Friday, 30 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 6

Here are some fabulous redcurrants ready for The Queen's Table!

Here is a recipe from Delia Smith for Redcurrant Jelly.

One preserve that has suffered bitterly from commercialism is redcurrant jelly: so often it is sickly sweet and the flavour of the redcurrants is lost among other ingredients.

Luckily, I've found an extremely easy recipe for making it from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1840). Her name for it was 'Superlative Redcurrant Jelly'. This recipe makes almost 1 litre, but the process is exactly the same for a larger quantity.

Makes two 0.5 litre jars

2 lb (900 g) redcurrants
2 lb (900 g) sugar (to speed dissolving, this can be warmed in the oven)

You will also need 1 pack muslin from the chemists, 1 large nylon sieve, waxed discs and two 0.5 litre jars.

The first easy thing is that there's no need to go through the tedious business of stripping the currants from the stalks. Just place the washed fruit – stalks and all – in a preserving pan, bring slowly to the boil and stir, pressing the redcurrants to break down the fruit and release the juice.

As soon as the fruit is cooked (about 10 minutes), add the sugar, stir until absolutely dissolved, then bring the mixture up to a rapid boil, and boil for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, place a large nylon sieve over a bowl and line it with a double layer of gauze.

Then, when the 8 minutes are up, tip the whole lot into the sieve and let it drip through. If you don't mind not having a completely clear jelly, you can press to extract as much as possible.

Then pour the jelly into the jars, which have been washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Michaelmas Day

These Michaelmas Daisies remind us todays feast. A good excuse for us to sing one of my favourite hymns. And what a fabulous paean of praise it is too - 26 alleluias, enthusiastic singing, thundering organ - and bells! One might be forgiven for thinking one was in heaven!

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 5

Here is a general view of the kitchen garden at Balmoral.

We can be sure that The Queen gets her 5 A DAY!

Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, and growing your own can be a fun and satisfying way to help you and your family get 5 A DAY.

Fruit and vegetables are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, yet most of us don't eat enough of them.

People who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers. That’s why it’s important to remember your 5 A DAY portions when you do your weekly shop.

But there is another way to get more fruit and vegetables into your kitchen. Growing your own ensures you get the freshest pick of the crop, and could save you money.

It's easier than you think, and you can do it even if you don’t have a garden or plot of land.

Gardening is a healthy form of physical activity. It may also help relieve stress and improve your mental wellbeing. Getting children involved can be a good way to encourage them to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Remember to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before you eat or prepare them.


From the Court Circular
September 27th
The Queen this morning visited Crathie Primary School, Crathie, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, and was received by the Headmistress (Mrs Lilian Field).
Her Majesty, escorted by the Headmistress, toured the School, viewing classroom activities and the wildlife and vegetable gardens, and met pupils and members of staff.

The highlighting is of course mine, but it is good seeing The Queen take such a keen interest in the vegetable garden. I wonder whether she was given any produce to take back for The Royal Table?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 4

Here we see hens to provide eggs for the Royal Table.

Here is a recipe for Queen of Puddings - be sure to use 2 large eggs from the Royal Farm! This, with a cloud of meringue on top, is probably one of the lightest and most mouthwatering puddings ever invented. The recipe is provided by Delia Smith.

Serves 4


1 pint (570 ml) milk
½ oz (10 g) butter
4 oz (110 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 oz (50 g) golden caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
grated zest of 1 small lemon
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).


You will also need a 1½ pint (850 ml) oval pie dish, generously buttered.


First, pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, breadcrumbs, 1 oz (25 g) of the sugar and the lemon zest, and leave for 20 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to swell.

Now separate the eggs, lightly beat the yolks and add them to the cooled breadcrumb mixture. Pour it all into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until set.

