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Weekly Mailing List Archives
13th March 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site The Aois Community brings you message forums and lots of community services
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Dear Friend

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
The Flag in the Wind
New Statistical Account of Scotland
Clan and Family Information
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories
Social Life in Scotland
Robert Burns Lives! Inspiration on Inauguration Day.
Wilderness Homes
Crofting Agriculture
The Writings of John Muir (New Book)
Frank Shaw's radio interview on Burns
Scottish Backhold Wrestling
A Family of Merchants by Marie Fraser

More of the South Loch Ness advertiser group have sent in write ups about themselves and more great pictures as well You can see these at

I might add that the Lovat Arms Hotel also sent in links to 3 videos, one about the Hotel, one an interview with the owner and the final one being of a fiddle session at the hotel. You can view them at


A note for your diary... The 2009 Scottish Studies Spring Colloquium will be on Saturday, 11th April, 2009 at Knox College, University of Toronto. You can get more information at or

The keynote speaker will be Robert Crawford, Professor of Modern Literature. He spoke at the Library of Congress to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Burns and has just completed his book "The Bard" which you can purchase at the event.

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 or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Ian Goldie where he discussed some happenings on the Homecoming Scotland initiative and other articles.

In Peter's cultural section he is telling us about Poetry...

This year with the spotlight very much on Robert Burns, as we continue to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth, it is good to be reminded that poets and poetry, before and after Burns, have meant much to our Nation. This week sees the twelfth year of StXanza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, Feis Eadar-Naiseanta Bardachd na h-Alba, in the university town of St Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife. The festival runs from Wednesday 18 March to Sunday 22 March 2009. Visit for the full five day lively and packed programme.

The festival will be officially opened on Wednesday by First Minister Alex Salmond in the Byre Theatre at 7pm. Having attended university in the Fife town Alex Salmond is no stranger to St Andrews and will join singer Dundee’s own Sheena Wellington, poets Bill Manhire (New Zealand’s first Poet Laureate) and Kate Clanchy, sculptor David Mach (and his fired up Burns sculpture!) and the Ferryport Fiddlers in ensuring that the festival gets off to the best of starts.

Honouring Burns and celebrating Scottish Homecoming will feature widely in the five-day programme of poetry, drama, films and exhibitions as Eleanor Livingstone. Artistic Director, points out –

‘The 2009 festival – our twelfth – comes with a range of events which honour and re-interpret Scotland’s legendary Bard in challenging and provocative ways. We consider his poetic legacy and look at what else Scotland has given the world as, in this Homecoming year to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, we extend a special invitation to the festival to returning Scots and affinity Scots from all around the globe, by making Homecoming one of our two themes for 2009.’

The festival offers a rare opportunity to hear songs and reading from Robert Burns’ ‘Merry Muses of Caledonia’ (not for the easily offended!), a chance to see a display of Lord Byron material from the Scottish National Library’s John Murray Archive, and hearing outstanding Fife-born author Ian Rankin tell how poetry and lyrics have impacted on his life and work. The varied programme offers something for all age groups.

A plate of Fife Stovies is just the dish to set you up for a full and active day of visiting the exhibitions and StXanza venues - enjoy both.

Fife Stovies

Ingredients: 6 large Baking Potatoes, peeled and cubed (2.5cm/1 inch); 240ml/8fl.oz. Meat Stock; 25g/1oz Butter; 1 large Onion, roughly chopped; 350g/12oz Piece of Corned Beef, cut into cubes; Salt and Pepper

Method: Place the potatoes and stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, melt butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté gently until soft and transparent. When potatoes are cooked, add the cooked onions, salt, pepper and corned beef. Mix well and continue to cook for 10 minutes, or until thoroughly heated through. Serve hot.

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

Christina McKelvie's Weekly diary is available at

New Statistical Account of Scotland
Being accounts of the Parishes of Scotland produced in 1845.

This week have added the Parish of New Monkland, or East Monkland to the Lanark volume.

Name.—The parishes of Old and New Monkland were formerly one parish, under the general name of Monkland,—a name derived from the monks of the Abbey of Newbottle, to whom the lands belonged. The parish was divided into two in the year 1640,— the eastern division being named New Monkland, and the western Old Monkland.

