Introduction and Index

Some of the Stories Covered in Tam's Tall Tales

Tam's Tall Tales - An Introduction
For a spell, guest writer Tam O'Ranter wrote a series of articles on "this and that" for the Rampant Scotland Site. Having exhausted "this and that" he faded into the background but has been inspired to begin a series of pages on news items that are hitting the headlines in Scotland.

He claims that this was (and I quote) "After months of vicious hectoring and relentless badgering, dear Scottie relented and given me a page or two (or maybe more) to give you an update on goings on in Scotland. The idea is that I have a regular monthly slot to share some of the stories that have caught my eye. The aim is for 'an idiosyncratic look at some Scottish stories.' to entertain rather than necessarily inform readers about the main key issues (if you want that go to the BBC). Some items may be put in because of visual interest."

Scottie thought it would be a good idea to have a photo of me to let readers know who was pressing the keys on the keyboard - hence this illustration here of me in another role.

After a period of probation, my feet are firmly under the cybertable. Oh, and it would be ever so nice if you could give me whatever feedback comes to mind via

All the best

Tam - News Editor

IMPORTANT NOTE : Tam has been writing his "Tall Tales" column for almost two years and has decided to change direction and concentrate on playing the bagpipes in Edinburgh's Princes Street (muttering that it's a more lucrative career than writing for Rampant Scotland). But fear not, a new writer - David - has taken over. He says he will write about news items that he finds of particular interest, especially developments in arts, crafts and high quality products and services delivered by people with drive and passion. He is not averse to a certain amount of "quirkiness" though, so although he may deal with more serious subjects, his wry humour is bound to come to the surface too.. He has launched his new "News & Views" section with no less than 16 pages on subjects as diverse as Genome research, top Scottish tourist attractions, Glasgow School of Art, Scottish gold and Orkney coming out top for the third year running in a "Rural Quality of Life Survey" . For these and many more, see the News& Views Index page at News and Views from Scotland

Index (In reverse chronological order)

        • 12 March 2016

            Seaweed the Key to Rejuvenate Crofting? - Researchers have suggested that an ancient farming system, which incorporates seaweed, could be used on land a much wider area and increase the production from crofting in the Highlands.

            Arnie's Survives Edinburgh Traffic -Arnold Schwarzenegger narrowly avoided being terminated by a Number 36 bus as he cycled the wrong way down one of Edinburgh's busiest streets.

            An Iconic Nip at £2,000 a bottle - A new blend, made by Chivas Regal is to be launched at £2,000 a bottle, including taxes.

            Government Scolds Trump - Then Asks For Help - Managers at the government owned Prestwick airport have been in discussions with the Trump organisation, which owns the nearby Turnberry golf resort, to explore a commercial partnership.

            Open Golf Sinks a Fortune into Scotland - The Open Championship in St Andrews brought £140 million into the Scottish economy last year, according to new research.

            Paisley Bids to Be City of Culture - Paisley's bid to become UK City of Culture has been met with some surprise...

            Plan to Restore Historic Whisky Distillery On Ice - The project to restore a ruin known as "the birthplace of Scottish whisky" appears to be heading for the buffers.

            Harris Gets Weaving and Its Orb Gets Lyon's Approval - The Lord Lyon, King of Arms, has granted that the orb trademark be the industry's coat of arms which will provide a further layer of protection from imitations.

            Wettest Winter on Record - We are getting used to breaking weather records with "warmest" and wettest so it was no real surprise to see that the Meteorological office had announced that the 2015/2016 winter had been the wettest ever since records began in 1910.

            People With Glass Houses Will Have to Stump Up - The glass houses in Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, some dating back to the 19th century. are in need urgent of repair and restoration, having suffered not only the ravages of time but the increase in damaging storms in recent years. It is estimated that the cost could be £40 million.

            The Jackie Takes to The Stage - In the 1970s "Jackie" magazine produced by D C Thomson, the publisher of The Sunday Post was a top selling magazine for girls with 600,000 copies a week. Now "Jackie the Musical" relates the fortunes of a woman called, you guessed it, Jackie., will start a national tour in March, after a premiere in Dundee.

