Country Living Spring Fair 2015 – The Round Up

Country Living BasketEmily posted to tell you all about the ScotlandShop trip to the Country Living Spring Fair last week and I thought I would follow this up with a round up of the highlights for us. We had a great week and met so many lovely people, customers and other stand holders, Ali went on the tube for the first time in her life and I did enough shopping to bring up the sales figures of all the other exhibitors.  We learnt so much from chatting to new and old customers and it was a great experience.

Business Design CentreI had a chat with Dan Sewell, Event Director at the Spring Fair and he seemed to be bearing up well given that he has welcomed over 20,000 visitors to the Business Design Centre in the last 5 years. The building itself fits perfectly with the Country Living theme as it was originally the Royal Agricultural Hall dating back to 1862 and home to the the Smithfield Club and Show. To think  that this now trendy area of Islington used to be pasture and cattle sheds known as Dixon’s Lairs. After hosting glamorous events such as the Grand Ball for the Belgian Volunteer Regiments in July 1867 the Hall became the home to Overseas Parcels and Customs during the war and until 1970. Fortunately Sam Morris came to the rescue and by 1986 has restored the Agricultural Hall to it’s former glory and it has become one of the best modern day conference and exhibition centres, hosting all sorts of different events along with the Country Living Spring and Christmas Fairs.

cl-fair-gardenDan explained the difference between the 2 fairs describing the Spring Fair as “a fresh start to the year ahead,  a nice day out for longstanding readers of the magazine to buy gifts for self and home” and “a great place to gain inspiration” whereas the Christmas Fair is more about buying gifts for others. When you entered the Hall the full force of spring hit you with the garden scene and the VW camper van surrounded by flowers and space to sit and relax and listen to talks about gardening and looking after chickens. Coming from the cool winds of Scotland the air felt so warm in London it gave me a real buzz every morning when I walked in.

Catherine Gee Country Living

Catherine Gee

I spoke to Catherine Gee from the Country Living Magazine about all her hard work to refresh the feeling of the Fair and their efforts to always offer something new. The lifestyle panels on interiors, bee keeping and the chance to feed the lambs, the Spring restaurant with table service and recipes tied into those featured in the magazine all go towards this. The show has been running for 20 years and the magazine was the first to have a spin-off show and I asked Catherine how it feels to be the market leader and the ones to continually set the standard. Seated on the gorgeous tweed covered sofa (don’t worry I had a word about sourcing her tweed from us next time!) in her blue Country Living pinny Catherine is so passionate about how the show brings the pages of the magazine to life and the importance of close work with the exhibitors and organisers to achieve this.

Ashley Thomas

Winner of Best New Stand

This year all exhibitors received a letter reminding them to make an effort to make their stands looks extra special and we were proud to be right opposite the winner of the award for Best New Stand. Ashley is a designer and illustrator based on the edge of the Peak District and can boast a high street range she designed and produced in collaboration with Debenhams. “I make beautiful interior accessories from humorous designs and whimsical illustrations. I aim to produce designs that are fun, curious and make people smile.” Ashley made us smile all week and it is people like her who make hours and hours of standing on your feet a pleasant experience.

Eden Mill Gin

Scottish gin anyone?

We met some other Scots at the Fair and Jim from The Caurnie Soaperie was on the end of our aisle. As a seasoned campaigner at Fairs and Farmers Markets around the country he gave us lots of top tips … mainly about the Show but also about where to go to unwind after hours. Watch out for Jim’s amazing award-winning Caurnie bog myrtle body butter! Upstairs I had a quick pre-lunch taster of  Eden Mill Scottish gin. Love their strapline “The Spirit of St Andrews”. I am very partial to a gin and tonic but this was my first limited edition, artisanal gin and certainly my first Scottish gin. I tried an orange peel inspired one and a more floral one. The orange peel one came home in my bag with it’s silky smooth texture but I think I almost bought it just because I loved the bottle so much.

