Russell Abercrombie is one of our Hospitality and Tourism students and is currently part of the Diageo Learning for Life Hospitality and Bartending programme.
There are various workshops and industry visits as part of the programme and one of the sessions involves participants completing Ayrshire Smiles.
Ayrshire Smiles was set up by the Ayrshire & Arran Tourist Board, and this inspired Russell to write the following Ode to Ayrshire.
It’s often said that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Whether that be a partner whom you’ve shared a home or life with for a sustained period; a job that you lost the love for a decade previous; or even a football manager that’s stayed at your club just a season too long.
The same can be said for our appreciation of Scotland and, more specifically, Ayrshire.
Many of us have spent the greater part of our existence surrounded by, and as a result growing accustomed to, the beautiful scenery and landscapes of this county and the nation it sits within.
I understand. The daily grind allows little time to sit and admire the scenic milieu we’ve been gifted, but if we lifted our heads from our smartphones during those arduous commutes and endless traffic jams we’d be rewarded with quite frankly stunning views almost everywhere we looked. This is true no matter where in Scotland we call home, but is especially accurate in Ayrshire.
Let’s for a moment slightly twist a phrase from Ayrshire’s favourite son, Rabbie Burns – “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” and put ourselves in the shoes of a visitor to Ayrshire as they set their eyes on Culzean Castle for the first time. Or the views on either side of the boat as the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry cuts its way through the Firth of Clyde like a hot knife through butter – the rugged, snow-capped beauty of Goatfell ahead with the stunning Ayrshire coastline slowly disappearing behind.
In a recent interview, explorer Ed Stafford spoke of meeting people in London and other large cities who’d never seen a cow in real life before. Lives so wrapped up in concrete and office blocks, in £8 double-shot flat whites and smashed avocado bagels to see the beauty that exists a mere train trip away. And that’s the allurement of Ayrshire. No matter where we lay our heads at night or spend most of our working days, we’re never more than 5 minutes from a piece of open countryside and with it the odd cow or two.
Over four million people visit Ayrshire annually and with them bring in-excess of £355 million to the local economy. When nearly 90% of these people are here to sightsee, it’s not difficult to decipher that we, the year-long residents, might be missing out on something beautiful in favour of crushing candy on our tablet computers or reading the latest copy of the Metro.
So whether it’s the world class golf courses; the stunning coastal trails; the history-laden towns of Alloway or Largs; the castles that have stood for centuries or even the modern luxury of the many 5 star hotels on offer – Ayrshire has a lot that we as residents should not only be appreciative of, but be proud to talk up and recommend to visitors and locals alike.
So don’t let familiarity breed contempt and let Ayrshire back into your heart. Your guests, county and even your wallet will thank you.