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View Article  "There's nought but care on ev'ry han'"

Monday 6th February, the Excom heard many congratulatory comments on the Anniversary Dinner and the CD’s will be in big demand. Friday 10th Feb. The annual Befriending Burns Supper at the Easterbrook.  Fraser Sanderson made a genial chairman and the “Memory” was proposed with style by Alex Fergusson MSP. The toast to the Lasses was a marked improvement on last year. This is a fundraising event for a worthwhile cause and the club was well represented. PP John Caskie and Donald Shamash contributed to the excellent entertainment programme. The Clubroom Renovation Sub Committee met on 13th February and is making progress at last. The Community Payback Team has completed the de nailing of the ancient wood for the floor and David Miller, as Clerk of Works, is chasing up the plasterer and electrician. It is thought that the clubroom may be out of use during April but hopefully ready for the AGM on 10th May. Tuesday 14th, a rare visit to Palmerston for the QOS V  Aberdeen Cup Tie replay.  Honorary member Matt Sempie, an Aberdeen supporter and his wife Carol were attending. Met up with President Frank and the Sempies at Cavens for fish and chips before the match. Slightly nervous to be seated with the visiting support but soaked up the good natured banter. The anti Rangers chants from Aberdeen were a hoot. Enjoyed the match more than expected, especially the second half when Queens piled on the pressure and Aberdeen looked to be in trouble on occasions. The result could have gone either way and Aberdeen scored the winning goal in the first minute of injury time. Bloody cold and the conditions at Palmerston were basic. Missed the cup of Bovril and pie at half time. Meeting of the SSCBA Office Bearers at the Globe on 21st Feb. John Caskie as secretary has brought breath of fresh air to this dinosaur.  Discussed the agenda for the quarterly meeting at Gatehouse on 24th March. The February Club Night on the 23rd, was well attended and the speaker, James Thomson from Kilmarnock, gave a fascinating talk on the story behind “Tam O’ Shanter” stating that some of the characters in the poem were based on real people Burns knew in Kirkoswald. Friday 24th, the final of the annual Round Table Charity Pub Quiz at the Edenbank. The club team, “The Burns Unit”, achieved a cumulative score of 272 from a possible 400 and were awarded the Runners Up trophy which Ian McIntyre accepted with aplomb. This is just the start and an application has been sent to the “Eggheads” TV programme. Congratulations to the cerebral members who turned out on the Friday evenings. The Leap Year Dinner on yes, the 29th February, was first class with a superb meal and a witty and erudite toast the “The Club” from Gavin Findlay, president of Dumbarton Burns Club and an interesting reply from PP J. Scott. The entertainment was couthy. Glad to see PP Jim McAlister reprise Langley Roberts’ “D-day Dodgers” which was a blast from the past. Ian McIntyre’s “Granny” takes a bit of beating as well. Thursday 1st March, the subcommittee formed to revise the membership application form met under President Frank and a draft was finally agreed for submission to the Excom on 5th March. Saturday 3rd March, the Friends of Ellisland Coffee Morning, lovely drop scones and pancakes but cold and damp. Quite well attended. The Excom meeting on Moday 5th chucked out our draft membership app. Form and will need further consideration by the subcommittee. This could go on for years. Saturday 10th March, out to Ellisland for a very pleasant social evening as guests of Les and May Byers. Lovely meal and excellent entertainment from the company.  Also during February, managed to get out an edition of the electronic newsletter, Howff Club E- Mail Express with some hiccups due to having changed my ISP but thanks due to Neil Johnston for his input.


View Article  Burns an aw' that"

2ND January brought the news of the death of honorary member Davie Shankland. David, who proposed the “Immortal Memory” at the Anniversary Dinner in 1979, had been in failing health for some time and his passing brings an era to an end as his like will never be seen again.  A period of silence in his memory was marked at the start of the Executive Committee meeting on 9th January.  Thursday 12th, off to Kirkcudbright to Broughton House for an “Evening wi’ Burns”. This featured Leona Evans and others in a programme of music and songs in the magnificent hall with Hornel’s Japanese ladies looking down from the walls. Due to a misunderstanding, David Baird was inadvertently left at Dumfries but Gordon J. and David Miller enjoyed a night to remember. Saturday 14th, to the Crichton Memorial Kirk to David Shankland’s funeral. The church was unsurprisingly packed and the service which was almost non religious, contained tributes from William Williamson, John Glover and Ian Landles, from Hawick.  At the conclusion, the company spontaneously rose and applauded as the coffin was carried out of the church to the strains of “Auld Lang Syne”.  Time for a nibble at the Easterbrook Hall before proceeding to the Globe with Mr. McIntyre to meet Mark Zygadlo, to discuss his proposals to appear at the Anniversary Dinner as “Robert Burns”. This was agreed to be impractical but the possibility of the Jean Armour Dinner was mooted. Friday 20th, out to the Deerhunter at Sanquhar by luxury minibus for the Sanquhar Black Joan Burns Supper. This was good in parts. The return journey took forever to go round the houses before fetching up at Cargenbridge at a late hour.  The following evening, a most enjoyable Burns Supper at Friars Carse for the hotel guests. President Frank occupied the Chair and addressed the haggis. Ian McIntyre delivered a thoughtful and informative “Memory” and Gordon J. brought the house down with the “Lasses, O” ably replied to by Jean McMillan-Forster with contributions from Bill Welsh, John Lauder, David Miller, Lee McQueen and Callum Watson. The club’s 123rd Anniversary Dinner in the Globe Inn on 25th January was outstanding with a super toast from Len Murray, one of the best and most moving in years.

The guest artistes and members who contributed made for a night of pure magic which will long be remembered (for several reasons) The company numbered 90 and all credit to John Caskie for constructing a faultless seating plan.  The meal was good too and President Frank conducted the proceedings with great style and finished on time. Earlier, accompanied President Frank to the odd ceremony at Burns Statue where members of Dumfries Burns Club and others attempted to lay a wreath and school pupils recited against the noise of traffic. At the Commemorative Service at St. Michael’s Church, assisted to welcome dignitaries and joined the presidential group to the Mausoleum to place the wreath on behalf of Dumbarton Burns Club whose delegates could not be present. Much impressed with the Service, choreographed by John Caskie as secretary of the SSCBA. Friday 27th, off to Dumbarton to attend the Dumbarton Burns Club’s Burns Supper, en route, called at Hamilton to present Matt Sempie with his Honorary Membership certificate. The supper in the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, was excellent with good company, a superb meal and a memorable address from President Gavin Findlay. Frank was seated at the top table and brought fraternal greetings from the Howff Club. Overnight accommodation at Tullie Inn, Balloch was fleeting but the breakfast was all one could wish for. Missed the Dumfries Big Burns Supper but heard reports from various venues. The club’s annual Burns Supper for the residents of Charnwood Lodge was both successful and enjoyable. President Frank gave a brief but moving “Memory” and Godfrey Bedford’s toast to the “Lasses, o” was polished and witty. A highlight was Ian McIntyre’s ditties to his guitar accompaniment which was much appreciated. Last year’s decision to cut back on long orations and concentrate on songs and music seems to have paid off. Thanks are due to Bill Welsh, Dan Cook, Gordon J., Callum Watson and Lee McQueen. Thanks also to Tesco’s Stores Ltd, Dumfries, for kindly sponsoring oatcakes, shortbread and drinks. Friday 3rd February, out to the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm to “Honest Poverty”, a show by the Ideoms Theatre company from the Borders, a lively romp through the poet’s works at Mossgeil and Poosie Nancies with much hilarity and great audience participation and a meal of haggis, tatties and neeps. Privileged to accompany John Caskie and Neil and William Johnston. The following day, out at the crack of dawn to Dumfries Academy to help with the Schools Competitions. Another fantastic offering of superb singing, recitation and instrumental playing. The standard just gets higher and higher. Excellent hot soup from the ladies of the Ladies Burns Club. That night, out to Ellisland to the annual Friends of Ellisland Burns Supper. On arrival, found a power cut in progress and thanks due to the resourcefulness of Neil Johnston that portable lights were quickly set up. Before power was restored at 8.10pm, Moir Nelson from Dumbarton had managed to set fire to his programme by a candle. As there was no heating at first, it was perishingly cold but the “Immortal Memory” from Alex Fergusson MSP was first class followed by a remarkable toast to the Lasses. John Caskie raised the tone with his choice of songs and Avril Kerr proved again that she is one of the best Burns reciters in the district.

The Burns season for 2012 is about over.


