The Liddle Journalist

Tourists receive behaviour warning


By Calum Liddle
Published in the Scotland on Sunday

warned to behave after a
court case in Greece in which a
local woman was accused of
setting fire to a British tourist
after he allegedly groped her
in a bar.

Britain's Travel Association
ABTA will urge British
holidaymakers to "appreciate
local customs", after the woman
charged with assault was hailed

as a hero by locals who are fed up with rowdy British holidaymakers who...READ MORE

Police forces failing to find black officers


By Calum Liddle and David Leask
Published in the Scotland on Sunday

SCOTLAND'S thin blue line is
getting whiter.

The proportion of black officers
in the nation's police forces
tumbled last year amid one of
the biggest recruitment
campaigns in history.

Some senior officers now
believe that would-be ethnic

minority recruits are being put

off joining up by stories of racism in the ranks and claims of "robust" policing of Muslims following the Glasgow Airport bombing... READ MORE

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Ikana say that? Ikea threatens to sue

By Calum Liddle
Published in the Scotland on Sunday


A SMALL Scottish furniture
company has been threatened
with legal action by Ikea over
a sales slogan which pokes
gentle fun at the Swedish
retail giant.

Advertising for Olympian
Furniture, which has three
sites in Scotland, uses the
phrase "IKANA believe how

good this summer sale is" with

the writing in yellow on a blue background – the colours used by Ikea.

Now the £21 billion global behemoth, which believes Olympian is trying to associate itself with the Ikea brand... READ MORE


Campers dump cheap tents in national parks

By Calum Liddle
Published in the Scotland on Sunday


THEY have brought camping to
the masses in search of a
cheap weekend in the great

But Scotland's national parks
now having to deploy extra
rangers to deal with an
of abandoned
campsites –
complete with
cut-price supermarket tents,

sleeping bags and other

equipment – in beauty spots.

Officials in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms are routinely discovering tents still erected but otherwise deserted...READ MORE


Cancer gene link to pill and HRT


By Tom Peterkin
Case study by Calum Liddle
Published in the Scotland on Sunday

WOMEN with a gene linked to
breast cancer greatly increase
their chances of contracting
the disease through long-term
use of the pill and hormone
replacement therapy, new
research has revealed.

The Europe-wide study has
given new weight to the
argument that hundreds of
Scottish women with the gene
should consider having their ovaries removed.

Previously, studies have suggested that an increased cancer risk in women can be linked to the extra amounts of the female hormone oestrogen they receive through...READ MORE




By Calum Liddle and David Leask
Published in the Scotland on Sunday

SCOTLAND is enjoying its biggest boom in camping since Barbara Windsor lost her bikini top in 1969.

Tens of thousands of recession-hit Scots are this summer getting their first taste of holidays under canvas, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Bookings for camping and caravan sites across the country are up by between a fifth and a quarter on last year – hitting levels not seen since the simpler and more austere days of the Carry On films.

Some sites have told Scotland on Sunday they are so busy they have to turn away would-be campers.

Even the usually sedate Caravan Club said nearly half of its 27 big sites north of the Border were booked out this weekend and next as occupancy rates soar 21 per cent above their levels for 2008.

Its rival, the Camping and Caravanning Club, yesterday said its Scottish sites were brimming. Spokeswoman Dawn Henton said: "We have seen a boom in camping and caravanning this year, and many people are booking ahead to secure their perfect pitch.

"Forward bookings for Scottish sites have risen by almost 25 per cent since this time in 2008, which equates to over 12,000 bookings."

The club has seen a slightly smaller rise of 16 per cent across the UK, although English and Welsh families tend to take their summer break a month or so later than Scots.

Industry insiders yesterday said that the camping and caravanning sector was being given a huge lift by the floundering pound and ongoing fears of job losses. Holidaymakers are turning their backs on expensive package holidays to the Eurozone in favour of some more basic pleasures much closer to home.

David Richards, who owns the Immervoulin Caravan and Camping Park in Strathyre, near Callander, said his site was up 30 per cent on the year.

He said: "The credit crunch is helping us. Regulars come frequently and we're getting people who haven't been for five or six years. We're also getting a lot of people who we've been recommended to. Many have never camped before. They need somewhere that will look after them.

"We're getting a lot more English people, but it's still 90-odd per cent Scots."

