Not a great deal to write about at the moment! It’s January! In Scotland! Not the weather to be spending a lot of time out of doors.
On a whim, I decided to take the bus to Galashiels this afternoon to look at the shops! The camera came too– just in case – of course, and I did manage to get a few pictures of some prominent features of the town.
Gala, as we refer to it around here, developed around the textile mills that grew up alongside the Gala Water, a tributary of the river Tweed, and for about 200 years the town thrived on the production of superior quality textiles, reaching its peak towards the end of the 19th century. However in recent years, various circumstances have eventually put paid to a viable industry here. The mills closed, many have been demolished, and new developments – residential and retail – have sprung up in their stead.
The photo above is of the 19th century Burgh Chambers with its 20th century clock tower. Having mentioned the mills along the river, behind and below the balustrade in the foreground is a mill-lade that once served a former mill that stood here. It has been incorporated into a rather unusual water feature, which I photographed from the opposite end. To think I have been visiting Gala for nearly 25 years and I never knew this existed till today. Here’s a close-up view of one of those statues – a boy clutching a fish, riding on the back of a dolphin!
The town’s coat of arms is of a fox looking up into a plum laden tree, with the inscription SOUR PLUMS, or as it’s pronounced locally Soor Plooms. Why a fox? No idea, but in 1337 English soldiers eating wild plums off a tree were surprised and subsequently killed by local townsfolk. The fox was maybe the personification of the enemy soldiers. Unfortunately, the coat of arms was one photo I did not get.
Outside the Burgh Chambers is a grand statue of a Reiver on horseback that stands in front of the memorial to the 625 young men of the town who died, mainly at Gallipoli, during WW1. A reiver, of whom there were many in the Scottish/English borderlands during the 13th to 16th centuries, was a raider. Life being hard in those days, to survive reivers from many Border tower houses would ride out to plunder cattle and other goods from neighbouring families, often in the process taking prisoners so they could later demand ransom money – a wild way of life indeed.
As well as statues of reivers, there are statues of at least two well known Scottish literary heroes in Gala. Sir Walter Scott, author of the Waverley Novels, bought himself a house not far from Gala, and ‘developed’ it into the grand house of Abbotsford.
Robert Burns link to Gala was more tenuous, although he did write a couple of poems about the town, one, the Braw Lads of Gala Water, eventually giving the local festival that surrounds the Common Riding its name. Braw is good-looking, handsome, in Scots.
So, my knowledge of Galashiels may have improved, but my shopping expedition wasn’t too successful really, and I wasn’t overly laden when I returned to Peebles on a later bus! I’m not one of life’s dedicated shoppers, so it wasn’t a big deal!
Talk again soon.