For exclusive Scottish tours, email info@catswhiskerstours.co.uk or visit my website.


New Year Honours awarded to Scots

Saturday, December 30, 2006

  • Evelyn Glennie, a percussionist with hearing difficulties awarded Dame for services to music.
  • Richard Demarco, an arts impresario, awarded a CBE.
  • T.V. weather girl, Heather Reid awarded OBE for contributions to physics.
  • Archie Fisher, folk artist and radio broadcaster, awarded MBE for services to traditional Scottish music.
  • Ina Shaw, a grandmother, awarded MBE for services to Stirling Albion Football Club.
  • George Bell, a retired milkman, awarded MBE for services to the community.
  • Peter Smith, a plumber on the Balmoral Estate, awarded Royal Victorian Medal for plumbing duties on the Royal Estate.

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Visit Scotland-not Yorkshire!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

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IS SCOTLAND OVER-GOVERNED?

Scotland's economic growth lags that of the rest of the U.K. Is this due to the proliferation of new laws since devolution in 1999?

  • Over 3000 rules and laws have been created post 1999 which intrude on all aspects of personal life.
  • 3,100 Scottish Statutory Instruments (subordinate legislation).
  • Also, central government in Westminster has passed almost the same number of laws affecting Scotland.
  • The business sector is concerned with the level of spurious and over-regulation.
Contact catswhiskerstours for business related tours.

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Scotland's Bird's of Prey under threat

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds claims that at least two red kites are poisoned or shot every month in Scotland with blame attributed to landowners and gamekeepers. Other wildlife at risk include Golden Eagles, Pine Martens and Scottish Wild Cats.

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Joke

A man over 70 went to the doctor who,after examining him, said that everything was in perfect condition-His lungs ,heart etc.How did he account for
it?""well,"the man said. Its like this.I go to the baths every morning,swimming about 40 lengths. I then run in the afternoons"
"That's wonderful,"the Dr. said."but to complete my dossier I need to know what your father died of"
"Did I say my father is dead.? My father is 93 and what's more he's in wonderful health."
"That's amazing"replied the doctor"but how do you account for that?"
"well, its like this. He comes to the baths with me every morning and does1-2 breadths.In the afternoon,he usually goes for a walk"
"Amazing "replied the doctor"I would like to meet him but in order to explore further,I''ll need to know what your grand-father died of"
"Did I say my grand=father is dead?I'll Have you know he's 133 ,is in robust health and is getting married next week."
"Your grand-father is133 and wants to get married"cried the doctor
"Did I say he wants to? "answered the man.

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Scots diaspora should be honoured

There about 80 million people around the world who claim to be of Scots descent compared with the five million currently living in Scotland. Emigration has always featured in Scottish life with most Scots families having relatives in other parts of the U.K. or abroad.

The Scottish National Party has called for a museum to celebrate notable Scottish migrants such as Andrew Carnegie and Sir Sean Connery.

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Scots Tennis Star sponsored by Mineral Water Coy

It has been reported that 19 year old Andy Murray has signed a seven figure sponsorship deal with Perthshire based Highland Spring. It is believed that Murray drinks some four litres a day of the product. He will also wear the Highland Spring logo at tennis tournaments around the world.

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Joke for the New Year

Thursday, December 28, 2006


FORREST GUMP GOES TO HEAVEN

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven.

He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the

gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

St. Peter said, "Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you.

We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance

examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it

before you can get into Heaven."

Forrest responds, "It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir. But

nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was."

St. Peter continued, "Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only

three questions.

First : What two days of the week begin with the letter T?

Second: How many seconds are there in a year?

Third: What is God's first name?"

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and

sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, "Now that you

have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers."

Forrest replied, "Well, the first one -- which two days in the week

begins with the letter "T"? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be

Today and Tomorrow "

The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, "Forrest, that is

not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not

specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next

one?" asked St. Peter.

"How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder," replied

Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer

can be twelve ."

Astounded, St. Peter said, "Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in

Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?"

Forrest replied, "Shucks, there's got to be twelve:

January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd.... "

"Hold it," interrupts St. Peter "I see where you are going with

this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had

in mind.....but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let

us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first

name"?

"Sure," Forrest replied, "it's Andy."

"Andy?" exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter.

"Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to

my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come

up with the name Andy as the first name of God?"

"Shucks, that was the easiest one of all," Forrest replied. "I learnt

it from the song, "ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN. . . "

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: "Run Forrest, run."

Give me a sense of humor, Lord.

Give me the ability to understand a clean joke,

To get some humor out of life,

And to pass it on to other folk.

