A Tale of Three Rabbies - Part I: Robert The Poet

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October 29th 2011
Published: November 17th 2011
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After the debacle with the hire car in the Lake District, we had to engage Contingency Plan #437, not to be misunderstood for #473, which would have been impossible to implement anyway as we had a limited supply of coffee and were in no proximity to olive trees or for that matter a mongoose.

This meant missing out on seeing Hadrian’s Wall near Carlisle, as well as foregoing the tour of the Smugglers’ Coast in south-west Scotland. We still made it to Dumfries, albeit a brief visit, limited to an overnight stay in the last two available rooms in a Travelodge, a quick break-of-dawn driving tour of the city, and a raid of the local Tesco Extra for supplies. We were willing to miss all this as a priority was to spend some time in Ayr.

The main purpose of our visit to this seaside town, was to go to the Robert Burns centre. Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Humanity, was born in Ayr (He spent his latter years in Dumfries). It was a great experience that surpassed my expectations. The centre was a modern interactive outfit that engaged the children’s imagination and provided insight into the social and political times, environment, family and women that provided his inspiration, and, in turn, highlighting the lasting influence he has had, and still has, on men of prose, whether poets, authors or songwriters. The gardens and monument at the centre were presented well in a beautiful and quiet environment.

In addition to being a lesson in history and literature, it also tugged at the heart. This was likely due to a combination of further understanding and appreciating my roots and a reminder of a relatively more recent family event and specific family member. “My love is like a red red rose…” one of Robert Burns’ most famous poems, was recited by my late uncle, Gordon, at Alex’s and my wedding in 1997.

"O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That’s sweetly play'd in tune"

Being caught in the emotion of it all I went a bit silly in the gift store. Yes, I loved it so much I bought the t-shirt. Within the centre there was a historical poster on display once used by the University of West of Scotland showing Robbie Burns a la the famous print of Che Guevara with “Scottish Revolutionary”. I pointed it out to Alex and said that should be a t-shirt. Low and behold it is! I was also on the hunt for a CD with contemporary versions of his most famous work. I could not find what I was looking for but I could not leave empty-handed, thus I have Kenneth and Moira singing Burns’ songs. It did not last more than 3 minutes before the kids and Alex were demanding its ejection from the car’s CD player.

...Stay tuned for Rabbie Part II

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