TIME

Scotland’s First Minister Helped a Man Propose to his Boyfriend

Nicola Sturgeon popped the question on the man's behalf

Nicola Sturgeon took a break from being Scotland’s First Minister by helping a man named Paul propose to his boyfriend, Ian, during a public meeting in the Scottish town of Oban.

The proposal, which was documented on her Twitter account, shows Sturgeon popping the question on the behalf of Paul, who was bent down on one knee.

Thankfully for all, a happy-looking Ian said yes, prompting Sturgeon to offer her congratulations to the couple.

On Wednesday, Sturgeon retweeted a picture of Ian’s engagement ring to her 200,000 followers.

TIME Comedy

This Was Voted the Funniest Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. Performers from The Emerald Theatre promote their Edinburgh Festival Fringe show on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Picture date: Monday August 24, 2015. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland's capital city. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire URN:23902956
Danny Lawson—PA Wire/PA Images/AP Performers from The Emerald Theatre promote their Edinburgh Festival Fringe show on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh on Aug. 24, 2015.

"I just deleted all the German names off my phone.........."

Darren Walsh, 39, has won the prize for the funniest joke at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland’s capital.

His mobile phone joke, “I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It’s Hans free,” took first place in a vote by TV channel Dave.

Every year thousands of performers head to Scotland to take part in the festival. The Edinburgh Fringe sees established acts to unknown artists play – be it in comedy, theatre, dance, spoken word, musicals and even cabaret – in over 200 venues scattered around the city.

In 2014, the organisers recorded 49,497 performances, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world.

Here’s 5 of the other jokes that made the shortlist:

“Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse … but enough about Kanye West” – Stewart Francis

“Surely every car is a people carrier?” – Adam Hess

“Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That’s not a miracle. That’s tapas” – Mark Nelson

“Red sky at night. Shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night. Day” – Tom Parry

“Clowns divorce. Custardy battle” – Simon Munnery

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is from August 7 – 31.

TIME Travel

Here’s the Best Way to Explore Europe’s Secret Villages

These destinations include medieval churches, cobblestoned streets and endless olive groves

A few winters ago, my family and I checked into a restored 17th-century estate in the tiny town of Lower Monferrato, in Piedmont, Italy. Our bay window looked out onto rolling hills covered in grapevines and, far, far in the landscape, the snow-topped Alps. No cars passed the cypress-dotted landscape; each morning we sat down in total tranquility to a breakfast of fresh-baked bread, soft cheeses, and blood orange juice. The experience was one that many modern travelers are searching for: a few nights hidden away in a European village, experiencing the traditional culture and soul of a destination.

What is the allure of these small towns with their meandering streets, lunch-only cafés, and intimate shops? “Perhaps it is the scaled-down size, the greater ease of catching a shopkeeper’s eye, the colorful flowers hanging in a window,” says Travel + Leisure A-List travel agent Marjorie Shaw of Insiders Italy, a Rome-based agency. Writer David Farley agrees: “In a time of creeping globalization, villages offer a look into the past as well as a clearer sense of the country or region, including its food.”

So for your next European getaway, take a detour to a tiny town. Ullastret, in Spain’s Baix Empordà, is a notable Slow Food mecca: at the four-room Hotel El Fort, owner Lola Puig serves locally grown vegetables, homemade bread, and organic goat’s cheese on a lantern-lit terrace that overlooks a field of mulberry trees.

Further off the beaten path, in Arild, Sweden, the artist Lars Vilks built Nimis, a public art installation with a maze of 300-foot aboveground tunnels and a 45-foot-high climbing tower. The fishing village itself is just a two-hour drive and ferry ride from Copenhagen.

This type of experience can fulfill many expectations. According to writer Sylvie Bigar, who researched these secret places to come up with the best ones, “A tiny town offers adventure, novelty, beauty, as well as a sense of history. Knowing that some of these gems have been there for so long and have not been ‘discovered’ yet calms the spirit and brings a sense of peace.”

A plugged-in agent can help to coordinate this type of getaway. Or just put the guidebook aside, head into the countryside, and explore on your own. The return on your investment? A rewarding and unique experience and, once you return home, priceless memories and bragging rights.

  • Bolgheri, Italy

    europe-bolgheri-italy
    David Cicconi

    The Viale dei Cipressi, a three-mile road flanked by over 2,500 cypress trees (the only vegetation local buffalo don’t eat), leads straight into Bolgheri, which is set amid the vineyards of southern Tuscany’s Maremma. There’s more to this village than just the dramatic arrival, however. Stop in at Caffé della Posta, on the main square, to try one of Bolgheri’s reds: first produced in the 1980’s, these wines now rival French Bordeaux. In nearby Bibbona, five miles southeast, you’ll find the Relais Sant’Elena, a 15-room estate with canopy beds, stone fireplaces, and pasta-making classes.

