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WEEKEND WEB: Real snow in this game of stones

Ailsa Craig
Ailsa Craig

Mum’s Gone To blogger TRISH BURGESS has Olympic fever.

My Olympic binge sessions continue, especially as we now have some British success. Izzy Atkin wins Britains’s first-ever skiing medal with a bronze in the women’s slopestyle.

Congratulations also to Lizzy Yarnold, Laura Deas and Dom Parsons for bringing home a gold and two bronze medals in the skeleton.

Team GB might not have secured a podium position feet-first on their backs in the luge but they have truly excelled head-first on their bellies.

I’m still keeping a close eye on the curling, traditionally a great sport for Team GB, though this year our performances so far in both the men and women’s events have been mixed, with some wins and some losses, plus an agonising penalty for ‘hogging’.

Dougie is a keen follower of the sport. He was involved in curling for a short time whilst at school in Edinburgh and likes to think he’s a bit of an expert. The only connection I have with curling is that the BBC commentator, Steve Cram, comes from my neck of the woods and I’m a dab hand with a sweeping brush.

But I do know a little bit about curling stones. They are made from granite sourced from Ailsa Craig in Scotland and Trefor in Wales.

Kays of Scotland has had exclusive rights to the mining of the Scottish granite since 1851. It’s these stones which are used in competition by the World Curling Federation and which you’ll see during the Olympics.

They use two types of granite to make the curling stones. Ailsa Craig Common Green granite is used for the body of the stone as it’s more resistant to heat transfer, copes better with condensation and doesn’t splinter after contact with another stone in play.

Ailsa Craig Blue Hone is fitted to the Ailsa Craig Common Green stone body, a technique Kays of Scotland has perfected called “Ailserts”.

On two recent trips to Scotland, we have driven along the Ayrshire coast and looked out over the Firth of Clyde to catch a glimpse of Ailsa Craig. This small dome-shaped granite outcrop is about 10 miles from the mainland and is about two miles in circumference. If the sky is clear, it’s a beautiful sight to see.

The island has had quite a history. A castle was built in the late 1500s to protect against a Spanish invasion. It also has the nickname, Paddy’s Milestone, as it was a haven for Roman Catholics during the Scottish Reformation.

It’s now a bird sanctuary, leased by the RSPB. Here you’ll find gannets, puffins, razorbills and kittiwakes.

The last excavation of granite for curling stones took place in 2013. Enough granite was transported off Ailsa Craig to last until about 2020.

Even if our British teams fail to win a medal for curling at this years’ Winter Olympics, at least it’s satisfying to know that Scotland will have produced the winners, whatever the outcome.

• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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