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.
Trumped!Despite the strenuous objections of environmental groups, the Scottish Government has decided to grant outline planning permission for the application by the organisation headed by US entrepreneur Donald Trump to develop a golf resort at Balconies, Aberdeenshire. It is subject to satisfactory conclusion of legal agreements between the applicant and Aberdeenshire Council. The decision follows receipt by Ministers of a report from the Reporters at the public local inquiry recommending that outline planning permission be granted. The Reporters found there was significant economic and social benefit to be gained from this project, which has been a major consideration in the ministerial decision to grant outline planning permission. The proposal (estimated to cost around a billion pounds) involves the development of a golf resort, including two 18-hole golf courses with associated clubhouse, starter's hut, caddy shack, short-game practice area and driving range, together with a 450-bedroom hotel with conference centre and spa, 950 holiday apartments in four blocks, 36 golf villas, 500 houses for sale, accommodation for 400 staff and a new access onto the A90 trunk road. But it will encroach on protected sand dunes and a site of special scientific interest. The project had the backing of the Scottish First Minister who is also the Member of the Scottish Parliament where the development is to be created. He said after the decision had been announced: "In tough economic times, substantial investment of this kind is at a premium. 6,000 jobs, including 1,400 which will be local and permanent, is a powerful argument." He added that the proposal would never have been made but for the outstanding "natural beauty" of the area. Work on the massive development could start on site as early as next spring.
Labour Win Glenrothes By-ElectionWhen the by-election for the vacant Glenrothes, Fife, seat in the UK Parliament arose (due to the death of the sitting Member of Parliament), there was talk of Prime Minister Gordon Brown having to resign if his Labour party failed to retain the seat. Now, after coping with the current financial crisis, the Prime Minister's standing in the opinion polls has risen (albeit from a very low level). Even if Labour had lost at Glenrothes, it would not have led to a leadership challenge. But everyone was astonished by the Labour candidate winning the seat - and with a majority of over 6,700 instead of the "knife edge" which had been predicted. Indeed, the Labour majority was up 3% on the last election, with a slightly lower turnout. The Scottish National Party, fresh from their earlier triumph in the by-election in Glasgow East, expressed disappointment at the result and claimed that Labour had fought a "very negative campaign".
St Andrew's Day to "Pack a Punch"The Scottish Government is encouraging everyone to "DO more" to celebrate St Andrew's Day on 30 November. A programme of events has been planned for cities and towns across the country with the flagship event, The St Andrew's DO, taking place in the heart of the capital city. Edinburgh's West Princes Street Gardens will host the "The St Andrew's DO", with a range of free entertainment activities for families, teenagers and adults over the entire St Andrew's Day weekend on November 29-30. St Andrew's Day also marks the start of Edinburgh's Winter Festival programme and provides a taste of the celebrations to come over Hogmanay and Burns Night, leading into Homecoming Scotland in 2009. St Andrew's Day events around the country include a ceilidh in Aberdeen, a fashion show and medieval day in Dundee and a street party featuring the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in Inverness. Glasgow's George Square plays host to live music and ceilidh dancing in the city's 'Shindig on the Square', and in St Andrews itself, entertainment includes a St Andrew's Day procession and an outdoor stage with entertainment and music.
For a list of events in Scotland and other parts of the world too, see St Andrew's Day Events.
Picture credit Rob Gray.
"White Knights" Oppose TakeoverTwo former Scottish bank chief executives have challenged the takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) by Llloyds TSB - a deal backed by the UK government. Sir Peter Burt (former chief executive and governor of Bank of Scotland) and Sir George Mathewson (former chief executive and chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland) have suggested that they should take over from the present HBOS chairman and chief executive - describing the present incumbents as a "busted flush". But they were unable to put any "money on the table" and while their argument in favour of retaining independence for Bank of Scotland may appeal to many small shareholders, the large institutional investors dismissed their appeal. They might also recall that it was Sir Peter whose abortive bid for English bank NatWest (snatched instead by rivals Royal Bank of Scotland) led to the "merger" with former building society Halifax, with power and the top jobs shifting to Yorkshire. Sir George might have more appeal to institutional investors - it was his "Project Columbus" that drove down costs in the Royal Bank as thousands of staff lost their jobs. It has emerged that the "secret suitor" backing an alternative takeover plan for HBOS, being put together by former HBOS executive Jim Spowart, is the Bank of China. Whether shareholders and staff would be happier with a takeover by a company 70% owned by the China government or a London-based banking giant is a matter of opinion.
