Travel, Uncategorized

Bratislava 

Bratislava is a city unlike any I have ever been to before. It boasts a population of 450,000 and is the capital of Slovakia, the only national capital in the world to border two countries, with those being Hungary and Austria. The beautiful buildings, landmarks and streets that make up the city makes Bratislava look like the kind of city you wouldn’t see out of place in a fairytale.

For a Scotsman in a European city there was only one thing that stood out the most for me though, it is really cheap, like seriously cheap! You tend to find that when you travel abroad you have to limit yourself to a budget for each day, but in Bratislava even when you’re living like a king or Queen you have the potential to underspend which is awesome! I was eating meals, drinking several pints in different restaurants and bars and my cheque was rarely over €10 each time which is phenomenal!


Before I got there I was a bit worried as I had a preconceived idea about eastern Europeans being rough and the cities being rough places, that was ignorance on my part. Once I got there, I discovered that the people were some of the friendliest you could meet with the vast majority being able to speak at least some basic English. Perhaps the most ironic thing being that I have felt safer in Bratislava than I have in the majority of cities I have visited.

What is there to do?

For a relatively small city there is plenty to keep you busy with, with the old town in particular being full of landmarks, sites and views that will make you fall in love with Bratislava:



There are numerous places in Bratislava such as Bratislava castle, Michael’s Gate, St Martin’s cathedral, Slavín, Roland fountain, Man at work, Devin castle, Bratislava zoo, Slovak national museum, old town hall etc and so many more. One of the perks about Bratislava is that it is a relatively quiet city, unlike many other cities where you struggle to walk down the street due to the number of tourists. There are very few quese and most of the landmarks provide you with breathing space, unlike in other cities.

I am currently sitting writing this in the Kava bar just off Zamocka Street, a smashing wee hipster cafe that appears to be pretty popular with the locals. It’s moments like these that I love when I’m abroad, chilling out watching the world go by, embracing the culture. There are plenty of little gems like these throughout Bratislava, be sure to check one out if you get the chance!



A walk down by the river Danube or a walk over the most snp is also a really enjoyable walk, giving you spectacular views of Bratislava. The Slovak pub is also a must when visiting, with amazingly tasty food and drink available for very cheap prices it’s easy to see why it has such a great reputation. The food is honestly out of this world!


How to get there

Bratislava airport (BTS) is the airport which serves the city. Situated about 5.6 miles outside of the city centre, there are several buses that go between the airport and the city centre. If you take the number 61 bus from the airport it will take you to the main train station, Hlavna Stanica. The number 93 bus will take you from there to the city centre. An hour ticket for the bus will cost you around €1.30, remember what I was saying about it being cheap?! If you do decide to take the bus make sure you buy your ticket before boarding the bus and make sure you get it validated when you get on, as at occasional stops a conductor will get on to double check tickets so you’re better safe than sorry!


Travelling to Vienna

I would highly recommend taking a day trip or an overnighter to Vienna whilst you’re in Bratislava. With the cities being so close it’s well worth the while taking advantage of. There is a direct train from Bratislava (Hlavna Stanica) to Vienna central station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) called the city shuffle which lasts around an hour and a half. I purchased a one way ticket from Bratislava for €12 and a one way ticket from Vienna for €10, so it’s very affordable. The two cities are unique in their own ways, Bratislava being the small, cute and cheap city and Vienna being the big, mesmerising expensive city. I will do a post on Vienna at a later date.


Bratislava is a wonderful little city that if you get the chance to visit, you should definitely go to! From the narrow streets of the old town to the spectacular sites and views it is a city that you will be sure to fall in love with. Happy travels!


Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

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Educational, Gaelic, Uncategorized

The Scottish Gàidhlig revival

In the year 1891 it was estimated that over 210,000 people in Scotland spoke gaelic, with gaelic being the only language that just over 43,000 people could speak. Fast forward 120 years to 2011 and that number had massively decreased to a mere 87,000 people with just over 57,000 being able to speak it fluently. These statistics obviously show that within that time period there was a massive decline in Gaelic speakers, but will that decline continue to happen over the next 120 years? I decided to do a little research and to my surprise, I discovered that Scottish Gaelic is going through a bit of a revival at the moment.

The decline.

The decline of speakers is due to a vast amount of factors which have each played their part for hundreds of years. The school establishment act of 1616 was probably where it all began though, the act which said Gaelic should be “abolished and removit” from Scotland also claimed that Gaelic was the reason for “barbarity and incivility” in the Highlands and Isles.

18th century

When the jacobite rebellion of 1745 had ended, it would become one of the major downfalls of Gaelic. Many speakers had died in battle, were captured and murdered or were held prisoner/sent as Indentured servants to the colonies after the battle of Culloden. In 1747 in response to the rebellion the British government introduced the heritable jurisdictions act which ultimately lead to the Highland clearances. This led to an estimated 200,000 – 270,000 Highlanders being displaced from their homes and/or emigrating abroad with many of the settlers arriving in Nova Scotia (new Scotland), Canada.

stkilda-1800s
Men of St Kilda awaiting removal – credit Clan Duncan Society

19th & 20th century

The introduction of the education act of 1872 in Scotland proved to be another downfall of the Gaelic language. It meant that only the English language was taught in Scotland. Pupils who spoke Gaelic were often teased by other classmates, belted by their teachers or could face corporal punishment if they did not give up the names of other speakers. Emigration being another big contribution to the decline, it’s estimated that over 500,000 Scots emigrated to the United States, Canada and Australia over the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The revival

The first time I probably saw the Gaelic language in writing was on a road sign up the North of Scotland many years ago. In 2001 when the Scottish government announced plans to erect bilingual signage along many of the trunk roads in the Highlands, it was met with praise but also with fierce criticism. Critics argued that they were a “waste of money” and “potentially dangerous” but there is no evidence of this at all. Fast forward a number of years from when I first saw the Gaelic Road signs, there is now a Gaelic translation for almost every train station in Scotland.

roadsignXSmall.JPG
A Scottish Road sign in Gaelic and English

Over the last decade or two there seems to have been major political boosts for the Gaelic language. The Gaelic language act (2005) was set out to secure Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, and on the 13th of February 2006 Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established as a public body in which it is “responsible for the preservation of Gaelic as an official language which enjoys the same respect as English”.

The introduction of the Gaelic schools capital fund in 2008 has led to the number of young people in Gaelic medium education to increase by a staggering 32%. There are over 40 primary schools on the mainland in which Gaelic is taught, with over 20 secondary schools teaching it aswell. All western Isles schools teach Gaelic. In Nova Scotia, Canada in 2014/15 there were 555 pupils participating in Gaelic education across 10 different schools. With many universities across Scotland offering Gaelic courses aswell as in the USA where there are 9 universities offering Gaelic degrees. There are many online and free courses available too, aswell as many apps for mobile phones. The local councils in Scotland also offer courses and classes for the language aswell, these are often fully booked though (speaking from personal experience) which is a really positive sign.

Gaelic is also thriving in the arts scene just now, with many listeners tuning into BBC radio Gaelic. With regards to TV, BBC alba which is only available to those who receive satellite TV has reached an astonishing 600,000 viewers in the past, which is 10x the amount of speakers! Many folk singers and their songs have also inspired people to take up an interest in the language. Singers such as Julie Fowlis, who sings in Scottish Gaelic and in English and who won folk singer of the year in 2008 has reached people from all over the world. With songs featured in the Disney film brave, many people who watched the film and liked her songs took up an interest in the language which is clear judging by the comments you will find on her youtube videos. Many festivals celebrating folk and Gaelic music are now available from Scotland to Canada. Celtic colours international festival being a major festival on Cape Breton.

