From the outset I thought it would be a great plan to stay in one place for a while in Scotland, really get the feel of it.
I’d kinda thought Perthshire, or somewhere near the sea. But in the event, one thing leads to another with the busy lives of Tim and Phip Culham at Greenlaw and they are so generous the way they share themselves, that we’ve made plans not to leave til Wednesday. And the Border country is gorgeous. Its beauty never ceases to amaze us as we drive around lanes that are now becoming familiar – me whizzing around in our little diesel Vauxhall which is as zippy as all getout.
Which is lucky; one needs to be able to slip out of tricky situations in an instant, with narrow roads and concealed exits and hair pin bends and turnoffs at strange angles.
The stitching in Robert’s shoes had begun to unravel; Phip told us where to find the cobbler in Kelso so we bumped over the cobbled road in Kelso town centre and deposited them there for the day. It was worth it just to hear the cobbler speak “och aye, dinnae worry” so we didn’t. Although finding him again and collecting the shoes at the end of the day’s exploring was a worry.
Selkirk was the destination, Robert’s grandfather’s old home. The 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden was a solemn day today, the towns filled with ceremonies and memories and ghosts for days past and future around this terrible event. 3.30 today was the appointed time for the 500th anniversary commemoration. A service will be held tomorrow (we will go to it) at Branxston where it happened. Ten thousand Scots at least (the figures have varied all the way up to 25,000) died that day, fighting King Henry VIII’s troops under the Earl of Surrey. King James IV was killed, and his 100 chieftains with him. Scotland was left without leadership and in a mess and it was a hundred years before they got their act together again.
One hundred men left Selkirk to fight for their King; 1 returned. Anyway, we happened to go there on the 500th anniversary and that was pretty spectacular.
We didn’t find Glenochar, but we found evidence of lots of Grieves. We had black pudding, white pudding, a Scotch pie and a Haggis pie from Lindsay Grieve’s snack bar just for the sake of trying them out. Not a bad taste, but a bit greasy.
We forgot to go to the cemetery and look for more Grieves, but suspect they will still be there if we should ever return.
It was a fine but overcast day and it rained between Selkirk and Kelso before we got there on the way home. As a consequence the light was simply wonderful over the patchwork of hills and fields in every stage of agrarian metamorphosis.
And here’s the rub; Rowan Atkinson was born just down the road from Greenlaw. His Blackadder character was taken from the name of the river that runs through the town. It joins the Whiteadder (pr WHIT–UH-DUH) which then runs into the Tweed. All abound in salmon and trout. It’s a land of milk, honey, copious snow, and thousands of years of heritage including my own.