"Draconian" European Fishing QuotasScottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead has described as "draconian" proposals by the European Commission which would stop fishermen catching whiting, cod and haddock on the west coast of Scotland aimed at allowing fish stocks to recover. If the European Commission are following their usual tactics, the proposal is a "worst case scenario" which may well be ameliorated during negotiations. Everyone accepts, however, that the white fish stocks off the west coast of Scotland are in a dire state. But the proposals by European civil servants could have severe consequences on the important langoustine catch. Scottish fishermen are also trying to persuade the European Commission to abandon the practice of dumping thousands of tonnes of bycatch cod back into the North Sea.
Remembrance SundayWar veterans and their families across Scotland gathered last Sunday at memorials to those who had lost their lives on active service since the First World War. It was after that conflict that such war memorials sprang up in cities, towns and villages - with further lists having to be added to them of those killed in World War II and later conflicts. In the weeks preceding Remembrance Sunday and the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day on 11 November 1918, many of us wore red poppies, the symbol of the Earl Haig Fund, the charity set up by the British commander-in-chief after the war to help wounded ex-servicemen and their families. The need for such support has never diminished over the years since it was founded.
The illustration here is the war memorial at Oban, Argyllshire.
Tycoon Offers "New Heart" for AberdeenSir Ian Wood, one of Scotland's richest businessmen, has offered up to £50 million to develop a new street level city centre square in Aberdeen which would span Union Terrace Gardens. The funding would be subject to a Scottish Enterprise-funded feasibility study to calculate the total cost and scale of the project. Sir Ian says the goal is to give Aberdeen a vibrant new heart by creating a city centre square to rival the best of any Northern European city. He added that he would only invest in the scheme if there was "strong support" from the people of Aberdeen and north-east Scotland. Sir Ian is chairman of the multi-million pound energy services firm, John Wood Group which is one of the UK's largest energy services companies. The regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens has been discussed frequently in the past and the latest proposal would disrupt plans for a new Contemporary Arts Centre there, which are well advanced.
Chief Executive Drives BusBrian Souter, the millionaire founder and owner of the Stagecoach bus company, went behind the wheel of a bus again on Tuesday to keep as many of his vehicles as possible on the road during a one-day strike by drivers in the north-east of Scotland. Talks had broken down despite an offer from the company of a pay increase of nearly 10% - which had been accepted by workers in other parts of the country and by engineering, administration and cleaning staff. About half of the drivers turned up for work despite the strike call and 160 drivers from other parts of the Stagecoach group were drafted in to keep services running - especially for thousands of school children who would have been unable to get to school without public transport. Despite his senior executive position, Brian Souter apparently always does at least one shift a year behind the wheel of a bus to remind him of where he started.
Barack Obama Success for PublisherCanongate Publishing in Edinburgh was negotiating the UK rights for two books by Barack Obama two years ago when the now President-elect was just an obscure junior Senator. As Obama has leapt into the public eye, sales of the books have soared - and his election as the next US President has resulted in an even bigger demand. "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams From My Father" are expected to exceed the sales of any other book published so far by Canongate in the UK.
Celebrate Ancient Scottish Borders Common RidingSince the beginning of the 16th Century, Common Ridings & Festivals have formed an integral part of Scottish Borders tradition. An annual celebration, Common Riding combines horsemanship with incredible tradition. The centuries-old Scottish Borders Common Ridings & Festivals have joined together to support Scotland’s first national Homecoming celebration by issuing a joint invitation to Border folk around the globe to "Return to the Ridings in 2009." Eleven towns in the Scottish Borders are involved and Borders folk who have emigrated are invited to rekindle their interest in their ancestral town by participating in these spectacular local events. For more information, see Return to the Ridings - the full website will be available from 1 December, but there's plenty there already.
