Stirling to Berwick

Don’t you love it when you’re staying in a hotel and the guests above your room seem to forget that there are other people in the hotel, so they thump and bang around the room, their children can be heard running back and forth yelling and yahoo’ing without let-up, until they’re banished to bed at 10.30, then low and behold they’re awake again at 5.30 and crying out ‘Mummy! Mummy!!’ for long enough to wake you and no doubt half the other guests. Sigh. I’m sure there was some sleep last night, somehow, at some point, but short of the ‘bomb zone’ that was pre-5.30 I’m not sure there was a heck of a lot of it. So it was no great surprise to us to find ourselves up, ready and heading our by 8am, even if we were grumbling and already weary. Rubbing the grit from our eyes we headed south-ish towards Peebles with the intent of pausing for morning tea by the river in one of our favourite spots. Mrs NewFoo had other ideas, instead we came in from a different street and before we even recognised we were kind of lost, we were heading back out on the main road and towards our next port-of-call. Never-mind we say, we’ll stop at Galashiels, it’s a lovely little Scottish town and also a favourite. About half way there we saw a ‘P’ sign and decided to dart in to the parking/passing bay and let the traffic behind us past, not that there was much for once! But of course since we were there, and we hadn’t had that cup of tea yet, one thing led to another. A hot cup of coffee later – yes, we’ve branched out in the world of beverages! – and some treacle sponge cake and we were feeling much better, which was good, because Mrs NewFoo somehow managed to take us the only way on earth to Kelso ‘without’ going through Gala. Sigh. Ducky, you be peeving us off today!

Having reached Kelso we pulled over and parked the car before Ducky could send us somewhere else that was off the beaten track, as it is she seems to randomly send us down country lanes for no apparent reason, rather than sticking to the main roads. We’ve looked at the settings and nothing’s amiss there, it just seems to be her quirk. We’re now being hyper-vigilant with the aid of our road atlas. We wandered around the streets of Kelso and posted a letter or two, I may have stumbled upon a fly fishing store that for some bizarre reason sold select dog toys, so my Husky back home now has a ‘pheasant’ to look forward too, the two Labs will have to wait for their treats to be found. Back in the car and headed towards Coldstream and then onto Lindisfarne, the crossing on the causeway seeming to go on forever – although we were hours away from a tidal change, it was still unnerving to be forever travelling on a road you know floods with immense speed and ferocity – finally navigating our way to the main car park we managed to make it there in time to enjoy a late lunch before setting off to explore the small village. I’ve long been interested in Lindisfarne and its Priory and of course the events over a 1000 years ago that plunged much of the known world into the ‘Dark Age’ – not to mention the illumination work that the monk’s were famous for – yet I’ve never actually looked into much of the buildings, what is and isn’t there and of course how history played out around it.

We ambled up the main street towards the Priory and the museum, it’s about a mile from the car park to the ruins, and a pretty comfortable stroll really. I can’t say I was disappointed by the site, because that wouldn’t be fair or just, but I guess I was a little surprised or even puzzled by the lack of ‘religious’ sentiment there. Given that it’s built on a tiny island, yet amassed great wealth and notoriety over the years, then add in the Viking raids and Henry VIII’s efforts it’s remarkable there’s anything left at all, and that what there is, is so much more than a little chapel by the sea. In its day the priory must have been imposing to say the least, even now as a crumbling ruin that’s being eroded by the sea winds it’s still majestic and there is a sort of reverence there that lingers, yet it must be a far cry from what the original monks set out to create, and I can’t help but wonder what they would have thought of the grandiose buildings with their frills and folderols, it certainly was a long way from the humble shelter they’d built so as to worship in peace. Walking back to the car park we passed by another display, but one of a completely different nature, Howey’s Birds of Prey, and the variety of owls and lone Harris Hawk they had. I was tempted to go and meet the birds, you could handle and pose with one for £4.50 – having your picture taken as a memento – but I’m not sorry to say I didn’t. After the astonishment of the Priory being such a shell of its former glory I really wasn’t in the frame of mind to handle a semi-domesticated wild animal, let alone one that could if upset rip my face off!

We’re in Berwick upon Tweed tonight, and after a somewhat much longer than intended drive around Berwick itself – thanks to another DuckyFoo SNAFU – we’re ensconced for the night and ready to hit the hay. We haven’t covered a lot of ground today, probably only 100 miles or so, but we’re both exhausted and looking forward to some sleep. Tomorrow’s another day, and another trip further and further south along the east-coast of England.