It may sound like there was nothing but Scots at the Spring Fair but I think the only others were to our right and in my mind represented the best husband and wife craft combination. In fact I did ask Lisa if she only married Colin because he was a good welder. HawkHill HotWorks make the most amazing kiln formed glass and wrought iron furniture and on their website Lisa describes herself as “a skilled colorist inspired byunderwater biomorphic worlds, tribal fabrics, Japanese design and Steampunk”. Colin was a mechanic and now sets the glass panels into furniture frames. He is of course also very handy when the van breaks down. All we know is that we spent all week gazing at their work and marvelling at their talent.

jane-meansNext door to us was the lovely Jane Means and her collection of ribbons. Jane was setting up when we arrived with our mountains of boxes and seemed quite quiet working away with headphones on making her stand look beautiful and Easter themed. We found out later that Jane is far from quiet and really quite mad but in the nicest possible way and she certainly made the exhibitor drinks party go with a bang. Over the week I learned more and more about Jane’s business and as someone growing a business myself I feel huge respect for what she has achieved over the years with not just a fabulous concept and product range but also her own book published on gift wrapping, courses on gift wrapping and even an SBS award presented to her by Theo Paphitis. I am a big fan of Theo’s so very jealous!

After a big day driving down and setting up on Tuesday, 5 long days at the Fair and then a supersonic speedy pack up thanks to the Urban Crew and their muscles, followed by a drive back home to Scotland on the same night I think Ali deserves her week off this week. Thank you to all those customers,  new and old, who came to talk to us and learn more about our lovely tartan and thank you to all those friendly exhibitors around us who made it so much fun.

Country Living Spring Fair

ScotlandShop Exhibit at Country Living Magazine Spring Fair

Country Living 6 This week we are very excited to be exhibiting at Country Living Magazine Spring Fair held at the Business Design Centre in Islington.  The exhibition began earlier today and runs until Sunday 22nd March. We can be found at found at Stand M46 on the Mezzanine floor.

The Fair is all about simple pleasures: things to make, cakes to bake, talents to nurture and gardens to grow.

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We are exhibiting our stunning range of our tartan gifts and accessories, as well as our locally produced tartan and tweed fabrics, perfect for home accessories and your latest crafting project.  Don’t forget to Speak to Anna and Ali about our bespoke made to order service, they are on hand to help you create a unique outfit or home accessory in your favourite tartan or tweed.

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The Country Living Spring Fair is not only an exclusive shopping experience. There are lots to opportunities to do and try, from the Craft rooms to the Champagne Bar!  In the two dedicated craft rooms the excellent programme of crafting activities including Block printing and Kite Making will have you creating in no time.

We love the Green and Black’s tasting experience which offers a chance to taste some delicious flavored chocolate as well as the incredibly cute lambs from Real Farm Holidays who will be joining the show on Wednesday giving you the opportunity to feed the charming orphaned lambs throughout the day.

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If you’re more the relax with a glass of fizz type than a lover of hustle and bustle, the Gala Evening is perfect for you. This late night event takes place on Thursday 19th March and offers you the opportunity to visit us whilst enjoying a complimentary glass of wine. Islington and the surrounding area is also home to some great restaurants so why not join us after work with some friends and make an evening of it!

 

 

Red Nose Days Golf Outing

Golf Red Nose DayToday we celebrate Red Nose Day, the highlight of Comic Relief’s ongoing appeal. Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry, originally set up in response to famine in Ethiopia. The appeal now helps many charities designed to help young people, old people and very poor areas. Red Nose day involves the wearing of Red foam noses with various comical designs changed with each biennial celebration with themes such as the tomato nose, monster noses, and the hairy nose. This year there is a whole range the nose characters including Karate Konk, Astrosnort and the Snotty Professor. The full range of merchandise includes t-shirts, umbrellas and mugs all designed around the Red Noses. Red Nose Day involves a telethon held each March, on the BBC with programming beginning in the afternoon and the usual Schedule being suspended at 7pm for a live show which includes parodies of popular shows, films and comedy shows hosted by celebrity presenters. Traditionally to celebrate Red Nose Day many schools hold non-uniform days in which school children will instead wear something red as well as holding bake sales and other fundraising games and events. To celebrate the day with our very own tartan twist, we included our Red Nose day props in our Golf Photoshoot earlier this week. James models our Tartan Golf Trousers and Tartan Golf Cap in the Menzies Dress tartan along with our Red Nose Day glasses, even using a Red Nose as the Golf Ball.RedNoseGolf

