The Borders

I live almost bang in the middle of Scotland, which is very handy for exploring different parts of the country. When considering a little foray beyond this area, I ask myself what I want to gain from an excursion.

I’m Edinburgh born and bred (Edinburgh is in southern Scotland, but north of the Borders region), and for me the north offers adventure, slight discomfort perhaps, and something a bit alien to my southern character. I often choose to drive north in order to experience this slightly unsettling feeling, but there are times when I feel in the mood to go somewhere more restful to me, where I feel more at home.

I felt like this a few days ago when I whisked my delightful assistant off to the Scottish Borders (she’s happy to go anywhere on any occasion, one really couldn’t ask for a more amenable or willing companion).

It was a 3 hour drive to the bit of the Borders I was interested in, and so sustenance en route was required. Luckily, one of my favourite pit-stops when travelling south was open and ready for business when we passed by.

I commonly choose a scone for my morning snackette, and excellent scones can be obtained at this place, but for some reason my thoughts were more on their fruit loaf that day, and so that’s what I had, while my assistant went for a scone.

Here is the tasty, moist and delicious fruit loaf I had, before and after the application of butter:

I suppose my buttering could be described as paltry. I like it thinly spread without great lumps clustering on the surface of the item beneath. The same could not be said for my delightful assistant’s buttering. Here is her apple and cinnamon scone (apparently excellent in taste and texture) before and after buttering:

Feeling adequately filled, we set off again on our journey, arriving in the Borders at lunchtime.

Lunch was taken in the village of St Boswells, near Jedburgh, in a splendid independent bookshop with cafe:

I had carrot, orange and ginger soup with some truly outstanding bread:

While my assistant opted for a roasted vegetables salad with feta cheese:

After lunch we had a scooch around the bookshop, where, in my postprandial state, I was very drawn to this aptly designed Penguin classic deck chair:

Resisting the urge to snooze, we instead drove on a short distance until we saw a signpost intimating a viewpoint off the road, next to an impressive viaduct (it took me a full 5 mintues to remember that word while writing this post, not an unusual occurrence these days, is this early-onset dementia?):

Thanks to Wikipedia, I find that this is the Leaderfoot railway viaduct (no longer used for trains, sadly), which was opened in 1863. It’s in excellent nick thanks to Historic Scotland, who renovated it in the early 1990s.

Parking near the viaduct, we walked along a pleasant road that is no longer used for vehicular traffic. It had luxuriant hedgerows on either side with lots of small birds flitting in and out:

At the viewpoint there was a bench seat supported by a couple of curious creatures. I thought at first they were sheep but then I decided they were winged lions.

Our little walk was refreshing in the afternoon sunshine, but we were still quite a way from home and so another snack stop was required.

We found what we needed in the Royal Burgh of Lauder, a bit southeast of Edinburgh. The cafe was just along the road from the town hall, which sits in the middle of the village:

To my delight there was Lady Grey tea on offer, which came in a strange teapot with a very Scottish mug (the wording roughly translates as ‘don’t worry, stay calm’):

My assistant had Assam tea and chose an excellent apple pie to go with it, which was accompanied by a small jug of cream:

I had been wondering about this myself, but it seemed a bit on the large side, so I went for a chocolate krispie cake instead:

To one side of the tearoom was an art gallery displaying the works of several local artists, and on another side was an enticing looking archway leading through to a gift shop. I narrowly avoided parting with cash for a little wooden boat with a moveable seagull attached to it.

After that it was back on the journey north, via Edinburgh to enjoy the rush hour traffic on the city bypass (the number of times I’ve hit this traffic recently and been surprised, despite previous experience and knowledge of the time, backs up my suspicion of mental deterioration).

That little visit to Border towns has fairly put me in the mood for another trip there soon. As far as I know, none of my ancestors hailed from that bit of the country, and yet I feel a definite pull towards the area, even the bits I’m not familiar with. My sister feels a similar pull to the northwest of Scotland, so perhaps it’s just to do with personal taste.

On a completely different topic, tomorrow sees the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. I suspect I’ll miss watching all these inspiring athletes, but the inspirational performances will live on for some time to come, and I’m already looking forward to Rio in 2016.

I believe London 2012 will be going out on a musical note with a tribute to British music. In four years’ time, no doubt our present and future Olympians will be welcomed with the samba sounds of Brazil – I can’t wait!

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Categories: Architecture, Books, Inspiration, Olympics, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Scottish Borders, Soup, Tea, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “The Borders

  1. It’s raining over here, and your post made me feel all warm and cozy! AND HUNGRY, too! It also happens to be morning time, and my favourite thing to do is EAT! ;) My favourite treat to have with tea are scones, or moist cake, so I better go get some now before my tummy gets angry with me! ;)

  2. Hi Lorna, much to be excited by and I especially love the pic of the Leaderfoot aqueduct as I believe it’s one & the same with the synonymous footage from Harry Potter, (when the students travel to Hogwarts!) I’ll also admit that my buttering examples are similar to that of your assistants, or perhaps somewhere in the middle ;) I really liked the Penqguin books recliner and the gorgeous array of foods, rice krispie cake especially! Looks like another wonderful outing and it truly makes me wish I knew Scotland too.

    • Thank you Alice. It’s similar but not in fact the Harry Potter one, that’s up north, it’s called the Glenfinnan Viaduct and I must see if I can get a photo of it some time for you. There are quite a few of these structures in Scotland, although the one in the Harry Potter films is in a particularly spectacular setting, which is no doubt why it was used. I never cease to be amused by the buttering antics of my assistants. I reckon you’re getting to know Scotland quite well by popping into this blog! :-)

  3. you find some amazing places – love the bookshop/cafe

    • Thanks, yes that was a great find. I’m very grateful to the people who start up these amazing little businesses in unexpected places. St Boswells could be just another small village with nothing much to write about and yet it has that fantastic bookshop and cafe.

