Friday, September 05, 2014
A Bit About Scotland - a reconstruction of Thursday's Blog - Friday, 5 August.
Oh wow - that was so depressing, yesterday.
I was, literally, just finished putting the last full stop in place - and seconds later my screen went blank.
My theme was - Scotland's Famous Sons and Daughters.
And this is sort of what I wrote - with a couple of additions of stuff where I couldn't remember names!
For such a small country, our Sons and Daughters have influence the world, beyond our due.
Logie Baird - Television
Nobel and dynamite - OK, he was Swedish, but the discovery, work and danger all happened here in Scotland - near Irvine, which is about 20 miles from me.
Bell - the telephone. We were working on this at the same time, on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Stephenson (sp?) - steam power re locomotives.
Alexander Fleming - penicillin. Though I understand that it was actually due to laziness and underlings that this was found!
Robert Watson Watt - major mover inventing radar.
Rabbie Burns (Robert Burns) - a national bard. His birthday is celebrated 25 January with the Burns Supper (haggis time!).
Walter Scott - novelist.
JMBarry - Peter Pan
Ian Fleming - novelist, just more recent. James Bond!
Val McDiarmid - author.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh - major arts and designs guy.
We find Scots all around the world today.
Doctors and nurses around the globe, in places of need - Scottish accents.
Organisers on the ground, around the globe - Scottish accents.
Livingston and Mungo - major explorers, particularly in the African continent.
R L Scott - explorer, collector.
I need to go personal here.
RLScott was one of Scotland's biggest collectors in "recent" years - arms, armoury, books, essays, notes. He left his entire collection to the City of Glasgow, even though he was brought up and went to school in Greenock. It's not too many miles from Glasgow.
The city also houses the Burrell Collection, in a beautiful modern museum - but it is a wide and varied collection of artefacts from wherever Burrell visited around the world.
There was an international conference a couple of years ago, here in Glasgow, based on RLScott. It was organised and run by Glasgow Museums (the director of the Art Gallery) and Triquetra Services (a charity involved in raising awareness of the various martial arts and abilities in Europe, through the centuries). There was also major input from Glasgow City Council, who even hosted a reception in the City Chambers, on the second evening of the Conference.
The second RLScott Conference is taking place in Glasgow next year, over 2 days in March 2015.
This is personal to me, because my older son is one of the partners of Triquetra Services, and has a major part in organising the conferences.
And his girl is apparently going to be one of the speakers come March.
Other speakers will be coming from Britain, USA, France, Sweden, Italy. Maybe also Hungary, Poland, Spain.
This isn't advertising - this is just a very proud Mum!
I've booked tickets for hubby and me - this will be my birthday present to hubby. Again. His birthday is in March.
Younger son will also be with us - hopefully involved as a gopher, and hoping to stay with his brother in Glasgow. However if older son has to give hospitality to folks from abroad, younger son can stay with us and still be at the Conference to help as required.
Isn't it great what we do for our kids?!
And isn't fantastic how they reward us?!
Anyways, this is roughly what I spent my time on yesterday.
So, I wanted to get it out to you all.
If you want, I'll do my final post tomorrow.
But it was just going to be about the type of landscape, and some sport and other national activities. So no loss to you if we don't bother!
Thank you all for reading, commenting and questions.
I've enjoyed writing - apart from yesterday's stress! - and sharing.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
I am about to cry - I just lost today's whole blog - and I didn't touch anything.
Bear with me please.
I'll try to remember, and re-type.
But first I need to go get a cuppa, and calm down - and actually going to bed and getting some sleep would help,too.
My focus today was Scotland's Famous Sons and Daughters - because we've exported these for years, for centuries, even.
But we also kept some at home, here.
I'll get this composed anew and posted, either in the next few minutes, or in the morning - which is probably more likely.
My apologies for the break.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
A Bit About Scotland (4) - Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Continuing re pronunciation -
That long "eye" sound is the way many folk pronounce Highlands and Islands.
One problem, for folk in the US, is that many of you pronounce the letter i in a number of different ways.
Eg "like" can be pronounced to rhyme with "eye" or with "mine or yikes" or even near to rhyming with "lack" - lahk.
Pronunciation is such a weird thing in English.
There's the Queen's English, which has changed over the years (I watched a fascinating documentary about that a year or so ago).
There's Scottish English, presumably also Welsh and Irish.
There's American English.
Queen's English and American English are the 2 main contenders - which is absolutely ridiculous when you consider the number of different accents across the US, and the length and breadth of Britain as well?