Julie-Fowlis-Gach-Sgeul-Every-Story-album-cover-50d9b5b76a.jpg
Julie Fowlis 2014 album cover

Perhaps the most recent surge in Gaelic enthusiasts can be credited to a series called outlander which is available on Starz and Amazon. Based on the books written by Diana Gabaldon it tells the story of an 1945 English nurse who travels back in time to the 18th century Scotland. The programme features dialogue in both English and in Gaelic and is popular with viewers all over the globe. The increase in youtube views since the release of outlander is what kind of made me question the revival of Gaelic. Videos on youtube of which when i had watched were sitting around 20,000 views and within around a year after the release of season 1 of outlander, were now sitting up at around 800,000 views! Which is a crazy increase!

Things are looking positive for Gaelic at the moment, with an evident increase in popularity and with the backing/promotion by the Scottish government it could well be on it’s way to becoming a well spoken language in Scotland again. It will be interesting to see how the revival plays out over the next decade or so but for the time being, things are looking really promising for the Gaelic language.

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

Educational, Gaelic, Uncategorized

Basic Scottish Gaelic phrases, part 2

Following up on my last post about basic Scottish Gaelic phrases, I thought I would add a couple more phrases to the list. If you never saw the last post I wrote then you can find it here:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/12/29/scottish-gaelic-phrases/

With the language going through a bit of a revival at the moment, due to more being done to encourage it and teach it than has been done in years (you could even argue centuries) and the demand for it growing, it is becoming a popular language to learn with not just Scots but with people across the globe!

I remember when I started learning the language many years ago I found it difficult to find pronunciations online so hopefully if you’re in the same boat as I was this will help you

Again, I have written out the English spelling, followed by the Gaelic spelling then the last line is how it is pronounced in Gaelic:

Where are you going? – Càit a bheil thu ‘dol? – Kahtch uh vil oo doll?

I’m going home – Tha mi ‘dol dhachaigh – ha mee doll ghachee

What is it? – Dè th’ann? – Jae ha-oon

What are you doing? – Dè tha thu ‘dèanamh? – Jae ha oo jee-annuv?

Are you coming? – A bheil thu ‘tighinn? – Uh vil oo tchee-een?

I don’t understand – Chan eil mi ‘tuigsinn – Chan yil mee took-sheen

Many thanks – Mòran taing – moe-ran ta-eeng

I don’t know – Chan eil fhios agam – Chan yil iss ackum

Can you say that again? – An can thu sin a-rithist? – Ung can oo shin uh ree-eeshtch?

Where’s….? – Càit a bheil….? – Kahtch uh vil…?

Where will I get…? – Càit am faigh mi…? – Kahtch um fa-ee mee…?

Is…. far from here? – A bheil…. fad às? – Uh vil…. fat ass?

Can you tell me? – An urrainn dhut innseadh dhomh? – Un oereen ghoot eenshugh ghoe?

How can I get to? – Ciamar a ruigeas mi? – Kimmer uh rook-yuss mee?

Congratulations! – Mealanaidheachd! – M-yallan eh-ochk

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Pittenweem

“Pittenweem, Pittenweem,
She’s every fisher laddie’s dream;
She guts the herrin doon by the quay,
And saves her kisses just for me.”

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Ahh Pittenweem (Baile na h-Uaimh in Scottish Gaelic), the beautiful little picturesque seaside village which sits on the coast of the kingdom of Fife. Sitting 11 miles south of St Andrews, the small fishing town with a population of around 1,700 people should be on your bucket list if you’re ever in the vicinity. Famous for its fish which are popular with families all across Scotland, it’s a village with a fascinating yet dark history.

What started off as an early Christian settlement many centuries ago, it was awarded the status of a Royal burgh by King James V in 1541. In 1705 it was the scene of a famous murder, in which a woman named Janet Cornfoot was falsely accused of being a witch and was lynched to death by a mob of locals. It’s history regarding witches is well worth a look into, as it’s very interesting.

