Protein for strength

“Magic” Ingredient that Can Keep You

Out of a Nursing Home…

I saw an article on this come across my desk from the Institute on Natural

Yummy looking deli sandwich stacked with protein and veggies
Healthy choices include protein

Healing and I had to share.  Is it really magic?  Maybe not but it is so right in front of us we frequently miss it.

As women who try to eat healthily and maintain our weight, we’ve noticed that as we get older our metabolism may not work as well.  (Sometimes like I feel there was a Shetland pony somewhere back in my gene pool.)  And…it seems to get worse every year.

So what do we do? Maybe cut out the sugar, avoid or minimize starchy carbs.  Even reduce portions because serving size ties to calories…which add up to pounds.

There’s a new study that shows there is a crucial factor in keeping you strong and healthy, independent and out of assisted living.  If you start now… it will help you avoid that dreaded fate.

So here’s the story…

A study in Newcastle in the UK followed 722 people who were 85 years young.  They logged their height, weight, diet and studied their medical records. They monitored any changes in their abilities and disabilities for five years.

Their results supported their hypothesis that the amount of protein eaten directly related to keeping people strong.

They confirmed that currently recommended levels needed to be raised. Maybe it’s that we’re living longer. Maybe it’s because protein levels are lower per serving in what is available to us versus 50 years ago.

So if you normally have 2000 calories per day, you should be getting about 150 grams of protein. If you’re pinching it to 1200 calories you need 90 grams.

Don’t let conversion get you derailed. It’s not that hard. There about 7 grams of protein in 1 ounce cooked meat. Four ounces boneless chicken breast when cooked yields about 3 ounces or 21 grams.

In addition to including protein in every meal, think about adjusting snacks so they are protein rich.

My naturopath once told me, “protein every time you eat. With every fruit or veggie, (carb), balance it with some form of protein.”

Some excellent sources of protein include:
  • Organic turkey and chicken
  • Grass-fed beef and pork
  • Wild-caught fish and shellfish
  • Raw nuts and seeds, including almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
  • Pastured eggs
  • Full-fat organic dairy
  • Whey protein drinks
Start now…

Starting as young as you can to live for longevity.  Keeping yourself strong may mean you can avoid that nursing home. You could live out your days living life on your terms and able to do the things you love.

Steak anyone?

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup…Yum!!

Mushroom soup jazzed with Hungarian Paprika warms your body and soul
Hungarian Mushroom Soup warms your body and soul

Hungarian Mushroom Soup gets its name from the incorporation of Hungarian Paprika which as a bit more flavor than regular.

Winter calls for some comfort food and mushroom soup fits the bill perfectly.  War, and yummy, it’s also incredibly good for you.  Mushrooms are full of antioxidants…great during cold and flu season.  Consider this your base recipe and feel free to experiment.

Organic mushrooms make the best soup. This included buttercup, scallop, lionsmane, oyster, shitake and Maitake mushrooms
Organic Mushrooms make the best soup. This was a 2-pound collection for a double batch.
  • 1 lb. fresh mixed mushrooms (Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, Lions Mane, Baby Bella… whatever you fancy) chopped  (The first time I had this, they were chopped very fine as he was handing out samples. But chop them however you prefer.)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 4 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk (any kind you prefer)
  • 1-2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 Tablespoon Hungarian Paprika (kickier than plain . If not in your local store check Amazon.)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tamari (soy) sauce
    chop 1 pound organic mushrooms
    1 pound chopped organic mushrooms


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I substituted ½ cup white wine)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh ground black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup sour cream

Saute’ onions in 2 Tbsp butter, salt lightly.  A few minutes later add

2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups chopped onion – I used food processor

mushrooms, 1tsp of the dill and ½ cup chicken stock, soy sauce and paprika. Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Set aside.

Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan; whisk in flour, cook while whisking (a few minutes). Add milk; continue to cook, stirring frequently over low heat, about 10

Gently saute onions in melted butter
Saute onions in melted butter

minutes until thick. Stir in mushroom mixture and remaining stock.  Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes. Just before serving add salt, pepper, lemon juice, sour cream, and if desired additional dill.  Garnish with parsley.

