29 May 2015

June means Festivals, Fathers and Fun!

There's always plenty to do in Melrose in June!

Borders Book Festival 2015 programme

For lovers of literature the Borders Book Festival begins on the 11th. As usual, the programme is packed with stellar performances from across the arts; food, music, politics and, of course, writing! As Scotland is celebrating the year of food and drink, there's a very tasty programme of food writers including tea and cake. Scottish Opera will also be on hand to serenade listeners with pared down performances of some old favourites. I'm still trying to decide who to see!

Melrose Festival Installation Ceremony
Melrose Festival Installation Ceremony in Abbey Grounds
Hot on the heals of the book festival is the Melrose Festival Week (14-20 June) when Donald Crawford, this years Melrosian, will lead the festivities. The Rideout, fancy dress parade, installation and crowning ceremonies and the Festival Ball mean there'll be lots of opportunity for enjoyment!

Derrick and his Dad

Sunday 21 June is, of course, Father's Day. (Derrick delved into his photo archive for this gem!) And all Dads deserve to be remembered and spoilt a little. Socks and ties are all very well but there are plenty of other ideas from candles to clocks that would make the perfect gift - just a few of which you can see below. However you choose to celebrate with you Dad we hope you'll have a great time.

Gifts suitable for Father's Day

Finally, we will be having a little fun ourselves as we take some time away during June. So do remember to visit us before the 14th to stock up on goodies! We look forward to seeing you.

1 May 2015

Is The Robin Still Rockin' ?

UPDATE: Today, 11 June 2015 it's been announced that the ROBIN was chosen, once again, to be Britain's national bird. So now more than ever we can say that robins are not just for Christmas! In second place came the barn owl and third was my personal favourite, the blackbird. To see how all the contenders were placed in the final count, visit the national bird vote page.

You still have one week to register your vote. NO, we're not talking politics, we're referring to the vote for Britain's national bird!  Apparently, back in the 1960s we voted for the robin, cheery, chirpy fellow that it is, but many people probably don't know that. So, David Lindo, The Urban Birder, has been running a campaign and there are now nine more contenders!

Bird design greetings cards #VoteNationalBird
Six of the current contenders!

This small selection of greetings cards shows how popular British birds are in the design world at the moment (along with lots of woodland and wildlife creatures) and you'll find them on all sorts of items from cushions to lampshades and ornaments to wallpaper. If you use Etsy, you'll find a Treasury I put together featuring these birds in a variety of media.

Taking the images above (l to r in no particular order of merit!) we have the kingfisher; famous for amazing speed and a flash of bright, jewel colours along our riverbanks. The bird is also connected with the word 'halcyon' - a term we use for calm, carefree days.
The robin is still in the running; a perennial favourite and not just for Christmas!
Blue tits are the garden world's cheeky chappies as well as being bright and colourful acrobats.
The barn owl is one of the countryside's most distinctive residents but, being nocturnal, not easily seen.
The puffin's fun character is responsible for its alternative names such as 'clown of the sea' and 'sea parrot'.
One of our most welcome garden birds, the blackbird has a beautiful song.

Four contenders for Britain's national bird
The final four contenders for Britain's national bird

The last four contenders are:
The mute swan; they combine grace, elegance and serenity for many of us.
Hen Harriers are one of our most persecuted birds of prey. Do you have a soft spot for them?
Jenny wren is one of our smallest birds, famous for appearing on the farthing coin (if you're old enough!), but has one of the loudest songs.
The final choice is the red kite, another bird of prey, saved from extinction by one of the world's longest-running protection programmes.

Each one is a worthy contender but which do you think best represents Britain? Are you attracted by the power of the birds of prey, the stateliness of the swan, the friendly familiarity of the garden birds, the individuality of the kingfisher and puffin or the folkloric fame of the owl?

You have until 7 May to cast your vote - oh, isn't there another election taking place then? Choosing our favourite bird should be so much easier!

You can learn more about all of the birds via the RSPB website.