10 Must See Coastal Areas and Beaches in Scotland – Scotland Info Guide

Silver Sands of Morar

Scotland is a country with many amazing attractions and sights and it has a culture that is full of Anglo-Saxon history and tradition. Recognized as a place that can cater to the interests and needs of any type of traveler, a trip to Scotland is a must for anyone and every visitor can find something interesting and exciting to do in Scotland. If you search the internet for Things to do in Scotland you’ll find out that it’s full of articles titled “Top 10 Places in Scotland” and “Best places to Visit in Scotland” and most of them share the same places to go to and things to do. Not a bad thing of course but we like to show you the other beautiful parts of Scotland too!

An alternative to all the “Must Do Scotland” and “Top 10 Scotland” articles is to take you to Ten of the most beautiful coastal areas in Scotland, not just the beaches, but stretches of coastline with quaint little towns, yes lovely beaches too and a beautiful hinterland where you can get a real sense of Scotland. With well over 6,100 miles of mainland Scottish coastline there is plenty to see, enjoy, be amazed about and discover. These are typically the areas where you don’t usually see a lot of folk, where you can make lovely walks, admire stunning scenery, visit pretty wee towns, make stunning car tours and enjoy the peace and quiet you sometimes miss out on when you do visit those “Top 10 Places in Scotland”.

The Silver Sands of Morar – Arisaig to Mallaig

In the right weather some beaches in the west of Scotland resemble the Mediterranean with white sandy beaches, clear blue and turquoise seas and lush vegetation. This is never more so the case close the village of Morar, where the river Morar flows into the sea. The white sandy beach is called the Silver Sands of Morar. The stretch of coastline from Arisaig to Mallaig, along the “Road to the Isles“, is one of the most beautiful in Scotland. It’s for a good reason that the famous Scottish movie Local Hero was shot on a beach a mile from the Silver Sands of Morar. The view at sunset towards the Cuillin on Skye and the Small Isles is one of the finest on the west coast. Read more here about Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig

Lochinver to Stoer

Lochinver is the largest fishing town in the North-West Highlands, roughly an hours drive north from Ullapool, the Pearl of the North. To the North-West of Lochinver is a South-West facing stretch of land which is home to some amazing beaches and coastal scenery. Achmelvich Beach and Stoer Bay are just two pearls in this necklace of coves, cliffs and sandy inlets. This is an area waiting to be discovered and once you reach the Lighthouse of Stoer you are rewarded with magnificent sea views and a fascinating walk to the Old Man of Stoer, a 60 metres tall sandtone pillar in the ocean. Read more about this stunning area here

The Lothian Coast from Dunbar to Portobello

A fascinating coastline stretches from Dunbar on the East Coast almost all the way to the heart of Edinburgh. There are some lovely villages and sea-side towns in this part of Scotland. Dunbar, which is also known for being the birth place of John Muir, has a nice harbour that includes remains of Dunbar Castle and since 1780 home to the well known Belhaven Brewery. Further to the North-West is Tantallon Castle with views towards Bass Rock, home to a large colony of Gannets. Further along the coast is the lovely seaside town of North Berwick with some beautiful beaches, a marina and pretty town centre. Between North Berwick and Port Seton are a few nice beaches and four Golf Courses in the Dunes, no wonder this area is also referred to as Scotland’s Golf Coast. Further along the coast is Musselburgh, one of Scotland’s oldest towns and the largest town in Lothian. This magnificent stretch of coastline ends in Portobello, a charming seaside suburb of Edinburgh with a very nice beach. More info is available in our East Lothian Guide

Oban – Gateway to the Hebridean Islands

When friends ask me which part of Scotland they MUST see, I always advise them to visit the West Coast and a few of the islands. Perhaps I’m biased because I live on an island off the West Coast but I’m not the only one with this opinion. Many others consider the West of Scotland one of the most beautiful areas in Europe. The seas are clear and marine wildlife is abundant and the many islands are all unique in their own right. The seaside town of Oban is the gateway and from here one can reach almost all the island in the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Besides being a gateway to the Hebridean islands, Oban is also a very pleasant town to visit and a few nights in this town are highly recommended. We have a page about Oban and a page with further info about the Islands of Scotland

