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.
Record Losses for Royal Bank of ScotlandThe Royal Bank of Scotland has revealed that it is now estimating bad debts and write-downs on the value of past acquisitions which could leave it making losses of £28 billion in 2008. That's the highest in UK corporate history and nearly double that of the current "record holder", mobile phone company Vodaphone's £15 billion loss in 2006. The bank's HQ in Edinburgh also admitted that more credit write-downs "seem certain" but could not say how much or when. Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland slumped on the news and on Friday they stood at just 12p. On the same date last year the shares were valued at 366p. The bank will be about 70% Government owned after the Treasury agreed to replace £5 billion of preference shares with new ordinary shares. The taxpayer is already sitting on paper losses of more than £12 billion on its existing 58% stake in the group. Royal Bank added that its retail and commercial banking businesses in the UK remained profitable, but offset by losses in its global banking and markets division. Other UK banking shares also saw their value drop. But the newly created Lloyds Banking Group (which includes the Bank of Scotland) which is not allowed to pay a dividend until it repays the government's Preference Shares in the company, is planning to issue shares by way of a capitalisation issue for 2008 financial year instead. That bank also says it intends to repay the UK government's Preference Shares during 2009 so as to enable them to resume paying dividends. There's confidence for you!
Rise in Unemployment in ScotlandAcross the UK, unemployment over the last year has risen by 290,000, so an increase in Scotland of "just" 6,000 wasn't too bad. The number of Scots claiming jobseekers' allowance is nudging the 100,000 mark at 97,600 - a 5.4% rise in a month. Across the UK, the number claiming the allowance rose last month by 77,900 to 1.16m - the worst figure since 2000. Scottish Employment Minister, Jim Mather, insisted that in what is a challenging year, the Scottish Government is doing everything within its powers to help families and business, and keep the economy moving. He added: "Despite the global economic conditions, in Scotland we are maintaining a higher employment rate, a lower unemployment rate and higher economic activity levels than the UK average. We are, however, seeing unemployment rise and survey evidence predicts a difficult year ahead for business." The UK unemployment rate is now 6.1%, while in Scotland it is 5.2%. The lack of available credit from banks by good companies is a major issue.
First Minister to Visit ChinaScotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, will visit China later this year on a trip aimed at building economic and cultural links. It is the first official visit by the First Minister for some time and is expected to take place in April. The programme of events will be announced nearer the time. Education secretary Fiona Hyslop visited Beijing, Shandong province and Shanghai last year, which led to a "memorandum of understanding" regarding education being signed between Scotland and China.
Picture of Alex Salmond via Wikimedia.
Herculean Efforts to Save Premature TwinsWhen twins were born 12 weeks prematurely on the Isle of Lewis earlier this week, it resulted in an epic rescue mission involving an RAF helicopter and a Lockheed Hercules transport plane, the latter piloted by a Frenchman on secondment to the RAF. The drama began when a 40-year-old mother went into labour more than 12 weeks early and was taken to the hospital in Stornoway in the Western Isles. As the hospital doesn't have a dedicated neonatal team, a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from Prestwick was stripped of any unnecessary equipment to allow it to carry two incubators and a medical team from Glasgow. Once there, it was decided that deteriorating weather conditions meant that it was too dangerous to make the return journey. So an RAF Hercules (more used to transporting troops in Afghanistan) was despatched from an air base in the south of England at just after midnight. Captained by Major Oliver Luneau, a pilot with Armee de l'Air, the French air force, the Hercules landed at 2.35am at Stornoway. They waited while the medical team ensured that the premature twins were stabilised in the incubators and took off at 5.40am with the two incubators and the specialist medical team. The Hercules touched down at Glasgow airport 40 minutes later and the babies were rushed by ambulance to Princess Royal Maternity Hospital. The medical experts say that the babies are doing well and have a 90% chance of survival, thanks to the efforts of all concerned.
Picture of RAF C130 Hercules via Ministry of Defence.
No Traffic Expansion for Cut-Price Forth BridgeIt has emerged that the Scottish Government's plans for a slimmed down second Forth Bridge do not have any capability to cope with increased traffic volumes over the lifetime of the bridge. Instead of three lanes in each direction, there will only be two (as on the existing bridge which will - once it has gone through a period of essential maintenance - carry only public transport). The plans for the slimmed down crossing assume that efforts to encourage commuters to switch to public transport will be successful.... Such efforts in the past may have increased usage of public transport - but private cars and truck numbers have soared as well. Statistics show 69% of Scots employees currently travel to work by car. The UK Government in London and business leaders have expressed concerns that the new crossing will become snarled with traffic if commuters refuse to leave their vehicles at home. Prior to the removal of tolls on the existing Forth bridge, traffic became snarled up regularly - but that didn't persuade drivers to move to public transport.
