The Windy City (Even Though It’s Not A City)
Just like Gloucester in Gloucestershire and Hamp in Hampshire, Ayr is the titular town of Ayrshire. The west coast sea-side town is home to the University of West Scotland and Ayr College, and claims a long-reining ownership of Robert Burns, along with every other town in which he stopped to pop a squat. But he was born there, so they have more legitimacy than the Burns Club in Atlanta, Georgia, at least.
Ayr is pronounced like “air”. Believe me, this become the most beautiful pun instigator once you realise that its coastal locale allows for a range of wind-based jokes. Yep, I make fart jokes people, let’s move on. Whilst small, Ayr does have a variety of options for the more retail-minded traveller. These include a very well stocked Wilko (praise be to bargains), a pub built in 1749 – The Tam O’ Shanter – and a mid-sized Odeon cinema. So, hurry down folks, you don’t want to miss out.
The train ride, however, is one that is always worth it. For me it’s about an hour, and that hour encompasses mostly countryside and a delicate sliver of sea. It even passes lochs (don’t ask me which ones, I’m just an ignorant Englishman), but they are huge, even the small ones. As the train sped by, I was struck by a question: “At what point does a lake become a loch?” I’m sure to most people this is an answer deeply rooted in common sense, but as I don’t have any of that nonsense, I googled it. Turns out a lake becomes a loch at the Scottish border, an answer I still haven’t reconciled with the fact I had to search it to find out.
Another feature of the Ayr locale is golf. Invented by the Scots (who love any sport that can be played in a jumper), Ayr has no less than six golf courses. This includes the Prestwick Golf Club, birthplace of the Open Championship; no wonder the Gentleman and Scholar, Mr Donald J. Trump, decided to build his golf course in Scotland. But don’t worry, it’s not in Ayr, so if you plan a trip you won’t run into him getting a steak bake down Greggs.
The final features of Ayr are contained within a small shopping outlet, and a high street complete with a statue of Robert Burns and his dog (told you they had an obsession). Of course, dear Robbie poses with such grace – nobody could deny that he was both a great poet, and a stone-cold fox serving face!
So, I came to the end of my Ayr trip, having looked for a lighter all day. But they were all too shiny, and too new. Something about Ayr is very old, as is their affinity for Robert Burns (Geddit? Burns? Like a match?) so I went for a classic. The Grandfather to lighters, and the closest I could get to Burns without getting actual burns: the match.
Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith