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.
Roadworks Cause Gridlock in Capital
Edinburgh city centre ground to a standstill earlier this week on the first day of roadworks at a busy junction at the Mound and Princes Street. Buses were held up for well over an hour and many passengers got off and walked to work instead. The lights on Princes Street got stuck on red, so buses eventually had to drive through them rather than sit still. The work is in preparation for Princes Street being closed to all traffic for six months from January 2009 as a result of work involved in the laying of track for the new tramway system. The executive chairman of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (known locally as Tie - but also by other names not fit to print) issued a statement apologising for the delays. After a top level meeting, further changes to the system were implemented on Thursday. Last year, the newly elected Scottish government suffered its first defeat when Parliament approved the £500 million project, which had been pushed by the previous administration and Edinburgh City Council.
The picture above shows an earlier phase of the roadworks in Princes Street.
Free School Meals
After a pilot project run in Fife involving 35,000 pupils, the Scottish government has announced that it will introduce legislation which will give free school meals to all children in primary one to three (aged roughly 5 to 7) from August 2010. During the pilot, the number of children taking lunches provided in school rose from 53% to 75%. The aim is to boost healthy eating, with evidence that kids were trying new foods at school - and then asking for similar healthy items at home. While agreeing with the aims, some local authorities are questioning the plan as they claim the government is not going to provide any additional cash to pay for the scheme - estimated to cost up to £50 million a year. They say that cuts will have to be made in other services and in some cases the school facilities will not be big enough to cope with the increased uptake. But a government spokesman denied there was a finance problem, saying an additional £40 million is included in the forecast budget for 2010.
Life Expectancy ImprovingFirst, the good news. Life expectancy of those living in Scotland is improving - boys born between 2005 and 2007 can expect to live to 74.8 years while girls can expect to live to 79.7 years. Of course, there are variations depending on the part of the country. For example, Glasgow men have the lowest life expectancy in the country, at 70.8 years - more than seven years less than men in the neighbouring region of East Dunbartonshire. Compared with 10 years ago, life expectancy has improved by two and a half years for men and by nearly two years for women. But the bad news is that although we are living longer in Scotland, we still die sooner than people in most European countries, according to official figures. Only the former Soviet bloc states rank below Scotland.
Recorded Crime at 25-year-lowScottish government justice secretary Kenny MacAskill this week welcomed a fall in recorded crime in Scotland with figures showing it was at its lowest level in a quarter of a century. All crime, including murder and attempted murder, has declined and even figures for vandalism fell last year. But as with all statistics, the data has to be treated with some caution. The figures only tally the number of crimes "reported" to the police and regrettably many members of the public believe that there is little point in reporting crime - or are fearful of reprisals if they get involved. Nevertheless, the data is measured each year on a similar basis so some comfort can be taken from the decline.
Local Government Strike SuspendedThe trade union which represents 100,000 local government workers in Scotland announced that a further 24-hour strike by their members would take place on 6 October. The strikes mean that local authority services including refuse collection, schools, social services, sports centres, art galleries and museums, libraries are all out of action. However, this week, as the next strike loomed, the local authorities made an "improved offer". While this did not meet the union's demand for the proposed wage increase to be raised from 2.5% to the 5% they had demanded, it was sufficient to persuade the union to "suspend" strike action so that further talks could take place.
Visitor Numbers FallWet weather and the credit crunch were being blamed for a 10% fall in the number of visitors this summer to the tourist attractions maintained by Historic Scotland, the government's agency responsible for historic monuments across the country. Between April and September, 1.9 million people visited the organisation's 360 attractions, 216,00 fewer than in the same period last year. Edinburgh Castle, the "jewel in the crown", saw a decline in numbers of 13% and other main attractions such as Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace (pictured here), Melrose Abbey and Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries all saw a fall in visitor numbers.
