Do you ever wake up in the morning, seemingly having slept for the past eight hours or whatever, and feel even more tired than when you went to bed? Well, that was me this morning. Just felt dead tired, the legs were complaining, my back ached and I just couldn’t be bothered. But the first rule of turfing is you must go turfing, so that’s what I was going to do. However, now retired, I had other duties to deal with first. Namely, collecting the weekly shopping.
With Tesco only a few minutes from the house, we’ve been using Click-and-Collect for a few years now. Saves about 45 minutes of time. No more pushing a dodgy shopping trolley with a will of its own to always go in the opposite direction to the one you want. No jostling along congested isles, no fighting the scrum for those last few packs of toilet paper during the Covid-19 outbreak. No, get someone else to do the legwork and nip round in the car and collect. Simples.
With an aching back today, decided to leave the bike in the shed and dust off the old hiking boots for an easy turf session around Newbattle Abbey, in Lord Ancrum’s Wood. With ten zones still neutral, I wanted to grab them before another turfer spotted them and got there before me. I started with zone OldBattle, located in Kirk Bank Wood, then walked down to the A7 to take StoneGate then down the riverside path for AncientBattle. My thinking was to take these three first, as I wanted to return home via Tesco as I needed to purchase a card and present for my father’s birthday at the weekend. I should have done this when at Tesco earlier but guess what, I forgot.
Walking is not a very efficient way to turf. It’s just far too slow and takes ages to cover any distance, so if you’re looking for a ton of points, better use the bicycle. However, the slower pace does give you more time to look around, spot the local wildlife, hear the birds signing, check out the local geology and do a little path clearance as you go. I always make a point of clearing away any fallen branches, ankle-catching brambles, or the like. Helps keep the trail safe for everyone.
Next zone on the walk was TheRedWoods, at the foot of a large spoil heap left over from the now long demolished Newbattle Brick & Tile Works. The location is now a football pitch. Being on foot also gives me the opportunity to look for bricks. I just cannot resist revealing the brickmark on any brick I come across. You never know what you will find and I’m particularly keen to unearth a much desired rarity, the BONNYRIGG PATENT, of which on two are known to exist, one in Jedburgh with brick collector Mark Cranston, and another in Russia. The bricks date from around the 1890’s.
The next zone on the list is TheSouthPath, located along Roan’s Dyke. The zone is not far from the site where Jodi Jones was murdered by Luke Mitchell in 2003. In recent weeks, a shrine with flowers and other mementoes has appeared at the v-shaped gap in the wall near the location. I noted some bricks at the head of Roan’s Burn for future investigation.
From the top of Roan’s Dyke path, the trail now leads into Lord Ancrum’s Wood, with zone Mary, the first to be encountered, the name taken from the Mary Burn. TheNorthPath was next on the way down towards the abbey. Crossing the footbridge and a short walk downstream gave me BattleAbbey, then it was back up to Kirk Bank Wood for the final two zones, Newbattle and RecentBattle.
With all the zones on the list taken, I had one final chore on the way back home, that birthday card and present of my dad. It’s often a challenge to get something different when your father is in his 80’s and not very mobile. A selection of beer usually goes down well but we did that for Father’s Day not so long ago. I decided on a Wallace & Gromit birthday card and a selection of chocolates. No doubt mother will help him finish those. I’ll be heading down to Selkirk on Thursday to visit, so might, seeing as I’m in the area, throw the bike, or perhaps the Swifty kick scooter, in the back of the car and spend a few hours turfing Galashiels and Melrose. Would be a shame to pass up the opportunity. Bye the noo.
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