Category Archive 'Scotland'
09 Jan 2017

“Hunted Down”

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John Pettie, Hunted Down, 1877, Hospitalfield Arts, Arbroath.

31 Dec 2016

Scottish Parliament Sings “Auld Lang Syne”

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(Sean Connery is present.)

12 Sep 2016

Apparent Gold-Handed Bronze Sword Found Under Scottish Soccer Field

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bronzeswordgoldhandle

Daily Mail:

A suspected Bronze Age sword with a gold hilt that may be up to 4,000-years-old has been uncovered on the site of a new community football pitch.

Diggers moved into the site in Carnoustie, Angus, in Scotland after a collection of relics were unearthed while workmen began laying foundations for the new sports field.

Work to the playing fields has now been halted while archaeologists scour the site.

The find appears to be a sword with a gold hilt, or handle, dating back to the Bronze Age.

It looks as though it could be two items – possibly a spear point or a broken sword.

Early excavations have revealed a trove of ancient artefacts, which the archaeologists believe could date back thousands of years. …

Due to the fragile nature of the find it has to be specially lifted out in order to conserve it for experts to examine in a laboratory.

25 Jun 2016

Trump’s Visit to Scotland Inspired Some Very Creative Profanity

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Quartz story

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A few samples:

TrumpScottishInsults

27 May 2016

Recipe For Disaster

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Voice Recognition Elevator… in Scotland!

20 Sep 2015

Scottish Response to Hate Preaching

23 Aug 2015

Live the Dream

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OpenBook

Entertaining “Local Hero-ish” (1983) fantasies of escaping from the rat race to live the simple life in a quaint Scottish village? Ever dreamt of running your own bookshop? The Guardian reports that you can try out your fantasies during vacation this year for a mere £150 a week.

[A]ll those who … who yearn to spend their days amongst the pristine spines and glossy covers of a small bookshop, what might be the perfect holiday retreat has just been listed on AirBnB: the opportunity to become a bookseller for a week or two.

For the sum of £150 a week, guests at The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town, will be expected to sell books for 40 hours a week while living in the flat above the shop. Given training in bookselling from Wigtown’s community of booksellers, they will also have the opportunity to put their “own stamp” on the store while they’re there. “The bookshop residency’s aim is to celebrate bookshops, encourage education in running independent bookshops and welcome people around the world to Scotland’s national book town,” says the AirBnB listing.

The Open Book is leased by the Wigtown book festival from a local family. Organisers have been letting paying volunteers run the shop for a week or two at a time since the start of the year, but opened the experience up to the world at large this week when they launched what they are calling “the first ever bookshop holiday experience” on AirBnB.

“I wouldn’t call it a working holiday,” said Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown book festival. “It’s a particular kind of holiday [for people] who don’t feel that running a bookshop is work. It’s not about cheap labour – it’s about offering people an experience … It’s one of those great fantasies.”

The money is “just essentially to cover our costs”, said Turpin, admitting that “it can be a hard life, selling books in a small town, so it’s not a holiday for everybody”.

13 May 2015

Anthony Bourdain Goes Deer Stalking

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Bourdain

His blog:

[S]talking deer in the Scottish Highland is the hardest, most physically demanding single activity I’ve ever done on camera. It doesn’t look like much. A nice walk up some hills, across the moors, in traditional Scottish kit, carrying nothing more cumbersome than a walking stick. You don’t even have to carry your rifle. The gamekeeper does that for you. The hills and peaks, the mountains of the Highlands are incredibly beautiful—the footing alternately firm and hard against flinty rock and hard packed soil—then soft and spongy among the heather and scrub of the moors, then steep, near vertical inclines. The idea is to walk up, at a reasonable pace, higher and higher, the incline gradual, legs fine, then not so fine, then burning with exertion. After a few miles, by which time, you’re congratulating yourself on having made it so far, the gamekeeper might spot a suitable animal through his binoculars—about a mile away. “If we sneak around the back that way—behind that mountain—and make our way quietly across that ridge—pop out over there-” he suggests, pointing at a harrowingly steep range of what sure as hell look like mountains to me, “we might just surprise him.” This is yet another climb requiring some skill and no small amount of exertion—and at least another hour—all in the cause of sneaking up on an animal who, more than likely will be gone by the time we arrive at our position. We spend a lot of time crawling through wet heather and brush. It’s raining in that kind of omnipresent, thin drizzle kind of way—almost a mist that the French used to call “Le Crachin”. Which is to say, by the time I finally manage to successfully shoot an old stag in the brain, I am pretty happy at the prospect of walking downhill for a change. But, no. Downhill, it turns out, is worse. MUCH worse. A couple of miles of relentless incline and my knees, deprived of the kind of shock-absorbent cushioning of my younger years, are in full rebellion. I’m hobbling like Long John Silver, making little grunting sounds with the impact of each step, trying, somehow to take it sideways all the way home.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

23 Feb 2015

Climbers Heard Screaming on Ben Nevis

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combgully
Comb Gully where Christopher Sleight was climbing

BBC:

In recent weeks, we’ve seen some of the best ice climbing conditions in years in the west of Scotland, especially on Ben Nevis.

