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.
Five Scottish "Ghost Towns" PredictedBusiness research company Experian has forecast that five Scottish towns will be blighted by widespread retail shop closures as the credit crunch bites harder. Clydebank, Kirkintilloch, Rutherglen, Cumbernauld and Kilmarnock are expected to suffer the biggest fallout and become "ghost towns" as they already have empty premises on their main shopping streets and are most reliant on chain stores that have folded in recent months. The business research company is predicting that one in seven shops will be empty by the end of this year. The Scottish Retail Consortium also fears that, unlike previous recessions, Scotland would not buck the slump as so many of the country's high streets now have UK-wide chain stores. High streets and shopping centres that relied on foot traffic from now-defunct chains such as Woolworths, Dolcis and Stead & Simpson were particularly vulnerable. It is expected that smaller retail destinations will be worst affected. On a brighter note, some high-street giants, including Debenhams, John Lewis, Next and Co-op reported better than expected results over the Christmas period.
Picture of Kilmarnock Main Street via Wikimedia.
Woolworths Stores CloseAll Woolworth stores in Scotland and all the stores in England closed by the end of December as a result of the UK company going into administration with debts amounting to £385 million. It was nearly 100 years ago that American F W Woolworth opened his first UK store. The brand became a well known sight in many towns and cities. The Woolworths Group in the UK separated from its American parent in 1982. Across the UK, the 807 outlets began major clearance sales offering "up to 50% off" to get rid of all stock before they closed down. A number of the premises in good locations are likely to be taken over by other retailers, who will not want either stock or fitments. The loss of Woolworths is the most high-profile High Street casualty of the present economic downturn - so far.
Picture of Woolworths via Wikimedia.
Good Times Ahead for Scottish TourismAmid all the doom and gloom of financial crises, economic slow-downs and struggling businesses, there are reports that hotel owners around the country are experiencing a surge in business, with bookings up compared to last year. The decline in the value of the pound, especially against the Euro and the US dollar means that tourists are finding prices in Scotland going down when exchange rates are taken into account. And the lower cost of fuel means that touring in Scotland is cheaper than it was last year. One of Scotland's important sources of tourists is from England and Wales. As the cost of European holidays rocket (due to the adverse exchange rate for such trips) and the amount available for discretionary spending such as holidays declines, more people are turning to breaks that don't involve leaving the UK. The Year of Scottish Homecoming is also bound to increase the number of visitors from abroad.
Illustration is of Edinburgh Castle.
Scotland Attracts People From Rest of UKWe often bemoan the "brain drain" of people from Scotland who move to jobs in other parts of the UK, particularly the South East of England. But an investigation by the Bank of Scotland shows that 542,524 people moved to Scotland from other parts of the UK between 1998 and 2007. While 385, 767 left, Scotland's population grew by a net 157,757 over that period, an increase of 3%. The Bank of Scotland report was based on data sourced from the 2008 Population Trends published by the Office for National Statistics.
Parking Fees Ended at Most HospitalsOut patients and visitors at most hospitals in Scotland will no longer have to pay for parking, after fees were abolished last week. The charges have been removed from 14 National Health Service hospitals but will remain at three hospitals in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee which were built under the private finance initiative. When the charges were introduced, they were branded a "tax on illness" and the charity Macmillan Cancer Support found that cancer patients on chemotherapy visited hospital an average of 53 times for treatment, paying an average total of £325 to park their cars. In hospitals in England and Wales (where parking charges will continue), a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said ""We do not think it is a sensible use of limited resources to subsidise car parking at hospitals for everyone. In England, hospital car parking charges are decided locally by individual trusts to cover the cost of running and maintaining a car park. All trusts should have exemption and concessionary schemes in place to ensure that patients and carers who visit hospital regularly are not disadvantaged."
Titian Painting SavedThe National Galleries of Scotland and the London-based National Gallery have successfully bid for Titian's Diana and Actaeon. The Duke of Sutherland offered the painting to them last August for £50 million (said to be a "knock-down" price) on condition that they raised the funds by December 31. The daunting sum was raised, thanks in part to a substantial contribution from the Scottish government. They declined to confirm exactly how much was donated - but £17.5 million has been suggested in the press. Having succeeded with that purchase, the galleries must now raise a similar amount for another Titian, Diana and Callisto. If they manage to that, the Duke's huge Bridgewater collection of paintings, which currently form the backbone of the National Gallery of Scotland's display, will remain there.
