Saturday 31st. May, 2014 – Olivetub, Escapade and a real day of tragedy for the Borders 

Rachel and I bought this little boat in 1972 when we lived in Genoa, Italy. It cost around 300,000 lira (about £200 – a lot of money in those days) but that included the sailing rig (pictured here) a four-horse power out board engine and a set of oars. We had enormous fun with our tiny boat and now that I have a bit of time on my hands I am intending to restore it, as much as possible, to its original condition

I slept in until 9 as I usually do on a Saturday morning. We had been told that our involvement with the Jim Clark Rally would have ended last night, or early this morning at 1 a.m. However, from eight the rally cars were hurrying past our door. I found it really quite exciting but Rowan absolutely hated it and refused point-blank to go out into the garden because of the noise. So Rachel packed her into the Berlingo and drove her to Berwick where they went for a lengthy walk.

I set about putting our old Sportyak II together and then started on the task of cleaning it up. It is going to be a long job but this kept Mix and me busy while the rally cars roared around us – although at one stage Mix went off, opened the Granary door and took himself inside and away from the sound of traffic. Dogs are funny!

Soon afterwards Digger drove off to Duns and when he returned he reported that Duns was quiet and that he had been able to park and do what he wanted to do without any problem at all. Not so, Olive’s two students, Simon and Peter, who had attacked Mount Pleasant by coming down the A68 to avoid Duns but got caught up in road closures and arrived after forty minutes of delay in roadblocks which they ran into suddenly with no advance warning. However once they were here, they had a good time and did some preparation for their accountancy exams in a little over a week’s time.

Rachel returned and I went off for a shower and then, in mid-afternoon Tom collected me and we went off to Spittal by Berwick where we inspected a Wayfarer sailing dinghy and, finding it to our liking, bought it to provide us with some summer sailing. We had to go off to Halfords to get a trailer board and then Tom trailed it back to Mount Pleasant. We bought it from a couple, Jeremy and Stella, from Edinburgh. They were disposing of it because Jeremy is taking up single-handed sailing and the Wayfarer really requires two people (and can happily carry six). I’ll say more about this Wayfarer later on but events that followed kind of put a damper on our enthusiasm at a new boat.

Escapade by name and escapade describes our adventure too, I suspect

It was while we were driving home that the news began to come in that the Jim Clark Rally had been cancelled because of an accident involving spectators. It was impossible to find out what had happened in those early hours but it seems certain that there were two accidents and three spectators have been killed by a car which went out of control. Others have been seriously hurt. The Rally was closed down at once.

How sad that all of the excitement of yesterday and this morning should turn into the despair of this evening. I can’t begin to imagine how the families and those present must be feeling, nor how the drivers and their navigators must be coping. It must have been really hard for the Police, emergency services and rally officials as well. Yesterday Duns was heaving with visitors and excitement, this evening it will be very different.

Rachel and I watched a bit of television before going to bed. I walked Mix along the road which I hadn’t expected to be able to do – of course, I wish I hadn’t been able to.


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