Moray and Banffshire Coast

White-washed cottages, splashed with colour; narrow lanes running between rows of weathered houses; harbours that gather in restless boats; a frame of long, swaying grass against a sandy beach; old dinghy boats planted with flowers; piles of stones, shells and blue-netted lobster pots adorning gardens and doorsteps. If you want to lose yourself in a maze of lanes, contemplate life from the top of a sea-facing dune or collect spectacular sunsets, head for the Moray and Banffshire Coast. Join our Guest Writer Emma Gibb on her trip along the Moray and Banffshire Coast

The Far North and East

With a low level coast on the Eastern side and high rugged cliffs and stacks on the Northern side, the Caithness Coastline between Wick, John o’Groats and Thurso is one of the most scenic in the North of Scotland. Thurso and Wick are the core settlements, and are centred on harbours and make their hard earned living on a combination of sea fishing and leisure and tourism. In between is the Northern Highland village of John o’Groats which provides visitors with a dramatic, natural scenery and captivating wildlife. Dunnet Head, the mostly northerly point of mainland Britain, is only 11 miles away while Duncansby Head Lighthouse and the Stacks of Duncansby are a little over one mile from John o’Groats. All there is to see and do can be found in our Guide of John o’Groats, Wick and Thurso

Durness, Cape Wrath and Sandwood Bay

Spectacular coastal scenery is yours when you take the time to visit this coastal area. Cape Wrath is the most Northwesterly tip of mainland Scotland and it’s very remote and difficult to visit. It requires a wee passenger ferry to cross the Kyle of Durness and an 11 mile minibus trip to reach the lighthouse. Sandwood Bay, 9 miles to the south, is even harder to reach. From Blairmore, where you need to park, it’s a four mile walk to reach this beautiful sandy beach. There is no other means of transportation. Chances that you find yourself alone there are quite good! Durness is the main village in this part of Scotland with a population of around 400 and it offers stunning views towards the cliffs on the north coast. More info on our Durness and Cape Wrath page

Crail & Pittenweem – East Neuk of Fife

Scotland has some amazing picturesque seaside fishing villages and the most beautiful ones can be found where you least expect them, in the County of Fife, south of the Home of Golf, St Andrews. This area, or corner, of Scotland is called East Neuk which stands for East Nook or Corner. Crail goes back a long way, as far back as the Pictish period, that’s the early middle ages. Marketgate, in the medieval heart of the village, was once the largest market place in Europe. It’s a sheer pleasure to wander through the streets and enjoy the harbour views. Nearby Pittenweem is further south and just as lovely as Crail. It’s only one and a half hour drive from Edinburgh away and very much worth visiting! More info here

East of Inverness to Nairn

This might be a somewhat unexpected entry in between the other listings. However, this is a surprisingly interesting stretch of Moray Firth coastline which starts at Fort George and to the East of the lovely seaside town of Nairn. Opposite Chanonry Point, on the Black Isle, is one of the most beautiful forts in Europe, Fort George. It is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe, and is highly recommended for a visit. Afterwards a wee trip to Nairn is a must! Nairn is an ancient fishing port and market town and has a very pleasant beach and seafront, an interesting history, lovely wee cottages in Fishertown and an attractive town centre. More info here

Red Point Beach to Rubha Reidh Lighthouse

Rubha Reidh Lighthouse

Wester Ross is one of the most stunningly and wild areas of Scotland and the coastline is just amazing. Red Point Beach can be found on the North shore of Loch Torridon, opposite the Applecross Peninsula. This is an amazing Reddish/Pink sandy beach backed by rather high dunes. Fantastic for a family day out. Following the coastline to the lovely village of Gairloch you pass wee settlements like South Erradale, Port Henderson and a few others, all of them offering beautiful views over the ever changing coastline. Around Gairloch are quite a few beautiful beaches and further North-West is “Big Sand” which also has a large campsite. Further north is a single track road which ends at the Rubha Reidh lighthouse. Halfway folk are encouraged to leave the car but you don’t have to. The drive up there is just stunning, not for the faint hearted though, and the views on a clear day towards the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides are breathtaking. We have extensive coverage of both Wester Ross and the aforementioned spectacular stretch of coastline

photo of nairn is copyright by Mick Garratt

This content was originally published here.

