Monday, 19 November 2007

Scottish Music Lyrics - Ye Banks and Braes

Ye Banks and Braes

Ye banks and braes o' Bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant ye little birds,
And I sae weary, fu' o' care?
Ye'll break my heart, ye warbling birds,
That wanton through the flow'ry thorn,
Ye mind me o' departed joys,
Departed never to return.

Aft hae I rov'd by Bonnie Doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine:
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And fondly sae did I o' mine.
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Fu' sweet upon its thorny tree!
And my fause luver staw my rose,
But ah! he left the thorn wi' me.


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Wild Mountain Thyme

Wild Mountain Thyme

Oh, the summertime is coining
And the trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather,
Will ye go, lassie, go?

Chorus:
And we'll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme.
All around the blooming heather,
Will ye go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a tower
Near yon pure crystal fountain,
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain,
Will ye go, lassie, go?

Chorus

If my true love she were gone,
I would surely find another,
Where wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather,
Will ye go, lassie, go?

Chorus


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Westering Home

Westering Home

Chorus:
And it's westering home, and a song in the air,
Light in the eye, and it's goodbye to care.
Laughter o' love, and a welcoming there,
Isle of my heart, my own one.

Tell me o' lands o' the Orient gay,
Speak o' the riches and joys o' Cathay:
Eh, but it's grand to be wakin' ilk day
To find yourself nearer to Isla,

Chorus

Where are the folk like the folk o' the west?
Canty and couthy and kindly, the best;
There I would hie me, and there I would rest
At hame wi' my am folk in Isla.

Chorus


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Uist Tramping Song

Uist Tramping Song

Chorus:
Come along, come along,
Let us foot it out together,
Come along, come along,
Be it fair or stormy weather,
With the hills of home before us,
And the purple of the heather,
Let us sing in happy chorus,
Come along, come along.

O gaily sings the lark,
And the sky's all awake,
With the promise of the day
For the road we gladly take;
So it's heel and toe and forward,
Bidding farewell to the town,
For the welcome that awaits us
Ere the sun goes down.

Chorus

It's the call of sea and shore
It's the tang of bog and peat,
And the scent of brier and myrtle
That puts magic in our feet;
So it's on we go rejoicing,
Over bracken, over stile,
And it's soon we will be tramping
Out the last long mile.

Chorus


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Scottish Music Lyrics - The Road to the Isles

The Road to the Isles

A far croonin' is pullin' me away
As take I wi' my cromak to the road.
The far Coolins are puttin' love on me,
As step I wi' the sunlight for my load.

Chorus:
Sure, by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
And Lochaber I will go,
By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles;
If it's thinkin' in your inner heart
Braggart's in my step,
You've never smelt the tangle o' the Isles.
Oh, the far Coolins are puttin' love on me,
As step I wi' my cromak to the Isles.

It's by 'Sheil water the track is to the west,
By Aillort and by Morar to the sea,
The cool cresses I am thinkin' o' for pluck,
And bracken for a wink on Mother's knee.

It's the blue Islands are pullin' me away,
Their laughter puts the leap upon the lame,
The blue Islands from the Skerries to the Lews,
Wi' heather honey taste upon each name.


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Scottish Music Lyrics - The Road to Dundee

The Road to Dundee

Cauld winter was howlin' o'er moor and o'er mountain
And wild was the surge of the dark rolling sea,
When I met about daybreak a bonnie young lassie,
Wha asked me the road and the miles to Dundee.

Says I 'My young lassie, I canna' weel tell ye,
The road and the distance I canna' weel gie,
But if you'll permit me tae gang a wee bittie,
I'll show you the road and the miles to Dundee.'

At once she consented, and gave me her arm,
Ne'er a word I did speir wha the lassie might be:
She appeared like an angel in feature and form,
As she walked by my side on the road to Dundee.

At length wi' the Howe o' Strathmartine behind us,
And the spires o' the toon in full view we could see;
She said, 'Gentle sir, I can never forget ye
For showing me so far on the road to Dundee.

This ring and this purse take to prove I am grateful,
And some simple token I trust ye'11 gie me,
And in times to come I'll remember the laddie
That showed me the road and the miles to Dundee.'

