We wheeled our bikes out of the railway station in Berwick in the early evening and headed off more or less alongside the River Tweed on the first leg of an exploration of the Scottish Borders.
In our panniers, we had everything we needed for a self-contained trip. Everything, that is, except food for more than a day at a time. With our mobility, and the wealth of towns and villages, that was not going to be a problem.
The summer’s evening was warm. More than just balmy, it was perfect. The roads were empty and the miles flew by as we pedalled, joked and laughed. Stopping at a hotel for a quick beer, we asked about finding somewhere to camp.
‘Get yoursel’ doon by the river’ came the advice from an old boy at the bar. Taking his words as permission, we headed off in the gathering dusk into the first spots of what we hoped was just a shower. On the riverbank, we whipped off the panniers, pegged out guylines for the bikes and slung a large light tarp over both.
With some three metres between them, we had created a huge shelter for ourselves and the bikes, pegged down on three sides but open to the front. Unrolling sleeping bags and mats took only a couple of minutes and, as the rain grew heavier, the kettle started steaming for cups of tea.
Under the awning front, we carefully stripped some turf to light a small fire and, on a folding grill, cooked the salmon steaks, peppers and tomatoes prepared at home. It had been a good day and we were starving so the first night feast was soon underway with each of us trying to top the other’s supply of treats.
It had been a long day and longer ones loomed so there was no incentive to put off turning in after a great day in the saddle.
Experience meant that the pitch was tidied with everything made ready for a simple breakfast and a prompt start in the morning. Both of us like to be up and away rather than spinning out waking and rising but having the means to hand for a cuppa in bed is a ritual not to be scorned.
A quick chat about the next day’s route and it was time to seek sanctuary in the bags as the rain beat out an eccentric tune on the tarp. Within minutes, we were both asleep. As we slumbered, we heard the sounds of the night – owls, foxes, hedgehogs and, as imagination kicked in, shooting stars.
After a sound sleep, the morning cuppa was enjoyed in bright sunshine, the turf was replaced and the road stretched before us.