View Article  "THAT e'en tae name, would be unlawf'y"

Can I start by apologising to anyone who was offended in the previous blog entry as mutterings have been heard.  November 7th and 14th, two very productive sessions in the club library with William Robson, our bibliophile, who is reaching the end of the project to value the contents for insurance. The morning gatherings are entertaining and enjoyable with Gordon J. and Kenny McK. to lend a hand. 14th November, the Excom meeting to sort out arrangements for St. Andrew’s Night which looks like a cracker. Meeting was followed by a presentation from Webmaster Neil on the mysteries of cyberspace. (Sometimes there’s too much technology!!).   Saturday 19th, up at the crack of dawn for the luxury minibus to Liberton for the RBWF Quarterly Meeting. Set off at 7.30am from Brooms Road Car Park and almost forgot to collect Gordon. J. at the Five Arches but, as navigator, arrived on time and tholed the morning meeting of the Heritage Committee. Glad we were able to report positively on Burns Mausoleum but heard adverse comments from Ayrshire delegates on the Birthplace Museum and Burns Cottage. The plenary session after lunch was a trial but we escaped at 3.50pm to the considerable relief of Ted Murray who had a promise. The Renovations Committee on 21st heard reports on progress on de-nailing the ancient flooring wood but wisely decided to postpone any major works until after the Anniversary Dinner. The club’s “Question Time” event on 24th November proved to be surprisingly successful but as usual, poorly supported by club members. Chairman Peter Kormylo deserves congratulations in preventing rancour and refereeing the panel. Excellent contributions from Peter Westwood, Jim Scott, Betty Haining, John Haining, Les Byers and Ralph Coleman who presented President Frank with a collection of his archive material from the club of yesteryear.  Light relief on Saturday afternoon at the “Drambuster’s” Malt Whisky Festival at the Cairndale. Jings, 24 different tables set up with several bottles of superb malts at each.  Attended with Gordon and Neil J., had some modest samples.  Great fun and glad to report that drunkeness was avoided, I think, as our driver on the return journey suggested otherwise BUT Gordon was able to perform with his usual phizazz at Ellisland later that night.  Tuesday 29th, foregathered at the Globe with PP John Caskie to construct the seating plan for St. Andrew’s Night, nae bother.  The St. Andrew’s Night Dinner on 30th November was a magical occasion with a powerful toast to “Auld Scotia and New Scotland” from George Reid which brought a standing ovation from the company. One of the most stirring I have heard and I’ve heard a few superb toasts over the years. The supporting entertainment was worthy of the London Palladium at its best. Our young Russian singer was impressive as was Bobby Jess’s “Tam the Bike”.  Glad to see PP Stewart Tweedie receive a gesture marking the 40th anniversary of his year in office.  Our speaker was excellent company and will hopefully consider a return invitation in future.  Gavin Findlay of Dumbarton Burns Club brought respectful greetings from his members (aye, right) We’ll get our own back on Friday.  The dinner was well chaired by President Frank and thanks are due to the stewards and the team who sold raffle tickets. Although finishing on schedule at 11.30pm, it was disappointing to note the number of empty seats in spite of an appeal earlier by the president to wait till the end.  Dumbarton Burns Club’s St. Andrew’s Night in the Strathclyde Home Stadium, Dumbarton was most enjoyable with an excellent meal, an entertaining toast to “Scotland” from Colin McKay, a media type and first class entertainment. The club was represented officially by President Frank and SVP Ian, but with an entourage which included the entire Johnston family (safety in numbers)  Regret to report that an almost intact bottle of Taliskers was left in the taxi on the return journey to the upmarket hotel and the SVP has agreed to lead an enquiry into the circumstances of its loss.  Back down the road early on Saturday to attend the SSCBA meeting at 11.00am in the Globe (madness) but the meeting was constructive and well organised. John Caskie as SSCBA secretary has made a difference. Business included reports from the Federation meeting, arrangements for the St. Michaels Service in January. Jane Brown as President, reported on the SSCBA(Commemoration) Ltd meeting which has become a secret society.  Next meeting at Gatehouse in March.  Glad to escape for lunch.  The following morning, accompanied President Frank, Ian McIntyre and Ted Murray, his close protection officer, to St. Giles, Edinburgh for the annual St. Andrew’s Day Service.  It was a privilege to be conveyed in such a splendid equipage as the Presidential Porsche and your blogger, as navigator, ensured an arrival in time to enjoy a coffee and scone before the assembly at the Signet Library for marshalling into order of precedence and were joined by David Baird.  The Federation delegation was behind the Sally Army but ahead of the Band of Hope and shuffled across Parliament Square to the            Kirk.  The service was as colourful and impressive as ever with superb singing and chanting from the choir. The luncheon at Roslin was covered in the president’s blog but he omitted to record that the party of Spanish in the hotel were most interested in his kilt. Monday 5th December, the Executive Committee meeting and many expressions of delight on the St. Andrew’s Night Dinner and provisional ticket requests for the Anniversary Dinner in January.  Tuesday 6th accompanied Prersident Frank to the DGRI to see Hon. Member Alex Pool who is unwell. Alex was in good spirits and pleased to see us and accepted the bag of seedless grapes as a gift from the club.  That’s all for 2011 and hopefully better days are round the corner.


View Article  The Festival of Saint Andrew - St Giles' Cathedral - 4 December 2011
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!!
View Article  Pandamonium in Edinburgh 4 December 2011
Pandamonium yesterday for the arrival of Sweetie and Sunshine in Edinburgh. This is not a reference to our Hon Sec . and Ted M. who had also arrived on Howff business.
View Article  "An mair o' horrible an awful"

A much needed cultural uplift was achieved during the week commencing 17th October. A visit to the Easterbrook Hall on  Thursday 20th for a superb concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with a programme of Mozart’s Symphony No 1 followed by the Cello Concerto in D by Haydn featuring an incredible virtuoso solo by Pieter Wispelwey on the well, Cello. After the interval, an eclectic version of Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 “Pastoral”, the youthful orchestra energetically conducted by Thierry Fischer from the Netherlands. An excellent night with music lovers John Lauder and David Miller. Spotted Marshall Laing and Ted Murray in the mature audience.  Saturday 22nd.  John Caskie had organised a meal at Sino’s before the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra concert at DG One.  The auditorium was packed to capacity and thrilled to varied mix of jigs. Strathspeys and reels with solos from Dennis Haggerty, Tenor and Collette Ruddy, Mezzo Soprano. A section of the D&G Police Pipe Band appeared together with a young solo piper and highland dancers. The evening was MC’d by Jim McColl from TV’s “Beechgrove Garden” who had a great rapport with the audience. Delighted that Frank Manson and family joined us. This was Frank’s first public appearance since his surgery.  Monday 24th, the Excom meeting to finalise arrangements for the Hallowe’en Supper. The programme looks super and tickets are sold out. The meeting was followed by a presentation on the “Dumfries Big Burns Supper” to be held in January. The movers and shakers are Graham Main, Festival Director and his side kick, Simon Robertson, Producer. The mood was that the club is keen to help out in some way if the event does not interfere with the Anniversary Dinner. Will await further developments.  Thursday 27th, Bob Dalziel from Motherwell gave a talk on the history of Glasgow and the Glasgow Tobacco Barons in the 18th century. Bob knew his subject and his enthusiasm was infectious. A good night but again, poorly supported by club members.  Friday 28th, Met up with President Frank at the Globe to go over the arrangements for Hallowe’en with Jane Brown and later, with John Caskie to draw up the seating plan. John doesn’t believe in making an easy job difficult and we repaired for luncheon thereafter. The Hallowe’en Supper on 31st October was one of the most enjoyable I can remember. A witty and polished speaker in Professor David Purdie and two of the most talented musicians ever to appear at the Globe Inn. Andy Kain on the fiddle and former “Young Burnsian”, Craig Paton on the accordion who brought the company to their feet. Guest artiste was Cameron Goodall from Lasswade who did not need a mic, gave a rendition of “The Court of Equity” and later, “Death & Dr. hornbook” to great effect. I have to say that I have never heard Les Byers, John Caskie and Frank Curran in better voice and old friends Alex and David Pool from Langholm were as welcome as ever. Special thanks are due to the team who sold over £230.00 worth of raffle tickets for donation to the RNIB appeal. Glad that the silver three penny bit was not ingested this time and I had pleasure in giving Alan Caskie his half bottle on receipt of the coin for re use. Lovely meal from the new chef Steven and his staff including a cheese board to dye for. A night to remember and expertly chaired by President Frank who finished on time and with few empty seats, too.  Wednesday, 2nd November, a meeting at Burns Centre called by the Council, to discuss plans for the urgent and much needed refurbishments to the Burns Mausoleum.  Good turnout from Burns Club reps heard some reassurance that a scheme was in place and the senior architect talked it through. Hopefully, work with start no later than April, 2012 with completion by the summer. Next year’s commemorative ceremony will have to put up with the dilapidated state. Thursday 3rd November, picked up President Frank and Treasurer David Baird for the Friendship Club at Thornhill for a talk by Helen Morrison on “Jean Armour”. Helen brought a group from St. Petersburg in Russia, a teacher and two super girl students one of whom read her own essay on “Mary Queen of Scots”, to great effect. The visitors’ “English” put the native Scots to shame. President Frank accepted a copy of Burns Works in Russian as a gift to the club library. The event was organised by Thornhill Burns Club as part of their winter programme.  Friday 4th November, the Station Hotel at night for the “Drambusters” malt whisky tasting session. 8 malts of differing bouquet’s and “nose” but as the night wore on; they seemed to go down better. The club was represented by David Mackie, David Baird and Gordon Johnston. The least said the better about the results of the half time quiz. Meantime, preparing the agenda for the meeting on 14th November.  As a treat after the meeting, the Webmaster will give members a presentation on the Club Website. 