The village is one that I hold close to my heart, with several of my relatives living in the village it’s a place where I spent a good number of days as a child visiting. It is also the place where my brother and my papa were laid to rest after they both sadly passed away, my brother loved it so much as a bairn that my parents decided it would be the best place to honour him. So it’s a place that holds a sentimental value to me naturally.

Onto a cheerier note though, if you’ve ever watched the visitscotland promo videos there’s a good chance you will have seen Pittenweem. Which brings me onto my next point, what to do?

The main place to go is the harbour, the views of the village from the pier is incredible. It is such a beautiful view, with the boats, shops and houses in the background it gives you a homely/calm feeling. It’s the type of view you would expect to see on a postcard. If you do visit the harbour then make sure you get yourself down to a place called the ice cream shop, the ice cream is truly phenomenal and with the amount of sweets available which are too good to turn down you’re sure to have a sugar rush for days.

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The ice cream shop at the harbour

Pittenweem priory was an augustinian priory which was built in 1318. Built over the ancient sacred cave associated with Saint Fillan, there is a stairwell linking the grounds to the cave but this has been closed off to members of the public. Although the site is now a parish kirk for the church of Scotland, the beautiful building still stands and is very impressive to visit. Most of the fortified east gatehouse still stands which can be dated back to the 15th century, as well as the gate house which is described as “one of Scotland’s best-preserved late medieval houses”.

St fillan’s cave is a hidden cave located on Cove wynd down next to the harbour. Being used as a chapel from the 7th century, it became popular with smugglers who used it for centuries but due to them using it as a rubbish dump the cave went off grid for a long time. In 1935 a horse fell down a hole which led to the rediscovery of the cave, and after being cleared of the rubbish it was refurbished and reopened to the public in 2000. The cave has a locked gate, but a key and an information leaflet are available from the Cocoa Tree Cafe which is close by at 9 High St. It costs £1 for an adult and kids go free. The church also occasionally holds services in the cave.

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St Fillan’s cave entrance on Cove wynd

There are several shops located throughout the town, as well as several beaches. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit when it’s sunny (which is a rarity for us in Scotland) then grab an ice cream and go sit down at the beach, it’s honestly sheer bliss.

 

Pittenweem is a lovely wee village which is the perfect place for a wee day away or a stopover. It is a wonderful example of a traditional Scottish fishing village and the type of place your bound to fall in love with. Happy travels folks!

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

 

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Kilmartin

Kilmartin or Cille Mhàrtainn (in Gaelic) is a bonnie wee village in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. Famous for the Kilmartin Glen, which is said to have one of the “richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland”. Seriously though, this place is an archaeologists heaven.

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It’s a village that you won’t often find on the majority of mainstream guides, just like many of the hidden gems in Scotland it isn’t one of the must see places you’ll read or hear about on the tele or online. For someone who travels all over Scotland regularly I only discovered it by accident just recently, and it was honestly the best accident I’ve ever encountered.

What is there to do in Kilmartin?

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Kilmartin Parish Church 

Kilmartin is littered with things to see or do, literally. Kilmartin Glen alone contains over 350 monuments scattered within a 6 mile radius. It’s the location of a number of important Neolithic, bronze age and iron age sites. This includes Temple wood, which consists of North and South stone circles with a burial cist in the middle. It is estimated that these were in use around 3000 bc! Aswell as Temple wood there are several burial cairns, chambered cairns, standing stones and cup and ring marked rocks all within walking distance.

Carnasserie Castle is a ruined tower house approximately 2km north of Kilmartin. It was built around 1565 and 1572 and after being blown up by royalist forces in 1685 it fell into disuse. It was taken over by historic Scotland and is superbly preserved. It is completely free of charge to go in and explore.

