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    September 2014
    S M T W T F S
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    YES or NO That’s the BIG question in Scotland today…


    The Saltire and Union flags on Arthur's Seat photo Carol McCabe in The Telegraph

    The Saltire and Union flags on Arthur’s Seat photo Carol McCabe in The Telegraph

    YES or NO to become independent from the United Kingdom, that is the big question to be answered in Scotland today! A historical day indeed !

    The above photo of the  Saltire and the Union flags being raised on Arthur’s Seat with a view of Edinburgh Castle and the hills in the background is absolutely WON-DER-FUL.  The two flags symbolizing the YES and NO sides and carried with equal pride in front of a mythical landscape looks like a painting with its misty atmosphere suggesting uncertainties and the sun which is still veiled but  shining ;-) BRAVO to Carol McCabe, the very inspired photographer who did catch this very special mood! Her photo was published only a few hours ago in The Telegraph. It’s one of my favourite pictures about the historical events which are taking place in Scotland presently.  But I’ve found  many many other ones, illustrating the enthusiasm and hopes of hundreds of people proudly wearing the Scottish Saltire.

    Coming back to the  article of The Telegraph, published yesterday, on 17 September 2014,  where I’ve found this magnificent picture Keith Perry writes :

    ‘Scotland will reject independence – but only by a whisker, according to the biggest referendum poll carried out so far.’

    Most polls forecast a slight lead of the NO camp but who knows… all hopes are still open.  Anyway, and whatever the result will be (we probably won’t know it before tomorrow morning)  Scotland already appears as the winner of this long and hard campaign very successfully led by Alex Salmond, the charismatic champion of the independence cause who has managed to arouse political interest, especially among the young generation.

    Aberdeen a child carrying the Scottish Saltire

    Aberdeen a child carrying the Scottish Saltire in the street

    We’ve always been impressed by the interest of the children for Scottish history during our visits of castles and museums in Scotland.

    Scottish children and Scottish Saltire Source MailOnline © Getty images

    Scottish children with Scottish Saltire on their face Source MailOnline © Getty images

    Contrary to what it has been repeatedly said in the media many people in France are in favour of Scottish Independence as it is also the case  in Quebec and we can easily guess why. Scotland and  France have always been united by friendly relationships, close  historical links.  Let us just remember that Mary Queen of Scots was also Queen of France and that there used to be the possiblity of double nationality in both countries. The Auld Alliance is still well remembered, as best  illustrated in Aubigny-sur-Nère,  the French City of the Stuarts. I’m no expert in Scottish history as I’ve already underlined but I try to learn.

    Dogs wearing a union flag and Scottish Saltire Photo Russell Cheyne Reuters

    Dogs wearing a union flag and Scottish Saltire Photo Russell Cheyne Reuters

    Even the dogs have their word to say ;-)

    Edinburgh taxi with Scottish Saltire © 2012 Scotiana

    Edinburgh taxi with Scottish Saltire © 2012 Scotiana

    If many Scots want to be free from the United Kingdom today it is because they are not happy within the  union formed with England more than 300 years ago. Indeed, not all Scots did agree with this union when it was signed in 1707, far from it, but that’s another question.

    What has led me to choose between the YES  and NO sides is not only what I’ve learned in books but also what we’ve learned in Scotland during our seven trips there, discussing and sharing life with Scottish people, visiting many places of interest and memory ( monuments, castles and museums, libraries), also following historical trails (the Clearances Trail in the North starting from Bettyhill – Glencoe – The Murder of Appin Trail – Flodden and Culloden battlefield, to mention only a few of them). In France several trips to Aubigny-sur-Nère, the French City of the Stuarts in Berry,  revived our interest about the  Auld Alliance and the Hundred Years War which opposed France to England, a common enemy then.

    French SNP Christian Allard  saying OUI to independence

    French SNP Christian Allard saying OUI to independence

    “This is a historic day, not only for independence supporters but for everyone in Scotland.

    (French SNP member ;-) in Holyrood – North-east SNP MSP)

    A historic day, whatever the result will be,  with Alex Salmond emerging as the winner of the day, even in the case of the NO victory. He has led a great campaign and it was not an easy task given the aggressiveness of the leaders of the other side.

    I’ve learned quite a number of things about the UK and Scotland in a very interesting debate organized by France Culture for its radio programme “Du grain à moudre”. The three guests who came to  expose their  different views about the referendum and its consequences were Richard Davis, Mark McNaught and Keith Dixon.