Glasgow Airport Rail Link DelayedThe estimated completion date for the rail link to Glasgow airport is now two years behind the original target and costs have escalated from £247 million to £454 million (although the latter figure now includes separate signalling work to save money and reduce disruption to existing services). The new rail link was one of the factors which helped Glasgow to win the 2014 Commonwealth Games. While the work should be completed in 2013, there have to be concerns if the project falls further behind schedule. The new link will be a new spur line will branch off the main Glasgow to Paisley route, the second busiest in Scotland (after the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line).
Knighthood for Scots CyclistThe Queen's 2009 New Year Honours List included a knighthood for Chris Hoy from Edinburgh who won three gold medals at the Olympics in Beijing, becoming Scotland's most successful Olympian, the first Briton in 100 years to secure a hat-trick of gold medals in a single Olympic Games, and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time. Sir Chris was delighted with the honour - but equally delighted that his mother had been awarded an MBE in the same honours list for her contribution to health care. Getting such recognition is nothing knew for the Hoy family though - Sir Chris' grandmother was made an MBE for her Multiple Sclerosis Society work in 1989. Other Scots appearing in the New Year Honours list were Sandy Crombie, the chief executive of insurance firm Standard Life, Dr Andrew Cubie, whose 1999 report led to the scrapping of upfront university tuition fees in Scotland and Professor Neil Douglas, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. There were CBEs for Grampian Police chief constable Colin McKerracher for services to policing, Dr Ian Smith, the former president of the Royal Scottish Society, for services to the arts, and Glasgow-born photographer Harry Benson.
Curb on Ben Nevis Charity EventsThe number of charity events being staged on Ben Nevis is posing serious environmental concerns for those who manage access to the highest summit in Scotland and the UK. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have climbed Ben Nevis last year, over 30,000 more than in 2007. With numbers climbing the mountain growing, Highland Council, which runs the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, is to hold talks this month with the Institute of Fundraising to draw up a new code of conduct striking a compromise between charity and conservation which it hopes will end "unsustainable" challenges on all three of Britain's highest peaks (Ben Nevis, Snowdon in Wales and Scafell Pike in England). There is a substantial amount of erosion on the paths leading to the summits and litter is another major problem. The conservationist body the John Muir Trust, which owns Ben Nevis, is also involved in the talks and hopes they will enable "all comers" to climb Britain's highest mountain without damaging it. Unfortunately, many of those involved in climbing the mountain for charity are not members of formal groups
Picture of Ben Nevis via Wikimedia.
Homecoming TV Advert For North AmericaAn advert which promotes Scotland's Homecoming celebrations has been criticised because it was only planned to be shown in Scotland. Now it is to be broadcast over Burns weekend within travel and culture programmes on the likes of the Travel Channel, History Channel, CNBC and Discovery Channel in America and Canada and has the potential to reach millions of viewers. Sir Sean Connery and Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy are among many famous Scots faces who feature in the minute-long advert which was screened in Scotland recently. It will also be screened on TV in England and Northern Ireland. Of course, as regular readers of this newsletter will already know, it has also been available on the Web. See Scotland's Homecoming
Royal Air Force TartanMacTartan(UK) hold the design registration for the Royal Air Force tartan and licence mills to make material in this special tartan. The catalogue for the product range includes made to measure kilts, trews, trousers, skirts and much more (such as RAF tartan carpeting in Wilton). The company is supplier of tartan to the Royal Air Force and has also provided the cloth for the ATC Scotland and Northern Ireland pipe band. A percentage of sales goes to the Royal Air Force Association charity. For more details, see MacTartan.
Jack and Sophie - the Parents' ChoiceAccording to data published by the Registrar General for Scotland, the most popular boys' name chosen for children born in 2008 was Jack - pushing last year's favourite, Lewis, into second place. But the most popular girls' name was Sophie - for the fourth year in a row. Emily was in second spot, followed by Olivia, Chloe, Emma, Lucy, Ava, Katie, Erin and Hannah. After Jack and Lewis, the most popular boys' names were Daniel, Liam, James, Ryan, Callum. Logan, Mathew and Cameron. A number of unusual names made it to the top 100 list - Jayden shot up to 26th in the boys' listing, while Mohammed was 96th and Noah was 88th. Around 28,100 boys' and 27,200 girls' names were registered nationally this year, and they shared around 3000 names, with 1800 of those names being unique. For all the details, see Registrar General for Scotland.
