Posted at 04:08 PM | Permalink
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Are you interested or indeed very worried about life after Brexit? If you are, the next Nordic Horizons event is for you. The Nordic nations manage to co-exist quite happily with every possible variation of relationship with the EU – in (Finland, Sweden, Denmark) out (Iceland and Norway) and shake it all about (Faroes and Greenland who are out while the “Mother Ship” Denmark is in). These two tiny Nordic players have no formal agreement with the EU, whilst Norway pays quite a bit to retain access to the single market. So quite a bit of variation. Surely in all of this there are lessons for Scotland to learn – as a devolved government within the UK or possibly a small northern independent state sometime in the future.So we’ve brought an interesting collection of speakers together for an afternoon conference aimed at the intelligent general public - not just academic specialists. It'll be opened by the Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and speakers include;
Professor Mary Hilson – author of The Nordic Model, excellent Nordic Horizons speaker and now historian in the Dept of Culture and Society at Aarhus University Denmark will give a contemporary an historical overview of the Nordic nations and the EU.
Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson - ex leader of Iceland's Social Democratic Party and former Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs was responsible for their negotiations to join the EEA in the 1990's. He will reflect on both EFTA in 1970’s and EEA - how Iceland achieved exemptions on fishing/agriculture - the pros/cons of that – and Iceland’s temporary post-crash desire to be in the Euro BUT not the EU.
Tuomas Iso-Markku, Research Fellow, at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Will reflect on why Finland appears to have a different relationship with the EU than many of its Nordic neighbours. An important point for Finns is security - Russia is next door -- and he'll address the dangers of being a small but vocal EU member.
Ulrik Pram Gad is Associate Professor of Arctic Culture and Politics at University of Aalborg, Denmark and recently published a paper on the triangular relation between Greenland, Denmark and the EU (quoted by Nicola Sturgeon). From 1998 to 2002 he worked for the Government of Greenland in Nuuk. Will discuss whether Scotland could do “a reverse Greenland'.
Dr. Duncan Halley, Scots born but now at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research - will discuss the advantages for Norway of controlling its land use, fisheries, and conservation outside the EU and will speculate on similar advantages for Scotland. Duncan gave a brilliant Nordic Horizons talk comparing land use and forestry in the Scottish Highlands and SW Norway in 2015.
Bjort Samuelsen – is a Republican MP in the Faroese Parliament, Member of the West Nordic Council and was Minister for Trade and Industry, Infrastructure and Gender Equality in 2008. She was originally a journalist and worked for Norwegian and Faroe Islands Broadcasting. Bjort will explain why the Faroes decided not to join the EU with Denmark in the 1970s and discuss how easy it has been outside all trade blocs as a nation of just 49k people.
After these speakers we will have a final session asking if anything we’ve heard has relevance for Scotland. Amongst the contributors in that final session will be; the Chair of the Scottish Parliament’s Europe & External Affairs Committee Joan McAlpine, Professors Andrew Scott and James Mitchell from University of Edinburgh, the author of A Utopia Like any Other, Dominic Hinde and hopefully Labour MEP Catherine Stihler.
The event has been organized by Nordic Horizons volunteers together with Edinburgh University’s Academy of Government and speakers’ costs have been met by a Scottish Government grant. We are charging for the first time to help pay for tea and coffee on the day and help us cover the cost of meals for speakers. So it’s a mighty £3 – though it can be free for anyone or any groups like college students or school pupils – in which case contact Dan Wynn firstname.lastname@example.org
For everyone able to pay though, please book tickets via this Eventbrite link. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scotland-after-brexit-lessons-from-the-nordics-tickets-28097920637
I think this will be a stonking event – I hope we’ll see you there and pass this on to anyone who might be interested.
Posted at 09:44 PM | Permalink
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Greek Nirvana on Zante
Folks - some of you know what it's like. You're on your own for the first time in a fair wee while and long to go abroad for sun, swimming and general relaxation. But none of your friends have time to go on holiday when you do and every destination seems to be aimed at couples, families and kids. And you are on yer tod. Well, I've landed on my feet at the fabulous Lithies Hotel http://www.lithies.gr in the very north of Zante or Zakynthos -- the third largest of the Greek Ionian Islands. Zante is famous for its very photographed Shipwreck Bay (someone told me recently the wrecked boat was actually Clydebuilt?!) and its best avoided "get drunk quick" resort of Laganas near the airport in the south of the island.
