Summer Highlights

Most enjoyable night at Ellisland on 27th July when Les and May arranged a “Scots Night” on an Australian theme to entertain friends and relations from the Antipodes. Didn’t get to tell my joke. Attended past President Jim Irving’s funeral on Monday 29th in company with the junior vice, other office bearers and sundry past presidents at the Chapel of Rest. Although Jim was also a past president of Dumfries Burns Club, their members were conspicuous by their absence.
Out to the Birthplace Museum at Alloway with Les and Neil on the evening of Thursday 1st August for the launch of honorary member Professor David Purdie’s update of the “Burns Encyclopaedia. Godfrey, David Miller and Gordon travelled separately. David Purdie was as informative and entertaining as ever and signed our copies. Impressive publication but have found at least one glaring misteak. Excellent fish supper at New Cumnock on the way home.
Accompanied John Lauder, Gordon and Betty Johnston to Kirkcudbright to view the Goudie pictures from “Tam o’ Shanter” at the Town Hall, on Sunday 4th August and met up with Ian and Moira McIntyre. The exhibition was fascinating with many atmospheric paintings and the sound commentary via the hand held “wands” added greatly to the interest. Excellent lunch thereafter at the Selkirk Arms Hotel where Burns did not compose the “Selkirk Grace”. As designated driver I was obliged to forgo the cask ale from the bar.
Took the opportunity to visit the exhibition on “Enlightened Burns” on Friday 9th August at the Midsteeple organised by Dumfries Burns Club. This was well presented and featured the characters from the Scottish Enlightenment of the late 18th century and their connection with the poet. Spoiled a bit by the clutter at the foot of the staircase. I did not pick up a membership application form from Dumfries Burns Club.
Saturday 10th August and the annual outing, The destination this year was the Bladnoch Distillery near Wigtown. 13 members set out by luxury minibus at 9.00am and stopped for coffee and bacon butty’s at the cafe at Skyreburn. Much refreshed, we reached Bladnoch on schedule and were welcomed by Kate Galloway, the visitor guide, who took us round the ancient buildings dating back to 1817, explaining the whisky distilling process in an informative and entertaining manner. Kate was thanked by President Godfrey before the company repaired a few yards to the Bladnoch Inn where lunch was booked. Thereafter to Scotland’s Book Town where the company dispersed for a browse round the numerous book shops which abound. Some ancient and fascinating volumes to be seen including many on Burns and his contemporaries. Was almost persuaded to purchase a copy of the “Merry Muses” but some of the pages were stuck together. Surprised that most of the book shops had bars. Back home at a respectable time after a most enjoyable day in the best of company.

Summer’s here

Missed the club bowling night on 21st May but astonished to hear who the winners were. Unsuspected skill must have been displayed or perhaps skill increased in proportion to the alcohol consumed. Thanks due to Dumfries Bowling Club for their facilities  and to Kerr Little for succulent pies.

First meeting of the new committee on 27th May. Was much exercised by the request from Dumfries Burns Club for use of our clubroom. This raised some lively discussion and the president ruled that a decision would be deferred to the next meeting to allow proper consideration. Enjoyable buffet supper followed by a soiree with good harmony.

The AGM of the SSCBA was held at Ellisland on 8th June and was uneventful. Your blogger proposed that the term of office for post holders should be reduced to two years from three and this was agreed in principle to come into force after Mrs Brown demits office. This is to encourage more folk to consider standing for office.  A very enjoyable Scottish Night on 11th June at the Globe, MC’d by John Caskie as part of the Guid Nychburis Week. The Excom meeting on 17th June agreed to grant permission to Dumfries Burns Club for access to the clubroom, subject to their accepting reasonable conditions. The decision was not unanimous. Dumfries was the venue for the June meeting of the RBWF Executive and a big attendance gathered at Georgetown Community Centre on 22nd June. Was impressed for once with the generally constructive views expressed.

The 9th Jean Armour Dinner on 1st July was in my opinion, the best ever. A full house, excellent meal and a superb toast to “Jean” from honorary member John Glover MBE, supported by outstanding entertainment from the youthful guest artistes not forgetting Willie McRobert on the accordion. At the statue, Past President Ian McIntyre delivered a stirring oration which hit the right note. A night to remember, well conducted by President Godfrey  and no one appeared to leave before ”Auld Lang Syne”. The club was represented at the ceremony at Coldstream Bridge on 7th July when the president placed the club’s floral tribute at the spot, halfway between England and Scotland with great dignity. Although the weather was damp, spirits were high and a first class social hour was held at the British Legion. The delegation consisted of the president, past president McIntyre, librarian Gordon Johnston and your reporter.  The annual inspection and clean up of the commemorative plaques at Burns’ contemporaries in St. Michael’s Kirkyard was conducted with efficiency on 10th July and the Club Treasure Hunt took place on 11th July. This was as usual, great fun. A good attendance saw four teams, accompanied by an “advisor” creep round the town centre gathering the non cryptic clues from the route and within the designated pubs. On return to the Globe, when no one appeared to be the worse for wear, the winners were declared to be the team from the Globe and were presented with their prize of bottles of plonk by the president. Shocked to hear of the passing of Ernie Smith, a member for many years and former committee member. Funeral service at the Chapel of Rest was packed. Further sad news with the death of past president Jim Irving on 2nd July.  Annual trip to Hawick for the Wauchope Cairn ceremony on 14th July, by luxury minibus. Smashing weather, an impressive oration by Dave Scott from Duns, he who donated the ancient flooring for the clubroom and an excellent buffet and social on return to Hawick Burns Club. Much impressed with president Godfrey’s contribution to the entertainment.

The SSCBA’s event at Brow Well on 17th July ran like clockwork. Splendid weather, an absence of midges and slurry spraying meant that the company with numbered 90 heard Bob Stewart’s oration in comfort. Bob had done his research and I learned some things previously unknown. The rest of the service went to plan and the gathering at the Cairndale thereafter was enjoyable. Meanwhile, some amusement was provoked by press reports that the First Minister and honorary club member Alex Salmond was boycotting the Open Golf Championship at Muirfield  because of  Muirfield’s men only membership policy.  Someone, I wonder who, tipped off the Scotsman that Mr Salmond was a member of the Burns Howff Club, Dumfries, which was reported incorrectly to be a men only club and this duly appeared on page 6 of Scotland’s National Newspaper. After consulting the president, it was agreed that silence was the best response. There was a follow up on Sunday 21st when Scotland on Sunday’s quiz asked of which male only club was Alex Salmond a member. At least they got the name right in the answer, “Burns Howff Club, Dumfries”  All good fun!



The torch is passed, again

An uneventful AGM on 9th May.  Ian McIntyre passed the Chain on to Godfrey Bedford who congratulated Ian on a memorable year. Disappointed at the response from the floor to the discussion on the early departure from the last Anniversary Dinner.  A couple of past presidents made the excuse of having to work on the following morning or had difficulty in finding taxis but your blogger was unimpressed. Surely members can make arrangements for one night in the year for the most important event in the club calendar. The retiring treasurer got away with his proposal for an increase in the amount of members’ subscription. Was able to report that John Caskie’s club umbrellas had sold out. Well done John. At the election of office bearers, John Clark was elected senior vice president in his absence, again, and Callum Watson elected junior vice president, in addition to his duties as club piper. Frank Manson was unanimously elected honorary treasurer and your blogger was again elected honorary secretary for the 41st time although this is now coming to an end but David Miller will be OK.  Welcome relief at Sinos for supper afterwards.  Godfrey’s first task with the Chain was to attend the ceremony at Coldstream Bridge on 12th May when a small delegation joined a party of distinguished Burnsians for the annual ceremony. Although conditions were damp, the procession followed a four man pipe band from the British Legion to the bridge where Godfrey placed the club’s tribute on a hook with great style. At the Craw Green, the president of Coldstream Burns Club gave an oration and another speaker delivered an appreciation of Burns and the Coldstream connection. Following a dram, the procession formed up to shuffle back to the British Legion for a super buffet and some entertainment. Thanks due to Gordon Johnston for navigational skills. Accompanied Ian McIntyre to the Thomas Hope Hospital at Langholm on 15th May, to visit honorary member Alex Pool. Alex has been in various hospitals since October 2012 but am delighted to report that he is now well on the mend and due to get home in a couple of weeks. We were joined by his son David.

The president and I called on Mark Jardine at his office on the same date to have a look at the design for the Burns’ sculpture planned by Mark’s Peoples Project for the ground outside St. Michaels Kirk, opposite Jean Armour’s statue. This is being installed as part of the Queens Jubilee Year. Have to say that we were both very impressed. It is not a statue but a carved black of sandstone with images and verses engraved and a head of the poet in relief. It is due for unveiling in July. The Grim Reaper has been busy of late and sorry to record that I attended the funerals of two members in recent weeks, Tom Bartlett and Jimmy(Purley) McWhirter, both long standing members and was sorry to hear about the passing of Ronnie Armstrong, a past president of Dumbarton Burns Club and honorary member of the Howff Club having delivered the “Immortal Memory” at the Anniversary Dinner in 1994 when Frank Curran was president.

Looking forward to the Bowling Night on the 21st May when the highly coveted “Draffan Cup” will be up for grabs.

