Saturday, 28 February 2009

Genesis - 4

Ardbeg Distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery on the south coast of the isle of Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, in the Inner Hebrides group of islands.

Other distilleries on the south coast include Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Ardbeg claims to be the peatiest Islay whisky, and uses malted barley sourced from the (Diageo owned) maltings in Port Ellen. Ardbeg is renowned for its peaty, smoky style. Despite a pungent nose, formidable flavours, and high alcohol content, Ardbeg is surprisingly smooth on the palate, with a warm lingering finish.

What a pity I have given up alcohol for Lent! Still, there's only six weeks to go until Easter.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. (Genesis 1.14-19)

I rejoice in the different seasons of the year. Just as Spring will follow Winter, so Easter will follow Lent!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Genesis - 3

Today we visit the Isle of Islay. This photo of the High School gives a strong hint of what else goes on in this island!

Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. (Genesis 1.11-13)

I am much enjoying planning my new garden, and am busy browsing seed catalogues for ideas. It has been said that Lent is about growing, Easter is about flowering, and Pentecost is about fruiting. I do like this image! In order for plants to grow, they need pruning and fertilising. During Lent we cut some unnecessary things away, and take advantage of all the growth food that the Church offers. My we blossom profusely at Easter and fruit well at Pentecost!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Genesis - 2

Here we see the village of Lamlash on the Isle of Arran.

And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1.6-10)

How pleased is God now when he looks at the world he created? Is it still good?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Genesis - 1

During Lent I shall being to be doing a very simple Bible study on this blog. It will be based on the Book of Genesis. I very much doubt that I will be able to find a suitable photo to accompany each reading, so I will probably just give you a nice photo of somewhere on one the Scottish Isles to look at! I hope to visit one or two of the Isles myself during the summer months, so it may well whet my appetite and give me some ideas.

We start on the Isle of Arran in the South West of Scotland, and I shall work my way round clockwise to the Shetland Islands in the North East.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.

God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
(Genesis 1.1-5)

Let us make a point of praising God every morning and every evening. Just as in Scotland the days are now lengthening and the nights are shortening, may we all grow spiritually during this Season of Lent.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Scotch Pancakes


200 gms self-raising flour
50 gms caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
pinch of salt
Milk to mix


Mix the flour, salt and sugar together
Add the well-beaten egg
Add the milk to make a thick batter
Heat a well-greased girdle (griddle) or pan
Drop a spoonful of batter at a time on to it
Do as many spoonfuls as the girdle will take
Cook on one side until it browns
When it starts to rise up and bubble, turn it over and bake on the other side
When cooked - place on a clean tea-towel, cover them over until the next batch is ready

Serve while still warm with golden syrup, whipped cream or maybe homemade raspberry jam.


Well, from tomorrow the blog will have a more sombre appearance until Easter. I shall be starting a Lenten series of posts on the Book of Genesis.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Scotch Pies

A Scotch pie is a double-crust pie originating in Scotland but also popular in England. In Scotland the item is known simply as a 'Pie' although in Aberdeen and Dundee it is quite often known as a 'mince pie' to differentiate it from other varieties of savoury pie such as steak pie, steak-and-kidney pie, steak-and-tattie (potato) pie, and so forth.

The traditional filling is minced mutton, often highly spiced with pepper and other ingredients, contained in a crust of thin, stiff pastry. An individual piemaker's precise recipe, including the types and quantities of spice used, is usually kept a close secret, for fear of imitations. It is baked in a round, straight-sided tin, about 8 cm in diameter and 4 cm high, and the top crust is placed about 1 cm lower than the rim to make a space for adding accompaniments such as mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy.

Scotch pies are often served hot by take-away restaurants and bakeries, and at outdoor events such as football matches. When sold in chip shops, the pie is sometimes deep fried!

Every year, the Scotch Pie Club holds the World Scotch Pie Championship. Butchers and bakers enter their pies into this competition, and the maker of the pie judged tastiest by a panel of judges is awarded the title of World Scotch Pie Champion!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Edinburgh Rock

Edinburgh Rock is a traditional Scottish confection, and is quite distinct from conventional rock. It consists of sugar, water, cream of tartar, colourings and flavourings. It is formed into sticks, and has a soft and crumbly texture.

