Victorian visitors had shooting lodges – Scots had trips doon the watter.
Norwegian citizens had hytte – Scots had Butlins.
Why have locals in one of Europe's prime tourist destinations been elbowed off the land and exiled from nature for so long?
The late Paddy Bort was absolutely right. A few months after the European referendum in 2016, the Edinburgh University academic and Nordic Horizons stalwart predicted that Brexit would spark a renewed interest in Scotland’s small, successful wee neighbours.
Westminster has insisted that all British nations must leave together. But the Nordic countries and their devolved territories enjoy a veritable smorgasbord of relationships with the EU - doubtless there’s an arrangement in there that might suit Scotland too.
Would an independent Scotland need the support and shelter of full EU membership - or could the nation better stand at a distance or outside the EU altogether.
Cycling up the Hebrides in the summer of 2006, to record a 13-part series for BBC Radio Scotland called “On the Bike,” I had modest aims -- to stretch my legs and spend some time away from mobile phones, emails, and deadlines.
I experienced that - and so much more.
Hermetically sealed in a car the visitor moves too fast from A to B, and is underwhelmed at either end. No serendipity, no downhill descents into dodgy sheep-grids, no conversations at bus shelters, no skirling bagpipes wafting from island games. Above all no release from driving -- the normal daily habit that keeps curious minds in the vice-like grip of normal, everyday behaviour.
Instead, on the bike, I spent weeks in touch with two great natural phenomena. The sea, never more than a few miles distant. And the people, repositories of Scotland’s collective psyche.
I landed on Barra, in June, with my transit-driving companion Maxwell MacLeod. The plan was that the van would carry heavy editing equipment and extra bikes, while leap-frogging up the “Long Island” from Barra to the Butt of Lewis, I would interview folk with skills, insights and stories – the sort of people who fascinate but cannot be coaxed into a studio. So, the great and good are not featured in this book – but the characters who let me glimpse their fascinating Hebridean world are the reason I still head back every year.
Blossom is an account of Scotland at the grassroots through the stories of people I've had the good fortune to know - the most stubborn, talented and resilient people on the planet. They've had to be. Some have transformed their parts of Scotland. Some have tried and failed. But all have something in common - they know what it takes for Scotland to blossom.
Inspiring, galvanising analysis of the untapped potential of Scottish people power. Get a copy of BLOSSOM. Karine Polwart singer/songwriter
A brilliant, moving, well written, informative, important and valuable piece of work- just went online and bought a dozen copies to send out to pals. Elaine C Smith
It’s brilliant – every politician in the land should be made to read the chapter on inequality. I love the human stories in the book, but it’s rich with evidence too. The most engaging social policy book I’ve read in ages (ever?) Jenny Kemp Zero Tolerance Campaign
A hopeful antidote to so much empty nastiness in politics. Read! Alyn Smith MEP
Reading Lesley Riddoch's Blossom is like inhaling fjord air after being trapped in a sweaty backroom. Just brilliant Pat Kane, singer and columnist
Every Scot should read Blossom by Lesley Riddoch before they vote. I’m reading Blossom right now and every paragraph crystallises the nebulous sensations of deep divide inequality and snobbery I have experienced my whole life. Des Dillon writer
Blossom is something we should all be reading. This is the book William Power and Edwin Muir should have written. Congratulations on a fine work.
Dr. Elspeth King Director, Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
To all undecideds in Scotland, and all progressives - just to everyone... read Lesley Riddoch's 'Blossom'. She just gets it. David Greig, playwright.
Blossom reveals a Scotland full of promise, whose richest resource – her people – remains untapped. Riddoch's belief in Scotland's countrymen and woman is the lifeblood of Blossom. Newsnet Scotland
Not so much an intervention in the independence debate as a heartfelt manifesto for a better democracy. Esther Breitenbach, Scotsman
A hard-hitting condition of Scotland tour-de-force and a characteristically feisty contribution to (and beyond) the present constitutional debate. Paddy Bort Product Magazine
Blossom confirms Lesley Riddoch’s reputation as one of our top campaigning journalists" Paul Hutcheon, Herald
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