on the first major catalogue of southern stars. His legacy in Australia included an observatory which was the predecessor of today's Sydney Observatory. Brisbane in Queensland is named after him and today boasts the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. This year, the Action for Largs Brisbane Astronomical Heritage (ALBAH) has been celebrating his scientific achievements in the bicentennial of his first observatory in Largs in 1808. There has been an exhibition in Largs Museum and a dialogue between Largs and the Australian astronomers of today. Next year is the International Year of Astronomy and the Largs society is continuing to research the history of the observatory in Largs. For more information, see ALBAH and www.largsmuseum.org.uk.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- September 7 1306 - Sir Simon Fraser, the "Scottish Patriot", who fought alongside Wallace and Robert the Bruce, was executed by the English and his head displayed in London alongside that of Wallace.
- September 9 1513 - James IV and the flower of Scotland's nobility were killed in battle at Flodden Field, near Branxton, in the English county of Northumberland.
- September 10 1897 - HRH Duke of York opened the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.
- September 11 1297 - Battle of Stirling Bridge, Wallace (as famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in "Braveheart") defeats Edward I.
- September 12 1715 - Jacobites defeated government forces at Battle of Sheriffmuir.
- September 13 1644 - Battle of Aberdeen, in which the Marquis of Montrose captured the city.
- September 14 1745 - Bonnie Prince Charlie, Charles Edward Stuart, occupied Edinburgh.
- September 15 1773 - The "Hector" from Loch Broom, near Ullapool, arrives at Pictou, Nova Scotia, carrying emigrants escaping from the "Clearances".
- September 16 1859 - David Livingstone discovered Lake Nyasa.
- September 18 1818 - Theatre Royal, Glasgow, became the first theatre in Britain to be lit by gas.
- September 19 1854 - The Great North of Scotland Railway opened, running from Aberdeen to Huntly.
- September 20 1967 - Liner "Queen Elizabeth II" launched at John Brown's shipyard at Clydebank.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival StumblesFor many years, it has been as certain as night follows day that the ticket sales at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival will be higher than the previous year. But not in 2008, its 62nd year. Ten years ago the Fringe was no longer regarded as the poor relation of the main Edinburgh International Festival when it sold 734,000 tickets. In 2005, 1.34 million tickets were sold and that had risen to 1.7 million by last year. The total for 2008 was down - to just over 1.5 million. A major factor has to have been the initial technical problems with the on-line ticket sales system as there were - as usual - more performances and performers than ever. Other factors may have included the credit crunch, the rainy weather and the Olympics on TV - there was a drop in sales eight years ago, when the Olympics were also a factor. On the other hand, the main Edinburgh International Festival reported that takings had broken previous records (again), rising by 7%, and the Edinburgh Book Festival increased the number of tickets sold by 3% this year. There was nevertheless some surprise when the director of the Fringe, Jon Morgan, fell on his sword and resigned. He said that he had been considering a move "for some time" and that his decision had nothing to do with the box office problems.
Gaelic Digital TV ChannelAlba, the long-awaited Gaelic Digital TV channel, will start on Friday, September 19. The channel aims to transmit a wide range of sport, news, children's programmes, documentaries and entertainment. But many Gaelic speakers won't be able to se the programmes initially as it will only be available via satellite services (including Freesat), cable and online. After the digital switch-over in 2010, it will also become available on Freeview (in Scotland only), subject to approval by the BBC Trust. The new service will cost just over £20 million per year
Thunder in the GlensNearly 2,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles roared into Aviemore a couple of weekends ago. It was the most successful "Thunder in the Glens" event ever as bikers from as far away as Germany and Ireland turned up to meet other enthusiasts. All the bikers rode out of Aviemore in a mass exodus to Grantown, about 15 miles away, watched by crowds of onlookers. Aviemore's hostelries were packed out and hundreds attended music events at the rally’s main base at the Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort. Two Harley Davidson fans took their machines on the funicular railway to the Ptarmigan Restaurant and got married at the top of the Cairn Gorm mountain. The event wasn't all about paying homage to the Harley Davidson machine, however - the bikers raised around £20,000 for charity from auctions and raffles throughout the weekend.