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Is there less poverty in Scotland: Will BBC Scotland INFORM us?

From Reporting Scotland yesterday:

‘Poverty and income inequality continues (sic) to rise according to the latest figures from the Scottish Government.

‘You deal with it!’

As always, we got the bare facts and a quick reference to the Scottish Government blaming UK Government austerity and the latter saying the Scottish Government could compensate for it. The remarkable opportunity there to probe the morality of the UK Government apparently admitting responsibility for the poverty increase and then arrogantly telling Scotland to deal with it, was not taken.

‘SG Actions to deal with it’

The obvious link, also, to some of the actions taken by the SNP to compensate was not taken. Click on these for a reminder of some:

How steep is the increase?

We often see graphs on Reporting Scotland when the evidence is useful. Why didn’t we see these revealing graphs?

No one wants to see any increase in poverty at all, but this information is important. Is the relatively small increase in relative poverty for children and the flattening-out, at least in part, a consequence of the Scottish Government’s actions. Should BBC Scotland inform us of the possibility?

Comparison with UK and long-term trends

Journalists love to talk of context and journalism educators make much of it, so how does child poverty, in Scotland, for example, compare with the UK? See these:

Child poverty and related low-income in Scotland is less common than across the UK and though it has been in decline long-term, it has begun to increase again.

How much is poverty expected to increase in Scotland comparative to the UK?

Once more, any increase is to be abhorred and decreases will be our aim after independence but it’s informative to see that only the affluent South-East is expected to have as low or lower, for children, increases than in Scotland. Should BBC Scotland at least consider the effects of the Scottish Government’s moderation of austerity and inform us?

After housing Scotland has the lowest poverty levels in the UK

Could this be anything to do with Scottish Government action on, for example, building far more social housing and the unique ban on ‘no-fault’ eviction?

We should be told.

This content was originally published here.

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Looking back on knife crime in Scotland – Talking-up Scotland

No knives, better lives

I’m wary of seeming smug when there is so much suffering in other places but it’s still worth reminding everyone of what has been achieved or which has happened for unknown reasons, so here are the most recent TuS reports on knife crime:

The Theresa Effect in the Independent today: ‘Knife crime has risen to the highest level since 2010 in England and Wales, new figures have revealed as police say stabbing investigations are being made harder by social media. In the year…

(c) SWNS According to the Scotsman today: ‘Scottish police officer numbers at lowest level in nine years. In the first three months of year, Police Scotland had the equivalent of 17,170 full time officers, according to Scottish Government statistics. The…

‘Treating knife crime as a health issue has led to a dramatic drop in stabbings: of the 35 deaths of young people in Britain this year, none were in Scotland.’ https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2017/dec/03/how-scotland-reduced-knife-deaths-among-young-people As violent crime spirals out of control in London…

(c) playbuzz.com/nicklivingston It’s been more than 80 years since ‘No Mean City’ was set in Glasgow and comedians, including our own, continue to base their humour on an image of a violent, drunken people but the last ten years have…

Michelle Ballantyne, Scottish Conservative early years spokeswoman (c) The Southern Reporter Yesterday, the Scotsman headlined with: ‘Scots teachers pressured to cover up knife incidents’ and followed up with: ‘A Johnston Press knife crime investigation revealed ten pupils across Scotland are…

(c) Police Scotland According to the Guardian yesterday, in England and Wales, knife crime has increased by 21% to September 2017. This a dramatic figure large enough to suggest an emerging and extremely worrying trend. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/25/knife-and-gun-rises-sharply-in-england-and-wales In Scotland, knife crime…

Watching Sky News this morning, making sure I don’t even catch a glimpse of Jackie Bird, I saw a short piece on how London police have been learning from Glasgow police on how they might reduce knife crime especially fatal…

What is Reevel thinking? This is the latest in a series of lies by Reporting Scotland on, for example, gangs, knife, crime, obesity and hospital infections. I’ll summarise in the next post today. Last night, Jackie Bird opened confidently…

I think we’re all getting a bit embarrassed with comparisons revealing Tory England to be a place in hell. While there are times when I will persist because the justifiable target is not the poor souls living there but…

This content was originally published here.

