The recent scorcher came to an end at the weekend but not before the Border Union Show at Kelso made the most of the final days.
I was there on Saturday and at around 28 degrees for most of the day, it was hard work just walking around, so I don’t know how the animals felt.
Sensibly, the organisers allowed the ones most susceptible to the heat to be taken away as soon as possible after judging.
Some of the spectators, however, weren’t as sensible, as there were several loudspeaker announcements about distressed dogs being left in cars and that police would break into them if the owners didn’t return immediately.
By Sunday, things had cooled down to a more pleasant 16 degrees as I embarked on a stroll along the south side of St Mary’s Loch.
The stiff breeze was whipping up waves on the loch, which lapped soothingly against the stony shore as I followed the broad track towards Bowerhope Farm.
The tall roadside flowers were waving wildly in the wind, particularly meadowsweet, gowan and rosebay willowherb.
The foxgloves which had appeared in abundance after the recent clearfelling of trees were past their best, with the remaining purple floral thimbles restricted to the very tips.
Some of the broadleaved trees along the side of the road were not native and had obviously been planted, and it wasn’t long before I spotted a cherry tree, laden with lovely looking black fruit.
Typically the best were high up and out of reach, but the ones I did manage to get my hands on were delicious.
Further along, there were several with red fruit, but they were not a patch on that first one.
Across the loch, I could hear the sound of bagpipes drifting over the water and I could see on the opposite side, several cars parked along the road. It was the annual Blanket Preaching ceremony, which is held at the ruined churchyard on the hill, high above the loch. I could just make out the worshippers snaking up the steep path to take part in this unique outdoor religious service dating back to the time of the Covenanters.
In the 17th century, Yarrow was the scene of religious dissent; Presbyterian Covenanter preachers and their followers were forbidden to attend church services, so were forced to worship outdoors, often huddling in blankets for protection from the elements.
To this day, the practise is commemorated on the fourth Sunday of July every year.
I have been there in previous years when the rain was horizontal and a blanket would have been very welcome, however, on this occasion, I think the service would be over before the first shower swept down the loch.
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