02 January 2013

the Scottish Country House

Scots poet Robert Burns never lacked for painting a romantic sweep of his homeland-nor for telling a good story. His words to man and that "timorous beastie," the mouse, are legendary just as the countryside they inhabit in his poem To a Mouse. It can only be hoped that said poet and beastie retreated inside The Scottish Country House after a bleak day in the fields- to the warmth of a fire & a good book.

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!...

...Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!...

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

...But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

The Scottish Country House takes Man-that's you "dear" reader into ten Scottish houses rich with the history and traditions of an ancient "land of the Gaels."

Part history book and house book-a combination I savoir-and prefer to the mass decorating picture books-this one settles you in-conjuring house and inhabitants. Recognizable paintings like "Winter" by Joshua Reynolds-a portrait of Caroline Scott at Bowhill- period William Adams' baroque at Armiston and personalities-& The Munro clan at Foulis castle- all fill the pages of The Scottish Country House.

Author James Knox and photographer James Fennell come together to tell the stories of each house as romantically as Burns poetry and with the same fierce cultural identity that filled his poems. This book will settle you in comfortably by the fire this winter-with a follow up read of one of Sir Walter Scott's Waverly Novels or Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street.

all images are used with permission from The Vendome Press

available HERE at  The Vendome Press.


  1. I spent ten days with eighteen friends at Birkhill Castle in Fife. It was elegantly worn yet GRAND and full of warmth. I’ll never forget it!

  2. that sounds wonderful B. I need more friends like you & yours!

  3. We just booked tickets to Scotland in March. Part of the week we'll be in Edinburgh but we're also planning to head to the Highlands. Your post on this book has me thinking I should be looking for a country house inn or castle to stay in. Beautiful images - actually hoping we might get some snow there in March.

    1. Sounds wonderful, I hope you get the book before your trip!

  4. Beautiful! I've never been to Scotland but I've always wanted to. I love old castles and PLAID of course! And I love how the design and architecture tells a lovely history.


    1. Lindsey, I have not either-another place I must GO. So much romance in its landscape and for national identity there is no other. pgt

  5. Gaye - your post was just the shot in the arm I needed to appreciate where I am living. I left the states homesick on Wed. but you've made me realize I just need to get back out there and soak of all the beauty that surrounds me. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Deborah, (see above comment) that should cheer you too. I have no doubt you could feel it-but you are blessed to be amongst such a land! also-you need a contingency of bloggers to conference there.pgt

  6. Deborah, Barbara, Lindsey, Michele- some of my favorite books to read are--- The Lymond Chronicles.Here is a great book review. http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/12/24/reviews/001224.24malcolt.html
    I've done a third reading of the series over the years and could go to them right now and not put them down. They do not disappoint!




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