Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30th November - more snow

On the BBC last night it said Scotland was not getting any more snow. But this am it had fallen overnight and its snowing heavily now at 9am. I hear on the radio of bizzards at Ancrum down the road and Innerleithen near Peebles.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday 29th - More snow

We cleared to this gate yesterday Another 6-10 inches fell last night and it has been snowing today. A neighbor stopped to ask us if we wanted anything, and we asked for milk but they went in a 4x4 to Earlston and no one had milk as the lorries are not getting through.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28th - More snow

Got up today and another 6 inches fell making close to 2 feet now. I am cut off and cannot exit my drive as you can see in the photo. Snow tyres don't help in 2ft of snow! Luckily we have food and fuel so will sit it out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

27th November - A lot more snow

Went to Berwick yesterday and there was 3-6 inches of snow all the way and we ran into a small blizzard in Berwick at lunchtime. This am a lot more snow has fallen overnight, another 4-6 inches making 10-12 inches in total since Thursday. There is very little traffic outside as I write this at 9am so the road must be quite bad. More snow forecast today and next week. Temperature below freezing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

25th November - Heavy Snow

Got up this am to heavy snow and a blizzard developed while we were getting breakfast. Now about 4-6 inches and still falling. From what we hear this will last through next week as very cold weather is predicted.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crab Apple Pepper Jelly

Took about 10lbs of Crab Apples off the tree and boiled them to make jelly. The traditional thing up here is to just make normal jelly but being Caribbeanised we added chopped hot peppers (Bonnet) to make what we hope is a tasty hot jelly but with that Crab Apple taste.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Tyres

It appears that the UK is the only country in Europe that does NOT mandate winter tyres from November until April. Our experience last year convinced us that these are essential for travel in the Borders. We had a power failure in a snow storm in March 2010 and had to go out to get coal or logs to keep warm. Our car had perfectly good normal tyres but as sliding all over the road. Winter tyres marked Mud and snow are essential for travel here as there are many steep hills and the gritters and snow plows are slow to reach outlying areas. Its either sell your car and buy a 4x4 or get snow tyres. The best tyre is Goodyear Ultragrip 7+ according to several tests. One example gave this tyre versus a standard tyre in snow at 25mph trying to stop. When the Ultragrip stopped the other car was still doing 20mph!. Pretty impressive.

Cell Phone Service

The Borders is one of those places in the UK where cell phones are very iffy. It a case of trying it out. We had Tesco (network is O2) cell phones when we moved to the country and they just don't work properly here. After trying out the limited range of choices we found that only Vodaphone really works in remote locations, they have the best coverage.
There are several online services that show you coverage supposedly, but they are all flakey, all showed we should not get G3 or 4 here but should get excellent normal cell. They were all wrong.
Up here having a working cell can be life or death in winter so its important to be sure you get the best solution.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pavillion Cinema Galashiels

Visited this cinema for the first time last night to see Harry Potter. Boring film, clearly they have lost it and are just bumbling along with ideas but no proper plot. The cinema is not up to US standards at all, smallish (about 250 people in our venue), poor seats with no places to put drinks or a table. You can book but don't get seat allocations so still have to come early to get good seats. The online booking works well though.
Food poor, Scottish people seem to like sweet popcorn (Yuck) and no chicken and chips or even decent hotdogs.
Link to cinema

Friday, November 19, 2010

Borders Suppliers

I have found that Borders suppliers tend to a) be expensive and b) tell you how hard it is to find the product you want. An example is winter snow tyres. I called several local companies and all told me that "no one can get snow tyres this year, the manufacturers let everyone down, and there just aren't any about". They went on to quote me 120 pounds a tyre (if we can get them).
I went online to mytires.co.uk and got two good snow tyres for half the price the local companies were charging including vat and shipping and fitting locally at a guaranteed price.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The Borders only employment is either agriculture or government (over 30%). It also included weaving and manufacturing but thats all died or dying. I spoke to the man from my garage in Earlston today and he said business is bad, people are only fixing if its broken and he does not see it picking up through 2011 only getting worse as the government is forced to cut.

Dentist - The Borders Shame

If you are coming to the Borders to live, be aware that there are no available dentists. We waited 2 years and then got an appointment. The dentist cleaned our teeth and said "there are some shadows on your x-rays, but we can do nothing until they become a problem" my wife had a problem with clicking in her jaw, again the answer was "we can do nothing on the NHS for that until it becomes excruciatingly painful or you cannot eat".
Yesterday we went to a private clinic in Edinburgh (no available private dentists in the Borders, yes you will see clinics but they are all full). They said the clicking was caused by a bite problem and that she had 3 fillings urgently required, plus a leak in an existing filling needing attention urgently.....so whats the use of an NHS that is CLEARLY instructed not to fix anything?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Our family visited Aberdeenshire this weekend gone. We were in search of my wifes roots as she has Forbes in her tree 4 generations ago. It appears a Forbes man visited Barbados to do survey work and fell in love locally, they later migrated to Trinidad due to prejudice at mixed couples in old fashioned "Little England". Trinidad I suspect being more laissez fair.
We liked what we saw, Aberdeen has better shops and malls than Edinburgh by far, more choice more up market cleaner. The newer houses reflect an American influence, more like ranches than British homes. The country is much like the Borders, rolling hills mountains in the distance (Cairngorms).
We also visited "Royal" Deeside where Victoria and Albert built a home. Very pretty up there but close to the hills and out of the way (I guess thats what they craved).
Conclusion I guess we will go back. Had a good meal in Cafe Boheme but thought it overrated frankly. Steaks overcooked, food more arty and farty than true French, and very pricey for what we got

16th November - White Frost

WHite Frost everywhere and everyday now, thermometer below zero. But what I like about the Borders is now we get sunny days almost every day, so its a good time to be here if you wrap up warm. The frost enhances the treescape turning it into a fairyland.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Wife and I went on a stunning ride today to Oxnam and beyond. We went to Jedburgh and then existed up the hill behind the swimming pool. The road started out as a normal country road until just South of Oxnam. Then it became a gated road that ran through some of the most extraordinary country we have found in the Borders, eventually coming to Morebattle. We saw a fox and many birds and the ride was just lovely even though it was a poor day with occasional rain and lowering clouds. We even had hail at one point and the thermometier hovered around 3 degrees. The road passes through wild hills, the haunt of Roman Soldiers apparently on patrols from Hadrians wall. Some lovely valleys around Hownam.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First Snow

Drove to Stowe Sunday am to pickup my son after a Birthday sleepover snd saw the first snow on the hills towards Peebles. Its now cold (3 degrees) and wet and windy. Outside the car it blows right through your clothes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Best Fish and Chips - Berwick upon Tweed

Robert Smiths fish and chips in Tweedmouth is the best fish and chips in Berwick upon Tweed, and in fact one of the best in the Borders. Good fresh fish beautifully cooked and nice chips, home made peas, served in nice boxes with a smile. Big advantage is that less than 5 minutes away is Spittal Beach with a car park overlooking the ocean so you can enjoy the food with a view. Their web site link

Twizel Castle

On the Coldstream to Berwick Road one sees an old bridge by the new road. Above it on a rocky cliff is this impressive ruin. From what I can gather it was variously a house, a castle, a house again and then a folly. Unfortunately the local access is poor and no proper way to get inside without climbing over a wire fence. But its worth a visit for its magnificent location perched on a cliff over the Twizel River. There are also several walks. Again this location suffers from limited parking, only about 2/3 cars can fit.

St Abbs

St Abbs is a lovely small fishing harbour. Its still used daily and reflects a working space with fish pots and nets hanging. Its a nice little place to visit and there are lovely walks along the headland.

Traffic Jam on Kelso Road

Gordon to Kelso Road. All traffic at standstill due to intense traffic buildup of "Cows". Oh we do suffer here in the Borders with delays due to heavy cow traffic. These were on their way home for milking.