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Campaign to preserve birthplace of John Buchan

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The author of The 39 Steps and other novels was born in a Victorian villa in York Place, Perth. However, the property is decaying and the garden overgrown.Now campaigners wish to preserve the property and have it designated a heritage site.

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Dr. Livingstone presumed saved by tartan jacket

Edinburgh scientists believe that Dr. Livingstone may have been saved from the effects of a lion attack by an acid found in the dyes used in the tartan of his jacket. The acid may have neutralised the bacteria present after the attack in 1843 . It may be that the dyes neutralised the pasteurella multocida carried by big cats. Dr Livingstone ultimately recovered from a badly broken left arm and 11 separate puncture wounds caused by the lion's teeth whereas his colleagues never fully recovered from their wounds.

Visit Dr. Livingstone's home of Blantyre with catswhiskerstours

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Scotland's Earthquakes: Shaken and Stirred!

Scotland is prone to mild earthquakes. On December 26th 2006 the Borders town of Dumfries experienced a 10 seconds, 3.5 magnitude tremor at 10.45am. There appears to have occurred little damage.

The Highlands of Scotland are prone to earthquakes:
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Beatrix Potter and Dalguise, Perthshire

Monday, December 25, 2006

During her vacations in the Birnam area of Perthshire Beatrix Potter is know to have spent considerable time in and around the beautiful village of Dalguise. It was here that, as a teenager, she pursued her scientific research of fungi, as well as trees and ferns. This landscape must have been an idyll for Beatrix.

There is a cottage in Dalguise where there was a washerwoman who provided the role model for Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

Although having been being tutored by a governess, and was therefore without an academic background, she nevertheless undertook some quality scientific research into fungi which at that time were still deemed to be within the plant 'family'. She worked closely with local naturalist-and postman-Charles McIntosh-who was a shy man but, like Beatrix, had a strong passion for local flora and fauna. McIntosh walked some 15 miles per day in the course of his postal duties.

Beatrix provided McIntosh with some of her drawings with which he was well pleased.

Beatrix is known to have a strong interest in groups of fungi and wanted to know :

  • Why they appeared so rapidly
  • Where were they before growth started?
  • How did the single cell grow from spores?
She discovered that a single cell rapidly produces a network of filaments.

Beatrix's research was of such quality that she was able, via a Mr. Massey, to submit a paper to the Linnean Society, London where the work was well received but was not expressed in the normal dour, scientific language to gain full acceptance. Moreover, at this time, this type of academic work was very much the province of men.

Although Beatrix's drawings were of high quality, very few featured in her children's books.

Visit the Perthshire of Beatrix Potter with catswhiskerstours

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Glasgow's Science Centre Tower reopens

Following resolution of technical problems, Glasgow's Science Centre Tower has reopened. The structure stands at a height of 416 feet (127 metres) above the city and affords a magnificent 360 degree view.

During the winter the Tower is open Tuesday to Sunday 11.00am to 5.00pm.

Visit Glasgow with catswhiskerstours

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Fourteen Jacobite soldiers re-buried

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On Friday 22nd December 2006 14 soldiers who perished in the siege of Edinburgh Castle 1689 were re-buried. These were part of a complement of 100 men who defended the only fortress in the U.K. to support the Stuart monarchy at the time of the Glorious Revolution 1688-89 when the Catholic King James VII of Scotland (King James II of England) was replaced by the Protestants William and Mary.

The soldiers had been buried in the Coal Yard area of the castle but were discovered about 1986. The remains were removed for safe-keeping and analysis by Historic Scotland.

It is believed that the 14 men died of disease rather than through combat. One of the men may be Private Colin Sutherland.

The re-burial was a simple ceremony conducted by an Army chaplain.

Visit Edinburgh Castle with catswhiskerstours.

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Aberdeen's fast rising house prices

Aberdeen (aka The Granite City) has experienced the fastest rise in house prices during 2006 when the rise was 27pct to an average GBP172,000 ($327,000). Aberdeen was also the only Scottish entry in top 20 best performing locations in the U.K.

Behind Aberdeen ranked Kilmarnock and Motherwell with 25pct rises. Edinburgh is the most expensive location in Scotland with an average price of £203,000, up 12pct.

Aberdeen's real estate has benefited form a strong local economy, especially the energy sector.

The average home in Scotland now costs nearly 4 times the average household income.

Contact catswhiskerstours to learn about Scotland's business environment.

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Beatrix Potter's links with Perthshire

Beatrix Potter, who created Peter the Rabbit and many other characters, was inspired to create, research and write during her family vacations in Perthshire. She spent 11 entire summers in the Birnam area where she became fascinated by fungi and created not only Peter the Rabbit but also Jeremy Fisher. Her wealthy background combined with royalities from her writings provided Beatrix with the financial independence to venture into science and farming at a time when women were normally excluded for these type of activities.

