This month marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Jim Clark, much loved Scottish racing driver. As someone whose driving history takes in a Fiat Panda (Mrs RM), Ford Pop Plus and Toyota Aygo, you’ll surmise I’m no petrol-head, though I have aspirations towards an electric self-driving car that will allow me to complete the Highlands pubs.
Last week I stopped in Duns, home of the Jim Clark Museum, which was busily engaged in fielding enquiries from the Mainstream Media about opening hours, photography permissions, WiFi and the availability of Prosecco for visiting reporters. I may get shot for sneaking the photo at the top.
The museum is getting an upgrade over the next year, mainly adding actual cars to what at the moment is an engaging collection of racetrack memorabilia.
But Duns is more than Jim. It’s a handsome stone town, with the smell of real fires and hot cross buns from the ubiquitous Co-op, and the rare sight of front doors left open to welcome in a rarer bit of Scottish sunshine.
It’s a place that no doubt gets a fair few visitors from Berwick, propping up some colourful pubs and cafes.
I had the company of an unofficial tour guide (below) for some of my walk, which took all of 20 minutes waiting for the Black Bull to open.
The town mascot is a bear commemorating the role of Polish forces in the Second World War, a charming touch.
There’s more hairdressers and Chinese takeaways than pubs these days, and my previous Duns tick (the Whip) looks a little sad now, but the Black Bull opens at 11am prompt, if only for me. I love a busy blackboard outside a pub.
You get two types of bar signage here.
About as traditional a front bar as you’ll get, with two local beers I guess aren’t selling like hot cakes. The Tempest Cascadian is decent but lacks a little sparkle (NBSS 3)
The sparkle comes from the barmaid and two boys who tip up at 11.10, surprised to see I’ve beat them, and settle in at the bar with the Tennents. Actually, that’s unfair. You can see one of them was on his way home with the Co-op bag. Eventually.