Edinburgh Rock was first made in the 19th Century by a man named Alexander Ferguson, who became known as 'Sweetie Sandy'. Alexander was born in Doune, Perthshire in 1789. He learned the confectionery trade in Glasgow, and then moved to Edinburgh to set up his own business. The success of Edinburgh rock was such that he was able to retire back to Doune a very rich man.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Dundee Marmalade

The Scottish city of Dundee has a long association with marmalade. In 1797, James Keiller and his mother Janet ran a small sweet and preserves shop in the Seagate section of Dundee; they opened a factory to produce "Dundee Marmalade", that is marmalade containing thick chunks of Seville orange rind. This recipe (probably invented by his mother) was a new twist on the already well-known fruit preserve of quince marmalade.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Scottish Kippers

Back to fish on Fridays!

A kipper is a whole herring that has been split from tail to head, gutted, salted, and cold smoked. In the UK and North America they are often eaten grilled for breakfast. In the UK, kippers, along with other preserved fish such as the bloater and buckling, were also once commonly enjoyed as a high tea or supper treat; most popularly with inland and urban working-class populations before World War II.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Dundee Cake

Keeping up the baking theme, here we have a delicious Scottish Cake! I'm sorry that the earlier photo of a cake baked by Delia Smith was not visible on some computers - it was subject to copyright restrictions. Here is one that I baked earlier today - only joking!

Ingredients for Dundee Cake:

300g Plain Flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g candied peel
100g cherries
480g currants
200g sultanas
200g raisins
100g blanched almonds
4 eggs
4 tablespoons milk or sherry or brandy
1 lemon grated rind
200g margarine
1 tablespoon black treacle
200g demerara sugar

Happy baking!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Scott's Porridge Oats

Note - I have gone for the more usual spelling of the word - porridge rather than porage! Walker's Shortbread may not be the most healthy of foods - but Scott's Porridge Oats are very healthy!

Scotts Porridge Oats have been milled in Scotland since 1880. Scott's uses only the highest quality oats. Scotts Porridge oats has 4.1 grams of fibre, only 3.9 grams of fat, and only .2 grams of salt per serving. Great as a morning start or use in your favorite recipe.

By the way, before Joanna Bogle asks - I don't know who the gentleman wearing the kilt is!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Walkers Shortbread

I much enjoy a piece of shortbread with my coffee at 11.00 am. Walkers are one of the main manufacturers of Scottish Shortbread. This is their main bakehouse in Speyside.

Shortbread is a type of biscuit which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oatmeal (although plain white flour is common today). Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter.

Monday, 16 February 2009


Following yesterday's posting, it is time to sober up!

Irn-Bru is famous for its bright orange colour. As of 1999 it contained 0.002% of ammonium ferric citrate, sugar, 32 flavouring agents (including caffeine) and two controversial colourings (E110, E124). It is advertised as having a slight citrus flavour, but many have differing opinions of the exact taste of Irn-Bru.

Irn-Bru was first produced in 1901, under the name Strachan's brew. In 1946, a change in laws required that the word "brew" be removed from the name, as the drink is not technically brewed. The chairman of the company came up with the idea of changing both halves of the name to a phonetic spelling, giving the current Irn-Bru brand. It has long been the most popular soft drink in Scotland. It is also the third best selling soft drink in the UK, after Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Irn-Bru's advertising slogans used to be "Scotland's other National Drink", referring to whisky, and "Bru'd in Scotland from girders", though the closest one can come to substantiating this claim is the 0.002% ammonium ferric citrate listed in the ingredients!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Edradour Distillery

Edradour is a Highland single-malt whisky made in Pitlochry, Perthshire, from the distillery of the same name, which is reputed to be the smallest in Scotland. Established in 1825, the distillery has always been run by three men. Only twelve casks are produced each week. They have a free tour which includes a dram. I have visited the distillery on three occasions - so far!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 14 February 2009


What could be nicer for a romantic candlelight supper on Valentine's Day?

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours.

Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: swede and potatoes, boiled and mashed separately) and a "dram" (i.e. a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of a Burns supper.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Arbroath Smokies

What could be nicer for those of you who like to eat fish on Friday's?

