Scottish Wedding Theme
Newsroom : Wedding Theme Newsroom Home : November 2010

November 1, 2010 06:18 - November Highland Games & Events

November signals a closing down of the year, with the temperatures dropping along with the last of the leaves. Yet there’s still some games to attend before winter sets in.

In many locations this is a last chance to try all those Scottish specialty treats, hear the pipes a-skirlin’ and see those beautiful tartan kilts swaying in step with a man’s stride.

  • November 2, Castle Hill, New South Wales, Australia ~ Combined Scottish Highland Gathering
  • November 5 to 7, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia ~ Beechworth Celtic Festival

    Clydesdale horse courtesy
    Beechworth Celtic Festival

    Beechworth Festival Parade courtesy Beechworth Celtic Festival

  • November 5 to 7, Tucson, Arizona ~ Tuscon Celtic Festival and Scottish Games
  • November 6, Hendersonville, North Carolina ~ Foothills Highland Games

    Crimean Was Soldiers Quilt courtesy
    Foothills Highland Games

    Known as Soldiers Quilts and Crimean Quilts, convalescing soldiers pieced this type of quilt, between 1854 and 1856. This particular quilt measures 8’ x 10’ and is made of uniform wool.

    The owners of this quilt believe a Welsh soldier, B. Brandon, created this quilt. It will be on display by Her Britannic Majesty’s Own re-enacting group at the Foothill Highland Games.

  • November 6 to 7, Austin, Texas ~ Austin Celtic Festival
  • November 11 to 14, Armagh, Northern Ireland ~ William Kennedy International Piping Festival
  • November 12 to 13, Yachats, Oregon ~ Yachats Celtic Festival
  • November 12 to 14, Salado, Texas ~ Scottish Clan Gathering & Highland Games
  • November 12 to 14, Timonium, Maryland ~ Baltimore Irish Festival
  • November 13, Armadale, Western Australia, Australia ~ Armadale Highland Gathering and Cycle Classic

    Highland Cattle courtesy
    Armadale Highland Gathering

  • November 13 to 14, Harrison County, Mississippi ~ Highland and Islands Scottish Games

    Some interesting events include demonstrations of sheep dog herding and blacksmithing, re-enacting a Medieval village, a Celtic Canine dog show, and a Confederate Living History presentation.

  • November 13 to 20, Isle of Man ~ Cooish Inter-Gaelic Festival
  • November 19 to 21, Madisonville, Louisiana ~ Celtic Nations Heritage Festival
  • November 20, Dunedin, Florida ~ Dunedin Celtic Festival
  • November 28, Concord, New Hampshire ~ Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire 2010 Gala Concert

For more detailed information about the listed events, go to

Coming Tuesday, the movie, I Know Where I’m Going!

November 2, 2010 10:09 - I Know Where I’m Going! ~ Part I, The Movie

Last Weekend, I watched the movie I Know Where I’m Going! via Netflix. I selected the movie as it took place in The Hebrides and was an instant play.

Much to my delight, I wasn’t disappointed. All through the movie I kept trying to place Wendy Hiller, the female lead actress.

Wendy Hiller courtesy Wikipedia

I’d seen her, as a much older character in Anne of Green Gables where she played Mrs. Harris, the mother of Anne’s love interest. She also played Princess Dragomiroff in Murder on the Orient Express. Although she had a long and varied career on the London stage and in movies, these two are the only productions I’d seen her in.

The male lead was Roger Livesey, most renowned for his role in The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp.

Roger Livesey courtesy Wikipedia

Filmed in 1945, I Know Where I’m Going! takes place mostly on the isle of Mull and The Strait of Corryvrecken, with an attempt to reach Kiloran, a fictional isle which was based on the isle of Colonsay. Even the name Kiloran is taken from a bay on Colonsay.

The story centers around a fashionable, head-strong, middle class woman who has determined to move up in the world by marrying an older, wealthy man she believes to be the Laird of Kiloran. She travels by train from Manchester to Oban, then crosses to the Isle of Mull, where a gale prevents her crossing to Kiloran for her wedding day. Through her own head-strong decisions she has to face the results of her own choices and decide what is truly important in life.

While stranded on Mull, she visit’s the Robinsons, a bored, wealthy family, staying on Mull, presumably to escape the war. A young Petula Clark, in her fourth movie role, plays their daughter.

The closing scene is filmed at Moy Castle, a ruin on the Isle of Mull.

Moy Castle ruins courtesy Scotland the Movie

Tomorrow, more about the movie as a cult classic…

November 3, 2010 07:46 - I Know Where I’m Going! ~ Part II, A Cult Classic

I Know Where I’m Going! Courtesy Wikipedia

The movie has become a cult classic for a combination of reasons, and deservedly so.

