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14th August 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

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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. In the event the link is not clickable simply copy and paste the link into your browser.

See o
ur Calendar of Scottish Events around the world and add your own at

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Books of John McDougall (New Book)
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Bark Covered House
Fraser's Scottish Annual
Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
The Sailor Whom England Feared
Recollections of a Long Life 1829 - 1915
Robert Burns Lives!
Oor Mither Tongue
John's Scottish Sing-Along
Songs of Lowland Scotland
"Curdies" a Glasgow Sketch Book
The Black-Bearded Barbarian (New Book)
Journey Planner for Scotland Using Public Transport

On the domestic front they've started on the repair of my porch this week and that should be finished by Friday and then it's onto the painting when they can get a few dry days.


On our Aois system we've added a few new forums one of which is a Celtic Music forum. Ronnie Simpson is going to be the moderator of that one and he has over 30 years experience in that genre being a record producer. He's volunteered to add some regular articles as well as do his best to answer any questions.

I might add that we are looking to add other forums on topics where we can get a real expert to agree to moderate the forum and offer information and advice.

This actually takes me back to the old ILink network that I was part of in the old BBS days prior to the Internet. These expert forums were kept very much on topic and so they became a really great resource. Should any of you be a real expert on some topic or know of someone who is we'd love to hear from you. The criteria for creating a new forum is mostly to do with being able to find an appropriate expert who will undertake to add regular informative posts and also be around to answer questions.

Being a moderator of a forum just gives you the ability to move inappropriate posts to other forums. Like were we to add a Windows forum then we wouldn't want to see postings about your holidays in there and so they would be re-directed to another forum. This way all the messages in the windows forum will be something to do with windows only.

You'll also see a new graphic appearing in our Aois header where our Aois girl on the right will be replaced by our Piper. The new graphics have been designed by Todd DeBonis and you can learn more about him at

In addition Todd has written a book for children of ages 8+ and you can read about this book at


We are also looking at doing Electric Scotland T-Shirts with these graphics. You can see the graphics we're looking to use at

Should you be interested in one then do let us know which graphics you'd like best :-)

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 for some reason not available. Might be up tomorrow.

You can read the Flag at

Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is not available as the Parliament are now on the Summer recess.

Books of John McDougall
I mentioned last week that I'd be starting on this 6 book set and have now made a start at the first of those books, Forest, Lake and Prairie, Twenty years of frontier life in western Canada, 1842-62.

The chapters added so far are...

Chapter I
Childhood - Indians - Canoes - "Old Isaiah " - Father goes to college.

Chapter II
Guardians - School - Trip to Nottawasaga - Journey to Alderville - Elder Case - The Wild Colt, etc.

Chapter III
Move into the far north - Trip from Alderville to Garden River - Father's work - Wide range of big steamboat - My trip to Owen Sound - Peril in storm - In store at Penetanguishene - Isolation - First boat - Brother David knocked down.

Chapter IV
Move to Rama - I go to college - My chum - How I cure him - Work in store in Orillia - Again attend college - Father receives appointment to "Hudson's Bay" - Asks me to accompany him.

Chapter V
From Rama to St. Paul - Mississippi steamers - Slaves - Pilot - Race.

Chapter VI
Across the plains - Mississippi to the Red - Pemmican - Mosquitoes - Dogs - Hunting - Flat boat - Hostile Indians.

Chapter VII
From Georgetown on the Red to Norway House on the Nelson - Old Fort Garry - Governor MacTavish - York boats - Indian gamblers - Welcome by H. B. Co. people.

Here is how the first chapter starts...

My parents were pioneers. I was born on the banks of the Sydenham River in a log-house, one of the first dwellings, a very few of which made up the frontier village of Owen Sound. This was in the year 1842.

My earliest recollections are of stumps, log heaps, great forests, corduroy roads, Indians, log and birch-bark canoes, bateaux, Mackinaw boats, etc. I have also a very vivid recollection of deep snow in winter, and very hot weather and myriad mosquitoes in summer.