Since I wanted this to be a main dish instead of just soup, I added about 10 oz chopped protein and made extra of the sauce.  Served with crusty bread. Hubby gave it a 10.5!

For my double batch I prepared just the mushroom part and after it

Add mushrooms and spices to onions. Simmer. Make sauce and add mushroom mix.
Add mushrooms, dill and paprika simmer then make the sauce in a separate pan before adding mushroom mix.


simmered and cooled, put it in a freezer bag.  Now I can make quick soup whenever I need it.

Note: This can also be thickened a bit more and turned into a super yummy gravy with or without the protein.  How about using some of that leftover turkey or ham and making a melt?  Testing a recipe shortly.

Holiday stress management

Plan now to manage holiday stress…

Frazzled woman pulling out her hair needs stress management
Holiday stress control will brighten your season

Start your plan now to de-stress the holidays.   The winter holiday season can mean you’re super busy not only at work but at home. This means more stress and all of its side effects.

Did you know we women are more prone to depression than men are?  And the winter season with shorter periods of daylight can bring on depression.

Research studies have shown death rates peak in December and January across the US, regardless of what part of the country you live in. Stress is a key part of those numbers.

There are dozens of ways to make holidays less stressful, but here are 5 easy favorites.

1. Dump the expectations to reduce stress!

It is super easy to take on more than even Wonder Woman could accomplish. Think about the things that are your favorite parts of the holidays and focus on those.  Delete those things that create more angst for you.

If that means cutting out long-distance travel, do it.  If it means buying cookies for the school instead of baking them…do it, and don’t feel guilty.

When work gets stressful and overwhelming with clients asking for extra hours…set boundaries and stick to them.

Think about limiting your social engagements to a “doable” level. Instead of feeling obligated to be everywhere and do it all… focus on the events and people that give you the most pleasure.

  2. Make holidays a family team effort.

Get the kids and spouse involved. Delegate so everyone gets a part of the workload and more engaged in the fun. Delegate set priorities and simplify.

Make NEW traditions that focus on involvement, relaxing and having fun.

If that means less decorating or less than perfect decorating or gift-wrapping…go for it.

Maybe it means getting a grip on the spending and setting limits on the quantity and price of purchases.

Maybe it means teaching kids the benefits of helping others.  One less gift for themselves and the opportunity to pick out something for someone less fortunate.

3. Get active…

When we get busy and stressed, often the first thing to go is the exercise routine. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise makes a huge difference in stress management.  Take the kids and the dogs and get out in the fresh air for a walk.

Weather too lousy for outdoors?  Walk at the mall.  Or move exercise into your living or family room.  Kids love games and videos – dig out the PlayStation, Xbox, Wii or Nintendo. There are great exercise games available for all of them.  Let everyone join in and it becomes playtime.

Studies have shown video exercise games are just as effective as a gym workout or a 30-minute walk.

4. Start early to reduce stress

If you wait until the last minute, things always get more stressful. Starting early can make all the difference. Shop early, bake early (and freeze), and decorate in stages. If you mail out cards or write a holiday letter… get them ready to go now.

My personal favorite part of this is shopping.  When we go on vacation…regardless of what time of year that is, I look for gifts that the recipient will love and allow them to share something from our experience.  Be sure to put them where you’ll be able to find them months later and label them with the recipient’s name.

5. Entertaining? Get guests involved.

Instead of trying to do it all, make it a potluck and let each guest contribute.  Guide them with choices so you get a nice diversity not six of the same thing.

To minimize party stress, keep it relaxed and casual.

What are your favorite ways to minimize holiday stress?  Please comment or message me.

Time to call doc?

Image of orthopedic knee pain
Acute pain can impact your life

Is it Time to Call the Doctor?

Ever get up one morning to a strange new pain?  Or maybe you were just going about your day when wham…ouch.  A part of your body that seemed just fine yesterday was extremely unhappy. Time to call the doc?