  • Filmed in black and white, due to the shortage of colored film during World War II, the entire movie was shot without the use of a light meter.

  • As Joan Webster attempts to cross the water to Kiloran for her wedding, the engine on the small boat dies, while the current carries the boat closer and closer into the Corryvreckan whirlpool. There are close-up, mid-range and distance shots of the whirlpool and the drifting boat. Some of these shots were taken with a hand held camera from another small boat. Others were mock-ups in the studio. These were joined together, creating a suspenseful realistic danger.

    Footage was shot at Corryvreckan, between the isles of Scarba and Jura, and the Gray Dogs, or Bealach a'Choin Ghlais, between Scarba and Lunga. More about Corryvrecken, the facts and the legend surrounding it, will follow tomorrow.

  • One scene on Mull is a country ceilidh celebrating a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.

    I Know Where I’m Going!
    Ceilidh scene courtesy Wikipedia

    Not only can you see ceilidh dancing, but a wonderful performance of puirt a beul, or mouth music. Macaphee Turn the Cattle was performed by members of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, Boyd Stevens, Maxwell Kennedy and Jean Houston. More about mouth music on Friday.

    The traditional ballad, I Know Where I’m Going, was the movie’s theme song, while other traditional tunes were also used. Both an old Scottish and Irish ballad, it’s the sad lament by a woman who has everything but marriage to her love. Next Monday’s blog will feature the ballad.

  • Film critic Barry Norman lists the movie in his 100 Greatest Films of All Time.

  • The Times commended the film’s dialogue and the glorious outdoor photography.

    One example is a waterfall scene, possibly filmed the lower Eas Fors Falls. The name bears an explanation. Eas is Gaelic for waterfall. Fors is Norse for waterfall. So the name means waterfall, waterfall, waterfall. Though there are an upper, middle, and lower falls, so the name may be appropriate.

    Eas Fors Waterfall courtesy Explore the Isle of Mull

  • Martin Scorsese wrote "I reached the point of thinking there were no more masterpieces to discover, until I saw I Know Where I’m Going!.

  • Raymond Chandler, American born, English raised poet, novelist, and critic, best known for his Philip Marlowe detective stories, wrote, "I've never seen a picture which smelled of the wind and rain in quite this way nor one which so beautifully exploited the kind of scenery people actually live with, rather than the kind which is commercialized as a show place."

Tomorrow, learn more about the Corryvreckan whirlpool…

November 4, 2010 06:06 - I Know Where I’m Going! ~ Part III, Corryvrecken Whirlpool

While watching I Know Where I’m Going! and seeing what the Corryvrecken whirlpool can do, I wanted to learn more about this natural marvel.

Corryvrecken Whirlpool Movie Closeup
Scotland the Movie

Coire Bhreacain, or the Gulf of Corryvwrecken, means cauldron of the specked sea, or cauldron of the plaid. Also called a strait, it runs between the Hebrides isles of Jura and Scarba, off the west coast of Scotland.

The rare underwater topography include deep holes, humps, and reefs. Added to this the tidal race between strong Atlantic currents and the firth flowing into the channel creates the third largest whirlpool in the world.

Corryvrecken Whirlpool courtesy
Whirlpool Scotland

Within the channel a pinnacle rises from a depth of over 200 feet to only 90 feet. During a full Spring tide, combined with inflow from the Firth of Lorne, waves can rise to over 30 feet, with the resulting roar heard 10 miles away. With any serious wind from the west, the pinnacle causes ever higher standing waves.

Needless to say, the whirlpool has become a tourist location, with several boats offering tours and a published tidal schedule for planning a visit.

Going back to the meaning of the channel’s name, Cauldron of the Plaid, legends surround the name. These can be found at Whirlpool Scotland Cailleach and Legends.

King’s Cave, seen below, plays a part in the legends.

Courtesy Whirlpool Scotland

Courtesy Whirlpool Scotland

Tomorrow, the mouth music of Scotland…

November 5, 2010 07:20 - I Know Where I’m Going ~ Part IV, Mouth Music

Within the movie, the Campbell’s anniversary ceilidh included a puirt a beul, better known as mouth music, lilting, diddling, jigging, chin music, or cheek music.

In mouth music the lyrics are secondary to the rhythm and the sound of the song‘s theme, not the musical rhythm. The words can be meaningless or nonsensical. The singing is usually light-hearted.

In the movie, I Know Where I’m Going members of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir perform "Macaphee Turn the Cattle".

Macaphee Turn the Cattle

Macaphee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Macaphee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Macaphee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Here and there and everywhere,
The cows are in the corn.

A waiting at the shielin o mhairi ban machree.
Waiting at the shielin, oh far away to sea.
Hame will come the bonny boats,
Mhairi ban machree.
Hame will come the bonny lads, hi ho and hee.