            Three Cheers for Three Stills in Hawick? - Whisky distilling might be returning to the Borders after a break of over 100 years if the Three Stills Company gets planning approval for a proposed facility in Hawick.

            Barking Mad? The Search for Scotland's 'Ambassadog'. - VisitScotland, formerly the Scottish Tourist Board, has come up with a wheeze to capitalise on canine popularity: enter the 'Ambassadog.'

        • 30 January 2016

            Kingsbarns golf in Fife - Voted Scotland's Best Golf Experience - Kingsbarns Gold links has retained the ‘Scotland’s Best Golf Experience’ title at the 2015 Scottish Golf Tourism Awards. It was one of three prizes won by the co-host of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

            Sunset Song - A Story of Grit and Endurance - Producer Terence Davies' Sunset Song on the big screen has received plaudits for its performances and portrayal of fabulous landscapes.

            Liz Lochhead Wins Queen's Gold Medal - Liz Lochhead's contribution has been recognised in the award Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

            The Concorde Haggis at East Fortune - The National Museum of Flight recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of Concorde's first commercial flight in 1976 when it transported a haggis from London to Bahrain.

            Sheila Fleet Jewellery is Sparkling in Orkney - Sheila Fleet Jewellery has secured a £166,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to create a new visitor centre based in a disused church and supplement further investment in the firm's existing workshop.

            National Trust for Scotland Faces Budget Challenge - The National Trust for Scotland has announced budget cuts and possible job losses as it struggles to balance its books whilst maintaining its properties to a high standard

            Greyfriars Bobby - An Enduring Tale - The 144th anniversary of the death of Greyfriars Bobby has been marked by some events involving Edinburgh's Lord Provost, a piper and a dog bearing a passable resemblance to the one that allegedly spent 14 years guarding his master's grave in an Edinburgh churchyard.

            Nat Karta – King of Tartan Pulp Comes Home A series of raunchy adventure stories by an Scottish journalist under the nome de plume of Nat Karta and titles such as "A Dame Called Desire" became popular in the post-war years. But the National Library of Scotland recently found that unlike all other books published in Scotland, they did not own a copy of these once best-selling books. That has at last been corrected

            Sea Kings Stood Down The Royal Navy Search and Rescue Service has now been taken over by a private company - to save money. A Westland Sea King has made a farewell tour around Scotland to mark the end of an era.

            Donald J Trump – the Saga Continues - When he was Scotland First Minister, Alex Salmond gave a lot of support to Donald Trump's plans for a mega-golf course in his home county of Aberdeenshire. But recently the two have been vitriolic in their condemnation of each other, especially about Trump's statements on banning Moslems from entering the USA.

        • 19 December 2015

            Online Whisky Tasting Course... - Fire Up that DVD and Let's Get Stuck into the Scotch

            Scots Teed Off by the Donald - A petition to have Donald Trump banned from the UK has attracted over 500,000 signatures.

            Scottish Tea Planters Bond and Blend - The newly formed Scottish Tea Growers’ Association aims to grow a new drinks industry even though most of the members won’t have a commercial quantity until 2018 - but they’ve taken the first steps.

            Back to the Steamie? - A Scottish Government proposal suggests that people should use washing machine and dishwasher providers to pay “per wash” to help the environment

            Scots Fudge With Bourbon Chaser - A Scottish maker of confectionery is shipping American bourbon back to the US in its fudge products.

            Forth Road Bridge - Cracked and Closed - The Forth Road Bridge has been closed due to engineers finding cracks on some supports. It will be closed at least until after the New Year holidays.

            Historic Scottish Banknote - The appointment of a female chief operating officer in the Clydesdale Bank has meant that she is the first female signature on the face of a Scottish Banknote.

        • 21 November 2015

            Keeping Up To Time with the Reels - Comments from readers about the Royal Country Dancing Society (RCDS) proposal to create "modern" dances to attract the younger generation.

            Tourism Belongs to Glasgow? - Glasgow is on track to leapfrog Edinburgh as Scotland’s most popular tourist destination for the first time.

            Canals Across Scotland - Book review of "Canals Across Scotland" - a really good guide book by Hamish Brown that has plenty of non-technical facts and anecdotes.

