Slow Food & The Girvan Cemetery Walk

It seemed like everyone in the world has had their own BBQ except us, so one slightly warmer afternoon last week we decided to give it a go. We went for a charcoal burning model, on the grounds that it was less likely to explode if we mucked it up somehow. Assembly took a little longer than expected. The instructions weren’t exactly clear (they were even harder to follow after Biggles ran off with them) but I succeeded in building something that looked like the picture on the box. We put our folding metal playpen round the thing for extra doggy-safety, loaded up the coals and lighter cubes, lit the blue touch paper and stood well back. Biggles stood even further back, because he has a thing about cooking. He’s not scared of the sound of power tools or even the vacuum cleaner (known in our house as the Sniffy Monster) but smokey cooking always makes him leg it. Beanie on the other hand is normally a scaredy cat but on this occasion she stayed quite close. Maybe she figured she had a chance of grabbing some raw burger.


I’m not scared, you understand, but.. I think I’ll just watch from here…

The lighter cubes burned out, but the charcoal wasn’t glowing and there wasn’t much heat coming from it. We rebuilt our charcoal pyramid, threw more lighter cubes into the middle and lit them up a second time. Still no joy. The instructions said it could take half an hour for them to reach cooking temperature, but we’d now been waiting nearly an hour by now. The late afternoon sun was leaving our garden and the temperature was dropping. Still, it would be nice and warm once the barbecue got going. We tried again. And again. Still our burgers had more chance of cooking in the tumble dryer than on our barbie.

Determined not to be beaten I went inside to ask Google for advice. It was nice and warm in the house, and as I passed through the kitchen on my way to the office I couldn’t help but glance at our cooker, which was perfectly capable of giving us hot, well cooked burgers without any charcoal, lighter cubes or ridiculously long waiting time. Google gave me the answer I needed – the charcoal should be on a grill a centimeter or two above the base of the ash box, not sitting directly on the base. To be fair I had wondered what that extra grill was for! I headed back outside to try again and about 45 minutes later we were sitting on the deck in failing light and shivering in a cold wind, with apparently cooked yet not particularly warm burgers in our hands. To make the most of the experience we finished by toasting a few marshmallows (they burn better than the lighter cubes!), then sought refuge in our warm house with our two thoroughly bored Beagles.

The next day we fancied a short but energetic hill climb with a nice view. A little searching turned up the Byne Hill walk in Girvan. It was just the ticket! We got to the car park that marks the start of the walk easily enough, but after that the directions didn’t seem too clear. The road we were apparently supposed to take hit a dead end down a farm road, so we tried the other direction and went down by the Byne Hill Cemetery. This didn’t seem to offer any opportunities for climbing the hill, so we did an about turn and revisited the farm road. Maybe we’d missed a path leading off the road (it wouldn’t be the first time!) Nope, definitely no hidden path. We turned round and went down past the cemetery (again) – I’d spotted a caravan park there and figured maybe one of the residents would know how to get access to the hill. We got lucky, and armed with directions we headed through the caravan park, past the cemetery again (again) and.. hit another dead end. We retraced our steps past the cemetery again (again again) and found someone else with a different idea of how to finally get up Byne Hill. This also ended in failure, but gave us another couple of chances to view the blummin’ cemetery, which is obviously Girvan’s main attraction. The walk up the hill was supposed to be around 6.5 km long. We’d already walked about 4 km going back and forth by the graveyard, so we admitted defeat and settled for a stroll along the beach. We subsequently discovered that the directions for the walk were simply out of date – the route did indeed go down the farm road but that road together all other routes to the base of the hill were now closed to walkers. Just to complete the whole dead-end experience, the main road out of Girvan was also closed.


The Byne Hill cemetery. It’s very nice, but I wouldn’t want to spend a whole day there (again)