Burns Blog two! by Melvyn Gibson

Dear Readers,


Enthralled reader Moira Gemmell invites you a’ tae jine a trip on 23rd o this month tae Pollok Hoose fir viewing and learning mair aboot the paintings hinging thir. Anent thae paintings she asserts that the collection gaithered taegether thir haes mair Spanish wans than ony ither oot o Spain. Ain caution tae consider is in the ready advice that a few o the paintings micht be withdrawn frae the display pending progress o werks at the hoose. Get taegither at Pollok House for lunch fir noon on the day. Aifter guid food feast your een oan the airt presentit fir your plaisir. Contact Moira on moiragemmell995@btinternet.com to tak pairt and sort oot fir her numbers to be booked fir lunch. A’  ken Sir John Stirling Maxwell o Pollok House gied a haund in stairting the  National Trust for Scotland.


Also Moira haes tickets for TAK THE FLARE on Saturday 9thDecember at the Museum. She is happy for abody interested tae jin her tae mak a table o volunteers fir this occassion. Mention her name qhan pairting wi the siller for ticket(s).


Moira brocht this up and enchanted reader Ana hae confirmit that thir micht be a chaunce tae arrange a visit tae the MITCHELL LIBRARY tae see items frae thir Burns collection. Ana needs to find oot whit support thir wud be for sic an outing.  Please contact her noo tae intimate interest on amagongo@gmail.com.  If this visit gaes ahead it promises tae be worthwhile. The Burns Collection at the Mitchell holds oer 7000 buiks an’ artefacts.


The free series o talks – Poetry and Sang Gang Thegither –  presentit by Professor Fred Freeman stairts Wednesday 11th October at 7pm. Talks are scheduled for wan an a hauf hoors each and are being given at the Royal Conservatoire o Scotland. These talks shud be lively, entertaining and informative as abody acquaintit aready wi the style and substance o the speaker kens . Guaranteed to repay the travel. All ye are asked tae spend is time.  Siller stays in your pocket.


Myra, a leading licht in the fan club for the newsletter, writes to inform that the rag ruggers – Jackie, Lynne and hersel’ hae noo finished their summer season in the Cottage and returned tae the Education Pavilion to continue working on their current rug Monday afternoons from 2pm to 4pm. This, thir second rug aiblings hae been enhaunced wi a drawing o a mouse in the middle. They are gratefu to Pat Candlish for agreeing to draw this mouse. They reckon the rug wi the mouse will tak  a little longer tae complete than thir first wan an’ wi the centrepiece an’ a this time they are brakin’ fresh ground tae provide a talkin’ point fir visitors. The rag ruggers hae bin busy in the Cottage wi visitors frae monie pairts. Monie kent whit a rag rug was and shared memories o family werking at rag rugs.  Monie who  didnae ken afore thir visit aboot werking tae mak rag rugs waur fascinated by observing the process. It has been learnt frae fowk visiting  oe’r the summer that  in Northumberland and Yorkshire they crie rag rugs proggy or clippie rugs an’ makin’  o  rugs wisnae confined to weemen. Monie visitors expressit the wish that they haud held oan tae family rag rugs.


Lady gaiein aroon wi a tape recorder thocht tae be takin notes to remind hersel’ o her visit.Turned oot  she wis frae Irish Radio an taped an interview with oor rag ruggers.

Oan anither occasion an American loon frae Atlanta, Georgia wis observit tae pace up and doon measuring  the Spens. He disclosed that his purpose wis tae determine if the dimensions at the replica  Burns Cottage in Atlanta were the same.  Anent the Atlanta replica Cottage he spak richt that it originally also had a thatched roof but due to health and safety considerations the thatch wis removed and replaced wi a tiled roof.


As always they are looking for old fleeces, jackets, scarves etc to use in the makin’ o the rugs and if you have anything of this sort spare they would be grateful if you would please pass it into Ally in the office.


Last time oot  I revealed Rogers statistics here. Ally Beckett his noo asked masel’ to disclose her vital statistics an’ a. I am agin happy tae oblige and very exciting they are too. For frae the end o this July(syne figures hae bin kept) the volunteers demonstrating traditional skills in the Cottage hae entertained at least 639 visitors. Skills demonstratit hae includit rag rug makin’, ink makin’, darning/patching and bannock making. The total number gied for this may be an underestimate as it isnae awaes possible tae count a’ the visitors and carrie oan demonstrations at the same time. Ally advises that the official end date for activities being staged in the Cottage wis the end o September but if abodie likes to persevere and, if it’s wairm enough in the Cottage, they are more than welcome tae continue. The message from Ally is that the efforts of all the volunteers involved in the Cottage demonstrations have not been overlooked and are much appreciated.


On a related subject  in the first 6 months of the year, March – August (financial year starting in March), there his been a  grand total of 8,052 visitors guided through the Cottage and Museum by the volunteers. This total may also be an underestimate as there hae been times when the folder hisnae been located to allow fir the recording o numbers on the tours. Ally comments –“ I personally think that’s an incredible number of people who our volunteers have been able to engage with and teach more about Robert Burns, so please pass on our biggest thanks from the staff here!!” I heartily agree with what she wrote there.