Buchanan Galleries Beat Credit CrunchThe £300 million expansion of Buchanan Galleries shopping mall in the centre of Glasgow is still to go ahead, despite the UK now being officially in recession and the slump in retail sales. Building work, which will see the retail centre doubling in size, will start in the summer of 2010. There will be 7,000 square feet of new shopping space and a new multi-storey car park. The enlarged centre will employ 4,500 retail staff once work has been completed. A flag-ship store for Marks and Spencer and a multi-screen cinema are also due to set up in it. Meantime, the work on expanding the St Enoch shopping centre in Glasgow is proceeding apace.
And Edinburgh's £850 Million St James Centre UnveiledIn Scotland's capital plans for a massive retail development moved forward this week with artist's impressions of how the new St James Centre might look in 2015 being unveiled. The New St Andrew's House office block - one of central Edinburgh's worst eyesores - will be demolished and replaced with a five-star hotel, shops, offices and 250 new homes. The existing St James Shopping Centre (built in the 1970s) will also be demolished under the proposals and replaced by a "galleria" with a third more shops. The city-centre site will be known as the St James Quarter. If the plans are approved, demolition could start in 2011 with the retail element open in 2015.
The graphic shows the present St James Centre and New St Andrews House complex which is to be demolished.
Scotland to London by High Speed Trains?It has been proposed many times in the past, but now the UK government has announced the formation of a new company to explore the possibility of a high speed rail link between London and Scotland. "High Speed 2" will initially develop proposals for a new high-speed line between London and the West Midlands of England via Heathrow airport - where there are plans to construct a third runway . The service could then connect with those to Scotland, either via a new line or using existing track with new trains. The UK Government's announcement was criticised by the Scottish National Party for its lack of details.
Europe's Biggest WindfarmScottish Power, the operator of Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, has applied for yet another expansion which aims to allow the generation of enough power to supply the equivalent of every home in Glasgow. When Scottish Power was first given permission to construct a windfarm at Whitelee in 2006, it was for 140 turbines and the company applied to build another 36 turbines last April. If that gets the go-ahead from the Scottish Government, an application for a further 45 will follow, bringing the total to 221 with an output of 614 megawatts. Even now, Whitelee is Europe's largest on-shore windfarm - the second largest windfarm is in Guadalajara, Spain, run by Scottish Power's parent company, Iberdrola, with an output of 208 megawatts. Scottish Power is aiming to produce over 1,000 megawatts from all its Scottish windfarms by 2010. When construction at Whitelee is completed, it is planned to be open to the public, with a visitor centre and wildlife tours in eco-buses powered by wind-generated electricity. Environmental groups have voiced support for developments like Whitelee as it is near where there is most demand for electricity and will not need huge pylons marching across the country - as is being proposed to take power from wind and wave generators in the Highlands and the Western Isles. And although Eaglesham Moor was previously wild and unspoilt, it was not a major tourist attraction.
One of Biggest Wave Stations in the WorldScottish Government ministers have granted consent for the "npower renewables" company to operate a wave farm with a 4 megawatt capacity at Siadar, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles. It is one of the first marine renewable energy projects to be approved in the UK. The Siadar wave farm is claimed to be one of the largest consented wave electricity generating stations in the world. It is the first commercial wave farm in Scotland and is starting with a capacity to power around 1,800 homes. The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 30 renewable project applications - 23 wind farms and seven hydro projects, with more applications expected. Government targets are to meet 50% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, and an interim target of 31% by 2011.
Airline Passenger Numbers DiveStatistics from the Civil Aviation Authority for January to October last year show that the number of passengers carried by Scotland's five main airports declined by 500,000 to 20.5 million, compared with the same period in 2007. While not a large number in percentage terms, it is the first decline in ten years. In the same timescale, airlines axed 56 destinations from their schedules and only 40 new routes were established. The downturn has been most marked in the chartered holiday market. The decline follows a huge increase in passenger numbers between 2002 and 2007 when they rose by around one-third.
