Scotland’s Decision

Scotland, brave Caledonia, may see itself through a new lens on the 18th, as the Scottish Referendum drums up voters to the ballot. The decision is simple: yes or no.  Yes, Scotland should be it’s own country. No, Scotland should remain jointly with England. What lies in the hearts of the Scottish people are a different story and is yet to be seen.

Since the Wars of Scottish Independence and mighty Robert the Bruce, scores of ancestors, kith and kin to Scotland’s ancestry have appealed with bloody claymore and eloquent pen to achieve what may come to pass like a sigh under the decision of an ambivalent people. What Robert Burns could not achieve through wit or what Sir Walter Scott could not subdue with diplomacy, what neither the martyred William Wallace nor the exiled house of Stuarts could conquer-

March of the Guards Towards Scotland, Hogarth

March of the Guards Towards Scotland, Hogarth

the strength of the past has buckled under fate; rebellions quelled, leaders exiled, clans erased or fled from their highland roosts- the union all but swallowed Gaelic culture and the Scottish Clan system whole.

Perhaps Scotland’s decision on the 18th will be the catalyst for their cultural renaissance; that by breaking ties with the union they will shift and enter a new paradigm of a proud self-determination that their namesakes have fought and died for.

No, it is not ugly nationalism but an establishment of self and identity above agenda. It is a fresh beginning and a decision long past due.

My contribution to Scotland, regardless of the results on September 18th, 2014, is the digitalization of Andrew Lang’s, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, First Edition, 1900, by the Goupil Co., Manzi, Joyant & Co., Charles Scribner’s Sons. It is a limited, large format print, number 452 of 1500 copies made. It will be made available first as a PDF in the coming days and later, as an annotated book. The PDF will be free for all to view here, under, ‘library’ (or simply click this link). The text version is a work in a progress but will soon be ready by the end of the month.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart referred to as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, sailed to Scotland from France in 1740’s. Following in his father’s boots, James Francis Edward Stuart, he incited an open rebellion against Britain to reclaim the throne for the house of Stuarts.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Scanned Facisimile in Colour, Largilliere

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Scanned Facsimile in Colour, Largilliere

The young pretender, Prince Charlie, bonded the highland clansman to fight under his banner in a war of unfathomable odds. The culminating battle was pitched on Culloden’s Moore. Stuart’s forces were no match for the Duke of Cumberland and the might of the Empire. The prince fled and the Duke of Cumberland swept through Scotland and devastated the people and land as retribution.

Sporrans and Dirks

Sporrans and Dirks

If you’d like to see Facsimiles, Portraits, etc. directly scanned from the text by Andrew Lang, please click on any image above to be directed to Foreign Sojourn on Flickr. Thanks!

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In the Style of Robert Burns: Ode to a Scottish Writer

In the Style of Robert Burns:

She’s as gone as dust, brotherRobert Burns Style, Draft April 2014
If ye’ bother, man,
You’ll find her favor,
A’ changin’ wi’ another, brother-
She’s as gone as dust, man.
Try nae gither ashes,
Nor rake em’,
Try nae tell ya, man,
It’s all burnt up,
Not a page remains, brother-
Put air in yer’ hand and close it,
Don’t peak,
I’ll tell ya’, man,
It’s not there
You never had it brother-
Take it frae a jilted lover,
tae try for ‘nother, man.

Robert Burns Portrait

Robert Burns Portrait

Robert Burns was a famed Scottish writer and poet who lived during the mid till late 18th century. He was noted for catching the sympathies and feelings of the nation through his colloquial Scottish brogue and emotionally connected prose that struck a chord with his fellow kin. His poetry is considered romantic and ranged in themes from historical, pastoral and ballad like. Many pieces included mournful odes to women and squandered fortune- but a balladeer he was.  Here is an excerpt from a favorite ballad named, Whistle which is a summons of famous figures to a heroic drinking contest:
Unmatch’d at the bottle,
unconquer’d in war,
He drank his poor god-ship as deep as the sea…
Roberts life was one marked for misfortune and poor health but through his brilliance of mind his writing lives on.

Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor, thro’ life I’m doom’d to wander, O, Till down my weary bones I lay in everlasting slumber, O: No view nor care, but shun whate’er might breed me pain or sorrow, O; I live to-day as well’s I may, regardless of to-morrow, O.
My Father was a Farmer, Robert Burns

Read, Whistle and others @ Burns Country

Watch this great BBC documentary on Robert Burns:

In the Style of Robert Burns: Ode to a Scottish Writer

In the Style of Robert Burns:

She’s as gone as dust, brotherRobert Burns Style, Draft April 2014
If ye’ bother, man,
You’ll find her favor,
A’ changin’ wi’ another, brother-
She’s as gone as dust, man.
Try nae gither ashes,
Nor rake em’,
Try nae tell ya, man,
It’s all burnt up,
Not a page remains, brother-
Put air in yer’ hand and close it,
Don’t peak,
I’ll tell ya’, man,
It’s not there
You never had it brother-
Take it frae a jilted lover,
tae try for ‘nother, man.

Robert Burns Portrait

Robert Burns Portrait

Robert Burns was a famed Scottish writer and poet who lived during the mid till late 18th century. He was noted for catching the sympathies and feelings of the nation through his colloquial Scottish brogue and emotionally connected prose that struck a chord with his fellow kin. His poetry is considered romantic and ranged in themes from historical, pastoral and ballad like. Many pieces included mournful odes to women and squandered fortune- but a balladeer he was.  Here is an excerpt from a favorite ballad named, Whistle which is a summons of famous figures to a heroic drinking contest:
Unmatch’d at the bottle,
unconquer’d in war,
He drank his poor god-ship as deep as the sea…
Roberts life was one marked for misfortune and poor health but through his brilliance of mind his writing lives on.

Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor, thro’ life I’m doom’d to wander, O, Till down my weary bones I lay in everlasting slumber, O: No view nor care, but shun whate’er might breed me pain or sorrow, O; I live to-day as well’s I may, regardless of to-morrow, O.
My Father was a Farmer, Robert Burns

Read, Whistle and others @ Burns Country

Watch this great BBC documentary on Robert Burns:

Rain and Fog- A Haunting Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, the maritimes: A place of history and of wilderness

 

The Caledonian Backpackers Hostel, Edinburgh; Character and Value

Just a few pleasant blocks away from the Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station, going west on Princes Street, is The Caledonian Backpackers Hostel (Trip Advisor Reviews). With all the construction as of late (new tram lines) it is a bit confusing to manoeuvre around but with some tenacity you’ll be able to find the spot on Queensferry Street. When you step inside you are impressed with the color schemes, the funky designs, a grand set of stairs leading up to the action and the off-beat but friendly reception desk crew, ever ready to whisk you away. The facilities are impressive and a welcome relief to any beleaguered traveler; a self-catering kitchen with all the cooking equipment you’d expect and need, a movie lounge decked with bean bags and loafing hikers, a cheap laundry facility (at a pound for a wash or dry, it is rather unbeatable.) and The Swamp Bar, a full service groovy-styled bar that is built in the center of a multi flavor-radical common room. Seriously, I wouldn’t be able to express it better if I tried. In the common room there are heaps of comfy leather couches, stools and tables to enjoy a beer or a conversation at, board games to engage yourself and friends with, a reading and lending nook for the book worms, a pool table for the sharks and all manner of odds and ends to beat around with.

One of my favorite ammenities of the Caledonian is its Cucumber Room; the Cucumber Room is a wooden-floor, oval shaped room, flooded with bean bags and cushions. I reckon, the managment meant it to be a semi quite room, for example, if the music from the adjoining common is too loud, one can find a retreat here. The accoustics are great as well in the Cucumber and to test my theory, you’ll find a beat-up but decent classic guitar floating about. It is free for all to use.
(Here’s a few pictures of the funky art that lends to the chilled atmosphere.)

 

The Bads: The staff can be a bit off putting at times; helpful but largely indifferent and clingy to their groups. The trick with hostels is that everyone is coming and going, so experiences will vary. The showers are lukewarm at all times, which isn’t terrible as the pressure is alright. The dorms are very large- up to 32 people at the most and the beds are old, meaning you can feel the springs. The breakfast is basic, basic, basic! Toast, jam, vegemite (salty, Australian spread), coffee, tea etc.
My closing thoughts: You have to keep in mind that this is a hostel, though better than most, it will not be as accomodating as a Hilton!

Did I miss something? Questions comments or thoughts about the Caledonian backpackers? Please Share!

Events of Foreign Sojourn, Collage

Events of Foreign Sojourn, Collage

Dunbar, Scotland- A Gem!

I booked a pleasant 29 British Pound, “Sail and Rail” deal from the Belfast harbour, courtesy of the Stena Ferry group. I wanted to see the highlands and isles of Scotland but it just seemed an impossibility due to my time crunch- I went directly to Edinburgh in the southeast part of the country. Travelers, check for major events or regional holidays in the area you will be visiting as it will cause major inconveniences if you are caught unaware. I myself was blindsided.
Upon arrival, I walked and walked through Edinburghs gothic streets and hills, alleys, and paths to find neither vacancy nor accomodation; neither ramshackle nor Ritz could provide a bed. The entire city was slammed and booked due to a marathon being held in the city. It was also a bankers holiday which in itself, flooded the city with tourists. I was almost out of luck but realized I had in my pack, a room in itself- my tent that is. The day was growing into night and I made a decision to head out to the country for an evening among the wild heather in the East Lothian hills.

Among the wild Heather. Photo courtesy of Louise Phillips, Crime Novelist.

I was aboard the train and figured myself resigned to a night in the rough when two friendly ladies from the region invited me for drinks at their local pub, West Barns Inn. I agreed!
Well the night passed quickly with a game of darts, pool a few rounds of whisky Cokes and a few cans of the Scotish lager, Tennents. I was invited to spend an evening in a guest room at one of their homes in the small village of Innerwick. What a great coastal view!
The next morning she toured me around her village of Innerwick. Now, this is what I was after, a town with a population of more less 500, the open country, a view of the sea and a castle (also a power plant, but no bother- seriously, it adds more than detracts!) Authenticity! Here are some of photos of the region:

What I really wanted to draw attention to was this incredible monument tucked away on an obscure country road. First I want to say that, religion aside, to have this in a town says volumes about the community itself. I will write the engraving out:

A man of kindness,
To his beast is kind,
But brutal actions,
Show a brutal mind,
Remember!
He who made thee,
Made thee brute,
Who gave thee speech and reason,
Formed him mute,
He can’t complain,
But god’s all seing eye,
Beholds thy cruelty,
And hears his cry,
He was not designed thy servant,
Not thy drudge,
Remember his creator,
Is thy judge.

Myserious Monument near Dunbar

Just the other day, I mentioned a man by the name of Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. Part of the reason why I chose the town of Dunbar was because of his rendition of Robert Burns’ poem, Tibby Dunbar. I wanted to see if there was any correlation- there was none that I could find. But, please listen to the beauty of an Irish balladeers timbre of voice and the power of Burns’ romance. This is the taste of Scotland that he was perhaps imagining. 

Here is a video of the blue sky of summer and the blooming yellows of rape seed that seem to stretch on to the the quaint coastal town; the road, winding, leading right up to the legendary harbour that sports the remains of the Dunbar Castle: