Burns Night is approaching once more and it's time to raise a glass to Scotland's greatest poet. If you're not usually one to get involved in this annual shindig, the 25th January is the time to don your kilt, get mashing those neeps and tatties and turn your attentions northwards.
I'm writing this in the very pub that I first experienced a real Burns supper. As a child, I'd seen the grown-ups drinking copious amounts of whisky, and heard my Dad trying to do justice to the words of Scotland's famous son - but it wasn't until I was 18 (well, a little younger, but let's not go there...) that I heard Robert Burns' words...
During the past week, people across the world were shocked and saddened by the story of the disappearance and subsequent death of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular in Scotland. This shock then turned to disbelief after his mother, Rosdeep Kular, 33, was detained... She appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday and idiots on the internet had a field day.
However uncomfortable we may be with the continued existence of prostitution, it is far more unsettling to imagine some of the city's most vulnerable women forced onto the streets, due to the misplaced objectives of a city council which believes that it is capable of eradicating an industry as old as Jesus Christ.
Facing a Ceilidh and feeling a bit lost? I am here with some handy pointers to a non-humiliating experience. I have intrepidly gone there before, been a newbie, not known my Campbell from my Caledonian, skirled when I should have birled and felt the cold contempt of a thousand seasoned Celts on my feeble South African merrymaking.
I am a born and bred Edinburger, so I've celebrated many a New Year by taking to the streets of Edinburgh for their legendary Hogmanay celebrations. This year I decided to visit the event that takes place the night before, the iconic Torchlight Procession.
This is not the nicest of days, so in that context I thought I'd present a few random political thoughts! Very briefly, at Westminster it was one where the Conservative Party publically re-embraced Thatcherism, where One Nation Labour struggled to emerge further yet held on for life, and the United Kingdom Independence Party continued its long march to significance...
Christmas at Standingstone - the farm I grew up on in Scotland - was largely a dreary affair. Any fun had to be either sought from within myself or beyond its demises. Both of my adopted parents tended towards the solemn anyway; their sadnesses and failures permeated the already dour and damp sandstone house with a cold seriousness.
When we came to think about making the video for the single 'Take Hold', which is all about that incredible feeling of liberation, I wanted to try to capture a bit of that spirit - and the idea was born that we should feature some swimming, in particular, some underwater swimming.
Alex Salmond's long-awaited white paper on Scottish independence has appeared, rounding off the last full year Scots have before the referendum that will decide our constitutional future. And what an underwhelming document it is.
In the event of somebody such as Katie Hopkins saying something utterly indefensible, it ought to be noted that those organisations funding her career as a defender of outrageous opinion has the option to simply stop. No explanation would even be needed. They could all just stop, if they could take their eye off profit margins and think about their own ethical standpoint.
As a Welsh girl studying in Edinburgh, it is with a heavy heart that I hear the nationalistic cries for independence. You can't fool me SNP, with your White Papers and your shoddy economic policies. I've heard it all before, albeit in slightly Welsher accents.
Why am I writing about Haggis nearly two months before Burns Night? Well firstly, because St Andrews Day falls this weekend, and secondly, because Macsween of Edinburgh want to change the way we eat haggis.
That evening, at the piano in my Islington flat, the notes that came out were from Jura. I can't really explain how or why, I know it probably sounds barking mad. It was like the island was calling me saying 'I'm here, I've always been here, so come if you need me'.
Next week the Scottish nationalist government will publish their long awaited White Paper on which will set out their case for breaking up the United Kingdom. Expectations could scarcely be higher. Alex Salmond, in typically-understated style, predicted that this manifesto for breaking up the UK would "resonate down through the ages"... We will see.
When the Scottish Parliament was instituted, it was supposed to give the Scottish public a voice. It was supposed to reflect the will of the nation. But, in actual fact, it simply reflects the will of the political elite. No wonder so many Scots are skeptical about full independence.