  4. This looks lovely! Although we’ve been to the Borders a few times I can’t say we’ve properly explored it. You always seem to find the most interesting places and the most delicious-looking food! If you are going that way again I can recommend Woodside Walled Garden and Garden Centre near Jedburgh which has a lovely cafe with delicious home-made cakes, soup etc.
    PS Although trying to avoid it when possible, I am totally with your delightful assistant on the question of buttering!

    • Thank you for that recommendation Jo, I don’t think I know that garden centre. I did notice quite a few garden centres on the way down, but none that seemed to have nice tearooms. That one sounds wonderful! As for the buttering, she says it’s okay because she doesn’t eat butter at home (she does go out a lot, mind you!).

  5. Another excellent and cheery post, Lorna! I’m glad you had such a fun romp through the bookstores and tearooms and around the viaducts of the Scottish Borders.

  6. I agree on your way of buttering, thin and evenly spread is definitely preferable to thick and lumpy

  7. What a great tour you gave us! Thanks! (Now I’m hungry!) Z

  8. I applaud your assistant on her use of butter! It was a lot of driving (your stops for snacks are very understandable), but I’m so glad you’re willing to do it because your pictures are just lovely…

    • Aw thank you Meg, very kind of you. Despite some medical warnings against it, I think snacking is an important part of life I wouldn’t want to be without. I imagine my assistant will be delighted to find that she shares this butter love with so many bloggers!

  9. What a fantastic trip that must have been, this makes me so envious. I may have to plan a trip to Scotland now.

  10. It is very (VERY) late here and your post has me foraging in the kitchen for something to eat! If I ever get to Scotland, I’ll probably only look around for tearooms at this rate :-)
    Would be great to return to Rio for the Olympics….I can dream can’t I?

    • Sorry Madhu! I hope you find something nice in your forages. If you make it to Scotland one day I certainly hope you’ll be checking out some tearooms. As for Rio dreams, I’ve never been but that would be a great reason to go! :-)

  11. You could have had the apple pie. I would’ve helped you out!

  12. I love this post, it made me wish i was with you on this day journey. The tea stops were wonderful and I loved your choice for lunch. We seem to be so busy in our lives here in North America, we don’t take the time to do these outings anymore. Must change that.

    • Thank you but you were with me Darlene, I always take my delightful blogger chums along in my pockets on these outings. :-) We struck pretty lucky with all three stops, I must say, and I’m fortunate to have the free time for such outings. I do recommend making a bit of time for small outings every now and then if at all possible though, because they revive the soul, spirit and body!

  13. What a delightful place, and such a gloriously sunny day. The cheery shot of the town hall with the cloud-dotted sky was my favorite. Well, that and your delightful assistant’s impossibly fluffy scone. That looks sooooo good. In the buttering debate, I believe I’m somewhere between the two of you. Although, it might horrify you to learn that my husband hates butter, and won’t eat anything with even a smidge of butter spread on it. But somehow we’ve worked through this difference and our marriage has prevailed. –Lucinda :0)

    • This is an excellent example of just how much you can achieve through compromise, especially in those all-important areas of life. I congratulate you on your endurance and thank you for your kind comments. :-)

  14. Yolanda Presant

    This is the area I am currently researching. Thought on the English side. My 2nd ggrandmother was born in Arthurton in 1821. Her and her husband “Irish Willie” ran away to Lamberton Toll to get married. The two families, Clark/Graham have been in that area for hundreds of years, thus taking me to the time of Border Rievers (Raiders) in the “Debatable Lands”. And you almost feel a part of you is there. Sarah and William moved to Ireland so he could run a tilery for Lord Derby. Adventure non-stop!

    • What a romantic story! I can imagine it must take a lot of research, but good for you taking it on, I hope you’re enjoying the journey, it sounds as if you are.

  15. I love the way your assistant slathers butter…that is a delicious looking scone…
    your teas sound lovely…I enjoy both Lady Grey and every morning, a malty Assam…I envy the availability of tea houses in your vicinity.

    • Part of me wished I’d had one of those scones too because you’re right, it was a delicious looking one. We are very lucky with tea taking possibilities here, I miss it outside of the UK, but you seem to find lots of places serving amazing teas, your finds always astonish me!

  16. I think I need to add St Boswells to my list of places to go, the bookshop looks like just my kind of place. Your whole trip seemed full of wonderful things… cakes, bookshops, hedgerows with lots of small birds and Victorian engineering restored to it’s finest.

    PS After an initial lack of enthusiasm I really got into the Olympics and throughly enjoyed the whole thing. Especially Mo Farah, his achievements were nothing short of heroic!

    • Thank you Finn, I think St Boswells would please you very much, that bookshop really is outstanding. I believe it won Best Independent Bookshop this year, as voted by some panel or other. I think it was a UK-wide prize, which makes it all the more impressive. You would no doubt have been able to identify the little brown jobs I saw flitting in and out of the hedges, too, but I’m afraid most of them were a bit of a blur to me. I keep seeing yellowhammers up here though, they seem to thrive in these parts.

      I’m glad you ended up enjoying the Olympics. Even if you’re not usually much of a sports watcher they have the ability to inspire and excite. I cried when Mo won his second race, it was so beautiful to watch!

  17. Eleenie

    The apple pie looks great and I’m really preferring your assistants buttering technique to yours! The hedgerow photo is fab, interesting cloud formations.

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