Dazzle Ships and Haggis

Thursday 2 February 2017

Ally (7) has been learning about the Dazzle Ships at school recently and has really loved sharing everything he learned about them with us. As well as learning what the Dazzle Ships were, his class had a few visits from an artist who helped them work on an art project connected to the Dazzle Ships.

For the last few months Edinburgh has had an example of a Dazzle Ship docked down in Leith, and we found out recently that it was only going to be there until the end of January. So I promised Ally that we would go down to see it after school last Friday - school finishes at lunchtime every Friday.

The docks are only a 5 minute bus journey from the boys' primary school and Friday was a rare bright afternoon - as opposed to the usual grey and dull ones in January.  Perfect for something that involved being outdoors.

Dazzle Ships were an idea that came about during the First World War, when the Admiralty were trying to think of a way to protect their ships from enemy torpedoes. Since they couldn't hide the ships, they tried to confuse the enemy instead, and painted the ships with bright, angular shapes and patterns. The aim was to confuse the enemy so that they couldn't tell which direction the ship was travelling in, and so it would be harder for them to take a good aim with their torpedoes. There was no set pattern for different types of ships, so as not to give away what type they were.

Ally was delighted to see the Dazzle Ship for real.

Once we were finished looking at the Dazzle Ship we took a walk back along the Leith Shore, which looked rather lovely in the winter sunshine. What a difference it made to have the sun shining, even though it was still cold. Everything just seems lovelier and more cheerful in the sunshine! 

Now onto the haggis, which has no connection whatsoever with the Dazzle Ship, other than being part of the same weekend.

On Saturday night my husband's sister hosted her annual Burns Supper, an event that she has done every January for as long as I can remember!

She only ever serves the king of haggis' - haggai?, what is the plural of haggis? - at her suppers, the locally made Macsweens.

Before it can be eaten, the haggis needs to be addressed by someone reading out Burns' Ode to a Haggis. This year James (17) was again the only one brave enough to try it given the honour of addressing the haggis, despite his protestation that as he's dyslexic it's hard enough for him to read English and Gaelic, never mind something written in Scots!

Anyway, he did a great, and suitably dramatic reading, and was particularly enthusiastic about the part where the haggis is stabbed and sliced open! 

Everyone in our house loves haggis, neeps and tatties, and we eat it much more often than just Burns and St Andrew's Nights.

See that kilt Calum (14) is wearing? It's his dad's! It was just a tiny bit big for him.

This may have been the first time that Rocket Raccoon had attended a Burns Supper.

I didn't have time to dig out the kilts for the younger boys, but they did all wear their Scotland tops instead - or a cute little tartan shirt for Fraser.

After dinner we always sing some traditional Scottish songs, but before we started on the singing we had a little bit of music from some of the boys. 

David (11) played An Ataireachd Ard on the guitar...

...and Calum played us the first section of Kate Martin's Waltz on the accordion. He only started learning it that week, which is why he only played the beginning! Calum also accompanied a lot of the songs on accordion too.

 Ally just wishes Auntie Anna had a piano so that he could have performed something too. He still loves playing the piano as much as when he started just a few months ago, and still can't walk past it without sitting down to play for a while. I tell him that he's like our little Mozart as he can't stop playing a tune half way through. He needs to get to the end of it, no matter what he gets called away to do! Mozart was apparently the same, and his children used to tease him by playing unfinished cadences on the piano, which would result in him rushing over to play the end of it!

History lesson over, here's a little clip of David and Calum's two musical solos to finish off with.