Macaphee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Macaphee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Macafee turn the cattle roon loch a forum.
Here and there and everywhere,
The cows are in the corn.

Word meanings:
Machree ~ of my heart, an endearment, darling
Mhairi ~ Mary
Roon ~ round, the border or selvage of a web of cloth, a strip of cloth
Sheilin ~ a small house or hut, often within an enclosure, found in upland regions and which served as temporary summer accommodation for herders.

A mouth music competition is called a mod, which also describes a meeting or gathering.

Monday, the lyrics the ancient ballad, "I Know Where I’m Going", will be published…

November 8, 2010 07:15 - I Know Where I’m Going ~ Part V, The Ballad

"I Know Where I'm Going" is a traditional Scottish and Irish ballad about a woman pining for her "bonnie" lover, Johnny.

When Hootenannies were at their heyday in the early 1960’s, a session wasn’t complete without this being sung by the crowd. That’s when I learned the ballad and have sung and played it often ever since, even as a lullaby.

Recordings have been made by The Clancy Brothers, The New Christy Minstrels, Judy Collins, The Weavers, Barbara Dane, The Highwaymen, Kathleen Ferrier, Burl Ives, Odetta, and Harry Belafonte.

I Know Where I'm Going

I know where I'm goin' and I know who's goin' with me
I know who I love, But the dear knows who I'll marry.

I have stockings of silk, shoes of fine green leather,
Combs to buckle my hair, And a ring for every finger.

Some say he's black [dark-skinned], but I say he's bonny,
The fairest of them all, My handsome, winsome Johnny.

Feather beds are soft, and painted rooms are bonny,
But I would leave them all, To go with my love Johnny.

I know where I'm goin', and I know who's goin' with me
I know who I love, But the dear knows who I'll marry.

You can listen to one rendition, sung by Maureen Hegerty, at Martin Dardis .

Other more casual renditions can be found on You Tube.

Tomorrow, some autumn Pumpkin Coasters for Wedding Favors…

November 9, 2010 07:29 - Pumpkin Coaster Set

When autumn rolls around, there’s so many varied, yet traditional, decorations that can be used at your ceremony and reception.

Corn stalks and cornucopias are traditional both in the U.S. and as heraldic symbols.

Pumpkins and squash abound for decorating…live ones, terra cotta, porcelain, and paper mache. They come in all sizes, shapes, and fall colors.

One idea for guest favors is a pumpkin coaster set, which you can easily sculpt from oven-bake clay, paint in the shades of autumn, and varnish. The coaster sets could be painted in any number of craft paint choices, not just flat orange.

As well as the orange colors, you could add depth and pizzazz with a pearlescent overlay, a pearlescent wash for highlights, or two-toned with a gold underlay and translucent wash over. Plus a myriad of combinations you can come up with that are likely far more individualized to your taste and skill level.

Pumpkin Coasters courtesy
AOK Corral

Though you’d need lots of lead time to make enough for wedding favors, your thank you gift to your guests would be long remembered and put to good use.

And each year, as autumn rolled around, and your friends and family got out their fall decorations, they’d also be reminded of your wedding.

Aok Corral was the source for this project and has complete, detailed instructions.

You could also adapt the idea for squash, gourds, or apples. Beehives, with a bee or two buzzing around, as blogged on February 4th to the 12, 2010, could also be fashioned into coasters.

Tomorrow, another idea borrowed from Halloween…

November 10, 2010 08:51 - Wedding Favor Treat Bags

Treat Bags courtesy AOK Corral

Though intended for Halloween, why not expand the idea of these treat bags to a Scottish theme…a Celtic knot, a thistle, white heather, a clan badge, the Saltire flag, the Scottish wedding good omens, your wedding flowers. As you can quickly see, the list of ideas quickly becomes endless.

These treat bags can be quickly stitched using plastic canvas and yarn. And there’s also a ton of cross-stitch patterns available on line and many are free. Or you can also design your own, using graph paper.

Celtic knot designs can be created using Aon Celtic’s free software.

They also offer a selection of cross stitch patterns including

  • Eternity Knot Border
  • Trinity Knot Border
  • Claddagh
  • Celtic Crosses
  • Triangle Knot Border
  • Spiral Border
  • Kells Bird

Both the 1,2,3’s of plastic canvas cross-stitching and specific instructions for the Treat Bags, including the stitch pattern for the sides, can be found at A OK Corral.

Tomorrow, quaichs from Kiltmakers of Aberdeen…

November 11, 2010 09:25 - Kiltmakers ~ Quaichs and More

Kiltmakers, as part of Alex Scott & Co Ltd, in Aberdeen, contacted me with information about their line of quaichs, with sizes ranging from 1.8" to 5" in diameter.

Thistle Quaich courtesy Kiltmakers

As well as pewter quaichs, they also offer one carved from oxhorn.

