Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 407

Issue # 407                                             Week ending Saturday 1st July 2017

Who Earns the Most - Mechanics Or Teachers? By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

A report in the paper says car mechanics take longer to learn their trade than some teachers. It is a bit surprising because you would expect teachers to have many years of training and I am sure they do. However, you may not think of mechanics doing quite so much learning to lie under a car and fiddle about with a spanner but they too have a very responsible job They need to do it properly for safety reasons. And, of course, because difficult customers like me will keep coming back until they do it right.

You can compare mechanics’ jobs to teachers’ roles because of all the responsibility. However, some mechanics take the comparison with other professions too far. One outspoken grease monkey - let’s call him Calum - had a go at a heart surgeon who took his car in. Calum said to him: “Listen mate, I do exactly what you do. I also open hearts, take valves out, grind them, put in new parts and when I finish, this will keep going for years. So how come you get a 200 grand a year but I only get 20 grand?” The surgeon smiled at Calum and said: “Because I do it with the engine running.”

It take skill to be a mechanic. I have just been looking up the job descriptions of some vacancies. Number one is that you have to like cars. They also want people who have strong reading, maths and computer skills. Of course. There are all kinds of computers in motors nowadays. It also says here that an ideal mechanic must be a good communicator who can clearly explain their car problems to customers. They must also be cheerful as dull mechanics get less repeat business. Hmm, hadn’t thought of that.

One of the happiest people I know is a mechanic. Iain Ross once told me he wanted to do nothing else except fix people’s cars in his wee Stornoway garage because that was what made him truly happy. He didn’t want a cushy job with twice the money or a limousine or several holidays a year in the tropics. He just has to lift a bonnet to lift his spirits. I’m pretty much the same myself. I just have to lift a few spirits and my bonnet flies off.

When I told Mrs X the other week that I was taking her out for drinkies galore, she got very excited. She was probably dreaming of a few wee Drambuies in a darkened snug somewhere but when the cab pulled up at An Lanntair gallery she was convinced she was getting a wee scoff in the restaurant to go with her Buies. Not so, I took her to see the remake of Whisky Galore. We decided we probably wouldn’t like it because we both loved the original - me especially since I met one or two of the old-timers who were youngsters in the first film in 1949. However, we kept an open mind and marched in, sat down and waited for the beakers of red wine to warm the cockles even if the drams from the wreck of the SS Cabinet Minister would not.

Despite the mixed reviews, the strange new faces and the inevitable criticism over not coming over here to these islands to film it, we thought WGII was great. Of course there are similarities - the story cannot be changed that much - but there are new twists, new jokes .... but still no more wheesky. It makes a refreshing change from the starkness of the old black and white classic and is genuinely funny. Director Gillies MacKinnon has done a good job and I didn’t expect to take to Eddie Izzard as buffoon Captain Waggett or Gregor Fisher being sentimental without benefit of a manky string vest. See it. Feel it. Love it.

The next day I was still laughing at the jokes and I was a teeny-weeny bit absent-minded. I went to put fuel in my van but I was giggling at the stern cailleach so much that I drove away without putting the fuel cap back on. When I noticed it, I shot back to the filling station but someone had swiped it. Wait a minute. Iain Ross usually has loads of bits and bobs like that. I went in to see him at Ross Towers and he greeted me with his usual wide smile. “What can I do for you the day, cove?” I told him that I only wanted a fuel cap for my van. “He scratched his head, looked at my dusty old Vauxhall Combi and said: “Yeah, no problem. That seems like a fair exchange.”

