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Weekly Mailing List Archives
23rd November 2007

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at 

Electric Scotland News
Scotland on TV
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure
Clan Information
Poetry and Stories
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Book of Scottish Story
History of Ulster
A fisherman’s Reflections on a beautiful but troubled world
Sketches of Early Scotch History
Bonnie Scotland (New Book)

Well I did manage to make a start at the "Bonnie Scotland" book I mentioned last week for which see more below.

The next publication I'll be bringing onto the site is "Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland; with details of The Military Service of The Highland Regiments" by Major-General David Stewart published in 1825 in 2 volumes. This is in fact the 3rd edition of the book. You can find a short biography of the author at

I noted with interest an email that came in this week...

Washington, DC: The British Pound is valued at more than double the dollar - making travel to the United States a real bargain for Britons. Yet British overseas travel to the United States is still down by 11 percent since 2000 according to Discover American Partnership. Many analysts believe that, except for the favorable exchange rate, the persistent decline in British travelers would be even worse. The overall 17 percent decline in overseas travel to the United States since 9/11 has cost America $94 billion in lost visitor spending, nearly 200,000 jobs and $16 billion in lost tax revenue.

I think this clearly shows how important tourism is not only to the USA but also to every country in the world. I also think it's time for thinking out of the box when it comes to promoting tourism as it's clear the old traditional methods are not working.

I added the List of Members from the Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. It's a .pdf file of some 17Mb I'm afraid but thought it was worth making it available. There are over 2,000 names and so it becomes a genealogy resource and yet another place to find names. I have provided the link to this file in it's section below.

I decided I needed a new Electric Scotland baseball cap so am going to be ordering one up. Only reason I mention it is in case any of you might like one as well in which case I could order up some more. So do let me know if you are interested :-)

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and others.

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at

Scotland on TV Fishes About...

Here at Scotland on TV, we not only make our own films for the channel, but we also have access to a vast stv (Scottish and Grampian Television) archive. We've recently been delving into the library to find some classic television programmes and came across a couple of series all about fishing in Scotland.

The first series we found is called Hooked on Scottish and is something of a Scottish classic. Our presenter is BAFTA award winner and fishing expert Paul Young who travels around the country meeting the stars of the fishing world - both in human and fish form - taking advantage of his guests' local knowledge on how to get the best catch. The series takes Paul all over Scotland where he tries his luck on the river Spey, the Dell Stream and Loch Ness amongst others. You can share Paul's experiences here:

The second series we discovered is just a couple of years old and is called Trout 'n' About. This takes a more modern approach to the pastime of fishing, suggesting it's the "New Rock n Roll for the 21st Century". Presented by artist Gregory Rankine and musician Paul Campion, they take to the road in each episode in Iris, their MG Roadster, in search of the best fishing and the best food in Scotland.

As we wipe the dust off the tapes, we'll add more & more fishing content to the Fishing Channels, so do keep checking back to see what we've discovered.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Jim Lynch and I liked his wee story on...

Lest we forget

I know Remembrance Sunday has passed, but I have been just looking at the media; from about mid-October, poppies were everywhere. I did notice that at the SNP Conference at the end of October, which I attended, they were very much in evidence and the BBC seemed to be making poppies mandatory. This was not quite as it should be, since public mourning is not compulsory, except for Princess Diana of course; however, come Monday 12th November all the poppies withered away - they just disappeared. As a token protest, I am still wearing my poppy.

One other irritant – this year poppies were supplied with plastic stems, assuming that everyone who would be wearing a poppy would have a buttonhole – which is far from the case. In some shops, pins were supplied. The reason for this appears to have something to do with Health and Safety rules. Now from time immemorial, or certainly in my 70 plus years, poppies had pins, so whose bright idea was it to come up with the wholly impractical plastic stems?

Putting the matter into perspective, we have a Government in London which believes in basing in Scotland weapons of mass destruction, capable of destroying the human race. Such concern over a possible injury from a wee pin seems more than a tad hypocritical.

In Peter's cultural section he tells us more about St. Andrews Day...