Meantime, in a small saucepan melt the raspberry jam over a low heat and, when the pudding is ready, remove it from the oven and spread the jam carefully and evenly all over the top. Next, using an electric hand whisk, lightly beat the egg whites in a large scrupulously clean bowl until stiff, then whisk in 1 oz (25 g) of the caster sugar and spoon this meringue mixture over the pudding.

Finally, sprinkle the teaspoon of caster sugar over it all and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Note If you want to serve 8 people, double the ingredients, use a 3 pint (1.75 litre) baking dish and give both stages a fraction more cooking time.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 3

Not everything that is grown in the garden at Balmoral will be eaten at the table - there are also flowers to adorn the table at meal times - such as this rose.

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.


Please note - Her Majesty The Queen was present when this anthem was sung at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Lord expects us to work hard and faithfully in his vineyard.

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

O let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
And then in Heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 2

Here is glimpse of the Castle in Royal Deeside where Her Majesty spends the months of August and September each year.

This Scottish Castle has been loved by our Monarchs from Queen Victoria down to our present Queen Elizabeth II. Whilst in residence, The Queen attends Divine Service at nearby Crathie Kirk every Sunday morning at 11.30 am. The preacher arrives at the Castle on the Saturday afternoon and dines at The Queen's Table on the Saturday evening. The preacher spends the night in the Castle and returns for Sunday lunch after the service. The preacher departs on the Sunday afternoon.

Our next few posts will offer some idea of what items might appear on The Queen's Table.

By the way, if Her Majesty is reading this blog, I am pleased to inform her that I would happily accept an invitation to preach at Crathie Kirk. I never go on for more than 10 minutes, so the Sunday lunch will not be spoilt! It is perhaps helpful to point out that I am not keen on cauliflower.

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Queen's Table - 1

On 31st July I arrived at Balmoral Castle with the intention of visiting the garden. The gatehouse staff obviously realised that I am a bit of a VIP, and so invited me to park my scooter right outside the main gate whilst I spent two happy hours in the Castle grounds - honest! A group of German tourists even took my photo.

This was the very last day that the grounds were open to the general public until next Easter. Her Majesty The Queen was staying at Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh following the Royal Wedding on 30 July, and was due to arrive at Balmoral later that week for an eight week break from official duties. Her Majesty and the Royal Court would be eating plenty of fresh food during these days of relaxation, and the kitchen garden was well stocked for the impending visit. I shall be sharing with you some of the delights that would soon be gracing The Queen's Table. This will all lead into our celebration of Harvest Festival at the beginning of October.

Let's commence our Royal Tour with the singing of the National Anthem.

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, 22 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 20

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the way?' But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)

Here we see The Right Reverend Hugh Gilbert OSB, The Right Reverend Mark Strange, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

The Right Reverend Hugh Gilbert is the Bishop of Aberdeen. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 June 2011. He had previously served as Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey. He was ordained bishop by Cardinal Keith O'Brien on 15 August 2011.

The Right Reverend Mark Strange was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness in St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness on Saturday 13 October 2007. He was elected as the new bishop on 2 June 2007.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. Cardinal O’Brien was nominated on 30 May 1985 and was ordained to the episcopate on 5 August 1985. Pope John Paul II created him a Cardinal on 21 October 2003.

I am of course only joking about them arguing with one another about who is the greatest. No, they were arguing about who should say grace at the reception in the Town House!

It was great seeing these three church leaders playing such a central role in the celebration on 25 August 2011.

