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Friday, 17 November 2017


Charterhouse public schoolboy Robert Baden-Powell had an interest in the outdoors. His first introduction to Scouting skills was through stalking and cooking game while avoiding teachers in the nearby woods, which were strictly out-of-bounds.

Later, as a military officer, Baden-Powell was stationed in British India in the 1880s where he took an interest in military scouting and in 1884 he published Reconnaissance and Scouting.

Baden-Powell won fame as commander of the garrison during the 217-day siege of Mafeking in the Second South African War (1899–1900). This rise to fame fueled the sales of the small instruction book he had written in 1899 about military scouting and wilderness survival, Aids to Scouting.

Baden-Powell in 1896

On his return to England, Baden-Powell noticed that boys showed considerable interest in Aids to Scouting, which was being used by teachers and youth organizations. He was urged to rewrite this book for boys.

In 1906 and 1907 Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys. He took many ideas from the experiences he made with the Mafeking Cadet Corps a paramilitary group of youths formed during the Mafeking siege. The youngsters supported the troops by carrying messages, which freed the men for military duties and kept the boys occupied.

Cover of first part of Scouting For Boys, January 1908

In the summer of 1907 Robert Baden-Powell held a camp to test ideas for his book. Twenty boys, drawn from Eton and Harrow public schools plus Poole and Bournemouth locals spent the week from August 1 to August 8 camping on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbor on the south coast of England.

The boys  were organised into patrols (Bulls, Wolves, Curlews and Ravens), wore khaki, used the motto Be Prepared", studied cooking, fire-lighting, wildlife, life-saving and patriotism, and were given tests on knots and tracking. Reveille was at 6am, there was a compulsory siesta and lights out at 9.30pm. The public schoolboys were charged £1, the others 3/6d (17 1/2p).

Scouting for Boys was published in six fortnightly instalments of approximately 70 pages each, from January to March 1908. These six publications were a success and, as planned, were issued in book form on May 1, 1908.

The Brownsea camp and the publication of Scouting for Boys are generally regarded as the start of the Scout movement.

In 1909 Chicago newspaper and magazine publisher William D. Boyce was visiting London, when he found himself lost on a foggy street. He encountered a boy who came to his aid, guiding him to his destination. The boy refused Boyce's tip, explaining that he was a Boy Scout and was merely doing his daily good turn. Boyce's fascination was aroused and he met with staff at the Boy Scouts Headquarters. Upon his return to the US, Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.

Robert Baden Powell faced with an increasing number of girls wishing to take part in his scouting movement. He decided that girls should have their own separate organization, and the Girl Guides were founded by him and his sister Agnes in the UK in 1910.

During the first half of the 20th century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys (Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Rover Scout) and for girls (Brownie Guide, Girl Guide and Girl Scout, Ranger Guide).

First procession of Armenian Scouts in Constantinople in 1918
Worldwide, as of 2010, there are over 32 million registered Scouts and as of 2006 10 million registered Guides, operating in nearly every country.

Indonesia  has the highest amount of scouting participants worldwide with 17,100,000 male and female members.

Wikipedia Commons

In Cuba, there was a Scout organisation, but the Communist government replaced it by the José Martí Pioneer Organization. Also scouting organisations have been banned in the People's Republic of China. They have been replaced by Young Pioneers of China and Communist Youth League of China. Both the Cuban and Chinese  organisations are similar to Scouts, but without the international brotherhood and the peace mission.

Davis Beckham, Keith Richards and Tony Blair were all scouts.

All but one of the astronauts who walked on the Moon had been scouts.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Scottish Terrier

The Scottish terrier was developed in Scotland in the mid-1800s as a vermin catcher and watchdog. It was originally called Aberdeen terrier.

It is thought to descend from the Old Scottish terrier, with a dash of Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and Cairn and West Highland White Terrier thrown in for good measure.

The modern breed is said to be able to trace its lineage back to a single female, named Splinter II, who was the property of a Mr Ludlow and an early winner of dog exhibitions.

Mated to Tartan, Splinter II produced Worry, the dam of four champions. Rambler, her son by Bonaccord, sired the two founding sires of the breed, Dundee (out of Worry) and Alister (out of a Dundee daughter).

In 1881 the "Scottish Terrier Club of England" was founded, being the first club dedicated to the breed. The club secretary, H.J. Ludlow, is responsible for greatly popularizing the breed in the southern parts of Great Britain.

Black is the most traditional color for a Scottie, Wheaten Scotties can also be found.