The Scots are reputed to be frugal and thrifty, if not down-right mean – especially Aberdonians! It is, of course, not true, as a people we are merely canny and good at spotting a bargain, especially a FREE bargain. With greater interest in St Andrew’s Day there has grown up the tradition of normally paid attractions such as the Castles at Edinburgh, Stirling and St Andrews having free entry on 30 November. The coming St Andrew’s Day (30 November 2007) will be first that workers can have as a National Holiday (if swopped for another day) and there will be an even wider range of attractions which will have free entry. With some 50 attractions across Scotland opening their doors at no cost a visit to is essential to find a FREE attraction near you. When Culture Minister Linda Fabiani announced this move on 12 November 2007, she rightly said –

“St Andrew’s Day is a day to celebrate Scotland. We have a proud history, a rich cultural fabric and a fantastic-built heritage. It belongs to us all.”

Indeed it does and she made the announcement in one of the free attractions - Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons which is a fascinating building to visit. The Surgeon’s Hall Museum is particularly worth a visit as it not only traces Scotland’s immense contribution to modern medicine, but highlights many connections with popular culture. For example, the fact that the Edinburgh-born writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his great detective, Sherlock Holmes, on his university lecturer, the surgeon Joseph Bell.

With St Andrew’s Day now being the starting point of a new Winter Festival running to the birth-date of our National Bard, Robert Burns, hopefully Scots at home will celebrate the event with the passion of those in exile.

Continuing our recent oatmeal theme, the staple diet of Scots in days langsyne, this week’s recipe – Relaxing Oaty Drink – offers a warming and relaxing drink with an oatmeal base. But be warned although warm and relaxing, this drink is also stimulating!

Relaxing Oaty Drink

Ingredients: 200 ml water; 10 ml oatmeal; 2.5 ml brown sugar; 2.5 ml lemon juice; 1.25 ml ground ginger

Method: Put the oatmeal, sugar and ginger into a mug or small jug. Mix with 15 ml of cold water taken from the 200 ml. Add the lemon juice. Boil the water and add to the mixture, stirring well until all is blended. The amounts of ginger and sugar may be varied according to taste.

And I can just imagine the wee boys face from the Scots Wit section...

In the days when the upper reaches of the River Clyde could only take very small vessels, a small steamboat stuck in the mud near Renfrew, and the Skipper had reluctantly to wait for the rising tide and hope to be refloated.

Fuming and raging at the delay, he saw a little boy taking his toy bucket to the riverside for some water. This was enough to bring the Skipper's anger to boiling point. Leaning over the side of his vessel he roared "Tak wan bucket o watter out o this river afore A get afloat an A'll wairm yir lug!"

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

We are now onto the L's with Learmont, Leckie, Lee, Leechman, Leighton and Lennox.

A good account of Lennox and here is how it starts...

LENNOX, an ancient earldom, which comprehended the original sheriffdom of Dumbarton, consisting of the whole of the modern county and a large portion of Stirlingshire, with part of the counties of Perth and Renfrew. The name was originally Leven-ach, a Gaelic term signifying ‘the field of the Leven,’ or smooth stream. Levenachs, in the plural number, was the name given to the extensive and contiguous possessions of the earls of that district, and being spelled and written Levenax, became naturally shortened into Lennox. The founder of the original Lennox family was Arkyll, a Saxon baron of Northumberland, possessing also large estates in Yorkshire, who, engaging in various insurrections against William the Conqueror, about 1017 fled to Scotland, with many other Saxon barons, and received from Malcolm Canmore a large tract of land in the counties of Dumbarton and Stirling. He is stated to have been the eldest son of Aykfrith or Egfrith, a powerful Saxon, lord of several baronies in Yorkshire, who was contemporary with King Canute and Edward the Confessor. By a Scottish lady, his second wife, Arkyll had a son, of the same name, whose son, Alwyn, was the first earl of Lennox, according to the received accounts. This Alwyn, called Mac Arkill, or filius Arkill, is said to have been son of the first Arkill, and not the grandson. He is supposed to have died in 1160. The accurate Lord Hailes doubts the Saxon origin that has been assigned to him. Mr. Mark Napier, in his History of the Partition of the Lennox, says: while Lord Hailes “admits the existence of earls of Lennox so far back as the twelfth century,” he “is sceptical as to their reputed descent from a Saxon lord called Arkill, and rejects the theory as belonging to ‘the ages of conjecture.’” Alwyn, the first earl, witnessed a charter of confirmation by King David I. to the abbacy of Dunfermline as well as several other charters of that monarch; also a general confirmation to the same abbacy by King Malcolm IV., by whom it was that he was raised to the dignity of an earl.

