Musings from the Merse
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
It was as I feared. Day after Bank Holiday and although I braved the Hutton/Paxton and Berwick rush hours to get in by 8.59 am I found a very long queue outside the only operating post office in Berwick. I had to join it as there would not be another chance to come again today and a parcel of books had to get to southern parts asap. I silently willed the pensioners ahead of me to eschew the small talk, count their cash and be gone. On my turn-a surprisingly short wait of only 20 minutes (perhaps the pensioners were too hung over to socialise?) I made the mistake of asking the senior post mistress (three on duty but only two counters to person so that did not help much) about the speediest way to get my parcel to Oxon. There was plenty of advice lovingly and lingeringly delivered but it boiled down to having to leave the head of the queue and fill in two forms-then ruthlessly queue barging my way back to the SPM (I am sorry about the very old lady's handbag but she should know when to give away graciously) to hand in my forms, collect my change and to be subjected to a lengthy procedural explanation on what recorded delivery meant and how I could check if the parcel had arrived at its destination. Behind me murmurings indicated increasing tension and growing resentment and I was glad to make my escape avoiding any eye contact with the other customers and the odd outstretched stick impeding my passage.

Hutton post office is much more peaceful and angst free but not open until Thursday. A chat and a second class stamp-thats the way to do it.
Monday, August 30, 2004
The Hutton School Saga is not entirely forgotten by the media: this is the text of an article from the Scotsman of 21 August

THE action group campaigning to save a Berwickshire primary school is raising funds to pay for a legal challenge in case Borders councillors vote in favour of closure when the final decision is taken this autumn. Parents in the Hutton area warn they will seek a judicial review if their village school is shut because they say such a move would run counter to European directives on opportunities for parental choice. Following a well-attended rally, where protesters had the opportunity to air their views on Scottish Borders Council’s proposals to close the 13-pupil school, members of the action group vowed to fight to the end, even though the education authority seemed "hell-bent" on closure. The campaign also has the support of John Home Robertson, the Labour MSP for East Lothian, who lives at Paxton and whose children were pupils at Hutton PS. He has already gifted land for a playground at the school, and said yesterday he was prepared to do the same again if additional ground was required. Mr Home Robertson told The Scotsman: "I feel very strongly that village schools should be retained. In this case, Borders Council has failed to carry out the recommendations of school inspectors to upgrade the building." According to some parents, the threat of closure has blighted the school, and a number of local families have already decided to have their children educated in Berwick-on-Tweed or at other primaries in the Borders. Sandra Davie, the Hutton playgroup leader and a parent, said: "We cannot understand the stance the council is taking, and they have offered no explanation as to why the school must close. I tried to give numbers of playgroup children who would be attending Hutton in future years, but I don’t think they believed me." Aileen Orr, who chairs the action group, claimed: "Our children are being treated as numbers on a balance sheet. Their needs are not being taken into account. The push is on to close the school and to hell with everyone else’s feelings." Mrs Orr said her group would engage a QC if necessary to prepare the legal challenge, adding that if the school could not be saved then Hutton would be on a downward spiral. Parents Helen and Steve Richards said they could not believe councillors were even considering closure. Mr Richards commented: "We made detailed inquiries about moving to Hutton as my wife had been brought up in the village and wanted to return. We have young children and checked out all of the pros and cons. "When we were told by a council official the area was crying out for young couples, and that we would be welcomed, we assumed the school would be secure. That was a major factor in our decision to move to Hutton." Earlier this year, single teacher schools in Berwickshire and Roxburghshire were closed after councillors were told of falling rolls and high maintenance costs. But following protests from communities where other small schools had been targeted for closure, the local authority decided on a stay of execution. A council source said: "So far as Hutton is concerned, there have been no further discussions and the matter will be dealt with at a council meeting in October."

This lead to an exchange of letters:

The parents of pupils at Hutton Primary School have every reason to be optimistic about their prospects of success in a legal challenge against Borders Council (your report, 21 August). Based on the council’s now abandoned policy of charging for "privilege places" on school buses (your report, 19 August), its grasp of education law seems somewhat shaky. Section 51 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 requires that such places are offered to pupils free of charge. (Iain Nisbet, Glascow)

Consulting communities
I am afraid Iain Nisbet’s grasp of the law (Letters, 24 August) is outdated, unlike that of Scottish Borders Council. The Local Government Act Scotland 2003 gave local authorities the right to charge for privilege lifts. Our statutory consultations have also met all of the legal requirements and the council has gone beyond its statutory requirements to give communities the opportunity to fully participate in the process. Most schools and communities (unlike Hutton) have engaged with the council to debate the issues, which was perhaps the reason why Eccles-Leitholm campaigners saved their school. (CLLR) R DUMBLE Scottish Borders Council Newtown St Boswells Melrose.