A scottie puppy. By Flickr user Daniel Petry 

Scotties typically live from 11 to 13 years. Two genetic health concerns seen in the breed are von Willebrand disease (vWD) and craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO). Scottish Terriers also have a greater chance of developing some cancers than other purebreds.

Originally Scottish Terriers were used for hunting, but because of their small size, they are often kept as pets.

Many famous people have owned Scottish Terriers, including Queen Victoria, Rudyard Kipling, Eva Braun, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's most famous canine companion was his Scottish Terrier, Fala, who is part of the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, the only Presidential dog so honored.

Fala at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (bottom left), Stefan Fussan 

A second older Scottish Terrier called Meggie owned by Eleanor Roosevelt, once bit a senator.

President George W Bush had a black Scottish terrier called Barney during his time in the White House.

The Scottish Terrier is also well known for being a playing piece in the board game Monopoly. This was because when the game was first created in the 1930s, Scotties were one of the most popular pets in the United States.

Source Europress Encyclopedia,

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Walter Scott


Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771 in a third-floor flat on College Wynd in the Old Town of Edinburgh, a narrow alleyway leading from the Cowgate to the gates of the University of Edinburgh (Old College)

Raeburn's portrait of Sir Walter Scott in 1822

He was the ninth child of Walter Scott, a Writer to the Signet (solicitor), and Anne Rutherford.

Five of Walter's siblings died in infancy, and a sixth died when he was five months of age.

The young Walter Scott survived a childhood bout of polio that would leave him lame in his right leg for the rest of his life.

To cure his lameness Walter was sent in 1773 to live in the rural Scottish Borders at his paternal grandparents' farm at Sandyknowe, where he developed into a high spirited child.

During his time at Sandyknowe, Walter was taught to read by his aunt Jenny, and learned from her the speech patterns and many of the tales and legends that characterized much of his work.

As a child he read voraciously, and during the cold winter months his grandma entertained him with ballads and stories of the Scottish border country.

When he was 6-years-old, Walter was given a small Shetland pony on which he galloped over the countryside.

At the age of 8, Walter returned to his family in Edinburgh and in October 1779 he began at the Royal High School of Edinburgh (in High School Yards). He was a popular schoolboy but wasn’t considered a brilliant student due to his poor grasp of Greek.

After finishing school, Walter was sent to stay for six months with his aunt Jenny in Kelso, attending the local grammar school where he met James and John Ballantyne, who later became his business partners and printed his books.

Walter began studying classics at the University of Edinburgh in November 1783, at the age of 12, a year or so younger than most of his fellow students.

While at the university, Scott met the blind poet Thomas Blacklock, who lent him books and introduced him to James Macpherson's Ossian cycle of poems, which he learned by heart. James Macpherson's Ossian poems were claimed at the time to be translations dating back to the Dark Ages, but were later discredited when this was found to be untrue.


In March 1786, Scott began an apprenticeship in his father's law office to become a Writer to the Signet.

When it was decided that Walter would become a lawyer, he returned to the university at the age of 17 to study law, first taking classes in Moral Philosophy and Universal History in 1789–90. At the age of 20 Scott passed his exams.

After completing his studies in law, he became a lawyer in Edinburgh. Scott spent his happiest days as a young lawyer riding in remote districts of the border country, talking to locals and writing down their old ballads.

As a result of his lameness Scott was unable to join the military during the invasion scare of the 1790s. To compensate he organised his own cavalry troop, the Edinburgh Light Dragoons Dragons. Scott was their enthusiastic quartermaster.

In 1796, Scott's friend James Ballantyne founded a printing press in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders. Through Ballantyne, Scott was able to publish his first works, including Glenfinlas and The Eve of St. John, and his poetry then began to bring him to public attention.

At 28, Scott was appointed sheriff-deputy of Selkirkshire. This post, added to his earnings as a lawyer, gave him a comfortable living. He continued to collect ballads, and in 1802 he published the first two volumes of Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

copy of Scott's Minstrelsy in the National Museum of Scotland. Kim Traynor 
By the early 1800s Scott had a comfortable living from his earnings at the law, his salary as Sheriff-Deputy, his wife's income, some revenue from his writing, and his share of his father's rather meagre estate.

In 1805, The Lay of the Last Minstrel captured wide public imagination, and Scott's career as a writer was established in spectacular fashion.

In 1809 Scott persuaded James Ballantyne and his brother to move to Edinburgh and to establish their printing press there. He became a partner in their business.

When his printing press business became embroiled in pecuniary difficulties, Scott set out, in 1814, to write a cash-cow. The result was Waverley.