    The independence referendum was a very good opportunity to make Scotland more visible abroad and  indeed many people seem to discover Scotland because of the political turmoil created  around this referendum. The world’s attention is turned towards Scotland,  in Europe and all over the world where millions of Scots or descendants of Scots are disseminated  in what is called ‘The Scottish Diaspora’, following the religious, economical and political immigration which led them towards the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, to mention only a few countries where they settled ).

    It is not new that the Scots feel very different from the English but maybe this is going more and more true today because of the decline of the Labour Party in the UK and the Westminster neo-liberal policy which is not in keeping with their own ideas. Maybe a number of English people would like England become more Scottish sometimes! There are big economic interests at stake too.

    In my last post I’ve quoted Kenneth White, one of the greatest  Scottish-French contemporary authors. Today I’d like to make you share the point of view of Mandy Haggith.

    Mandy Haggith outside with a book - Suilven close - Photo from Mandy's website

    Why I am voting Yes for an Independent Scotland

    Posted: 11 Sep 2014 11:55 AM PDT

    I am voting yes because I’ve concluded it’s the ethical choice. I have long been ashamed of the role that the United Kingdom plays in the world. We consume far more than our share of natural resources, both individually and through corporations that base themselves and finance themselves in this country and carry out policies of resource appropriation and economic pillage in other countries poorer than ours. We condone and take part in unacceptable military interventions in other parts of the world, and we pose a nuclear threat.I hope that Scotland, as a new, small, peace-loving country will be able to behave better than the UK currently does. I hope we can live both here and abroad, in more socially equitable and environmentally gentle ways.I have considered hard the fact that the UK is a large, powerful, rich nation, with a seat in the Security Council at the UN, with a powerful position in the EU, etc. Scotland will be a small country, with much less power. Is it an abdication of responsibility to give up on the UK, rather than to try to stay within it, and change it to be a better country? I have worried about this, but all my life I seem to have been going on marches, demonstrating, petitioning, voting and writing to my elected representatives and over and over again I have seen the powers that be, in Westminster and in the City of London, ignoring us and acting with aggression and greed and without a proper mandate from the people. The political and economic system in the UK is riddled by class inequality and corruption. The electoral system is geared to reinforce rule by the powerful few over the powerless many. The City of London is over-protected and unaccountable, the military is cowed by America, an upper-class English elite has control over our government, the judiciary and the media.I know I am not the only individual in Scotland to conclude that we have no legal, non-violent way to influence the behaviour of the UK. It is not an abdication of responsibility to turn away from the UK, and seek a new country in which we can have some, meaningful influence.It will be difficult to change our society, but after listening to many debates and talking to many people I conclude that there is a real will in Scotland to make this a better country. I have worked in the Scottish Parliament and I know it is a more civilised and consensus-based parliament than Westminster, so I have faith that we can operate a different kind of politics. Our climate change targets and legislation is far stronger already than the UK’s as a whole. Our welfare system, to the extent that we can change it from Holyrood, is already fairer than the UK’s. I believe that an Independent Scotland will create foreign policy and financial regulation that will be more ethical than the UK’s.I believe that we have the brains, the resources, the creativity and the social consciences that we will need. I believe that we will be able to work with other small, peaceful nations, in the UN, in Europe, within the world’s financial system, even if necessary within NATO, to push for global reforms to rein in the excesses of countries like the UK. We will not have so much power, but we will have moral authority. We will be only modestly just, but that’s better than being powerfully wrong. It’s a choice between might and right.I’m choosing right.I’m voting Yes.


    Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish PM Alex Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Alea Jacta Est…  would have said Julius Caesar, the old enemy of Caledonia. Yes the die is cast, or nearly…


    A bientôt.


    Glasgow blue taxi That's the way aha aha JC © 2007 Scotiana

    Glasgow blue taxi That’s the way aha aha JC © 2007 Scotiana

    Books, Books, Books !

    On my reading list presently :

    T. M. Devine The Scottish Nation A Modern History Penguin 2012

    T. M. Devine The Scottish Nation A Modern History Penguin 2012

    I’ve downloaded T.M. Devine’s book on my kindle… not easy reading for a French reader but very interesting all the same ;-)

    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence Alan Young and George Cumming Birlinn 2014

    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence Alan Young and George Cumming Birlinn 2014



    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence has just been offered to me as a birthday present by my children ;-) . I will tell you more about it as soon as I’ve read it !