Ryanair Announce New Edinburgh RoutesIrish budget airline Ryanair has announced that it is to launch seven more routes from Scotland's capital, beginning on 30 March. The company is also adding two more Boeing 737-800 aircraft to its Edinburgh base. The new destinations are Carcassonne, Limoges, Leipzig (Altenburg), Malta, Poitiers, Rome and Zadar. Ryanair claimed that the new routes would add another two million to Edinburgh's passenger numbers, sustain 2,000 jobs and bring £210 million in tourism cash to the capital.
Birth of Burns Marked in Postage StampsAmong all the many celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, the Royal Mail has issued two new first class stamps this week. One depicts the famous Alexander Naismith portrait of Burns and the other quotes from the bard's most famous and enduring poem "A man's a man for a' that". Burns is the only person outside the Royal Family to feature in three special stamp issues (1966 and 1996 and now in 2009). The stamps are only available as part of a commemorative sheet, combined with the four every-day Scottish "regional" stamps.
Scottish Chef Wins UK Restaurant AwardEdinburgh's "Restaurant Martin Wishart" has beaten competition from London's top eateries to win the UK title of best-rated restaurant in a competition involving readers of toptable.co.uk (claimed to be Europe's largest online restaurant reservation service). Martin Wishart was voted just ahead of last year's winner, top chef Michel Roux Jr's "Le Gavroche". Wishart at one time trained under the French chef. Martin Wishart's restaurant in the Leith area of Edinburgh had members of the Top Table website raving about the "flawless" menu and "impeccable" service - praise which saw it also win the top spot in the over £45 sub-category. Scottish restaurants also did well in the best-rated category, claiming five places in the top 10 list. Glasgow's India Quay and Hotel du Vin took third and fourth place respectively, while The Stockbridge and Ronnie's in Edinburgh were placed fifth and sixth.
Best Fish and Chips in BritainThe Anstruther Fish Bar and Restaurant in Fife has been once again crowned as the best fish and chip (French fries) shop in Britain. The outlet, which overlooks the harbour at Anstruther, defeated nine other finalists from around Britain in the "Oscars" of the industry which is run every year by the Sea Fish Organisation. The various stages of the competition included a mystery inspection, a mystery shopper, tasting tests and shop inspections during which everything is examined including the fish and chips, bookwork, hygiene and customer service. It was the second year in succession that Scotland carried away the top prize - last year it was Townhead Cafe in Biggar, Lanarkshire. Robert and Alison Smith have run the Anstruther Fish Bar and Restaurant in Fife since 2003. Since then they have won the Scottish Fish and Chip Shop of the Year four times and were UK runners-up in 2006.
Flowers Nipped in the BudIt appears that the traditional bunch of flowers taken by visitors to patients in hospital is being ended in a number of National Health Service managements as they claim that vase water can harbour dangerous bugs, flowers can trigger allergies and spilled water can damage equipment. One health board has also banned visitors from bringing cream cakes and sandwiches - labeling them "high risk" foods. Some politicians and scientists have criticised the rules as disproportionate and unnecessary but the health boards claim it is just "common sense". But if flowers and some types of food are being banned, other rules are being loosened as health boards are being advised to end the blanket ban on mobile phones, except in a few restricted areas such as intensive care.
Haggis AmnestyNo, it's not that the haggis shooting season has been suspended... It appears that many visitors to Scotland are not aware of the restrictions on exporting meat and arrive at Edinburgh airport with haggis they have bought to take home. But over this weekend, although their "chieftain o' the puddin' race" will still be confiscated, they will be able to swap their "contraband" for a traditional Burns Supper of haggis, neeps and tatties with a 'wee dram' of whisky, courtesy of the Hilton Edinburgh Airport's restaurant. So, if they have time before their flight, they can present their own haggis and proof of travel for the free meal. At least there is a shuttle bus service between the airport and the hotel!
Scottish Parliament TartanWell, everybody else from China and Australia to Arbroath Smokies to the State of California has a tartan - so why not the Scottish Parliament? It has launched a design competition so that they too can boast their own tartan. Entrants must be students from Scotland and the Parliament's Presiding Officer (Speaker) will wear the winning design to mark the 10th anniversary of the devolved legislature in July. The design is to be used for marketing and publicity and will adorn items sold in the Parliament shop.Entries have to be submitted by 30 January.