Kirk Signs Armed Forces Covenant to Strengthen Support for Personnel
The Church of Scotland is strengthening its commitment to supporting military personnel, veterans and their families by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.  Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly, is signing the covenant at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday evening.  He said the church is committed to supporting military chaplains who serve in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and ministering to “everyone wherever they are to be found and whatever their needs”.  The covenant represents a promise by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. Signing it is not an endorsement of defence policy, and the church said its ability to challenge the UK Government on any aspect of it will not be impinged.  The covenant states: “We recognise the value serving personnel, regular and reservists, veterans and military families contribute to our organisation and our country. Therefore we, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, will endeavour in our business and charitable dealings to uphold the key principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.”  There are around 260,000 veterans in Scotland, almost 6% of the population.  When families are added to the number, the Armed Forces community represents almost one in 10 of the country’s people.  The principles of the covenant are that no member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen and that in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate, especially for the injured or bereaved. Under the agreement to support people “pastorally, liturgically and organisationally”, presbyteries will appoint veterans’ champions to support parish ministers who will direct people to the appropriate agency to ensure they get the help they need.  Among other things, the covenant will give churches an opportunity to identify veterans in their local communities that the Armed Service charities are struggling to pinpoint, while ministers will be encouraged to learn more about local military bases, reserve centres and cadet training facilities.  Dr Browning said: “The Church of Scotland remains committed to supporting the work of military chaplaincy.  It is mindful that much of the work done is not at the front-line but on the home-front and that forces personnel are to be found in many different communities across our nation. Jesus teaches us to reach out to everyone, weak and strong, young and old, friend and foe, and to remember that not everyone is at the centre of things, but often on the margins.  Where we can, we will help.”

Raigmore Hospital Stroke Unit Joy Over Cash Drive Gifts

A fundraising drive has brought benefit to patients and staff in the stroke unit at Raigmore Hospital.  A tracking hoist for patient transfer and a tilt table, which helps patients who are unable to stand up on their own, were presented to the unit’s physiotherapy team by the Manson family, proprietors of the Waterside Hotel in Inverness. Beverley Manson had been a patient in the unit and, as her husband Nicol said, they wanted to give something back.  He said: “It was great to be in the unit to officially mark the donation and of course to see the staff again. We wanted to do something in recognition for all they do for stroke patients and it’s good to hear that these two items will make such a difference.”  Mr Manson said a number of fundraising activities had been held at the Waterside Hotel, led by Lara McLeod from the management team, including race nights and raffles.

Wick Endures Wettest June in Over A Century
Wick is experiencing its wettest June since at least 1910.  According to local weather watcher Keith Banks, the rainfall total up to 10am on Sunday was a staggering 106.8mm (4.20 inches).  This amount is 200 per cent of the long-term average one would expect for the town for the first month of summer.  The 1981-2010 long-term average rainfall amount for Wick in June is 53.4mm (2.10 inches).  Mr Banks said: "Until the hour ending 7pm on Fiday evening, Wick's wettest June was that of 1966. The total by the end of that month was 106.5mm (4.19 inches)."  Saturday was a very warm day in areas exposed to the moist south-westerly air stream that had sourced an air mass with subtropical characteristics from the region of the Azores.  In Wick, the temperature during the middle part of the afternoon peaked at 21.9C (71.4F). This proved to be the town's hottest day for any June since 2011. The average daytime maximum air temperature for Wick in June is 14C (57F).

Bank of Scotland Set Out Mobile Banking Plans
It has a number of large and handsome buildings in Sutherland in which to meet with customers.  But from September, Bank of Scotland account holders look likely to be undertaking their financial transactions in car parks throughout the area.  For the bank is set to close its branches in Helmsdale, Lairg, Bonar Bridge and Dornoch and introduce a mobile banking service instead.  And it is now asking Highland Council if the mobile bank can be stationed at various car parks throughout the area.  North councillors are due to discuss the issue at a meeting of Sutherland County Committee today.  They are being asked to approve an application by the bank to park its mobile banking unit at Bridge Car Park, Helmsdale; Gower Street HGV, Brora; Sutherland Transport Car Park, Lairg; and the Meadows Car Park, Dornoch.  No details have been given as to the days or times when the mobile unit will be at the various parks.  A background report prepared by Caithness and Sutherland roads operations manager Graham Mackenzie points out there is a risk of setting a precedent. But he adds: "Given the essential nature of the service provided, particularly where there is no other bank operating, then there is no conflict here with local traders."  Councillors are expected to give their permission.  The bank’s plans to close its branches was announced earlier this year to widespread opprobrium.  But bank managers said footfall through the various branches had fallen with more and more customers using Internet banking.