My father was first settler, trapper, trader, sailor, and local preacher. He was one of the grand army of pioneers who took possession of the wilderness of Ontario, and in the name of God and country began the work of reclamation which has ever since gone gloriously on, until to-day Ontario is one of the most comfortable and prosperous parts of our great country.

God fitted those early settlers for their work, and they did it like heroes. Mother was a strong Christian woman, content, patient, plodding, full of quiet, restful assurance, pre-eminently qualified to be the companion and helper of one who had to hew his way from the start out of the wildness of this new world. My mother says I spoke Indian before I spoke English.

My first memories are of these original dwellers in the land. I grew up amongst them, ate corn-soup out of their wooden bowls, roasted green ears at their camp-fires, feasted with them on deer and bear's meat, went with them to set their nets and to spear fish at nights by the light of birch-bark flambeaux, and, later on, fat pine light-jack torches. Bows and arrows, paddles and canoes were my playthings, and the dusky forest children were my playmates.

Father, very early in my childhood, taught me how to swim, and, later on, to shoot and skate and sail. Many a trip I had with my father on his trading voyages to the Manitoulin and other islands of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, where he would obtain his loads of fish, furs and maple sugar, and sail with these to Detroit and other eastern and southern ports. Father had for cook and general servant a colored man, Isaiah by name. Isaiah was my special friend; I was his particular charge. His bigness and blackness and great kindness made him a hero in my boyish mind. My contact with Isaiah, and my association with the Indians, very early made a real democrat of me. I never could bear to hear a black man called a "nigger," nor yet an Indian a "buck." Isaiah was an expert sailor, as also a good cook, but it was his great big heart that won me to him, and which to-day, though nearly fifty years have passed since then, brings a dampness to my eye as I remember my "big black friend."

On some of his voyages father had a tame bear with him. This bear was a source of great annoyance to Isaiah, for Bruin would be constantly smelling around the caboose in which the stove and cooking apparatus were placed, and where Isaiah would fain reign supreme. One evening Isaiah was cooking pancakes, and was, while doing so, absent-minded—perhaps thinking of those old slavery days when he had undergone terrible hardships and great cruelty from his ignorant and selfish brothers, who claimed to own him," soul and body." Whatever it was, he forgot to watch his cakes sufficiently, for Mr. Bear was whipping them off the plate as fast as Isaiah was putting them on. Father and a fellow-passenger were looking on and enjoying the fun. By and by Isaiah was heard to say. "Guess he had enough for the gentlemans to begin with;" but, lo! to his wonderment when he went to take the cakes, they were gone; and in his surprise he looked around, but there was no one near but the bear, and he looked very innocent. So Isaiah seemed to conclude that he had not made any cakes, and accordingly went to work in earnest, but, at the same time, determined that there should be no mistake in the matter. Presently he caught the thief in the act of taking the cake from the plate, and then he went for the bear with the big spoon in his hand, with which he was dipping and beating the batter. The chase became exciting. Around the caboose, across the deck, up the rigging flew the bear. Isaiah was close after him, but finally found that the bear was too agile for him, for presently he came back, a wiser and, for the time, a more watchful man.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The book index page where you can get to the other chapters is at

Poetry and Stories
Donna has been posting up some family stories which give us life lessons.

You can read these stories in our Article Service and even add your own at

Book of Scottish Story
Thanks to John Henderson for sending this book into us.

This week he's sent in chapter 3 of "Basil Rolland" which starts...

Day was dawning as our travellers reached the camp of the Covenanters. They rested for some time to partake of victuals, which their journey rendered necessary. Isaac Rolland then judged it proper to present his son to Montrose, and accordingly conducted him to Dunottar, where the general then was.
They were admitted to his presence.

"I expected you sooner, Rolland," said Montrose. "What intelligence have you gathered?”

