This page contains the daily update of happenings from the 2012 Scot Tour
Daily Update & Tour Blog
Monday Morning at the Airport is not too busy if you arrive before 7 AM. Surveying gate 3A I see at least 15 of our guys gathered. We are departing, with our tired bodies and cloudy heads, but our hearts will forever be with the friends we made and the memories of this experience is something we will take to our graves……Thank you Scotland for a wonderful Tour.
Well I promised a last recap and this is what I remember from the arrival at Braid Hills to now. First of all it was as nice a hotel room as Russ and I had and it was on the first floor although a fair walk through the function area.
For our last official match Team Rhyme played Alastair Hay, Lindsey Scotland, Dave Anderson and Mike Williamson. We were sitting with a rock on the button almost frozen with a row of guards in front, yet with the last two shots Mr. Hay managed to turn our apparent victory into a four shot end for his team and yet another defeat for team Rhyme. Well done, and even with this reversal team USA pulled out a victory as was reported earlier.
Saturday night was a night our teams were to be home hosted so we were collected by Jenny Bain, our assigned host who had stayed with Rhyme and Brown last year on the Scot Ladies tour. It took about 20 minutes or so to reach her modern house overlooking Edinburgh. Her husband Alan took charge when we hit the door and I cannot count the number of trips he made to the cellar for more wine. Besides the Rhyme team there were 7 other guests plus the hosts so it was a lively party. When we arrived we met the three daughters of Alan and Jenny who with several friends were putting the finishing touches on their very attractive appearances for the Young Farmers dance. (I now know why there are so many farmers in Scotland……with many young beautiful lassies going to the dance I would commit to being a farmer too.)
I also must apologize for my less than lively participation during the evening. I started by dozing off and tipping a glass of wine on my leg abruptly waking me and providing the largest of the many laughs that night. Later I actually took a nap while my teammates continue to enjoy the jokes, witticisms, and wonderful singing. The lasagna was delicious, the dessert great, but the drink was over the top. Alan kept the party going and promised breakfast at dawn but once the girls returned from the dance we broke away and got to the locked hotel at 2:30 AM. Bill Rhyme one of our non-drinkers made sure he told Army that he was out later for once.
On Sunday morning I was up at 8 (courtesy of the nap I had at the party) and joined several other tourists and courier Robert Stewart at Duddingston Kirk for worship at the Church of Scotland. The church was built on Duddingston Loch in the 12th century and remains much as it was after being extended in 1633 Minster Jim Jack acknowledged President Pat Edington, and his guests from the Scot Tour, us. After church our group was escorted through the garden for a tour of the Thompson Tower named after a predecessor of Rev. Jack. At the base of the tower which is on the shore of the pond is an excellent museum of curling memorabilia, and tour guide Ian Seath had painstakingly placed the full summer exhibit normally closed for the winter back together. It was wonderful. A nice display of many curling stones, brooms, photos, and history. As we learned early in the tour the rules of curling were formalized at Duddington in 1804 and are the same today.
Leaving the church the bus dropped us on George Street for about an hour and half of sightseeing and shopping at the City Center. Earlier several other tourists toured the Edinburgh Castle, the Underground and several other stops on the Royal Mile.
The lunch before our last match as the Royal Caledonian Curling Club was at 1:30 PM and our Captain, vice-Captain, Dave Carlson and Paul Badgero were a bit late as they had walked the nearly two miles from City Centre. Jon Mielke and I found a taxi that would have carried all six of us, but we had spilt up just before that.
In the 3 PM match I was playing against Ian Tulloch whom I had met in Lowell in 2006 and whom my friend Hal McGrady had asked me to pass on his greeting. Curling with Ian was Jim Berry (whose wife is a member of this year’s senior women’s team for Scotland) Harry Dodd from Kelso and Alan Dunro from the Moray Province. Even though the game was an exhibition the tourists played hard and each side enjoyed the competition. Afterwards in the upstairs lounge at Murrayfield Ice Rink we were able to watch the final match of the Men’s Championship. Jenny Bain had stopped by earlier for a quick goodbye and told us the Eve Murifield had won the Ladies in the morning. Jenny had gotten up and gone to Perth as she is the incoming president of the Scot Ladies. Tom Brewster the ice maker at Aberdeen came through to play in the finals against Warwick Smith and prevailed 4-2.