Published anonymously Waverley was a huge success and gave Scott by far the biggest literary income of the day.

There followed a large set of novels in next five years, each the same general vein. Mindful of his reputation as a poet, Scott maintained the anonymous habit he had begun with Waverley, always publishing the novels under the name "Author of Waverley" or attributed as "Tales of..." with no author. Even when it was clear that there would be no harm in coming out into the open Scott maintained the facade, apparently out of a sense of fun. During this time the nickname "The Wizard of the North" was popularly applied to the mysterious best-selling writer.

His identity as the author of the novels was widely rumored, and in 1815 Scott was given the honor of dining with George, Prince Regent, who wanted to meet "the author of Waverley".

Scott officially disclosed his identity in 1827 at a public dinner at Edinburgh.

Scott was given the title of baronet by the Prince Regent and in March 1820 he received the baronetcy in London, becoming Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet.

Walter Scott stage managed the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822 decking the royal occasion out with Highland trappings to create an event which revived the tartan tradition. The spectacular pageantry Scott concocted to portray George as a rather tubby reincarnation of Bonnie Prince Charlie made tartans and kilts fashionable and turned them into symbols of national identity.

Alexander Carse - 'The Landing of George IVth at Leith'

Scott was responsible, through a series of pseudonymous letters published in the Edinburgh Weekly News in 1826, for retaining the right of Scottish banks to issue their own banknotes, which is reflected to this day by his continued appearance on the front of all notes issued by the Bank of Scotland.

In 1826, as a result of a depression hitting Scotland, Scott's publishing/printing went bankrupt. He refused all offers of help following his bankruptcy. "No this right hand shall work it all off."

Scott wrote frantically for the rest of his life to pay back his debts of £116,000. It was a struggle because by this time his style had become old hat against trend-setters like Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth with their new style of verse romance.

Scott paid back £45,000 in two years. as time passed his wife, son and grandson died and he had several strokes but by 1832 after five novels, a nine volume Life of Napoleon and a History of Scotland, he'd paid off half his debts.

Though not in the clear by his death, Scott's novels continued to sell, and he made good his debts from beyond the grave.


Walter Scott first made his name as a poet before writing 28 Historical novels in which he woved fictional characters and events around historic events.

He started writing at 6.00am in the morning writing very rapidly.

In 1805, he published The Lay of the Last Minstrel, an epic poem with certain similarities to Coleridge's Christabel. (Some critics say he plagiarized its metrics). Despite this the work made Scott famous, and established his career as a writer in spectacular fashion.

Scott's popular romance The Lady of the Lake, was printed in 1810. The work was set in the Trossachs, an area of wooded glens and braes with quiet lochs, lying to the east of Ben Lomond and it drew throngs of tourists to the Trossacks area.

Title page to the eighth edition, 1810

Portions of the German translation of The Lady In The Lake were set to music by Franz Schubert. One of these songs, "Ellens dritter Gesang", is popularly labelled as "Schubert's Ave Maria".

The Lady In The Lake was quickly made into unauthorized romantic melodramas. In November 1810, Scott wrote to a friend that his romance was being made into a play by Martin and Reynolds in London and by a Mr. Siddons in Edinburgh.

Verses from The Lady of the Lake, including "Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!" were set to music around 1812 by the songwriter James Sanderson. This evolved into "Hail to the Chief," the official Presidential Anthem of the United States.

In the third canto of The Lady of the Lake, a burnt cross is used to summon Clan Alpine to rise against King James. This method of rallying supporters and publicizing their attacks was adapted by the second Ku Klux Klan in 1915 after the film, The Birth of a Nation. The Ku Klux Klan used cross burning for dramatic terror as a racist tactic.

Having, began as a collector of Border Ballads and as a narrative poet, Scott turned to fiction when his poetry was eclipsed by Byron, whose new style of verse romance was the flavor of the month.
Waverly, Scott's first novel, was a tale of the last Jacobite rebellion in the United Kingdom, the "Forty-Five".

Scott was inspired to write his first novel Waverley by the ruins of Waverley Abbey. He first started work on the story after editing his 1802-03 Minstrels of the Scottish Border, however he mislaid the manuscript and put it off. By 1814, the poetry of Lord Byron had began to overshadow Scott's, so he resurrected it.

Published on July 7, 1814, Waverley was an instant hit in Britain, America and Europe.

Waverley is often regarded as the first historical novel in the western tradition and the work made it respectable to use a historic background to tell a story and changed the way we look at history.