One design includes a "Thank you for all your help in making this day the happiest day of our lives" engraving, suitable as a thank you gift for those who helped on your special day. Other words can be engraved on their quaichs.

The top of their quaich line includes cairngorm inlays on the handles, a lion crest, and a wooden plinth to display the quaich.

Lion Crest Quaich courtesy Kiltmakers

As I perused their website I found much, much more.

Early Alex Scott flyer courtesy Kiltmakers

Beginning as kilt makers in 1925, they have expanded into a complete line of Highland wear for men, women, and children; gifts for the individual and the household; jewelry; and more.

Among their other offerings are

  • Flasks with engraved Scottish thistle, stag, Celtic knot, rampant lion, or piper designs
  • Tankards nickel plated with a selection of engravings. More intriguing for me is the oxhorn tankard, carved and polished using the techniques that have evolved over the centuries in Scotland.

    Oxhorn Tankard courtesy Kiltmakers

  • Pewter picture frames featuring a selection of Celtic knot work
  • Thomas Joseph’s humorous artwork available as coasters, calendars, tote bags, cross-stitch kits, placemats, Christmas cards, mugs, keyrings, art prints, and Christmas cards ~ these are a real hoot!

    Thomas Joseph Feet Up coaster courtesy Kiltmakers

  • Scottish themed paper napkins
  • Christmas decorations

    Thistle Christmas Decoration courtesy Kiltmakers

  • And many others

Take a look at gifts for your wedding, Christmas, and many other occasions.

Tomorrow, Ae Fond Kiss, by Robert Burns…

November 12, 2010 07:33 - Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns

Considered one of the greatest love songs ever written, Burns wrote it for either Nancy, aka Agnes, McLehose, whom he met in Edinburgh.

Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy
But to see her was to love her;
Love but her, and love for ever.

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweeli alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Robert Burns

A few samples of the song in varying vocal ranges and instruments, as found on You Tube ~

Karen Matheson with Paul Brady

Andy Stewart

Sarena Paton and Piper

Though a plug for Morley Harps with some audio overlay, you can here a snippet of this lovely old tune played on the harp by Paula Smith

Coming Monday, Highland Soap Company’s body and bath products…

November 15, 2010 10:30 - Highland Soap Company ~ Pampered Gifts from the Highlands

With retail shops in Fort William and Spean Bridge, the Highland Soap Company specializes in natural, organic body products. The packaging is kept simple, minimal, and recyclable.

The soaps are handmade, using traditional processes, with pure ingredients that are mild and moisturizing for sensitive, dry skin.

The ingredients used by Highland Soap Company are either grown organically or ethically, while others are wild-harvested. And, of course, all contain pure, local Highland water.

With such ingredients and processing, each bar nourishes and moisturizes the skin, while producing a rich creamy lather. As well as soaps, Highland Soap Company offers lotions, lip balm, hair care products, gift boxes, and wedding favors.

Soap fragrances, with links to explain the purpose of each ingredient ~

Highland Soaps courtesy Highland Soap Company

  • Bog Myrtle and Lemon Balm
  • Gardeners Hand Soap
  • Hebridean Seaweed
  • Highland Honey
  • Highland Lavender
  • Highland Lavender and Tea Tree
  • Lemongrass and Ginger
  • Rose Geranium and Lavender
  • Rosehip and Patchouli
  • Rosemary and Wild Nettle
  • Scots Pine, Orange and Patchouli
  • Scottish Honeysuckle and Milk Thistle
  • Sweet Orange and Cinnamon

    Sweet Orange and Cinnamon Soap courtesy Highland Soap Company

    Oranges and the British Isles have marched through history together. Read about the children’s rhyme Oranges n’ Lemons in the September 14 to 16, 2010 blogs.

    Also Janet Keiller’s Orange Marmalade, April 15, 2008, tells of saving a shipment of oranges and the beginnings of what has become an international favorite.

  • Wild Nettle and Heather
  • Wild Scottish Rose

The soap line also includes shaving soap, and hand wash, while the body products include body creams, body lotions, body scrubs, and lip balm. Each are offered in selection of their unique fragrances.

Tomorrow, Highland Soap’s organic soaps, other bath and body products, candles, and teas, all with a Highland flavor…

November 16, 2010 08:44 - More Products from Highland Soap Company

Highland Soap Company’s Bath and Body line also includes Body Wash, Bubble Bath, Bath Bombes, and Butter Bath Melts in many of their soap fragrances. Some more fragrances are Marigold and Geranium, Rose and Frankincense, and Cupcake, available as bombes and melts.

Hair care products include liquid and bar shampoos, conditioners, and gift sets.