Nah,  most of us hate going to the doctor. So we decide to wait and do a bit of self-diagnosis.

We’ll take an OTC pain reliever and see what happens. Maybe we’ll try a hot bath, icing, or just rest the area.  But what if it doesn’t improve?

Let me share a story…

Last spring while it was still too cold and rainy to want to walk outside, I decided to take up yoga.  Found a good YouTube guru and followed along.  Took it nice and easy…or so I thought.

Then came stabbing pain in my groin.  First just problems going up and down stairs.

I was pretty sure I’d pulled a groin muscle and my massage therapist thought so too.  Little Advil, little ice, take it easy, stretch the muscle gently. Go for easy walks.  No improvement, nada.

A big believer in alternative medicine, I saw my chiropractor.  My pelvis was out of alignment. He got me rebalanced and things were a bit better.

Then we were in the middle of a move and discomfort got relegated to the back burner. Packing and preparing… then unpacking took precedence.  Oh, and then there was a vacation.  The pain plagued me the entire trip. Sitting for hours on the plane was the worst.

A friend mentioned hemp balm so I got some of that and tried it topically.  It did seem to alleviate the pain. But the Problem didn’t go away.

Finally – after six months I went back to my chiropractor.  Two minutes of manipulations and he told me, “Degenerative arthritis in your hip. Go see your PCP and get an x-ray.”

I did, and then went home and researched. Options could help it… yea!

The doctor’s office called the day after the x-ray and wanted to refer me to an orthopedist. I put them off and waited until I could consult with my chiropractor.  He burst my bubble.  No cartilage. Back to my PCP.

Two weeks later I finally saw the orthopedist.  He confirmed the diagnosis.  No injections would help. Only option – replacement.  So… I’ve got that scheduled.

I have to wonder…What if I’d had called the doc months ago?  How different might the last six-eight months have been?


Sometimes it doesn’t pay to ignore pain or try to work through it.

WebMD advises that if acute pain doesn’t go away in a month or two, maximum… see your doctor.  If you have shooting pains or it’s worse at night, don’t wait that long.  Acute pain shouldn’t be ignored for six months!

Get pain investigated.  Call your doctor!

what’s wellness

What’s Wellness…

Scrabble tiles spell wellness
Wellness sign with wooden cubes and flowers and stones

     How do you define this hot topic?


We can trace the roots of wellness back to Greece, Rome and Asia. They all influenced what we today call wellness.

If we go back to the Oxford English Dictionary, we can trace wellness back to the 1650’s. It referred to the opposite of illness… being in good health.

In the 1970s, a group of doctors created models for wellness including assessment tools.  They established the National Wellness Institute in the U.S. and the modern movement began.

As our modern lifestyle affected millions of people’s health, the need for wellness globally became clear. The Global Wellness Institute was established with the goal of eliminating preventable diseases.

So what makes up wellness?

In my research, I found the “pillars” of wellness defined into from 3 to 12 categories.  But when you look at them… it boils down to three interrelated basics.

Body – if you don’t take care of your body… it will pay you back.

Body self-care includes diet.  Yup, you are what you eat.

It includes movement.  We are made to move… not sit like lumps of coal.  Exercise, stretching, and breathing are all important.

And sleep. The body needs rest and sleep to restore itself.  During the day, we are in protection mode. When we sleep is when the body does self-repair.

Mind – like the body, the mind needs stimulation. It wants input.

We’ve watched the mind of a child grow, learn, remember and build on it. We never lose that need. Whether it’s a formal class, exploring nature or learning anything new…it helps the mind thrive.

Soul / spirit is the third component. It includes how we connect with others, values, beliefs, our emotions.  It’s also tied to our surroundings, our environment.  To flourish, it wants relaxation. A time to slow down and just be. It’s your soul that loves those hugs.

Spa Wellness Insider explores all of these…

I’d love to hear your definition or your favorite wellness activity…. Anything that nurtures body, mind or spirit.  Please post and share…

You might also like my article on the Benefits of Hugs


benefits of hugging

Seven Benefits of hugging….