One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me travelling along with you:
And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

Round the corners of the world I turn,
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see
you'll be looking at along with me: Refrain

As I travel through the bad and good,
keep me travelling the way I should;
where I see no way to go
you'll be telling me the way, I know: Refrain

Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me travelling along with you: Refrain

You are older than the world can be,
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me travelling along with you: Refrain

Well, tomorrow the blog changes into Autumnal colours as we head off to Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 19

One of the people who took part in the Academic Procession was Dr Meg Bateman, Lecturer, Sbhal Mor Ostaig, UHI. Meg has written a poem entitled 'Let the Northern land shine' to celebrate the inauguration the new university. She recited it (along with two colleagues) at the inaugural ceremony. The poem is very beautiful, and is reproduced below,


The university looks like a chart of the stars,
thirteen constellations spangling the land
of colleges with their planets in room and hut,
scattered over islands, folded into glens.
Windows shine in the dark of the night
with the ghostly glow of computer screens,
a phosphorescent net with a catch of thought
holds the craggy land in its mesh,
from Lerwick in the north, Whalsay and Unst,
to Dunoon in the south and Campbeltown beyond,
from Elgin, Buckie and Keith in the east,
to Lewis and Uist, Benbecula and Barra.
Yet without approaching these wave-pounded coasts
with their cliffs and gloups, their skerries and stacks,
serene voices enter the debate
online in America, Germany, Japan.


It was said St Columba made the northern land shine,
with his understanding of Scripture, of tides and moon,
the illumination of manuscripts and singing of psalms
in monasteries perched in the desert of the ocean
and thrust beyond Drumalban, in Monymusk and Deer.
The Picts, carvers of bent rods and zigzags,
of discs and crescents, combs, and mirrors,
must have had schools to share their templates
of symbol s and beasts, to teach ogham
and to plan their intricate, whirling designs.

The learning of the Norse in Scotland has gone,
lost in language, overtaken by change,
yet they trained smiths to make jewellery and arms,
tailors, sail-makers, skalds and wrights.
Rognvaldr Kali Kolsson was educated well:
“There are nine skills known to me:
At tables I play ably,
Rarely do I run out of runes,
Reading, smith-craft, both come ready.
I can skim the ground on skis,
Wield a bow, do well in rowing,
To both arts I can bend my mind –
Poet's lay and harper's playing."
In the golden peace of the Lordship of the Isles
MacMhuirich poets kept a school in Uist,
Beaton doctors had a school in Mull
where Avicenna, Hippocrates and Galen were read,
and Morrison breves taught the law in Ness.
Experts came over drawn from Ireland:
Ó Brolcháin and Ó Cuinn came to Iona to twine
winding foliage round the high crosses,
Ó Seanog played on the harp in Kintyre,
Cú Chulainn himself came for martial training.
And who knows if the great stone circles
of Callanish and Orkney were lunar labs,
or how the geometry was worked out
of the carved stone balls at Skara Brae,
or in what groves the druids rehearsed their arts?


So much has been lost
of the learning of the past,
forgotten through spite and abjection,
but from fractured rocks
fresh flowers will blow,
and puffins fly from the fissures.
The land heaves a sigh
from the weight of the ice,
the population begins to recover
from the years the youth
would make for the south,
the place robbed of their hopeful spirit.


We look out on hills and woods
while contemplating cause and effect
and the sea stretching silver around the globe,
just as those others, with quill in hand,
would pause and peer from corbelled hut
to delight in the sunlight, the arrival of ships.
Some died serene, some were murdered,
some grew lonely, lacking books and guidance,
their minds vast in the narrowness of their days.
Rev. Colin Campbell, minister of Ardchattan,
would write in Latin to Sir Isaac Newton
for a chance to discuss astronomy and maths,
and his struggle killed the mason Hugh Miller
who tried by himself over in Cromarty
to make Genesis agree with the fossils on the beach.

But now there are libraries, real and virtual,
the goodwill of the Parliament to own our own,
and the internet to open our conversations wide.
Though the tides brush out our ripples in the sand,
the northern land again will shine
with the aurora dancing above our thought.

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 18

Here we see The Chair of the University Court and (on his left) the Principal and Vice-Chancellor (James A Fraser) posing for this photo.

James Fraser has now been involved in the creation of three Scottish Universities!

Brought up in Inverinate, he was a pupil at Plockton High School before going on to the University of Edinburgh where he gained a first-class MA honours degree in mental philosophy. He also has a Master of Education degree from the University of Stirling.