I took the gowd pin from the scarf on my bosom,
And said, 'Keep ye this in remembrance o' me',
Then bravely I kissed the sweet lips o' the lassie
Ere I parted wi' her on the road to Dundee.

So here's to the lassie—I ne'er can forget her—
And ilka young laddie that's listening tae me;
And never be sweer to convoy a young lassie,
Though it's only to show her the road to Dundee.


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Skye Boat Song

Skye Boat Song

Chorus:
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing.
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar.
Thunderclaps rend the air,
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Chorus

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Chorus

Many's the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore could wield
When the night came silently lay
Dead on Culloden's field.

Chorus

Burned are our homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet, ere the sword cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again.

Chorus


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Scots Wha Hae

Scots Wha Hae

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots wham Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gorie bed,
Or to Victorie!
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's pow'r
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha, for Scotland's King and Law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa',
Let him on wi, me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or die!


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Scottish Music Lyrics - Scotland the Brave

Scotland the Brave

Hark when the night is falling
Hear! the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen.
There where the hills are sleeping,
Now feel the blood a-leaping.
High as the spirits of the old Highland men.

Chorus:

Towering in gallant fame,
Scotland my mountain hame,
High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
Land of my high endeavour.
Land of the shining river,
Land of my heart forever,
Scotland the brave.

High in the misty Highlands,
Out by the purple islands,
Brave are the hearts that beat
Beneath Scottish skies.
Wild are the winds to meet you,
Staunch are the friends that greet you,
Kind as the love that shines
From fair maidens' eyes.

Chorus

Far off in sunlit places,
Sad are the Scottish faces,
Yearning to feel the kiss
Of sweet Scottish rain.
Where tropic skies are beaming,
Love sets the heart a-dreaming,
Longing and dreaming for the homeland again.

Chorus


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Scottish Music Lyrics - My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

O my love is like a red red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O my love is like a melodic
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass.
So deep in love am I.
And I will love thee still, my dear.
Till a the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare-thee-weel, my only love!
And fare-thee-weel a while!
And I will come again, my love,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile.

Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile, my love,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile.
And I will come again, my love,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile.



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Scottish Music Lyrics - Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

Chorus:

O ye'll tak the high road and I'll tak' the low road
An' I'll be in Scotland afore ye:
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o Loch Lomond.

We'll meet where we parted in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond,
Where in purple hue the Hieland hills we view,
And the moon looks out frae the gloamin.

Chorus

O brave Charlie Stuart! dear to the true heart.
Wha could refuse thee protection
Like the weeping birch on the wild hillside,
How graceful he looked in dejection!

Chorus

The wild birdies sing and the wild flowers spring.
An' in sunshine the waters are sleepin;
But the broken heart it kens, nae second spring,
Tho' the waefu' may cease frae their greetin'!

Chorus

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Scottish Music Lyrics - Ae Fond Kiss

Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss and then we sever
Ae fareweel, alas for ever,
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted.
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy:
But to see her was to love her:
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted.
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee.
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

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Monday, 29 October 2007

Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry 5

Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry

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Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry 4

Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry

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Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry 3

Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry

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Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry 2


Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry

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Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry 1


Perthshire in Autumn - River Garry

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Tree 4

Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Trees

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Tree 3

Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Trees

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Tree 2

Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Trees

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Tree 1


Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View Trees

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View 2


Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View

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Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View 1


Perthshire in Autumn - Queens View

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Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Tummel 2

Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Tummel

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Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Tummel 1

Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Tummel

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Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally 5

Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally

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Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally 4


Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally

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Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally 3


Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally

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Perthshire in Autumn - Photo 3

Perthshire in Autumn - Loch Faskally

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Perthshire in Autumn - Photo 2

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Perthshire in Autumn - Photo 1

Perthshire in Autumn - Inchfield near Dunkeld

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Friday, 14 September 2007

Book - In Famed Breadalbane


This is a history of a district of the Grampian Mountains in western Perthshire, bordered by Lochaber and Atholl on the north and Strathearn and Menteith on the south. We long have been in pursuit of this elusive regional history, which begins with an account of the region in earliest times and proceeds through the coming of the Scots, the Celtic church, the coming of the Campbells, the establishment of the Campbells of Breadalbane, down into the 20th century. It is of particular relevance for the Campbell, MacNab, Buchanan, Cameron, Dewar, Drummond, MacDonald, MacDougall, MacEwen, MacFarlane, MacGregor, MacIntyre, Mackay, Mackenzie, MacNaughton, and Menzies families, as well as many others. A wealth of local history!