 

125 years of The Forth Rail Bridge

Forth Rail BridgeOn 4th March 1890 the steel cantilever bridge designed by John Fowler was formally opened by the Prince of Wales who went on to become Kind Edward VII. The Prince placed the final Golden Rivet and with this declared the bridge open. The bridge spans the Firth of Forth and begins nine miles from Edinburgh City centre. It has become one of Scotland’s most famous and most-loved landmarks.

The bridge had a set criteria when being planned. It had to be strong enough to withstand the weight of extremely heavy trains and the ferocious Scottish winds, yet had to be tall enough to allow large ships to pass underneath. Due to this, the Bridge required ten times the amount of metal as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the rail track was constructed 150ft above the water.

Until recently, it took a team of painters over three years to apply the Forth Bridge’s famous red coating of paint. It was claimed that following each completion the paint at the other end of the bridge would have began to wear off and the team would need to go back and start all over again.

In 2016 a new bridge, The Queensferry Crossing is to join the Forth Rail and Forth Road bridges spanning across the Firth of Forth this is to replace the current road bridge which will remain as a public transport link. Forth Bridge

Happy 125th Birthday from everyone here at ScotlandShop to our much loved Forth Rail Bridge!

Scottish Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Dragon
Chinese New Year is a very important festival celebrated at the beginning of the Chinese Calendar, and as the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the celebration is also often referred to as the Lunar New Year. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and for other countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Thailand along with Chinatowns world wide.

Across China their are many varying regional customs and traditions regarding the celebration of Chinese new year. Often the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for families to gather for a large family dinner with many traditional dishes. It is also common for each family to thoroughly clean their house in order to sweep away an ill-fortune, making way for incoming good luck, before they begin decorating the windows and doors with red colour paper cuttings all themed around good fortune, happiness and wealth. Other popular activities include lighting fire works and giving red envelopes filled with money, the money given should be of even numbers as odd numbers are associated with money given at funerals. Red Envelope

People typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolise a new beginning in the new year. Wearing new clothes also symbolises having more than enough things to use and wear in the new year.
The new clothing mainly features the colour red because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.

Chinese Scottish Tartan

The Chinese Scottish tartan was originally created to signify the special relationship that exists between Scotland and China and between the Scots and the Chinese community in Scotland. The inspiration for this tartan came from Madam Guo Guifang, Chinese Consul General, who once spoke of the unique Scottish tartan as one of the major tourist attractions for the Chinese and suggested the idea of creating a specific tartan for the Chinese people. The tartan incorporates the colours of the Scottish Saltire together with the red and yellow of the Chinese flag. These are interwoven with green bands to symbolise the great co-operation between Scottish and Chinese botanists in the Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh – home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese plants outside China itself. The yellow crosses the red in five places which signifies the five stars of the Chinese Flag, the biggest and brightest being represented by the yellow cross in the middle of the red.

We wish you good health, wealth and luck for the forthcoming year of the Goat! Happy Scottish Chinese New Year!