Picture of Harley Davidson via Wikipedia.
The Wee Book FestivalEdinburgh's Book Festival in Charlotte Square attracts many of the big names in literature, politics and entertainment. But Scotland's "other book festival" in the Dumfriesshire town of Wigtown has an ambitious line-up of its own. The town launched its first festival ten years ago to assist in the regeneration of an ailing economy. Last year it attracted 8,000 people to its events. But it is the 20 book-related businesses (including Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop) that prop up the local economy on a year-round basis. The book festival (running from 26 September to 5 October) has a star-studded line-up, including appearances from of Fay Weldon, James Kelman, A.L. Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader. And there is also a performance by Scottish Opera. Princess Anne will also be paying a visit to thank the town's army of volunteers as well as ferry company Stenna Line which is sponsoring the event for three years.
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.
Clearances Statue Unveiled in CanadaA statue, commemorating the tens of thousands of Scots forced to leave their homes during the Highland Clearances, was unveiled last year in Helmsdale, Sutherland. The 10 feet high statue named "Emigrants" shows a man, a boy and a woman carrying a baby departing Scotland and looking ahead to a new future. The aim was to establish a memorial to the victims of the Highland Clearances - and their contribution to the countries in which they settled. Now a copy of that statue has been unveiled, by Scottish Government minister Michael Russell, near the Red River in Winnipeg, Canada, where the Earl of Selkirk settled Scottish families. Named "Exiles" this time, it is said to be the first statue outside of Scotland which commemorates those who left during the Clearances. Speaking about the monument, Mr Russell said: "The Exiles statue is a beautiful and poignant piece of art that commemorates those families who were dispossessed of their homes and land and who left for distant shores, enduring great hardship in the process. But it is also a celebration: A celebration of the contribution the emigrants made in the course of their new lives overseas, recreating a little bit of Scotland in their new homelands; and a celebration of the countries, such as Canada, that not only accepted them but embraced them." Further similar monuments are planned in other international locations.
Scottish Studies Centre, Simon Fraser UniversityThe Scottish Studies Centre is once again hosting a series of public talks on things Scottish. All events will be held from 7-8 p.m. at Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia. This year the focus will be on "Scotland Around the Globe." On Thursday, September 25, Leith Davis (English Department, SFU), will be talking on "Robert Burns in a Global Context". Then on Thursday, October 23, Ray Eagle's presentation is on "Scots in Canada: The Bell-Irvings and Dunsmuirs - A Study in Contrasts". On Thursday, November 27, in the Fletcher Challenge Theatre, Graeme Morton (Scottish Studies Program, University of Guelph) presents "Connecting Historical Memories of Scotland". The talks are free of charge, but please email email@example.com to register.
Adelaide Celebration of Robert BurnsThe Robert Burns Society of South Australia is hosting the Annual General Meeting and Conference of The Robert Burns Association of the Pacific Rim - a first for Adelaide. As part of this, a Scottish Ceilidh will be held in the Adelaide Room of the Royal Coach Motor Inn, Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town, at 7.00 pm on Saturday 11 October, 2008 and all are invited. (A "rerr terr" is guaranteed by the organisers!) There is a two-course dinner and a terrific variety of entertainment including world famous Eric Bogle (eminent Scottish-born folk singer and songwriter) and Russell Starke OAM (Art Critic and Director, Greenhill Galleries, and Adelaide City Messenger Newspaper Columnist Extraordinaire). For more details, contact the doyenne of Scottish culture in South Australia, Rosemary McKay, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picture of Burns by Alexander Naysmith via Wikipedia.
League TablesKilmarnock were briefly at the top of the Scottish Premier League last Saturday but on Sunday, in the first Celtic v Rangers derby, it was the Ibrox side which came away from Parkhead after a thrilling 4-2 win. That put Rangers at the top of the SPL on goal difference. Heart of Midlothian are third, only one point behind while that defeat pushed Celtic into 4th place, 3 points behind the leaders.
In the First Division, Livingston are at the top with 12 points after 5 games, with Queen of the South and Dundee two points behind.