View Article  "Many a muckle"

The September meeting of the SSCBA in the Globe Inn on 17th September was exceptionally well attended with folk there I haven’t seen for years. This was Jane Brown’s first as President and John Caskie’s first as secretary. The meeting was focussed and well organised and bodes well for the future. In the afternoon, met George Richardson from Aberdeen Burns Club and Steven, his son- in- law, to discuss the itinerary for their visit on 25th when they are coming mob handed.   Sunday 18th, the annual Bowling Match with Dumbarton BC AT Newall Terrace. The guys arrived on schedule in good spirits. I was told later that they had been nibbling at a bottle of malt on route. After a welcome from President Frank who managed to welcome the visitors on behalf of “Dumfries Burns Club”, (I never know when Frank is joking) and a refreshment, play commenced with a will and after 15 ends and comfort breaks, the result was declared a draw and trophies exchanged and receipted. The weather was ideal and rain stayed off until 4.15 but by that time the company was in the clubhouse. High Tea at the Globe and speeches before the visitors departed. Thanks due to Bert Hastings for jump starting their minibus with a flat battery.  Gratyeful thanks due to the officiald of Dumfries Bowling Club and Kenny Crookshanks for his patience. This year I managed to give the Tam O’ Shanter Competition a body swerve. Sorry, I just think in that format it’s a  torture.  Library Sub Committee on Monday 26th and an excellent talk from Helen Morrison on “Burns and Freemasonry” at the opening Winter Club Night on 29th. Record turnout and a lively Q&A session afterwards.  Friday 30th, off to the Standard Office to talk about the Globe Inn windows project as they plan a feature article in October then that night, a whisky tasting at the Station Hotel with Gordon Johnston, David Baird and others. Caught up with some old friends during the intervals.   The EGM and Excom on 3rd October. Got the revised Constitution passed with 10 minutes to the surprise of the President. Ticket requests for Hallowe’en are sky high as usual. Wednesday 5th October, another session with William Robson and Gordon on the library book valuation project, assisted by Ken McKinnon. Progress is now being made. Monday 10th October, the Renovations Sub Committee where arrangements were agreed for the formal “unveiling” of the facsimile window on 19th. Guests include Peter Westwood and Matt Sempie who has been given instructions how to get to the Globe avoiding Langholm.  Saturday lunchtime, met up with SVP and Hon. Treasurer to draw up the programme for Hallowe’en. Rab Wilson the original speaker can’t now come so Professor David Purdie will substitute. A treat will be a rendition of “The Court of Equity” by Cameron Goodall. Managed to avoid the Whistle Competition at Ellisland as it should have been held at Friars Carse. (Pratts)  Meanwhile, waiting for word from the Scottish Information Commissioner seeking an opinion as to whether the publication of the WRBF Club Directory in the Burns Chronicle is a “breach of the Data Protection Act” and whether a posting on the WRBF Website with access controlled by password would be allowed.  Ridiculous bureaucracy. Amused by the continuing failure of the SVP to leave a deposit on the club blog.  Its childs play after all.

View Article  "The moving finger writes"

I have to say that I am shocked beyond measure at the president’s description of the hon. Sec. as “The Ayatollah”, as he is a big pussy cat at all times. Even further dismayed at the reference to the damaged spectacles during the conference, of which more later.  2 Parrots indeed. To carry on.  Monday 15th August, meeting of the Library Sub Committee. Joined by Peter Kormylo and agreed to up the profile of the Winter Club Nights next year.  Thursday, 18th, impromptu gathering in the clubroom to welcome distinguished visitors from OZ. William and Beverley Tait from Melbourne, Bev is secretary of Melbourne Burns Club. Good night of harmony and fun although William dropped off during the night and had to be prodded by his wife. One of the highlights was the hilarious rendition of “Sam the Skull” by Ian McIntyre to his own guitar accompaniment. Monday 22nd August, the Renovations Sub Committee. Cost estimates were discussed and arrangements made for the installation of the pane of glass with the copied verses. Progress now being made. Tuesday 23rd August, The Constitution Revision Sub Committee to consider the comments received. Agreed to accept some and decline others. Convenor Frank expressed thanks to all who submitted suggestions. Agreed to propose an EGM on 3rd October to ask for approval. Hopefully, this will be the last hurrah!  Thursday 25th August, annual visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. David Miller, Ted Murray Gordon and Neil Johnston and your blogger journeyed in Gordon’s plush jag to Edinburgh. As ample time was available before the first show at 3.00pm, some refreshment was taken in the Grassmarket before a leisurely stroll down the Royal Mile admiring the street performers which included a contortionist.  “An alternative Burns Supper with Talisker” at Monteiths Restaurant was interesting and consisted of a one man show by a singer and reciter before a “three course meal” of haggis, etc, which cost £17.00.  Afterwards, the party repaired to a local diner for a burger and chips before further modest refreshment. Met up with Ronnie Crichton before the next gig at the National Library. This was “The Subversive Poems”, another one man show which dealt with Burns’ verses written in Dumfries, considered by some to be anti government, which being an officer of the Crown, could have brought  him much misery at the time of continental revolution. Enjoyable but marred by the flashing lights back projection.  Ted Murray has to be congratulated on staying the course and thanks due to Gordon and Neil for expert navigation and skilful driving. Friday 26th August, out with past president Tom Johnstone to visit our former club piper and honorary member, Ian Clowe, who is a resident in Goldielea. Ian and his wife Maybeth were pleased to see us. Sunday 28th August, a small group attended the Morning Service at the Crichton Memorial Church to witness the dedication of the memorial plaque to the late Dr. George Stirling.  Spoke to Yvonne and Scott Stirling afterwards. Monday 29th August, the first Executive Committee meeting after the summer break with a mammoth agenda but got through the business which included the revised Constitution, agreed to go to the EGM on 3rd October at 7.00pm followed by an Excom meeting at .30pm.  Friday 2nd September, a very pleasant BBQ at the seaside home of Mr. & Mrs Johnston and sons. Vast amount of excellent food which included a salmon newly caught from the Solway and sensible refreshments although the slightly damp weather kept the party in the garage.  Monday, 5th September, off to Cardross with David Baird and Gordon J. to attend the funeral of Jimmy Hempstead, honorary member and former secretary and past president of Dumbarton Burns Club. Following the cremation, were invited to the home of Moir and Sheenah Nelson for a meal before the return journey. Lovely weather and an enjoyable day except for the sombre reason. That night, out to Moffat with David Miller to meet Walter Watson to discuss the strategy for the Heritage Committee report to the conference.  Friday 9th September, off to Peebles with David Miller and Les Byers for the conference. For once, the club delegation included the President’s two dogs but they were quiet and didn’t eat much and helped with hosting the pre function reception in the president and June’ room.  The Hydro looked a bit tired but the facilities were first class although we couldn’t get a drink on arrival.  The Friday night informal gathering was interesting for the variety and unsuspected talent but an excellent meal. The AGM was turgid but saw the election of Jane Brown as JVP. As a result of a mishap the previous night, was obliged to seek out an optician in the afternoon for an emergency repair to spectacles, followed by an unscheduled visit to the bar of the County Hotel for a pint and was joined by several members of the Baird family. As the visit was therefore prolonged, missed the afternoon seminar but was pleased to share Les’ bag of chips on the way back to the hotel. The Inaugural Dinner was a glittering occasion with spectacular outfits and an indifferent meal which some found tough but the company was superb. At the Presidential Investiture, Mr. Baird was conspicuously reluctant to part with the Chain but was rewarded with his past president’s badge. The toast list was forgettable. Club delegates assembled in the suite of the World president after the Friday evening and elsewhere on Saturday evening and were joined by Cameron Goodall who does not need a microphone. Managed to evade the masses of bikers taking part in the Round Britain Race on Sunday and arrived home intact. Thanks to David Miller and Les Byers for entertainment en route. Enjoyable weekend but doubt if I’ll be going next year to Harrogate.

Wednesday 14th September, the Dumfries Burns Club’s “Autumn Evening”, held appropriately at the Museum with John Caskie, David Miller, and Ted Murray. David Baird now being a member of the Dumfries Burns Club shunned our company. Heard an interesting talk by Chris Rollie on “Burns in England”. Cheap plonk but a good buffet.  Meantime, delighted that the window pane with the copied Burns’ verses has now been installed in the Burns Bedroom in the Globe.  An unveiling ceremony has been arranged for 19th October.  Friday 16th September, been told to prepare a report on the conference for the SSCBA meeting on Saturday 17th, for Gawd’s sake and still to find the runners’ up trophy for the annual bowling match with Dumbarton Burns Club on Sunday. Think I’m getting too old for this now.  (Title is from the Rubiate of Omar Khayyam, not sure of the spelling) DS

View Article  Federation Conference 9/11 September 2011

Just back from Peebles after a very enjoyable few days. Dumfries and the Howff were well represented . David B handed  over the chain of office  to incoming President Jim Shields and received many compliments for his excellent leadership in a difficult year. Great to see Jane Brown being elected JVP.

Super saleman Gordon J boosted shop sales to what must have been record levels - you couldn't get in until you had purchased at least a tea towel.

