scotland

A Toast to Robert Burns

657px-Robert_burns

It is poet Robert Burns’ 254 birthday today and what better way to celebrate than with a Burns SupperAccording to Huffington Post UK, the “tradition began in 1801, five years after the Scottish bard’s death when a group of his close friends decided to commemorate his memory by hosting a dinner.”

To get in the spirit, you can take a gander at The Scotsman’s list of Five Whiskies to Celebrate Burns Night With. Never one to shy away from a drink or two himself, Burns penned the poem, “Scotch Drink.”

Thou clears the head o’doited Lear;
Thou cheers ahe heart o’ drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o’ Labour sair,
At’s weary toil;
Though even brightens dark Despair
Wi’ gloomy smile.

There is much show for a Burns Supper: reading his poetry, piping, singing, toasting, and don’t forget, the Address to a Haggis. And for the more intense Burns aficionados, head over to Project Gutenberg to read George Combe’s Phrenological Development of Robert Burns From a Cast of His Skull Moulded at Dumfries, the 31st Day of March 1834 complete with illustrations! Apparently, “Burns’ skull was bigger than the average man’s. After he died and was buried in St. Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries in 1796, Rabbie’s body was exhumed in 1815 to be placed in a new mausoleum in the town. While the body was above ground, a plaster cast was taken of his skull for study and measured.”

So, eat, drink and be merry!

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Halcyon Books & the £1 book

After a recent trip to the UK, I quickly realized that if I thought my book buying habit was unsuitable in NYC, then my habit would quickly spiral out of control into pure addiction if I had stayed in England and Scotland one second longer. What could really feed my habit would be the £1 sale going on over at Halcyon Books in Greenwich.

Halcyon Books is a secondhand shop after my own heart. Books are piled taking up the majority of the space resulting in patrons having to scooch around each other muttering sincerest apologies.

After entering Halcyon, my [book-loving] friend and I were in pure joy. These were not bargain books that are allocated to the sad boxes in front of shops. I wanted to procure a book that was not necessarily “literature” but something well-written and enjoyable. The search stopped when I came across this frightening PD James cover (left). I immediately returned all other contenders to the shelf and went to the register.

We also had a look at the inner cover flap which proved to have a whole series of equally disturbing covers (right). Of course, I thought to myself: “This is it. Absolutely no more books.” Right.