Group of people arms entwined in group hug
Hugging boosts wellness

There’s nothing like a hug from a friend to boost your day.  But did you know hugging can actually help keep you healthy?

Science has been studying hugs for years and their results confirm what we all knew…hugging makes us feel better.  But we underestimate the “why” we need those hugs and how they benefit us every day.

Here are 7 key reasons you should offer and get hugs…
  1. Stress relief – when we hug, it triggers the release of chemical hormones. Endorphins travel throughout our body relaxing muscles, de-stressing us and even improving heart health.
  2. Immune booster – Those endorphins boost our immune system. Ever noticed when people go through a crisis they often get sick or catch a cold?  It’s tied to stress and hugs help you fight back naturally.

Unfortunately, as we age…we may suffer from fewer hugs. Studies have shown few hugs lead to a detrimental impact on health.  Get more hugs and you will stay healthy longer and heal better, faster. Seniors who aren’t getting hugs from loved ones benefit from access to a pet they can hug and stoke.

  1. Connectivity – In a world of electronics, we tend to connect more with cell phones than we do with other people. Skin to skin contact – a good hug, helps build relationships, offer comfort and improve outlook. We know babies need held and cuddled. So, it seems, do we adults.
  2. Self-esteem – Hugs make you feel better about yourself. They build confidence. Hugs reduce fears and anxiety. They also strengthen relationships. Couples who hug more have better relationships.
  3. Happiness booster – The release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine boost our feelings of happiness and reduce depression. The deep touch we experience during a hug or even petting a cat or dog works on our nervous system.  It helps us stay balanced and even sleep better.  They also work on the part of the brain that makes us feel hunger.  More hugs reduce cravings and can help us keep a healthy body weight.
  4. Improve Performance – Studies show that when athletes give each other team hugs the boost in hormones improves their performance. So send your kids, spouse or friends off with a good hug to improve their day…. And get the same benefit for yourself. Hugging is a win-win activity.  Everyone gets equal benefit because our body activates what it individually needs.
  5. Pain relief – Yup, studies have proved that the touch of a loved one can reduce our response to pain. A hug, hand holding, stroking between those with an emotional connection release hormones that provide a drug-free method of pain relief.
Hugging –

A good hug is genuine. It’s freely offered and accepted. It’s never pushy.  A heart to heart hug that lasts for 3 breaths or about 20 seconds gives the greatest results.

How many hugs?  There aren’t any scientific studies on a quota of hugs needed but the psychotherapist, Virginia Satir is often quoted. People need  4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth.  Most of us need more hugs that we are getting.

Facing a crisis

Life is Sneaky… “Gotcha”!

You’re cruising along, everything going great and then life grabs you by the throat and says “Ah-ha, gotcha!” You now have a new life crisis to deal with.  It’s scary, emotional, even devastating.

What we forget is that adversity is really normal.  It’s the unexpected that trips us up.

You might be facing a medical condition or the loss of someone dear to you. Right now we are seeing thousands lose absolutely everything in the horrible California wildfires.

Events like this are traumatic and disruptive. They trigger a huge amount of stress.  To complicate what you’re dealing with that stress can lead to illness which just makes everything worse.

So how do we cope?

Face the demon and try not to panic. Take a deep breath and get some hugs. The comfort of others helps us deal. Support cannot be over-rated. No matter what the problem, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Look for any bright side you can find… yup, sometimes they can be hard to see…

  • You and your family are safe.
  • A surgery can fix that medical condition.
  • You caught the problem early and you just have to get through it.
  • You have a spouse, family, friends and even pets who will love you right through this.
  • There are a lot of people who want to help you.

What can you do?  Make a list. Any action takes you a giant step forward mentally and physically.  It might be as simple as letting family know.

What sort of help do you need?  Physical, mental, support?

Take care of yourself.

You might not feel like it but going for a walk somewhere pleasant can be a boon.  Eat healthy choices. Get plenty of rest – resting is restoring…healing.  Talking things out, meditation, prayer… all can help.