The Arbroath Smokie originally came from the small fishing village of Auchmithie, 3 miles North-East of Arbroath. Local legend has it that a store caught fire one night, destroying barrels of Haddock preserved in salt. The following morning, the people of Auchmithie came to clean up the ruin and found some of the barrels had caught fire, cooking the Haddock inside. Further inspections revealed the Haddock was edible and quite tasty.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Bagpipes at the Vatican

Sadly, Pope Benedict XVI has had a bit of hard time of it recently - at least as far as the press goes.

I fear he will not be in the good books of the Scotsman Newspaper if this is his idea of a Scottish pipe-band! Hopefully this charming photo was not taken on Hogmanay!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Is this the Papal Tartan?

Here we see a clergyman (whom I unable to identify) pictured with Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

The photo looks a fairly official one, so I am wondering whether this is the Vatican tartan? It looks nothing special to me.

I shall probably be excommunicated for having written this, or face the wrath of kilt expert David - who left a comment on yesterday's posting.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Inverness Kilt Maker

Just down the road from St Mary's Catholic Church we have the Scottish Kilt-maker Shop and Visitor Centre.

I am not sure whether there is an official diocesan tartan or papal tartan. I have not seen any of the clergy wearing kilts - but it is freezing cold at present, and something a little warmer is called for!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Footbridge over the River Ness

I do enjoy walking over this bridge when I visit St Mary's Church - it is very wobbly!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

On this first day of the week let us raise a paean of praise!

Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
Almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

God is my help

Here we see the Arms of Prince Philip - the Duke of Edinburgh.

Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in November 1947. The motto on his arms is a good one.

Friday, 6 February 2009

God save the Queen!

Today we celebrate the 57th Anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She became Queen before I was conceived in my mother's womb. They are both remarkable women!

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

St Mary's Inverness

Further down the West Bank of the River Ness we come to St Mary's Church.

St Mary's is the principal Roman Catholic Church in Inverness, and is very close to the city centre. It was built in 1837 by William Robertson in Gothic Revival manner. It was re-decorated recently and a new stained-glass window was installed to mark the Millennium and the Great Year of Jubilee.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Inverness Cathedral

Here we have another photo of Inverness Cathedral on the West bank of the River Ness.

St Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. As you can see, the Cathedral is in a beautiful setting.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

St Blaise

May God at the intercession of St. Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil. Amen.

Let us especially remember in our prayers today all those who sing in church choirs.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Candlemas Day

Today is the 40th day of Christmas and brings the festive season to a close. I shall have to chop up my lovely Christmas tree tomorrow and remove all the winter foliage from the house.

When candles are lighted on Candlemas Day
the dark is behind us, and spring's on the way.
A glory dawns in every dark place,
the light of Christ, the fullness of grace.

The kings have departed, the shepherds have gone,
the child and his parents are left on their own.
A glory dawns in every dark place,
the light of Christ, the fullness of grace.

They go to the temple, obeying the law,
and offer two pigeons, the gift of the poor.
A glory dawns in every dark place,
the light of Christ, the fullness of grace.

The light is increasing and spring's in the air.
Look back with thanksgiving! Look forward with prayer!
A glory dawns in every dark place,
the light of Christ, the fullness of grace.

The candles invite us to praise and to pray
when Christmas greets Easter on Candlemas Day.
A glory dawns in every dark place,
the light of Christ, the fullness of grace.

What a lovely carol! I read in The Tablet this weekend that Candlemas Day is midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, so there is more accuracy in these words than I previously realised.

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Well here she is! Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. I have to confess that I have not seen her - yet, but I am sure it will not be long before we meet each other.

The earliest legend about the Loch Ness monster recorded is the story of St. Columba's encounter with the beast. St Columba set out to mainland Scotland on a pilgrimage to spread Christianity across the land.

During this time, on his way to visit with the Pictish king in Inverness, he encountered some Picts burying what remained of one of their own people - badly savaged by a creature in the Loch. The dead mans boat lay on the other side of the water, so Columba ordered one of his followers to swim over and retrieve the boat.

During this the servant was attacked by a creature that reared out of the Loch to attack the swimmer. Columba (invoking the name of God) commanded the beast to return to whence it came and it vanished beneath the waters of the Loch leaving the swimming man unharmed.

Small wonder the newest Catholic Church in Inverness (consecrated on 1 November 2008) is dedicated to St Columba.

Happy Sunday!