Cavalry Charge, Tudor Archery and Infant Queen At Battle of Pinkie Re-enactment

One of the biggest battles ever fought on Scottish soil will be re-enacted in East Lothian in September.  The Battle of Pinkie was fought near Musselburgh in 1547.  Presented by the Scottish Battlefields Trust as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, visitors are invited to step back in time for two days of activities at Newhailes Estate, an 18th-century property in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.  They will be able to witness a dramatic re-enactment of the battle, complete with a thunderous cavalry charge, walk through historical encampments, meet the characters behind these events, try their hand at Tudor archery and take part in a variety of family-friendly activities designed to absorb all ages.  The infant Mary, Queen of Scots will even make an appearance and visitors will also be able to browse information and craft stalls before exploring the living history camps, where troops from both sides will reveal what life was like in this turbulent period of history. Experts will even be on hand to reveal details of the fashions of the period.  The Battle of Pinkie took place during the Rough Wooing in 1547, when the armies of Scotland and England fought to determine who should marry the infant Mary.  The larger Scottish army attacked across the River Esk into the teeth of ferocious cavalry charges and a hail of arrows, cannon and gunshot.  The outcome was a calamitous defeat for the Scots, with some reporting up to 10,000 dead.  But far from securing union with England, the effect of the battle was to push Scotland closer to France, where Mary was subsequently betrothed to the Dauphin – the heir to the French throne. The battle is significant in military history due to the pioneering combination of horse, foot and artillery with supporting fire from naval vessels. Pinkie was one of the first modern battles fought in Britain.  Arran Johnston, director of the Scottish Battlefields Trust, said: “The Battle of Pinkie was truly one of Scotland’s biggest and most dramatic battles and I’m delighted that we’re able to bring it back to life for the first time – allowing the opportunity to truly understand its significance. With living history encampments, hands-on activities for all the family and spectacular battle recreations, this wonderful historical event is not to be missed.  We hope this event is the start of growing recognition for a battle that changed the course of history and is something that will encourage greater protection for the battlefield site in future years.”  The event is the climax of East Lothian Archaeology Fortnight and is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Event Directorate, and will mark Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson Clash Over £1bn DUP Deal

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned a deal struck between the UK Government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as “the worst kind of pork-barrel politics”.  The First Minister reacted furiously after it was confirmed that the agreement - which includes £1 billion in new funding for Northern Ireland - would not result in a knock-on funding boost for other parts of the UK.  Downing Street has said that as the allocation is being made as part of the block grant to Northern Ireland, there will be no consequentials through the Barnett formula, the mechanism used to distribute Treasury funds to the devolved nations.  Ms Sturgeon said that by “ignoring” the Barnett formula, Scotland would lose out on around £2.9 billion for public services while Welsh Government estimates put its loss at £1.67 billion. She said: “In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, the Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power - even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution. The Tories’ excuses are simply empty spin and expose that they once again plan on short-changing Scotland.  This is not a city deal - it is simply an attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes.  This is the worst kind of pork-barrel politics, which has shredded the last vestiges of credibility of this weakened Prime Minister.”  Scotland’s First Minister said the deal also raised questions for Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who previously said he “won’t support funding which is deliberately sought to subvert the Barnett rules”.  “He and Ruth Davidson should now live up to their boasts by preventing this deal to go through - they should order Scottish Tory MPs to use their votes to put a halt to it,” she said.  In response, Ms Davidson said: “The Barnett formula ensures that if funding for public services goes up in England, it does across the devolved nations, if they are responsible for delivering these services. That system remains in place.  But the UK Government has always been able to spend outside Barnett - like the city deals, which invested £500 million directly in Glasgow, £125 million in Aberdeen and £53 million in Inverness.  With its distinct politics, Northern Ireland has received this sort of special funding package before - the last one in 2015.”

Financial Services Firm to Create 300 Jobs At Edinburgh Technology Centre
About 300 jobs are to be created in Scotland as a result of expansion by an Australian firm. Financial services company Computershare has announced plans to open a new technology centre in Edinburgh.  The centre is being developed with a £2 million grant from Scottish Enterprise and follows close working with Scottish Development International (SDI).  The announcement comes as new annual figures for SDI show more than 7,800 jobs were secured in Scotland as a result of inward investment.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the news as she visited Computershare's new offices.  She said: "This announcement, with the creation of 300 highly-skilled technology jobs and investment in the city centre, is fantastic news for Edinburgh's economy.  Scotland is open for business and continues to be a very attractive location for investment, as evidenced by the recent EY Attractiveness survey, which noted that Scotland was the top UK location for foreign direct investment outside London for the fifth consecutive year.  Together with the inward investment figures published by SDI, this offers further evidence that we have the skills and expertise to attract and retain global companies like Computershare."  Data for 2016/17 shows that inward investment to Scotland secured 7,839 jobs - up 10% on the previous year.  Technology and advanced engineering (TAE), oil and gas and financial and business services were the biggest contributors in terms of sectors.  Neil Francis, operations director at SDI, said: "Our strong inward investment results indicate that Scotland's capabilities in growth sectors such as financial and business services, technology and oil and gas are world-leading, and that these sectors remain extremely attractive to international audiences."