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    A strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland…


    North Berwick Scottish flags © 2007 Scotiana

    North Berwick Scottish flags © 2007 Scotiana

    Dear readers,

    It has escaped nobody that a strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland these days, a wind murmuring echoes of the old Scottish dream of independence, a dream which is not shared by all, far from it.  In  a very  few days each Scot will have to say whether he chooses to remain or not in the United Kingdom actually composed of  England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, thus putting an end to a 300 years old union.  It is actually the 3rd referendum about the status of the Scottish nation within the UK,  following those of 1979 and 1997 but this time the question goes much further than getting more powers from Westminster government. The violence of the seism which is spreading all over Scotland, the United Kingdom and abroad as the countdown for the independence referendum is ticking towards the date of 18 September 2014 is revealing .

    The Kingdom of Scotland fought a series of wars of independence against the Kingdom of England during the 14th century. The two monarchies were in personal union from 1603 (the Union of the Crowns) when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. The two nations were united under one government when Oliver Cromwell was declared Lord Protector of a Commonwealth in 1653, but it was dissolved when the monarchy was restored in 1660. The Kingdoms of Scotland and England united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Great Britain in turn united with the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801 to form the United Kingdom. Most of Ireland left the Union in 1922, later forming the Republic of Ireland. (…)

    A proposal for a devolved Scottish Assembly was put to a referendum in 1979, but this resulted in no change.[9] A narrow majority of votes were cast in favour of change, but the legislation was repealed due to a clause requiring that the number voting ‘Yes’ had to exceed 40% of the total electorate.[9] No further constitutional reform was proposed until Labour returned to power in 1997, when a second Scottish devolution referendum was held.[10] Clear majorities expressed support for both a devolved Scottish Parliament and that Parliament having the power to vary the basic rate of income tax.[10] The Scotland Act 1998 established the new Scottish Parliament, first elected on 6 May 1999,[11] with power to legislate on unreserved matters within Scotland.


    A few days ago the debate gained momentum when the polls suddenly showed a reversal of the tendency, giving for the first time the lead to the pro-independence side, an event which so far had been considered quite improbable, especially by the Westminster politicians. Given the economic and political interests which are at stake here we can easily understand the big turmoil this news has caused in the UK and elsewhere! But the same news has also created a wave of enthusiasm among those who have cherished the idea of independence for so long. Today, they have found a leader in Alex Salmond, the charismatic SNP Prime Minister who is very efficiently assisted by Nicola Sturgeon, his popular deputy minister, not to mention all the members of a very motivated and dynamic team. Will they win, nobody can tell for the two sides are neck to neck in the polls.

    Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish PM Alex Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish independence: Poll puts Yes in lead

    THE YES CAMPAIGN is ahead in the Scottish referendum battle for the first time, according to a poll, amid signs of infighting among senior figures backing the union.

    The YouGov research for the Sunday Times found 51% supported independence, compared to 49% who wanted to remain in the UK.

    The results are the latest evidence of a dramatic surge for the Yes Scotland campaign, which has seen the gap between the sides – once regularly in double digits – vanish in a matter of months.

    The YouGov poll showed the Yes vote increasing by four points, while No dropped by the same number. (…)

    Today the media speak of Alex Salmond’s “Black Wednesday” and the polls announce a new reversal of the tendency…  but what can we expect from the polls?

    No need to say how closely we follow the news, wondering what kind of future Scotland will finally choose, not forgetting that, whatever it be, the final result will make about one half of the Scottish population sad or resentful.

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source Telegraph 10 september 2014

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source The Telegraph 10 september 2014

    It’s not the place here to take side though we have our own convictions. Indeed,  they can easily be guessed ;-)

    But now, let us try to listen to some of the old stanzas murmured by the wind which blows in Scotland… when you put them together they tell you a very moving story.

    Let us begin with the old song written by Robert Burns, the venerated Scottish bard:

    The lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where Scotland maintained its sovereignty from the Kingdom of England. Although the lyrics are by Burns, he wrote them to the traditional Scottish tune ‘Hey Tuttie Tatie’ which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn,[1] and by the Franco-Scots army at the Siege of Orleans.


    “Scots Wha Hae” (English: Scots, Who Have) is a patriotic song of Scotland written in the Scots language which served for centuries as an unofficial national anthem of the country, but has lately been largely supplanted by “Scotland the Brave” and “Flower of Scotland.”



    Brownsbank MacDiarmid cottage near Biggar © 2013 Scotiana

    Brownsbank Hugh MacDiarmid’s cottage near Biggar © 2013 Scotiana


    The Rose of all the world is not for me
    I want for my part
    Only the little white rose of Scotland
    That smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart.

