Thursday, 29 March 2012

Five miles south (2)

Here's another thing I'd understand if I lived on the other side of that Border...

When the holidays are.

No-one tells you this when you move to Scotland.  No-one says to you:

Yeah, well, it's pretty much the same: most of the people are lovely, but some are not. Most of the food is great, but some isn't.  Most of the weather is the same: iffy, but then you'll randomly get the most utterly gorgeous week when you're not expecting it.  They drive on the same side, they speak the same language but their holidays are utterly different.

Here's a thing.  Easter Monday's not a bank holiday here.

That has totally and utterly flummoxed and confused me.  B told me and I didn't believe him. I googled it, but of course everyone knows you can get the internet to prove any point you want, so that wasn't nearly reliable enough. But there it is, in black and white, on the calendar. Bank holiday (UK except Scotland).

Ah, and I was rather relying on him having that day off.  Whoops.

There's no August bank holiday here either.  Or there is, but it's at the other end of the month. 

I'm not complaining about this - we actually get an extra bank holiday compared with England and Wales (nine, compared to your paltry eight, should you care) - but I am finding it very hard to get my head around.

You don't realise how much you take certain things for granted.  The school year, for instance. Starts in September, as any ful kno.

Except when it doesn't.  Mid-August here.  Totally scuppered our holiday plans this year that has.  Won't be making that mistake again.   Turns out that if you want to go on holiday with English friends there's a pretty small window when you're all on holiday together and you need to book those weeks pronto.

What's the logic behind all this?  I rather thought the religious holidays would be universal, especially as Scotland has a reputation (which I'm not sure it deserves) of being more godly than England.  Clearly not though.  As for the others, I understand why we get St Andrews Day, but I don't understand why we get an extra day off on 2 January.  Are they really codifying the fact that Hogmanay's a bigger party?

And why the beginning of August and not the end? Or indeed the end and not the beginning?   My understanding on the school year point was that it started in September because that was after the harvest and when farming families didn't need their children so much any more.  Is that not true? Or is it true but not true in Scotland that isn't so predominantly arable?

And how doubly confusing is it to get my head around the fact that bank holidays are not only different (they are, in fact devolved, interestingly) but that they are also discretionary.  Your employer gets to choose.  So when the rest of the country, both North and South, is enjoying its extra Tuesday off for the Jubilee, spare a thought for the employees of the Scottish Borders Council, who aren't getting it.  Suspect there'll be a lot of empty schools round here that day...


  1. You so often send me off reading! This might help

    The Glasgow fair was the first 2 weeks of July (this is also the workmens 2 weeks traditional holiday isn't it?) and the factories etc close, this would account for the schools traditionally closing then. It looks like harvest started around the 1st August so you would expect it to be done by the middle, back to school you go kids. It also looks like the reasons for keeping it that way are good too

    The bank holidays have been controlled independently since 1998

    I've found you a great catalyst for an interesting read tonight. Thanks.

  2. Is that a very tactful way of telling me to do my research first??! If so, guilty as charged...

    Not sure I'm convinced on the harvest thing though - if, as I thought, and Mike Baker agrees, harvest was in August and hence English schools go back in September why would Scottish harvest have started earlier? We're north, after all, and it's very noticeable heading up and down to my parents that we're about 2-3 weeks behind them'd have thought therefore our term would start later, not earlier...

    Ps I love that Scottish banks follow the English and Welsh bank holidays "for business reasons" wonders how all the other cross-border businesses manage to cope!!!

    1. No definitely not telling you to research, I enjoy going off to look, it's a challenge. I agree with you about the harvest and coud only think the crops are different but who knows, it's probably a French thing! Do they still speak French up there?! Lol

    2. I've asked around and no-one seems to know... Hey ho!

      Perhaps it was because I was using the wrong language?

  3. When Rory was at primary school we would often take our holidays as soon as he broke up in the summer. Dougie was always happy with this as there would be a good number of Scots in the hotels/campsites etc to make him feel at home.

    1. I have certainly, now, twigged to the cost implications of going in the English holidays... specially as our nearest (by about five minutes) airport is Newcastle...

      It's not all bad!

  4. I rather preferred the Socttish four-term academic year to the English three-term one. It took me a while not to think of the October Holidays as a half-term break, but once I got used to it, I thought it made more sense.

    1. Four term academic year? Is that what they have?

      Maybe it's changed, or maybe it was a Fife thing. I've just checked our term dates on the Council's website and it's definitely arranged as three, with just one week off ("mid term") in October.

      Weird that yours was different.

      I think yours does sound better, though - am already mildly concerned about subjecting a five year old to a term that stretches from 14 August to 21 December with only one week off in the middle.

      I suspect I could be accused of molly-coddling her.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


I know. I'm sorry. I hate these word recognition, are you a robot, guff things too, but having just got rid of a large number of ungrammatical and poorly spelt adverts for all sorts of things I don't want, and especially don't want on my blog, I'm hoping that this will mean that only lovely people, of the actually a person variety, will comment.

So please do. Comments are great...