            Owl Down – Send A Chopper! - What to do when an exhausted owl touches down on a North Sea oil platform?

            Haggis Ban to Be Relaxed? - Since a ban placed on the delicacy in 1971 (in the reign of President Richard Milhous Nixon, would you believe?), real haggis has been off the menu in American homes unless it has been made in the US.

            Sir Walter Scott letter under the hammer - Jeanie Deans, the central character in Sir Walter Scott's "The Heart of Midlothian" was always thought to be based on the true story of Helen Walker. Now a handwritten letter by the author confirms that Scott received an anonymous letter informing him of the story of the woman. The letter is now being auctioned.

        • 24 October 2015

            Take Your Partners ….for a Scottish Break Dance? - Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is seeking the help for a compilation of a new compendium of dances which will be attractive to the younger generation - by fusing the genre with pop or rap music.

            The Science of Porridge - A scientist from Wigan in Lancashire who recently submitted a PhD thesis on Pulsars has won this year's title of World Porridge Making Champion, beating a strong entry from home and abroad.

            Nonagenarian Still Striding Out - A sprightly 93-year-old is celebrating his 80th year working for a legal firm in Edinburgh, claims that his porridge, one bowl in both morning and evening, helps fuel his work ethic.

            Chop Sticks? Naaah, Chippers Far Better - An award winning fish and cxhip shop has been a great success in a luxury shop in Osaka, Japan

            Outlander Boost for Tartan Firm - A Scottish textile firm forged links two years ago with the Outlander TV seriesand created five new tartans for characters in the show. Now demand for the tartans has soared and the cloth, woven in Selkirk in the Scottish Bordersis being used in a range of products including kilts, scarves, hats and bags.

            Book Early for Hogmanay - For the first time in 16 years Edinburgh's New Year celebrations will include two new stages around St Giles' Cathedral and part of High Stret on the Royal Mile. Around 150,000 visitors are expected in Scotland's capital during three days of events.

            Author offers Solution to Flannan Islands Lighthouse Mystery - An author who has researched for 20 years the disappearance of three lighthouse keepers four days before Christmas 1900 has produced a book with a plausible suggestion of they may have disappeared.

            Midges To Get Bitten? - An increase in the number of common pipistelle bats is helping to reduce the number midges in Scotland.

            Accordion Collection Squeezed out - A serious collector of accordians has built up a collection of 300 of these instumentsBut as her dream of a special museum has faded she is looking for a new home for them.

            Author Objects to High School Development - The old Royal High School building in central Edinburgh stopped being used as a school in 1968 and for many years it was assumed that it would house the Scottish Parliament. Tht didn't happen and now there are plans to build a luxury hotel on the site. That has sparked off a right stushie, with the proposals being slammed as "the architectural equivalent of putting Mickey Mouse ears and a moustache on the Mona Lisa".

            It Started with a Beer - Three Edinburgh University graduates meet for a drink and went on to create fancy dress and party fashion company selling top-to-toe spandex bodysuits with sales exceeding £1.5 million on the first year.

            Jaws Doon the Watter? - Video of sharks basking off the Island of Bute in the Firth of Clyde.

            That Glaswegian Burr is A Wurrld Beater - A survey of 1000 Americans has highlighted that the accent of people from Glasgow was the "sexiest" of all regional British accents.

        • 26 September 2015

            Single to Tweedbank, Please - A new railway line - the longest new domestic line to be built in the UK for over a century - has opened to link Edinburgh with the Scottish Borders.

            Beano /Queeno - Dennis the Menace Compared to Prince Philip - The Beano childrens' comic has published a cartoon of the monarch reading that publication and saying: "That Dennis causes trouble everywhere he goes . . . reminds me of my Philip!"

            Robert Burns the Musical - it appears that the 'Thriller' star Micheal Jackson was a Burns fan and collaborated on a musical based on the poet's life which may become a permanent tourist attraction in Edinburgh.