    How to Get There: Bolgheri is a 40-mile drive south from Pisa.

    Where to Stay: Relais Sant’Elena (doubles from $182).

    Where to Eat: Chefs Omar Barsacchi and Gionata d’Alessi serve Tuscan-Maremman cuisine (ravioli stuffed with pappa al pomodoro) at Osteria Magona (Piazza Ugo 2\3, 011-39-0565-762173).

  • Kotor, Montenegro

    europe-kotor-montenegro
    iStock

    In the fall, a mist settles into the hills surrounding the bay of Kotor, so thick you can hardly see the blood-orange trees in front of you. That hasn’t stopped the tide of wealthy Europeans: British expats are selling real estate, Russians are buying farmhouses in the hills, and the dark-haired, green-eyed people of the black mountains (how Montenegro gets its name) have opened restaurants to introduce visitors to the tastes of Montenegrin stewed meat. Beaches are not yet overrun, but this wild side of the Dalmatian Coast won’t stay undeveloped for long.

    How to Get There: Kotor is 50 miles from Podgorica, the capital.

    Where to Stay: Palazzo Radomiri (doubles from $143) was built from Croatian stone.

    Where to Eat: Stari Mlini, on a mountain stream.

  • Staufen im Breisgau, Germany

    europe-staufen-breisgau-germany
    Christian Kerber

    This enclave on the edge of the Black Forest, in southern Germany, is the ideal destination for a wine weekend. From Strasbourg, you’ll pass hills covered with terraced vineyards; the statue of a fat, naked Bacchus signals that you’ve arrived at the tiny downtown. Main Street’s pastel houses lead to the market place, which is crowned by the Town Hall, with a gothic inscription relating local history back to 770 on the façade. Join the businessmen in pinstripes at the outdoor wine bar, though a word to overindulgers: legend has it that any reveler who falls into one of the (sparkling-clean) irrigation ditches that run through town is destined to marry a local.

    How to Get There: Staufen is 75 minutes by car from Strasbourg.

    Where to Stay and Eat: Hotel-Gasthof Kreuz-Post (doubles from $136) has five rooms in patterned fabrics. Try duck breast, savory mushroom crêpes, and blood-sausage risotto at its restaurant.

    Local Take: Pick up a bottle of cherry or plum eau-de-vie at theAlfred Schladerer distillery, run by sixth-generation vintner Philipp Schladerer.

  • Lavenham, England

    europe-lavenham-england
    T.M.O.Travel/Alamy

    Lavenham, in Suffolk, may just be the prettiest town in England. It boasts more than 350 heritage houses and its high street is lined with the kind of bric-a-brac shops and teahouses (serving scones and clotted cream) that are on the endangered list throughout rural England—and all but extinct in glossier reaches, such as the Cotswolds and West Dorset. Sarah Townsend, former owner of the superchic Palazzo Terranova, in Umbria, was so charmed by the region that she just opened a small inn in nearby Buxhall.

    How to Get There: Trains depart London’s Liverpool Street Station several times daily for Stowmarket, 14 miles away. Or, get off at Colchester and take the Chambers 753 bus line into town.

    Where to Stay and Eat: The contemporary Great House Hotel (doubles from $162) is in Lavenham’s town center. The Great House Restaurant, with its gastropub take on English fare, is one of Suffolk’s finest.

  • Aberdour, Scotland

    europe-aberdour-scotland
    Gistimages/Alamy

    The train from Edinburgh stops at a Victorian station next to a riot of neatly planted flowers in a hidden glen in the shadow of a medieval castle. Aberdour is not car-friendly, but why should it be when anything you would want to see is in town and connected by well-kept walkways? In August, this hamlet serves as a tranquil base for visiting the Edinburgh International Festival, but for the rest of the year, it is a working village with a general store, four cozy pubs, and even a shop dedicated to Wiccan supplies, situated provocatively equidistant from the Churches of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

    How to Get There: Aberdour is 30 minutes by train from Edinburgh.

    Where to Stay and Eat: Great Value The Woodside Hotel (doubles from $140) offers rooms decorated in individual tartans. The bar, whose paneling came from a 19th-century passenger ship, serves local Highland beef.

