10 things I know about Scotland

Week four of Rhalou in the wilderness. Against the odds I survived last week’s Texas Chickensaw Massacre. I’ve since learned the following 10 cool things about life in Scotland:

1. When Scottish people talk about Ken a lot, they are not telling you stories about their mate Ken. Ken is not a person. Ken means ‘know’. Who knew? Not me. Now I do. That was embarrassing.

2. ‘Getting the messages’ has nothing to do with messages, or post, or Facebook. It means food shopping. I learnt this new phrase at the weekend when Ultraboy’s mum asked if I wanted to go with her to get the messages and I brought my laptop. I suspect she now thinks I’m a total idiot. Especially after I was six hours late for dinner. (Turns out dinner is lunchtime here).

3. When you go out for a Chinese meal in Scotland, it is perfectly socially acceptable to order chips with your main course. If you happen to be having dinner with a Scottish friend, do not criticise them for ordering chips with their noodles. Eat the extra chips and smile. Chips are great; Chinese is great, chip plus Chinese, what’s not to love? If only you could order hummus with your Chinese too. Then I would die happy.

4. You can get £5 notes out at cash machines. Yes! Just one £5 note! How cool is that? In the great city of London it costs £10 just to leave your front door. But if you live in Scotland, you can buy a newspaper and a pint of milk and still have change for some chips.

5. Everyone says hello. Not just a nod or a wave either. Every single person you pass on the street greets you with a genuine smile as if you are their oldest friend. This is excellent for morale if you happen to be a lonely freelance journalist with no mates.

£10 buys a lot of chips

6. Everyone in Scotland really does know each other. Which might explain why they all say hello to you in the street. Even if you don’t know who the hell they are, they all know exactly who you are. It’s impossible to get round Morrisons, down the high street, or out of the Chinese without having to stop while your boyfriend shakes hands with someone every five minutes. I imagine this is how it must feel to be a WAG. Minus the miniature handbag dog, perma tan and enviable shoe collection.

7. ‘I’ll see you at the back of 9’ means some indefinite time after 9 but before 10.  Actually I have no idea what it really means. If anyone would like to enlighten me, that would save me from much confusion and potential social blunders, thank you.

8. It’s rude to giggle like a schoolgirl every time a Scotsman says murder, burger, or weirdo, even if he is your boyfriend.

9. Scottish people are really hardcore and almost all of them are expert ultra runners and extreme sportsmen/women. But even the ones that aren’t ultra runners are badass. I discovered this at a kettlesize class last week (thanks to the lovely Jan for taking me). The gym full of teeny ladies swinging kettle bells above their heads with ease put my meek efforts to shame. I started with a 3kg weight and still couldn’t walk for a week.

10. Nobody in Scotland really eats deep friend Mars bars or drinks Irn Bru or wears a kilt. But they do eat haggis, and haggis is actually really tasty. Vegetarian haggis is anyway. Eat it with mashed turnips and potatoes and you could probably run ultra marathons too.


  1. GG
    July 3, 2012 / 12:50 pm


    To clear things up “The back of nine” means just after nine. If someone was to indicate they’d meet me at the back of nine, I’d be inclined to say anything after 9.15 would be tardy.

    An additional fact (prompted by your photo) is that there are three national banks in Scotland, and they each print their own banknotes, and each have their own designs. So there are 3 variations of a £10 note, 3 of a £20 etc… Most confusing….


  2. Jan
    July 3, 2012 / 12:56 pm

    You do make me chuckle!
    Hope you’re not 2 sore 2day after you’re rub “e ken what a mean”

  3. July 3, 2012 / 12:58 pm

    Oh, but they do drink Irn Bru! I work in a pub in Edinburgh and the only people who drink it are Scots. Also, you can get £5 notes out of cash machines in Cambridge. I was excited too.


  4. July 3, 2012 / 1:06 pm

    As an actual Scot living in England, this is a hilarious post but I agree with above, back of is up to 15mins, 20 at the extreme. Not true about the Irn Bru and mars bar tho, still happens where i’m from… and don’t you worry the Kilts will appear with the celebrations!

    Also on a final note, dinner isn’t always lunch, dinner can be tea (evening meal rather than cup of) but is usually a posher affair for a special occasion or guest or if you are just a posher Scot in general.

    Funny stuff, keep it up!


    • July 3, 2012 / 1:07 pm

      Oh yeah, you can get fivers in Huddersfield too… Maybe’s it’s just not worth the bother in london! (<– something Weird is capitalising all my words?!)

