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.
Scotland's Oldest Bank SuccumbsBank of Scotland was established in 1695 by an act of the Scottish Parliament. In 2001 it merged with Halifax, Britain’s largest mortgage provider, to form HBOS - a move which also put it in the top league of world banks. But this week it was forced into being taken over by Lloyds TSB to create a banking colossus that in normal times would never have been allowed by the competition authorities - the new bank will have a 28% of all mortgage loans in the UK, more than twice its nearest rival. However, the merger is even said to have been pushed by the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown as HBOS faced an unprecedented fall in the value of its shares, crashing from 308.5p on 9 September to a low of just 88p - though it recovered slightly from that level. Analysts said that HBOS needed to refinance over £100 billion of funding in the next few months, which was quite a challenge after the financial turmoil and the lack of confidence in the market after the collapse of Lehman brothers. The bank claimed it was "very confident" about its funding position, pointing to its £258 billion of retail deposits for 15 million savers as the UK's largest savings institution. But credit rating agency Standard & Poor downgraded HBOS and billions were wiped off its market value.
The take-over means the loss of a prestigious corporate banking HQ in Edinburgh (pictured here) and big losses for long-term shareholders, including pension funds, who have seen HBOS shares slump from over 1000p less than 18 months ago to a likely takeover price of around 200p depending on the value of Lloyds TSB shares. The take-over also poses a threat to the jobs of tens of thousands of staff in administration functions and in the branch network where the two banks overlap. HBOS has more than 17,000 staff in Scotland, while Lloyds TSB employs more than 7,000. The combined staff of the banks across the UK would be around 140,000. It is understood that the Bank of Scotland will retain its building on The Mound in Edinburgh as its Scottish HQ and will continue to issue its own banknotes and the branches will continue to be branded as Bank of Scotland.
Revamp for Edinburgh's "Ugliest Building"The 1970s St James Shopping Centre and adjacent New St Andrew's House offices in Edinburgh's World Heritage Site have long been regarded as an eyesore and dubbed Edinburgh's ugliest city centre buildings. Considering some of the monstrous things done in the "modernisation" of Princes Street, that's quite an achievement. City planners have long hoped that a redevelopment of the 13-acre site would restore the city's reputation both for architecture and as a shopping destination. Plans have at last been submitted for a new "St James Quarter" the design of which is said to have been inspired by the original cityscape and layout of Edinburgh's New Town, with a crescent-shaped galleria as its centrepiece. The plans will double the amount of retail space currently provided in the centre to more than one million square feet, with space for up to 90 stores. Nearly 250 new homes will also be built in the area, as well as 15,000 square feet of office space, a hotel and 1,800 car parking spaces. If planning permission is granted, work on the development will begin in 2011, with completion expected by 2016.
Airport Authority Delays Showground MoveWhen the British Airports Authority (BAA) announced that it needed to take over the Royal Highland Showground so that it could expand Edinburgh airport, there was consternation in the farming community and the Capital itself at the thought of losing the site of the showpiece annual agricultural show - and the other events that take place there. But when an alternative site was identified - on the other side of the A8 road from the present one - the Royal Highland Showground Society began drawing up plans for a bigger and better facility, partly funded by compensation from BAA. Relocation was scheduled for 2013, but now the airport owners have announced a phased development which would delay the showground needing to relocate until 2020. Current forecasts predict that Edinburgh airport passenger numbers of 9.1 million will rise to 12.7 million by 2013 and to 17.6 million by 2020. But BAA say that a second runway will not now be required in the same timescale. The £350 million cost of the relocation of the showground and the increased landing charges airlines would have to pay to fund it seem to be a major factor. The Royal Highland Showground Society are understandably upset, to put it mildly.
