Why Is Scotland Special?

Part One.

Beyond The Kilts And Irn Bru…

I honestly did not expect to discover many of what I will share with you in this two-part series.

Scotland’s story is so layered, wide, and deep, which makes for fertile soil for folks like me who love digging for stories that lie below the surface.

Anyway, I hope you’re comfy with your cup of hot tea. I spat my tea out when I discovered what the locals thought of Henry Bell (number 2) if you’re wondering!

The video below will give you a flavor of what you’ll discover in fantastic detail in this blog post.

In this short video, you’ll discover some of the Scottish people behind the bold inventions that shaped Scottish culture and our modern way of life.

Stay Near Perth Museum In Local Accommodation

Be sure to check out these budget friendly local hostels, hotels, and guesthouse options for the best central location.

B&B – Dunallan Guest House
B&B – The Fitzroy
B&B- Hazeldene Guest House
B&B – Clark Kimberley Guest House
Hostel (June-August) – Perth Youth Hostel
Hotel (Next To Train Station) – Station Hotel

Visit These Perth Cafes For Locally Sourced Food

Be sure to check out this mix of markets/cafes/restaurants for locally sourced food.

14 St John’s Pl, Perth PH1 5SZ

Comfy cafe & bar with outdoor seating serving classic chow, afternoon tea, desserts & ice cream.

51-53, South St, Perth PH2 8PD

Giraffe is a social enterprise providing employment support to adults with support needs in the workplace.

Their shop on South Street is a treasure trove of gifts, trinkets, plants, and a lovely little cafe serving refreshments and freshly cooked food throughout the day.

269 Vegan
37A S Methven St, Perth PH1 5NU

whether you follow a plant-based diet or are simply a lover of delicious food in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, 269 is one to check out for sure.

When you do pop in, make sure to try out one of their moreish brownies – thank me later!

46 South Methven Street, PH1 5NX

Delicious is Perth’s favorite and most popular, quirky sandwich bar/cafe in town and run by a husband and wife team.

They prepare famous fresh sandwiches, wraps, and salads made to order in front of you. They also have homemade soups, baked potatoes, homemade cakes, and delicious traybakes.

Perth Farmers Market

Kind Edward Street, PH1 5UB

Established by lamb farmer Jim Fairlie in 1999, Perth was the first farmers’ market in Scotland and remains the one which many others are based on and aspire to.

The market takes place on the first Saturday of the month except for January, with two in December. The market has between 45-50 stalls selling a range of local seasonal produce including fresh meat; fruit & vegetables; oils dressings and preserves; dairy products; home baking; and spirits.

Contribute To Your Favourite Local Perth Grassroots Or Non-Profit

Fancy making a fantastic contribution while you travel?

At KylesLife, we’re adventurers with heart.

Wherever we travel, we always find a way to be active in the quest for sustainable, positive social change.

Here are 5 local Perth non-profits/grassroots projects that we think you might like to contribute to in your own way.

Perth Six Circle Project

  • “In meeting the needs of others we meet the needs of ourselves.”
  • This group amplifies the parts of us which make us each unique and then we serve others from this point of uniqueness for the common, mutual good.
  • A young child’s refreshing lack of inhibition, a young person’s hidden sense of humour and an adult offender’s physical strength to push or carry his wheelchair-bound friend. 


  • Help people recover from mental illness and to meet for mutual support.
  • To enable people to understand and cope with their mind.
  • Provide emotional support
  • Help develop life skills
  • Involve the wider community in our work to support mental health.


  • Help people with learning difficulties to enjoy a rich social life in their local community.
  • Donations help to support locals by helping them to meet new people, make new friends, and to enjoy their independence.
  • You’ll help to empower people to find employment with confidence.

Perth Foodbank

  • Provide three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people.

Independent Advocacy

  • Safeguard people who are vulnerable or discriminated against or whom services find difficult to support.
  • Many of us find it difficult at times to get our voice heard about decisions or actions that affect our lives. 
  • Some people have family, friends, or other carers to help them to speak up. Others do not have people in their lives to do that, and sometimes, if they do, family members may have their own ideas about ‘what is best’ for the person involved.
  • Advocacy is about broadening horizons and widening the options that people have. Advocacy is important to ensure justice, equality and fairness.

1. Barnwell Brothers’ First Powered Flight.

If the Americans had the Wright brothers, Scotland had Harold and Frank Barnwell.

The Barnwell Brothers, from Stirling, made some of the most fantastic flying machines in the history of flying things.

They achieved the first powered flight in Scotland in 1909, when they traveled 80 meters over a Stirling field.

In 1908, their first plane was built, but the engine wasn’t powerful enough to take off.

So Harold took their next creation to the skies a year later in 1909 for a mere 80 meters before crashing nose-first in a field.

Despite the crash, those 80 meters were enough for the brothers to make history.