Stay on trend with the ScotlandShop New York Fashion Week Round Up

We always have an eye on the next big trend and where better to update our ideas than New York Fashion Week? Here we update you with a few of this season’s key looks to inspire your wardrobe.
Number One: Uniform and lots of lovely blouses. Combine your stripes and checks and get that street style that was all over the catwalks in New York
Blouses and checks street style NYC Fashion Week 2015
Number Two: Metallics
We have discovered our new favourite designer who is definitely in love with her tartan and her sense of fun and quirky hats top off the outfits perfectly. Kate Spade took 2 top trends, metallics and checks, and combined them to great effect.
Kate Spade New York Fall 2015
Number Three: Monochrome
Black and white seems to always be on trend (although this season we hear navy is the new black) and the runways of Thom Browne, Donna Karan and others combined classic crisp white shirts and starched collars with sharp skirts and cut outs.
Monochrome NYC Fashion Week 2015
The ScotlandShop take on monochrome using the Kirkton Black and White tweed check
Monochrome Tweed Trench Coat
Number Four: Pinstripes
Kenneth Cole combines black and red and pinstripes and checks
Kenneth Cole Collection 2015 New York
Number Five: Checks
Be it dark and demure checks from Polo Ralph Lauren or shabby-chic from Creatures of the Wind or mix ‘n match style from 3.1 Phillip Lim
Polo Ralph Lauren do Checks at NYC Fashion Week
Creatures of the Wild Shabby Chic Checks at NYC Fashion Week
Oh and just a little bit more of Kate Spade now have fallen in love with her chequered style!
Kate Spade Checks in for New York Fall 2015

Our 14 Scottish Valentine Loves

In the lead up to Valentine’s Day later this month we have created a list of our 14 Scottish Valentine Loves, from whisky to castles.  We celebrate everything that makes us proud to be Scottish.

Whisky

We start with Whisky, the drink of choice for many across the world, it comes packed with both history and quality. This results in whisky being one of our country’s biggest exports – we  export up to 36 bottles of whisky every second! With so many different brands, varieties, terms, ways to drink and occasional strong opinions, it can be difficult to know where to start when buying for you and your loved one.  There are three main types of whisky, single malt, single casked and blended.  Single malt whisky is made from mixing whisky all distilled at the same time into one single malt, this is the most common type of whisky.  Single cask whisky is, as the name suggests, bottled entirely from a single cask. This whisky is typically only made by smaller distilleries or as the high-end lines from some of the major distilleries.  Blended whisky is made by blending together whisky usually of the same main type.  You will meet people who may feel blended whisky to be inferior to malt or cask, which isn’t entirely true.  Some blended whisky can be very good, but as a beginner it’s best to stick to a single malt.  This way it’s easier for you and your loved one to learn what you truly like and do not like in a whisky.  One of our office favourites is Glenmorangie as the grain grown outside our office windows ends up in a Glenmorangie bottle after distilling.  What better way to warm up on a cold winter’s evening than with a wee dram of whisky!

Kilchurn CastleMany Scottish castles really wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney fairytale, often undeniably romantic, however castles were usually constructed by our ancestors in strategic locations on islands, beside lochs or in glens to defend against both marauding invaders and wily foes.  We really have our ancestors strategic planning to thank when enjoying the beautiful settings they created.  While many now lie in ruin, there are many of Scotland’s great castles which continue to stand the test of time. A Scottish Castle could be the prefect romantic getaway this Valentine’s day, with the opportunity to relax in the rooms once graced by royalty and the nobles of Scotland. Many of these restored castles are now four or five star hotels, where in some you can book your own private turret or if you really want to spoil yourselves hire a whole castle and feel like the lord and lady of the Scottish land surrounding you.  The castle pictured is the beautiful Kilchurn Castle, built during the 15th and 17th centuries on a rocky peninsula within Loch Awe.  Occasionally when water levels rise within the loch access to the castle becomes restricted and the site effectively becomes it’s own temporary island.

Irn Bru

Irn-Bru, Scotland’s carbonated soft drink is often described as “Scotland’s other national drink” after whisky. The drinks innovative and sometimes controversial marketing campaigns have kept it as the number one selling soft drink in Scotland, where it competes directly with global brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. This is quite an achievement for Irn-Bru as Scotland is one of only a handful of countries in which Cola-Cola is not the biggest selling soft drink, other countries include Peru where the native Inca Kola is most popular and Japan where canned tea and coffee based drinks lead.  Irn-Bru is known for its bright orange colour with many references made throughout Scottish pop-culture to the ‘ginger’ drink.  Irn-Bru recently launched a range a range of 57 tartan clad bottles covering approximately 10,000 last names. If your not related to one of the clans, you are invited to join Clan Irn-Bru which features the officially registered Irn-Bru tartan, a very bright orange blue and white tartan which certainly stands out. Lovingly known as a great pick me up after a long night of partying – great for your valentines celebrations.
Highland Cow