He began his career as a lecturer in English and Liberal Studies at the former Inverness Technical College and later moved into senior management roles over 23 years for the University of Stirling, the former Queen Margaret College (now Queen Margaret University) in Edinburgh and latterly at the University of Paisley (now the University of the West of Scotland) as Secretary.

James Fraser joined UHI Millennium Institue as Secretary in September 2002, also becoming Deputy Principal in 2007.

He became the first Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands in February 2011.

Monday, 19 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 17

The gentleman on the left of this photo is Dr Jamie Grant - the Vice-Principal of the Highland Theological College UHI. Jamie gave me a very warm welcome when I visited the College in Dingwall last January.

A key person in the celebration was Professor MacIver - the Chair of the University Court - and we shall have another photo featuring him tomorrow.

Professor Matthew MacIver is one of Scotland's most distinguished public servants and a leading Gaelic champion. The former Chair of the Gaelic development agency Bord na Gaidhlig and retired Chief Executive and registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, he was appointed by the UHI Board of Governors in 2009.

Lewis-born Professor MacIver was formerly the Rector of Fortrose Academy in Ross-shire and the Royal High School of Edinburgh, Scotland's oldest school. He has chaired the Highlands and Islands Educational Trust since 1994.

Professor MacIver's services to education were honoured with a CBE. In 2008 he was awarded an honorary professorship in recognition of his work for the advancement of Gaelic, and his long and esteemed service to the teaching profession.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today we hear one of the parables of the workers in the vineyard.

Forth in thy Name, O Lord, I go,
my daily labour to pursue;
thee, only thee, resolved to know
in all I think or speak or do.

The task thy wisdom hath assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
in all my works thy presence find,
and prove thy good and perfect will.

Thee may I set at my right hand,
whose eyes mine inmost substance see,
and labour on at thy command,
and offer all my works to thee.

Give me to bear thy easy yoke,
and every moment watch and pray,
and still to things eternal look,
and hasten to thy glorious day.

For thee delightfully employ
whate'er thy bounteous grace hath given;
and run my course with even joy,
and closely walk with thee to heav'n.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 16

One important person who I have failed to make mention of so far is our Rector, Garry Coutts. Here we see him in the middle of the photo waiting for the RAF flypast. The back of his head is framed by the flower displays!

Garry Coutts, chair of NHS Highland, became our Rector in 2010. The former Highland Councillor took over from Dr Val MacIver OBE who served the maximum two three-year terms in the important ambassadorial role which also involves chairing the university's Foundation Community Link Group.

Foundation members - who represent local communities, businesses, public bodies, and staff and students - elected Mr Coutts to the post.

He has been a high-profile public servant for many years. He is Convener of the Scottish Social Services Council, a member of both the Care Commission and the Looked After Children's Strategic Implementation Group, and Chair of the Children's Services National Commissioning Group. He is also in business as Director of The Communications Skills Company.

In short, he is a VIP!

Friday, 16 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 15

Another fabulous view of the mace!

The mace is made from silver and wood - with indigenous Scottish light ash for the shaft - and some gold and mixed metals in the detail. The ornamentation symbolises sand and beaches, water and air, while the lower mount is adorned with three 18ct yellow gold wires depicting mountains. A concave plate is mounted at the very bottom of the mace, reflecting the theme of water and waves.

The mace is engraved with the names of our sponsor universities. At the crown there is a slightly domed top plate engraved with the name of our university.

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 14

Here we see magnificent Inverness Castle across the River Ness from our processional route. This is a suitable moment to ponder on the wider implications of UHI.

An economic impact report showed that UHI contributes £191 million every year to the Scottish economy and supports 3,300 full-time jobs. The independent report by BiGGAR Economics also detailed that we help to sustain an added contribution of £202 million every year, and 2,700 jobs, through the further education provision of our 13 academic partners and research institutions.

