Favourite barbie ­location lost to bees


Wow – more than a week of glorious sunshine! Could this be summer at last?

Despite the lovely weather, there still seems to be a dramatic lack of insect life, especially butterflies, moths and bees. It will be interesting to see the knock-on effect of the lack of these important pollinators when it comes to fruit production later on.

Birds feeding youngsters must be finding it tough to find enough to satisfy hungry broods and probably brood survival rates will be down as a result.

At the time of writing, the two surviving blackbird chicks in my back garden nest box are coping well, with a little help from the stuff put out by the Corbie household.

On Saturday it was decided that a riverside barbecue was called for, but the question was where. There’s an unbelievable shortage of picnic spots by rivers in our area, where you can get fairly close with the car, which is necessary to transport all the required paraphernalia.

It was eventually decided that there was nowhere quite like Boleside near Galashiels – a favourite picnic spot on the Tweed for generations and it was only about 20 minutes’ drive away.

On arrival, my heart sank. I could vaguely remember reading about a dispute with the council and the landowner about maintenance of the site and I was looking at the result.

The whole area of once nicely mown grass was like an Alpine meadow – knee-deep in buttercups and dandelions, and all entrances blocked by huge rocks and locked gates.

Ideal for the bees and butterflies (if there was any!), but rubbish for a picnic/barbecue. Sadly, this “Blackpool of the Borders” is no more.

Retracing our route along the single-track road, I spotted a likely place right underneath the lofty Galafoot Bridge, at the ford where the horses cross at the Gala Day.

It was a short carry with all the gear from the car park to the water’s edge and a seemingly perfect spot.

Settling into the folding chairs with a small refreshment, I settled back to read the daily paper. The old dog lay down in the shallow water to cool off and I gave a friendly wave to a passing dinghy filled with a family enjoying the tranquillity of the Tweed. What an idyllic spot. All of a sudden, from the car park above, came an ear-splitting trumpeting noise. Unbelievably, someone had arrived with a bugle and began to practice playing the “Last Post” at full volume.

The notes played would have made Les Dawson proud. After half an hour of this, a group of teenagers arrived with a lilo and a ball and began charging in and out of the water right beside us, then a huge black Labrador careered past and if it hadn’t been for my lightning reactions, the barbecue and all of its contents would have been up in the air.

Finally, a screaming horde of black-headed gulls began dive bombing the scene to scoop up uneaten food left by the youngsters. It was definitely time to pack up.

Unless someone can suggest a more peaceful spot, all future Corbie barbecues will be held in the back garden.