"The enemy are preparing to take the field with a numerous and well-appointed force, and I have gathered, from a sure source, that it is their intention to attack our forces as soon as some needful supplies are received from the north.”

"How do the citizens stand affected? "

"Almost to a man they have joined Aboyne. They have fortified the city and the bridge, and are determined to hold out to the last. "

"The ungrateful truce-breaking slaves!" said Montrose. . "But vengeance is at hand. Who is this young man whom thou. hast brought with thee?”

"My son," said Isaac, "whom grace hath inclined to take part with us.”

"A youth of gallant bearing ! Young man, thy father’s faithfulness is a warrant for thine. Let thy fidelity equal thy reputed spirit, and thou shalt not lack the encouragement due to thy deserts. You may both retire to rest, and I will apprise you of the duties required of you.”

They saluted the general, and retired.

A foraging party returned with a report that Aboyne was already on his march. This was found to be incorrect by some scouts who had been dispatched that evening to gather what information they could about the enemy’s motions. They brought the intelligence, however, that Aboyne’s equipments were completed, and that it was the popular belief that he would march immediately to meet the Covenanters. Preparations were accordingly made for immediate marching. Numerous foraging parties scoured the adjacent country for provisions, and horses for transporting the baggage and ammunition. According to the custom of the Congregation, when about to engage in warfare, the next day was appointed for a general fast throughout the host.

The rest of this chapter can be read at

All the other stories can be read at

The Bark Covered House
We have now completed this book with the following chapters...

Chapter 27. Thoughts in Connection with Father and Early Pioneer Life
Chapter 28. Father's New House and Its Situation—His Children Visit Him
Chapter 29. My Watch Lost and Visit to Canada
Chapter 30. Mother's Visit to the East—1861
Chapter 31. Leaving New York City for Home

Here is how Chapter 27 starts...

I FOLLOW father, in my mind, to his last farm which he bought in 1849, where he lived out his days. It was not cleared up, as he wished to have it, and he continued to labor as hard as ever before, trying to fix it up to suit him and to get it in the right shape for his comfort and convenience. The soil was as good as the place he left. He raised large crops on it. One day I went to father's and inquired for him. Mother said he was down in the field cutting corn. I went to him; he had a splendid field of corn and was cutting it up. The sweat was running off from him. I told him it was not necessary for him to work so hard and asked him to let me take his corn-cutter, as though I was going to cut corn. He handed it to me, then I said I am going to keep this corn-cutter: I want you to hear to me. Let us go to the house and get some one else, to cut the corn; so we went to the house together.

But it was impossible for me or anybody else to keep him from hard labor, although he had plenty. He had become so inured to hard work that it seemed he could not stop. He finally got all of his farm cleared that he wanted cleared. A few of the last years of his eventful life, he let some of his land to be worked on shares and kept his meadow land and pasture. He needed all of that, for he kept quite a stock of cattle, sheep and horses and took care of them himself, most of the time, up to his last sickness.

He was a great lover of good books; and spent much of his leisure time reading. He did not often refer to the hardships which he had endured in Michigan; but often spoke of the privations and endurance of others. Thus, in his latter days, not thinking of what he had done, he seemed to feast on the idea, that America had produced such and such ones, who had been benefactors and effectual workers for the good of our race.

Most of those men who came here in the prime of life, about the time that father came, are gone. The country shows what they have done, but few consider it properly. Some know what it was then and what it is now and know also, that it has arrived at the exalted position it now occupies through the iron will, clear brain and the steady unflinching nerve of others. Yet they pass on in their giddy whirl and the constant excitement of the nineteenth century, when wealth is piled at their doors, and hardly think of their silent benefactors.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read the other chapters at

Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Our thanks to Nola Crewe for sending these into us.

