Britain at its greatest: Exploring the delights of Ayrshire, from its regal Georgian terraces to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (and the cafes that serve haggis and Irn-Bru)
- Rob Crossan ‘makes himself comfy’ at the Fairfield House Hotel in Ayr
- With the resort as his base, he visits the poet Robert Burns’ birthplace – Alloway
- He admires the ‘looming’ monument to the poet and the cobbled Brig O’ Doon
For a person who as soon as wrote ‘Och, git oota ma pus, ya bawbag! Jings!’ (or ‘Get out of my face, you testicle’ in fashionable English) the monument to Robert Burns feels virtually unduly elegant.
The memorial — set amid apple and monkey puzzle timber and pink riots of Japanese maple in the landscaped gardens subsequent to the cottage of his delivery — is a looming 70ft-high Grecian-style temple.
Built in 1823, practically three a long time after Burns’s loss of life at 37, it has 9 pillars representing the muses of Greek mythology.
The memorial and landscaped gardens at Robert Burns’ birthplace in Alloway, Scotland
Local hero: Burns was born in 1759, the eldest son of a tenant farmer named William
Climb the stone steps to the platform and also you’re rewarded with views over the kirks [churches], fields and squat cottages of the Ayrshire village of Alloway on Scotland’s south-western coast.
I’m wondering what Burns would have made from it. It’s considerably at odds together with his ‘man of the soil’ picture and his bawdy poems that talk of intercourse, haggis, booze and the occult. The Scottish Bard was born in 1759, the eldest son of a tenant farmer named William whose headstone nonetheless stands in entrance of a ruined kirk close to the memorial.
The Burns cottage is maintained in one thing approaching its authentic spartan state, with the stables, grain retailer and fireplace giving us a really feel for the frugal situations wherein Rabbie was raised.
It’s a miracle that the cottage nonetheless survives in any respect given the many fires which have destroyed the thatched roof, a failed bid by suffragettes to blow it up, and the go to of a drunken John Keats who, after a row with the boozy caretaker, wrote some verses he stated had been ‘so bad I cannot transcribe them’.
Also on this quiet village is a contemporary Burns museum that shows first editions, portraits and even his stationery.
There’s additionally the cobbled Brig O’ Doon, the bridge throughout which, in his Tam o’Shanter poem, Burns’s protagonist and his horse Meg are chased by fearsome witches after a consuming binge in Ayr goes badly flawed.
Ayr itself, only a ten-minute drive away, appears far too genteel for a Tam-style binge now. The regal Georgian terraces hark again to the city’s period as a significant port, and the promenade is of colossal dimensions.
Robert Burns’ father’s headstone nonetheless stands in entrance of the ruins of the Auld Kirk, pictured
‘The Burns cottage (pictured) is maintained in one thing approaching its authentic spartan state,’ says Rob
Here, pale yellow sands are licked by the bone-chilling waters of the Firth of Clyde, as the Isle of Arran looms when the clouds clear past.
I make myself comfy in the Fairfield House Hotel, with its high-ceilinged rooms, chandeliers, darkish wooden fittings and pink armchairs, as the wind howls exterior.
Later, I stroll previous the esplanade to the Blue Lagoon cafe in the centre of city for a standard Scottish supper of haggis and chips plus a can of Irn-Bru.
The dish of offal and oats that Burns eulogised in his Address poem is an acquired style, although a faint trace of spice (nutmeg and pepper?) gives a satisfying tang. Burns gave the best description of haggis, in fact. It’s reassuring to know that it’s nonetheless doable to eat as a lot as you need of the meal he described as ‘warm-reekin’, wealthy!’ on his dwelling turf.