Bags for LifeIn an effort to cut down on the over 8,000 tonnes of plastic bags used in Scotland each year, a number of supermarkets have been issuing customers with free, reusable plastic bags which last for a considerable amount of time - and which the companies will replace "for life" if they are brought back and exchanged for a new one. These voluntary schemes are having an impact, but now all the major supermarkets have met with the Scottish government and have pledged to try to cut the number used by 50% by next spring. Each retailer will adopt their own initiatives to achieve the target - some are already charging for plastic bags and others are just "encouraging" customers to cut down. Environmentalists have been trying to get a mandatory "plastic bag tax" introduced in an attempt to cut the amount going to landfill by 90%, but the voluntary "softly softly" approach is being tried first. It is noticeable that in supermarkets where reusable plastic bags have been pushed hardest, customers go through the checkouts faster as they don't have to stand fiddling with single use plastic bags which are always hard to open!
More Spending Cuts for AberdeenAberdeen City Council has been forced to amalgamate schools and cut services in an effort to wipe out a £50 million shortfall in its finances. Now it has revealed that further cuts - possibly of as much as another £20 million - will be needed to reduce next year's budget. City council departments and organisations that receive council funding have been given advance warning that additional "savings" of 5% will be needed in 2009/2010. That will be hard to achieve with retail price inflation currently running at over 4%, which is higher than anticipated.
Reducing Noise Levels at Edinburgh AirportA scheme to encourage pilots to keep down noise levels at Edinburgh airport has been so successful that the authorities are being asked to lower the noise limits for aircraft even further. In the 12 months before the introduction of the scheme, around 30 aircraft exceeded the threshold. In the 12 months after, there were only three breaches - two of these by military aircraft - and last year there were no breaches at all. Airlines face a penalty of up to £2000 if they exceed the limits and now there are calls for the threshold - set by the government in 2000 - to be reduced still further. Today's aircraft are significantly quieter - but pilots can still use various techniques to reduce the amount of noise created, especially at take-off.
Edinburgh Garden Open to PublicOne of the features of Edinburgh's 18th century "New Town" was the creation of a good number of squares with gardens in their centre. But the gardens were not open to the public - residents in the surrounding houses paid for their upkeep and had keys to allow them entry and they were treated as private gardens. Even though these days most of the buildings around these squares are now occupied by offices or hotels, the tradition has been maintained. However, last month St Andrew Square, one of the cornerstones of the masterpiece of town planning laid out by James Craig in 1766, has been opened up after a £2.6 million makeover. It is the first time the garden area has been open to the public since 1770. The new facility was opened by First Minister Alex Salmond - who recalled that he had once worked in the Royal Bank of Scotland's main office overlooking the square. Now pedestrians no longer have to walk round the fenced-in garden but can walk through - and stop for a coffee at a discreet coffee shop in the corner. In the centre of the square is a monument erected in 1823 to Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville, who was described as "the absolute dictator of Scotland".
Orbiting GlasgowOver 2,000 delegates have been meeting in Glasgow this week for the five-day 2008 International Astronautical Congress. The heads of the world's major space agencies, experts and enthusiasts are meeting for the world's largest space exhibition at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in the city. Some days will be open to the public, with lectures from top scientists and a technology exhibition. Heads of the world's major space agencies - including Europe, USA, Canada, Russia, China, India and Japan - made short presentations on plans for the future and the closing lecture explored the prospects for advanced space propulsion, such as fusion and anti-matter, in reaching out for the stars. Glasgow fought off stiff competition from Milan to host the prestigious event in a gruelling bidding process which kicked off as far back as November 2000.
A Blooming Great ResultPerth once again received a gold medal at the "Britain in Bloom" awards last week. The Fair City was voted by the judges as the best large town due to a combination of its floral displays, permanent landscaping, sustainable development, environmental initiatives, public awareness and community participation. The judges said: "Even on a dull day no one would leave unimpressed by the commitment to floral display in this Scottish town or of the presentation of green space." Perth wasn't the only location in Scotland to be recognised in the UK-wide competition - Forres in Moray won the "Town" category and Falkland in Fife was successful (once again) in being voted best "Large Village". Aberdeen, Dyce, North Berwick and Scotlandwell all came close in their categories and won a silver-gilt award.
The illustration shows Perth's Rodney Garden in the spring.
"Welcome to Scotland" in CarlisleDrivers heading north through the English county of Cumbria may get a bit confused by a sign beside the M6 motorway, south of the English city of Carlisle and 20 miles from the Scottish border which proclaims "Welcome to Scotland". The sign has been created by Carlisle Artists' Hub to stir up a "fun debate" on the area's true loyalties as that part of England was at one time in Scotland. The artists say that they have been "warned they might get lynched" but say it is part of an outdoor art festival in the county. The artists have even designed a Carlisle tartan....