Scots Family PhotosVisitScotland and Forestry Commission Scotland want to create a gallery of old family photographs, highlighting the spread of people worldwide who have Scottish ancestry. The images will be exhibited as part of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations in 2009 at David Marshall Lodge, near Aberfoyle, in the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. VisitScotland want to encourage people around the world to start thinking about their Scottish connections by having a rummage in the loft or attic for old family photos and sending them to the project. They are especially interested in those who have connections to Scotland's many forests where whole communities of people once lived and worked. People should send in their old photos to Forest Heritage which goes live on January 26.
Kto ky jestes! Michael Schumacher?No, that's not a mad typing error - but it could relate too much whisky (but not on the part of the editor). Due to the large number of Polish drivers in Scotland who have been caught drinking while over the permitted alcohol level in their blood, police officers have been issuing the annual drink-drive warnings in Polish as well as English. "Kto ky jestes! Michael Schumacher?" means "Who do you think you are? Michael Schumacher?" In some parts of Scotland, east European drivers figure disproportionately among those found to be over the limit in the annual festive campaign. Tayside Police reported that 10% of drivers testing positive in the first week of the campaign in December were Polish, while one of the 14 drivers in the second week was Slovakian. Several forces' patrol vehicles carry phrase books in various languages and special leaflets and posters with information about drink driving, speeding and seat belt laws have now been produced for migrant workers. Poland has one of the highest road death rates in Europe, partially fuelled by drink-driving.
Birds of Prey at Scottish ParliamentScottish comedians will have a field day with the news that managers at the Scottish Parliament have decided to engage the services of birds of prey. No, it's not to grab more taxes but to deal with the problem of pigeons finding that the many nooks and crannies in the £414 million building are great for roosting and building nests. There is an intricate array of spikes and netting to ward them off, but the persistent birds have found many corners for a desirable residence. So it has been decided to ask falconers to tender for a service of providing Harris hawks to patrol the lower ledges and recesses and falcons to hover over the building to scare them off in the first place. A Scottish Parliament spokesman emphasised that the birds were only there to scare away the pigeons - not to kill and eat them. Hopefully the raptors understand the rules...
New Year's Day Dip in RiversHardy (foolhardy?) folk have been braving the chilly waters of the river Tay at Brought Ferry for 125 years and this year almost 300 turned up to splash into the chilly waters - which were actually four degrees warmer than the air temperature which hovered around freezing point. They were watched by a crowd of over 2,000 (who were well wrapped up in the freezing cold). The traditional "Looney Dook" (mad dip) at South Queensferry on the river Forth was started in 1987 and participants often adopt fancy dress before plunging into the freezing cold waters. The organisers of a New Year's Day dip into the North Sea at Kirkcaldy go by the impressive name of "Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association" (YAABA) and the 200 people who braved the cold raised around £1,000 for the charity which will help to finance a number of open water events in the coming year.
Recent Weather in ScotlandTemperatures so far in January have been mainly below average, with no weather station reaching double figures Celsius (50F) and on many days struggling to rise above freezing point. Overnight temperatures reached -11C (12F) in Aboyne in Aberdeenshire on the night of 5/6 January. There has been very little rain, though some snow fell in parts of the Highlands. Prolonged sub zero temperatures played havoc with school heating and plumbing systems and 18 primary schools not opening after the Festive holiday period due to lack of heating. Today (Saturday) saw temperatures rising as strong westerly winds, gale force at times, swept across Scotland. Stornoway in the Western Isles recorded gusts at over 70mph.
The illustration is of Winter Flowering Jasmine.
