To the caravan park

“No vacancies” means this B&B is fully booked. Don’t bother to knock!

We drove round and round looking for a hotel/B&B to stay the night but all were fully booked! Luckily we came across this Caravan Park just outside Ayr, parked the car…. and slept in the car! Remember, we had no sleeping bags nor blankets so we slept with up to 4 layers of clothing! At least, we made the right decision to take winter clothing with us. They came very handy

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The Holiday Park (or campsite)

Notice the park. A glorified version of a car park since it has full toilet and shower facilities. Caravans and cars are parked closely side by side …..to maximize occupancy!
Our bill that night: ten pounds!

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Dunure Harbour

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We were so lucky to chance upon a mini-concert going on in the Culzean castle. And these students look very dainty and well-behaved! They played old traditional scottish music.

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another concert the previous night. we missed the genuine scottish playing band in just few minutes. we went home because i was falling asleep in my chair! so embarassing!

The Village Dance

It was 10 in the evening of July the 14th, France’s National Day, and like all cities, towns and villages in the country, we had our Bal (dance) on the primary school grounds just underneath the village hall.
Hubby and I went with Madame Alice, our dear neighbour of 85 years who is exquisitely gentle and gifted with admirable wisdom. She is particularly very doting to me with whom she has taken a grandaughterly liking, probably the “apo” she had always dreamed of but never had.
She is a spinster and lives in a huge four-level house next door – a maze of narrow corridors and zigzaggy rooms that in order to get to some of them you have to negotiate through tiny openings stooping carefully so that you don’t knock your head off. She is one of those I mentioned earlier who goes to her second home in Nice in the winter and returns to the village in the summer.
One day she invited me to her garden which is some 100 meters away, gently climbing up the hill and I was amazed, not only at her heavily-laden fruit trees but also at its neatness making my own garden looking like a green landfill.

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Madame Alice’s garden and her plum tree

Going back to the dance, upon entering the premises, I was exceptionally awed by the presence of two very neat-looking and handsomely uniformed Gendarmes (a male and a female), with an added reinforcement in the form of a police dog, guarding the entrance.

Even if the chance of getting gatecrashed by suspicious-looking characters is very remote as i have yet to see a drunken neighbour or a bully 5-year old, our village comprising the over 85’s (yes, you can call it a retirement village) and only about 5 primary school age kids and some of their working parents, the best possible danger could still come from the campsite which is a 5-minute walk away but in any case, I love to feel that I am very well protected by these good-looking men in uniform.

Meanwhile, with the hubby next to me, I was swooning secretly to the male gendarme, how could all they be so handsome and looking so fit! I bet they are selected for the job because of these physical qualities!

On the Dance Floor

Among the personalities in the room were neighbours and those I was only seeing for the first time including the mayor whom Madame Alice introduced us as the new neighbours although we have been there nearly 4 years. But then, we never stayed in our village home long and frequent enough as to be able to attend those regular village meetings or activities.

The dancefloor was already heating up that moment with the tunes of YMCA, I will survive, Macarena (yes, this is the year 2007) as well as French accordion music. Madame Boulanger (the lady working in the boulangerie (bakery) was unstoppable.
Le Monsieur Pompier (the fireman) and his wife and two sons all dancing facing each other. I am always very fascinated about Mr Fireman as he seem to be the village all-rounder: if not busy putting off fires, you see him sweeping and hosing the streets or sometimes digging road holes. He’s a workaholic.
He fascinates me a lot because when we first moved in and he was the very first person we bumped into, we greeted him “Bonjour “and he would just ignore us. We did the same about few more times, kept getting ignored until we got fed up and stopped greeting him altogether. But everything changed when one day, out of the blue, we heard him actually saying “Bonjour” to us… for the first time! We later learned that it is normal for some of the French to observe newcomers first, from a distance, and when they realize that you are harmless and could be trusted, you are in as a good acquaintance. It comes in stages. We expect that in no time at all, he will be inviting us to one of his soirées.

Back to the dancefloor, when the DJ began playing American country music, everybody seemed to understand and have memorized the foot movements. They were all dancing in perfect synchrony! Why the popularity of that Cowboy Country Music in France beats the (good) out of me. I even see it featured on TV evening news – about some village holding the dance – or even Rodeo events – to celebrate some American occasion. Sometimes posters are put up in town announcing the start of a Country dance course.
I hope the French are not becoming too Americanized!

Robert Burns, son of Ayshire, Scotland

Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

O my luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
My love like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonny lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only love!
And fare thee weel, awhile!
And I will come again, my love
Though it were ten thousand mile.
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Burns Cottage

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The Tam O’Shanter Inn.
A quaint thatched pub where Burns’ hero Tam enjoyed a few rounds before riding off on his beloved mare, Meg to Kirkoswald.
As you’d expect, the pub is decorated with tributes to Burns and is well worth a visit.

‘Tam O’ Shanter is Robert Burns’ epic poem and arguably his best. It relates the tale of the drunken farmer coming home on his horse from the public house in Ayr. On passing the ruined Kirk Alloway he disturbs a witches party and is chased by them over a bridge.

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still part of the Inn

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‘Souter Johnie’ was the drinking companion of ‘Tam O’Shanter’

Where have all the churches gone?

My husband and I were horrified upon seeing churches in Scotland being turned into pubs or theaters or simply as tourist attractions.

Modern Scotland, being a very religious country in the olden days suddenly found herself the custodian of so many of these religious edifices that are becoming emptier and emptier during worship services. The maintenance costs is astronomical and they have to give some up or sell them to private individuals. But the new owners are only concerned about profits, never mind the spiritual repercussions.

And so here now are a couple of churches we saw in Ayr that made us cry in shame

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Where’s the cross on the top?

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But this church is now a pub!!

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just one of the many churches of Ayr, the capital of Ayrshire

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..now doing all their best to attract the faithful

Even an atheist would protest at such utter disrespect of God’s house. Out of curiosity, we entered the ex-church now-pub and could still see the bygone glory through the stained-glass window, the majestically high ceiling, the still resplendent altar which has been turned into a counter and the nave, where members of the congregation used to sit, is now jammed with tables and chairs whereupon seated strange-looking men, women with mugs and mugs of beer between them. and btw, they also serve pub food! but personally, even if i am starving and it’s the only pub open, i will never never give them the business! shame on them