            I Name this Monster, 'Elizabeth' - According to papers of naturalist Peter Scott, it seems that the Queen and Prince Philip very interested in the hunt for The Loch Ness Monster. Scott even suggested naming the creature after the Queen - "Elizabethia nessiae"

            Edinburgh to Get Its Own Dram - A single malt distillery is set to return to Edinburgh fr the first time in nearly a century. The former master distiller for The Macallan, plans to open the Holyrood Park Distillery. Rhe distilley aims not only to produce a hand-crafted single malt whisky but also to reinforce the capital's position as a world-class tourism destination.

            Want Your Porridge in a Cone or a Slider? - A museum in Newtonmore has teamed up with an ice cream producer to make and sell porridge flavoured ice cream.

            A Monstrously Good deal for Loch Ness Brewery - Loch Ness Brewery, based in Drumnadrochit, has got its beer into 49 Marks & Spencer outlets throughout Scotland.

            Apples, Barter and Cider - Simple as ABC - A cider maker in East Lothian is offering free cider or apple juice in exchange for spare apples.

            Connery Swings into Golf Movie - Jason Connery, son of the James Bond actor, is behind a major film based on the life of 'Old Tom Morris' of St Andrews.

        • 22 August 2015

            Oor Wullie's Unique Fundraiser - The Sunday Post newspaper is running a competition in which the winner will appear alongside cartoon character Oor Wullie in a characteristic adventure; the feature is proving popular with kids in a Russian school as well as in Scotland.

            Kirkcaldy's Beach Highland Games - Kirkcaldy in Fife may not be a traditional Highland venue, but it has decided to get in on the act and recently its games attracted more than 3,000 people.

            Chariots of Fire to Run Again - A New Eric Liddell movie is on the stocks but there is controversy amongst the religious community, that Liddell's strong Christian beliefs will be airbrushed from the picture.

            Go North Young Man - After many decades of population decrease the north of Scotland is experiencing an upturn in the number of people living there as young folk are encouraged to stay and others move there from the south, attracted by greater opportunities, higher quality of life and strong community links.

            From Paisley to the World via Baker Street - The Celebration of Scottish Songwriting concert will be the flagship event of Bring it all Home - a songwriting festival inspired by the legacy of Gerry Rafferty.

            Indyref Dream (or nightmare) - Alex Salmond's New Book - Another 10,000 copies of former Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond's independence referendum diaries are set to be printed as his publishers plan the launch of a paperback edition of his debut book.

            Cheaper Oil Hits Aberdonian Hotels - The falling price of oil has had a major negative impact on occupancy and revenue in Aberdeen hotels and is being blamed for a a slump in the volume of property sales in the Aberdeen area.

            The Booming Fringe - This year's figures for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival are particularly healthy. Sales are reported to be up by about a third on last year by the operators of some venues despite going head-to-head with the Edinburgh International Festival for the first time in almost two decades.

            Glasgow's Clockwork Orange Gets Revamp - Glasgow's Underground system (which literally goes round in circles and is nicknamed the "Clockwork Orange" due to its colour scheme) is to close for a year to allow the system to be safely upgraded which will bring in driverless trains, new escalators and glass screens on platforms.

            Scottish clichés still overwhelm whisky – to its detriment - The Scotch whisky industry is being criticised for its marketing based on "bagpipes, heather and tartan", and have relied too long on clichéd notions of Scottishness to sell their product.

            July Postbag - Readers' Feedback from last month's Newsletter.

            And Finally... - A Donald Trump Joke...

        • 25 July 2015

            Edinburgh Rocks On - The future of the popular Scottish confection Edinburgh Rock which has been made for more than a century looked uncertain as the owner (great-grandson of the founder)decided to retire. But another company has taken over producing the trademark product and has plans to extend the range.

            Cycling round Bute? Just the Ticket for a Tycoon - Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich brought his yacht to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute and cycled round the island to see the sights including Rothesay pavilion and mount Stuart, a wonderful Victorian mansion built by the Marquis of Bute

            Teacake That Is Conquering the World - Dancing Tunnock's teacakes played a starring role in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. The company sold an extra 15 million of the cakes in the year after the games, taking Tunnock's to a record turnover. The company has had to invest in new machinery to increase production, and tours of the factory at Uddingston are fully booked until 2017

            Wind Farms - Despoiling Highland Grandeur? - Founder of a leading eco-tourism business has expressed grave concern about the proliferation of wind farmsand giant power lines in the "wild Highlands" and the damage they are doing to Scotland's ourism potential.

