Happy New Year!

Friends, as we wind down the year, I just want to say a sincere thank you for your ongoing support of my wee blog.  You guys are truly awesome.  This ride wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you.  

Happy New Year and may 2019 be your best year yet!

 Cheers!

 

 

“Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer.” 
 

˜Scottish author, Walter Scott

When Christmas Was Banned In Scotland

Hello my friends!  I hope you are having an extraordinary day.

For today’s post, I would like to share with you about a time in Scotland’s history when Christmas was banned.  Yes, it really was!  And to mix things up a bit, I thought I’d have a little fun and try my hand at writing it as a poem.  Perhaps it will sound a bit familiar to you.  🙂  Enjoy.

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‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the land,

not a creature was stirring,

for Christmas was banned.

 

“Why?” you might ask,

when in Scotland of old,

the Yule was indeed

important we’re told.

 

You see, Yule – from the ‘Yuletide’-

was a festival of fun,

a time to laud the solstice

and the return of the sun.

 

Greenery was hung

as a symbol of life,

and the yule log burned warm,

merry, and bright.

 

In the year 1560, though,

something new happened.

The Reformation began –

spirits were dampened.

 

What used to be fun

was now frowned upon.

No more celebrations.

Beloved Yuletide was done.

 

From there it got worse,

more sadness and gloom.

And in 1640,

the Church lowered the boom.

 

Too pagan! Too Catholic!

Not biblical they said.

Go to work, eat your supper,

just be quiet instead.

 

Yuletide was banned,

the festivities finished.

If caught in celebration,

one would certainly be punished!

 

With no games, no gifts,

no more feasts to be had,

the people of Scotland

must have felt sad.

 

Thankfully, though,

cooler heads would prevail.

Nearly fifty years later

the act was repealed.

 

Three centuries more

was the notion suppressed,

though little by little

Christians welcomed the fest.

 

Old traditions and customs

that once had been barred,

were now part of Christmas,

reclaimed and restored.

 

Today Yuletide carols

are sung by a choir,

and Christmas trees sparkle

by the light of a star.

 

This Christmas as you

and your family delight,

I wish a happy Christmas to all

and to all a good night.

 

*Christmas became a public holiday in Scotland in 1958.

 

Enjoy your week, everyone and I’ll see you again soon!

Cheers,

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Bass Rock

Hello, my friends.  How are you guys today?  I’ve missed you.  I have been away on holiday with Mr. C and his parents, off the grid and making memories.  But I’m back now, ready to catch up on all the things you’ve been up to and eager to share some of the best moments from our trip.  For today, though, I’d like to show you a tiny island located in the outer part of Scotland’s Firth of Forth, where the river meets the North Sea.  This island is called Bass Rock and it is a beast of a thing!

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Rising to a height of more than 300 feet, the rocky island is a steep-sided volcanic plug that dates to the Carboniferous Age – arising a whopping 300+ million years ago.  At a distance, the surface of the rock can appear white, almost as if covered in a dusting of snow.  This is because of the presence of the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets.  In fact, in the peak of their nesting season, it is estimated that more than 150,000 of these sea birds call Bass Rock home!

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Halloween Turnip Carving Fun

Boo!  

Hey Friends!  Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of the old Irish/Scottish tradition of carving turnip lanterns to ward off evil spirits, today I thought it would be fun to tackle this twist on the pumpkin Jack O’ Lanterns that I grew up with as a child.  And since my sweet sister is here on holiday, what better way for two sisters to have a little Halloween giggle!

Here’s what you do.

Step 1:  Decide how you want your turnip to be oriented.  Which end would make the best top and bottom? Which sides do you want to make the front and back?  Are there any scars, warty, or hairy spots that could give character to your Jack O’ Lantern’s face?

Step 2:  With a sharp knife, cut a small amount off of the bottom of the turnip so that it creates a flat base.

Step 3:  Slice off the top of the turnip, leaving plenty of room to carve the face.  Save the lid.

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Don’t forget the festive snacks!

Step 4:  Use your knife to score around the inside edge to loosen up the meat of the turnip.

Step 5:  Use a spoon, melon baller, ice cream scooper, or any other implement to scoop out the inside of the turnip. You will find that this step requires a bit of effort, but the end result will be so worth it.

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Step 6:  Draw a face on your turnip with a pencil.

Step 7:  Use a small kitchen or crafter’s knife to carve out the face.

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Step 8:  Light a tea light and enjoy your special Halloween creation!

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Cheers!