Picture credit Rob Gray
Scots Lead Way on Online PurchasesA survey by the YouGov opinion poll company has shown that 78% of Scots plan to do at least some of their festive shopping on the Internet. That is well above the UK average of 71%. Other surveys suggest that consumers know exactly what they want and are not worried about delivery delays or potential fraud. Studies also show that they will save money by making online purchases - though that is not always the case as High Street retail outlets fight back with special offers.
National Trust Takes Over Burns CottageFurther steps have been taken towards the creation of the £21m Burns Birthplace Museum - a more fitting building dedicated to Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. The National Trust for Scotland has taken over the Burns Cottage (seen here), where the poet was born, the nearby Burns Monument (built in the early 19th century), and the Tam o'Shanter Experience in Alloway, along with surrounding land owned by South Ayrshire Council. In addition to the buildings, the Trust has also taken over a large collection of manuscripts, letters and other historical documents written by, or about, Burns and previously owned by the Burns Monument Trust. The collection includes more than 5000 artefacts, including more than 300 manuscripts written by Burns, including Tam O'Shanter, Holy Willie's Prayer and Scots Wa Hae. Work on the Burns Birthplace Museum has already started and is due to be completed by 2010 - though £4 million of funding has still to be found. The building was originally to have been completed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns next year.
New Forest for National ParkA grant from the National Lottery of nearly £1 million will help to create a new forest in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Billed as the largest native broadleaf woodland in Scotland it will cover an area equivalent to the city of Glasgow. It will transform an area centred on Loch Katrine, into a forest landscape.
Scottish "Car of the Year"Car sales may be well down on last year as a result of the financial problems in the economy, but that doesn't stop the automotive journalists voting for the best cars available in the showrooms. Last year Ford took the title of "Scottish Car of the Year" with their Mondeo saloon and they have scooped the award again this year with the compact Fiesta. Ford introduced a new version of the already popular Fiesta and the journalists were most impressed, despite the high calibre of competing models.
Objections to Beef Tub TurbinesScottish Borders Council and the neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway authority have voiced "grave concerns" about the plan to create a 36-turbine wind farm in the Devil's Beef Tub area, a well-known beauty spot. The concerns are understandable as the scenic landscape would be overwhelmed by the development. The objections by the local councils will mean that the plan has to go to a public inquiry. The Devil's Beef Tub acquired its name from its historical use as a site to hide stolen cattle.
Waxwings Invade EdinburghEvery few years - when food is short or the weather is harsh in Siberia and northern Scandinavia - flocks of the lovely Waxwing bird will fly south, with some reaching the UK. That seems to be happening this year and ornithologists and amateur bird watchers have spotted several hundred in the Edinburgh area. There is the hope that this could be a "Waxwing Year" when thousands of these birds come to our shores. Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. These tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. They feed on fruit and berries in the winter - and the large crop of rowan (mountain ash), cotoneaster and other berries here this year will be just to their liking. The flocks move across the country, finding and feasting on such food, before moving on. They will return to northern latitudes in the spring.
Picture of waxwing via Wikimedia.
Consider HistoryThomas Carlyle called history "the true epic poem and universal divine scripture". Henry Ford called it "mostly bunk". Between these two philosophies hang the histories of literature, and the literatures of history. Scotland is steeped in one, and drenched in the other; the perfect place for online magazine "The Bottle Imp" to probe the debatable borderlands between the fictional, the factual and the actual. The latest edition also has articles on such varied subjects as Jacobitism in History; Back to the Future: The Bruce and relevance to the 21st Century; Scots Word of the Season: Kailyard - originally a small plot of land or kitchen-garden but later applied to a type of fiction that was popular in Scotland in the late 19th century. For all the articles - and more - see the Bottle Imp.
