25th January is the birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night takes a standard form the world over; the celebration starts with a speech of welcome followed by the first course of the meal Cock-a-Leekie soup (a delicious soup made with chicken, leeks and pearl barley). Then the star of the show – the haggis – is piped in to the room by a piper playing the Highland bagpipes. For those who are not familiar with this Scottish delicacy, it’s a sheep’s stomach filled with sheep’ offal, oatmeal and spices. Sounds disgusting and tastes absolutely delicious! It is traditionally served with ‘bashed neeps’ (swede) and ‘chappit tatties’ (mashed potato). After the main course, the dessert is Cranachan, a Scottish dessert with raspberries, cream, oatmeal and whisky.
Following the meal there are the traditional speeches. The first is the ‘Immortal Memory’ which is a serious and informative speech covering some aspect of Burns’ life and work. Then the evening starts to lighten up as one of the men in the audience proposes the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ – a very irreverent speech poking fun at the ladies. One of the ladies in the audience then replies with the ‘Toast to the Laddies’ which is usually very risque and pokes even more fun at the men. The evening finishes with singing and dancing, and of course lots of whisky being consumed.
We joined Wester Ross Burns Club for their annual celebration at the Myrtle Bank Hotel in Gairloch last night and a great time was had by all; delicious meal and entertaining speeches.