This is a rather ominous comment by a Borders Councillor picking on Hutton as a body which has not engaged with the Council, and who will obviously not be voting in October to keep the school open and I wonder (with great respect to Save the School Action Group) if they have been altogether wise in their tactics of rubbishing the Borders Educational authorities and conducting megaphone diplomacy. Of course the final decision to close the school will rest with the Scottish Executive but I would be surprised if they overruled a Borders Council decision to shut Hutton down. Especially as the school roll is down to 12 .

England 1 Scotland 0 (again). Its Bank Holiday Monday in England and in Wales. We are in Scotland yet the dead hand of English neo-colonialism stretches out over the border. Hutton Post Office TD151TS is closed. The postee comes from England and England is closed. If Hutton had a bank I suspect it would be closed too as the money for it would likely have come from England as well. If you use Hutton, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1TS on the envelope for Huttonian he will get it a day quicker than if you address it as Hutton, Berwickshire, TD15 1TS. In that case it will come via Hawick but it will still have to go via Berwick (back in England again) and we still would not receive it on an English Bank Holiday. Scottish Bank Holidays (like the first w/e in August) don't apply here-our Post Office is open and our post arrives. But today is not the first w/e in August so it does not really help. I could take my whopping great and urgent parcel to Duns and post it there-but it will sit in the sorting office until England is open again.

So it is in to Berwick at Sparrow piss tomorrow and join the largest queue since Saturday in Safeways as the only PO in Berwick is really a small corner one with greatness thrust upon it by the prolonged closure of the main one. But the Post Mistress is one of those charming, slow talking but long winded dearies who lingers over every transaction and has a special slow word for every pensioner who are numbers 2 to 14 inclusive in the petrified line in front of me and whose weekly visit to pick up their pension and to buy 2 second class stamps and another stamp towards the TV licence, and enquire about the dog licence for an animal that died nine years ago etc etc is an occasion to be relished and lingered over.

I have a choice :a seizure or as my aunt used to say 'to possess my soul in patience' Not much of a choice but the only one on offer.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
My least favourite season is upon us-mists and mellow fruitfulness is ok in its way but it means picking lots of mellow apples from where Mr Fish has blown them, stripping the too many trees of their bounty and storing the product in the attic until the wife can process them. And through the mists we will struggle to sweep up leaves, steadily adding layers of fleece to our outdoor garments and as steadily shedding less of them indoors. Then it will be fires, log chopping, kindling gathering from amongst the snoozing dead in the graveyard next door, grate cleaning, coal heaving. We will know that the gales are waiting to pounce-first to strip the trees and then to howl through the bare branches like a thousand infuriated banshees. And the long dark cold wait until Spring. Melancholy is the mood

Hutton Haiku #23.

Autumn is
icumen in.
Wisely gone
Wet leaves,
cold gales.
Sadly sing:
'Boo! Boo!'

A9 was ok and as surmised previously all the traffic was northwards and mostly English trying to escape the bank holiday weekend. Only one caravan and that was not even on the A9 and once again we dualled past it. The Moto service station at junction 6 on the M90 is to be avoided at weekends. Crowded with the wrong type of English most of whom looked as if they were on their way to punch up a few Turks on some foreign (football) field. And as usual it was the women who were the more fearsome-large, horizontal breasted carrying all before them and tattooed, smoking fiercely between hamburgers and sticky cakes and snarling aggressively in the best tradition of East Enders. I was not too surprised to find a couple in the Gents (a misleading description at Moto's at the best of times) and they were in no hurry to leave either. And least they did not try to do it standing up, or if they did it was behind closed cubicle doors. And unusually for Moto the food was awful.

Good to be back. But real life looms. The glow of a holiday week will soon wear off I suspect. In about 20 minutes
Saturday, August 28, 2004

One of the many castles that King Bruce is said to have run away from having watched spiders before winning at Bannockburn. Yes it is hard for the long suffering Scottish Borders Tourist Board to compete with scenery like this.

The snowy owl knows all the answers to the great questions of the day-this is a rare sighting of a policy owl in its natural habitat

The dreadest sight on Scottish Roads-a caravan-you can be stuck behind hundreds on the A9. As luck would have it this was encountered on a very short and unusual piece of climbing lane on the A68

Bison in the Highlands. Big brothers to the Scottish Coos at Paxton House

Yes, Wolves in Scotland-reintroduced to the Highlands after 250 years. An idea for Farmer C and amazing Maize Maze
Friday, August 27, 2004
Trouble at t'mill. News from Paxton is that the local plan(still in draft form) is once more under threat just when we thought it was all sorted. Apparently the Berwickshire Housing Association are looking for zoning within Paxton for 6 low cost houses for rent. The problem is that if the zoning is approved where sources believe is the intended site then the landowner can argue that the remaining part of a very large field is no longer suitable for agricultural purposes and put it on themarket for development-it could comfortably take 100 houses if the density of the Orchard or the Kane's Close is replicated. Do you think developers would like a nice big site convenient to Ould reekie and to Newcastle. What do you think?

