Sunday, 22 February 2015

Largs and M.V. Loch Shira, North Ayrshire

On day 2 of my North Ayrshire based trip, the weather looked favourable to pursue an outdoor activity highlighted in the next post, so Largs became the primary destination for this day out.

Largs is situated downstream on the Firth of Clyde about 33 miles from Glasgow.

The town has historic Viking links as a result of The Battle of Largs in 1263 when the Norwegian invaders failed in their campaign.
(On a side note I've had spam invaders to my blog recently and even though I may have fought them off, sorry to any commenters from the last post that have got infected with them. I'm considering comment moderation rather than just Google users or followers of this blog. Any thoughts? )

In more recent military times, it was the scene of a conference that planned the successful Normandy Invasion of World War II.

M.V. Loch Striven
From small beginnings, Largs became a fashionable seaside resort during the mid nineteenth century with the construction of hotels and a Pier to import the rich and famous on the Victorian Grand tour.

With the passage of time, Largs is a much sought after place to live thanks to the later arrival of the railway and reasonable commuter times into Glasgow.

My experiences of Largs as a child weren't much and I didn't know what to expect today. Unfortunately the classical railway station no longer survives and the busy street going down to the ferry terminal didn't really lend itself to photography thanks to the human footprint :-)

Nardini's Largs
For the British tourist, Largs isn't thought of much as a destination or an accessible town in Scotland when I tell you you that it's been 28 years since I last visited it albeit briefly. Many resorts around Great Britain suffered in the latter part of the 20th century due to erratic weather and cheap Mediterranean flights with most having some weapon to fight back in the 21st century.

The fighting spirit that conquered the Vikings continues in the town with an unlikely weapon of an Ice Cream shop.

Nardini's Ice Cream parlour originally opened in 1935 as the largest restaurant in Great Britain.

The Art Deco building was refurbished and re- opened in 2008 under new management after a four year closure and a long running family business feud.

The Restaurant gets mixed reviews on Trip Advisor for several reasons but if it's just an Ice Cream in a cone you want to take out of the shop, I'd certainly travel an hour to sample it again.

M.V. Loch Shira
As I mentioned earlier, it has been some considerable time since my last visit here, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see the earlier depicted M.V Loch Striven supplemented by a newer ferry.

Although maybe not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye, M.V. Loch Shira seems to be a lot more substantial.

It was built by the nearby Clyde shipbuilders Ferguson at a cost of £ 5.8 million and launched in December 2006. Unlike many other smaller vessels in the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet, M.V. Loch Shira has plyed it's trade solidly on a single route, Largs to Great Cumbrae (No prizes for guessing where the next post will be from !)

With a speed of 10 knots, the 54 metre long ferry can carry 36 cars and 250 passengers but congestion issues on a busy road may have curtailed this figure to a much more practical 24.

First on board with a welcome from the crew and off to the next destination, leaving me strange questions about Largs in my head ...

Do people travel from all over the world .. and Universe to sample the Largs Fish and Chip shops ?!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A late afternoon in Ayr, South Ayrshire

Ayr Town Hall.
At the end of a busy day (The Maritime Museum in Irvine during the morning and Alloway Burns sites in the early afternoon), I just had time for a few classic building shots back in Ayr before going on the hunt for some kind of Happy Hour evening meal and a drive back to Irvine.

There are so many great shots that can be taken from the river of the title image of Ayr Town Hall but the sun, clouds and photographic light can be both a friend and enemy as you can't be everywhere at the same time. Those wanting the definitive photographic guide of the town centre may be disappointed as I only had a few hours here.

The 1820's Town Hall dominates the skyline with the steeple reaching a height of 225 ft, the historic building is mainly used as a concert venue.

water fountain and Ayr Pavilion (Pirate Petes)
Always on the look out for something a little different, it may come as a surprise to you that one of the quirky buildings that has always photographically fascinated me ever since I first saw it back in 1992 is The Ayr Pavillion. Situated next to the sea, the building was designed as a seaside entertainment venue in 1911 no doubt playing host to a generation of early 20th century Glasgow holiday makers. Times change and yet the building has been utilised in a similar fashion since 2004 by the current owners Pirate Pete's Family Entertainment centre. Activities include adventure play area, a Golf putting course (An Ayrshire tradition)

Pirate Pete's , Ayr
... and an outdoor play park that gives a feel of being the little brother !!