            MacCheddar Trail - A new guide to a Scottish cheese trail with its own unique identity aims to make it easy to see at a glance where producers and artisan cheese counters are located around Scotland. It aims to challenge the long established Whisky Trail.

            Scots' Burr - Rolling Off Into the Sunset? - Scots are losing one of the most distinctive elements of their accent, the rolling "R", according to experts.

            What's Worn Under the Kilt? Hands Off, Miss! - Male staff at an Inverness ceilidh bar have stopped wearing kilts because they claim some female customers have been molesting them while they worked.

            Open Golfers Battle the Scottish Weather - The 144th Open Golf Championship in 2015 was affected by rain and wind at the Old Course at St Andrews - the home of golf. The contest had to carry on into Monday, only the 2nd time in its history that this has happened.

            Another Eventful Month for Youthful MP - The youngest Member of Parliament in the UK's House of Commons has graduated with a first class honours degree in politics from Glasgow University - and made her first formal speech in the legislature

        • 27 June 2015

        • 30 May 2015

            20 Year Old Student Socks It To Labour in Scottish Election Rout - a 20 year old student at Glasgow University defeated a former Labour Party minister to become the youngest Member of the UK Parliament since records began in 1832.

            Ladies Can Now Speculate By Candlelight - The all male Speculative Society, founded in Edinburgh University in 1764 as a debating club has voted by over 60% to allow female members. Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson are former members - Sir Walter's death mask is displayed in the debating chamber.

            Celebrating The Coming of Summer - The annual Beltane Fire Festival was recently celebrated on Calton Hill in Edinburgh with drummers, fire dancers, physical theatre and a bonfire.

            Strathclyde University Splashes Out on Park Circus Mansion - Despite a shortage of finance in Scottish universities Strathclyde University bought a fashionable five-storey luxury home for its principal last year for £1.2 million. Now it has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on furniture including £1,180 on a chair. Staff who are seeing their numbers reduced and salary increases held back are not amused.

            £10 Million Healthcare Donation - Via the Car Park - A local oil tycoon has made the largest private donation to the Scottish National Health Service by giving £10 million to build a 1,000 space multistorey free car park at Foresterhill healthcare campus in Aberdeen - to relieve the stress of trying to find a space in the complex.

            Ballater Station Devastated by Fire - The historic railway station at Ballater on Royal Deeside, 10 miles from the Queen's residence in Scotland at Balmoral Castle, was used by Queen Victoria and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, has been destroyed by a devastating fire. Used in recent years as a museum and tourist attraction some important artefacts have been saved and it is hoped that the building can be restored.

            Bra Lady Going Up Up and Away - Michelle Mone made a fortune designing and making the "Ultimo" range of up-lift bras in Glasgow but now she is moving out of Scotland - although the Ultimo HQ will still remain here.

            Duns Tribute to Jim Clark - Borders Farmer and F1 Legend - The 2015 Jim Clark Weekend in Duns in the Scottish Border saw an array of classic Formula One cars and star drivers like Sir Jackie Stewart and Allan McNish. The event was aimed at profiling plans for a renovated Jim Clark Museum in Duns, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

            Canoe Take Me To School, Dad? - Five-year-old Charley McAllister is a splash hit now that her dad takes her to school in a Canadian canoe along the Forth and Clyde canal.

            Attending to the Conveniences Doon the Watter - The Public Toilets at Rothesay on Bute in the Firth of Clyde are regarded as the most impressive surviving late Victorian public convenience in Scotland, if not Britain. Walls are entirely clad in decorative ceramic tiles, ornately patterned in rows. The floors are designed with ceramic mosaic, with the crest of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay at the entrance. Most of the fitments are original, dating from 1899.

