A COMMUNITY gathering welcomed two unexpected visitors this week as people from across the globe joined them for lunch.

Cardrona was holding its monthly Meet and Eat event on Tuesday (April 18) when captain Mark Dexter and his friend Andy walked into the village hall.

The duo were travelling through the Borders from Moffat to Perth to tour the NC500 when they stopped in the Peeblesshire village.

The area had been on Mark’s list of stops as he has connections to another Cardrona – in his former home of New Zealand.

In a blog post he wrote about their visit, Mark, who is a cruise ship captain, said: “I wanted to visit Cardrona only because of my connections to Cardrona in New Zealand.

“What a truly memorable experience we had. Whilst looking for a loo and a coffee we happened upon the village hall in Cardrona.

“A sign outside stated ‘Meet and Eat, All Welcome, £1’.

“We thought we might get a coffee and use the loo.

“Andy and I had a bowl of the most delicious chicken broth accompanied by home baked sandwiches and bread, tea and coffee and cakes.

“We chatted away and explained what we were doing. They were so gracious.”

Pamela Kennedy, pioneer minister for Cardrona – part of Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn Parish Church – told the Peeblesshire News it was “great” to chat with Mark and Andy about their journey and find out more about Cardrona’s twin.

She said: “Yesterday we had some very interesting guests.

“They were Mark and Andy, on their way to tour the NC500.

“They stopped off in Cardrona on their way past because Mark is from Cardrona – in New Zealand.

“They were surprised to find our Meet and Eat waiting for them and enjoyed their lunch with our local residents.

“They told us all about Cardrona, NZ, and about the fantastic work they are known for, raising money for breast cancer research.

“It was great to be able to chat with the men and to share a bit about what we’re doing.”

From Perth Mark and Andy travelled further north to Smithton.

Mark added: “We were made so welcome and Andy and I both said that our faith in humanity was restored by this chance meeting. This made our day.

“So, to those ladies of Cardrona, thank you.

“You made two bikers very happy indeed and we take our hats off to you. You are all very special people.

“To others who may read this one day, go say hello to Cardrona.

“You never know, the ladies in the hall may just be there with their fantastic soups.

“This is what I truly love about touring. Get off the well trodden track and see what awaits you.”

At the time of publication, Mark and Andy were expected to have completed the third leg of their journey covering more than 120 miles from Smithton to John O’Groats and Thurso.

The next Meet and Eat in Cardrona Village Hall will be Tuesday, May 16.