A is for April Fools



So given that I’m finished with uni for a few months, I needed a new project. Especially as I’m going to have weeks free from Girlguiding meetings and no time off from work during the Easter Holidays. So here it is the April A to Z challenge!

A is for April Fools

And there have been a lot of them today connected with the current independence ‘debate’ in Scotland (yes, I use those quotation marks deliberately – because the sad fact is the media articles today aren’t too far removed from the apparently serious ones).

Firstly, the concerns that the UN have about their blue berets in peacekeeping during reenactments of Braveheart at the Scottish/English border

Secondly the announcement that my American friends will no longer get confused crossing the road if we go independent, because we’ll be changing which side of the road we drive on…not to mention the names of our roads, and printing roadsigns in a Proclaimer font.

(I had a funny moment on facebook when my cousin thought that I hadn’t recognised that this particular article was an April Fool…and he felt he better tell me!)

And of course, we’ll need to get much bigger coins if Alex Salmond’s head is going to fit on them.

The Scots have been the butt of most media April Fools jokes today. And some poor guy in Edinburgh is still waiting on a tram because he has no euros…you know it must be an April Fool when he’s only waiting a month though. Some of us have been around for the last 7 years waiting on those things.



Travelling Tuesday Throwback – My worktown!


The summer of 2006 is one of the best summers I can remember. It was the summer I graduated university, I went on holiday 3 times, I got my first post-graduate job and the weather was AMAZING (except the first few days of the Imagine Festival). There was a 10 page spread the local paper that year when Aberdeen reached a record breaking temperature of 29.5°C (85°F). The only day we weren’t too thrilled was that Aberdonian graduation robes and the Mitchell Hall was not designed for such heat. ;)

Even though my first job was tough – in terms of getting used to work politics, rubbish pay and having the shock of being a city blossom used to inner-city youth work flung into community education in a rural area  – Kincardineshire was a beautiful place to work.

Last Friday, I had the chance to do something I never really had time to do when I worked there – take some pictures of the beautiful town I was based in. Every morning I would come off the A90 southbound and this would be my view as I drove down the slip road to Stonehaven. And of course, when I first began, the weather was like it is above because that summer had been so great – the weather was mild until about October that year and we had a fairly mild winter too.

One day, I’d like to go back and get pictures of all the little villages and towns that were in my ‘catchment area’. My favourite place was Johnshaven – a teeny fishing village with the most friendly community council and school. :) (Sorry to the other towns, but if you’d given me cake at your meetings and a free shopping bag and made me an official ‘friend’ of the local school, you might have been in better competition for being my fave village in Kincardineshire & Mearns!)

Here are some more Stonehaven pictures…

Church & graveyard near Cowie Stonehaven Stonehaven Harbour

A day I never thought would happen…

…today I realised something. That I actually agreed with David Cameron on something. Never, ever, ever can I remember a time when a Conservative’s opinion was also mine!


I remember the last referendum we had relating to indepedence. As a teenager, I got sucked into the Braveheart bullcrap that the Scottish National Party permeated. The ‘FREEDOM’. Those pesky English folks ruining our lives apparently.

I was too young to vote in that referendum, and we got devolution. I remember at the time thinking if I had the right to vote, I’d vote yes. What happened after devolution made me thankful that I didn’t have that chance. Funding for the arts, sports…all went with devolution really. My dance school shut down. My friend who was offered a place at one of the UK’s most prestigious ballet schools couldn’t get aid. A year before she would have done. We got a horrific, embarrassing, ridiculously priced parliament building. Oh, and half of our maternity units have been shut down only for an influx of Polish immigrant to help our birth rate go on a sudden increase.

And we had a big party in Edinburgh which a bunch of us teens got really drunk at.