            Health Service Plays Musical Hospitals - When the architects of the new "South Glasgow University Hospital" made the main building shaped as a star they never foresaw that the local Glaswegians would disdain the contrived title and apply instead the nickname "Death Star" to the newest and biggest hospital in Scotland The new complex will have over 1,100 beds, two major Accident and Emergency Departments plus a new maternity hospital and state-of-the-art laboratory services. It will replace the Western Infirmary, The Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill and parts of two other hospitals,

        • 25 April 2015

            Smashing Service at Andy Murray's Place - The entire Rampant Scotland editorial team (all two of us) went to tennis star Andy Murray's Cromlix Hotel to see whether all the rave reviews about the food and service were right. In our opinion - they were!

            Bullion Doon the Watter? - There might be gold bullion in the Clyde just off Greenock, abandoned during the second world war.

            The Passing of a Lady - Scotland's most famous bird of prey has failed to reappear at her nest.

            Pop Festival to Get the Bird? - Ospreys have returned to the proposed site of Scotland's largest pop festival - T in the Park - at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire.

            Dumfries DJ is a Global Money Spinner - Scottish DJ Calvin Harris has been named on the Sunday Times Rich List of musicians for the first time.

            Alloa Tower Saved for Nation - Alloa Tower, a 14th Century keep and the largest and oldest of its kind in Scotland, is to be handed over to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

            Trump's Turnberry Course - Donald Trump has revealed his plans for 'extensive but sympathetic changes' at Turnberry Golf Course which he now owns.

            Comedians on Postage Stamps - On 1st April the Royal Mail launched of a set of stamps to mark the contribution to the world of entertainment and comedy by some of the nation’s most cherished performers - including Scots Billy Connolly and Ronnie Corbett.

            And finally - But Not Seriously… A bit of fun about the new Forth Road Bridge, known as 'the Queensferry Crossing.'

        • 28 March 2015

        • 28 February 2015

        • 31 January 2015

            Readers Write - Tam is delighted when he gets feedback from readers, proving once again that he has a world-wide audience and ensuring that he continues in his role as News Editor.

            Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face - Dr Kirsteen McCue from Glasgow University is the first female to address the Burns' Supper at the Bachelors Club in Tarbolton, Ayrshire.

            Great Chieftain o' the Pudding Race - More efforts are being made to persuade the USA to remove a ban on the import of haggis which was imposed in 1971.

            Scots Spuds Bashed - Potato farming is struggling with low prices and consumption. But potato farmers are trying to fight back and mash the competition with an 'advertising and educational blitz.'

            Ena Baxter - Soup-maker Extraordinaire - Baxters began in the village of Fochabers in Moray in 1868 and now has a turnover of £160 million and employs over 1,000 staff.

            Edinburgh's Police Boxes Under the Hammer - Redundant police boxes in Edinburgh are being sold to sell such things as ice cream, coffee and flowers and the cash raised is going to provide resources for the local police force.

            Perthshire Gold Rush - Australians trying to Establish Scotland's First Commercial Gold Mine in Perthshire

            Golden Bear Backs Scottish Golf Course - Degree Course for Aspiring Golf Professionals at Royal Dornoch.

            Irn Bru Raises Ebola Victim's Spirits - Fife Nurse Recovers from Ebola, Aided by Irn Bru

            Scottish Tennis - Love Game Post Andy? - Andy Murray's brother Jamie has accused the Lawn Tennis Association of failing to exploit his brother's Wimbledon victory to promote the sport.

            Easter Eggcitement - Over the four days of Easter (3rd - 6th April) Almond Valley Heritage Centre will be running their famous plastic duck race along the mill lade.

            And Finally…. Haggis, North Korean Style? - A pundit thinks that Scotland might be the next in line for a new culinary experience with North Korea openning a resturant in the land of haggis and Burns.

        • 10 January 2015

        • 29 November 2014

        • 25 October 2014

            Enough of Politics - The excitement of the Independence Referendum has abated and Nicola Sturgeon is the only candidate to take over from First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader. With the two main opposition parties also led by women Scotland is leading the way in promoting female politicians to the top jobs.

            Sunday Post Celebrates Centenary - The Sunday Paper that everybody in Scotland used to read (and many still do) is celebrating its 100th birthday. It was originally published at the start of the First World War and its popularity soared when the cartoon section with "Oor Wullie" and "The Broons" became a part of every edition.