Oh dear we thought that battle over inappropriate development was behind us-but apparently not. Anyhow all will be clearer at a meeting on 1 September between the planners and community councils. I foresee some aggro ahead. Out with the bovver boots.

Tomorrow the challenge of the A9 I hope the caravans will be coming against us. It is bank holiday weekend in England but not our side of the border so we will be going against the stream.

Neext Rant from Huton. If I am spared
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Mr Fish in abeyance and the weather is fantastic. Enough wind for the sailors but I avoided that and got some golf instead. On enquiring about tee times at the Abernethy course I was told to avoid Thursdays between 10am and 1015 as the 'Seniors' went out-all three of them. It wasn't Thursday and the course was as deserted as Hutton main street -bliss.

Loch Insh is a strange resort. Everyone friendly but the guest literature is not. One notice expresses 'disappointment' that people using the dining room are tipping their chairs back onto two legs and this habit must desist forthwith. Another notice warns of horrendous fines if you check out late; another in the 'welcome pack' itemises the value of each article in the chalet as the cost of replacement to be deducted from your security deposit-£6-50 for a fork, £43 for a Duvet Cover and so on-given that your deposit is only £100 it makes you(me) feel that I must immediately embark on an orgy of destruction. Also a strange pricing policy; mini gym and boats for guests free at certain times. But using the washing machine is expensive-also the children's play ground is chargeable-and no high chairs for the chalets; they are too popular in the dining room. But it is a lovely spot and these little indignities must be ignored. It does make you wonder however what sort of guests they expect: tipping up chairs with wild abandonment and then rushing back to their chalet to tear up the double duvets. (and oh yes, walkiong on the newly planted grass)

One of a party was requested to pick up all the dog turds in the area-presumably on the grounds he has a dog; so do several other people in the immediate vicinity but he must have looked a likely owner of a massively incontinent canine. He has a beard (not the dog, it is whiskered) so that must have influenced their targetting as well.

We must soon think about the journey back-but not yet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Well I was quite wrong-no midges and only two caravans en route and both of them swept away on one of the (few) dualled carriage wayed bits of the A9. One Sunday driver only(and it was Sunday) and he reluctantly edged over to let us pass but not without the stiff finger heavensward. And this place is so remote Mr Fish can't find us so we have had very little rain whilst the rest of you have been soaked. All the cabins are named after whiskeys but our has a sad name ' Glen far gus' best translated as 'The valley where no one makes love'. And to cap it all there has been no attempt to get Huttonian into any kind of sailing craft. There again, thankyou Mr Fish, no wind=no sailing. Al Hamdullah as the Moslems would have it.

Aviemore is not much to write home about-even that is difficult as the post cards are sold at rip off prices. Coffee for 2 and 2 scones-£5.20. Internet access £1 for 15 minutes. Overseas cost of living allowances necessary to survive here. And the town is a mess-developed in a hurry with 60s architecture at its worst.

This is Monarch of the Glen country-BBC version. Never heard of it? OK I will move on.

The scenery is picture postcard (see above) Scottish at its wild best magnificence. You can now see what the Scottish Borders Tourist Board is up against in selling its wares. But it is a tourist trap-people are not particularily friendly in the main(They need the visitors but don't really like them) and give me the Mersians every time.

More later. If I can afford it and if I am spared.

Well I was quite wrong-no midges and only two caravans en route and both of them swept away on one of the (few) dualled carriage wayed bits of the A9. One Sunday driver only(and it was Sunday) and he reluctantly edged over to let us pass but not without the stiff finger heavensward. And this place is so remote Mr Fish can't find us so we have had very little rain whilst the rest of you have been soaked. All the cabins are named after whiskeys but our has a sad name ' Glen far gus' best translated as 'The valley where no one makes love'. And to cap it all there has been no attempt to get Huttonian into any kind of sailing craft. There again, thankyou Mr Fish, no wind=no sailing. Al Hamdullah as the Moslems would have it.

Aviemore is not much to write home about-even that is difficult as the post cards are sold at rip off prices. Coffee for 2 and 2 scones-£5.20. Internet access £1 for 15 minutes. Overseas cost of living allowances necessary to survive here. And the town is a mess-developed in a hurry with 60s architecture at its worst.

This is Monarch of the Glen country-BBC version. Never heard of it? OK I will move on.

The scenery is picture postcard (see above) Scottish at its wild best magnificence. You can now see what the Scottish Borders Tourist Board is up against in selling its wares. But it is a tourist trap-people are not particularily friendly in the main(They need the visitors but don't really like them) and give me the Mersians every time.

More later. If I can afford it and if I am spared.