Glasgow Airport "Not For Sale"Responding to criticism in a report by the UK's Competition Commission last month, the British Airports Authority (BAA) has announced that it is to sell Gatwick airport, one of its three terminals in the London area. But even though the Competition Commission identified "significant competition problems" because of BAA's dominant position in Scotland where it owns Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, BAA has insisted that it will not sell any of its Scottish hubs. BAA is owned by Spanish giant Ferrovial, which bought the firm in 2006. The prospect of a sale of Glasgow airport (the most likely of the three sites if any are to be sold) was greeted with some enthusiasm in Scotland as there is a view that competition would sharpen up the service for both customers and airlines. The Competition Commission is still to publish its final recommendations, so a sale of Glasgow airport might still be forced through.
Ferry Service to Belgium EndsThe "Superfast" ferry service from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium began in May 2002 as the only direct ferry route between Scotland and mainland Europe. Initially there were two roll-on, roll-off ferries carrying up to 620 passengers, 115 cars, caravans and motorcycles and 110 lorries. The former Royal Navy base at Rosyth was converted into a ferry terminal and there were high hopes of success. But only three years later, as the anticipated take-up by freight transport companies failed to materialise, the service was cut to every second day. Then, earlier this year, the Greek company running the service announced that it was withdrawing totally as the route was unprofitable. The final service sailed last Saturday, after carrying nearly a million passengers and 4.2 million tonnes of freight. Strenuous efforts had been made to find another operator and this week it was announced that ferry firm Norfolkline will operate the Rosyth to Zeebrugge route - but will not start operations until next spring. Norfolkline, is part of the A.P. Møller-Mærsk Group based in Denmark.
Worst Local Authority for Tax CollectionA survey of unpaid local tax in 400 councils across the UK has highlighted - again - that Glasgow is the worst local authority for collecting council tax with nearly £22 million of missing money. Even Birmingham (with a larger population) has failed to collect less (£16 million). Glasgow City Council claims that it has improved from the previous year, pushing the collection rate up to 88% from 86% in 2006/07. The non-payment just means that the other payers of council tax (based on property values) have to pay more.
The illustration shows Glasgow City Chambers (effectively "city hall").
New Leader of Scottish Labour Party MSPsIain Gray has been elected the new leader of the Scottish Labour Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), beating off challenges from Andy Kerr and Kathy Jamieson. The vacancy (or poisoned chalice, depending on your point of view) arose last June when Wendy Alexander resigned after controversy over donations to her campaign for leadership the previous year. Iain Gray is aged 51 and was a teacher of maths and physics before leaving to teach in Mozambique and then become director of Scotland's Oxfam charity. Elected to the Scottish Parliament in the first Holyrood elections of 1999, he was minister for social justice and later held the ministerial brief for enterprise, transport and lifelong learning. He lost his Scottish Parliament seat in 2003 to the then Conservative leader David McLetchie. He was returned to Holyrood in 2007 as MSP for East Lothian and was appointed Labour finance spokesman. With the Labour Party at its lowest approval rating since such measurements began, he has a tough job to do.
Photograph courtesy of the Scottish Parliament> © Web site.
Scottish Green Party Leader Standing DownRobin Harper, the veteran Scottish Green Party Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), has announced that he is to stand down as co-leader in November and will not be standing as an MSP at the next election in 2011. The 68-year-old was the first Green parliamentarian to be elected in 1999 under the partial proportional representation electoral system which favours smaller parties. He is also Scotland's longest serving party leader - not surprising, given the revolving doors seen in the Labour Party in particular. The Scottish Greens have a male/female co-leadership under their equal rights policy, but Robin Harper has long been the public face of the group. He has suggested that the Greens should consider appointing a single, overall leader. That would likely be the only other Green MSP, Patrick Harvie.
Photograph courtesy of the Scottish Parliament> © Web site.
Poor Health Due to Lack of Sunshine?A report published this week blames Scotland's poor health record on the weather - and the lack of vitamin D which is mainly produced by exposure to the sun. A deficiency in vitamin D is twice as common among Scots as it is in England, with the average Scot having a level of the essential vitamin at four times lower than south of the border. In the past, social deprivation, poor diet and lack of exercise have been blamed for Scotland having the highest premature mortality rates in Western Europe. The north of Scotland, including the Highlands, averages under 1,000 hours of sun a year, central Scotland averages around 1,300 hours - while the south of England enjoys around 1,700 hours of sun a year.
