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"The Bookshop Detective" - not be as sinister as 'Line of Duty', boss, m'am, but it is a very contemporary, enterta… twitter.com/i/web/status…1 week ago

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Robert Burns ? Yes - we know Burns . . . .'Tam O'Shanter'. . . . but what does the poem mean? Part 2

Tam O'Shanter

We introduced this blog theme yesterday, explaining that in the past 10 months or so, we have missed the face-to-face interaction with our overseas customers. Many of our customers we have known for more than 25 years. These friendships are unusual in that many have been formed simply by meeting at trade shows – reinforced sometimes with only occasional visits to their country, or when they have visited us on our home ground.

Conversation has in recent years, of course touched on Brexit, but always there is some talk of Scotland – hopes and plans to visit. Often Robert Burns is mentioned, but even the best English speakers have difficulty in understanding his poetry. Burns' verse is written not only in the Scots language but also in the Scottish English dialect of the English language.

With so many 'on-line' gatherings planned, there are even more opportunities this year, for folk from beyond these shores to experience something of the work of Burns and gain some insight into how Burns is celebrated.

As Burns’ Night itself approaches, on 25th January, we offer some help with 'Tam O’ Shanter'. You can find below the second group of verses as written by Robert Burns, together with a translation in English which keeps the spirit of the work. We will share subsequent parts each day, concluding on the 25th. Stay posted!

'Tam O' Shanter' is Burns’ epic poem in which Burns presents a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scottish town of Ayr in the late 18th century. The poem features several characters : Tam himself, his friend Souter (Cobbler) Johnnie and Tam’s long suffering wife Kate. We meet Kirkton Jean, the ghostly, "winsome wench", Cutty Sark and Tam’s horse, Maggie.

Robert Burns ? Yes - we know Burns . . . .'Tam O'Shanter'. . . . but what does the poem mean?

Tam O'Shanter

In the past 10 months or so we have missed the face-to-face interaction with our overseas customers. Many of our customers we have known for more than 25 years. These friendships are unusual in that many have been formed simply by meeting at trade shows – reinforced sometimes with only occasional visits to their country, or when they have visited us on our home ground.

Conversation has in recent years, of course touched on Brexit, but always there is some talk of Scotland – hopes and plans to visit. Often Robert Burns is mentioned, but even the best English speakers have difficulty in understanding his poetry. Burns' verse is written not only in the Scots language but also in the Scottish English dialect of the English language.

As Burns’ Night approaches, on 25th January, we offer some help with 'Tam O’ Shanter'. You can find below the first verses as written by Robert Burns, together with a translation in English which keeps the spirit of the work. We will share the rest day by day. Stay posted!

'Tam O' Shanter' is Burns’ epic poem in which Burns presents a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scottish town of Ayr in the late 18th century. The poem features several characters : Tam himself, his friend Souter (Cobbler) Johnnie and Tam’s long suffering wife Kate. We meet Kirkton Jean, the ghostly, "winsome wench", Cutty Sark and Tam’s horse, Maggie.

As we approach the 25th of January we will post the complete poem and its translation day by day.

Sharing the Doughnut recipe (without yeast) from The Glasgow Cookery Book

21 days into January.

The diet is going so well.

The new year resolutions are bedded in and working.

That exercise plan is delivering all the promised results.

The daily walk in lockdown is energising and turning your life around.

The little cycle on the bike you promised yourself once a week is stretching muscles again.

The new sledge you bought is flexing in the slush and burning lots of calories as you drag it back up the incline.

It's nearly time for some Robert Burns in preparation for Monday.

(It's not just going to be a packet of Mackie's Haggis Crisps, is it? And a quick leaf through of Tam again. No, this time you will learn a new poem by heart and sing.)

Surely today must be special also? 21.01.2021...

The reward for all this hard work? All the new achievements are surely worth this reward?

Yes.

We are sharing a recipe from the wonderful 'Glasgow Cookery Book' today and this time it is - doughnuts. The quick way. No yeast. No worries about time. And no protests or concerns about "too many calories" as you are, after all, sharing them with the neighbours. Again. Remember? You are already smelling that sweet fresh doughnut aroma. You can already sense the hot sugary delightful taste. You are walking to the kitchen, measuring out the ingredients. You are creating a beautiful batch of fresh doughnuts. Heaven.

Thank you Glasgow Cookery Book, and all the gals who went before us to perfect this recipe.