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Dumbarton Castle reflected in the river Clyde (see thumbnail here);
~Loch Fyne, Scotland's longest sea loch, looking like glass at Inveraray;
~ Another wintry scene in the hills near Oban;
~ A Whooper Swan and a Mute Swan looking very ungainly walking on ice;
~ A stag jumping a fence near Dunkeld in Perthshire;
~ Sunset at Drumpellier Country Park, with birds standing on the frozen ice in the foreground.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Burns' Letters OnlineThe National Trust for Scotland has set up a site on which letters written by Robert Burns will appear online on the anniversary of the date they were written. Material will be added until the Burns Birthplace Museum opens in July 2010. The conservation charity says that the letters to friends, colleagues, literary magazines and other companies will give readers an insight into the colourful life of the poet. Included are flowery love letters to Mrs Agnes McLehose (codenamed "Clarinda"). Burns wrote nine songs to Clarinda and is said to have written the sad, passionate, love song "Ae Fond Kiss, and then we sever" as Nancy sailed from Greenock to the West Indies. Visitors to the site will be able to leave their own thoughts and comments under each letter as they appear. See Burns' Letters Online.
Celebrating Glasgow's Patron SaintSaint Kentigern, better known as St Mungo, established a Christian church in the 6th century where Glasgow Cathedral now stands. He was subsequently adopted as the patron saint of Glasgow. The site became an important pilgrimage centre in later centuries, contributing to the growth of Glasgow which eventually became the largest city in Scotland. During January, the life and times of St Mungo are being celebrated by a series of events. A copy of Vita St Kentigern (the Life of St Kentigern) by a 12th century monk, Jocelin of Furness, will be put on display at the city's Mitchell Library on the afternoon of 10 January. An ecumenical service is being held at Glasgow Cathedral on 11 January to celebrate St Mungo's Feast Day. The St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in the city will hold an event on the same day to "rediscover St Mungo's medieval pilgrimage to Glasgow Cathedral". There will also be a recital of St Mungo's life through song in Glasgow Cathedral on 31 January. This will be the first time the chant melodies, taken from Vita St Kentigern, have been heard.
Call for Return of Wallace LetterThe National Archives in the City of Lubeck, Germany, holds the only surviving document issued by William Wallace. It is a letter signed by Wallace and the Earl of Moray to the mayor of Lubeck. It says that "The Kingdom of Scotland has, by God's Grace, recovered by battle from the power of the English". It was sent to the mayor of Lubeck (an important trading port for Scottish merchants) in 1297 after the victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. It has previously been lent by the museum to the Scottish Parliament but now a Member of the Scottish Parliament has tabled a motion which would press Scottish government ministers to begin a dialogue with the City of Lubeck's National Archives about having it on "permanent loan". However, as with other unique historical documents, the Lubeck authorities are likely to be reluctant to part with their document.
Mystery of the Stirling HeadsHistoric Scotland are currently working to restore the Royal Palace at Stirling Castle. As part of the project, they are trying to solve the mystery of 33 wood carved medallions which decorated the ceiling in the King's Presence Chamber. Known as the Stirling Heads, they were carved between 1530 and 1544 to decorate the palace building which was begun by King James V as a home for his French bride, Mary de Guise. It is not known how many of the wooden heads originally decorated the ceiling but it is thought that they may have been representations, among others, of Stewart kings from King James I to V. Also included were the heads of Henry VIII and Margaret Tudor - a reminder of James V's claim to the English throne. It was that lineage that eventually resulted in the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- January 11 1815 - John A MacDonald, first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, born at 20 Brunswick Street in Glasgow.
- January 12 1940 - John Buchan, author (39 Steps etc) and diplomat (Governor General of Canada, 1935/1940) died.
- January 13 603 - Death of St Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow (and also known as St Kentigern).
- January 14 1872 - Greyfriars Bobby died after staying by his master's grave for 14 years.
- January 14 1878 - Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his telephone to Queen Victoria. She made the first call in the British Isles from her residence on the Isle of Wight.
- January 15 1973 -Neil M Gunn, author of "The Silver Darlings" and many other books and short stories, died.
- January 16 1746 - Retreating Jacobite army defeated Hanoverian forces at Battle of Falkirk.
- January 17 1883 - Author Compton Mackenzie (Whisky Galore etc) born.
- January 18 1782 - Death of Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society from 1772-1778 and physician to King George III. Sometimes called the "father of modern military medicine", the Scottish-born physician focused on the need to adopt a clean medical environment for the treatment of wounded soldiers. He also coined the term "influenza".