We're proud that for every £1 invested in the University of the Highlands and Islands, we put back nearly £4 into the Scottish economy.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor James Fraser said: "This research showed that investment in the university from the public purse has a demonstrable benefit. It reaffirms our belief that we can make a tangible economic difference in partnership with our constituent college and research centres."

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 13

The academic procession was very orderly - there was real pride processing through the city to the Town House. Hundreds of people lined the processional route. Here we see it PASSING The Whisky Shop! It would not have be so orderly had it gone VIA the shop!

More than 2,500 people have achieved a broad range of qualifications over the last 12 months with the university, including higher national certificates and diplomas, degrees and professional awards.

The university now has over 8,000 students and more than 100 undergraduate and postgraduate courses in diverse subjects reflective of the culture, heritage, and aspirations of the region.

Information technologies, including video conferencing, enable us to link up students and staff in our island and rural communities. Our courses enable a diverse range of students to study when and where it suits them.

Let us now listen to Diane Bish play the hymn tune for 'Lift high the cross'.

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 12

Here we see the academic procession making its way past St Andrew's Cathedral on the banks of the River Ness.

The Highlands and Islands have been campaigning for a university in the region, on and off, since 1653 when the writer and translator Sir Thomas Urquhart put foreword ambitious plans from his estate at Cromarty.

In 1991 Highlands and Islands Development Board commissioned Professor Sir Graham Hills, formally Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, to report on how it might be achieved. His report confirmed the scope for a federal, collegiate university based on existing further education colleges, and in 1992 the University of the Highlands and Islands Project was born - leading to the creation of UHI Millennium Institute.

UHI Millennium Institute became a higher education institution in 2001, and was granted its own taught degree awarding powers in August 2008.

Monday, 12 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 11

'The first shall be last, and the last shall be first!' Here we see three senior clerics taking up the rear of the academic procession.

It is pleasing to note that the Cardinal acknowledged the humble deacon taking the photo!

Nathan Shields, President of the University of the Highlands and Islands Students' Association, said: "This was a landmark day for the Highlands and Islands, especially for our young people who no longer have to leave the region if they want to go to university."

Nathan represents ore than 8,000 students in our partner college and centres across the region. He gained his degree in popular music performance at Perth College UHI. From Inverness, where his family run a storage company, Nathan is planning a career in business or politics. In the meantime he is busy strengthening the student voice.

'Going to college or university is a big part of people's lives and the experience needs to be valuable. Institutions have to listen to their students and work together for a brighter future. My job is to get the student voice out there - I am really passionate about that," Nathan said.

'The university has a diverse student population and I intend to carry on the great work that is bringing our partnership closer together, spreading good practices for everyone to share."

It was Nathan who wrote to me with the news that the university's Students' Association had awarded me with the title of Most Innovative Lecturer at UHI for the 2010-11 session. I am to be presented with a trophy and certificate at the Eden Court Theatre on Friday 30 September. Sadly, I don't think the Cardinal will be attending!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

'...he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt.' Words from the Gospel of the day.

“Forgive our sins as we forgive,”
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But You alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.

How can Your pardon reach and bless
The un-forgiven heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

In blazing light Your cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
How trifling others’ debts to us;
How great our debt to You!

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then, by Your mercy reconciled,
Our lives will spread Your peace.

King James Bible for Inverness Kirking of the Council

A 400-year-old Bible is to be used in a ceremony in Inverness today. This ceremony also dates back to 1611.

The Kirking of the Council will see a procession of Highland councillors and local authority officials.

They will walk from Inverness town house to the city's oldest church, the Old High Church.

The historic ceremony seeks God's blessing on the work of elected members, officers and the life of the city.

Scripture readings will be read from a first edition copy of the King James Bible.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 10

Here we see Senior Academics from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Strathclyde - the three universities which paid for the magnificent new UHI mace.