Thousands Stranded as Airline CollapsesThousands of passengers were stranded abroad and at Glasgow Airport as holiday firm XL was forced into administration. XL provided package holidays to Corfu in Greece, Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands, Dalaman in Turkey and Florida in the US from three UK airports, including Glasgow. In total, 85,000 Britons found themselves in these overseas destinations, trying to find alternative ways of getting back home. Any additional costs incurred would not be covered by normal travel insurance. Those who had paid in advance for bookings may eventually get a refund if covered by ABTA or if payment was made by credit card, but many will lose all their money, including those paying by debit card. XL blamed high fuel costs for the collapse.
National Trust Chief ResignsThere have been media reports of "tensions" between Shonaig Macpherson, the chairwoman of the National Trust of Scotland and its chief executive, Mark Adderley. There have been suggestions that the board and chief executive were no longer in agreement on how to bring the finances of the heritage body back into the black to cut a £3 million deficit. Redundancies and staff leaving of their own accord have been accompanied by stories of morale at rock bottom. Income from members has grown by 13% due to a combination of increased numbers joining the organisation and higher annual membership fees. But the fall in the value of funds has dropped by £12 million due to lower stock market prices. Now the chief executive has suddenly resigned from the charity as staff contested a pay freeze and objected to the number of senior staff being paid over £60,000 rising from one last year to nine this year. Mr Adderley's salary went up by £40,000 to over £170,000 - as the organisation tried to reduce costs. The National Trust for Scotland now has almost 300,000 members and looks after 128 properties across the country.
Mobile Phone Service for Glasgow SubwayTelecommunications company O2 is to provide mobile phone access at some of the underground stations on Glasgow's subway train system. The UK lags behind many European and Asian nations in providing mobile access to underground train passengers and the Glasgow system will be ahead of the London underground in this regard. Although initially the service will be confined to the five busiest stations and platforms, it may be extended to other stations and the trains themselves. Glasgow's underground train service only has 15 stations and trains running either clockwise or anti-clockwise around two circular tunnels only 6.5 miles long. The new mobile phone access will provide third-generation services such as video, Internet access and multi-media messaging as well as voice calls and texts.
England the Most Crowded Country in EuropeNo wonder so many English people come to live in Scotland or spend holidays here and enjoy the wide open spaces! New figures published this week show that there are now 395 people for every square kilometre in England, putting the density of population above Holland, previously the most crowded country in Europe. Estimates for the future suggest that the population density will rise to 464 people for every square kilometre by 2031, with much of the increase concentrated in the south-east of England. And Scotland? We have fewer that 70 people per square kilometre, though the figures are distorted a bit by the large areas of the Highlands where very few people live.
"Best Place to Eat in Glasgow"Michael Caines' fine dining restaurant located in the ABode Glasgow hotel has been listed as the best place to eat in the city by the respected "The Good Food Guide 2009". The restaurant scored the highest rating in Glasgow for restaurants in their category. The annual Good Food Guide is widely regarded in the food industry and is now in its 57th year. The Guide independently reviews restaurant across all of the UK, and has retained its position as Britain’s leading restaurant review. As each assessment is conducted by a talented and respected critic, and done so without the knowledge of the restaurant under review, the result is a guide packed with independent and honest recommendations of the very best places to dine throughout the country. In opulent surroundings, ABode Glasgow serve a delicious combination of modern European / British cuisine with a heavy emphasis on local sourcing. Head chef Craig Dunn is no stranger to awards - he was shortlisted for Restaurant Chef of the Year at the Scottish Chef Awards this year and ABode was named Restaurant of the Year in the Eat Scotland Awards in 2007. The ABode Glasgow is one of 4 hotels in the ABode chain. Bearing in mind the high standards, room costs are modest, beginning at £140 per room, per night, based on 2 people sharing. See www.abodehotels.co.uk/glasgow.
