7 – 14 JUNE 2009



"Hi, we are Alasdair and Rory and as we come from Scotland, we are starting this story. We, with Fred and Gladly of course, and some of our friends were all very excited to be going again to stay at the Peebles Hotel Hydro."

We set off early on Sunday in cloudy weather with heavy showers as we travelled north on the M6 motorway.

We heard Gladly comment to Fred, "at least the rain is not as bad as when we came home from Kent"

"That’s right" replied Fred, "and we can still see the Howgill Fells and Lakeland Fells. To think STAG have climbed many of them – what an intrepid bunch."

Soon we crossed into Scotland. "Did you remember to pack your bagpipes", said Rory.

"Aye", replied Alasdair.

It has become a tradition to stop at the very pretty town of Moffat, where Dad and Uncle Brian go to The Rumblin’ Tum café for their lunch.

Meanwhile, after we had had our sandwiches, we went for a walk round the town. We related the story of the Moffat Ram last time, and it is seen here with the Moffat House Hotel behind.

Nearby is the Town Hall (guess who’s car is in front).

As we walked further along, suddenly Hamish called out, "just look there."

"Well", said Ally, "we didn't know STAG had a hotel here."

Spotting Dad coming out of the café, we rushed to the car, to be ready for the off. Out of Moffat the road climbs steeply up the side of the valley with stunning views of the hills.

After passing these and reaching the summit of the road, there is on the right a low flat area. Here lie the springs that are the source of the River Tweed. We did not stop this time for a photo shoot, but further along we spotted this and we got Dad to go and investigate.


It stands as a memorial to a tragic event; the inscription reads as follows -

Near the Head of This Burn

On 1st February 1831

James McGeorge, guard

And John Goodfellow, driver

Of the Dumfries to Edinburgh Mail

Lost Their Lives in the Snow

After Carrying the Bags Thus Far

Erected 1931.

Reflecting on this, we were rather quiet and solemn for the next few miles.

Because Uncle Brian cannot walk too far, Dad had asked again for a reserved parking space in front of the hotel. This time we saw that Dad’s name was displayed, so that no one would park there when we went out. We sat patiently in the car while Dad first unloaded the luggage, then we made ourselves at home in the room.

Fred and Glad sat on the easy chair.



After the long journey we just rested. Dad and Uncle Brian went into Peebles, having lunch at their favourite café Ramblers. They shopped too; Dad buying some trousers from Graham McGrath’s a high quality menswear shop.

But, more importantly he saw a little bear wearing a blue t-shirt, in the Tourist Office window. Dad is not supposed to be adding to the Hug, but the bear had such a cheeky expression that he could not resist having a closer look. When he discovered the bear was the only one left, Dad knew he was meant to come home. He has been named Archie and we were delighted to welcome him to our Hug. Here he is on the right with Bramble, Ally & Dunstan, on a day out later in the holiday.



Hi, Alasdair and Rory here again. Today we went out with our friends Islay and Spikey. The town of Biggar was our destination. The drive to it was lovely through the wide valleys surrounded by green hills, that in many respects reminded us of the Howgill Fells we had passed on Sunday. The town has a long wide main street, and Uncle Brian sat on a seat for a while with us, while Dad went exploring. He returned with some information leaflets. There are a number of museums here; one Gladstone Court being nearby, reached via a narrow lane.

Appropriately, we thought, named Brian’s Yard.

The museum consists of a little street, where the shops are typical of those that will be remembered by older people. Although we do not think of Dad as old, he recalled many of the things we saw. They are all based on actual shops etc that once existed in Biggar and surrounding areas. First we saw the Bank.

In the display case was this debit slip signed by Sir Walter Scott.

Other shops included a joiners, photographers, grocer, chemist and china shop. We were amazed and fascinated by this old telephone exchange. It was used in Biggar being moved here in 1973 when the new automatic exchange was opened.

Further along was a David Lockhart Printers. He worked in Biggar in the third quarter of the 19th century. The press still works and is even now used occasionally.

Dad kindly took our photo to mark our visit.

Our discoveries were not finished however, as when we walked down the side of the museum we saw this old Albion Fire Engine.

Adjacent was this building.

Dad surmised that this was probably the original home of Albion Motors, the well known maker of lorries etc.

Now it was time for a snack so we all went to The Coffee Spot. The food was only average, but what was interesting about the place was its "cow" theme. There were all sorts of related items - pictures, soft toys, pottery and what amused us most the cruet sets.

We had seen lots and lots of interesting things, and so had much to tell our pals when we got back to the Hydro.

Just before dinner, Dad decided to walk round the grounds, and said, "come on Stuart, Hamish and Angus, you can come with me"

We jumped at the chance.

It was lovely walking along under the trees.

Angus suddenly called out, "Dad just look at those magnificent rhododendrons, please take a picture."

There were wild flowers in the grasses, and Stuart asked, "can you take us sitting there."

"Of course", replied Dad.



"Hi Citroen here. Today with my pals Dougal and Snowball, we had our trip out".