Sunday, August 22, 2004
Hopefully off this morn. Mr Fish has sent a magnificent start to the day but his forecast, no his promise, for the coming week is dreadful-continuous rain with showers; only Friday sounds promising: light showers. Just dry enough to get the midges out. The wife is packing her swimming costume. May be a wise move. Loch Insh dryer in than out.
"I'll take the High Road and you'll take the Low Road and you'll be in Loch Insh afore me. For I'll be stuck behind a bloody big bolshy caravan most of the way" (Trad)
Well done the wife-Two first prizes: Peas(6 pods) Kitchen Apples-Two second: Black currant jam (from our own fruit) Broad Beans (6 pods). One third Kidney Potatoes-coloured.Total prize money a staggering £3.05 What a triumph for Hutton's only organic gardener!
Sadly the magnificent potatoes missed out in third place being twice the size of the competition. As for poor Huttonian's Cherry tomatoes-big is beautiful around here (but not with potatoes? ); small but perfectly formed is just not good enough. But they are delicious. If it was on taste there would have been no contest. I did the paper work (card with name and address inside an envelope under the exhibit-only revealed when the judge has made a decision) and so the prize winners,( except the jam) appear to be the work of the male partner-any how the wife has the prize money so justice is done.

To cap it all the apples when auctioned raised £2 and the jam £1.40-to the show organisers for next years prize money se we might get it back then. If we are spared.
Saturday, August 21, 2004

Looking left from the Protected View the scenery goes slightly down hill with Mr R's yard. The cows (bullocks actually) are scenic enough and for once the grass is greener on their side of the fence. They recently were interviewed on local issues but had little new to say to our reporter.
Well actually not off to Loch 2.5c. Trip postponed until tomorrow at the earliest so that rogue caravanner now leaving home will have to frustrate another well meaning and hasty motorist.

So we have an unexpected chance to take part in today's annual village show. The wife is frantically digging up potatoes, rhubarb, plucking peas (hazardous amongst the nettles), broadbeans, looking fior the last jar of blackcurrant jam for the industrial section and about to choose 4 kitchen apples to be pulled from the tree-possibly not quite ripe but there you go. 1145 am is the deadline.Huttonian has to put in 4 tomatoes from the 100 or so which are ready. Sadly little prospect of success as the judges seem to go for large round ones- ours are of the cherry variety-sweet, succulent but small. Our other variety are huge, wrinkled, spotty, and quite unshowable.
WE will let you know how we get on but on past perfomances expectations are not high; although one year the wife carried off the rhubarb prize and boosted our cash reserves by 70p. Tomatoes actually got a second prize one year-it was a cold summer and there were not many entries. Well, two actually but 50 p is not to be sniffed at.

Another look at the Hutton 'Protected View' no longer threatened as the Village Hall is to be rebuilt on its present site-just out of sight to the right of the church. The big oak tree is also no longer under threat as it might have been if car parking for the hall had been allocated near it. As it is a Tree PreservationOrder is now on the oak-penalty for infringement up to £10,000.
Friday, August 20, 2004
Packing bucket and spade (The lake, sorry Loch, boasts a beach) Golf Clubs, Tennis rackets, midge repellent, books, more repellent. Hope that we do not get another landslide in the Highlands en route. The A9 was blocked a week ago and is now passable 'Speed restrictions in force' 'Allow extra time' No advisory however about caravans; they are the scourge of The A9 which only has very small stretches of dual carriage way and the massive towed vehicles can manage 45 mph with difficulty and rarely dream of moving into laybys to let the smaller vehicles overtake-most caravan drivers have 'sod you mate' written all over their tailgates-the longer the fuming tail back, the greater their delight. And when you do manage to squeeze by the vertical digit (or two) is the normal courteous response.

Our Relis in Killin are more or less cut off by the massive landslide which blocked both roads from the South. No phones either. But they can get away North which is fortunate as that is the direction of Loch Insh. So happy gatherings tomorrow and hope too windy for fun family sails.

Bloggees be patient. Normal service to be resumed in a week or so.If we are spared. Kingussie may have a cybercaff-it may even have Broadband so you could be lucky if Huttonian needs the confessional. In the meanwhile Campers you will be Happy. That is an order.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
The Berwickshire is a bit short of news this week so has some gapfillers including recycling the Arthurian connection with the Borders-claiming that part of the recently released epic was filmed around here. Sadly a recent BBC in depth 'definitive' documentary on the Arthur legend could find no connection nearer than Welsh Wales. Anyhow the Scottish Tourist Board web site does its best to make some hefty bricks with no straw. There is also a major feature on Farmer C's Mega Mega Amazing Maize Maze-'mega' merited as the hot and humid weather has produced monster 10 foot high Maize. Even Giraffes, apparently, might have problems finding their way around. It is cut in the shape of a Berwick Swan and you can travel 3 miles in the labyrinth without retracing your steps-not therefore altogether a suitable attraction for the traditional very short Borders break-and advisable to bring your lunch. The Tourist people may be missing a trick in being lukewarm about promoting the Maze. It could well be the site of Camelot. Building costs were high in those days and a Maize structure would have been highly economical, certainly organic( so politically correct) and could swallow up any hostile army looking for a Holy Grail within the labyrinth. Arthur's treasury would also have benefited from the entrance fees paid by visiting marauders and treasure hunters. There is no evidence that Camelot was made of Maize but on the other hand there is no evidence that it wasn't. So it could have been-and that is enough for most historians.