Delighted with the result (and the crash), the brothers eagerly revisited the drawing board.

They produced their 3rd plane a year later, in 1910, their technical genius paid off.

The self-designed plane managed to fly 600 meters across rolling farmland and over the Stirling town, making this by far their most significant achievement yet.

But as tensions began to rise across Europe over Hitler’s disastrous plans triggering two world wars, the brothers redirected their efforts to design planes for the British army.

Their war efforts saw the pair engineer the 1915 Scout biplane, the 1933 high-speed “Britain First” bomber, the Blenheim bomber, and finally the Beaufort torpedo bomber.

After both world wars were over, the brothers returned home to Scotland, having lost their sons in world war two.

Both brothers later died in two separate plane crashes of their own designs.

2. Henry Bell & The Comet.

The fare was “four shillings for the best cabin and three shillings for the second.” This was the start of a regular Scottish steamboat service between Glasgow, Greenock, and Helensburgh.

Henry Bell lived a somewhat entrepreneurial life before his passing on 14 March 1830.

He made his name by building the paddle steamer PS Comet. In 1812, he used it to run Europe’s first commercially viable passenger steamboat service on the River Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock.

The majority of his early years as a ship mechanic were spent in London, England.

He eventually returned to Scotland around 1790 and moved to Glasgow, where he restarted his life in Scotland as a house carpenter.

His ambition to follow the footsteps of his ancestors and become a civil engineer fell short due to either lack of money or lack of skill.

The people who knew him witnessed many of his designs abandoned because of the pain and expense it brought to him and his loved ones.

Henry’s steamboat, “PS Comet,” was named after a great comet visible in the skies above for several months in 1811–12, and was built by a local man named John Wood.

After his fantastic steamboat success, the locals would refer to Henry as “the hero of a thousand blunders and one success.

3. James Anderson & The Scotch Plough.

James shared the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment in the 18th-19th centuries.

He was a thinker and contributed to the invention of the Scottish plough during the period of the Scottish Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment is the point in Scotlands history made famous by an outpouring of intellectual ideas and worthy accomplishments.

During this period, many people believed in the importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason.

In Scotland, those people held themselves to hand standards. Their daily values were based on improvement, virtue, and practical benefit for the individual and society.

Scotland’s union with England in 1707 led to a conscious attempt to improve agriculture.

Because England was significantly more wealthy, agriculture in Scotland was seen as one of the best ways to bridge the wealth gap between the two countries.

The invention of the Scotch Plough was a wood and iron animal draft, used for heavy work such as the turning of the soil on rural farmland.

I don’t know about you, but if I was living in this time as a farmer, this would have been the best invention since sliced bread. No more hunchback!


4. John Boyd & The Case For Poverty.

John was a Glasgow man and studied at the city university.

He often ventured beyond the city and into the surrounding neighborhoods, actively exposing himself to the dreadful urban slums that clung to the edges of the city like cancer.

And so he’d casually stroll around and study the people living there and learn about them.

Then he would try to figure out how he could be of service to this problem.

His 1936 report “Food, Health and Income” showed that at least one-third of the UK population was so poor that they could not afford sufficient food to provide a healthy diet.

He focused on human nutrition both as a researcher and an active lobbyist and propagandist for improving people’s diets.

In 1927, he proved the value of milk being supplied to school children, which led to free school milk provision in the UK.

And he went on to help Britain alleviate its post-war food shortage and propose new plans for improving food production and making quality food accessible to people in poverty.

He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not a bad effort, huh?

5. Alexander Bell.

Forgive me, but do you not think Alexander Bell looks like Tim Allen’s Santa?

No? Not even a little? Oh cummon…

Unlike Santa, you’ll probably know Alexander as a Scottish inventor, scientist, and engineer who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone.

Intrigued by sound from a young age, Bell’s experiment with the family’s Skye Terrier involved teaching it to growl continuously.

Bell would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog’s lips and vocal cords to produce a crude-sounding “Ow ah oo ga ma ma.”

With little convincing, visitors believed his dog could articulate, “How are you, grandma?”

Indicative of his playful nature, his experiments convinced onlookers that they saw a “talking dog.”

These initial experiments with sound led Bell to undertake his first serious work on transmitting sound, using tuning forks to explore resonance.

Fast forward 20+ years, and on August 10, 1876, Bell made the history with a call via the telegraph line between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, which was eight miles long.

This test was said by many sources to be the “world’s first long-distance call.”

To Edinburgh & Back Again – kyleslife Travel Guide

See Edinburgh for yourself In this episode. we explore the cultural heart of Scotland.

About kyleslife.

Our passion here at kyleslife is to help you to explore and travel locally and sustainably around Scotland’s towns and shires.

We also have a YouTube channel where we share various Scottish travel tips and travel guides from born & bred locals.

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