When thoughts turn to home
Last updated at 09:54, Friday, 09 May 2008
COMING off Whita at the weekend, I made a diversion to see the state of play of the tadpole population at the Copshaw Road quarry.
Still none of the stour-smothered eggs were changing into tadpoles and I don’t think they will. But where the movement of the quarried stone had filled in one frog nursery, it had created a new deep hole nearby.
And there, floating just under the surface, were countless strips of toads’ spawn and one mother toad still on the production line. The lines of eggs encased in their jelly looked like long tangled strands of yarn. And in the same pool were two small masses of clean-looking frog spawn.
Unfortunately the rain had created a clear water pool in the hollow but no weed had had time to establish itself and so, once the eggs develop into tadpoles, these tiny, squirming creatures will have no food to keep them alive.
I did my best by hauling pond weed from the other pools but goodness knows whether it will take root.
Two dead frogs were lying belly-up in the other dust-filled pools.
Almost at the end of our holiday in Madeira, we met a couple from the south of England.
But it turned out the husband, David Riches, had been born and brought up in Hawick and still had a hankering for the Borders.
David was constantly seeking us out for a chat and his wife Daphne said it was just as well we were soon to go home, or he’d never have left us alone.
The last time the couple had been up this way was to attend his sister’s funeral four years ago, when they stayed in a hotel in Denholm. The four of us racked our brains to remember the name of Denholm’s hostelries but couldn’t.
I remembered I had a CD made by Kenny Speirs’ band Real Time, which I’d bought at the Buccleuch Centre when they performed there last year.
It’s called Home Thoughts and on it is a song, Saltire in the Sky, in which Kenny sings of returning home to Denholm with his band after a gig down south and how he travels up the A7 looking for the saltire in the sky. He sings about one of Denholm’s inns where he looks forward to a drink and some tunes with his cronies.
But we still couldn’t remember the name of the inn. Finally, the name The Auld Cross Keys appeared through the mist. This was the one the Riches had stayed in. But when I got home and played the CD, I realised Kenny’s howff was the Fox and Hounds.
I sent them the CD along with another of Kenny’s called Bordersong. Daphne’s letter, thanking me, relates how David got out his big Borders map and retraced his past to the words of the songs, with the tears welling up before too long.
Strange, isn’t it, how thoughts of “oor ain gate-en” bring out such emotions. I always have a wee greet when I hear “There’s a wee bit toon.”
First published at 21:48, Wednesday, 23 April 2008
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