Bridge Named After Scotland's Smallest CountyDespite having the longest name, Clackmannanshire is the smallest local authority in Scotland. But they make up for their small size with a fierce pride and energy and they have succeeded in a strenuous campaign to have the new bridge across the river Forth, just up-river from the present Kincardine Bridge, named "Clackmannanshire Bridge" - even though no part of the bridge is actually in the county. A row broke out last year between those local authorities with a vested interest, with Fife Council suggesting "Kingdom Bridge" (referring to the historic kingdom of Fife) and there were other suggestions such as "Wallace Bridge" after Sir William Wallace. The new £120 million crossing is due to open on November 19 and is expected to give Clackmannanshire a major economic boost, by connecting it directly with the motorway and trunk road network for the first time. The present Kincardine Bridge, which brings traffic through the town, is overloaded. It is scheduled to close for a spell to allow for renovation.
Edinburgh's Oldest ResidentAnnie Turnbull, Edinburgh's oldest resident, celebrated her 110th birthday last week. She only recently moved into a care home, having lived on her own in sheltered housing for many years. She was born in 1898, when Queen Victoria was on the throne and Edinburgh introduced its first motor buses - known in those days as the "Penny Stinkers". As a table-maid, she met many famous people, including Rudyard Kipling. She is thought to be Scotland's second-oldest woman and puts her longevity down to hard work - and a daily glass of sherry. At her 110th birthday celebration she was joined by her two daughters, three grandsons, one granddaughter, five great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters.
Strangest Tourist QuestionsAs the busy summer tourism season starts to quieten down, the VisitScotland staff at the information centre in Edinburgh have time to have a laugh at some of the strange questions they have been asked - and once again appear to have issued a press release with some of the gems. The perennial question "When does the One O'Clock Gun go off" still seems to crop up but others are more unusual, such as "What do they do with the Castle when the Festival is over?" and "Is the moon in New Zealand the same moon I see in Scotland?" There are also other comments about Edinburgh's castle (pictured here) which towers over the centre of the city (and the information centre). They do stretch the boundaries of IQ though, such as "Why didn't they build the Castle closer to the airport?" and "Isn't it convenient that they built the Castle so close to the train station!" Of course, we Scots have maybe confused a few folk with tales of the Loch Ness monster and haggis running around the hills...
September Weather DataThe Scottish Meteorological Office has published the aggregate weather data for last month and it shows that this September was the dullest since 1985, with only 81.7 hours of sunshine. That followed August's rain and lack of sun when Glasgow and Edinburgh had one of the wettest Augusts in living memory. This month's rainfall was below average - it was just that the clouds settled over the country for more days than usual. The mean temperature, however, was above the 1961-1990 average, as global warming continues to drive up the temperature.
Recent Weather in Scotland
The cloudy weather of September has continued into October, although there was a good amount of sunshine in many parts of the country on Friday. Maximum daytime temperatures have been drifting down, with 11/12C (52/54F) being typical. Despite the sun on Friday, maximum temperatures failed to rise above 8/9C (46/48F) after a cold night - and there was a snowfall on the Cairngorm mountains as well.
The picture shows the berries of Rosa Rugosa.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Newark Castle, on the south bank of the river Clyde at Greenock, began as a lofty tower house and was enlarged when a splendid Renaissance three-storey mansion was built in the 1590s;
~ Common Toadflax with clusters of pale yellow, snapdragon-like flowers, with long slender spurs which produce nectar;
~ The ruins of Muthill church in Perthshire, built in the third quarter of the 12th century;
~ Rosebay Willowherb's silky, hairy seed pods, looking like some ghostly apparition coming out of the gloomy hedgerows;
~ Rudbeckia with brightly coloured, daisy like flowers creating a splash of colour and cone-shaped centres attracting bees and butterflies;
~ Caldwell Tower, all that remains of Caldwell Castle, near Uplawmoor in East Renfrewshire.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Window Into Industrial HeritageSummerlee, the Museum of Scottish Industrial life, built on the site of a former ironworks in Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire, has reopened after a two-year £10.5 million redevelopment. Although it showcases the industrial history of Scotland, there is a particular emphasis on Lanarkshire. The museum used to be called "the noisiest" in Scotland and it still has a restored winding engine from the former Cardowan Colliery at Stepps, a 19th century steam locomotive, and working machinery demonstrating how steel and iron were produced. There is also an operating tram car (the only one in Scotland) which takes visitors to a coal mine site and miners' cottages displaying interiors as they looked from 1840 to 1960.
