Tag: Scotland

August in January for Burns Night

Friday, 23 January, 2015 1 Comment

Tonight is Burns Night, the annual commemoration of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. In honour of the occasion, we present Dick Gaughan’s Glaswegian rendering of the beautiful Song Composed In August. Its origins date back to 1775 when Burns, then 16, was still at school. The object of his affections was Margaret Thomson, whom Burns described as, “a charming Filette who lived next door to the school. She overset my Trigonometry, and set me off in a tangent from the sphere of my studies.”

Now westlin winds and slaughter’n guns
Bring Autumn’s pleasant weather;
The moorcock springs on whirring wings
Amang the blooming heather:
Now waving grain, wide o’er the plain,
Delights the weary farmer;
And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night,
To muse upon my charmer.

The partridge loves the fruitful fells,
The plover loves the mountains;
The woodcock haunts the lonely dells,
The soaring hern the fountains:
Thro’ lofty groves the cushat roves,
The path of man to shun it;
The hazel bush o’erhangs the thrush,
The spreading thorn the linnet.

Thus ev’ry kind their pleasure find,
The savage and the tender;
Some social join, and leagues combine,
Some solitary wander:
Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,
Tyrannic man’s dominion;
The sportsman’s joy, the murd’ring cry,
The flutt’rin, gory pinion!

But, Peggy dear, the ev’ning’s clear,
Swift flies the skimming swallow,
The sky is blue, the fields in view,
All fading-green and yellow:
Come let us stray our gladsome way,
And view the charms of Nature;
The rustling corn, the fruit at thorn,
And ev’ry happy creature.

We’ll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
Till the silent moon shine clearly;
I’ll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,
Swear how I love thee dearly:
Not vernal show’rs to budding flow’rs,
Not t’Autumn to the farmer,
So dear can be as thou to me,
My fair, my lovely charmer!

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 — 21 July 1796)

Protection from internal parasites

Friday, 2 May, 2014 0 Comments

Agriculturally, sheep dip is a liquid insecticide that farmers use to protect their herds from parasites such as ticks and lice. But the term was also a synonym for home-made whisky, which was made illegally and stored in plastic containers marked “Sheep Dip” to protect it from the inquisitive eyes of policemen and revenue collectors. In the 1980’s, British farmers were ordering hundreds of cases of “Sheep Dip” from distillers and including it in their accounts as insecticide until the scam was exposed and the customers were fined for tax evasion when it was discovered that most of them didn’t have a lamb or a ewe or a ram on their lands.

The legal version of the drinkable Sheep Dip is made of pure malts from the four distilling regions of Scotland. It is a mild and pleasant drink made all the more charming by its backstory and the fierce-looking sheep on the label.

Sheep Dip

Scotland, Scotch, Scottish, Scot and Scots

Friday, 28 February, 2014 0 Comments

Published in 1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. is a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson written by James Boswell. Some say it is the greatest biography written in English; most scholars regard it a seminal moment in the development of the biography genre. Then, as now, Scotland was topical in polite London conversation and Boswell captured the mood of the day, and the language used to express it.

Mr. Arthur Lee mentioned some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they would choose it.

Johnson: “Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative. The Scotch would not know it to be barren.”

Boswell: “Come, come, he is flattering the English. You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and say if you did not see meat and drink enough there.”

Johnson: “Why yes, Sir; meat and drink enough to give the inhabitants sufficient strength to run away from home.”

Scotch, meaning either “of or relating to Scotland” or “a person/the people from Scotland”, was widely used in the past by writers such as Boswell, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. It is now regarded as old-fashioned, but it survives in phrases such as “Scotch whisky”.

Scottish is the everyday word used to mean “of or relating to Scotland or its people”. Example: “She’s Irish, not Scottish.”

Scot is the common word for “a person from Scotland”, along with Scotsman, Scotswoman, and the plural form “the Scots.”

Scots is used to refer specifically to the form of English spoken in Scotland, as in “He’s got a very strong Scots accent.”


Seasons dancing, life advancing

Sunday, 16 February, 2014 0 Comments

The transcendence of love over the limits imposed by season and time is a constant motif in the poetry of Robert Burns. His other great theme is Scotland. The country in which he lived was in flux and the great debates of the day revolved around identity. Should Scotland adopt English manners, or should it […]

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Right action from Glasgow’s finest

Saturday, 20 July, 2013 0 Comments

In May, Franz Ferdinand announced their fourth album, titled Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, would be released on 26 August. Here’s the action.

Canada via Scotland

Saturday, 25 May, 2013 0 Comments

It’s been a full seven years since the Scottish siblings Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, better known as Boards of Canada, last produced a recording. The drought is about to end, however, and “Tomorrow’s Harvest” will arrive on 10 June in Europe and 11 June in North America. BoC have only ever played publicly on a handful of occasions and they’ve never stormed the charts, but when it comes to low-key electronic music, they’re among the best in the business.

The Shady Grove of Orkney

Saturday, 6 April, 2013 0 Comments

The islands of Orkney in the cold waters of the North Sea are the most remote of Scotland’s whisky-producing areas. Along with Arran, Jura, Mull and Skye, Orkney is part of the Islands whisky region. Today, there are only two distilleries on Orkney: Highland Park and Scapa. Apart from whisky, Orkney has given the world the excellent Kris Drever.

Wish I had a banjo string
Made of golden twine
Every tune I’d play on it
I wish that girl were mine

Wish I had a needle and thread
Fine as I could sew
I’d sew that pretty girl to my side
And down the road I’d go

Hello new shoes, Bye bye blues

Sunday, 3 February, 2013 0 Comments

Paolo Giovanni Nutini was expected to follow his father into the family fish and chip shop business in Paisley in Scotland, but the success of his debut album, These Streets, released in July 2006, which included the single “New Shoes”, meant that the 19-year-old was destined for a more glamorous career. Hey, I put some […]

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The Queen of all Argyll

Saturday, 2 June, 2012

Gillian Fleetwood and Fraya Thomsen hail from the Highlands of Scotland. Together, they are known as The Duplets. Note: In music, a duplet is a group of two notes played in the time of three. “On the evening that I mentioned / I passed with light intention / Through a part of our dear country […]

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The Botanist: Gin from… Scotland

Thursday, 24 May, 2012

New in the Rainy Day drinks cabinet is the latest creation from the island of Islay, a dry gin called “The Botanist“. The aroma is classically gin floral but with a Hebridean character that evokes hazy hills, bogs, turf and Atlantic surf. Upon sipping, The Botanist reveals itself as a tonguetaste of purity, a mouthfeel […]

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Aye. Scotland takes the high road

Thursday, 12 January, 2012

So, Scotland wants to take the high road to independence. The English taxpayer will be relieved, no doubt. It’s a pity that the brand is generating some unfortunate headlines at the moment, though. There was the weekend tragedy of Brian Ettles, a longtime worker at the Glenfiddich Distillery, who drowned himself in a vat of […]

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