Monday, September 29, 2008

Robert Burns in Kirkcudbright: toilet seat tribute paid to Scottish poet (1759-1796)

As the BBC reports, the owners of the Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright, South West Scotland, Chris Walker and Douglas MacDavid, have immortalised one of Scottish poet Robert Burns' most famous works on a toilet seat.

The hotel, where Burns is known to have been a guest, is reputed to be the location where he wrote his famous "Selkirk Grace":

"Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit."

The Selkirk Arms Hotel had already begun commemorating its connection with the Bard in the year leading up to the 250th anniversary of his birth by serving a real ale called "The Grace", brewed by Sulwath Brewers from the neighbouring town of Castle Douglas.

The toilet seat promotion was an additional idea developed after Chris, an avid marketer by his own admission, came across a company called Loo Prints at one of the summer agricultural shows.

Burns loo seat at the Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright, South West Scotland

The poem now "graces" the lids of all the lavatories in the Selkirk Arms, which feature an image of the poet as well as a range of other characters from his works.

Burns, buried in nearby Dumfries, where he died relatively young at 37, would probably have been highly amused by this "toilet humour" designed to raise awareness of both his works and his connection to the Selkirk Arms - and which also gives the travel industry colloquialism "bums on seats" a whole new meaning!

Robert Burns in Kirkcudbright: toilet seat tribute paid to Scottish poet (1759-1796)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Scotland Photography And A Top Photographer: Allan Wright, Right On Our Doorstep

Allan Wright, who lives in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland, is one of the top photographers in Scotland - and of Scotland.

Earlier this month my daughter did a week of "work experience" with Allan Wright at his publishing house Cauldron Press, set on the shores of Loch Ken in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, just north of the market town of Castle Douglas (also known as Food Town).

As it is quite some way from where we live and she was going to have to go by bus and get off "in the middle of nowhere", so to speak, we drove over on the Saturday before to do a dry run as it were, and had a pleasant chat with Allan in his garden before retuning via the Queen's Way through the Galloway Forest Park and past Clatteringshaws Loch.

Allan Wright has produced a large number of coffee table books, calendars and in particular you see his postcards all over Scotland (and especially in Dumfries and Galloway). He has also made a series of multimedia photo and music CDs of Scotland.

There are too many titles to link to here, but his latest book, which is about to be published, is "Scotland's West Coast", which you can order already in the UK here. At the time of writing it doesn't appear possible to advance order in the USA yet, but to get a taste of his work take a look at "Edinburgh" (USA) ("Edinburgh" UK here):

Edinburgh by Allan Wright

or "Arran" (UK only):

Arran by Allan Wright and Tony Bonning

Allan is also responsible for the cover photo (of Gatehouse of Fleet) of what I consider perhaps the best book there is on Galloway, certainly the most readable, i.e. "Galloway: A Land Apart" (USA) by Andrew McCulloch. In the UK it's no longer that easy to come by, but you can try here if you're interested:

Galloway - A Land Apart by Andrew McCulloch

In any case, Allan Wright is a very talented photographer, we have had his postcards of Dumfries and Galloway on our walls for many years, and I am sure if you come to the region you soon will have too.

By the way, for general information on photography in Scotland, in particular if you are interested in taking photographs of nature in Scotland, take a look at the relevant page on my website: Scotland Secrets: Nature Photograph.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wild goose chase begins around Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland

The phrase "wild goose chase" takes on a different meaning in Dumfries and Galloway this March 2008.

It's an event to draw attention to the thousands of Arctic geese - six different varieties - that spend the winter on the mild shores of the Solway in South West Scotland.

The centre of attention is Britain's largest Local Natural Reserve (LNR) at Wigtown, 25 miles east of Stranraer.

Other sites include Caerlaverock, close to the famous triangular castle, as well as Mersehead, Loch Ken and the Ken-Dee Marshes, Threave (with another of Dumfries and Galloway's historic fortresses, this one on an island in the River Dee) and Loch Ryan.

The six geese varieties you can see in the area are the Barnacle goose, Canada goose, Brent goose, Pink-footed goose, Greylag goose and the Greenland white-fronted goose.


If you go to the Visitors' Room at the top of the proudly restored County Buildings in Wigtown, you can get a bird's eye view of the Wigtown Bay LNR (I get the same view out the front window!) or you can watch the geese up close from the Wigtown Harbour Hide for a closer look.

From Friday 14 to Sunday 16 March you can take part in a special events weekend.

If you come to the County Buildings at the crack of dawn (Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m.) you can watch the dawn flight of geese as they leave their overnight roosting places in Wigtown Bay.

And at the Harbour Hide, binoculars and telescopes are being made available on these days, with knowledgeable volunteers on hand to help and answer questions.

There will be a series of goose related talks and films in the Wigtown County Buildings at 11 a.m. on Saturday 15 March and Sunday 16 March, and at 7 p.m. on Friday 14, Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 March.

Other related events around Dumfries and Galloway can be found here and here on Facebook any time.

For up to the minute details of all the free events you can also call (+44)(0)1988 402401 in Wigtown, or the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) office in nearby Newton Stewart on (+44)(0)1671 401075, where you can also order a free new 24 page booklet "Welcome to Wildlife in Dumfries and Galloway".

For more information on birdwatching in Scotland, including where to get a free guide to the wildlife of Scotland, also see the dedicated page at my website Scotland Secrets: Bird Watching Vacations.