Kath Campbell, co-manager of Braidhaugh Holiday Park in Crieff, which is fully booked at weekends, backed Richards. "We're certainly noticing more new clients," she said. "I'm hearing people saying 'It's all new to me', when booking in. Predominantly it's Scots, but we've had a small rise in foreign bookings too. The weak pound is certainly helping."

Travellers from the continent coming to Scotland now get about 30 per cent more for their Euro than they did last year.

Camping, meanwhile, is becoming the cool way to spend a holiday with major celebrities, like Kate Moss, putting their names to the pastime.

Tents, moreover, are cheap as holiday homes go. It is possible a two-man version can cost less than £10.

Tourism industry leaders, however, remain split over whether a camping boom is good for the economy or not. There are still no figures on occupancy at hotels and holiday cottages and flats. Some tourism chiefs prefer to see big-spending hotel-stayers than penny-counting campers. But the Caravan Club isn't so sure. Its 60,000 Scottish members can have an impressive impact. Over the whole of the UK, caravanners inject an average of £17 million into the economy every year.

Big camping and caravanning groups, meanwhile, said would-be holidaymakers shouldn't despair if they are struggling to find somewhere to stay. The Caravan Club stressed that there were still pitches to be had this summer, even at weekends. It also has dozens of "five-van" sites that have spaces.

The Camping and... READ MORE

Coming to a hedge near you: the shear pleasure of topiary

By Calum Liddle
Published in the Scotland on Sunday


IT IS a horticultural art form that has graced the gardens of stately homes for centuries.

Now topiary – the art of clipping trees and shrubs into ornamental sculptures – is spreading from the
great houses of the nation into the urban streets of Scotland.

Caterpillars, bears, dogs,
handbags and trains have all been spotted taking shape outside the nation's homes as gardeners take up the challenge.

Sales of traditional topiary shrubs are also soaring, according to garden centres, as are purchases of special topiary shears used to fashion the eye-catching shrubbery.

Gardening experts said the rise in popularity was due to more people spending longer periods at home because of the credit crunch and a change in garden fashion.

Jim McColl, star of the BBC's Beechgrove Garden, said: "Topiary is certainly becoming more fashionable and popular. The beauty is you don't need a private gardener or a huge landscape to enjoy topiary and it's a lot easier than people would think."

Wire frames are now available to allow first-time topiarists to follow simple designs, McColl said. "The wire nets are available from garden centres for people to give it a try – whether it be a rabbit or a swan. It's all rather amusing and a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek."

Neil Fishlock, head of horticulture at Dobbies Garden Centres, said ornamental topiary shrubs were now a big seller. "We have had a sales increase of 129 per cent on topiary balls and pyramids this year. Sales of topiary shears have also risen by 14 per cent,
compared with a year ago.

"The appeal of the clipped box is that it is formal and looks impressive at a front door, while being easy to keep and maintain. All you need to do is buy a pair of shears to keep the topiary bush neatly trimmed all year round, and you have a perfect doorstep plant."

One gardener at the forefront of the topiary craze is Leonora Williamson, who has a bear, dog, pig and a small car decorating her front garden in Inveresk, East Lothian. She saw a picture of a topiary horse and jockey in a magazine and decided to experiment herself. "I was cutting the hedge and just left some lumps which eventually started to take shape," she said. "The bear was intended to be a Buddha but I found it impossible to get the shape right. So I turned him into a bear instead."

In Edinburgh's Morningside, Liz Casciani has also become hooked. "I've just started doing a couple of very basic topiary pieces in the form of spheres," said Liz, who opens her garden to visitors to raise funds for charity.

"I've never actually done it
before, but I can understand
the appeal. They are indeed
very elegant and statesmanlike.
The sharp edges and surface
catch your eye and show the
care and attention that are put
into running a garden."

Peter Wright, who lives in the city's Grange district, is a keen topiarist who has carved a caterpillar in his front garden.

"Boring hedges are for boring people," he said. "My caterpillar really brings a smile to people's faces and the kids, especially, love it."

Most clipped structures are made from common box (Buxus sempervirens), although other suitable species include holly, bay laurel, myrtle, privet and yew. Major garden shows, such as Chelsea Flower Show, have highlighted the growth of topiary over the last two years as gardeners reject the "wild" look in favour of more formal arrangements. Last year, leading garden designer Diarmuid Gavin's garden...