Once upon a time, before the invention of Velcro, Scotland was shut in
the winter. Each year, when October came around, two trusted citizens of
the realm were dispatched to the border to put up big signs that read,
'Scotland Closed. No rieving today, thank you. Come back in the
spring. Bring an army.' But sometimes
the signs were not enough, and still the hoards came. Haddington has
been set on fire by the English on a few occasions over the centuries.
Nowadays we don't allow any plundering or fire-raising, and instead have
opened our borders to all and sundry. Or, at least, that is the theory.
In practise this age-old custom has clung on in some remote areas, and
even today you will find certain tourist attractions shut for the
Haddington's only tourist attraction, St Mary's Parish Church, comes
into this category. It is a picturesque fourteenth century structure
that sits by a river. You might, therefore, reckon there was little
point in visiting Haddington at this time of year. You would, of course,
be wrong. For in winter the low fiery sun casts long finger
shadows over the land,
and being a visitor comes into its
own. No more tourist free-for-all,
no more pensioners with
ice-cream, and nothing to do but soak
up the atmosphere in
and around what is really
charming little town.