Recipe copyright Glasgow Caledonian University

Recipe for Dropped Scones from The Glasgow Cookery Book

And what do we need on a cold (or hot, depending on where you are when you are reading this) January day?

Yes, yes, we know. That very long list in your head... and on it goes.

But as we are where we are, what about a little simple recipe from 'The Glasgow Cookery Book'? Only 8 ingredients for the real deal, that real excellent taste experience - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - or just four ingredients if you are rushing, can't get out, are STILL in your pyjamas, can't get going, and only have 10 mins. (And we've all been there...)

It's a fun quick recipe to try, and easy to make with children who can measure out things (between online lessons).

Sugar, eggs, milk, flour. Just four! So make that. Start where you are, start small. Build up, as our mums told us...

But then make it with all the ingredients to get the full long-established, tried and tested, experience.

Think of the syrup.. think about the difference a little salt makes? That rich glorious taste brought by the cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda... The professional touch. That zing on your tongue. The perfection to your day. The colour. The promise.

Maybe put them (the bicarb and the tartar, not M&S pancakes, although, why not as well...) on your next shopping list and make pancakes until you perfect them.

Surprise your neighbours with a gift. Post some to friends. You can plan it today. And you've got a month still before Shrove Tuesday.

A Scotch pancake. It's a poem. A masterpiece. A work of art. Transform your day, your energy level. Your life!

Flip your normal energy levels into a new you. Or maybe instead just flip the scones and eat them. Don't let Pancake Day crepe up on you this year. But enough of this waffle!

This small but perfectly formed dropped scone can be made from 'The Glasgow Cookery Book'.

Ahhhhh....

Thank you 'Glasgow Cookery Book', Glasgow Caledonian University, and all those women who went before us, giving us heaven on a plate. We owe you.

28. DROPPED SCONES or SCOTCH PANCAKES

Ingredients:

200 g Self-raising Flour ( or 200 g Flour, 1 level teaspoonful Bicarbonate of Soda, and 2 level teaspoonfuls Cream of Tartar)

25 g Sugar

1 level teaspoonful Salt

1 dessertspoonful Syrup

1 large Egg

250 ml Milk (approx.)

Time:

1–2 minutes each side

Method:

1. Sieve dry ingredients.

2. Add egg, syrup and sufficient milk to give a thick batter consistency.

3. Drop mixture in spoonfuls, onto a fairly hot griddle or non-stick frying pan.

4. Cook until lightly browned, turn, brown second side.

5. Cool in a tea towel.

Note: If iron girdle is used, grease beforehand.

Copyright: Glasgow Caledonian University

Gilda T Smith : I like to add a dessert spoonful of veg oil. It helps to lengthen the shelf life.

Carolyn Lynn : I put in 10g melted butter

Gilda T Smith added: I’m just lazy, Carolyn! Butter is best!

‘Waverley Scotland Tartan Commonplace Notebooks’ and ‘The Robert Burns Connection’. It’s a love affair… By Ron Grosset, founder of Waverley Books, and Geddes & Grosset

Love, notebooks, tartan and Burns - it's a love affair

'Social media' as such is not a new phenomenon. Notebooks or ‘commonplace books’ of centuries ago were like today’s Facebook and Instagram, Tik Tok, Tumblr and Pinterest. Commonplacing was and is about remembering, writing, reading and sharing.

21st century Twitter, blogs and our world of social media hark back to a tradition of sharing of personal thoughts and writing. A tradition that is hundreds of years old.

Cabernets and Merlots

Here at Waverley Books, we’ll have been journaling and sketchbooking between us for the last 30 years or so. It's more than that, but let's call it 30. Piles of notebooks are filled, and then filed – some neatly, others randomly, each of which record thoughts and plans and good intentions. Some notebooks are hastily scribbled. Other notebooks have more considered ramblings. Sketches, bits and pieces stapled or taped in place. Currency rates clipped from newspapers, and stuck in, are alongside notes about Cabernets and Merlots and big Italian wines with now crumbling dried-up Post-Its struggling to stay in place. The pencil notes are hard to decipher now; the softness of the marks on the page seem faded, but the record is there still.

Some notebooks are ruled. Some are blank, some squared. Their ribbons are frayed. Some have bindings that failed, held for life now with elastic bands. Business cards – and long-lost receipts, unclaimed or undeclared, are found in the pocket at the back. There are punchlines written – but they lack the joke. Phone numbers without names attached and sizes of things in centimetres – and prices, with drawings, and scorings-out, ticks and crosses of jobs done and not.

