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Robert the Bruce Statue

Robert the Bruce Statue, Bannockburn

This evening, I am focusing on the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 which was a key watershed in preserving Scotland’s independence from England which lasted until the birth of the United Kingdom in 1707.

Ssince the Norman conquest of England in 1066 the kings of England ran various campaigns and initiatives to make Scotland subservient to English over-lordship with mixed success. It is noteworthy that the two key battles occurred within a few miles of Stirling Castle because this was the ‘buckle in the belt’ of Scotland. To secure Scotland an invading army from England had to cross the plain in central Scotland which Stirling Castle dominates. In 1297 William Wallace (aka ‘Braveheart’ ) had a success against the English at nearby Stirling Bridge but this proved something of a pyrrhic victory because Wallace was subsequently betrayed and executed in London.

In June 1314 Edward II of England amassed a huge army of some 40,000 to crush the still rebellious Scots. The two armies met over two days, June 23rd and June 24th, with the latter being the main battle. The battle site was Bannock Burn. Burn is a Scots word meaning stream. The English were poorly organised and led and with the smaller Scots force taking advantage of their superior knowledge of the local terrain the result was a resounding victory for the Scots. Paradoxically, the current British Royal family are descended from the Scots victor, Robert I through his daughter and the House of Stewart.

The actual site of the battle has been lost in the mists of time but there is a Visitor Centre and Memorial not far from Stirling Castle on what is believed to the general area where the battle was fought.

Last year I provided a battlefields tour  incorporating Bannockburn. continue reading…

Greenbank House, Glasgow

Greenbank House, Glasgow, Scotland

In Scotland we have just experienced a good fall of snow which covers most of the country. Inspired by this I went out on my bike with objective of obtaining some images of flowers, etc at Greenbank Garden. I was hoping to capture some daffodils but they are not yet in bloom. Notwithstanding this, and the fact I got utterly soaked from the snow and rain, I did have a productive trip. The snow does serve to put nature in a different perspective. All the images below were taken this morning and will, hopefully, give readers of this blog a perspective on the snow. continue reading…

Tullibardine Distillery, Blackford

Tullibardine Distillery, Blackford, Scotland

This evening, I am focusing on Tullibardine, one of my favourite small distilleries, and which I will be visiting again later this month. This  distillery does not have the profile of some of the Speyside or Islay malts but, arguably, this rarity factor does add to its appeal. Moreover, location on the  main A9 tourist route, between Stirling and Perth is very convenient, added to which it is in close proximity  to a small shopping centre. From a whisky perspective, Tullibardine is categorised as a Highland malt.

Tullibardine sits at foot of the Ochills in Perthshire from where the key water supply is obtained. Beer has been brewed on this site for hundreds of years and to this day at Tullibardine the visitor can purchase a beer branded ‘1488’  in recognition of the purchase by King James IV of  a supply of beer at the location in celebration of his coronation.

Tullibardine ranks as one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland.  It was established post WW2 by a Welshman subsequent to which it underwent many ownership changes including a ‘mothballing’ for a period.  Now under private ownership, the distillery was re-commissioned in 2003 and benefits from the blending skills of master distiller, John Black. Tullibardine is one of the few distilleries which will sell entire casks of spirit to the public, although at around GBP1500.00 such are not cheap.

From a tour experience perspective, this is one of my favourite distilleries with the distilling area being very compact enabling the visitor right up close to smells, steam and various vapours as malt barley is converted to spirit. This video clip gives a flavour for the experience. The distillery tour guides are very good and display a passion for and knowledge of the product.