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Mega Days Oot

According to the Melrose Book Festival’s website, Saturday’s session with two Beano editors promises to “reveal top tips for creating laugh-out-loud stories”. Long-suffering readers of this blog (all seven of you) will doubtless be hoping that I attend and take notes.

Entitled “Two Beano Ed’s Make Mega Mischief” the interactive talk by Mike Stirling and Craig Graham is fantastic value for money at £6 per ticket for children and £8 per adult, although (in an interesting reversal of pricing policy at most venues and events) an adult accompanying their children to the talk will be admitted FREE of charge. So, I’m guessing that a family of two adults and two children is likely to pay either £12 or £20, in total, for an hour’s entertainment.

Compare that to a trip to nearby Abbotsford, the extraordinary and wonderfully preserved home of Sir Walter Scott – author of romantic novels that have driven the Scottish tourism market for two hundred years. Adult tickets can be purchased for £14 and child tickets for £6.50, although there is also a family ticket (two adults and two children) for just £36. It’s a wee bit pricier than The Beano, but your admission tickets will remain valid for return visits for up to a year.

A tour of Edinburgh Castle would cost the same family £56, without the benefit of return trips being included. However, despite the castle’s iconic status, it’s probably not even the best visitor attraction located at the top of the Royal Mile. Within a few yards of the castle entrance is Camera Obscura: a strange and whacky display of mind-boggling visual illusions spread over five floors in an old town house, topped by a Victorian periscope which projects views of the surrounding city onto a blank table-screen in the centre of a darkened room.

Worth every penny, at a fairly hefty £77.80 for our theoretical family of four, the Camera Obscura exhibits a thought-provoking blend of very old, and very new, technology which stimulates questions long after the visit is over. I have a Rich Belief (the name of this week’s selection at Chester) that everyone should go at least once. The price does not include parking (which is extortionate in Edinburgh, where driving a car has recently been complicated further by the introduction of a Low Emission Zone, the rules for which are probably somewhere online).

So how do these prices, you’ll be wondering, compare to a day at Kelso Races?

Tickets for our Autumn fixtures go on sale on Monday. The earlier you purchase, the better the deal. Early Bird tickets are available, for every fixture staged during the remainder of this year, for just £15 per adult. Children aged 17 and under are admitted FREE of charge, as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult. So that’s £30, for our family of four, for a full afternoon of entertainment. And while each raceday has a slightly different theme, the Family Raceday scheduled for 6th October, will feature a range of additional activities and entertainment for younger racegoers.

We can’t promise mega-mischief, but the parking is free, and if there’s better value for a day out in the South of Scotland – please write and tell me about it before the start of the Summer holidays. I’d hate to miss out.