- January 19 1736 - Birth of James Watt, mathematical instrument maker, developed the steam engine, invented the condenser and copying machine.
- January 20 1937 - Benny Lynch, born in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, crowned world flyweight champion.
- January 21 1290 - Sweetheart Abbey, near Dumfries, founded by Devorguilla, mother of John Balliol.
- January 22 1788 - Poet George Gordon Byron (later Lord Byron) born. He moved to Aberdeen at the age of four and attended Aberdeen Grammar School. The title was inherited from an uncle.
- January 23 1570 - James Stewart, the Regent Moray on the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots, murdered in Linlithgow, triggering civil war.
- January 24 1890 - First train over Forth Rail Bridge.
New Robert Louis Stevenson WebsiteThe life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson will be housed on a new website to be developed by Napier University in conjunction with Stirling and Edinburgh Universities. There are already websites with the collected works of Stevenson, but this new resource will also have a brief biography of Stevenson, a timeline, publication history, and pages devoted to the major figures in his life. Stevenson is most often associated with just three works (Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) but his output covered much more than that, including poetry, children's books, travel writing, historical novels and literary essays. He influenced some of the foremost writers of our time and yet, in comparison to Conrad, Hardy or Kipling, his reputation has suffered and he's often reduced to being thought of as an adventure story writer. The new website, which will go online in 2010, may go some way towards reviving his reputation.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra Indian TourThe Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) has been given a grant of £200,000 by the Scottish Government which, along with further sponsorship from other sources, will allow the orchestra to embark on a tour which will take in six cities in India. Part of the programme the orchestra will perform is a piece called Samaagam, which was produced as a collaboration between the SCO and a leading Indian musician. It explores the common roots of Indian and Western music.
Entertaining a NationThe Theatre Royal in Glasgow is the longest running theatre still operating in Scotland. It opened in 1867 and now Graeme Smith has produced its fascinating story in a fully illustrated book. Pantomime, plays, spectaculars, silent films, circuses, ballet, opera and television grew up with the Royal. Original documents, and some 400 illustrations, trace its life and personalities, from its parentage in the 18th century, its links with fine arts and the International Exhibitions, all expressing the confidence of Glasgow and the context of its times. The Theatre Royal is also the birthplace of Howard & Wyndham Ltd, one of Britain`s major theatre companies, thanks to the Simons fruit businesses in Candleriggs, and the birthplace of STV commercial television in Scotland, thanks to Canadian Roy Thomson. The author Graeme Smith has spared no effort in researching the ups and downs of a truly romantic tale. It is a gripping story, a splendid record of our theatrical history and entertainment. ..Let the curtain rise! See Theatre Royal in Glasgow.
Highland Heartbeat on US RadioHighland Heartbeat, a popular Scottish music entertainment programme, will capitalise on the interest in Scottish culture and Homecoming 2009 when it airs across the US in February on the US 'free-to-air' channel PBS. The programme, narrated by Scottish star of film, television and stage Brian Cox, will include the Homecoming Caledonia advert and will reach tens of millions of viewers. Produced in Scotland, the show brings together singer and broadcaster Fiona Kennedy with an outstanding cast of singers, musicians, choirs, pipers and dancers. Traditional songs are played alongside contemporary works such as award-winning musician and composer Phil Cunningham's anthem 'Raise the Flag' and American song-writer Beth Nielsen Chapman's specially composed song 'The Kist'. Highland Heartbeat is the biggest independent TV project to be staged in Scotland for many years. With location filming comprising about one quarter of the show, Highland Heartbeat will also bring Scotland's stunning scenery to an American audience. The PBS network will show Highland Heartbeat on their 354 channels across the US. It will be followed by an extensive tour involving some of the musicians taking part.
Dundee Branch of Victoria and Albert MuseumThe world-renowned Victoria and Albert Museum in London is considering opening a satellite collection in a new building in Dundee. A recent consultant's feasibility report has produced promising results, suggesting that it would create 900 jobs, bring around 130,000 tourists to Dundee every year by 2015 and earn millions for the economy. While it will not be on the scale of New York’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain, it would bring great benefits to Dundee. The museum is likely to be a joint venture between Dundee University, Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise and the private sector and would be built on the waterfront of the city.
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.