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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Take a Pride in Perthshire - Aberfeldy win 3rd place

Aberfeldy flower power. Thanks to a fantastic effort by the committee of Aberfeldy's Move2Improve, volunteers, local community and local businesses the town won third place in the large village category in this years Take a Pride in Perthshire competition.

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Saturday, 8 September 2007

Childrens Activities - Victoria Park - Aberfeldy


Victoria Park in Aberfeldy has a recently upgraded fantastic play area. It includes safety surfacing, earth mounding and natural play logs, boulders and planting, challenging rope climbs, various swings, slide and a silicon-glass shade sail (7mx7m) which will provide some much needed shelter in the park along with a wide range of seating. This new area adjoins the existing skate park.

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Book - Highland Reflections by Donald Fraser(Aberfeldy)


Donald Fraser’s book Highland Reflections is a fascinating insight into a lifetime spent in and around forestry. It is also an account of life in the Highlands, and offers a very personal reflection on the often radical changes seen and experienced by that society over recent generations.

Highland Reflections is the story of a Perthshire man brought up on a highland estate in the 1930’s, who spent the majority of his life working for the Forestry Commission based in a variety of locations in central and highland Scotland.

As well as being the story of a forester, the book charts Donald’s life and is populated by an array of lively characters encountered over his period of service and beyond. Highland Reflections also includes accounts of general and historical interest directly related to forestry life. It unfolds at a gentle, conversational pace and will reinforce the views held by many on the nature of rural life and its qualities.


Highland Reflections takes readers on a lifetime’s journey starting in Blair Atholl, and includes life in Fife, Inverness, Angus and Lochtayside. The story also takes in visits to Avoch in the Black Isle, Islay, and RAF national service in the 1950s England.

This is the diverse narrative of a career in and around forestry and it offers readers an often lighthearted insight into a highland man’s life spent in a very specialised industry.

Highland Reflections by Donald Fraser (Wm Culross & Son, Coupar Angus)ISBN 1 873891 80 6

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Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Loch Tay - Perthshire


A truly picturesque loch, Loch Tay is 15 miles in length with an average width of about 0.9 miles. The shores of Loch Tay were at one time the home to many small farming communities but these were largely destroyed in the times of the 'Highland Clearances'. Many remains of these small communities can still be seen on the lochsides and on the hills above the loch, and noteably in the remains of the old village of Lawers on the shore south of the modern Lawers village, and hillside shielings used by the farming communities during the summer.

Signs of earlier communities may also be observed in the shape of ancient stone circles, standing stones and carver 'ring and cup' markings on the rocks, noteably on the northern shores.

There were a number of Crannogs in the loch (dwellings on stilts or atrificial islands.) Remains of one of these may be seen near the old Killin Pier, and more spectacularly, one has been re-created and is open to the public at Acharn close to Kenmore(The Scottish Crannog Centre).

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St Mary's Chapel - Grandtully, Perthshire

This chapel served the small settlement of Pitcairn, which extended around the walls of the castle of Grandtully, and which was within the parish of Dull. It was probably built around 1533, when Alexander Stewart, who lived in the castle, provided endowments for a priest to serve here. It was enlarged and refitted in 1636 by Sir William Stewart, who was the Sheriff-Principal of Perth under Charles I. In 1883 it briefly became a parish church, but nine years later was abandonded for worship when a new church was built elsewhere, and for a while it was partly used as a byre and farm store.

