Once upon a time June was the beginning of the English summer. Long, hot, lazy days, evenings sitting outside country inns quaffing real ale, bees buzzing and butterflies flitting from flower to flower. Not anymore. Due to a combination of the U.S.A. and China not signing the Kyoto agreement (when we still had time to avert Armageddon) and farting cows, the end of June and the beginning of July is now the monsoon season in Great Britain. Does this alter the behaviour of your average Brit? Not in the slightest. It's the holiday season so on holiday we go. The only concession we make to the incessant deluge is to pack waterproof coats and umbrellas rather than shorts and picnic baskets.

So, it was with true British grit that, on Saturday morning, the MadGang hitched up their caravan to their car and set off to cross the border into Scotland arriving three or four hours later at Maybole in South Ayrshire. Fortunately the campsite is on top of a hill so there is little chance of our caravan suffering the same fate as many caravans in lower lying areas this year of being converted into a river cruiser.

It is compulsory when embarking on a caravanning holiday to forget to pack at least one piece of vital equipment. This year we decided to travel without the pipes that connect the waste water pipes inside the caravan to the waste water receptacle outside of the caravan. How much do they cost? Just a couple of quid. Where is the nearest place you can buy them? About twenty five miles away. So Sunday was spent driving up to the particularly grotty Scottish new town of Irvine (in the rain, of course).

Actually, there really isn't any need to prefix any Scottish town or city with "grotty" as all Scottish towns and cities are grotty. I have never understood how a people who live surrounded by such natural beauty can produce urban architecture of such dismal ugliness that their towns end up looking like Siberian Gulag settlements but slightly less picturesque. But, the caravan shop had the right pipes and we had plenty of time to take Glenna and Delphi down to the beach.

The beach at Irvine harbour mouth faces the Isle of Arran. In this first photo you can see the summit of Goatfell rising up into the rain clouds.

Not, that Glenna and Delphi were in the least bit interested in such geographical illumination. Beaches are for running around on, not for standing around admiring the scenery on.

Behind the beach is a large area of landscaped parkland. We came across this Scottish dragon made out of red bricks. We knew immediately that it was a Scottish dragon because it just lay there doing nothing and was surrounded by empty lager cans and the general detritus of drug abuse (I am sorry to say this is not me having a go at the residents of Irvine, it is actually true).

Here is Glenna standing in front of the mouth of the Scottish dragon. Don't panic, she is in no danger of being eaten as she is not covered in batter. (That is me having a go at the residents of Irvine, and Scots in general)

There is one thing you must never do on a Scottish beach and that is to look behind you. If you do you will inevitably end up staring at a nuclear power station or urban architectural atrocities such as this view of Irvine. I must admit, though, that I am impressed by the composition of this photo with the three church steeples and the factory chimneys sticking up between the tower blocks where poor Scottish people are forced to live.

And finally, another photograph of Arran with two horses being exercised on the beach in the foreground.



  1. Hmmm – this used to be close to my home stomping grounds! Things have changed a little. I love the dogs – that’s a given – and anyone who’d be adopted by them and taken into their family can’t be half bad either! 8 – )

    Thanks for the memories!

  2. I’m sorry, but when I saw the first long shot of the Scottish dragon I thought is was a statue of humping rabbits. (which makes just about as much sense to me.)

  3. Well, if it helps to lessen the disappointment caused by rain, you can always know that I’m envious. Enjoy the holiday!

  4. Wonderful pictures and marvelous dogs (as usual). I hope that it has not rained today, for you could use St. Swithin’s blessing of 40 days without rain.

  5. Dog farts, like most human farts, are nowhere near as bad for the environment as cow farts. This is due to the high methane content of the farts of herbivores.

    • It’s more complicated than that with humans, Susie Sue. Contrary to popular belief, it is only a small minority of people who produce methane in their farts and, although I don’t know the reason for this I doubt that it has anything to do with being a vegetarian.

  6. Deacon Charlie, I strongly advise that if you don’t want to end up being locked up for your own safety, you never agree to submitting yourself to a Rorschach test.

  7. The Canadians un-signed the Kyoto agreements a few years ago; they were actually less compliant with their goals than the US which never signed it.

    • Yes. Those crafty Canadians have persuaded the rest of the planet that they are so nice and caring and civilised. Yet they are one of the biggest destroyers of the environment in the world. Not on in their own backyard with the oil shale abomination but also in countries such as Mexico where they are busy levelling whole mountain ranges. And their strong arm tactics with the natives in these countries make Brazilian loggers look like Greenpeace campaigners.

  8. I was brought up in Irvine and while over the past few years there’s been a bit of decent regeneration, I can confirm the presence of drug detritus at the Dragon as a constant pretty much since it was built. The Harbourside is much nicer than it used to be though

    And to really prove my nerdy credentials, can I point out that the Steeples are (from left to right) the now empty Trinity Church (which at one point was supposed to be dismantled brick-by-brick and exported to Japan); the Town House (currently the district court I think); and Irvine Old Parish.

    • Thanks, Anonymous.

      You are now, officially, the OCICBW… steeple correspondent. This is a great honour but, unfortunately (for you) does not come with any renumeration attached.

  9. You can never take too many photos of Arran. It is my fave place in all the world. I have lost count of the number of times I have been on the summit of Goatfell, by various routes. You need to have a holiday there …

    Waiting for the tale of your day in Largs and environs …