a wee corner of Scotland at Ellesmere & McCowan

Serendipity: took a wrong turn coming out of the
federal building, and found ourselves in Scottish culinary heaven (which is not an oxymoron, I assure you). At the corner of Ellesmere & McCowan is The But ‘n’ Ben Butchers; they sell all sort of quality Scottish foods. So far, we’ve sampled and can approve their butcher’s pies, plain bread and empire biscuits. They’ve also got a supply of UK Heinz Beans, which knock the gummy North American beans into a cocked hat.
Next door but one is St Andrews Fish & Chips. They’re amazing. I think the chips (hand cut, of course) are deep fried in some unhealthy, but tasty, animal byproduct. And they have Irn Bru, too …

big windfarm, big deal

So there was a stramash that the RSPB published a map showing where the Lewis wind farm would reach if it started in Edinburgh. Oh noes! Looks like it’d go all the way to Methil.

I’ve been working on a couple of medium-sized wind farms in Ontario. For top laughs, I tried overlaying them on Scotland, using streetmap.co.uk for the measurements.

Since I’m a weegie, I started at George Square. One of the farms would stretch all the way west by Wishaw, near Murdostoun Castle (and the comically-named town of Bonkle). The other would run north to somewhere between Fintry and Kippen, in Stirlingshire.

For those of you unlucky enough to be based east of Falkirk, I tried the same starting at Edinburgh Castle. The first wind farm would run west to the hamlet of Gilchriston, which is just north-west of Dun Law Wind Farm, which I worked on in the distant past. (If you run the farm west from Edinburgh, you end up in Bo’ness, which no-one would want to do.) The other design would end up somewhere between Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, near Thornton — and not that far from Methil, a distance that the RSPB would have us believe is just too far for a wind farm.

So, where’s the news, RSPB? How did your land get somehow more precious than ours?

canwea over

Well, that’s CanWEA 2005 fully over. Yes, I’m still sifting through the contacts, brochures and swag I picked up, but it’s back to work for me.

I met a lot of people (including, quite unexpectedly, Stuart Hall of Natural Power in Scotland, whom I hadn’t seen in about 8 years), and the show seemed to be absolutely jumping. Could 2005/2006 be the year that Canada gets wind energy?

This is only funny if you’re Scottish …

The Globe and Mail reports:

Monday, August 15, 2005 Page A5

Kingston — More than 11 million litres of liquid manure that spilled into a river in New York state is taking much longer than expected to enter Lake Ontario.

The cow waste flowed into the Black River in northern New York, near the town of Lowville, after the wall of a holding lagoon at a dairy farm blew out late Wednesday or early Thursday.

On Saturday, the manure seeped westward, heading toward Black River Bay, which flows into Lake Ontario. By yesterday, it still had not entered Black River Bay, said Jim Keech of Utilities Kingston. [CP]

12 hours to Burns night

So it’s Burns Night tonight. Will I partake of haggis? It’s basically made of the bits of an animal that no-one would pay to eat.

I’d just like to point out that, in Scotland, it’s Burns Night. For some inexplicable reason, it’s known as Robbie Burns Day here. Canadians, stop doing it, I beg of you. Burns Day is only celebrated by UK Accident & Emergency ward staff on November 6th.

I’d also like to point out that I’ve never been to a Burns Supper. Scottish celebrations (like tonight, Hogmanay, and St Andrew’s) seem to be an excuse to get thoroughly munted in the dark side of the year.

i demand my 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine!

fear the canadian irn bru!

About this time of year, many Scots will be using Irn Bru to quell a raging hangover. There’s nothing quite like the reddish-orange, sugary, fizzy drink to make the pain go away. It’s the combination of sugar, liquid and caffeine that does it.

Scottish expats in Canada aren’t so lucky. We’re not allowed to have caffeine in anything other than cola, so the ‘bru that’s imported here is caffeine free. It has all the bite and zing of wet cardboard.

I don’t understand why cola can have caffeine, and nothing else can. They allowed Red Bull in on a technicality. Since Irn Bru has been used as a pick-me-up for generations, I feel that Canada’s policy discriminates against my culture.

Where there’s a culture of heavy drinking, there’s also a culture of dealing with it. Canada is placing the wellbeing of Scots at risk by not allowing caffeinated Irn Bru.

yet more unfunny faux-Scotticisms

[Yesterday’s Globe & Mail had a cartoon by Graham Harrop. Subtitled “Jock Layton“, it showed a character yelling across the legislature floor: “Ye’ll No Talk To Me Like That, Mon! Yer A Wee Haggis An’ Ye’ve Got Yer Troosers On Backwards If Ye Think We’re Passin’ That Load O’ Tripe!“]

Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 11:35:14 -0500
To: Arts /at/ GlobeAndMail.ca
Subject: yesterday’s Backbench cartoon

I am offended by Graham Harrop’s cartoon in the 30th December Review section.

I am Scottish, and to me, ‘jock’ is a racial epithet. No-one in Scotland would use any of the expressions used in the cartoon.

Consider the situation if the cartoon had made fun of any other minority speech pattern. The whole ‘Comedy Scotsman’ thing went out with the 1970s, and I’m disappointed to see such a thing in the Globe & Mail.

Stewart Russell
Scarborough, ON.

Tablet Fame

It seems that the Sunday Herald — one of Scotland’s better broadsheet newspapers — has picked up on my Scots tablet recipe. In an article called 100 Things To Do In Scotland Before You Die, they cite http://purl.oclc.org/NET/scruss/scots_tablet

Part of the 100 Things To Do In Scotland … article is online, but omits Aunt Celie’s recipe. Oh well.

Thanks to David Marsh and former Collins colleague Jennifer Baird, who both spotted this.

Catching up with words

While I was back in Scotland, I met up with many of my old colleagues from Collins Dictionaries. We had a very pleasant evening with Ian Brookes, who is now the editor-in-chief of the Chambers dictionary.

Chambers is an unusual dictionary, in that it has a sprinkling of amusing definitions. One of these is mullet, defined as a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round. There are also rare definitions, such as:

paneity n the state of being bread 

After reading that, I knew I had to buy the latest edition. Does this make me a word nerd?

Chambers publish a booklet on their dictionary, which is available online: Words, Wit and Wisdom (or local copy, since it’s fallen off their site: wit_wisdom).