Saturday, 31 December 2011

Wishful Drinking........

Feeling philosphical: I drink, therefore I dram!

A Happy Hogmanay to one and all!

What does Hogmanay actually mean and what is the derivation of the name? Why do we Scots more than any other nation celebrate the New Year with such a passion? Why should a tall dark stranger be a welcome first foot visitor after midnight, carrying a lump of coal and a slice of black bun?

There are many theories about the derivation of the word "Hogmanay". The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was "Hoggo-nott" while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) "hoog min dag" means "great love day". Hogmanay could also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning. But the most likely source seems to be the French. "Homme est né" or "Man is born" while in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was "aguillaneuf" while in Normandy presents given at that time were "hoguignetes". Take your pick!

In Scotland a similar practice to that in Normandy was recorded, rather disapprovingly, by the Church.
"It is ordinary among some Plebians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane."

Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693.

Hogmanay Traditional Celebrations
Torchlight Procession
Historians believe that we inherited the celebration from the Vikings who, coming from even further north than ourselves, paid even more attention to the passing of the shortest day. In Shetland, where the Viking influence was strongest, New Year is called Yules, from the Scandinavian word.

It may not be widely known but Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this has its roots in the Protestant Reformation when the Kirk portrayed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast and therefore had to be banned. Many Scots had to work over Christmas and their winter solstice holiday was therefore at New Year when family and friends gathered for a party and exchange presents, especially for the children, which came to be called hogmanay.

There are traditions before midnight such as cleaning the house on 31st December (including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common). There is also the superstition to clear all your debts before "the bells" at midnight.

Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns' 'For Auld Lang Syne'.  Burns claimed it was based on an earlier fragment and certainly the tune was in print over 80 years before he published his version in 1788.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne."

An integral part of the Hogmanay partying, which continues very much today, is to welcome friends and strangers, with warm hospitality and of course a kiss to wish everyone a Guid New Year. The underlying belief is to clear out the vestiges of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

"First footing" (that is, the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is still common in Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent (and available).

"Handselling" was the custom of gift giving on the first Monday of the New Year but this has died out.

Torch and Bonfire Ceremonies
Torchlight ProcessionThe magical Firework display and torchlight procession in Edinburgh - and throughout many cities in Scotland - is reminiscent of the ancient custom at Scottish Hogmanay pagan parties hundreds of years ago.

The traditional New Year ceremony of yesteryear would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill and tossing torches. Animal hide was also wrapped around sticks and ignited which produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective to ward off evil spirits.

The smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Some of these customs do continue, especially in the small, older communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where tradition, along with language and dialect are kept alive and well. On the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, the young boys form themselves into opposing bands, the leader of each wears a sheep skin, while a member carries a sack. The bands move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. On being invited inside, the leader walks clockwise around the fire, while everyone hits the skin with sticks. The boys would be given some bannocks - fruit buns - for their sack before moving on to the next house.

One of the most spectacular Fire ceremonies takes place in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on the North East coast. Giant fireballs, weighing up to 20 pounds are lit and swung around on five feet long metal poles, requiring 60 men to carry them as they march up and down the High Street. The origin of the pre-Christian custom is believed to be linked to the Winter Solstice of late December with the fireballs signifying the power of the sun, to purify the world by consuming evil spirits.

And it is worth remembering that January 2nd is a holiday in Scotland as well as the first day of the year - to give us all time to recover from a week of merry-making and celebration, all part of Scotland's fascinating cultural legacy of ancient customs and traditions surrounding the pagan festival of Hogmanay.

All the best for 2012

info from;

Think and drive - or else!


Scottish Wonderings

Think about it.......

Technically,  every true Scotsman was originally a Scotch egg..........

see you later.

listening to:

Friday, 30 December 2011

Unusual wonderings.

Blind people wear sunglasses.

I wonder why deaf people don't wear ear-muffs??????


see you later.

Listening to:


Shame about the colour though

Was Santa good to you? He was to me!

