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The Weekly Blog

Come & Stay

I’m frequently asked why anyone would visit Kelso if it weren’t for the racecourse. I suppose it’s a fair question.

Wolverhampton, Uttoxeter, Warwick and Leicester: all places that I’ve visited for the express purpose of visiting a racecourse and never for any other reason. Chester has rather a good zoo and nice city walls, Cartmel is a beautiful village, and I have a soft spot for Worcester.

But I’d be hard-pushed to find a reason for travelling to Chelmsford, or Yarmouth, unless it was to attend the races. Liverpool doesn’t have much appeal for me without Aintree. And Manchester, where the racecourse closed in 1963… well, what’s the point?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are a lot of people living in these places who absolutely love being where they are, and who could dash off a dozen great things to do at the drop of a hat. But, if you’re one of them, start your own blog because this one is reserved for Kelso.

The school holidays are approaching, the days are lengthening, and it’s only natural that everyone is starting to think about places they’d like to visit – be it for a weekend, a week, or a fortnight. No one’s going to France this year because of the Olympics – what with all the tyres that lorry-drivers will be setting light to in the Champs-Élysées and milk that farmers will be pouring into the streets.

War zones are out, southern Europe is too hot and no one wants to fly near volcanoes any more. So really, despite there being no racing at Kelso until September, there’s no better place to come and stay.

Set in the heart of the Scottish Borders, Kelso is a great location from which to explore the beautiful countryside: the Tweed Valley, Eildon Hills and Cheviots; the enormous, empty, sandy beaches of the Northumbrian coastline. There are castles too, practically one every couple of miles: Floors Castle (the largest inhabited house in Scotland), Hume Castle, Greenlaw Tower, Smailholm Tower and Duns Castle, to name just a few that I pass close-by on a daily basis.

Scone Palace is a day trip away to the north – worth seeing, even if there wasn’t racing there on Sunday, where our selection is Ballygrifincottage in the Perth Gold Cup.

Kelso has a beautiful town square too, surrounded by shops with lots of independent retailers. And just off the square, near the ruins of the abbey on Bridge Street, is a wee gem: Scott’s Bistro, Deli & Butcher, where it’s possible to enjoy great French cooking without all the hassle of actually going to France.

Having been open exclusively at lunchtime, the Bistro is now serving food on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings: fabulous Bouillabaise, Warm Goats Cheese Tart, Fresh Cut Steak Tartare, French Onion Soup, and Moules Marinere. All of them magnificent and worth the visit to Kelso, even outside of the horseracing season.

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