NEIL A. McGEACHY, a successful farmer and dairyman of Harwich township, residing on Lot 3, Concession 3, was born in that township on the same Concession, December 1st, 1844, a son of John and Flora (McNauten) McGeachy, old pioneers of the county. John McGeachy was born in Scotland in 1800, a son of Neil McGeachy, who died in Scotland.  Flora McNaughten was a daughter of John and Johanna McNaughten, who came to Harwich township from Scotland and settled on Lot 10 about 1838.  Neil McGeachy had three daughters, Margaret, who married Peter Longwell, and is now deceased; Catherine, who married Peter McKerrell, and settled in Chatham township; and Mary, who married Edward McTaggert, and settled in Virginia, where she died leaving two sons, of whom Edward McTaggert is now a resident of the State of Washington, and Archibald lives on the old homestead in Virginia.  

John McGeachy and his wife were reared and married in Scotland, and in 1840 came to Canada via New York on a sailing-vessel, the trip taking six weeks.  They settled in the dense forests of the County of Kent and suffered all the hardships incident to pioneer life, but by steadfast industry they brought peace and plenty out of the wilderness and became very prominent people in their locality.  John McGeachy died at his home in 1862, and his wife survived him until 1898.  Both were founders and consistent members of the St Andrew Presbyterian Church of Chatham.  Politically Mr. McGeachy was a Reformer, but he never aspired to municipal office.

You can read the bio at

The Sailor Whom England Feared
Being the Story of John Paul Jones, Scotch Naval Adventurer and Admiral in the American and Russian Fleets By M. Mac Dermot Crawford.

Added more chapters this week...

Chapter XV - 1778
Chapter XVI - 1778 - 1779
Chapter XVII - September 23, 1779
Chapter XVIII - 1779
Chapter XIX - 1779
Chapter XX - 1779
Chapter XXI - 1780 - 1783

Here is how Chapter XVIII starts...

A PLACID harvest moon shone unheeding on the havoc of war, its untempered, ghastly white light enhancing the awful scene of carnage; on decks drenched with valiant blood, on the threescore of peaceful dead, lying unshriven, their brief span ended. More than twice their number lay as they had fallen, writhing and groaning, or numb with the agony of mortal wounds, and the cockpit was a horrible pandemonium of suffering, to which the "good old surgeon, Lawrence Brook," unassisted as he was, could give but scant attention. Wreckage of every description cumbered the decks, confusion reigned supreme. Those who rushed to and fro at the orders of their captain stumbled over the bodies of their dead comrades, over the spent shot, over the weapons fallen from inert, lifeless hands, and the fragments of burst guns, slipping as they ran on gruesome fragments of what had been living men. It was a scene of "carnage, wreck and ruin, unimaginable unless seen."

Only a hundred or so of her unwounded crew remained to man the Bonhomme Richard, the other forty or thereabouts were with Mayrant aboard the prize. The poor Richard was indeed a wreck, she had sunk so that the shot-holes "'twixt wind and water" could not be plugged. The starboard side of the ship was driven in. Every gun on the starboard side was disabled. But for a few frames, futtocks and stanchions that still remained intact, the whole gun-deck would have fallen through."

"Such was the condition of the Richard, when sinking and on fire she was still the conqueror, and could by signal command the ship that had destroyed her! Nothing like this has ever been known in the annals of naval warfare."

The terrific battle had lasted nearly three hours without pause in its unremitting fury. So dense was the smoke hanging over the ship, that for some minutes after the Scraps had struck, both sides continued firing, and it was not till Mayrant on the Serapis called to Dick Dale, that the news spread over the ship. Then came a sudden calm, the rattle of combat stilled as if by magic, the ships drifted together on the moonlit water, and there was no sound save the groans of the wounded, or the hoarse commands of the officers. The mingled emotions in the hearts of commanders and crews can only be imagined in their complexity.

The Richard's rudder had been shot away early in the action, and had not Jones, with much foresight, had a second one rigged by the carpenters before leaving l'Orient, the ship would have lain like a log at the mercy of wind and tide when the lashings holding her to the Serapis were severed. Through the confusion of victory and defeat, the Captain led a party to make a complete survey of the Richard, which took until five o'clock the next day (September 24th), when the Richard was condemned as utterly unseaworthy, and her wounded and prisoners ordered to be transferred to the Serapis and other ships of the squadron without a moment's delay, for, in the event of wind and sea rising, there was no hope of keeping the Richard afloat.

