AS I smiled my way through the pages of photos (looking as I always do for the stereotype I have been accused of not fitting!?!), I felt compelled to write to you about the wonderful souls of Galashiels who made our first sortie into the Borders so joyous.

Having chosen to depart Edinburgh in time to explore the town, my husband and I began with a delicious coffee at Quins (recommended by Christine Grahame, who had parked across the street from us!). Several members of staff open-heartedly welcomed us, dressed as we were in not understated attire. Our Spanish waitress’s smile brought tears to my eyes as I thought of how our European friends have been treated in recent years.

Our sojourn through the town involved visiting several charity shops. In these havens of treasures the staff and volunteers did not hesitate to affirm our outfits and ask if we were “here for the march”.

In the PDSA, while in discussion with what was “allowed” in relation to businesses and flags, a male volunteer quietly moved a sizeable plastic unicorn to the front window! It complemented beautifully the strategically placed poster of The Flying Scotsman, which you could not miss on entering the shop. Oh how I love the constructive skills of Yessers in getting round the “state system”. How very different from the destructive tactics of those who sought to sabotage our glorious bikers by laying screws on the road into town.

Throughout the day I offered children and wheelchair users something from my Yes bag. Without exception all the young people were encouraged to say “Yes please” before dipping into the bag. Every single one also said “Thank you”, as did their parents and/or carers.

Yes, we conduct ourselves (as we have to) with decorum and grace – a fact that after a while the local bobbies seemed to twig, as they slowly entered into the banter we have grown used to with Police Scotland in our city marches. They are clearly not allowed to accept home baking while on duty, but nevertheless the posse whiling away their shift around their bikes in the park had clearly grown to trust us in a very short time.

In Scott Park, the beautiful venue where we began and ended our wander (we really do not march!) we found our first Yes tree. By mid-afternoon its roots were adorned with stunning Yes stones and its branches bedecked with wooden Yes charms.

And better was yet to come from our Galashiels day. When we returned to our car, at around 4pm, it would not start, and we were due at the theatre in Edinburgh at 7pm. I lost count of the number of folk who offered jump leads, advice, a tow and beds for the night if we needed!

Thanks to Green Flag a friendly mechanic arrived (despatched from St Boswells). He worked quietly and efficiently, familiarising himself quickly with the idiosyncrasies of a Seat Mii. He worked his magic, which had been accompanied throughout

by Soar Alba’s wonderful playing at a local pub, and we made it to the Festival Theatre’s 25th birthday show!

Thank you Galashiels for the most joyful and generous day I have experienced in a long while. Yet again the kindness of strangers rang through, and the verbal abuse we had received from two somewhat deranged and out-dated Unionists whilst enjoying a glass of wine outside a “saltire” pub faded into insignificance.

No, boys, Nicola has not hijacked “your” flag and is not leading a dictatorship, the oil has not run out, and we have not forgotten what our forces did for us in the war (particularly as my husband’s father was Captain of one of the minesweepers in the Malta convoy). Unless I missed something, there is no law saying we are not free to visit towns and cities in Scotland to be a part of a movement that waves, smiles, applauds and blows kisses! See you in Oban my friends!

Jenny Pearson