Over the last few years, the SNPs have played a smart game to people. They’ve kept council tax the same rate when the councils have no money and schools have been forced to shut down or merge not because there were no pupils – but because they hadn’t the money to run them. After spending a lot of money making machine tolls on Forth Road Bridge – they then stripped it all away to make a ‘Toll Free Scotland’ (it cost £1 – basically 50p each way – to cross the Forth Road Bridge – a bridge that needs constant maintenance and replacing). And then they made prescriptions free (they were already free to those with chronic conditions that need lots of medication). Cue lots of wasted NHS money on prescriptions that people don’t bother picking up or using – because it’s no loss of money to them.

I predicted (quite rightly) that if Conservatives came into power at the last election, the SNP would get voted in because the Scottish would want to ‘rebel’ against having to be under Tory power that they didn’t vote for in the following year. Cue the SNP having vans playing music from Braveheart and yelling about freedom from the ‘oppression’ around council estates. Oh, and then planning a referendum the year of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (yes, that one depicted massively incorrectly by Hollywood) and the year Scotland are hosting the Commonwealth Games. The only time really that Team GB is divided in sports that don’t get watched all year round by the general public. Coincidence? Not at all.

Some of the girls in my Senior section unit realised they’ll be allowed to vote which they are a mixture of excited and freaked out about. Pretty much all of them want to vote ‘No’ but think that in the next 2 years their friends may be encouraged to think otherwise by the type of campaigning that will go on.

I think we need to have some of the following questions answered?

1. How will Scotland cope economically away from England?

2. How will things like passports and driving licenses work?

3. What about currency?

4. Will we be part of the EU? Will be allowed to have a say on that?

5. Why aren’t the Scottish people living ‘abroad’ not being allowed to vote? If we become independent this will affect them!

6. What are you going to do about having armed forces to defend our borders and our country? Not to mention the equivalent of organisations like MI5…?

7. What about our sports teams and athletes? Our artists? We don’t have the facilities here to develop them.

8. Will I now need a visa to visit countries?

9. Will our Queen still remain our Queen – since her mother pretty much grew up in Scotland and she has a few residences here?

10. What happens to all our national charities and companies? How are you going to help them?

…you know…and plenty other questions the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaigners don’t seem to be bothering to tackle properly!

Fittie in the Foam

So. Apparently we’re getting another stormy winter. You might remember the drama from ‘Hurricane Bawbag‘ last year. Well on Monday night the storms were raging across the UK once again. On Tuesday morning I had to drive my Mum to work at 7.30 a.m. and the streets were littered with branches and leaves that had blown down in the winds.

However, it wasn’t until later that morning I saw the effects in Aberdeen.

I’ve only been to one foam party in my life, and it was in Aberdeen, but it wasn’t quite like this one. Footdee (or Fittie as it’s known to us Doric speaking folk!) is a small fishing village near Aberdeen Harbour. In fact I know several people who used to live there and I visited Fittie fairly regularly for a while, as it was a 15-20 min walk from where I lived for 2 of my 6 years in Aberdeen. 70-101 mph winds caused some serious sea foam and a mixture of foam & sand ended up blowing over cars, windows, car parks, the beach, pathways in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

And on another note – that is the cutest wee dog bouncing around in the foam…


Have storms affected the area where you live?

Scotland kicks organ donor butt!

I saw a WONDERFUL piece of news yesterday that had been posted by Abby & Hope’s ‘Sign Up, Speak Up, Save Lives‘ campaign facebook page.

Scotland has now broken a record for the organ donor register, with 40% of our population having signed up to become organ donors.

Of course, there is still work to be done raising awareness of the need to register, dispelling the myths about organ donation and transplant and the need to speak to your families NOW about your wishes. Sadly there are a lot of people whose dying wish to having their organs donated is denied because their families refuse doctors to harvest their organs for transplant.

The last statistics I found was that in the UK, only 29% of our population are on the register despite the fact that 90% of our population say that they support organ donation. There is a massive gap there that needs to be narrowed between theory and action.