Number of Flood Warnings SoarLast year the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) issued 13 severe flood warnings throughout the whole of 2007. This year the environmental agency has published 75 such warnings - a five-fold increase. And there are more than three months to go before the final total for 2008 is reached. On the other hand, as warnings are issued every six hours, a few days of floods, such as that experienced in the south-east of Scotland in January this year, can result in a lot of warnings. But the increased rainfall arising from global warming was predicted by environmental groups some time ago. Rising temperatures mean more evaporation from the oceans and it condenses when the winds reach land and high ground. Of course, the impact is not being felt evenly - some areas are suffering more severe droughts and others - like Scotland, in the path of prevailing south-westerly winds from the Atlantic - are getting more than their "fair share".
Inverness to China Air Service?It sounds as implausible as a school of Loch Ness monsters appearing on a regular basis on Scotland's largest loch (by volume). But the marketing organisation Highlands Loch Ness claims that they got an "astonishing" reaction at top-level meetings held during a major tourist event in the city of Shenyang, north of Beijing. And they now want to investigate the possibility of direct international charter flights between Inverness and the Chinese city which has a population of 7 million (larger than the population of the whole of Scotland). Looks as though Shenyang has done a remarkable job in selling their city to the Highland tourism body.
Recent Weather in ScotlandRain continued to be a major feature of the weather in the last couple of weeks, with flooding in the Scottish Borders. While the number of homes affected was not large, farmers are describing as "catastrophic" the waterlogged fields with crops unharvested and cereal crops that are cut needing expensive drying out to get the moisture content down to an acceptable level. So far, only about half the harvest has been brought in and in many cases it was of poor quality. Some Borders farms had suffered from the equivalent of half the usual annual rainfall in 40 days and, in some cases, five inches in 48 hours. Temperatures this week have been lower, with Edinburgh reaching only 12C (54F) on Tuesday and the average being in the range 14/15C (57/59F). There was an improvement at the end of the week, however, with Aberdeen and the north-east reaching over 20C (68F) and actually seeing some sunshine. The outlook over the next few days is for some fine weather, with some sun - at last!
The picture here is of rowan berries (mountain ash).
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include: ~ Culzean Castle, built by the Earls of Cassillis, who engaged Robert Adam between 1777 and 1792 to design the splendid building; ~ A Chiffchaf (so named because its repetitive song sounds exactly like "chiffchaff") which will shortly be flying off to southern Europe or North Africa for the winter (see thumbnail here); ~ A demented-looking Chiffchaff, jumping up to grab some seeds growing at the top of the stem of a wild plant; ~ A young Acer showing the sure signs of the advance of autumn/fall; ~ Red Admiral Butterfly enjoying the Verbena flowers in the walled garden of Culzean Castle Country Park in Ayrshire; ~ Large White butterfly shining out from the top of a tall Verbena flower, this time in Drumpellier Country Park in North Lanarkshire.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Genealogist's Treasure TroveAn on-line database has been launched with the names of four million Britons, many of them Scots, who sailed to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries to seek a new life in one of the largest-scale migrations in Britain's history. The records also include many holidaymakers and travellers, businesspeople, crew members and historical figures such as foreign leaders, scientists and celebrities. They include Alexander Graham Bell, who emigrated from Edinburgh to Ontario in 1870 to continue working on his invention of the telephone. And Falkirk-born Tommy Douglas, who moved with his family to Winnipeg in 1910 and later founded Canada's universal public healthcare. 150,000 foster children sent overseas alone as part of the Child Emigration Scheme at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries are also included. The database is fully indexed and searchable, with information including passengers' first and last names, estimated birth years, years of arrival, ports of arrival and departure, ship names, occupations and final destinations in Canada. See the Ancestry.com site.
