Thursday, August 31, 2006

Further Away Day

The Bass Rock, as photographed from the shore at North Berwick, is a spectacular sight.

Whilst, from the landward side, North Berwick is dominated by Berwick Law.

I've loaded the pictures of the trip, including Dirleton Castle & Craigmiller Castle
on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Away Day

I'm sure that Grant will forgive my trespassing on his area for a very limited time, but I thought you might like the following photograph of Edinburgh Castle taken last Monday evening.

Later the same night, while we were waiting for a bus, we listened to the Group Simple Minds performing in Princes Street Gardens. I tried to take a photograph of the stage from a moving bus and the following interesting result ensued.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Apologies for the delay in posting, but I'm on the road at the moment and I don't know when I'll have access.

Note how much the eagulls honour the statues!

P.S. I should have mentioned that the photo is of Wellington Square, Ayr and it should of course have read '... seagulls honour...'

Friday, August 25, 2006


On the way back from walking in Culzean Estate yesterday, we drove round by the coast road via the village of Dunure.

The original Dunure Castle was in existence earlier than the 13th century, but these remains date from a later period. It was the residence of the Kennedys of Carrick, to whom the lands were granted in 1357. The 4th Earl of Cassillis, Gilbert Kennedy, entertained Mary Queen of Scots here from 4th to 7th August 1563 when she visited the west of her country.

There is a story that, in 1570, in the dungeon of Dunure Castle, Gilbert Kennedy roasted alive the Commendator of Crossraguel Abbey, a crown appointee by name of Alan Stewart, in order to force him to transfer to Gilbert some of the lands belonging to the Abbey. The Commendator yielded after two turns of the spit!

However it is also said that the Commendator survived his injuries and lived to a relatively peaceful old age.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Another 2 for 1 offer today!

The first photograph was taken by me on 17 August 2006 just outside Girvan. Although there are no machines in site, you can tell by the size of the rolls (approximately half a ton weight) the level of mechanization required for this type of farming.

The second photograph was taken by one of my late parents-in-law at an unknown location not long before the start of World War 2.

Now I'm not one to yearn for nostalgia (!) and I know the demands for production are much higher now, but does anyone else long for the slower, quieter (and more eco-friendly) farm methods back then?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A waste of a good walk!

Just sour grapes from me since I've given up even trying to play the d****d game.

I've forgotten who I'm quoting from with the title, but I'm sure he/she will forgive me for not attributing it.

This picture was taken this afternoon (good weather here yet again) at Belleisle Golf Course, one of a good few owned by the Local Authority and available for play by anyone - if they can afford the green fees. I suppose the cost isn't all that high when you consider how long it can take to get round!

This course is NOT one of the typical seaside links courses which abound all along the Clyde Coast.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Sticking with yesterday's nautical theme, here is a picture of the last sea-going paddle steamer Waverley as she enters Ayr harbour yesterday for the last time this season.

{23/08/06 Mea Culpa - I've been told the last sailing from Ayr this season is next Monday, 28/08/06.}

The sound of her paddles 'slapping' the water, especially when changing from forward to reverse, has to be heard to be believed.

I've loaded my full set of Waverley pictures of yesterday on Flickr.

In my youth, which wasn't yesterday, there were still several boats which went cruising 'doon the watter' during the summer and that was well past the heyday of the Clyde Steamers racing each other to get to the pier first.

As a slight contrast

the modern cruising population likes it's comfort!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Boat Ahoy

Well, yesterday late morning and afternoon turned out to be much better weather than expected.

So much so that we went to the RSPB reserve at Lochwinnoch. I didn't include any ph0tographs from there since
  1. it is not in Ayrshire,
  2. there weren't many birds to see and
  3. the ones you could see were miles away.

From Lochwinnoch we went to Largs in North Ayrshire and I took this photograph of the Largs to Isle of Cumbrae ferry arriving to discharge its load at Largs.

Although Cumbrae isn't in Ayrshire either, I'll probably, sometime in the future, post some photographs from there as well, as the only transport route to the island is through Ayrshire.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Low Green

Since I'm not sure what the weather will do today, I'm posting a photograph taken a couple of days ago.

This view of the Low Green, looking out over Doonfoot to the Brown Carrick Hills, shows all that remains of Ayr Burgh's Common Lands, granted under Royal Charter to the Burgh in the 14th century.

The green has mainly been used for sports and games, including, in the 1870s, a croquet area for ladies. Ayr Thistle and the Ayr Academy Football Clubs also used the green in the 1870s, but then football matches were banned due to the turf damage.

The Burgh Council started making improvements to the area in the 1880's with, in 1881, the first part of the Esplanade and the sea wall which was washed away the following year and had to be rebuilt. In 1892 a public fountain was presented to the town by James Steven and erected on the green while in about 1887 a bandstand was built. It remained at the Low Green until 1951-2.

The Royal Flying Corps used the Low Green as a landing strip from the beginning of World War I until 1916, when they moved to the Racecourse.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Wallace Tower

Ayr's Wallace Tower is a neo-gothic structure (113 feet in height) re-built in 1834 and replacing the original tower which had been acquired by the Town Council in 1673 from the Cathcart family of Corbieston. It is not clear how the Wallace name originated, but the tower has, on the front, a statue of William Wallace by the local self-taught sculptor, Sir James Thom (1802 - 1850).