Staggering with exhaustion, hardly seeing from their dazed, sleepless eyes, the tattered, powder- stained sailors and marines slaved at the call of humanity, for, should the sea become disturbed, the catastrophe would be too frightful to picture, and the brave old Richard was sinking fast. A crew from the Pallas manned the pumps, but the water gained steadily in the hold. There were only three boats left to move the "poor fellows, who had to be handled tenderly," and two died in the boats. The means of transport was painfully crude, the unprecedented situation one of extreme peril, which every moment increased. The crew of the Serapis behaved splendidly, tirelessly helping the enemy of the night before as the wounded and prisoners quite outnumbered the able-bodied crew of the Richard. At last the transfer was complete; and dusk fell, but still they worked. A shiver of rising wind made those who waited with the untiring Commodore urge him to leave his task of hastily gathering up the ship's papers. All the stores had to be abandoned, and scarcely any of the ammunition was saved. Jones's loss amounted to 50,000 livres, as he managed to save "only a few souvenirs from feminine friends in Paris, his journal, and a bag of linen." "Most of the officers lost everything." Thanks to his journal, Jones leaves us a word-picture of the last minutes of the ship he had fought so daringly.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters can be read at

Recollections of a Long Life 1829 - 1915
By Isaac Stephenson (1915)

This week we've added the following chapters...

Chapter XII
Scarcity of politicians in early lumbering settlements - The Congressional Globe - Early recollections of politics - Distributing ballots in Chicago in 1856 - Experiences as supervisor and justice of the peace - An Indian wedding - Campaign of 1860 - Beginning of the Civil War - Furnishing recruits - Assassination of Lincoln - Fear of Indian massacre

Chapter XIII
Business revival after panic and Civil War - Development of Menominee River region and creation of boom company - William B. Ogden and Samuel J. Tilden - I become manager of Peshtigo company - Erection of woodenware manufacturing plant - Establishment of barge lines for transporting lumber - Origin of signal for tows - Construction of Sturgeon Bay canal - Adoption of cedar for railroad ties

Chapter XIV
Difficulties at Peshtigo - Extension of the Northwestern railroad northward from Green Bay-Forest fires- The great fire of 1871 - Destruction of Peshtigo with loss of eleven hundred lives - Relief work - Antics of fire - Horrors of holocaust - Conflagration at Chicago - Distributing supplies and rebuilding of village - Resumption of lumbering - Difficulties of reconstruction

Chapter XV
Early experiences in politics - Election to the Assembly in 1863 - Revocation of the Oconto River grant - Candidacy for House of Representatives - Maneuvers of political leaders - Election to Congress - Campaign of 1884 in interest of Spooner - Re-election of Sawyer in 1886 - Withdrawal from political field - Efforts in behalf of Henry C. Payne - Election of Quarles to Senate

Chapter XVI
Experiences in Congress-Friendship with Democratic leaders - A conference with President Arthur Congressional economy - The Navy - Interest in river and harbor improvement - Possibilities of waterway development - Disappearance of business men from public life

Chapter XVII
Organization of the Half-breed faction in Wisconsin and election of La Follette as Governor - Railroad doniination of politics - Financing the La Follette campaign - Nomination and election of La Follette - Establishment of the Free Press as the Half-breed organ - Eastern corporations enter Wisconsin fight - La Follette's proposal that I run for Senate - Half-breed emissaries - Early reforms accomplished by legislature

Chapter XVIII
Half-breeds successful in 1902 and 1904 - Demoralization of Stalwarts - Rifts in the reform party and early defeats - Setback in Third Congressional district - Fight over election of successor to Senator Quarles -Half-breeds pick La Follette for Senate his apparent reluctance to leave Wisconsin - Lieutenant-Governor Davidson picked for slaughter - Another Half-breed defeat - Campaign for unexpired term of Senator Spooner - Discord among the reform leaders - My election to the Senate

Here is how Chapter XIV starts...

