No-one knows what life is like living right on the Scotland-England border better than pensioners Bill and Audrey and Roue.
Literally a stone’s throw from the border , they live in the historic Old Marriage House – the last property you see before leaving Scotland to cross Coldstream Bridge into England.
With the 300-year marriage between Scotland and England now facing the real prospect of divorce, the English couple with Scottish ancestry have their fingers crossed in the hope of a ‘No’ vote next Thursday.
They don’t see the benefit of a break-up and have already voted in the postal ballot. After all, not too long ago they were on the other side of the bridge, in Cornhill.
For 11 years they lived in one of the last houses you see in Cornhill before crossing north over the Tweed into Scotland.
Bill and Audrey don’t want to be looking out of their window across the River Tweed into a separate sovereign state. Living right on the border itself has not influenced their view.
“I would say the same wherever I lived,” Bill says. “I just don’t think it’s best for Scotland. That’s all. I say that as an Englishman. We’re both born in England. If you look back at our heritage, Audrey is one of the Border Reivers and I’m from one of the Scottish clans in the west. I’ve got French ancestry too, with a surname like Roue.”
Originally from Newcastle, the couple have lived in the Borders since 1985, when they set up home in Hawick to be near their daughter. Audrey’s health problems persuaded them to move to Cornhill in 1996.
“Mainly so she could walk to the shops,” says Bill. “We lived just on the English side of the border, but Coldstream was our town. But before long I was driving Audrey to the shops, so we moved here to be a bit closer.”
They love their house. Not just because it is closer to the town, but because of the view they enjoy over the Tweed.
It also has historic story all of its own. Once called the Toll House, it was where bridge tolls were exacted until their abandonment in 1826.
From 1754 to 1856 it was also infamous for hosting runaway weddings when English law on marriage was toughened up.
Bill is now hoping that the marriage between Scotland and England will remain in place. Although he does not think there would be a border checkpoint outside his house if Scotland did decide to become independent, he is not convinced Scotland would be better off by going it alone.
“The big problem is that nobody can give you any guarantees, either way,” he says.
“It it’s not broken why fix it? As far as I’m concerned, the union is the best way forward. I can’t see how they’re going to fund an independent Scotland.
“The debate has not cleared anything up. There’s far too much uncertainty. So I don’t want any change.”