Welcomed by a Kelso Swan: Adventures in Scotland, Part 8

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Kelso as seen from The Cobby Riverside Walk.

Three weird things happened on my trip to Kelso. The first happened before I even left the U.S., after I had already made reservations to stay at the Bellevue Guest House in Kelso. Although there are about fifteen other places to stay, I chose Bellevue because it looked nice and was the closest B&B to Floors Castle. A tingle went through me when I was visiting my parents and I looked in their scrapbook from their trip to Scotland in the late 1970s. They had saved a business card from Bellevue Guest House, where they stayed while they were visiting Kelso. (Cue the Twilight Zone music.)

The second thing was the fact that I did not get lost once on my journey from Edinburgh to Kelso. Just ask my traveling companion (who was no longer there to help navigate) — that was unusual. It was like I knew where to go. Ancestral memory, perhaps?

Actually, the drive was wonderful. The roads were wide compared to those in northeastern Scotland, and the scenery was ultra-pastoral. I sang as I drove – so happy at the ease of finding my way. By this time, I was much less terrified of driving in Scotland anyway, having a week of wrong-handed shifting and wrong-sided driving under my belt.

The third weird thing happened after I checked into Bellevue House. My host, Graham, suggested that I take an evening stroll along the River Tweed just a few blocks away. I unpacked and did just that. The riverside walk wasn’t on a boardwalk like we are used to in the U.S. The “walk” was a wide swath of mown grass along the riverbank. As I emerged from the neighborhood homes and came the river came in view, the first thing I saw was a huge white swan. It swam in the river directly across from me.

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The Kelso Welcome Swan (a mute swan).

Ach – so beautiful! We kept pace with each other for quite a while, then parted, only to meet later downriver when it was with its mate. Call me weird, but I felt like the swan was welcoming me to Kelso.

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The Kelso Abbey

I made my way along the river to the town square and the Kelso Abbey. The abbey has a graveyard, which I thought my great-great grandfather’s gravestone was in. But it was late and the gate to the abbey was locked. I’d have to come back tomorrow to look. Afterwards, I walked on the Kelso Bridge over the river and got a glimpse of Floors Castle in the murky and darkening distance.

Worn out from my long drive and walk, I retired back the Bellevue House to rest for my gravestone quest and visit to Floors Castle the next day.

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