3.1.05

Hearts a-bubble in the rubble


Oh well. That's the holidays just about over: tomorrow it is back to the grind. All the build up to Christmas and Hogmanay, then it's all over in a flash. On Wednesday the decorations come down, and on Thursday Liam goes back to school. Linda and her Mum are off to Amsterdam on the 12th, and I will be off to Lisbon probably on the 19th. It is looking like I will be celebrating Burns' Night in Lisbon again, at the Cervejaria Erasmus da Graça (relocated to Alcântara). I have passed the last three Burns' Nights in Lisbon: three years ago at Carmen's flat near Graça, two years ago in Sílvia's flat in Intendente, and last year in my flat in Alcântara. I actually quite enjoy having Burns' Night in Portugal: it gives me an opportunity to share a little of my culture and my national traditions with my Portuguese and Spanish friends. It certainly makes a change from simply sharing theirs. Obviously, the ingredients for a Burns' Supper are impossible to obtain in Portugal. While the cock-a-leekie soup is easily made with Portuguese produce, the haggis and turnips are a different matter altogether. My January baggage, therefore, always contains at least two Macsween's (non-vegetarian) haggises, two decent sized Scottish turnips, a box of Orkney oatcakes, a tin of butter shortbread and a bottle of Macallan's 12 year-old finest Speyside malt whisky (both for flavouring the haggis and toasting the lassies, laddies, floor, curtains, plates, etc., etc.). Since we don't have a piper, we have to make do with a selection of Scottish music - both traditional and modern - on CD, following which we dim the lights, light the candles and read from assorted Burns' poems - beginning with my tortuous renditions of Address to a Haggis and Tam O'Shanter, followed by my Portuguese friends' favourite, Twa Dugs (don't ask me why - all of Burns' poems are written in 18th century Scots' vernacular, which many Scots find difficult to understand, so I suspect that my Portuguese friends don't understand a word). Isn't it amazing the things you think of when you are out walking? Take this for a for-instance: as I was walking through Pitempton, I was thinking about Robert Burns and Burns' Night when I happened across this fence post and gate wrapped in barbed wire. I thought about the new law that has come into force, opening up all of the Scottish countryside to walkers (there is no trespass law in Scotland - in fact, there is a right to roam the land - even private land - as long as it is done responsibly and with respect for the landowner's privacy). Well, I saw this barbed wire and thought about Burns, when all of a sudden I started singing (in my head) the Stiff Little Fingers' song, Barbed Wire Love. By coincidence, Stiff Little Fingers' lead singer's name was Burns... Jake Burns. Spooky or what :D

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