Bonfire night and Halloween will be over by the time you read this. [And yes, I do know that the proper spelling is Hallowe’en, but the internet doesn’t cope well with apostrophes, so I’ve had to use the non-apostrophe spelling variant.]
Bonfire night, for all its somewhat gory associations, is at least a British tradition.
But Halloween? That Trick Or Treat abomination that seems to be everywhere? Rant time.
Apologies for the tongue-in-cheek title to this post. I’m guessing that if I had headed it “Stirling Castle and James V”, quite a few of our readers would have said, “Who he?”
He is James V, King of Scots. Yes, he was the father of the rather better-known Mary, Queen of Scots.
James V and Stirling Castle had quite a relationship. (And did you know that the mound on which the castle sits is actually an extinct volcano?)
Both these images represent James V. In the statue, he has a long flowing beard, like an Old Testament prophet, ready to usher in a golden age for Scotland. In the portrait, he has his normal neat beard and gorgeous clothes.
He didn’t make it to prophet status. James died when he was just 30, leaving one legitimate child (Mary), who was only 6 days old. James also left at least 9 illegitimate children, so he was definitely neither saint nor prophet 😉 Continue reading →
A few days ago, on 4th September 2017 to be exact, the Queen opened the #3 crossing of the River Forth, at Queensferry. The date was chosen, I assume, because it was 53 years to the day since she had opened the #2 crossing, the original Forth Road Bridge, back in 1964 (shown below with the Queensferry Crossing beyond).
The Queen did not, of course, open the original Forth Bridge; that was done by her great-grandfather, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1890. Continue reading →
Monday 25th January is Burns Night, celebrating Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Traditionally, Scots and others celebrate with a Burns Supper and many will have already taken place, over the weekend. I believe Sophie (Englishwoman of this parish) may even have been seen at one of them.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was not only a poet, he was also an exciseman, operating on the borders with England. Hardy smugglers used to cross from England to Scotland via the Solway Firth, because the excisemen would be waiting on the land route to levy their duties. If you could nip across the Firth – by the ford – you could probably avoid duty altogether.
Of course, if you were caught in the Solway quicksands, you might not see Scotland again. Ever.
England is that grey strip across the sands & quicksands of the Solway Firth