Planning a trip to Scotland and want to get away from boring old Edinburgh, maybe just catch up on your reading? Think about staying in Wigtown, "Scotland's National Book Town". Specifically, think about staying in an apartment above The Open Book, an actual book shop. It's only £28 per night, with a minimum stay of 6 nights. Oh, and one other requirement: you will be running The Open Book, with the help of professional booksellers and volunteers. [more inside]
The Scottish SPCA is looking for a new home for Atlas, a continental giant rabbit. "Giant rabbit?" you ask, "How big could a-- Oh dear lord will you look at that." The 7-month old, nearly 6-kilogram Atlas is still growing, and the SSPCA wants you to know that "A standard rabbit hutch won’t do so his new owner will need plenty of space for him."
Not just any rock: curling stones' special granite comes from Scotland
From the study of his run down house, David B. Smith pointed to where the sea crashed against the west coast of Scotland. "Out there," he said, "is Ailsa Craig." Not even a dot on the horizon could be spotted, but the 73-year-old retired judge and curling historian extraordinaire knew the exact location of the island that supplies the granite for the Olympic curling stones.Ailsa Craig is where curling stones are born, but also a protected bird sanctuary, and home to a historic light house and golf course. [more inside]
Beardyman's One Album Per Hour session at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (SLYT)
Atop the twin spires of the Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies the eerie call-and-response of bagpipe players echoed across the valley. I watched four siblings race one another up to the top of the Multiverse's spire as their mother, standing at the base, tried to maneuver a cell phone around the fifth child strapped to her chest.-The Duke, the Landscape Architect and the World's Most Ambitious Attempt to Bring the Cosmos to Earth by Alina Simone is an article about the Crawick Multiverse in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and its designer, landscape architect Charles Jencks. The garden is designed to represent modern cosmological theories.
In 2011, Ardbeg, a prominent Scotch whisky distiller, sent vials of its whisky to the International Space Station to mature. Those vials have been returned to Earth and subjected to taste tests alongside samples of the same whisky matured at Ardbeg's distillery. [more inside]
There are more than 285 competitive bagpipe bands in the United States, made up of thousands of pipers and drummers. Bands are divided into grades based on skill: Grade 5 is the lowest, akin to Little League; Grade 1 is the majors. In May 2014, the Massachusetts-based Stuart Highland Pipe Band was promoted to Grade 1, and next month they'll be facing off against other top-level bands in Glasgow at the annual World Pipe Band Championships. But first, the Stewies made their North American debut at the premier level at a competition in Ontario: Blowhards: On the road, down the bottle, and across the border with Boston’s greatest competitive bagpipe band. [more inside]
After the recent rout of the Labour Party by the Scottish National Party (SNP), at the age of 20, Mhairi Black became the UK's youngest MP since the Reform Act of 1832. Her maiden speech to the House of Commons is a witty, sharp, unsparing account of how Labour failed Scotland and the UK, generally.
play movie trailer: Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
In just 12 days, the 2015 general election for the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) takes place. On the surface, the math is simple: there are 650 seats, so winning 326 gives you a simple majority. In the previous parliament, governance was through a coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. But this time, predicting who will be Prime Minister, or have the most seats, or what form the government will take, is ... complicated. [more inside]
As part of an emerging online technologies project, the BBC set up Island Blogging in the early 2000s to allow residents of three groups of sparsely populated and often windswept Scottish islands (the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles, Argyll and Clyde Islands and the Northern Isles) to blog for free. As nearly all were on often unreliable dial-up, the service was simple and web-based, allowing comments (by anyone) and posts and pictures (blogging residents only). Moderation and rules were light; controversies were infrequent. [more inside]
Ordnance Survey Maps - England and Wales, 1842-1952: ‘The most comprehensive, topographic mapping covering all of England and Wales from the 1840s to the 1950s,’ courtesy of the National Library of Scotland. You can browse the maps as individual sheets using a zoomable map of England and Wales; as a seamless zoomable overlay layer on modern Google and OS maps; or as a seamless zoomable layer side-by-side with modern Google and OS maps. Also, Maps of Scotland: ‘Access high-resolution zoomable images of over 91,000 maps of Scotland and beyond.’
How Ambi became Paisley: "It began as a teardrop in Babylon. Where the sunlight came from Astarte, shameless goddess of the fecund feminine. The boteh. Stylized rendition of the date palm shoot, tree of life, fertility symbol. It danced through Celtic art, until the heavy feet of Roman legionaries tramped over the Alps. Then it fled the wrath of Mars and Jupiter, dove underground as Empire rose ." From Shailja Patel's Migritude. Here's a short film about the Migritude project (book on Amazon).