Highland Pair Celebrate Graduating in Medicine
A Highland pair celebrated the perfect prescription for academic success by graduating in medicine from Aberdeen yesterday.  Josh Shaw, from Contin, and Anna Rose, from Culbokie, met on the first year of the course and completed the journey to qualification together.  Mr Shaw said at the ceremony: “We had mutual friends growing up, but we met each other on the course. I went to Dingwall Academy and she went to Fortrose Academy, the two schools and rivals and that rivalry spurred us on while we were studying.” Mr Shaw will travel to Manchester over the summer to start his new role as a junior doctor. He added: “It’s amazing to get to the end and a big relief.  I did an extra year so it was six years in total, it has been a long time coming and it’s great to cross the finish line.  I’m going to Manchester to start as a junior, so I will see a bit of everything.  But, in the long run I’d like to return to the Highlands.”  The 23-year-old was also full of praise for the course.

Nicola Sturgeon to Formally Dispute DUP/ Conservative Deal

Nicola Sturgeon’s administration is to declare a formal dispute with the UK Government over the £1 billion deal with the DUP to prop up Theresa May.  After a meeting of Ms Sturgeon’s Cabinet, her spokesman said the Scottish Government would invoke a “dispute resolution mechanism” through the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), the body dealing with relations between the UK Government and devolved administrations.  The process will be outlined in a letter to be sent by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury Liz Truss.  “As well as writing to the Treasury today it is likely the Scottish Government will be invoking the UK Government with a view to invoking the dispute resolution mechanism under the JMC process,” the spokesman said.  Cabinet expressed its displeasure at the nature of the deal with the DUP, which would appear to be a gross breach of established principles of devolution.”  The SNP has argued that the £1 billion for Northern Ireland should mean Scotland getting £2.9 billion if the funds were distributed by the Barnett Formula.  The extra cash negotiated by the DUP will not be handed over via Barnett, but sees an increase in Northern Ireland’s block grant.  The Barnett Formula has been designed to ensure that if funding goes up in England, there are consequentials for the devolved nations. Scottish secretary David Mundell previously told the BBC he would not support a funding deal “which deliberately sought to subvert the Barnett rules”.  Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “In terms of Scottish Secretary’s position, it is for David Mundell to reconcile previous statements with what has happened. But on the face of it they are completely and fundamentally at odds. So really the Scottish Secretary has to make a public statement about how is previous statements can be squared with what has happened.”

Comment -RMH
I can't say I blame Nicola Sturgeon for her intentions. The fact of the matter is there was to be no additional money for NI had the Tories won a majority. They didn't - therefore the money is a bribe by Theresa May for the support of the DUP because without it she is “dead in the water”. Ms May appears to be such a spineless incompetent woman that it was always on the cards that she'd give the DUP exactly what they wanted in exchange for their support. In fact it must be one of the biggest bribes in UK political history. Also not only is this sum a huge slap in the face to those affected by the Tories' austerity cuts which have been made in all the wrong places, but the deal itself still runs the risk of destabilising the fragile peace in N. Ireland, and the consequences of that are something I don't care to contemplate.

Edinburgh Airport Passengers Face Delays After Power Cut At Terminal

Passengers at Edinburgh Airport are facing delays after a power cut plunged the terminal into darkness.  Power to the building was lost at about 9am, causing delays to check-ins and flights. Passengers reported long queues in the terminal building and pictures on social media showed the security hall in near darkness, with only emergency lighting available. Engineers were on scene at the airport - Scotland's busiest - working to bring the power back. A spokesman for the airport said: "We can confirm that power is now returning to the terminal and that flights have resumed. We're working to allow passengers to continue their journeys in a safe and ordered manner, and we thank passengers for their patience whilst we do this. As always, the safety of passengers and staff is our priority. We expect there to be further delays whilst we clear the backlog." The airport is the sixth busiest in the UK, handling more than 12 million passengers a year.

