Scots Words - Pavement Patter
+ Poetry on the Steps

Follow the Scots Words Trail - set in the pavers - the first eight lead you from the Maritime Museum to near the Carter's Horse and the other two are at the new steps to the beach.

Also: when you're at the steps, find the eight lines of poetry on the risers.

Below: Poetry on the Steps
and Patter setts: #1 :: #2 :: #3 :: #4 :: #5 :: #6 :: #7 :: #8 :: #9 :: #10
- and a test

Poetry on the Steps

Find these 8 lines:
Nae man can tether time nor tide - Robert Burns (1759-96), 'Tam o' Shanter' - Tam had to get home to his wife!
There, well fed Irvine stately thuds - Burns, 'The Vision', referring to the sound of the River Irvine.
If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets in(to) the sea - Eric Bogle (1944-).
Only the sea remains; all monuments subside - Ian Crichton Smith (1928-1998), 'Only the sea remains'.
Music's the laughter of a child on (the) seashore - Angus Calder (1942-2008), 'October Opera for Kate'.
Till a' the seas gang dry - Burns, 'My love is like a red, red rose' - an inspired re-working of old Scottish ballads.
An ancient borough reared her head - Burns, 'The Vision' - a reference to Ayr, visible from here.
Beyond the sea, beyond the sun - Burns, 'O were I on Parnassus Hill', written for his wife Jean Armour in 1788.

Pavement Patter 1

The first stone sett is on the pavement, just past the Maritime Museum yard and Puffers Cafe.

bletherin - chattering about not very important things, eg "Ye're just blethering." or "It's a' just blethers."
aye-right - the West of Scotland way of saying "No way!" or "There's no way that's true!"
sleekit - sly
stramash - an uproar, a state of noise and confusion, eg "Whit a stramash that wis - ah'm gled that's a' ower."
carfuffle (usually kerfuffle) - a commotion or fuss, especially one caused when people are arguing with each other, and often indicating a lot of fuss over nothing important.
claddach - the gravelly bed or margin of a river
saunds - sands
blythe - joyous, kind, cheerful, pleasant
wheesht - shhh! - as in "Haud your wheesht!"
coorie - to nestle or snuggle, as in "courie doon" (from 'cower')

Pavement Patter 2

If you sit on the seats and look around you may find this one. Don't let all the foodie words make you hungry, though there are several eating places nearby.

tatties - potatoes
bubblyjock - turkey
tippeny - an old term for beer, because it cost twopence, as in Robert burns: "Wi' tippeny, we fear nae evil."
neeps - turnips (yellow vegetables, called swedes in England, where they are fed to animals, and people eat white turnips)
crowdie - a traditional Scottish cheese, of soft and crumbly texture and slightly sour taste, often made with left-over or semi-skimmed milk, often with carraway seeds added.
dram - a measure of whisky, eg "Ye'll hae anither dram afore ye go." (One can always hope.)
collops - a Scottish dish, the main ingredient being strips of meat or mince (perhaps from French 'escalope')
jeelie-piece (usually jeely-piece) - a jam or jelly sandwich, made famous by Adam McNaughton's 1967 'Jeely Piece Song' about a wean living in one of Glasgow's new high-rise blocks of flats refusing to go out and play because he/she'd miss a meal. The chorus (all sing together now) goes:
"Oh ye canna fling pieces oot a twenty story flat
Seven hundred hungry weans will testify to that
If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the bread is plain or pan
The odds against it reaching us is ninety-nine to one."

clootie - piece of cloth, as in 'clootie dumpling', a dumpling boiled in a cloth, or a 'clootie well', a spring with a nearby tree on which people hang pieces of cloth while asking for help from spirits.
ginger - carbonated soft drink, eg "Buy a bottle of ginger."

Pavement Patter 3

This third stone is not far from the second, so check it out before you leave the seats.

clabbie doo - horse mussel - from the Gaelic 'clabaidh-dubha', meaning 'big black mouths'
spoots - razorfish, which for most of the year live in sandy beds below the tideline.
haddie - haddock
dab - an edible flatfish
partan - crab (in Gaelic as well as Scots)
herrin - herring
tangels - seaweed
kelpie - water spirit
buckie - winkle

Pavement Patter 4

This group of words, opposite no. 34, describes moods and feelings.

scunnert - fed up and feeling rubbish, especially when hopes or expectations are dashed, eg "I'm fair scunnert the day" and "I canna get a job. I'm fair scunnert."
chirpie - cheerie
mingin - smelling, even stinking
peelie-wally (or peelie-wallie or peely-wally) - off colour; pale and ill-looking, eg "he's a wee bit peely-wally this morning"
wabbit - washed out, eg "I'm fair wabbit."
mawkit - really dirty

