Fluffy cows? Hairy cows? Highland cows!

Did you ever wonder about the hairy cows that populate Scottish postcards? They are Highland cattles, originally from the North of Scotland and the Western Isles. Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and very strong winds. Highland cattle have been successfully established in many temperate countries and indeed in countries where winters are substantially colder than Scotland’s such as in central Europe and Canada. Their hair gives protection during the cold winters and their skill in looking for food allows them to survive in steep mountain areas. They both graze and browse and eat plants which many other cattle avoid.
The original colour of the breed was black. Today red is the most popular colour, but highlanders come in a variety of colours : black, white, red, yellow, dun, brindle and parti-colour (any of the recognised colours mixed with white).
So where can you find Highland cows? how far do you have to travel?
If you are based in Glasgow you don’t have to travel very far at all! The Pollock Country Park in the Southside of Glasgow currently hosts around 100 cattles

Just walking around the park you can see them walking about or taking a nap, they are very friendly and curious animals so it is not difficult to see them and photos opportunities will not be missed!
But be careful because sometimes the cows get a little too curious and manage to escape the borders of the park in search of some highland adventures!

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The Scottish Kilt

Traditional Scottish Kilt!

Traditional Scottish Kilt!

The Scottish Kilt is a traditional piece of Scottish clothing typically worn by men at special Scottish functions such as weddings, graduations, award ceremonies and at the Scottish ceilidh. The history of the kilt stretches back to at least the end of the 16th century. Originally, the kilt was a long piece of heavy, tartan draped around the body and over the shoulder, which was called the Great Kilt but today the shorter walking kilt is more typically worn.

The Great Kilt

The Great Kilt

Kilts come in many different designs and colours, but often men like to wear a kilt in the tartan of their ancestral clan. But never fear, if you are not connected to a Scottish clan, you can choose a tartan that you like, or even create your own tartan in specialist kilt stores.

The kilt can be worn with formal dress such as ‘The Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket’ or with a black suit jacket, white shirt and bow tie. In the last few years the kilt has also been making an appearance as casual wear, worn with just a traditional, Ghilllie or Jacobean style shirt, a wool sweater or even a tee shirt, which is a lot cooler for ceilidh dancing!

Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket

Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket

 

Casual Dress

Casual Dress

If you happen to hire a full Scottish kilt outfit, then you will most likely be given a sporran and a sgian-dubh.
The sporran hangs below the belt buckle; and much effort is made to match their style and design. The kilt belt buckle can be very ornate, and contain similar motifs to the sporran cantle and the Sgian Dubh. Since the traditional kilt does not have pockets, the sporran serves as a wallet and container for any other necessary personal items.

Sporran

Sporran

The sgian-dubh (pronounced SKEE-AN-DOO) is a small, single-edged knife worn as part of traditional Scottish Highland dress along with the kilt. The sgian-dubh is normally worn on the right leg, but can also be worn on the left, depending on whether the wearer is right or left-handed. If you are hiring your outfit from a store, they may give you a plastic sgian-dubh rather than a real knife, for safety purposes.

Sgian Dubh

Sgian Dubh

Buying

Purchasing a kilt can be very expensive, and it is a heavy piece of clothing. Often, men will war the kilt if they plan to travel abroad with the kilt to avoid having the weight of their kilt in the luggage. But the kilt is the perfect symbol of Scotland. If you would like to purchase a kilt there are a few stores in Glasgow that specialise in this:

http://www.theheritageofscotland.co.uk/
This store is based at 67 Union St, in Glasgow City Centre very close to Central Station and St Enochs Subway Station. It is one of the less expensive stores, with some kilts priced at approximately, £60

http://slanjkilts.com/
The store specialises in full kilt outfits and you can even customise your own outfit to suit your needs. It is quite an expensive store though, so not one for those on a budget! The store is in the city centre – 80 St Vincent St, Glasgow, very near to Buchanan Subway Station.

http://www.slaters.co.uk/stores/index/view/?id=19
Slaters can vary in price and has many options in outfits and kilt styles to suit your needs. Again, based in the city centre 165 Howard Street, very close to the St Enochs Centre.

