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Pennygown, Wit, and Whimsey

Scottish American Society

The latest news from Pennygown...




It’s harvest time and reports suggest that an ample store of corn will be coming from all the farms slowly but surely. All the able hands assembled a fortnight  ago at the Ewan MacLeod’s stead to begin the reaping. We consider this corn to be the portion that will go to the laird. The other smaller steads will be worked until all is completed and the day set for the harvest-home feast. Rab has been on hand during the reaping to lead the songs that set the pace for the strokes of our sickles. In years past, I remember trying to sleep as Rab’s  melodic voice echoed through my head, aches and pains of strenuous work eased with each refrain. Willie told me that a piper used to pipe the rhythm of the sickles. Maybe young Michael will be our piper in the future. He’s doing well learning the pipes. For now, he joins the other children tying the bands around the sheafs. The children’s harvest play is at least entertaining to watch. Another memory is my mum fixing plenty of porridge in the morning and oatcakes at night during harvest. There was some milk so that she could fix a delicious dish of milk and whey to which we could add berries that clung to the walls of our small but and ben. Combined with the fish caught that day by a neighbor comfortably fed us and the lads who were bringing in the sheaths about that time of day. Lately we see less and less to put on the table and  I dread the winter.


Speaking of reaping, of course Tom Tuck advises that we would do well to get the grain from the top of the corn stalks before the fairies get the most desirable of the grain. I assume that's why we throw our sickels up in the air before we start the reaping, the thought being that the fairies and other creatures of the corn will be scared off. 


This is the time of year when we get reports of of old Findlay whose ghost  continues to pull the corn  growing in the sandy soil that lines the townshp.  This corn is less desirable but it provides some  grain for our bread. Many of the townspeople turn to it as a last resort. Anyway the story goes that old Findlay got lost one day as was pulling the grasses from the soil. Apparently he’d worked well beyond the bordering grasses that eventually become lost to the marshes. The others called for him but no answer was forthcomng. Eventually it was assumed that he’d drowned. However, some say that drowning did not prevent his searches and that he continues to wander within the the tall grasses looking for a way back to town. I contend that a ghostly figure can be spotted out there, and I’m not the only one who sees it.  


Lachlan is complaining that something is after his garden plants especially bishop’s weed. Bald Gregair whose imagination takes the occasional leap into fantasy contends that such a plant only grows at monasteries and that Lachlan must be experiencing an invasion of pesky monks. Now that’s a sight!


First it was the herring that we are now pickling for the traders who show up in the village. But now there are other traders who want the skins of our seals. This will put a few more of the fishermen to work I reakon, and it’ll give the subtennants some work to do too. Will Morag still be able to sing to the seals in the bay if one or two of her audience turn up missing?













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[Pennygown is a mythical village in the Scottish highlands in the mid 1700's]


In a tiny village on the Scottish coast lived an old lady, a virgin and very proud of it.

Sensing that her final days were rapidly approaching, and desiring to make sure everything was in proper order when she dies, she went to the town's undertaker (who also happened to be the local postal clerk) to make proper "final" arrangements.

As a last wish, she informed the undertaker that she wanted the following
inscription engraved on her tombstone:


Not long after, the old maid died peacefully.

A few days after the funeral, as the undertaker--postal clerk went to prepare the tombstone that the lady had requested, it became quite apparent that the tombstone that she had selected was much too small for the wording that she had chosen.

He thought long and hard about how he could fulfil the old maid's final request, considering the very limited space available on the small piece of stone.

For days, he agonized over the dilemma. But finally his experience as a postal worker allowed him to come up with what he thought was the appropriate solution to the problem.

The virgin's tombstone was finally completed and duly engraved, and it read as follows: 




How Tough Are the Scots?
The following comparisons of the attitude of the Scots to different levels of temperature, compared with those in some other parts of the world, has been circulating on the Net.
40 degrees - Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in Scotland sunbathe.
35 degrees - Italian cars won't start. People in Scotland drive with the windows down.
20 degrees - Floridians wear coats, gloves, and wool hats. People in Scotland throw on a T-shirt.
15 degrees - Californians begin to evacuate the state. People in Scotland go swimming in the sea.
0 degrees - New York landlords turn the heat on. People in Scotland have a last barbecue before it gets cold.
-10 degrees - People in Miami are extinct. People in Scotland lick flagpoles instead of ice lollipops.
-20 degrees - Californians all now live in Mexico. People in Scotland throw on a light jacket.
-80 degrees - Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic. Scottish Boy Scouts postpone winter survival exercise until it gets cold enough.
-100 degrees - Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. People in Scotland wear a vest and put something on under their kilts.
-173 degrees - Ethyl alcohol freezes. People in Scotland are angry 'cos they can't thaw their whisky bottles.
-297 degrees - Microbial life starts to grind to a halt. Scottish cows complain of farmers with cold hands.
-460 degrees - ALL atomic motion stops. People in Scotland start saying "Aye it's a bit cooler today... eh?"
-500 degrees - Hell freezes over. Scottish people support England in the World Cup


Ingredients - Serves 4

1lb Carrots
1 Medium sized Potato
1 Small Onion
Small bunch of Fresh Coriander
1 Dessert spoon Sunflower Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 Pints Water


  • Firstly put the water into a saucepan that will hold at least four pints of liquid, and bring to the boil.
  • Whilst the water is heating scrub the potato and carrots, peel if not organic, and chop finely. Put the potato and carrots carefully into the pan, when the water comes back to the boil turn down the heat and leave to simmer with the lid on the pan.
  • Take the onion, peel and chop and, in a separate pan on a moderate heat, fry in the sunflower oil. When the onion is soft and golden add to the contents of the saucepan. Try not to burn the onion as it will not improve the taste.
  • Leave the soup cooking and wash the coriander then chop it very finely.
  • Test the vegetables in the soup, the carrot and potato need to be quite soft, in fact the softer the better as it makes the next bit easier.
  • The next bit. Blend the soup, use whatever contrivance you have as discussed previously.
  • Finally, add the chopped coriander to the soup, stir and season to taste.

*reference:  Eighth Day Cafe Co-operative

News from Pennygown is researched and reported by James A. Frost, Ph.D.  If you have any questions or comments, you may e-mail him at:  jfrost@nls.net
(He'd love to hear from you!)