The film Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger goes on general release January 5th 2007. There is also a novel Miss Potter by Richard Maltby Jr which available from Warne at £6.99.

Visit Beatrix Potter's Perthshire with catswhiskerstours.



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Black Grouse Under Threat

Friday, December 22, 2006

Scotland's spectacular Black Grouse is under threat from maturing commercial forests which were planted between 1950 and 1980. The bird's ideal landscape is a mix of heather moorland, rough grassland and open woodland or scrub. However, the maturing trees block the light to the forest floor thereby killing the foliage necessary for the bird to survive.

The bird's decline is particularly noticeable in Perthshire but reductions have also occurred in other parts of Scotland, and England and Wales.

Forestry Commission Scotland has a policy of planting native woodlands as part of an initiative to restore Grouse habitats.

The only way of counting the Black Grouse population is to identify lekking males (blackcocks) during their courtship displays; the females lay hidden out of sight in the long grass.

Visit Scotland's wildlife with catswhiskerstours

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Edinburgh's Famous Addresses

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lady Stairs Close (was Baxter's Close): Home of Robert Burns for a short period.

6a Nicolson Street (Formerly Nicolson's): This is where J.K.Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Rutherford's Howff, Drummond Street: This is a former drinking den patronised by Robert Louis Stevenson.

2 Wellington Place, Leith: Former home of Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting.

Sciennes Hill House, Sciennes House Place: Meeting place of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns.

Riddles Court (was Land) 322 High Street: First permanent home of philosopher, David Hume.

Scotland Street: Setting for Alexander McCall Smith's novel, 44 Scotland Street.

31 Drummond Place: Home of Compton Mackenzie who wrote 'Whisky Galore'.

Arden Street, Marchmont: Former home of Ian Rankin, author of Inspector Rebus.

St. Stephen Street, Stockbridge: Former home of novelist, Joan Lingard.

Boyd's Inn (now Entry), Canongate: Arrival point of Dr. Johnson 1773.

Canongate Kirkyard: Contains graves of Adam Smith (economist), Robert Ferguson (poet) and Agnes McLehose ( known to Robert Burns).

5 The Abbotsford, 3 Rose Street:Meeting place of poet Hugh MacDiarmid and associates during 1950s and early 1960s.

Craiglockhart: Former war hospital where Siegfried Sassoon met Wilfred Owen (poets).

St. Peter's Church, 77 Falcon Avenue, Morningside: Oscar Wilde used Father John Gray as a role model for the character Dorian Gray.

160 Bruntsfield Place: Birthplace of novelist Muriel Spark.

Explore Edinburgh with catswhiskerstours. See live webcam of Princes Street.






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Scotch Whisky and the Scottish Economy

Official 2005 statistics reveal that that food and drink is the most important export category with whisky accounting for about 86pct of that sector thus emphasising the importance of the 'water of life' to Scotland's economy.

Out of the total GBP18.6M ($ 36bn) of exports, food and drink accounted for GBP3.6BN with otther sectors contibuting as follows: Chemicals GBP1.8bn; Office Machinery GBP1.7bn; Business services GBP1.6bn; and media equipment GBP1.3bn.

Exports in 2005 were up GBP900M on 2004. The U.S.A. was the most important single country destination accounting for GBP2.1bn ($4.0bn) of the total.

Learn about whisky with catswhiskerstours

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Dupplin Cross: St. Serf's Church, Dunning.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An image of the famous Dupplin Cross can be found in the catswhiskerstours photo gallery.

The cross dates to about AD 820 and up until the 1990s is sat on a hill at nearby Forteviot. Thereafter it was sent to Edinburgh for a short period before being "repatriated" to Dunning. Condition is incredibly good considering it's exposure to the elements for nearly 1200 years.

Original plan was to house the cross permanently in Edinburgh but the authorities responded to a campaign by local people and the cross was returned to Dunning in 1992. It now occupies pride of place in Dunning Church which itself is now a museum under the control of Historic Scotland. There is a guide on hand during the tourist season to explain the Cross to visitors.

The Cross is made form sandstone from the Galloway region of Scotland.

Side View 1

Top section represents a serpent devouring its own tail.

Mid section shows King David

Bottom section depicts a Pictish knot (no beginning and no end).

Note that carvings of people with large heads indicates high status.

Side View 2

Top section represents hunting dogs.

Mid section depicts two generals.

Front View

At the top there are vines which evoke the Eucharist.

The round boss at the centre may indicate either the sun or a loaf of bread.

