Scots Language explained, a little

If you’re interested in Scottish words the video below explains five Scots words in an amusing way, with some nice illustrative scenery.

Courtesy of Visit Scotland

Oxford English Dictionary adds Scots words

The Guardian reported on some new words which have been added into the Oxford English dictionary recently and quite a few of them are Scottish. You can read the article here.

Apparently members of the public were asked to send in words to the OED that they thought deserved to be included in the new edition. I knew nothing about this but luckily some of my favourite Scots words now appear – such as fantoosh, bidie-in and sitooterie.

I’m happy that Scots words are being taken up by people living elsewhere, it’s far better than them dying out which was a possibility back in the days when children used to be told off by teachers for using Scots words and phrases.

Peebles and Ice Cream

Knickerbocker glory

A conversation with Peggy (Peggy Ann’s Post) our visitor from the US about knickerbockers led to me mentioning the ice cream Knickerbocker Glory and I was surprised that Peggy didn’t know what I was talking about although I’m sure they aren’t a particularly Scottish thing. Anyway, the first weekend she was with us we were invited down to Peebles by Evee of Evee’s Blog and when I spotted an ice cream parlour in the town I thought it would be a good chance for Peggy to experience an ice cream indulgence. Jack, Peggy and I had the glories and Evee opted for the Banoffee Split which has a slight nod to healthy eating in that at least you are eating a banana. Mind you the glories contained quite a lot of fruit too.

Banofee Split

After that it was time to take a stroll around the town and work off some of those calories. In truth we had to wait in the shop until the worst of the rain had passed but that gave us an opportunity to watch a large posse of people of all ages riding along the high street on their horses. Peggy said they would have closed the street off for that in the US and she came to the conclusion that in Scotland we are a lot more relaxed about things like that. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of them, or the couple who high stepped it along the road in a horse drawn buggy.

The Cross Kirk was our destination, the sort of place which you would never find if you were a casual visitor to Peebles so we were grateful to have Evee as our guide. The ruin dates back to the late 1100s and it’s in amongst a lot of houses a shortish walk from the high street, but it’s still atmospheric. I especially liked the stone carving of a knight’s head which you can see above the doorway below if you look carefully.

Peebles Cross Kirk

Peebles Cross Kirk

And here we are, what is the collective noun for a group of bloggers? A bevy, bunch, blah or maybe we’re besoms.

K, P, E Peebles Cross Kirk

If you want to see some photos of our visit to Dunfermline Abbey hop over to Jack here.

Argyle Street in Glasgow

Looking back again on our few days away in Glasgow recently, we walked from our hotel along Argyle Street, part of which you can see below. It was quite early in the morning but still busy.

Argyle Street 1

The other end of Argyle Street in the photo below is looking along to what is nicknamed ‘The Hielanman’s Umbrella’. What looks like a building across the bottom of the road is in fact a railway bridge and as it is situated near the Highland Institute it apparently always had a lot of ‘teuchters’ (Highlanders) sheltering from the rain there, waiting to meet up with their dance date before going into the dances at the institute.

Argyle Street 2

I must have walked past this doorway below thousands of times but it obviously was always just there and it never made much of an impression on me as I couldn’t remember ever seeing it before. It certainly made me look this time, those Victorians liked to do things on a massive scale. It’s a side entrance to what is part of the Frasers building. Remnant King’s fabric shop is up the stairs from there and that is where I was heading anyway.

figures Frasers

So through that doorway you enter a ‘close’ or an internal stairway. And here it is below, it is what is called in Glasgow a ‘wally’ close. Wally (pronounced to rhyme with sally) means china or pottery and it refers to the fact that the walls are tiled. You might have heard of those china spaniels which were popular in Victorian times and on many a mantlepiece being referred to as ‘wally dugs’ If you lived in a block of flats which had a wally close then it was always seen as being a bit posh, better than just painted walls anyway.

a close + lift 1

Going up the stairs to the shop I wanted to visit, there’s quite a grand window, but just up a few steps from that was the door to the shop which had a sign on in saying – CLOSED – SEWING CLASS IN PROGRESS.

So I never did get into that fabric shop this time around which I ended up being quite glad about because Manders is a better one I think.

a close + lift 2

Scottish Authors and Asterix and the Pechts

I still haven’t been able to sort all of my books out after our recent mammoth down-sizing house move, actually it’s not so recent, we moved on April 4th – things move slowly around here nowadays. Jack has housed his large SF collection in bookcases in the garage (does anyone ever put a vehicle in their garage?) and I’m waiting on a summerhouse to be delivered, it sounds fancy but is basically a large sturdy garden shed with more glass than usual, so it should be fine for books. I’ve just heard that it will be here next Wednesday which is great, and even better is the fact that we don’t have to build it, that’s included in the price so some guys will be putting it up, I can’t wait.