A separate line of organic soaps include

  • Bergamot and Rooibos Tea
  • Bog Myrtle
  • Hebridean Seaweed
  • Highland Lavender
  • Highland Lavender and Tea Tree
  • Juniper Berry and Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Mandarin and Sweet Orange
  • Mango Butter
  • Rose and Patchouli
  • Rose and Ylang Ylang
  • Sandalwood
  • Scottish Heater
  • Scottish Honeysuckle
  • Sweet Orange and Cinnamon
  • Tea Tree and Peppermint

    Tea Tree and Peppermint Soap courtesy Highland Soap Company

  • White Jasmine
  • Wild Scottish Strawberry

Candles by Shearer Candles in the Highland Collection, presented in tartan gift boxes, include ~

  • Cranachan ~ a delicious Scottish dessert combining red berries, mint and just a hint of toasted oatmeal.
  • Marsh Orchid, a rare wildflower found only in the Western Isles
  • Quaich Friendship
  • Robert Burns

    Highland Collection Robert Burns candle
    courtesy Highland Soap Company

  • Ae Fond Kiss

    These last three being a blend of delicate white heather and Highland honey, in different containers. Robert Burns is glass etched with the poem Ae Fond Kiss, published last Friday.

The soy wax candles, made by Highland Soap Company, in a selection of essential oil fragrances, are presented in whisky glasses.

Gift sets are available in a variety of containers while bath accessories include natural brushes, loofahs, sponges and a natural deodorant.

A line of teas, by Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company, are available boxed or in decorative tea caddy tins.

Heather Tea Caddy courtesy Highland Soap Company

Bath Melts, soaps, and lip balms are also specially packaged as wedding favors in organza bags or gift boxes with a choice of ribbons and flowers.

Heather Soap wedding favor courtesy Highland Soap Company

Their entire line can be reviewed at Highland Soap Company.

Coming tomorrow, John West, an immigrant to Oregon…

November 17, 2010 12:34 - Bog Myrtle

Though I said today would be about James West of Oregon, he will have to wait until tomorrow, for I‘ve stumbled upon Bog Myrtle and it ties in with the Highland Soap Company products published the last two days.

Known in England as sweet gale, the scientific name is Myrica gale. We also know it as sweet willow or buck bean.

Myrica Gale courtesy Wikipedia

Bog Myrtle grows at higher altitudes on moors, in bogs, alongside rivers and the edges of lochs.

The Campbells have worn bog myrtle as their clan badge for generations.

Before hops, brewers included bog myrtle in their beers for flavoring and as a preservative. Today micro breweries are including Bog Myrtle in their heather ales.

Housewives in the Highlands have slipped fragrant bog myrtle leaves in their beds, warding off midges, fleas, and other biting insects. Out on the moors, the Highlanders could simply crush a few leaves, rubbing them on the clothes and exposed skin, for an effective insect repellent.

Today, they can buy it ready processed and on the shelf from Totally Herby of Scotland.

The sweetly fragrant plant was also a traditional ingredient in Royal Wedding bouquets and perfumery.

The Vikings used bog myrtle for depression, poor memory, general well being, and to make their warriors more aggressive.

Modern scientists have found it four times more effective than tea tree oil for the treatment of acne. Current research is being conducted regarding it’s anti-aging products for use in cosmetics and facial products.

In this century, planned growth and production of bog myrtle has begun, bringing a new industry to Scotland. Boots Chemical in England has been working with Highland Natural Products which went into receivership.

Essentially Scottish Botanicals, developers of plant based extracts, of Inverness, has taken over the research and development, with investment from an American-based company, Technology Crop International.

Though 50 hectares in plantations were planted in Argyll and the Spey Valley, the new owners are advertising for landowners near Inverness who will allow harvesting of their bog myrtle. Good news for the landowners, bog myrtle is worth several hundred pounds per hectare vs. sheep farming which earns 17 pounds per hectare.

Good news for brides on this side of the Atlantic, bog myrtle also grows in North America from New England to Wisconsin and the Pacific Northwest.

So, if you’re a Campbell or just plain like the idea, it can be added to your bridal bouquet, just like the Royals of Britain. Or the fragrant leaves could be sprinkled on your reception tables.

Tomorrow, James West and his achievements…

November 18, 2010 11:58 - Captain John West of Scotland and Oregon

Born in West Lothian in 1809, John immigrated from the Edinburgh area to Canada, where he apprenticed himself as a millwright. In 1849 he tried his luck in the California gold rush, then in 1850, he arrived in Astoria, Oregon.

With his wife, they settled a 640 acre claim on the Columbia River in 1853. He built a steam-powered saw mill in the early 1860’s and was exporting lumber to Australia by 1868. In this time frame, Westport, Oregon, grew around his mill.

Though the family sold the sawmill in the early 1900’s, the Westport Lumber Company continued production until 1956.