The elder of his two sons, Alwyn, second earl, being very young at his father’s death, David, earl of Huntingdon, the brother of King William the Lion, is said to have received from the king the earldom in ward, and appears to have held it during a considerable period. The second Alwyn, however, was in full possession of it before 1199. Mr. Napier quotes two charters, without dates, which, he says, materially affect this theory, as they “prove that the two Alwyns were both at the same time designed earl of Lennox, probably because the son was fear of the comitatus (or earldom) while the father was liferenter. It would rather appear, then, that the elder Alwyn was the first earl of Lennox of his race, but that the district of the Leven had been previously erected into an earldom, in favour of David earl of Huntingdon sometime between the middle and the close of the 12th century.” (Partition of the Lennox, page 2.) The second earl died about 1224. He had eight sons and one daughter.

His eldest son, Maldouin or Maldwin, third earl of Lennox, was one of the guarantees on the part of King Alexander II. when the differences between that monarch and Henry III. of England were accommodated in 1237. Up to this time the strong castle of Dumbarton had been the principal messuage of the earls of Lennox, but after 1238, when he received a new charter of the earldom, it no longer belonged to them, nor the harbour, territory, and fisheries of Murrach contiguous to it. The castle has ever since continued a royal fort, and the town of Dumbarton was in 1222 erected into a free royal burgh with extensive privileges. Earl Maldwyn had a son, Malcolm, who predeceased him in 1248, leaving a son, Malcolm, fourth earl, one of the Magnates Scotiae, who, at the parliament held at Scone, 5th February 1283-4, swore to acknowledge Margaret of Norway heir-apparent to the throne, after the death of Alexander III., and on 18th July 1290, he appeared in the assembly of the estates at Birgham, and consented to the marriage of that princess to Edward prince of Wales, son of Edward I. of England. He died before 1292.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other entries at 

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Have made a start at this huge publication which will likely be with us for a few years. The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeenshire. There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.

This week have added...

Parish of Chapel of Garioch at
Parish of Kennethmont at
Parish of Slains at

Here is how the account of the Parish of Slains starts...

Extent, &c.—The extreme length of the parish is somewhat more than 6 miles, breadth about 3˝, and it is of a triangular shape. It is bounded on the west south-west by the river Ythan, which divides it from Foveran; on the north-west, by the rivulet called Forvie burn, which separates it from Logie Buchan; on the east north-east, by the parish of Cruden; and on the south-east, by the northern ocean.

The surface of the parish is remarkably varied, and beautifully undulating. The rocky part of the coast abounds with caves, the most remarkable of which is the Dropping Cave, or White Cave of Slains. It would seem that, in former times, it was an object of deep interest to the curious, and it is still so considered. There are several other caves in which, as well as in the Dropping Cave, fine specimens of petrifaction are to be found ; but their chief celebrity arose from their having afforded excellent places of concealment for contraband goods in the " high and palmy state" of smuggling, which was carried on here to an almost incredible extent. One of these caves, called Hell-lum, is upwards of 200 feet in length, and the pitch of the arch within, in some places, rises to the height of thirty feet.

There is one fissure of about thirty yards in length, four feet in width, and from twenty to thirty in heighth, called the Needle's-eye, through which the sea, in an easterly gale, rushes with impetuous violence. This fissure perforates a round bluff hill of solid rock, which is covered with a layer of earth to the depth of several feet, and its sides are smooth and polished with the action of the waves.

The extent of coast is somewhat upwards of six miles, the greatest part rocky, the remainder of a fine soft sand. The rocks rise to an elevation of from 170 to 200 feet above the level of the sea, and are bold and precipitous, forming innumerable little bays and creeks. In some places, they are riven asunder and piled on one another in terrible confusion, ever and anon yawning with deep and ghastly chasms. Many of these little bays, if they may be called so, are thickly studded with bare rocks, some rising to a great height in naked magnificence, while others heave their huge and horrid ridges just above the surface of the water.