We were back at Braid Hills for the Closing Banquet which was just a grand affair at 7:30 for 8. Our 20 member team was outnumber 4-1 by so many people who have become friends that it seemed to be just like a party back home where you knew practically every one. I have admit that my emotion was so high that it was difficult to express how happy we all were for the tremendous outpouring of support and friendship shown to us at this final formal event.
President Pat presided, Bill Holland was back, Hugh Templeton, and Robert shared “courier tales of the tour", and Captain Mark Swandby tried to express our thanks and appreciation for all that everyone has done for us. It was a very moving closing banquet and wonderful meal with FRIENDS.
Oh, near the end of the evening we did get the Herries Maxwell trophy. That is what we thought we were coming for but it is the least of what we actually took home.
Bill Duncan giving the final thanks said it for all... “Haste ye Back” and trust us we are eagerly anticipating reciprocating the experience when the Scotland Tour of United States comes in 5 years.
PS. I am sending this from Newark all tourists reclaimed luggage and are off across USA. Hugh. and Robert accompanied us to airport and with a bottle of Arran Founders Reserve Carl was able to list scotch whisky # 91. With a generous 8 pound fine from Judge Lepping, because he had not shaved today, Jim Pleasants won the highest fine level and the wooden stone. It is over but the future is just beginning.....talk of reunions and staying in touch were all part of the "so longs" as the tourists shook hands all around.
It is official the Herries Maxwell trophy is coming home with us. Draw 35 (the last) is complete and after 147 games the USA has 1075 shots and Scotland has 797. The one game today at Murrayfield Ice Rink at 12:30 PM was won by USA 34 to Scotland 33.
Captain Swandby proudly shook the hands of the 20 men of the Scot Tour 2012 as we left the ice. It has been arduous, fabulously fun, and a dream come true for all of us.
Tonight we are being home hosted by AREA 5 and will be back to the hotel late. Tomorrow is a church day, a shopping day, an Edinburgh site seeing day with an afternoon curling exhibition before the final banquet at the hotel tomorrow night.
So I am making this brief it is time to relax and reflect as a team………..thank you all for following us; we will try to give you once last glimpse into our tour experience before we board the plane back home.
We had been looking forward to this long bus ride for some time and tourists were in good spirits leaving Inverness at 7:45 AM The ‘refreshment kitty’ was tapped for some special morning class libations and we enjoyed bloody maries and screwdrivers for morning class. Sergeant at Arms Dave Carlson called the relaxed session of court into session with the Left Honorable Dan Brunt and the Right Honorable Rich Lepping doing the usual. Bob Dixon was showing off his new hat from Johnston’s and forgot to remove it court… ca-ching. Carl Thomas was fined for doing his plumber’s imitation and several other minor fines. Just to let you know that fines have been accumulating. Here is the top five team members in contention for the special curling stone for most fines on tour: Rich Lepping 35 pounds, Jim Pleasants, 30, Lemcke 21 plus donations, Bob Chandler 27, Dave Carlson 26.
After ample libations drinking was discontinued as someone remembered that we did have a game to play in Kelso. We were supposed to stop at Perth for coffee after riding through beautiful hills and picturesque valleys on our dash to the borders. We stopped at the Dewars Ice Arena where the Scottish national championships were underway. We were fortunate to catch the last two end of the last game of the round robin. David Edwards finished the round robin at 8-0 and the playoffs start tomorrow. We did remark to one another how young those curlers seemed to be, but it was great to see the competition. You can be sure there is also much interest on our tour on the progress of US Nationals being played at the same time just a few hours behind.
On the road again we drove beyond Edinburgh to an area where courier Robert Stewart grew up. He had arranged lunch at the Stair Arms Hotel which is always used for his curling clubs annual dinner. After a soup and fish pie we then boarded the bus for the Borders Curling Club for the 2:30 PM game. What a fabulous welcome we saw outside when we arrived. Inside was extremely organized and after a drink the piping on ceremony got things started. This day we lined up against Michael Sutherland, James Dixon, Peter Bowyer, and John Hodge. Bill Rhyme and Michael were flag bearers. We stacked brooms after 4 ends, behind, but with a spectacular double take out by Bill got 4 in the 7th making it another close game for us. After the game Bill said he had played Michael before at World Seniors in 2005 and in 2005 because Michael normally represents England as he has a farm in England. In fact the team was all English except for John, and curl for three different clubs Foulden, Glendale and Duns. Michael gave me an English Curling Association Pin and told me that there are only 130 curlers in the association and in fact play down at Greenacres for the right to represent their country in the Worlds.
The Border Ice Rink built by Willie Wilson opened in 1964. He is one of the three R.C.C.C. Past presidents from this club. The last being Tommy Hinnigan, the Entertainment Director for the American tour in 2007, and he also handled the bulk of the entertainment after dinner this evening. The chairman for the fun dinner and entertainment was John Hutchinson, and the emcee was Harry Dodds, president of the Border Ice Rink.
Although we are not in Kelso long it was a memorable day and evening in the Borders Province. I enjoyed conversing during dinner with Robert and Isla Forsyth and with Sally Dodd and Roddy McClean. In fact I learned a new term for a relationship. Sally “bides in” with Roddy. Alistair, a friend and comrade in entertainment with Tommy also was at our table 7.
So let me put this in perspective. Jim Pleasants is from Seattle and I am from North Carolina. A bus trip between those disparate locations would take a minimum of 4 days to transverse the nearly 4000 mile diagonal across the United States. The same diagonal across Scotland took less than 4 hours. The Dash from Inverness to Borders on the Tweed was a day of fun travel and included our 34th match. We have but one more to go tomorrow at Murrayfield, and then we transfer to our Last Hotel in Edinburgh at 4 PM. The tour’s end is in sight...but once again the days just keep getting better and better.... thank you so much Borders for your warmth, friendship and wonderful hospitality.
Previous American Tours have spent a couple of days in Inverness the center of the Scottish Highlands. We arrived at 9:30 AM today and will depart at 7:30 in the morning. So we did not do justice to this beautiful place on the Loch Ness.
The bus ride from Elgin was started in the normal way, and we even had a guest participant in our morning class, Allan Durno, who is second in line to the presidency of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. After the class he bid us adieu and court was in session. A major offense this day was Robert the courier, loss of the tour records and his briefcase overnight. Also ten tourists were fined for removing their jackets at dinner too early, and Messrs.’, Jorgensen and Mielke were brought up of charges for never appearing in court and subsequently fined. However, Dennis escaped because he had confessed to improperly looking at a woman, but the judge decided that charge was not proven so as of yet Dennis has not been fined….I am sure that will change as court tomorrow will take some time as we ride five hours to Kelso.
The Inverness Ice Centre is a building owned by curling skating and hockey members and the five sheets are used for curling Monday to Friday. Week-ends the ice is used for hockey and ice skating. In the second floor viewing area and bar area, Peter Frazier, Area 10 Representative, welcomed us with 100,000 welcomes and exclaimed that it was a beautiful day for this time of year. Warm temperatures and bright sunshine, unfortunately we never saw it again.
We curled on Sheet A against Inverness Province. The mixed team was made up of Andy Wood, Phil Masheter, Ian Thompson, and Ormand Smith. We again had a very competitive match coming through just at the last end. After the game and over drinks and lunch I learned that 4 different provinces curl at the Inverness Ice Centre. Inverness Province with 200 or more curlers, Ross with over 100, Sutherland with 60 and some from Moray. I also had time to inquire about Nessie the Loch Ness monster that lives somewhere deep in the 800 feet of dark water of the Loch Ness. Apparently the creature was first sighted by Saint Columba in the Eleventh Century and now by tourists each summer particularly if they are looking through two empty glass whisky bottles.
There are two outdoor natural ice rinks in Inverness and many players told us how much fun this is. At Lunch Herb gave our gift plaque to rink manager, Keith Petrie, and soon after we were back on the ice for the second draw. In the afternoon we curled Ian Fraser, Bill Shirran, Finley MacKenzie and Gavin Meldrum all from Ross Province. Once again we prevailed in a well-played close match. However, overall the Americans gained 48 points for the day; one of the best we have had. I think we are well honed into teams, and want to finish strong.
Dinner and entertainment was at our hotel, the Columbia. It was similar to most nights, but tonight we were privileged to hear some great Burns poetry recitations and each of us received a small bottle of Glenmorangie (my personal preference for single malt). It was accompanied by a hardback book entitled “whisky classified, choosing single malts by flavor”. I sat with Richard and Christine MacKenzie who live nearby the Glenmorangie distillery so I will always think of them as I sip back home.
Thanks so much for the Area Ten Reception and hospitality and I promise many of us will “Haste ye Back” to this beautiful Highland place that we just so briefly encountered as requested by the message on the book page of our reference book.
The bus rolled at 7:45 AM out of Aberdeen headed for Elgin. We had morning class and court and then I cannot tell you because I believe most tourists took a nap….I know I did.