Recovery Plan for Edinburgh's HeritageTwo years ago a critical report accused Edinburgh City Council of not properly looking after its priceless collection of historical documents, with many of them not properly catalogued and stored in cardboard boxes underneath the city chambers (pictured here) and offices in the suburbs. Now, thousands of artifacts dating back as far as the 12th century are to be properly catalogued and made accessible to the public for the first time. The "recovery plan" for the archives involves spending £710,000 as a first step towards the ultimate goal of building a new "heritage hub" for the Capital. The Scottish Borders has created its own Heritage Hub at a cost of £8 million and a new archive centre is being created in the Highlands. Now the Capital is to move in the same direction - but will need to obtain funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make it a reality. The records include the minutes of Edinburgh Town Council from the 1550s and include the first recorded rules of golf as well as the establishment of the Edinburgh International Festival.
Towering AchievementBraemar Castle in Aberdeenshire was a stronghold of the Earls of Mar but latterly the castle was returned to the Farquharson clan and is regarded as the ancestral home of the clan. But it became surplus to requirements in 2006 and was about to be sold. A local community group persuaded the Farquharsons to lease the castle to them for 50 years and, with the help of lottery funding, have undertaken a major makeover of the castle. It reopened to the public at weekends in May this year, after being closed for three years. This week the castle and the volunteers who worked miracles on restoring the building had a visit from one of their near neighbours - Prince Charles who stays at Balmoral Castle from time to time. In the drawing room he was shown a copy of his late grandmother's signature from a visit she made on the same date in 1956. For more on Braemar Castle and its refurbishment, see Braemar Castle Web site.
Picture of Braemar Castle via Wikimedia.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- October 5 1785 - Balloon flight by Italian aeronaut Vincenzo Lunardi from Heriot's School, Edinburgh to Ceres in Fife.
- October 8 1774 - Rev Henry Duncan, founder of the first savings bank, born in the Manse at Lochrutton.
- October 9 1506 - King James IV ratified the Charter incorporating the Surgeons and Barbers.
- October 10 1802 - Writer and geologist Hugh Miller born on the Black Isle, Cromarty.
- October 11 1297 - Letter from Wallace and Moray to the mayors of Lubeck and Hamburg saying that "The Kingdom of Scotland has, by God's Grace, recovered by battle from the power of the English".
- October 11 2000 - Scotland's first First Minister Donald Dewar died suddenly after a fall on the steps of his official residence in Edinburgh.
- October 12 1866 - Ramsay MacDonald, first Labour Prime Minister of UK, born in Lossiemouth.
- October 13 1644 - Battle of Aberdeen, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, sacked the city.
- October 14 1318 - Edward Bruce, brother of Robert the Bruce, killed in a battle near Dundalk, Ireland.
- October 14 1969 - The 50 pence decimal coin was first issued, replacing the ten shilling note.
- October 15 1902 - Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel opened its doors for the first time.
- October 16 1430 - King James II born.
- October 17 1850 - James "Paraffin" Young obtained a patent for the extraction of paraffin from shale, starting the chemical industry in West Lothian.
- October 17 1995 - Bridge to the Isle of Skye opened.
- October 18 1958 - Denis Law became the youngest footballer to play for Scotland when he took part in the match against Cardiff when he was 18 years and 7 months old.
Heather Garden RestoredThere was an outcry when Bell's Cherrybank Garden in Perth was closed earlier this year. It contained a national heather collection and was a popular and well-loved facility used by locals and tourists alike. The closure arose because of a failure of the grandiose "Calyx" project to gain lottery funding for a multi-million pound "Scotland's Garden" which would have incorporated Cherrybank. Now Perth and Kinross Council's Leisure subsidiary has negotiated with Scotland's Garden Trust to take over the property. The former visitor centre building will be sold and the proceeds used to fund the Garden Trust's Calyx project. The gardens have been maintained since July by Perth and Kinross Leisure and after essential upgrades have been completed the gardens with their wonderful heather collection will open again - with free entry.
