October 1995 and we are off to a new life in the Scottish Borders. Everything’s ready for the journey; the Pickford’s Removals van has just set off for the journey northwards with our home packed in it. The furniture will be unloaded the next morning as it will be too late for the same day delivery of course.
The plan is to drive to Mellerstain House and hopefully arrive there before 10 p.m. It will be dark when we arrive and we are not overly familiar with the roads, even in the daylight! Fingers crossed.
The head gardener, Gordon Low, has agreed to wait for us to arrive and to guide us into Mellerstain House. I just hope he hasn’t forgotten!
Our route was along the A1 until we reached the branch road A68. It was dusk by the time we turned left onto this road. Perhaps we should have stayed on the A1 for many miles more, passing Newcastle and other towns. However, the map showed that the A68 cut across country and looked to be the shorter route.
The A68 is not a road I would recommend, especially for night driving. It is like a never-ending roller-coaster. Twists and turns, rolling countryside, hidden dips and pitch black! Even if one knew this road intimately it is still very daunting to negotiate at night.
We stopped twice on this road. I was feeling tired and stressed and my eyes just wanted to close. A ten minute rest, Pat having a coffee from the flask and me having a brief shut-eye.
Eventually we reached Jedburgh, the first Scottish town on this road. From there we travelled on until the town of Earlston. Here we turned right, into the town; we were just five miles from Mellerstain.
Gordon Low was waiting for us in his cottage, as previously arranged. It was just before 10 p.m. We met his wife who made us a cup of tea which we were glad of. Gordon had a large torch which he brought with him in our car and we made our way to the east wing, our new home. It was quite scary. It was so very dark and the wind in the trees made a whooshing ghostly noise.
He had a bunch of keys and opened the door of the wing. Our route inside the mansion house had been isolated from the alarm system but even so I tended to flinch as little red lights started to flash as we went through a very long basement corridor. Gordon explained the system just enough for me to re-set the alarm. He showed us how to get into our new flat and finalise the setting of the system and then he left, walking home to his cottage about half a mile away.
There were two camp beds in one of the ten rooms. These had been set up for our night’s sleep. There was no other furniture at all, apart from carpets. It was good to have a sleep at last. It would be another busy day tomorrow.