Saint Andrew’s Day – 30th November

Scottish Flag – ©James.Stringer (on Flickr)
The Saltire (the Scottish Flag) – ©James.Stringer (on Flickr)

Today is Saint Andrew’s Day, the patron saint of Scotland, but what do you know about Scotland?

From CIA World Factbook
From CIA World Factbook

Scotland is one of the four countries which make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Scotland is a mountainous country in the northern tip of the island of Great Britain and is bordered by the Northern Sea on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on the west.

© Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting
© Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting

Scotland is a small country. It is only 440 km long but has a coastline of more than 3,200 km. It has an area of 78,772 sq km and a population of 5,253,800 inhabitants. They live in the mainland (the island of Great Britain) and on other smaller islands. Scotland has more than 790 islands, but only 170 of them are inhabited.

The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh but the largest city is Glasgow (1,200,000 inhabitants). Scotland can be divided into three regions from south to north: the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the Highlands.

Scotland has some awesome scenery landscapes. You are invited to visit some of the pictures tourists have taken in some of the most beautiful Scotland in these flickr galleries.

– The Highlands

– The Orkney Islands (to the north)

– The Shetland Islands (to the north)

– The Inner and Outer Hebrides (to the west)

The highest mountain in the UK is in Scotland. It is Ben Nevis (1,344 metres above sea level), near Fort Williams.

Ben Nevis & Fort Williams
Ben Nevis & Fort Williams

The largest lake in Great Britain is also in Scotland, near Glasgow: Loch Lomond (Loch is the word for Lake in Scottish Gaelic). However, Loch Ness is more famous than Loch Lomond. Do you know why? Nessie, of course!

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Do you know any Scottish famous people? Probably yes. There have been very famous Scots (try this quiz on Scottish celebrities here): Inventors writers, scientists, explorers, actors, musicians, to mention a few.

Traditions in Scotland are also very important. The traditional Scottish costume is the kilt, but men just wear it on special occasions, such as weddings or important holidays:

©jennifrog (on flickr)
©jennifrog (on flickr)

Another important part of Scottish life is music and especially ceilidhs. A ceilidh, pronounced /ˈklɪ/, is a gathering (meeting) in which people usually listen to Gaelic music and dance. You can watch a short video displaying what a celidh is like here. If you want to try something really traditional, head for a ceilidh, dance and taste some haggis too.

Haggis ©Great British Chefs (on Twitter)
Haggis ©Great British Chefs (on Flickr)

Scottish people not only speak Scottish English. They also speak Scots (an ancient variety of English) and Scottish Gaelic (a Celtic language). The word of Scotland in Scottish Gaelic is Alba. Wanna know more? Well, you can learn some basic Scottish Gaelic here, on BBC Alba (BBC Scotland).

Here I embed a video on the story St Andrew (please listen to the speakers’ beautiful Scottish accent too). Thanks to

The transcript of the video available here.

beannachd leibh! (bye in Scottish Gaelic)


Terrifying Nature: Hurricanes

Two weeks ago a superstorm hit the East coast of the United States and devastated some areas of New York City and Staten Island. As you know, one of our language assistants, Michael Young, is from Staten Island and feels personally affected by this dramatic event. 42 lives were lost in New York city, almost half of whom came from Staten Island. Thousands of people are still without homes and are living in temporary housing.

This can make us reflect on the terrifying powers of Nature and how natural disasters can damage our modern society more than we like to think. During this week some of the groups will find out more on how hurricanes are formed and act and we will invite some of our students to write support notes to other students at schools on Staten Island.

As a a starter, please feel to watch this video made by David Dilillo, one of Michael’s friends and also of our school (he visited us last year and gave an interesting talk on Geometry in Photography).

Within two Worlds

© 2012 GoldpaintPhoto

Music composed by Serge Essiambre entitled, ‘Believe in Yourself’. –

I was surfing the Internet and came across this terrific video. I contacted the photographer at and he was so kind as to grant us permission to include the video here:

I include here the video info available on Vimeo:

“Within Two Worlds depicts an alternate perspective by giving us the illusion of times movement, signifying a beginning and end within a world of constant contradiction. It appears you are traveling in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, and touching the arch connecting heaven and earth.

I discovered my passion for photography shortly after my mother’s passing while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 3 years ago. This time-lapse video is my visual representation of how the night sky and landscapes co-exist within a world of contradictions. I hope this connection between heaven and earth inspires you to discover and create your own opportunities, to reach your rightful place within two worlds.

Locations include:

Tumalo Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness, Mount Shasta, Big Bend National Park, Mono Lake, Aurora Borealis over Crater Lake National Park, Texas, Painted Hills, the High Sierra, and the Aurora Borealis over Sparks Lake.

Please feel free to share #withintwoworlds! Special thanks to all for your continued support and encouragement.”

You can visit the photographer’s website:, his Facebook: or his Twitter:

Have a nice week! Remember too next Thursday is Thanksgiving so I’d like to start thanking @GoldpaintPhoto for letting us use their video again.

Enjoy the awesome images and music!

Bonfire night and Guy Fawkes

© Michael Young

On the 5th of November people in England celebrate The Bonfire Night. Learn about the History behind the celebrations, the traditional food, the fireworks… in the slideshow attached to this entry. Learn as much as you can, and dare to participate in the quiz that is going to take place at school on Tuesday 13th November. For more details, check the schools boards.


Thanks to TES for the original presentation.