The medieval hill fort of Dunadd is another must see site. Believed to be the capital of the kingdom of Dál Riata (an ancient Kingdom of the Scotti tribe) it has been traced back as far as the 6th century. It is free of charge to explore.

Kilmartin parish church dates back to 1835, though there had been previous churches on the site before it. It is home to the Kilmartin stones, 79 ancient grave stones with some dating back as far the 9th/10th century. There has been a lot of theories regarding the stones and having a connection to the Knights Templars, but these theories are unproven. The church also harbours the Kilmartin crosses which are traced back to the 9th/10th centuries. It is open for visitors between 09:00 and 16:00.

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Kilmartin House Museum 

Kilmartin house is an award winning museum which interprets the monuments in the area. It has a collection of excavated artifacts that have been found within the area. It cost £6.50 for an adult and £2 for a child. It is open between 10:00 and 17:30.

The last on the list to visit is Kilmartin Castle, which was built around 1580. It stands above the village and up until recently was up for sale for around a generous price of £400,000.

Getting there

It is based around 8 miles North of Lochgilphead and 30km south of Oban. It is accessible by the A816 which runs through the town. As always I recommend travelling by car, it has so many more pros than cons. If you’re travelling by train, the closest train station is Oban so you would need to get the bus from Oban to Kilmartin. Travelling by bus is a lot easier, there are lots of buses that go to Lochgilphead from Glasgow and many buses that go to Oban from all over Scotland. There are busses between Lochgilphead and Oban daily which pass through Kilmartin.

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If you love history, or are interested in Scottish culture then Kilmartin is the place to be. For a small village it is absolutely packed with jaw dropping sites, monuments and artifacts. It’s a place you will definitely not forget. Happy travels!
Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Inveraray

Scotland never fails to disappoint when it comes to scenery and history, and Inveraray is a fine example of this. Situated in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland, Inveraray or Inbhir Aora as it’s known in Gaelic is a unique little town that is hidden away with the closest town Garelochhead being about 14 miles away.

Home to around 650 people it is a small town, but with several landmarks and attractions, the beautiful jaw dropping scenery and the history it boasts of it is a hit with tourists and easy to see why.

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The town was built in the 18th century and is described as “being one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland”. The town consists of many shops, coffee shops and restaurants. It also has a few popular tourist attractions, which brings me to my main point:

Things to do

For a small town Inveraray certainly has its fair share of things to keep you occupied.

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Inveraray jail is probably the most popular attraction. Built as a 19th century prison and court house it was used as a prison from 1820 until 1889, and carried on as a court house until 1954. It has been converted into a museum now showing what the living conditions were like for it’s prisoners, some as young as 7! It also tells you about individuals who were sent there and gives you an insight to their crimes and punishments. You can either get tickets for it online or at the door, buying online will save you a few bob. Prices are £9.50 for an adult, £5.85 for a child (under 5’s go free), and £8.95 for senior citizens and students.

Inveraray castle is next on the list. The home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell the castle is open to tourists who wish to explore it. The castle has been around since the 1400’s, but the iconic castle you see today was built in the 18th century. Visitors can explore the castle and the gardens, learn about the history of the castle and of Clan Campbell. Prices are £10 for adults, £9 for students and senior citizens and £7 for kids with under 5’s going free.

The two above are the main attractions in Inveraray, but there is plenty to do in and around the area. Why not take in the scenery of the beauty that is Loch Fyne? The longest sea Loch in Scotland. The spectacular scenery overlooking the loch will leave you breathless. With several pubs, restaurants and shops you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do.

When travelling around the Highlands of Scotland I always recommend taking a car to do it, there are just so many places that offer you beautiful views to not stop off at. If you aren’t travelling by car then your next option is the bus. There are a number of buses that go to and from Inveraray from a number of places around Scotland. There isn’t a train station within at least 10 miles of Inveraray so the train isn’t really ideal.

There a good number of hotels and campsites located in and around Inveraray.  There is also a caravan park and plenty of spots to wild camp at. If you are wild camping though remember and check the Scottish outdoor access code before you go.