John L, Les B, David S and Gordon J made great contributions to Friday night's entertainment. David M and Neil J were miffed they didn't have the X factor and failed the auditions!! Leona Evans was the star of the show and seems to get better and better.

Hon Sec David has added to his vast repertoire of jokes with a tale about 2 parrots!! Try to avoid asking him to tell you about  it if you can!! Incidentally I have to report he arrived legless at breakfast on Saturday - or at least his spectacles did - collateral damage from the evening's festivities!!

Cameron Goodall joined the Howff table for dinner on Saturday and kept us all well entertained . A really nice young man and we can look forward to his visit at Hallo'ween. We can certainly save on the cost of a PA system!

Last year's conference in Aberdeen was excellent and this was every bit as good. I would recommend as many of us as possible to consider  next years visit to Harrogate.

View Article  Queen of the South
So far only David Smith and John Clark have confirmed definite interest- I would be pleased to hear from any other interested parties.
View Article  Constitution

The final adjustments to the draft constitution agreed at last night's meeting have now been applied and passed to the Ayatollah - sorry Hon Sec - the old constitution ran to some 910 words and our new one around 1545 words!! Thanks to all the members who contributed and in particular to the subcommittee of John Lauder,John Caskie,Godfrey Bedford,Robert Wilson and David Smith and their great patience. Hopefully it will be approved at the EGM .

I'm now looking forward to the conference- the hotel are happily accomodating our two dogs and they will contribute to any singsongs!!


View Article  " Tae see oorsels as ithers see us"

Delighted to see President Frank join the band of Bloggers and I’m sure we will all look forward to his deposits. Some people say that a lot of what I write is crap and sometimes I’m inclined to agree but I’ll leave it to generations of Howff Club members as yet unborn to judge.



View Article  Club Outing on the Waverley 30 July 2011

Our Honorary Secretary has already given us a full account of the trip but to put the record straight on the day he claimed he was been very abstemious and setting an example to club members and guests. However the circuitous route described as his recollection of the route taken by the Waverley tells a different story - Greenock, Rothesay, Helensburgh , Dumbarton Rock and then on to Tighnabruaich says it all!! A really enjoyable day out with excellent weather.I think we all stood out in Dumfries for a few days with the sun burnt faces.

Lots of comments coming forward on the revised draft of our Constitution - keep them coming - all comments welcome.

I would still like to try and organise a trip to Palmerston to support the Queens - if this appeals to any of you please get back to me.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next Ex Comm meeting on 29 August.


View Article  "A' ye wha live by sowps o drink"

Saturday 16th July and the Globe Inn at 7.00pm for the 10th gathering of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers (Revived). Delighted that a detachment from the Crochallan Fencilbes, Edinburgh, were in attendance and after the formalities, and an excellent dinner served with style, the mirth and fun grew fast and furious. Numerous toasts were honoured and the Port kept coming round and round. Tuesday 19th July. The Constitution Revision Sub Committee met and agreed the final draft for consultation. The phrase, “Camel is a horse designed by a committee” springs to mind.  Wednesday 20th July, The Commemorative Service at Brow Well which SSCBA President Jane was unable to attend but her place was filled with distinction by SVP David Miller. Rev. Neil Campbell gave a reading from the King James Bible with which Burns would have been familiar and Fed. President David Baird spoke inspiringly on Burns’ final days at the Brow. The social this year held at the Cairndale was most enjoyable with some interesting turns from visitors and well MC’d by John Caskie. Thursday 21st July. Accompanied David Baird to Paisley for the wreath laying ceremony at Burns Statue at Caledonia Street. Met up with members of the Alamo Burns Club in the nearby Alamo Bar. First visit to this famous club who have a link to the historic Alamo Mission in Texas, scene of the struggle in 1832 for Texan independence from Mexico.  The walls are covered with memorabilia including a fragment of the actual Davy Crocket hat worn by Davy Crocket during the siege. After the ceremony, attended by the Provost of Inverclyde and members of Renfrewshire Burns Association, the company returned to the Alamo for a sandwich. As driver, Mr. Baird navigated the return journey diverted off the M74 to Muirkirk and Cumnock which took a bit of doing. My turn as driver on Sunday 24th to Ayr to accompany Mr. Baird to the Ayr Burns Club events. Morning Service at the Auld Kirk which is up a close off the High Street but atmospheric and historic. Lunch at the Tam O’ Shanter, a pub again after years as a museum then to Burns Statue for the wreath laying, choreographed by Margaret Morrall, which went on for ages and included a recitation in full of “Tam O’ Shanter”. Met a gent who claimed to be the great nephew, five times removed of Jean Armour. On to Leglan Wood to the Wallace/ Burns Cairn in good repair after the storm damage in 2009 for speeches, turns, prayers and hymn singing before repairing to Auchencruive House for a welcome cup of coffee prior to the return journey. That was the last of the summer commemorative events this year. Other commitments prevented attendance at Kilmarnock Cross on 31st July.  Saturday 30th July, a lovely sunny morning saw 21 members, spouses and friends set off at 7.30am for Glasgow to board the PS Waverley for a cruise “Doon the Watter” as the club outing for 2011. A VIP party in the Presidential Porsche made their own way but the luxury minibus got their before them. The Waverley weighed anchor at 10.20am and set off up the Clyde with stops at Greenock, Rothesay, Helensburgh, passing Dumbarton Rock before arriving at Tighnabruich where there is no distillery, for an hour ashore. The river traffic and scenery was fascinating as was the sights seen on board which included a Toga Party in the bar and groups of happy holidaymakers at the end of the Glasgow Fair. Seals and jellyfish were seen alongside and some undisclosed incident not involving members resulted in Strathclyde Polis waiting to welcome the Waverley back to the dock at dusk.  A quick head count ensured that the club group was intact before braving the return journey. To the amusement of sum, Ted Murray and John Lauder who were part of the presidential party were designated by the president as the Howff Club’s answer to “Jedward”. Must explain this to Ted later.  Seems that I am the only blogger left which is a shame. Come on Frank and Ian, the Webmaster will give you a password if you ask him nicely and you can leave your thoughts for posterity.  The title of this deposit is from Burns’ “On a Scotch Bard”, gone to the West Indies, written in 1786.


View Article  "In Memorium"

 Sunday 3rd July, warm and sunny and thrilled to be conveyed in President Frank’s hi tech Porsche to Thankerton near Lanark to attend the annual ceremony at the commemorative stone at Covington Mains Farm, marking the spot where Burns stayed overnight on his journey from Mauchline to Edinburgh in 1786 to discuss proposals for his Edinburgh Edition.  The ceremony is arranged by the Lanarkshire Association of Burns Clubs and a goodly turnout of Burnsians was there including WRBF president and a number of past presidents. The oration was delivered by Mike Duguid who missed out last year due to his accident and the customary floral tributes were placed with great ceremony.  Afterwards, the company reassembled at the nearby Tinto Hotel for a buffet and some superb entertainment from two local youngsters, winners in the local schools competition, who played and sang brilliantly. The bar prices are clearly set to keep out the riff-raff. Good day and a chance to meet up with old friends.  The 7th Jean Armour Dinner on 4th July was a success story although some hiccups within the Globe delayed the start but the meal was excellent and the cheese board was a dream. The toasts by Josie Neal and Kevin Thompson were what we would expect but the singing from Leona Evans, the 2011 “Young Burnsian” was the highlight of an enjoyable night, well chaired by President Frank. Thanks are due to the team who achieved a record result with raffle ticket sales.  Earlier, at the Jean Armour statue, Frank placed the club’s tribute and the oration was given by David Baird before the company trudged back to the Globe led by Pipe Major Callum Watson.  Tuesday 5th July, foregathered with distinguished local Burnsians at Burns Mausoleum at 2.00pm to meet with Council officials to discuss the sad state of the iconic building which has attracted numerous adverse comments of late. Peter Nelson, the Senior Architect was reassuring and promised that renovations would be put in hand before the end of the year and that the unsightly CCTV pole and disabled access ramp would be relocated. Will be able to report favourably to the next meeting of the WRBF but will watch for progress. The commemoration season continued on Sunday 10th July with the annual trip to Hawick to attend the ceremony at Wauchope Cairn.  Eleven members, spouses and guests from Dumfries Ladies Burns Club No. 1 set out by luxury minibus, driven by club member Colin Craig who got the party to the destination on schedule.  It was as well that your blogger decided that the club bus would follow the Hawick coach as on arrival at the Cairn, the coach rear wheels were couped in a ditch whilst trying to reverse. After the ceremony when the oration was delivered by David Baird, our minibus brought as many back to the Hawick Burns Club as possible before the farmer pulled the coach out of the ditch.  Slightly later than advertised, the social hour got underway with generous hospitality and a splendid buffet. Mention must be made of the contribution made to the entertainment from SVP Ian McIntyre, deputising for President Frank, whose mellifluous tones were much acclaimed.  Back home on time and intact.  Thursday 14th July.  The Club Treasure Hunt attracted a welcome turnout of 24 members and friends and were marshalled into four teams.  Setting out from the Globe at 7.15pm, the intrepid members navigated the route from clue sheets drawn up to avoid ambiguity but seemed to have failed in the minds of certain folk and your blogger, who was attached as advisor to a team had to step in to defuse an explosive situation.  Ted Murray was seen to be taking careful note of the “answers”.  Several first class malts at the “Tam” helped and back to the Globe for the calculation of the winners. This was a mistake as the four judges missed out on the pies, sausage rolls and mushy peas and got what seems to have been the left-overs.   Your blogger disagreed with the team identified as the winner. Thanks are due to Gordon Johnston and his colleagues, especially David Miller for compiling the clue sheets and creating an excellent and enjoyable night and to Kerr Little for providing the pie shells and sausage rolls. DS