I don’t know if this is definitely true, but I also read that only 26 states in the USA offer the organ donation option when they are applying for their driving licenses. 8O

I know that a lot of my readers are now registered to be organ donors – and guys – THANK YOU! You totally rock for being willing to give life in your death.



Oh what a sleekit horrible beastie

Today is the birthday of Robert Burns (Rabbie Burns as we call him in Scotland). My friend posted this poem written in Scots – a parody of one of Rabbie’s most famous poems. It’s already had about 11 ‘likes’ on facebook by 9 a.m. from fellow Scots. Mainly because, well it’s true. Haggis, neeps and tatties do create a little bit of wind…! And us Scots seem rather fond of toilet humour. Oh dear. Anyway, Happy Burns Day!

Oh what a sleekit horrible beastie,
Lurks in yer bellie efter a feastie,
Just as ye sit doon among yer kin
There starts to stir an enormous wind.

The neeps and tatties and mushy peas
Start working like a gentle breeze
But soon the pudding wi’ the sauncie face
Will hae ye blawin’ a’ ower the place

Nae matter whit the hell ye dae
a’body’s gonnae hae tae pay
Even if ye try tae stifle
it’s like a bullet oot a rifle

Hawd yer bum ticht tae the chair
Tae try tae stop the leakin’ air
Shift yersel fae cheek tae cheek
Pray tae god it disnae reek

But a’ the efforts go asunder
Oot it comes like a clap o’ thunder
Ricochets arrond the room
Michty me! a sonic boom

God almighty it fairly reeks
A’ hope a’ huvnae shit ma breeks
Tae the bog a’ better scurry
Whit the hell, it’s no ma worry

A’body roon aboot me choakin’
One or two are nearly boakin’
I’ll feel better for a while
Cannae help but raise a smile

It wis him! I shout and glower
Alas too late, he’s just keeled ower
Ye dirty bugger! They shout and stare
I’m no tha’ welcome any mair

Where e’re ye go let yer wind gang free
Tha’ sounds jist the joab fir me
Whit a fuss at Rabbie’s party
Ower the sake o’ one wee farty.

24 days of Christmas: Ye never see daylicht on Ne’erday (by Fran)

Fran Brady was born in Dundee and is a graduate of St Andrews University. After a varied career in the voluntary sector, she turned from charity management to creative writing. In five years, she has written three novels, a book of short stories, a children’s book and recently – to her surprise – some poetry.  She has three daughters, a stepson, six grandchildren, lots of pals of all ages – and a dog. She lives with her husband in a village in West Lothian

A Fife Mining Community 1954

New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay, was the time for free-range “first-footing”, an unpredictable affair with every house set up for a full- scale party. It was a lottery as to which ones would end up with crowds big enough to do justice to the groaning tables of food and drink. There might be a great party, a horrible fight, a great deal of vomiting or just a gaggle of maudlin mutterers and snorers. Or you might have very few people and be left eating black bun and shortbread for weeks. You just never knew. But every house must be prepared. It was unthinkable disgrace not to be provisioned as if for an army.

New Year’s Day was quite different, having a formal structure. It did not begin until late afternoon, since no-one had gone to bed until dawn once Hogmanay had been finally declared over. Whilst the men snored on, the women and children would be up just in time to catch the winter sunset. Ye never see daylicht on Ne’erday was considered a fitting accolade to a good Hogmanay.

Once the mess from the night before had been cleaned up, it was time to start preparing Ne’erday Denner. This was when as many of your extended family as you could squeeze round your table would be invited to share in Steak Pie and Trifle – the menu was the same in every house and was washed down by copious amounts of that well-known beverage, the hair o’ the dog.

The first guests would be encouraged to burst in on the foul-breathed snoring of the man of the house, dragging him out of bed, declaring:

That must hae been a richt skinfu’ ye had last nicht!Get yersel’ a wash an’ shave, man, an’ get yersel’ through fur yer Ne’erday denner!