Boundaries, Extent.—The parish is in the middle ward of Lanarkshire, and forms a part of the north boundary of the county. It is nearly ten miles in length from east to west, and seven in breadth near the middle, but narrower at both ends; bounded on the south by the parishes of Bothwell and Shotts; on the east by those of Torphichen and Slamannan; on north by those of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch ; and on the west by those of Cadder and Old Monkland.

You can read this account at

Clan and Family Information
Got in some new information on the Clan Grewar. You can read about them at

Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem, "Ma Bonnie Weel Hodden Fa'" at

And of course more articles in our Article Service from Donna and others at 

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added a new story...

The Broken Ring

Here is how it starts...

Hout, lassie," said the wily Dame Seton to her daughter, "dinna blear your een wi` greeting. What would honest Maister Binks say, if he were to come in the now, and see you looking baith dull and dour? Dight your een, my bairn, and snood back your hair—I’se warrant you’ll mak a bonnier bride than ony o’ your sisters."

"I carena whether I look bonny or no, since Willie winna see me," said Mary, while her eyes filled with tears. " Oh, mother, ye have been ower hasty in this matter; I canna help thinking he will come hame yet, and make me his wife. lt’s borne in on my mind that Willie is no dead."

"Put awa such thoughts out o’ your head, lassie," answered her mother; "naebody doubts but yoursel that the ship that he sailed in was whumelled ower in the saut sea—what gars you threep he’s leeving that gate?"

"Ye ken, mother," answered Mary, " that when Willie gaed awa on that wearifu’ voyage, ‘to mak the crown a pound,’ as the auld sang says, he left a kist o’ his best elaes for me to tak care o’; for he said he would keep a’ his braws for a day that’s no like to come, and that’s our bridal. Now. ye ken it’s said, that as lang as the moths keep aff folk’s claes, the owner o’ them is no dead,- so I e’en took a look o’ his bit things the day, and there’s no a broken thread among them. "

"Ye had little to do to be howking among a dead man’s claes," said her mother; "it was a bonny like job for a bride."

"But l’m no a bride,” answered Mary, sobbing. " How can ye hae the heart to speak o’t, mother, and the year no out since I broke a ring wi’ my ain Willie !—Weel hae I keepit my half o’t; and if Willie is in this world, he’ll hae the other as surely."

"I trust poor Willie is in a better place” said the mother, trying to sigh ; " and since it has been ordered sae, ye maun just settle your mind to take honest Maister Binks ; he’s rich, Mary, my dear bairn, and he'll let ye want for naethin."

"Riches canna buy true love," said Mary.

The rest of this story can be read at

The other stories can be read at

The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Added another 4 pages containing Compass Saw, Compensation, Complexion, Compo, Compost, Compote, Compress, Concertina, Concrete, Concussion, Condensed Milk, Condenser, Condiment, Conduit, Coneflower, Confectionery, Confetti, Confirmation, Conger Eel, Congestion, Conjugal Rights, Conjunctivitis, Conjuring.

You can read about these at

Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children' s Songs, Children's Stories
A Book for Bairns and Big Folk by Robert Ford (1904).

The pages we have up this week are...

Children's Songs and Ballads
The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren
The North Wind
Little Bo-Peep
The House that Jack Built
Simple Simon
Old Mother Hubbard
Old Mother Goose

We will now have the curious tale of "The House that Jack Built." In no sense a curious house, perhaps, but famous because of the fortuitous events which issued in regular sequence from the simple fact of the builder having stored a quantity of malt within its walls. It is told best with the accompaniment of pictorial illustrations, but here these are not available.

This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the rat
That ate the malt
That lacy in the house
That Jack built.

This is the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn
And waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled lion,
That tossed the dog
That worried the cat
That killed the rat
That ate the malt
That lay in the house
That Jack built.

You can read the other pages at

Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes (1884)

I now have up...

Chapter VIII.
The Municipal and Mercantile

Chapter IX.
Arts and Manufactures

Here is how Chapter IX starts...

