younger years of living in Earlsferry the weather was quite
different than it is today. Each winter for about two
months or so the golf course would be covered in snow often
more than two feet deep. Kinneuchar Loch would freeze
completely over. First, skaters would venture on to the
ice to skirt around the edges where the ice was thick
enough. This was followed by all the boys and girls of the neighbourhood
marking out the ice with goals to get hockey matches going.
Goals were marked by stones, and a shoe polish can sufficed
for a puck. For hockey sticks we cut limbs from the nearby
trees. Our skates were the type you screw clamped on to a
pair of old boots. Then one day a boy from Canada by the
name of John Bell showed up and stole the show. He was
attired in the latest Canadian ice hockey boots with
permanently attached skates and a professional type ice
hockey stick. He could skate as well backward as forward
and with his long flat bladed hockey stick the rest of us
didn't have a chance. And of course because of his prowess
he acquired a following and the admiration of the local
girls. Wouldn't you know it!
Slowly, each day, the ice got thicker. Swans that had been
circling in the water to keep the ice at bay finally gave up
and went to the fields and the shoreline for the duration.
When the ice was said to be "bearing", telephones, all over
the East Neuk of Fife rang to relay just the one word,
"Ice." The entire area knew the signal message. Businesses
shut down. Everyone headed for the Loch. Doctors, lawyers,
carpenters, plumbers, farmers, wives, young and old. The
moment had arrived for curling to begin. On the day the ice
became really thick a Bonspiel was declared. Then
people, from all over Fife and further afield arrived to
participate in the merriment of the occasion and to compete
in the games including John my brother and Jenny his wife who were both very
good curlers. Hundreds and hundreds of people at a time
showed up. Each individual's curling stones were identified by a
piece of ribbon attached to the handle of the stone.
The surrounding area echoed to the sounds of the 42 pound
granite stones banging together and rumbling on the ice.
Shouts of "Soup, Soup", (sweep, sweep,) "Come on, give it all you know,"
filled the air. Camaraderie, merriment, glee and hilarity was
at its best. Tables appeared on the ice laden with all
kinds of eats and goodies including, black buns, fruit
cakes, shortbread and bottles of the elixir of life, Johnnie
Walker, Vat 69, Bells Perth, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and
sherries for the ladies. The sound of bagpipes filled the
Kinneuchar Loch bonspiels
were indeed highlights of the year.