Initially, when planning what to say about Alloway, I was going to
embark on an unusually severe rant about the admittance charge to
tourist attractions and how some families probably cannot afford to
visit many of Scotland's old buildings.
I suppose if you're a tourist then you've generally got money to
spend, but there will also be many parents in Scotland who are unable to
show their offspring the inside of the little cottage in which the poet
Robert Burns was born. I have since decided that this would be an unfair
rant, as it has pretty much always cost money to get into tourist
attractions like Burns Cottage. But I do nevertheless wonder what Robert
Burns would have thought of it all.
O Life! thou art a galling load, Along
a rough, a weary road, To wretches such as I
In my little Blue Guide to Scotland, dating to the 1920s, almost
everything to do with Burns cost money to get in: the Burns Monument
(3d), Burns Cottage (6d), Banks o' Doon Tea Garden (2d), and so on.
Clearly, from the moment Burns popped his clogs, Alloway became
something of a money-sooking machine, almost Disneyesque, where visitors
were spat out in a state of some skintness. But, for all my Scottish
skittishness, there is lots to see in Alloway that today is free. And I
might recommend that you start in the stunningly beautiful gardens by
the River Doon and the Burns Monument.