After building and operating a saw mill and exporting lumber, he ran the general store and post office. More importantly, Captain John built and managed a salmon cannery. Exporting his salmon to the British Isles as early as 1857, he became a notable seafood processor and distributor around the globe.

With several others, he founded the Westport Cannery, the first on the Oregon shore of the Columbia River. In the 1873 season, they packed 22,000 cases of salmon. Packing canned salmon peaked in the 1880’s. In 1883 39 canneries sat along the Columbia River, supported by 1,700 commercial fishermen.

As an inventor, like many Scotsmen before and after, he contributed an automated can filling machine. He was also the first on the Columbia River to utilize salmon for oil and fishmeal by-products.

In the off-season, he kept his cannery and workers employed canning beef, mutton, and blackberries.

Today, his legacy lives on as John West Foods Ltd. of Liverpool, England.

As a subsidiary of H.J. Heinz Company, the West Food line has sold canned fish, fruit, vegetables, and meat around the globe. Heinz has since sold their European food interests to MW Brands of France.

Though John West died in 1888 at the age of 79, many of his descendents still live in Oregon.

Coming tomorrow, John West Foods today…

November 19, 2010 06:10 - The John West Product Line of Today

The John West Company produces 13 types of fish with 110 different products, including ~

  • Brisling and sild
    Brisling small lightly smoked
    Sild from the west coast of Scotland, Scandinavian name for a small herring
  • Herrings and kippers
  • Light lunch ~ small compact tuna and salmon meals
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • No Drain Tuna
  • Pate
  • Reserve Range of premium salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Specialty fish and shellfish, including Crab, Dressed Lobster, Anchovies, Baby Clams, Caviar, Herring Roe and Cod Roe
  • Weight watchers Range including 5 complete meals

John West canned products are sold in 38 markets throughout Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, North and South America.

Their advertising has also become world famous, with one mottos being,
It's the fish John West rejects that make John West the best.

Another video campaign, involving a fisherman and a bear,went viral, eventually being viewed 300 million times, making it the sixth most viewed online video.

Filmed at the Invercauld Estate, near Balmoral, on the River Dee in the Scottish Highlands, the commercial features a fish man wresting a fresh salmon from a bear. The ad won many awards, in England and internationally.

The recipes featured on the company website are innovative, healthy, and a taste treat. James Martin, an English chef who’s been appearing on television since 1996, has created recipes for John West. You might recognize his name from his program, Stately Suppers. Reading through his recipes for John West, he has truly taken the menial canned fish staples and risen them to star recipes.

His recipes include

  • Mackerel in black bean sauce
  • Grilled sardines with caramelized red onions and basil
  • Pan roasted mackerel with courgettes (zucchini) and red peppers
  • Sardines on pastry
  • Grilled sardines with crushed new potatoes and grain mustard
  • Warm peri peri sardines

The company Executive Chef, C. J. Jackson, has also created expert recipes for the company website. The meals can be searched by type of fish, meal time and type, time constraints, healthy eating, and recipe of the month.

Among the No DrainTuna Recipes are

  • Tuna linguine
  • Tuna dauphinoise
  • Tuna and bean salad
  • Tuna, onion, and olive tart
  • Tuna green bean and pea salad
  • Peppery tuna mayo for sandwiches and baked potatoes

Other recipes include

  • Sardines, cress and hummus pita
  • Tuna, bacon and sweet corn fishcakes
  • Tuna and sweet corn panini
  • Thai salmon fish cakes
  • Smoked salmon, sundried tomato, and chive tagliatelle
  • Roast mackerel with watercress and oregano dressing
  • Plus many more

I’ve tried the Tuna, Bacon and Sweetcorn Fishcakes. Though I had a degree of trepidation, my curiosity and desire for something different won out. And am I glad it did, for they were wonderful and thoroughly enjoyed by my family.

For more information, including recipes, visit John West Company and enjoy!

As I close, I say, "Thank you, Stuart West, for introducing me to your family, a whole new arena of easy meal preparation, and a famous Scottish-American who helped build a brand name, while providing jobs for hundreds of people."

Beginning Monday, Rosewater and it’s many

Editor's Note: For corrections and additional information, refer to John West corrections, November 24, 2010

November 22, 2010 09:31 - Rose Water and Rose Syrup ~ Part I

After stumbling across Rose Water while in the Caribbean and wondering what to do with the bottle I lugged home with great care…and then doing a segment on roses in Scotland, it seemed appropriate to find uses with possible wedding connections.

Rose water is what’s left over after crushed rose petals are distilled for attar of roses or rose essential oil, used primarily for perfumery. The Damascus rose is preferred for high quality attar of roses.

Damascus rose courtesy Wikipedia

Avicenna of Persia, the foremost physician of the 11th century, is credited with discovering the process of extracting rose water. The Persians and Bulgarians further developed the process. A look at the specific name of rose water in Persian, Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Urdu, Telugu, and Bulgarian gives an idea of it’s widespread use.

