Newest Review: ... nice food. But the town itself what a dump, full of charity shops and chavs. The people we did speak too where blunt almost to the po... more
Home Is Where The Heart Is - Dumfries Is What You Make It!
Dumfries in General
Member Name: Silverwillow
Dumfries in General
Advantages: Beautiful Scenery, Lower Crime Rates, Great Pubs, Close to Glasgow & Carlisle
Disadvantages: Not Much In The Way Of Activities For Younger Generations
I felt that as a Doonhamer it was only right that I post a review of my hometown. (We are known as Doonhamers due to our references of 'doon hame' when we are away from our home town.)
Dumfries is known as the Queen of the South, the same name that our local football team use. (You may have heard of our wee team after the magic of last years Scottish Cup Final). It is the biggest town in the region with a population of approximately 31,600.
The town is steeped in history having been home to such famous names as Robert Burns and J M Barrie (author of Peter Pan), Bonnie Prince Charlie even stayed the night in a hotel which is now a Waterstones - sign of the times isn't it?
The most striking feature of the town is the river Nith which runs through the town centre. The caul (think waterfall) is an amazing sight to see and you will often see salmon jumping and the watchful herons waiting. Watch out for the seagulls though, the town has quite an issue with these 'urban gulls' and despite numerous complaints and people being unable to leave their homes, our council doesn't seem to think it a problem worth spending their pennies on just yet.
Food is something that Dumfries does very well. From the fantastic Bruno's and Pizzeria Il Fiume to the Caven's Arms and Hong Kong Star, there is something for almost everyone, vegetarians get the tough end of the stick but more and more of the restaurants are realising that veggies spend pennies too! More of the chain stores are taking notice of the town and in recent years a Costa and Subway have opened. There is a Wetherspoons but the less said about that the better.
Pubs... well we definitely have plenty of those. There is a vast array of different pubs to suit every drinkers tastes and atmosphere preferences. The Hole In The Wa' and The Globe Inn can boast having Robert Burns as a punter 'back in the day' whilst the Cavens Arms wins award after award for it's real ale, fantastic food and relaxed atmosphere. There are the more 'local' pubs which are frequented by the same faces regularly such as the Five Arches and the Jolly Harvester. Unfortunately we are let down by our nightclubs, which means after a night in the pub, home is very often the next destination. There is a choice of three, Jumpin' Jaks (overpriced entrance, overpriced alcohol, same old, same old), The Venue (which seems to be dying a slow and painful death) and Chancers (for the older generation that like don't mind sticking to the floor).
Things to do - Well for things to do outside, Dumfries is amazing. On a sunny day you can walk along the river, enjoy the numerous parks, take a drive to the beach, cycle along the many beautiful cycle paths that the council have created for these rare sunny days or explore all the wee beauty spots that are hidden throughout and around Dumfries. The Mabie Forest and the Mabie Farm Park are only a short drive and offer lots of different activities for all ages.
What if it is raining I hear you ask? Well that is the problem because in this fine country we call Scotland we have a shortage of sunny, warm, dry days. The museum and Camera Obscura are very interesting for the first one or two visits but really remain something for the tourists. The cinema is great but will only show the major blockbusters and only has one screen which means there is not a great deal of choice. There is the Robert Burns Centre which has a small cinema within, it holds less than 50 people, but it is more for those wanting the 'cultural movies' rather than the latest Will Smith one. The Ice Bowl is walking distance from the town centre and offers rental of the 'death wellies' for ice-skating and the chance of some indoor bowling. There are no shortage of libraries for the bookworms amongst us but the choices of books are occasionally limited as the stock is shared over the entire region.
DGOne was meant to be the saviour of our little town, but overpriced and overrated, it is not always an option. The auditorium has rarely been filled as the acts that have used it so far have not had such wide appeal. If only we could get bands to play here again! Long gone are the days of Ocean Colour Scene and Billy Connolly visiting.
As the financial crisis takes it hold on us all, Dumfries High Street looks sadder by the day. With the demise of Woolies and Klick there seem to be more empty shops than ever on our small stretch of High Street. There are the usual big names such as Boots, River Island, Next and Burtons there are places to wander around but you have to wander into the back streets to find the hidden gems such as Alternative and Patties. There are large business parks just a short drive from the town centre which are home to the large electrical, carpet and DIY firms but even they aren't protected from the financial worries that grip us all. Many locals head to Carlisle or Glasgow for shopping to make sure we don't all end up wearing the same!
Talking of shopping - we have more Tescos than we know what do with! I knew they were taking over the world but why are they starting with Dumfries?
Living in Dumfries is relatively pleasant, we have an active police force resulting in lower crime rates compared to other towns of the same size. Yes there are those with the yob attitudes and drug problems that stick out like sore thumbs, but that is because they are a minority and you can spot them a mile off. If you're looking for trouble, as with all places, you will find it, if you're clever you can keep far away from it all. Most of the trouble is from kids with nothing better to do than cause havoc.
There are plenty of schools which means commuting times are relatively short, thankfully as the town cannot handle the volume of traffic and the town often comes to a standstill some nights at 5pm. As a non-driver I am a regular user of the bus networks, which are pretty reliable unless you need to go somewhere after 6pm, then you're chancing your luck. Thankfully with the cycle routes and well lit areas, walking and cycling are viable options in the region.
Throughout the year the residents try their hardest to bring people together and attempt to improve the little town. The People's Project attempt to clean up and promote cleanliness e.g. anti-littering campaigns. Burns Night is always an excuse for a party and there will be numerous events for the whole family to get involved in. This year was particularly great for the little ones what with the lantern making. Guid Nychburris and the following gala's are a particularly sociable time. The organisers of Guid Nychburris are trying to bring the day back to what it was and step away from the idea that it is an excuse to hit the pubs at 6am until closing. The parade is getting bigger and better (no longer a poor excuse for advertising), the events are becoming more family orientated and generally there are more people entering 'the spirit of things'! The local papers are the best place to track what is going on in the town.
Most residents of Dumfries have a love/hate relationship with the town! It's a very typical small town and everyone is bound to know everyone through a friend of a friend. It's nice that this small town community attitude can survive in modern times, but sometimes it would just be nice if your business could be just that...YOURS!
Growing up in the town was difficult, there's not much to do for certain age groups and everyone knows everyone's business. After having lived in Glasgow for a number of years before returning home I can now appreciate what I probably hated beforehand. I'm also a lot more relaxed so the Desperate Housewife wannabes don't bother me all that much when they knock my door to tell me that my cat has lost yet another collar and "we don't want people thinking we have strays in our area."
Dumfries is definitely what you make it and I'm trying to make the most of it. Do I see myself moving back to the big lights? I honestly can't say I do, I've fallen in love with my hometown and am proud to lay claim to being a Doonhamer! (16 year old me is disgusted!)
Summary: Appreciate what the town has, not what it's missing and you'll love it more!