A local local event is the Hutton School coffee 'publicity raising' coffee evening. This is aimed to maintain a high profile for the efforts to save the school. Press invited and it is hoped that the local notables, including councilors, will turn up en masse. The school roll has sunk to 12 children in the one class and the October meeting of the Borders Council to decide the future of both Hutton and Burnmouth is likely to be a close run thing.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Little Local Difficulties

Two tourists are driving through Wales. As they're approachingLlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, they start arguing about the pronunciation of the town's name. They argue back andf orth until they stop for lunch. As they stand at the counter, one tourist asks the employee,"Before we order, could you please settle an argument forus? "Would you please pronounce where we are... very slowly?"The girl leans over the counter and says, "Burrrrrrrr, gerrrrrrr, Kiiiiing"

I am endebted for this tale to the spouse of a bloggee. WE don't have these problems in the Borders as long as you remember that the W is silent (like the 'P' in Bath) Ber ick not Ber wick,
Gos ick not Gos wick. And some odd vowels : Whit edder not White Adder . Yet Blackadder is pronounced Black adder. And the L goes in Nothumberland as well - An ick for Alnwick- An mouth and not Alnmouth. And we only have a MacDonalds in this neighbourhood-easily findable by following the trail of greasy finger licked real good* Big Mac wrappings in a back to front paper trail bismirching the country side. The joys of Globalisation.

* No Kentucky Fried Chicken Outlets either TG (Blog Ed)
Saturday will see the start of the Blog’s Highland Holiday. Off the air for at least a week unless a working cyber café can be found in the heart of the Cairngorms. This is one of those family gatherings on a Christmas like scale but without the Queens Speech or presents under the tree. For snow read mist. For sweet little red breasted robins read midges.

The location at Loch Insh, is primarily a water sports centre-not really Huttonian’s scene. Golf is a good 8 miles away, ditto tennis. We will be mob handed with 10 Adults and three sprogs including the younger granddaughter. The cohort is being housed in three log cabins luxuriously appointed. Except no washing machine and incredibly for a family holiday, no high chairs. The management regret that high chairs cannot be borrowed from the dining room as ‘they are very popular’. Is this ploy to make us bring the infants to eat at great expense in the café? But this is primarily a self catering establishment for families! Presumably popular as well. But to make up for this curious lacuna we are promised COLOUR TV –When did we last see it in Black and White

I fear that Huttonian will be under pressure to join in the sailing outings, if only as unpaid and much put upon crew. He is a good sailor especially on High Speed Craft ploughing the fearsome main between Stranraer and Belfast. But narrow spindly bottoms (that’s the boat not Huttonian) are nervous making conveyances over glacial lakes as deep as Loch Ness. (Loch Insh, I suspect, is a misleading description). And the sailing words of command’ Heave Ho!’ ‘Lee Oh’ ‘Change the sheets’ ‘Mind yer ‘ead’ ‘Boom or bust’ ‘Ooaaagh-or Grubs up’ are very bewildering to the non-cognoscenti. Best stay on terra firma and try the archery. He hopes that junior son in law will be excused nappies for at least one morning and can sneak off to Kingussie (pronounced, apparently,’ King yoosie’) for the odd 9 holes with Huttonian and a chance to see the location of ‘Monarch of the Glen’

Of course (if Mr Fish knows our plans) it may rain all the time and we might enjoy gale force winds. Oh dear, no sailing. Perforce watch the Olympics and read several good books. Nice thought
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Dual citizenship has its uses even if one is Aussie. The eldest daughter and family are due in civilised parts from Oz at the end of the month. To her horror she has just found that her British Passport has expired. The hardworking and efficient British High Commission in Canberra ‘cannot guarantee’ issuing a new one in time. Apparently looking at the old one and signing and stamping a replacement, plus tea breaks, can take three or four weeks. So the only solution is to get an Aussie one. The dozey, laid back and permanently inebriated on XXXX passport officials in the Australian capital issue a spanking new document , in Warne Green, Kangaroo Crest and all in 48 hours. Admittedly it lacks the sonorous '‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and Requires” and instead has something like “ G’day Mate, do us a favour” but it does the trick. The eldest daughter is a somewhat reluctant Aussie (See link to her blog) but needs must. Another complication is that her ticket like her British Passport bears her maiden name so to frustrate Bin Laden ( so says the Security Blokes) the ticket now needs to be changed into her Australian married moniker. Boring.