Rose water is used in cosmetics, medical preparations, food, and religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.

As a more sacred use, water used to clean the Kaaba in Mecca combines water from the sacred Zamzam well and rose water. Some Hindu rituals also use rose water and does the Eastern Orthodox church.

With a very distinctive flavor, rose water is used in many dishes, particularly in sweets ~ including Turkish Delight. That’s the sweet leading to Edward’s downfall in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Iranians lightly flavor tea, ice cream, and cookies. Indians flavor milk and dairy based dishes such as rice pudding. Another favorite is Sweet Lassi, a drink made from yoghurt, sugar, fruit juices, and rose water.

Mint Lassi courtesy Wikipedia

A recipe for Rose Lassi ~

Serves 2

2 cups fresh yoghurt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rose syrup (or more if desired)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup water
10 -12 crushed ice cubes
10 -12 drops vanilla

Put all the ingredients in a blender
Blend until smooth and frothy
Serve chilled in tall glasses

In Malaysia and Singapore, rosewater is mixed with milk, sugar, and pink food coloring to make Bandung, a popular sweet drink.

Muslim chefs often substitute rose water for red wine and other alcoholic drinks in recipes.

Western Europeans flavor marzipan and madeleines with rose water and orange flower water. A cookie-like pastry, called Jumbles was popular during the Middle Ages. [see tomorrow for more information on Jumbles as Celtic Knots]. Rosewater was the favored flavor until the 19th century, when vanilla became readily available.

Due to prohibition of the traditional champagne spewed at the podium celebrations of Grand Prix races, in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, rose water is used for the celebration.

As a thirst quencher, the people of Lebanon and Palestine add rose water to their lemonade. In England, Rubicon Exotic Drinks offers a Rose Syrup drink.

Rose water has been used as a facial toner and is sometimes added into cosmetics, such as cold creams.

Rose syrup, extracted from rose petals, is best known in France. In the U.S., French rose syrup is used to make marshmallows and rose scones.

Tomorrow, Jumbals and Celtic knots…

November 23, 2010 07:00 - Rose Water Part II ~ Jumbals Cookies

A cookie-like pastry, called Jumbles, was popular during the Middle Ages. One reason for their popularity was their ability to travel well due to their hard, very dense nature. They could be stored up to a year without becoming stale.

Also known as gemmel, jambals, jemelloe, jumbles, jambles. jumbolis, jumbolds, jumballs, and knots, they were common in the British Isles.

It’s a simple recipe of nuts, flour, eggs, and sugar, boiled in water. In different areas, flavorings were vanilla, anise, caraway and rose water.

Often formed into rings or rolls before coking, the dough was also rolled out, then twisted into knots. This made them easier to bite and chew.

Jumbles were likely eaten on the Mayflower, possibly even in Jamestown. One famous recipe is credited to Martha Washington.

The word "jumble" is derived from the Latin gemel, meaning twin, because of their pretzel shape, thus leading to our English word meaning a mixture of stuff, originating c. 1530.

Tomorrow, a modern recipe for Jambals…

November 24, 2010 09:31 - Rose Water Part III, Jumbals Recipe

Here’s a modern recipe that yields 5 dozen pretzel shaped jumbals.

4 C. flour
2 C. sugar
1/3 C. ground almonds
13 Tbsp [8/10th cup] unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp rosewater
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white
½ to 2/3 C. cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Grease baking sheets or cover them with parchment paper
Combine the flour, sugar, and almonds in a bowl
Add the butter, egg, and rosewater
Mix together with a fork or your fingers until it resembles crumbs
Add cream a little at a time until you have a fairly stiff dough
Roll the dough into "snakes" and shape into scrolls, spirals, or knots
Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly browned
Cool on a rack

Naturally, for me, I immediately start visualizing them tied into a variety of Celtic knots. They could be used as table decorations and favors, with a note attached telling of their history.

Coming Monday, the Damascus Rose…

November 24, 2010 09:43 - Captain John West Corrections

From the blog published November 18 and 19, 2010, some corrections and suggestions have been submitted by Stuart West, a descendant of Captain John West. [Stuart has contacted me, correcting my misunderstanding for he is not a descendant of John West.] Plus some further information has come to my attention.

First a photo of Captain John West

Captain John West courtesy Wikipedia

After John West settled in Oregon, his brothers George, William, and Joseph soon joined him. It was actually George’s son, John, who invented the can filling machine, not Captain John West.

A family descendant, Robert West Lundeen, rose within Dow Chemical Company from researcher and development engineer to chairman of the board in 1982. Born in Astoria, Oregon, upon retirement he returned to Oregon and serves on the advisory board for the Oregon State University College of Engineering, of which he is a graduate.