Hiring

Typically, a lot of men choose to hire the kilt for the day. They can either hire the full outfit, or just a part of the outfit. Most kilt stores will be able to recommend the best option for you! Here are a few stores in Glasgow, where you can hire a kilt:

http://www.slaters.co.uk/stores/index/view/?id=19
Slaters also have plenty of hiring options for kilt wear and the staff are happy to discuss your needs. Hiring prices start from £50 but there may be a student discount available on request. Remember to bring your student card and ask the staff if this applies.

http://www.macgregorandmacduff.co.uk/
This store is a little more expensive for kilt hire, starting from £69, but have a handy tartan finder on their website! Based at 41 Bath Street, which is very close to the Buchanan Street Subway Station.

http://www.kilts-4-u.com/
This store is located 179 Dumbarton Road and is about a 10 minute walk from the University of Glasgow. They have a very good collection of kilts for hire and prices start from £59.

Kelburn Castle and Country Park

The History

Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Castle is owned by the present tenth Earl of Glasgow and his wife and is thought to be the oldest castle in Scotland to be inhabited by the same family. In 1066 the de Boyvilles travelled with William the Conqueror from Caen, Normandy to Britain. A branch of the family settled in Kelburn in 1140, and it is thought that the first version of the castle was built for defence by the year 1200. A much grander castle was built around the original, which was completed in 1581 and can be clearly distinguished from newer parts of the building. Since then, the castle has been greatly extended on two occasions in particular, in 1700 and during the Victoria era. While the castle is opening during the summer to the public for tours and events, it still remains the private home of the Earl of Glasgow.

Projects

The ethos of Kelburn Castle and Country Park is providing a creative and natural experience where people can enjoy the great outdoors. To achieve this, Kelburn is part of a number of really interesting projects.

The Graffiti Project

Kelburn Graffiti

Kelburn Graffiti

Kelburn is really different from a lot of castles you may see during your visits in Scotland and this is mainly because the south side of the castle is decorated with vibrant graffiti artwork. The project began in 2011, where 4 top Brazilian graffiti artists alongside Scottish talent joined together to create a large scale piece of artwork that bridges the gap between cultures, rural and urban realms and unites two proud and very different cultures. The project prompted huge media attention and really makes Kelburn Castle stand out from other Scottish castles.

The Glen

Waterfall and grotto

Waterfall and grotto

Kelburn castle is surrounded by a beautiful and dramatic glen, which is home to a lot of Scottish wildlife, including foxes, voles, deer, falcons, badges, otters and minks. The burn (the Scottish name for a small river!) meanders through the glen but drops a sheer 20 feet into a spectacular grotto surrounded on three sides by overhanding cliffs of sandstone. Up until the 1950s, this waterfall was used to generate electricity for the castle. It is an amazing site and a perfect photo opportunity!

Pet’s Corner

A donkey in Pet's Corner

A donkey in Pet’s Corner

The park have opened a newly refurbished Pet’s Corner with exhibition, where you can meet many different breeds of animals including rabbits, goats and owls – as well as less familiar species such as Al Pacas and guinea pigs. Fun for all ages!

The Secret Garden – Fun for the kids!

Sculpture in the Secret Forest!

Sculpture in the Secret Forest!

The Secret Forest is full of exciting complex of paths and raised walkways, which cut through the wild wood. Inside you will discover a Secret Grotto, a crocodile pool, the Maze of the Green Man, a Castle with No Entrance, a Chinese Garden, a Gingerbread House, a secret passage leading out of the Woodman’s cottage, a 25ft high pagoda and many other surprises. New for 2014 there are many sculptures hidden within the forest. Can you find them all?

The Museum

Unfortunately, the museum is currently undergoing renovation and will not be opened until summer, however, if you ever want to visit Kelburn Castle again, you can track the history of castle and estate at the museum.

Glasgow University Union

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Since we are having our welcoming party at Glasgow University Union today at 1pm, we thought we would give you some useful information about the union!

The Glasgow University Union (or GUU) is one of the oldest university union in the UK, serving alumni and students of the University of Glasgow since 1885. Initially, the union was based in the John Mcintyre building but the union moved to the current location in 1931 when the new building at the foot of University Avenue was ready.

The GUU is located in a beautiful building with a variety of different facilities for students. In the GUU there are two libraries, a Debate Chamber (that is often used by students to host dance, theatre or music events), a Dining Room (that can be rented for private parties and ceremonies), a Drawing Room (a relaxed and quiet cafe space) and a Reading Room (a quiet room for students to chat and relax).

Curious fact: begin a very old institution and founded in 1885, the Union was the scene of Scotland’s last ever duel in 1899; swords were drawn and blood was spilled over the election battle for the University Rectorship!