            Knit Your Own Broons - "Knit your own Broons" is scheduled to be published by the end of this month. The book promises to give detailed step-by-step instructions on how to create all the Broon family including Maw, Paw, Joe, Hen, Daphne, Maggie, Horace, the Twins, the Bairn and not forgetting Gran'paw.

            Dr Khan and His Spurtle Cooked Up The Porridge Prize - Dr Izhar Khan, from Aberdeen won the World Porridge Making Championships beating competitors from round the world in the annual competition.

            Chinese Crab to Take Away Scottish Fish? - There are concerns that the Chinese Mitten Crab, - also known as "hairy crab", could infect Scotland's rivers and devastate fishing. The crabs eat fish eggs and the Mitten is classed as one of the world's 100 top alien species.

            Some Pictures - Here are some pictures from South Queensferry of the iconic Forth Railway Bridge (mercifully clear of the scaffolding that clung to the iron structure for a number of years while it was being repainted) and the emerging structure of the new road bridge (to be known as "The Queensferry Crossing") and which is due to open in 2016.

            From the Web - Some contrasting YouTube videos - the first is a lady making scones which has a certain charm and the other is about Danny Macaskill, who has taken mountain biking to a new level in Skye.

            Plastic Bag Tax - To try to reduce the millions of plastic bags used by shoppers, the Scottish government has introduced a mandatory charge for nearly all plastic bags which used to be given free at the point of sale.

            Pink Footed Geese Breaking Records - Record numbers of pink-footed geese have been arriving at Montrose Basin on the east coast of Scotland after flying from their summer breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland.

        • 20 September 2014

            Independence Referendum - After more than two years of strenuous campaigning the referendum on whether Scotland should be independent and leave the United Kingdom took place on 18 September and the result reverberated round the world.

            Recent Feedback from Readers of Tam's Tall Tales - Readers' comments from the August newsletter.

            Commonwealth Games Statue to Raise Finds for Charity - Clyde, the Commonwealth Games 2014 mascot in Glasgow, is to be auctioned off to raise funds for the United Nations children's charity UNICEF.

            Forth Road Bridge - The Forth Road Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe when it was built, has just passed its 50th birthday.

            Caber Tossing Record Comes Crashing Down - 200 beefy gentlemen smashed a record set in Canada.

            Ryder Cup - The Ryder Cup landed in a whirlwind of excitement as the trophy arrived at Skaw in the Shetland Islands as part of the advance publicity for the famous golf tournament involving US and European top golfers.

            Rangers' Financial Cliffhanger - success on the pitch is not being matched by continued turmoil in the structure and financial affairs of the club.

            Greyfriar's Bobby - Greyfriar's Bobby Bar in Edinburgh has come under fire for banning dogs from the pub.

            Tangerine Dream - - Dundee stays United with Thompson as bid to buy club is rejected.

            James Alexander Gordon - the Voice of Classified Results on the Radio is Silenced.

            Anthony Blunt – The Opera - Alexander McCall Smith, whose No 1 Ladies Detective Agency was a global best seller is teaming up with Ben Macintyre, another Scottish author, to write the libretto of “Anthony Blunt – The Opera.”

            Early September Weather Breaks Records - this has been the driest first half of September for the UK as a whole in records going back to 1960 and also been the driest start to September for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

        • 23 August 2014
        • 26 July 2014

            Scotland Swelters in July - July in Scotland can often be wet and not very warm - as folk who take their summer holidays then can often attest - but not this year!

            Made in Scotland - From Curtains - The toffee coloured kilts and ladies' tartan shawls provided for the athletes parading at the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were decidedly "controversial"!

            Fancy a Drambuie? £100 million Might Do It. - The recipe for the Drambuie liqueur was said to have been given to the chief of clan MacKinnon by Bonnie Prince Charlie for services to the Young Pretender. Today this honey-sweet golden drink is still enjoyed by millions across the world but the company is now is up for sale.

            Pipe Band Competitions - Lots of stirring stuff over the summer.

            Snowballs and Teacakes Beat the Tax Man - Two Scottish based confectionery firms are set to receive a windfall tax rebate after judges ruled Snowball snacks were technically cakes and not confectionery.