Pavement Patter 5

The Scots often talk about the weather. These words are opposite Smalltalk Cafe. How many do you use yourself?

drookit - soaked, eg "The laddie returned home drookit."
snell - sharp, eg "It's a snell wind."
teemin - pouring
harr (or haar) - sea-mist, most often occurring in eastern Scotland in summer months
smirr - light rain
dreich - wet and miserable, eg "a dreich day"
balshie - wet and windy weather
foonart - freezing cold

Pavement Patter 6

A group of boating and shipping words appropriately opposite Irvine Water Sports Club.

timmerman - a ship's carpenter ("timber-man")
sea kist - the chest a sailor would take with him to store his personal property on board
lugsail - a four-sided sail, bent upon a yard, that crosses the mast obliquely
caulker - the person who caulks the seams of a boat to make them water-tight
clinker - a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap
carvel - a different method of boat building where hull planks are fastened edge to edge
gabbart - a type of sailboat used in Irvine harbour in the 1800s, particularly for bringing coals from pits up the Garnock down to Irvine harbour.
puffer - a stumpy little cargo steamship which provided a vital supply link around the west coast and Hebrides of Scotland. The first puffer was in 1856. The 'Spartan' in Irvine, VIC#18 (Victualling Inshore Craft), was built in 1940, given a diesel ingine in 1961, was in operation till 1980, and was brought to Irvine in 1983. Being flat-bottomed without keels, they didn't need harbours and could be beached on sandy shores for unloading/loading of cargoes to/from remote island communities. They were almost ubiquitous.
zulu - a small clinker-built fishing boat - the 'Katie' at Irvine, built c.1937, was afterwards motorised.
fankle - a badly-coiled rope, so being "in a fankle" is being in total confusion.

Pavement Patter 7

This group of birds an' beasties is waiting for you opposite numbers 82/84.

puddock - frog
corbie - crow
dug - dog
kye - cattle (i.e. cows)
moudie - mole
moose - mouse
cuddie - a beast of burden, a donkey or ass, but can also be used for a horse carrying a rider or a small working horse, as well as for a stupid person or a loaded bogie to counter-balance a hutch on a brae.
slater - wood-louse

Pavement Patter 8

A fun group of words here, opposite no.102.

birlin - spinning round and round, eg ma heid's birlin.
loupin - jumping, also used in "ma heid's loupin" by someone with a sore head, pounding.
shoogle - shake
tummle - tumble, as in "tummle yer wilkies (or wulkies)" - to roll over head first like the way children do on a hill or slope - supposedly named after Inspector Archibald Wilkie of Glasgow Police (1874-1931), who was a renowned gymnast, British Champion 1902-1911 and 1913-14.
lauchin - laughing
coorie - this word is popping up a second time - you saw it at patter no.1.
dookin - dipping, as in dooking for apples at Halloween, or bathing, as in going for a dook in the river. A dook is also a wooden plug driven into a wall to hold a nail, screw, etc.

Pavement Patter 9

You must take a bracing sea-breeze walk to get to #9 & #10 - continue past the Pilot House, on to the road end. They are set in the paving leading to the steps onto the beach - #9 is on the left, landward, side.

bonnie - good-looking
girnin - complaining peevishly, grumbling, expressing discontent, particularly used of children
greetin - crying
muckle - much, a lot, as in "Mony a mickle maks a muckle" which was orginally "Mony a pickle maks a muckle"
crabbit - bad-tempered, eg "You're awfy crabbit the day!"
braw - fine, eg "It's a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht the nicht."
peever - a small flattish object (eg bit of wood, or metal, or slate) used in 'peevers' or 'beds', i.e. hopscotch, of which 'aeroplane beds' is a variation.
waukrif - sleepless, literally 'wake-ful' as the ending '-rif' (like the ending '-sum') means 'full of'.
grannie - grandmother, eg "Ye canna shove yer grannie aff a bus."

Pavement Patter 10

. . and #10, covered with clothes (to keep it warm?), is on the seaward side of the paving - out here you'll often need a 'semmit', perhaps also a 'gansie' plus a 'jaiket'!

gansie - pullover or jersey, a corruption of 'Guernsey'
jaiket - jacket
breeks - trousers
claes - clothes
pawkies - gloves or mittens with no individual finger coverings, just one for the thumb and a large one for the four fingers - excellent for fun in the snow.
gutties - cheap trainers, made wholly or partly of rubber ('gutta-percha')
semmit - a man's undershirt or vest, though once sometimes worn by women
tacketies, as in tackety bits ('boots') - heavy duty jobs of leather and metal for herdsmen and ploughmen, who might line the insides with straw to make them more comfortable.
baffies - slippers

And a wee test - how many of these 17 can you get right?

There aren't stones like this - this is a test group!

return to top


return to home page