The most English Scotsman?

Round & About

Robbie James

Robbie James shares his love of his ‘homeland’ in his new TV show and invites you to join the journey up north

I’ve lived all but two years of my life in the south of England. I grew up near Winchester. Winchester! It doesn’t get much more English than middle class, oat milk flat white, Schoffel wearing Winchester. I’ve since moved to Farnham. Farnham! Middle class, oat milk flat white, Schoffel wearing Farnham.

Ok so maybe I’ve had a fairly English life so far, but at heart, I feel very, very Scottish. I know, you’re rolling your eyes as you await me to tell you about my great aunt’s, cousin’s, labrador’s, dressing table’s Scottish heritage, but let me explain.

My grandparents on my mum’s side came down to Aldershot from Glasgow when my grandad (Papi as we call him) was in the parachute regiment. Ever since, my family has been settled down south, but they’ve never lost their love and impassionment for Scotland, and that’s rubbed off on me. 

Watching Scotland play in the Six Nations from their south coast home has formed the nucleus of all major family events. Hearing stories of Jack & Betty’s less than glamorous upbringings in the Glaswegian tenements has humbled us through the years, and near enough everything I have in my life is thanks to their relentless hard graft. But anyway, we’ve always been brought up to be aware of our Scottish roots, and to feel them.

So when Travelxp asked me if I’d like to host a TV show taking you around Scotland for 10 days, I immediately said yes. We filmed it at the back end of the summer and it was the most fun. It felt like a form of homecoming, which even I struggle to comprehend given I’ve only ever lived in Scotland to study at Heriot Watt University for two years, but I feel at my most content in Scotland. 

Every country has a mixed bag of people; but the self-deprecating, warm, charming and often downright mischievous sense of humour from Scottish people is something I can really get on board with. The landscape is also just beautiful to the point where I feel drained from the emotion it somehow brings out in me. So romantic, curiously personable, and yes really cold, but that’s fine.

I think the show covers all bases when it comes to exploring the country. We of course take you through some of the most emotive landscape the UK (and in my opinion, the world) has to offer, but we also head into cities, touch on Scotland’s often traumatic history, and you bet we learn the bagpipes (which by the way is one of the hardest things to do, lots of blowing, to the extent I nearly passed out).

I think it’s important not to force any kind of #content down anyone’s throat. No one trusts a sales rep, so we wanted to give you some ideas of things to do if you’re visiting Scotland, but they’re only ideas. You’re grown up and can plan your own trip, you don’t need me to tell you how brilliant every single cafe or walk in Scotland is, because it’s not. That’s not the case anywhere, except maybe Farnham…or Winchester. Uh oh.

Watch Robbie James in 10 Days Scotland, which airs from 25th November exclusively on Travelxp.

Making small steps

Round & About

Robbie James

Columnist Robbie James says we still have a long way to go – but we can take tentative positives from the recent situation surrounding Luis Rubiales

Aside from filming a new TV Show in Scotland, trying to deal with summer being over, and watching Driving School (which is my new favourite TV show that you need to watch because it’s beyond funny), I’ve spent a lot of time digesting the complete madness of the Luis Rubiales case.

It’s one of the most mind boggling, head spinning, saddest stories I can remember (and think about the last few years of news).

I’m a white, straight, privileged male – I have absolutely no idea what Jenni Hermoso must be experiencing, nor how the rest of the Spanish team must feel, who put so much hard work into achieving something so incredible, only for it to be overshadowed by this mess.

Whilst it’s horrifying and utterly bizarre – the outpouring of support I’ve seen for Hermoso recently must give us some hope that whilst we clearly still have so far to go in terms of addressing the gender imbalance, we are making small steps forward.

Would this story have seen such coverage five or ten years ago? I highly doubt it. These sorts of stories have often divided opinion in the past, but this time it feels like the vast majority of people are in agreement that Rubiales has done a terrible thing. Things seem to be improving to the extent that more men are willing to stand up against those who discriminate or act upon archaic ideologies. And this is the demographic that needs to step up.

It’s not enough to just ‘not agree’ with these things. We need to be so much more proactive than we have been in the past when it comes to championing women.

Similarly with sport. If you like football, great. Watch Women’s football. Shout about Women’s Football – it’s people like us who need to play a part in swinging the pendulum into equilibrium. Plus, women’s football is genuinely brilliant, and these talented people deserve the attention. It’s lazy to just watch men’s football because it’s so accessible and the ‘done thing’.

I’m aware this comes across as very ‘do this now, and now do that’. We’re all a work in progress but if it didn’t preach this here this would be a very hypocritical column. Anyway, back to Driving School (seriously, watch it for an injection of joy).