Women of East Lothian

In Prestonpans, immediately to the east of Northfield House is a passageway that connects Preston Road to Mid Road.  A modern sign simply reads “Northfield” but, in days gone by, according to Peter McNeill’s  Prestonpans and Vicinity, the lane was known as ‘Katie Herrin’s Close’ (“from the fact that a very old woman of that name lived and died there“).

It is one of the very few streets in East Lothian named after a woman.  Where are the others?

Oliphant Gardens in Wallyford, is named after the novelist and historical writer Margaret Oliphant.  Haddington’s Carlyle Court honours Jane Welsh Carlyle (irritatingly oft referred to as “wife of Thomas Carlyle” but actually considered to be an important feminist writer in her own right, though her works were not published during her lifetime).

Memorial depicting Jackie Crookston, one of twelve local people killed in the so-called 'Massacre of Tranent' in 1797, when colliery workers resisted conscription under the Militia Act of that year.People are advised not to blink while near these statue's as they are suspected weeping angels.(Kim Traynor)David Annand‘s statue of Jackie Crookston beating her drum  by her side is an arresting sight in Tranent town centre.

Where in East Lothian, are the statues, gardens, buildings and streets named after women?

 

 

East Lothian Garden Centre Cafes

There’s only one thing better than discovering a new garden centre – and that’s discovering a garden centre that has a tearoom!

Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of East Lothian garden centre cafes, together with a review, details about facilities, opening hours and website/directions?

If you can help, please leave your suggestions as a comment.

Romantic East Lothian

romanceWith its secluded beaches, award-winning restaurants and ancient castles, East Lothian is made for romance!

Where did you take your first date?

Where would you recommend to get down on bended knee and pop the question – or to get married?  Any recommendations for a honeymoon destination in East Lothian?

Where in East Lothian would you buy a valentine’s day gift?

Give us your suggestions!!!!

East Lothian Secret Breastfeeding Club

The East Lothian Council website proudly pronounces that it has developed a register of premises that are breastfeeding friendly “to support new mothers”.

Great, you might think.  New mothers need support don’t they?

breastfeedingBut what about the mothers who aren’t “new”, the mothers who have chosen…SHOCK!….HORROR!….to breastfeed beyond six weeks? 

“Extended” breastfeeding is a term used largely to describe breastfeeding beyond a year but increasingly, I’ve become aware of several friends who have chosen to nurse their child in secret because they don’t want people to know they are “still” breastfeeding a much younger child.

(My suggested response to “Are you still breastfeeding?” is “It’s still none of your business”)

Judgemental descriptions such as “extreme” breastfeeding have done little to normalise breastfeeding beyond a year.

It makes me sad that women feel they have to breastfeed in secret or worse, stop breastfeeding before they want to for fear criticism.

If you want to meet other breastfeeding mums, feel free to use the comments sections to get in touch.

NCT Breastfeeding Line: 0300 33 00 771

NHS National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0844 20 909 20

Breastfeeding Friendly places in East Lothian

UPDATE:

In putting together this post, I searched on the council website for “breastfeeding friendly”.  The first page in the list that was subsequently generated had general advice and a list of downloads but the the breastfeeding one wasn’t a hyperlink so didn’t work.

So I politely tweeted the council:

 

I finally got the information I was looking for but not before being told I was the one doing it wrong; been made to feel like I was being a nuisance, and feeling like I was making an unreasonable demand.  A bit like many women’s experience of breastfeeding then….

Still think East Lothian is “breastfeeding friendly”?

East Lothian’s Evolutionary Links

Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.

In 1826, the young Charles Darwin, squeamish at the sight of cadavers, abandoned medicine and spent much of his time on the shores of Newhaven and Leith collecting marine invertebrates for experiments.

(courtesy of Morguefile.com)
(courtesy of Morguefile.com)

It was here that he met Dr Robert Grant, and so began a relationship which would transform the way Darwin thought about the natural world. The chance encounter was incredibly lucky for Darwin, as Dr Grant was an expert on sea sponges and a radical Lamarckian, i.e. a believer in a theory of organic evolution asserting that environmental changes cause structural changes in animals and plants that are transmitted to offspring. The meeting was also remarkable as Dr Grant’s work had been greatly influenced by the theories of the young Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin.

