Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Quiz Answers

Congratulations to the winner Paul and runners up Allan & Jimmy.

The answers are posted on a new page. The tab is above the header photo or click here

The typist has been given her jotters for typing words that weren't actually there, namely "this year".

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

21 December Cumnock to Ochiltree via Dumfries House Tearoom

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul & Robert

Some diseases are infectious and some are contagious – that’s medical fact - but never in his wildest dreams did your scribe think that accidents are infectious. Last week Jimmy appeared with a plaster on his forehead the result of walking into a door. (So he said but we suspect differently!) This week the entire Kilmarnock contingent arrived with plasters on their foreheads. Jimmy has yet to see the joke.
The plan for the day was to have a walk near Cumnock taking in the old mining village of Skares. This was so that Paul, our junior football expert, could see where the famous Skares Bluebell FC once played. But the weather, as it has been many times this year, was dull, damp and dreich with the threat of rain anytime. When we gathered in Jimmy’s place in Cumnock a change of mind was in the offing; we would abandon the Skares idea in favour of a mid-winter saunter down the River Lugar from Cumnock to Ochiltree.
This itself was a straightforward affair and one we have done often before (6/01/2010, 2/02/2011 inter alia) so merits no further description here. Only one or two details should be reported for the sake of the record. The first was a diversion to Dumfries House, not so much for the house itself but for the tearoom there. Because this is the festive season we decided to treat ourselves to an indoor cup of coffee. The waitresses were delighted to see us for they had had nobody in this morning before us and reckoned that they would have nobody for the rest of the day. We were a pleasant distraction from the boredom of doing nothing – at least we were some sort of distraction. A nice half hour over coffee (and Malcolm’s macaroon bar) and we were on our way again.
The next stop was at the Barony ‘A’ Frame. Those who knew that there was only enough seating there for six and who could count that there were nine of us, sped up the track to get the benefit. The three slowcoaches had lunch standing up while the rest enjoyed what comfort a perforated metal bench afforded.
Lunch was followed by a quick tour of the information boards then we headed back down the track to the river again.
A rather unpleasant incident occurred beyond Mill Affleck. The tail-enders - who incidentally had just been listening to a rather Johnny-like rant from Jimmy – came across a dog in some distress. It was one of those ‘Staffie’ type of devil-dugs and it appeared to have something stuck in its mouth. While it was happy to be clapped, it would not let any one of us – well Jimmy, the dug whisperer, anyway – near its blood spattered mouth. A few minutes later a young woman with another of the same type of dug came back along the path. She had been walking along talking on her phone and never even noticed the dog was missing. While the dug whisperer held the other on a lead, the woman bent down, opened the jaws of the distressed devil dug and prized the offending stick from between its teeth. Relieved of its torment now, the devil-dug was a calm and docile as any pet. The woman and her twa dugs kept us company to Ochiltree.
We took the bus back to Cumnock where the Sun provided festive FRT. A special mention should be made of Karen, the barmaid in The Sun who patiently suffered all our festive banter and returned it with a smile. Thanks Karen.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

