Tracy led us on an unplanned, unrehearsed city tour on our way to finding A68 towards Jedburgh. His direction radar was turned off. I didn't think we were going to find our route, but it was Sunday, traffic was light, and we had the luxury of "exploring." His route took us through blue collar areas, or in English terms, "working class." Almost project-like, but without the stark poverty seen in a project. An older man pushed a rusty yellow mower across a small patch of grass. Sunday must be lawn mowing day the world over.
I was struck with how quickly the scenery changed. Here it was hilly and pastoral - much like Wisconsin.
Today was a travel day. My legs could have used another layover day. They were long lead rods going up and down the hills, without energy. Breakfast, a substantial carbo- meal, must not have had enough glucose to spur my legs into locomotive action.
Overhead, heavy gray clouds jockeyed for position. Fortunately, we didn't actually begin our day in the rain.
[As I write, the local church's Westminster chime donged 10:15 p.m.]
About 15 miles out, I bonked. I'd never experienced a bonk before, but this was it. Pedaling very slowly up a slight incline required every ounce of energy I could muster. That shouldn't have been so difficult. I could have cried I was so tired. I pulled over, leaned my bike against a barbed wire fence pole, beyond which were the usual farm animals posing for the tourist postcard scene, and wolfed down a banana and the last of my medicinal-use-only whiskey fruitcake from the Walker Bakery way back in Aberlour. Certainly this was a medical emergency...Devastating Energy Loss. The food didn't have an immediate effect; I struggled to our rendezvous site at Carfraemill, nearly an hour behind - the worst ever. Tracy and Earl sat reading and waiting. As I arrived, so did the drizzle that had been following me.
Resting on the curb indecisively planning our next leg, we bent to our internal clocks crying "tea time" and found a small table in the Carfraemill Inn. I sugar-loaded my system with syrupy tea and a scone thick with butter and red berry jam dripping off the edges. The effect was obvious as an hour later I easily moved the loaded bike over the hills. Moral: keep eating energy foods all of the time.
We entered the Border District. It was obviously different. The sine wave hills had a shorter periodicity, a slightly sharper look. Deeper green. More trees and denser shrubs. Less acreage between stone fences.
Not far from our tea stop, the bottom of those gray clouds let go. Rufus and I donned full rain gear and pedaled on. There is a certain satisfaction to pedaling in the rain. Me against the elements. And I was beating them - continuing to do what I want to do, uncontrolled by this weather.
It cleared. The sun shone. A bright double rainbow loomed in front of me. I stayed "geared up" so that my clothes would dry - a wise decision as it began to rain again 45 minutes later.
Tracy suggested we tour the Mellarstein Manor where Lord and Lady Haddington lived. In the summer they travel abroad and thus reap financial benefits from opening their home to tourists. When in residence, they cavort with HRH Elizabeth II. We wanted to see what architects Wm. and Robt. Adams, famous for their outstanding plaster work, had designed. The three story mansion was filled with painstakingly detailed plaster ceilings. Expensive art adorned the walls of every room. The grounds were massive and well kept. At the rear of the house, a wide lawn sloped down to a rectangular reflecting pool. I envisioned young children laughing and rolling down the hill. A small creek trickled along one edge of the property, hidden in an area tended only by mother nature. In a nearby outbuilding, the Scottish Guide Dog association sold local crafts.
[As I write, 10:30 p.m. chimes]
Yetholm, home base for Gypsies long ago, was our evening address. There was an IYH in the adjoining town, but we chose the Kirkfield (the field of the church) Caravan Site (£2/each) - with cows in an adjacent field, a decrepit and vacant church on the property, and our tents pitched next to the river. (In Scottish, kirk = Mother church). The church, with it's open air roof and natural air conditioning through broken stained-glass windows was purchased by the current owners of the caravan park. It sat alone along side of the road, unused.
During our camping dinner one of the caravaners strolled over - he was a biker, backpacker, and former editor of an English cycling magazine. He gave Tracy advice as to the fuel he could use in his MRS Whisperlight International stove. ("Coleman spirits," or "methylated spirits," or paraffin [kerosene].) Tracy hasn't been using his stove as no one along the way had been able to translate the British equivalents for kerosene and white gas. Our new friend also gave us route recommendations toward York. His experience included planning the Land's End-John O Groats annual bike tour route.
It was windy, but not cold. Low scud moved quickly across the blue sky. Tomorrow: England and Hadrian's Wall.