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Scotland? What Scotland? – Peter A Bell

Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process, and excluding The National in this way simply underlines how she is running scared of answering tough questions.

The stuff about Theresa May “running scared” of difficult questions makes for great political rhetoric. But, as I’m sure the First Minister is well aware, it doesn’t quite reflect the reality.

Theresa May is not afraid of tough questions, for two reasons. Firstly, as a professional politician, she is trained to deal with hard interrogation. And, as the British Prime Minister, she has a small army of advisers whose task it is to ensure she is thoroughly briefed and equipped with well-rehearsed responses for any question.

This, incidentally, is how she will deal with Jeremy Corbyn in the proposed TV .debate’. She will be armed with a sword of stock phrases and a shield of glittering generalities. Corbyn will have nothing but a water-pistol loaded with vacuous slogans and the Pac-A-Mac of his self-righteousness.

Then there’s the arrogance. I have not the slightest doubt that Theresa May considers herself an excellent orator and debater. Again, she has a small army of people around her whose jobs rely on assuring their charge of her shining brilliance after every performance – no matter how dire that performance may have been. May, like most senior British politicians, exists in a bubble of near-adulation that shields her from both criticism and reality. She is entirely oblivious to the ineptitude that is clearly apparent to detached observers. And almost entirely unaware of how widely she is detested.

This conceit of herself makes her unafraid. The protective phalanx of minders makes her self-assured.

The significant point in the above quote is right at the start. When Nicola Sturgeon says “Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process”, she hints at what is actually behind decision to exclude The National from her press event. The British establishment has discovered the power of ignoring.

We exist in a world of media. We swim in a sea mediated messages. If something isn’t trending on Twitter or the subject of Facebook fury, it barely exists. If it doesn’t warrant a mention in the crowded 15-20 minute space of rolling news, then it isn’t happening. If it isn’t being talked about by the Andrews Marr and Neil, it just isn’t important.

The British establishment has deployed the ignoring strategy as one strand of its effort to diminish Scotland in the public consciousness. They denigrate our public services, delegitimise our democratic institutions and trivialise Scottish issues They aim to eradicate our distinctive political culture.. They seek to obliterate our national identity in a storm of unionjackery.

The National would seem an obvious target for this studied ignoring. May’s lackeys doubtless thought it in keeping with the ignoring agenda to exclude the paper which, almost uniquely, presents the news from a Scottish perspective. Very evidently, they got it wrong.

If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

This content was originally published here.

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Bloody Scotland: The Origin Story | Historic Environment Scotland

A number of years ago, I went with a small group of friends to visit the ruins of Castle Campbell in Clackmannanshire. It was a strikingly bright June afternoon: a cloudless sky, no breeze, and the sort of humid, energy-sapping heat that very occasionally and very unexpectedly intrudes upon Scottish summers.

The castle sits between two narrow glens in the Ochil Hills, above the small town of Dollar. From the car park, you still have quite a distance to walk – all part of the experience, as a steep path winds up the hillside, with the ruined walls revealed only gradually on approach.

Castle Campbell overlooking Dollar – once known as Castle ‘Glume’

That summer the surrounding undergrowth was an uncontrolled explosion of greenery, punctuated everywhere by bright, colourful wildflowers. It was so warm that the castle was blurred in a heat haze. There were no other visitors. We climbed in and out of the ruins, enjoying the dry coolness in the shade of the old stones. The only sounds were our own footsteps, the scratching of grasshoppers, and the lazy hum of bees drunk out of their minds on nectar.

The castle nestles a little in its hillside setting, surrounded by tall trees. When you are there, you can look out and see almost no sign of the modern world. We walked down to the stepped terraces in front of the castle to sit in the sun. And that was when we heard it. A gunshot. In the stillness of the day, it echoed off the hillsides like a thunderclap. One of our group screamed at the shock of it.