The university title has been achieved with the crucial support of our three sponsor universities, all noted for substantial research expertise. They are all overseeing the continuing development of our research degrees, research capacity and university culture.

Our two faculties - Arts, Humanities and Business, and Science, Health and Education - offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in subjects including: arts, humanities and social sciences; creative industries; Gaelic medium studies; education and childcare; health and wellbeing; business and leisure; environmental and rural studies; science and technology; and engineering and construction, all tailored to meet the needs of the region and beyond.

The faculties lead our research and commercial activities, and work with partners in industry to make subjects relevant to the world of work.

We are the first higher education institution to publish a Gaelic Language Plan, setting out learning opportunities for staff, students and the wider public, among other strategic objectives, over four years.

Whether it is providing a qualification in a range of Gaelic studies, helping to train Gaelic-medium teachers, or communicating with students, staff and the public in both Gaelic and English, including bi-lingual greeting from the executive office reception desk, we are proud of our commitment to the language and the culture.


Friday, 9 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 9

Behind the mace bearer we have on the left James M Fraser MA MEd FRSA - the Principal and Vice-Chancellor. On the right we see Professor Matthew MacIver CBE - Chair of the University Court.

These high ranking officials are wearing magnificent new robes made by Ede and Ravenscroft - a firm with no fewer than three Royal Warrants!

The new university was officially born on 1 February 2011, evolving from the higher education institution UHI Millennium Institute.

Professor MacIver said: "This was a defining day in the history of the Highlands and Islands. For centuries we have been exporting intellectual talent to all corners of the globe. We are now at a point where that flow can be reversed."

James Fraser added: "I must pay tribute to all of our students, staff and supporters who have contributed to this marvellous achievement. Granting university status is an irrevocable act and not done lightly and hastily. A great debt is owed to those who had the vision to set off on this journey and to our many supporters who have stayed the distance with us.

"We are a leading institution in widening access to higher education and lifelong learning. Our new status as a university will assist us in attracting more young people and in recruiting students from beyond the region."

Thursday, 8 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 8

At long last we have our first sight of the magnificent new mace!

Our beautiful new mace, to be used for years to come at graduation ceremonies across the region, symbolises the Highlands and Islands. The mace took centre stage at the ceremony.

Gifted by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Stathclyde, the University of the Higlands and Islands mace has been designed by Edinburgh College of Art's jewellery and silversmithing department, and made by Edinburgh silversmiths Hamilton and Inches.

Edinburgh College of Art department and project head Stephen Bottomley said:"We were delighted to be asked to take on this exciting project for a new and innovative university and have created a design reflecting the rich diversity of land, sea and air and their combined elemental strength."

These inspiring words of Stephen Bottomley lead us into our hymn for today.

The God whom earth and sea and sky
adore and laud and magnify,
whose might they own, whose praise they swell,
in Mary's womb vouchsafed to dwell.

The Lord whom sun and moon obey,
whom all things serve from day to day,
was by the Holy Ghost conceived
of her who through his grace believed.

How blessed that Mother, in whose shrine
the world's Creator, Lord divine,
whose hand contains the earth and sky,
once deigned, as in his ark, to lie.

Blessed in the message Gabriel brought,
blessed by the work the Spirit wrought;
from whom the great Desire of earth
took human flesh and human birth.

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to thee
eternal praise and glory be,
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 7

The pipe band was led by the drum major.

To the uneducated, this is merely a ceremonial role. In reality, the role is most important - similar to that of the MC at a Solemn Mass. The MC might appear to do very little, but that is because he has organised things well. A poor MC will look very busy, because things are in such a mess!

This drum major was in full command of proceedings and the procession went without a hitch. The processional route passed St Andrew's Cathedral Inverness, which has more right to the title of 'Highland Cathedral' than Dunblane Cathedral!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 6

Here we see the start of the academic procession from Eden Court Theatre to the Town House.

