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Eyemouth's working harbour bustles at dawn with the unloading of fish against a backdrop of boats awaiting surgery in the boatyard's vast aircraft-style hangars.
Some vessels, with their varnished wood, strangely recall the African Queen.
In one of those juxtapositions that travel throws up, I return in sombre mood to my car in the nearby village of Braxton where I stumble upon what claims to be the world's smallest tourist information centre, inside a red telephone box. All too often the Borders have been a riotous place, a turbulent land of migrants, marauders and princes.
The abbeys were intended to drive the local economy by producing ink, wool, meat, fruit and cereals; they were also a useful buffer against the marauding English.
Each has its own charms and all are must-sees: Kelso is the most ruined; Dryburgh is the most substantial and somehow supports a quivering, wafer-thin rose window; Melrose has surreal gargoyles and, some say, the heart of Robert the Bruce; Jedburgh's high arches appear to be effortlessly, invisibly, supported.
However you reach them, arriving in the Borders is a euphoric experience.
The drive over the Cheviots to the border pass at Carter Bar on the A68 is breathtaking; or you can breach their eastern flanks, by train through Berwick- upon-Tweed, by road along the A1, or on foot along the coastal path.