Saving the Falls of ClydeThe waterfalls in Lanarkshire on the river Clyde are known as the "Falls of Clyde" and that is also the name of a 130-year-old ship docked at the Hawaii Maritime Center in Honolulu Harbor. The rigging of the ship has been removed and the masts taken down and the owner, the Bishop Museum, says it does not have the money to restore the ship. As a result, it is now under threat of being towed out to sea and scuttled. The iron-hulled four-masted sailing ship was built in Scotland in 1878 for the Falls line and served as a passenger and freight carrying vessel in the Pacific. The venerable vessel was donated to the museum in 1968. It is estimated that basic preservation work would cost between $1 million and $2 million but full restoration could cost an estimated $32 million. However, a local group, the Friends of Falls of Clyde, led by Bruce McEwan who is also chieftain of the Caledonian Society of Hawaii, is mounting a campaign to save the ship and preserve it for Hawaii. The preservation campaign group is seeking funding and support via its web site at www.savethefallsofclyde.com.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- September 21 1513 - King James V crowned at Stirling Castle.
- September 23 1678 - The Earl of Mar was commissioned to raise a regiment nicknamed "Earl of Mar's Gray Breeks" which later became the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
- September 24 1332 - Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol, crowned at Scone. He was deposed by supporters of David II in December 1332, restored in 1333, deposed again in 1334, restored in 1335 and finally deposed in 1341.
- September 25 1956 - The first telephone cable connecting the UK and North America "went live". 2,240 miles long, the cable ran from Gallanach Bay, near Oban in Argyll and Bute, to Clarenville, Canada.
- September 26 1290 - Queen Margaret, Maid of Norway ("Eiriksdotter") died, en route from Norway to Scotland.
- September 27 1938 - The 80,000-ton liner Queen Elizabeth, then the largest passenger ship ever built, launched at John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank.
- September 28 1396 - "Battle of the Clans" between clans Chattan and Kay on the North Inch, Perth, in front of King Robert III.
- September 29 1621 - Charter granted to Sir William Alexander of Menstrie to colonise the "Baronetcy of Nova Scotia".
- September 30 1928 - Announcement of the discovery of penicillin by Ayrshire-born Sir Alexander Fleming.
- October 1/5 1263 - Battle of Largs - Scots defeated the Vikings who were attempting to invade.
- October 2 1931 - Death of Sir Thomas Lipton, grocer, tea merchant and contestant for the "Americas Cup".
- October 3 1357 - Treaty of Berwick, freeing David II from imprisonment by the English.
- October 4 1883 - Boys' Brigade founded in Glasgow.
T in the Park Named Festival of the YearThe Vodafone Live Music Awards this week named the T in the Park rock festival at Balado near Kinross as the "festival of the year". And Scottish group Primal Scream received Best Live Act and Outstanding Contribution to Live Music prizes. This was the 15th year of the popular T in the Park rock festival which is Scotland's biggest event of this kind. This year it had 114 bands on six stages over more than three days of performances
Gaelic TV LaunchedFriday saw the launch of Scotland's new Gaelic TV station, BBC Alba with a mix of drama and factual and children's programmes. On the first night (it broadcasts only from 5pm to 11pm each evening) there was a live concert from Skye and an original drama called Eibheas, set in 1970s Lewis, starring Greg Hemphill as Elvis - his character speaks in English. It is hoped that the channel will appeal to a wider audience than the 60/80,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland. But it will struggle initially as it can only be viewed on digital satellite or cable channels. It will not be shown on the most popular digital system, Freeview, until at least 2010.
Edinburgh Street Party Tickets Cost MoreThe passes to participate in Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party used to be free, but as the event grew in popularity - and costs of staging it increased too - a nominal fee was introduced. Last year that was £5 but tickets for the New Year's Eve event this year have doubled to £10 - though the first 10,000 passes will cost only £5 and are aimed at local party-goers. 100,000 tickets go on sale from Friday 3 October. The full programme of events for the four-day Hogmanay programme will not be known until November.