We all looked at each other for the tiniest instant with genuine alarm. And then we started laughing. ‘Must be a farmer’, one of us said. And we didn’t question it beyond that. A farmer doing the sorts of things farmers do; not that any of us really knew what those things might be. Within seconds, we had relaxed again. We walked some more around the castle, and descended the winding path back to our car, the gunshot forgotten.

Author Denise Mina, whose contribution to Bloody Scotland, set in Edinburgh Castle, won the 2018 Crime Writer’s Association Short Story Dagger

Buildings have ways of getting under our skins…

Well, perhaps not totally forgotten. Because that moment of alarm always stayed with me. It teased with possibility. What if it hadn’t been a farmer, I wondered? What might we have stumbled upon unwittingly? Who was firing the gun? What – or indeed who – was in its sights? Why was the trigger pulled? The setting that afternoon added immeasurably to the potential for drama: the heat, the stillness, the seclusion. And looming over it all was the castle – called ‘Glume’ before it was Campbell, and set between the valleys of two portentously named burns: ‘Care’ and ‘Sorrow’. It is a dark, implacable ruin; a survivor; a witness to so much over the half-millennium since it was first built.

So perhaps, in some imagined story, it could have been more than just a witness, perhaps it could have had a purpose too. Buildings and places have ways of getting under our skins, of provoking thoughts, memories and feelings – good and bad. If we had to recall all of the major emotional moments of our lives, all of the highs and lows, and were then asked to plot them on a map, I suspect most of us would be able to do it remarkably easily. You always remember where you were when… Buildings don’t pull triggers. But perhaps they can trigger people to pull them. Perhaps.

Author Chris Brookmyre in Bothwell Castle – the setting for his contribution to Bloody Scotland, ‘The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle’

What If?

That day at Castle Campbell came back to me when I found myself talking to the co-founder of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, Lin Anderson, and its director Bob McDevitt, in the Authors’ Yurt at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016. ‘What if?’ I asked them. ‘What if we asked twelve of Scotland’s top crime writers to write short stories inspired by twelve of our most iconic buildings? What would they think? What would they come up with? What could possibly go wrong?’

Bloody Scotland is the answer.

Prepare yourself for a lot going wrong for a lot of people in a lot of ways in a lot of buildings. Prepare yourself for crimes of passion and psychotic compulsion. Prepare yourself for a 1,000-year-old Viking cold-case, a serial killer tormented by visions of ruins old and new, and an ‘urbex’ love triangle turning fatal. Prepare yourself for structures that both threaten and protect, buildings that commit acts of poetic vengeance or act as brooding accomplices to murder.

Author Val McDermid at the Hermit’s Castle in Assynt, setting for her Bloody Scotland story ‘Ancient and Modern’, which has been shortlisted for best short story at America’s 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards © Alan McCredie

Two of Scotland’s Greatest Assets

Yes, a lot goes wrong. But, of course, a lot goes right too. Because these stories offer a perfect demonstration of the incredible wealth of creative literary talent in Scotland today. Scottish crime writing has carved out a formidable reputation. Our authors can entertain and they can shock. And they are fearless when it comes to tackling many of the issues at the heart of contemporary society, shining lights into some of the darkest corners.

Bloody Scotland paperback book jacket

Bloody Scotland, then, is a tribute to two of our nation’s greatest assets – our built heritage and our crime writing. Read these stories and, if you haven’t already, go out and visit the structures and sites that feature. Seek your own inspiration from the experiences, let your imagination wander. Just like our writers have done, feel that electric jolt of excitement at all the myriad possibilities that Scotland’s places can offer.

Bloody Scotland is out now in paperback, RRP £8.99, and is available from the Historic Scotland online shop

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Most popular names in Scotland | National Records of Scotland

Olivia and Jack remain the most popular baby names in Scotland, and Smith, Brown and Wilson the three top surnames, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The full lists of first forenames given to babies whose births were registered in 2018 replace the top 100 lists published in December, and include the first forename of every baby, including those whose births were registered in December.

The three top surnames in the Birth, Marriage and Death registers for 2018 – Smith, Brown and Wilson – have been the most common surnames recorded in the registers for over 40 years, based on five-yearly analysis going back to 1975.