Scotland is home to a wonderfully diverse range of wildlife, from the bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth to the red squirrels still thriving in the pinewoods of the Highlands. We are incredibly lucky to have all of this wonderful wildlife and spectacular scenery on our doorstep, all of which continues to take our breath away. Red Deer are the undisputed Monarch of the Glen, the largest of all Britain’s land mammals. One of Europe’s most spectacular wildlife phenomena is the annual Scottish red deer ‘rut’ which takes place each autumn as stags battle for dominance and for the chance to mate.  Our favourite of all Scottish wildlife are the incredibly cute Highland Cows, which are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and very strong winds. With many beautiful country parks and gardens as well as exciting wildlife parks, zoos, safaris and wildlife cruises there really is something for all the family to enjoy this valentine’s day.

Ryder Cup

While the modern game of golf originated in 15th-century Scotland, the game’s ancient origins are unclear and are often much debated. Golf is very unique in the fact that it is one of the only ball games that does not require a standardised playing area. Instead, the game is played on a course, all consisting of either nine or 18 holes and all containing a tee box and a putting green including the actual hole, other than these key points, the hazards and layout throughout the course are all completely unique, giving a different playing experience on every course. Scotland is home to some of the best golf courses in the world, including Gleneagles, which was host to the 2014 Ryder Cup. This was a real treat for all Scottish Golf fans and we were very proud to host such a prestigious event. The Ryder Cup Tartan was designed to celebrate the 40th Ryder Cup match. Created by our local mill and internationally-renowned tartan designers, Lochcarron of Scotland, the bold tartan features four shades of blue inspired by the landscape of Scotland. The design also incorporates white – a nod of the cap to the Saltire – Scotland’s national flag of St Andrew – and blue and gold to reflect the colours of the European flag, all reflecting the unique quality and drama of the most treasured trophy in Golf. Get the perfect gift for your golf fan this Valentine’s day from the 2014 Ryder Cup Collection.

Haggis, the national dish of Scotland is a well loved dish across the world, despite the list of ingredients included in the dish not being the most appetising. Haggis contains sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, salt and stock, traditionally encased in a sheep’s stomach, although nowadays often encased in an artificial casing. Haggis is commonly served with neeps and tatties (turnip and potatoes).  Haggis has risen in popularity within other delicacies such as pizza toppings, coated in batter and deep fried as part of a Chip shop supper, as well as being used in nachos, burgers, pakora and salads, which all sounds rather odd but we do recommend giving all of these a try. One of the most popular of Robert Burns poems is called ‘Address to a Haggis’ which is traditionally read out before haggis is served as the main course of a Burns supper and involves the dramatic cutting open of the haggis, the poem begins “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!” Haggis is surprisingly also used in a sport know as haggis hurling which involves, as the name suggests hurling a haggis as far as possible. The haggis hurling world record was achieved by Lorne Coltart in 2011, who hurled his haggis 217ft or 66m.  This isn’t the only haggis related world record, in 2008 competitive eater Eric Livingston set a world record by consuming 1.4 kg of haggis in 8 minutes, we won’t be attempting to beat this record anytime soon! If your looking for a lovely Scottish valentine’s dish, haggis, neeps and tatties is a great option.