Scottish Festival & Highland Games, South FloridaThe Scottish American Society of South Florida is bringing a wee bit of The Highlands to South Florida on Saturday, January 10 with a full day of pipers, dancers, cabers and sheepdog herding demonstrations. Live acts will include The Hunting McLeod, Iona and Teribus among others. It is taking place at Fort Lauderdale Stadium & Event site at 1301 NW 55th Street and not only promotes Scottish culture but also raises scholarship money for youngsters interested in bagpipes, fiddling, highland dancing, as well as academic scholarships. The Scottish American Society of South Florida not only plans and holds the annual Festival and Games, but hosts other events, including Ceilidhs and an annual society dinner to honour the birth of Robert Burns. A dinner concert and dance celebrating the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth will be held this February 7 in Plantation. Featured will be the internationally regarded, Brigadoons from Ontario, Canada. For more information, see Scottish American Society of South Florida.
The Halton/ Peel Burns Club, OntarioThe Halton/ Peel Burns Club and the Robert Burns Society of Doon are again jointly sponsoring a different kind of celebration of the Bard’s 250th birthday. This is NOT another Burns Supper! It is being held on Sunday 25th January at The Royal Botanical Gardens, on Plains Rd. West, Burlington, Ontario, with doors open at 2:00 pm. Live music will greet everyone in the enclosed Arboretum Atrium outside the Ballroom, where the main event will take place. At 2:30 pm the formal entertainment will commence in the Ballroom, with artists and musicians playing, singing, reciting and dramatising the works and music of Robert Burns. When the formal programme finishes around 5:00pm, everyone will retire to the Atrium and the musical entertainment will continue. When the tables are set, the piper will lead guests back into the ballroom. The haggis ceremony will follow and dinner in the Scottish style will be served- with no distracting speeches! And haggis is optional! Visit Scotland will have a representative and information on hand to help anyone planning a vacation "Back Home". Anyone wishing to obtain further details should telephone 905-637-0980. But you'll need to hurry - numbers have to be finalised by Monday 19th.
"Pipes of Christmas" in Big AppleThe 10th annual concert in the "Pipes of Christmas" series on 21 December was a sell-out success for the organisers, the Clan Currie Society. The concerts featured many Scottish performers, including gold medal harpist Jennifer Port from Golspie, guitarist Steve Gibb from Inverness, Andrew Weir from Ayr, and Evan Cattanach from Kingussie. The Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band from Redlands, California, Scottish country dance trio Local Hero and the Solid Brass ensemble also performed. At the performance in New York City, the clan society announced their second annual piping scholarship - the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Scholarship for Bagpipe. The scholarship will be administered by the National Piping Centre in Glasgow and is the second annual piping scholarship established by Clan Currie Society. See also Clan Currie Society and Pipes of Christmas.
League TablesIn the SPL, Celtic beat Rangers 1-0 at the derby match on 27 December but dropped two points when they could only draw 2-2 against Dundee United last Saturday. That means that Celtic are 5 points ahead of Rangers, with Dundee United 11 points further back.
In the First Division, St Johnstone have a 5 point lead over second-placed Dunfermline. Saints last played on 27 December (when they defeated Clyde) and Dunfermline lost to Dundee last Saturday.
Scottish Homecoming CupWith some of the earlier rounds completed, the Scottish Cup (now known as the Homecoming Cup as a result of government sponsorship) is now involving clubs from the higher leagues. Aberdeen managed a 2-1 defeat of Alloa but Kilmarnock could only draw with Ayr United. Celtic defeated Dundee 2-1 but had to come from behind to do so. Rangers play St Johnstone next Tuesday.
Andy Murray Wins at Abu Dhabi and QatarScots tennis star continued his preparations for the new season with an impressive 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) win in the semi-final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition event against Roger Federer after winning his opening match against James Blake. In the final, Murray defeated top-ranked Rafael Nadal in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Then in the Qatar Open, Andy Murray again defeated Roger Federer in the semi-finals. He lost the first set but then took the next two comfortably by 6-2, 6-2. In the final he faced American Andy Roddick. Despite having had back problems in the earlier round, Murray demolished Roddick 6-4 6-2, thus retaining the title he won last year. Murray is currently ranked No 4 and his performances will give him confidence for the Australian Open later this month. Murray has yet to win a Grand Slam title but is being tipped to do so this season.
