Scottish Thistles

The most popular story of how the Thistle became Scotland’s symbol involves the events surrounding the Battle of Largs in 1263.

For more than 600 years most of Scotland had been part of the Kingdom of Norway. By 1263 Norway seemed to no longer have any interest in Scotland and King Alexander III proposed to buy back the Western Isles and Kintyre, still Norwegian territory.

This re-awoke Norse interest in Scotland and King Haakon IV attacked with a large force to re-establish his authority. The Norsemen tried to surprise the Scots by landing on the Coast of Largs at night. The attackers removed their footwear for a silent approach but found themselves on ground covered with thistle. It is said that one of the men stepped on thistle spines and thorns and cried out. His shouts warned the Scots, who then defeated the Norsemen. thus saving Scotland.

So, it is of great national pride that we have Thistles in our grounds at Powdermills Bed & Breakfast. They are just flowering this week and I cannot make my mind up if it is a good or bad omen.

You see, the Scotland football (soccer for some overseas friends) team qualified for the European Championships. Football is our national sport and Scotland have not qualified for an international tournament since the World Cup in 1998. This is momentous occasion for our country. My son who has just turned 30 was too young to remember Scotland playing in France ’98. He would forever roll his eyes when I waxed lyrical of the great Scottish sides of the 1960s, 70s or 80s! Unfortunately, the Wembley Wizards or Ally’s Tartan Army means nothing to his generation.

However, back to the Thistles – is it a good or bad sign? Well, Scotland play the Czech Republic, Croatia and England – yes the Auld enemy! Scotland have had their fair share of bad defeats to England over the years, so the national mood is a mixture of excitement and anticipation on top of anxiety and stress.

So we can only hope that the blooming thistles which seem more numerous and larger than previous years is a good omen.

Regardless, I will be in front of the TV next Friday, full of optimism, even if Sue is behind me wearing her England shirt!