17 December 2007

Scotophile Monday

Welcome back to Scotophile Monday! All sources credited. Enjoy!

First Minister's Christmas Card
Normally, there is not much media comment about the Christmas card being sent out by the Scottish First Minister. But with a new Scottish Nationalist government in power, the newspapers gave full coverage to Alex Salmond's choice of design. It has a traditional Christmas feel about it, with a full moon shining brightly over a snow covered Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots) and the adjacent St Michael's Church, all reflected in the loch in front of the palace. The card was designed by Scottish artist Jolomo - John Lowrie Morrison. The message inside reads: "Happy Christmas and a Guid New Year" from Alex and Moira Salmond and contains a verse from the Scottish song "The Four Marys" the story of Mary Queen of Scots' handmaidens and set inside Linlithgow Palace. The First Minister grew up in Linlithgow and the original painting for the card will be auctioned later and the proceeds donated to charity.

Unemployment Continues to Fall
Historically, unemployment levels in Scotland were always higher than in the rest of the UK. But these days the opposite is the case. Government statistics published this week show that in November, the Scottish unemployment rate stood at 4.6%, below the UK average of rate of 5.3%. The number of people in Scotland claiming the Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 700 in November to 71,700 - some 14,300 lower compared to the figures from November last year. On the UK Government's preferred measure, the International Labour Office method, the total unemployed for the three months to October was 123,000, down by 6,000 over the quarter and 14,000 over the year. The number of people in employment, at 2.549 million, was 2,000 up over the quarter to October and up 63,000 on the figure this time last year

Scots Love New York
The weak dollar and availability of more flights between Scotland and North America has meant that a record number of Scots have been flying to New York from Edinburgh and Glasgow. New York is now the number one long-haul destination from Scotland, with a total of 50,000 passengers going there in October and November, according to the airport operator BAA. The exchange rate of over $2 to the pound means that shoppers can combine a holiday with some bargain shopping. Price comparisons published in newspapers show that it is possible to buy some digital cameras £130 cheaper than in Scotland while iPhones were £76 cheaper and iPods cost £54 less. Passenger numbers could rise even further next year when Delta airlines launches daily Edinburgh-Newark flights next May, after scrapping its Edinburgh-Atlanta route in October.

Egg Farm Approved
Despite strenuous objections by a local action group, Scottish Borders Council's planning committee has approved the creation of the UK's largest poultry farm at Blythbank near West Linton. Glenrath Farms Ltd wants to build nine large, free range poultry houses, each housing 25,000 hens, producing eggs for supermarkets across the UK. Last year, the company was given the all clear by Scottish ministers to build one of the giant sheds, despite concerns by locals that this was just the "thin edge of the wedge". The scheme will now be referred to the Scottish Government for a final decision, due to environmental concerns.

Appeal for Black Watch Memorial Funds
A campaign was launched this week to restore and repair the Black Watch Memorial at The Mound in Edinburgh. The monument depicts a Highland soldier with rifle and bayonet and displays the names of members of the regiment who fell during the Boer War. It was commissioned by the Black Watch on a site donated by Bank of Scotland in 1906. In addition to dealing with decades of weathering, the plan is to replace missing features such as the soldier's bayonet. The cost of the renovation work is a modest £15,000 and Bank of Scotland is contributing £5,000 to give the project a flying start.

This Week in Scottish History
December 16 1653 - Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
December 17 1956 - Petrol rationing was imposed following the Suez crisis and the closure of the canal.
December 18 1661 - Many Scottish historical records were lost when the ship Elizabeth of Burntisland sank off the English coast. The records had been taken to London by Oliver Cromwell and were being returned to Edinburgh.
December 18 1780 - Society of Antiquaries founded.
December 19 1904 - The "Scotsman" newspaper moves to new offices at North Bridge in Edinburgh, remaining there until 1999.
December 20 1560 - First General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
December 21 1846 - Robert Liston, who was born in Linlithgow in 1794, performed the first operation in a British hospital using anaesthetic (ether).
December 21 1988 - Pan Am 747 blew up and crashed at Lockerbie, Dumfries, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 Lockerbie residents.
December 22 1715 - James Stuart, the Old Pretender, arrived at Peterhead. He stayed for only a few weeks.
December 22 1965 - Maximum speed limit of 70mph was imposed on all roads unless a lower limit was in place.
December 22 2000 - Pop mega-star Madonna married movie-producer Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle, putting Dornoch into the media spotlight.

All of the above are from the Rampant Scotland.com newsletter.

Scottish Web Sites of the Week
Scots Language Center Lab
Celtic Counties Magazine

Blog of the Week
Fetlar School Blog

About the Isle of Fetlar: "Known as the 'garden of Shetland', the island lies to the north-west of Shetland. The island has rolling hills and is carpeted with wild flowers in the summer months and an abundance of birdlife. The 19th C Clearances removed most of the islands population, but the few remaining islanders can often trace their ancestors back for half a millennium."

Ancient Secrets Emerge from Grave
The bones of six bishops buried more than 600 years ago have been identified using new hi-tech methods. The medieval bishops, who died between 1200-1360, were discovered during an excavation at Whithorn Priory in Galloway between 1957-67. Read more

Central Scotland's Forests
BBC Scotland political reporter John Knox goes down to the woods to see how the Central Scotland Forest is growing. Read more

The Canoe Boys
In 1934 two young lads kayaked from Glasgow to Skye. Their boats were made from teak and canvas, not carbon and Kevlar. They didn't wear dry suits, but paddled in vests and kilts, pulling on canvas jackets when it rained. Their safety equipment for each was a car inner tube. They'd sit inside the partially inflated rubber ring, so if a boat capsized or broke up on rocks, they ought to be able to float away. Fortunately they didn't put that theory into practice. Read more

Whisky aficionados have long insisted that a dash of water is vital to enhance the taste of a single malt. But millions of gallons of seawater, caused by global warming, could wipe out some of the most famous names in the industry, scientists have told Scotland on Sunday. Coastal distilleries producing a range of internationally famous brands such as Bowmore, Laphroaig, Talisker and Glenmorangie are at risk from storms and encroaching waves. http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/latestnews/Dramageddon--Too-much-water.3594818.jp

Jacobite Rebels May Yet Seal Victory
Scots are no longer to be crushed as rebels. The government is considering rewriting the national anthem on the grounds that the historical third verse, which refers to the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, is not "inclusive". The words, which refer to Scots as seditious, rebellious characters who should be crushed by British forces with the assistance of God Almighty was described as "not actually that inclusive" by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general. He is leading a citizenship review, ordered by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown - a Scot, though not a seditious one. Read more

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