The Big DrawThe National Big Draw Campaign encourages people of all ages to try their hand at drawing and discover their hidden talents. Throughout October, the Stirling Smith gallery and museum is exploring the past, present and future of Stirling through drawing. The theme of the Big Draw 2008 is the Stirling Heads. These portrait heads, carved in oak in the 1540s are of Stirling people at the court of King James V. The Big Draw 2008 aims to find contemporary Stirling Heads for the twenty first century. Throughout October a number of artists will be at the Stirling Smith gallery to create their own "Stirling Head".
Revival of Banff Riding the MarchesThe annual ceremony of "riding the marches" is an ancient tradition which harks back to the days when townsfolk rode round the boundaries of their hamlets to ensure that landowners didn't encroach on common land belonging to the town. These events have continued as spectacles, mainly in towns in the Scottish Borders, where they have become major tourist attractions. That's Selkirk's event pictured here. Now the Preservation and Heritage Society in Banff, in the north-east of Scotland, is planning to restore the event in their town. According to the records, the last time riding the marches was carried out in Banff was in October 1731- when "four shillings and eight pence" (about 25 new pence in today's decimal currency) was spent on "liquor" during the celebration. Research has revealed the route of the Banff marches and the heritage society plans to stage the event on Saturday, October 25 for the first time in 277 years. The route includes the seashore on the Moray firth and the grounds of Duff House. There is no indication in the news item of the budget for "liquor" on this occasion...
Film Premier for ObanThe Stone of Destiny film starring Robert Carlyle and Charlie Cox is to be released for the first time at a small, independent cinema in Oban. The Hollywood movie is about the theft of the rock from Westminster Abbey by four Scottish students on Christmas Day in 1950, so that it could be taken back to Scotland. Ian Hamilton, the Scottish nationalist who led the raid, lives just a few miles from Oban, will be the guest of honour at the showing. The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, was used in the coronation of Scottish kings before being removed by Edward I of England in 1296. It remained under the coronation throne in Westminster Abbey until 1996 - apart from that brief journey back to Scotland in 1950.
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.
Pipes of Christmas
Clan Currie Society's tenth annual production of "The Pipes of Christmas" brings together many of the finest performers from Scotland and America to perform the music of the season accompanied by readings from Scottish authors such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The concert matches a joyous musical celebration of Christmas with the pomp and pageantry of the pipes and drums of Scotland. Two performances are being held at Central Avenue Presbyterian Church in Summit, NJ on Saturday, December 20 at 2PM and 8PM. On Sunday, December 21, 2008 they will also return to the beautiful Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church (Madison Avenue at 73rd Street) in New York City. This concert will begin at 2:30 PM. For more details and to order tickets, see www.clancurrie.com.
St Andrew's Night in DallasThe Scottish Society of Dallas is holding its annual St Andrew's Dinner Dance this year on 22 November at the Radisson Hotel 1981 N. Central Expressway Richardson Texas. Music is being provided by the North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums and there will be a DJ playing all styles of music for all ages. There will also be the Fiona Alpaugh Highland Dancers and the evening always includes a raffle drawing for an assortment of Scottish-oriented gifts. Music starts at 7pm and dancing at 9pm. Members who wish to donate an item or two to the raffle, are encouraged to bring those items to the October meeting, and/or contact the members listed on Scottish Society of Dallas where more details of the event can be found.
League Tables Celtic convincingly defeated Hamilton 4-0 on Saturday to edge ahead of Rangers at the top of the SPL - Rangers play foot of the table St Mirren on Sunday; a win would put them back on top. Kilmarnock are in third place after a win over Hearts. Hibernian have the same number of points as the Ayrshire club after a 2-1 win over struggling Aberdeen.
In the First Division, Queen of the South routed Livingston 6-1 to move above them at the top of the table on goal difference.
Celtic's Hope of "Last 16" Place FadeCeltic's hopes of again achieving a "last sixteen" place after the group stages of the European Champions League took another knock when they lost 1-0 to Villareal in Spain. That continued Celtic's woeful recent away record in Europe in which they have gained only one point out of a potential 48 in 16 games. The Parkhead side could only achieve a draw at home against Aalborg in their first group match. They are now three points behind Manchester United and Villarreal and equal with Aalborg, initially regarded as the weakest team in the group.
