Scotland and the first international football match

Football is the most popular game in the world, played constantly everywhere across the planet. The World Cup, where international football teams compete to be the best, is one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world. Yet did you know that Scotland was where the first official international football match was played?

International football began in Glasgow. On 30th of November 1972, Scotland played England at Hamilton Crescent in the Partick area of the city.   This wasn’t a football ground: it was actually West of Scotland Cricket Club’s pitch! It is shown in the picture here and you can still go and see it today as it’s still used for cricket.

All eleven Scottish players came from Queen’s Park, who were at that time the best club side in Scotland. The English side was selected form nine different clubs. Around 4,000 spectators attended, paying one shilling (5 pence) each to do so.

Scotland had a goal disallowed in the first half when the umpires (there were not modern referees in those days) decided it had gone over the tape that was stretched between the posts (the crossbar that we know today wasn’t invented yet!). When the game ended, the score was 0-0, and international football, as we know it today, had been born.

 

Photo, Chris Upson, Wikipedia

Some Scottish Wedding Traditions

Just like many other parts of the world, here in Scotland we have lots of wedding traditions. A few of the best known are the “Scramble,” where after the wedding has taken place, and as the bride is about to get into her wedding car, her father will throw a handful of coins for any watching children to scramble for, which just means they rush around excitedly trying to collect as much money as possible. This is supposed to bring financial luck to the newly married couple.

Another Scottish wedding tradition, more common in the east of the country than in the west, is for the bride to have her feet washed, either by a woman who has been married for a long time or by her friends, using water in which the long-married woman has dropped her wedding ring. There is also an equivalent tradition for the bridegroom, where he has his legs blackened with coal or soot and water. Sometimes, if he’s really unlucky, he’s made to sit in a tub of water too!

Some unusual Scottish “Traditions” – Tossing the Caber

This is definitely one of the most peculiar Scottish activities! Tossing the caber is one of the sports that take place at a Highland Games event. If you come to study here during our summer you may be able to go to a Highland Games. Highland Games, which originated in the Scottish Highlands and are now celebrated all over the world, are a wonderful day out, involving Highland dancing, bagpipe music and various athletic events. We’ll write about Highland Games in another blog soon.

Tossing the caber is a ‘heavyweight’ sport. It’s for large, very strong men, who have to pick up and then ‘toss’ a long, very heavy wooden pole, called a caber. In fact, it’s a tree trunk that has been cut and had the branches trimmed off it. The length of the caber can be from 16 feet to 22 feet (about 4.8 – 6.7 metres). One end is trimmed so that it’s slightly smaller than the other.

The caber is held upright and the thrower cups his hands under the end and lifts it up vertically, before ‘tossing’ it forwards. It’s not a question of throwing it as far as you can: you also have to try to ‘toss’ it so it goes in a straight line in front of you (imagine it going straight out like 12.00 on a clock). Marks are awarded for how straight you toss it. The distance it goes is not actually important and no marks are awarded for this.

It’s also very difficult, as this YouTube video, from a Highland Games in Nova Scotia in Canada, shows!

Welcome to our newest agent – from Taiwan

A warm welcome to Jocelyn Lin
– our new Agent from Taiwan!

Although we know that a lot of our students Google us and find out more information about the School from our website, we also know that a lot of our students come to us from agents in their  home countries.   That’s why we are always pleased when we start to work with a new agent.

Andrew Lennox, the School’s President, recently met with Jocelyn Lin, our latest agent in Taiwan, in our Edinburgh office.

Jocelyn told Andrew, “Please accept my great gratitude for all your kind help. I do appreciate it and am very much looking forward to co-operating with you and your Schools.”

Thank you Jocelyn – we are really looking forward to working with you and we hope that we’ll see some students arriving from Taiwan to study at our Schools in Scotland in the very near future.

Some unusual Scottish “Traditions” – Haggis Hurling

Most people who come to study at Global School of English know that haggis is the one food for which Scotland is most famous. For those who don’t know, a haggis (several haggis are pictured here) is a sort-of sausage, a minced mixture of sheep heart, lung, oatmeal and seasoning wrapped in a sheep’s stomach. It’s definitely not suitable for vegetarians, but for those who do eat meat it is very tasty indeed. However, not many of our students know that we do other things as well as eat it!

Haggis hurling is exactly what it sounds like – hurling (throwing) a haggis. Although it has been claimed to be an ancient ‘sport’, in reality it is a modern invention, going back to the 1970s when an advert was placed in a newspaper at the time of the Gathering of the Clans (historic family groups under the same name, such as the Clan MacLeod or the Clan Campbell) in Edinburgh. This advert announced a ‘revival’ of the ancient Scottish sport of haggis hurling. The intention was simply to see who can throw a haggis the furthest.