You can read the rest of this account at

On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85 parishes and also a map at

Good Words - 1860 Edition
Edited by Rev. Norman MacLeod

You should note that as this is a weekly publication you'll find larger articles are continued week by week.

This week have added articles on...

Preaching on the Stage (Pages 189-191)
Good Words for Every Day of the Year (Pages 191-192)
Missionary Sketches (Pages 193-197)
Nuremberg Stories (Pages 198-199)
A Cloister Legend (Pages 199-200)
Lady Somerville's Maidens (Pages 201-204)

Here is how the account of Lady Somerville's Maidens starts...

(Continued from page 188)

Courageous woman as Mrs Jonet was, her heart quaked and her voice quavered as she arrested Mr Durie, hurrying in from an early dinner, with some of his country brethren, in a tavern—perhaps it was "William Kerr's, in the head of the Grassmarket, on the side next to the Castle"—to ask, with the tendency of the desperate to clutch at straws, if he had chanced to spy—he who never thought fit to study his neighbours, except in the Assembly House itself, or in the College library—two of the maidens, in strange gear, traversing the streets. Mr Durie had not even dreamt of such an encounter; but he testified none of his usual gentle languor, except when he was expounding.

"The bairns out in this night! Bristo Port is steeket already. Why did you not hinder them, Mrs Jonet? How could you suffer sic madness? I'll take my staff again—I'll go in search of them; but I hope —I hope they've a surer safeguard—a better protection."

Euphame was struck with the fact that Mr Durie, who, though a tender-hearted and modest man as ever existed, conceived himself bound to abet Mrs Jonet's views, and sometimes punished his pupils—never for personal liberties, but for infringement of the rules of the institution, and transgressions against Mrs Jonet's authority—by heavy ordinances of fasting, solitary confinement, and hard work, which cost him more groans in secret than they ever wrung from the lightheaded and incorrigible youth under his charge,—now said not a word of the girls' giddiness, disobedience, and defiance of discipline. He rather reflected on Mrs Jonet! He was folding his hands together, and murmuring—"The poor lasses, the witless bairns— lambs amidst wolves!" while Mrs Jonet was doggedly pouring down his throat a cup of burnt claret, and expertly fishing out his mantle and broad-flapping beaver from the dire confusion of his sleeping-room and study; and all the time, her own fasting stomach, and the hood and jacket which she had put aside in the spring noon, were judged protection enough for her bodily health against the aroused elements—ere they set out on their vague and perilous expedition. Nay, Mrs Jonet herself uttered no further condemnation of the absent. The truth was, the foolish girls were in trouble, and the hardest of the good hearts there would go through fire and water to deliver them, and would be silent on their demerits until that sad, sacred inequality of the scales was amended.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other articles at

Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure
by Laura Lagana

We have now completed this book which went up to Chapter 19 which you can read at

Clan Information
Added the Jan, Feb, Mar 2008 newsletter of the Clan Leslie which you can read at

Poetry and Stories
Donna has started Volume 2 of her "Sweeter than Eldenberry Wine" pioneering stories which you can read at

John sent in a doggerel, Us Twa For Aye, which you can read at

Added a poem, RSM Campbell, by William Smith which you can read at

Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Am adding a variety of articles from this publication and this week have included...

The Agriculture of the Counties of Clackmannan and Kinross
The Old and Remarkable Elm Trees in Scotland
The Old and Remarkable Lime Trees in Scotland

Here is how the Counties of Clackmannan and Kinross are described...

