In the Spotlight: 214 – Scotland

Post 796

scotland-wonder-1scotland-wonder-2scotland-wonder-3It became a part of the Kingdom of Great Britain on May 1st, 1707. Where golf originated, in the 15th century. Birthplace of legend Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (‘Ignatius’ – tee, he, he), inventors James Watt and John Logie Baird, plus the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming. It’s also where Dolly the Sheep was cloned, in Edinburgh. The most common names include Jack, Oliver and James, for men, and Emily, Sophie and Olivia, for women. Where the first international football match was played, at The Hamilton Crescent in Partick, in 1872. An enthralling game, finishing 0-0. Home to The University of St Andrews, founded around 1413, making it the UK’s third oldest university. And the University of Edinburgh is home to Teviot Row House, the world’s oldest students’ union building, opening in 1889. The floral emblem of the country is the thistle, a weed. And its national animal is the unicorn, a heraldic symbol since the 12th century. Home of the shortest passenger flight in the world, from Loganair Westray to Papa Westray, taking just one minute, although the record is 53 seconds. And it’s the home of The Meikleour Beech Hedge, the tallest and longest hedge on Earth, 100 foot in height and 580 yards long. Seriously. Today, we’re visiting The Bonnie Isle, Scotland.

Scotland is one of the four constituent states of the United Kingdom, together forming the country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, located in the northern third of the island of Great Britain, bordered by England plus the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, made up of more than 790 islands. It is the second largest country in the UK at 30,918 square miles, with the second largest population with 5.73 million people. The name Scotland comes from Scoti, the Latin name of the Gaels. The motto of the country is, ‘In My Defens God Me Defend,’ which is Scots for… God only knows…

The Saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross is the famous flag of Scotland. According to legend, Saint Andrew, a Christian apostle, martyr and patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross at Patras in Achaea. It’s said that the flag originated in a ninth century battle when Óengus II led a combined force of Picts and Scots to victory over the Angle. It’s claimed a miraculous white Saltire appeared in the blue sky, rousing Óengus’ troops to victory. Thus the omen became the flag we know today, one of Scotland’s most recognisable symbols.

Scotland is world renowned for its dramatic vistas. Much of the terrain is hilly, with the interior and the Highlands highly mountainous. Along the south, east and northeast, you’ll find flatter land, fertile for agricultural use. The rugged coastline is peppered with cliffs, inlets, beaches and rocks. Rivers are also plentiful, with waterways such as the Clyde, Don, Ness and Tay prominent, as are the firths and lochs. Awe-inspiring and majestic, often ramshackle and faded, proud yet modest, old and new, eccentric yet charming, this is a beautiful land and one that is greatly admired.

This is a Celtic nation, one dripping in culture and history. Music is important here, but there’s more than the bagpipes waking up the quaint Scottish lands. The accordion, clàrsach, drums and fiddle are also popular, showcasing the traditional musical styles of this place. Arts and literature are also proud elements of Scottish heritage, with poetry a particular love, with poet Robert Burns a beloved national icon. Indeed, some of the greatest authors, scholars, scientists, thinkers and writers throughout history hail from Scotland. Burn’s Night and the Edinburgh Festival are only two of many festivities and celebrations the Scots adore, a joyful and lively people. Events often involving plenty of that world famous Scottish whisky. But food is also another love, with dishes such as fish and chips, haggis, cranachan, stovies and shortbread amongst the traditional foods of the nation. Football is also popular here, a vigorous and passionate love, although Scotland is known as the ‘home of golf’ due the sheer number of world class courses, with sites like the Old Course in the town of St. Andrews a site of pilgrimage for many golf fanatics. The Highland Games are also enjoyed with great gaiety, as well as curling and the stick game known as shinty. Populating this place are energetic cities, warm and welcoming places of great diversity, occupied by extremely friendly and hospitable people, one with a strong sense of humour, a truly memorable folk incredibly proud of the land they call home.

Scotland is a beautiful place, but choosing my favourite sight was an impossible task. My personal favourites include Knockvologan Beach on the Isle of Mull, a beautiful tapestry of green, whispering soulful tunes isangelous, the untamed and sensational scenery oozing an unearthly merriment. Then there’s Pàirc Nàiseanta a’ Mhonaidh Ruaidh or Cairngorns National Park, covering nearly 2,000 square miles, breathtaking artistry of the highest order. The elegant and courtly curves create a sweeping vista of soothing greatness and awesome heavenly charisma. Stunning and noble, brave and fearless, wonderful and bonére.

And then there’s the gorgeous Iona Abbey, a cornucopia of Scottishness, nestled with the utmost humility along the water’s edge, bold yet blending in effortlessly with its raw and unadulterated backdrop. Originally built in 563 and reconstructed in 1938, this alluring elysian grey masterpiece resides proudly where it stands, on the island of Iona.

But my favourite sight of Scotland is the majestic and bonny Temperate Palm House at the heart of the Royal Botanic House in the capital city, Edinburgh, built in 1858. This sweet and charming jewel exudes an illecebrous and ethereal beauty, an ageless wonder of supreme architectural merit and joy. A simple yet graceful gem, a love of beginningless delight. A love like the melody, that is sweetly played in tune.

Scotland. The home of culture, breathtaking beauty and a real tall hedge.

Ciao :)(:

Images (Click on Them to Enlarge)
1) Temperate Palm House

2) Iona Abbey

3) Pàirc Nàiseanta a’ Mhonaidh Ruaidh

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