Up to the autumn of 1871 the huge outlay we had made at Peshtigo on the construction of factories and mills had brought us no return. The market for woodenware appeared to be glutted and in some instances we were forced to sell our product at a loss. Moreover, the expenses of handling, transporting, and storing, in spite of the reductions we had made by the use of barges, were still excessive.

To improve these conditions our efforts had been directed toward securing the extension of the Northwestern Railroad from the city, of Green Bay to the Menominee. Mr. Ogden, so long as he remained on the directorate, was unwilling to use his influence in furthering this plan for fear his motive might be misinterpreted as a desire to advance his own interests at Peshtigo. The burden, therefore, fell principally upon me, and I made a number of trips to New York, not to speak of many to Chicago, to confer with the railroad officials and lay the case before them.

Finally we succeeded, two years alter Mr. Ogden had retired from the directorate. In 1871 the railroad company began to extend its line northward, giving us the prospect of a much-needed outlet which would enable us to distribute our products directly throughout the West without the necessity of reshipment at Chicago. In other respects also the outlook brightened and we were confident that we had reached a point at which we could make a profit on our operations.

But in our efforts to better our position we unwittingly paved the way for disaster. The summer and autumn of 1871 were unusually dry and the forests and brush were reduced to tinder. To make conditions worse, the wind blew almost continuously for day after day from the south-west. When work on the railroad was begun fires were started to clear the right of way. The contractors carelessly allowed these to spread and they ran through the country with startling rapidity, feeding on the dry forests. In some instances even the marshes and bogs were burned to a depth of four feet.

For five weeks before October 8 we had fought small fires in the woods in the vicinity of Peshtigo and the air was so murky with smoke that people went about on the streets with red and watering eyes. On afternoon of Saturday, October 7, I drove from Marinette to the village of Peshligo and went down to the harbor where the steam sawmill was situated. On my return on the evening of the same day tongues of flame darting through the woods were visible from the roadway. These were the forerunners of the great disaster.

The sporadic fires seemed only to kindle the forest and bring it to the point of inflamability to be consumed later. On the night of Sunday, October 8, about nine o'clock, the flames, fanned by a high wind, leaped into a fury and sweeping in a northeasterly direction over a path twelve miles wide encompassed the village of Peshtigo, transformed it into a smoking waste and took toll of its people to the number of eleven hundred. Gathered into a tornado of fire they rushed on incredible rapidity, vaulted the river, and died out only when they reached the impassable barrier of water which confronted them on the shore of Green Bay, north of Menominee.

In the blackened wake every form of life was obliterated. In many instances tiny heaps of white ashes marked the places where men, women, and children had fallen; and where the forest had been, gaunt disfigured tree trunks stood like sentinels of death under the low-hanging pall of smoke.

In Peshtigo a number of people took refuge in the river and stood for an hour or more in the water, all but blinded and suffocated by the intense heat and smoke, while the fiery turmoil raged on all sides of them. But most of the population had been overtaken in their houses or on the streets by the sudden outburst and were numbered among the missing. Every house was gone and only twisted ruins marked the places where the factory, mills, the supply store, and other buildings had been. Even a mile of our railroad had been burned and the locomotive and cars were a tangled mass of iron. The loss was complete.

