Work has begun on Scotland's newest curling rink. The Ice Bowl in Dumfries has closed for a period of six months to allow for a complete refurbishment of the council-owned facility.
As well as improvements to the main ice pad, what was the bowling facility (above) will become a dedicated six-sheet curling rink.
The construction site is all fenced off and I understand that work is already well underway inside.
It is good news for the users of the Ice Bowl. Skating and ice hockey will benefit immensely, as will the curling community that uses the Dumfries facility. Income from both groups can be maximised, and that of course is the Council's aim.
It is all about having good ice to curl on of course, and sharing a rink with skaters is never ideal.
It will not go unnoticed, that with two rinks side by side, the complex will have the potential to host major International competitions in the future.
Of course, there are some who have been critical of the project. Curlers at the privately run Lockerbie rink worry that the new facility will impinge on their efforts. However, as the recent Come and Try at that rink showed, there is a major, relatively untapped market, just down the M74 in Carlisle and the north-west of England.
Last summer, see here, here and here, the Ice Bowl hosted a very successful international curling camp. Organised by the Royal Club and fronted by Judith McFarlane and Graham Sloan, the Homecoming Camp was enjoyed by participants from Scotland and overseas. Shari Leibbrandt (above) and Mark Neeleman from the Netherlands were coaches at Dumfries last year. With the plans for the Ice Bowl announced by the time the camp went ahead last year, there was no possibility for there to be a reprise this summer. But I was pleased to see that Shari and Mark are on the organising committee for a similar camp at Zoetermeet, Netherlands, August 3-8.
Details are on the Royal Club website here, and hopefully one or more young Scottish teams will be able to attend.
Pics © Skip Cottage