Westport, Oregon, though unincorporated, does have a post office, established in 1863. John West was the first post master.

In 2009, an Oregon Historical Marker was placed at the Bradley State Scenic Viewpoint near Westport, commemorating Captain John West and Westport. Brian Aalberg, a fourth great-grandson of the captain, is credited with the marker. Here’s a scenic panorama from the viewpoint.

Bradley State Scenic Viewpoint courtesy Wikipedia

There’s one ferry left on the Lower Columbia River, connecting Cathlamet and Puget Island to Westport. The 10 minute ride spans the shipping channel on the Columbia River.

Westport-Cathlamet Ferry courtesy

Regarding the "Fisherman vs. bear" ad by the John West Company, in November 2006, the BBC reported the videos had been viewed over 300 million times, making it the sixth most viewed video in Britain.

Coming Monday, the Damascus rose…

November 29, 2010 10:38 - Rose Water Part IV ~ The Damascus Rose

There are conflicting dates about the introduction of Damascus Roses to the British Isles. Some claim the Crusaders returning in 1254 brought the rose to England. Others claim it was introduced during the reign ofHenry VII (1485 to 1509).

For our purposes it doesn’t really matter. Originally a shade of pink, the rose quickly became popular to display and scatter at weddings and festivities.

Damascus Rose courtesy Wikipedia

Of course, due to their strong, delicious scent, pomanders and potpourris came to contain Damascus rose petals and buds.

Gathered into organza bags, as wedding favors, they have replaced sugared almonds as the favorite perfumed keepsakes for wedding guests. Strewing the petals to decorate the reception tables is also popular. And many a bride now wears Damascus roses in her hair.

By soaking the rosebuds in water for three or four days, a rose essence is released. This can be added to bath water or used as a hair rinse. These both leave the skin and hair soft and fragrant.

Rose water is considered the most gentle of facial astringent toners for fair and dry skin. It is often an ingredient in anti-aging facial creams.

The oil of Damascus roses is therapeutic for the mind, relieving depression, nervous tension, and stress…which every bride and her mother can use.

In cooking, the Damascus rose is incorporated both as rose water and powdered petals. In Arabic countries, rose water has been sprinkled on almost all meat dishes, while the rose powder was added to sauces, yoghurts, and desserts.

Chicken with rose jam is a valued dish in Persian cuisine, while much of the Mediterranean still favors roses in their cuisines.

The variety of recipes using rose water and rose petals are almost endless. Tomorrow will give a peep at just a few, including crystallized rose petals…

November 30, 2010 08:58 - Rose Water Recipes

Rose Water Recipes

For those whose interest has been piqued, here’s a sampling of recipes

Rose Petal Jam
Printed from

Gently rinse the petals and remove the white petal ends.
Pack your petal firmly into a measuring cup. You'll need 2 cups for this recipe.
Cover the 2 cups of petals with 2 cups boiling water in a pan and simmer 10 minutes.
Strain the liquid and reserve the petals.
Add 2 3/4 cups sugar and 3 tablespoons honey to the water in which the petals were cooked and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes
Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice and the reserved petals and simmer 30 minutes more.
The rose petals will have dissolved.
Have your jelly jars ready. Bottle and seal.

Rose Petal Cream
Servings: 4

2 1/2 cups milk
3 TBSP sugar
3 drops triple strength rose water
2 tsp rennet
1/4 C. heavy cream
rose petals, sugared

Gently heat the milk and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, stirring constantly until the sugar has melted and the temp reaches 98.6F, or milk feels luke warm.
Stir rosewater to taste into the milk, then remove the pan from the heat before stirring in the rennet.
Pour the milk into a serving dish and leave undisturbed for 2-3 hours, until the junket has set.
Stir the remaining sugar into the cream , then carefully spoon over the junket. Decorate with rose petals.

Rose Petal Rolls
Servings: 24

1 package dry yeast
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 egg, beaten
4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


Dissolve yeast in warm waster; stir in sugar.
Beat in ingredients.
Grease muffin tins and spoon 1/2 full of batter.
Bake in preheated over, 450 degrees, 10 minutes or until done, or bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes

Note: Batter may be kept in a tightly covered container in refrigerator several days and used as needed.

Rose Martini
Servings: 8


1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups vodka
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon rose water
ice cube
24 edible rose petals (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then stir in the vodka, lemon juice and rose water.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add one-fourth of the martini mixture and shake.
Strain into 2 martini glasses, garnish with rose petals and serve.
Repeat to make the remaining martinis.

Tomorrow, December Highland Games and Events…

October 2010 «  » December 2010


RSS Feed For This News

Wedding Theme Newsroom Home | Archives | Scottish Wedding Theme Links | Why I Developed a Scottish Wedding Theme blog