Blog Archives

What day is it?

The good folks at Google are marking St Andrew’s Day today with one of their celebrated Doodles.

Although most commonly associated with Scotland, Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople [wherever that might be!?]

There are some very strange customs that are associated with this day, including:

  • If an unwed girl prays honestly to St Andrew the night before (29th November), she will be granted a good and caring husband
  • At exactly midnight, unwed girls should throw a shoe at the exit of the house.  If the tip of the shoe is pointing towards the exit then she will marry a noble and caring person and will leave her house within one year
  • Unwed girls should also peel an apple in one piece and then throw the peel backwards.  The letter which the peel has formed will be the first letter of the name of her future husband
  • It was traditional to eat a single sheep’s head on St Andrew’s Day
  • In Romania the women don’t just pray for husbands, they put 41 grains of wheat under their pillow.  If they dream someone will steal the grains, it apparently means they’ll get married the following year.

The Scottish flag, the Saltire, has the white diagonal ‘cross of St. Andrew’ on a blue background and is widely flown in Scotland. It would be natural to suppose therefore that Scots would celebrate St Andrew’s Day on November 30th in a big way.   THEY DON’T.   TV and radio mention the fact that it IS St. Andrew’s Day but that is about as far as it goes for most Scots.

However, in 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew’s Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, which designated the Day as an official bank holiday. If November 30 falls on a weekend, the next Monday is a bank holiday instead. Although that day is a bank holiday under that act, banks are not required to close (and don’t) and other employers are not required to give their employees the day off as a holiday. So it is more of a “voluntary public holiday” rather than a proper bank holiday. So far, few companies have negotiated the day as a staff holiday, though staff in Scottish government departments and a few local government authorities happily get an extra day off.

As every Scot knows, the time to celebrate Scottishness is Burns Night, January 25th. The poet Rabbie Burns holds a place of affection in the minds of Scots all over the world and perhaps this is why St Andrew’s Day passes with relatively little to mark it.

Advertisements

#ridiculous

The world really has gone mad!    We read today about another poor baby being given THE most ridiculous name I’ve heard of to date!  Crazy baby names are nothing new, in fact they seem to be almost de rigueur in some circles but Hashtag?  As in, well, #hashtag?  Really?

“Hashtag Jameson was born at 10 o’clock  last nite,” the proud parent announced on Facebook  last Saturday night. “She weys 8pounds and i luv her so much!!!!!!”  Spelling-challenged friends started leaving equally creative congratulations in the comments.  “Aww babes you finally had youre Tweetybird xxx,” one wrote.

Now this could of course be just another poorly executed viral marketing campaign but it’s well within the realms of possibility – if Frank Zappa can call his offspring Moon Unit and Gwyneth Paltrow call hers Apple, why can’t a non-celebrity chose an equally ridiculous moniker?

The internet has of course been awash with some slightly cruel hashtags of their own, including #Foolishparents,  #YourParentsHateYou, #StupidestNameEver but despite the initial shock of this most recent naming debacle, parents have always named their kids after things that are important to them, whether it’s a beloved relative, a hot celebrity or, today, social media.  In 2011 a couple in Egypt named their daughter Facebook, while in Israel another was named Like.  Now that little Hashtag has arrived, all we need is a tiny Twitter, a sweet little YouTube and a delightful Digg and the social media baby name trend will be properly established!

Let us hope that little Hashtag will find a way to avoid problems in the playground that will surely happen when you carry such a mighty burden, but you can’t help but wonder what it will be like for her in 20 years time when she has to explain what a hashtag is!

Celebrity baby names

OK, I understand that “celebrities” live on an entirely different planet from the rest of us mere mortals but it never ceases to amaze me that these people feel the need to give their offspring such ridiculous names that they will surely hate their parents for when they’re old enough to understand the ridicule!

This is not a recent trend.  In the 60’s Frank Zappa called his eldest daughter Moon Unit and, strangely, she is still known by this name today, whereas Zowie Bowie, son of David Bowie, changed his name unofficially at the age of 12 to the more normal “Joey” and around the age of 18 officially to Duncan Jones.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Geldorf offspring of Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie, though these names may have had more to do with their mother, the late Paula Yates, who went on to have another daughter by the late Michael Hutchence and called that poor mite Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily!

So it comes as no surprise that Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda have decided to call their new daughter by the name of Theodora Rose, to be known “affectionately” as Teddy apparently.  This after saying recently that they weren’t going to go for an “Apple-esque” celebrity name.

I wish people would remember that these cute little babies are going to grow up and will have to live with these names until they’re old enough to change them and a lot more thought could go into their choices.  I can’t help but wonder that if Robbie’s next child is a boy then he may just call him “Train Set” or “Football” to keep the theme going.  Those poor kids!!!

WOW Factor

October 4th was the day when Apple were expected to announce the launch of the iPhone 5 but what they actually announced was the release of the The iPhone 4S, (as the model will be known), which boasts an improved camera and significantly extended battery life.

Yawn, yawn. Please wake me up when something new and exciting actually happens. Give me something that makes me go “WOW!” and not simply repackage something that was already there.

For me, October 4th was the day when I experienced a new dining experience at Underwood Lockhouse in Bonnybridge.

The very first thing that caught my eye was the TV screens attached to the beer pumps – what a marvellous idea and why haven’t I seen this before in pubs or restaurants? Watching a football match in the pub will never be the same again – you can still watch all the action while you’re waiting to be served – how marvellous?!? Forget the X Factor – so last year – give me the WOW factor any day!

So, what else does the Underwood Lockhouse have to encourage patrons to visit. Well, almost certainly its location on the Forth & Clyde Canal couldn’t be more idyllic, from the gushing waters at the lock gates to the family of swans that are a permanent fixture. But, more importantly, the food was quite simply stunning! I was greeted by the owner, Bunty, who asked me what I liked and 10 minutes later the most mouthwatering dish of chicken was placed in front of me to try. Yes, it was spicy and laced with green chillis as I had requested, but the other ingredients of black pepper, lemon and coriander were all present in an explosion of tastes on my palate. Later I had the pleasure of trying a variety of further dishes such as the haggis and back pudding pakora, a gorgeous delicately spiced salmon and chicken tikka, followed by the delightfully indulgent gulab jamun and ice cream. However, if Indian food is not to your taste, there is a wide range of European dishes available to ensure everyone in your party is catered for.

But Underwood Lockhouse is so much more than a restaurant. Upstairs is Bar 17 which is an ideal venue for the amazing events that are staged weekly. Live entertainment is on every Friday and Saturday night and throughout the week there are various promotions such as last night’s Quiz and Curry night which cost a mere £5 per head and the delicious dishes that were served were impeccable as always, despite the low cost.

Bunty has thought of everything. He even has a courtesy bus service which, if booked in advance, can pick you up in Falkirk town centre and drop you back again after your meal. He also does take aways and home delivery. His attention to detail and high standards are a credit to him an I would urge you to pay a visit as soon as possible to sample a very special dining experience.

%d bloggers like this: