15 - 20 JUNE 2008


We are Alasdair and Rory and as we come from Scotland we have been chosen to tell this story. We had in fact been to Peebles for a day trip last year and indeed when we went for a walk along the river we found an orphan Highland cow that we adopted and named Hamish. He and a few others of our friends came with us on this holiday. We were all very excited as we were going to stay at the Peebles Hotel Hydro, which is very posh.



We set off early on Sunday morning in sunny weather and as we travelled north on the M6 motorway we had good views of the Howgill Fells and Lakeland Fells many of which have been climbed by our intrepid walking group STAG. We then crossed into Scotland passing more beautiful scenery and eventually left the motorway and came to the very pretty town of Moffat. It was lunchtime so while we snacked in the car Uncle Brian and Dad went to a cafĂ© called the Rumblin’ Tum.

We thought the name was quite appropriate to Dad, as he seems to be always hungry! They had a cheese savoury baguette that was delicious and tea. Uncle Brian only has one cup as he is on water tablets so Dad disposes of the rest – usually 4 or 5 cups! It is a wonder he does not slosh.

We had noticed a large statue of a sheep nearby so we asked Dad to take a photograph to include in the story.

This is the Moffat Ram (Colvin Fountain) and was designed to provide water for dogs, horses and men. It was set up in 1875, a gift to the town by William Colvin of Craigielands, Beattock. The architect was Mr. Brodie, RSA of Edinburgh; and it is said that the poor man took his own life after the Ram was cast with horns but without ears. There is no actual proof of this.

It was time now to be on our way and the road climbed up out of the town above the valley and then continued at this high level beyond. Peebles stands on the River Tweed, and this is probably Uncle Brian’s favourite river so he was very pleased when we came to a sign saying this was its source.

Down in the bottom, as this picture shows, the first springs rise to form the infant river. By the roadside is a carved monument and we all lined up by it for a photo.

This shows various important places the river passes on its course from here to Berwick on Tweed in Northumberland, where it enters the North Sea. In fact for quite a large part of its course it marks the boundary between England and Scotland.

On the rest of our lovely journey to Peebles we had many views of the river that soon became quite wide as various streams off the hills fed into it. Finally we came to Peebles and drove up the long drive to the hotel that is set up on the hillside.

A long wide staircase leads up to reception.

The room was not quite ready so we sat patiently in the car while Uncle Brian and Dad sat in lounge and enjoyed tea and delicious shortbread. We were rather tired after the journey and so were glad to finally settle in the room and rest.



While Uncle Brian and Dad went into Peebles we stayed at the hotel and explored the extensive grounds. A bridge that just went over a wide grassy track intrigued us.

Further exploration revealed another bridge that carries the drive to the hotel.

It was then that we realised that this was where a long gone railway line had run through the grounds. We told Dad all about this when he got back as he is interested in such things and he later went off to explore himself.

We have many many friends who we live with and Dad has really stopped adopting more but Uncle Brian fell in love with a little hedgehog he saw in a shop so we were pleased to make him welcome when they returned. Because his hair sticks up he has been named Spikey!



Today Uncle Brian and Dad went to Rosslyn Chapel, and they took us with our friends Elmer, Elmo, Islay, Stuart & Spikey. They had been here before in 2000 and 2004, when they had been among the few visitors and indeed it was quite hard to find.

Today as we drove into the village of Roslin we were met by a large sign pointing the way and then directed into a large and full car park. No doubt you will all have heard of the book and film called The Da Vinci Code, at the end of which the characters come to Rosslyn Chapel. It is quite small and was absolutely full of people as a result of the book. Dad said it was not such an enjoyable visit, as they had to shuffle round. Another disadvantage was that photography had now been banned but Dad had taken photos before so we are able to illustrate the interior that has incredible intricate carving.

This is the Apprentice Pillar that stands to one side of the altar area, on the other side being the Mason’s Pillar. The story goes that the mason on completion of his pillar went away for a time. During this the apprentice had a dream of the design for the other pillar and proceeded to carve it. He expected the mason to be pleased when he returned, but instead he flew into a jealous rage and killed the apprentice. The mason was put to death for his crime. At the rear, high in the corner of the walls there is a carved face that looks down on this pillar. It is said this is of the mason, condemned forever to look on it!

This is the Star of Bethlehem boss that depicts events associated with the nativity of Christ.

In the arch of this window are carved representations of maize. Maize was first known in Europe following Columbus "discovering" America in 1492. However the chapel was built in 1440. It just proves that the Americas had been visited much earlier.

Currently the roof has a scaffolding roof over it to allow the building to dry out. This is a consequence of previous renovation work that actually did more damage than good. It was not possible to take a good exterior photo, but Dad did take us sitting in a doorway.

back row – Alasdair, Elmo, Stuart, Elmer, Rory
front row – Islay & Spikey



Today Uncle Brian and Dad went to visit Traquair House at Innerleithen just a few miles from Peebles. They took our other friends today who had not been out, namely Angus, Dougal, Fred, Gladly, Hamish, Jasper, Stuart, & Tennyson. Stuart was particularly excited as he was adopted by Dad for Uncle Brian some years ago at this house and indeed we often call him the Laird. He is relating the events today.

