Louise Queen

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

The History of Robert Burns and the Burns Supper

In Sites and Sounds on January 25, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Burns Supper

Well today is non other than the 25th of January – the birthday of a famous Scottish poet, Robert [Rabbie] Burns.

Robbie BurnsRobbie Burns

Robbie Burns was born on the 25th January 1759 just south of Ayr (on the Scottish west coast) and is widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet. He was born into poverty and hardship, a farmers son. He had no formal education and what he learnt came mainly from his father, who did his best to teach his children reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and history.

By the age of 15 the responsibility of his father’s farm had fallen to Rabbie and it was during the harvest of 1774 that he was inspired to write, ‘O, Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass’

In the summer of 1775, he was sent to finish his education with a tutor at Kirkoswald, where he met Peggy Thomson, to whom he wrote two songs, Now Westlin’ Winds and I Dream’d I Lay.

Robbie Burns was notorious for his casual love affairs and his first illegitimate child, Elizabeth Paton Burns (1785-1817), was born to his mother’s servant, Elizabeth Paton (1760-circa 1799), as he was embarking on a relationship with Jean Armour. She bore him twins in 1786, and although her father initially forbade their marriage, they were eventually married in 1788. She bore him nine children in total, but only three survived infancy.

During a rift in his relationship with Jean Armour in 1786, and as his prospects in farming declined, he began an affair with Mary Campbell (1763-1786), to whom he dedicated the poems The Highland Lassie O, Highland Mary and To Mary in Heaven. Their relationship has been the subject of much conjecture, and it has been suggested that they may have married. They planned to emigrate to Jamaica, where Burns intended to work as a bookkeeper on a slave plantation. This plan never came to fruition due to the death of Burn’s Jamaican contact. That summer, he published the first of his collections of verse, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, which created a sensation and has been recognized as a significant literary event.

As the years passed Burns continued to write and publish his works until his death was caused by bacterial endocarditis exacerbated by a streptococcal infection reaching his blood following a dental extraction in winter 1795.The funeral took place on 25 July 1796, the day his son Maxwell was born. A memorial edition of his poems was published to raise money for his wife and children, and within a short time of his death, money started pouring in from all over Scotland to support them.

Burns Supper

The format of Burns suppers (which takes place on or as near to Burn’s birthday as possible) has not changed since his death in 1796. The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements followed with the Selkirk Grace. After the grace comes the piping and cutting of the haggis, where Robert’s famous Address To a Haggis is read and the haggis is cut open. The event usually allows for people to start eating just after the haggis is presented.


What is haggis? Read the rest of this entry »


A few snowy snapshots from round n’ about!

In My day to day on January 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

So after a very green November and December, Nova Scotia is once again starting to look like a winter wonderland. Here are a few random snapshots we’ve taken whilst out and about the last few weeks.

Snowbanks at Walmart

Snowed In!

Follow the leader


Snack time

Cameron spent 2 hours this morning shoveling the driveway! We have to admit that as much as we love our ocean view we are looking forward to moving back into town next month – more on that soon…


In My day to day on January 2, 2010 at 12:56 pm

According to Wikipedia… “In the past, snowshoes were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or living depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall, and they remain necessary equipment for forest rangers and others who must be able to get around areas inaccessible to motorized vehicles when the snow is deep. However, today snowshoes are mainly used for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime. Snowshoeing is easy to learn, and in appropriate conditions is a relatively safe and inexpensive recreational activity.”

Our experience with snow shoes began this Christmas when Cameron’s parents kindly bought us both a set – only for recreation, no fur-trapping!

Traditional Snowshoe

Traditional Snowshoe

Our new Snowshoes

Our new Snowshoes

Christmas here was a non starter, with only patches of the white stuff available, however almost a foot of fresh snow in the last 24 hours made today the perfect time to try them out.





Too nasty a day to go very far, but a couple of circuits of our garden and driveway already showed us how much easier these big feet make winter walking. Neither of us fell over, even in the deeper drifts so we reckon our first adventure was officially a success!

Snowy feet

Snowy feet