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Central: Day 4

14 January

After a good albeit short sleep in Fergus, it was up for breakfast and then

a departure at 8.15. Breakfast was a simple affair, a self-service buffet

with cereals, hot scrambled egg, McDonalds-style sausage pattie and roast

potato pieces. Of interest and seen for the first time on the Central tour

was the make-it-yourself waffle device. Martin in the bus drove north out of

town and we headed towards Mount Forest. Through the day we passed townships

and villages rejoicing in settler names such as Cumnock, Aberdeen, Dornoch

and Kilsyth. We also passed a couple of Mennonite horse-drawn buggies, this

is an area with many fundamental religious communities. Morning Class was

partaken and sundry fines handed down by M’Lud the Sherriff. Numpty of the

day was awarded to the skip who had chickened out from the shot to take a 6

the day before, and took instead a more regulation 4. Tour mascot Eve was

declared missing, last having been seen at Elora CC on Friday. Nobody

claimed or was awarded responsibility for this heinous loss.

At Mount Forest we were treated to a red-carpet arrival, this was to save us

picking up snow or salt / grit from the car park and trailing it into the

ice rink. 

Whilst this is a 4-sheet rink, we were told it has only 55 members, down 60%

from pre-Covid times. However, on the ice the opposition was very strong,

The ice was super-keen with measured tee to hog weights as

much as 3.35s for a draw. This is not an excuse, but we came away with a

sore 16 points deficit. We agreed to let the home club have substitutions in

the final end(s) so that worthy local curlers could experience playing in

the Strathcona. On our sheet the lead (who was originally from Ayr and had

doubled up as the piper for our visit) went off after 6 ends and an 86 year

old gentleman came on and played to good effect with a push-stick. The

morning bye team was treated to a walking tour around the town of Mount

Forest, and they didn’t have much to report. However they visited the shoe

shop and cleared it out of slippers for the tourists to wear at rinks where

there is a no-outdoor-shoe policy. An assortment of styles ranging from

fur-lined baffies to mules and even toe-covered flip-flops were purchased.

Lunch at Mount Forest was a bowl of chilli mince, but without either rice or

potato. There was a vote of thanks delivered by Neil Strachan. Ice rink host

was Kim McKenzie.

And so on to Owen Sound, but not before one of the sponsors of the curling

at Mount Forest was visited – the Strathcona Retirement Care Home. It was

suggested this could be a good place to drop off the team with the worst

results so far, but common sense prevailed. Arrival at Blue Water CC, Owen

Sound was similar to the morning’s rink, but without the red carpet or

broom-arch. Slippers were donned inside the lobby and we were directed to

the Ladies changing room. We were quickly onto the ice, and unfortunately

team Dalwhinnie faced the regional champions who played like provincial

champions, and lost by 11 shots, and despite 2 teams winning by 6 and 5 we

came off the ice 2 shots adrift. This session’s bye team were treated to

local area interest spots including the brewery (a theme is developing here

methinks), the harbour on Lake Huron and the former home of a WW1 Canadian

pilot who had flown for the RAF, was shot down by the Red Baron and

survived. Ken Armstrong did our introductions, and continued to completely

mangle the team names, struggling notably with Auchentoshan and

Craigellachie. Just as well we didn’t name a team after Laphroaig or

Bunnahabhain. Sorry Ken, Knockando. Local host Brent Keeling welcomed us

all. John Stevenson offered our response and vote of thanks. A lovely roast

beef dinner was followed by local entertainment, 2 artistes one after the

other playing guitars and singing. 

Alastair Fyfe