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.
Scottish Castles Photo Library
Eilean Donan Castle, Lochalsh, Western Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle is built on a small island in Loch Duich, a sea loch on the coast of the western Highlands, close to the main A87 road to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye. The original castle was built in 1220 for King Alexander II as a defence against the Vikings. King Alexander III gave the lands and the castle to Colin Fitzgerald, son of an Irish Earl, for his help in defeating King Hakon of Norway at the Battle of Largs in 1263. The Fitzgeralds changed their name to Mackenzie and Eilean Donan became the principle stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail (later the Earls of Seaforth). In 1511, the MacRaes, as protectors of the Mackenzies, became the hereditary Constables of Eilean Donan Castle. During the Jacobite rising of 1719, William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, had Eilean Donan garrisoned by Spanish troops in support of the rising. The castle was captured, and then demolished, by three Royal Navy frigates on 10–13 May 1719. Eilean Donan remained a ruin for 200 years but was restored between 1919 and 1932 by Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap. The restoration included the construction of an arched bridge to give easier access to the castle. For more on this colourful castle together with photographs, see Eilean Donan Castle, Lochalsh.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
As a result of feedback and further research the article on Scottish-related place names in Kingston, Jamaica, has been expanded. Of the names of the 173 districts, neighbourhoods and suburbs that have been identified to date in Greater Kingston, 44 (25.4%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names. Of course, many of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but at least 21 of them (12.1%) are unique to Scotland, or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names. It may surprise some readers that the names of so many neighbourhoods in the Jamaican capital have a Scottish connection. Articles on Jamaica usually draw attention to the Irish rather than the Scottish settlement of the island. It should be remembered, however, that Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, in order to escape his financial and other worries, was on the point of immigrating to Jamaica in 1786. The success of the Kilmarnock edition of his poems and the acclaim of his admirers induced him to stay in Scotland. For all the details of Scottish place names to be found in this West Indian town, see Scottish Place Names in Kingston, Jamaica.
Scottish Poetry and Song
Here is Alexander Anderson (1845-1909) writing (without any undue modesty) in praise of what a poet can achieve when he creates a poem.
Like a great tree beside the stream of life
The visioned poet stands,
And scatters forth his leaves of thought all rife,
As if from fairy hands.
And down, forever down the stream they float,
And work into the heart,
And there, by virtue of the magic thought,
Can never more depart.
But sleep unseen through all the weary day,
And waken up betimes
In the sweet night to cheer our gloom away
With their most pleasant chimes.
And in the hurry and the fret, the jar
Of restless things they come,
And act like oil upon the tempest's war
Till all the strife is dumb.
The labour of the wood and field, the slim
White clouds within the sky,
Have secrets Nature only shows to him
Who hath a poet's eye.
The unheard music and the gentle tones
Which float along her breast,
Give up their being unto him alone,
To tell it to the rest.
He is the necromancer who hath thrown
Open a wealth untold,
And placed within our hands the fabled stone
Whose touch turns all to gold.
O, noble poet, firm in thy great faith,
And in thy truth and love,
I prize thee as I do the dead, whose death
Has swelled the ranks above.
So in all earnestness my spirit sends
Its homage unto thee;
But this is naught, for from the sky descends
Meaning of unusual words:
rife = over abundant
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. For those not over-familiar with Scottish geography, Tranent is a small town, four miles east of Edinburgh.
There was an old lady of Tranent
Whose nose was remarkably bent
One day they supposed
She followed her nose
For no one knew which way she went.
There was a young Scotsman named Fisher
Who was fishing for fish in a fissure.
Then a cod, with a grin,
Pulled the fisherman in.
Now they're fishing the fissure for Fisher.
How to Make Babies
Seven-year-old Morag came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep calm. "That's interesting," she said, "how do you make babies?" "It's simple," replied Morag. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."
Lachlan's Laws - # 81 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: "Change is inevitable, except from vending machines."
Two Ways to Keep Fit
Jamie was gazing dolefully into his half-empty glass of beer. When asked by a friend what the problem was, he replied: "I've discovered the hard way that you can keep fit by wrestling with your conscience. And my wife keeps fit by jumping to conclusions."
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
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