1 January 2008 by Pete Mathers
Robert Burns – or ‘Rabbie’ as he’s commonly known – is Scotland’s national bard, responsible for such poems as Auld Lang Syne and My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose. Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to a poor tenant farmer, Burns spent his youth on the family farm, though his heart lay more in poetry than the arduous graft of ploughing. His first book was published in 1786, inspiring his move to Edinburgh where he quickly went from local hero to national celebrity.
Though he died early, aged 37, over 10,000 people attended his funeral, and more than 400 of his songs and poems are still in existence. On the anniversary of his birth, 25 January, Scots the world over celebrate with a supper, where they address the haggis, the ladies and the whisky, a celebration that would undoubtedly make Burns proud.
The 250th anniversary of his birth will mark the start of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a celebration of Scottish tradition that will run until 30 November, St Andrew’s Day. 2009 will also mark the 20th anniversary season for Hebridean International Cruises, whose small luxury cruise ship, Hebridean Princess, sets sail from Oban for the ethereal coastlines of Scotland’s Western Isles between March and November each year. Her small size – she carries no more than 49 guests – allows her into places inaccessible to larger vessels, and a passenger-to-crew ratio of almost 1:1 creates a very special atmosphere.
Wexas is offering a guaranteed saving of 10% off brochure prices if you book any of Hebridean’s Scottish cruises for 2009 before 31 January. There are 31 to choose from, including the popular Inner Hebridean Prospector, a seven-night journey to the Inner Isles, where each new loch and mountain is more beautiful than the last, and where days are spent amid stately homes, historic castles, country gardens and quaint Scottish villages.
For information on Homecoming Scotland 2009, visit www. homecomingscotland.com or speak to your Wexas consultant about a number of Scottish touring options.