Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Winter Holiday in the Borders

The boys enjoyed a full week off for their Winter Holiday and we took advantage of it by heading to a holiday home in the Scottish Borders. This is the area south of Edinburgh and Glasgow and north of the border of England.

The house we rented was in a village called Gattonside over looking the River Tweed and the larger village of Melrose. It was a wonderful house with lots of space, a yard and a beautiful view. There is tons of history and plenty of Scottish countryside to see so we enjoyed little outings each day.

We visited the Dryburgh Abbey (abandoned in 1544; they were tired of defending it from the English), the Jedburgh Abbey (almost destroyed that same year) and the Melrose Abbey (which we could see from our house). Each Abbey was amazing and they have done a wonderful job of preserving the structures after fire and battle. http://www.discovertheborders.co.uk/search/type/Abbeys.html

The Borders are also famous for being the home of Sir Walter Scott, the poet and writer that changed the image of Scotland from a land of the savages to the romantic countryside that we know! We traveled to one of his favorite places high in the hills for a look at "Scott's View" where you can see for miles and miles. It's just as you would imagine, beautiful rolling hills with patchwork farmland, sheep and cattle dotting the landscape and the River Tweed winding it's way through the scene. Really breathtaking.

The day that we were in Jedburgh happened to be the day that they were celebrating "Hand Ba", a tradition for 250 years. As we entered the town and were walking toward the abbey, this little old lady came and told us to "watch out, it's crazy up there. Keep your children close, they might get hurt, today is Hand Ba". We were thinking, what in the world could be happening? We stopped in the information center to ask and they explained that Hand Ba' is the traditional ball game where the Uppies and the Doonies manhandle a leather ball stuffed with straw to get it to their side of the town (Up or Down). They form a scrum and scramble to get the ball then throw it in the direction they want it to go and the mob chases the ball and forms a scrum again. The legend is that the Scots cut off an Englishman's head after a battle and used it as a ball and therefore the game was born. http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Having-a-Ba39-in-Jedburgh.3781198.jp

Well, Scott Nicol was so excited as we guided our 3 small children into this crowded town! We were there in time to see the teenagers start their game and it was quite interesting. The whole town shuts down for the day (notice the boarded windows in the pictures) and everone is in the town square. We watched for a while as the scrum moved back and forth, up and down in the town and then Scott stayed to watch the adults have their turn while the boys and I went onto the Abbey. Scott said the adults scramnble was not near as fun as the teenage one! It was a treat to see this crazy tradition. (Also notice in my pictures the boys climbing the Abbey's walls at the end of the scramble to get cut through the town; maybe they were uppies headed uptown?)

On Saturday, Scott enjoyed a guided tour of the River Tweed for a little fly fishing, and then our friends Jo and Andrew Waddell and their 3 boys Jude, Sol and Casper came for a late lunch. We had such a great visit. We'd been enjoying the blessing of sunshine our whole vacation and so we had lunch then went outside for a game of rugby. We also walked across the river on the footbridge for ice cream at the local sweet shop. It was such a wonderful day!

We continue to enjoy the blessings of this beautiful country each time we have a chance!

1 comment:

James said...

What an interesting adventure! I love all the architecture photos. Such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing, take care and give the boys a squeeze!