The two counties of Clackmannan and Kinross, together with the county of Fife and a slip of Perthshire on the margin of the Forth, on which stands the town of Culross, include the territory anciently called the Ross, which was a promontory situated between the Forth and the Tay, and bounded on the north-west by the Ochil hills. The county of Clackmannan consists chiefly of the Devon valley, declining gently from the Ochil hills to the Firth of Forth. All the lower lands are rich, generally arable, and well cultivated. There is an expanse of carse land between Clackmannan and the Forth, and another west of Alloa. The uplands are verdant, and the hills yield some of the best sheep pasture in Scotland. The county of Kinross has been described as an open vale or plain, environed by uplands, having the Ochils on the north, the Lomond hills on the east, Benarty on the south-east, Cleish hills on the south, and Alva hills on the west. The principal streams are the Gairney, the North and South Queich, the Kelty, and the Orr, the first two of which flow into Loch Leven. The county of Clackmannan has many features of interest. The town is situated on an eminence, rising gradually from the plain to a height of 190 feet above the level of the Forth. It is an old-fashioned place, interesting agriculturally because of the many householders who are able to keep a cow. West from the town is the old Tower of Clackmannan, which commands a singularly varied and romantic prospect. Two miles westward is the town of Alloa, close to which is the tower once inhabited by the Earls of Mar, and at a little distance the present residence of the family. The pleasure grounds, which are very extensive, are bounded on the north by a stone wall, and on the south by the Forth. The gardens were laid out in the last century, with long avenues and clipped hedges, and an extensive lawn with many fine trees. All kinds of trees thrive remarkably well, and there are oaks, beeches, elms, planes or sycamores, limes, and ash trees of considerable circumference.

North from Clackmannan, at a distance of 4 miles, are the Ochils, the scenery of which is unlike anything else in Scotland. Their general character is that of a great igneous block, developing itself in amygdaloid felspar and porphyry, and occasionally in fine pentagonal columns of basaltic greenstone. They are cut into deep clefts, so narrow as not to be visible at a distance, but very striking and picturesque when closely examined. The glens are uninhabited, and the silence is broken only by the brawling of torrents, which struggle on amid rocks and boulders. Enclosed on three sides by two of these remarkable glens is Castle Campbell, once a fortress of the Argyle family, now the property of Mr. Orr of Harvieston. Anciently it was called Castle Gloom, a name peculiarly suitable when we consider the eerie glen through which it is approached. The entrance is near Dollar, where a charge of 6d. is paid to a gate-keeper. A good and well-kept footpath leads up the glen, which is densely wooded, and at the bottom of which a considerable stream thunders onward amid great blocks of stone and many ledges of rock. A quarter of a mile from the gate is a confluence of two streams, locally called "Care" and "Sorrow;" and in the loop formed by these weird glens, on a lofty, almost insulated promontory, are the ruins of the castle. One of the streams gurgles with many a fall through a gloomy chasm, as cleanly and sharply cut as if it had been done with a chisel. From the top of the ruined castle is a most extensive prospect to the southward; but when we looked on the landscape bathed in the sunshine of a brilliant June day, with blackfaced sheep grazing peacefully on the hill sides, and the voice of the cuckoo echoing in the woods, there were few traces left of those days of darkness and blood when the castle was practically useful.

You can read the rest of this article at

You can get to the other articles at

I added the List of Members from the Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. It's a .pdf file of some 17Mb I'm afraid but thought it was worth making it available. You can read this at

Book of Scottish Story
Kindly sent in to us by John Henderson

The Book of Scottish Story - Historical, Humorous, Legendary, Imaginative
by Standard Scottish Writers Published by Thomas D. Morison, 1896

This week we have...

A Tale of the Plague in Edinburgh
by Robert Chambers

Here is how it starts...

In several parts of Scotland, such things are to be found as "tales" of the Plague. Amidst so much human suffering as the events of a pestilence necessarily involved, it is of course to be supposed that, occasionally, circumstances would occur of a peculiarly disastrous and affecting description,— that many loving hearts would be torn asunder, or laid side by side in the grave, many orphans left desolate, and patriarchs bereft of all their descendants, and that cases of so painful a sort as called forth greater compassion at the time, would be remembered, after much of the ordinary details was generally forgotten. The celebrated story of Bessy Bell and Mary Gray is a case in point. So romantic, so mournful a tale, appealing as it does to every bosom, could not fail to be commemorated, even though it had been destitute of the great charm of locality. Neither could such a tale of suffering and horror as that of the Teviotdale shepherd's family ever be forgotten in the district where it occurred,—interesting at it is, has been, and will be, to every successive generation of mothers, and duly listened to and shuddered at by so many infantine audiences. In the course of our researches, we have likewise picked up a few extraordinary circumstances connected with the last visit paid by the plague to Edinburgh; which, improbable as they may perhaps appear, we believe to be, to a certain extent, allied to truth, and shall now submit them to our readers.