Motherwell Out of Uefa CupMotherwell's dreams of progressing further in the Uefa Cup had already looked shaky after the North Lanarkshire side lost 1-0 at home to French club AS Nancy. Within 20 minutes of the start of the away match, the Steelmen lost another goal and by the end of the match they were 2-0 down, thus losing 3-0 on aggregate.
"Crown Jewel" EventsIn recent years, pay-to-view satellite television channels have used their financial muscle to monopolise a number of major sports fixtures. To counteract this and to ensure that topmost national sports events are be available to all, the UK government drew up a list of "Crown Jewel" sports occasions (such as the Olympic Games, the soccer World Cup finals, the Scottish FA Cup Final and the Grand National horse race) which have to be shown live on one of the free terrestrial TV channels. But none of Scotland's qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup is being shown as the rights have been bought by a subscription satellite station - which paid a substantial sum to the Scottish Football Association for the privilege. The Scottish government's culture secretary has called for a review of the "Crown Jewel" list, which was formulated 10 years ago. He argues that Scotland's international football matches should be included as they are "one of the most powerful areas where that sense of community through television is most profoundly felt".
Scotland v Argentina FriendlyThe Scottish Football association has announced that a friendly international against Argentina will take place at Hampden Park on 19 November. The match went ahead after the Argentineans agreed to lower their fee so that the SFA could charge fans the same price as tickets for the World Cup qualifier against Austria on October 11. Argentina is currently sitting at the top of the international football rankings - Scotland are at #13.
Record Entry for Loch Ness MarathonDescribed as "the most scenic marathon in the UK" by the organisers, the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running takes place on Sunday. There is a record entry of 5,851 athletes, of which 2,285 will contest the marathon. Other events include a 10K race, a 10K corporate challenge and a River Ness 5K fun run. Tanzanian Bacteria Katherine is to return to defend the women's title while the men's marathon was won last year by Kenyans Zachary Wishart.
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 in Scotland
Newark Castle, Inverclyde Newark Castle was built on the south bank of the river Clyde at Greenock by the Maxwell family, powerful and influential landowners in Renfrewshire. Initially it was just a lofty tower house but was extended by Sir Patrick Maxwell, who became the laird in the 1580s. He added a splendid Renaissance three-storey mansion to the tower house in the 1590s - inscribing his initials and those of his wife Margaret above the entrance door. The main hall has been partially furnished by the present owners, Historic Scotland, and a nice touch is to play a selection of Scots instrumental music from the middle ages which waft through the corridors of this part of the castle. Visitors can also climb to the top of the tower and look up and across the river. For a full, illustrated article on Newark Castle, see Places to Visit - Newark Castle.
Scottish Poetry and Song
Here's a charming poem by Alexander Anderson (1845-1909), rather in the style of the much later Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses".
The Message of the Bee
The humble bee is hiding
In the blossom's golden cells;
He, and he only, can tell me
Where the queen of the fairies dwells.
He is out on a royal message,
He has her high command
To bring his tribute of honey
To her table in fairyland.
And this is why he is ranging
From blossom to blossom to-day;
He is busy making nectar
For the lips of elf and fay.
He will carry the golden treasure
To all their kith and kin,
To a bank in a wood where a portal
Will open to let him in.
This tiniest of portals
Lies hid as violets hide,
Two blue-bells stand as sentries,
They guard it on either side.
He will hum, as he enters, the password,
And they — they will nod in the sun,
Then stand again to their duty,
And this is all that is done.
I too have seen this portal,
And a child can understand
That there is no other doorway
To the realms of fairyland.
How do you get a Scotsman to climb onto the roof of his home? Tell him that the drinks are on the house.
Lachlan's Laws - # 75
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: "When everything is coming your way, you're probably in the wrong lane."
Nessie's Sore Tummy
The Loch Ness monster was deep under the waters of the loch, moaning and groaning to his wife about having a sore stomach. Mrs Nessie was totally unsympathetic. "It's your own fault," she commented, "You've been eating Russian tourists and you know they're far too rich for you..."
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
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