Nessie Turns 75Although reports of a monster in Loch Ness go back to the days of St Columba's biography in 565AD, the fame of the Loch Ness Monster took off 75 years ago when a series of photographs of a creature swimming in the loch were published in the press. A picture by Hugh Grey on 12 November 1933 is credited with being the first photographic evidence when it was printed in the Scottish Daily Record under the headline "Monster photograph of the mysterious Loch Ness object". There have been suggestions that it was actually a Labrador with a stick in its mouth (!) or a double negative. Nobody is certain, however. Another picture the following year was ultimately proved to be a fake - even though it is still frequently used to illustrate articles on the subject - see illustration. Despite (or because of) the advent of digital cameras everywhere, recent photos of Nessie have been thin on the ground in recent years, despite some major scientific projects to track it down. But that doesn't stop folk looking - just in case....
Picture of Nessie via Wikimedia.
Wettest October for Fifty YearsThe Scottish Meteorological Office has published the aggregate statistics on the weather for October - and nobody was really surprised to hear that overall it had been the wettest October in Scotland since 1954 and the 4th wettest since records began back in 1914. Despite global warming, mean temperatures in the month were below average, but sunshine generally had been above average in the month. It was the coldest October since 2003. Although the sun shone for an above average number of hours in October, it was still only a total of 86.5 hours.
Recent Weather in ScotlandAlthough temperatures struggled to reach 6C (43F) last Sunday, overall there have been average or above average temperatures during much of the last couple of weeks in Scotland. Aberdeen and Lossiemouth in the north-east reached nearly 15C (59F) on Friday, despite the inevitable cloudy skies. There were strong winds at the start of this week, with gusts of around 50mph recorded in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Once again it was the Western Isles that enjoyed the best of the sunshine, with other areas getting only a few sunny spells.
The milder weather has encouraged some roses to keep growing - this rose was photographed in my garden this morning!
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
- A "treescape" on a dull, cloudy day in the countryside just north of Glasgow;
- The smooth lines of the new Clackmannanshire Bridge across the river Forth, so named after a vociferous campaign by the "wee county";
- Kincardine Bridge, built between 1932 and 1936, the first road crossing of the River Forth downstream of Stirling (completed nearly thirty years before the more famous Forth Road Bridge);
- Two recently born calves being "washed" by their mother's tongue;
- Long spikes of small, bell-shaped yellow flowers of Mahonia, which come into bloom in November - see thumbnail.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Leaking Castle Wins FundingDunvegan Castle on Skye has been the MacLeod clan seat for 800 years. But as it was privately owned, the clan chief has struggled in recent years to find the finance to keep the building in a good state of repair. When the 29th clan chief, John MacLeod of MacLeod, controversially put the island's Cuillin mountains up for sale in 2000, it was so he could raise the money to stop the roof leaking. He claimed that he had to sleep with an umbrella above his bed due to water getting in. The mountain range was put on the market for £10 million, but no buyer came forward. He reluctantly agreed to transfer the mountains to public ownership and the castle to a charitable trust. An application for £25 million to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the castle and develop the visitor centre was turned down in 2006. Now, Historic Scotland has - at last - agreed a £594,188 grant for a three-year programme of works. The current chief, Hugh Magnus Macleod of MacLeod has expressed his gratitude to Historic Scotland and pointed out that Dunvegan, in addition to its historic significance, is a key driver of economic growth on the Isle of Skye, acting as a magnet for 100,000 visitors a year.
New TV Series on Scottish HistoryThe latest BBC series on Scottish history claims to "explode many myths" about the subject. It will certainly get a few claymores waving as it argues that St Columba was an "opportunist" whose claim of bringing Christianity to Scotland was dubious as many Gaels in Scotland were Christian long before his arrival. And archaeologist Neil Oliver claims that Kenneth MacAlpin was not, as generations of schoolchildren have been taught, the first king of Scotland - that title rightly belongs to his son, King Constantine I. Other historians suggest that the £2 million flagship BBC series is being deliberately contentious, to attract additional viewers. The first episode examined the events which brought Scotland together as a nation and proved to be a hit with Scottish viewers. It was the most watched TV programme in the country, attracting 28% of all viewers at a peak time on Sunday evening.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- November 16 1891 - Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened in the East End Exhibition Buildings, Duke Street, Glasgow.
- November 17 1855 - David Livingstone reached Victoria Falls in Africa.