Scott's story about tartened, kilted Scots did a brilliant PR job for his nation. Up to then, the English had thought of the Scottish people as a nation of bloodthirsty savages but Waverley transformed them into brave warriors and stimulated interest in the previously un-imagined beauties of the Scottish countryside.

Sir Walter Scott, novelist and poet - painted by Sir William Allan

The Heart of Midlothian was originally published in four volumes on July 25, 1818, under the title of Tales of My Landlord, 2nd series, and the author was given as "Jedediah Cleishbotham, Schoolmaster and Parish-clerk of Gandercleugh". (Scott was still choosing to write under a pseudonym.)

Much of the dialogue of The Heart of Midlothian is in Lowland Scots, and some editions carry a glossary.

Heart of Midlothian F.C. (founded in 1874) took its name from the Heart of Midlothian jail, which was demolished in 1817 but was kept fresh in the mind by Scott's The Heart of Midlothian novel.

The Bride of Lammermoor is an historical book by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1819. The novel is set in the Lammermuir Hills of south-east Scotland, and tells of a tragic love affair between young Lucy Ashton and her family's enemy Edgar Ravenswood.

Scott was possibly thinking about an own unhappy love affair with Wilamina Belscheand when writing The Bride of Lammermoor and as result it is his own most passionate novel.

In 1820 Walter Scott published Ivanhoe, which is set in the Middle Ages during the reign of King Richard I of England. It marked a move away from Scott's focus on the local history of Scotland.

Title page of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, 1st edition.

Scott took the name Ivanhoe from the village Ivinghoe in Buckinghamshire.

Scott introduced the word "freelance" to describe unattached for hire when he wrote in Ivanhoe "I offered Richard the services of my freelances."

'Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott' is an anagram of 'Novel by a Scottish writer.'

Ivanhoe sold its first edition within a fortnight.

In southern USA, jousting modeled on that described in Ivanhoe became a popular entertainment.

Tony Blair described Ivanhoe as "One of the great love stories of English literature". It is the book the former British prime minister would take to a desert island.

Anne of Geierstein is a novel published in 1829. It is set in Central Europe, mainly in Switzerland, shortly after the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471) and covers the period of Swiss involvement in the Burgundian Wars.

The German Secret Society described in Anne of Gelerstein was the prototype for the Ku-Klux-Klan.

Scott's novels were expensive. His three volumes of Kenliworth cost 10s 6d a volume, (a huge amount in those days).

Scott was the first British novelist to become a noted public figure.

Mark Twain was not a fan. He said that Scott's revival of "sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society…did measureless harm; more real and lasting harm, perhaps, than any other individual that ever wrote."

Scott's novels stimulated interest in the previously unimagined beauties of the Scottish countryside and introduced to the rest of the world the Scottish style of bagpipe and kilts.


Walter Scott was tall and broad shouldered. He wore breeches and a shooting jacket when writing.

Even at the peak of his fame, Sir Walter Scott never lost the common touch. It was said of him that he spoke to every man he met as if he were a blood relative.

He could be witty..."Here lies that peerless paper peer, Lord Peter." Sometimes, though he resorted to bad jokes: " Please return my book. I find that though many of my friends are poor arithmeticians, they are nearly all good bookkeepers."


Scott was jilted in his early twenties by Wiliamina Belsches, the beautiful daughter of a bayonet. Her family rejected him for a more "suitable man". As a result Scott had a breakdown.

In 1797 Scott met a beautiful French woman Charlotte Margaret Carpenter while vacationing in the Lake District. After three weeks of courtship, Scott proposed and they were married later in the year on Christmas Eve in St Mary's Church, Carlisle.

They had five children, of whom four, Sophia, Walter, Anne and Charles survived by the time of Scott's death. Most were baptized by an Episcopalian clergyman, due to Charlotte's faith.

The couple remained happy until the death of Charlotte after three decades of marriage on May 25, 1826.


Walter Scott's family moved to 25 George Square in 1774.. George Square was the swankiest address in Edinburgh and Scott lived in George Square with his family until he got married in 1797.

The Scotts' family home in George Square, Edinburgh. By Stephencdickson

Scott and Charlotte started off their married life renting a house at 50 George Street, Edinburgh before moving in the autumn of 1798 to nearby South Castle Street.

After The Scott's third son was born in 1801, they moved to a spacious, three-story, gray-stone dwelling, built for Scott at 39 North Castle Street. This remained Scott's base in Edinburgh until 1826, when he could no longer afford two homes.