Mid-evening, the party would begin. No false modesty was allowed: songs, recitations, even short dramatic sketches made up the programme, repeated year in, year out with almost no variation.

Apart from the returning war heroes, who had proudly brought back their rousing, regimental choruses, few people were ever allowed to introduce new material.

As more and more of the younger generation left to seek their fortune across the Atlantic or Down Under, a new poignancy had been added to the old emigrant laments and there was never a dry eye in the house when everyone joined in “It’s oh! But I’m longin’ for my ain folk. . .

Some better-off families might book a few minutes on the telephone to faraway sons and daughters and everyone would crowd round and shout to be heard, marvelling at the time difference.

The party would once again last well into the next day. Men starting at six o’clock on the early shift would fortify themselves with plates of stovies or tripe and onions and head straight from the party to do a seven hour shift down the pit.

This is an excerpt from:

 Available as an e-book from www.booksanctuary.co.uk

or from www.amazon.co.uk in their Kindle Store.

Fran’s post is the first in a series of posts over the Christmas period. Please feel free to comment on the excerpt from Fran’s latest book (and let us know if you buy it and read the whole thing!), and haste ye back for more guest bloggers who will be sharing over the next 24 days. You can find all the posts so far by clicking here.

Hurricane Bawbag

Well, it’s been an exciting day. Yesterday our country got given a ‘Red Alert’ weather warning as a storm was headed our way. Some of you live in lands where tornados, hurricanes and cyclones are fairly common. Scotland is not one of those places.

All in all, I think we’ve done pretty well. Our country erred on the side of caution and a lot of local authorities decided to close schools or let kids go home early before the storm was due to hit so it would be less dangerous for them getting home from school. When you’ve got gusts of wind reaching 84 mph, that’s a good idea.

Especially hearing of a wall collapsing on an industrial estate, a roof coming off at a cinema, roofs of garages flying off, youtube videos of trampolines rolling down the street, Christmas lights collapsing onto pavements and roads….

In true Scottish humour, the stormy weather was nicknamed ‘Hurricane Bawbag’ (Bawbag is a Scots word for ‘ball-bag’ you can look it up in a medical dictionary and you’ll get the gist!) and became a number 1 worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Even t-shirts and hoodies were made in its honour, and pictures like the one above went viral on facebook and twitter.

If you’re wondering ‘why the flying panda?‘ – that’s a wee shout out to our newest Edinburgh residents, Sunshine (Yang Guang) & Sweetie (Tian Tian) who arrived from China at the weekend.

I’ve spent the day at home – I’ve got 3 weeks of annual leave to take before the end of the month anyway, cosied up in my new winter pyjamas. Except when I was running around my garden with my Mum rescuing flowerpots so they wouldn’t go flying around. We almost went flying ourselves in the process. :)

I expect tomorrow will be less exciting.

And I’ll also have little excuse to get down to the Post Office to buy stamps to send some Christmas cards!

The Dialect & Accent Meme

I caught this meme from Becca’s blog, and it was quite well-timed as was having this discussion earlier on twitter with some tweeple! Can you tell it’s the end of a long day?  And yes. It is still pretty chilly, but I’m in a vest top because the heating seems to be on full blast and the attic is like a sauna!

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught.
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Gone North…

I’m headed on the train to Dundee today, and then I’m driving up from there to a place called Alness to visit some of the folks involved with a pregnancy centre up there. I’ve actually never been so far North in Scotland before.

I do believe some public speaking may be involved in this trip, plus I’m staying overnight which means I’m relying on others for food which always makes me nervous.

It does mean I’ll be offline for a couple more days. I have neglected my blog this weekend, with Powerpoint and a night out with the ‘Rose Bucket Ladies’ – both were fantastic, and much better than I expected.

So. Question while I’m gone…when looking for a church to call ‘home’, what do you think are the most important factors in that decision?