Highland HogmanayThe Highland city of Inverness has announced an ambitious programme of events for their seven week long Winter Festival. There will be a bigger than usual Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) party when the sky above Inverness Castle will be ablaze with fireworks. The festival will begin with the switch-on of the Christmas lights on 20 November and will be followed by a concert on 30 November (St Andrew's Day) featuring performances by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Highland Council was severely criticised for spending £250,000 on a torchlight procession and 14-minute firework display to mark the Old Scottish New Year on 12 January this year. This time the fireworks will be on Hogmanay, with a concert by "a major Scottish band" also being lined up. There are concerns that the Highland Council has left the planning a bit late as many major bands are already booked elsewhere. The Blazin’ Fiddles group has already turned down an invitation to perform due to a prior booking. Other events on Hogmanay that have been suggested include seven-a-side football, a Highland games challenge, and an Auld Lang Syne "world-record attempt" in the streets of Inverness.
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.
Scots in AustraliaScots and their descendants are Australia's third largest immigration group and now much of their history - from 1788 to the present - has been documented in a long-overdue book. Nobody, least of all the Scots in Australia, will be surprised to find that the Scots have had an influence in Australia disproportionate to their numbers. "The Scots in Australia" has a wealth of detail, history, biography and anecdote and examines some of the myths and commonly held assumptions. The 334 page hardback is available from Amazon and the UK publishers Blackwell.
South African TattooBased on the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh (though without the benefit of a castle backdrop), The South African Tattoo took place from 11 to 14 September at Montecasino in Johannesburg. The event ran non-stop for 90 minutes each day, with no interval and with many of the acts overlapping to keep the momentum going and the crowd transfixed. Some of the events have also performed at the Edinburgh Tattoo, including the "Top Secret" band from Switzerland (seen here at the Edinburgh event) and the famous Navy Gun Run with competing teams taking apart, transporting and re-assembling a field gun. There were also horseback displays by the mounted unit of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department - and crowd favourites such as the massed pipe bands. The performances are in aid of a local charity to pay for a life-saving heart operation for a South African child.
League TablesRangers are top of the Scottish Premier with 13 points, one ahead of Hearts (who have played one more match) and 3 ahead of Celtic and Kilmarnock. Rangers, Celtic and Kilmarnock (and Motherwell) are all playing on Sunday.
In the First Division, Livingston lie 2 points ahead of Partick Thistle at the top of the table, with Queen of the South one point further back.
First Win for Scotland ManagerScotland's campaign to qualify for the Football World Cup got back on track last week with a 2-1 win in the Iceland capital of Reykjavik. Iceland are not highly ranked in the FIFA table at 107th, so on paper Scotland should have won comfortably. But then they should have won the first match against Macedonia - and lost 1-0. Scotland started well against Iceland, with Kirk Broadfoot, making his international debut, heading in a corner after 18 minutes. Later, a penalty kick by James McFadden was saved, but he pounced on the rebound to score (though team-mate Barry Robson claimed he got a touch too). Late in the game, the Scots skipper Stephen McManus was sent off for a handball in the penalty area and the resulting penalty was slotted away by Eidur Gudjohnsen. That resulted in a tense final 13 minutes but the Scots hung on to give manager George Burley his first win. Scotland's next game is against Norway on 11 October in Glasgow. Norway were ranked 34th in September - and could only draw 2-2 against Iceland in their first match of this tournament.
Celtic Struggle in Champions LeagueCeltic could only manage a goalless draw in their Champions League opening match at Parkhead against Danish champions AaB Aalborg - a team perceived to be the weakest in Celtic's group. Celtic usually have an excellent record in home games - and a poor one away from home. It looked as though the Glasgow club would take the lead when they were awarded a penalty when Shaun Maloney was brought down in the penalty box. But Barry Robson, who is usually so dependable in spot kicks, failed to score. Celtic picked up the pace in the second half, but to no avail.