And what about Canadians? Their accent is different from anything American, apparently. And must also vary across the width of the country.
Australian is different from New Zealand.
And South Africa is different again.
So - I'll not comment on pronunciation any more, if I can avoid it!
Today, I want to blog about food - a subject very close to my heart.
Some folk might call me a foodie. But, although I enjoy talking about food, I'd far rather be in the kitchen doing the food!
First, to get this one out the way -
This is not a nickname for a carpenter/joiner. This is The Chip Shop. Even the "The" gets a capital letter!
This was *the* British fast food or take away!
A fish supper. A "supper" is the main item plus chips. That's all. Anything else has to be asked for, and paid for (well, other than the salt and vinegar).
All you could get at the Chippie, when I was wee, was a fish supper, or a portion of chips. With or without a load of salt and vinegar. The only other stuff in the shop was the jar of pickled onions (the onions were at least 1 inch across) and the jar of pickled eggs.
And it came on a wee cardboard tray - you know that fold-it-yourself kind of thing! Or just dodded onto a piece of grease-proof paper on top of some sheets of newspaper. Then it was all wrapped over for taking away.
Chips are sort of like French fries, but not dainty! I'm thinking of Big Mac's chips - really thin and unhealthy.
Chips are probably twice the width of a French fry, and shorter.
The fish was in batter and deep fried.
Some posh chip shops also offered mushy peas.
I'll come back to that later.
Villages in the Highlands and Islands may not have had a permanent Chippie.
These places had an either/or.
Either there was a Chippie who opened once or maybe twice a week.
Or there was a van that would come once or twice a week.
Either way - most folk in the area would have a fish supper for their evening meal on Chippie night!
When I was wee, my grandparents all lived in Glasgow, whereas we lived in Dumfries. My grandparents had poor health, and for a long time, my parents had to take us all to Glasgow, every weekend. We stayed at my Mum's folks' house which had enough beds. But we spent Saturday afternoon and evening with Dad's folks. I remember my brother and me walking with Granda to the local Chippie for the chips for our Saturday evening meal. This was not every weekend. But it helped Gran, because she had a mis-shapen hand and holding potatoes for peeling was difficult. My Mum tried to help, but we had a potato peeler at home, whereas Gran used a knife!
I still love chips, but I rarely eat them now, unless I'm out for a meal. At least our Scottish chips are healthier than French fries - the chunkier the chip, the less fat it takes in!
Modern Chippies offer much more, now - chicken, steak pie, sausage, burger, and . . .
A few years ago, a TV chef joked about Scotland and our poor health/diet - we eat far too much fried stuff. The chef joked that the next thing would be deep-fried mars bar!
He was actually too late - deep fried mars bars were already on the menu in a few Chippies around Scotland! And it's now on offer in many more places.
I have never tasted it, even in curiosity. I don't have a sweet tooth. And I really cannot get my head around the idea.
And then, if I have to eat anything, and wash it down either with Scotland's national drink (whisky) or with Scotland's "other national drink" (a soda called irn-bru) - I'll run the other way. I don't drink either.
Irn- bru is an orange (colour, not taste) soda, in a can or in a bottle, and to me it tastes like butterscotch - not a happy event for me.
Final comment about chips - oven-cooked are supposed to be healthier than fried. The reason given is that there's less fat with oven-cooked. BUT, they are covered in fat just so they'll turn brown in the oven.
If you need to eat some chips and don't want fried - buy a packet if frying chips, and cook them in the oven. About 5 minutes longer than oven chips and you get the brown. And a load less oil/fat!
Other Scottish foods -
Scottish lamb - mmmmmmm!
Galloway Belties - beef cows.
Ayrshire bacon - but I don't know where the pigs are from - presumably Ayrshire, to comply with legislation.
Scottish produce - from all around the country - (Ayrshire tatties), vegetables especially from the East Neuk of Fife, fruit from the Scottish fruit garden (Perthshire).
Salmon, fresh and smoked.
Other sea food, and fresh water - crab, lobster, other shellfish, deep sea fish - and the worst thing: I can't buy really fresh fish/seafood locally. It all has to go to a market, then come back. A recent TV programme showed that frozen fish is the freshest on offer in the supermarkets.
Venison - if we can get any. Most of our venison is exported. So it's not always easy to locate. And it is usually far too expensive for me. But I love it.
Pheasant, grouse - game birds as well as game animals.
