MEMBERS of a 130-year-old outdoor curling club have thrown the first stones of their winter season.
Ballater Curling Club has records going as far back as 1880 and it is thought much of the equipment is equally old.
Vice-president Alistair Cassie, 64, of Monaltrie Crescent, said: “We got about five days last year where we could play and three this year, you can never tell.
“We’ve got 30 members. The trouble is it’s not always convenient for people to come. It’s very unpredictable because of the weather.
“If the ice is there we’ll be having a crack and bit of fun over the festive period.”
The club plays on a tennis court next to the golf club which floods and freezes over in winter. Mr Cassie, who has been playing for 30 years, said that it took around an hour to prepare the playing surface every time the club met.
“There’s a lot of work, we have to clear the snow and then polish it up before we can play,” he said.
“We used to use ponds but we never get hard enough weather now.
“Indoor curling is about position and outdoor is more about luck as the ice is very inconsistent. It’s good fun.”
He added that the club was normally able to play in November, December and January but in years gone by he could remember playing well into March.
The club plays with equipment which is thought to be more than 100 years old. Members use old-fashioned tools to scribe out the circle and use a wooden bottle at the centre.
Mr Cassie encouraged any visitors or non-curlers who pass by while the club is playing to have a go.
“We'd welcome any visitor to come along if they see us.”