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Monday, 30 November 2015

Happy St Andrew's Day from Scottish Miscellany!

Seeing as how it's St Andrew's Day - hello to all my Scottish fans - I thought it worth reminding you that I wrote a book about all things Scottish, once upon a time.

And do you know what's really good about this book? My Scottish Miscellany is now in a new edition - and yes, you did read that right, it does say that I'm the best-selling author of Skyhorse Publishing's Christmas Miscellany. Speaking of which, it's 1st December tomorrow...

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Happy Saint Andrew's Day!

Ever wondered why Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland? Or why the thistle is the floral emblem of Scotland? How Scotch whisky is made, or why the Scots celebrate Hogmanay?

If so, then you need my Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - Halfway there!

The YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter is now passed the halfway mark (in terms of the time it has to run), has already raised over £9,000 and is well on the way to being two thirds funded.

If you've been thinking about backing but haven't committed yet, then watch the pitch video below and then click this link to pledge.

And if you're still not convinced after watching that, then watch this!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Only one month to go...

... until Christmas Day!

Which means it won't be long before I dust off The Chrismologist's advent calendar, ready for another year.

So, come 1 December, make sure you check out for a new fascinating festive fact every day...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Call the Chrismologist

It's getting to be that time of year again. In only five weeks' time people all over the world will be making their final preparations for Christmas. For some, those preparations include producing items of media, whether they be radio shows, TV programmes, or newspaper articles.

So, if you're wondering what to include this year, why not Call the Chrismologist? I am very happy to appear on radio or TV and have been interviewed for numerous pieces for the press before. Ask me your Christmas questions or simply consult my Christmas book What is Myrrh Anyway? to gather some ideas.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Scottish Island is a 5,000 year time capsule

Archaeologists have published the results of an intensive survey of a remote Scottish island and revealed a millennia old pattern of settlement and life.

Click here to read more about this story.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

25 January - Burns Night

On 25 January, Scots all over the world gather together to honour the short, yet prolific, career of their national poet, Robert Burns, because 25 January is his birthday. Also known as the Ploughman Poet (because amongst other jobs he held, he had once worked as a ploughman) Burns was, and still is, Scotland’s favourite poet. This is mainly due to the fact that he wrote in the same way that Scottish people spoke. He came from a humble background, but his natural talent was to make him a national hero.

Burns’ poetry was inspired by the stories his mother’s old maid told him when he was a child. Indeed, the poet is quoted as saying, ‘She had the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, kelpies, elf-candles, wraiths, giants, enchanted towers, dragons and other nonsense. From this grew the seeds of my poetry.’

Burns’ Suppers, which form the focus of Burns’ Night celebrations, can be either casual affairs or something much more formal. However, whatever they’re nature, the basic format varies very little. On arriving guests should be offered a drink (usually whisky) and once they are all seated at table, the chairman makes his welcome. This is followed by the Selkirk Grace and then the banquet begins.

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Burns’ Supper Menu

Cock-a-Leekie Soup
Cullen Skink

Haggis, Neeps and Champit Tatties

Sherry Trifle

After the first course has been cleared away, the haggis will be piped in – the chef carrying it to the table, accompanied by a piper playing a stirring Scottish tune – and the chairman, or another esteemed guest, will give the Address to the Haggis. Reciting the words of Burns’ poem with gusto, the speaker plunges a knife into the haggis at the words:

‘An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch.’

The address over, the guests toast the haggis, and the health of the poet, with a wee dram of whisky, naturally. When the meal is finished, the chairman (or esteemed guest) makes the first speech – The Immortal Memory – which pays tribute to the life and work of Robert Burns. This is followed by the Toast to the Lasses and is a light-hearted tribute to all the ladies present that should be humorous, but never unkind. An elected female member of the party then gives The Lasses Response. The formalities over, the rest of the night is spent enjoying the songs and poems of Burns, as performed by the guests themselves.

And if you're celebrating Burns' Night tonight, have a good one!