Tag Archives: Scotland

The Crest of A Scottish Clan, A Peel of Bells, Lord Peter Winsey and The Art of Cation Writting.

Walking in the Cambridgeshire fens along the Ouse Washes between The Bedford Rivers is always a comfort to a weary soul and evocative of The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L Sayers especially when the washes are in full flood.

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With camera in hand it is always tempting to capture the wide open space, the large sky, reflections in the flood plain or Fortrey’s pumping station standing on Engine Bank against a cloudy sky.

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There are endless possibilities in the detail of the landscape like the bee seeking substance from the thistle on the bank of the hundred foot drain. The problem arises when trying to find a caption appropriate for the composition.

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Now as mentioned this is the land where Lord Peter Wimsey applies his analytic mind to discovering the location of the Wilbraham emeralds and the murderer of the butler Deacon but try as I may I can find no correlation to the thistle and the bee but if we take a leaf out of Lord Peter’s book and apply some meticulous reasoning, like the landscape itself there are endless possibilities.

Shakespeare’s Midsommer Nights Dream could be applied where Bottom states

Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your

weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped

humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good

mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret

yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,

good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;

I would be loath to have you overflown with a

honey-bag, signior. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?

or we could turn to the poet Ted Hughes for The Thistle

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men

Thistles spike the summer air

And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Not to mention Sylvia Plath for the bee or perhaps Emily Dickinson

and her poem entitled There is a Flower that Bees Prefer

There is a flower that Bees prefer —

And Butterflies — desire —

To gain the Purple Democrat

The Humming Bird — aspire —

And Whatsoever Insect pass —

A Honey bear away

Proportioned to his several dearth

And her — capacity —

Her face be rounder than the Moon

And ruddier than the Gown

Or Orchis in the Pasture —

Or Rhododendron — worn —

We could even use a quote or two from A A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh due to his love of honey and his friend Eeyore’s passion for thistles.

If we were looking for a more modern example then A Single Thistle by Raymond A. Foss could be appropriate but as he reminds us, if we need reminding that the thistle is the flower of Scotland

therefore it has to be the motto and the crest of The Clan Fergusson as this uses both the bee and the thistle and also appeals to my Scottish roots.

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Title: dulcius ex asperis

Caption: A Bee on a Thistle

The crest of The Clan Fergusson

Their Motto: dulcius ex asperis (sweeter after difficulties).

Found living on The Ouse Washes, The Fens, Mepal, Cambridgeshire


Independence Day, Robert Burns, Iron Bru and A Scot as Long as I Breathe.

I confess that I have been watching with interest the manoeuvres for an independent Scottish Nation.

I am intrigued that it is being reported that it is the Scottish people who will be given the vote, that is to say that if you live in Scotland you can partake in the most important decision that has been placed before the Scottish Nation in 300 years.

As a Scot living and breathing English air, for more than 25 years I still feel as patriotic today as the day I left so there is one half of me that cannot understand why the vote is not open to all who were born in Scotland.

The other half knows It would throw up the dilemma which way would you vote in the circumstances, do you adopt a political approach, take a romantic stance or as a displaced enthusiast for Scott, Burns and Iron Bru with no current commitment to return to my place of birth perhaps would it not be a difficult to impossible discussion?

Perhaps it is a blessing that Dear Mr Salmond will not be seeking my opinion and I can take comfort no matter what the outcome that there will always be Scot’s Novels, Burns poems, haggis and single malt not to mention that they are building a factory to produce Iron Bru in this part of the British Isles that they call England.

But most importantly of all it will not change the reality that as long as I live and breathe, I will always be a Scot.

A Scots Emblem in a English Setting Mepal Cambridgeshire


 

Soutra Aisle

Soutra Aisle is situated halfway between Edinburgh and the Abbeys of the Scottish Borders, it is all that remains of a Hospital, Monastery and Church which was founded in 1164 and was run by Augustinian Monks.

Soutra Aisle, The Borders Scotland

The Hospital was known as the House of the Holy Trinity and is believed to have been the largest hospital in medieval Scotland. The founders intention was that it was a hospital for the poor as well as travellers and pilgrims visiting the shrines of The Scottish Borders.

The remote location reflects medieval society’s suspicion and fear of sickness, but its locality to one of the few major routes in southern Scotland at that time shows that it was an essential institution for the support of the sick.

Soutra Aisle, The Borders Scotland

The church was built at the top of a hill where there were often fierce winds and frequent cold spells.

The winds still below today but these are now harnessed by a 26 turbine wind farm on Dun Law.

Soutra Aisle, The Borders Scotland

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Edwin Muir. Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire.

Born in Orkney in 1887.

Socialist, Critic, Contributor to The New Age Magazine, Translator, one of Scotland’s best poets and perhaps a counter balance to Hugh MacDiarmid vision of Scotland and poetic language?

Laid to rest in Swaffham Prior churchyard Cambridgeshire along with his beloved wife Willa Anderson who was an author in her own right.

Edwin Muir's Cottage Swaffham Prior

In 1919 he married Willa Anderson and said not long after that “my marriage was the most fortunate event in my life”. They collaborated on English translations of such writers as Franz Kafka, Gerhart Hauptmann, Sholem Asch, Heinrich Mann, and Hermann Broch.

Ewin Muir' Last Resting Place

We were a tribe, a family, a people.

Wallace and Bruce guard now a painted field,

And all may read the folio of our fable,

Peruse the sword, the sceptre and the shield.

A simple sky roofed in that rustic day,

The busy corn-fields and the haunted holms,

The green road winding up the ferny brae.

But Knox and Melville clapped their preaching palms

And bundled all the harvesters away,

Hoodicrow Peden in the blighted corn

Hacked with his rusty beak the starving haulms.

Out of that desolation we were born.

Edwin Muir From Scotland 1941.

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A Sentimental Journey , A Taste For Scott and True Patriotic Fervor

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I am feeling disorientated, I put it down to feeling over nostalgic, yes it could be explained as an effect of reaching an age where grey becomes silver and elderly is an acronym for wisdom or is it just the plain simple fact that being away from what is vaguely called home if  your place of birth is home, for more years than I care to remember.

It would be ludicrous to try and blame my craving for a breath of Lowland air or Highland hospitality on all this talk of independence for Scotland but it certainly is having an effect.

I have always had moments when I  have lusted after Heather Honey, Macroon Bars and Tablet made in Fintry but it seems more fundamental than a sweet tooth.

Now when this feeling is rationalised it has to be admitted I have been reading too much Edwin Muir not to mention Sir Walter Scott, so perhaps the solution is a Shakespeare Sonnet, a chapter from The Pickwick Papers or a paragraph of Laurence Sterne but I do not believe I can ever erase the sentiment in the following which flows through my veins.

“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand! “

Extract for: Lay of the Last Minstrel. Sir Walter Scott