In Marinette we were struggling with another fire which broke out later and burned everything from the middle to the lower end of the city. The path of the flames which had devastated Peshtigo lay just to the north. Between the two we struggled all night in the blinding smoke and intense heat, not knowing how soon the seething fringes of fire would close in upon us. The air itself was livid and seemed to burst into sheets of flame, and the withering maelstrom spat fiery tongues that consumed whatever they touched. In some places they overleaped piles of dry brush which a spark would have ignited, yet burned the grass to within tell of them. The fire appeared to break out spontaneously in pockets or dart forward in tortuous flashes instead of progressing with uniform pace, which accounted for the strange contrasts it left in its ruined wake. None the less its path from Peshtigo to the bay was clearly marked and varied little in width for the entire distance.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

We now have several chapters up which can be read at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Robert Burns made haggis the National Dish of Scotland in 1786 when he published “Address To A Haggis”, a dish you either love or dislike. I fall in the former category – I love good haggis! I now want to introduce you to James Macsween who makes a living selling haggis and is known all over Scotland as “the king of haggis”. He and his sister Jo operate Macsween of Edinburgh, the business started by their grandfather, making them third-generation haggis makers. To hear James Macsween present the “Address To A Haggis” at a Burns Night Supper would be a royal treat. Unfortunately, you can’t buy his haggis here in the States (the “food police” will not allow you to do so), but when you are in Scotland, you can find it almost everywhere. If I told you it was good, that would not be good enough! The Macsween recipe is as well protected as that famous American icon, Coca-Cola.

In a New York Times article by Warren Hoge, he quotes Macsween as saying that “people have the wrong concept of what haggis is until they try it because all they’ve heard is that it is full of guts, it’s full of brains, they just pick up these tales. We have a phrase, ‘He who tastes knows’.”, And, I might add, when you think of haggis in Scotland, the name synonymous with it is Macsween of Edinburgh.

One regret I had on a recent trip to Scotland with my family was not finding time to meet with Mr. Macsween, even though we talked over the phone in Edinburgh and swapped a couple of emails. Certainly my loss. Next time I’m there, meeting with Macsween and having some haggis will be high on my list! His company’s website states “Macsween of Edinburgh is approached every year by people wishing to organize their own tributes. As guardians of Scotland's national dish, nothing gives us more pleasure than to share our ideas about arranging a Burns Supper. We want you all to enjoy the whole experience of fine poetry, fine humour, fine discourse and, of course, fine haggis.” I love that phrase - “guardians of Scotland’s national dish”! I have a pretty good idea that their father and grandfather would be very proud of the way these two haggis makers are taking care of their great family tradition.

Recently on this website I have had several prominent Scots discuss “What Burns Mean To Me”. Among them are Ken Simpson, Gerry Carruthurs, David Purdie, Billy Kay, Ross Roy, and singer Eddi Reader. It is an honor to have James Macsween share his thoughts with our readers as he did earlier on

You can read this article at

You can get to all the articles at

Oor Mither Tongue
An Anthology of Scots Vernacular Verse by Ninian Macwhannell (1938) and our thanks to John Henderson for sending this into us.

We have the poems up of...

A Hen's a Hen for a' That
Bruce and the Ettercap

In Oor Kailyard
Shakespeare and Dickens and Me
Cock o' the North

which you can read at

John's Scottish Sing-Along
Provided by John Henderson

This week we've added...

The Road To The Isles
Just A Kelty Clippie
The Slippy Stane

I would just note here that while the page should appear quite quickly the actual song might take a wee bit longer to load depending on its size and if you have a slow internect connection it will take a wee bit longer.

You can find these songs at

Songs of Lowland Scotland
From the times of James V, King of Scots, A book of c. 600 pages of songs published in Scotland in 1870, and arranged in episodic form by John Henderson.

We've added another 30 pages this week as a pdf file which you can get to at

"Curdies" a Glasgow Sketch Book
By Hugh S. Roberton

We now have up...

Chapter I - The He'rt o' a Lion
Chapter II - The Blantyre Bodie
Chapter III - Nancy Pretty
Chapter IV - The "Ayes" have it
Chapter V - The Fairy Queen
Chapter VI - His Master's Voice
Chapter VII - The Foggy Morning
Chapter VIII - A Sair Tranchle

These are all pdf files and I have to say I'm really enjoying these stories and getting a good chuckle at the same time :-)

You can read these at

The Black-Bearded Barbarian
The Life of George Leslie Mackay of Formosa by Marian Keith

The first chapter sets the scene...