When we arrived at the Moray Leisure Centre two men boarded the bus and made a couple of introductory comments about the Northern Provinces, one I was later to learn was Mike Watt the Province president and the other Allan Durno the area representative for the RCCC.
The bus drove on to family distillery named Benromach for a tour starting just before 10 AM. We learned that Speyside is the center of the single malt whisky industry which has been revived since 1983. In 1983 many distilleries closed due to an oversupply of product. This particular distillery started in 1898 was a casualty, but reopened in 1998 after being bought by Gordon MacPhail. Our tour was led by Sandy who did an excellent job explaining the process of whiskey from barley to malt then to distilling and barreling before bottling. We observed each of these steps with a walk through tour of this neatly kept business. Afterwards we went back to the tasting room and tasted the 10 year old Benromach with some of us adding a spot of water or two to bring out the flavor……and it passed our palates well. We carried out a small bottle and some bought a bit more but most are going to try to find it in the USA since our luggage is nearly full and with limitations imposed for liquor
Our next stop was the Johntson Woolen Mills on the banks of the River Lossie. After a quick lunch in the retail store at the mills we divided into small groups and moved about the working mills which were originally started from an importing business by Alexander Johnston in 1797. We started at the wool store where lamb’s wool from Australia and New Zealand and Cashmere from company controlled goat herds in Mongolia and China is received in pallet sized bundles. The fibers are dyed carded, spun and woven into beautiful designs throughout many operations in many large buildings on the beautiful grounds. After the tour we had some time to purchase the products including beautiful soft cashmere seaters scarffs and other products made by Johnston’s before reboarding the bus about 1:45.
Then it was off to curl at the Moray Leisure Center which was once more a combination facility. Four teams curled although our team had the bye. I worked on the blog for yesterday, and did get a short nap before joining the team at the Thunderton Pub. There I learned from Dennis Jorgensen that the ice conditions were very good and that the curling was very competitive. The Moray rink does not have a bar thus the reason for the post game drink at Thunderton Pub. The oldest pub in Elgin is housed in the Century House in the center of town where Macbeth once slept.
After drinks it was a short walk through the village to the Sunninghill Hotel, where the bus was parked with luggage. Tourists had a short hour to find their rooms and be ready for dinner at 7. Mike Watt handled the emcee duties and charmed us with wit. He also recognized the redeemed El Torro with one of his remaining 12 curling badges. Dave Peck gave our toast and Carl Thomas presented our gift to the Province. Since I did not play today I was pleased to sit with Angus Gunn and Bob Oswald. I also enjoyed Joan “Mumse” Reed who is a charter member of the Margaritas, an international curling group having a bonspiel in Las Vegas later this year.
The dinner was among the best we have had on the tour and was prepared by owner chef and scot curler today, Donald Ross, and his wife Winnie. I had Cullen Shink finally learning that Cullen is a fishing town not far from here, roast sirloin of beef with rich red wine sauce, with lovely cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes, finished with homemade strawberry, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake.
After our entertainment concluded Mike an,nounced he would be telling more jokes in the bar and that the Sunninghill bar had whiskies arranged from A to Z and we were free to start at either end of the alphabet. It is a very cozy pub, but alas I am up in the room writing this not at the bar.
We leave in the morning for Inverness at 8:30 AM so this is one of our longer nights for sleep or party.
As a closing I want to relay some information that Jon Mielke brought to my attention, which is significant for the Tour. Today George McArthur played against the Americans for the 5th time. That is in 1972, 1982, 1991, 2001, and 2012. His father, Dave McArthur, played in the first two tour matches held on Scottish soil in 1952 and 1962 and George showed us another badge from 1952. What a great tradition this Scottish American Tour has become.
It was just same bus again on Valentine’s Day. Carl brightened us up with morning class and told us we only had six more days to enjoy the tour. Court was a bit of embarrassment for Judge Rich as he did delay departure yesterday by going back for his parka. He gave himself a 5 pound fine and levied lesser amounts on others but Jim did have a two for with being late and for sharing gastronomical secrets while curling. (It is difficult to come up with the right word but you all probably get it. Bob Chandler admitted to becoming lost from the group at the Discovery.
With a short time we arrived in “Granite City” Aberdeen. Aberdeen is bustling as the European center for North Sea Oil exploration including regional headquarters for several major oil companies. Our curling venue was Curl Aberdeen built in 2005 with eight sheets of ice and plenty of room for viewing and socializing……simply the finest curling facility in Scotland with the most excellent ice we have had. The ice manager is Tom Brewster and working the ice for us was Kerr Drummond a member of the Kyle smith rink who won the Junior Championships two weeks ago and will going to Norway. Curl Aberdeen has no other activity on the ice and it is curling from September to April.