    (Hugh MacDiarmid)

    La rose du monde entier n’est pas pour moi
    Je ne veux pour ma part
    Que la petite rose blanche d’Écosse
    Au parfum doux et vif – et qui brise le cœur.

    (Traduction by Kenneth White)


    Kenneth White Portrait on his personal web page

    Kenneth White Portrait on his personal web page

    “Listen to the Voice” wrote Iain Crichton Smith. This is the title of one of his short stories  and that’s exactly what I would  recommend to you, dear readers,  just to listen to the voice of  Kenneth White in his poems, in his books for this  great Scottish-French author opens roads in the chaos of our disillusioned world.  His books have been wonderfully translated into French by his wife, Marie-Claude. I’ve not found the translation into English of Kenneth White’s message to his mother country but I’m sure people who are interested will understand the clear-sighted message which is also a love message ;-)

    Pour l’indépendance écossaise
    Le 18 septembre, les Écossais diront « oui » ou « non » à l’indépendance. « Je suis en contact avec le camp du oui », souligne Kenneth White, même s’il a quitté l’Écosse, il y a plus de 40 ans. « La Grande-Bretagne ne m’intéressait plus, il n’y avait plus rien dans la culture. » Pour autant, « je n’ai pas abandonné l’Écosse », s’empresse-t-il de préciser. « Mon oeuvre complète y est en cours d’édition. » Et ses archives en anglais sont déposées à la Bibliothèque Nationale d’Écosse, à Edimbourg.
    Écossais voyageur
    Lui s’inscrit volontiers dans une lignée d’Écossais voyageurs, depuis les moines évangélisateurs du VIe siècle, même s’il ne partage pas avec eux le christianisme, jusqu’à Robert-Louis Stevenson, traversant les Cévennes avec son ânesse Modestine. En passant par des figures comme Scot Erigène, traducteur du grec au service du roi Charles Chauve, Duns Scot et David Hume, philosophes renommés, et George Buchanan, l’un des professeurs de Montaigne. « Je continue cette lignée à ma façon, je suis un Écossais en Europe. » Il se dit partisan de l’indépendance écossaise, « pour des raisons historiques, politiques, culturelles ». Et d’argumenter : « L’union de 1707 était une supercherie. La Grande-Bretagne a mis l’Écosse dans sa poche. L’Écosse était un pays clanique, il suffisait d’acheter quelques chefs. »
    « Partagés entre le coeur et la poche »
    « C’était une provincialisation du pays, avec une caricaturisation de sa culture, une petite poche de pseudo-romantisme, et un terrain de chasse pour des gens fortunés. Une version édulcorée du pays qui est le mien », assène Kenneth White. Qui n’ignore pas que le « non » à l’indépendance est en tête des intentions de vote. « Les Écossais sont partagés entre le coeur et la poche. Ils adorent un film stupide comme « Braveheart » mais ils ont peur que l’indépendance soit un désastre économique pour le pays. Même ceux qui veulent l’indépendance n’ont pas une vision suffisante. »
    © Le Télégramme – Plus d’information sur
    The Scottish Parliament & Salisbury Crag in the background © 2006 Scotiana

    The Scottish Parliament & Salisbury Crag in the background © 2006 Scotiana

    Since September 2004, the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. Designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles, some of the principal features of the complex include leaf-shaped buildings, a grass-roofed branch merging into adjacent parkland and gabion walls formed from the stones of previous buildings. Throughout the building there are many repeated motifs, such as shapes based on Raeburn’s Skating Minister. Crow-stepped gables and the upturned boat skylights of the Garden Lobby, complete the unique[19] architecture. Queen Elizabeth II opened the new building on 9 October 2004. (Source Wikipedia)
    Hugh MacDiarmid's quoteThe little white rose of Scotland  Scottish Parliament  © 2006 Scotiana

    Scottish Parliament Hugh MacDiarmid’s quote © 2006 Scotiana


    Below is a picture of the inside of the Scottish Parliament. It is a cheerful place to debate and we hope to have the opportunity to visit it soon…