The NRS website includes annual lists of babies’ first forenames back to 1974. Jack has been the top boys’ name for 11 years running.  Three boys’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: David (19 years: 1974 to 1992), Ryan (five years: 1994 to 1998) and Jack (16 years: 1999 to 2002, 2006 and 2008 onwards).  Olivia has been the most popular girls’ name for three years running.  Four girls’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: Laura (11 years: 1979 to 1989), Emma (eight years: 1990 to 1993, 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004), Chloe (five years: 1998 to 2002) and Sophie (nine years: 2005 to 2013).  

Many once popular names have gone out of fashion.  A table of the Top 10 names for each sex for 1975 and for every fifth year thereafter, shows that (for example):

This year, NRS has added a section on names given to babies of both sexes.  As one might expect, most names were very strongly associated with only one sex.  However, the numbers for some names were split between the sexes roughly two-thirds to one-third (e.g. Alex, Rowan) or even around 50:50 (e.g. Ellis, Taylor).  For a few names, there has been a change in the balance.  For example, the name Jan used to be given mainly to girls but latterly has been given only to boys, and Morgan is a name that was once given only to boys but nowadays is given mainly to girls.   

The publications Babies First Names – 2018 and Most Common Surnames in Birth, Marriage and Death registers are available on this website. An Infographic and Interactive data visualisation for Babies First Names – 2018 can be found on the Infographics and Visualisations page of this website.

No GP Crisis in Scotland but.. – Talking-up Scotland

I do hesitate to make these comparisons between NHS Scotland and NHS England as they always go one way and I then start to feel a bit uncomfortable. However, if I want to talk-up NHS Scotland in a defence against our Loyalist media bias, it’s the only readily available comparator with a Tory government to blame for it all.

Anyhow, the Guardian piece above, does carefully and unusually, state that this is about only England, based on NHS England research.

So dear reader, how do you think things are in Scotland? Could be better, but health provision like education or policing is infinitely improvable and so could always be better. What is clear though is that there is no crisis in general practice in Scotland.

1. 93% of Scots can get an appointment in two days!

From research published in the Scotsman on 25th April 2018:

‘More encouragingly, it also found 87 per cent of people found it easy to contact their GP practice, while more than nine out ten (93 per cent) were able to get an appointment within two days.’

2. GP vacancies in Scotland are only just over one-third of the level in England

Based on a survey by the GP magazine on 6th July 2018, Pulse, the Independent reported today:

‘GP vacancies (in England) rise to record levels despite recruitment pledge, survey suggests. Long patient waits and unsafe, rushed appointments are unlikely to end any time soon as vacancies have risen from 9.1 per cent to 15.3 per cent since the (UK) government pledged 5 000 more doctors.’

In sharp contrast, the GP vacancy rate in Scotland was only 5.6% at the end of 2017.

3. There are significantly more GPs per head of population in Scotland

So, the ratio of GPs to overall population is:

4. The Scottish Government is taking steps to ensure there are more GPs, and doctors in general, coming through the system.
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NHS Scotland’s waiting time targets abused again by BBC Scotland? – Talking-up Scotland

Nearly all of the NHS Scotland targets are for treatment within a period of time for between 90% and 95% of patients. Anything below that is described as a failure to meet the targets and is the trigger for ministerial apologies, opposition attacks and miserable patient interviews, but I think I’ve noticed something interesting and vulnerable in these reports.

I haven’t done the research. I’ve just got an emerging wee thesis. The typical waiting time for removal of wee theses in 18 weeks. Here it is:

Reporting Scotland tell us about every failed target on the day it is released by ISD. They always tell you that the target was failed and that it has now been failed for whatever period of time it has been failed.  They sometimes tell you what the actual target percentage is but not always. They rarely if ever tell you what the actual percentage seen on time was.

I’ve noticed this pattern recently and will be watching from now on to see if it repeats to suggest a propaganda tactic. I’ll have a look back at some earlier reports for evidence too. Why? Well, is it possible that the omission of the actual performance percentage and of the target percentage is because both, when presented that way, seem very high and may trigger an unpredictable response in many viewers?