For the next eighteen months, Darwin was a regular visitor to Walford House, 228 High Street, Prestonpans, where the pair, together with Grant’s assistant, John Coldstream, collected tiny creatures from the rock pools as well as from fishing boats at Prestonpans.

Grant took Darwin under his wing and had enrolled him in The Plinian Society, a club at the University of Edinburgh for students interested in natural history – and where Darwin was later to announce his first scientific discoveries (that black spores found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech).

Unfortunately, Grant and Darwin had a falling out when they each considered the other to be encroaching on their respective research. Although Darwin visited Grant in 1831 to get advice on storing specimens immediately before setting out on the Voyage of the Beagle, the pair were not to have further contact.

Further Reading: Darwin’s Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists By Rebecca Stott

Further Info: International Darwin Day Foundation

Community Councils: your views wanted!

In June 2012, a Scottish Government document claimed that East Lothian Community Councils were “leading the way” in providing a voice for local communities.

The intervening 18 months have seen an upsurge in people-powered political tools such as Avaaz, 38degrees, and All Out and, of course, there is the all-important and inescapable IndyRef which has got people of all walks of life talking about politics.

meetingHowever, after a succession of inquorate meetings, one Community Council has resorted to reaching out to potential members via a video.

So, why the lack of interest in local governance?

Are the online discussions mere “slacktivism” and not an indication of increasing interest in all things political?

Do Community Councils still serve a purpose?

Do you know when and where your Community Council meets and where to read their minutes?

In @LesleyRiddoch‘s book Blossom she described Community Councils as “toothless”. Is she right? Is that why people aren’t joining?

When these questions were posed on Twitter, the responses were interesting…

“I think we need to rethink what local democracy means in 21st century. Localism v efficiency v value.  CCs should have statutory roles, but need 2 be responsible. Parochialism can mean loudest voice overrides need.”

“I considered joining, had a chat with the Chair, realised pretty quickly I wouldn’t fit in. Far too traditional.”

“some (but not all) cc’s push a party political agenda and many appear anti-young people. Both very off putting.”

“Some grps seethe w resentment that there’s no “new blood” without realising their attitude is barrier. Not just cc’s”

“I tried to encourage one to at least have a FB presence to inform / involve the locals. I was quickly dismissed.”

“No budget, no power and not uniform coverage. New units of local democracy needed more than ever.”

“Giving Com Councils the Local Councillors patronage budgets wld be a start, also training on planinng etc”

“Awareness? Longest working hours in Europe? Statutory limbo? Just a few reasons I’ve never tried. My loss”

“CCs have no cash, no role & no stat power. Nor will Comm Renewal & Empower Bill fix this. Why not?”

“locally, those who can have. Aging population. Not a huge number of younger ppl with time.”

“They have a place but need to be properly constituted and not turn into judge, jury and executioner”

“The Scot Gov promissed much on Community Councils, but have delivered naff all #verydisappointed

“I joined mine to find out how things work & try to contribute. I found out how things work & was disappointed.”

“Average CC budget cc in Scotland is £400 which must be spent on stationery. Local democ with both hands tied”

“Totally right- they are Cooncil sponsored talking shops. Sometimes activists take over en bloc to try and change”

and the key to a successful Community Council? “a desire to fulfil the key role and consult with local community, rather than just what members themselves think.”

We would love to hear your views!

Frugal Holiday Fun

Schools in East Lothian break for half term on Friday 7 February and pupils go back to school on Tuesday 18th February (Monday 17th is a staff in-service day).

Here are a few ideas for a fun-filled family break without spending a fortune.

Out and About

Scotrail Kids Go Free ticket not only give up to two free kids off-peak travel with each adult, you also get one free child entry to lots of great attractions including The Seabird Centre and Camera Obscura.