Just a few miles south of Peebles, is the Glentress Forest. This is very popular with cyclists taking to the many trails in the forest. However this was definitely not what we and Uncle Brian and Dad were going for.

It is also the home of one of the Osprey Viewing Centres. In the Lake District by Bassenthwaite Lake is the single osprey nest, but in Scotland there are a number, such that eighteen chicks were raised last year. One nest 40ft up on the top of a pine tree has a camera trained on it, beaming live pictures to the visitor centre. When we arrived we were able to see the female with her three chicks – such wonderful birds they are. The female has a wingspan of over 5 feet so you can imagine what a magnificent sight they make when in flight. It was a privilege to see them.

Before leaving Dad this picture of this Osprey sculpture.

Also of us sitting on the grass nearby, amongst the buttercups.

Dad now drove back to Peebles, and they went shopping and also for lunch at their favourite Ramblers Café. We went and did some exploring on our own walking along by the River Tweed seen here from the bridge.

This church with its tall tower dominates the main street, seen here again from the bridge.

It now started to rain, so we headed back to the shelter of the car and waited for Uncle Brian and Dad.



"Let me take you for a drive ", Dad said to Uncle Brian.

"I am taking Fred, Glad, Hamish, Angus and Stuart along too", he added.

"Thanks", replied Fred. The rest of us cheered too.

It was the last day at Peebles, and at the beginning of the holiday, Dad had said that he was not going far on Thursday. We think he had under estimated the route he had planned as it turned out to be nearly 100 miles.

We could not wait to set off and rushed out to settle in the back of the car. From the Hydro we turned left, passing the Glentress Forest where Citroen and pals had been yesterday. At Innerleithen then taking the road through the beautiful valley towards the Moorfoot Hills. It rained here and the hills looked quite foreboding, but as we drove on the weather cleared up. At a junction we turned right along by the Heriot Water, to the village of Heriot, and so to the main A7 road. We were only on this for a short time taking another side road to Gilston. This was Dad’s intention to drive on minor roads as much as possible.

Suddenly we spotted an old stone building with stone roof. It looked interesting, so Gladly called out, "Dad, lets stop and investigate".

"OK", replied Dad.

This is Soutra Aisle, and as described on the stone inserted above the window on the front of the building, marks the site of the once powerful Hospice of Soutra.

We wondered what this was all about, but thankfully there was a range of information boards and this is what we found out.

From the 12th century to the 17th century on this site, stood the Soutra medieval hospital, high on the Royal Road (Via Regia) – the main Anglo-Scottish highway.

The Soutra Hospital

Soutra hospital was dedicated as the House of the Holy Trinity at Soutra. Run by the "Master and Brethren" of the Augustinian order, charters tell that it looked after the poor, travellers and pilgrims, the aged and, of course the sick and infirm. In fact, therefore, a general hospital. Stressing poor relief. It was all funded from income from the vast hospital estates, clustered mainly in the Lothians along the Royal Road towards Edinburgh. In all the estates extended to around 20 square miles.

As a place, Soutra was not only a hospital, but has been described as having a villa, abbey, monastery and guesthouse. It was without a doubt a place of high status.

The Soutra Library

Such places were centres of learning, although none of the manuscripts or books has survived from the Soutra Library. Apparently and regrettably the norm in Scotland. The researchers however looked to parallels elsewhere in particular to a catalogue of Llanthony priory in an upland war zone directly parallel to Soutra. The diverse titles catalogued cover a huge range – with medical and surgical titles prominent.

Soutra’s Decline

This followed a major scandal in the 1460s when a renegade Master, Stephen Fleming, was finally deposed after many offences had been reported to the Papal authorities. The Scottish Crown confiscated the hospital estates, apart from Soutra itself, reassigning them to the new Trinity College Hospital in Edinburgh (now beneath Waverley railway station). With the royal signature, Soutra was impoverished, and a hospital of international status reduced to local significance. Edinburgh’s gain laid the foundations for it to become a medical centre of international renown. As Soutra shrank, buildings were removed and eventually it reverted to farmland, leaving only Soutra Aisle.

Aisles were family burial vaults, built mainly in south-eastern Scotland, after the Scottish Church banned monuments inside churches in 1590. The lintel is dated 1686 and inscribed to the Pringles, who are commemorated here. They were a prominent Borders family linked with the Galashiels area.

Before leaving Dad took our picture by the Aisle.

Driving on we went along more minor road passing through some pretty villages and then over the beautiful Lammermuir Hills. Finally we reached the town of Duns, where it was time for lunch. They went to a bakery called Trotters, where there was a small café. They had only ever been to Duns once before, and that was on a very wet day and they had felt thoroughly miserable, and vowed never to return. Today it was dry and bright and they were pleasantly surprised that the town was in fact quite nice. Here is the market place.

And the Market Cross that was a symbol of the town’s commercial and civil standing. The original cross was pulled down in 1816. It was reconstructed in a local Park in 1897 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. When the Town Square was refurbished in 1994 it was returned to its rightful place.