Targets are almost always 90% or 95%. Performance commonly ranges from around 70% to over 90%.

Now, imagine your base assumptions about whether or not a percentage score is good or not derives mainly from your own experience in educational assessments, in school or in college or at university, or in some craft or professional programme. Isn’t 70% really pretty good, an A? In all my time on the way to a BA Hons (2.1), even as a mature student, I only once reached 82% and commonly scored in the 65% to 75% range. Isn’t 70% for most of us, evidence of greatness and 95% evidence of freakish unworldliness?

So, is there a danger that viewers will think performance by NHS Scotland is actually pretty damn good across the board and that the targets are a bit OTT?

There is evidence that in Scotland and in the UK ,we have come to treat what should be longer term aspirational targets as opposed to everyday minimal targets.

A bit of context from an international study in 2014, is illuminating:

‘Most countries are following the UK 4-hour target as it is recognised that there is a benefit to adding in a time constraint. Victoria and Ontario [Canada] both have set the achievement target lower, at 75% and 90% respectively, compared to 95% in England [and Scotland]. Moreover, neither system actually meets their target, and especially in Victoria there are few consequences to this. In Stockholm [Sweden] the county monitors performance on the 4-hour target but this is not nationally mandated.’

Dundee is Scotland Coolest City – Scotland Info Guide

V&A Dundee – photo Ross Fraser McLean

I bet you didn’t see this one coming right? Don’t be mistaken though, Dundee is going from strength to strength and now Lonely Planet has named Dundee as one of their Best in Europe for 2018. And it’s not just Lonely Planet who point point out Dundee as the Go To City for 2018. Prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg and the Guardian all citing the city in their 2018 travel itineraries. Famed for its continual reinvention, particularly after the decline of traditional industries such as whaling, shipbuilding and jute manufacturing, the city has transformed into a capital of cool – home to some of the country’s most exciting examples of design, innovation and culture.

Opening of V&A Dundee

The eye-catching event for this year in Dundee, and perhaps even for Scotland, is the much anticipated opening of V&A Dundee. Set to open on the 15th of September, the Kengo Kuma-designed attraction will be the jewel in the crown of the city’s tourism offering and provide an introduction to over 500 years of brilliance, ingenuity and achievement in Scottish creativity and the best examples of design from around the world. So what else has Dundee on offer? Let’s have a look at some of the other things that might tempt you to visit Scotland’s coolest city:

A feast for foodies

Sample some of the city’s tasty delights thanks to a diverse range of trendy bars, boutique restaurants and unusual eateries. Draffens is a unique speak easy bar, renowned for its inventive cocktails, tucked away in a hidden location within the city centre. Or raise a glass to Verdant Spirits, the first distillery in Dundee for 200 years and Scottish Gin of the Year in 2017. Inspired by the growing popularity of ‘Mother’s Ruin’, plans are now underway to open a gin school and visitor centre. Of course, no trip to Dundee is complete without trying an authentic Dundee pie or ‘peh’ at a local butchers such as Scott Brothers or why not have a slice of the iconic Dundee cake? This bakery favourite is still lovingly created at bakers like Clarks’ Bakery or Goodfellow & Stevens.

A new take on some old favourites

With so much to see you’ll be spoiled for choice so how about sightseeing with a difference? Dark Dundee offers entertaining and informative walking tours around the city, partnering with venues such as Verdant Works, HM Frigate Unicorn, and The Howff, a 16th century graveyard in the city centre, to tell spine-chilling tales of the city’s sometimes gruesome past. If you prefer sightseeing on the go try Run the Sights, which combines a run with a guided exploration of some of the city’s most interesting and beautiful locations. Finally, see the city from the glorious River Tay with Pirate Boats, an exhilarating one-hour boat trip packed with anecdotes and local lore to bring the scenery to life.