            Doon the Watter - The Isle of Bute used to be a major holiday destination for those living in the west of Scotland, especially from Glasgow.

            Two Scottish Icons - Andy Murray and Dennis the Menace - Tennis star Andy Murray now has another job, hopefully just part-time, as guest editor of The Beano comic.

            Kelty Clippie - Here's an irreverent look at the forthcoming vote on whether Scotland should vote "Yes" or "No" in the referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent country or leave the United Kingdom.

        • 28 June 2014

            Flaming June - A grand spell of weather, devastating fire at Glasgow School of Art, Football (soccer) World Cup in Brazil and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

            Celebrations in the Borders - The tradition of marking a Border town's boundaries by men (and women these days) on horses riding round them with flags flying is still going strong - but mainly for the benefit of sightseers and tourists.

            Borders Mansion for Sale and £1 will do… - A Georgian Mansion is for sale in the Scottish Borders for the modest price of just £1. But the catch is that the buyer must restore the property at an estimated cost of a further £1.2 million!

            No Spud like an Ayrshire Early - New Ayrshire potatoes have always been highly regarded and now growers in the area are seeking legal protection under European Union Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) regulations so that only those grown in the region and harvested between May to July could be branded as "Ayrshire earlies".

            Another Ayrshire First - The Trump Turnberry - Billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump recently bought the iconic Turnberry Golf resort and has revealed that it is to be rebranded as "Trump Turnberry".

            George RR Martin - Book your Place - Tickets for the lectures and Q&As with authors at the Edinburgh Book Festival sell out rapidly. This year, the biggest draw is expected to be Game of Thrones author, George R R Martin. Illustrations here include the first graphic of President Obama on Rampant Scotland!

        • 31 May 2014

            The Donald Returns - US entrepreneur, Donald Trump has done it again - and bought a gem of a golf course. Unlike the new one he is creating at Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast, this one is already well established at the other end of Scotland, at Turnberry in Ayrshire.

            Commonwealth Games - Not ready and Not Steady - We are used to computer systems getting overloaded when tickets for some mega rock star concert overloads the servers and the system collapses. But you would think the douce Commonwealth Games in Glasgow wouldn't generate such a demand - it's not the Olympics after all...

            Harris Tweed Togs Tees Up for Ryder Cup - Harris Tweed may have been around for a long time but these days the crofters in the Western Isles who produce it have to come up with slick marketing to increase sales - and they have teamed up with the Ryder Cup golf tournament with a smart collection.

            Game on for Andy Murray - Hotelier - Andy may not be winning much on the tennis courts these days but his new venture as a hotelier which was hardly open before it won the Luxury Hotel of the Year Award.

            When a House is Not a Home - Susan Boyle won a TV talent show in 2009 and fame and fortune followed. But it is reported that she has moved back to the modest house she used to live in.

            Scotch Whisky Gets Legal Protection in Oz - Scotch whisky has recently been registered as a certification trade mark in Australia. Why did it take so long?

            Skye's Second Distillery - The island of Skye is to get its second whisky distillery - surely not to meet the increased demand in Australia? (See previous item).

            Heroic Hearts - A film featuring the connection between, Hearts, one of Edinburgh's football teams, and the Royal Scots Battalion that served in the First World War is being planned See: Heroic Hearts

        • 3 May 2014

            Spring Romance in Edinburgh Zoo? - No certainty of a Chinese takeaway. The "will she won't she" story of the UK's only female giant panda in Edinburgh zoo and whether she will at last produce a cuddly baby panda.

            Veteran Osprey Lays 71st Egg - Lady, the veteran osprey at Loch of Lowes in Perthshire has done it again with more eggs this year.

            Glasgow's Red Road Flats - Blowing up five high rise apartment blocks as part of the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow becomes a damp squib.

            Andy Murray's New Service Game - Scottish tennis star serves up a new venture.

            Amazing Grace Notes - 8000 pipers due to hit Glasgow in August.

            The Kelpies - The world's largest equine structure, the Kelpies, have been opened in Falkirk.

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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