Nowadays, there is even a World Haggis Hurling Championship, with all the money earned going to charity. The ‘sport’ has strict rules: the haggis must be cooked and of a specific weight; it must be inspected to make sure it is a proper haggis, with all the traditional ingredients; and when it has been thrown it must remain intact when it lands.

The most recent annual competition took place in Ayrshire, south of Glasgow, at the place where Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, was born. This year it was in January and a new world record was set, as you can see in this YouTube video. Haggis hurling has become famous in different countries, with Canada and Australia also holding competitions. Even if you don’t manage to see haggis hurling competition taking place when you are studying in Scotland, you should (unless you are a vegetarian or vegan), try to eat it at least once when you are here!

Some unusual Scottish “Traditions” – the Moffat Sheep Race!


The town of Moffat in the Scottish Borders (south of Edinburgh and Glasgow and north of the border with England) has a long-standing association with sheep. The hills around Moffat have lots of farms with lots of sheep and there is even a huge statute of a ram (a male sheep) in the town’s Market Place.

A few years ago, it was decided to have an annual sheep race through the streets of the town and this has proved so popular that many visitors come to see it. As well as the sheep race, which you can see on this YouTube video, there is a farmers’ market where local produce is sold.

The sheep race with knitted jockeys on their backs and there are several races held before the winners in each of these compete in a Grand Final. The ‘jockeys’ are very colourful creations, as you can see in the video. Some people place bets on which sheep they think will win (which we think must be a real lottery!) and the whole event is a great day out.

This year’s Sheep Race is being held on Sunday the 13th of August and you can find more details on the official website and Facebook page.  If you would like to go to see the Sheep Race, it only takes about an hour and half to travel to Moffat from Edinburgh by road.

Some unusual Scottish Traditions – the Deep Fried Mars Bar


Most people across the world know the Mars Bar (see picture above). It was “invented” in 1932, in the town of Slough, England, by an American called Forrester Mars. Since then it has become one of the most popular snack bars or sweets (or candy bars as the Americans call them) in the world.

People in Scotland are famous for having a “sweet tooth” (this means we like sweet, sugary foods) so Mars Bars are very popular here. However, in 1995, a fish and chip* shop in Stonehaven, in north-east Scotland, decided to deep-fry Mars Bars and sell them to customers. This means coating the Mars Bar in batter (a mixture of flour, eggs and milk) and then frying them under very hot fat or oil (see picture below).

Although these Deep Fried Mars Bars attracted a lot of publicity in local newspapers they never really became very popular until they began to attract the attention of big newspapers and TV stations. The combination of sugar, chocolate and deep-frying means that they are VERY unhealthy (and very sweet and sticky). You can get them at a number of fish and chip shops, especially in Edinburgh, and while we wouldn’t actually recommend them, one probably will not do you too much harm. However, depending on your religion, be aware that some fish and chip shops use beef fat to deep-fry their products.

 

* If you haven’t had fish and chips, most of our students all love them!

 

Swiss cheeses, Scotch mist, ghosts and Nessie!

Fransoise Loup, Brigitte Chanson and Katia Nidegger are the leaders of a group of Swiss young learners who recently spent a week in Edinburgh with Hamilton School of English. They live in Lausanne (by Lake Geneva) in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and had previously brought another group to Scotland, so this wasn’t a new experience for them (although it obviously was for most of their students!). We met in Global School of English in Edinburgh while the students were in classes there and had an interesting chat about Scotland and Switzerland.

Most Swiss associate Scotland with whisky, rain, kilts, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) and, perhaps slightly surprisingly, ghosts and tattoos. The students in this group were aware of Edinburgh and some aspects of its history, including Greyfriars’ Bobby, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and, of course, JK Rowling and the Elephant House café (where she began writing the Harry Potter books!).

Despite everyone’s concerns about the weather, since the Swiss Group had arrived, the sun had shone almost unceasingly. There had been no sign of ‘Scotch Mist’, that persistent light rain for which the country is famous. Instead, for virtually every day of their stay in Scotland, the sun had shone and the weather had been extremely pleasant and warm. This made it much easier for the students to enjoy a number of interesting excursions, to see, amongst other things, the Royal Mile, the Castle, the statute of Greyfriars’ Bobby and, naturally, to go to the Elephant House for a cup of coffee and a cake or two.

