Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Borderlands, Bumpy Bus Rides, and Berwick-on Tweed

Adventuring we went on Tuesday, this time to the "Borders." I read about these hills and field lands, and the glimmering river Tweed that ropes a "gypsy's ribbon" through them in Scott's book of ballads. Determined to explore such fabled ground, I packed a picnic and stowed my camera, journal, and "brolly" in my satchel and set out amidst a soaking early Tuesday morning. Venetia, my intrepid companion and lovely hostess, was at my side and armed with a map. The train ride was long, but our cheese sandwich, crisps, and apple picnic helped the time to fly as swiftly by as the fields beginning to mellow into a patchworked gold and green out my window. We made it to the end station, Berwick-on-Tweed, and caught our bus with one whole minute to spare. A glimpse of the Tweed, a silvered rope with threads of water, sunlight, and stone all woven together was one of the first treasures of the day.

Jostled, but quite jolly to be on our adventure, we hung onto our bus seats as a bus ride of greatly unexpected length, bumpiness, and swerves down very narrow roads began. Oh well. I guess an adventure ain't an adventure if you know what's going to happen next. Every few minutes, I'd hold on for dear life and try to brace my foot for a photo or two:

I generally failed, or else, got a shot with the "you are on CCTV" sticker smack in the middle:

But I loved the back-water glimpse of this land. The rippled fields of wheat, the low ebb and flow of the hills was something I did not expect. A gentle and helpful girl with a headful of ringlets as red as Anne of Green Gables told us which villages to visit. "Yea, Melrose is lovely, it has a nice shoe shop," she said, when informed we were headed for the Abbey there. We waved as she got off and settled back to watch. It wasn't until an hour later, as we wondered if we'd gotten caught in something like Brigadoon, that the hills for which I thought these lands are famed reared their hoary heads.

At almost two hours, we screeched into Melrose town square:

Being women of great wit, wisdom, and having our priorities rigorously straight, we headed straight for a tea room.

All adventures, especially crazy ones on back-country bus rides, require a stop for tea to embolden the heart and strengthen the body. Thus heartened, we headed for Melrose Abbey - beloved of Sir Walter Scott, and famous for being the supposed resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart.

I am smitten with ruins. And cathedrals. They echo with so many strong voices - with evensong and stubborn kings and monks at their quiet work and the chanting of Psalms throughout the day.

And everywhere you look, there's something intricately made to catch the eye and clear the mind:

But all good explorations run to their end, and we began our walk to the bus stop, intent upon a shorter trip home this time. We took a last good glimpse of the hills. I frantically mustered words to describe them, muttering under my breath as we tromped toward the bus.

I scratched out as many sights, sounds, and pictures as I could. And since I'm feeling lazy and don't want to type them all out, I'll leave you to try and decipher my thoughts. Good luck with that bus-battered jotting.

My talents do not really lie in illustration - but I had to try and sketch the houses here. They have this longfaced look with little square chimneys sticking out like feathers in a hat, and it's quite distinctive to my eye.

When nine o'clock had struck the weary hour, we finally left our very-delayed train after a much longer adventure of a day than we had first supposed. Over eggs, toast, and a late-night cup of tea, we celebrated our intrepidity. Venetia is a trooper, a kindred spirit, and a poet to boot. She made it a grand day. Exhausted, contented, and border-landed out, we went to bed.

We definitely earned our rest. And Stirling Castle was soon to come...

Sarah Clarkson8 Comments