  • Norcia, Italy

    europe-norcia-italy
    iStock

    In this eastern Umbrian citadel, artisanal culinary traditions endure. Pecorino cheese is aged for two years, trained dogs sniff out black truffles in the woodlands, and honey is sourced from the red wildflowers that bloom in the plains. But it’s the cinghiale that takes pride of place. Throughout the centro storico, the scent of spiced wild-boar salumi carries from the norcineria (delis) into the traffic-free roads. Step past the prosciutti hanging in storefronts to find shopkeepers curing cuts of the pork with methods perfected over the past 800 years. Ask them to slice up freshciauscoli, and bring it to the Piazza San Benedetto, where villagers celebrate the Festival of Saint Benedict in the spring.

    How to Get There: Norcia is 69 miles northeast of Rome.

    Where to Stay: The 24-room Palazzo Seneca, set in a 16th-century palace.

    Where to Eat: Il Granaro del Monte, for plates of black-truffle strangozzi pasta.

    Local Take: Fabrizio Marini, director of the food shop Norceria Brancaleone da Norcia, recommends visiting during the Black Truffle Festival, in February and March.

  • Roundstone, Ireland

    europe-roundstone-ireland
    courtesy of www.discoverireland.com

    No blackberries could taste better than the ones picked along the winding lanes of Roundstone. But even the berry-averse will find reasons to love this 19th-century fishing village. Climb Errisbeg Hill for a clear view of Connemara National Park’s Twelve Bens: a mountain range rising over a vast peat bog. In case of rain—always in Ireland’s cards—head to Malachy Kearns’s shop, which sells handmade bodhran (Irish drums), or dry off by the fire at O’Dowds bar with a kit (a pint of Guinness and a shot of Irish whiskey).

    How to Get There: From Galway, it’s a 76-mile drive.

    Where to Stay: Family-run Cashel House Hotel (doubles from $220), on 50 acres, is just a few miles east of Roundstone.

    Where to Eat: Join anglers in the bar at Ballynahinch Castle Hotelor at O’Dowds.

  • Chassignolles, France

    europe-chassignolles-france
    Myriam Roehri

    Several years ago Harry Lester (formerly chef and owner of London’s Anchor & Hope gastropub) and his partner, Ali Johnson, set their sights on France’s Auvergne and bought a thirties-era stone inn in tiny Chassignolles. The village, popular with Marseilles’ elite in the 1950’s, promises dormant green volcanoes and winding streams assumed to have healing qualities. At the restored auberge, guests look out toward the 12th-century Romanesque church and can enjoy inventive meals made from local ingredients.

    How to Get There: Chassignolles is halfway between Clermont-Ferrand and Le Puy-en-Velay.

    Where to Stay and Eat: Great Value At the Auberge de Chassignolles (doubles from $58), white rooms are decorated with French antiques. At its restaurant, specialties from Auvergne like pounti (a pork, Swiss-chard, and prune tartine) and tarte aux cèpes are often on the menu, which changes daily.

    Local Take: Try the meandering, 90-minute walk to Durbiat, an even smaller village with a crumbling castle. The chefs at the auberge will pack up a picnic basket.

  • Folégandros, Greece

    europe-folegandros-greece
    Grand Tour Collection

    There’s no mistaking it, this tranquil spot in the Cyclades has nothing in common with neighboring Santorini: no building stands above two stories, no cruise ships pull into port, and there are no boutiques or fancy restaurants. Instead, on this remote island in the Aegean, waves crash on pebbled beaches, goats scurry up the hills, and an old wooden windmill twists in the salty breeze. It’s a delightfully quiet escape for those who have grown tired of Greece’s more trammeled getaways.

    How to Get There: Fly to Santorini or take a ferry or a hydrofoil from Piraeus, just outside Athens.

    Where to Stay: Great Value There’s a nautical theme at Anemomilos Apartments (studios from $131), on a cliff with easy access to the village of Hora. Anemi Hotel is a modern newcomer with cube-shaped rooms near Karavostasi port.

    Where to Eat: Irini’s, a grocery that turns into a restaurant at night, is the place for a home-cooked meal.

  • Giornico, Switzerland

    europe-giornico-switzerland
    age fotosotck/Alamy

    The charm of Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of southern Switzerland, is the not-quite-here, not-quite-there, lost-in-time feel of the place. To fully appreciate it, drive north 35 miles from the popular lake resort towns of Ascona and Locarno and find the turnoff for Giornico, a stone relic of 14th-century Europe hiding off the main road. Descend into the valley and arrive at a trickling little river crossed by two arching stone bridges. The family-run restaurants of the region are called grotte. The best, Grotto dei due Ponti, serves dishes like spezzatino (meat ragoût) with polenta and tart local Merlot.

    How to Get There: From the lake resorts, drive north 50 minutes on the A13 and N2.