- November 18 1785 - Sir David Wilkie who later became a well-known painter of historical and religious works as well as portraits, was born near Pitlessie, Fife.
- November 19 1600 - King Charles I born.
- November 21 1673 - King James VII married Mary of Modena.
- November 22 1515 - Birth of Mary of Guise, the French Queen Consort of James V. She was regent of Scotland during the minority reign of her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.
- November 22 2001 - Jack McConnell elected First Minister of Scotland, succeeding Henry McLeish who had resigned.
- November 23 1909 - Historical novelist Nigel Tranter born in Glasgow. He was the most prolific Scottish writer of all time, writing mainly factual and fictional books related to Scottish history.
- November 24 1331 - David II (aged 7) crowned at Scone.
- November 25 1681 - General Tam Dalyell raises a regiment to suppress Covenanters which later became the Royal Scots Greys.
- November 25 1835 - Steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie born in Dunfermline.
- November 28 1666 - Battle of Rullion Green on the Pentland Hills, south-west of Edinburgh, in which the King's army led by Sir Tam Dalyell defeated the Covenanters.
- November 29 1489 - Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England was born. She later married King James IV of Scotland in the "Union of the Thistle and the Rose". It was due to her bloodline that King James VI of Scotland was able to inherit the crown of England in 1603, after the death
Edinburgh Hogmanay Street PartyThe huge Edinburgh Street Party on Hogmanay, which attracts around 100,000 revellers on New Year's Eve, is to be headlined by the dance group Groove Armada. They will be joined by Paisley-born singer Paolo Nuitini at the "Concert in the Gardens" on December 31. There will be four live stages set up in Princes Street Gardens, beneath Edinburgh Castle. Other performers will include Glasgow band Glasvegas, electropop group Hot Chip and indie favourites Belle and Sebastian. Edinburgh's celebrations for the new year stretch over four days and include a new event - The Dancin', a free show celebrating dance in all its forms. There will also be a specially commissioned film to mark the start of "Homecoming Scotland," a year-long series of events to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
Revamp for National Portrait GalleryThe plans for a major revamp of the historic Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh is about to get the go-ahead from the city planning authorities. The £17.6 million plan will strip away many of the changes that have been made since the building opened 120 years ago as the first purpose-built portrait gallery in the world. Many of the original features such as sandstone arches will be revealed again and gallery space will be increased by 50% The gallery will close for two years to allow the work to proceed. It is hoped that the end result will increase visitor numbers to around 300,000 a year.
Stanley Baxter Returns to TVWhen comedy legend Stanley Baxter retired over ten years ago he was insistent that he would not be doing any more shows or "comeback" appearances. But he has now agreed to do an hour-long Christmas special for ITV1. It will feature archived material, new performances and Stanley talking about his life. Present day comedy stars such as Rory Bremner and Victoria Wood will also discuss how the 82-year-old influenced them. The original Stanley Baxter Show ran for eight years on BBC1 between 1963 and 1971, and his Picture Show from 1972 to 1975 was on ITV. He won a lifetime achievement prize at the British Comedy Awards in 1997.
People's Palace StungThe museum known as the "People's Palace" on Glasgow Green was forced to close the top floor for two weeks recently - because of an infestation of wasps. Two members of staff were stung and other members of staff had to sweep up hundreds of wasps that din't survive a cold snap in the weather. Experts had to be called in to deal with the remaining insects and keep visitors away from the top floor - where Billy Connelly's famous "banana boots" are among the exhibits.
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.
St Andrew's Day Dinner, Akron, OhioThe highly active Scottish American Society in Akron, Ohio, has organised their first St Andrew's Day dinner on Friday, 6th December at the Northwest Family Recreation Center, 1730 Shatto Avenue, Akron, Ohio. The modest cost includes dinner, dessert, beverages and entertainment. There will be pipers piping, a performance by the award winning Tigh na Creige Highland Dancers, a silent auction, lively music - and encouragement to participate. It will be a fun evening in true Scottish tradition. And, looking ahead, the society has already organised a Tartan Day dinner on 12 April 2009. For more details on both events, see Scottish American Society in Akron, Ohio.
