Monday, 12 May 2014

4/4 to Ayrshire

‘May the fleas from a thousand camels infest your armpits’,  I cursed,  as yet another tailgater attached itself to our rear as we travelled on the A76 from Dumfries to Irvine at 60 miles an hour. This Arab curse, rather wordy I agree, is nevertheless I feel, highly appropriate for this most dangerous of motoring bad practices.

Whether or not my curse had any effect I do not know, but we arrived at our destination at Annick Lodge in Ayrshire, all in one piece after a good 4 hour drive from Lancashire.
At Westmorland Services on the M6
The weather forecast for the week was not good and it was clear from the start that there would be few idyllic Morgan driving experiences with roof and sidescreens off. However, as it turned out we were able to drive top down on many occasions between showers.
Annick Lodge Mains, our cottage.
On the day of our arrival, I visited the Scottish National Maritime Museum in Irvine while my wife, not being a person with any nautical interest,  relaxed in the car.
Scottish National Maritime Museum, Irvine
The following day we reconnoitred up the west coast to Wemyss Bay via Ardrossan and Largs, as we had planned two ferry crossings to both the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Bute and wanted to investigate the parking facilities, as we intended to travel as foot passengers on both occasions.

Monday found us at the factory shop of Begg & Co in Ayr,  manufacturers of cashmere garments where cashmere can be bought for a fraction of the full retail price. Needless to say.....!?
Anyway, with all these luxury items stuffed into the Morgan we made our way to Dumfries House near
Dumfries House

Scottish admirers!

One of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes it has sumptuous interiors and magnificent furnishings. Built between 1754 and 1759 for the 5th Earl of Dumfries it has been described as an 18th century time-capsule.
One of the gardens at Dumfries House
In 2007, HRH Prince Charles headed a consortium that purchased the House to keep it accessible to the public. When we visited there was a tremendous amount of  work being carried out in the gardens which fortunately did not detract from the beauty of the place,  certainly a highlight of our trip.

Wemyss Bay Station and Ferry Terminal

The wonderful boardwalk to the Ferry at Wemyss Bay

En route to Rothesay
The following day found us on the ferry to Rothesay on the Island of  Bute with a visit to the Gothic/Victorian ‘pile’ of Mount Stuart being our objective for the day.
Arriving at Rothesay
First impressions of Rothesay were poor, it having a very ‘down at heel’ look about it. As I said to my wife, while surveying the sea front, “There is not one business here which looks welcoming”. However, we had an hour to kill before the bus to Mount Stuart arrived so we wandered up to the moated Castle which is very well kept and impressive.
Rothesay Castle
We joined a guided tour of  Mount Stuart, a neo Gothic stately house which we found, regardless of its reputation as one of the UK’s great buildings, totally ‘over the top’and somewhat eccentric. We did say that the Marquess of Bute would be better advised to spend money on the frontage at Rothesay rather than on this house.
Mount Stuart
Culzean Castle was next on our agenda, having given up the idea of a day on the Isle of Arran due to the poor weather conditions.
Culzean Castle
The castle is situated near Maybole, south of Ayr, and enjoys a dramatic cliff-top position. In the late 18th century the 10th Earl of Cassilis instructed Robert Adam to build an impressive castle on the site of a previous more basic structure and it was completed in 1792. It was the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of the Kennedy Clan.
Culzean Castle

Ailsa Craig in the mist!!!
On our return to our cottage we stopped off at the little fishing village of Dunure for some refreshment and to take a picture of Dunure Castle.

Dunure Castle
We decided next day to take things easy so we visited Troon, some 20 minutes from the cottage and had a delightful lunch of 'Cullen Skink' at Scotts Restaurant and Bar . This is a lovely place to eat, overlooking the Marina and there is another restaurant at the end of the Dock Road, an Oyster Bar which has excellent reviews.
The Isle of Arran from Troon
Troon Marina
Our final day saw us at the Robert Burns Museum where due to the dim effect lighting we couldn’t read any of the descriptive cards etc.,  for any exhibit!!!!! So precious little came from the visit in the way of understanding!!....and we are not blind!
Robert Burns Museum

Burn's Cottage

Brig o'Doon
As we toured Burn’s Cottage some time later, I mentioned this to an American and his wife from Edinburgh and they had the same criticism, that it was poorly lit and badly designed, and he had had experience of designing similar events/exhibitions.
The short walk to the ‘Auld Kirk’ and ‘Brig o’Doon’ was worthwhile and enjoyable.
The River Doon and the gardens of the Brig o'Doon Hotel

At last, a decent hand-pulled ale at the 'Ship'
Fortunately, as we set off for home it was dry but this was shortly to change as we battled heavy rain and high winds, a miserable mix in a Morgan! So out came the bits of towelling to ram in the orifices that were allowing water to be sprayed inside with the odd drips on our legs just having to be ignored!

As we travelled south before Shap Summit on the M6 there was a cheery ‘toot, toot’  from a fellow Morgan as it raced passed us, laden, as we were, with a suitcase on the rack.
This shot reflects the sort of weather we endured for much of our is a picture of the Isle of Arran taken from the seafront between Ardrossan and Largs!!!!!
Regardless of the lovely properties we visited, the best fun of all was driving the Morgan in all weather and I truly cannot understand owners who merely pamper their cars as we do, but NEVER drive them!
706 miles completed, meaning that our total mileage since buying the car is 22,878.