We were welcomed by Albert Middler the North-Eastern Province, president and four teams piped on for the first game at 10 AM. We played Bruce Ferguson, James Young, Ian Mennie, and Graeme Fisher. Did I mention the excellent ice well it made for a great game and we pulled ahead in the last end. At lunch of soup and sandwich we had a surprise and Rita Dedolph, and a friend showed up as a Valentine Day treat. Although not present, Leslie Armstrong did manage to surprise Russ with an Elvis recording “love me tender”, and a giant Valentine Card…..so we began to understand the day was important. I know all the team was thinking of their wives as we are all married and it has been a while since we told them we loved them and WE DO.
At Aberdeen we had our second and last night of staying in the home with hosts. At lunch Ian Kerr, who played against us the first match and with whom I sat at the welcome banquet, introduced Russ Brown and I to his lovely wife Pam, and said we were their guests for the evening.
Our second game at 2PM was against Ronnie Wyatt, whose dad was on the 87 Scot tour to America, Bill Morrsion, and Richard Jacknik, with Andy Carr as lead. We earned a big early lead but they charged back and would have liked one more stone. We then had a one drink at the post game gathering and then it was time to have out hosts take us away to change and to be back at arena for bus transport to a civic reception.
When I first met Ian his pate was a very freshly tanned color and I commented. He said he had just gotten back from the Mauritius Islands in the Indian Ocean where he had gotten married and spend his honey moon. Well you know I have been in Scotland for some time the reddish sunburn on Ian’s forehead is gone, but not the smile on his newly wed face. So here we were houseguests of the newlyweds and our bedrooms were close by on the second floor of a modern flat near downtown Aberdeen. Of course I commented, and Pam acknowledged that she would have preferred a more romantic evening than what we had…..but it wasn’t too bad.
The Lord Provost with his sergeant in a red morning coat welcomed us to a very large reception hall in the Town House of Aberdeen. After a short cocktail time that followed a cocktail hour at the Kerr’s which followed some glasses of wine on the bus which followed the after game cocktail which followed the whisky at mid game…..you get the idea there was frivolity and explains also why this blog was not posted right away. The Town House is 160 years old and since Queen Victoria’s time the women have been able to come down from the balcony surrounding the spacious wooden paneled room. The Provost gave us many interesting facts such as that there are three thriving barbershop quarters in the city and that there are 17 places in the United States named Aberdeen. If any of you from there read this be sure to come to the real Aberdeen where guests are treated royally.
The formal part of the banquet was lead by Mr. Middler. Rich Lepping gave our presentation to the city and wished all the ladies in the group a Happy Valentine’s Day since we missed our wives. and Jon Melkie was our toaster. The gifts to we tourists were beautiful silver pieces which will be forever treasured as a memory of Aberdeen and will the wonderful rink and ice. What a day.
But it was not over….because Ian had taken us by taxi to the bus we sent the bus off and started walking down Union Street in misty cold rain….I was glad I had the parka. Our first stop was the Prince of Wales, which was very crowded (and not necessarily with romantic couples) although it is the longest bar in Aberdeen. The bar was backed up two deep. We did find a table and enjoyed some more drink. Down the street once more out next stop was “The Grill” which is the famous whisky bar of Aberdeen which for the longest time did not allow women. It was not so crowded but I noticed that in neither pub were there bar stools. Maybe you consume more standing????? I met a young golfer with his lady there and chatted him up he was suitably impressed that “an American athlete” myself, had been awarded a silver bowl just for showing up as he has competed in many a golf tourney to get such a nice prize…..he wanted me to give it to him, but he got the tour pin and left with his lovely lady with a smile.
We then decided to go back to the Kerr’s via a short cab ride. Once in for the evening, what better idea than to have another whisky and share some more friendship. We talked about Chicago where Russ is from and then about Topsail Island where I live from large buildings and bustling to a lonely beach with loggerhead turtles nesting. Pam did not care, she is keen for a visit to the States and since Ian works for Archer Energy headquartered in Houston, I believe they will show up.
Well Pam finally excused herself for bed and then Ian broke out some really old whisky (Carl... eat your heart out). I am copying from his notes because I certainly was not paying attention at this time.