League TablesRangers could only manage a 0-0 draw against Motherwell on Wednesday, allowing Celtic to establish a four point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League. While Rangers managed to claw back three points on Saturday with a win over St Mirren, that may only be temporary as Celtic play bottom of the table Hamilton on Sunday.
Back in August, St Johnstone had just four points from their first five games this season. In the eight games to last Saturday, however they had collected 22 points and sit comfortably at the top of the First Division. They stumbled a bit this Saturday, allowing bottom of the table Clyde to snatch a draw. Dunfermline's win over second-placed Livingston meant that St Johnstone's lead has been cut to 3 points.
Celtic 1 Manchester United 1After losing 3-0 to Manchester earlier in the month in the European Champions League, many sports writers (especially those in England) expected a similar result in the second leg at Parkhead. But Celtic surprised everyone by scoring first, when a composed Scott McDonald lobbed the ball into the net over the United keeper. It was Celtic's first goal in the Champions League this season and the first conceded in the current competition by Manchester United - the European Cup holders from last season. United increased their pace, but Celtic held on - until with only six minutes of the match remaining, Brian Giggs headed in after the Celtic keeper had been unable to hold a thundering shot from Ronaldo. Mathematically, Celtic still have a chance to qualify for the knock-out stage. But they have to win their remaining games (away at Aalborg and at home to Villarreal) and to defeat Villareal by two goals to wipe out the 1-0 by the Spanish side in the first leg. If Celtic don't reach the last 16 of the Champions League, they could parachute into the Uefa Cup - provided that they don't lose to Aalborg in their next match.
European "Parachute"When Rangers lost their opening qualifying match of the European Champions League against FBK Kaunas in August, that was the end of their involvement in Europe this season. However, in future clubs in that position will be allowed to drop down to the Europa League next season. The new Europa League is a replacement for the Uefa Cup with an expanded number of matches and clubs. Next season, the winners of this year's Scottish Premier League (SPL) will go directly to the group stages of the Champions League. The runners up in the SPL will still have the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League but if they lose, they will move instead to the Europa League. The Scottish Cup winners, or possibly runners-up, will join the Europa League campaign in the final qualifying round. And the fourth-placed team in the SPL will enter at the second qualifying round stage (on 16 July) of the Europa League, with the third place side joining them one round later.
Scotland Lose Again to All BlacksScotland have yet to achieve a victory over the New Zealand rugby squad. They have played the All Blacks 26 times since 1905 and managed just two draws. The last time the two teams met was at the Rugby World Cup - when the All Blacks thrashed an under strength Scotland 40-0 at Murrayfield. The All Blacks again proved to be strong for the Scots, sweeping them aside 32-6. Scotland's points came from two penalty kicks from Chris Paterson.
Picture of All Blacks via Wikimedia.
League Cup Semi-finalsCeltic and Rangers have been kept apart in the draw for the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup, to be played in January. Celtic will be facing Dundee United, while Rangers meet Falkirk. Assuming that both the Glasgow clubs are successful (always a big assumption these days), there could a replay of the finals in 2003, - Rangers won that time 2-1, to snatch the trophy from their rivals.
Andy Murray at Shanghai MastersScots tennis star did well at his first Masters Cup in Shanghai, winning his first three matches, including the scalp of Roger Federer. That meant that he went through to next knock-out stage where he continued to be in form, beating Frenchman Gilles Simon. That secured his place in the semi-finals of the season-ending event for the world's top eight players. The next day, a tired Murray came up against Nikolay Davydenko - and his winning streak came to an end, losing 7-5, 6-2. While to win the Masters would have been a dream come true, Murray has done well this season. He has risen from 11th to 4th in the world rankings, won his first two Masters Series titles, reached a first Grand Slam final at the US Open, and was playing in the season-ending Masters Cup for the first time. He'll have to continue working hard to better that next year.
Maradona Coming to ScotlandThe friendly Scotland versus Argentina football match at Hampden Park in Glasgow would normally have attracted little attention. But now the eyes of the footballing world are focused on the game and 450 journalists will descend on the match next week. Not because of some new-found attraction in Scotland's football squad - but because Argentina's new manager, none other than Diego Maradona, will be in charge of their team for the first time.