Yes Furious of Fishwick, it is a bit tactless for the Developers to have the meanest houses on the block in the Orchard be called ‘The Hutton’ . In Paxton too. But just think (to cheer you up) how French tourists on the Eurostar must feel arriving at ‘Waterloo’ (Blucher who saved Wellington’s bacon at Waterloo by arriving late has proved to be a good role model for most of the trains)*

* What's that to do with anything? Blog Ed
Monday, August 16, 2004
Good News I suppose. Letter from Edinburgh University extending my Honorary Fellowship for 2004/5. This is a fairly cautious approach as Fellowships are usually for spells of three years at a time. Perhaps someone has reported to the Dean of the Arts Faculty that I am showing signs of galloping decrepitude. But still it is nice to be wanted-if only in short doses. It will mean the rather wearisome traipse up to Ould Reekie in freezing dreich infested January and the challenge of keeping 60 plus students awake in an over heated lectureroom. At least my last lecture ended on a high note with a burst of applause from those present as my views on the Iraq war seemed to coincide with theirs. And the only sound asleep student I ever encountered was (a) hungover (b) tired (c) slumberingly emotional and (d) at the wrong lecture. His subject was Physics a subject which can be absorbed by osmosis.

The money is not great. By the time tax is deducted at source and again by HMI of T on top of my other income and my travel costs are taken into account I make a small loss. This apparently does not affect my overall tax position in my favour. So why do you do it I hear one of you cry? Search me Mate. It is I suppose nice to be able to pontificate without challenge to a more or less captive audience (Doors are not locked but the students are very polite) But then I can always do that at home with the wife and Rosie the cat. It must be the foreign travel element which is so stimulating.
Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Australians start their sportsmen at a very early age. Not to be outdone the English pre toddler test squad are into late season training. The younger grand daughter has been selected for the first test and is seen here perfecting her grip for her unique style of late swinging seamer. I am indebted to the Hutton Cricket Academy for this exclusive image.
Local papers are not noted for their coverage of international issues or even of the context for nearby happenings. The Aberdeen paper of 1912 with its reference to the sinking of the Titanic with its headline ABERDEEN MAN LOST AT SEA is a case in point. The Berwickshire is little different . But I am surprised to find no local connection with the Athens Olympics-surely some Berwickshire lad/ lassie is somewhere in the Olympic team. Given the equestrian tendencies prevalent around here why is there no local horse person competing in Greece. 260 horsemen from Coldstream (mostly) alone rode out to Flodden and the Duns show was full of very competent riders over and occasionally under the sticks. The backpage has a small item :"Local Lads impress at Langholm Games" but it is a long way from the Acropolis and there is no hope expressed that young Andrew Bridgewater with his very creditable Minute 57 seconds for 8oo metres might be a possibility for 2008. This was a good time for a 'very tight track' whatever that might mean. I assume that all the shooters are too occupied with their Grouse to bother with such a static and unrewarding persuit as target shooting?

Perhaps no one has told the Editor that the games are on. He will realise soon enough so one assumes that by next Thursday we might expect the revelation of a Berwickshire link-however tenuous with a medal winner. 'Borders Man ex wife in clay pigeon glory' or something.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
I don't usually go to Ould Reekie during the Festival but had no option. Edinburgh is not at its best when enfogged. The cognoscentii avoid the main thoroughfares at this time-the Royal Mile full of street performers -including stomach turning contortionists, weightless acrobats and young people thrusting flyers at you with the trained aggression of a Big Issue vendor. Princes Street is as crowded but without the performances and nowhere can you escape the flyers-even quiet Queen Street -I managed to acquire 42 of these in 400 yards. Not too much to tempt the potential audience I would have thought: the Wau Wau sisters: 'two girls, white panties and one trapeze' 'Doris from Bradford-the Lunatic, the Secret Sportsman and the Women next door.Mongoose-an enchanting tale of Ted trying to come to terms with the death of his life-long friend, a talking Mongoose. Riveting? Liberace's Handbag. A Suicide-Site Guide to the City:-"Sheer Lucid Genius" claims the Vancouver Sun' The Puppetry of the Penis: Two Aussie Hunks(?) playing with their private parts -difficult to keep it up ( as it were, I would have thought) for a whole hour.
Better stay in Hutton and watch the Bill.

And the people who flock into the city to see and be seen. Princes Street is their promenade.
Well described by Rumbling Mc Diarmid, of the Paxton School, in his 'Six and the City:

tattooed midriffs;
Bursting Blouses
Beckhamed heads
Well filled trousers

Only the Beggar
is happy.
Despite his wee dog
crapping over
his FCUK

I passed an obvious granny lovingly pushing her grandchild in one of those old fashioned preambulators and crooning lullabies-I peered in to smile at a hopefully beaming little bairn.

It was full of tatty second hand books. Life has its downsides.

Friday, August 13, 2004
1513 and All That.