Bagpipes

Scotland is internationally renowned for its traditional music, which has continued to be popular throughout the 21st century. The most famous of our traditional instruments is the great highland bagpipe which has achieved widespread recognition through its usage in both military and pipe bands. Bagpipes also take centre stage within the many world pipe band competitions which are all fiercely competitive. fiddle, harp, tin whistle and accordion can also be heard throughout traditional Scottish music.  As well as our immensely popular traditional music Scotland is home to many pop, rock and dance musicians such as Annie Lennox, the Bay City Rollers, and The Proclaimers. More recently we’ve seen success with artists Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic, KT Tunstall, Emeli Sande and Calvin Harris to name a few.

scottish-shortbreadShortbread is generally associated with and originated in Scotland but due to its popularity is now made across the whole of the United Kingdom.  Shortbread developed from a medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with both sugar and spices hardened into a hard, dry and sweetened biscuit, eventually yeast was replaced with butter as it became a staple food in Britain.  Although shortbread was prepared throughout much of the 12th century, the refinement of Shortbread is credited to Mary, Queen of Scots.  One of the most traditional forms of shortbread, petticoat tails, is believed to have been named by Mary, Queen of Scots; more recently shortbread has also been made in the form of sheep and Scottie dogs. Walkers shortbread is Scotland’s largest food exporter.  This is a very popular ScotlandShop office favourite.  A great sugary treat for Valentine’s day.

Scottish Thistle

The thistle, although a humble weed, is our national flower, which has evolved in to a commonly used national emblem. You many see thistles used within many Scottish logo’s and designs, for example: Police Scotland, the Scottish national rugby team and Partick Thistle football club. There is a legend which talks of an invading  Norse army, who were attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army camp. During the advance one barefoot Norseman accidentally stood upon a thistle which caused him to cry out in pain, alerting the Scottish army to the invasion.. It is thought that due to the thistle aiding the Scottish army this may be why we have now adopted the thistle in to Scottish culture. As well as the thistle being our national flower, Unicorn’s are the national animal of Scotland, which is somewhat surprising. Two unicorn’s feature within the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms along with an array of thistles. If looking for a valentine’s present including lovely Scottish thistle’s our Machair Scottish Brooch features thistle heads set with stones of the finest lead crystal in the traditional amethyst colour and is inspired by Scottish Machair – a gaelic word describing an extensive low-lying fertile plain. This is one of the rarest habitat types in Europe and is home to the Scottish wild thistle.

Highland Games

Highland Games are traditionally held in Scotland as a way of celebrating Scottish Culture, these events are now also hugely popular worldwide. Certain events from the games such as the caber toss are so well known that they have become emblematic of Scotland.  The competition mainly includes events such as piping and drumming, highland dancing and heavy Scottish athletics.  The heavy Scottish athletic events comprise of the all-important Caber toss as well as the Stone Put, Hammer Throw and Sheaf Toss, these events are still considered as being what the games are all about.  The largest of all the highland games is the Cowal Highland Gathering, held in Dunoon every August which can attract around 3,500 competitors and 23,000 spectators.  At modern games armories will display their collections of swords and armour to perform mock battles.  Various vendors will also attend to sell various Scottish memorabilia, food and drink.  We receive many spectacular photos from our customers sporting their clan tartan at their local highland games and would love to see some more.

Rain

There’s an old Scottish saying that goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!” So even though we aren’t blessed with the year-round sunshine and tropical temperatures that we dream of, it doesn’t get in the way of us loving Scotland all the same. Scotland’s weather is famous for being changeable to the point that we can commonly see weather associated with all four seasons in one day. Scotland is actually the windiest country in Europe due to eastward moving strong winds from the Atlantic, which provdes a paradise for windsurfers in the Outer Hebrides. Scotland’s high latitude means that on the longest day of the year there is no complete darkness over the northern isles of Scotland. The Shetland Isles, have about four hours more daylight at midsummer than the South of England, although this is reversed in midwinter. The highest temperature ever recorded in Scotland was 39.9 °C in August 2003 in the village of Greycrook within the Scottish Borders, lucky for us this is local to our office, so we were able to enjoy this unexpected warmth.