Motherwell Hang on in Uefa CupAlthough Motherwell lost 1-0 in their Uefa Cup match against French club AS Nancy, they still have a chance of progressing further if they can capitalise on home advantage in the second leg. Over 2,000 Motherwell fans travelled to north-east France for the club's first European foray since 1995. Motherwell concentrated on defence, with only one designated striker up front. The hero of the match was probably goalkeeper Graeme Smith who blocked a penalty in the second half of the game to give the Steelmen a fighting chance.
Manager of the MonthThe new season's Clydesdale Bank Premier League "manager of the month" for August is Kilmarnock's Jim Jefferies. The club made an excellent start to the season with three wins and a draw, but lost last Saturday to Rangers. Even so, they were third top in the Scottish Premier League before this weekend's games.
Andy Murray Reaches First Grand Slam FinalAfter defeating world tennis No 1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the US Open Tennis Championships at Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York in a thrilling four-set match, Andy Murray from Dunblane became the first Briton to reach a Grand Slam final in more than a decade. Had he defeated the four-times defending champion Roger Federer in the final, Murray would have been the first Briton to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry in 1936. In the end, Federer swept the Scot aside 6-2 7-5 6-2, the title bringing the Swiss champion to one Grand Slam title behind Pete Sampras in the all-time list. But in addition to receiving the runner-up trophy and a large cheque, Murray has the consolation in knowing that his efforts at Flushing Meadow have propelled him to #4 in the world tennis rankings.
Swimming from Ireland to ScotlandColleen Blair, aged 30, has become only the third woman (and 9th person) to swim between Northern Ireland and Scotland. She took 15 hours and 25 minutes to swim the 23-mile Northern Channel between County Antrim and the Rhins of Galloway. She had to rush by boat from Scotland to Northern Ireland when the weather conditions became favourable and began swimming at 7.30am the following morning. Weather and tides stopped her last summer and on this occasion strong currents and being stung by a jellyfish made the crossing very difficult. At one stage she travelled only a mile and a half in five hours. Colleen has already swum the English Channel and circumnavigated Manhattan Island - and is a member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association.
The "Magazine" section includes songs/poems of Scotland, Scottish humour and brief descriptions of Scottish Culture items added recently to the Rampant Scotland Website - with a link to the page where you can find the full feature, if you find the subject of interest to you.
Great Places to Stay in Scotland
The Inn at Inverbeg, Loch Lomond, Argyll
Loch Lomond has been a magnet for visitors for centuries. Its easily accessible wild grandeur encourages an estimated 7 million people to visit Loch Lomond every year, driving up the lochside, less than 20 miles from Glasgow city centre. Located around half-way along the western shore of Loch Lomond, there has been an Inn at Inverbeg since 1814. In 2007 the Inn was bought by the local Colquhoun family and with their knowledge and a respect for the traditions of the building, they embarked on a major modernisation and expansion of the property. The aim was to retain as far as possible the original feel of a traditional drover's inn and the design consultant has achieved that with an impressive mix of features in the public areas and simple elegance in the bedrooms. My first reaction on entering The Inn at Inverbeg was - "Wow - impressive!" And that view continued around the building and eating in the restaurant. Food is of a very high standard - and plenty of it - and all the staff I met were most pleasant and helpful. There is a relaxed atmosphere - just what is needed for anyone whizzing along the A82 lochside road! It's always good to come across places that give a good impression of Scotland and Scottish food. So whether you are going to Loch Lomond by the high road or the low road - The Inn at Inverbeg can be personally recommended as an ideal place to stay and eat. For a fuller review, see Great Places to Stay - The Inn at Inverbeg, Loch Lomond.