Amongst the lots of goodies I received was a hands-free headset like these. This cracking bit of kit allows me to do lots of things with the laptop while wandering around the house. I can use the voice recognition system to control the laptop operation, create letters, post blogs, listen to music and the BBC I-player etc from almost anywhere in the house. So, I can amble through to the kitchen and make myself a coffee without missing any of my favourite music. One of the downsides is that now I wear the headphones almost all the time and there have been times when my lovely G has been calling to me not realising that I have the headphones on and of course I haven't heard a word she said. Sorry – one of the best things about it is that now I wear headphones almost all the time, if my lovely G is looking for me to give me jobs to do etc, I can’t hear a word of what she's saying. Blooming marvellous!

One of the other useful features is that the headphones work even in the smallest room in the house. Yes guys – technological advancement now means I can go to the loo and be perfectly cocooned while occupied listening to my favourite stand-up comedy routines or youtube music at the same time. Add a book or newspaper and I can be gone for ages. 

Technology is all about making life better for us and as far as I'm concerned these little beauties are a major step forward. Even better, as an extra bonus, the even keep your ears warm. Must have been developed by a guy!

And now you'll have to excuse me. I've just picked up my newspaper and have an appointment to attend to in the smallest room. Don't wait around for me – I may be gone some time………….

Isn't technology wonderful!

See you later.

Listening to:

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Internet Wonderings

I wonder if you can order stuff from Amazon if you're actually IN the Amazon?

See you later.

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Christmas tale.

An Uncle, who was a baker, drowned at Christmastime. In a very unfortunate accident, he fell into the bowl of Christmas pudding mix. He would have been ok because he was a good swimmer but he didn’t realise that just under the surface there were some very strong currants..........

see you later.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Christmas Sunday Post

The silhouettes of leafless trees,
Are etched against the sky,
With branches spread like outstretched arms,
Forever reaching high.
The ebony of bark and bough,
Is bathed in pearly light,
As silver frost like tinseled thread,
Is glistening clear and bright.

It seemed as if a Winter sprite,
All dressed in frozen rime,
Has woven with an icy hand,
An intricate design.
By scattering his fairy dust,
On every naked tree,
Has clothed each branch and bough and twig,
In jeweled embroidery.

'Winter Sprite'
By Kathleen Gillum.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas folks..

Just a line to wish you all a peaceful, happy and {relatively} healthy time this Christmas. While I'm not overly religious this is a Christian celebration so here is a favourite version of a well known Christmas song. While the music is beautiful the video is well cheesy, so sorry about that.

I See Winter In The Wind..............

Chi mi'n geamhradh 'as a' ghaoith
Chaneil an sheachd' fada bhuainn
Sgothan dorch' 's na craobhan ruisgt
Tha an oidhche nochd fuar

I see Winter in the wind,
The snow is not far from us.
Dark clouds and the trees are losing leaf.
The night is cold.

Shaoilean fhein gur ann an de
Bha teas an t-samhraidh 'gar leaghadh
Fad an fheasgair air an Dun
'S tu laighe leisg ri mo thaobh

So often it feels like it was only yesterday,
The Summer heat melted us,
All evening long out on the dun,
And you lying lazy by my side.

S iomadh oidch' a rinn sinn suiridhe
'S iomadh oidhch' a rinn sinn gair
'S ionadh oidhch' a bhithinn a'smuaintinn
Gum bitheadh tu comhla ruim gu brath

Many nights we loved,
Many nights we laughed,
Many nights I thought,
That you would have stayed forever

Chan fhan a' ghrian chan fhan a' fad na bliadhna
Cha sheas an uair mar a tha i
Dh'fhalbh thusa gu'n a'cheo
'S dh'fhag thu mi le mo geamhradh

But the sun never shines all the year,
and time will not stay as it once was.
You left me for the city,
Leaving me to my winter.

'S iomadh oidch' a rinn sinn suiridhe
'S iomadh oidhch' a rinn sinn gair
'S ionadh oidhch' a bhithinn a'smuaintinn
Gum bitheadh tu comhla ruim gu brath

Gum bitheadh tu comhla ruim gu brath

Gum bitheadh tu comhla ruim gu brath

Many nights we loved,
Many nights we laughed,
Many nights I thought,
That you would have stayed forever

Photo - The Tree. By Alistair.

Listen to it here

Winter Wondering

I wonder what colour a Smurf goes if you leave him outside in the snow?

See you later.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Driving Home For Christmas.