The house is in fact the oldest occupied house in Scotland. The original part is on the left side of the house built in 1109. The current family the Maxwell Stuart’s have themselves owned it for some 500 years.

This original part was used as a hunting lodge by the Scottish Kings, then later is was granted to a family and succeeding Lairds have extended it to what it is today. You can just see the start of what are called the modern wings on either side, but even they were built in 1794. It was interesting to tour round seeing the many old artefacts in the different rooms. Mary Queen of Scots once slept in one of the bedrooms. The family has always been devout Catholic a religion that in the 17th and 18th centuries was suppressed and the family were forced to worship in secret. Despite these turbulent times the house was never plundered hence why so many old artefacts survive.

From the house you look along to a pair of imposing gates adjacent to the current entrance.

We were intrigued by this as it looked like a grassed over drive, so we asked and were told that it was. The guide then went on to explain why. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie called here on his way to try to wrest the throne from King George. As he left the Laird closed the gates and stated that they would not be opened again until there was a Stuart king. Well we all know what happened. He got as far as Derby, but then retreated and many were slaughtered at the battle of Culloden and Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to France. No Stuart has ever come to the throne so the gates have never been opened to this day. Soon after 1745 the new entrance was created and the original drive grassed over. The symbol of the family is a bear – quite appropriate we thought – and the gates are called the Bear Gates.

Lunchtime arrived and not surprisingly Uncle Brian and Dad disappeared into the restaurant. We had a quick snack then went to explore more of the grounds finding in the walled garden this sculpture of a horse made from old ironwork and agricultural machinery parts.

Finally before we left Dad photographed us all with the house behind -

l-r – Tennyson, Jasper, Fred, Stuart, Gladly, Dougal, Hamish & Angus


The Beltane Festival

During the week we were in Peebles this festival was taking place and the town was bedecked with bunting etc in red and white the colours of the festival. Many of the shops too had displays about people taking part in this and past festivals. It is based on legend, history and tradition being a festival to mark the return of summer. In ancient times fires were lit where people could burn their winter bedding and floor coverings, ready to be replaced afresh. Here is the Burgh Hall where you can see some of the bunting and the arch advertising the festival.

In all it lasts for a week and there are many events culminating in the crowning of the Beltane Queen.

One other main event is the installation of the Cornet. He with his attendants is an important part of the festival as he then leads the Riding of the Bounds. Some 200 riders follow him round the paths, roads and tracks of the boundary of the Burgh of Peebles in all taking about 4 to 5 hours. We were all very excited about this as part of the route is up the drive past the Hydro. Having a ground floor room and two windows too meant we could sit and watch the procession. Here are a couple of the many photos Dad took.




A lazy morning, then Uncle Brian and Dad went into town for lunch and to do some shopping. It is worth mentioning that Peebles has more individual privately owned shops than any other place in the country, so they had a good time wandering round them. Not our scene so we all decided to go exploring again. Opposite the drive to the hotel we had seen the White Stone and so we went to find out about it.

It is so called because it is a quartz rock that is believed to have been brought to this location in the ice age. It is frequently mentioned in the records of the Burgh of Peebles and became the spot where visitors were welcomed by the Magistrates on entry to the town and where parting guests drank the stirrup cup.

Carefully crossing the road again it was back into the grounds and we explored all the paths and tracks in the extensive area. It is well wooded and some of the trees are truly magnificent.

We had a thoroughly good time and played hide and seek too! Suddenly we saw Dad returning with Uncle Brian and he came down to take our end of holiday group photograph once we had settled ourselves on the steps.

back row - Dougal, Fred, Stuart, Gladly, Jasper & Tennyson
front row - Rory, Elmer, Alasdair (with Elmo, Spikey & Islay sitting in front of them), Angus & Hamish

We were tired now after all the exploring so went and rested in the room. Uncle Brian and Dad went down for the last of their lovely dinners in the impressive dining room.



This was going home day. Dad, Uncle Brian and all of us had had a wonderful time staying here and we were doubly pleased when they said that a return visit before Christmas was a possibility. The easiest way home was just a reverse of outward route and again we stopped in Moffat for a break. Yes you have guessed it lunch at the Rumblin’ Tum for Dad and Uncle Brian. It was market day, and one of the stalls was from a local falconry centre. They had brought along their European Eagle Owl called Louis, who sat patiently eyeing the passers by.

If you look carefully you might spot some little birds on the stall. One was an eagle that Dad was unable to resist, so he came home to join the Hug. He has been named Sam. He settled with us for the journey home and we told him all about the many friends he would meet when he arrived. Once home we told our other friends all about our adventures.


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