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May has finally brought a spell of warm sunshine and the promise of better weather to come and with holidays on the arising – modern Scots enjoy far more than their forebears – we will look at a variety of Scottish visitor attractions over the next few weeks. This week we start in the heart of the Borders with a house, built and made famous by the great Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) – Abbotsford - which lies two miles of Melrose (a town well worth a visit). Sir Walter bought the farm of Cartleyhole on the southern bank of the Tweed in 1811. The building of Abbotsford took six years and was completed in 1824. The result obviously well-pleased Sir Walter Scott as he wrote in his journal on 7 January 1828 –

‘It is a kind of Conundrum Castle to be sure and I have a great pleasure in it for while it pleases a fantastic person in the stile and manner of the architecture and decoration it has all the comforts of a commodious habitation.’

The house was opened to the public in 1833, five months after the death of Sir Walter and has been open to visitors ever since. The house contains an impressive collection of historic relics, weapons and armour, including Rob Roy’s gun, dirk and sword, and an extensive library containing over 9000 rare volumes. Visitors are able to see Sir Walter’s Study, Library, Drawing Room, Entrance Hall, Armoury, Dining Room and the private Chapel which was built in 1855, after the writer’s death. The visit extends to Sir Walter Scott’s garden and ground and the chance to wander down to view his beloved Tweed. Visit for full details of opening times and charges.

The recipe this week was a great Border’s favourite and probably enjoyed by the great man himself –enjoy the flavour of the Borders in a heaped plate of Rumblethumps.


Ingredients: 1 lb potatoes; 1 lb white cabbage, spring cabbage or kale; 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 3 oz butter; a little single cream; 2 oz mature cheddar cheese; chopped fresh chives; black pepper and salt to taste

Method: Slice the potatoes thickly and boil in a little salted water. Once cooked, drain and mash. Slice the cabbage and boil gently in slated water, do not over cook! Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and cook the onions. Once soft through, add a little cream, season to taste and heat together. Place the mixture in an oven safe dish and cover with grated cheddar and place under a hot grill or oven to brown. Serves 4.

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