Well time to explore a and get a bit of Ayr (air, get it). First stop, learn a bit about a little Scotch guy people here make such a fuss over called Robbie burns.
I had heard of him. I should think all English have and definitely all Scots. Some Scottish poet that the Scots are continually yapping about was as deep as my knowledge base went, so armed with this knowledge and my own Scotsman Kevin I set forth to be shown more. Our heading Alloway a very quaint looking village (well the bit we saw was) 3km south of Ayr. Alloway is the village where Burns was born. His cottage is still here and kept as something of a shrine to him and next to it is the Burns education center with gift shop, further up the street is the burns museum and gift shop. Entrance to either of these is £8 which I thought quite expensive but it does cover the price of both venues, and in between the two is some lovely parklands dedicated to burns which is free and worth a look. You will also find Burns monument in the village (covered in scaffolding on our visit unfortunately), the Auld Kirk (old church) and Brig O’ Doon (bridge of down I think) both featured in Burns poem Tam o’ Shanter.
Personally I think it was over priced but for any fans of poetry or Burns himself its a must. I sat through a video of the Tam o’ Shanter poem in the museum done with actors and read in olde Scottish. After sitting watching it till the end being quite bewildered and not too sure what was happening or being said, Kevin, my host while I am in this part of Scotland and as Scottish as could be, lent down to me and said “I didn’a understan any o’that” so I was not alone.
Next stop was his birth place, the little cottage. “Its ok for you” Kevin told me “but I’ll have to bend down to get in”. Kevin is a big Scotsman while I am on the wee side as the Scots keep telling me. He was right. Even I felt the need to bend down to get into the cottage (I didn’t really need to but it made me feel better) where you are met by a very humble looking cottage with only four rooms.
It was great to be in this great mans cottage but unfortunately he was not in so we didn’t even get a brew. I tried looking into what I thought was a closet in case he was having a bit of a clear out, but it was full of electrical gear and cleaning stuff, also the door kind of came off its hinges and refused to shut afterwards. I received some loud tutting and disapproving looks from a couple of american tourist for that. I was a bit confused as to how if he had such humble beginnings he could afford spotlights in each room and a terrific surround sound system back in them days.
Next stop was the Auld Kirk, a now abandoned and run down church famous for his Tom o’Shanter poem. His parents are also buried here. Then onto the burns monument. It was completely covered from top to tail in scaffolding as it is going through maintenance so no joy there although I am sure it is impressive, then on to the Brig o’Doon. Brig o’Doon is famous in his poem for being where Tam o’Shanter was chased by witches and they pulled the tail of his horse trying to get at him. Its quite a bonny bridge and to get the best picture you need to walk past it trespassing on private land (Kevin told me this was ok (??))and lean over into the river with your camera.
Would I go again? Was it worth it? I don’t think I would pay that amount to go again altho it was worth it just to say I had been in the same house he grew up in and you can learn a lot about Scotlands famous bard and how life was back then.
I do wish I had taken my hipflask just so I could say I had had a wee dram in Rabbie’s house, but to make up for it Kevin and his wife Jane took me to Burns local tavern a few miles from where they live in a village called Mauchline (which you pronounce by almost spitting). It is a lovely traditional pub in an old building called the Poosie Nansies Inn. The beer was cold and I had a wee dram o’tha good stuff in toast to Rabbie, his poetry, and for Scotland in general.
As a side note, did you know the new year song “Auld Lang Syne” was wrote by Robbie Burns. Thanks for reading.