    Scottish Parliament at Holyrood Source Wikipedia

    Scottish Parliament at Holyrood Source Wikipedia


    The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament has seating arranged in a hemicycle, which reflects the desire to encourage consensus amongst elected members.There are 131 seats in the debating chamber. Of the total 131 seats, 129 are occupied by the Parliament’s elected MSPs and 2 are seats for the Scottish Law Officers – the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland, who are not elected members of the Parliament but are members of the Scottish Government. As such the Law Officers may attend and speak in the plenary meetings of the Parliament but, as they are not elected MSPs, cannot vote. Members are able to sit anywhere in the debating chamber, but typically sit in their party groupings.[26] The First Minister, Scottish cabinet ministers and Law officers sit in the front row, in the middle section of the chamber. The largest party in the Parliament sits in the middle of the semicircle, with opposing parties on either side.The Presiding Officer, parliamentary clerks and officials sit opposite members at the front of the debating chamber.
    In front of the Presiding Officers’ desk is the parliamentary mace, which is made from silver and inlaid with gold panned from Scottish rivers and inscribed with the words: Wisdom, Compassion, Justice and Integrity. The words There shall be a Scottish Parliament, which are the first words of the Scotland Act, are inscribed around the head of the mace,[28] which has a formal ceremonial role in the meetings of Parliament, reinforcing the authority of the Parliament in its ability to make laws. Presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Queen upon its official opening in July 1999, the mace is displayed in a glass case suspended from the lid. At the beginning of each sitting in the chamber, the lid of the case is rotated so that the mace is above the glass, to symbolise that a full meeting of the Parliament is taking place.

    Next Thursday, in just a week now, we’ll know if the wind of change will have made the old Scottish dream come true…

    I know that much more could have been said about this fascinating page but I’m no expert in Scottish history, only a lover of a country. And whatever the choice, for all of us who do love her,  Scotland will remain Scotland ;-)

    A bientôt!

    Our heart is with the people of Scotland!




    Edinburgh Castle © 2006 Scotiana

    Edinburgh Castle © 2006 Scotiana







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    On Drumossie Moor the sad echoes of Culloden battle…


    Culloden battlefield Scottish side © 2012 Scotiana


    They used to call it Drumossie Moor – a bleak stretch of boggy, heather-clad upland moor above Culloden House, south-east of Inverness, overlooking the broad waters of the Moray Firth. This was where the last pitched battle on British soil was fought, on 16 April [...]

    Edinburgh Airport break records!

    Since it is not everyday that great events are spread amongst the news broadcasting networks, I’m happy to share a great moment in time here on Scotiana’s blog, in case you missed it when it came out.

    Edinburgh Airport is now the first Scottish airport to handle more than 10 [...]

    The Dunmore Pineapple: an extraordinary Scottish garden ‘folly’



    Dunmore Pineapple roof close-up © 2007 Scotiana

    Hi everybody,

    This incredible architectural “folly”, in the shape of a pineapple, was one of our big “coups de coeur” in Scotland.

    The Dunmore Pineapple is situated about one kilometre northwest of Airth and the same distance south of Dunmore in the Falkirk council area. [...]

    Blue Modern Tartan at Cawdor Castle

    Hi Mairiuna!

    It was truly a pleasure to read your post “The Wonderful Colors of Scotland: Blue…” , so much, it inspired me to gain more insights about blue tartans!

    The first thing that came to my mind was the blue tartan rug layed upon the corridors leading us through oddly-angled rooms and appartements [...]

    The wonderful colours of Scotland: BLUE…



    Birmingham-Glasgow flight © 2003 Scotiana

    Dear readers,

    Last time I opened our photo albums to share with you pictures of Scotland in its gorgeous spring yellow colour but YELLOW is only one of the many wonderful colours which give Scotland such an irresistible charm. Today, I would like to make you discover [...]

    Oscar Slater is Set Free ..

    Bonjour Janice, Marie-Agnès et Jean-Claude – Hello again from Scotland! I think you once told me, Janice, that our posts on Oscar Slater were among the most-read here at Scotiana – some people, I’m sure, may find it almost impossible to believe that such a shocking story could be true! Quite understandable [...]

    The wonderful colours of Scotland: YELLOW…


    Bettyhill North Coast blue waters and yellow gorse © 2006 Scotiana

    There’s something magical in Scotland and, like Gandalf the Grey, Scotland can be grey but also radiant and multicoloured.

    In the morning you feel as if you were going to disappear between sea and sky in the misty [...]

    Remembering Jim Reeves ..


    Bonjour, Marie-Agnès, Janice et Jean-Claude -

    Hello again! Ca va? – How are you all? We must have exchanged hundreds of messages in the last few years by email – and are now getting to know each other really well – so it seems astonishing that it’s over 12 months since our last [...]