It only took us 25 years of running this publishing business (or so) to figure out that we should put something of our experience together as book publishers and journalers and create something special.

Commonplacing

The trigger behind Waverley Scotland’s notebooks was none other than Robert Burns. Robert Burns kept journals and notebooks and practiced, as it was in his time, ‘commonplacing’.

‘Commonplacing’– is what is called ‘journaling’ these days. Journaling is nothing new. 'Mindfulness' is perhaps a new word for what Burns did, wandering along the banks of the River Ayr and focusing on a poem that may become a masterpiece in a day or so (in 1790). It's a new word for living in the present and being present so you can notice the trees and water in such a way you are taken out of your current thought process and lifted clear. Using a notebook or journals to record that present moment is an established traditional method. Commonplacing for mental health? Commonplacing for filing? Commonplacing ideas.... Commonplacing for anxiety? Commonplacing for beginners. Commonplacing ideas.

We were working on a book: ‘Robert Burns in Edinburgh’. It was an interesting idea - just why were the years Burns spent in Edinburgh so vital to the development of his life as a poet and writer? It was not authored by Burns scholars or academics but put together by three Burns-curious Glaswegians. Checking roots and sources took us to Robert Burns’ ‘Commonplace Notebooks’ – which can be seen today at the Burns’ Museum in Alloway.

A new idea

Meanwhile, Waverley publisher Liz Small took a call at the Waverley office – in the early months of 2013 – from Deirdre Kinloch Anderson.

Scots everywhere know the name and company ‘Kinloch Anderson’. The company is over 150 years old, is based in Edinburgh and holds Royal warrants to supply Tartan and Highland Dress to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.

Kinloch Anderson wanted a corporate history published in an illustrated book – and we took the task on which became A Scottish Tradition. A follow up history recently followed in Tailored for Scotland (published in 2020).

Just as with Robert Burns in Edinburgh, the publishing responsibility required us to become immersed in tartan, its history, development and importance.

It's all in the binding

It was that experience that caused us to wonder why had no one produced journals, or notebooks bound in genuine British tartan cloth? A wee bit of Scottish heritage and culture in your pocket – as a journal, or notebook.

We soon found out why. Genuine tartan cloth is what it is. Cloth. It is woven and because it is cloth, it stretches – nigh on impossible to use for book or journal binding which by its very nature stresses the cloth in every direction.

McGonagall and Kolkata

Some years previously, we had published a book 'The Comic Legend Of William McGonagall'. We thought it would be a great idea to bind it in jute to make the connection between the world’s worst poet, McGonagall and Dundee, the home of jute. Spike Milligan was a big fan of McGonagall. As were we. But as we keep finding out, what seem to be great ideas at the time often bring great problems. However, we managed, and published the first book ever, bound in jute.

I read from this volume to a full house in a theatre at the Kolkata Bookfair in 2007 (organized by The British Council) – McGonagall’s The Tay Bridge Disaster and I was astonished that the Bengali audience joined in with every chorus:

"On the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time."

Turns out that McGonagall was taught in Bengali schools as ‘how not to write poetry’ by teachers trained in Scotland at Moray House, Edinburgh. I presented my copy to the Mayor of Kolkata, who I imagine still recites from it daily.

So now, we had two great poets to be inspired by: Burns and McGonagall. We were inspired. We then embarked upon a bit of R&D with some trusted partners and we created Waverley Scotland Tartan Cloth Notebooks, bound in genuine British tartan cloth, woven with the authority of Kinloch Anderson Scotland.

Auld Lang Syne and A Red, Red Rose

Launched early in 2016, Waverley Scotland now have journals / notebooks in 48 tartans in 80 plus versions, including some which celebrate Scottish songs with Burns connections. The songs include A Red, Red Rose, bound in genuine Burns Check, and Auld Lang Syne in the tartan of that name. The paper we use is FSC and the boards are made from recycled board.

The quality of these Waverley Commonplace Notebooks is inspiring journalers across the world, who are ‘commonplacing’.

The inspiring thing about a new journal or notebook is the sheer quality and beauty of the blank object. Rather like being given a new ‘jotter’ or notebook at school, it is the newness that initially inspires all sorts of things. Neatness (to begin perhaps), but the journaler is not writing homework – today’s journaler is doing one or more of many things.

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