Best of the Recent Additions
Not quite "streets" in the case of Scotland, but nevertheless highly detailed graphics of historic maps from the 1500 to 1880 of a large number of areas of Scotland (as well as the rest of the UK & Ireland, Americas, Middle East & Far East). All images can be reviewed by using a zoom functionality which allows the user to view the maps in a surprising level of clear detail. There are maps by such important cartography as William Roy's first survey of Scotland in 1748-1755 creating a library of over 130 historical maps. Access to the site is free and you can purchase printed copies of any of the maps. See History Streets.
Scottish Poetry and Song
John Stuart Blackie (1809–1895) was a Scottish scholar and man of letters. He was born in Glasgow and educated at the New Academy and afterwards at the Marischal College, in Aberdeen, where his father was manager of the Commercial Bank. After rejecting a career in the church and then becoming a lawyer, his love of the classics and letters in general, led to him being appointed to the newly-instituted chair of Humanity (Latin) in the Marischal College. His enthusiastic lecturing style and a translation of Aeschylus, which he published in 1850, brought him to the attention of Edinburgh University and in 1852 he was appointed there to the professorship of Greek, in succession to George Dunbar, a post which he held for thirty years. Blackie had a sympathy for highland home life and the grievances of the crofters there. This "Song of the Country" pushes all the buttons and levers for country life in preference to "the dust and the din of the town".
A Song of the Country
Away from the roar and the rattle,
The dust and the din of the town,
Where to live is to brawl and to battle,
Till the strong treads the weak man down!
Away to the bonnie green hills
Where the sunshine sleeps on the brae,
And the heart of the greenwood thrills
To the hymn of the bird on the spray.
Away from the smoke and the smother,
The veil of the dun and the brown,
The push and the plash and the pother,
The wear and the waste of the town!
Away where the sky shines clear,
And the light breeze wanders at will,
And the dark pine-wood nods near
To the light-plumed birch on the hill.
Away from the whirling and wheeling,
And steaming above and below,
Where the heart has no leisure for feeling
And the thought has no quiet to grow.
Away where the clear brook purls,
And the hyacinth droops in the shade,
And the plume of the fern uncurls
Its grace in the depth of the glade.
Away to the cottage so sweetly
Embowered 'neath the fringe of the wood,
Where the wife of my bosom shall meet me
With thoughts ever kindly and good;
More dear than the wealth of the world,
Fond mother with bairnies three,
And the plump-armed babe that has curled
Its lips sweetly pouting for me.
Then away from the roar and the rattle
The dust and the din of the town,
Where to live is to brawl and to battle
Till the strong treads the weak man down.
Away where the green twigs nod
In the fragrant breath of the May,
And the sweet growth spreads on the sod,
And the blithe birds sing on the spray.
Whisky and Water Don't Mix
McGrouther had been the owner of the only bar in Auchenarder and on his retiral the locals looked in amazement at the grand mansion he was building in which he was to spend his retirement. An old friend visited him and said with a smile: "I suppose it was all that whisky you sold that produced the profits for that palatial house you're building?" McGrouther thought for a moment and then admitted: "Na, na - it wisnae the whisky. It was the water I put in the whisky that made me rich..."
Lachlan's Laws - # 12
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 have any useful advice to pass on to your children - do it while they're still young enough to believe you know what you're talking about."
Taken to the Cleaners
The brash young vacuum cleaner salesman was going door to door in Ecclefechan and his polished technique was successfully getting orders. Full of optimism he knocked at the door of a wee cottage at the end of the village and an old lady answered. As soon as she realised what he was, she told him to clear off, saying she had no money, and tried to close the door. But the salesman wedged his foot in the door and continued his sales patter. "Wait till you see the demonstration" he insisted. "I've got a bucket of soot and horse manure and this vacuum cleaner will remove every trace." Before she could stop him, the salesman threw the contents of the bucket on the hall floor. "If this vacuum doesn't make the floor spotless," he insisted, "I'll personally eat the remainder." The old lady smiled and raised her eyebrows. "In that case, I hope you have a good appetite. The electricity was cut off this morning..."
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