The Royal Burgh of Ayr (pop. approx. 46000) is a town of two distinct halves. The south of the town is quite affluent and could easily be confused with one of the leafier suburbs of London. The north of the town could easily be confused with the grottier parts of west Glasgow. In the middle is the town centre which is neither posh or grotty. It's functional and the car parking is cheap and plentiful.

Ayr's main claim to fame (at least as far as the Scottish tourist board is concerned is that that famous writer of Scots doggerel, Robert Burns, was born, and grew up, in the village of Alloway, which is now on the southernmost edge of the Ayr conurbation. Although in young Robert's time it was just a poor village on the River Doon it is now extremely posh. It is now a prime example of the irony of culture in a capitalist nation in that the poet's humble birthplace is now surrounded by des resses which cost more than I have earned so far in my life.

On Monday, the MadGang did the Robert Burns experience.

It rained.


Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair

Alloway's Old Kirk
The setting for the demon's revelry in "Tam o' Shanter"

Warlocks and witches in a dance; 
Nae cotillion brent-new frae France, 
But hornpipes, jigs strathspeys, and reels, 
Put life and mettle in their heels. 
A winnock-bunker in the east, 
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast; 
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, 
To gie them music was his charge: 
He scre'd the pipes and gart them skirl, 
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.-- 
Coffins stood round, like open presses, 
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses; 
And by some develish cantraip slight, 
Each in its cauld hand held a light.-- 
By which heroic Tam was able 
To note upon the haly table, 
A murders's banes in gibbet-airns; 
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns; 
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape, 
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; 
Five tomahawks, wi blude red-rusted; 
Five scymitars, wi' murder crusted; 
A garter, which a babe had strangled; 
A knife, a father's throat had mangled, 
Whom his ain son o' life bereft, 
The gray hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu', 
Which even to name was be unlawfu'. 
Three lawyers' tongues, turn'd inside out, 
Wi' lies seam'd like a beggar's clout; 
Three priests' hearts, rotten, black as muck, 
Lay stinking, vile in every neuk.

Well, I'm not surprised.
I mean, it did belong to 
the Church of Scotland

The grave of
Robert's old
mum and dad.

The Burns' Memorial

View from the gallery of the Burns' Memorial

View upstream from
the brig o' Doon

The brig o' Doon

A fecking huge
timorous beastie

The cottage in which Robert Burns was born

The beach at Seafield (near Alloway)

The mouth of the River Doon 
(with swan family)

Upstream from the mouth of the River Doon

Ruins of Greenan castle with the Heads of Ayr (two massive granite
cliff faces) in the far distance



  1. Yup, I’m sure all the Yanks pictured Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse, dancing midst “the heather on the hill, at that phrase!

  2. Really excellent photos MP.

    As a lifelong admirer of Burns, it was like a whistle stop tour of his work. I particularly like the massive sleek it cow,ring timorous rodent.

    Ever thought of writing a tourist guidebook?