Recent Weather in ScotlandGales with winds gusting to over 100mph lashed many parts of Scotland two weeks ago. Up to four inches of rain were recorded at Tyndrum in Perthshire with wind speeds of 116mph being recorded on the Cairngorm mountains. This week, more heavy rain in the south-west resulted in some flooding in Dumfries and a number of roads have been affected. Temperatures have been mainly below average, with some snow showers. Edinburgh did reach nearly 8C (46F) on Thursday this week but tat was followed with maximum daily temperatures in the Capital of 4/5C (39/41F).
The graphic hre is of lights decorating the bare branches of trees in a wet Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Note the ubiquitous McDonalds in the background!
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Blackness Castle, surrounded on three sides by water and often referred to as "the ship which never sailed" (see thumbnail here);
~ A large party of Oystercatcher birds, looking incongruous with their large orange-red bills;
~ Torwood Castle, thought to have been built around 1566 for Sir Alexander Forrester of Garden and the seat of Clan Forrester;
~ A Goldeneye duck which gets its name from its distinctive yellow eye - though the white patch below the eye of the male bird is even more prominent.
See This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Revamp for Rosslyn ChapelThe 15th century Rosslyn Chapel saw visitor numbers shoot through the roof after it was featured in the blockbuster movie "Da Vinci Code" in 2006. In 2007 numbers reached 176,000 and those who made the trip were no doubt impressed by the ornately carved sculptures adorning the roof, columns and archways, featuring symbols of Christianity, the Knights Templar, Freemasonry and mythology. Less impressive is the steel roof and structural supports on the outside of the chapel. These have been in place for many years in a n attempt to dry out the stonework which had penetrated over the centuries. Now a multi-million restoration project is to get underway which involves a new roof, major repairs to stonework, leaded glass and the stone floor. Hopefully once its uneven surface has been repaired, visitors will be allowed once again to take their own photographs. This had to be banned recently for "health and safety" reasons as some visitors, intent on taking a picture, were tripping over the rough flagstones. Visitor centre facilities are also to be upgraded. Half of the money is coming from public sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland and an appeal for a further £2 million has been launched to pay for the rest. During the renovation the chapel will remain open.
Putting the Flying Scotsman Back on the RailsThe National Railway Museum in York has launched a public appeal seeking a further £250,000 to get Flying Scotsman - "the world's most famous locomotive" - back on the rails to enable it to carry passengers again by next year. Increased copper prices and the poor state of its boiler have meant that the project needs more finance. The 86-year-old steam locomotive ran between Edinburgh and London and was saved for the nation in 2004 after an appeal raised £2.6 million. The lion's share came from the lottery and Sir Richard Branson. The new "Steam Our Scotsman" appeal is aimed at completing the restoration work by late spring 2010, a year later than previously planned. Passenger tours will follow and are expected to include Scotland. The Flying Scotsman, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in 1923, was the first locomotive to reach 100mph, in 1934. It operated on the east coast main line until Deltic diesel locomotives took over the route in 1959.
Picture via Wikimedia.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- January 25 1759 - Robert Burns born Alloway.
- January 26 1861 - "One o'clock gun" fired for the first time from Edinburgh Castle.
- January 27 1783 - Glasgow Herald newspaper first published. It is the longest continuously published daily newspaper in Britain.
- January 28 1908 - Jimmy Shand, Scottish country dance band leader, born.
- January 29 1928 - Edinburgh-born Earl Haig, Commander in Chief of British forces 1915-18, founder of the British Legion, died.
- January 30 1649 - King Charles I executed.
- January 31 1761 - Lachlan MacQuarie, "Father of Australia" born Ulva.
- February 1 1708 - Alexander Selkirk, a sailor from Lower Largo, Fife, rescued after four years on the island of Juan Fernandez, 400 miles off the coast of Chile; his story inspired Daniel Defoe to write "Robinson Crusoe".
- February 2 1987 - Novelist Alistair Maclean died. His books "The Guns of Navarone", "Ice Station Zebra" and "Where Eagles Dare" were made into films.
- February 4 1649 - Charles II proclaimed king in Edinburgh - but not in England.
- February 5 1723 - John Witherspoon, clergyman, writer, President of Princeton University 1768-94, signatory to American Declaration of Independence 1776, born in Gifford, East Lothian.
- February 6 1665 - Queen Anne, last of the Stuart monarchs, born.
- February 7 1603 - Battle at Glenfruin when the MacGregors slaughtered a number of Colquhouns - the origins of the banning of the MacGregor name.
Special Tartan Day for Scottish HomecomingThe celebration of Tartan Day got off to a slow start in Scotland - way behind the events staged each year around the world to celebrate Scottish culture. Arbroath in Angus, where the event that is commemorated in many Tartan Day celebrations took place, was the first to get involved. After all, the Declaration of Arbroath was signed there in April 6 1320. This year, with "Homecoming Scotland 2009" providing an extra stimulus, Arbroath will again have a week-long series of celebrations in Angus. They will run from April 4 until April 12. Last year, in addition to the colourful re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration on 6 April, there was a Tartan 10k race, a concert devoted to the music of Scotland, a reunion of the famous Abbey Folk Club - and haggis hurling.
To Russia With OperaValery Gergiev, the Russian maestro, conducted a production by Scottish Opera of Lucia di Lammermoor at his theatre in St Petersburg, Russia, earlier this month. The operatic "superstar" Anna Netrebko sang the title role. The production was staged by the Mariinsky Opera Company using its own cast and musicians, but used Scottish Opera's sets, props and costumes. It was greeted by both critical and popular acclaim. The general director of Scottish Opera commented: "It's fantastic for both us and for the international cultural reputation of Scotland that a Scottish story - Walter Scott's Bride of Lammermoor - brought to life by a Scottish company and an award-winning Scottish director, will be performed by one of the best opera companies in the world." The production won glowing reviews when it was performed two years ago and is the first by Scottish Opera to be presented on a Russian stage.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky FestivalThe Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, has become a major international event on the Scottish tourism calendar. Running from 1st-10th May, this year sees the Festival (already the biggest whisky festival in Europe) extend from five to ten days. The Festival has been chosen to play a leading role in the Homecoming Scotland 2009 programme, which marks the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. It has been designated the Signature Event of the Whisky Theme - May is Whisky Month in the Homecoming calendar - which will help to showcase the heritage, folklore and culture of the River Spey, Speyside and its people and provide a hallmark of quality that will further enhance the festival's reputation. This year, the ten days of whisky, music, food and fun feature a programme of more than 250 events taking place around Speyside and between Aberdeen and Inverness. Events include the prestigious annual Whisky Awards, Professional Chef Competition and Student Chef Competition, and the Festival includes a series of tours and tastes of distilleries not normally open to the public, as well as tours to remote distilleries. New for 2009, is an exclusive Malt Whisky School, a three day master class for a select number of whisky enthusiasts. Other activities include ceilidhs, music events, whisky/food matching dining opportunities, whisky themed events, pub nights and concerts. For more information, see Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
The graphic shows Vicky Folan, a law student at Strathclyde University, sampling a single cask malt whisky.
Celtic Connections UnderwayScotland's largest winter music festival - Celtic Connections - got under way in Glasgow on 15th January and runs to 1 February. Around 1,500 artists will be performing in more than 300 events across 14 venues in the 16th year of Celtic Connections. The acclaimed Senegalese singer and percussionist Youssou N'Dour and US banjo player, Bela Fleck are among the many headlines acts. Scots singer Eddi Reader has added a second concert of Burns songs due to demand. Scottish Homecoming events include a Jamaican Burns night, a 24-hour poetry marathon and a massive ceilidh, which will see the removal of all the seats from Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.
Glasgow Film FestivalThere has been a long love affair between Glasgow and the cinema - the first purpose - built Glasgow cinema opened in Sauchiehall Street in 1910, since when there have been nearly 200 cinemas in the city. The Glasgow Film Festival began in 2005 and is now the third largest film event in the UK. This year there is an Audrey Hepburn (pictured here) retrospective and two classic Errol Flynn swashbucklers are screened in what would have been his 100th year. The festival is now spread across 12 venues. Last year it had 140 film performances from across the world - and this year will be even better. See Glasgow Film Festival.
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.
Buenos Aires Burns NightScotland in Argentina is celebrating Burns Night and Scottish culture on 24 January at the Rozz Bar Resto, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event includes Highland Dancing and Scottish Country Dances by the Dalriada Scottish Dance Group; Scottish traditional music by pipers Kevin Ham and members of the Buenos Aires Scottish Guard; Scottish Traditional music by Tuan Folk; Robert Burns songs and poems; a Haggis Hunt; a recitation of special poem written by Mónica Loreto, celebrating Robert Burns' Legacy. Additional information via Buenos Aires Burns Night
Abu DhabiIt never stops, but those who are passionate about the Bard will be at it and immortalising the great man in the British Embassy Gardens of Abu Dhabi on the 29th January with a Burns Supper. Special guest is Willie Young, the former Scottish Football Association referee to celebrate 250 years of the life of the Scottish National Bard. The Dubai Pipe Band will also be there.
