25 April 2015

Scotland's Urban Allure
After much deliberation and brain strain, it's decided that a mini-trip to Scotland is going to be pure pleasure and not research stress (deadlines of open hours, running from NRS to NLS or SGS involving steep hills, having enough £1 coins, etc). Pleasure means immersion in fabulous Edinburgh where I'm fairly sure some of my yet unproven Dougalls trod. Canongate Kirk (not St. Cuthbert which I had had my eye on) saw a goodly number of them coming and going.

I anticipate visiting places I missed the time before. Possibly running across a favourite author like Ian Rankin (it's his birthday next week!) or Kate Atkinson whom, the interweebs tell me, live in a cosy cluster with Alexander McCall Smith and JK Rowling.

Rankin, in his The Beat Goes On:
As a subject, the city seems inexhaustible. This is, after all, a city of words.

As I walk through the streets of my adopted home, I can feel that Edinburgh is holding something back from me. After more than 15 Rebus novels, there are still so many things I don’t know about the place, so many secrets and mysteries lying just behind its fabric, stories waiting to be told.[1]

Smith, about his A Work of Beauty:
"I love this city, and always shall. I write about it. I dream about it. I walk its streets and see something new each day – traces of faded lettering on the stone, still legible, but just; some facade that I have walked past before and not noticed; an unregarded doorway with the names, in brass, of those who lived there sixty years ago, the bell-pulls sometimes still in place, as if one might summon long-departed residents from their slumbers.” Edinburgh is a city of stories – a place that has witnessed everything from great historical upheavals, to the individual lives of a remarkable cast of characters. Every spire, cobblestone, bridge, close and avenue has a tale to tell. [2]

A city of words. A city of stories.

Then what of Glasgow, the nation's largest, perhaps less glamourous but more vibrant city? Neglected on previous excursions, Glasgow will speak to me in its own words and stories thanks to a friendly guide.

Oh wait. Let's not forget I'm supposed to be a genealogist. With a historical/literary agenda, what could possibly go wrong?

[1] Encyclopaedia Britannica Blog ( : accessed 20 April 2015).
[2] A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh ( : accessed 20 April 2015).

05 April 2015

Fashion Statement

Time to get your kilt on again!

Tartan Day: April 6th.

It's an official day of observance in Canada (but not a national holiday), thanks to Nova Scotia's advocacy in the 1980s.
At the very least, get out that Maple Leaf tartan cap / scarf / shirt.
And please don't call it plaid that's a garment.

The 6th of April, 1320, was the date of the Declaration of Arbroath, affirming Scotland's sovereign independence and reinstating Robert Bruce as its king. The Declaration was in the form of a statement sent to Pope John XXII to refute England's power claims. The Pope agreed temporarily but we know how well that worked out the past seven hundred years.

Nevertheless, Scottish (Highland) identity is one of the strongest and most distinct cultures in the world. 
So ...
Find a parade.
Follow a pipe band.
Sip a whisky (rehearsing for Whisky Month in May).
Sing "Flower of Scotland."
And get your tartan on.

Just do it!