Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympic Mural, Sandbed Street

Our newest artwork here in Kilmarnock, I went down to see it two days ago. Sandbed Street, beside the river in the town centre, used to be a bit of a mess but the council has now cleaned it up and started making other improvements. This striking mural is very eye-catching and is the work of Frank Carty of nearby Newmilns.

The idea came from town centre manager, Fiona Nicolson, as part of the plans to regenerate the area.

The four local heroes depicted are triathlete Gregor Grant of Kilmarnock, karate expert David Coulter (Knockintiber), swimmer Alan Jardine (Hurlford) and boccia player Jamie McCowan (Dundonald). All four men carried the Olympic torch through the town recently.

It's certainly a huge improvement and I hope that more murals and other ways to make this old street, and indeed the whole area, more attractive, are in the pipeline.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dundonald Castle

A marvellous ruin to visit amidst the beautiful Ayrshire countryside just a few miles outside Kilmarnock. You can park at the bottom of the hill and call in at the visitor centre for a ticket to go inside the castle (you can also have some tea or coffee in the cafe there and see the exhibition showing the history of the castle and area). Then it's a short 140 feet climb (if a bit steep!) up to the castle - and where you can also admire the beautiful view.

The castle was built for Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371. It was his favourite home and he died here in 1390. The Stewart kings then lived in the castle for the next 150 years. 
The main room is the well preserved vaulted Laigh (or, lower,) Hall. There's a high-level annex which includes a pit prison, and a modern spiral staircase which will take you up to the Great Hall, the second largest room, which contains private areas at either end.
It seems, owing to extensive excavations, that the present castle was built on the remains of at least two other castles, of which little is known.

Dundonald Games 2012

I just loved going to the Games last Saturday!
The weather was awful when I arrived on the courtesy bus from the 'Park and Ride' site on the outskirts of the village (about 5 miles out of Kilmarnock). It was difficult to make out 'Dundonald Games' on the road sign below, through all the heavy rain on the bus window!
However, once I got there the rain stopped and blazing sun came out for a few hours, which was absolutely perfect for all the performers and spectators!
We were all treated to some wonderful piping...
The dancing was also lovely to watch
There were some 'fun' races too, including the egg and spoon and also the 'wheelbarrow race' (below)
There were also challenges where people could try to smash a coconut with a mallet or slice a melon in half with a sword!
The view of the parade ground is marvellous from Dundonald Castle hill. The music drifted up from below and was very atmospheric.
Just before I went down the road to catch the bus back to my car, the dark clouds threatened once again. These last two photos were taken just before the really heavy rain began. 
 A fantastic day out and I look forward to going again next year!!