Tam O'Ranter's Tales
- Introduction and Index
This is the introduction and index for a new Rampant Scotland feature written by Tam o' Ranter (not his real name, of course.). When asked to write a few words about himself, Tam became shy and retiring (not like the Tam I know) but was eventually prevailed upon to write: "I am a pal of Scottie and have followed Rampant Scotland since its inception in 1996. At first I thought it was just a passing phase, but after the first ten years I realised that he actually was serious about this thing. Now that Scottie has established this enormous audience I think it is almost my duty to add my own point of view to this magnificent international Scottiephile readership. Of course, living in Edinburgh adds an important counterpoint to the current editorial team [team? there's just me - Ed] which is based in the Glasgow area. My interests are also different from Scottie - I'm keen on obscure folk groups, one of which featured a very good banjo player, although today Billy Connolly is better known as a comedian and movie actor."
Tam will be writing about a wide range of Scottish-related subjects. Mostly they will be in a light-hearted vein but every now and then he will get up on his soap box and have a reall good rant!
If you want to give Tam some encouragement, you can email him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tam is having a rant this time at "modern art" and doesn't think too much of it - especially cutting edge work whose paint is hardly dry. That is despite spending a fair amount of time in the two galleries in Edinburgh that are devoted to modern art. For Tam's outspoken views, see Modern Art - An Exercise in Mick Taking?
- Tam is a great admirer of the Scottish literary sensation Alexander McCall Smith, who hit the big time with his books on the redoubtable Mma Ramotswe. McCall Smith ("Sandy to his friends, including Tam) was born in Rhodesia (now Zambia). Initially a respected expert on medical law and bioethics, he has since become internationally known as a writer of fiction - notably the creator of the "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series. Tam was along to hear McColl Smith's latest work - an opera loosely based on Macbeth, but played out in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Macbeth and his compatriots are baboons. All is revealed in Tam Salutes a National Treasure
- After hibernating through a particularly tough winter, Tam thought a little self-indulgence was in order and that a brief Expedition to the Highlands would fill the bill. This was a new experience for him, so he set off (by train and bus) for Inverness, often known as the "Capital of the Highlands". Inverness was designated a "city" in 2001 and has been prospering and growing ever since. Tam thought facilities for tourists in the area had improved a lot and found both food and accommodation was very good indeed.
- Tam is fond of fine dining and tried out Edinburgh's latest Michelin-starred restaurant 21212 and was impressed by a group of people striving for an excellent result and found the food as interesting as the odd name for the restuarant.
- Tam went over the sea to Skye to visit the Museum of the Isles which is run by the Clan Donald Lands Trust. He particularly liked the confident way in which the museum refused to romanticise things. One quote which made him smile was from the poet Neil MacMhurich who likened the playing of John MacArthur, piper to the MacDonalds of Sleat, to the screeching of "a diseased heron."
- Tam paid a visit to Abbotsford House, the home built by Sir Walter Scott on the banks of the river Tweed, near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Tam thought that Abbotsford scored highly on a number of fronts and can hardly wait to return to the Borders and back to Abbotsford. The article includes a video slide show of Abbotsford, inside and out, plus the attached garden.
- Saying good-bye to the short days of the Scottish winter and starting to enjoy a decent amount of daylight, Tam heads off for the delights of the Snowdrop Festival at the Cambo Estate, part of a Scotland-wide event highlighting locations with a great collection of these harbingers of spring.
- Leaving the Grecian architecture of Edinburgh behind, Tam travels to the Glasgow School of Art and is impressed by this masterwork of the architectural genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
- On a visit to Culross in Fife Tam thought the great thing about the place was that it does not really look very Scottish at all. He then found out more of the history of the place which explained why it looked more continental than many Scottish towns. And he was impressed by the local hero, Admiral Thomas Cochrane who was the real life captain whose legacy lives on thanks to the Hornblower character in C.S. Forester's books and more recently in Captain Jack Aubrey as in the book and film of 'Master and Commander.'
- Scottish Education - A Failing Brand? - Tam doesn't give the politicians of any of the parties in the Scottish parliament high marks for their performance on education. Not least because in international comparison tables, the once much vaunted Scottish educational system is lagging England's. Oh dear.
- Tam Takes Tea at Gleneagles Hotel - Gleneagles is associated more with its magnificent golf courses than scones and cakes. But it seems that the latter has become a winning stroke for the luxurious 5 star resort and Tam, who is an aficionado of a well-crafted scone went along to sample the delights as a birthday treat.
- Blair Castle, Perthshire - Tam was impressed by this castle and its grounds in the heart of Perthshire. He thought it had a certain 'wow' factor and hopes to return before long to see the parts he missed.
- Rangers - A Glasgow Institution in Crisis every now and then Tam lives up to his pseudonym of Tam O'Ranter and has a real good "rant". He has been prompted by the financial crisis that has befallen Rangers Football Club (that's soccer, of course) to comment on the difficulties (or are they opportunities perhaps?) of the situation.
- Not Just Any Coffee - Sitting in the Gloagburn Farm Coffee Shop Tam had a 'Field of Dreams' moment. Of course, this was Perthshire and not the middle of nowhere in Iowa, but Tam was none the less struck by a coffee shop having its own newsletter!
- Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh - the opening of the new £15 million multi-purpose building located at the main entrance of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh brings back memories of these world famous gardens when his kids were young. Includes a Windows Media Video slide show illustrating some of the wonders of these world famous Botanic Gardens.
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