Tain Skating Pond

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A visit to Tain Skating Pond in 1886.

The Highland News, 25 December 1886

A correspondent writes:-

Winter from a skater's point of view has, at last, commenced his reign here, in company with his colleague and friend king frost. The country all around bears the marks of their regal sway, to the delight of the youthful skater and veteran curler. The Tain skating pond, the glorious institution of our beloved Council, has received its winter covering from its master, Jack Frost, and already skaters in large numbers have taken advantage of the same. Monday morning the pond, to the great disappointment of many, was found with a heavy overcoat of snow on its back, but before the evening had come, a good deal of this had been removed by willing hands.

From this time a continuous flow of skaters, not forgetting the charming contingent of the fair sex, visited the pond, and soon the laughter and shouts of the merry folks rang through the otherwise calm and still evening. Overhead the stars shone forth in beauteous lustre dispelling the darkness and shedding over the happy faces a glorious light, a light which at the same time enabled the occupants of the pond to see the faces of their friends, fair of course, and also to avoid any unpleasant accidents. Truly it was such a night as the astronomer delights to rave about. There was nought to mar the glorious severity of the world around, save for the dismal howling once or twice of some wandering cur, one might have fancied they were in Paradise wrapped up as it were in the glorious fantasy of their own thoughts, and that the light figures flitting to and fro were beings of some more favoured or celestial orb 'neath whose hand they now revelled in all the delights and pleasures peculiar to their existence.

But dispelling all those visional dreamings for the more realistic, we find on the pond many smiling countenances whose owners are well known to us. Some are but indifferent skaters, choosing perhaps to go in for the more common modes and do that well, rather than attempt other feats which may only blazon forth, like some others, their own ignorance and awkwardness, and make them a laughing stock to the skating world—of Tain. Of those, however, whose performances are of interest and pleasure to the on-looker, we may mention the names of the youthful Charles Mackenzie, T. Riddle, George Mowat, J. R. Macrae, and John Sutherland, all of whom are excellent and graceful skaters. Of the ladies, we do not like to speak because we might be accused of a fond or perhaps strong weakness (as we were once before) for those whom we would certainly mention. Suffice it to say that, although not so daring as the stronger portion of mankind, their performances in many cases do not fall short of their brethren. We had, however, almost forgotten to mention the name of one skater, who, although not adept at backward movements and other such feats, excelled all others in his bold, dashing, forward style. The name of Mr Robert Munro is well known as that of the champion runner of Tain, both on ice or terra firma, and the tremendous pace at which he goes far eclipses other aspirants to such fame.

Sic est vita—and such was it on the Tain Skating Pond on the occasion of our visit there.