From 1798 Scott had spent the summers in a cottage at Lasswade, where he entertained guests including literary figures, and it was there that his career as an author began.

In 1804 he ended his use of the Lasswade cottage and leased the substantial house of Ashestiel, 6 miles (9.7 km) from Selkirk. It was sited on the south bank of the River Tweed, and had belonged to Scott's uncle William Russell, whose heir now dwelled in India. The building also incorporated an old tower house.

The lease at Ashestiel ran out in May 1811 and Scott bought a mountain farm situated in the Borders between Kelso and Melrose. He moved there with his wife and four children and named it Abbotsford. He wrote most of his novels there.

The success of Scott's earlier works enabled him to convert Abbotsford from a mere farmhouse to a Gothic baronial. He kept adding to the dwelling buying more and more land and covering the land with trees. In 1822 the original building was demolished to make way for what is now the main block of Abbotsford. By then it was 1400 acres which he liberally covered with trees. Once he'd converted the property into a country house, Scott kept the doors of Abbotsford open and entertained swarms of guests.

Abbotsford House. Wikipedia Commons


Sir Walter Scott had the religious certainty the majority of his day enjoyed. He wrote that he could look on death's approach without fear.

A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society and served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–32).

Scott's father was a Freemason, being a member of Lodge St David, No.36 (Edinburgh), and Scott also became a Freemason in his father's Lodge in 1801.


Scott liked to collect old books and he had a collection of about 9,000 books in his Abbotsford library.

He had a fascination for historic weaponry and Scott's collection of armor at his Abbotsford home contained an interesting mixture.

In his younger days Scott travelled around the Scottish countryside on foot or horseback exploring battlefields and ruins of old castles and forts.

Sometimes Walter Scott walked 20 or more miles a day. He made friends with country people, and learned their stories and their folk ballads. This developed in him an appreciation of the struggles of the Scots.


Scott had a black greyhound called Hamlet also a Greyhound called Percy and a Scottish deerhound called Maida.

There is a statue of him in Princes Street, Edinburgh with Maida (see below)

The novelist had a tomcat called Hinse who tormented Scott's dogs until a bloodhound called Nimrod killed him in 1826.

The Dandie Dinmont terrier takes its name from a fictional character called Dandie Dinmont in Scott’s novel Guy Mannering. Dinmont was based on a farmer called James Davidson who had some dogs on his farm. The novel was a great success and the Border terrier popularity spread throughout Britain adopting the Dandie Dinmont name.


After five years of intense work after his bankruptcy, Scott's health was broken by overwork.

In 1831, Scott sailed as a guest of the British government to the Mediterranean in search of health but was soon homesick and he returned home.

Scott returned to Scotland in 1832 but caught typhus during an epidemic in his homeland that year. He died on September 21, 1832 at Abbotsford.

His last words were to his family "God bless you all, I feel myself again."

Sir Walter Scott was buried in St Mary's Aisle, in the North Wing of the ruin of Dryburgh Abbey.

Sir Walter Scott's grave at Dryburgh Abbey. Pasicles 
Source Compton's Encyclopedia

Robert Falcon Scott


Robert Falcon Scott was born on June 6, 1868, in Stoke Damerel, near Devonport, Plymouth, Devon.

Robert was the third of six children and elder son of John Edward, a brewer and magistrate, and Hannah (née Cuming) Scott.

Scott pictured by Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, 1905

In accordance with the family's tradition, Robert and his younger brother Archie were educated from a young age for careers in the armed services. Robert spent four years at a local day school before being sent to Stubbington House School in Hampshire, a cramming establishment that prepared candidates for the entrance examinations to the naval training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth.


Having passed his entrance examinations to the naval training ship HMS Britannia, Scott began his naval career in 1881, as a 13-year-old cadet.

In July 1883, Scott passed out of Britannia as a midshipman.Within three months, he was en route to South Africa to join HMS Boadicea, the flagship of the English Channel fleet at that time. After numerous postings around Britain and North America, Scott rose to become a lieutenant in 1891, specializing in torpedoes.

Scott as a young man


The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, generally known as the Discovery Expedition, was the first official British exploration of the Antarctic regions since James Clark Ross's voyages between 1839-1843. Scott was appointed leader of the expedition, and was promoted to the rank of commander before Discovery sailed for the Antarctic on August 6, 1901.

Scott is the first man to penetrate the interior of Antarctica. The ship he used for this trip The Discovery, is now at Victoria Embankment.

Ernest Shackleton, Scott, and Edward Wilson before their march south 

The food supplied to the ship was so bad that Scott and the crew were forced to eat seal (similar to beefsteak) and penguin (which has the flavour of jugged hare).