Early Snow Cheers Ski ResortsOne swallow doesn't make a summer - and one fall of snow doesn't make a drift. But ski resorts in Scotland opened up earlier this month to take advantage of a fall of snow which was sufficient to allow hundreds of skiers onto the slopes at the Cairngorm facility near Aviemore. Several days of heavy snow allowed the creation of a narrow run from the Ptarmigan Station at the top down to the car-park level - a vertical drop of 1450ft. Of course, milder weather has now melted the snow - but that fits in nicely with the closure of the mountain railway for a four-week maintenance period.
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.
Glasgow Photo Library
It's a while since there's been an addition to the over 70 pages that constitute the "Glasgow Photo Library". This covers most of the main tourist attractions - plus a few more unusual locations. Now the Kibble Palace has been added to this section. It is named after John Kibble, who was a wealthy merchant in the latter part of the 19th century. He built a large, botanical glasshouse for his mansion beside Loch Long - but later donated it to the City of Glasgow. It was dismantled and moved to the Botanic Gardens at Kelvingrove in the west end of the city at Kibble's own expense in 1873. It has been an enduring attraction ever since. Some of the plants in the glasshouse, such as the Australasian tree ferns, have been growing there for 120 years and the collection is now of international importance. Eight attractive marble sculptures also grace the building. For more on the Kibble Palace, see Glasgow Photo Library - Kibble Palace.
Scottish Poetry and Song
With the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War this week, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, here is a poem from that era by Joseph Johnston Lee (1876–-949). Lee was born in Dundee and worked as a journalist and sketch artist, publishing his first book of poems, Tales o’ Our Town, in 1910. During World War I, he served in the Black Watch regiment as a Sergeant, sending sketches and poems back home to Scotland, chronicling life in the trenches and as a prisoner of war. These were eventually collected in two books of poetry, "Ballads of Battle" and "Work-a-Day Warriors".
The Half-Hour's Furlough
I thought that a man went home last night
From the trench where the tired men lie,
And walked through the streets of his own old town—
And I thought that the man was I.
And I walked through the gates of that good old town
Which circles below the hill,
And laves its feet in the river fair
That floweth so full and still.
Gladly and gladly into my heart
Came the old street sounds and sights,
And pleasanter far than the Pleiades
Was the gleam of the old street lights.
Then I came to the glade where my mother was laid,
'Neath the cypress and the yew:
And she stood abune, and she said, "My son,
I am glad that your heart was true."
And I passed me over both hill and down,
By each well-remembered path,
While the blessed dawn, like the love o' God,
Stole over the sleeping Strath.
And from a thorn came the pipe of a thrush,
Like the first faint pipes of Peace:
It slid with healing into my heart,
And my sorrowing found surcease.
Then I awoke to the sound of guns,
And in my ears was the cry:
"The Second Relief will stand to arms!"
And I rose — for that man was I.
Limericks may have been named after a town in Ireland, but they have now become universal - and there is a wealth of examples with a Scottish flavour! Here's a couple which fall neatly between the song/poetry section above - and the Scottish Humour below.
The idiosyncratic link between spelling and pronunciation in the English language is explored in this next example. Bear in mind that the name 'Menzies' is pronounced MING-iss in Scotland...
A lively young damsel named Menzies
Inquired: "Do you know what this thenzies?"
Her aunt, with a gasp,
Replied: "It's a wasp,
And you're holding the end where the stenzies."
And here's another one where the oddity of "isles" rhyming with "aisles" is put to good effect...
The was an old man of the isles
Who suffered severely from pisles
He couldn’t sit down
Without a deep frown
So he had to row standing for misles
Sandy thought that his long-term girl friend might be "Miss Right" and decided to ask "Will you marry me?" His girlfriend looked at Sandy fondly but replied: "No Sandy, but I'll always admire your good taste."
Lachlan's Laws - # 78 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: "42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot - and 99% of lawyers and accountants give the rest a bad name."
Golf is like marriage: If you take yourself too seriously it won't work- and both are expensive.
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