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If you’re looking for places to visit in Scotland then Inveraray should definitely be up there on your list. With not only the town itself being something special, the drive to and from also offers you some of finest and stunning views in Scotland. If you have any questions or would like to tell us about your experience of Inveraray then please comment down below. Happy travels.

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Gaelic, Uncategorized

My top ten Scottish Gaelic songs

Ar cànain ‘s ár ceol!

Scottish Gaelic songs have been around for centuries, passed down from generation to generation. But due to the decline of Gaelic speakers in Scotland, finding Traditional Gaelic songs was a wee bit tricky in the past. But nowadays thanks to the Internet and things such as youtube, finding songs has never been easier.

There is just something about Gaelic music that makes it unique, it is such a beautiful language. Although some people do not understand the lyrics or the words, many people from across the globe feel some sort of connection to the music. I have been an avid listener for many years now, below are a list of my favourite songs with a link to them on youtube. If you have never listened to Gaelic music then why not give them a wee listen and see if you enjoy them:

10 – Puirt-A-Beul Set: Ribinnean Riomhach

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tPZ6wxph3G4

9 – Sios Dhan An Abhainn

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X2toIQxHxiM

8 – Tha Mo Ghaol Air Àird a’ Chuan

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl-A5FJffik

7 – Canan nan Gaidheal

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BZWgJpsVYEU

6 – Oganaich Uir A Rinn M’fhagail

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5S3PJ3skBjs

5 – An Eala Bhàn

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6qWWgntTdO0

4 – Fear a Bhàta

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GHe2H2WOQXs

3 – Gràdh Geal Mo Chridhe

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wll2o21LUbY

2 – Oran Fir Heisgeir (Gura Mis’ Tha Fo Mhighean) – Julie Fowlis

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FMapSWdJgUU

1 – Tàladah Chriosda

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nj44ICE_AAg

Interested in learning some basic Scottish Gaelic phrases? Follow the link below:

https://outsideofthewell.com/2016/12/29/scottish-gaelic-phrases/

 

Cúm Gàidhlig beò!

Scottish hero's, Uncategorized

Sgt. Mackenzie – the unknown Scottish hero

sgt_mackenzie
The last known picture of Sgt. Mackenzie

Sgt Charles Stuart Mackenzie 

Scotland has had more than it’s fair share of heroes from the past to present. From popular and famous warrior’s such as William Wallace to Robert the Bruce, to famous writers such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott. The list is endless. But one of the most inspiring and unsung heroes of our country is virtually unknown to many, the infamous Sgt. Charles Stuart Mackenzie.

The sad truth about Charles Mackenzie is that not much is known about him. No date of birth nor any information about his younger years are available. What we do know however is the harrowing tale of how he gave his life defending and saving his fallen friend and comrades on the battlefield.

During the years of ww1, Sgt Charles Stuart Mackenzie departed for France with the Seaforth Highlanders. His time spent there was cut short however after he was shot in the shoulder and ordered to return home for treatment. Whilst being treated by the surgeon, he was told that he was going to have to have his arm amputated. Sgt Mackenzie refused however, emphasising the fact he had to get back to his men in France. His loyalty to his men is something that would never leave him.

His loyalty wasn’t the only thing that makes him such an inspiration. On returning home from France after he was shot he was asked the question “what’s it like to kill the hun?” (Hun being a reference for German) to which he replied “what a waste of a fine body of men”. The respect and humanity he showed even towards his enemy after he had been shot showed the type of character he had.