Anyway, we have managed to find homes for plenty of books in the new house too and we have a Scottish authors section. I must admit that these shelves are really Jack’s books, my Scottish books are not so well organised. Anyway, he has read most of these books but I haven’t, so I intend to read at least some of them for the Read Scotland 2014 challenge, I think I’ve read 16 Scottish books so far.

My Scottish Bookshelf

Above is a photo of some of the books which I want to read, I think you can enlarge it if you click on it. In particular the ones by A.L Kennedy (see below) as I haven’t read any of hers but I want to read the Alan Massie Arthurian trilogy too.

Books by A L Kennedy

Number 16 was a wee bit of a cheat really as it was Asterix and the Pechts, a very slim volume. Did you ever read the Asterix books when you were wee? I didn’t read as many as I would have liked because back in the dim distant days when kids were allowed to wander around on their own, I used to go to the library and at that time you were only allowed to take two books out at a time, and if I borrowed an Asterix or Tin Tin book I got more than a bit of a hard stare from my mother when I got home.

She expected me to bring back real books from the library. Strangely she didn’t mind at all when my older brother borrowed Tin Tin and Asterix books, yet another sign of her favouritism?! At least that meant that I could get to read them too.

Anyway the English version of the Asterix book is called Asterix and the Picts. I read Asterix and the Pechts which has been translated into Scots, it’s a good laugh. You can read about it here. And you can see more images from it here.

Swallows, Deer and Garden Update

I was showing my sister around our new place today and we were looking at the garden from the kitchen when we suddenly realised that there were birds swooping and circling all around the garden. The swallows have arrived, they definitely weren’t here yesterday. What is that saying? something like – one swallow does not a summer make. Well umpteen of them were swooping, in fact in Scots you could say that there was a wheen o’ them, meaning a lot. I suppose that means that it is really summer, but not going by today’s weather it wasn’t!

Unfortunately they move too fast to get a photo of them, but a few hours later I was upstairs, still trying to unpack books and find places for them, when I realised that a deer was walking very close to our garden fence, I rushed to get the camera and was lucky that it was in no hurry to move on. Then I spotted another one following the first one. We’re certainly more rural here than in our old place.
Deer 2
The one above was a bit of a contortionist so it looks really weird. But the photo below looks more normal, I’ve seen more deer than ever before this year, often just standing in fields or lying down in the sun by the edge of fields.
Deer 1

I was thrilled to bits to see them but I suppose I’ll eventually get blase about them.

And here are some garden update photos. I’ve been busy trimming the grass edges and I’ve used the excess turf to make an oval in the grass, roughly the shape and place that I want to put a rockery, eventually. That’s going to be a long term project. You can see that I’ve begun to put the bones of the garden in place, in the shape of small trees. It’s beginning to feel like a garden already.
garden 1

The photo below is of the garden beyond the circle, we have decided to put some sort of structure on those concrete blocks, probably a summerhouse as that was what was there before, it’ll make a nice focal point. I suppose I should have taken my washing line down!

garden 2

Beyond the fence is the land where the deer were walking.

I’ve just looked up that quote and it turns out it was Aristotle who said it.

Mixter, maxter

It’s all mixter maxter was a favourite phrase of my mother’s, it means it’s all mixed up, or something is in a bit of a mess. Anyway, it describes this post as it’s a mixture of unrelated things which I meant to put on Pining at some point, but didn’t get around to.

Back at Christmastime I think I did mention that I don’t like those newfangled led lights which decorate our high streets nowadays, so cold compared with the bright warmth of the big coloured light bulbs of the past. No doubt the new ones are a lot more ecological and I suppose to the wee ones who haven’t witnessed the old ones there’ll still be something magical about the lights. This is what Kirkcaldy High Street looked like at Christmas 2013.

Back to the summer, and 2013 was a rare good one for us. These cacti are on one of my kitchen window sills. I think you either love or hate cacti and I’ve always loved them, the photo below is of a couple from my collection, it always amazes me that they bloom so beautifully.