As predicted this week’s Berwickshire has devoted a lot of column inches to the Coldstreamers ride out to Flodden Field. 260 horsemen set off from Coldstream and unlike in 1513 they all returned safely. Every year a distinguished personality gives the oration; this year it was Lady Caroline Home whose family seat is the Hirsel just outside the town. The Homes (led by the third Earl) were represented at the battle in support of James IV of Scotland-the Coldstreamers carry the Home colours to the battle site. Lady Caroline was careful not to go into details about their role in this terrible defeat ( “ Flodden’s fatal field where shivered was poor Scotland’s spear and broken was her shield”).Some historians claim that the Homes plus some other distinguished Borderers did not stay the course-having won their part of the battle they left at half time thus denuding James of some of his best fighters. Anyhow these orations are not exercises in blame allocation. The ceremony is to honour the dead of both nations and Lady C confined herself to talking about what other distinguished people had said or written about Flodden rather than attempting her own analysis. James came in for some criticism however as long before the engagement he tended to be a trifle accident prone. Ignoring local advice he was nearly drowned in the Tweed at Foulden during a period of (pre-Fish) flooding. He only just survived and subsequently built a church at Ladykirk on the Scottish bank in thanksgiving. His invasion of England was also frowned upon by his advisers who saw no point in opening hostilities with the old enemy at a time that the relationship was quite good and especially just to do a favour for the French who were under the cosh.
The whole venture was a tragic and in James case, a serious miscalculation. I think it is a pity if revisionists attribute noble motives to people who would not have recognised them at the time. Its all very well to paraphrase President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to try and make it appear that the dead of Flodden perished in a noble cause-as some speakers have done this and previous years. But it is downright silly to suggest that the Flowers of the Forest did not die in vain and that their death had anything to do with any struggle for democracy. Lincoln’s words are of the highest quality of oratory and strikingly appropriate for their time and place but they have no relevance to 16th Century Scotland or England. And not even the most revisionist academic has yet claimed that either James or the Earl of Surrey to the field to ensure that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. Flodden's earth was covered in the perished but I doubt if there were many democrats amongst them
Thursday, August 12, 2004
I don't think of myself as technophobic Luddite and indeed am quite proud of my reasonable 'for some one of his age' grasp of e-science. Computerate? Yes. Up to a point. But for the last 48 hours I was completely thrown by my Lexmark Z55- all printing-all dancing SOTA Ink Jet wizard. It suddenly refused to load any paper-single sheets-lots of them-thin, thick, shiny, recycled all rejected with contempt and with a banshee like screeching. Made more irritating by the man with an irritating nasal Yankee accent(who seems to live in the machine, not that I have seen him) complaining that the paper had not been loaded properly. In despair I e-mailed the Lexmark Geeks having been through all the FAQ's on the help line. I got a very prompt reply with a number of mostly intelligible suggestions (unusual for Geeks) advocating several course of action but stopping short of spraying with WD40-my usual response to most mechanical failures. The last one was 'turn printer upside down and shake vigorously' (page 3 of the e-mail and very much, it seemed to me, a counsel of desperation). I did so and a cassette dropped out. Not a bit of the printer but one entitled 'Psalms of patience, protest and praise' (an emotional snapshot of my recent sufferings?) It presumably had had fallen into the printer feeder from a little shelf directly above it used by the wife for storage of CDs and tapes in a vain attempt to keep the computer desk uncluttered. Of course the printer proceeded to work perfectly.

Well done the Lexmark Geeks. I sent them an effusive e-mail of thanks suggesting (slightly tongue in cheekily) that the dangers of dropping casettes and how to deal with them be added to the FAQs. This they played with a straight bat saying that this important suggestion would be given every consideration. Courteous and intelligible. What a combination. No wonder they won the European Cup.* The omens for the Olympics are most promising.

* Greeks not Geeks Dummy. (Blog ed)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
A PLACE TO BLOSSOM trumpets the brochure handed out at the Orchard ‘launch’ by Forth Homes. What a picture it paints of Paxton with its local pub, green and ‘community Centre’ (aka Village Hall). Apparently there a range of shops and amenities in the nearby villages of Hutton (I seem to have missed those) and Chirnside (7miles from the Orchard) And for’ lovers of more active pursuits, Paxton could not be better situated with excellent golf, scuba driving, sailing and bird watching all just a short drive away’ Actually there is excellent bird-watching in our garden at the moment but I don’t really want a stream of visitors from Paxton even after the dream houses have actually been built. The brochure features the afore mentioned (Rant a few days back) young mum and her daughter peering through long grass at distant vistas-that could well be a bit of actualité; the undeveloped chunk of the Orchard site is mostly long grass. Another shot shows the same mum embracing someone-face obscured- with a lovely river in the background. This could not have been taken on site unless the recent flooding was more dramatic than I thought. It will also, apparently, be a place to grow old in as well as blossom-the houses planned to last ‘from one generation to the next’: quality accommodation for everyone from the youngest to the oldest. At least it is no longer just a case of quality not quite built accommodation passed from one developer to the other. We hope.

