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    June 2022
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    Snowdrop Festival in Scotland


    Snowdrops Bank Hall Lancashire England - Source: Wikipedia

    Words rise out of the country. They are around us. In every month in the year we are surrounded by words.

    (Shall Gaelic Die? Iain Crichton Smith)

    Snowdrops Scotland - Photo Shendry (Flickr)

    Winter has its own dictionary, the words are a blizzard building a tower of Babel. Its grammar is like snow.

    (Shall Gaelic Die? Iain Crichton Smith)

    Time flies…

    St Valentine’s red roses are already fading in their crystal vases while snowdrops are blooming fresh and pure in woods and winter gardens, announcing spring…

    Snowdrops Scotland - Photo Stephen Random (Flickr)

    In Scotland, the calendar is punctuated by a number of very inviting seasonal festivals. I’ve just read about a winter one, the Scottish Snowdrop Festival which takes place between 1 February and 15 March. How I’d like to be there now to add this winter flower to our spring and summer Scottish bunch!

    I open Kenneth Cox’s Scotland for Gardeners to see what he says about The Scottish Snowdrop Festival.

    Scotland for Gardeners Kenneth Cox Birlinn Limited 2009

    Scottish Snowdrop Festival, featuring some of the very best snowdrop gardens, woodlands and estates across Scotland, was started in 2007, coordinated by VisitScotland, and will hopefully be an annual event in February and March with many gardens all over the country opening, with events, tours, sales and just great walks, at a time of year when almost all Scotland’s attractions are closed to visitors. See the leaflets and website for details. Cambo in Fife is the model for snowdrop opening with a whole range of activities, gift shop and plant sales. I have listed some of the best snowdrop displays:

    Brechin Castle woods
    Cambo House
    Dalmeny House (Mons Wood)
    Danevale Park
    Floors Castle and Springwood
    House of the Binns
    Mertoun House

    I’m pretty sure there are many more places covered with carpets of snowdrops at this time of the year in Scotland and then it will be time for the bluebells…

    Arran Brodick Castle © 2004 Scotiana

    While writing these lines my thoughts go to Margaret and Iain for I know how impatiently they’re waiting for the arrival of spring in Scotland! So is Janice too, in her snowy Quebec. Here, in the garden, the almond tree will soon open its delicate pink and white flowers. Spring is almost here…

    Blessed John Duns Scotus Church - Photo by Ilike (Flickr)

    By the way, many many thanks to our Scottish friends for their kind contribution to Scotiana. We’ve read their Letter from Scotland with great pleasure, as if we were there, in Glasgow, following our guides off the beaten track, in quest for one of the little secrets of the big city. We’ve already planned to visit Blessed John Duns Scotus Church during our next trip to Glasgow, not only to light a small candle in front of St Valentine’s shrine but also to discover, in its neighbourhood,  the famous district of the Gorbals. As many urban districts in the world, it has been completely renovated. So, how hard it must have been once to live in the Gorbals, far from the snowdrops carpets,  we can only try to guess…

    No Mean City Alexander McArthur, H Kingsley Long Neville Spearman, London, 1956

    Books are a good means to stimulate our imagination. Iain mentioned No Mean City in his post. I don’t possess this book but I remember how happy I was when I fell on Growing up in the Gorbals while I was browsing in one of my favourite secondhand bookshops in Bordeaux. I knew nothing about Ralph Glasser, its author, but I had already heard about the Gorbals and I wanted to know more, so I bought it at once. It’s a big book, with more than 600 pages, and I have not found time to read it yet so, as I can’t say more about it, I’ve included a few comments found on Amazon.

    Growing up in the Gorbals -Ralph Glasser- Lomond Books -1999

    Growing up in the Gorbals -Ralph Glasser -Lomond Books- 1999

    Customer Review

    “An extraordinary book from an adult’s understanding, as well as boyhood perspective, of poverty-stricken and problematic family life in the Gorbals of Glasgow. This very honest, well-written book is successful in its honesty and description of friendships, family situations, political philosophies and working environment during the period. It conveys both a profound and generous understanding of helpless personal circumstances. I went to Scotland searching for a second copy of this book as it was out of print at the time and found it in a used bookstore. I will always have this book with me.”


    “‘… a classic… he caught both the people and the place… and there are passages which stand comparison with Zola and Gorky. The Observer”

    Product Description

    “I was driven to write these books because the spirit of the Gorbals would not leave me and insisted that I give expression to its continuing power and its lessons for our society.” -Ralph Glasser

    Ralph Glasser’s Gorbals Trilogy is an extraordinary account of a remarkable life. In Growing Up in the Gorbals, Glasser describes his childhood and adolescence in the impoverished slums of the Glasgow tenements in the 1920s and the hardships and heartaches that went with it. At 14, he left school to become a barber’s soap boy but he soon started the night classes that would eventually lead him to a scholarship to Oxford. In Gorbals Boy at Oxford he describes his new life, the incredible characters he met and the arrogance of Oxford academic life, and in Gorbals Voices, Siren Songs, Ralph Glasser’s brilliant trilogy concludes in the wayward world of postwar London.

    About the Author

    Ralph Glasser spent his childhood and adolescent in the Old Gorbals of Glasgow. After years of night study he won a scholarship to Oxford+inly in the Third World, campaigning against the destruction of traditional communities.

    I have a lot of books about Glasgow in my library. I will introduce them very soon on Scotiana. Some are very interesting…

    Snowdrops Scotland - Photo Stephen Random (Flickr)

    But in the meantime, why not have a walk in the countryside in company of this friendly Scottish dog…

    Spring has its own dictionary, its leaves are turning in the sharp wind of March, which opens the shops.

    (Shall Gaelic Die? Iain Crichton Smith)

    A bientôt.


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