After refusing to get his arm amputated, he embarked for France to meet up with his brothers in arms for one last final time. During a firefight with the Germans one of his soldiers who was also a close friend fell, badly injured. Knowing that the Germans were closing in and that they would almost certainly overrun their position he was left with a decision to make, stay and defend his fallen friend or flee and fall back to an area of safety. In what can only be described as an act of heroics, he stood his ground and fixed a bayonet to his gun. As the Germans began to charge, he stood and fought them in close combat using the bayonet on his rifle and his bare hands and feet. After killing several German soldiers he was inevitably and eventually struck down. He died on the battlefield due to bayonet wounds at the age of 35.

Due to his bravery and sacrifice that day he saved the life of his fallen friend and also of many more injured soldiers who lay behind him. Below is a quote from his great grandson Joseph Kilna Mackenzie.

“To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers, one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds. On that day, my great grandmother and my grandmother were sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My great grandmother looked, and said to my grandmother “Oh, my bonnie Charlie’s dead”. Sure enough a few days passed, and the local policeman brought the news – that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action. This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head. I believe the men and women like yourself who are prepared to stand their ground for their family – for their friends – and for their country; deserve to be remembered, respected and honoured.” – Joseph Kilna Mackenzie

Joseph Kilna Mackenzie wrote a lament for his grandfather, named Sgt. Mackenzie. You may have heard some of it before if you have watched we were soldiers or end of watch in which the tune has been featured in. The words and the beautiful music of the bagpipes will send shivers down your back, it is a touching and beautiful tribute to such a great man. There is a copy of the lyrics at the bottom and a translation to English as it is written in Scots.

Although little is known about Charles Stuart Mackenzie, what we do know clearly show us the type of man he was. His courage, bravery, and loyalty even in his final moments, the fact he was willing to sacrifice and lay down his life to try and save a fallen friend is something that has to be admired. The humility, respect and dignity he conducted himself with is an inspiration in itself and to us all. The legend of Sgt Mackenzie will hopefully be remembered for a number of years to come. They say that “not all heroes wear capes”, which is true, as they tend to wear kilts instead.

Sgt. Mackenzie lament by Joseph Kilna Mackenzie:

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

When they come a wull staun ma groon

(When they come I will stand my ground)

Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

(Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid)

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear

(Thoughts of home take away my fear)

Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

(Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears)

Ains a year say a prayer faur me

(Once a year say a prayer for me)

Close yir een an remember me

(Close your eyes and remember me)

Nair mair shall a see the sun

(Never more shall I see the sun)

For a fell tae a Germans gun

(For I fell to a Germans gun)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon

(Lay me down in the cold cold ground)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

(Where before many more have gone)

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Dusseldorf

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Rheinturm tower

When most people think of places in Germany to visit, Dusseldorf isn’t probably top of their list. Cities such as Berlin and Munich usually take the limelight with tourists. But like many non mainstream destinations, Dusseldorf is a hidden gem. A city enriched with culture and history, it is one of these places that you should definitely consider visiting in the future.

The capital city of the German state North Rhine-westphalia, Dusseldorf boasts of a population of over 600,000 making it the 7th most populated city in Germany. It is well renowned for its fashion and trade fairs, infact it is known as the fashion capital of Germany. it is also an international business and financial centre. In 2012 mercers quality of life survey ranked Dusseldorf the 6th most livable city in the world, and once you get there? It’s easy to see why.

I visited for a few nights with my friend recently, and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting much but for cheap flights and cheap accommodation it was an opportunity too good to turn down.

Things to do

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The most famous and iconic landmark is the Rheinturm tower, which stands at 280 metre tall and dominates the skyline. The telecommunications tower has an observations deck with spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas, it also hosts a revolving bar and restaurant . It costs €9 for entry, but if you’re looking to save a wee bit of cash then it is only €5 if you go before 11am or after 10pm.

If you want to experience the culture or nightlife then the place to be is Alstadt, the old town. The area consists of many bars, clubs and restaurants and is the place to be at night if you fancy a wee swally. It is also full of different shops so if you want to do a bit of shopping then you should definitely check it out.