You can read the rest of this story at

The index page of the book where you can read the other stories is at

The History of Ulster
From the Earliest Times to the Present Day by Ramsay Colles (1919)

This week we continue Volume II with

Tyrone proclaimed Traitor
Negotiations ad nauseam!
Tyrone's Catholic Crusade
"The Tide of Battle"
Tyrone in the Ascendant
After the Battle of the Yellow Ford

Here is how the chapter "Tyrone in the Ascendant" starts...

Until August, 1598, it is impossible to describe the state of Ireland as either peace or war. At one time Tyrone submitted to the Queen's terms, and a pardon was sent over, but when the pardon arrived he would not accept it; the northern garrisons seem to have been in a continual state of blockade; interminable letter-writing went on between the parties without bringing them to any definite agreement; the negotiations were interspersed with some occasional fighting, and a raid into Ulster, with the usual result. This feebleness of the English executive necessarily inspired the Celtic population with the hope of a universal and successful rising, and the belief that Tyrone had at last appeared as the champion of the native tribes. "There is no part of Ulster freed from the poison of this great rebellion; and no country, or chieftain of a country, whom the capital traitor Tyrone hath not corrupted, and drawn into combination with him."

The modifications which Elizabeth required in the terms of peace proposed by Tyrone and O'Donnell and accepted, subject to the Queen's approval, by Ormonde, were received earlier than was expected, and on the I5th March, 1598, another conference was held with Tyrone in order to communicate them to him. The Earl discussed the several points with a freedom which showed that he knew well the weakness of the Government and his own increased strength. He refused to desert his confederates until they had had time allowed them to come in and submit; he consented to renounce the title of The O'Neill, but reserved the substantial rights of the chieftaincy; he would not give up the sons of Shane O'Neill, as he had not received them into his charge from the State; he agreed to admit a sheriff into Tyrone, provided he was a gentleman of the country, and not appointed immediately; he would surrender political refugees, but not such as fled to his province on account of religious persecution: in addition, he refused to give up his eldest son as hostage.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

A fisherman’s Reflections on a beautiful but troubled world
By David B. Thomson

We are getting a lot of interest in this book and this week we've added chapters on...

Chapter 23 - Land Reform and Taxation
Chapter 24 - The Good Earth

and this actually completes the book as Chapter 25 is being held over for a re-write.

Here is how the Chapter on The Good Earth starts...

As a young boy I had the immense privilege of spending childhood years on the Moray Firth coast which was then replete with aquatic and marine life. We had salmon and trout in our rivers and lochs, and an abundance of fish and crustaceans in the rocky pools and inlets along the shore. Near the lighthouse, just over a mile from the edge of town, there was a small stretch of ponds we called ‘the lighthouse lochs’. They were just shallow water bodies, - but fascinating to a young lad as they contained stickleback, frogs, tadpoles, caddis fly larvae in their self-made houses of tiny twigs and stalks, and many other life forms like dragon flies, pond skaters and water beetles that would carry bubbles of air down to hidden nests. Many a summer hour was spent in fascinated observation of these creatures. But the lighthouse lochs are long since gone completely, - bulldozed over to create a caravan park.

Along the beach and the rocky pools there were even more life forms. Sand eels, small plaice, saithe, gurnards, conger eels, gobies, hermit crabs, common crabs, and lobsters abounded, while just offshore were schools of sprat, mackerel, and herring, feasted upon by seagulls and gannets, seals and dolphin. That was the situation until a mere 40 or 50 years ago. Today the coast is largely sterile and bereft of life except for a few hardy limpets, mussels and crabs. The same is true all around Scotland’s coast. Many hitherto productive coastal waters yield only crabs and prawns. Some sprat and mackerel are returning seasonally, but coastal marine life has largely died.