Robert Scott and his men were the first people to penetrate the interior of the Antarctic. Discovery returned to Britain in September 1904. The expedition caught the public imagination, and Scott became a popular hero.

Scott brought home a white samoyede dog, which had become the ship's pet and a white parrot picked up on voyage.

Scott was promoted to rank of captain in the navy after his successful trip to the Antarctic.


Scott had a strong and determined face, clean shaven, tight firm lips, light blue eyes.

Robert Falcon Scott in full regalia

He had a placid and unconcerned demeanor but beneath it all he was a man of enormous enthusiasm.


Scott married Kathleen Bruce (1878-1947) at the Chapel of Hampton Court Palace on September 2, 1908. She was a noted sculptor and a pupil of Rodin.

Scott's son, Peter (b 1909) became a famous conservationist and 1936 Olympic Bronze winner for yachting.

Scott and Kathleen lived at 174 Buckingham Palace Road, London where their son Peter was born, also at 56 Oakley Street, Chelsea.


In December 1909, Scott was released from the navy on half-pay, to take up the full-time command of the British Antarctic Expedition 1910, known as the Terra Nova Expedition from its ship, an old converted whaler. Scott stated that its main objective was "to reach the South Pole, and to secure for the British Empire the honor of this achievement".

On June 15, 1910, the Terra Nova set sail from Cardiff, south Wales. Scott meanwhile was fundraising in Britain and joined the ship later in South Africa.

Arriving in Melbourne, Australia in October 1910, Scott received a telegram from the Norwegian Roald Amundsen stating: "Beg leave to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctic Amundsen", indicating that faced a race to the pole."

Robert Scott took several footballs to the South Pole and a selection of board games.

The march south began on November 1, 1911 and the final dash to the Pole was made by a party of five, led by Scott.

They reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912, only to find a letter for him written by Roald Amundsen to deliver to King Haakon VII of Norway should the Norwegian expedition perish on their return journey. Amundsen and his men had beaten them by 33 days. Scott made his disappointment clear in his diary: "The worst has happened"; "All the day dreams must go"; "Great God! This is an awful place".

Scott and his men at the South Pole

Scott's insistence on first using Siberian ponies and then man-hauling his goods to the Pole, instead of making full use of sled dogs was the single most obvious difference between the two expeditions. Scott did use dogs, but only as far as the Beardmore Glacier, whereas Amundsen, a more experienced dog-driver, took them all the way to the Pole. Scott's diary made it clear that he believed the heavy manual labor of sledge-hauling was morally superior to the use of dogs, and this prejudiced him towards the more inefficient method.

Scott, writing his journal in the Cape Evans hut, winter 1911

The deflated party began the 800-mile (1,300 km) return journey on January 19, 1912. On the return journey, Scott and his four comrades died from exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.

On March 16, 1912, Captain Oates who was in charge of the ponies and had frostbitten toes, staggered into the blizzard uttering his famous remark about "going outside and being sometime." He sacrificed his life rather than slowing down his companions. Scott wrote in his diary "We all hope to meet the end with a similar spirit and assuredly the end is not far."

With the nearest base only miles away Scott pitched his last tents on March 19, 1912. During the next nine days, as their supplies ran out, and with blizzards still raging outside the tent, Scott and his companions wrote their farewell letters.

His last diary entry read "It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more." Scott is presumed to have died on March 29, 1912.

The bodies of Scott and two companions were found in a tent by a search party on November 12, 1912.

While Amundsen set out only to reach the Pole and get back alive, Scott's entire expedition was primarily scientific. Even as they were dying, Scott and Wilson stopped to pick up geological samples, of which they were hauling over 30lb. when they passed away. Although the dual motivation necessarily compromised the already wafer-thin safety margins of the trek, the science was important.

Among the samples found with Scott was a lump of coal from the Trans-Antarctic mountain range, which proved that the continent must have had a warm climate in the distant past. This discovery was of major geological importance and added to the weight of evidence which eventually resulted in the modern theory of plate tectonics. The dying men also kept meteorological records until near the end.

Scott's diary became a best-seller and helped make him a hero.

A tin of Frank Cooper's Oxford marmalade taken by Scott on his 1911 Antarctic exhibition was found in his tent in 1960. It was still edible.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017



The words 'Scot' and 'Scottish' were originally used, in Old English, to refer to the Gaelic people of medieval Ireland.