Exciting new additions

Dundee is chock-full of exciting experiences but here are some new additions to the city’s travel offering. OpenClose is an exciting street art project, showcasing the best in local talent. The city-centre art trail aims to brighten up unexplored nooks and crannies with 18 individually painted doors by 18 local artists. This year, OpenClose has extended into the Stobswell area of the city with 20 more new street-art locations to explore. For thrill-seekers a visit to the new 5-star Foxlake is a must. Dundee’s new wakeboarding centre at City Quay has premises opposite the APEX Hotel and within sight of the HM Unicorn.. Finally, Slessor Gardens, Dundee’s new public space, has been warmly embraced by the citizens and now with the advent of massive outdoor gigs, visitors can experience the waterfront for themselves. The inaugural concerts happened in 2017 and this year Steps, Rita Ora, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, and KT Tunstall will be hitting the right notes with music fans in the city.

A city built on design

Dundee was in competition with 50 other global cities to join the City of Design network in 2014. It was named the UK’s first City of Design by the United Nations for the diverse design innovations. Dundee’s contributions to the world, include aspirin, biomedical research which has led to hundreds of new cancer drugs, comics including the Beano and Dandy, orange marmalade, and video games including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto. Today the city’s vibrant population of young people continues to create and contribute to the city’s design reputation, including fashion and lifestyle designers Hayley Scanlan, Isolated Heroes, Abandon Ship Apparel and globally recognised luggage designers Lat56. Dundee’s young people are currently co-designing the opening event for V&A Dundee in September and the city’s first ever Dundee Design Parade is set to take place on Saturday 26 May as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People celebrations.

The Comic Capital

Dundee is the birthplace of the Beano – Britain’s longest running children’s comic published by DC Thomson. Every week, children and adults across the world can follow the antics of legendary characters like Dennis the Menace.. Read an issue of The Beano Comic on the newly named Bash Street or check out the city’s best-loved comic characters, like Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx in statue form. This year from June to October, to celebrate the Beano’s 80th birthday, the McManus will become The McMenace as The Bash Street Kids take over the museum.

A warm welcome for all

From legendary ships to the stunning shorelines of Broughty Ferry, Dundee is perfect for an accessible adventure. Handily Access Review website Euan’s Guide has created an informative guide to the city, packed full of highlights and advice to help visitors with access needs get the most from their trip. From wheelchair access on the Gun Deck of the only wooden warship in Scotland, HMS Unicorn to the induction loop system that film lovers can enjoy in the cinemas at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

For more info on Dundee go to www.dundee.com.

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Education becomes the latest Scottish sector to be targeted by BBC Scotland – Towards Indyref2…

Teaching has become the latest target for the BBC in Scotland in what appears to be a campaign aimed at portraying Scottish institutions as failing.

This morning the BBC Scotland radio phone-in programme hosted by Kaye Adams featured education as the subject.  One caller, who called herself Joanna, lambasted the teaching profession and claimed to have recently left the sector.

During the call which approached an astonishing 15 minutes, Joanna described herself as a “middle manager” and said she knew nobody who was happy in the profession.  She claimed her former colleagues would end their day slumped on the sofa drinking half a bottle of wine.

However, later that afternoon the call was used as the basis for a headline news article by BBC Scotland.  An online article Former teacher tells minister ‘teaching is an undoable job’appeared as the fourth top story.

The article began: “A teacher who left the profession because it became an “undoable” job has told Scotland’s education secretary the profession is a ‘disgrace’.

“Speaking to SNP MSP John Swinney, former teacher Joanna told the cabinet secretary she would never work in a school again.

“She told him many teachers felt under pressure, took medication and felt ill at the thought of going to work.”

The targeting of teaching follows a string of BBC Scotland headline news reports which portayed a variety of Scottish institutions and initiatives negatively.  Recent examples have included the Scottish Police Force, the Scottish NHS, ScotRail and the Scottish Fire Brigade Service.

Initiatives such as the Baby Box have also been targeted as has Scotland’s reputation as a welcoming country.  Only yesterday BBC Scotland claimed research showed Scottish drug users consumed the most cocaine in a single session than addicts anywhere else in the world.

This latest attack on a Scottish institution coincides with the advent of the exam season.  Last year BBC Scotland mounted a sustained attack on Scotland’s examination system [See video below].  A similar approach by the broadcaster is expected this year.

Indyref2 would like to do more news pieces. Feel free to make a contribution towards this goal.

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