I can't help thinking how much I love driving a newly serviced car as I turn out of the garage forecourt and onto the main road. The engine is silky smooth and purrs quietly as the accelerator is pressed and the car surges eagerly forward and picks up speed. The steering feels tighter too, altogether more satisfying, comfortable and more responsive to my hand on the wheel. This year, for the first time, I've invested in a full set of winter tyres – a direct result of my experiences in last year's horrific winter driving. The expense is something I could well do without so close to Christmas, especially the combination of tyres and service, but somehow that thought is far from my mind as I approach the first roundabout and appreciate the better grip on the cold roads surface. Confidence plays a large part in my enjoyment of winter driving, realistic confidence in my own abilities and confidence in whatever I am driving. The car feels in tiptop condition and that breeds confidence. I can't help but smile at the feeling. 

Stopped at the roundabout I wait for the traffic to pass by and my eyes are drawn to the scene across the road and fields in front of me where the slope of the escarpment overlooking Dunbar and the surrounding area rises steeply from the flat farmland. I follow the slope upwards in the late afternoon light, appreciating a beautiful but subtle green that’s somehow clear yet barely showing in the fading light. On the crest of the hill there is a line of evenly spaced, low trees silhouetted perfectly against the petrol blue sky that you sometimes get here in the earliest part of an encroaching winter evening. The sky is pristine in its clarity and my eyes continue to be drawn upwards through the imperceptible changes to the inky blue that shows at high altitude - this evening seemingly lit from behind. The view is breathtaking in its simplicity and heart stopping in its purity and it captures my attention for a long moment where thankfully no other cars come up behind me. To set the scene off there is one single star hanging an inch above the tree line. I look left to right across my view but there is nothing else in this perfect sky.

I smile again as I put the car into gear and move off, taking the first left and the road to the village. The scene I've been looking at moves to my right shoulder and I glance again thinking that it would be perfect on a card.

Somehow, it suddenly feels like Christmas.

 See you later.

Away in A Manger

The Reindeer Song

More from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre I'm afraid...........

and still more to come over the next few days.

Be Warned!

Pantomime Wonderings

I wonder what Captain Hook was called before that crocodile bit his hand off????

see you later.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Man Rules

We've always heard ” the rules ” from the female side.
Now here are the rules from the male {AKA the right} side

Please note.. they are all numbered 1 ON PURPOSE!

1.We are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.
   We need it up, you need it down.
   You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sport is like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
 Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Subtle hints don't work!
Strong hints don't work!
Obvious hints don't work!

Just say it simply, clearly and preferably more than once!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you’re fat, don’t ask. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, you'll get an answer you don’t want to hear.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. Either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during the adverts on TV.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. Men see in only 16 colours.
Peach is a fruit, not a colour. Pumpkin is also a fruit. I have no idea what colours mauve/russet or antique linen are. Indigo is a blogger pal.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” We will act like nothing’s wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine.. Really

1. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football, politics or current affairs.'

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but  that's ok -  It’s like camping.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Sunday Post

Sunset over the house

Don't matter if the road is long
Don't matter if it's steep
Don't matter if the moon is gone
And the darkness is complete
Don't matter if we lose our way
It's written that we'll meet
At least, that's what I heard you say
A thousand kisses deep

I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat
You see, I'm just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second hand physique
With all he is and all he was
A thousand kisses deep

Don't matter if you're rich and strong
Don't matter if you're weak
Don't matter if you write a song
The nightingales repeat
Don't matter if it's nine to five
Or timeless and unique
You ditch your life to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep

The ponies run
The girls are young
The odds are there to beat
You win a while, and then it's done
Your little winning streak
And summon now to deal with your invincible defeat
You live your life as if it's real
A thousand kisses deep

I hear their voices in the wine
That sometimes did me seek
The band is playing Auld Lang Syne
But the heart will not retreat
There's no forsaking what you love
No existential leap
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep

Leonard Cohen

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Sunday Post

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe,
I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.
Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, 'tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.
But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!
You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

The Old Astronomer to His Pupil
By Sarah Williams

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Sunday post

Jenny kiss'd me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss'd me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss'd me.

'Jenny Kissed Me.'
By Leigh Hunt.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...