Day after day of gentle freeze-thaw cycles have created vast swathes of thick, sticky ice of the best quality – choking gullies and dripping improbably over steep buttresses.

The corries of the Ben have been busy with climbers seeking out these incredible conditions, and a few days ago I joined them, setting out with a good friend to climb an ice route called Comb Gully – a gully high in the corrie that’s bounded by the Trident Buttress on one side and the steep walls of Tower Ridge on the other.

The ice was perfect and we were climbing well. I was on the the crux pitch – about 10m or so of very steep ground – and I had my back wedged against a rock wall as I placed an ice screw when I heard the first scream.

It started indistinctly, slightly muffled, but quickly came sharp into focus. It pierced through the mist – the most visceral, awful sound.

People talk about bloodcurdling screaming and for the first time I understood. That noise sent a stream of cold blood around my veins and chilled the back of my neck.

My first thought was simple but terrible: I was listening to someone who had just watched a loved one – not simply a climbing partner, but a loved one – fall to their death. There was so much pain and loss in that dreadful noise.

I froze for a moment, barely breathing, still perched on that vertical wall. I wasn’t in a secure position, hanging off a few millimetres of metal hooked into the ice. At that moment I just wanted to be gone – off the climb, off the mountain.

This screaming had brought home to me the possible consequences of getting something wrong, of making a mistake. That was honestly what I’d thought I’d heard – the consequences of someone getting it very wrong and losing their life.

But there was no way to make a quick retreat – the fastest way out of this gully was up. I finished the crux and secured myself to three solid ice screws and brought my partner up.

We discussed the screams, trying to work out where they had come from, speculating on what might have happened, and agreed we needed to finish our climb as quickly as we could.

We completed the final, easier pitch, and ended up on the Ben Nevis plateau in the mist, in complete silence. …

A brief search close to where we finished our climb revealed nothing. We headed down to Fort William.

I later spoke to another climber I knew who had been on a route in the same corrie. He had abseiled off his route and gone to investigate, but found nothing.

Other climbers did the same. Nobody could find evidence of an accident and the police said no-one had been reported missing.

So we don’t know who was screaming. We don’t know what happened to them. We probably never will.

Complete story.

26 Aug 2014

Dunkirk, 1940

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Highland_Division_in_France_1940

Daniel Hannan, Conservative MP, in the Telegraph.

My favourite World War II story is of the Highlander who, observing the rout on the beaches of Dunkirk, tells his sergeant: ‘If the English give in, too, this could be a long war.’

26 Aug 2014

Jean Redpath, 28 April 1937 – 21 August 2014

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JeanRedpath

The Times reports that the renowned Scottish folksinger Jean Redpath succumbed to cancer recently in a hospice in Arizona at age 77.

Redpath, in the course of her career, released forty albums. She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and her portrait hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Three Scottish songs with comical texts from an album of Scottish song released in 1962. The first one is the best.

03 Dec 2013

European Hate Speech Indictments

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A police helicopter flying over Glasgow, Scotland last Friday lost control and crashed into the roof of a crowded Irish pub, killing three on board and six customers. An additional 32 persons present in the bar were injured.

Apparently, free speech was also a casualty as Scottish newspapers subsequently reported that a teenage male was arrested on Sunday for posting “racist and sectarian comments” on an on-line social networking site.

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Meanwhile, French prosecutors announced today that preliminary charges of “public insult and inciting hate” were filed last month against Bob Dylan for comments made in the course of a Rolling Stone interview last year during which the singer-songwriter discussed race relations in America.

Curiously, the offended parties were the Croats. What Dylan said was:

If you got a slave master or [Klu Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.

By a curious coincidence, the Republic of France was also awarding Dylan the Legion of Honor around roughly the same time that French prosecutors were indicting him for hate speech.

16 Oct 2013

The Art of Scottish Fencing

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24 Apr 2012

1% of Scots Descend From Berbers and Tuaregs

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Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders charging just for fun. (click on image for larger version)

The Scotsman reports some surprising results from recent Scottish DNA research.

ScotlandsDNA, the groundbreaking research project that probes far beyond the ink stains of family trees by analysing the genetic make-up of Scottish men and women, has unveiled its interim results, which show that 1 per cent of all Scots are descended from the Berber and Tuareg tribesmen of the Sahara.

Read the whole thing.

My own patrilineal DNA results (Excel file) are very similar to the DNA of Somerled, the 12th century Lord of the Isles, from whom descend the various septs of Clan Donald.

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