Lean on your team, take actions, care for yourself… and get those hugs.  This too will pass.

Even Eugene travel wellness hotel

Even Eugene… Travel Wellness on your terms

rooms with wellness in mind
Guestrooms are spacious

Travel wellness at a chain hotel?  Yes, indeed. The Even Eugene opened January 2018.  It’s the first of its kind on the west coast and there are only seven others in the world.  Based on guest feedback the Even chain was created to focus on wellness travel.

Eugene welcomes this unique, quirky, casual, retro-meets-modern minimalist property. Its “wellness on my terms” orientation fits perfectly into the local culture and attitude.

The 100 guestrooms are roomy and each includes its own fitness area.  Even rooms are designed to meet goals of wellness-oriented travelers. People who don’t want their fitness-oriented lifestyle derailed when on the road.

Enter on the ground level, and just past the conference rooms… you’re

Even walls reflect wellness
Living wall in entry hall

greeted with a floor-to-ceiling living wall.  You can’t help but touch it to assure those plants are real.  Light, clean, minimalist, sort of Scandinavian in feel.

Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and you find a spacious lobby/reception area. The check-in desk is also minimal.  More of a kiosk than a traditional imposing counter.

And then you notice the quirky sayings stenciled on the walls.  “Don’t think of them as stairs…they’re little hurdles.”  “Stay hydrated… stay well.” And leading to the patio…”Come on out… the nature’s fine.”  You’ll find them throughout the hotel including your room.

This place does not take itself too seriously and will make you smile with its humor. Certainly not your traditional, stuffy, boring business hotel.  Even the staff’s business cards have non-traditional titles.  You’ll meet the “Chief Wellness Officer” and “Accomplish More Manager.”

Open, welcoming & you’re in charge of travel wellness choices

The floor plan is very open and flowing. You move from reception to the

Choose your wellness style
Open floor plan invites you

24/7 grab and go food and beverage area.  Chose healthy or decadent. Or drift on into the restaurant, bar and computer area.  Convenient power and internet access invite work, conferencing or just relaxing. Big screen televisions offer diversion, but quietly enough not to be distracting.

The commitment to wellness extends to the multi-zone 1000 square-foot workout studio. Don’t be

Wellness for guests and staff
Workout studio for guests… and staff

surprised to see staff working out with you. Wellness and fitness are encouraged.  The general manager leads weekly workouts. His assistant takes guests on runs through Alton-Baker Park’s extensive paths.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to keep the most serious fitness fiend busy.  But this is wellness your way.  You can choose a fresh smoothie, healthy frittata… or go for an egg and Canadian bacon sandwich.

Wind down with a healthy version of cobb or go for an all-natural burger or

flexible wellness
Restaurant, bar and free-form work area

flatbread pizza. Enjoy freshly squeezed oranges and organic coffee or full-service bar.

Every guest is provided with their own water bottle.  Refill as often as you

Infused waters contribute to travel wellness
Hydration Station offers infused waters

like at the Hydration Station in the reception area.

Comfy is key… work or workout

Rooms are surprisingly large. They boast upgraded bedding featuring

comfort and travel wellness
Beauty rest mattresses and eucalyptus bedding

Simons Beauty Rest mattresses and deluxe eucalyptus linens.

Relax in mood lighting and enjoy spa-inspired showers complete with amenities.

Each room also features both a sitting and standing desk. The 42” HD TV have 18 fitness videos for an in-room workout.  You can also access your own secure

Even hotels offer travel wellness
Guest room features wellness options

Netflix channel.

The exercise zone gives you lots of inspiration:

  • Yoga mats,
  • Exercise balls,
  • Resistance bands,
  • Wall mounted workout unit.

You’re invited…

Even Eugene invites locals and guests to the weekly Yoga Happy Hour!

The Cork & Kale bar and lounge invites you to come, relax, enjoy and get acquainted.  See what the excitement’s all about.  Wellness on your terms.

Discover Scotlands Borderlands

Discover Scotland’s Borderlands… Something most US tourists miss

Do you like many tourists think of Edinburgh when you think of Scotland?