Below the arm is a representation of King Constantine. Below him are figures with smaller heads which indicates persons of lesser importance.

At the foot are hunting dogs.

Rear

Blank section at the rear has been subject to infra-red investigation and found to contain Latin script with references to Constantine, son of Fergus.

Visit this magnificent monument with catswhiskerstours

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Whisky Blending at Glengoyne Distillery

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Glengoyne distillery near Strathblane now offers a two hour master blending class where students learn to mix their own blended Scotch Whisky.

Cost of the course is GBP25.00 ($50.00).

Each student's product is poured into a 100ml bottle to take home. A certificate is also provided. However, the exact recipe remains in Glengoyne's registry of blends.

Glengoyne's malt is found in Isle of Skye and Langs blended brands.

Visit Glengoyne with catswhiskerstours

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Big Expansion for Aberdeen Airport

Airport operator BAA Scotland has announced a GBP10M ($20M) two year investment plan for Aberdeen airport entailing an improved arrivals hall and a runway extension to increase the range of direct international flights.

Aberdeen is one of the fastest growing airports in the U.K. with 3 million passengers this year rising to a projected 5.9m by 2030.

The expansion plans have been welcomed by tourism and business leaders.

Visit Aberdeen with catswhiskerstours

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News from Scotland

Monday, December 18, 2006

Clyde Shipbuilding, Glasgow

Currently, prospects are the best for generations with record levels of investment for military vessels under BAE Systems Naval Ships. Over 550 new staff have been recruited with total now at almost 4,000 which includes the Govan and Scotstoun yards.

Kinloch Castle to be restored with help from Prince of Wales

Kinloch Castle was built in 1901 on the island of Rum by Sir George Bullough, an industrialist. It is now owned by Scottish Natural Heritage but requires restoration. The Prince's involvement will be by way of "green" elements such as solar panels and an independent power supply.

The castle is open for visitors during March to October. Tours are also available.

Kiltmaker Required for British Army

Because of delays in placing an order by the Ministry of Defence there are only 320 kilts for 5000 Scottish soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. However, officials have announced that 1400 kilts will be ready by May 2007 with the programme complete by January 2008.

Famous Glasgow Restaurant Destroyed by Fire

Cafe India located in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow was destroyed by a fire which broke out at 3.00pm on Decemeber 17th 2006. No one was injured in the fire. Past patrons of the restaurant include Sean Connery, Keanu Reeves and Michael Jackson.

Scottish Road Accidents Attributed to Ballooning Deer Population

The Scottish deer population has reached a record 400,000, three times that 1976. This artificially high population has caused many accidents resulting in some 74 injured people (including one or two fatalities) and the deaths of 7,000-10,000 deer each year.

Visit fascinating Scotland with catswhiskerstours








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Fort William- Rain Capital

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fort William on the North West Coast of Scotland recorded more than 18 inches (457mm) of rain since the beginning of December 2006 thereby confirming the town as the U.K.'s 'rain capital'. The deluge caused extensive flooding, landslides and road closures.

This level of precipitation is 10 times the level predicted.

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SCOTLAND AWASH!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Scotland has just experienced the wettest November in 30 years; as of December 14th it had rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Hundreds of families have had to be rescued and evacuated as a result of the ensuing heavy flooding which affected such communities as:
Apart from heavy flooding on the roads, the railways were also severely affected. No trains between Inverness and Glasgow and Glasgow to Fort William. Inverness-Perth services were cancelled.

Visit wild and interesting Scotland with catswhiskerstours!

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Scotland's Stone of Destiny

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Stone has a chequered history. Until 1296 it was located at Scotland's historic capital, Scone (pronounced skoon) where it was used as a coronation seat for the kings of Scotland. Edward I of England stole it and transferred the cushion shaped sandstone artifact to Westminster Abbey, England where it remained as a coronation seat for English and British kings until its return to Edinburgh Castle, Scotland in 1996. However, there is now a debate in the Scottish Parliament around a mooted return to Scone Palace. The Scottish tourism minister believes the Stone should stay in situ following public consultation. Seemingly, the debate remains unresolved.

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Isle of Lewis Wind Farm

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A proposal to construct Europe's largest wind farm on the Outer Hebrides island of Lewis has been scaled back from 234 to 181 turbines. In addition the development will entail an extensive road network, pylons (towers) , miles of cabling, sub-stations and quarries. This reduction has been made to mollify green campaigners and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The original proposal received about 4000 objections, including governmental agencies.

Protest groups, which include Moorland Without Turbines believe that irreplaceable peat bogs on the island will be destroyed.

The development is sponsored by Lewis Wind Power, a partnership between Amec and British Energy.

