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{happy weekend + robbie burns day}

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Ever since coming across the image of the black and white tartan-covered staircase in Globe-Trotter‘s London shop (below), I’ve been completely won over by tartan/plaid flooring.

The drawing room of Rachel Riley’s home in Loire (above, from Vogue Living Houses Gardens People), while beautiful in its own right, owes its manor-born appeal to the little corner of red and turquoise plaid, the element that pulls everything together and gives the room a certain British refinement.
I’ve always loved the history present in tartans and plaids and am fond of the idea of incorporating their beautiful patterns and rich colours into everyday living.

{Beautiful black and white tartan broadloom at Globe-Trotter’s London shop}

{A Brief History of Robbie Burns}

Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven. He spent his youth working his father’s farm, but in spite of his poverty he was extremely well read, at the insistence of his father, who employed a tutor for Robert and his younger brother Gilbert.

At the age of 15, Robert was the principal worker on the farm, prompting him to begin writing, in an attempt to find “some kind of counterpoise for his circumstances.” It was at this tender age that Burns penned his first verse, “My Handsome Nell”, which was an ode to the other subjects that dominated his life, namely scotch and women.

When his father died in 1784, Robert and his brother became partners in the farm. However, Robert was more interested in the romantic nature of poetry than the arduous graft of ploughing and, having had some misadventures with the ladies (resulting in several illegitimate children, including twins to the woman who would become his wife, Jean Armour), he planned to escape to the safer, sunnier climes of the West Indies.

However, at the point of abandoning farming, his first collection, “Poems- Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – Kilmarnock Edition” (a set of poems essentially based on a broken love affair), was published to much critical acclaim. This, together with pride of parenthood, made him stay in Scotland. He moved around the country, eventually arriving in Edinburgh, where he mingled in the illustrious circles of the artists and writers who were enthralled by the “Ploughman Poet.”

In a matter of weeks, he was transformed from a local hero to a national celebrity, fussed over by the Edinburgh literati of the day, and Jean Armour’s father allowed her to marry him, now that he was no longer a lowly wordsmith. Unfortunately, the trappings of fame did not bring fortune and he took up a job as an exciseman (tax collector) to supplement the meagre income. While collecting taxes, he continued to write, contributing songs to the likes of James Johnston’s “Scot’s Musical Museum” and George Thomson’s “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs.” In all, more than 400 of Burns’ songs are still in existence.

{Black tartan broadloom via Living etc.}

The last years of Burns’ life were devoted to penning great poetic masterpieces such as The Lea Rig, Tam O’Shanter and a Red, Red Rose. He died at the age of 37 of heart disease exacerbated by the hard manual work he undertook when he was young. His death occurred on the same day as his wife Jean gave birth to their last son, Maxwell.

On the day of his burial more than 10,000 people came to pay their respects, and his popularity has reached incredible heights since.

On the anniversary of his birth, Scots both at home and all over the world, celebrate Robert Burns with a supper, where they address the haggis, the ladies and whisky, a celebration befitting Scotland’s favourite son.

{Preppy and perfect green and blue plaid flooring as seen in Domino’s December 2007 issue}

{credits: rabbie-burns.com, Vogue Living Houses Gardens People, Domino Magazine}

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