View Article  In the footsteps of the saints

A dreich morning on 21st June saw President Frank and your blogger set off for the Parish of Hoddom, near Ecclefechan, to attend an unusual ceremony. This, by invitation of Glasgow and District Burns Association, was to launch the “St. Mungo Trail”, from where the patron saint of Glasgow founded his church in the 6th century and where a mound in the ancient kirkyard marks the historic spot. Unsure what the Burns’ connection was, we met the President of the WRBF in a lane, evidently lost but we joined the official party from Glasgow at the gates of Hoddom Castle. A sleek Merc, displaying the registration plate “G0” brought the Lord Provost of Glasgow and his suite which included His Grace, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, who rather disappointingly was not wearing a pointed hat but he was friendly and shook hands with everybody. The company formed up and marched across a wet field in a drizzle to a stone with an interpretation board on top, adjoining the Kirkyard.  D&G Council convenor Patsy Gilroy welcomed the assembly and the Lord Provost unveiled the board which starts the “St. Mungo Trail” which the saint followed from Hoddom, up the M74 corridor to Glasgow. Other speeches were made and the Lord Provost and Convenor exchanged civic gifts before the party skedaddled to the tea room at the Castle. There we were joined by honorary member Professor Ted Cowan who spoke warmly of his visit to the club in 2010. Burns Federation past President George Anderson from Glasgow was present and among other guests was the Rev. Dr.Laurence Whitley, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral.  This was a low key affair with little advance publicity or since but it was a pleasure to attend and mix with the great and the good.


View Article  "An mair o' horrible an awful"

6th June, a meeting of the Executive Committee chaired with panache by President Frank who is so laid back as to be almost horizontal, but very effective with it.  Agreed to check the feasibility of a trip on the PS Waverley during the summer and to take up the crumbling state of Burns Mausoleum with the authorities. Thursday 9th June, attended a pleasant gathering of Burnsians and others at the Municipal Chambers for a Civic Reception by the Council to mark the election of David Baird as president of the WRBF. Welcome from Convenor Patsy Gilroy, anodyne speeches followed by nibbles. No wine due to Council cost cutting but repaired to the Globe afterwards for modest refreshment.

Shocked on the following morning by news of the sudden death of Mrs. Rose Edgar, secretary of the SSCBA, who had been present at the reception.   Saturday 11th June, SSCBA AGM, overshadowed by the news about Rose but Jane Brown was elected president in succession to David Baird. David Miller moved up to senior VP and Michael Duguid was elected junior VP after ballot. Was unsure whether to demand a recount. John Caskie was unanimously elected secretary. Sunday 12th, Matt Sempie, our antique glazier arrived at the Globe, en famile and on time to re-etch the Burns verses on the big pane of glass. Fascinating to watch an expert at work with an electronic stylus with Burns would not have had available. Joined by David Miller, David Baird and later by John Lauder and Dan Cook who were poised to welcome a party from Newton Burns Club, Ayr.  Lunch afterwards with Matt and family when the kids kept asking questions I couldn’t answer.  Earlier, whilst waiting for Matt to arrive, was attracted to the High Street by the stirring sound of a Pipe Band when the Cornet and party, escorted by Provost Gloom and Baiile Caskie, shuffled past on their way to the Kirking of the Cornet Ceremony. Counted five club members in assorted finery and exchanged salutations. Tuesday, 14th June, attended at North West Dumfries Kirk for an appointment with Rev. Neil Campbell and David Baird to discuss arrangements for the Brow Well Service. Neil suggested a reading form the King James Bible as this was the 400th anniversary of that great piece of literature.  Mrs. Edgar’s funeral on Friday 17th. Chapel of Rest packed and the company included several Federation folk who had travelled specially. A moving tribute to Rose was delivered by David Baird. Accompanied PP Tom Johnstone to the interment at Terregles Kirkyard.  Gave Guid Nychburris a miss this year as was out with friends for dinner that night. The week commencing 20th June was a marathon. Monday night, Library Sub Committee, attended by Peter Kormylo who proposed a club debate and discussion panel in November, with invited guests. Also, a proposal to investigate the installation of a pull down screen and ceiling mounted projector. Costs to be obtained before being remitted to the Renovations Sub Committee. Tuesday, Globe Inn at 5.00pm for an SSCBA office bearers meeting to discuss arrangements for the Fed. Meeting at Georgetown on Saturday. Wednesday, 22nd June, back to the Globe for the Constitution Revision Sub Committee. Now almost in final draft and Frank hopes to present this to the Excom in August for discussion. Funny how more progress is made when half the committee is absent! Thursday 23rd. A team of four cerebral members assembled at the Globe to traverse the route of the Treasure Hunt and to compile clues. Led by David Miller and Gordon Johnston, the group visited 8 pubs (I think) and gathered clues along the route. In your blogger’s opinion, the clues became more cryptic as the night wore on but I kept being shouted down. Back to the Globe, we found we had 40, 50 or 60 clues which David Miller would refine. Saturday, 25th,   At the Globe at 8.15am to pick up a cauldron of soup, crockery, savoury scones and things to transport to Georgetown Community Centre for delegates arriving for the WRBF meeting. Narrowly avoided being scalded in the groin en route. Superb work by the Ladies Burns Club including Dan Cook in welcoming delegates and serving coffee. The morning meeting of the Heritage Subcommittee was harmonious and productive. Mixed views expressed on the Birthplace Museum and Cottage at Alloway but David Miller reported positively on steps in hand for refurbishments at the Mausoleum. After the snack lunch provided the Globe Inn, The afternoon plenary session ended at the unusually early time of 2.45pm. David Baird as chairman reported briefly that the employment of WRBF Chief Executive had been terminated and the matter was now closed. Rather surprisingly, there was no discussion on finances. The convenors’ reports were heard without much discussion and conference in 2012 would be held at the Caird Hotel, Harrogate.  That night, I had the pleasure of transporting David Baird, Ted Murray and Neil Johnston to the Buccleuch Centre at Langholm for the summer concert by “Scocha”, the Scottish Folk & Roll Band. An excellent meal on arrival and delighted to meet Alex and David Pool. The auditorium was set up in cabaret fashion and the Pools joined our table which added greatly to the jollifications.  The band was as energetic and exuberant as ever with great interaction with the Langholm audience who lapped up the programme of old favourites. As designated driver, I eschewed the sauce and got everyone home safely before midnight to avoid one of the party being turned into a pumpkin.  Monday 27th, the Excom again and pleased to note the high uptake of tickets for the Jean Armour Dinner. Sufficient members and friends are interested in the Waverley trip and that will go ahead. John Caskie has brought forward a proposal for a club umbrella and the Webmaster has found a photo of the Hon. Secretary with a cardboard cow for the Website.  Ho, hum.


View Article  "Musings for May"

Following a request from Hon. Member Murdo Morrison, the Librarian and I met up with an Irish academic, Dr. Padraig O’Boyle who was in Scotland researching material for a treatise on Celtic poets and their memorials. Met Dr. O’Boyle at the Globe on 4th May and Gordon and I conducted him round the Globe and up to the Kirk and Mausoleum where he was thrilled to get access.  Made the long journey to Coldstream on Sunday 8th with Ian McIntyre, John Lauder and Gordon where we were warmly welcomed and shuffled along the High Street to the Bridge after the piper where Ian placed the club’s tribute with flair. The weather brightened up and the ceremony at Craw Green was impressive as usual. At the social in the British Legion which followed, a generous buffet was provided and Gordon contributed to the entertainment. As designated driver, was compelled to lay off the sauce. It is clear that the Coldstream Burns Club really appreciate our attendance each year. A ceremony of a different kind was conducted in St. Michaels Kirkyard on 10th May when a goodly turnout of volunteers raced round cleaning the 45 commemorative plagues of Burns’ contemporaries. Cleaning materials were provided and it was noted that grave No 30, supposedly occupied by David Williamson, Draper and supplier of Burns’ Volunteers uniform, was unaccounted for. Further enquiries will be made. The party repaired to the Globe Inn afterwards to regroup. Saturday 14th, back to Lockerbie Academy for the RBWF Primary Schools Competition. Surprised by the attendance of parents and supporters and the force of stewards had to manhandle hundreds of plastic chairs to the Assembly Hall for the closing ceremonies. Again, some superb performances by the kids from all over Scotland. Members of the Ladies Burns Club provided nibbles during the intervals for which much thanks is due.  The opening meeting of the new Executive Committee took place on 16th May and as is customary, members assembled at 7.00pm for the official photograph. The term “silk purse and sow’s ear” comes to mind but photographer Tom Bonnar did his best. The meeting was well conducted and productive and it is hoped that the new committee will be more supportive of activities other than social functions at the Globe.  The public bowling rink at Dock Park is now closed during the week, presumably due to council cut backs but your secretary is nothing if not persuasive and managed to arrange for the club Bowling Night to take place on the evening of Thursday 19th May. There was a merciful absence of fertiliser and midges and Bowling Marshall Bob Wilson conjured up 8 teams of two who bowled with a will!  Bob’s marking system is inscrutable but this year’s winners were announced as Ian McIntyre and David Smith who expressed incredulity but accepted the highly coveted “Draffan Cup” now in its 100th year. Coronation Chicken sandwiches, not apparently to everyone’s taste were served thereafter at the Globe.