How did that happen? What has caused the demise of such profusion of life in a few decades? My guess is pollution. We have had an enormous increase in pesticide and fertilizer use, and the run-off from our fields and farms has accumulated in coastal waters, together with huge quantities of plastic and industrial waste. Every housewife today uses an array of cleaning fluids and powerful detergents that are also poured into our seas through each urban sewage sytem. Mother nature can accommodate and deal with a surprising amount of poisonous pollutants, but eventually its tolerance margins are exceeded and life begins to die. That process is taking place all over the world.

Our natural environment of air, sea, and soil, support all of life on this planet – “spaceship earth” as Schumacher described it. When the first American astronauts orbited the moon at Christmas 1968, as they transmitted the awesome pictures of earth-rise over the lunar landscape, they read together from the Genesis account of the creation. Five times in that account we read, “and God saw that it was good”. After the final sixth day it says that “God saw that it was very good”. Appropriately the Apollo 3 spacemen expressed their best wishes to all back home, - all of those back there on ‘the good earth’.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Sketches of Early Scotch History
By Cosmo Innes (1861)

Our thanks to Alan McKenzie for scanning in this book for us.

Have added Part IV this week which in summary is about...

Culdee foundation—Re-formed by Alexander I.—The fatal stone-—Coronations at Scone—Privileges of the Abbey— Duel, ordeal—The connexion of Scone with Caithness— Family of Ruthven and lots more

Mind that these are .pdf files and this one can be read at

The index for the book is at

Bonnie Scotland
Painted by Sutton Palmer, Described by A R Hope Moncrieff (1904)

I saw a write up on these books and here it is to read here...

What links Egyptian Birds, Bonnie Scotland, Children and War?

The answer is that they are among the ninety-two 20/- (20 shillings) series of Colour Books published by A. & C. Black between 1901 and 1921. The Edwardian period was, perhaps, the peak time for book illustrations as, although photography was well established, the black and white images could not match the brilliance of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac and their contemporaries for colour illustrations. The A. & C. Black's 20/- series used water-colour artists and was the first to use the new "three colour" process for colour plates. The books were lavish in their use of colour illustrations with most volumes having 70 or more colour plates.

In the 20/- series the three elements of a book - the text; the illustrations and the cover - come together beautifully. The text was not closely associated with the illustrations, authors were not expected to describe the illustrations and were specifically required to produce "bright readable descriptions not overloaded with statistics". In the same way the publishers required of their artists "bright colouring". For many of the books the authors and artists seem to have not even been in contact!

The cover designs also mark out the 20/- series as special and were mostly the work of A.A. Turbayne and his colleagues at Carlton Studio. Many of the covers show the scarab motif of Turbayne (for example Kent) or the CS monogram of Carlton studios.

Although the artists may not have been quite in the same league as Rackham, the likes of Sutton Palmer (Bonnie Scotland), A. Heaton Cooper (The English Lakes) and Helen Allingham (Happy England) were outstanding artists of their time. Among the authors we would now look back at Edward Thomas (Oxford) and Hilaire Belloc (Sussex) as pre-eminent although Belloc did not want his name on Sussex.

Think now of the pricing. 20/- in the early nineteen hundreds was more than the average weekly wage. It was a bold decision in 1901 to launch a book which was expensive to produce and highly priced and the early reviews were not all favourable. The early "three colour" process attracted particular criticism for its "washed out" look. This was indeed a fair point as, although the process did improve over the next 10 years, initially the three colour process lacked black to give depth. However, the decision in 1901 was more than vindicated and in 1905 fifteen new titles were published.

And so we now have the first 3 chapters up...

The Borders
Auld Reekie
The Trossachs Round

You can read these at

And just to finish... got an enquiry in about the word Hurley-hacket and I had no idea what it
was. The person came back to me as he'd got an answer...

I have looked up the term in my copy of "The Scots Dialect Dictionary" by Alexander Warrack MA.
The descriptions given are: a small trough or sledge for sliding down an inclined plane or a
hillside, a toboggan; an ill hung carriage, a sliding game down a smooth bank.

And that's all for now and hope you all have a good weekend and our American friends a Happy Thanksgiving :-)


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