Ere the discovery of the metals, Caledonian chiefs wore ornaments formed of sea-shell, flint, and stone. Necklaces were formed of the perforated shells of the limpet, cockle, and oyster, which were strung together with a sinew or vegetable fibre. Ossian's heroes used cups of gem-studded shells. Perforated discs and plates of slate and flint were in primeval games used as table-men. Horse collars of trap and granite have been found in Aberdeenshire. ["Prehistoric Annals of Scotland," by Daniel Wilson, LL.D., Lond., 1863, 8vo, 2d edit., vol i. pp. 221-6.] In the circles and weems are to be picked up fragments of pottery, including portions of Samian ware. Gold and silver torcs were worn by the Scots and Picts, and the specimens of those preserved in the Scottish National Museum are certainly of native metal. As gold could be wrought without smelting or moulding, it is not improbable that it was in use in the Neolithic age. Armillas of pure gold formed into rounded bars and bent to suit the arm were in a cinerary urn found in Banffshire. Malcolm Canmore and his queen were served on plate of gold, and we learn from Turgot, the queen's confessor, that she granted to the Church many vessels of pure gold.

A search for native gold is noticed in a grant by David I. to the Abbey of Dunfermline in 1153 of a tithe of all the gold which should accrue to him from Fife and Forthrif. By Gilbert de Moravia gold is said to have been discovered in 1245 at Duriness in Sutherland. In 1424 Parliament granted to the Crown all the gold mines in Scotland; also all silver mines in which three halfpennies of silver could be found in the pound of lead.

During the reign of James IV. gold mines were discovered at Crawfurd Muir, for the working of which Sir James Pettigrew in 1511 and subsequently received numerous payments. In 1524 the gold of Crawfurd Muir was coined in the Cunzie House; and two years later the mines of that locality were, with the sanction of Parliament, leased to a, company of miners from Germany and Holland for the period of forty-three years. The project proved unsuccessful, and after a trial of five years was abandoned. In 1539 miners from Lorraine operated at Crawfurd Muir under the charge of John Mossman, royal goldsmith, and the produce was sufficient for constructing coronets for the king and queen; also other ornaments. The earlier coins of the reign of Queen Mary were of native gold.

You can read lots more from this chapter at

You can get to the index page of the book at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Inspiration on Inauguration Day

Several years ago, thanks to Walter Watson, then President of The Robert Burns World Federation, my wife Susan and I were luncheon guests of a dozen or so members of The Burns Club of London at the world renown Caledonian Club not far removed from the very heart of London. Walter had been our superb Burns Night speaker at our Atlanta Burns Club earlier in the year and he, along with his lovely wife Liz, had visited with us to see our Burns book collection. Included with the London invitation and directions to the club from the Honorary Secretary, Jim Henderson, was this phrase that any Scotsman worth his salt would love and chuckle over…”There is no sign outside but the large Saltire over the entrance is as good”.

Those who turned out to greet us were mostly past presidents and council members of the club. James Fairbairn, then Vice President and member of the Caledonian Club, had reserved a private dining room, replete with statuary of Robert the Bruce on horseback which was placed in the middle of the mantel piece. Not only did we enjoy some of the best haggis I’ve ever eaten, prepared by their very own Scottish chef, but we met some of the best Burnsians we’ve ever had opportunity to meet on our trips throughout America, Europe and, in particular, Scotland and England. It was at this luncheon that I met Clark McGinn, and we have kept in touch ever since. It is my pleasure to welcome him to the pages of Robert Burns Lives! I also look forward to his sharing another article with us in the future. But first, let me tell you a bit about Clark.

Clark McGinn was born in Ayr and started talking at an early age (and has hardly stopped since). Educated at Ayr Academy and the University of Glasgow, where he debated actively: winning the UK national competition (The Observer Mace), representing the UK (on the ESU Tour of the U.S.), and founding the World Student Debating Competition (which is now the second largest student competition in the world and in its 26th year). He passed enough exams in between speeches and debates to graduate with an MA with honours in philosophy. He qualified as a banker and has worked in major institutions in London and New York. He is happily married to Ann and lives in exile on Harrow-on-the-Hill in North West London. Since 1976 Clark has performed at Burns Suppers across the globe and is now known as a writer on Scottish subjects with The Ultimate Burns Supper Book and The Ultimate Guide to being Scottish, both published by Luath Press. He is an occasional columnist for the Scottish Government's 'Scotland Now' e-magazine ( and has written for The Scotsman and other national newspapers. Clark supports two charities: The English-Speaking Union and Glasgow University's development campaign.