We settled in the car again and enjoyed the rest of the tour, passing by the impressive Thirlstane Castle and through the town of Lauder, and then eventually to the Hydro.

What a wonderful day out we had had. We called out, "thanks Dad", as we went to tell our pals all about it.

Later Dad went for a walk on his own and came across a rather odd assortment of wooden houses. Whether they are permanently occupied or used as holiday homes he does not know. One took his fancy in particular, being seemingly a converted railway carriage.

This was our last day here so in line with tradition we all went down into the grounds for our end of stay picture.

back row – Dougal, Tennyson (Citroen), Fred, Archie, Gladly, Ally with Stuart in front, Bramble
front row – Snowball, Alasdair, Rory, Dunstan, Angus & Hamish, with Islay & Spikey in front of Rory



Today was "transfer" day travelling from Peebles to Wooler in Northumberland. We had all had a wonderful time again at the Hydro, and were pleased to hear Uncle Brian say that they would be coming back again – can’t wait we thought. At Coldstream, our new Hug pal Archie left his home country for the first time as we crossed into England. Our destination was the Tankerville Arms in Wooler. Dad and Uncle Brian have been to Northumberland countless times. The first time they ever came was to stay at this hotel, and later when Dad was writing his diary he discovered that it was in fact 25 years to the day since they had stayed here. What a coincidence we thought. We were tired after the journey, so were quite happy just to rest in the room for the remainder of the day.



"Hi, Dunstan here". "I and my pal Bramble are from Northumberland, so we were pleased when Dad said it was our turn to go out, and we took Bramble’s best friend Ally, and Archie along too."

"Where are we going", I asked.

"To Bamburgh, to walk along the beach", Dad replied.

"Great", we all cried, as it was one of our favourite places.

It is a very popular place especially at weekends, but fortunately Dad was able to park, and we set off along the beach walking north for a change. It is particularly good as it affords a wonderful view of the mighty castle literally just above the beach.

By some rocky areas we sat to have our picture taken.

"What’s that ahead", asked Ally.

"A lighthouse", replied Dad.

We climbed up beside this and walked on just beyond, then sat again to have our picture taken.

Now we did not want to leave Uncle Brian sitting in the car too long, and also Dad noticed that some very dark clouds were approaching and he was sure that it was going to rain. So we retraced our route to the car. Dad drove the short way to the centre of the village, again finding a place to park. We had brought a picnic and sat in the car while they went to the Copper Kettle Tearooms for lunch. Dad was so right about the rain as just minutes after it poured down. We could imagine the people sitting on the beach running for cover. By the time they came out however, the rain had passed over and before leaving Dad took another picture of the castle.

For years, Dad and Uncle Brian have stayed with Aunt Pam & Uncle Kenny, but they have now retired and moved to a cottage in Lucker, part of a larger house where Aunt Clare (their daughter) and Uncle Steve live. We had not been before so went to visit them. We all went in too. Aunt Pam gave Dad and Uncle Brian a full tour, and he took me, Dunstan, along too. What a lovely house it is and all around are fields, so the location is wonderful. We are all so pleased for them as they deserve a long and happy retirement after all the years of hard work.

Now we were going home tomorrow, so later at the hotel Dad took the end of holiday picture.

Now the sharp eyed among you might notice another new pal, Cheviot, wearing a red jumper, sitting on the front row to the left of Gladly. His joining the Hug is a tale of subterfuge on Dad’s part, worthy we think of any spy.

On arrival yesterday Dad got the room key, and attached was this teddy bear, with "Tankerville Teddy" on the jumper. In fact all the keys have a bear attached. Dad immediately bonded with him and unclipped him from the key so that he could sit with us.

"That is only temporary", said Uncle Brian. "He will have to go back on Sunday".

Not if Dad has anything to do with it we thought. On returning today, on the pretence of having left something in the car, Dad sought out the barman and asked if there were any bears for sale.

"Sure", he said

"Great", replied Dad. "Can I buy one now".

"Do you want the cost putting on the bill"

"No", said Dad. "I'll pay cash now"

This was because he did not want to arouse any suspicion from Uncle Brian. He sneaked the new bear into the room. Now Dad was intent on taking home the bear originally attached to the key, so when Uncle Brian went to freshen up in the bathroom, he transferred the scarf to the new bear, and then secreted him in a drawer.

Sunday morning dawned and as Uncle Brian went into the bathroom he said, "you are going have to put the bear onto the key again"

"Yes" replied Dad.

He was in fact in the process of packing us into bags to take down to the car, so Cheviot dived into the bag, and the new bear was attached to the key. Uncle Brian saw him when he came out, but suspected nothing.

Cheviot now takes up the story –

"I sat quietly in the car on the way home and then went with my pal Archie and sat on the back of the settee. About two days later Uncle Brian suddenly enquired where Archie was, and Dad pointed him out. It was then he noticed me. He was not cross but remarked to Dad how devious he had been and recalled Dad saying he had left something in the car. I am very glad to live here in Morecambe with all my new found friends, and indeed Dad took me and Archie on a day out to the Lake District, but that’s another story…"


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