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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 24/08/2008 | 2 Comments

It is always great having visitors from another country because you really get a chance to see your own country through their eyes. The visitors were from Australia Ė Toni Noble, one of the co-authors of Bounce Back, and her husband Andrew. They spent just over a week in Scotland Ė some of it at workshops but they had a few days of travelling. The weather was certainly not good. Iím not surprised that this is the wettest August since records began since it feels like it. I canít remember such a dismal summer month. But even though the weather was horrible a lot of the time, they were knocked out by Scotland.

One of the things that us Scots tend to take for granted is how varied our country is. Iíve never been to Australia and Iím told that  while there are some great cities and some interesting places, a lot of Australia is very dull. You can travel hundreds and hundreds of miles across a fairly barren landscape only to arrive at a town that was pretty much like the one you left.

However, in Scotland (and England too, I must confess) you can travel a short distance and arrive in an area which is geographically and architecturally distinct. Just think how different the East Neuk of Fife is to the Borders or Deeside. How different Glasgow and Edinburgh are even though they are only forty miles apart.

I think we just have to accept that our weather is not an asset and concentrate more on what is fantastic about Scotland. The Scottish Governmentís Minister for Culture, Linda Fabiani,  wrote a piece in The Herald this week in the wake of Glasgow being made a UNESCO City of Music. Edinburgh has already been  made a City of Literature. Apparently Scotland is the only country in the world to have two cities nominated for this status. Fabiani argued in her article that the Ďstrength of our cultureí is one of Scotlandís greatest assets. I couldnít agree more.

Comment By Comment

Comment Posted: 28/08/2008 12:11
I too had this experience this summer. A visit at the end of June from a Scot who left the country in 1950s to do the best for her family and because her husband had been made redundant many times-do things ever change?- came back on a nostalgic trip. The weather was not the best but we used the rainy days to research her family history and to tell stories of the family-great fun and very valuable in understanding the Scotland of the 50's and what was happening then. Canada took families while Australia only wanted single people to emigrate! We fitted in a trip to the Scottish Parliament as we live in Leith and guess what -it was the last day of the session, the assistant on the phone could not have been more helpful and it a themed day on Health and Wellbeing with Wendy, Margaret,Rhona, Nicola etc all in session. My visitor was thrilled to be in the building, to read about its creation and to see 'so many women ' as MSPs. We were treated to a little skirmish/challenge by Margot which gave it all a nice little edge and little did we realise that Wendy was about to bow out. On the way in we saw Jack McConnell giving an interview to some school children and on the way out we did a tour of the Royal Mile, in and out the closes. We took in Canongate Kirk and directed people to Adam Smiths grave and as you say, saw the richness of the capital and where we live through another's eyes. My visitor had not been to the parliament in Canada because she has been a very hard working lady bringing up her family and looking after many aged relatives and every time she was on holiday the parliament was too, so she was absolutely thrilled to have been in the Scottish Parliament. So proud of her roots and very interested in everything from education in schools to social justice. I spoke to her yesterday on the phone and what did she say? 'Oh I could not bear the heat here when I got back after being in Scotland-Scotland has a healthier climate, its much better for you!' Hmm-well I like to look for the best everywhere I go but it does you good to have visitors from afar who see what we do not see. This is our country and I for one am very proud of it and confident that it can and is doing what it takes to be the best it can be with the help of many people and organisations like yours. There are so many people now realising that its about us joining together and taking responsibility and action.
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Janet McCauslin
Joined: 01/05/2007

Comment Posted: 30/08/2008 21:45
My life and work in Dunfermline, and Fife, has benefitted hugely from Carol's work, and just as it's good to hear opinions from people from other countries, it's equally good to hear from people from outside Fife, as we Fifers can become inward lookng at times if left to our own devices! Carol has provided us with this critical friend support and has been working with us recently to help create a more positive, confident next generaton of young people.

Today we, Dunfermline, launched the first Carnegie Festival and a week of activities on the theme of innovation and enterprise. There hasn't been enough of either in Fife over the last few decades and it's interesting to reflect on how much each of these depends upon personal and community confidence. I think already we are seeing positive change ( but then I'm an optimist) and I hope we can sustain this until we reach the tipping point and see a true culture change and community confidence in Fife.
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