Scotland borderlands
Welcome to Scotland

Maybe a quick stop on a multi-city tour.  But there is so much more to see, experience and explore in Scotland.  Like discovering the borderlands. Head south an hour outside Edinburgh, and discover castles, abbeys, and quaint towns.  Rich in history, beauty, adventure, and opportunities.

This is a tour you can easily do in five days with no rush.  If you like biking, hiking, and the outdoor life, be sure to add extra days in the Tweed Valley. For “high-octane”  adventure, you’ll need more time.

It’s only 21.9 miles between Peebles and Selkirk so you have lots of choices of a place to stay.  You’ll find accommodations that range from castles, hotels, guest inns, bed-and-breakfast, to bunkhouses, camping, and self-catering.

There is a lot to see in a small area. Pick a town as a home base. Or tour and stay over in multiple spots to get a sense of life in the very different communities.

As in all of Scotland, the weather can change quickly.  It’s always good to have a raincoat and good walking shoes.

Venues generally close before dark for guest safety.  Since they depend on natural light, winter hours are shorter.  In very inclement weather, there can be surprise closures.  It’s good to do a last minute check.

Edinburgh – Tweed Valley

Scottish borderlands
Tweed Valley Scottish borderlands

From Edinburgh take the A703 to its junction with the A72 and head toward Peebles.  You are driving through the stunning Tweed Valley. It’s one of the most popular places in the borderlands. Prized for its natural beauty and outdoor activities of every imaginable type.

An hour 15 minutes down the road you come to the little town of Galashiels.

Just outside of town is Abbotsford, the home of writer Sir Walter Scott.  The

Abbotsford in Scottish borderlands
Abbotsford photo courtesy

striking hills, valleys, and history of the area were a great inspiration to him. Tours of the house and gardens are available March to November, but the gift shop and restaurant are open year round.

Galashiels was a textile town. It has a more modern post-industrial feel to it. There is still a textile making school here. Famous for its sheep, wool was readily available and the fast-flowing Tweed River powered the mills.

Selkirk is less than 7 minutes down the road.  Here you can visit Bowhill House and Country Estate, and two glass studios.  Lindean Mill Glass and Twist Glass Studio will both amaze and tempt you to buy.

From this area of the lowlands came a grace that Robert Burns popularized as the Selkirk Grace.  A two-line prayer often recited before eating.

Melrose, about 5 miles from Galashiels, offers the historic charm of a border market town.  It’s full of history well worth exploring. Melrose is 14.6 miles, about 27 minutes west of Kelso.

Explore Melrose – Kelso

You could easily spend two days in this area of the borderlands.  There is a lot to see and do.  Be sure to take your camera as there are lots of photo opportunities.

Melrose Abbey

This is a must-see.  One of the most famous ruins in Scotland. Founded by

Melrose Abbey in borderlands
Melrose Abbey

David I, in 1136 for the order of the Cistercian.  Melrose suffered damage at the hands of the English during the middle ages. In the 1380s, rebuilding took place. After the last monk passed away in 1590 it fell into disuse.

The abbey is open year round, but October through March the hours are shortened. The Commendator’s House Museum has a diverse collection of medieval objects.

Three Hills Roman Heritage Center

The Romans arrived in the Melrose area in 79-80AD.  They built a major fort called Trimontium, ‘Place of the Three Hills’. The Three Hills Roman Heritage Center houses a museum dedicated to Roman life in Scotland.

The name Three Hills refers to the distinctive three-peaked hill, also called Elidon, just south of the town of Melrose.   One of the highest and most distinctive geographical features in the borderlands, it was a natural location for an outlook or signal station. The military base would have been along the Roman army road that ran through the valley near the Tweed River.

Dryburgh Abbey

This abbey is nearby in St. Boswells.  Established in 1150 you’ll find well-

Dryburgh Abbey borderlands
Dryburgh Abbey

preserved ruins.  They rank among the most beautiful in Scotland.  It survived three fires and is the final resting place for both David Eskrine, 11th Earl of Buchan in 1829, and three years later his friend Sir Walter Scott.  The abbey is open to visitors year around.  It’s easy to access… flat with no steps.