The history of Scotland is often taken to begin with the crowning of the semi-mythical Kenneth MacAlpin as the country's first king around 843 AD.  The dynasty that ruled Scotland for much of the medieval period claimed descent from him, and the current British monarch, is descended from him through Malcolm III, Robert the Bruce and James VI and I.

Kenneth MacAlpin by Jacob Jacobsz de Wet II 

On September 25, 1237 Henry III of England and Alexander II of Scotland signed the Treaty of York, establishing the English-Scottish border, which mostly remains the same today.

The Orkney and Shetland Isles were pawned by Norway to Scotland on February 20, 1472 in lieu of a dowry for Margaret of Denmark.

In 1502, James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England signed a 'Treaty of Perpetual Peace'. The treaty was broken in 1513 when James declared war on England.

The Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross in 60 AD by order of Roman governor Aegeas. The Flag of Scotland is a white X-shaped cross, which represents the cross of Saint Andrew, on a blue sky.

The use of a blue background for the Saint Andrew's Cross (it was originally red) is said to date from at least the 15th century, with the first certain illustration of a flag depicting such appearing in Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount's Register of Scottish Arms, circa 1542.

The Raid of the Redeswire in 1575 was the last major battle between the kingdoms of England and Scotland. It ended in a Scottish victory.

In 1707, the parliament of Scotland joined with the parliament of England to become the Parliament of Great Britain.

For years King George IV's habit of cavorting around in highland dress did not endear himself to the English public. However his visit to Edinburgh in full Highland rig in 1822 led to the revival, if not the creation, of Scottish tartan dress as it is known today.

Wikies idealized depiction of George IV, in full Highland dress in 1822

In 1997, a majority of voters in Scotland chose to have their own Scottish Parliament, which was set two years later.

In 2007, the Scottish Parliament teamed up with the Tourist Board of Scotland to pay £125,000 for the new Scottish slogan: Welcome to Scotland.

On September 18, 2014 the Scottish people voted in a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. A majority (55%) voted to stay in the UK.


"Scots Wae Nae," the unofficial Scottish anthem, written by Robert Burns was inspired by Robert the Bruce's marching song "Hey Tutti Taitie" which was sung by his troops during Bannockburn.

Bruce addresses troops from Cassell's History of England

The haunting melody of "Scotland the Brave" is a hymn to rebel Jacobites. The tune dates back several centuries, and is considered a traditional Scottish folk-tune, the same tune is also used for the song "My Bonnie Lassie".

However the lyrics were written comparatively recently by the Scottish journalist Cliff Hanley in around 1951. He wrote the song for Robert Wilson, a performer and producer who owned a music shop in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Wilson needed a song to conclude a musical review he was performing at the Glasgow Empire Theatre. "Scotland the Brave" quickly became a hit and has since become one of Scotland's unofficial national anthems.


Scotland's 282 Munros, mountains over 3,000ft (914m) in height, were named after Sir Hugh Munro, who first listed them in 1891. Sir Hugh climbed them all bar two.

At its widest the Scottish mainland is 154 miles across, from Buchan Ness in the East to Applecross in the West. It narrows to just 25 miles from the Forth to the Clyde.

English is spoken by most people in Scotland, with only a small number, mostly in the Western Isles, speaking Gaelic. Gaelic began declining in the late Middle Ages when Scottish kings and nobles preferred English.

Scotland were the world champions of Elephant Polo in 2004. The unusual sport was invented by Scotsman Nathan Mochan in 1983.

The national animal of Scotland is the Unicorn.

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail

Monday, 13 November 2017

Scotch Tape

Scotch tape wasn’t invented by the Scottish. It was invented by a college dropout named Richard Drew from St  Paul, Minnesota who worked for a small sandpaper company founded in 1902 called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, later known as 3M.

Drew joined 3M in 1920, and came up with the first masking tape two years later. It was intended to help auto-body painters detail cars without damaging existing paint jobs.

The first tape had adhesive along its edges but not in the middle. In its first trial run, it fell off the car and the frustrated bodyshop painter asked the inventor why he'd gone 'scotch' on the adhesive since it wasn't as sticky as normal tape. ("Scotch" used to mean "parsimonious".) The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes.

In 1925 Drew came up with the world's first transparent cellophane adhesive tape. Though intended for auto-body painters it didn’t take long for people to put the new tape to other imaginative uses.

Five years later Richard Drew invented Scotch® Cellulose Tape. Later to be renamed Cellophane Tape, it was marketed as an attractive, moisture-proof way for grocers and bakers to seal packages. It was first marketed by 3M on January 31, 1930.