The Renovations Sub-Committee met on 23rd May and David Miller did his best to make some progress. Matt Sempie, our antique glazier, has dispatched a sheet of safety glass which he will inscribe again with Burns’ verses but had still to materialise. Friday 26th, off to Kirkcudbright Academy with David Miller, John Lauder and David Baird to attend a concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the Academy’s Cochran Hall. Packed to capacity but enjoyed a tremendous programme of Haydn, von Webber and the highlight of Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, “Eroica”, all under the baton of the young guest conductor, Jonathan Schiffer whose enthusiasm was infectious. A pint at the Royal Hotel earlier was enjoyed by some but not the driver. In my capacity as Aide de Campe to the president of the RBWF, I accompanied said personage to Mauchline for the Holy Fair on Saturday 28th May.  Damp weather soon cleared up and after the opening formalities, the streets resounded to the Pipe Band and an excellent Dixieland Jazz Band who played on an elevated stage outdoors. The Manic Street Preachers were as lugubrious as ever and Hell and Damnation was promised to the ungodly. Taking refuge in the Kirk, enjoyed a performance by Willie Stewart’s songs to old and new settings. Outside, a chapter of Hell’s Angels on Harley Davidsons were racing up and down and a Hog (pig) Roast was being cooked on the Green. In the arcade, a stand featuring 23 owls was being much admired and various craft and commercial pitches were popular. Invited to the VIP lunch which by the time of arrival had all but been consumed. The president who was resplendent in the Chain of Office attracted much attention, being mistaken several time for the Provost, but he graciously accepted the homage from the large turnout of Burnsians. Back to the Kirk where we met up with Ian and Moira McIntyre, a group of ladies known as “Ayres and Graces” sang interspersed with “turns” by members of Mauchline Burns Club which might have better been omitted, but it was their show after all.

I would have liked to tarry at the Showground Steam Engine and Fairground Organ but duty called. Sunday, 29th May, joined David Miller and David Baird to St. George’s Church for a concert by Dumfries Mail Voice Choir and the Brymbo Male Voice Choir from Wales who delighted the packed Kirk with choral favourites, old and new. Special guests were William Williamson and a lovely young soprano from Moffat, Jessica Barker, who wowed the audience with some modern numbers from the shows. In the second half, both choirs combined to produce a magical sound which resonated throughout the church bringing the audience to their feet in appreciation. The acoustics in St. George’s is much superior to that in DG One. Back to the Globe for a welcome pint. Tuesday 31st May, appointment with Adam Coutts from Nicholson Demolitions, Glasgow, to discuss the possibilities of sourcing some aged wood for the clubroom renovations. Adam was intrigued by the story of the Globe Inn and the clubroom and felt that he could find something suitable. We will see.  Saturday 3rd June, was privileged, along with David Baird, to be driven in Gordon’s new Jag, all high tech with bells and whistles, to the Buccleuch Centre at Langholm, for an “Evening with Jimmie Macgregor”, possibly best remembered from the ground breaking “Tonight” programme from the 60’s. Jimmie held the audience spellbound with his songs and stories and reminiscences from the past and publicly announced that he has been booked for an “Immortal Memory” by the “World Famous Dumfries Howff Club” (his words) in 2013. Jimmie, who celebrated his 81st birthday last year, agreed to stay alive until that date.  An excellent steak pie supper and met up with Alex Pool and his sister in law. Meantime, trying to encourage dilatory members to cough up their subs before the deadline otherwise they will be cast out. Baffled by the number who send their subs direct to me although the reminder letter makes it clear that subs should be sent to the treasurer for Gawd’s Sake!   Oh good, the sheet of glass has turned up.

View Article  "Swan song"

Monday 4th April, last committee meeting of the season. The treasurer submitted a balance sheet which was unanimously accepted and passed for the AGM.  It was agreed to nominate Godfrey Bedford for JVP, as a recommendation from the retiring committee. The president dissolved the committee with relish.

Thornhill on the 6th to accompany the WRBF President to the AGM of Thornhill Burns Club. Warmly welcomed and impressed with the range of activities the club undertakes, considering their age profile. Saturday 16th, the Ten Cent Tour team gathered to welcome a party from Mauchline Masonic BC to the Globe. A lively bunch who were delighted to get access to the Mausoleum to place their wreath. Some went on to the Brow Well but the majority returned to the Globe for refreshments. The last in the season’s Winter Club Night Programme was a visit to Sulwath Micro Brewery at Castle Douglas, Scotland’s most southerly brewery, for a tour and talk on the beer making process. Our guide, Jim Henderson was knowledgeable and entertaining and the sample beers were consumed with gusto. Supper was served al fresco. A year to remember ended at the AGM on 28th April when 36 members packed the clubroom to hear the year end reports and A review of what was one of the most successful and enjoyable seasons on record and to elect the new office bearers and committee. Frank Manson was installed as president for 2011 – 2012 and Ian McIntyre rose to senior vice. Godfrey Bedford was elected junior vice president in absentia and Dan Cook elected Honorary President in succession to the late Dr. Stirling. The incoming committee is the mixture as before. Frank graciously invited the company to join him in a celebratory libation before a number repaired to Sino’s Restuarant for supper. Saturday, 30th April, to Lockerbie for the Federation National Schools Competition, held in the new and impressive  Academy building. This was the secondary competition and was blown away with the superb singing and recitation. The club, who had been asked to provide stewards, drew some praise for their efforts and organisational skills. There was universal delight when Leona Evans from Annan Academy won the coveted title of “Young Burnsian of the Year” for 2011 and the SSCBA team walked off with the “Best Team Overall” trophy, presented with style by David Baird as WRBF President. 


View Article  "Burns an aw that"

1ST of March and the Renovations Sub Committee gathered in the Globe to meet Matt Sempie, our specialist glazier, who made the facsimiles of the window panes inscribed by Burns, to discuss the display options. At 7.30pm, Matt hadn’t arrived and still hadn’t arrived at 8.00pm so members partook of supper in the Burns Room. Mr. Sempie turned up at 8.30pm having taken the wrong exit ramp off the M74 at Beattock and found himself in Langholm, yes Langholm! Following a hurried bite, Matt was able to advise us on the best layout and agreed to produce another sheet of glass to fit the frame. On Thursday, 3rd, accompanied PP Tom Johnstone to visit the club’s former piper, Ian Clowe who is now a resident at Goldielea. Ian was pleased to see us and accepted a set of the Anniversary Dinner CD’s. That evening, drove the president of the Robert Burns World Federation toThornhill Burns Club where David spoke on the work of the Federation and presented the prizes to the winners of the school children’s completion.

Saturday 5th, regretfully unable to attend the FoE Coffee Morning at Ellisland in order to accompany the president of the RBWF to New Cumnock where he unveiled a striking bronze statue of Burns in the town centre. After the formalities, retired to the Bridgend Inn for nibbles before the return journey avoiding the detour.  Thursday 10th, Hon. Member Professor David Purdie favoured the club with the first presentation of his illustrated talk on the newly discovered letter from Burns and an early draft of the poem “on a Wounded Hair”. David was as entertaining and informative as ever and it was a privilege to be present. A lively social hour ensued in the Snug. Saturday 12th,  Saturday 12th, lunch at the Globe with Walter Watson to discuss tactics for the Federation meeting at Alloway on the 19th. Walter can’t attend and asked to take the Heritage Committee. Joined by David Baird, David Miller and Ted Murray who brought some comic relief. Sunday 13th, off to the Birthplace Museum at Alloway by luxury minibus with 15 members, spouses and guests from Dumfries Ladies. The £21m showpiece is impressive but biased towards the commercial aspects and the charm of the cottage, “The Auld Clay Biggin” is all but destroyed but that’s progress. Superb lunch at the Brig o’ Doon Hotel before returning home pausing en route to admire the Burns Statue at New Cumnock.  Friday 18th, a social gathering of the office bearers at the residence of the president and on Saturday 19th, off to Alloway for the Federation meeting skilfully chaired by David Baird. The Heritage Committee was conducted in a constructive and harmonious manner, unlike some others and the report in the afternoon was well received. Dumfries Burns Club held a debate at the Museum on 22nd on the subject “That if Burns had been alive, he would have approved of Wind Farms”. PP David Miller led for the opposition and was the only speaker who made any sense. The vote was rigged and the motion was carried.  Was obliged to miss the Games Night at Marchmount Bowling Club on 25th as I had the pleasure of accompanying the president, David Baird and David Miller to the Bachelors Club Burns Supper at Tarbolton. Excellent meal, atmospheric venue and superb entertainment made for a night to remember with modest refreshment. Thanks due to the president for providing the fast car. Saturday 26th, the SSCBA meeting at Gatehouse, chaired in a haze by Mr. Baird but compensated by a good lunch at the Murray Arms. Thursday 31st, the last of the winter Club Nights in the Globe when Denis Chanarin of the Loch Arthur Community gave an illustrated talk on the work of facility at Beeswing. Another excellent night but again, shunned by members including committee members. Friday 1st April, an appropriate date for a charity whisky tasting at the Cairndale when the club was represented with a table of ten connoisseurs of malt whisky. Our table got the lion’s share of the raffle prizes including the first prize of a cask, equivalent to 32 litre bottles when matured and duty paid, won by President Neil. The evening which was well attended raised over £12k for the Oakfield Children’s Respite Home in Dumfries.