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Scone Palace - Perthshire


Scone is a place that breathes history like nowhere else in Scotland. Today, in the 21st century, it is the home of the Earls of Mansfield, and a major attraction to visitors from all over the world. Fifteen hundred years ago, it was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and the centre of the ancient Celtic church. In the intervening centuries, it has been the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of Kings. Scone Palace has housed the Stone of Destiny and been immortalised in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Poised above the River Tay, the Palace overlooks the routes north to the Highlands and east through Strathmore to the coast. The Grampian mountains form a distant backdrop, and across the river stands the city of Perth. Two thousand years ago, the Romans camped here, at the very limit of their empire. They never defeated the warlike Picts, who later came to rule Scone, but the followers of St Columba had more success.

By the early 7th century, a group of early Christians, the Culdees or servants of God, had established themselves here. The early history of Scone as a centre of religion continued for many centuries. In 906, King Constantine proclaimed on the Hill of Credulity that the religious laws and customs of the Celtic or Culdee Church be established. Scone remained a College of the Culdee Church until 1114, when it was superceded by a monastery founded by Alexander I.

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Perthshire History - Dunfallandy Stone

At Dunfallandy, just south of Pitlochry, you will find the Dunfallandy Stone. This Pictish cross slab was probably carved around the 9th century. On the front is a cross divided into panels of interlaced ornament and flanked by angels and beasts. On the back, framed by two serpents, are seated figures to either side of a cross, a horseman, tools and five of the enigmatic Pictish symbols.

These stone slabs are the most enduring and distinctive legacy of the Picts. At a time when the rest of Britain used the Roman alphabet for memorials, the Picts preferred graphic symbols. The symbols were used and understood throughout Pictland: about 200 symbol stones have been found, some complete and others fragmentary. The earliest stones were rough slabs with the designs cut into the surface. Later the symbols were sculpted in relief on elaborate cross slabs.

The stones are difficult to date but seem to span the three centuries between about AD 550 and AD 850. Symbols were also carved on the walls of caves and on small objects including silver jewellery. It is impossible to know what some of these symbols meant to the Picts, for they have left no written records apart from a list of their kings. Many theories have been argued. The stones may have marked land boundaries or the graves of important people. The symbols may represent tribes or noble lineages and their messages record marriage alliances. Perhaps there is no single answer - the Picts may have set up stone monuments for as many reasons as does modern society.

The Picts were converted to Christianity during the late sixth and early seventh centuries, and thereafter the symbols were used on shaped cross-slabs as well as on rough stones. Usually one side was carved with the cross surrounded by clerics, angels and intricate patterns, while the other side might bear a medley of Pictish symbols, huntsmen and Biblical scenes: Pictish symbolism and Christian symbolism in harmony. Themes based on the Biblical stories of David were especially popular.

The use of Pictish symbols was abandoned in the ninth century under Scottish rule in central Scotland and as a result of Viking dominance in the north and west.

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Aberfeldy Bed and Breakfast


This comfortable, modern bungalow can be found in a peaceful location within minutes of the town centre of Aberfeldy, at the heart of Highland Perthshire, one of the most beautiful and scenic areas in Scotland.

A warm welcome is given to every guest by the host, Cathy Ross, ensuring a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. A large spacious lounge is available for all guests where you can watch TV or chat with the other guests. A large traditional Scottish breakfast is served at separate tables in the dining room or in the conservatory with picturesque views of the surrounding hills.

Aberfeldy is situated by the beautiful River Tay which flows from the picturesque Loch Tay. There is a fine selection of coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops and galleries along the main street which runs through the town.

From the town square you can walk the "Birks of Aberfeldy", originally known as the Den of Moness, made famous by the poem of the same name by Robert Burns. He wrote this poem while visiting Aberfeldy in 1787. The spot where he sat is now marked with a plaque. The Birks(birch trees) is now one of the most popular walks in Perthshire.

Aberfeldy is an excellent base for touring Highland Perthshire and the rest of Scotland as it is geographically placed almost in the very centre of the country which allows trips to Loch Ness, Glencoe, Oban, Edinburgh and the Trossachs to be undertaken in one day without the need for moving accommodation.