Cladding Removed From Napier University Halls After Inspection
Edinburgh Napier University is removing cladding from one of its halls of residence after it was found to be the same type said to have been used on Grenfell Tower. The university said the insulation behind the cladding on Bainfield Halls is fire proof and the building is fitted with sprinklers and alarms, but the cladding on around a quarter of the building is being removed as a precaution.  Residents have not been evacuated and the university is working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service during the removal.  The process to remove the cladding is expected to take around four weeks.  An Edinburgh Napier University spokesman said: "Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London we immediately began a review of all our buildings.  A physical inspection identified that around a quarter of the exterior walls on one of our buildings - Bainfield Halls of residence - featured the same cladding reportedly used at Grenfell.  The insulation materials behind the Bainfield cladding panels are non-combustible, the panel hangings are all made of metal, the wall cavities are properly fire-stopped and the buildings are fitted with sprinklers. There are also a range of other fire safety measures in place, including each block having its own exit route, a modern fire alarm and smoke detection system that is tested weekly, and 24-hour on-site security.  Work has already begun to remove and replace the cladding as a precautionary measure, and we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it is safe to continue to use the building as normal. Residents are not being evacuated. In the meantime, we have written to all the current Bainfield tenants about the issue, encouraging them to contact us with any concerns they might have. We will also be holding a residents meeting to help alleviate any other worries."  No local authority tower blocks in Scotland have been found to use the same material, the Scottish Government said last week.

Loch Ness Monster Sculpture Goes on Show At Dores Inn
Visitors to the shores of Loch Ness are now guaranteed a sight of its usually elusive resident whenever they decide to call in.  A new sculpture of Nessie has been installed by the Dores Inn, right on the banks of the loch.  Pub and restaurant owner Adam Da Silva said the impressive work of art has been under construction since August last year by Aberdeenshire artist Carn Standing.  "Carn created a bottlenose dolphin sculpture for the harbour at Portsoy which I was really impressed with, so when we got the idea for this I went to him and he said he would love to do it," he said. "It's a plesiosaur – the kind of creature many people think the Loch Ness Monster actually is – and it's seriously impressive.  "It stands about 6ft off the ground and should be visible even from quite a distance.  I couldn't be more pleased with it and hopefully it's going to create a lot of interest and be a real draw for people to the area."

Top Stonewall Award for Highland Council
Highland Council is delighted to have been announced as the “Most Improved Local Education Authority” and top performing council in Scotland, in Stonewall’s seventh annual education equality index.  The announcement was made at Stonewall’s Education for All conference held yesterday (28 June) at the University of Birmingham. The index is a comprehensive benchmarking exercise for local authorities from across the country, showcasing how well they are celebrating difference and tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people in their local communities. This year, 39 local authorities from England, Scotland and Wales took part and the Highland Council was awarded “most improved local authority”.Cllr Alasdair Christie, chairman of Highland Council’s people committee, warmly welcomed the award. He said: “This is fantastic news for our young people that we are making Highland a better place to live and learn in.  I am very pleased to see that Stonewall’s 2017 School Report highlights some positive statistics as well as clear next steps in moving forward. Highland Council’s Equality and Diversity Improvement Group and LGBTI+ sub-group will continue to work next year to support children and young people, their families, our workforce and our communities across Highland. Congratulations to all our staff, schools and partners who thoroughly deserve this accolade.”  Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, presented the award at the conference to James Cook, Highland Council’s project co-ordinator – raising attainment in literacy, and Cath King, the council’s former health improvement policy manager, who through her role was a catalyst of Highland’s collaboration with Stonewell’s equality education Iidex in 2015.  

Renewable Electricity Generation Reaches “Record High” in Scotland
Renewable electricity generation in Scotland has reached a new “record high”, according to the Scottish Government.  Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said new figures show that in the first quarter of this year, renewable generation was up by 13% compared to the same period last year.  He added there was an increase in capacity, with more than half of all gross electricity consumption in Scotland continues to come from renewables.  He said: “Renewable energy helps us reduce greenhouse gases and underpins our work to fight climate change. But it’s important to remember the renewable electricity sector also supports 26,000 jobs and has a turnover of £5 billion which is set to grow further as new capacity comes onstream.”  The minister also said that the country’s total installed renewable capacity now stands at 9.3GW – a fourfold increase over the last 10 years.  The results were welcomed by the environmental group WWF’s acting director Dr Sam Gardner.  He said: “It’s fantastic news that Scotland’s renewable electricity generation is at an all-time high and re-affirms the vital role it plays in powering the country.  The renewable electricity sector continues to play a vital role at the heart of Scotland’s economy, delivering jobs and attracting investment. If we are to replicate these benefits in the wider economy the Energy Strategy from the Scottish Government should make clear the steps it plans to take to remove fossil fuels from the heat and transport sectors.”

