Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Olympic curling competition

February 25th, 2006

THE OLYMPIC curling competition has had us glued to the TV. Not just because Great Britain is represented by two all-Scottish teams. That must be unique for any sporting event.  

Not just because curling is such a totally Scottish sport which, like golf, we have successfully exported around the world. But mostly because Kelly Wood, who played second in the women's team, comes from my home town of Montrose, and her mother club is Dun Curling Club.

The Doyenne and I both play for Dun Curling Club and, being the club we originally played for, it is our mother club too. Its name reflects its obvious links with Duns Dish, the shallow loch that lies to the north of House of Dun.

I've heard it suggested that curling originated in Holland when boulders were thrown along frozen canals. But that was just the wishful thinking of an over-imaginative Dutchman. Only a thrawn old Scotsman could have invented such a frustrating game!

Until the sport went indoors all games were played on open ponds. Montrose had two curling ponds. The appropriately-named Curlie sits alongside the Auxiliary Golf Course, but is now so overgrown with reeds that, even if it should ever be cold enough to freeze over, it would be impossible to curl on it. I remember being taken by my mother to learn to skate on it, but I can't remember curling taking place.

There was also a pond called the Maryloch at Little Mill on the outskirts of Montrose, on the Brechin road. The long-defunct Montrose Curling Club played there, but it was drained in the 1920s and there is now no trace of it.

I have only once played outdoors, on Duns Dish, and the match had a humorous twist to it. Two carloads of curlers came down from Stonehaven way, accompanied by the non-playing father of one of the drivers. The father paid his respects to many of the rinks throughout the afternoon, so much enjoying the  brotherhood of the ice' that he finally sat down beneath a tree and fell sound asleep.

When the bonspiel finished the rinks from Stonehaven drove home, each assuming the father was in the other car.   

The father awoke, alone and chilled, to the curler's worst nightmare – the whisky was gone. The son got home to the horror of abandoning his father. Happily father and son were soon reunited.

Jackie Lockhart summed up the curling ethic of the Olympic Games for me. The girls didn't make the semi-finals, and were naturally disappointed. But by competing in the Games, “we're selling our sport”, said Jacky. It's the game, not self, that is important.

Sadly the men’s team couldn’t wrest the bronze medal from USA, but we've watched curling and sportsmanship of the highest quality, embodying all the best of the  roaring game'.




Written on Saturday, February 25th, 2006 at 7:02 pm for Weekly.