Photographic Image: Moyan Brenn; Skye.
Shrouded in mist. Drenched with rain. Remote. Forbidding. Intoxicating. Even beautiful.
There are limitless ways to describe the myriad islands off the coast of Scotland, all more superlative than the last.
With 97 inhabited islands, no other country in the United Kingdom has so many offshore territories.
From Skye, to Islay, to the Orkney Islands and the Outer Hebrides, island life is an essential part of the modern Scottish identity.
With so many to choose from, compiling a definitive list of Scotland’s greatest islands would be nigh on impossible.
So we’re not even going to try. Instead, here is a celebration of 10 of these spectacular islands, from the famous, to the famously obscure.
See more of the Scottish Isles via 10 Spectacular, Remote Islands off the Coast of Scotland – Urban Ghosts
Mealista, or Mealasta in the Gaelic spelling, is a small township in the west of the Isle of Lewis that has been uninhabited since the Highland Clearances of 1838.
The road past Uig meanders on through the moorland with the great Atlantic Ocean on the right and passes the often deserted Mealista Beach, with its beautiful rocks and rock pools.
Having been featured in photos, ads, and films, the island fortesss known as Eilean Donan has spent centuries solidifying its position as the most iconic image of Scotland for natives and foreigners alike.
Built on an island a mile away from the Village of Dornie, the land was first occupied in 634 AD, home to the monastic cell of Bishop Donan.
During the 13th century Alexander II built the first incarnation of Eilean Donan to defend the surrounding mountains of Kintail and the Isle of Skye against the Viking hordes.
This original castle is said to have an immense curtained wall connecting seven towers and spanning the entire island.
Come 1719, a lesser-known Jacobite uprising partially destroyed the structure, and for the following 200 years it lay in near ruins. Finally in 1911, Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap arrived.
He bought the island and restored the castle, reopening it in 1932.
The first supper was held in memoriam at Burns Cottage by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death; it has been a regular occurrence ever since.
The first still extant Burns Club was founded in Greenock in 1801 by merchants who were born in Ayrshire, some of whom had known Burns.
They were held to celebrate the life and work of Legendary Scottish poet Robbie Burns
They held the first Burns supper on what they thought was his birthday, 29 January 1802, but in 1803, they discovered the Ayr parish records that noted his date of birth was actually 25 January 1759. Since then, suppers have been held on or about 25 January.
Photograph: Sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, suet, oatmeal and spices is better known as haggis and eaten on Burns Night in Scotland.
Burns suppers may be formal or informal. Both typically include haggis (a traditional Scottish dish celebrated by Burns in Address to a Haggis), Scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’s poetry.
Formal dinners are hosted by organisations such as Burns clubs, the Freemasons or St Andrews Societies; they occasionally end with dancing when ladies are present. Formal suppers follow a standard order.
The first Major book printed in Scotland was The Aberdeen Breviary for the principal use and custom of the most famous church of the Scots.
It is generally known as the Aberdeen Breviary.
The book was commissioned by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, and printed from 1509 to 1510 in Edinburgh at the press of the first printers in Scotland, Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar.
No complete copies of this work exist. The finest copy is preserved in Edinburgh University Library.
The National Library of Scotland holds two imperfect copies and a fragment from a third.
Aberdeen University Library and the British Library hold imperfect copies.
One copy remains in private hands.
Carlo Gatti is credited for introducing ice cream to the British as a street food.
Throughout the 1850s, he peddled his sweet treats from his brightly painted cart.
He and a few other ice cream vendors found such a ready market that they began bringing other Italians over to join them in the venture.
As the economy in Italy took a nosedive, the trickle of Italian emigrants rapidly became a flood. Some went to America, though a large number made their home in Scotland.
The established community of Italians began to bring friends and relatives in to work in the family industry. Padrones, or “benefactors”, would send agents back to Italy to recruit cheap labour for their enterprises – primarily the ice cream business.
Carlo Giuliani was one of the most successful and well-known of the padrones, and he is credited with laying the foundation for the ice cream industry in Scotland.
Many Italian immigrants arrived with little to nothing, and initially made a living by begging or as itinerant musicians playing the hurdy-gurdies on street corners.
The hurdy-gurdy men and the beggars realized that they could make more money selling ice cream, and the padrones were all too eager to give them a barrow and take a cut of the profits.