Kelso Abbey

Located in Kelso you’ll find the remains of the abbey founded in the twelfth

Kelso Abbey borderlands scotland
Kelso Abbey

century.   The ruins are a testimony to one of the greatest architectural achievements in historic Scotland. It was one of the largest and most affluent of the abbeys in Scotland. The area is so pretty, it has attracted artists since the 1600s.

Scott’s View

This high point was an inspiration to Sir Walter Scott. Located off the

Scotts View borderlands of Scotland
Scotts View Elidon Hills in the distance

narrow B6404 that runs between Kelso and St. Boswells it offers commanding views of the Three Hills and the Tweed Valley.  A bench and marker commemorate where Scott liked to contemplate.  On our tour, we stopped past Scott’s View on our way to find Smailholm Tower.

Smailholm Tower

This is a classical borderland tower house.  Four stories tall  (65 feet), and

Smailholm in Scottish borderlands
Smailholm Castle

built on a rocky crag called Lady Hill its address is Sandyknowe Farm. This reflects its location adjacent to a local farm on the narrow B-road.

It’s a gem of a find.  To get there park in the small carpark and hike up the hill.  The ground is rocky and uneven. Not recommended for those with physical challenges.

Amazing views reward your hike.  Inside the hall, there is a model of the Pringle residence and a collection of garments and tapestries from Sir Walter Scott’s time.  Scott’s grandparents brought him to the area when they stayed at Sandyknowe Farm.

Floors Castle

Located just outside of Kelso, the 1st Duke of Roxburghe built Floors in 1721.

Floors Castle in Scottish borderlands
Floors Castle

It is more a country estate than a defensive fortification.  Offering tours for over 40 years, this huge castle is still an inhabited family home.  There have been many modifications over the years as families suited it to their needs.

If you have the family names of Ker, Kerr, Car, or Carr in your ancestry, you’ll enjoy researching in this area.  Both lines of the family were in high power positions as lords of the middle marshes and favorites of King James VI.

Cessford Castle

You’ll find Cessford just over 11 miles south and slightly east of Floors.  It

Cessford Castle Scottish Borderlands
Cessford Castle

was the stronghold of the Ker family during the 16th and 17th century.  The area was in constant turmoil for 200 years. But the Kers exercised considerable power and extended their prosperity.

Built in about 1450 this is a tower house fortification.  It sits high on a hill with commanding views that made it very defensible.  Cessford is located just outside of the town of Cessford.  Last inhabited in 1650 it fell into ruin.  Standing on this windswept hillside, it’s a cold lonely place that triggers the imagination of life in times gone by.

Roxburgh Castle

Also near Kelso, you can find the ruins of Roxburgh Castle.  Sitting next to

Roxburgh Castle Scottish Borderlands
Roxburgh Castle rendering courtesy Pinterest

the A699 it’s easy to find.  There is a pull off where you can park and hike to the ruins.  Wear good footwear, the ground is uneven.  Little stonework remains but the site is impressive.

Built by King David I in 1125, it stood guard protecting the burg of Roxburgh.  The location overlooked the river Tweed, a valuable method of transporting goods.

In its day, it was as important as Edinburgh or Sterling are today.  The rivers Tweed and Teviot ran closer to it than they do today, protecting the castle with water-filled defenses on all sides.

Besieged numerous times for its powerful vantage point, it shifted back and forth between English and Scottish ownership for nearly 300 years. Finally,  abandoned, 1551 saw it demolished to prevent further military use.

Look northwest across the Tweed and you can see Floors Castle in the distance.


Jedburgh sits 12 miles southwest of Kelso, about a twenty-minute drive.  It makes a great day-trip or a quaint place to stay.  This market town was home to the Kerr Clan. The family castle, Fernihurst, is located just outside of town.  The village name comes from its location on the river Jed. Only about 10 miles from the English border, it is the heart of the borderlands.