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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Birks of Aberfeldy


The Birks of Aberfeldy which is a steep sided, wooded glen and the Falls of Moness are among the most spectacular and accessible walks in Perthshire. The circular walk, also a nature trail, follows the path alongside the Moness Burn reaching the highest point where it crosses the bridge above the Falls of Moness. There are seats and viewpoints on the way. The map shows the car parks and footpaths. The main walk can be extended by taking the path through the "Lower Birks" into Aberfeldy town centre.

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Sunday, 10 June 2007

Scottish Interest Books - The Yellow on the Broom

The Yellow on the Broom: The Early Days of a Traveller Woman
By Betsy Whyte

Betsy Whyte was born into a family of travellers who roamed the Scottish countryside between the wars. The summers were the best times, out on the open road, while the winters were spent in houses, pining for the first sign of spring - the yellow on the broom. Betsy Whyte's vivid description of a childhood on the road amidst a misunderstood people is a rich evocation of a vanishing world.

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Scottish Interest Books - Bruar's Rest

Bruar's Rest - By Jess Smith

The story open in the Highlands as the twentieth century begins. The gypsy wife of wild drunkard Rory Stewart dies giving birth to their second son. Many years pass, and Rory and his sons are rootless travellers on the roads of Scotland. One night, during a winter storm, they
save another traveller family from freezing to death in a blizzard. Bruar Stewart and one of the girls he rescues, the hot-blooded and beautiful Megan, fall in love. But the First World War is declared, tearing their lives apart. Bruar is reported missing in action, an Megan sets off on a
long and perilous journey to find him...

An epic tale of love and loyalty by the author of the spellbinding autobiographical trilogy, Jessie's Journey.


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Scottish Interest Books - Tears for a Tinker

Tears for a Tinker - By Jess Smith

In the first two books of her autibiography, Jessie's Journey and Tales from the Tent, Jess Smith told the story of her wandering years on the road with the last of Scotland's travellers, hawkers and gypsies. This third volume in the trilogy is Jess's at-times painful farewell to the travelling lifestyle which she loved.

Settling down to 'scaldy' (non-traveller) existence - marriage, kids and domesticity in a small council house - was never going to be easy for her. But though there were some tears, laughter is never far away. We move from a story of the car with no floor to a medical emergency, from the tall tales of her husband Dave's duck-hunt to his seafaring experiences, and from a chilling seance to a startling experiment with peroxide hair-colouring. There are more memories of Jess's early years on the road with her family in the old, blue bus.
Through it all are scattered wondeful gems from Jess's treasury of traditional tales - what the Loch Ness Monster really is, the strange fate of Blind Harry, and the ominous appearances of shapeshifters and werewolves. Handing on the tales told to her as she grew up, Jess reminds us that though most travellers have gone from the roads, their approach to life, understanding of nature and precious cultural legacy lives on, no matter how times may change.

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Scottish Interest Books - Tales from the Tent

Tales from the Tent: Jessie's Journey Continues
By Jess Smith

In Tales from the Tent, Jess Smith - Scottish traveller, hawker, gypsy, 'gan-about' and storyteller - continues the unforgettable story of her life on the road. Unable to adjust to settled life working in a factory after leaving school, she finds herself drawn once again to the wild countryside of Scotland.
Having grown up on the road in an old blue bus with her parents and seven sisters, Jessie now joins her family in caravans, stopping to rest in campsites and lay-bys as they follow work around the country - berry-picking, hay-stacking, ragging, fortune-telling and hawking. Making the most of their freedom, Jessie and her family continue the traditional way of life that is disappearing before their eyes, wandering the roads and byways, sharing tales and living on the edge of 'acceptable' society.

Intertwined with the story of Jessie's loveable but infuriating family, incorrigible friends, first loves and first losses are her 'tales from the tent', a collection of folklore from the traveller's world. As Jessie travels through Scotland's silver-birch woods, along the salty shores of the west coast and over the border into England, she tells intriguing tales of romance, mythical beasts, dreams, ghostly apparitions and strange encounters.

