06 October 2008

Celtophile Monday

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

Braemar Castle Makeover
Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire was a stronghold of the Earls of Mar and is regarded as the ancestral home of the Farquharson clan. But in 2006 it was about to be sold. A local community group persuaded the Farquharsons to lease the castle to them for 50 years and, with the help of lottery funding, have undertaken a major makeover of the castle. It reopened to the public at weekends in May this year, after being closed for three years. This week the castle and the volunteers who worked miracles on restoring the building had a visit from one of their near neighbours - Prince Charles who stays at Balmoral Castle from time to time. In the drawing room he was shown a copy of his late grandmother's signature from a visit she made on the same date in 1956. For more on Braemar Castle and its refurbishment, see Braemar Castle Web site

Credit Crunch Affecting Tourism
Wet weather and the credit crunch were being blamed for a 10% fall in the number of visitors this summer to the tourist attractions maintained by Historic Scotland, the government's agency responsible for historic monuments across the country. Between April and September, 1.9 million people visited the organisation's 360 attractions, 216,00 fewer than in the same period last year. Edinburgh Castle, the "jewel in the crown", saw a decline in numbers of 13% and other main attractions such as Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Melrose Abbey and Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries all saw a fall in visitor numbers.

Grocery Bags for Life
In an effort to cut down on the over 8,000 tonnes of plastic bags used in Scotland each year, a number of supermarkets have been issuing customers with free, reusable plastic bags which last for a considerable amount of time - and which the companies will replace "for life" if they are brought back and exchanged for a new one. These voluntary schemes are having an impact, but now all the major supermarkets have met with the Scottish government and have pledged to try to cut the number used by 50% by next spring.

Edinburgh's Oldest Resident
Annie Turnbull, Edinburgh's oldest resident, celebrated her 110th birthday last week. She only recently moved into a care home, having lived on her own in sheltered housing for many years. She was born in 1898, when Queen Victoria was on the throne and Edinburgh introduced its first motor buses - known in those days as the "Penny Stinkers". As a table-maid, she met many famous people, including Rudyard Kipling. She is thought to be Scotland's second-oldest woman and puts her longevity down to hard work - and a daily glass of sherry. At her 110th birthday celebration she was joined by her two daughters, three grandsons, one granddaughter, five great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters.

Strangest Tourists Questions
As the busy summer tourism season starts to quieten down, the VisitScotland staff at the information centre in Edinburgh have time to have a laugh at some of the strange questions they have been asked - and once again appear to have issued a press release with some of the gems. The perennial question "When does the One O'Clock Gun go off" still seems to crop up but others are more unusual, such as "What do they do with the Castle when the Festival is over?" and "Is the moon in New Zealand the same moon I see in Scotland?" There are also other comments about Edinburgh's castle (pictured here) which towers over the centre of the city (and the information centre). They do stretch the boundaries of IQ though, such as "Why didn't they build the Castle closer to the airport?" and "Isn't it convenient that they built the Castle so close to the train station!"

Dates in Scottish History:
* October 5 1785 - Balloon flight by Italian aeronaut Vincenzo Lunardi from Heriot's School, Edinburgh to Ceres in Fife.
* October 8 1774 - Rev Henry Duncan, founder of the first savings bank, born in the Manse at Lochrutton.
* October 9 1506 - King James IV ratified the Charter incorporating the Surgeons and Barbers.
* October 10 1802 - Writer and geologist Hugh Miller born on the Black Isle, Cromarty.
* October 11 1297 - Letter from Wallace and Moray to the mayors of Lubeck and Hamburg saying that "The Kingdom of Scotland has, by God's Grace, recovered by battle from the power of the English".
* October 11 2000 - Scotland's first First Minister Donald Dewar died suddenly after a fall on the steps of his official residence in Edinburgh.
* October 12 1866 - Ramsay MacDonald, first Labour Prime Minister of UK, born in Lossiemouth.
* October 13 1644 - Battle of Aberdeen, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, sacked the city.
* October 14 1318 - Edward Bruce, brother of Robert the Bruce, killed in a battle near Dundalk, Ireland.
* October 14 1969 - The 50 pence decimal coin was first issued, replacing the ten shilling note.
* October 15 1902 - Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel opened its doors for the first time.
* October 16 1430 - King James II born.
* October 17 1850 - James "Paraffin" Young obtained a patent for the extraction of paraffin from shale, starting the chemical industry in West Lothian.
* October 17 1995 - Bridge to the Isle of Skye opened.
* October 18 1958 - Denis Law became the youngest footballer to play for Scotland when he took part in the match against Cardiff when he was 18 years and 7 months old.

All the above are from the Rampant Scotland newsletter.

National Parks Ireland
The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland.

Cornwall in Focus
Over 500 pages of information about the spectacular coast of Cornwall! Click here.

Blog of the Week
Back of Beyond - A wee look at life and other funny things on the island of Lewis.

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