Gaelic Road Sign
Scotland today is mostly an English-speaking country, but it was not always so. The land has three indigenous languages: English, Gaelic and Scots. Across Scotland, Gaelic was once the dominant language and you can still hear it spoken today, particularly in the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides. There are significant efforts to keep the language alive, you may find many place names written in both English and Gaelic on signposts, still spoken by around 60,000 people in Scotland. Scots is a sister language to English, which will vary dependant on which region of Scotland you are in, this is still used in everyday speech by around 1.5 million people. Also commonly featured in modern Scottish literature and song. Some of our favourite Scottish sayings include, “Lang may yer lum reek” translated as “Long may your chimney smoke” – meaning ‘May you live long and keep well’. “Gie it Laldy” translated to “Do something with gusto” and “It’s a dreich day!” which is said in reference to the wonderful Scottish weather when it’s cold, damp and miserable.

Tweed The original name for tweed was tweel, the scots word for twill - as tweed is generally woven in a twilled pattern. A traditional story explains the name originating by chance. In the 1830’s a London cloth merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm about some tweels. The London merchant misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be a trade-name taken from the river tweed that flows through the Scottish Borders textile area. Based on this the London Merchant advertised the cloths as Tweed and the name has remained ever since. Traditionally tweed was used for upper class country-clothing like shooting jackets and became immensely popular among Edwardian middle classes who associated it with leisurely pursuits of the elite. Recently tweed has again risen in popularity with actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch wearing tweed overcoats during his role as Sherlock and Matt Smith wearing tweed suit jackets in Dr Who. Tweed Run’s have also become popular as events for people to appreciate both excellent quality tweed and vintage bicycles. We love tweed fabric, with over 100 tweeds in stock we have a good range of fabric for all tweed fans.

Stewart Royal

Tartan, with its colourful yarns, criss-crossing horizontally in traditional patterns, is Scotland’s most famous textile. This patterned woven cloth has become one of the most iconic symbols of Scottish culture. Tartan originated in the Highlands where clanspeople used local plants, mosses and berries to dye wool before spinning and weaving it into tartan. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the highland tartans were only associated with either regions or districts, rather than any specific Scottish clan. This was because like other materials, tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes as well as the local plants varying from district to district. The idea of clan and family tartans is thought to be a relatively new invention, following the standardisation of tartans worn by the Highland regiments of the 18th century. We have a selection of over 500 tartans, catering to many regions and clans, but don’t worry if you’re not directly linked to a clan we have many wonderful tartans that can be worn by all.

Good Home Magazine Celebrates Burns Night

Good Homes January Cover

Good Homes Magazine are busy preparing for a Special Burns Night celebration, and have a few ideas to help us all create the perfect evening.

Burns Night is often regarded as a second national day here in Scotland, and is often more celebrated than our official national day, St. Andrew’s Day. In 2009, a Scottish television series held a public vote on “The Greatest Scot of all time” in which Robert Burns won, narrowly beating William Wallace.

The first ever Burns Supper was held at the Mother Club in Greenock and was held on what was believed to be his Birthday, the 29th January until 1803 where it was discovered in the Ayr parish records that in fact the correct date was the 25th January. Although the format of Burns suppers has changed a little since then. The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements, followed with the Selkirk Grace. After grace comes the piping and cutting of the haggis, when Burn’s famous Address to a Haggis is read and the haggis is cut open. At the end of the meal, a series of toasts and replies are made, the most common of these being the toast to the immortal memory, in which an overview of Burn’s life and work is given. The event then concludes with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Good Homes January Coverage

 

You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, why not invite friends and family over for a celebration of your own.  And don’t worry about cooking the Haggis it is actually very simple:

Your haggis already cooked and only needs thoroughly re-heating. Wrap the haggis tightly in tin foil and place in a large saucepan of cold water. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes per lb. but do not boil as this might burst the skin. If you would rather use an oven; place in casserole dish with a little water. Wrap in tinfoil to ensure haggis is kept moist and heat at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6), until piping hot for approx 1 hour. When ready to serve, remove from foil and drain off the excess water. Haggis is suitable for microwave if cut through first and skin is removed. Additional time should be allowed for larger haggis.