LothianBuses have a Family DAYticket which allows up to 2 adults and up to 3 children unlimited travel together, all day, for only £7.50

Just like playing with someone else’s toys, going to a different park, woods, beach or sport centre is always loads more fun than the local one. Why not explore a neighbouring area as if you were a tourist?

If you want to be active, why not check out these local sports venues:

Aubigny Sports Centre, Haddington
Dunbar Leisure Pool

Loch Centre, Tranent
Meadowmill Sports Centre, By Tranent
Musselburgh Sports Centre
North Berwick Sports Centre
www.mercatgait.com, Prestonpans

If wild places rock your world, then search the database of woods to visit at Visit Woods.  There are loads of ideas for outdoor activities at the Nature Detectives website.

If you or your children need a bit of an incentive to explore the great outdoors, you could combine your walk with a spot of geocaching – a sort of high tech treasure hunt using sat nav or the GPS on smartphones.  There are geocaches all over the world and East Lothian has a fair few hundred of them.  It’s a great way of of discovering new places.  Visit Geocaching.com to get started.

You could follow up your trip to a cafe afterwards.  Community Centre cafes offer great value for money.  East Lothian community centres with cafes include Bleachingfield, Musselburgh East, Ormiston, Port Seton, Longniddry, Pennypit & Prestonpans.  Contact details and opening hours can be seen here.

Culture & Heritage

The Fraser Centre has a varied programme of family-friendly films ranging from classics such as Whisky Galore to the latest blockbusters such as Gravity.  Tickets are all by donation.

DadsWork, with funding from Prestonpans Support from the Start, are having a Go Mad with Dad free Mid Term Movie Matinee on Wednesday 12th February 2014 at The Fraser Centre showing Disney’s Planes.  Doors open at 1.00pm and movie starts 1.15pm. Free refreshments will be available, FREE tickets are available form Kevin Young @ DadsWork on 0131 665 0848 / 07833741768 or dadswork@hotmail.co.uk. This movie matinee is for dads, male carers and their children. Further information is also available from Kevin Young. BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.

East Lothian Council Museums Service manages Dunbar Town House, John Gray Centre in Haddington and John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar, all of which have free entry.  Prestongrange visitor centre at Prestonpans is currently closed but the expansive site is open to explore.  The Coastal Communities Museum run in partnership with the Coastal Communities Museum Trust is also free to visit.

At £16 for adults and £9.60 for children, entry to Edinburgh Castle could hardly be described as “frugal”.  However, a family membership to Historic Scotland might cost less than you think.  An annual membership for 2 adults + children equates to £7.04 (or £5.70 for concessions) per month by direct debit.  This would give you unlimited access to all Historic Scotland sites including East Lothian gems such as Dirleton Castle, Tantallon Castle and Seton Collegiate Church. To add extra value to your trip, time your visit for when a special event is on such as the medieval jousting tournaments held at Linlithgow Palace.

Event Listings

The following websites are good for finding out what’s happening in the local area.

Radio Saltire

East Lothian Courier

East Lothian Council

For further afield, try The List.

Wet Weather activities

Bad weather makes holidays a challenge.

What do you do on dreary drizzly days? bake? draw? watch old movies? How about letter writing, code-breaking or board games?  We would love to hear your ideas!

Storytelling Week: 1-8 February 2014

This week sees the 14th Storytelling Week – held annually to celebrate the sharing of stories that enrich us and tales that are passed down from generation to generation.  In East Lothian, we are blessed with talented storytellers such as Tim Porteous (Prestonpans), Anne Anderson (Longniddry), Angie Townsend (Wallyford) and Heather Yule (East Linton) who can bring a story to life and fire up the imaginations of their audience.

If you want to arrange a visit from a storyteller to your school, gala day or community group, you might want to apply for funding from the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Fund (the fund can be used for visits from authors, illustrators, playwrights and poets too) – but be quick, the deadline is February 3.

If you have pre-school aged children, you might enjoy a Book Bug session (held weekly at East Lothian libraries) which includes storytelling, rhymes and singing.

Aspiring young storytellers can learn their craft at a variety of classes offered by The Drama Mill.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh’s High Street offers a range of courses and workshops for those withing to develop their storytelling skills.