  5. nigel
    July 3, 2012 / 2:05 pm

    It’s brilliant, and being from North East now living in Stoke I suffer similar stuff.
    Keep em coming. X

  6. July 3, 2012 / 4:52 pm

    Ha, brilliant! Now you’re really getting to grips with Scottish culture xx

  7. July 3, 2012 / 8:01 pm

    It sound’s pretty much like Ireland which of course is no great surprise!

    The only thing is the smallest note you can get out of an ATM here is €20, but sure we have loads of cash from the bottom of our leprechaun rainbows and all that.

  8. Oli Sloman
    July 3, 2012 / 8:02 pm

    Have you as yet come across the phrase “you’ll have had your tea then?”.

    This is a common question that you’ll come across when visiting elderly relatives in Scotland as you arrive at their home.

    Essentially it allows them to not feed you as the only polite answer to the question is yes.

  9. Davie Bell
    July 3, 2012 / 9:53 pm

    You forgot to mention Scottish men are hung like a horse and breath oot their ears 🙂

  10. July 4, 2012 / 9:15 am

    Hahaha, love this!
    Another great Scottish phrase I heard recently was ‘bleeding out the arsehole’ to mean ‘really rather tiring/exhausting’ or something. Scots rock.

  11. July 4, 2012 / 1:28 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, I now feel spiritually enlightened and at one with Scottish culture. Still don’t understand a bloody word, but I’m getting there… x x x x

  12. Joel
    July 4, 2012 / 9:08 pm

    Mashed Turnips and Potatoes? Not Neeps and Taties?? You haven’t got the lingo yet then? As for the bloke who moved to Stoke, we have trouble understanding each other mate let alone a proper accent!

  13. July 6, 2012 / 3:35 pm

    I like vegetarian haggis too. We had vegetarian haggis samosas in Edinburgh (the night before my half marathon!) and they were good race fuel! x

  14. Karen
    July 19, 2012 / 1:16 pm

    I LOVE read your blog about your move to Scotland.. This post in particular made me laugh out loud 🙂 & made me miss home (Scot living in England) that wee bit more.

    Its funny how I’ve forgotten things like “the back-y 9′ meaning just after 9 – no later than 9:15 … well that’s how it always when I lived there.

    Aww Haggis is simply the best… love it out the chippy with loads of salt n sauce… tho no chippy I’ve found does it down here 🙁

    Hahaha Used to for the messages all the time with mum, when I moved south, and explained to peeps what it meant they looked at me as if I was stupid. lol

    Kilts – Now there’s a thing I absolutly adore, makes me patriotic as hell… every time I come home to visit family, bagpipes & kilts always bring a smile to my face.

    Haha re foam rollers – can’t believe Ultraboy don’t own one- every runner should own 1 – lengthen the muscles, stop them getting tight.

    Awww thanks so much for writing this hunni, its fantastic, Just made me want to come home right now. *Sniff*

    Keep those blogs coming – loving reading them – so glad your settling in 🙂

    • August 15, 2012 / 3:52 pm

      Thanks for your lovely reply Karen! I forgot to check my website for a little while and you were nestled amongst 115 spam messages, bastards. Anyhoo, you’re the best hen 🙂 x x x x

  15. Jacqueline
    October 9, 2012 / 4:41 pm

    Just hilarious, I’m a true Scot born and bred and this list made me laugh so much. It’s all correct (however, where do you get £5 from a machine?) we really are from another planet, but, it’s one I’m happy to live in and I’m sure you will too.

    • October 9, 2012 / 6:16 pm

      Thanks Jacqueline! I have indeed fallen madly in love with this crazy place. especially the people. You’re all nuts, but nothing beats a sparkly blue-eyed Scotsman. Fivers available in Hawick! Not that it’s must use really… x

  16. Fiona
    October 13, 2012 / 4:26 pm

    Just saw your article in Womens Running, I’ve never followed a blog before, but then up until 2 weeks ago, I hadnt run a 10k either!

    Very funny and insightful comment about language but then you have moved to Hawick which has a language all of its own 😀

    Re the back o 9′ well my husband and I argue about this the back o 9 to me is anytime between 9 and 10, but probably nearer 9, to him its 9.15/9.20

    Thanks for making me laugh!

    • October 18, 2012 / 12:06 pm

      Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for your lovely comment! Hawick sure does have a language all of its own, I’m slowly getting the hang of it. Everyone seems to disagree on the back of nine too… But I love it here, the most beautiful place in the world.

      Well done on your 10K! Running rules.
      Rhal xx

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