Monthly Archives: September 2014

Thank you


Hands Across The Border would like to say a huge thank you to all of our supporters for the part you have played in supporting the Union through the Auld Acquaintance Cairn. Thank you to everyone who came to Gretna to lay their stones, who donated to the campaign, or who volunteered their time. You have all played an important part in creating a beautiful structure and an historic monument. You brought stones from all over the United Kingdom, and from as far away as Burma, Texas and Western Australia. We estimate that there are now about 130,000 stones in the structure.

We are all delighted with the result of the referendum and that Scotland has voted for unity. Now is the time for everyone to reconcile their differences and create a stronger better Britain. Our great challenge now is to rebuild the positive sense of the British identity, which you have expressed so powerfully: to strengthen the links between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and create firm foundations for the long future of the Union.

The Cairn will remain as a permanent monument to all that unites us across these islands, and people will continue to place their stones on it for many years to come, so please do come back and visit it whenever you are passing.


In Their Own Words: Lee’s Hill Primary School

“I love it.  The Loch is awesome.  It’s like a massive swimming pool.”IMG_5218

The students at Lee’s Hill Primary have been studying issues surrounding the referendum and looking at how land use changes over time.  Their teacher, Jill Simpson, says the kids have found it very difficult.  “What I’m trying to tell them,” Jill says, is “you can show how you feel. It’s right to have a choice.”

Listen to Jill and her adorable students in their own words.


In Their Own Words: Ryan’s Cake Factory, Glasgow

IMG_4800“We deliver cakes all over.  What the country is about is having a wee bit of tongue in cheek, but not always being serious.  I think just now it’s about not taking anything for granted.”

Everyone’s always happy when they eat cake.  Ryan McCormack stopped in to see us on his way home to Glasgow from a business trip in York.  Click to hear about Ryan’s factory, in his own words.

Be Britain still to Britain true

O let us not, like snarling curs,

In wrangling be divided,

Till, slap! come in an unco loun,

And wi’ a rung decide it!

Be Britain still to Britain true,

Amang ourselves united;

For never but by British hands

Maun British wrangs be righted!

No! never but by British hands

Shall British wrangs be righted!



Frontier ~ Julia Rampen

Seagulls skirl

over red cliffs,

smell of salt

in crevices.

Lobster pots

litter the harbour,

a knocked-out tooth

boats pass through. Rockpools

a tart reminder

of rival territories.

Sea flays

the harbour wall.

We skim stones:

patter drowning

stifled conversation.

Sometimes a border

shows itself too late.

Sun drags shadows

across pebbled sand,

casts seaweed

as jewels,

gilds blessings

on the tyre

once a seal

until black water

is gnawing our boots

and scales flicker

in night’s net.

The smugglers’ caves

only a different pitch

of dark.

They left messages.

We reach inside words,

feel life’s grit,

loops tightening,

uneven wall. Stumble forwards,

write secrets of our own.

Worry and Comfort

Worry and Comfort ~ Jake Reynolds

Worry moors at door creaks, beds dead weights on floors, hinges downstairs heaving: sound of someone leaving.

a fugitive, born in taking out the bins, children quiver at squares of cold air. this is fear. this is

sweat before beading. thunder-grumbles trump pining bellies, starved on darkness, louder

than a heart. you see them already running,

laughing, hands plaited in furnace-finger figurines

before you even learnt how to tie a tie or turn the house off at night. in dreams kerbs elude you,

screams escape as mews yet love returns like fever, scoops you in its arms, offers leverage: a totem or

token of i-won’t-go. you learn the world is divided into two: the Comfort and the Worry.

the bet: love will not leave home.

wagers weighted on open palms:

1) words parcelled in a promise. 2) a wallet teeming with paper greens: a new kind of solace.

Last Chance Love Letter

Last Chance Love Letter  ~ Haf Davies
I’ve heard alcohol makes writing this kind of thing easier
so I’m drinking the whisky you gave me last Christmas
but I still don’t know what I should say.
It’s too late to wine and dine, flash the cash,
or apologise with some other rhyming cliché
when you’re sharing meals and a mortgage.
But if you stay, I’ll do what you asked:
less complacency, more compromise.
I’m sorry I didn’t listen,
that I dismissed your outrage as hormones, 
and assumed we only disagreed
because you didn’t understand.
Being aloof and assertive served me well
with strangers under strobe lights,
but you’re a companion, not a night-club conquest. 
So I’ll hold your hand while you say your grace,
and clear a space for you in the study.
I’m not suggesting we start doing everything together
or renew our vows barefooted on a beach,
none of that ‘I don’t know where I end
and where you begin’ nonsense:
I end here, and you start there.
If you stay, we can rebuild that boundary,
redefine our differences and mark where we meet.
I won’t overstep or undermine.
Please don’t leave, I’ll be better this time. 

Stay United

Stay United by John Bridgeman

The finest of both Scots and English fell at Bannockburn
They fought again at Flodden Fields 
And also at Culloden.
But when they fought at Waterloo at Ypres, Mons and D-Day too
they fought no longer with each other
But stood together as brother with brother.
They stood united and side by side.
United they fought. United they died
For their sake let us be far-sighted,
And stay together, stay united.


Cornerstones  ~ Charlotte Higgins
Every one of us is a stone
dappled grey and edges age-worn rough
alone, we are solid enough
but together, we could make towers, mark paths,
build a home that is safe from the night
make infinite ripples from pebbles skimmed
on the loch in the gloaming light
we could make prison walls, barbed-wire crowns
or we could be cornerstones
piled up together we’re cairns, immemorial –
we cannot make it alone
but built up together we’re trailmarkers, trailblazers
we’ll lead you –
we’ll keep you –

Stones of Unity

As the day of the referendum approaches and we prepare for our torch lighting tonight, it is a good time to look back over the thousands of stones and stories that have come together here in Gretna.  At the end of the day, it is stunning to think of the love that has been brought here from near and far.

This short, 2.5 minute video captures the spirit of the Auld Acquaintance Cairn and the individuals who have built it.  After you have a look, please post it to your social media pages and share.  It’s a good day to remind the world that the people of the United Kingdom share a tremendous amount across varied heritages, and that a united Britain is loved not just by Brits, but by people around the globe.