Song in My Heart: Scotland - Stirling, Friday 2018 August 3


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August 3rd 2018
Published: August 26th 2019
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Glimpse of ScotlandGlimpse of ScotlandGlimpse of Scotland

Fascinating patterns of currents and waves
Horribly, we had to wake at 4:15 am to make this day work. Suitcases had to be at the bus by 5:00. Packed breakfasts were available in the lobby; mine was Chicken Coronation sandwich (mild curry with raisins - quite good). By 5:30 we were on the bus, which left at 5:40. At the nearby ferry terminal we were expeditiously directed into a line. Where we waited until shortly before the sailing at 7:30.

I had taken a sea-sick pill before leaving and was wearing my sea-bands, plus I stood outside the whole trip. In fact, the Irish Sea was calm, for a sea. Most thrilling was seeing Ireland and Scotland at the same time! Both stretched long fingers of land into the water. The view was misty, probably always is. The land that we sailed past was reminiscent of Labrador, less craggy than Newfoundland. Close to Cairnryan (9:52 arrival) we herded back onto the bus and drove into rolling green farmland.

Our destination was Culzean Castle, both for tourism and to buy our own lunches. The line-up at the main café was long. (We make long line-ups wherever we go by virtue of our numbers.) Susan and I decided to walk down to the Old Stables café, as some of the others had done.

The expansive Castle grounds were manicured, and the decorative moat formed a welcoming garden. A bridge and turrets attracted our photographic attention. By the time we arrived at the café, a group of Westwinds people were already leaving the outdoor patio. The process of buying a sandwich tested the patience of patrons, and in our case allowed us to fall into the temptation of cake and coffee. (My ginger cake was tasty.)

After lunch was just enough free time to tour the Castle. The décor was late 18 century in Adam Style. The first room was the “armory” where identical guns and swords were arranged in impressive patterns on the wall. Innumerable family artifacts helped us imagine life as it might have been when it was the seat of the Kennedy family. The huge kitchen was testimony to both the elegance of life upstairs and the number of staff needed to run the estate.

Our next destination was half an hour away in Ayr where we were to sing. Our venue was the Town Hall, in a purpose-built concert theatre used for many events.
Loudoun Hall 1530Loudoun Hall 1530Loudoun Hall 1530

Most historic building in Ayr
Nicole took advantage of the large balcony to have the sopranos sing from above. The stage set-up was tricky because of rounded moveable risers, good for sight-lines but requiring attention to avoid falling. Plus, the arrangement had to suit both the choir and the band to minimize clatter during the intermission.

While the band continued with set up, the choir had free time. At first I joined some women who were going to walk around, but that only lasted until they saw a famous-name shoe store (unknown to me) and went in to shop. After a polite bit of time, I walked back onto the pedestrian precinct to photograph the well-preserved buildings with modern shops. I stopped to chat with Cathy and Rod who had been having coffee at a now-closing café. Rod asked and was told that a good place to eat was a couple of blocks away. The restaurant looked very ordinary, but the fish and chips, with a pickled onion, were good and the service friendly. Although the server and we had difficulty understanding each other’s accents, we enjoyed the interaction. I finally remembered to give away some pins and a paper flag provided to us
Ayr Town HallAyr Town HallAyr Town Hall

Built to attract performances to the town
by Westwinds for that purpose. The server seemed quite taken with the gesture.

On the way back to the Town Hall, Rod joined some of the other spouses, and they went off for a drink. Cathy and I walked farther along the main road, looking at the old buildings. In one secluded square a sign drew our attention to Loudoun Hall (1530); some women came along, and we asked them a question about it – they laughed and confessed to be residents who had never looked at it and knew nothing. Cathy and I did finally find the River Ayr, but time was too tight to explore more.

The choir warmed up again, and Nicole gave us a pep talk about enjoying our music. Five minutes before the concert we took our places for “
">Yanaway”. The acoustics were marvellous, especially suited to the interlaced haunting chants. As the choir moved onto the stage, I stepped up to the mike, only to be fully blinded by the stage lights shining directly into my pupils. The shock led to a few mistakes, but later Susan said it sounded good. Nicole had asked us to have fun and to show it, and
River Ayr at duskRiver Ayr at duskRiver Ayr at dusk
we did. Although we couldn’t see the audience, their applause was prolonged. During “
">Song for Peace” I felt the shivers that our harmonies sometimes give me. During “ ">Kom!”, Nicole led us out and we left the auditorium, singing a final flourish in the lobby. This worked well because the audience could hear us, but they understood more clearly that the choir was finished its performance.

During the intermission, we glowed with our little stories about our individual experiences of our group achievement. Meanwhile, the band squeezed onto the stage; their performance was the most joyful yet, giving the feel of one body creating music. The audience at last gave up clapping for an encore (we don’t have one) when the band members carried their instruments off the stage. We had to wait on the sidewalk while the instruments were loaded; typically, some people complained that they felt cold and others complained they were hot from performing. I have certainly learned that bodies react very differently to the same conditions.

Now we are jolting along in the Scottish bus with a rough driver, scheduled to arrive in Stirling at 11:30 pm. Free morning tomorrow to let us catch up on sleep.
Just like our ferryJust like our ferryJust like our ferry


View the map of our trip to date.


Additional photos below
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Dawn over the Irish coastDawn over the Irish coast
Dawn over the Irish coast

Almost worth rising at 5 am
LighthouseLighthouse
Lighthouse

Could be Newfoundland, except it is Ireland
Scottish landscapeScottish landscape
Scottish landscape

Lush, probably from the fog
Stinchar RiverStinchar River
Stinchar River

Deep blues and greens beautiful to the eye
Stony beachStony beach
Stony beach

In the distance, the rock that is used to make curling rocks!
Mull of KintyreMull of Kintyre
Mull of Kintyre

Immortalized by Paul McCartney and Wings
Reflection of Girvan Reflection of Girvan
Reflection of Girvan
AyrshireAyrshire
Ayrshire

ripening crops
Stone Barn, CulzeanStone Barn, Culzean
Stone Barn, Culzean

Sturdy shelter for the horses
Culzean dining roomCulzean dining room
Culzean dining room

Easy to imagine the guests
Culzean Armoury HallCulzean Armoury Hall
Culzean Armoury Hall

Innovative way of displaying firearms
Culzean Castle staircaseCulzean Castle staircase
Culzean Castle staircase

Very high ceilings
Silver DrawingroomSilver Drawingroom
Silver Drawingroom

Epitome of Culzean's Adam style
Lady Ailsa's BoudoirLady Ailsa's Boudoir
Lady Ailsa's Boudoir

Suited to Jane Austen, in our imagination at least
Culzean kitchenCulzean kitchen
Culzean kitchen

Vast space for preparing vast meals


1st September 2019

We've been around the world
We've traveled a lot and Scotland still remains one of our favorites. Thanks for taking us along.
1st September 2019

Ayr - not yet
I have not (yet?) been to Ayr: I have shrunk from driving on the left side of the road, and not (yet?) worked up the energy to tackle smaller locations by bus/train. I'm delighted you've found something so new in retirement that gives you so much pleasure.

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