League TablesCeltic's grip at the top of the Scottish Premier League slipped last Saturday when they lost 4-2 in an away match at Aberdeen. That allowed Rangers to come within two points at the top of the table. But Aberdeen enjoy playing against the "Old Firm" and this Saturday constrained Rangers to a 0-0 draw - allowing Celtic's 3-1 defeat of Hibernian to increase their lead to 4 points. Dundee United and Hearts are 12 points behind Rangers while Aberdeen is only one point further back.
In the First Division, league leaders St Johnstone should have played second placed Dunfermline but ground conditions forced a cancellation of the match. Saints have a 5 point lead over Dunfermline, with Partick Thistle another 5 points behind.
Inverness Manager SackedAfter a run of seven consecutive league defeats, Inverness Caledonian manager Craig Brewster has been sacked. The club was sitting at the foot of the Scottish Premier League, one point behind Falkirk. Brewster had an earlier successful period as player-manager at Inverness before leaving for Dundee United in January 2006. That proved to be a miserable spell, with just three victories in 10 months and Brewster eventually returned to Inverness. With just one of their five wins this season at home in the Caledonian Stadium, fans were getting restless. Three new players were signed earlier this month but the losing streak has continued.
Stranraer FC Future in the BalanceThe chairman of Stranraer Football Club has admitted that the chances of the club surviving to the end of the season are just "50/50". The Second Division club are around £250,000 in debt - and home crowds at the remote corner of Scotland are just 250 these days; in the past they expected nearly 1,000 spectators. The annual wage bill of £250,000 (a fraction of what an individual player in Celtic or Rangers would receive) is barely covered by the money taken at the turnstiles.
Andy Murray CruisesScots tennis star Andy Murray has been in dominant form in the early rounds of the Australian Tennis Championship. Still seeking his first Grand Slam title, Murray has raced through his first three matches in a combined four hours and 15 minutes, thanks in part to a 45-minute first round match against Andrei Pavel, who retired with a bad back. He is now through to the last 16 and will next be in action on Monday when he plays Spaniard Verdasco, a man he has beaten in all five of their previous meetings.
RBS Caledonian ChallengeThe RBS Caledonian Challenge is a unique physical and mental endurance event. Two marathons and then some make up the 54 mile walk along the West Highland Way from Gairlochy, just north of Fort William, to Auchtertyre within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, all of which is to be completed in 24 hours through some of Scotland's most stunning scenery. The RBS Caledonian Challenge, one of Scotland's greatest and most rewarding team fundraising challenge events, is being staged on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June 2009. The organisers are hosting a series of 'Walk of Your Life' information based presentations across Scotland and in London throughout January. These are targeted at those people curious and keen to know more about taking part as well as for those about to sign up for the "challenge of a lifetime." The two marathons with ascents totalling more than double the height of Ben Nevis are said to be achievable by anyone with the right training, preparation and a positive attitude. over 11,000 people have taken part in the Challenge over the last 11 years, raising more than £9 million for local charities and community groups across Scotland. For more information on the RBS Caledonian Challenge go to: RBS Caledonian Challenge.
Graphic of RBS Caledonian Challenge by Ideal Images.
2014 Days to 2014 Commonwealth GamesThe calendar showed that16 January marked 2014 days before the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Many young Scots are currently training hard with that date in mind, In India last year, young Scots won 18 medals, three of them gold, at the Commonwealth Youth Games and many of these athletes will be at their peak in 2014.
The "Magazine" section includes songs/poems of Scotland, Scottish humour and brief descriptions of Scottish Culture items added recently to the Rampant Scotland Website - with a link to the page where you can find the full feature, if you find the subject of interest to you.