The procession was led my members of the Royal British Legion Pipe Band - a magnificent sight and sound!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Braemar Gathering

HM The Queen and the Prime Minister attended the annual Braemar Gathering on Saturday 3 September.

This photo would make a good caption competition! I wonder what Samantha Cameron has just said to the Duke of Edinburgh? His Royal Highness is 90 years old and clearly enjoying himself.

Thousands of people have been enjoying Highland dancing and pipe bands at the Braemar Highland Gathering. The Queen and Prince Philip were among the spectators at Royal Deeside. The Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife also attended the event which is traditionally held on the first Saturday of September.

There had been some speculation that Prince William and his wife Catherine might also be there.

The Gathering, held at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, is seen as the biggest event in the Highland Games calendar. It has a long history and in its modern form it stretches back nearly 200 years.

Competitors take part in events including hammer throwing, caber tossing and tug-o-war.

Her Majesty is currently enjoying a stay at Balmoral Castle, and this blog will be paying a visit later in the month.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today we hear Jesus tell us, 'for where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.'

Jesus, where'er thy people meet,
there they behold thy mercy seat;
where'er they seek thee thou art found,
and every place is hallowed ground.

For thou, within no walls confined,
dost dwell with those of humble mind;
such ever bring thee where they come,
and, going, take thee to their home.

Great Shepherd of thy chosen few,
thy former mercies here renew;
here, to our waiting hearts, proclaim
the sweetness of thy saving Name.

Here may we prove the power of prayer
to strengthen faith and sweeten care;
to teach our faint desires to rise,
and bring all heaven before our eyes.

Lord, we are few, but thou art near;
nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;
O rend the heavens, come quickly down,
and make a thousand hearts thine own!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 5

Here is map showing the location of each of our fourteen campuses...

...and here is list of the campuses:

Argyll College UHI
Highland Theological College UHI
Inverness College UHI
Lews Castle College UHI
Moray College UHI
NAFC Marine Centre UHI
North Highland College UHI
Orkney College UHI
Perth College UHI
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI
Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI
Shetland College UHI
West Highland College UHI
UHI Executive Office

This map helps to show what a significant event the creation of UHI is. Prior to the establishment of the new university, students from the Highlands and Islands had to travel often vast distances to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, or Stirling for their university education (assuming they wanted to stay within Scotland, which most did). Now university education is available on their doorstep.

Friday, 2 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 4

Tornado flies over 10 UHI sites in 60-minute tribute.

Quoting from the BBC News:

A Tornado GR4 jet has made fly-pasts of 10 University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) sites across Scotland in less than 60 minutes.

The flight by an RAF Lossiemouth crew was part of celebrations formally marking the creation of the university.

Starting at 12:30 the jet flew over colleges in Moray, Inverness, Argyll, Lochaber, Skye, Shetland before flying back over the Highlands to its station.

The GR4 attack aircraft can reach speeds of about 950mph.

A further fly-past over Inverness during a procession is expected later.

I was able to take a photo of the fly-past during the procession in Inverness.

The timing was almost to the second! Grateful thanks to the RAF for making this novel and symbolic contribution to our day of celebration.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

UHI Celebration - 3

The destination for the procession from Eden Court theatre was the magnificent Town House in Inverness, where the Provost and Councillors greeted the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, the Chair of the University Court, the President of the UHI Students' Association, and the Rector.

Inverness Town House, on the corner of Castle Street and High Street. Built between 1878 and 1882 by the architects Matthews and Lawrie, the building was the scene of an historic meeting of the British Cabinet in September 1921.This was the first cabinet meeting of the British Government ever held outside London.

The Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was on holiday at Gairloch in Wester Ross when he discovered that Ireland had rejected the King and Empire. He decided to call the cabinet at Inverness, rather than travel back to London, as his deputy was at Beaufort and King George V at Moy. Out of this meeting arose the 'Inverness Formula' which created the basis of the discussions at the seminar where the Treaty creating the Irish Free State was agreed.