Thursday, March 9, 2006

Due South
By Mark Entwistle
The Southern Reporter
Selkirk, The Borders Scotland

Looking for the sun in Scotland, while enjoying birthday

It was a special weekend for me, being my 44th birthday.

Strange, it doesn’t seem that long ago since my 33rd! Funny how things just creep up on you without you noticing.

Anyway there isn’t much we can do to halt Old Father Time, so best just get on and make the most of things.

Myself, I put my faith in a small quote I have pinned to the noticeboard next to my desk, which comes from that great American actor, John Barrymore, while appearing in “Good Night Sweet Prince” in 1943.

Barrymore comments: “A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams.” And, boy, do I have plenty of dreams still to fulfil!

But enough of this philosophical musing and back to my tale of the birthday weekend.

As well as the usual selection of cards, I received a few small gifts from nearest and dearest - including my mother who never fails to provide some item of clothing, usually too big or too small, which has to be returned for something else!

She didn’t do too badly this year, however, and I am now the proud owner of a nice new pair of Levi jeans. Admittedly, they are a size too big, but nothing that a belt won’t cope with.

Best of all, though, was that my wife’s birthday surprise was to drive just five miles down the road from the farm to the old Borders town of Kelso, with its cobbled Georgian square and elegant town houses.

It transpired that my wife, Ally, had booked us into the Ednam House Hotel for dinner, bed and breakfast. This is one of the best hotels in the Borders - great food, excellent, friendly service and faded, old world charm replete with salmon fishing rods propped up against the wall and lazing labradors by the roaring log fire.

We also managed to smuggle a bottle of champagne into our room which we enjoyed while watching a re-run of Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman” on late-night television.

The weather here is still pretty miserable, all grey and wet or ‘dreich’ as they say in the local Scots language.

Although there are signs spring is not too far away with the first snowdrops poking their heads through the soil.

Still, we amused ourselves at night watching the goings-on from the Winter Olympics in Turin. The main Scottish interest was in slalom skier Alain Baxter, the women’s curling team and the brother and sister ice dance team.

Perhaps we would have more top class winter athletes if we had more snow. It is strange that in Scotland we do not get anything like the snow that you guys get, especially as we are on the same latitude as Newfoundland in Canada, Denmark, southern Sweden and parts of Russia.

I think it has something to do with being an island and surrounded by the sea.

Right now however, most Scots looking out of their windows at the weather will be thinking about sunshine. Scotland is a beautiful country, but occasionally a bit more sun or the prospect of it would not go amiss!

That might be the answer to why there seems to have been a sudden invasion of the Entwistle household by brochures for holidays to Spain and Cuba. Either that or my wife has grand ideas about what I should be treating her to, come her birthday in May!

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