We drank EDRAPOUR straight from the cask. Barolo Cask finish at 56.1 % and finally his most precious CAPERDONICRL at 58.5%. I must say at that point I dropped out, but Russ the Younger who I had introduced to “scotch” back at the Exmor Continental was still there. I believe until 130 AM
Wednesday is a bus ride to the north leaving at 7:45AM
For the quote of the day I liked the “Barneat toast” I think it was (a French word) Anyway it goes like this…”happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again” which certainly describes both sides as were send tours in quest of the Herries Maxwell.
We did not see much of Edzell but it seems our mascot El Torro saw much. I need to report that El Torro is back with team USA. Downstairs in the ballroom at the Panmure Arms the Dundee and Angus Provinces hosted a wonderful meal with FUN and Fellowship. At the end of the evening a poem and slide show that we will get up on the website as soon as possible was presented; entitled “The Tale of El Torro or A load of Old Bull” The highlight for the bull was a trip to a farm in Edzell where he visited “Billy” the bull and "Hazel the Heifer" who floated his boat. After the presentation the ‘bullnappers’ asked for a ransom and the Americans suggested a trade of Rambo the sheep for El Torro the bull. With laughter all around the exchange was made.
The featured speaker was Kate Caithness the current President of the World Curling Federation and a member of the Winter Sports group board of the International Olympic Committee. She told us that there are now 48 countries in the WCF with Mongolia knocking at the door. The budget is $6,000,000 a year and the WCF has 12 full time staff and its own TV production operation. Kate attends about a dozen championships and meetings around the world and this is the busy time for her. She is off to Korea on Thursday and will be looking for sponsors and to begin preparations for the 2018 Olympics in that country. She told us that a sponsor had come forward for the World Men’s championships. She also mentioned that the WCF will loan $50,000 per sheet for new curling clubs and to my friends at Triangle I got the $200,000 handshake as I shared with her our plans for the first club in the Southern United States.
Mark Swandby, our captain and a US representative to the WCF presented a crystal plate with our tour emblem to Ms. Caithness and she presented us a curling stone made from Alisa Craig granite and emblems for all. The most cherished gift was a copy of the “History of Curling” by John Kerr written in 1870 and given to the tourist by Drew Scott.
But to backtrack on the day we left at 9 to go to Dundee and a tour of the Discovery ship. The Discovery was a specially designed and constructed ship built in Dundee and commissioned by the United Kingdom to explore Antarctica. The voyage scheduled for a year left Dundee in 1901. The 47 member team did complete the mission albeit a year late as the vessel got stuck in the ice for an Antarctica winter. The expedition returned in 1904 with the richest results ever of geographical and scientific data from the high southern latitudes.
After this two hour tour we were off to the Dundee Ice Rink a six sheet combination hockey, skating and curling facility with curling on Monday and Tuesday. This being Monday our tour group curled clubs form the Dundee district province. We drew Team two made of curlers from four clubs: Patrick Smith skip from Balruddery, Ally Murray, Baldovan, Allen Skinner, Braeknowe, and Nick Day from Monifieth and club celebrating its 100 th birthday. The ice was good and the game was too. It turned out the USA won on all sheets and now has a plus advantage of 204 points.
We were joined at lunch by Dundee City Provost John Lectford, and were pleased that the minister of sport, Shannon Robertson threw the first rock…..To help the stone along……Army swept, some say for the first time on the tour. Helen Smith the province secretary had scheduled everything very well and Area 9 RCCC representative, Anne Donald, was also on hand to make sure everything went smoothly.
Since I had the pleasure of talking with Kate and Anne at dinner finally getting a chance to sit at “top table” I will share the quote of the day from Kate Caithness, “We are not here for a long time, but for a good time”. That is certainly the feeling we get on this tour of Scotland it will be too soon over but it was certainly good today as it has been all along.
There is not much traffic on country roads in Fife and even less on a Sunday morning. So it did not take to long for David Jack to deliver Russ and me to the low road garage in Auchtermuchty where several of us boarded the bus which had left the Kinross hotel at 8. Just as a historical note, the price of gas was 1.35 pound per liter.
On the bus we had morning class and the courts. Fines this Sunday were for the non-dancers Jon, Dennis and Chris, and for the four of us who did not genuflect when entering the R&A. The sheriff said he did but Bill said not and the Judge fined them for arguing. Back to the dancing several were fined for having two left feet. The amazing thing is Russ Lemcke is voluntarily paying fines as he wants to be ahead and there is a nice award for the person most fined. However, tomorrow may be a problem.