Visit Lewis and the Hebrides with catswhiskerstours.

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Scotland's Economy

U.K.Government statistics for 2004/5 show that the U.K.Central Government spends GBP1236 ($2400) more on every person in Scotland than is does in England. Scotland also receives GBP1034 ($2050) a head more ( 16pct.) than the U.K.average. The gap between Scotland and England has narrowed by GBP164 ($320) per head from previous year. Total Government revenue in Scotland was GBP36.4bn against spending of GBP47.7bn. The Scottish National Party dispute the figures.

Over the past year the number of private sector enterprises in Scotland rose by 0.1oct to 265,435 and the number of people employed in the businesses rose by 1.4pct to 1.9m. The Scottish National Party has criticised this low level of enterprise growth.

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Scotland's Unusual Heritage Buildings

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Here is a list of some unusual buildings which Historic Scotland has decided to "list" as heritage buildings. These may be of interest to architects and persons interested in design;

See Scotland's unusual architecture with catswhiskerstours

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Ghostly Presence in Crieff, Perthshire

Friday, December 08, 2006

A small shop in Crieff was recently the subject of a T.V. programme covering a presence from the 'other side'. The shop is called City Prices whose premises have long been the subject of strange happenings and a certain 'atmosphere'. However, the shop owner has learned to co exist with his lodger.

Visit Crieff and Perthshire with catswhiskerstours

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Bag a Munro!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height of 3000ft. ( 924 metres) or more. There are 284 qualifying peaks which stretch from Ben Lomond in the south to Ben Hope in Sutherland, a line which covers some of Britain's most stunning scenery.

The eponymous peaks are named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919) who founded and became President of The Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1889. In 1891 Sir Hugh published "Tables giving all Scottish mountains exceeding 3000 feet in height".

Since 1902 more than 3500 people have climbed or "bagged" all the Munros.

Visit Scotland's majestic scenery with catswhiskerstours.

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Scotland's Other Drink-Specialist Beers

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Starting from a very low base in the 1970s, there has been a resurgence in small and regional breweries producing a variety of beers.

Here is a list of some of the better specialist breweries:

Beers from the above producers can be potent with Alcohol By Volume ranging between 3.8pct and 8.0pct. but mostly in the 6pct-8pct band. Be careful!!

Enjoy Scotland's drinks with catswhiskerstours.

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Scotland's Finest Architects

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Robert Adam (1728-92)

Born Kirkcaldy, Fife. Notable for:
David Bryce ( 1803-76)

Born Edinburgh. Notable for:
Archibald Simpson (1790-1847)

Aberdeen based and noted for:
James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855)

Born Dunblane, Perthshire and noted for:
William Burn (1789-1870)

Born Edinburgh and noted for:
William Leiper (1839-1916)

Born Glasgow and noted for:
John Adam (1721-92)

Eldest of William Adam's four sons and noted for:
See Scotland's best architecture with catswhiskerstours

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Whisky To Pour

Monday, December 04, 2006

Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides and is known as the "Whiskiest Isle" because it is home to no less than seven producers which are:

According to press reports Islay's distilleries are disposing of GBP100,000 ($200,000) worth of whisky a day because six of the distilleries have run out of fuel oil and currently harsh weather has prevented oil tankers docking at the new GBP2.6M ($5.2M) pier which appears to have been constructed so as to facilitate docking only in calm weather.

Absence of fuel means production has had to be curtailed.

Visit Islay's distilleries in calm weather with catswhiskerstours.

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Glasgow is the economic powerhouse of Scotland. Shipbuilding and heavy engineering contributed to the growth of the city which now receives about 3.2m tourists annually. Places to visit include:

Visit Glasgow with catswhiskerstours.

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News from Scotland

Friday, December 01, 2006

Island Buy-Out

The 93,000 acre South Uist Estate has been purchased by the local community for GBP4.5M ($9.0M). The transaction incorporates virtually all of South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula. The new owners intend to focus on various initiatives including affordable housing, renewable energy, drainage and coastal management. It is hoped that the buy-out will stabilise the population (currently 3000) which has dropped by 18pct over the past 20 years.


Scotland Subsidises American Bank's Glasgow Expansion

JP Morgan Chase has been awarded GBP3.0M ($6.0M) as an incentive to generate 200 new software development posts in Glasgow. Funding was provided under the Regional Selective Assistance Scheme through which similar grants have recently been paid to other major financial institutions such as Barclays Bank, HSBC and Morgan Stanley. These grants to very wealthy institutions have attracted criticism in some Scottish political circles.

Visit Glasgow and Scotland's Islands with catswhiskerstours

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