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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