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Scottish Interest Books - Jessie's Journey

Jessie's Journey: Autobiography of a Traveller Girl
By Jess Smith

Jessie's Journey, the first book in Jess Smith's autobiographical trilogy, is an unforgettable account of a way of life that has all but vanished. It is the story of Jessie, her seven sisters and their unconventional childhood roaming the country in an old blue Bedford bus. In this moving, honest and heart-warming memoir, Jess describes her life among an extraordinary people and their never-ending sruggle to survive as free travellers.

Jessie's parents lacked material wealth, but they clung to 'the richness that comes from freedom, a traveller's freedom'. Living as they did on the edge of "respectable" society, prejudice was never far away, but their world was brimming with laughter, love and adventure. Earning their living hay-stacking, beachcombing, ragging, midden-raking, berry-picking, fortune-telling and hawking, Jessie and her family travelled the length and breadth of Scotland and beyond.

Reflecting on the friendships, feuds, trials and tribulations of her boisterous family, Jess recalls a magical childhood, surrounded by the sea spray, birch woods and wild places of a Scotland few of us will ever know.

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Scottish Interest Books - Wherever the Saltire Flies

Wherever the Saltire Flies
From Luath Press Ltd

Considering the history of these organisations, their members and influence in their respective locations, they note the changing nature of Scottish culture as it flourishes amongst international diversity. Written as a series of specially conducted interviews with each chapter, a new location and new organisation "Wherever the Saltire Flies" investigates many and varied personalities.

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Scottish Interest Books - Land of Mountain and Flood


Land of Mountain and Flood: The Geology and Landforms of Scotland
By Alan McKirdy, John Gordon, Roger Crofts

The sheer diversity of Scotland's rocks and landforms are the physical reminders of a fascinating physical and chronological journey which shows that the land that makes up Scotland today has travelled the world from the Equator to the South Pole and back north again, and has not always even belonged to the same continental landmass. This book, published by Birlinn in association with Scottish Natural Heritage will help the reader to understand Scotland's place in the geological history of the planet.

Three eminent geologists introduce and trace the country's development, unravelling and explaining what is seen now in the landscape and why it came to be the way it is. They show readers exactly where they can find evidence of these natural changes in the country's landscape on the ground in different parts of Scotland. The Geology of Scotland is an essential book for anyone who is interested in the natural world around them and who wishes to develop a good knowledge about the original formation of their country. It is accessible and beautifully presented, contains a huge amount of detailed information told in clear, comprehensible language and is enhanced throughout with specially commissioned illustrations, diagrams and photographs.

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Scottish Interest Books


Women of the Highlands
By Katharine Stewart

THE HIGHLAND FREE PRESS, 16 March 2007
`the grande dame of mainland Highland literature'

Dundee Courier,23 March 2007
"But when 92-year-old Katharine Stewart decided to write her latest in a long line of books on Highland culture, she made a conscious effort to explore the contribution of WOMEN to Highland history, charting the development and preservation of the yarns, myths and songs that contributed to the development of Gaelic civilisation, and the impact women specifically have had on Highland history through the ages."

Scottish Review of Books,13 May 2007
`an uncomplicated look at history, the kind of take on historical continuity that reassures and comforts, rather than disturbs or unsettles.'

`her over-riding argument - that women of the Highlands contributed just as much to the culture of the region as well as to its survival as its menfolk did - is hard to refute.'

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The Hired Lad - By Ian Campbell Thomson


Ian Campbell Thomson relives his time as a young farmworker on a Stirlingshire farm after the Second World War.

It is a touching coming-of-age tale: we see the author make new friends and romances while finding his own way in a changing world. He describes the passing of age-old country ways, as technology begins to replace traditional farming methods.

The book is dedicated to Donald and Blossom, the magnificent pair of Clydesdale horses with which he ploughed, until the sad day when they were replaced by a smart Fordson tractor. Of those early times he writes: ` I often wondered how far I walked in a day behind the plough. My guess was somewhere between 12 and 15 miles...the words "the ploughman homeward wends his weary way" just about sums up the end of the day trudge back to the farm, with darkness closing in and the stable work to be done.'

Peopled with memorable characters including the hard-working `boss', and the wise Aunt Kit, this is a unique tribute, full of humour and nostalgia
to a disappearing culture.