His article... "Inspiration on Inauguration Day" by Clark McGinn (with reflections on Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington) can be read at...

All other articles by Frank can be read at

By W. Barclay (1922)

Added more chapters this week...

Chapter 12. Distilling and Mining
Chapter 13. Fishing and Fishermen
Chapter 14. Shipping and Trade
Chapter 15. History of the County
Chapter 16. Antiquities
Chapter 17. Architecture—(a) Ecclesiastical
Chapter 18. Architecture—(b) Military

Here is how "History of the County" chapter gets under way...

The history of Banffshire touches national events at a number of interesting points. Whether the county was ever invaded by the legions of Rome is a matter that has been hotly disputed by antiquarians and historians, but in any case it was certainly unconquered by them. A few centuries later it formed, with what is the modern county of Aberdeen, one of the seven provinces of Pictland.

Interesting memorials still remain of the Celtic missionaries who introduced Christianity among the northern Picts. Brandon Fair, a feeing market in Banff, and "the Brannan Howe," as well as the ruins of St Brandon's Church, remind us of the famous saint. Mortlach was named after St Murthlac; and, of old, Aberlour bore the name of its patron saint, St Drostan, Alvah still possesses St Columba's well. Forglen parish used to be called Teunan or St Eunan, i.e. St Adamnan, the biographer of St Columba. The parish of Marnoch commemorates its patron saint in Marnan Fair. St Maelrubha was one of the most notable of Fathers of the Faith in Northern Scotland, where more than twenty places show traces of his presence. He was the patron saint of Keith, and his name is buried in Summer-eve Fair, formerly one of the most important September markets in the North. "Summer-eve" is an easy popular etymology of one of the corrupted forms of St Maelrubha's name.

While civilising influences were thus affecting the "barbarians" of the North, other movements that had been for long in progress, came to affect profoundly the national life. The pagan Vikings made descents on the growing wealth of the monastic communities, and Banffshire was the scene of three events of more or less national importance. On the muir of Findochty, in 961, the followers of Eric of the Bloody Axe and the Scots under King Indulphus, met in what is known as the Battle of the Baads. The invaders were routed, but the Scots King was slain, a collection of stones commonly called the "King's Cairn" near the farm of Woodside traditionally marking his grave. To the same epoch belongs the battle of the "Bleedy" Pits in Gamrie, where the Scots defeated the Danes with great slaughter on the top of Gamrie Mhor. The date assigned is 1004, the year inscribed on the ruins of the old church. The Scottish chief vowed to St John to build a church on the spot where the invaders were encamped if the Saint would lend his assistance in dislodging them. One who wrote in 1832 recalled that three of the Danish chiefs were discovered amongst the slain, "and I have seen their skulls grinning horrid and hollow, in the wall where they had been fixed, inside the Church, directly east of the pulpit, andwhere they have remained in their prison house Soo years." Principal Sir W. D. Geddes has written how

Over brine, over faem,
Thorough flood, thorough flame,
The ravenous hordes of the Norsemen came
To ravage our fatherland...
The war, I ween, had a speedy close,
And the "Bloody Pits" to this day can tell
How the ravens were glutted with gore,
And the Church was garnished with trophies fell,
"Jesu, Maria, shield us well"
Three grim skulls of three Norse Kings
Grinning a grin of despair,
Each looking out from his stony cell—
They stared with a stony stare.

Yu can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read the other chapters at

Wilderness Homes
A Book of the Log Cabin by Oliver Kemp (1908)

Completed this book with the final chapter...

Chapter X - A Few Plans
Wild Wood
Crow's Nest
A Club House
The Block House
The Jolly Pines
The Antlers

It starts...

WILDWOOD is a thoroughly comfortable camp, easily constructed. The living room is large enough to contain a fireplace and chimney of ample dimensions. A thimble should be put in the chimney to accommodate the pipe from a stove in the dining room in the event of very severe weather, though the stove in the kitchen will keep the dining room very comfortable late in November in Maine.

The doorway between the living room and dining room might be made wider than is shown on the plan, with a simple drapery hung. The stairway is two feet wide, with a rustic balustrade made of peeled poles about three inches in diameter. Underneath, in the dining room, is a low closet. The stairs wind half way up and cut through the partition, making a large closet underneath in the bedroom.