"The main action plan when I am riding along the high stuff is just not to fall off. " Scotland's own professional mountain biker Danny Macaskill takes on the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye. [more inside]
Your next favorite band is probably from Glasgow. Sure, we know Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian (previously and very previously), Frightened Rabbit (previously), The Twilight Sad, Glasvegas, and Chvrches (previously). Step inside for some of Glasgow’s current talent explosion. [more inside]
In an essay for the Wharton School of Business' blog, confessed 'social media evangelist' and marketer Curtis Houghland argues that the advent of twitter and other social media heralds the destruction of the nation state over the coming century. Literally.
Formal nationhood as the basis for a social contract with its citizens dates only to the 17th century. It is a relatively new phenomenon. As Pankaj Mishra points out in Bloomberg View, 'Few people in 1900 expected centuries-old empires — Qing, Hapsburg, Ottoman — to collapse by 1918.' The belief in the centralized nation as the default political organization is grossly misplaced. And we are seeing the de-evolution of nationhood before our eyes in our daily newsfeeds....As there are now more than 30 brands of Mountain Dew, there will be more nations in Europe.
Max Fisher of Vox describes how Naomi Wolf has turned to rather outré conspiracy theories. Via Ayelet Waldman on Twitter, who commented "I think maybe we need not to condemn Naomi Wolf but to consider the possibility that she's having a psychotic break."
"This country, when it was ever known on the global stage under the union, was associated with tragedy, in terrible events like Lockerbie and Dunblane; it's now synonymous with real people power. Forget Bannockburn or the Scottish Enlightenment, the Scots have just reinvented and re-established the idea of true democracy. This—one more—glorious failure might also, paradoxically, be their finest hour." Novelist Irvine Welsh on Scottish independence (SLGuardian) [more inside]
Polls will open in less than twelve hours for a referendum to end the 307-year Union between England and Scotland. With an unprecedented 97% voter registration, including hundreds of thousands of 16 and 17 year olds, there are predictions of turnout well over 80% across the country. [more inside]
In the somewhat tumultuous debate over the Scottish independence (previously), and with less than a week before the historic vote, a new voice has risen out of the fray.
The second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling is to be shown across the UK tonight. After a lacklustre first debate, the final days of the referendum campaign are ticking down. There are signs of growing momentum for the Yes side, with undecideds moving to Yes in some polls and the 'Yes Declaration' recently hitting a million signatures. But the Better Together campaign still has some heavy hitters on side, with Sir Ian Wood recently casting doubt on oil extraction figures he had previously agreed with. [more inside]
On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. In 1964, Peter Watkins wrote and produced a docudrama for the BBC, from the perspective of a documentary crew on the ground, depicting the battle and its aftermath: Culloden. [1:12:14]
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is an embroidered artwork of 160 panels illustrating the whole history of Scotland in the style of the Bayeux tapestry. Over a thousand stitchers collaborated to make the panels, and the design is the largest of three large-scale embroidery projects by Andrew Crummy. Kate Davies visited the Great Tapestry of Scotland at the Scottish Parliament and took some amazing close-up pictures... [more inside]
Describing Dame Muriel Spark's oeuvre as "a body of work singular in its violence, formal inventiveness, and scorching opening lines," Parul Sehgal's What Muriel Spark Saw examines the enduring appeal and the mystery of Spark's fiction, particularly the "monstruous" women: "What hash Spark's characters make of those eternal debates over unlikable characters or unlikable women." [more inside]
The National Theatre of Scotland is spending 24 hours staging and live streaming 185 five minute plays on the subject of independence, created by people all over Scotland and beyond, as a creative reflection on the forthcoming independence referendum. [more inside]
The Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and recently voted Britain's favorite building of the past 175 years, has been devastated by fire. While the stone exterior of Mackintosh's greatest architectural masterpiece may survive, Mackintosh's interiors are presumed lost.
The Roader’s Digest is ‘the most complete archive of information on the British and Irish road networks on the web.’ from the A1 to the R999; from the B3306 to the B855, they probably have a description of it. [more inside]
It is beginning to be appreciated, even in London, that Alex Salmond might just win his independence referendum in September. The break-up of Britain will have begun, David Cameron will have to contemplate being Prime Minister of a rump country — and HMS Britannia will be sunk, not with a bang but a whimper.