Bad Start for World Cup CampaignScotland were 1-0 down after five minutes in their opening World Cup qualifier against Macedonia. A poor Scotland side struggled to equalise although James McFadden was denied a penalty claim after the interval. Scotland did show greater urgency in the second half, with some shots at goal, but Macedonia held on to win 1-0. The result will put pressure on the team - and new manager George Burley - in the next game (against Iceland on Wednesday).
Celtic Face Manchester UnitedCeltic's opponents in the group stage of this season's European Champions League will be Spanish side Villarreal, Danish champions Aalborg - and last season's winners of both the Champions League and the English Premier, Manchester United.
No Miracles for Queen of the SouthAfter losing 2-1 in Scotland in the first leg of their Uefa Cup match against Danish side Nordsjaelland, it would have needed a miracle for the "Doonhamers" to win through on the second leg. Despite an early goal by Bob Harris which brought the aggregate scores level, miracles were in short supply. In the end, Queen of the South were instead defeated again by 2-1. But the experience for the players will have gained will be well worth it.
Olympic Heroes Welcomed in EdinburghAn estimated 50,000 people turned up in Edinburgh to welcome home Scotland's Olympic sports stars as they toured in an open-topped bus in a parade down the Royal Mile and an hour-long tour of the city. Gold-medalist Chris Hoy was given the biggest cheer as he was joined by fellow Olympians David Florence, Katherine Grainger and Ross Edgar. Hoy was the first Briton for 100 years to win three golds at a single Olympics. That surpassed any previous Olympic glory by a Scottish athlete and added to his gold medal in Athens in 2004.
Andy Murray Doing Well in US OpenAs this newsletter was being finalised, Scots tennis star Andy Murray was leading world number one Rafael Nadal 2-0 in the semi-final of the US Open chamionships. He had fought through to the semi-finals by overcoming some strong opposition and won the first set against Nadal 6-2 at Flushing Meadows. The second set went to a tie-break which he eventually won 7-5. He was trailing 2-3 in the third set when tropical storm Hanna reached New York and play had to be abandoned until Sunday. The winner of this match will play Roger Federer in the final on Monday. Andy Murray has lost five times against Nadal. Murray's performance in the tournament so far has already ensured that he will move to 5th in the world tennis rankings.
McRae GatheringAround 1,000 sports cars travelled in a convoy from Lanark in Scotland to Oxfordshire in the south of England to honour former World Rally champion Colin McRae who died last year in a helicopter crash. Colin's father took the wheel of his son's trademark blue Subaru to lead off the first leg of the event. Many of those taking part were driving Subaru sports cars and those participating came from all over Europe as well as the UK. The event raised £25,000 for nominated charities.
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.
Places to Visit
Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse, Cupar, Fife
Early in the 20th century the Scotstarvit estate, south of Cupar in Fife, was bought by Frederick Bower Sharp. The Sharp family had made their fortune in Dundee, where they manufactured jute products (including selling sackcloth for sandbagging to both sides during the American Civil War). Sharp considered the 17th century Wemyss Hall on the estate to be totally unsuitable as a family home and to show off his large collection of Flemish tapestries, Chinese porcelain and bronzes, French and English Furniture and European paintings. So he commissioned Hugh Lorimer (who had worked on the restoration of Kellie Castle ten miles away). Lorimer's design largely demolished the original building to create a new building, which was given the name of Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse. His daughter (born in 1909) did not marry and when she died in 1948, she left the mansion and its contents and the estate to the National Trust for Scotland. Since then, it has become one of the Trust's most popular attractions - and justifiably so. The magnificent mansion has furniture (mostly 17th and 18th century), tapestries, paintings, porcelain, plasterwork ceilings and general sumptuous surroundings. The gardens and the wider estate offer a wealth of flowers, walks and wildlife and you can even get lessons on how to play croquet on the lawn. There is also a fascinating laundry which gives another side to the gracious living in the mansionhouse. And don't forget the tearoom in the old kitchen - where do the National Trust get staff to make such great home baking? For an illustrated article on all that Hill of Tarvit has to offer, see Places to Visit - Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
As a result of feedback and further research the article on Scottish-related place names in Sydney, Australia has been expanded. Of the names of the 758 suburbs and neighbourhoods located to date in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan area, 153 (20.2%) are based wholly or in part on place names that can be found in Scotland, on Scottish family names or on Scottish words. Of course, many of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 67 (8.8%) of these appear to have a direct or indirect connection with Scotland. For all the details, see Scottish Place Names - Sydney.