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Queen Amang the Heather: The Life of Belle Stewart
By Sheila Stewart

Belle Stewart (nee MacGregor) was born in 1906 in a bow tent on the banks of the river Tay, into a travelling family of tinkers and pearlfishers. When she was seven months old, Belle's father died, and the family was no longer able to travel full-time. They settled in Blairgowrie, scraping a living picking fruit and potatoes. Growing up, Belle was surrounded by stories and songs that had been passed down over centuries through the generations of Scottish travellers. She continued learning, singing and writing songs as she travelled around Scotland and Ireland with her piper husband Alec Stewart, who she married in 1925. Perhaps her best known song, "The Berryfields o' Blair", spread amongst the travellers and was collected by Hamish Henderson in the 1950s. He managed to track down Belle as the writer of the song and so began to record the songs and stories of her family.

The 'Stewarts o' Blair', as they were known, became stars of the folk scene, performing in concerts all over Europe and the United States. Belle's performances were compelling. Dazzling audiences with her warmth and elegance, she was awarded a BEM by the queen for her contribution to folk music. She died in 1997. In "Queen of the Heather", Sheila Stewart tells the moving story of her mother's life and career. Interspersed with the Stewarts' songs and stories told in Perthshire cant, this biography is an insightful and personal tribute to one of Scotland's most renowned folk singers, as well as to the rich culture of the travelling people.

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Monday, 4 June 2007

Scottish Interest Books


Isolation Shepherd - by Iain R. Thomson

In August 1956, a young shepherd, his wife, two-year-old daughter and ten-day-old son sat huddled in a small boat on Loch Monar in Ross-shire as a storm raged around them. They were bound for a tiny, remote cottage at the western end of the loch which was to be their home for the next four years. "Isolation Shepherd" is the moving story of those years. More than simply a sensitive and richly detailed account of the shepherd's life through the season, Iain Thomson's book also vividly captures the splendour of one of Scotland's most awesome landscapes, and depicts the numerous incidents that shaped the family's life there before the area was flooded as part of a huge hydro-electric project.

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Tales and Travels of a School Inspector - by Wilson John

John Wilson was an Inspector of Schools during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. His career in education spanned 50 years, during which time he inspected many schools in the Highlands and Islands, including Jura, Islay, Orkney, Argyll, Heisker and Iona. First published in 1928, the personal account of his experiences is both compassionate and humorous, providing a valuable insight into the social and educational conditions in the Gaelic Highlands and Islands following the 1872 Education Act.

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Clap Hands for the Singing Molecatcher: Scenes from a Scottish Childhood - by Roderick Grant

Laughter, tragedy and dramatic incident thread their way through the life of a growing boy and the lives of the people he observes. Roderick Grant's book is not merely one of nostalgic recall. It is a richly evocative memoir of a time and place when horses still drew ploughs and children walked seven miles or more each day to reach their school; and where shepherd and gamekeeper, farmer and labourer, forester, railway worker, teacher, laird and minister, and their families, were all part of a community, close-knit in its isolation from the changing post-war world.

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The Pearl-fishers - by Robin Jenkins

When the beautiful pearl-fisher, Effie Williamson, arrives in a rural Scottish village, with her grandparents and siblings, the residents react in many different ways, from hospitable warmth to outright rejection, exacerbated when the religious, gentle Gavin Hamilton takes the family into his home, the Old Manse. A difficult love blossoms gradually between Effie and Gavin under the scrutiny of the watchful locals.

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The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-fishers in the Highlands of Scotland - by Timothy Neat

The Summer Walkers is the name the crofters of Scotland's north-west Highlands gave the Travelling People - the itinerant tinsmiths, horse-dealers, hawkers and pearl fishers who made their living 'on the road'. They are not gypsies, but are indigenous Gaelic-speaking Scots, who, to this day, remain heirs of a vital and ancient culture. The Summer Walkers documents an archetypal and vanishing way of life.