14 December Glasgow for the Christmas Curry

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert & Ronnie

This time last year we talked about traditions and how they are developed; it was when we were in Glasgow for our customary Christmas curry. Today was the day designated to continue this particular Ooters tradition, but not before a sampling of conventional Christmas fare. Ian’s suggestion last week that we met at his place in Kilmarnock for mulled wine and mince pies was enthusiastically accepted and we gathered there around the nine-thirty mark this morning. (Mulled wine at nine-thirty in the morning? I think there is a problem here. – Ed)
Mulled wine notwithstanding, we travelled into the city, parking on Kirklees Place, just behind the Botanic Gardens. The walk was to be one that we have done a few times before (17 December 2008, 16 December 2009 et al). While some of us thought that we would make a change and do the walk in the reverse direction from the others, Robert and Rex set off in the usual direction. Despite the overwhelming feeling for the opposite direction, they strode on, oblivious to our gently persuasive comment. We followed, still commenting on the two disappearing down the hill. The walk was to be in the usual direction.
We walked down to the Kelvin Walkway, followed the river up to the Kelvin Aqueduct and climbed up to Maryhill Locks. A slight deviation from the straightforward walk was made so that the newcomers could see the river from the middle of the aqueduct. And Davie Mc made another when he crossed over a lock gate to the other side of the canal and back by another gate. Apart from that the walk was the usual. We followed the canal to Stockingfield Junction and then the spur to Spiers Wharf where elevenses were taken. That’s when Allan produced his hip flask. (As I said, there is definitely a problem here – Ed)
Suitably refreshed, we made the move to return. But Davie Mc said that it was too early for the return for lunch was booked for two o’clock. He suggested a slight extension to Port Dundas and the end of the spur. Though it wasn’t the most interesting part of the canal, it did add some time onto the walk and by the time we had returned to Speirs Wharf, it was indeed time to make the return journey.
We came back to Maryhill Road and left the banks of the canal. Then by cutting the corner we came to Queen Margaret Drive and back to the Botanics.
Though that was the end of the walk, it wasn’t the end of our day. A quick change of clothes - a quick change of tyre for Rex as well for one of the front ones of his car was flat – and we were on our way down Byres Road to the Ashoka on Ashton Lane. A very convivial hour or so was spent in the usual Ooters fashion. We left the Ashoka around three-thirty fed on curry, watered with lager and thoroughly mellow. (Yep, definitely a problem – Ed)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Early Ooters' Christmas and Ne'erday Quiz 2011

The answers are all places that at least some Ooters have been to [this year - NOT this year. The typist has been sacked]; obviously I cannot guarantee that everybody has visited all the places in the answers. Remember, of course, that not all walks have been en Ecosse! Some of the solutions are rather obtuse to try and outwit smartarse Jimmy.

Section 1

Rearrange the letters to find the places according to the three headings:-



Total:15 points

Section 2

Cryptic, sort of …
  1. Would you be raving mad to live here? (6 letters)
  2. But do Rex, Richard, Ross and Robert all live happily here? (9)
  3. However, there are more bends on the road to this place than the name would suggest. (8)
  4. Protestant ministers? Definitely not, this is Catholic country! (10)
  5. Could you be bowled over by virgins in this place? (7)
  6. You'd definitely need to be biased to stay and play here. (7)
  7. Sounds as if it is larger than other places, but that's not necessarily so! (6)
  8. Your flag would definitely fly proudly up here if you could see through the bloody mist! (5,8)
  9. It's what the devil wears? Si, señora. Non, madame! (5 or 6)
  10. I hear this is an excellent place for retired criminals! (11)

Total: 10 points

Section 3

Odd man out. Which of the following do not belong?
  1. Dungrain Law, Hill of Stake, Blackcraig, Goatfell, Blacksidend.
  2. Ballochmartin, Ballikillet, Auchenhessnane, Breakough, Figgantoch.
  3. Rankinston, Galston, Annbank, Tarbolton, Catrine.
  4. Col de Jau, Ness Glen, Cairntable, Clyde Valley.
  5. Manteaux de Sel, Nouveaux Moulins, Château de Lait, Beau Zizi.
Any reasonable answers for the above will be considered, and then totally discarded and ignored in favour of the correct one which is mine!

Total: 5 points

Section 4

Ubi coitus sumus?  Where were the following pictures taken?










Grand total: 40 points

I'll put up a bottle of wine as the prize. In the event of a tie, I have a deciding question.

Bonne chance!

Quizmaster: Davie Mc

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A bit wild in Troon today

(not my photo, by the way!).

Kay & Davie were there too - this is the sandy path to Barassie beach.  We didn't last long!

7 December Kilmarnock to Springside Circuit

Alan, Allan, Andy, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, John K, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert & Ronnie.