Antique Scotch brand package. By Improbcat 

In the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Americans discovered they could use Scotch Tape to make simple repairs to household items rather than replace them. This was the beginning of 3M’s diversification into all manner of marketplaces and helped them to flourish in spite of the Great Depression.

John A Borden, another 3M engineer, invented the first tape dispenser with a built-in cutter blade in 1932.

Tape dispenser for Scotch Magic Tape

Scotty McTape, a kilt-wearing cartoon boy, was Scotch Tape's mascot for two decades, first appearing in 1944. The familiar tartan design, a take on the well-known Wallace tartan, was introduced the following year.

Scientists have theorized for years on how to create graphene (the strongest material on earth). Two researchers won the 2010 Nobel Prize by simply using scotch tape to peel it off of graphite.

Unwinding a roll of Scotch tape inside a vacuum generates enough x-rays to image a human finger.

If you put a piece of scotch tape on an inflated balloon, then stick it with a small pin or needle, it won't pop.

Donald Trump scotch tapes the back of his tie to the front. When he was visiting Indianopolis as the president-elect in December 2016, a gust of wind blew back Trump's tie to reveal its back was stuck to the front thanks to two pieces of Scotch tape.

Sunday, 12 November 2017


With almost two thousand known species found on six of the seven continents, scorpions have been able to adapt to some of the harshest environments on earth.

The word scorpion is thought to have originated in Middle English between 1175 and 1225 AD from Old French scorpion, or from Italian scorpione, both derived from the Latin word Scorpius.


The average adult scorpion is about 3 inches (8cm) inches in length. The longest scorpion is the African scorpion, which can be 9 inches (23 cm) long.

Discovered in 2014, the Microtityus minimus is indigenous to the Dominican Republic, where it occupies southern foothills. At 0.4 inches (10mm) from end to end is the smallest known scorpion.

Scorpions have six to twelve eyes – a pair at the center of the carapace and two to five smaller eyes on each side.

Despite having up to 12 eyes, scorpions have poor vision and rely on smell to detect their prey.

Scorpions have special organs on the underside of the body called pectines, which pick up ground textures and scents.

They appear to have excellent low light sensitivity, which helps them to both avoid harsh sunlight and to navigate by starlight or moonlight.

They have eight legs and a pair of grasping pedipalps (like claws).

Hottentotta tamulus, The Indian red scorpion  By Shantanu Kuveskar 

Scorpions have an organ called the “hepatopancreas” which is extremely efficient and fulfills the functions equivalent to the liver and pancreas found in humans.

Scorpions breathe through four pairs of book lungs on the underside of the abdomen.

A scorpion can hold its breath for up to six days.


Scorpions have the ability to consume large quantities of food compared to their body size.

They feast on anything from insects to mice, but can survive for up to a year without food or water.

All known scorpion species possess venom, which they use to turn the insides of their prey into liquid as they are unable to eat solids.

Book scorpions, also known as pseudoscorpions, live in old books and feed off of dust mites, booklice, and starch-based book glue.

If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

Scorpions can survive in the desert by slowing down their metabolism. This allows them to survive on as little as one insect per year. This ability also allows them to shelter from the sun and heat for extended periods of time, using only little amounts of oxygen.

Scorpions glow under blacklight. Scientists are still unsure why the arachnids give off a bright green glow when they are under UV light.

This black scorpion appears light-blue under a black light. Jonbeebe Wikipedia 


There are almost 2000 species of scorpion, and around 40 are poisonous enough to kill a human.
However most scorpion stings are painful but are harmless to humans.

For stings from species found in North America, no treatment is normally needed for healthy adults, although medical care should be sought for children and for the elderly. More harmful stings from species found in South America, Africa, and western Asia may require medical attention.

The deathstalker has powerful venom. By by Ester Inbar,  Wikipedia

On the set of the 2008 movie Australia, the actress Nicole Kidman noticed a scorpion crawling up her co-star Hugh Jackman's leg. Kidman calmly scooped the offending beast into a hat and threw it into the woods.

Around 1,000 people die from scorpion stings every year in Mexico.

Scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid on earth at $38,858,507.46 per gallon.

Scorpion wine is made in Vietnam. The venom is inactivated by the alcohol.

Smoking scorpions to get high is a growing problem in parts of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. The high can last from ten hours to three days. The high is said to be so powerful that it outstrips heroin. But the person spends the first six hours in pain while their body adjusts to the toxins, which can possibly lead to death.

Sources Daily Mail, Australian Museum