View Article  "Serious Burns"

The president says my blog entries are verbose and he’s probably right but, Hell!, can the tiger change his spots?, Anyway, to catch up, Renovations Sub Committee on 14th Feb. when it was agreed to invite Matt Sempie, our antique glazier, to the next meeting on 1st March to advise us on options for the display of the facsimile window panes. It was also agreed to remit the proposed club mug for advertising in the April newsletter to ascertain interest from members. Friday 18th Feb. Back to the Edenbank for round 3 of the Round Table Pub Quiz when David Miller, John Lauder, Ian McIntyre and your blogger clawed the score up to 66.1/2. Great fun!  At the last minute on Saturday 19th, asked to provide transport for the club delegation to the 5th Robert Burns / Taras Shevchenko Supper at the Ukrainian Social Club in Edinburgh. Had to get gassed up first but was happy to drive David Baird, Maureen McKerrow and Neil Johnston, if not in a high performance car, but certainly a high performance driver to the venue in Royal Terrace without incident. The function was lacking in atmosphere from previous years but David Baird’s “Immortal Memory” had some merit as had Maureen’s reply to the “Lasses, O” despite a racket from the end of the hall. Jim Haining’s toast to “The Lasses, o” was droll and Peter Kormylo’s recitation of “Scots Wha Hae” was as rousing as ever. One of the highlights was a performance on the Bandura, a traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument, by Olesander Petlura. I’ve now become skilled in singing the Ukrainian National Anthem which is more stirring than ours. A downside was that as designated driver, I had to stay off the sauce. The February Winter Club night on 24th heard a talk from Simon Thorp of the Heather Trust when he spoke on the importance of the natural upland moorlands and its place in the planet’s eco-systems and the challenges it faces. This was perhaps different from the customary talks but interesting and provoked a lively question and answer session. The final of the Round Table Pub Quiz took place on Friday 25th when the “Burns Unit’s“ dream team of Rab Walker, William and Neil Johnston and your reporter achieved an impressive final score of 74, or possibly 76 and finished way up the leader board. About a £1K was raised for Alzheimer’s Scotland which may be of some comfort to members in future. Rab won the club’s donation to the raffle of a bottle of Burns Whisky which he generously returned to the club.  The Globe Inn’s “Alternative Burns Supper” was held on Sunday 27th and well supported by club members. Dinner consisted of mince an’ tatties and entertainment was superb with recitations from Bobby Jess with “Tam the Bunnet”, Bert Hasting’s “Candle”, music on the box from Lee McQueen, fiddle music from a young member of the Globe Inn staff and inspiring songs from Ian McIntyre with his own guitar accompaniment. John Caskie’s rich tenor voice raised the spirits but by far the highlight of the night was the trio of members who performed “Willie brew’d”, David Miller, David Baird and John Caskie, directed by D. Smith which received umpteen curtain calls and may attract attention from a Hollywood producer. Meantime, the February issue of the “E-Mail Express” was produced after a hiccup and thanks due to Neil Johnston for his technical expertise.

Oh dear, I’ve been verbose again, sorry Neil.  DS

View Article  Egg heeds

Well maybe not - the Round Table charity pub quiz, 4 Friday evening during February -We thought that we were on a roll 60 the first week then 66 followed by a 72.  Now it's the team with me in it possible the most original answer I came up with was a ballet dance with 2 people - Pas de deux - well it got the point for the team but I don't have an extensive knowledge of ballet but I do have the box set of  "Only fools and horses"   (pas de deux - Rodney) . anyway we managed a credible 70 points.

Thanks to all the club members who made up the teams over the past 4 weeks and helped us towards a to 10 finish for the series.

View Article  Don't forget the buscuits

Among the heather - Simon Thorp intereged us with the ecological impact of the heather and grassland moors around the UK.  The importance of peat and the need to keep it moist as it retains massive amounts of CO2, the upland moors provide an estimated 70% of our drinking water, they provide entertainment - hillwalking, cycling shooting to ame but a few - wildlife and pasture. 

I had never really thought of the diversity and advanced management that goes into apparently barn ground

Thanks Simon. 


View Article  Friends of Ukraine - Burns Supper

David Baird, Jim Haining, David Smith, Peter Kormylo, Maureen McKerrow & I travelled to auld reckie ( Edinburgh) to attend the Friends of Ukraine Burns Shevchenko Supper, where we enjoyed a mix of traditional Scots and Ukrainian entertainment and a mix of Borscht soup, haggis tatties and neeps.  This is the 4th such supper and I was very surprised to hear the similarities in the lives and trials of the two national poets.

I must add a special thanks to DS for chauffeuring as my chariot wouldn't go......

View Article  Charnwood Lodge Burns Supper

We're not just about the Howff, occassionally we get out and every year we host a burns supper for the Charnwood Lodge care home.  Traditional fair, Soup, Haggis Tatties and Neeps, great singing and music from Bill Welsh, Frank Curran, Ian McIntyre, and a couple of short speechs -The Immortal Memory and toast ta the Lassies. - Piper Major Callum Watson piped the haggis and played a lament.

I think in future more musicand songs, less speechs. 

View Article  Befrienders Burns Supper

The Befrienders Burns Supper in the Easterbrook Hall was a very splendid occasion and a very very worth while cause.  It was a pleasure to be at their burns supper, club member, John Caskie was singing and honorary member Jane Brown gave the Immortal Memory to Robert Burn as Jean Armour.
It was however disappointing that the address to the lassies didn't go down very well with many of those present, whilst I can understand controversial, and alternate views on Robert Burns and his attitude towards the Ladies, it didn't seem to be the right time or place for the content and speech delivered my Mr K Eggo.


View Article  "It's coming yet, for aw' that"

Out to the Buccleuch Centre at Langhom on Friday 4th February with President Neil and PP John Caskie to see “Burns Bites Back” a show by the Idioms Theatre group based in the Borders. Having seen this last August at the Edinburgh Fringe, we knew what to expect and weren’t disappointed with the eclectic mix of music, poems, songs and a bravura recitation of “Tam” featuring Alex Pool on the bagpipes, all to great comic effect. A traditional meal followed before “despising wind and rain and fire” for the return journey. The club team, “The Burns Unit”, reformed for the annual Round Table Charity Pub Quiz in the Edenbank on 4th February and a small but perfectly formed group of members returned an impressive score of 60/100. Thanks are due to John Lauder, Gordon Johnston, Ian McIntyre and Ted Murray all of whom reassembled on the morrow at the Academy to assist with the SSCBA Schools Competitions. Once again, your blogger was amazed by the high standard of performances in singing, reciting and instrumental work and a great debt of thanks is due to the teachers and parents for their encouragement. The judges which included David Baird had an unenviable task. Again, the main hall in the Academy was perishing but thanks are due to members of Dumfries Ladies Burns Club No. 1 for the excellent snack lunch. That night, attended the first of the FoE Burns Suppers at Ellisland which was interesting and enjoyable. Met up with Moir Nelson and George Munro from Dumbarton Burns Club.  The Executive Committee met on Monday 7th February and opinion was near unanimous that the 122nd Anniversary Dinner was outstanding for the speakers, artistes, meal and organisation. It was noted that other than the accompanist, all contributors were club members and were warmly thanked by the president.

Many members reported on their attendance at Burns Suppers far and wide. The “Burns Unit” gathered again on February 11th, this time the score shot up to 66/100 thanks to the cumulative brain power of David Miller, Rab Walker, William Johnston and the writer. It is suspected that the adjoining team from the Cooncil had sight of the questions in advance. The fifth Annual Burns Supper of the Befriending Project was held in the Easterbrook Hall on Saturday 12th when I had the pleasure of accompanying David and Norma Miller and Neil Johnston. Guests included Jane Brown who proposed an excellent toast to the “Immortal Memory” through the eyes of Jean Armour and a spot from John Glover whose impression of Max Boyce whilst perhaps unusual at a Burns Supper was droll and appreciated. John also addressed the Haggis with gusto. The least said the better about the toast to “The Lasses” but John Caskie’s superb tenor voice was well matched with sympathetic accompaniment on the keyboard from Peter Gunnell. Fraser Sanderson filled in as chairman in place of Alex Fergusson MSP who was overseas. The raffle and auction went on forever but the meal included a “Galloway Haggis” served in a light flaky pastry which was palatable. A bonus on the return journey when the taxi driver purchased a copy of the “Burns in Ukrainian” (honest).The club’s Burns Supper for the residents of Charnwood Lodge was held on 13th February when the concert party gathered at 6.00pm and were joined by Mr. Baird at 6.20pm, to be welcomed and piped to the top table by Callum Watson. The function went off satisfactorily but I am now of the opinion that long toasts should be dropped in favour of more songs and music for the old folk. Thanks are due to Frank Curran, Bill Welsh, Ian McIntyre, Gordon Johnston, David Baird and George McKinnell who stood in at the last minute as accompanist. A resident, Mrs Adeline McNaughton proposed a vote of thanks at the close.