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
This article has also been updated with new information. Of the names of the 147 suburbs and neighbourhoods located to date in the Newcastle-Lake Macquarie area, 41 (27.9%) are based wholly or in part on place names that can be found in Scotland, on Scottish family names or on Scottish words. Of course, many of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 21 (14.3%) of these appear to have a direct or indirect connection with Scotland. For all the details, see Scottish Place Names - Newcastle, New South Wales.
Scottish Poetry and Song
Alexander Anderson (1845 – 1909) became a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway and generally wrote under the name of "Surfaceman". Largely self-educated, he began to send verses to the ‘People's Friend’ of Dundee in 1870. His fist book "A Song of Labour and other Poems", was published in 1873. Thanks to the support of The Peoples Friend, this issue sold out within a fortnight. Three further books followed. In 1880 he was made assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution there, he returned as Chief Librarian to the university. During these years he wrote little poetry.
All golfers (especially those who can remember their first, clumsy efforts) will appreciate the humour of this poem.
That Weary Gowf
I tried the gowfin' when at Troon,
The links are bonnie there to see,
A warm September day flung doon
Its licht to gladden heart an' ee;
I had a cleek alang wi' me,
I made it wheel, I wasna slack,
Then to the caddie said, “Now tee
The ba', an' stan' a wee bit back.”
A' games o' skill come never wrang
To ane wha has the nerve an' han',
Its just like croonin' a bit sang,
Or what a fule micht understan';
A' that ye need is just the plan,
An' where to fix a steady ee,
Then whirl the cleek, an' strike, an' than
Gang on to where the ba' may be.
I swung on high my shinin' cleek,
I struck, the caddie turned his back;
I thocht it better no' to speak,
Nor enter into ony crack.
But what a day to ha'e a walk,
Sae saft the turf, see green an' sweet,
An' then the sea laid oot a track
O' white waves to my very feet.
I dinna think I need to say
What mair I did in sic a case,
Some things are better hid away,
It gi'es ane better heart o' grace.
A bunker is an awfu' place,
An' tries the temper weel nae doot,
Ye dicht the sweit frae aff your face,
An' tine a' houps o' gettin' oot.
My frien' wha took me roun' the links,
An' got the cleek for me that day,
I aften wonder what he thinks
When he looks back upon my play.
I did my best to mak' my way,
But O, my shuider-banes were sair,
In fact, it's waur than mawin' hay,
My fingers — but I'll say nae mair.
They tell this story still at Troon,
That just when nicht begins to fa',
They hear a voice, wi' eerie soun',
That cries oot, “Ha'e ye seen a ba'?”
An' then a cleek plays clink, an' a'
The san' springs up twa yairds or three —
What can that story mean ava',
And did that voice belang to me?
Meaning of unusual words:
gowfin' = golfing
links = a seaside golf course
cleek = golf club
crack = talk, conversation
sic = such
dicht the sweit = wipe the sweat
tine a' houps =
shuider-banes = shoulder blades
waur than mawin' hay = worse than mowing hay
ava' = at all
You may find it hard to believe, but not everyone in Scotland likes haggis - one of Scotland's gifts to fine eating. There are even people who tell jokes about it (as if eating the intestines of sheep was funny..). Such as the one about Jimmy who went into the local fast food outlet in Auchenshoogle and asked for "two haggis suppers". He had won them in a raffle and had the voucher for claiming his prize of two "carry out" portions of haggis and chips (French fries in some parts of the world). When asked what other prizes had been on offer, he admitted his two haggis suppers were third prize - and that the second prize had been ONE haggis supper. First prize was just the chips (French fries) with NO haggis....
Lachlan's Laws - # 73
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: "The worst memory is the one that remembers everything."
Last Wish George had been hen-pecked by his house-proud Edinburgh wife all his married life. Eventually he passed away and when the lawyer read out George's last will and testament, everyone understood. George's final request was that his ashes should be scattered on the living room carpet...
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
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