Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peelham Farm Organics

I met the people at a Farmers Market in Kelso last weekend and was very impressed by their commitment to good produce and by their friendly attitude. I bought some shoulder bacon which I had today with eggs and mushrooms and it was nice and juicy and obviously home made. I found it a bit porky, i.e. I could taste the pig, but some people might find that nice. But they had an impressive range of products including some nice looking chorizo. THEIR WEBSITE

They also host training days for people who wish to make their own bacon and sausages and butchery and I may well attend as I always wanted to do it myself. They offer a range of farm produced meats and downstream products such as sausages, bacon and speciality products such as carpachio. Well worth a look.

Crolla's Fish and Chips Galashiels

A nice clean shop right on the main drag through Galashiels this shop stands out having a seperate pizza shop. Its clean and nice and the fish looked good, but we didn't buy as they DO NOT SERVE mushy peas!!

I was totally shocked by this, a fish and chip shop not doing mushy peas is like a hamburger joint not doing fries. If this doesn't shock you then you don't understand the taste combination that mushy peas brings to fish and chips.

Abbey Fish and Chips Melrose

Nicely tucked away in a side street just above the town square is this newish fish and chips. Melrose had a fish and chips years ago but it fell on hard times and closed due, I suspect, to Melrose people being too high and mighty to eat such lowly fare. Well this shop won't change their opinion as its quality is well below par. Hard dry nasty chips and dry fish with no flesh. We were most disappointed by this new addition to the fish and chip scene in the Borders. The shop is overly ambitious offering kebabs, pizzas and fish and chips and I suspect doing nothing well, although a man in front of me had kebab and it looked better than the fish. One wonders how they could produce such bad chips frankly. The owner seems aloof and even his own staff look at him, as customers pile up, and he stands there doing nothing, poor customer service as well as poor quality food.

Cannot recommend this shop at all.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Good Bread - Floors Castle Shop

Floors Castle, home of the Dukes of Roxborough sits on the bank of the Tweed at Kelso. Behind the Castle and just off the Kelso to St Boswells back road is the entrance to the Castle garden center, cafe and shop. The shop is part of the cafe and has a good range of specialty home made preserves and baked good produced by the Castle Kitchens. As these kitchens also feed the Dukes family the quality is excellent. If you are a lover of good crusty bread this is a place to buy, and get bread of a quality unobtainable anywhere else in the Borders. They also sell a range of home made pies although the one I bought this week was awful as the bottom of the crust was uncooked dough and spoiled what would have been a lovely pie. Nonetheless for a tourist or family that likes to visit unique and interesting little places this is a must. The garden center is very good and has a wide range of unusual plants and some lovely greenhouses that have been used since the 1800's to feed the family with winter produce.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What a Difference a little bit of sun makes!

For the last few days we have had some sun. Its still cold but oh how the sun has picked up this beautiful Borders countryside and made it suddenly a pleasure to be out and about after the awful summer last year and the 7 month winter!

Self Catering Market Dies in 2013

My wife and I spoke to a lady today who is well established for many years in the self catering business with top of the line cottages and houses for rent. She told us that the whole rental market is dead this year due to the late snow ruining Easter, and the poor economic conditions. I suggested that the tourist office is promoting "staycations" where British people holiday in their home country. Her response was "yes they are, they are staycationing in their own homes not travelling at all, and saving on petrol as well!". What a shame.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


We have had cold wet, snowy and miserable weather since October last year, that is 7 months of the most depressing weather I have ever lived through. At last I realize why depression is the number one disease in Scotland! During the period I longed for my old Caribbean home. 7 months is a long time without a nice week of weather. We did have odd days, like the one we walked the walls at Berwick but they were rare gleans in a uniform grayness  We had thick snow and even were snowed in during late March this year the coldest on record (see picture of 4 foot drifts on our drive).

Yesterday was the first day of good weather and I mowed the lawns for the first time, today heavy rain again.

Kelso Butcher revisited

Sorry to say my visit to the main butcher in Kelso (next to W H Smith) was just a trip back to my last. While the meat looks lovely the prices are shockingly high £8.50 for a chicken I would have got at my butcher in Earlston for £4.50. Even the lady on the counter winced at the price as she must have known it was too high and asked me did I want to change my mind when I complained.

I did notice a new antique store on the same street, owned by a couple who have returned from France to live closer to relatives in Selkirk and Edinburgh. Nice little shop and well worth a visit.

Thoughtless Planning

It seems to me driving around the Borders that planning officials after the war made a pact to make Scotland ugly. It must be so as to this day they approve only houses covered in an ugly cement wash that gets uglier as it gets older, unlike Scotland's history of stone houses which get nicer as they age.

Below is our house a good example of ugly. This is what almost all newer Scottish houses look like and I can see no reason for it other than its cheap to do. But that is no excuse for PLANNERS. They should be considering the look of the countryside, which is blighted by these ugly houses.