You see we curled at the Forfar Curling Centre today two games and at the end of the 2nd game it was discovered that “El Torro” was missing. Doug Dedolph told me that he may have been stolen….by the Scots...
Why would they….. well if you check the scores it was another good day for the Americans. Our team had a valiant effort in the first game starting at 12:50PM with Adrian White, Martin Gledhill, David Pate, and Stewart Robertson but finished on the wrong end against the many time club champion skip. However I will acknowledge that both Adrian and David did their best to clear my cough with “medicine” in the form of whisky and some sweet throat lozenges. The whisky was provided for the tasting by Glendadam and they also sampled a liqueur. However the best of the break time was some tasty treats….smoked haddock called smokee, smoky fishcakes, Forfar bridif, and cliutie dumplings. All excellent.
The second match followed at 3:50 PM. This time we were up against Angus Brotherson, Robert Miller, Sandy Stewart, and Jim Menzies. Jim was also the piper and after putting away the bagpipe curled in kilts and did Angus. Another close match for us.
After one drink it was on the bus for a ride to the Strathmore Curling Club for an informal night of socializing, dining, and entertainment. It was just before the buffet line opened that Craig Anderson also in kilt announced that El Torro had gone on a walkabout. He then said if ransom were met he might eventually show up tomorrow. It is a clear case of Bull Napping for ransom in this writer’s opinion.
Sheena played a beautiful fiddle, the American team sang, but the closing act was the best with local balladeer, Joe Aitkin, singing great country songs. He is from Kirriemuir as were the caterers.
A bus ride back to the hotel Panmure Arms where the team has two nights booked. We leave at 9 AM for a “discovery” trip then in the morning and an afternoon with one game in Dundee.
So I am off to sleep and too tired to think about where poor El Torro could be suffering separation anxiety from his beloved team….
The day started with curling at the rear of the Green Hotel which has the Kinross Curling just out the back door. Because we were leaving the hotel we needed to bring all our bags to the games room for storage before curling. A piper marched us from there through the hotel out to the ice arena where at 10 AM we curled versus Loch Leven Province. Our draw was against a stick curling skip, Jim Patterson supported by Gary Rutherford who curled very well and was at our table for dinner evening prior. Filling out were Hector Snoddy and David Jones is employed as the Development manager for the rink.
The ice conditions were superb and out team curled well. After a lunch of lentil soup and Luxury Fish Pie, Russ Brown and I were whisked away for our home visit with David Jack. David lives in the country near the city of Gateside. We made a quick stop at the house to start the laundry, which once done should suffice to end of the tour. The B. C. Jack estate is in the fertile Fife valley and is at the foot of a large 1700 foot hill. The Romans made camp there and conquered the local inhabitants (Picts)and there is an old native burial circle along one of the roads. We learned that Johnny Cash was descended from the Cache area nearby and that there is an appreciation of music including by David. We drove by the Falkland Estate and about that time David shared with us why he had asked us to wear a jacket and tie.
We had a 2:15 appointment to be admitted to the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse at Saint Andrews. We were joined by our teammates Bill Rhymeand Dan Brunt who were accompanied by Alistair McCabe, their home host and the captain of the 2007 Scot Tour Team. Signing us in was member Alan Stewart who lives on a neighboring estate to the Jacks. At first we were told no photos so we marched through many of the rooms. It was the most impressive arrangement of golf memorabilia ever imagined with portraits, displays of ancient golf clubs and most impressive the trophies including the Open Claret Jug, and the Walker Cup. Throughout the wood paneled club are lockers for each of the members.
Membership in the R&A is obtained by being proposed and seconded by two members, at that time your name is posted and if members send in enough recommendation letters and if you are under sixty and have a moderate golf handicap you may be admitted in five to six years.
After the tour Mr. Stewart brought us to the “Big Room” which overlooks the famed 18th game and asked us what we would like to drink. I decided to have a martini and the six of us joined by another member Alan knew made eight around a library table right behind the big windows. Alan told us it is disconcerting to being having a drink there as spectators walking by look in to see what is happening so the plan is the make those windows on way glass.
After listening to stories and absorbing the atmosphere, we adjourned to the eighteen fairway and walked down to the Road Hole the 17th where we had photos made of us standing on the bridge. Walking back to David’s parked car we saw the beach where “Chariots of Fire” scene was shot and saw a couple of horses being exercised and allowed to wallow in sand.
Back to the farm house where got a bit more casual and then David drove us to Falkland. On the way we stopped at a chemist located just across the street from the Falkland Castle as I needed a bit of relief from a cough. Dinner was at Lars and Julie’s nearly restored “big house” just three doors from the “wee house” they lived in previously.
