Day Sixty Five

Another day mainly travelling moving ever southward. We spend
most of the day on the road, going past soft green hills and pasture.
It’s very apparent that we have left the wilderness behind us and are
back where people graze.
The hay bales and wheat fields are thinning now too – we now see
green crops more often than not, and fields left fallow, full of native
grasses.
We end the day at a village called Melrose. It’s one of the gorgeous
stone villages, very attuned to tourism and has a full suite of fine
dining restaurants and cafes. Also full of flowers as the corner and
window sills are filled to overflowing with colourful summer annuals.
At the base of the village lies Melrose Abbey, with some 900 years
of history. Now in ruins, the Abbey was home to an order of monks
and lay brothers who eschewed the pomp and finery of traditional
churches and orders. They instead lived a life of silence, building an
order and church stripped of finery and adornment. It’s still beautiful
though, as the order became successful, the Abbey was decorated
with very fine masonry work in local stone.
Their success came from sheep farming, and ironically, from their
prayers. Apparently in those days if you got the guilts about all the
conquering, killing and pillaging you were up to as king or nobility,
you could pay the monks to say prayers for your soul in perpetuity.
In between being sheep farmers (the largest in Europe at one stage)
and being paid to save everyone’s soul, they couldn’t help but
become one of the richest orders…ironic, as they had set the order
up to get way from the wealth of the Church. Born business men, it
seems.
The ruins are presently under scaffold as Heritage Scotland tries to
save what’s left. There is apparently a pig playing bagpipes in one
spot, that’s quite famous, but we can’t spot him. Probably hiding
under the scaffold. Or he’s off to a music meet. It’s possible. He’s
obviously a clever pig if he can play bagpipes in the first place.
The Abbey was supported by gardens where they grew all their
food. It’s late and we’ll see these tomorrow.

We take a walk instead through the Priory, leading out to pasture
land and the local hills. Gorgeous. Wild blackberries burst out of
every crevice. They’re a few weeks off being fully ripe, but the odd
one is temptingly ready. Yum. Have loved the summer berries and
fruits here and will very much miss them when we are home.

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