The rain drummed on the roof of Alan’s conservatory and rattled, wind driven, against the windows while we sat in the warmth, contentedly availing ourselves of Allan’s hospitality – bridge rolls with sausages, coffee and biscuits. It was nice to have Ronnie back with us as well after his medical problems and there was a bit of catching up to do here. The crack was good and the food was good and were reluctant to move. But then, are we not a walking group? Are we bothered by a wee bit of weather? The answer to that is probably ‘yes’ for we have seen enough of it this year, enough to last us for a few years to come. But there came a lull in the torrent and, as the rain went off, we set off into the breeze.
The walk was a straightforward, low level affair the first part of which was new territory to most of us and we looked forward to seeing a different part of the country. We set off on a tarmaced path round Annanhill golf course to an old estate house called Mount House. ‘Turned into flats now’, said Allan when we asked. We considered this an excellent way of preserving these old buildings. And we had a good look at it as we came round it to find the old drive which we followed out to what used to be the Dundonald road before the bypass was built. We came under the bypass and followed the old road to where it met the new section from Dundonald Road. Now Alan offered us a choice; we could go down to the river – the Irvine – and follow it or keep to the road to Gatehead. Given the rains of yesterday it was felt that to go to the river would present us with problems; the water would be high and the ground saturated. The consensus was to keep to tarmac. So we crossed the busy road and headed for Gatehead.
In Gatehead, at the Cochrane Inn, we turned right off the busier road onto a quieter country road. At least we though this wee road would be quieter but it was surprisingly busy and we had to step aside more than once to let traffic past before we came to Laigh Milton Mill. Coffee was called at the old mill. The old mill, not so long ago a fine dining place, is pretty derelict now; the windows are boarded up and the walls need some TLC; graffiti covers the boarded windows and litter covers the ground. The remains of the mill wheel stick out of the ground showing where the mill lade once came from the river but even this artefact is in need of attention before it is lost forever. And this was the place we chose to have coffee.
Some sat, some stood and some nosied around the mill. That we were right to avoid the riverside today was apparent here. The Irvine, full of yesterday’s rain and the melting snows of Monday, ran fast and deep and brown over the mill weir, lapping near the top of its rubble-reinforced bank. It would have been silly to come that way today.

With coffee finished, we continued along the narrow road, coming on to the B7081 near Thorntoun Estate. Here we turned left for Springside. In Springside we turned left on to Overtoun Road to find the Kilmarnock to Irvine cycle track along the old railway. We were now back in familiar territory.
Once on the cycle track we had only four miles back to Killie. Only two things of note happened on these four miles: The first was the spotting of a large flock of swans, seventy plus, and an equal number of geese in a field to our right – whooper swans and pink-footed geese according to our expert: The second was to be caught in one of those squally showers that swept the country during our walk. We managed to get some shelter from the worst of the downpour under a bridge over the old railway track and avoid a soaking. Then it was a straightforward stroll/walk/march* back to Kilmarnock. We were caught in another shower just before we arrived at Alan’s place and, though the rain stung into the face, it lasted no length of time at all and was gone by the time we arrived at Alan’s.
Lunch was taken in Alan’s conservatory as was FRT. Wee Davie provided big ‘belters’, steak-filled pasties made by the baker of Killie Pies and we devoured them as well.#

* delete as appropriate
# It was noted that some had more than one bit of belter, one in particular had three bits. We know who you are!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sunday, 4 December 2011

30 November Carrick Hill from Greenan Shore

Alan, Allan, Andy, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Peter, Rex & Robert