Inside the solid stone walled house was a Danish influence house right from the “House Beautiful” magazine with cozy modern fireplaces perfectly decorated dining room and a gourmet dinner. Sharing it also was courier, Robert Stewart who was the Christiansen’s house guest. So with three 2007 tourists we learned even more about how that team jelled and was able to recover the Herries Maxwell from the Americans after 30 years.
We drove off about 10 and I went to bed to nurse my cough but Russ and David did have a couple of wee drams.
So home visits were the order of the Day, but for this day the Trip to the shrine of golf overshadowed curling.
Scotland is very green this early in the Spring even without any rain. The tourists are staying at the Green Hotel in Kinross. We are very happy with the accommodations and the logistics associated with them. Today we had a bus ride of about 30 minutes to Kirkcaldy to the Fife Ice Arena for two games against East Fife Province in the morning and West Fife Province in the afternoon. Tonight’s dinner was only across the street and tomorrow we curl at the rink that is just behind the hotel. It is so convenient that the bus has been garaged for over 30 hours and we will not be in it until Sunday…..no morning class, no court, but best of all first call is at 9:25 tomorrow morning.
The Fife arena is probably the oldest arena we will curl in, it was built in the 1930’s and serves, as others do, as a multi-purposy arena. As we walked out this evening there was already hockey practice going on. However the ice today was much improved according to our opponents, but it still was somewhat challenging for the tourists as it was slower with more runs and valleys than we have experienced so far.
With four of our teams curling in the morning and the afternoon we were 4-4 in the matches but managed to pick up points….5 in the morning and 14 in the afternoon.
The Rhyme team curled this morning against Mark Turnbull, Dennis Duncan, Neil Wilkinson and Charles Raeside. They were the first rink to give us bios on themselves The Skip and Charles are arable farmers (that is crop farmers) In fact Mark used to grow potatoes on what is now the driving range for St. Andrews. Dennis is a retired teacher and Neil works for an accounting firm….They curled well and emerged victorious in a well played match.
After a lunch in the arena where we sat between our morning opposite number and the afternoon opposite number we had our second match of the day. This time skip was Alan Barr. With Robin Park as the third. Robin is the president of the West Fife Province and handled much of the administration for a very orderly day of curling and fellowship. Playing second was capable Ian bake and leading was Tom Bolan who also played well. However our team was rooted on by a couple of friends of Dan Brunt, who are playing in the Scottish Championships next week, so we played a bit better and finished strong after the stacking of brooms.
A tour highlight will be the Ceilidh at the Windlestrae hotel across the street. I don’t know for sure what a ceilidh is but it involves music, dancing, and having fun which all did. Russ Brown and I sat with our hosts for an overnight tomorrow night; David and Dorothy Jack, and with Lars and Julie Christianson, and with David and Fiona Rutherford and their son Gary who is curling tomorrow and the eight member of the table was courier, Robert Stewart. It turns out that Lars was lead, I think David Jack second, and David Rutherford 3rd for Bill Marshall of the 2007 Scotland tour of the USA. It was delightful listening to them reminisce about America plane rides and bus rides and the story of ice fishing in Bemidji by Shaky (David Jack). Also Julie and Dorothy made certain that Russ and I got a chance to dance.
However there was an exhibition of Scottish Country dancing by some very good dancers coached by Joyce Anderson, the daughter of Billy Anderson who while playing the accordion kept the evening moving along. It started with the Highland sword dance. Followed by 8 young dancers doing the Millennium Square followed by the Highland Laddie and finally the Highland Fling. The mood was set and soon most of the room was up dancing. I got exhausted dancing with Julie to the Gay Gardens and had call on teammate Dan Brunt to finish the set. (I don’t think he minded). Then came the Virginia Reel and out tourist participation increased over last night with Bob Dixon, rich Lepping, Paul Badgero, Bob Chandler, Dave Peck, Dave Carlson and Russ Lemcke twirling down the rows of dancers.
After that Army led us in three song set finished again with Highland Cathedral, and for the third time we got the standing ovation….we have come a ways since rehearsal at Newark.
Because the hotel is across the street I slipped away early but saw Army and several other tourists taking to the floor for Stripping the Willow, a very energetic dance involving spinning and moving down the line. Let’s call it the Virginia Reel on Steroids.
What a great evening of entertainment and fun…..and what a chance to catch up on some hours of sleep as it is only 11:30 PM