During a brief break between lockdowns my wife and I decided to get away from the daily drudgery of our covid-enforced entrapment inspired wholly by the TV show Gone Fishing with funny men Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse.
If this show has passed you by, Whitehouse is the long-suffering master angler and Mortimer a giggling, daft apprentice who provides food, lodgings and idle chatter.
In one episode they spend a couple of days searching for salmon on the River Tweed in The Borders. Their lodgings were French roulottes, lovely traditional wooden caravans kitted out with luxurious bedrooms, showers, toilets, cookers, hobs and wood burners. They were among a dozen other similar roulottes of varying sizes dotted around a few acres of deliberately overgrown land each with its own little path through tall grass and shrubs - one of them enjoyed a fabulous wood-fired sauna.
By the end of the episode we had tracked down the Roulotte Retreat near Melrose and had booked a short stay.
Just on the edge of Bowden, we drove up a little track and into the tree-covered car park of Bowden Mill where we were welcomed by Avril who, at a safe distance, gave us a few tips about staying in a roulotte.
Within hours we had cooked dinner on the little two-ring oven and settled in to our first evening away from traffic and the city and were soon warm and snug in our country retreat listening to owls calling to each other as the night drew in.
We spent the next couple of days discovering a part of the country new to both of us. A footpath took us across fields and through a forest, revealing its spectacular autumnal colours, and over the Eildon Hills to Melrose for lunch at the friendly and splendid Provender restaurant tucked just off the High Street.
In recognition to our fishing heroes Paul and Bob, we spent four hours having fly casting lessons under the watchful eye of instructor Malcolm Douglas on the lake at the Schloss Rosburghe Hotel and Golf Course near Kelso.
The small lake was tucked away in a beautiful setting behind the hotel and proved a happy hunting ground for my wife Jacquie who landed a decent rainbow trout after her first few casts. The experience proved such a success we have gone on to have a further lesson and, although fishless, the start of more fly-fishing trips to come and with the hope of returning north to try our luck on the mighty Tweed.
For more information about the roulottes go to www.roulotteretreat.com