When the Song Dies
In Scotland, folk songs serve as memories, of places and the dead who once inhabited them. Exploring the theme of change, When the Song Dies seeks to bring the audience under the captive spell of the old ways. Featuring a range of contributors, the film is a poignant reminder that the dead linger on, all around us, in the houses and landscapes we live in, and in the language and music of our culture. Whilst Scottishness is at the heart of the film, this story is as universal as it is specific. It is the story of a culture that is, like so many, in danger of fading from human memory.A 15-minute film directed by Jamie Chambers.
If the drive for Scottish independence succeeds, what should be done about the Union Jack?
After a trade dispute, Grangemouth plant will remain open. Just another case of a greedy union almost driving a company out of business? Perhaps not. Robin McAlpine argues that this case underlines the broken nature of British industry and its relationship with the unions, as well as the media's ability to report on stories outside of London
Taylor was a waterman who first entered the book trade in 1612 with a collection of verses. From that point on he kept up a prolific stream of publications, including in 1618 an account of a journey on foot to Scotland published as The Pennyles Pilgrimage. In the previous year Taylor has published a similar account of his journey to Hamburg, but this book had two twists. The first was that Taylor had set himself the challenge of completing his journey without begging and relying on spontaneous offers of hospitality. The second was that Taylor tried to fund it through subscriptions.
"Cuthbert Ottaway lifted the FA Cup as skipper of Oxford University, represented them at five different sports ranging from athletics to real tennis, and once shared a 150-run partnership with WG Grace in the highest level of cricket. His most notable achievement was captaining England in the first ever international football match though. About 4,000 spectators, including a "large number of ladies", gathered to watch the historic game against Scotland at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick on 30 November 1872."
There is vertical throwing, too, in which people throw a 56-pound weight over a bar that is raised progressively higher. It is important to remember to step aside after you have thrown this weight. One of the heavy contestants told me that at a recent games elsewhere, a thrower forgot to move away. Staring up at the descending weight, he decided to catch it, which was not, it was explained, a good thing to do.
Novelist Alexander McCall Smith with a fond portrait of Scotland's remote Morvern peninsula and the Highland games held there.
Novelist Alexander McCall Smith with a fond portrait of Scotland's remote Morvern peninsula and the Highland games held there.
Graham Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole are a musical trio from Scotland. They first met at a local hip-hop night for under-16 youth in Edinburgh, where the music scene is more focused on indie rock than beats and rapping. They started collaborating a few years ago, and now go by the name Young Fathers. They mix rap, grime, modern R&B, afro-beat, noisy samples and more, though they write music from a pop-perspective, and consider themselves "pop boys." They have two short releases that are something between EPs and albums, plus a handful of singles. Their primary releases, Tape One and Tape Two, have been (re)released on the US label Anticon, and they have a handful of official videos: Deadline, Sister, Rumbling and Romance are the first four tracks from Tape One; I Heard is the first video from Tape Two; The Guide is separate single to stream and/or download, for free on Soundcloud.
In the mid-1920s, Claude Friese-Greene filmed The Open Road, a record of his journey through Britain, using the 'Biocolour' technique first developed by his father William. Eighty years later, the BFI produced a digital version of the preserved and restored film. We've seen London in 1926 previously on MeFi, but there's plenty more of The Open Road to see, including weavers in Kilbarchan (1:16), farmers harvesting with oxen in Cirencester (0:52), Glamorgan coal-miners (0:46), and more. [more inside]
For the better entertainment of Reddit's What's In This Thing, a Glasgow lass offered to open up one of the trunks in her attic. Of course, when you grow up in a 700-year-old Scottish castle, you have considerably more interesting trunks in your attic than most people.... Video of opening the trunk , . Or if you just want to cut to the chase, here's an extensive imgur gallery of some of the astonishingly well-preserved finds.
But as whisky scientists point out, it’s not really like that. Water has no influence on malt whisky flavour; barley can come from anywhere, provided that it delivers satisfactory spirit yield; and, in many cases, the newly made spirit is taken by tanker from its beautiful, peaceful, lonely distillery surroundings within a couple of weeks of distillation. It’s then aged in uglier, less peaceful but more logistically sensible locations in central Scotland.Flavour in malt whisky is attributable to the malt specification, to brewing and distilling practices and to wood-ageing regimes [more inside]
Canntaireachd (Scottish Gaelic: literally, "chanting"; Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [kʰãũn̪ˠt̪ɛɾʲəxk]) is the ancient Scottish Highland method of noting classical pipe music or Ceòl Mòr by a combination of definite syllables, by which means the various tunes could be more easily recollected by the learner, and could be more easily transmitted orally. [more inside]