After a very exciting and emotional day yesterday, seeing Thirlestane Castle for the first time, we opted for a relaxed day today, walking around Lauder, taking pictures. In the afternoon, we visited the nearby town of Melrose, home to the Melrose Abbey.
As every day has begun in Scotland, we had a great breakfast. Our “homebase” in Lauder has been the Lauderdale Hotel, which is so fitting. In the US, my maiden name of Lauderdale is uncommon. If I run into another Lauderdale, I know we are kin! It’s wonderful to see the names Lauder and Lauderdale everywhere in this burgh.
The Lauderdale Hotel is a small, comfortable hotel, with a cozy pub and top quality restaurant attached, that has the feel of an inn. Actually, it has the feel of home. Owner Wilson McKay works long hours to make sure of that! The staff is friendly and helpful, the rooms are exceptionally clean and well set up for a short or long stay. And there’s a pretty sitting room to gather in, gardens out back, and a dining room for guests to enjoy a complimentary breakfast. We enjoyed chatting with Wilson last night after dinner. When he heard I wanted to try haggis, he suggested a small one for breakfast. Wilson not only cares for his guests and oversees the smooth running of the hotel…he also bar tends and is the breakfast chef! As promised, I had a wee haggis for breakfast this morning, along with a fried egg and two pieces of Scotland’s wonderful bacon. The haggis was delicious!
After our breakfast, we wandered about Lauder, snapping pictures and stopping in a few stores. Lauder is a ancient and beautiful little burgh, snug in the rolling hills of the Borders. I love the stone buildings and cobbled walkways and streets. It’s not hard to imagine life here hundreds of years ago.
There are records dating back to 1124 that mention Lauder as a kirk-town, kirk being the Scottish word for church. What began as a fort near the town was given to the Lauder family and they in turn sold the structure to the Maitlands in 1587. This fort transitioned into Thirlestane Castle as it was added on to over the centuries. The history and antiquity in this town, in this area and indeed, in all of Scotland, amazes me. It makes me gawk a lot as I walk around!
Our charming host, Wilson, told Mindy about a fabric shop in the nearby town of Melrose. In the afternoon we took a taxi to the home of the Melrose Abbey and had a look around. Melrose is another beautiful small town. Tall rock walls surround the Abbey on one side and part of the town. Mindy was able to buy 100% wool by the meter at the shop Wilson suggested. We enjoyed a walk along the main street in Melrose and had a delightful early afternoon tea at Russell’s. The dark clouds that had been gathering unburdened themselves as we sipped our tea.
We experienced our first heavy rain since we’ve been in Scotland. Although we pulled our hoods up and sloshed through the rain to visit several more shops, alas we had to cancel our visit to the Abbey. That experience will have to wait for a return trip.
For return I shall. I love this country and this little town of Lauder in the Scottish Borders. Last night I dreamed I returned here to live, working to connect American Lauderdales and Maitlands with their homeland, marketing for Thirlestane Castle and the burgh of Lauder itself! What a dream!
Walking today, I realized that several things that are true about me have deep roots in Scotland. My love of land and working the earth, of water, of growing trees and plants and flowers, are traits, gifts, carried genetically to me from this wild country. Everywhere I looked today, in Lauder, in Melrose, there were flowers blooming in vivid, riotous colors! Flower boxes, hanging baskets, tiny front gardens, seemingly random patches of earth, all filled with luscious flowers. No wonder I am transforming my own backyard back home into a garden. I am responding to an ancient desire that has been imbedded in my DNA.
There are other truths I’ve discovered about myself during my stay here that I will take home with me and ponder for a while. I’ve had beautiful “aha” moments and great clarity and my love and appreciation for Scotland and her people has deepened. It’s almost time to fly home. There has been such joy in this journey. I won’t say “goodbye”. I’ll say “until next time”.