Monday 16th. December, 2013 – We start thinking about Christmas Gifts 

Berwick High Street: not as busy as I expected in the run up to Christmas

Got up and walked both dogs as Rachel is not feeling very well. Enjoyed a hearty breakfast and then spent some time in the Granary expecting a phone call which never came (when one is retired that really doesn’t matter). Went across to the farmhouse to meet some friends of Mum who had come to take her away for a day out (they went to Eyemouth and lunched at the Golf Club there). We also had to deal with our balloon booking with Virgin Balloons. Rachel was really keen to go for a balloon flight and so, way back in 2008, I ordered and paid for a balloon trip. We duly arranged the day and the site from which we would fly but then, when the day came, the weather was unsuitable and our voucher was extended for a further six months. Well, we have been making bookings which the weather has cancelled and having our voucher extended now for more than five years. Having had more than five cancellations we could have our money refunded and walk away from it but that seems like giving up. So today we discussed with Virgin a trip from either Kelso or Selkirk sometime early in 2014. We hope to have a definite date by tomorrow evening. Incidentally, Rachel has now flown in a balloon – we flew over the Valley of the Kings in Egypt almost five years ago. It was such a good experience that Rachel can’t wait to do it all again.

Balloons below us -- from our balloon in Egypt

Rachel and I loaded the dogs into the car and went off to Spittal again to run the dogs by the sea. We now have a cage for Mix in the boot and he is very happy in it because he is with us in the car. We have gone through two dog guards (or rather, he has gone through two dog guards – straight through); and he has destroyed one seat belt (which is being replaced on Thursday by the local garage). So we had little choice. But it is a big cage and Mix is only in it when he is in the car.

Mix travels in style

At Spittal Rowan loves to race alongside the sea, charging the waves as they break on the sea shore and loving it when she gets taken by surprise and ends up extremely wet. Mix prefers to walk more sedately, attached to me, but exploring everything. It is a lovely place to walk the dogs and not many people will nip across to another country just to walk their dogs!

Rowan charges the waves

From Spittal we drove into Berwick and visited the shops there on the look-out for Christmas presents. I was surprised how quiet the town was, and how empty the shops were in this the week before Christmas. Yes, it had been extremely wet overnight but today was beautiful, with the sun shining, although it was getting much colder as the day went on. We didn’t stay too long because Rachel wasn’t feeling at her best and instead we drove on to Duns where Rachel had medicine to pick up. It wasn’t ready so we drove back to Mount Pleasant and had something to eat (I used my new microwave) before Rachel popped back into Duns to get her medicine. It still wasn’t there but the chemist phoned the doctor, the doctor spoke to Rachel over the telephone and five minutes later Rachel left the shop with her medicine. Pretty good service!

Dined in the farmhouse – celery soup, chicken and roast potatoes, rhubarb pie, custard and ice-cream: no wonder I have put on six kilos since retiring. Then came across to the Granary to watch the first-quarter final of University Challenge before starting work on finding addresses so that we can send some Christmas cards. Watched the News, walked Mix and came to bed. Tomorrow we are promised a little window of good weather and I hope that we shall roof the summer house and maybe even install some windows and a door – we’ll need all the daylight we can get. But that would be progress.


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