Up in the stony pasture-field behind the barn the boys had been working all the long afternoon. Nearly all, that is, for, being boys, they had managed to mix a good deal of fun with their labor. But now they were tired of both work and play, and wondered audibly, many times over, why they were not yet called home to supper.

The work really belonged to the Mackay boys, but, like Tom Sawyer, they had made it so attractive that several volunteers had come to their aid. Their father was putting up a new stone house, near the old one down there behind the orchard, and the two youngest of the family had been put at the task of breaking the largest stones in the field.

It meant only to drag some underbrush and wood from the forest skirting the farm, pile them on the stones, set fire to them, and let the heat do the rest. It had been grand sport at first, they all voted, better than playing shinny, and almost as good as going fishing. In fact it was a kind of free picnic, where one could play at Indians all day long. But as the day wore on, the picnic idea had languished, and the stone-breaking grew more and more to resemble hard work.

The warm spring sunset had begun to color the western sky; the meadow-larks had gone to bed, and the stone-breakers were tired and ravenously hungry--as hungry as only wolves or country boys can be. The visitors suggested that they ought to be going home. "Hold on, Danny, just till this one breaks," said the older Mackay boy, as he set a burning stick to a new pile of brush.

"This'll be a dandy, and it's the last, too. They're sure to call us to supper before we've time to do another."

The new fire, roaring and snapping, sending up showers of sparks and filling the air with the sweet odor of burning cedar, proved too alluring to be left. The company squatted on the ground before it, hugging their knees and watching the blue column of smoke go straight up into the colored sky. It suggested a camp-fire in war times, and each boy began to tell what great and daring deeds he intended to perform when he became a man.

Jimmy, one of the visitors, who had been most enthusiastic over the picnic side of the day's work, announced that he was going to be a sailor. He would command a fleet on the high seas, so he would, and capture pirates, and grow fabulously wealthy on prize-money. Danny, who was also a guest, declared his purpose one day to lead a band of rough riders to the Western plains, where he would kill Indians, and escape fearful deaths by the narrowest hairbreadth.

"Mebbe I'm going to be Premier of Canada, some day," said one youngster, poking his bare toes as near as he dared to the flames.

There were hoots of derision. This was entirely too tame to be even considered as a career.

"And what are you going to be, G. L.?" inquired the biggest boy of the smallest.

The others looked at the little fellow and laughed. George Mackay was the youngest of the group, and was a small wiry youngster with a pair of flashing eyes lighting up his thin little face. He seemed far too small and insignificant to even think about a career. But for all the difference in their size and age the bigger boys treated little George with a good deal of respect. For, somehow, he never failed to do what he set out to do. He always won at races, he was never anywhere but at the head of his class, he was never known to be afraid of anything in field or forest or school ground, he was the hardest worker at home or at school, and by sheer pluck he managed to do everything that boys bigger and older and stronger could do.

So when Danny asked, "And what are you going to be, G. L.? "though the boys laughed at the small thin little body, they respected the daring spirit it held, and listened for his answer.

"He's goin' to be a giant, and go off with a show," cried one, and they all laughed again.

Little G. L. laughed too, but he did not say what he intended to do when he grew big. Down in his heart he held a far greater ambition than the others dreamed of. It was too great to be told--so great he scarcely knew what it was himself. So he only shook his small head and closed his lips tightly, and the rest forgot him and chattered on.

We have the first two chapters up which you can read at

Journey Planner for Scotland Using Public Transport
I just came across this site while browsing for something else and noted that they let you embed a search box into your own web site so thought this would be a useful service to offer under our "Services" section.

You can get to this at

The Tower of Craigietocher
You may remember that this is a Tower that is being built from scratch and the owner said he'd keep us up to date with developments. And so we got in some new pictures which you can see at

At the foot of the page you'll see a link to July 2009 pictures which are at

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


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