Sunday, 27 July 2008

On the Border

Last night I prayed to a God that hadn't really been listening for the past two years.
I said "The forecast for tomorrow is torrential rain sweeping across the whole of the UK. We are being advised to board the Arc immediately. With places to get to and people to meet, if I don't walk the 30 miles to Byrness tomorrow I won't be able to. Now, if you can't work big miracles can you try a small one please, and stop the rain?"
And do you know what? He did. Leaving Melrose for the "St Cuthberts Way" under grey, but dry skies, I said a silent "thank you"
It was with a regrettable sigh that I past by a very attractive house on the "S.C.W." I was due to meet a "Paths to Health" WHI leader yesterday for afternoon tea at his home. Obviously that had to be re-scheduled to morning coffee, but he unfortunately at the last minute, had to be elsewhere.
Never mind, I needed to get a pace up. The route is well marked and easy to follow as it wiggles and squiggles it's way alongside the river. One huge loop near St Boswell's was one I was determined to cut off. I tried and failed last year, but today, Hurrah! I succeeded.
Somehow it seemed easier this way round, and before too long I was heading down the long straight "Dere Street" into Jedburgh.
Just as I got into town, the heavens opened and so I darted into a steamy cafe. "Is this seat taken?" were wise words, as I met the most interesting lady who was really taking "Active retirement" seriously. Having bought herself a camper van to travel the world, going wherever the fancy took her, she was starting the journey here in The Borders, one of her favourite haunts.
A voice in my head said "Ok, you've made one cup of coffee last an hour, if you want to get to Byrness before nightfall, it's time to move on - and look, it's stopped raining" and so with a quick swapping of e mail addresses and promises to keep in touch, I was on my way out of Jedburgh, only pausing to take a photo of the magnificent Abbey.
Walking down the minor roads and riverside paths, the clouds slowly cleared away and by the time I stepped out onto the main road at "Carter Bar" (the border of Scotland and England) the views of the sun setting over the Borders were stunning. All was quiet and still. The Bagpipe Player, who last year was entertaining a coachload of Japanese tourists, had packed his souvenir CD's and gone home.
Was I ever glad to see the Youth Hostel in sight, and even gladder that I'd booked ahead, as there really is nothing else but the hostel in Byrness. It had been touch and go when I'd rung yesterday. "Sorry, fully booked. school party in" "What! Can you not squeeze one small female in anywhere? I'll sleep on the boot rack if I have to!" "Well, give me five minutes to check whether "Jan" on the Pennine Way is a man or a woman, and I'll phone you back" and my luck was in, she found me a bed. Whew!
I don't think I'd realised just quite how tired I was until my eyes blurred and I started swaying, trying to take in the instructions for using the shower.This place is full of them. Run with military precision by the ex Army trainers they were, all guests clearly know the rules. The boot one being the most important to remember. "Do not under any circumstances attempt to enter the house wearing your boots or you will face a court marshall" or words to that effect.
After a very very late meal, I collapsed into bed, far to exhausted to care if my room mate was "Jan" the man or the woman.