Every morning throughout the warm summer months, the Italians would work their hand-cranks to freeze the ice cream mix they had prepared the night before, and then they would set off on their rounds.
Throughout London, Manchester, Glasgow and other big cities, the ice cream vendors could be heard calling,
“Gelati, ecco un poco!” This cry quickly earned them the nickname “hokey pokey men”.
While they were making more money, the immigrants were still grossly underpaid and lodged in poor conditions. During the winter months, many had to go back to working as hurdy-gurdy men to earn enough to survive.
The Italians spoke little English at first, and many were subjected to mischief and abuse at the hands of local youth.
Necessity forced the immigrants to persevere, however, and many soon became very successful. In a short 50 years between 1870 and 1920, the ice cream vendors had graduated from rickety hand carts and shabby slum shops to rather luxurious establishments.
Ice cream cafes along Sauchiehall Street and in Glasgow’s city centre boasted leather-covered seats, glossy wooden booths and mirror-lined walls.
Carlo Giuliani himself was running three hugely successful cafes in Glasgow by 1890, and customers were pouring in by the thousands.
He often had five or more assistants working behind the bar serving out ice cream and drinks like ginger ale.
The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum.
Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.
It is often remarked that “Auld Lang Syne” is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. “Auld Lang Syne” literally translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.”
The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, “For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.
“The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to “run about the braes,/ And pou’d the gowans fine” (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and “paidl’d in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine” (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—”seas between us braid hae roar’d” (broad seas have roared between us).
Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and “tak a right guid-willie waught” (a good-will drink).
But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, and not Robert Burns, who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year’s tradition. Lombardo first heard “Auld Lang Syne” in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants.
When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born.
Source: New Year’s Traditions
There’s a persistent fact online that in Scotland, Irn-Bru sells better than Coca Cola, making it the only place on Earth where Coca Cola is outsold by a native soft drink.
Weirdly, that’s true, to a degree, sales are constantly shifting and both brands are virtually always one-upping each other in sales. Which makes Scotland a unique and chilly battleground.
The weird thing is, Irn-Bru advertises itself quite unlike any other product, for a start it openly states that it is Scotland’s “Other national drink” a cheeky nod to fact everyone in Scotland is blind drunk on whisky.
When a soft drink staring down Coca Freaking Cola only acknowledges whisky as its competition, you know they just don’t give a shit.
One of the brands more controversial adverts involved a bikini clad woman with a slogan underneath that simply stated “I never knew four-and-a-half inches could give so much pleasure“.
The ad was supposed to be advertising diet Irn-Bru, but unless you’re reading this with a head injury then it’s clear what the ad was referring to.
However, Irn-Bru’s big wigs steadfastly refused to admit that any sexual connotation whatsoever was implied by the advert, parleying all of the blame onto the filthy-minded public.
Yes, when asked with explaining why their ad contained sexual content, the higher-ups and Irn-Bru simply shrugged and said, “what sexual content”.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the kind of balls it takes to run a company that competes with Coca Cola every single day.
via Wikimedia Commons
The Border Collie originated in the border regions of Scotland around 350 years ago.
They were developed by local shepherd’s to help herd their livestock (sheep and cattle) in difficult terrain.
These dogs soon developed a reputation for their relentless desire to work and their calm and quiet approach to handling livestock. It was not long before the Border Collie started to spread throughout the rest of the United Kingdom and then the world.
In the mid 1800s the first Border Collies were imported to Australia to help manage the emerging sheep and cattle industry. Since then there has been a steady flow of these dogs coming into Australia, which continually adds to the gene pool of the original dogs.
In most cases the Border Collies that are brought in to the country are usually from Champion lines and have a positive effect on the breeding of our Australian dogs.
Since the start the Australian Border Collie has been developed through selective breeding, to suit the different climatic conditions across Australia. The main difference is the length of their coat.
In most cases the Australian Border Collies are smooth coated. This has helped the dogs cope with burrs and the scorching heat.
Today the Australian Border Collie is used in a variety of different situations. They are used on smaller sheep, cattle and dairy farms in high rainfall areas through to large scale sheep and cattle stations in the hot and dry heart of Australia.
Read on via Australian Working Border Collie.