Given the weather of the last few days, especially yesterday when the monsoon hit, it is something of a minor miracle that we got for a walk at all today. Still, the morning was dry and, despite the forecast for more heavy rain later today, we did get for a walk.
Rex’s house was easy to find this morning for this being St. Andrew’s Day, a huge Saltire flew above his door. Despite his Aussie birth and upbringing, he has been here long enough to be a proud adopted Scot and was showing us how to celebrate our national day. But more of Rex’s celebrations later.
The plan was to walk to the top of Brown Carrick from Rex’s place in Alloway but given the predicted early afternoon rain, the decision was made cut the walk short and drive down to the shore at Greenan. While most of us found the correct car park one, who shall remain anonymous to save his embarrassment but for the sake of identification we will call Vadie Mc, found himself alone in the park nearer the millennium brig. By the time he had walked the half mile or so to join us we were changed into walking gear and were champing at the bit for the off.
Weel happit against a snell south-easterly, we set off along the shore towards Greenan Castle. The tide was on the flow but there was still sufficient sand for us to make it round the rocks under the castle. Birds by the hundred searched the weed on the litter line and prodded the sand closer to the water; the birders were in heaven. A pair of swans took to the wing, skimming over our heads, as we approached Craig Tara Caravan Park. Now, we would normally turn up through the caravan park but Jimmy and Ian had a ‘better’ suggestion; we would follow the route that they found the last time we were here – 8 December last year - and avoid much of the busy Dunure road.
We kept to the shore for a bit yet, turned in at the caravan park utility station and came on to its golf course. A friendly Yorkshire Terrier - is there really such a thing? – accompanied us across the golf course much to the frustration of its owner who stood and shouted long for it. Eventually we managed to chase it back towards her, but not until we had crossed the fairway to a gate on its far side. Now, with the dog heading back towards its owner, we came through the gate onto a steep and muddy track. So much for a ‘better’ route so far!
The track took us up to what Ian called ‘the llama field’. This was the field where the llamas were last December but here were none this December, only big, brown sheep and pale grey donkeys. Despite much ‘shooing’, it was the donkeys that decided to accompany us now. But that problem was solved when we came to the ford on the far side of the paddock and they decided to turn back. But now we had a different problem.
Not surprisingly given the recent rains the burn was in spate and the water was running deep and brown over the ford. The hydrophobes rebelled. A quick rethink was needed. We would now follow the burn across another field to find a track that would take us up to the Dunure road. This is what we did and found ourselves on the tarmac without too much effort. (Or too much miscalling of Ian and Jimmy.)
We bade farewell to Peter here for he had appointments to keep. He turned back towards Greenan while we crossed the Dunure road and took the minor one for Carrick Hills.
The climb of the road was a straightforward affair. We stopped on the lea of a bank for elevenses for the wind was now strengthening and we feared there would be little shelter further up the hill. And we were right. As we climbed, the wind grew fiercer. By the time we were on the final zigzags to the radio masts, we were battling into a ferocious gale, a gale that was proving tricky. On the zig it was in our faces threatening to push us back and on the zag it was on our backs hurrying us along. On the bends it was on the side threatening all sorts of other mischief. Yet, despite the wind, we all made it safely to the shelter of the shacks round the masts. And as a bonus, the rain had stayed away.
But we weren’t finished at the radio masts. We now left tarmac and took to the open hill. Surprisingly, the hill wasn’t nearly as wet as we expected it to be and the footing was easy. Not so the wind though. We butted into it across the open hill to the trig point marking the summit and stayed there just long enough for the record photo to be taken then turned tail and came back across the hill. With the wind on our backs, we made good time back to the shelter of the radio shacks. We lunched in the lea of the shacks.

The descent of the road was quicker than the ascent, especially for Jimmy who couldn’t control himself and sped past everybody only to wait for us on the flatter ground near the main road. And we kept to tarmac this time, coming past Heads of Ayr Farm with its exotic Zebu cattle in the field and back to Craig Tara. This time we did come through the caravans and back to the shore.
The tide was on the ebb again but was still pretty close to its high and some doubt we expressed as to whether we would be able to get round the rocks under Greenan Castle. These fears were increased when we had to climb and clamber down the first wee outcrop that we came to but they we allayed as we approached the castle and saw the extent of sand available to us. We would walk comfortably round.
Past the castle then and with only a few hundred yards to the cars the first spots of rain hit. We had been lucky with the day despite the wind on top.

For FRT today we repaired to Rex’s place where he had laid on not only the usual ale but, since it was St. Andrew's day, Scotch pies as well. Our thanks go to Rex for his hospitality. Next week we want fillet steaks.