These all have seasons. For example, Grouse Shooting starts on what was my Mum's birthday, 12 August.
Then, of course - haggis.
No it's not a 3-legged creature with one or other leg(s) shorter than the others so it can run around the hillsides!
Haggis is made from offal - all of it edible stuff - chopped and diced, mixed with seasonings. Traditionally cooked in the lining from a calf's stomach (I think), but now it's some sort of plastic that's used.
The stuffing is filled into the skin. An average haggis, for home cooking, would be about a pound in weight - I'm guesstimating now. Maybe 5 inches long, and 3 to 4 inches across.
Boil in it's skin/wrapper - and it's usually quite a long cooking. Again, trying to remember, 40 minutes or more.
Then serve - traditionally with mashed potato and neeps.
Neeps - turnip - rutabaga? It's the orange veg, not the white or white and purple skin.
Peel and cook your potatoes, and your neeps. I would do it in the one pan, but that's so not traditional. mash, and serve with the haggis.
My older son really enjoyed haggis, so I always bought one for Burns Night. He had it with mashed potato, and carrot instead of turnip.
It's difficult to buy haggis through the year, other than for -
Burns Night - to celebrate our National Bard, Rabbie Burns (Robert Burns). Celebrated on 25 January.
St Andrew's Day - our patron saint, celebrated on 30 November.
And New Year, or more specifically Hogmanay (New Years Eve).
The tradition, for all of these, is the same - haggis, neeps and tatties!
In Ayrshire, there is an alternative to Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.
Ham Hock and Mushy Peas.
Ham hock is meat that needs to be cooked slow and long. Towards the end of cooking, throw in a load of dried peas. Now, I really am not sure whether dried peas need to be pre-soaked or pre-cooked. I would at least pre-soak. The long slow cooking should take care of the rest of it.
I am now beginning to feel a bit hungry!
Do I eat traditional? No. I really can't afford most of it, and I don't really like haggis.
But occasionally, we treat ourselves to a half side of salmon from Costco. Usually it gets eaten too quickly to freeze any of it away.
My favourite 2 methods -
1. Put a good fillet on a plate, sprinkle lavishly with lemon juice, cover. microwave for a couple of minutes. Turn. Microwave for another couple of minutes, max.
2. Poached salmon. Make sure to use the right size of pan. I use a fish kettle if I'm going to poach the whole half salmon. But I've used smaller pans to poach smaller cuts.
Get a pan (the right size) full of water, add pickling spices or various herbs and seasoning. I usually have a bit of a fresh lemon, a couple of cloves of garlic, lots of herbs (dried), some onion and mustard seeds. Put everything In the water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer briefly. The turn off the heat, but don't lift the lid. Leave to cool completely. Bring back to the boil. Put the fish, or bit of fish, in carefully. Allow to simmer very gently for max 5 minutes for a whole side. Then turn off the heat.
The fish is beautifully cooked and still moist once cool. And can be eaten hot as well - just do that whole process and serve while still hot. The rest of the fish can go in the fridge or the freezer.
And I've just been down-loading some recipes from Peas.com. Mushy peas was one of the recipes - well, it was called Green Pea Hummus, and was a bit different! And a recipe for Pea, Ham & Cheese Muffins - I really need to try that latter.
Oh, and we have Italian ice cream!
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
A Bit About Scotland -Part 3 - Tuesday, 2 September 2014.
Well, hello, and I said I'd be talking about castles and stuff?!
Before I start -
I was just watching a programme on TV, till a few minutes ago.
It was about a difference of opinion between folk in the Loch Lomond National Park area.
Some folk were wanting permission for gold mining, while other folk were trying to get that quashed. All of them living and trying to work in the same place.
Apparently, the folk for gold mining won the day, eventually. This was in 2012, from what I can make out. I've asked my friends in Scotland's Brightest Sparks if anyone has any further information.
So, tonight it's Castles and stuff.
Prepare to be interested or bored, depending on your interests
Castles and Scotland - basically, not interchangeable
Scotland may be small, geographically, but my goodness me, we can pack a huge whack into small spaces!
I always thought that Scotland was full of castles.
And I was trying to take my sons around as many as I could while they were wee and interested.
Part of my area is Ayrshire. I then read that there were something over 100 castles just in my area, East Ayrshire. And similar for South Ayrshire and North Ayrshire.
So I started to count where I'd been.
Ayrshire, the Borders, Lothian, Lanarkshire, Fife, Argyll, and various areas of the Highlands.
