Young writers stirring pride in their nation

Winner Sarah Kate Bradley
Winner Sarah Kate Bradley
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What do you love best about Edinburgh and the Lothians? What inspires you or makes you most proud about where you live?

Those are the questions we posed when we launched our young writers competition and the response was phenomenal.

Here we publish the best of the entries that we received, from our main prize winner Sarah Kate Bradley – whose winning piece appears in the new anthology My Scotland – and our eight runners-up. They are thought-provoking, optimistic and inspiring.

You will find plenty more to inspire you in My Scotland, by Richard Callaghan and David Simpson, which features 365 more fascinating stories, alongside Sarah Kate’s winning entry, which bring our national history to life in a way that will appeal to all ages.

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Now let’s get started. I am going to tell you about Edinburgh. Edinburgh is my home town. It is lovely to wake up and see the Pentland Hills. I am about ten minutes away from the countryside. Arthur’s Seat is the most famous mountain in Edinburgh. If you ever climb it you will feel like the most special person on Earth. Its view is amazing, really it is remarkable. You can almost see the whole of Edinburgh – it’s beautiful. Now let’s move on to the town; I think I’ll start with the Scott Monument. It has two hundred and eighty-seven steps. I know it seems quite a climb but it is worth it in the end. You should see the view – it is like you are on top of the world. That is probably because you are two hundred feet high. Why don’t we move on to the most popular place that drags tourists to Edinburgh – to see Edinburgh Castle? Edinburgh Castle was built on top of a dead volcano, that was because it would stop people breaking in. Mons Meg is a giant cannon arrived in fourteen fifty-seven as a gift to James the second. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth in the castle. I could go on and on about its history but I think I should move on now. I almost forgot about Holyrood Palace. The Queen stayed in Holyrood Palace quite a few times. Mary Queen of Scots lived in Holyrood Palace and that also gets tourists to Edinburgh. You can go inside Holyrood Palace. That is why I love living in Edinburgh.

Milla Cumming, 8, Juniper Green

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One summer morning me and my mum were playing with my puppy Daisy on the beach at Cove Harbour. My mum called me and Daisy over to tell me about the history of the place. I asked Mum why there was a tunnel to enter the harbour. She told me that the tunnel was there so at high tide the fishermen could still reach their houses. I could see some secret doors inside the tunnel and mum told me that was where the fishermen kept the fish they found at high tide. She also said that the smugglers, in the old days, hid their alcohol in the little doors in the corners of the tunnel to hide it from the fishermen. Mum pointed to the main cottage at the side of the sand and told me that was where the cooks cooked the fish the fishermen had found at sea. Then I asked about the blue cabin and wondered if it was there long ago. My mum told me no and said the cabin had been built recently. I found that really interesting and sat on the beach wondering what it would have been like then. I began to build sandcastles while Daisy played in the water. On the way home Mum pointed out one of the doors the smugglers hid their alcohol behind. When we reached the other side of the tunnel my Mum asked me if I enjoyed my morning at Cove and as always I said OF COURSE!

Suzanne Hume, 9, Slateford

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There was a girl called Kennah who liked pictures very much. Her favourite was pinned to the wall of her bedroom and was a large rectangular oil painting of a man fishing on the Firth of Forth. He sat in a red boat on a calm sea with fishing rod in hand. One day, noticing some dust on the picture, she wiped it with two fingers and strangely found them wet. Touching the surface again water started pouring out of the picture into her room. Backing away on to her bed she then found herself sitting opposite the fisherman on his boat. Slowly reeling in his line he landed a saithe on the deck which flapped about. He turned to Kennah, eyes growing large and round, and asked “Your business aboard?” “I don’t know,” she said –and with that found herself back in her room. The next morning, touching the picture once again her room filled with water and she was back in the boat opposite the fisherman. Again he was reeling in a saithe and looking at her said “Your reason for being aboard?” Kennah thought for a moment and said “You tell me the reason.” The fisherman, stretching neck and rolling head to reveal his gills, said “Find the artist’s mistake and you will know the reason.” Being a clever girl, it took her no time to work out that you shouldn’t replace linseed oil with old oil from a sardine can when oil painting.

Alice Lennie, 8, Stockbridge

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It was Burns Night at Carnegie Hall where Nessie was hosting the Scottish Extravaganza Show. As the acts went one by one nervously on to the stage, the audience clapped and cheered. There was not one spare seat left in the theatre, it was so busy. This was probably because the audience had been promised a free Burns Night supper at the end of the show. In the kitchen the chefs were working really hard to dish up the hundreds of plates of haggis, neeps and tatties to be served to the audience. However, the head chef got a phone call to say they had run out of haggis and would only have enough for half of the audience to get their Burns supper. The chefs were panicking and not sure what to do.

Meanwhile as the last act was performing on the stage Nessie popped down to the kitchen to see how they were getting on. This is when the head chef began to cry and explained to Nessie the story of running out of haggis.