One and a half hours north - by bus or hire car -- sits the most northerly hotel, the Lithies, run by the friendly young mum Matina. It's small, relaxed and laid back with lovely wee areas to sit and do a PhD in the sun, free bikes for evening mini-hikes, a quiet pool and a 30 minute walk from the best snorkelling in the island from the foot of the steps at the Korithi windmill near the Blue Caves. All the rooms have a shaded balcony and a mini kitchen area. Most are triple bedded (theres a few feisty young families here) but there are smaller ones too and that makes a stay affordable for lone travellers. But it's the big Matina welcome (inc a gal-friendly welcome pack with a wee brush to detangle your hair) which makes the difference. Already this is like a home from home and I know I'll be back. Matina says August is busy (there are folk here from the Netherlands, France, Brazil and England) but May-July is generally quiet. So I thought I should alert fellow Scots -- July IS QUIET!!!! Maybe a thought for 2017. The Lithies has a five star rating on TripAdvisor too https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g6772390-d1488832-Reviews-Lithies_Studios_Apartments-Korithi_Zakynthos_Ionian_Islands.html Blissfully there is only limited broadband (and none when its windy). So I can't post any pics yet.
Righty. Back to the PhD.
Posted at 10:55 AM | Permalink
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I was fascinated by the story behind a feisty fringe production starring an old friend of mine Matthew Zajac. Mungo Park – Travels in the Interior of Africa is on at Summerhall and tells the extraordinary story of Mungo Park. I had not really heard of this Scots explorer – even though he was apparently so famous during his own lifetime that he appears in the pages of Middlemarch. In 1795 and 1805, Park, an idealistic Scottish doctor, led two epic expeditions to West Africa, at the behest of the Royal Society and the British Government, to map the River Niger and investigate tales of vast gold wealth. Park died on the second expedition, along with nearly all of his party but his journal survived. The company – a joint effort between Dogstar from the Highlands and the Danish Mungo Park company (nope no-one quite know whay they have that name!) describe the play as “a theatrically daring tragi-comedy, with the 18th century figure of Park interacting with two young men from today. As the narrative moves towards its latter stages, the folly of Park’s project and its development into an ever more crazy and violent colonial adventure is brutally exposed.” I won’t spoil it for you but it’s an all-action performance – as gamely improvised as the expedition itself. And Matthew is fabulous as the naïve, peace-loving surgeon, unaware that colonial power is using him until it's too late. The play runs at Summerhall till August 27th and then tours throughout Scotland until September 25th, ending at Mungo Park’s birthplace, Selkirk. Then it’s off for a tour of Scandinavia in 2017. More details at www.dogstartheatre.co.uk
Posted at 10:08 AM | Permalink
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The Press and Journal reports that David and Samantha Cameron are set to buy a £10.5million Aberdeenshire sporting estate. If that's true they cant be v worried about "radical" land reform. Is that complacent or correct? http://www.thenational.scot/comment/lesley-riddoch-cameron-eyes-up-scottish-estate-despite-radical-land-reform.21047
Posted at 02:44 PM | Permalink
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I'm finally getting to grips with 6 years worth of Huts PhD paperwork from Norway, Scotland and beyond in a wee house near Mogan in Gran Canaria. Utter bliss sitting outside overlooking mountain and banana farm - inside the main bed is big enough to get all the bumf organised under chapter headings. A local family owns the cottage and they live next door -- so there's been a wee stream of fresh eggs, papaya and flowers. So sweet. Away from madding throng but close enough to coast for occasional snorkel and coffee with my pal Stephanie who's here with her daughter to get her scuba diving certificate and in other direction for walks in higher mountains (and hair raising drives), I can't recommend this wee place highly enough. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/VacationRentalReview-g664857-d6641815-CASA_RURAL_TINO-Puerto_de_Mogan_Mogan_Gran_Canaria_Canary_Islands.html
Posted at 01:50 PM | Permalink
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Well, it was all meant to be over by breakfast time, then the meetings were pushed back to an English brunch, then an English lunch and finally, an English tea. But still no white smoke or sign of an agreement between David Cameron and the rest of the European leaders. With a birthday weekend looming, we moved swiftly to record a podcast dissecting the European debate, discussing TTIP and Apple and then thinking about the Greens. With the Greens, it is a touch of the Oscar Wilde's ( "one thing worse than being talked about etc. ) .
After a bit of a break , all explained this week, we are back in the pod. Trying to catch up on all the events of the month we were away. This involved some notable passings, and some great Celtic Connections gigs. We also wander into current affairs and the 1p tax rise proposal. It is a long and emotional podcast. Next week, we will be talking more land reform and Europe.
Posted at 02:30 PM | Permalink
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