    Where to Stay: There are no hotels in Giornico, so stay in nearby Ascona at the pink Hotel Giardino (doubles from $400).

    Where to Eat: Grotto dei due Ponti has a shaded terrace that overlooks the river.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

    More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Scotland to Prohibit GMO Crops

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Getty Images

The government is worried GMO crops could damage the country's "clean and green brand"

The Scottish government announced Sunday that it will formally prohibit genetically modified crops.

The country is utilizing new European Union rules that allow countries to opt out of EU-approved GM crops. “The Scottish Government will shortly submit a request that Scotland is excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops, including the variety of genetically modified maize already approved and six other GM crops that are awaiting authorization,” the Scottish Government said in a statement.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead also released a statement saying there is no evidence of high demand for GMO crops among Scottish consumers, and that he fears allowing GM crops would damage the country’s “clean and green brand.”

The new ban will not stop ongoing research regarding GMOs taking place in Scotland, the Guardian reports.

TIME Bizarre

Tiny Scottish Island Experiences First Crime in 50 Years With Six Wooly Hats Stolen

The burglary happened at one of the island's 20 buildings

A recently-opened cosmetics store on the tiny Scottish island of Canna was robbed last Friday night, with thieves breaking in and stealing cash, several beauty products and six wooly hats.

The theft is the first instance of crime on the island in over half a century; the last theft in the 1960s was of a wooden plate, Scottish broadcaster STV News reported.

“The thieves cleared the shelves of sweets, chocolate bars, coffee, biscuits, batteries and more,” said a spokeswoman for the Canna Community Trust, which runs the store. “Most upsetting for [manager] Julie was they stole six of her hand-knitted Canna wool hats which were in the shop on a sale or return basis.”

The spokeswoman added that they might have to employ drastic new security measures to prevent further thefts on the island, which has a population of less than 30.

“Sadly, this means we will have to lock the door of the shop overnight now,” she said. “We left it open specifically to welcome fisherman in to use the Wi-Fi and buy anything they needed while resting in at our pier overnight.”

[STV]

TIME Britain

These Are the 5 Facts That Explain the Surprising U.K. Elections

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) stands with former former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (C) and former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, as they line up to pay tribute at the Cenotaph during a Victory in Europe (VE) day ceremony in central London on May 8, 2015.
Dan Kitwood—Reuters Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) stands with former former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (C) and former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, as they line up to pay tribute at the Cenotaph during a Victory in Europe (VE) day ceremony in central London on May 8, 2015.

A possible Brexit, the growing chance of an independent Scotland and other results from the campaign

The British people have spoken—and they want the Conservative David Cameron to continue as Prime Minister. But we don’t know if they want to remain part of the EU, or even part of their own United Kingdom. These 5 numbers explain yesterday’s election results, and where the UK goes from here.

1. The Losers

The Labour Party captured only 232 seats—surprising, since projections had them neck-and-neck with the Conservatives, their main rivals, going into the polls. Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, has already resigned after the loss. But the biggest loser of the night was the Liberal Democrats, who absolutely imploded and lost 49 seats in Parliament compared to their last outing. There was hope that the centrist party could capture enough seats to help the Tories form a coalition government. Now it’s a serious question whether the Lib Dems are even a viable political movement going forward given Britain’s increasingly polarized politics.

(BBC, The Guardian, The Spectator)

2. The Winners

The Conservatives were the big victors last night, securing 331 seats and an outright majority in the House of Commons. (All results are still preliminary.) The other significant winner was the Scottish National Party (SNP) and its leader, Nicola Sturgeon. SNP is a regional party which actively campaigns for Scottish independence, so its big night—winning 56 seats out of the 59 contested in Scotland—may come as no surprise. Still, it is shocking that SNP’s massive showing comes on the heels of a Scottish independence referendum in September which saw Scots vote decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom. SNP’s strong performance and insistence on greater Scottish independence opens the door for another Scottish referendum down the road.

Another winner was the UK Independence Party, or UKIP. A Eurosceptic right-wing group, it looks to have managed to secure only one seat in the House of Commons. But while it lost the electoral battle, it won the political one—by dragging Cameron and the Tories further to the right, advancing its agenda to pull Britain out of the EU. Furthermore, its solid performance throughout the country—it took 12.7% of the popular vote, third most after the Conservatives and Labour—makes UKIP a political force to be reckoned with and will increase calls for serious electoral reform. After all, the SNP is now the third largest party in government, yet it won less than 5% of the popular vote.

