Wednesday Walk around the town of Alloway, Ayrshire - the birthplace of Robert Burns
On Sunday we visited the beautiful town of Alloway, in Ayrshire, Scotland. Its famous for being the place where Robert Burns (also known as Rabbie Burns) was born in 1759. He is our most famous poet and writer.
Robert Burns is a big deal in Scotland, and Alloway, where he was born draws in a lot of visitors as a result. There are various sites around the town to see related to him, and we had a lovely time exploring there on Sunday. Above is the Burns monument which is set in a beautiful garden in his memory.
His most memorable work for me is 'Tam O'Shanter'. In short, its about a guy, Tam O'Shanter, who after a night out at the pub with his mates, makes his way home on his horse - a little worse for wear ! Passing the old Kirk in Alloway, he sees that there are lights and noise coming from inside. He stops to take a look, and when he looks in the window he sees the place full of witches, ghosts and ghouls, all having a party, with dancing ! He watches this unnoticed for a while, and takes a liking to one particular witch, who is dressed in a nightshirt called a Cutty Sark. After some fancy dancing from her, he shouts out 'Well done the cutty sark', complimenting the witch for her dancing. Immediately the music stops and they notice him, and start chasing him.
He gets on his horse and rides as fast as he can - the witches and ghouls nearly catch him, just as he reaches Brig O'Doon (the Bridge over the River Doon - above). In those days, witches, etc could not cross water, so he knew if he could get over the bridge he would be safe. The witch reaches out at the last minute before he is free and grabs the horses tail, and pulls it clean off - but he escapes.
Its an interesting tale, and probably more about warning people to not to have too much to drink before they make their way home. Above is the Brig O'Doon pub, which is also famous. We stopped there for something to eat, and I just had to have haggis (A Scottish meal pudding cooked in a sheeps stomach), neaps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) while there - its a very traditional Scottish dish, and if its going to be good anywhere, its in that pub. It was quite nice, and served with a lovely creamy whisky sauce !
Thats Auld (Old) Alloway kirk (Church) above, which is where the story basically takes place - thats where the witches, ghouls and ghosts were having their party ! The grave enclosed by chains, is his father (William Burns) and mothers (Agnes Brown).
One of his works, is enscribed on the back of their gravestone.
There is a modern museum dedicated to him now, which is quite interesting and contains a lot of his original manuscripts and the like, dating from the 18th century.
The museum had a lot of artifacts and told his life story, and helped explain a lot of his works.
We really enjoyed just wandering around town and exploring all of the places you could visit - it was absolutely lovely, and really relaxing.
The poets walk takes you on the route to the cottage where he was born. Above is a 6 foot mouse - a homage to his work about a mouse, which he wrote after destroying the nest of one while ploughing the fields one day. Its quite a famous work.
Above is a haggis made of of granite. Each year on his birthdate, 25th of January, its customary to eat haggis in Scotland, and to address it before eating it, by reading out his poem about the Haggis. I love the line - the chieftain of the pudding race ! And you also have to drink whisky too, while eating it - its a nice tradition, and one I usually observe !
Thats the cottage he was born in, with its tradiational thatched roof. Its what we would call a but n'ben. One half was the but, where the people would live, and the other half was the ben, where they would keep their livestock ! (or maybe it is the other way round). Must have been smelly !
It was set up to look like how it would back in the 18th century when he was born (1759).
And thats the bed he was born in (or atleast a mock-up of the bed he was born in). The nightshirts there looked not unlike ghosts, and it was a bit odd seeing them at first.
There is one for him and each of his siblings born there !
Above are a couple of modern day paintings of Burns by famous Scottish painter Peter Howson, that were in the museum. We had a chance of buying one of his works back in 2004, and how we wish we did - we could not afford one these days ! Big opportunity missed !
Thats the view from the bridge looking back across to the Brig O'Doon pub, the Burns monument and memorial garden. It really is a pretty, well kept wee town !
Above is something else that intrigued me - some of the gravestones in the Auld Alloway Kirk graveyard are covered in some kind of orange lichen. I see lichens quite often in Scotland, but not this colour ! There must be something about the local air quality and climate, and the material that the stones are made from that this type of lichen favours !
There another statue of Tam O'Shanter on the left - still in the pub having a drink with one of his mates !
We absolutely loved the place - there was so much to see, and it was great because its fairly close together, so once you park up, you can have a lovely time just wandering around the town.
A fantastic place for a lovely walk !! All the best from Scotland !