Jazz and I headed down to Maidens for our regular walk around Culzean, the NTS jewel on the Ayrshire coast. As it was Christmas Eve and lovely weather I had expected the place to be heaving but we had the place to ourselves: there was no-one on Maidens or Croy beaches and we met only 2 people and 5 dogs in Culzean. Perfect. For a while.
It had just turned mid-day. I was down on the beach near the gasworks photographing frozen seaweed (as you do) while Jazz was pretending to be a working dog by searching for game birds 1 and other possible snacks. And then the peace was broken with a text message from my daughter wanting to know if it was safe to eat a rhubarb crumble that was 2 days past its sell-by. Clearly hunger had forced her from her lair at so early a time in the day. Now, we all know that sell-by dates are a device dreamt up by marketing bods in sharp suits and too much hair gel to encourage people to throw away perfectly good food. She’s had this lecture in the past so now I took the engineering approach: stick it in the microwave and zap the bugs with 850W and so add some nutrient to the E-number mess she was about to have for breakfast.
This obviously hadn’t convinced last-born as she sought reassurance: “If I eat this, I’m not going to die?” 2 Having been raised on a diet of Buffy Vampire Slayer and Merlin in her formative years, immortality is something she thinks is possible. I had to put things straight with a text containing one of those sentences now at the top of my Most Unlikely Things You’ll Ever Write list: “Of course you are going to die: rhubarb crumble doesn’t make you immortal”.
Having resolved the family food crisis, Jazz and I were left in peace to enjoy Culzean. Our walk is a circuit that leaves the shore and goes though the woods at the back of the estate before passing the Swan Pond and then back down onto Maidens beach. It’s a lovely but shortish walk so Jazz and I usually tag on a visit to nearby Turnberry. Typically it’s just a brisk walk along the lighthouse road going through the golf course watching out for golfers, but today the course was closed because of snow and so Jazz could get off-lead and have a sniff.
We took the opportunity to visit the Air Forces memorial commemorating the allied pilots and crew based at Turnberry in both World Wars who died. It’s a simple, elegant cross in a lovely location and as with all such memorials, poignant. One name on the memorial from the Second World War caught my eye: Flight Captain Mrs M Fairweather. Having a married woman mentioned is unusual, but her rank was one of the highest on the memorial. This is clearly an interesting piece of history that would be worth investigating. 3
From the lighthouse we head south to the beach: one of the nicest in Ayrshire and usually deserted. The high-tide line was littered with flotsam from autumn gales including a couple of lovely fish-boxes: one from County Cork in the Republic of Ireland and a local one from Northern Ireland. The sunlight was lovely making everything just glow. The view from the beach towards Ailsa Craig and Kintyre is lovely at sunset.
- She found 9 Woodcock in Culzean. ↩
- Being a teenager she didn’t use anything as archaic as capitalisation or punctuation, but as I have certain standards in this blog I’ve added them. ↩
- I did a quick search and found some very interesting information about this lady on the Scottish War Memorials web site. It shows that The Hon. Mrs. Margaret Fairweather was killed in 1944 while landing a Proctor. She was the first woman to fly a Spitfire and is buried in Dunure. I recommend you visit this web site for more fascinating information. ↩
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