Meet McNulty the cat, the most recent member of our extended family. I must admit that I’m more of a dog person, mainly I suppose because I’ve never had any dealings with cats but Gordon and Laura got McNulty from the Cat Protection League and he is settling in with them very well. In fact I think it’s safe to say that McNulty, named after a character in The Wire, has fallen on his paws as he is king of the castle now.

And he has a fine choice of chairs to laze on. McNulty is a bit of a mystery cat as nothing is known about him at all, he was taken to the cat protection people by a woman who said he kept trying to get into her house, but he wasn’t her cat. He is however quite overweight so someone had been feeding him. The vet has put him on a diet and he miaows pitifully for about an hour before dinner, but Gordon is firm and won’t give in to him, it’s for his own good.

In fact Laura says that McNulty reminds her of Six Dinner Sid, which is a book written by Inga Moore about a cat who gets meals from lots of different people. If like me you haven’t even heard of the book you can listen to the story on you tube below.

Scottish words: dumbfoonert

It’s fairly obvious what dumbfoonert means, I think. It’s really just the Scottish equivalent of the English word dumbfounded.

Of course if you’re dumbfoonert you are flabbergasted, overwhelmed with astonishment. Or as I sometimes say – my flab has never been so g(h)asted.

But dumbfoonert is a good Scots way of saying that you’re nearly speechless – but not quite!

Scottish Pottery and Robert Burns

I can hardly believe that it’s that time of the year again – Burns Night that is. I’ll spare you the sight of my dinner this year, we’ll be having the less traditional vegetarian haggis, neeps (turnip) and tatties tonight. Not because we’re vegetarian but because it’s tastier than the offal/awful! version.

I thought it would be nicer to let you see some very old Scottish pottery, the sort which would have been recognised by Robert Burns when he was around and imbibing a fair quantity of whisky, which he seems to have been quite fond of.

toddy bowls 1

As you can see, it’s fairly chunky stuff, the large bowls are called toddy bowls and they measure about 10 inches across the top of them so they can hold a lot of toddy in them. Toddy is of course a mixture of whisky, sugar and hot water, for me it’s the only possible way of enjoying whisky, but I haven’t had it since I was a child when my dad used to make it for me if I had a bad cold or toothache.

I took this photo to try to show you that they are also decorated inside. The jugs are actually two different designs but they’re quite similar as you can see. One design is for wine and it has vine leaves on it, whilst the beer jug is decorated with hop leaves and flowers. The pottery is at least 150 years old but this sort of pottery was made for a long time, it could be a lot older, and the bowls would originally have been sold in pairs, people used to have one at each end of a long table or sideboard. The small two handled pewter drinking vessel is a quaich, the ‘ch’ pronounced the same as in the word ‘loch’. It’s a reproduction one.

Scottish pottery toddy bowls 2

The top left hand toddy bowl has very large pine cones in it which make the bowl seem really small. My favourite bowl is the bottom left hand one, I love the design but it has been in the family since it was new which makes it more precious to me.

Have a listen if you want to hear David Rintoul reciting the Burns poem: –

Scotch Drink

Well, are you any the wiser? Burns didn’t write many short poems, I know that because I looked for one when I had to choose one to memorise for reciting at a Burns competition when I was at primary school. The town’s Burns Society held a competition every year and all schoolchildren had to take part in it. I ended up reciting this one.

“John Anderson my jo, John”
By Robert Burns

John Anderson my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw,
but blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!

John Anderson my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a cantie day, John,
We’ve had wi’ ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo!

I didn’t win. Jack did win though, but he was in a different year from me and he recited To A Mouse. What did he win ? I hear you ask. A volume of the complete works of Robert Burns of course – he still has it.

Scottish words: gaberlunzie

At the moment I’m reading The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope and he had a habit, in common with Dickens and other Victorian writers, of giving some of his characters comical or descriptive names, like Mr Gitemthruit. But it was the name Lord Gaberlunzie which struck me, because I realised from previous Trollope books which I’ve read that he had a good knowledge of Scotland and things Scottish and I’m wondering where he got all his information from, he must have had close Scottish friends of relatives.

A gaberlunzie was originally a licensed beggar but became used to mean just a beggar or even a vagrant. It’s one of those Scottish words which has a ‘z’ in it when it should really be a ‘yogh‘. So the correct pronunciation should probably be gaberlunyie.

If only poor Alaric Tudor in The Three Clerks had realised what Undy Scott’s family title meant then he would have been on his guard against him but then – there wouldn’t have been a story!

In the 1970s there was a folk group called Gaberlunzie. I found this clip of them on You Tube but I don’t know when it was filmed.