The end of COVID in Scotland?

No, unfortunatley definitely not! We were due to end all restrictions on the 27th of March, but the Scottish government has extended the recommended use of face coverings on public transport and on indoor publice areas, such as supermarkets.

COVID levels are stable, but the number of people requiring hospital treatment is low. Most likely this is due to the fact that more than 90% of the population have had a least two vaccinations, and most have also had a booster.

It feels that things are back to normal, apart from the sight of people wearing masks and it’s looking encouraging for this tourist season. One advanatage is that many historic venues have introduced ticket booking. Edinburhg Castle, for example. pre-pandemic would let anyone in who turned up and bought a tickets. This led to long delays at the ticket desks and overcrowding in the castle itself.

The last battle on mainland British soil.

Leannach Cottage on the battlefield, a later rebuild of a cottage which was on the battlefiled and served as a field hostpital.
Culloden memorial
Culloden moor, the site of the battle

We are so fortunate to be living on an island! The last battle in Britain was Culloden, 1746. Not a battle between the Scots and English as is commonly believed, but betweent the government and rebels supporting the exiled King James, the ‘Jacobites’.

Inverness

Last weekend I was in Inverness, 140 miles north of here, providing training for students on the current Scottish Tourist Guides Association Blue Badge course of new tourist guides. The course last for 18 months. A fuszzy night time photo of the bridge in the center of Inverness illuminated in the Ukrainian colours.

On the shore.

The rocks here are sedimentary sandstone and volcanic. The layer of sediment have been forced upwards by continental collision as you can see in the first photo. The sand came from erosion of the nearby mountains, formed around 450 million years ago. At that time there was no vegitation and huge erosion from lightening and flash floods which created the sand. The second photo is of conglomerate, stones which have been washed into the sand during floods. You can clearly see the individual stones.

The Pencil.

Knicknamed the ‘pencil’ this is the monument to the battle of Largs. The location is arbitary as we don’t kmow where the battle, if it was one, took place. It is a half scale replica of the tower at Brechin Cathedral, dating from around 1100.

Whatever the case may be regarding the battle, King Haakon of Norway went back to his northern base at Orkney, died shortly thereafter and  and three years later Norway ceded the Scottish islands to the Scots king Alexander the 3rd.

Every Scottish child knows that the Vikings were unsuccessful because while attepting a surprise night attack one Viking cried out in pain when he stepped on a thistle, alerting the Scots. Which is why the thistle is the national symbol os Scotland…

Largs, 1263 and today!

 

Lovely sunny weather here in Scotland. Having a day off last week we made the 40 minuter journey to the seaside town of Largs. Largs is most famous for the battle of Largs in 1263. At that time the Scottish islands belonged to the king of Norway, and 1263 was the last showdown between Scotland and Norway. Historians disagree about the significance of the battle.  A late colleauge of mine was taught history at Glasgow Univeristy and when they came to the battle of Largs the lecutrer, shouting out ‘the battle of Largs was a mere skirmish!’ flung the chalk duster at the wall with maximum force. A rarely used but highly effective teaching method!

Ukrainian flag flies in Paisley

The Ukrainian flag flies in my home town of Paisley, taking the place of the EU flag which has been removed post Brexit. Behind it fly the flags of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Scottish saltire represents the cross of Saint Andrew, coincindentally the patron saint of both Russia and the Ukraine. The colours of the Ukrainian flag represent wheat fields and the blue sky.

Andrew and his younger brother Peter were the first two disciples of Jesus Christ. They were fishermem on the Sea of Gallilee. Jesus said to the ‘come with me and I will make you fishers of men’.

Andrew never visited Scotland, though a few of his bones did make the journey by means that are not altogether clear.

One legend is that a monk was told in a dream to to take a few bones from the relics of Saint Andrew in Constantinole to the ends of earth. Another version is that he was to take them to wherever he would be shipwrecked. That turned out to be what is now the city of St.Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. Or, it could be that an English bishop brought them to St.Andrews. We don’t go for that one so much.

Andrew’s brother, Peter, was said to have been Bishop of Rome in the first century A.D. It is said that both elected to be crucified on crosses other that the one on which Christ was crucified, Andrew’s being the x-shaped cross we see in the flag.