Great Places to Eat in Scotland
Redwood Restaurant, Stockbridge, EdinburghThis intimate, cosy wee restaurant is hidden down a short flight of steps in the lively, bohemian St. Stephen's Street in the heart of Edinburgh's urban village of Stockbridge. The Head chef and proprietor is Annette Sprague, an equally lively and energetic Californian lady who came to Scotland in 2003; Redwood Restaurant is named after iconic trees of the John Muir country park in California. It is a truly happy, sunshiny kind of place, bringing a breath of fresh air to the Stockbridge dining scene - which already offers a global selection of diners and bistros. The cuisine at Redwood is essentially Californian, which itself is inspired by a multicultural society drawing on Asian, Mexican and Pacific rim influences. This is colourful, exciting cooking, featuring the fresh, seasonal character of American dishes with an occasional Vietnamese spice, a touch of Thai, a hint of Hawaiian and a dash of classic French. Combining fresh, simple food, warm ambience, California landscape images, soft music and friendly attentive staff has created a truly American dining experience. For more information, see the illustrated revue at Great Places to Eat -Redwood Restaurant, Edinburgh.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
Hamilton, Ontario, CanadaAs a result of feedback and further research the article on Scottish-related place names in Hamilton, Ontario has been expanded. Of the names of the 188 communities and neighbourhoods that have been identified to date in Hamilton, 54 (28.7%) can be found in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names or Scottish words. Of course, some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 33 of them (17.6%) are unique to Scotland or are readily identifiable with places in Scotland that are based on the same names. Hamilton itself is a Scottish place name as well as a family name. Judging purely by its place names, Hamilton can justifiably claim to be one of the most 'Scottish' of all the Canadian cities, rivalling Winnipeg and Calgary in this regard. Hamilton's place names certainly illustrate the far-reaching effects of the Scottish diaspora, whether through direct immigration from Scotland or through migration from other parts of North America by people with Scots ancestry. For all the background to Hamilton's Scottish place names, see Scottish Place Names - Hamilton, Ontario.
Best of the Recent Additions
Linlithgow Loch Every Day of the YearHere's a dedicated photographer who is going out every day of the year to take pictures in the area around Linlithgow Palace and Loch and putting the best onto this site. Martine Stead goes out at various times of day, in all types of weather, and takes pictures from any lochside location - her only 'rule' is that the photos have to capture something of the moment. It could be the colours, the light, the textures, the weather, or just what the ducks are doing that day. The variety of subjects and graphics shows just what can be done! See Linlithgow Loch Every Day of the Year.
Scottish Poetry and Song
The writer of this poem, Mrs John Hunter, was born Ann Home in Berwickshire in 1742, the daughter of an army surgeon. In 1771 she married John Hunter, a distinguished anatomist. Her songs demonstrate a delicacy of thought, combined with a force and sweetness of expression.
Dear To My Heart As Life's Warm Stream Dear to my heart as life's warm stream,
Which animates this mortal clay;
For thee I court the waking dream,
And deck with smiles the future day;
And thus beguile the present pain,
With hopes that we shall meet again!
Yet will it be as when the past
Twined every joy, and care, and thought,
And o'er our minds one mantle cast,
Of kind affections finely wrought.
Ah, no! the groundless hope were vain,
For so we ne'er can meet again!
May he who claims thy tender heart,
Deserve its love as I have done!
For, kind and gentle as thou art,
If so beloved, thou'rt fairly won.
Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again!
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.
Bagpipes - you either love them or hate them. And if you hate them you enjoy jokes (or limericks) at their expense.
I purchased some bagpipes last week,
And practised their droning and squeak.
My neighbor next door
Though, who hails from Jaipur,
Said the noise of the pipes made him Sikh.
You tell us, the pipes you abhor;
You're just one amongst many more;
I believe in the past
The bagpipes were classed
As an inhumane weapon of war.
Sadness, Elation and Woe
As part of an "out-reach" programme, one of the doctors from a Highland psychiatric hospital was out in Tillietudlum village hall giving a lecture to the local residents on emotional extremes.
"Just to establish some parameters," said the doctor, "Can anyone tell me what is the opposite of joy?"
"Sadness," said one of the locals.
"And the opposite of depression,?" After a pause, Donald McDonald suggested "Elation." The doctor, getting into his stride now, then asked "And how about the opposite of woe?"
Calum McCalum, a farmhand, piped up "I believe that would be giddy-up."
Lachlan's Laws - # 82
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: "You should keep your words soft and tender, because tomorrow you may have to eat them."
One day Jamie and his father were at the dining room table working on the boy's Social Studies homework, the chapter about government. Jamie turned to his father and asked, "Dad, how many people work in the Scottish government?" Without hesitation, his father said, "Oh, about half of them."
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