My boys and I must have visited somewhere between 40 to 50 castles around the country za and I've got photos of them all!
And yet - what we've visited is really quite a small percentage of the total castles around the country!
In case anyone is interested to visit -
If you take out a membership for National Trust for Scotland - apparently a 2-week membership will more or less pay for itself if you visit both Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. Any other places are then more or less free for you.
There's also Scottish Heritage,
Or if you're a member of the National Trust in England, or elsewhere, apparently there are deals to be done!
But back to my own experiences.
When my boys were wee, I had family membership to both National. Trust for Scotland, and for Scottish Heritage.
It was the only way I could get hubby to agree to me taking the boys to all the various places - because I used my birthday and Christmas present money to pay for the family memberships, therefore entry was "free"!
Hubby's parents had time share up north - and swapped their 2 weeks each year for a fortnight in the summer. We had one week, and my sister in law and family had the other week.
So my boys were brought up visiting castles - because that is what they loved.
We'd visit castles up north during our week in Ballater, Royal Deeside, and other areas all around x(over the years).
And we'd take days out to visit castles in Ayrshire and the Borders during the rest of the Summer.
I have photos of my sons, basically north, south, east and west - at castles.
And for a number of years, part of the reason to visit a particular castle was because of the Historic Battle Re-Enactment.
For many years, when we were with my Mum and Dad for the Summer, Mum and I would take the boys to anything where Carrick 800 were performing. Little did I know that, a very few years later, both my boys would be working with Swords of Dalriada, and taking a major part in shows, tournaments, and even living and working in a Viking village.
I will try to find a way to post some photos of castles and fighting.
Even up north, we had to visit Balmoral Castle every other year. But as the boys grew older, we were able to travel further afield.
I do have photos, and I should be able to say all of the castles we visited.If anyone is interested in a list - please let me know!!!
But, what I can say, is that I have visited castles of so many different architectural types -
- Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfriesshire, one of the last Scottish castles besieged by the English forces. A triangular castle - 2 towers at the front as the one point, and 2 other towers as the other 2 points of the triangle.
- Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, where Dwight Eisenhower lived from time to time over a number of years.
- Balmoral Castle - where our royal family go for their summer holiday.
- Braemar Castle - where Scottish royalty used to live.
- and the one on the Aberdeen coast - just south of Aberdeen - you have to follow a wee path down the one side of the cliff, across the rocks, then back up the other side of the rocks - and there's a whole castle and garrison's worth there.
- Dumbarton Castle - where all the various buildings are on different parts of the volcanic plug.
- Noltland Castle - on the island if Westray, in the Orkney Islands.
- Brodick Castle over on Arran.
- Edinburgh Castle, which is a day's visit all on it's own, because of all the extra history.
- Stirling Castle, which is another nearly a day's visit - but combine it with the Bannockburn Centre.
- Eilin Donan (sp.) Castle - which is a totally different castle, at the end of a track onto a bit of an island.
- Inveraray Castle, in Argyll - which is still lived in, but is also open to the public.
- Dundonald Castle, sitting on top of a local volcanic plug, here in Ayrshire.
- Dunure Castle, sitting on a promontory in South Ayrshire.
And the wee castle we used to see from Mum and Dad's sitting room window, in the Ayrshire bay - and can I remember it's name??? I even have the painting of it that a family friend did and then gave to Mum and Dad . . .
But it's 10 years since.. . .
Greenan Castle - on the southern corner of the bay, south of the River Doon. I have both the painting, and also a photograph picture of Sunset over Greenan from my own friend when we all stayed with my Mum and Dad for our Summer holiday one year.
Oh well - enough for now.
These are just a very few of the castles in Scotland that I've visited over the years.
And sort of where they are, around the country.
There are castles all over the place here in Scotland - some big and beautiful and famous, some are just wee heaps in the ground.
But what I've visited has a load of memories for me - nearly all to do with my sons.
If and when I find out how to load photos to this iPad, I'll be happy to share photos of all these castles and all the castles I've not remembered.
Any questions about any castles - I'll be happy to try to answer.
Tomorrow - will we try for food?
Monday, September 01, 2014
A Bit About Scotland - Part 2
Thank you so much for reading Part 1 and leaving comments.
There were three questions.
One was, if Islands is not pronounced "eye", how is it pronounced.
There's a load of folk who rhyme "Highlands and Islands", pronouncing the first syllable as "eye".
But there's also a huge number of folk who use the vowel sound in "kite" or "bite" as the pronunciation.
