Ever wondered how Scotch whisky was made? Peer behind the doors of Scotland’s distilleries and discover the centuries-old secrets to production in its five whisky regions.
Whisky is Scotland’s national drink. It’s also our biggest export, with bottles safely stored in drinks cabinets and proudly displayed on shelves across the globe. Rare bottles sell for thousands of pounds (really rare bottles sell for hundreds of thousands). Whisky is a pretty big deal – but we’re not surprised at all.
Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday in the UK and takes place on Tuesday 28th February this year. It marks the last day before the Christian festival of Lent which is generally a period of abstinence. It is customary to eat pancakes on this day as pancake recipes used up food that was traditionally given up for Lent such as eggs, milk, butter and sugar.
Wherever you are in the world, join us in making the perfect pancakes with this recipe:
100g plain flour
1. Pour the flour through a sieve into a large mixing bowl and dig a little hole in the centre. Add the eggs into the hole and pour in about 50ml milk. Start whisking the mixture together from the centre and beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Then, continue to whisk whilst steadily pouring in the rest of the milk until you have a batter that is the same consistency of a relatively thick single cream.
2. Grease the frying pan with some of the butter and heat over a moderate temperature. Then, pour a small part of the mixture over the pan, tilting it to allow the mixture to settle in a thin and even layer. Return the pan to the heat and allow the mixture to cook for around 30 seconds.
3.To cook the pancake on the other side, you can either turn it over carefully with a spatula, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can flip it using the pan (we only recommend this flipping technique for more experienced pancake-makers!). Cook for a futher 30 seconds and you should have the perfect golden pancake! Repeat stages 3 and 4 for each extra pancake. If you follow this recipe, you should have enough mixture to make around 8 pancakes.
4. Add your favourite toppings! For this section, you can add savoury toppings such as ham and cheese for a lunchtime snack or sweet toppings to make a dessert. We love to top our pancakes with lemon and sugar, jam and ice cream or Nutella and strawberries.
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is a festival for performances, workshops, talks and children’s events. Guests from all over the world are also invited for this great 10 days’ festival that takes place once a year in Edinburgh.
It’s the perfect chance to practise your English and learn about Scottish storytelling traditions. Here are some videos from previous years to give you an idea of what it’s like:
Date: Friday 21st – Monday 31st October 2016
Price: Mainly free but some performances are charged
“an informal social gathering with folk music, singing, dancing, and storytelling”
If you ever get the chance to go to a Ceilidh, don’t hesitate and just go! This will be the best memory of your time in Scotland! It may seem intimidating to go to a Ceilidh, but don’t worry if you don’t know the moves, somebody will help you!
How does this Ceilidh thing work? So one of the band members walks us through each dance. He explains each part of it until it seems like we understand. We try it once without music before doing it “full out”. Then, the music starts, he gives us the cue so we all start at the same time and you just hope you remember the moves! Each dance lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The dance moves aren’t really hard, you just have to remember them!
Here’s an example:
So if you ever visit Scotland, you have to go to a Ceilidh, even if you don’t really fancy dancing. It’s the perfect opportunity to see a part of Scottish culture up close!
Ceilidhs are a lot of fun and they play a regular part in our social programme, so you will have plenty of time to practice once you’re here!
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (also known simply as “the Fringe”) is a major event which takes place every year. For 25 days in August, Edinburgh is completely transformed with thousands of performers flocking to the capital for a chance to showcase their work in one of hundreds of venues around the city centre.
The Fringe started in 1947 when a handful of theatre companies turned up uninvited to the official Edinburgh International Festival to perform for the large theatre crowds that had already gathered in the city. From these humble beginnings, the festival has now grown into the largest arts festival in the world and, in 2014, the Fringe featured a record number of 3,193 shows.
The Festival is supported by the Festival Fringe Society, which publishes the programme, sells tickets to all events from a central physical box office and website, and offers year-round advice and support to performers. The Society’s permanent location is at the Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile, and in August they also manage Fringe Central, a separate collection of spaces in Appleton Tower and other University of Edinburgh buildings, dedicated to providing support for Fringe participants during their time at the festival.
Even today, any act in the world can sign up to perform at the Fringe so you will always find an extremely varied mix of shows, from established celebrities and musicians to student theatre companies and aspiring artists. Popular acts featured in the festival include cabaret, comedy, dance, live music, theatre and circus.
This year the festival will take place from 5th – 29th August and you can see the full schedule here. Don’t forget you can also explore the best the festival has to offer with our English Plus Festivals course! We’ll also have the chance to visit the Fringe on our social programme throughout August.
Look out for these other festivals happening in August too!
The largest island of the Outer Hebrides, Lewis offers amazing opportunities to explore all the elements of life on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean – with history, heritage, wilderness, wildlife, arts, crafts, crofting culture and even adrenaline-fuelled adventure all here for the taking on your Hebridean holiday.
From the neat Victorian homes lining the streets of Stornoway in the east, to the stretching white sands of Bosta on Great Bernera in the west, where the clear Atlantic waters sound the evocative toll of the Time and Tide Bell as a reminder of the link between us and the elements, Lewis is an island of exciting contrasts and diverse experiences.
Discover the rich history of the proud Lewis people, from the Norse invasions to the strong Gaelic traditions that are still observed today. Head to Ness, a stronghold of the local language, and listen to the sound of Hebridean heritage being carried on the winds which rage around this northern headland making it the windiest spot in the UK.
Explore the sea caves and stacks at Garry Beach just round the headland from Broad Bay to better understand how the relentless seas have shaped this island environment, and the lifestyles of those who live here.
Isle of Harris:
The Outer Hebridean island of Harris is one that has offered inspiration for generations. With its rich traditions, stunning shifting scenery and strong sense of community, Harris offers a unique introduction to island life on the edge.
Travel the Golden Road through Bays for a whistlestop tour of the rich history that has shaped this island’s identity across the centuries with Norse and Gaelic influences evident in the names of the hamlets that punctuate this coastline or explore the popular village of Tarbert where you can visit the Harris Tweed Shop and take home a piece of true Hebridean heritage.
Gaze out across the West Harris sands to the famous uninhabited Castaway island of Taransay and experience a glimpse of the isolation from which the proud self-sufficent communities of the Outer Hebrides were born, or tour the adjoining Isle of Scalpay with its strong seafaring connections to understand more about the symbiosis of islanders and ocean.
Whatever you are looking for, you can find it here on Lewis and Harris, along with a warm Hebridean welcome.