(BBC, The Telegraph, The Telegraph)

3. The Specter of an EU Referendum

Cameron had pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership by 2017 if the Tories remained in power. Cameron floated the “Brexit,” or British exit, scenario in a bid to win over voters trending towards UKIP. But in the process, he opened some old wounds. The UK has had an uneasy relationship with the EU since it rejected the Euro currency in 1991 to keep the Pound Sterling. Unlike European heavyweights France and Germany, which both fully embraced the European project, the UK has spent decades hedging. While the country is forced to pay billions into Brussels’ coffers each year, Britain has undoubtedly benefitted from its relationship with the EU, in particular its banking sector. In 2014 alone, financial and insurance services brought in $193.7 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy, 8% of the UK’s total GVA.

(The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Parliament of the United Kingdom)

4. London Calling Anymore?

With fear of Brexit looming over these elections, financial institutions began hinting at their disquiet. 72% of companies polled in Great Britain by the firm Grant Thornton believe a UK exit would hurt business. HSBC has warned that it would consider relocating its headquarters from London should the UK leave the EU. As it stands, the British people are roughly split on whether to exit the EU—in a recent poll 39% want to leave against 40% who want to stay. Some estimates have a British exit from the EU costing London $330 billion, or 14% of its GDP.

(Politico, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Guardian)

5. Unhung parliaments

Europeans are increasingly voting for anti-establishment parties. Hung parliaments (i.e. a situation where no political party has an absolute majority) are becoming the rule rather than the exception across Europe. Britain was expected to join them—Election Forecast UK had put the probability of a hung British parliament at 97%. Despite the Tories’ impressive victory, the impact of the SNP and UKIP on the election show that this trend continues to spread. Is this increasing political divergence a sign that democracy in Europe is breaking down or working better than ever? The success or failure of the next British government to resolve the country’s fractious relations with the EU and its governing institutions will help answer that question.

(London School of Economics, Business Insider)

TIME U.K.

J.K. Rowling Says Scottish Labour Party Leader Worthy of Gryffindor

Author J.K. Rowling and Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy
(2) Getty Images Author J.K. Rowling and Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy

"For showing unbelievable guts in the face of impossible odds"

The Scottish Labour Party suffered a dreadful night of defeats in the U.K. election Thursday — but there’s a slim silver lining for leader Jim Murphy, who received a unique tribute from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Although Murphy lost his parliamentary seat and his party was swept out of power in all but one seat in Scotland, Rowling tweeted that she would place the deposed MP in the Gryffindor House at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry alongside Harry Potter and Hermione Granger for his bravery.

Of course the Sorting Hat is the only magical object that can determine which house a wizard belongs in. But perhaps because she invented the hat, Rowling gets first say.

Though Rowling was born in England she currently resides north of the border and is a long-time Labour Party donor. She also reportedly donated one million pounds ($1.5 million) to the campaign against Scottish independence last year — a cause favored by the Scottish National Party, whose candidate took Murphy’s seat.

TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Honors Famous Photo of Loch Ness Monster

Google

Fans can search for the monster on Google Street View

Eighty-one years ago, Colonel Robert Wilson snapped a grainy photograph of what appeared to be a prehistoric sea creature raising its head out of the depths of Scotland’s Loch Ness — inspiring the legend of one of earth’s most infamous monsters, Nessie. On Tuesday, Google honored the anniversary of that celebrated photo with an animated Google Doodle.

Wilson said he took the shot of the Loch Ness Monster, printed in the Daily Mail in 1934, when he was driving across the northern shore and noticed something in the water. But Wilson himself never claimed the photo as proof of a monster and disassociated his name from the picture by calling it the “surgeon’s photo.”

In 1994, then 93-year-old Christian Spurling confessed that he had built the neck and attached it to a toy submarine. The toy was then photographed by a big-game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell to spite the Daily Mail for a perceived injustice from a previous Loch Ness Monster search.

The Google Doodle shows an animated Nessie submarine being driven by three aliens. Fans hoping to solve the mystery once and for all can use Google Street View to search for the monster.

Read next: Google Has a New Handwriting Keyboard and It Actually Works

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 15

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The U.S. is safer than we’ve been in generations. So why do we see threats around every corner?

By Stephen Kinzer in the Boston Globe

2. Is college worth it? There’s a checklist for that.

By Brandon Busteed at Gallup

3. Life is teaching your kid the value of white lies.

By Melissa Dahl in the Science of Us

4. The secret to success for unregulated currencies like Bitcoin might be more regulation.

By Larry Greenemeier in Scientific American

5. Scotland’s new drunk-driving law works so well, it’s hurting their economy.

By Chris Green in the Independent

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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