Ford Tours: Here we go Again…..

You just knew that was going to happen, didn’t you? In retrospect, our last post was tempting fate somewhat when we wrote “The main thing is that SOK is now fully sorted from a Ford point of view”. As if……

Overview: 3 days, 136 miles

At the end of our last post, we were just crossing into Scotland on Sunday morning. Still basking in the afterglow of the fabulous Stott Park Bobbin Mill, we decided that our first stop would be a bit more industrial heritage courtesy of Robert Smail’s Printing Works in Innerleithen.

The printworks operated commercially from 1866 until 1986. By that point, the third generation of printing Smails was in his 70s and wanting to retire. The printworks was put up for sale, but wasn’t viable as a going concern as nothing had been modernised in over a hundred years. It came to the attention of the National Trust for Scotland, who went ahead and purchased it.

The guided tour was hands-on. Here’s Mark searching for the letters (“sorts”) to spell his name, which was then printed onto a bookmark. Capitals are in the top part of the rack (the “upper case”) and small letters below (in the “lower case”). All good fun, and it enabled our guide to explain many of the details of the compositor’s job (particularly the things that could go wrong) and explain a few common sayings that come from printing, for example:

“out of sorts”: when you run out of a particular letter mid-job…


“mind your p’s and q’s”: the lower case isn’t arranged alphabetically. It has the most commonly used letters in the centre. A compositor was supposed to be able to place 2000 letters per hour, so the case was arranged with speed in mind. The p’s and q’s are next to each other in the lower case, so extra care is needed (the letters on the cases are upside down and back to front, so it would be easy to pick up a p instead of a q).

As apprentices, we were told what our jobs would be. They included putting the used sorts back in the right cases. The printworks had around 400 cases for different fonts and sizes. Of course, anything that then went wrong would then by definition be the apprentice’s fault for having put things back in the wrong place!

By some miracle, we passed the tests set us and emerged with our day 1 apprenticeship certificates:

One thing I really liked was at the end of the tour when we visited the office. The Smails were hoarders and had kept literally everything. They had other businesses running from the shop at the front of the premises, including the selling of tickets. We saw an original White Star line ledger with all the stubs showing details of the tickets sold:

How fascinating would that be to anyone with ancestors who’d emigrated from Innerleithen? Apparently the ticket stubs are all online.

Continuing on our way, we got parked up no problem at Melrose:

Melrose Abbey is just round the corner. David 1 of Scotland invited the Cistercians to set up here back in the 1130s. He had in mind the site of the monastery founded by St Aidan in the 7th century (Cuthbert was a monk at the original Melrose Abbey before he became famous…). The Cistercians, though, had spotted a better site a couple of miles away and couldn’t be swayed…..

The audioguide explained all about the Cistercian order; we’d heard most of the information earlier in the year at Furness Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey.

Obviously, the buildings we see today come from a later period when Cistercian austerity had gone out of the window! Significant rebuilding was required in the late 14th century after the English popped round and wrecked the place; it’s thought that one of Melrose Abbey’s most famous features dates to that period. It’s a pig gargoyle playing the bagpipes:

You can see the bagpipes better face on, though at that angle he did remind me of Basil Brush!

This was the first test for my latest purchase, a new camera. I have to say that I’m very pleased with the zoom (it’s a Canon compact camera with a 40× optical zoom. Quite how it all fits back into the camera body is beyond me….. the pig is just below the roofline in the second photo of the abbey, and the face-on pig photo was taken from ground level). Those animals in South Africa won’t stand a chance!

Wandering back to SOK via the town centre, Mark spotted a shop that grabbed all of his attention:

It being Sunday afternoon, the shop was firmly shut. There are no prizes for guessing Mark’s first destination on Monday morning:

It is (or more accurately, was) pork with stilton and brie….

When it came time to leave Melrose, we discovered that SOK really wasn’t keen on starting. Ah….. He did start, and off we went into the dismal weather. When we stopped to look at a nearby statue of William Wallace, I noticed that Mark carefully parked SOK pointing downhill….. William Wallace doesn’t look troubled by the torrential rain; I guess he’s used to it.

Our route to the coast took us just across the border back into England and the town of Berwick upon Tweed. We like Berwick, especially the 16th century fortifications.

We thought that pointing a cannon at SOK was a bit unwelcoming to tourists though!

Last time we visited Berwick, we were not yet members of English Heritage. This time, armed with our membership cards, we went to have a look at the Berwick upon Tweed Barracks. There are three museums within the barracks. The Berwick Museum wasn’t open on Mondays, which left us with the English Heritage museum which tells the story of the British infantry, and the regimental museum of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

We hate to be negative, but the English Heritage exhibition is very poor. You wouldn’t pay good money to visit it. Mark jumped at the chance to play a random game part way round:

Luckily, Berwick had another attraction for us to visit: Maxwell Motors Ltd. On returning to SOK from the barracks, Mark had checked the readout on our control panel for the engine battery and it didn’t look good at all. Something was definitely amiss….

The chaps at the Ford garage were initially doubtful (they’re booked up etc etc), but eventually arranged for us to return to the garage at 1pm on Tuesday, at which point they would make space in their busy schedule to test our battery for us. We couldn’t park overnight in their car park as it’s gated off at night and there’s an alarm with motion sensors etc, so off we went to the CL we’d booked nearby with the promise that if SOK wouldn’t start the next day, they’d send someone round to assist….

Surprisingly, after a peaceful night at Foulden Hagg CL, SOK started fine and his battery voltage was back to normal. Bizarre….

Back at the Ford garage, our battery was tested and found wanting. Mark was overjoyed at the news; better for SOK to have a dud battery than engine boggarts. You do hear of modern vehicles with strange intermittent symptoms that the diagnostic computer just can’t find…..

Next, SOK had to be hooked up to the computer and the battery test run again. Old hands that we are now, we knew what that was all about. The Ford garages only get paid by Ford for warranty work that the computer decides is necessary (this explains why some Ford-based Benimars seem to have had four injectors changed under warranty but SOK has only had one changed so far).

You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Second time around, the battery was deemed to be absolutely fine. We clearly have some kind of intermittently dud battery. Luckily for us, the garage are in agreement that something is wrong with our battery. A new one has been ordered. When it arrives, the old one has to be tested on the computer again before it gets changed, but we are not to worry, they have a way to “nobble” (technical term….) the test so as to get the right result……

We’ve found a great little spot for the night at Cheswick Sands:

The beach is a short stroll away across the dunes. You can just see Lindesfarne Castle in the distance:

In other news, Mark has cracked out the Colgate and can confirm that toothpaste does indeed remove marks from motorhome windows (that’s what you get for venturing down very narrow roads with protruding greenery either side):

Who’d have thought that would work? Thank you to the Benimar UK Owners group for that top tip…..

As we don’t know when the new battery will arrive (it’s coming fom Manchester), we’re going to stay close to Berwick tomorrow. Thankfully, it seems that English Heritage have laid on a couple of castles for us….


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