Cutting Edge Technology Allows Access to Famous Neolithic Site
Cutting edge technology has been used to allow access to one of Orkney’s famous neolithic sites from anywhere in the world.  The Maeshowe Chambered Cairn has been mapped in high definition 3D and is now available to explore in a mobile app.  Users can view Norse graffiti from the 1,100s and see how the entrance passage to the Maeshowe Tomb is perfectly aligned with the setting of the midwinter sun.  The walk-though was developed using a highly accurate laser scan via a partnership between site owners Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and experts in 3D visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation (SimVis).  Dr Lyn Wilson, digital documentation manager at HES said: “The app is a fantastic way to share our cutting edge laser scan data and 3D models to provide virtual access to this wonderful site, which is something we as an organisation are increasingly doing as a key way of enabling more and more people and new audiences to engage with us, our sites and our collections.  The app is also a great example of bringing together heritage and cutting-edge technology to showcase such a unique site and give people a high quality, digital glimpse of the tomb from wherever they are in the world.” Dr Paul Chapman, Director of SimVis added: “Explore Maeshowe has been a fantastic project to work on and the team here at GSA has really enjoyed collaborating with Historic Environment Scotland to deliver a piece of technology we’re all very proud of and one which people will equally enjoy and use to “visit” this incredible site.”

5 Scottish Castles That Star in Outlander
The time-travelling Scottish fantasy Outlander will air for the first time tonight (Thursday) on British television. With the locations becoming as much stars of the show as its actors, here are 5 Scottish castles to look out for on screen.  1.Midhope Castle Those seeking a glimpse of the ancestral home of Jamie Fraser won't find the real Lallybroch deep in the Highlands.  Scenes were shot at Midhope Castle on the fringes of the Hopetoun Estate near South Queensferry. Midhope was built in the 15th Century and was built by John Martyne, laird of Medhope. It was rebuilt in the mid 1600s and remains much the same today.  Visitors are asked to admire Midhope from a distance as the interior remains largely derelict. 2.Doune Castle Originally dating to the 13th Century, Doune Castle near Stirling plays Castle Leoch, home to Calum MacKenzie and his clan.  It also features in the 20th century episode when Claire and Frank Randall visit the castle on a day trip.  Once a Royal residence, Doune Castle was rebuilt by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany in the late 14th Century. Doune has appeared several times on screen and was widely used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It also represented the castle Winterfell in Game of Thrones.  3.Linlithgow Palace -This royal pleasure palace and birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots became the backdrop for some of the most harrowing scenes of the show.  Depicted as Wentworth Prison, the prison corridors and entrance were used in episode 15 of the first series when Jamie Fraser was brutally incarcerated by his adversary, Black Jack Randall. Built in the 1400s and 1500s, the now-ruined palace is set among the spectacular surrounds of Linlithgow Loch and Peel.  4.Aberdour Castle The Kingdom of Fife posed as the north of France in Season One when Aberdour - possibly Scotland's oldest standing castle, was depicted as The Abbey of Ste. Anne de Beaupré. The fictional Benedictine monastery is where Jamie Fraser was taken to recover from his ordeal at Wentworth Prison, Happily, one of his six uncles was an abbot there.  The Old Kitchen and Long Gallery at Aberdour, in the village of Easter Aberdour, feature in the show. The original hall house of Aberdour was built around 1200 by Alan de Mortimer with the castle largely the creation of the Douglas Earls of Morton, who held Aberdour from the 14th century.5. Blackness Castle - One of Scotland's most impressive strongholds, Blackness Castle near Linlithgow was used as the Fort William headquarters of Black Jack Randall. The 15th-century ex-artillery fortress overlooks the Firth of Forth and is known as "the ship that never sailed" due to its unusual shape. It was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland's most powerful families, the Crichtons.  Stars from the show were seen filming here in 2014