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The Union: England, Scotland and the Treaty of 1707 - by Michael Fry

The story of modern Britain began 300 years ago, with the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland in 1707. In this fresh and challenging look at the origins of the United Kingdom, the first full study for four decades, Michael Fry traces the fault-lines of the present time right back to the treaty drawn up between the ruling classes of Scotland and England three centuries ago. In many previous histories this has been interpreted as mere dictation by England, which Scotland accepted for the economic gains it was supposed to bring.

Fry rejects the idea that the economy was of overwhelming importance and shows how Scots were able to exploit English ignorance of and indifference to their country, as evident now as then, to steer the settlement in their own favour. That left the future of Scotland, England and Britain open, not closed. The full implications are only being worked out in our own time. While focusing on the few years which led up to the Union, Fry's reassessment casts its net wider than existing interpretations. He includes the political history of England as well as of Scotland, all set against the backdrop of war in Europe and the emergence of imperialism. He compares the fate of the Scots with that of other small nations.

By a close, comparative reading of the evidence he manages to reconstruct the human as well as the political story, in the voices of the people where they can still be discerned, in plots and conspiracies long lost from view, in reports from battlefields and in the impassioned debates of the Scots Parliament as the nation steeled itself for the loss of independence which, even so, it would not allow to become irrevocable.

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People of the Wild Cat Country: Tales from Badenoch and Strathspey - by Sandra Macpherson

Today we are as far away from the First World War as the Edwardians were from the Battle of Waterloo, but it casts a shadow over Scottish life that was never produced by the wars against Napoleon. The country and its people were changed forever by the events of 1914-1918. Once the workshop of the empire and an important source of manpower for the colonies, after the war, Scotland became something of an industrial and financial backwater. Emigration increased as morale slumped in the face of economic stagnation and decline. The country had paid a disproportionately high price in casualties, a result of the larger numbers of volunteers and the use of Scottish battalions as shock troops in the fighting on the Western Front and Gallipoli - young men whom the novelist Ian Hay called 'the vanished generation [who] left behind them something which neither time can efface nor posterity belittle.'

There was a sudden crisis of national self-confidence, leading one commentator to suggest in 1927 that 'the Scots are a dying race.' Royle examines related themes such as the overwhelming response to the call for volunteers and the subsequent high rate of fatalities, the performance of Scottish military formations in 1915 and 1916, the militarisation of the Scottish homeland, the resistance to war in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, the boom in the heavy industries and the strengthening of women's role in society following on from wartime employment.

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The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the Great War - by Trevor Royle

In "A Strange and Wild Place", Sandra MacPherson recorded her extraordinary life as a Highland chieftain's wife on Glentruim estate, weaving her own story with tales of infamous Macphersons of old. In her latest book, she broadens her horizons to include the whole of Badenoch and Strathspey, introducing a multitude of old and new tales from the area, as well as providing more personal recollections of her experiences there.

In addition to stories featuring members of her own MacPherson clan, she also includes tales of love, battle, adventure, intrigue, danger and dark secrets, as well as chilling accounts of witchcraft, the supernatural and the unexplained. Together, these stories paint a vivid picture of this very special corner of the Highlands - not only of its richly varied landscape made up of farmland, forest and stark, imposing mountains, but also of the people who have lived and loved there through the centuries, and of the changes over time that have inevitably affected and continue to mould their lives.

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Thursday, 24 May 2007

Mountain Biking in Scotland - Books


Mountain Bike Guide - Inverness and the Cairngorms
30 mountain bike routes of mixed variety from 15km low level for family parties to plus 50km over high ground for the fit. Easy to follow route descriptions plus maps.

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Bike Scotland Trails Guide: 40 Best Routes in Scotland

Now there is a guide that does Scottish cycling justice. Richard Moore and Andy McCandlish's beautifully produced book is part of the Pocket Mountains series, and combines insider knowledge of the landscape with McCandlish's excellent photographs. Moore's two-page descriptions of the trails are crisply turned but adrenalin-packed, giving readers not just practical information on the terrain they will encounter but also a deeper feel for the pace and flow of each of the 40 routes.

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101 Mountain Bike Routes in Scotland
Features detailed descriptions of mountain-bike routes from all over Scotland, chosen for variety, interest for all abilities and for scenery. Maps and photographs are accompanied by advice on the terrain and any special equipment required.

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