Rainbows and Hippos at Myres
Myres Castle has its fair share of furry friends; Teddy and Suzie the family dogs, the chickens and Highland cows. Less furry and altogether more exotic are the resident Hippos…yes you did read that right…hippos! In Scotland, in Fife, in Auchtermuchty, in Castle grounds, in a curling pond you can find three Hippopotamuses or Hippopotami (if you’re going all Latin on us).
On Wednesday 15th July 2009 the Masi Mara came to Myres with the arrival of three life sized Hippo sculptures. Beautifully handcrafted by the incredibly talented Scottish artist, Tessa Campbell Fraser (wife of Rory Bremner FYI), they were brought to the Castle by the previous owners Jonathan and Jenny Whyte who were keen art collectors. Nine years on the hippos continue to bathe in the curling pond come rain, hail or shine. They have made friends with the local ducks who like to do a cheeky poop on them… (it must be a sign of affection in the animal world?!). They have been loved and adored by everyone who has come in contact with them and the current owner’s daughter has even donned waders to give them a wee wash and scratch their backs.
Incredibly through, despite all the love and admiration they have received they had never been given names! What is a giant hippo sculpture in a curling pond at a Scottish Castle without a name?! So, April 23rd 2017 was to be the day the hippos got their names… (sounds like a children’s book title, doesn’t it? We are sure it would be a great read!)
At 1pm on April 23rd 2017, the quiet and serenity of Myres Castle was temporary interrupted by the arrival of the local Auchtermuchty Rainbows group. Bursting with energy and enthusiasm, this was not simply a leisure visit, their mission…to christen our hippos! But we couldn’t have a naming day at the Castle without having lots of fun along the way.
To kick off the proceedings we had the grand unveiling of the chosen names – by whipping a table cloth dramatically off the sign… though it got slightly snagged along the way.
Poppy, Rosie and Hungry.
Our hippos now had names! With the formalities over we could get on with the real fun bits.
First stop on the Rainbows’ Myres adventure was the top of the tower…yup...no messing around on this visit. After 60 odd steps up, round and round on increasingly small spiral stairs, 20 odd kids and adults were successfully squished onto the tiny tower roof. It was a good healthy mixture of extreme excitement and extreme anxiety! A quick whistle-stop tour around the castle and we retreated to the safety and solid footing of the castle grounds for a garden hunt.
Darting in all directions the Rainbows took off round the gardens to find clues and discover its treasures. Ponds, benches, daffodils, ancient trees, hedge mazes, giant chess and sculptures were all located and checked off the list in lighting speed. The garden was truly brought out of its sleepy Sunday slumber with a bang, every nook explored, every cranny enjoyed, every pathway skipped along...it was super to have such an injection of life in the gardens. We definitely didn’t forget to put a clue in the maze resulting in the girls going around in circles… absolutely not… honest!
After the exertion of the garden hunt….and the extra legwork of looking for the missing clue (which was defiantly blown away in a freak gust of wind), it was snack time. Phew! Juice, crisps, chocolate, fairy bread and biscuits… delicious! After refuelling and soaking up some rays (and E numbers!) we were ready for some biscuit decorating.
Down in the Victorian kitchen there were hand baked hippo shaped biscuits, cupcakes, sprinkles, squeezy icing and even edible eyes! The girls settled down to some intense sprinkle distribution… the results were on another level, creatively inventive and most importantly they looked good enough to eat.
A spot of colouring in and the afternoon’s excitement was nearly over… much to our disappointment!
Thank you certificates for each Rainbow were presented by Amanda to show the Barge’s gratification to the Rainbows… after all, only a very special group could come up with such wonderful names! A few essential posy pictures outside and as quick as they had arrived they were gone (please note: they all left with responsible adults…we didn’t lose a single one!).
Myres gained a great deal on 23rd April 2017. Names for their beloved hippos, sprinkles in every corner of the castle and perhaps a footprint or two in the flower beds…but shhh… don’t tell Matthew the gardener!