There are lots museums in and around the city, with the majority of them being dedicated to art. There are countless ruins, parks, gardens and landmarks scattered throughout the city. Away from the attractions and onto the streets there are plenty of hidden gems, such as the free bookshelves in the streets. The policy is “take one, leave one” meaning that anyone can take a book to read, which I think personally is a brilliant incentive. The German markets are definitely worth a visit aswell, from fruit stalls to rides and attractions they’re sure to keep you entertained or busy.

Getting there

There are two major airports that serve Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf international airport (DUS) which is about a 10/15 minute drive from the city and Weeze airport (NRN) which is around an hours drive away. There is a direct train from DUS to Dusseldorf but not one from NRN. If you are travelling by train from Weeze airport you have to take the shuttle bus to the train station in Weeze, take a train to Kevelaer and then take another train to Dusseldorf. Remember if you are taking a train to make sure you have a ticket before you get on, you can’t purchase them on the train. The train conductor also doesn’t appreciate the “I’m a tourist, I never knew” patter, as we found out…

There are direct busses from both airports too, we never took the bus as it was a tad pricey but looking back now I wish we had as it would have saved a lot of time and hassle.

Dusseldorf is a great place to visit, whether it’s for a day, a week or a month it will not disappoint you. It is a city that will surprise you at every turn, and leave you wanting to go back. So if it’s not already then you should add it to your bucket list, you’ll be glad you did. Happy travels!

Places to visit Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized

Glen Etive

Places to visit in Scotland 

Glen Etive

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As someone who travels through the Highlands of Scotland on a regular basis, I honestly cannot help myself but stop every single time I pass and gaze at the beauty that Glen Etive has on show. It truly is an amazing place.

Glen Etive or Gleann Èite (the Gaelic spelling) is a glen located in the Scottish Highlands. The name Etive is believed to mean “little ugly one” from the Gaelic goddess associated with Loch Etive, which would leave you to believe that those Scots back in the day had a cracking sense of humour as nothing could be further from the truth.

It became semi famous in 2012 after the James Bond film Skyfall filmed a scene there, that left a lot of viewers asking the question “where is that?”. Moving from modern day blockbusters to ancient folklore now, the Fachen is also known as the dwarf of Glen Etive. This being a creature with half a body, a long black mane on it’s back, a mouth extremely wide and having such a terrifying appearance that it’s believed to induce heart attacks for those unlucky enough to see it. So er, try not to stumble across one if you can!

For those avid mountaineers and hill walkers, you’re spoiled for choice at Glen Etive. There are several peaks all around that fill up your view, I’ve made a wee list below:

  • Buachaille Etive Mòr (1,022m)
  • Ben Starav (1,078m)
  • Meail a’ Bhùiridh (1,108m)
  • Beinn Fhionnlaidh (959m)
  • Buachaille Etive Beag (958m)
  • Beinn Sgulaird (937m)

 

The river Etive which runs through is also a popular destination with kayakers. It is supposed to be one of the most challenging whitewater kayaking routes in the whole of Scotland. With grade 4 rapids, and a countless range of waterfalls and pools.

Travelling to Glen Etive can be easiest done by car. Approximately 11 miles to the southeast of Glencoe on the A82 is the road in and out of Glen Etive. It requires a good bit of concentration and observation skills though as it’s very easy to miss, and I mean very easy to miss. If you’re not travelling by car then your best bet is to get a bus to Glencoe and embark on good ole fashioned walking or cycling but with that being said it may take you a few hours, but surrounded by the beauty of the Highlands? I can’t imagine a nicer walk.

There are cottages and campsites available in the area but luckily as “wild camping” is legal in Scotland if you’re planning on camping then you can pretty much do it anywhere you like (within reason) make sure to check the Scottish outdoor association code below before you do though.

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/Practical-guide/public/camping
Whether you’re visiting or just passing by, Glen Etive should be a place on your bucket list. A place you should stop and just take in and embrace the beauty in which the Scottish countryside has to offer.