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Parks and Rec Made Me Cry So I Booked a Trip to Scotland

Hey there, Friends!  Good to see you again.

In typical fashion, Mr. C and I were late to the game.  A few weeks ago on a lazy vacation day in Kentucky, we discovered the comedy series “Parks and Recreation” produced by and starring Amy Poehler.  Never mind that the show ended like three and a half years ago, but hey.  We’re not big television watchers and it takes a lot in a show to impress me and hold my attention, but boy when I find a show that does both, I’m ALL in.  Smart, witty, hilarious, and occasionally quite poignant and touching, I think “Parks and Rec” knocked it out of said park.

The show’s characters are an extremely eclectic bunch and I get such a kick out of them all!  But it’s Ron Swanson – that deadpan, highly private, masculine, meat-eating, whisky-loving, mustache of a man who I adore the most.

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Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman

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Kentucky or Scotland?

Hello Friends.  I hope this day finds you well.  It’s Friday!  Or as some say, FriYay (not me, of course).

Mr. C and I just spent a really fun week vacationing in Lexington, Kentucky in celebration of our 24th wedding anniversary.  Bourbon (whiskey with an ‘e’) is what drew us to explore the area as well as the fact that neither of us had ever before visited the state.  Lexington – if you are not aware – is known as the horse capital of the world and Kentucky is where bourbon began.

Over the week, we took in-depth tours of three of the most famous distilleries in the country (Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve), ate some delicious meals, drank (and purchased) a little a lot of phenomenal bourbon, and put a WHOLE lot of miles on the convertible driving down some of the prettiest country roads in America.

I knew Kentucky was going to be pretty but I think what took me most by surprise on this trip was the way that central Kentucky reminded me so much of Scotland!  The beautiful, rolling green hills called to mind scenic drives we took through East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.

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Cheers to One Year!

Hi everyone and welcome back!

I’ve had a short break and today I am back and celebrating my one year blogging anniversary!!

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To mark the occasion, I have given my site a makeover.  I hope you like it!

Boy, do I remember well taking those scary first steps into the world of WordPress a year ago when I published my first blog called, ‘Why Scotland?’  I experienced all sorts of fears and doubts that day! Can you relate?  I worried about whether or not I would get any views. I wondered if anyone would be remotely interested in what I had to say.  I questioned myself, “Do I have the sticktoitiveness to see this thing through?” I feared that people (especially those who know me personally) would think I was…well… weird. In the end, though, I decided none of that mattered.  It was enough for me that I was interested in my subject matter and I knew my sense of pride and accomplishment would mean more than what others may or may not think.  So, I took the leap.

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Why Scotland?

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Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

There are 196 countries in this great big world.  So, ‘why Scotland?’ you might ask.  Well, it all began with a thumbnail.  Not mine.  I’m talking about an itty bitty image that appeared on my computer screen the night I was searching for vacation rentals.  My husband and I had been exploring various destinations for a milestone wedding anniversary and for months we had tossed around all the usual suspects…Hawaii, Alaska, a cruise of some sort, the islands, etc.  Having never traveled anywhere more exciting than the white sandy beaches of the Florida Panhandle (ok, we DID go to Winnipeg a couple times but I’m not sure that counts), we weren’t sure where we should go.  But then one dark winter evening as I sat absent-mindedly perusing VRBO (my favorite place to go when we need a rental-seriously, if you haven’t used it, do), a tiny image of a lovely stone manor house-a tower house actually- caught my attention.  I clicked on that picture and was presented with an image of the Pilrig House in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Huh, I wasn’t even looking at listings for Scotland.  Strange.  My interest was certainly piqued so I took a closer look at it, wandered over to their beautiful web site, and as the woman said in When Harry Met Sally, “At that moment I knew.  I knew the way you know about a good melon.”  I sent my husband a text, told him where I knew we were going, and that was all she wrote!

Except that wasn’t all she wrote.  For I had no idea at the time what kind of impression Scotland was to make on me.  It was my first trip to Europe and maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe my soul just finally found its way home.  Either way, I fell head-over-heels for this beautiful country.  It’s fair to say that I am mildly-well maybe moderately obsessed.  And so that is where this blog comes in.  And you, my new readers!  You get to be a part of something that is very personal to me.  I look forward to growing this blog and sharing with you some of my best experiences, photos, travel tips, and favorite places and sites.  We’ll talk food and whisky (oh yeah!) and literature and music and history and anything else Scottish related that comes to mind.  I’m glad you’re here and if you love Scotland as much as I do, then Fàilte!

Cheers!

∼Wendy