Ayr Pavilion
I was severely reminded of the North Ayrshire weather I left behind in the morning,

Cloud trail, Ayr Pavilion.
but the cloud formations in the vast open spaces near the sea front gave me plenty of photographic scope ...

... and an excuse to wait a little longer to enjoy the ... err ... sunshine and other things.

Firth of Clyde Ice Cream
Back in the early 1800's, the glorious beaches helped Ayr become the resort it is today, firstly helped by The River Clyde steamer boat services and ...

37518 Ayr (NER / SRPS railtours) 27.09.2014
... the later arrival of the Glasgow to Stranraer railway line in the 1840's.

(Just to add that I returned here for an enforced one hour break later in 2014 on a Scottish Railway Preservation Society / North East Railtours charter trip to Stranraer.)

The Lang Scots mile, Ayr
With regards to the ornate signs that I mentioned in the previous Alloway post, this is the sea front effort that that the local authorities have created !!

County Buildings and Courthouse, Ayr
Speaking of which, the 1822 County buildings and Courthouse sits alongside Pirate Pete's Empire on the sea front.

World War II War Memorial, Ayr
...  with a small war memorial in front representing mainly World War II demonstrating the appropriate military attire.

County Court Green, Ayr
The main War Memorial is in a park to the rear of the County buildings. This view was taken from the edge of the town centre depicting the proximity to the architectural seafront sites.

Tam O' Shanter pub, Ayr
 The Tam O' Shanter pub that sits in the High street was originally a brewery / public house and later a Museum dedicated to the local poet Robert Burns. There is some doubt over the conception and accuracy of the Tam O'Shanter poem but this was the inspirational intoxication location often frequented by Burns, Tam O'Shanter and Souter Johnny.

The Auld Brig, Ayr
The Auld Brig was built between 1470 and 1525 with major repairs in 1910 and has survived testing floods where other bridges failed. It is now used as a walk way across the river into the town from the north. Originally the River Ayr was crossed by a Ford slightly downstream before a 1215 wooden structure which pre - dates the scene of the current Auld Brig. As you've guessed, The New Bridge on the site of the old Ford crossing was washing away by floods approximately 90 years after it was built in 1788. It took less than 10 years for the new bridge to be built in 1878 to carry all the traffic into town from the north to this day.

The History of Ayr is a bit vague but it appears to have been well established with the oldest borough charter in 1205 before the Magna Carta. The Castle built in 1197 by William I was replaced by a Citadel built by Oliver Cromwell in 1654. The first Scottish Parliament was held in St John's Tower with Robert The Bruce in 1315 before he became king with later Governments of Cromwell controlling Scotland from governing Scotland from his Citadel.

Ayr was important as a main south west Scottish coastal port in The Firth of Clyde long before it relinquished that title to Glasgow. In the late 1770's it was thought that 300 ships were exporting and importing slate, bottles, tobacco and salt to all parts of the Globe.

Arran Mall, Ayr
Late in the afternoon, the long shadows and pedestrian shoppers made photography difficult in the town centre so I thought it best to concentrate on photographic strengths in peripheral shopping centre walkways.

L.G. Nails Ayr
Getting ideas about being spruced up for a night out on the town  :-)

Souter Johnny on Tam O' Shanter pub, Ayr
Souter Johnny spruced up on the exterior wall of the Tam O'Shanter pub. Immortalised in stone after several drinks too many.

Ayr India
Time for that evening meal and this caught my attention. Not so much a travel company but more an Indian restaurant about to take off.

Thought I'd opt to eat inside as the customary seaside bag of Fish and Chips in a courtyard seemed a little more dangerous .... :-)

You're on my patch so ... if you eat here ... beware !
(I bide my time, Ayr)

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