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Given the restriction on travel to the Central Belt of Scotland, we’re all looking for alternative safe places to do our Christmas shopping. Which is why NASA’s discovery of water on the moon this week was a particularly important breakthrough.

The discovery, by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), holds particular significance for the future of space exploration and could make it easier to travel to places where there are currently no recorded cases of Covid. But water isn’t much use without whisky, so I was interested to note that scientists have also discovered a substance resembling raspberry rum within a cloud of gas close to the centre of the Milky Way.

The composition of Sagittarius B2, a giant molecular cloud about 150 light years across, was analysed by spectrograph revealing various alcoholic compounds and ethyl-formate, the ester which is responsible for the flavour of raspberries. In further good news, it appears that this region definitely lies outside the scope of the current Covid tiering system and it would therefore be permissible to enjoy a cosmic tipple without having to order a substantial meal at the same time.

Apparently there are ten octillion (that’s ten billion billion billion) litres of the stuff out there, which makes it the second largest source of flavoured alcoholic beverages in the known Universe. Only the staff and directors of Kelso Racecourse produce more – and the quality of the sloe gin and raspberry whisky that appears in the racecourse office at Christmas time is considered to be similarly ‘out of this World’.

Sloe gin is best matured over a long period of time, so if you didn’t pick your sloes before last Christmas, you won’t have any ready for gifting in eight weeks’ time and you’ll be obliged to shop locally instead.

Fortunately, the town square in Kelso offers free parking and a great variety of independent traders with a fantastic array or products. From butchers to bakers, cook shops to clothes shops and gift emporia, there is something for everyone.

The lazy shopper probably needn’t walk any further than James Stewart & Son in Woodmarket Street, stockists of electrical appliances, picture hooks, mouse traps, crockery and just about everything you’ve ever thought of buying as well as a few things that you hadn’t – like lovely loo rolls with multi-coloured love hearts printed on every sheet, a gift for your sweetheart that says she need never go panic buying again, at the reassuringly expensive price of £3.49 per roll.

And across the road is Ladbrokes which, unlike many betting shops located in the higher Covid-tiers of England, is still permitted to take bets from high-street shoppers. This week’s selection is Aye Right who will be a decent each-way price for the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday. Sadly we can’t travel down to Wetherby to see him in the flesh, but we can settle down with a nice glass of raspberry rum and watch the race at home on ITV.

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