The Scots are a friendly bunch and we love to share our traditions so feel free to call us if you are a bit confused about what to wear for Burns night, what to say if you are in charge of the Toast to the Lassies or anything else.

And here’s an extract from the famous Selkirk Grace:
Fair fa’ your honest sonsie face
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm;
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm…….


Irn Bru launch their very own tartan bottles


Irn Bru BottlesSpecial Tartan bottles were Bru-ing up in the The highlands this morning as Glencoe was the site of a unique clan gathering as Irn-Bru brought together a collection of new, tartan-clad bottles to celebrate their new initiative – Bru’s Your Clan?

Irn Bru is a Scottish carbonated soft drink, often described as “Scotland’s other national drink” after whisky. Innovative and sometimes controversial marketing campaigns have kept it as the number one selling soft drink in Scotland, where it competes directly with global brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

The brand’s famous bottles have been emblazoned with 57 different colourful tartans as part of the new initiative so we can all can show our clan colours and pick up a bottle of Irn-Bru in our very own family tartan. Although these 57 tartans cover over ten thousand last names for anyone who doesn’t have Scottish roots, don’t despair you won’t miss out. Instead you’ll be invited to join Clan Bru and proudly sport the phenomenal Irn-Bru tartan.

Bru's Your Clan

The Irn Bru Tartan was designed in 1969 as the Barr tartan,  In 1996/97 it was redesigned and the name changed to Irn Bru. The tartan was registered with the Scottish Tartans Society on 12th September 1997. The colours of the tartan are based on the Companies Brand Label, one of Scotland’s most iconic brands.

Irn Bru Tartan
These bottles have been launched just in time for the very important Scottish celebration of Hogmany, the Scots word for the last day of the year. There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January). The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot. This year we know what we’ll be taking as out first-footing gift, our very own tartan Irn-Bru bottle!

We think these special bottles may also make some appearances at Burns Night celebrations across Scotland, the limited edition bottles will be around until the end of March. With a bit of a reputation as a hangover cure they will surely be there the morning after if not alongside the haggis.  Another way to add your very own touch of tartan to your Burns Night celebration is with our Tartan Tablelinen, we have Tartan Tablecloths, Table Runners and matching napkins available with four tartans in stock and over 500 tartans available for your perfect Burns Night Table.

You and Your Christmas Wedding with a touch of tartan

You and Your WeddingYou and Your Wedding 2

You and Your Wedding recently featured our Hip Flask Set on their Winter Wedding feature.

They have compiled a list of the perfect gifts for your groom, From smart wedding accessories to cute little keepsakes, show your man how excited you are to marry him with some thoughtful Christmas gifts.

There’s only one way to drink a decent Scotch at a wedding…with our Tartan Hip Flask. It even comes beautifully packaged in a presentation box with a little silver funnel to make sure you don’t spill a drop when you fill it up with one of Scotland’s finest malts. Better make it a Glenmorangie since the grain grown outside our office windows ends up in a Glenmorangie bottle after distilling.  The Pride of Scotland Hip Flask set also makes a great gift for a Best Man. We have the full range of Pride of Scotland tartans in stock including the favourite Pride of Scotland Modern and you can even have a set of cufflinks or a tie to match in the same tartan. The Pride of Scotland Hip Flask Set includes the hip flask, a collapsable cup in case you are too sophisticated to be caught swigging straight from the flask (sure it tastes better that way!) and a pouring funnel so you don’t waste any precious Scottish whisky filling your flask!

So once you have done your shopping for the groom-to-be you can explore the full range of men’s wedding wear, from tartan brogues to tail coats. Tartan doesn’t have to be traditional and with a choice of over 500 Scottish tartans of offer you are spoilt for choice.

Now you just need to decide on which Scotch to fill your hip flask with. After the aware winning Highland Malt Glenmorangie, three of our favourites are the classic Island dram Talisker 10 year old from the Isle of Skye (check out the Isle of Skye tartan too with it’s lovely green and purple heather hues), the rich and smoky Lagavulin 16 and Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten with it’s funky turquoise label and packaging. Enjoy!