You may have seen the e-mail sent out on the 3rd of this month by Claire. In case you missed it I repeat her for your attention –

We are looking for some old dark clothes and hats to make scare crows for Alloween – if you have anything lying around waiting to go the charity shop, I’d be very grateful if you could bring it in.


As Ally intimated qhan circulating the last newsletter Highlight Talks hae bin swapped. Upshot of this is that Rab Wilson’s talk oan The Mining Makars is noo being given this Wednesday 11th October. As is the norm this talk shall be frae 3pm in the Robertson Room in the Museum. Whit’s expectit? Rab has a look in detail at the legacy and tradition of working class poets in Ayrshire. Rab Wilson is kent in this parish as the Scriever for RBBM, poet, newspaper columnist in Scots and campaigner. Spare some time to hear about a fascinating subject. Aifter grab a snack in the café and head up to Glasgow for the first of the Fred talks that evening. Both talks are free remember so yir purse’ll still be jingling wi siller.

Rab  is noo followed in the Robertson Room on Wednesday the 18th by Hugh Farrell talking  oan oor Burns Monument, that yin in the Monument Gairdens wi the gold tap that thirs bin a fair stooshie aboot in recent times.  Folk for certain hae goat themsels in a state o high doh  wi the controversy generated aboot the preservation and future o the Monument.  Whit a fankle! Hugh is Chair of the Friends of RBBM and his talk will address the history and future o the structure. Nae doot his prognostications on the topic are eagerly awaited by critics, supporters an’ interested parties alike. Wan thing’s for sure – he’s naw puggled nor is he downhearted by circumstances. Micht be indulgence in flyting if thirs nae consensus. If thir is flyting micht hae to blow the fussle oan any participants.


By 5pm Monday 9th thir wis naething listed oan the RBBM website’s What’s On section for these Highlight Talks. Thir is a notice for a the October talks o this category oan Facebook page . Shud it no be Whit’s Oan anyhow? Is it no time the format o oor website wis adjusted to gie Scots a pairt in promoting the place? Acknowledgement o the Gaelic micht be nae bad thing either?


This week yir Agony Uncle taks on questions o some gravity frae the Post Bag. First a spellbound reader asks Whits the difference between Scots and Scotch? Answer – Ah’m fare scunnered by this enquiry oan account o the definitions goat frae the Dictionary I consultit oan this. Entry for Scots is fine qhan as an adjective it dubs Scots as relating to, or characteristic of Scotland, its people BUT qhan it gangs oan tae advise as weel “their English dialects” my danders up an quhan  forbye it gies noun version o Scots as “any of the English dialects spoken or written in Scotland” ah’m hoarse wi apoplexy. Ah’m splenetic wi a rerr rage. I hae calmed doon at sicht o the entry fir Scotch quhan it explains aifter reference to whisky,broth, eggs, mist, pancakes,tape, terrier that “In the North of England and Scotland, Scotch is not used outside fixed expressions such as Scotch Whisky. The use of Scotch for Scots or Scottish is otherwise felt to be incorrect esp. when applied to persons(My thocht is also to the Scots language). See Scotchman – another word for Scotsman(regarded as bad usage by the Scots). Dinna fash me agin wi daft propositions masquerading as questions. Whit thrawn chiels are discoverit!

An ither delichted reader asks Whit gaes up and doon a the time? Answer – Fowk gang up then doon oan the Brig O Doon maist days.

Send yir questions for the next edition. If you huvnae any send answers.


Put a spoonful of coffee (or however much you usually have) into a mug or cup. Add as much sugar or sweetener as you desire and add a splash of warm water. Stir together so the sugar and coffee dissolve, then top up with milk. Stir again and put in the microwave for one minute. Remove and stir, then put it for another minute or until the milk is hot enough. Milky Sugar. Comforting.


Struggling to fit in visit to the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at Irvine Town House. Anyone been yet?  Gies yir thochts on the experience.  Fortified on Sunday by sample dram of the 12 year old malt at Glengoyne Distillery. A wheen o ither distilleries are available to visit. Guid listening at recent performances by the Genovia Quartet, Scots/Spanish bassoon quintet, in the Merchants Hall, Glasgow and at Ayr Town Hall Organ recital by Morley Whitehead. Merchant Hall features concerts every second Wednesday. Ayr Town Hall Organ Concerts are every Monday at noon. This week -The Glasgow Cathedral Music Festival, Junior International Football tournament in Glasgow(Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man), round pound coin ceases to be accepted. Tuesday ah’m guide oan Glasgow Bus. Saturday Waverley cruise. Sunday ah’m back at the Cottage for morning tours. Looking ahead on 10th November I shall be strutting my stuff to That Swing Sensation Swing Band at the Fenwick Jazz Night in the Church Hall.


Still efter ony anecdotes and news guid or bad. Guid responses this week. Keep chipping in wi yer ain. It his bin fair heartening to learn o guid werks accomplished by volunteers an pass on acknowledgement o the contributions made.

Anent recognition you shud hae received an email frae ain o our oan, Alison Wilson,  commenting on the deserved thank you recently organised for her at Ellisland Farm. Alison’s werk for RBBM and the volunteers his been phenomenal an happily although takin a step back she will still be aroon for us. Thanks also tae the fowk who organised this Ellisland trip.

Enjoy your volunteering this week and for a yir hard werk JAM TARTS A ROON. Stay safe, healthy and warm.



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