-

>
: 6/9

1.'A wee dram'

Scots have their own national drink, and you need only ask for Scotch, and thats quite enough, you get what you wanted. More than half of Scotland's malt whisky distilleries are in the Grampian Highlands, and thus a third of the world's malt whisky is distilled here. A combination of fertile agricultural land, a sheltered, wet climate and the unpolluted waters of the River Spey and its tributaries, combined with the obvious enthusiasm of the locals for the work (and the product!) mean it is an ideal place to produce malt whisky. Many distilleries are open to visitors, and often offer samples!

The Scots are fond of the following joke about scotch:

A young man arrives in a small village situated near Loch Ness. There he meets an old man and asks him:

-         When does the Loch Ness Monster usually appear?

-         Usually it appears after the third glass of Scotch, - answered the

man.

2.Scottish national dress.

There is also a distinctive national dress, the kilt. Strictly speaking it should be warn only by men; it is made of wool and looks like a pleated skirt. The kilt is a relic of the time when the clan system existed in the Highlands. But its origin is very ancient. The Celtic tribes who fought Ceasar wore kilts. When the Celts moved north up through Cornwall, and Wales, and Ireland, and eventually to Scotland, they brought the kilt with them. A thousand years ago, there was nothing specially Scottish about it. Now it has become the Highlands national dress and is worn in many parts of Scotland. It is probably the best walking-dress yet invented by man: there is up to 5 metres of material in it; it is thickly pleated st the back and sides; it is warm, it is airly, leaves the legs free for climbing; it stands the rain for hours before it gets wet through; it hangs well above the mud and the wet grass; briefly it is warm for a cold day, and cool for a warm one. And, what is more, if a Highlander is caught in the mountains by the night, he has but to unfasten his kilt and wrap it around him 5 metres of warm wool hell sleep comfortably enough the night through.

3.A few words about tartan.

Every Scottish clan had its own tartan.[19] People in Highlands were very good weavers. They died their wool before weaving it; the dyes were made from various roots and plants which grew in this or that bit of land. Therefore one clan dyed its wool in reddish colours, another in green, and so on. And they decorated them differently so as to distinguish the clansmen in battle (especially between neighboring clans which happened rather often).

On the subject of shopping for tartan, the choice is wide. Some designs are associated with particular clans and retailers will be happy to help you find your own pattern. By no means all tartans belong to specific clans several are district tartans, representing particular areas. The fascinating story of the tartan itself is told at the Museum of Scottish Tartans.

The museum possesses lots of rare exhibits. One of them is the remarkable womans Plaid or Arisaid, the oldest dated in the world: 1726. The Arisaid, worn only by women, reached from head to heels, belted at the waist and pinned at the breast.

The oldest piece of Tartan found in Scotland dates back from about 325 AD. The cloth was found in a pot near Falkirk[20], a simple check in two shades of brown, a long way from the checked and coloured tartans that came to be worn in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1550s. There are now over 2,500 tartan designs, many of them are no more than 20 years old.


4.The national musical instrument of the Scots.

Scotland has its own typical musical instrument, the pipes (sometimes called the bagpipes). The bagpipe was known to the ancient civilizations of the Near East. It was probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Carvings of bagpipe players on churches and a few words about them in the works of Chaucer and other writers show that it was popular all over the country in the Middle Ages.

In Scotland the bagpipe was first recorded in the 16th century during the reign of James I, who was a very good player, and probably did much to make it popular. For long it has been considered a national Scottish instrument. Even now it is still associated with Scotland.

The sound of the bagpipes is very stirring. The old Highland clans and later the Highland regiments used to go into battle to the sound of the bagpipes.

The bagpipe consists of a reed pipe, the chanter, and a wind bag which provides a regular supply of air to the pipe. The wind pipe is filled either from the mouth or by a bellows which the player works with his arm. The chanter has a number of holes or keys by means of which the tune is played.

5.Highlands dances and games.

You can also find in Scotland its own national dances, Highland dances and Scottish country dances; its own songs (some of which are very popular all aver Britain), its poetry (some of which is famous throughout the English-speaking world), traditions, food and sports, even education, and manners.

Speaking about sports I cant but mention Highland Gatherings or Games held in Braemar. They have been held there since 1832, and since Queen Victoria visited them in 1848 the games have enjoyed royal patronage. The Games consist of piping competitions, tugs-of-war (a test of strength in which two teams pull against other on a rope, each trying to pull the other over the winning line), highland wrestling and dancing, and tossing the caber.[21]


6.The famous Loch Ness.

Fact or fiction, the Loch Ness monster is part of Loch Nesss magnetic appeal to visitors. But there is much more to do and see around the shores of this famous waterway than just monster-spotting, and a pleasant day, or even longer, can be spent exploring the many activities. 24 miles long, a mile wide and up to 700 feet deep Loch Ness is a land-locked fresh water lake lying at the eastern end of the Great Glen[22], a natural geological fault which stretches across the width of Scotland. The loch forms part of the Caledonian Canal completed by the celebrated civil engineer Thomas Telford (1757 1841), in 1822. Telford took 19 years to build the canal, which spared coastal shipping and fishing vessels a voyage through the waters of the Pentland Firth[23].

The story of Nessiterras Rhombopteryx or Nessie for short in Loch Ness has persistent down the centuries. The monster was first mentioned in AD 565 when St Columba allegedly persuaded it not to eat someone. Since records began, in 1933, more than 3000 people have claimed to have seen it, but others are skeptical. They point out that no good photographs exist of the monster, that there have been no eggs found, no dead monsters (can it really be 2563 years old?) nor any other compelling evidence. Believers think the monster is a plesiosaur, an otherwise extinct sea-dwelling reptile. Anyone who did prove conclusively the monster's existence would be hailed as a pioneer, so it is no surprise to learn that monster-spotting is a popular pastime!