Border Country

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Living as far as it is possible to be from the coast, in the Central Borders, I always find a trip to the seaside a refreshing change.

Recently, with wall-to-wall sunshine forecast for the weekend, I decided that a trip to Eyemouth for the weekend would be just the job.

The first thing that struck me on arrival was the lack of visitors for such a wonderful day in July. The second thing was the lack of fishing boats compared with years ago and how many yachts were using the harbour as a mooring.

Sated with the compulsory fish supper, it was straight to the harbour to be entertained by the local wildlife. Top of the bill were the three grey seals who performed antics while robbing the public of the £1 paid for three bits of mackerel, bought to throw into the water to give them an easy meal.

Much more entertaining was the guile of the gulls. I saw one swoop down and remove a freshly-cooked haddock in batter from a fish supper in a box, which the diner had just sat down to enjoy, at a pavement café. Even funnier was at the fish-seller’s van where a lady just bought her three mackerel for the seals. She took one out to throw to the waiting seals and laid the carrier-bag with the rest on a table.

A herring gull (picture, top of page) that had been watching from the van roof swooped down and flew off with the bag of fish. Obviously a tried and tested manoeuvre!

The next day dawned, every bit as beautiful, so what could be better than a trip along the coast in a glass-bottomed boat. Approaching the treacherous Hurkur Rocks, it soon became apparent that a day on the beach might have been the better option. For such a glorious day, I have never seen a swell like it. Passing Coldingham and St Abbs we were tossed around like a cork. It was so rough that the stirred-up sediment from the sea bottom rendered the glass bottom virtually useless.

I was amazed at the countless moon jellyfish. These creatures recently closed down part of Torness nuclear power station, as so many were sucked into the filters. Local fishermen, called in to clear them, apparently netted around 500 tons.

Our captain told us that they send up a daily spotter plane to monitor their movement and there was slick of pure jellyfish eight miles long moving along the coast.

Under the conditions, the two-hour trip was about 100 minutes too long, but I’m sure on a calm day it would have been wonderful.

Anyway, this land-locked landlubber was pleased to get back to the hills and glens and the security of terra firma – after a trip that I’m not likely to forget.