Jedburgh Castle

King David I built the original castle before 1174.  In the late 12th century,

Jedburgh Castle Jail Scottish borderlands
Jedburgh Castle Jail & Museum courtesy Trip Advisor

Jedburgh along with four other castles was ceded to the English.  An occasional royal residence for Scots, the English recaptured it many times. Finally, Scots demolished it in 1409.  In the 19th century, rebuilding occurred. It opened as a prison in 1823.  Today it is a museum. It gives you insights into being a resident in the jail… as well as a glimpse of the area history.  Free admission.

Jedburgh Abbey

The abbey founded in the 12th century was home to Augustinian monks.  It is

Jedburgh Abbey Scottish borderlands
Jedburgh Abbey

one of four great abbeys built at this time.  You’ll find it exceptionally preserved. Good access to the abbey, its cloister, and domestic buildings.  The blend of Romanesque and early Gothic is intriguing.  The abbey is open year round, but the hours are shorter in the winter.

Mary Queen of Scotts Center

The Kerr family rented this home to Mary when she toured the area on

Mary Queen of Scotts borderlands
Mary Queen of Scotts Center

business.  She stayed a month in the autumn of 1566 and as queen, dispensed justice.  Today, a visitor’s center, the home gives you insights of her life and times.  It is one of the largest collections of pictures and objects about the queen.

Many Kerr were left-handed. When they built this home, they included a left-handed stairway. It’s on the second floor. The stairway offered left-handed defenders a decided advantage over right-handers trying to attack them.

You can also walk in the enclosed garden and wander in the town.  Free

Jedburgh borderlands Scotland
Left-handed stairs, Mary Queen of Scotts Center

admission.  It is open to the public March 1st through the end of November.

Fernihurst Castle

Tucked on a hill two miles south of Jedburgh is Fernihurst Castle, the seat of

Fernihurst Scottish borderlands
Fernihurst Castle

Clan Kerr.  Privately owned, it allows the public access during the month of July.  This coincides with the Jedburgh Summer Festival.

During this two-week-long festival, there are lots of activities to celebrate and commemorate the taking back of Fernihurst from the English in 1549.  The festival tops off with a 200 man mounted cavalcade. They ride from Jedburgh to Fernihurst castle. There a commemorative service is performed.

Nestled among trees, Fernihurst has commanding views of the surrounding countryside and village.

Fernihurst represents one of the best-preserved castles of its period. Originally a tower fortification built in 1476. James VI mostly demolished it in 1593 as punishment for helping the English.

Sir Andrew Kerr rebuilt it in 1598. The family occupied the home for 200 years.  Starting in the 1980s the Laird hired local craftsmen, using local materials. to undertake restoration.

Occasionally, a private tour is available. The amazing curator Bob Larson is extremely knowledgeable.  He also responds to family and genealogy inquiries from Kerrs/Carrs worldwide.

Waterloo Monument

From Jedburgh, you are only 6.2 miles, about 15 minutes to the Waterloo

Waterloo Monument Scottish borders
Waterloo Monument courtesy Explore the Borders

Monument. It’s accessible via a car park at the Harestanes Visitor Centre.  It’s accessible from the B6400 or A68.  The marked path sits on private land. The hike is steep in places. It’s best on a good weather day.

The views are fabulous.  The monument soars 150 feet tall.  Constructed in 1817-1824 it commemorates the battle of Waterloo.

They keep the tower locked. For a small fee, you rent a key that allows you access inside. You’ll find a circular stair that takes you clear to the top.  I didn’t do this hike but there heard of key issues. Key access is not available daily. Some reviewers reported faulty keys.

If you like a good hike and want spectacular views, this is a must do.

Return to Edinburgh

From Jedburgh, you are less than two hours to Edinburgh.  From the Waterloo Monument about 75 minutes. Both routes travel the A68.   Easy access to return to the city.

Create your own tour?

If you need help creating your own custom tour, please contact me:  My husband is English and knows all the insider places.  We both love exploring the British Isles and help you create your memorable experience.