Time flies

April is always a busy month in the run up to the AGM. The unofficial office bearers meeting was held on 5th April at the residence of the president who provided generous hospitality. Matters of gravity were discussed.  Wednesday 10th April, accompanied the president to the Thomas Hope Hospital at Langholm to visit our old friend Alex Pool who has had a hard time if it latterly but glad to say that he is on the mend. Took Alex a bunch of bananas as a change from grapes.  The rearranged SSCBA meeting at Gatehouse was held on Saturday 13th April at the Murray Arms but was poorly attended. Business included reports from the RBWF meeting and details of forthcoming events. An excellent lunch followed. The last Excom meeting of the season on Monday 15th April and a nominee for JVP for next year was agreed.  A most enjoyable evening at the Hole i’ the Wa’ on 24th April at the Ladies Club Closing Social, as a delegate along with the president. This was a very relaxed affair with entertainment of an eclectic nature and by public demand, found myself in a duet with the president in a well known ditty.  Great fun and this was Lesley’s last fling as president of the Ladies Club. Following night, out by luxury minibus to Castle Douglas to the Sulwath Micro Brewery. Very warm welcome from Jim Henderson and an entertaining but informative talk on the story of beer making and the history of Sulwath. Superb supper of lasagne and chips followed accompanied by copious amount of cask ales (lovely). This was George Templeton’s 65th birthday and his retiral from Penman’s after 50 years. Friday 26th, annual Mail Voice Choir concert, this year held at the Easterbrook Hall as there was a mix up with the DG One booking. This was a blessing in disguise as the Easterbrook acoustics are far superior and the seating more comfortable. Fantastic concert where the repertoire included favourites old and new and the guest artistes, a soprano and baritone, were pure magic. PP Bill Welsh is this year’s choir chairman and it was a pleasure to see him in the front row with PP Frank Curran.

Now engaged in preparing the first draft of the secretary’s annual report to the AGM.  It’s not easy to avoid pure sycophancy but Ian McIntyre was one of the best and his year will be one to remember for a number of reasons.  DS


Burns rogues

Super talk from Peter Westwood at the Winter Club Night on 28th March, on Robert Burns family and descendants. His son, also Robert was a chancer and narrowly avoided the slammer due to gambling debts and was saved by the generosity of his mother and uncle Gilbert who put up £200.00, a fantastic sum in those days.

Peter’s knowledge and enthusiasm made for an interesting and entertaining night and I was pleased to see the high turnout.




Burns and bairns

Another super competition at Dumfries Academy on 2nd February when pupils from schools throughout the region charmed the enthusiastic audience with their singing, reciting and instrumentasl skills. Poor turnout from club members though.

The Festival of Saint Andrew – St Giles’ Cathedral

The Festival of Saint Andrew – St Giles’ Cathedral – 4 December 2011

by president2011 on Mon 05 Dec 2011 13:31 GMT
SVP Ian, David S.,David B,Ted M and I attended the service in St Giles’ Cathedral. We met with members of the Burns Federation in the Signet Library prior to being marched over to the cathedral. What a really impressive occasion and I deemed it an honour to represent the club. At the end of the service we spotted Honorary Member Lord George Robertson leaving with his fellow Lords.   Hon Sec David recommended we had lunch at an hotel in his home village Roslin which was excellent . Ted displayed his linguistic skills and was quickly surrounded by lots of attractive Spanish ladies.The rest  of us just accepted that some folk have it and other’s don’t!!

“The moving finger writes”

Britannia Outing

A lot has happened since my last blog entry in March but I can’t let Frank Manson’s year as President pass without a word in tribute to his superb term of office and to his role as an outstanding ambassador of the club, near and far.

Highlights in recent months included the couthy Fish Supper night at the Globe and the trip to the Devil’s Porridge exhibition at Eastriggs in April, also an enjoyable visit to the formidable Dumfries Ladies Burns Club No1 social at the Hole I‘ the Wa’ with president Frank. The annual bowling night this year was held at the plush premises of Dumfries Bowling Club in Newall Terrace where the greens were level and midges were banned and the winners went unrecorded. The trip to Coldstream Bridge and Wauchope were as enjoyable as ever and the club’s floral tribute was placed on the bridge at Coldstream with flair by Frank In his last act as president.

The AGM was uneventful and saw a change in Hon. Treasurer and the election of Ian McIntyre as president for the ensuing year and from whom great things are expected.  To my complete astonishment, I was given a framed sketch and verse, composed and drawn by John Clark to mark my 40th year as hon. Secretary.  My sincere thanks to all.

Visitations included the Greenock Burns Club for the ten cent tour and a particularly successful Jean Armour Dinner with inspiring orations from Peter Kormylo and Wilson Ogilvie and first class entertainment and a meal to remember, especially the cheese board. The Treasure Hunt was memorable, I think and the Brow Well Service and social hour which followed was up to the standard expected. “Love, Life and Liberty”, the Burns Pageant in Dumfries, scripted by John Cairney, was very well done and reasonably well supported as the company and audience shuffled from point to point.  The new Howff Club umbrellas were pressed into service to shield the musicians from the light precipitation which broke out.  I accompanied the Hon. Treasurer   to Moffat Town Hall on 2nd August for the launch of the memorial CD to the late Lionel McClelland and on Saturday 11th August, the club outing took place to HM Royal Yacht Britannia (fabulous) at Leith followed by an afternoon in Edinburgh sampling the Festival atmosphere before succulent fish & chips at Biggar on the return journey.


Meanwhile, the renovations to the clubroom and anteroom are nearing completion. The results will be well worth the time and effort and all congratulations are due to David Miller for driving the project forward. DS

New Blog

We announce that I would attempt to reinstate the blog function to the website as soon as possible at the last committee meeting and here it is,  I’m still trying to get to grips with the workings of the site but I’m sure it will be fine.

I still have to explain to the Hon. Sec. how to work it.