At 8:30am on Saturday 15th June 2002, the first Club Excursion of what might be described as ‘modern times’ set off from the village. The trip had been organised by Ivor Santer with the help of Ronnie Crichton’s local Ayrshire knowledge.
Those present, in addition to Ivor, were
Ivor had managed to arrange the use of a minibus from the College where he worked as, apparently, part of a European funded scheme for farmers under the guise of “Education and Culture.” It was a great disappointment that he failed to acquire additional hospitality perquisites due to the volume of paperwork that would have been required.
The group visited Lochlie and Mossgiel on the way to the Bachelors’ Club at Tarbolton.
There, on talking to the guide who showed them around, it transpired he was a mason who was going to a function at the local masonic hall that afternoon. On realising he wasn’t dealing with any old group of visitors, and knowing of ‘Let it Blaw,’ the group were given a tour of the Masonic Hall where Burns had been a member, and saw the museum of Burns Masonic gear; original letters, manuscripts, portraits etc. All felt the visit had been a fascinating privilege.
The group passed by Willie’s Mill which featured in Burns’ poem “Death & Dr Hornbook”
before continuing to Alloway where they visited the Old Kirk viewing the various gravestones relating to the Burns family.
It being well into the afternoon, the group adjourned to the Brig o’ Doon Hotel for a late lunch. Renovation work was being carried out at the hotel, so the group sat in the garden overlooking the river and the famous bridge in glorious sunshine
with their sandwiches and tea………… yes, tea ! The hostelry was once a temperance hotel but, surprisingly, they needn’t have worried; everyone had tea ! The group sat on the bank of the River Doon for over an hour of good company and great craic!
They finished the day visiting the old National Trust Visitor Centre (to be replaced the following year) and Burns Cottage
before returning to Balerno about 9:30pm.
Our thanks to the East Ayrshire Museums and Galleries for the use of their print of Willie’s Mill.
This report has been written many years after the journey to Ayrshire, relying on memories that maybe aren’t as sharp as they once were. If you were on this trip, or know of anyone else who was there and/or the trip in 2003, please let any member of the Club Committee know.