Nessie told the chef not to worry and that he knew what to do. Nessie and the chef went on to the stage and grabbed hold of the microphone. They explained to everyone that there wasn’t enough haggis to go round, worried about what the reaction might be. However, one young girl in the audience stood up confidently and shouted “That’s okay, we’re Scottish. We don’t always have much but what we’ve got we share.”

Emma Mitchell, 8, Dunfermline

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I love Edinburgh and Scotland because of the history, also the enchanting stories I hear that have happened hundreds of years ago. For example Edinburgh Castle, I know that Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland on the 19th of August 1561 because her mother died. So Mary went to Scotland to rule and make Scotland a better place. I think Edinburgh and Scotland is a very exciting, enchanting, amazing, adventurous and beautiful place. I really enjoy going to see what Scotland has to offer, I would definitely recommend people to come to Scotland. I know some people think Scotland is rubbish and the people in Scotland are rude, but none of that’s true, as people say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Until you come to Scotland and actually get a good feel of how amazing it is. Then don’t judge it, if you have been to Scotland and you did not like it then that’s your opinion.

Yasmin Iqbal, 11, Danderhall

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Every street as Bonnie as the next.

Dungeons o’ the castle to Holyrood connect

In past days you’ve seen many a change

Not the hills o’ the Pentland range!

Blooming flowers in St. Andies Square

Underground streets home to Burke and Hare

Ridiculous ponchos on tourists more often than not!

Greyfriars Bobby sits there no matter what!

Historical town, I love you a lot!

Kerry Allan, 12, Carrick Knowe

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My head was full of thoughts – thoughts about dying. Yes, you heard me, dying . . .I was praying for myself to live. My head was filled with rage at my own cousin. I didn’t think for one minute that one of my own flesh and blood would put me on a death sentence. I was full of hate for what Elizabeth had done. It was now the day of my death.

Walking up the cold stone path with my sleeve being pulled by the executioner were the last ever steps I would take before I would die. I didn’t want this to be the last day of my life.

Every step I took made me tremble even more than I had the step before. More and more crowds of people started to pile up, one side wanting me to live and the other so evil they wanted me to die. My mind was going blank, all the memories of my life gone forever.

One more step and I was there. The end of my life. The executioner was sharpening his axe. Everyone was shouting around me, booing and cheering. My eyes full of tears, I could barely make out what was around me.

My only wish was to be buried in France and that all my servants be released.

Why did I do this? Why did everyone believe I had done such a bad thing? Why?

The blindfold was on and the axe was drawn.

Elise Fleming, 9, Portobello

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My name is Melissa Moody. I live in Edinburgh. In the holidays me and my nana visit my uncle in Walkerburn. We visit Thornielee to see Meg with the muckle moo. Also to see Meg’s house, where she lived as a child at Elibank.

Elibank Castle on the opposite hillside from Meg with the muckle moo has a fine Borders tale to tell.

This yarn is as true as true could be. Willie Scott did marry one of Sir Gideon Murray’s daughters but we don’t know for sure if it was Meg he married.

Sir Gideon Murray was Meg’s father and was a king’s privy councillor between 1610 and 1620. These were lawless times and Willie Scott was a son of a neighbour’s family. He rode in one night and stole, well tried, to steal Sir Gideon’s cattle.

Sir Gideon gave Willie a choice, marriage or the gallows. Some recall that he decided at once but then again, some recall him asking for three days but he only got 24 hours. What do you believe?

In many tales they did marry and were happy and Meg may have been as plain as James Hogg describes in his ballad:

Now Meg was but thin, an’ her nose it was lang,

An’ her mou’ it was muckle as ane could weel be;

Her een they were gray, an’ her colour was wan;

But her nature was generous, gentle, an’ free.

Melissa Moody, 9, Clermiston

My Scotland by Richard Callaghan and David Simpson is published by My World Publishing, and is available from bookshops now, priced £12.95

Inspired by patriotism

The many Scots of Scotland

Scotland. A place where many things have happened that changed the history of the world. A place that has changed the living standards today. A place of freedom and past victory. A place of beautiful scenery and purple moors. A place where animals enjoy their wild life in the highlands. A place that is independent and strong. A place that is home to millions, a place that is Scotland.

Think about David Tennant. He is from Bathgate, a town in Scotland. He has made many people in Scotland believe that it doesn’t matter if you live in the most fancy city, or the most horrible. He proved to many that you don’t need to live in Hollywood or New York to have your dreams a reality. He proved to Scotland’s citizens that if you aspire to become anything, you just have to believe in yourself. And that’s exactly what he did.

Take Robert Burns; a poet that loved his country and regularly wrote about it. Sean Connery; multi-awarded actor and producer. Gerard Butler; another very famous and talented actor. Shirley Henderson; most known for portraying the character Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter series. These people and many more, like David Tennant, who believed they could achieve something extraordinary, if they tried.

Scotland should be proud of its achievements. In Scotland, anything can happen. Any dream, any belief, any inspiration. I am proud to be Scottish. I am proud to be a Scot!

Sarah Kate Bradley, 12, Bathgate