The nice ScotRail man sold me a £10.50 Off-Peak return to Ayr; I’m sure Tom would have found a cheaper way. To get the most out of the investment, I had a plan to stop at five stations on the way back to Glasgow for my gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.
Simon visited the town last year (here) and I’ve been intensely jealous of his Five Ayr ticks ever since. I was to be less successful, and the place Si declared “absolutely first class” a year ago had, of course, dropped out of the Guide completely.
Back in what youngsters call the “noughties”, we used to visit the Ayrshire coast a fair few times, in the days when Mr O’Leary cut the Prestwick-Stansted line.
In 2000 alone, we made three £20 returns to visit Arran, Troon and the glorious Cumbrae in quick succession, each time cutting finer the time we gave ourselves to get from the beach to the departure lounge, much to Mrs RM’s delight.
Nearly all the GBG pubs we accumulated back then have since dropped out of the Guide; all but the Ormidale on Arran in fact.
I had plans to recoup most of those GBG losses on a piece of paper I lost as the train whizzed toward Troon.
Luckily I came with a backup;
Arriving in Ayr it started to pour, so I invested in a Wilko umbrella (“Five poooonds“) and set about admiring the town in the rain. Easier than you’d imagine.
That BRAPA report praised Ayr as “an imagined version of Blackpool where the whole town is disinfected“, possibly the greatest faint praise ever conferred.
I loved it, from the Macintosh bank,
to the Wallace Tower,
to the street art,
to the “Justin Bieber Haggis Special“.
Justin was the clear winner of “One Love Manchester“, clearly buoyed by the Ayr haggis.
It had been a decade since my last visit, and the town seemed to have acquired a lot of historic buildings in the interim, with the Tam O’ Shanter and Bridges heading a long list of attractive bars.
Outside the Tam O’Shanter I attracted quite a crowd to see me take that top photo of that chap’s face sticking out of the way, my concentration only interrupted by
“Get ooot the way of the hearse”
Embarrassed, I scuttled off towards the vennels on the way to the first pub, attractively placed in Wellington Square.
Guess. Just guess.
Don’t wink at me, Mr Wellington.
A bit of a soaking, but a better result five minutes down the A719 at the Glen Park Hotel.
Just a proper pub small hotel bar, with proper lunchtime drinkers on their second pint of Ayr Pale at 11.45 (“Och, I was only gonna have the one“). I couldn’t blame him, that Pale was exceptional (NBSS 4), a highlight of the trip. And they said “Bye” when I left. Or something that sounded like it.
A bit of a dash along Racecourse Road then, passing rhododendrons, care homes and small hotels (which are the same thing really). The Chestnuts is one of those lovely independent places that prop up the Ayrshire economy, along with Wetherspoons.
You might be surprised to hear I liked this charming place, despite being immediately accused of bringing the rain north by the lady drinking Tennents at the bar.
Chestnuts gets marks for not correcting my pronunciation of a decent “Schiehallion” as sealion, the fresh flowers, the well-behaved children with their elderly grandparents, and the Pittenweem Haddock and Chips.
Very unfussy service and equally unfussy diners. Well done both.
One more Ayr pub tomorrow. Five points if you can guess what it is.