Friday, 25 January 2013

Burns Night

Hello Everyone,

Lady M still here while Sofia and Donald are away enjoying themselves and clearly in better weather than I am experiencing in the UK. I have been snowbound for the last week. I look out on a white blanket of snow; it looks pretty along with white trees but...

I am watching the traffic crawl along the road, people trying to walk without slipping on ice. My heating is permanently on a high setting and I have no intentions of leaving the house until this white stuff has disappeared.

How have your first weeks of 2013 gone? Have you all ready achieved a 'first'? I have learned something new this week. For a long time I have watched my friends across the pond wish each other a happy hump day. Maybe, I am the most ignorant person on our planet but I had no idea what they were talking about. I gave up wondering and asked. It is a reference to Wednesday, the hump of the week. It is downhill to the weekend after Wednesday. Well, I guess it is obvious if you think long enough. So now I am looking forward to sending them best wishes for the hump day which will be a 'first' for me.

Today is 25th January and an important day for celebrating in Scotland regardless of the weather. It is Burns Night. Robert Burns, the Scots poet, (it is Scot and not Scotch as one of my friends once said, she was a person not a glass of whisky!) was born on 25th January 1759. Scots all over the world celebrate his birthday with music, dancing, haggis and whisky.

Robert Burns was born at Alloway, a village in Ayrshire. His father was a farmer, honest, intelligent and God fearing. He wanted the best education for his sons and coerced some of his neighbours to join him in engaging a Mr Murdoch, a teacher from Ayr to come and teach the boys in a hired room in Alloway; this lasted for two years. Later in 1772, Robert attended Dalrymple parish school to improve his writing. In 1773 he spent some time with Mr Murdoch in to revise his English grammar and study French. However, in between his education he worked on the farm with his father and at 15 had become his father's chief labourer but he would always have a book with him and when possible would read a few verses of poetry.

Mr Burns, senior died when Robert was 25. Robert, with his brothers and sisters moved to another farm at Mauchline. He found friendship with many of the educated men in the area and discovered that writing poetry was his niche in life. He was never going to be a successful farmer. He published his first book of poems in 1786; it was a huge success earning him £20! The ploughman became famous as a poet.

In 1788 he married his long term girlfriend, Jean Armour. He then moved to take up a position as an excise officer in Dumfries which involved the collection of duty on spirits and beer. He enjoyed his new life style and the opportunities it offered. Weakened by drink and dissipation, he contracted a fever and died at the age of 37 (1796).

So, to all Scots everywhere... Happy Burns Night!

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