The 'new' tower still uses the clock which was referred to by Burns in his poem, The Brigs of Ayr (1786).

"The drowsy Dungeon-clock had number'd two,
and Wallace Tower had sworn the fact was true:"

William Wallace (c1270 - 1305) is considered one of Scotland's heroes, 13th century leader of the Scottish forces in the struggle to free Scotland from English domination. Depending on your point of view, either a patriot or a terrorist.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

This is the photograph I'd been intending to publish yesterday. It's been years since I last saw a boating pond in use, which is one of the reasons I think of Girvan as old-fashioned. No doubt I could be easily disabused of this notion.

I do find it rather reassuring that the pleasures I enjoyed as a boy still seem to bring pleasure to the young of today. Maybe I wasn't all that odd after all!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Girvan War Memorial

We went down the coast to Girvan today to walk along the promenade there. Girvan tends to be a little old-fashioned, but the local folk are very friendly and always pass the time of day with you.

I had intended to publish an entirely different photograph which I thought illustrated the old-fashioned nature quite well, but I decided to leave that until another time as the photograph I took of the World Wars I & II Memorial turned out quite well.

Purely for Duffy, it does rain in Ayr!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Greenan Castle

Greenan Castle was built in the 15th century on the site of an ancient iron age fort. It's perched on an overhanging rockface, so at some time it will collapse onto the shore. However it seems good for a few years yet.

Some researchers are said to believe that the original fort may well have been an Arthurian stronghold and one of the possible sites of Camelot.

Mind you I haven't heard anyone suggest that Queen Elizabeth the first of England ever slept here!!

[Duffy, I promise you that I'll take a photograph of Ayr when it's raining - if that ever happens.]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

St. John's Tower

One of the prominent features in Ayr is St John's Tower, a survivor from the 15th century!

The tower was an addition to the original circa 1300 kirk of Ayr in which the nobility and Parliament of Scotland officially passed the crown to Robert The Bruce at a specially convened meeting.

Although what is reputed to have been as most magnificent church was demolished, this ancient tower remains intact and looks better able to continue to do so than many of its more modern counterparts!

It was also here that Cromwell established himself and commanded most of Scotland; building a garrison fort for his troops. Part of the walls of the fort remain in place.

The tower is only open to visitors on a few days each year.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Rozelle Swan

Late afternoon yesterday, we went for a walk round the pond in Rozelle Estate ; a not too strenuous walk from our front door. Luckily a significant part of this remnant of the original estate has been left with minimal human interference.

Linking to yesterday's post, what caught my eye was this 'headless' swan. It was not, of course, headless - merely feeding off the bottom of the pond. What really struck me though, was the length of time the bird kept its head under the surface. I didn't know a swan could hold breath for that long.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fair Ayr

Went for a walk along the seafront from Doonfoot towards Ayr town yesterday. It was decidedly bracing, especially since I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and gilet.

[Does getting older mean that the body can't cope easily with temperature fluctuations?]

The white splodges in the bottom left are part of a large flock of swans feeding in the sea. I suppose that is a benefit of all the sewage treatment work carried out by the council recently. The swan populations round the mouth of the river Doon and in the river Ayr have increased dramatically over the past few years. I haven't scientifically tried to count them, but I'd estimate that there must be close on 100 swans around now. The sound of wing claps as 10 or so of them took off from the waves at the beach was something to hear.

Just as surprising was the phalanx of swimmers going down and then back up the river Doon. Granted that they were all wearing wet suits, but it wasn't warm and the water conditions were decidedly choppy - the tidal impact at the mouth of the river is quite marked. I suppose it takes all sorts and I've no doubt many folks think I've got more than a few peculiar habits (no need to give me a list, thank you!).

Ayr's weather is actually not bad (especially when compared with Dunoon's Duffy), but I thought the first photograph would give a good impression of what it was like yesterday; no rain, just cloud.

We passed a new construction site down beside the foreshore. No indication of what was being built. It strikes me that we could take a leaf from some of our continental neighbours who require the building permit details to be published at the site, before work is started. That way we could check up (and object) on what had been approved.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Paddy's Milestone

Following up from yesterday, this is a view from the cliff path at Culzean Castle looking towards Northern Ireland. The correct name for the island you see in the distance is Ailsa Craig, but legend has it that long ago one of the giants who lived in Northern Ireland was quarrelling with a giant who lived in Scotland and threw a 'rock' at him which didn't quite make it.

This granite plug was considered to be the finest source of material for the manufacture of curling stones used in the roaring game. Since it is now a bird sanctuary, I don't believe the stone is quarried from there any more. [I've been wrong before and I'll probably be wrong again!]

On a very clear day, you can in fact see the coast of Northern Ireland from here, but only as a dim and distant smudge on the horizon. At the right season you'll see seals sunning themselves on the rocks at the foot of the cliff and there are always sea birds to be seen.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Starter for 10

No, it isn't my humble dwelling, but Culzean Castle, a property owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

Are you a member? If you live in Scotland and are not, why not? It would be worth it at 3 times the cost!

This estate plus castle is just down the road from us (self and wife) and we're to be found here quite frequently walking on the cliff paths (more later).

The estate gets quite busy, but most folk stay close to the car parks and miss the beauty that a relatively short walk would provide.

[Just notice I've put myself before my wife - I'm in the doghouse for that!]