Graduating Pays Off: Scottish Government
Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville has welcomed the publication of new statistics showing 91% of Scotland’s university graduates are going into positive destinations.  Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) today show that Scotland’s graduates have maintained a high percentage of leavers going into work or further study and a higher median salary for full-time first degree leavers compared to the other nations of the UK.  The report also highlights that 93% of those that studied a ‘Science subject’ have gone on to employment, further study or a combination of the two, the highest level of all the UK countries.  Welcoming the statistics, Ms Somerville, said:  “These are very positive statistics, with 91% of our university graduates are going into positive destinations, either work or further study. I am in no doubt that the thousands of students who are graduating this summer and completing their courses can take heart in these findings, knowing that their hard work and determination has been worth it and that they have positive opportunities to look forward to.  The statistics also show a very optimistic story for those who studied Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) qualifications which shows our commitment to increasing participation in these subjects is delivering real results. I am confident Scotland’s graduates are fully equipped with the skills, expertise and knowledge base, having benefitted from a world class education, at one of our fantastic institutions. Having met many students across the country in the past year, I know they’re ready to contribute, give back and help build a stronger economy.  For many of our students, graduating from university is not the end point, but the beginning of a new journey into the world of work or indeed further study with many options to choose from here in Scotland. I wish all graduates the very best of luck in their endeavours going forward.”

Pair Guilty of Fox-hunting Laws Breach in First Successful Scottish Prosecution

Two men have been convicted of breaching fox-hunting laws in the first successful prosecution of its kind in Scotland.  Father and son John Clive Richardson, 67 and Johnathan Riley, 24, from the Scottish Borders, both denied deliberately hunting a wild mammal on land surrounding Townfoothill near Jedburgh on February 18 2016.  The men, from Abbotrule, Bonchester Bridge, were found guilty after a trial at Selkirk Sheriff Court. Video evidence showed the pair breaching the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.  Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland, said: "Today's guilty verdict is the first successful prosecution for mounted fox hunting in Scotland and while we're delighted with the outcome and our role in this, we remain of the view that the law needs strengthened.  The Scottish Government has committed to consult on the hunt ban following a review by Lord Bonomy, who clearly stated there was evidence of lawbreaking by Scottish hunts. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to strengthen the law and hope today sends a clear message to hunts that flouting the law will not be tolerated and those who continue to hunt illegally in Scotland will be brought to justice."

Westminster Cuts Tipped to Reduce Scottish Social Security Spending by £4bn

UK Westminster Government welfare cuts are expected to reduce annual social security spending in Scotland by almost £4 billion by 2020/21, according to a new report. The Scottish Government's update on the impacts of reforms made since 2010 said about £0.9 billion of the cut was due to measures announced by the Conservative government in the 2015/17 parliament.  The benefit freeze is expected to reduce spending in Scotland by £370 million and the reduction in the work allowance of Universal Credit by £250 million.  The report estimates the benefit cap will reduce spending by £6 million and the removal of housing benefit by about £3 million.  Glasgow is expected to be the hardest-hit council area but West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Inverclyde and North Lanarkshire are likely to experience the biggest falls relative to their working population size, it said. Social security minister Jeane Freeman said women, disabled people and young people would be disproportionately affected.  She said: "This report presents the stark reality of the UK Westminster Government's austerity programme which imposes unjust welfare cuts that not only continue to cause misery and push more people into poverty, but also directly affect local economies across Scotland and attract international criticism. These cuts are damaging our people and they are harmful to our communities.  Every pound taken away from those entitled to financial support not only affects those individuals and their families, it is also a pound less that is spent locally."  Ms Freeman highlighted that the Scottish Government had used over £350 million since 2013/14 to mitigate against the "worst damage".  She added: "It is simply not possible to for us to mitigate all of the UK Westminster Government's welfare cuts without major reductions in our expenditure in other vital public services, in growing our economy and in providing real opportunity to our young people. "The UK Westminster Government is responsible for all of this damage to individual lives and local communities, and we will continue to use every opportunity to press the UK Westminster Government to reverse these unjust policies."  Scottish ministers have now laid regulations in the Scottish Parliament to make Universal Credit payments more flexible in the first use of new devolved social security powers.  Ms Freeman added: "We have consistently said the new social security system in Scotland will treat everyone with dignity, fairness and respect. Introducing this flexible approach to Universal Credit demonstrates this and I look forward to the new regulations coming into force and making life that little bit easier for a number of people."