Upstairs there is quite a large room over the dining room and bedroom, ten by fourteen feet, with the space on either side of the room, where the eaves slope to the floor, partitioned off with a series of frame doors, covered behind with burlap, and hinged at the top to swing up against the roof. These are about four feet high, and so a very considerable storage space is obtained behind them. The room is used as a sleeping room, and contains one window.

And you can read the rest of this and see the plans at

The other chapters can be read at

Crofting Agriculture
Its practice in the West Highlands and Islands by F. Fraser Darling (1945)

Have added more chapters to this book...

Chapter IV. The Conservation of Winter Fodder
23. Haymaking
24. Ensilage
25. Grass Drying
Chapter V. The Control of Weeds
26. What Weeds Tell Us
27. Eradication of Rushes
28. Corn Spurrey or Yarr
29. Ragwort
30. Dockens, Thistles, Onion Couch and Twitch
31. Bracken
Chapter VI. Planning for the Spring Work
32. Choosing our Crops
33. Turnips, Swedes and Curly Kale
34. Carrots
35. Mangolds
Chapter VII. Growing Early Potatoes
36. Intensification
37. Choice of Seed
38. Sprouting or Chitting
39. Cultivation
Chapter VIII. The Problem of Shelter
40. Shelter from Wind
41. Fences as Cover
42. Growing Cover and Shelter
43. Growing Shelter for a Garden
44. Further Thoughts on Shelter
Chapter IX. The Crofter's Cow
45. What Type do We Need for the West?
46. Crossing for a Desired Type
47. Making a Breed
48. Care of the Milk Cow and Her Calf
Chapter X. The Principles of Feeding Animals
49. The Constituents of Food
50. The Nutritive Proportions of Foods
51. The Nutritive Ratio in Practice
52. Compounding a Ration

Here is how the account from Chapter VIII starts...

The biggest enemy in the climate of the West Highlands and Islands is wind. Many people think rain is the worst, but those of us who live on islands, in places open to the Atlantic or on some treeless stretch of the coast, know that wind is more exasperating and wearing on the nerves than rain, and certainly more devastating to plant life. We can adapt our husbandry to take advantage of rain; for example, only rainy parts of the country can grow the best of grass leys, and the practice of ensilage overcomes the difficulty of haymaking. It has always struck me as interesting how soon the hill ground looks parched and needing rain when we get fine weather in May and June. There is no doubt at all that rain suits this countryside, and the smell of a wet south-west wind after a spell from the east is sheer physical delight.

But wind! A breeze of wind is one thing, and many a time have I heard folk living at the head of a glen complaining of the windlessness of July and August weather, whereas their neighbours on the coast are getting breeze enough to dry their hay. Certainly on the promontories and islands we get some real snorters of gales in those months. Sometimes our hay is blown out to sea; our turnips have much of their tops broken off, which means their power of making big globes is affected; such few apple trees as we have suffer loss of fruit, and a flower garden can be ruined in a night. The windward side of whin bushes are scorched by salt even half a mile from the sea, such is the penetrating and pervading power of the great winds from the western airts. And then in spring there is the killing quality of east wind to contend with, just as unpleasant and cold as if we lived on the east coast.

To beat the wind we have to use all our resource. The thatched black houses of the Hebrides and the semi-subterranean houses of North Rona were a very good answer to it. The small netted and stone-weighted round stacks also beat the wind, but the growing crops and living animals are sorely tried. What can we do about it? Long years ago we had a certain amount of shelter near the sea. Dean Munro's description of the western islands of Scotland in 1549 mentioned places being covered in birch scrub which are to-day quite bare. Still earlier, there were the pine trees, remains of which we find as bogwood. These trees were numerous here on Tanera within a few yards of the open Minch, yet to-day even a rowan or birch finds it difficult to get established. We have lost all this valuable cover by burning, cutting and grazing. Co-operative action is needed now to help grow and build up a body of cover about our crofts and townships, and where it presently exists we should exercise all care in conserving it. It is not a one-man job. Here on this island I have been fiddling about for five years with limited resources of money and labour and I have not had much success in growing cover. Nevertheless, I have at least learned something about the problem, and I propose to pass on some of this information.