It probably depends on what part of the country you come from. There are different local dialects all around the country
It's a small thing, and nobody really bothers - unless it's being said by a non-Scot! Especially a non-Scot from south of the border here in the UK (and we're not talking about Wales)!
The relationship between Scotland and England is a bit like any 2 sides in a dispute.
The powers-that-be require one thing. The ordinary folk would be happy just to get along with each other.
Use of "Islands" and "Isles" -
Both words mean the same thing, basically - an area of land completely surrounded by water.
It doesn't seem to depend on size, or anything - just custom and usage.
We have the Orkney Islands, and the Western Isles.
The Isle of Arran, and the Shetland Islands.
England is the same - the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly.
The Kilt -
This is what I was going to be talking about today!
I just wish I had photos of my 2 sons that I could send you. They each have the full rigout, and they each look fantastic, despite their different build!
That's one of the best things about the kilt. Men can wear it, whatever their body shape. And nobody bothers - it's just a guy in the kilt!
A kilt can be tartan, or it can be plain - usually a brown or green (think of our Highlands, and country areas, moors and also farmland, browns and greens).
The kilt may be worn to an occasion, and for many years that is all that it was used for, weddings in particular.
In more northerly areas, though, you would still see a few guys in their kilt and a tweed jacket just as their everyday wear.
I remember when my brother was about 12 (so about 50 years ago) he was going abroad with the scouts, I think to Denmark. They were advised to wear a kilt to travel, if they had one, because foreigners would be far nicer to them as Scots than if they were English.
The same kind of thing still happens now. Even just telling someone from outwith the
UK that I am Scottish, not English, can change the atmosphere.
Over the past several years, the kilt has gained a resurgence.
Guys going to the various 5-Nations rugby matches will wear the kilt, complete with a sweatshirt, socks and trainers.
Kilts can be worn to celebration events - usually with formal shirt, tie, etc.
But there are different traditional rigouts.
There's formal wear, which is the kilt, a proper shirt and tie, a formal jacket - you even have to chose the style of your buttons!
There's semi-formal wear - with a tweed jacket and a plain leather sporran.
And there's casual wear - with a jacobite shirt, and maybe a waistcoat of some sort, probably leather.
Then there's really casual wear. Younger men in various situations are now wearing a kilt, either tartan or plain, as part of their everyday wear. Or just to go to a rugby match, or a day out. The kilt is then frequently worn with just an ordinary jumper, sock and trainers.
There are also different qualities of kilt - they don't all have that "real" swing, which to me is a major part of looking at someone wearing the kilt!
But, the big question - does a true Scotsman wear his undies?
I have no idea, at all.
The advice I gave my 2 sons: wear their underwear, and never get caught short, and never get a chill where they don't need it.
My goodness - I just realised -
I'm trying to write about Scotland while watching TV.
TV happens to be Michael Flatley, the Irish dancer. The footwork is fascinating. I really must go back to this on catch-up!
And, moving on from kilts and from Michael Flatley -
Scottish Country Dancing - a huge part of Scottish culture.
In some areas, it's a bigger deal than in others. But there are groups all the way frae the Hielan's tae the La'lans, throughout Scotland.
My Aunt has been involved with Scottish Country Dancing for years, including dancing at the Mod, on several occasions. She is now in her late 80s and still dancing with her group!
The Mod is the Scottish sort-of equivalent to the Welsh Eistedfodd.
It's a festival of culture in the native tradition.
For us in Scotland, there's song, verse, dance. The language is Gaelic. A friend from my latter years at school has learned Gaelic, and has won prizes in the past few years in the "newcomer" categories of song.
There are festivals and galas all around Scotland, mainly late Spring through to early Autumn.
Some folk "celebrate" Halloween. I've not been up for that, even for my sons, because it has changed so much. We used to have to do something to "earn" a few nuts, or an apple. But now - kids knock on the door (may or not be dressed up somehow) and *demand* something (because, they say, that's what happens in America).
Guy Fawkes - 5 November- is the next thing I don't do. Fireworks to celebrate somebody trying to blow up parliament? No. I can't even understand the English wanting to celebrate this.
And that's where I'll stop for today seeing as how it's now tomorrow, my time!
Please be aware - I am writing just as an ordinary person. I'm speaking about my memories and my knowledge.
This is so not a "expert, so you better believe it"!
Tomorrow - Castles and History!
Get An Email Alert Each Time CMFARRELL36 Posts