Robert Burns: Scottish Bard.

As my family and friends know, my wife is a bit of a culture vulture. She’s a real, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy kind of person. As a linguist, she absorbs literature like a sponge (a lot like I absorb Merlot 😉

Some time ago, she mentioned that she had studied the work of Scottish Bard, Robert Burns. This is interesting because, living on the borders of Scotland as I do, I can pretty much understand my Edinburgh and Glasgow cousins. But each time I hear someone recite Robert “Rabbie” Burns (every annual Burns night) I have to ask for a translation!

No, of course, it’s not that bad, he was certainly a prolific and extraordinarily talented writer. Anyway, having been away from home for a long time, I thought I’d give my wife a little treat of some pure Scottish culture. Robert Burns, I remembered was born in the small coastal town of Ayr. So, I booked the hotel. And off we went.

Not the world’s greatest hotel, but the only one I could get that gave us a view of the Scottish island of Arran. If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the snow capped mountains on the island (to the right of the picture).

Ayr is a quite a nice little coastal resort. I imagine it’s very pretty during the summer. There are new developments in the town. But it still carries an age old, distinguished look in many places.

As you’d expect, in the centre of the town there’s a statue of the great man himself (Robert Burns).

And also, as you’d expect, an inn complete with thatched roof called Tam O’Shanter ( a Burns classic).

But the place we really came to see was the actual birthplace of Burns which is a little out of town in Alloway.

Imagine the huge impact this guy had on literature and the huge amount of respect his work gets, and yet he was dead at only 37 years old. The cottage where he was born has a small museum with many original manuscripts of his work. And there are statues of him inside the museum.

And outside of the museum

The cottage itself is typical of the time. Small as it is, it had a barn, a stable and house all in this one building!

Inside the cottage is very quaint. It has been preserved in a way that depicts exactly how life would have been for the young Rabbie Burns. Lifesize waxworks are complemented by audio in the various scenes as you walk through the cottage. Here, his father is reading from the bible to the family, as the young Rabbie (standing next to him) fires question after question.

“For auld lang syne, We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne…”

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