The rest of this chapter can be read at

The other chapters can be read at

The Writings of John Muir
I gave you the introduction last week and have now started on these 10 volumes of his writings. This week have up...

The Story of my Boyhood and Youth
Chapter I. A Boyhood in Scotland
Chapter II. A New World
Chapter III. Life on a Wisconsin Farm
Chapter IV. A Paradise of Birds
Chapter V. Young Hunters
Chapter VI. The Ploughboy

Here is how the first chapter starts...

WHEN I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I've been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. Fortunately around my native town of Dunbar, by the stormy North Sea, there was no lack of wildness, though most of the land lay in smooth cultivation. With red-blooded playmates, wild as myself, I loved to wander in the fields to hear the birds sing, and along the seashore to gaze and wonder at the shells and seaweeds, eels and crabs in the pools among the rocks when the tide was low; and best of all to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of the old Dunbar Castle when the sea and the sky, the waves and the clouds, were mingled together as one. We never thought of playing truant, but after I was five or six years old I ran away to the seashore or the fields almost every Saturday, and every day in the school vacations except Sundays, though solemnly warned that I must play at home in the garden and back yard, lest I should learn to think bad thoughts and say bad words. All in vain. In spite of the sure sore punishments that followed like shadows, the natural inherited wildness in our blood ran true on its glorious course as invincible and unstoppable as stars.

My earliest recollections of the country were gained on short walks with my grandfather when I was perhaps not over three years old. On one of these walks grandfather took me to Lord Lauderdale's gardens, where I saw figs growing against a sunny wall and tasted some of them, and got as many apples to eat as I wished. On another memorable walk in a hayfield, when we sat down to rest on one of the haycocks I heard a sharp, prickly, stinging cry, and, jumping up eagerly, called grandfather's attention to it. He said he heard only the wind, but I insisted on digging into the hay and turning it over until we discovered the source of the strange exciting sound — a mother field mouse with half a dozen naked young hanging to her teats. This to me was a wonderful discovery. No hunter could have been more excited on discovering a bear and her cubs in a wilderness den.

I was sent to school before I had completed my third year. The first schoolday was doubtless full of wonders, but I am not able to recall any of them. I remember the servant washing my face and getting soap in my eyes, and mother hanging a little green bag with my first book in it around my neck so I would not lose it, and its blowing back in the sea-wind like a flag. But before I was sent to school my grandfather, as I was told, had taught me my letters from shop signs across the street. I can remember distinctly how proud I was when I had spelled my way through the little first book into the second, which seemed large and important, and so on to the third. Going from one book to another formed a grand triumphal advancement, the memories of which still stand out in clear relief.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Frank Shaw's radio interview on Burns
Frank was the guest of the show at a local radio station in Atlanta and he's kindly sent in a recording of the show. I wasn't able to just click on the links but was able to right click on them and save them to my hard disk and then had no problem in listening to them.

Track 1 (12.5Mb) 13.3 mins 3 songs start the session

Track 2 (11.9Mb) 12.1 mins Frank starts his interview and introduced "John Anderson, My Jo"

Track 3 (14.4Mb) 15.5 mins The song is sung in this track and the interview continues.

Track 4 (11.3Mb) 12.2 mins More songs and and the end of Frank's interview

You can find these links under his Immortal Memory at

I might add that Frank does a great amount of work on promoting Burns and I know he'd love to hear from you and you can email him at

Scottish Backhold Wrestling
Trev Hill sent us in this article on Backhold Wrestling which also includes 3 links to video on YouTube.

Scottish Backhold Wrestling is one of the traditional wrestling styles of the British Isles. Like the other styles, Cornish Wrestling and Cumbrian-Westmoreland it has a long history and sister styles throughout Europe. Noted as one of the major “Celtic” styles it differs from the Cornish and Breton (Gouren) styles, which involve different holds, throws and require the wrestler to wear a special jacket.

You can read this at

A Family of Merchants
by Marie Fraser

Marie sent us in an article about Fraser Merchants culled from the Inverness Kirk-Session Records and includes connections with the founding of the North West Company in America.

You can read this article at

And finally, several people have sent me the link to watch a wonderful rendition of Amazing Grace, performed by Il Divo in the coliseum in Rome. We think it's the first time a Piper has played at the coliseum!

The link is at 

And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)


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