View Article  SSCBA Schools Competition

It is strange, there are so many talented youths in our local schools and yet there were barely a handfull of people, other than parents turned out to appreciate the efforts.  It is a great shame that the format of the competition is such that it is not possible to see all the junior and senior performers. It must be an almost impossible task for the judges to nominate the winners from such talent.

Anyway assisting to escort the pipers to the judging,  keeping the doors shut during recitals and singing together with some lifting and carrying to help set things up. 

A long day but worth while.

View Article  Burns Bites Back

A few members of the Howff had seen this alternative portrayal of some of the Works of Robert Burn at the Edinburgh Fringe, so when I seen it advertised at the Buccleuch Centre in Langholm I knew it would be worth the long and treacherous journey. so DS contacted Alex Pool who was able to arrange the necessary tickets. 

The performance was excellent interspersed through a traditional, well almost, Burns supper.  the evening was hilarious even for the dedicated Burnsian.   This group from the Borders based theatre company are very talented and seem to be really enjoying themselve.

If you see this advertised, if there are tickets available, Go.....

View Article  "Man was made to Mourne"

After a long gap, good to get into the blogging habit again. Since the last entry, I had the pleasure of attending “Carols in the Car Park” on 10th December, at Locharbriggs Community Centre, hosted by past president John Caskie and featuring Willie McRobert on the box with a good attendance of local kids and parents who gave the old favourites laldy. Inside, we had party games with prizes and nibbles. Saturday 11th December, out to the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm for the Scocha concert and seasonal meal. Met up with Alex and David Pool. The boys provided the usual scintillating mix of crowd pleasers and some new numbers with the customary banter with the Langholm audience. Ted Murray, as designated driver did well to find the venue. The club’s annual Christmas Dinner, now growing in popularity and in its third year, was held in the clubroom on 20th December when 16 members sat down to a fabulous meal and quaffed some wine. President Neil was a generous host and “Santa” made a surprise visit and dished out gifts to all. Following the traumas of Ne’er Day, the Executive Committee met in full plenary session on 10th January and deliberated long and hard on the Anniversary Dinner arrangements. The programme looks great and as it would be a full house, it was resolved to overcome any problems with the seating plan with grim determination. On Friday 14th, attended a Whisky Tasting at the Station Hotel with Gordon Johnston and met some old friends and a selection of island and highland blends. On the morrow, bright-eyed and bushy tailed to Glasgow University to attend the Burns Seminar at the Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre. Time for an excellent bar lunch at the nearby Common Room pub. The seminar was stimulating with a variety of papers on aspects of Burns. Personal highlights were the talk by Dr. Natalie Kaloh Vid, on “Ideological adaption of Robert Burns’ Poetry in the former Soviet Union” with hilarious examples of the translations of Samuel Marshak which omitted all references to aristocracy and belief in God. Sir Kenneth Calman spoke on “Tam O’ Shanter’s Mare, a study of Burns and Health”. Did some networking at the break. Thanks due to David Miller for skilful driving and finding a parking place. Disappointed that the Round Table Burns Supper was cancelled this year under mysterious circumstances but hopefully the Table will get their act together for next year. The sad news came through on Tuesday 18th of the death of the club’s honorary president, Dr. George Stirling, the senior past president and one of the characters of the Howff Club since the 1950’s He’ll be sadly missed.  Thursday 20th, met with John Caskie to finalise the seating plan which John has got off to a T and if anything goes pear-shaped, it’s not his fault. Dumbarton was the target on Friday 21st for the rescheduled Dumbarton Burns Supper. As the Dumbuck Hotel was out of action due to water damage, the Burns Supper was held in a Masonic Temple in Alexandria. This was a magnificent venue with splendid decorations, an excellent meal and superb company. President Neil, at the Top Table, conveyed fraternal greetings from the Howff Club and his father addressed the Haggis inn great style. A hugely enjoyable evening with first class toasts and entertainment. Our hotel in Balloch was adequate if a bit noisy from the adjoining room. Looked for sawdust in the president’s room in the morning. Due to a domestic problem, was unable to attend the Burns Supper at Friars Carse on Saturday 22nd but reports suggested that a fine time was had with great interaction from the company at the end. Monday 24th on the overcrowded 8.15am train from Lockerbie with the President and Librarian to attend the launch of Peter Kormylo’s book of Burns translations in Ukrainian at the Ukrainian Consulate General in Windsor Street where we met up with John Clark and David Baird. After a welcome from the Consul General, speeches were made by some dignitaries and David Baird and to his surprise, John Clark. Peter’s collaborator, Ms. Hanna Dyka from Keiv was present and spoke warmly of the Scots’ hospitality. Lunch at the Cafe Royal before the return journey. The 122nd Anniversary Dinner on 25th January in the Globe Inn was one I will remember for a long time for starting on time, for an excellent meal, a Haggis addressed with gusto and an “Immortal Memory” from Peter Kormylo which brought the company to its feet. Harry Hutchison standing in for Murdo Morrison gave a superb toast to the “Lasses, O” in his relaxed and conversational style and Jim Haining’s “Drouthie Cronies” at 12.10am, was what we would expect for wit and perspicacity. Our musicians, James Coutts and Ian Kirkpatrick were tremendous and club members who sustained the programme were fantastic including a graphic recitation of “Tam” from Alex Pool. Neil made a genial chairman and conducted the proceedings with authority and humour. He also finished on time with only a few empty seats at 12.30am. Earlier, members gathered in the Globe for lunch prior to the Annual Commemorative Service at St. Michaels and were joined by President Patrick Trust and Secretary Moir Nelson from Dumbarton Burns Club, also Hanna Dyka who would be a guest at Dumfries Burns Club that evening. The club was officially represented at the funeral of Dr. George Stirling by the president and junior vice president. A highly enjoyable supper was held in the Globe on Thursday 27th in honour of Hanna Dyka when a small company foregathered for an evening of song and story. JVP Ian McIntyre presented Hanna with a gift on behalf of the club as the president was on duty with the Annan Ladies. Friday 28th, accompanied Peter, Gordon and Hanna on a visit to the new Birthplace Museum at Alloway when Hanna presented director Nat Edwards with a copy of the translations. Met Federation past president and honorary member Joe Campbell. Having seen the museum previously before being opened, I was impressed with the layout and interactive displays  but wonder what the “Old Guard” Burnsians will make of it.  Another Burns Supper at the Globe tonight. I’m glad January is over.


View Article  Annan Ladies Burns Club
This was the second time that I have had the privilege to attend the Annan Ladies Burns Club accompanied by Frank Manson our Junior Vice, and the Dover Rover Harry Hutchinson.  My expectations of a good evening were high and I was not disappointed, the Annan Ladies club have some superbly talented members many of whom I hoped to see at the SSCBA schools competition in a few weeks time.  There is always a warm and friendly welcome so I was delighted to be able to deliver fraternal greetings  from the Howff Club.
View Article  The Howff Club - Anniversay Dinner

One of Jim Hainings jokes about public speaking rings a bell - something about a natural laxitive. But thanks to the pre planning by the Secretary, Mr Smith, things seem to have run like clockwork.  The most important thing everyone I've spoken to has enjoyed themselves. 

I must givea public thanks to all the artist who performed on the evening and assisted to make it such a fantastic Burns Supper, Pipe Major Callum Watson, Ian Kirkpatrick, James Coutts, Bill Welsh, Dan Cook, Frank Curran, Les Byres, John Caskie, Gordon Johnston, Harry Hutchinson, James Haining, and of course Peter Kormylo for his Immortal Memory.

What a fantastic evening




View Article  Auld Reckie

The venue :- The Ukrainian Consulate Edinburgh

The Host:- The Ukrainian Console General

The Reason :- The UK Launch of Peter Kormylo and Hanna Dykas Publication of translations of selected works of Robert Burns in Ukrainian.

Train from Lockerbie arrived in time to have a coffee in Edinburgh before attending the official Launch of the book at the Consulate  which was atended by representitives of the Scottish Parliement, Ukrainian Console and Ukraininan supporter of the book, Sweedish Console and Italian Console to name but a few.  It was delightful to meet Hanna who unfortunately was on a whirl wind tour of the Burns sites, as well as other notories of the Burn fraternity.

there then followed a mad dash back to the station to catch the train back to Lockerbie, via the Cafe Royal of course.

Well done Peter and Hanna