Their students are studying English at an intermediate level and all three of the leaders were unanimous in their praise for the School and the teachers (“good, very good, and in a nice building that’s more like a house than a school”). They also noted that the host families were excellent.

We then chatted about some of the differences between Switzerland and Scotland. The biggest difference for the Swiss is that prices are much cheaper here than they are in Switzerland, closely followed by the fact that (for them), we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road here! Also on the roads, some of the students had not seen ‘double-decker’ buses before, as in Europe buses tend to be ‘single-decker’.   As well as being used for public transport, some double decker buses in Edinburgh are used to advertise the ‘Ghost Tours’ of the city (see picture).

Food is different too. We discussed the merits of Scottish haggis and Swiss Gruyere and Emmental cheeses (all very nice!) and also the fish and chips, which many students from all over the world say is the meal they like best when they come to Scotland.

In French-speaking Switzerland, children at school learn German first and then English second. Apparently, they find English easier, helped by the fact that classical languages (Latin and Greek – which form the roots of many English words and grammar) are still popular school subjects there. Moreover, western culture, especially pop/rock music, is underpinned by the English language, which makes it more appealing to many young Swiss students than German.

Finally, we discussed the benefits of coming to study in Edinburgh as opposed to London, where many overseas students go to learn English. The leaders said that one of the main reasons they come back to Scotland is that it’s different from London. In particular, it’s less expensive and also a lot quieter than the UK’s capital city. All of which means they expect to be coming back again with another group in the future!

What do our students REALLY think of Global School?

When students and agents are considering which school of English to study at in the UK, they take a lot of different things into account. Is the school accredited, is it in a big city, does it have a programme of events and activities, is it a cheap place to live and study and, of course, does it have a good reputation for the quality of its facilities and teachers?

It is, of course, easy for any school to make claims about the city in which it’s based or its programme of activities, but, important as these are, the key factor in any decision to come to the UK to learn English is the quality of the school and the teaching it provides. Reputations are hard won, and equally hard to maintain.

To that end, Global School of English in Edinburgh is not just subject to the full round of official inspections, but we also make a point of asking our students to fill in a quarterly survey, where they can be as honest as they like about their experiences with us.

Our last survey covers the first quarter of 2017, from January to March, and we’re delighted to say that we have received excellent reviews and comments from our students. The full details are shown below, but, briefly, 100% of our students either agree or strongly agree that their English has improved after studying here, 100% like our teaching style and 96% of our students would recommend us.

 

Some students added comments. A representative sample of these is shown below.

Great method for teaching. Kind. Very good! Thanks! (Colombia)

Great and fun. (Spain)

The best! (Thailand)

Very friendly teachers and helpful office staff. ( Switzerland)

I am very satisfied with all the teachers. (Russia)

I really love the Global staff. Global School is the best school in Edinburgh. Great prices, great teaching and an amazing staff! (Italy)

 

Nice city, nice flowers and gardens, great teachers – and four seasons in one day.

Although Veronika Shirobokva (pictured here with Scottie, the School mascot) has travelled extensively in Europe and also visited the UAE, this is the first time she’s ever been to Scotland and the UK. Veronika has recently come to Global School for two weeks after winning a British Council competition in her native Russia.

She likes Edinburgh, but finds the Scottish weather very different from what she’s used to in Russia. Veronika lives in Izhersk, about 1,000 miles east of Moscow, so she’s used to much colder weather than we get here. At home she says that you just put a coat on and keep it on all day, but here the weather changes during the day, so you can start with a coat and then have to take it off as the weather warms up, then put it on again if it starts to rain. At this point, I told her about the English expression, “four seasons in one day”. She laughed and wrote it down so she could remember it!

Veronika is a vegan, so we discussed how easy it is to get vegan food in Scotland. She said she brought some of her own supplies, “just in case”, but in fact she can get almost everything that she wants here. That’s good news if you are a vegan or vegetarian or eat only halal or kosher. We cater for all tastes here!

She had only been in Edinburgh for a few days when we met, but she has had the chance to walk around and look at the parks and gardens in the city. Veronika particularly likes nature and said she really liked strolling about in Princes Street Gardens, looking at the flowers. Over the next few days she hopes to see the Castle and some of the other buildings, but she did admit she’s more interested in the natural world rather than history so she would probably spend more time in the gardens than in museums. However, she has also found some very good second hand bookshops and bought some interesting books.

She really likes the School, telling me, “I love my teacher, she’s very nice and we’ve connected well. Also, the fact that there are only a few students in the advanced class means that we get lots of time to talk and discuss a whole range of different issues”.

 

Interview by Alastair Blair