The brochure outlines the various models to be built: the 5 bedroom ‘Kyloe’ (no idea what this means) and ‘Belford’ (A town in Northumberland) 4 bedroom Cheviot (Hills also in Northumberland possibly visible from parts of the site ‘if the weather it were finer and there were no houses in between’). Bottom of the range and under £200,000-a snip-is the 3 bedroom ‘Hutton’ A sort of glorified 11/2 storey cabin joined to another cabin by a double garage. I am not sure that Huttonians will be too delighted by the meanest buildings on the block bearing the proud name of their village-and in Paxton as well. One Hutton, as yet unbuilt, has already been sold. To the young mum, her faceless partner and the wee girl? We should be told

I have just driven the Wife through thick fog to Berwick Station on her way to the Big Smoke. Fortunately traffic is not a problem in these parts but it was astonishing to see what drivers there were (on the A1) driving too fast and without lights. It may be that like the Norn Ireland motorists they are reluctant to turn on any devices which might drain the battery-even in pouring rain the windscreen wipers are on the intermittent setting which means they can only see at all every 8 seconds. This is counteracted by the habit of especially of farmers never to take either hand of the wheel-a greeting is one finger flicked off the wheel and a quick inclination of the head. One Ulster woman quite startled us by poking her two forefingers up either side of her head as she came towards us-we were very puzzled as to what message she was trying to convey until we went around a corner and were confronted by a herd of cows! If you did that here you would be nicked for driving without due care and attention and be subject to the penalty appropiate for driving and using too mobiles simultaneously- a habit common in the Gulf. Arab Gulf drivers have the additional handicap of having to hear through quite thick headdresses- I once asked a Kuwaiti friend why he did this-'I have two businesses to run' he explained.

With the wife away, albeit for not much more than 24 hours I have all the housework and shopping to worry about. Can I get away with not having to go to Safeways? It is a question I will ponder whilst emptying the washing machine. How nice to be so constantly intellectually stimulated.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Our great boast here is that this is the driest part of the UK-Dunbar just up the coast from us has this official designation but I reckon that Hutton (not Paxton) is drier than even Dunbar. Something to do with being in the rain shadow between the Lammermuirs to the North and the Cheviots to the South. And it seems also that the Whiteadder has something to do with it. Often rain seems to keep on the far bank leaving us alone and we are all of 500 yards away!. It can be pouring in Paxton and cat and dogless here. Rarely vice versa.But if we are still the driest bit of these isles over the last 48 hours I shudder to think of what has happened to the rest of the country. 44 mm fallen here in 36 hours. That may not seem much in Llandudno or Stranraer. But to put it into context: Last August we had 10mm in the whole month-by today we have had 62-more than any other month this year except for January and more than double May. And Mr Fish returned to our screens with his sharpest suit (always a bad sign) to promise us lots more precipitation for the rest of this week.

I waded my way into a wetter- even- than -Hutton- Berwick this morning to find out what holiday makers do in bad weather. I am not sure as I could not find any. Not even in Safeways. So either they have returned to Glascow or Newcastle or they are trapped in their caravans. Perhaps the doves they have sent out to spy out the receding waters have failed to return. Safeways was heaven. So few customers that the 9 items or less check out was unpersonned.

I don't dare tell Mr F but we had a very strong sign of really bad rain only this morning. Not one known,I suspect, to the Met Office.The frogs were seen leaving our pond-the toad, more perceptive, left yesterday. Oh Dear. And the Wellies are still wet.

A castle knocked down by Cromwell? A Reiver stronghold? Camelot? No Twizel Castle. Never attacked. Never finished. A 19th Century Folly. On the English side of the Border-naturally-no frugal Scot would have contemplated such a waste of money? Er..the New Scottish Parliament?
Monday, August 09, 2004
Mr Something McSomething may well be right. The sky is very dark and big drops falling even on usually Gobi like Hutton. The Fish disciple promises heavy rain until Wednesday. If so this will be unprecedented in our time here =now over 7 years. Incomers still but with a small i by now. Fortunately no need to venture out. Fridge and Freezer full, soft fruit picked and bushes pruned. Stan the Man did his gardening yesterday and the lassie from the village cut the lawns(or rather meadows-lawn is not an accurate descriptionof our green sward of weeds, moss and tough rural neo grass) No need even to go the post office-we miss not having it chez nous and we miss the chance of picking up village news first hand from the pensioners. But stamps in stock. We momentarily have the illusion of rural self suffiency-until the cereal runs out. In the meanwhile enjoy the rain from the kitchen window, soothed by the gurgling of the gutters and bear in mind Mr Mc Something's dire warnings about not venturing out in the rush hour. A Hutton rush hour would be a fine thing.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Apparently the Beer Tent ran out of Beer mid afternoon at the Duns Show. According to a bystander there was widespread disapointment but no ugly scenes. A number of people come latish and are, literaly, just there for the beer. If not eligible for a 'concession' they had to pay £5 to remain thirsty. Not good Karma. Anyhow the Black Bull in Duns did a roaring trade earlier than usual so no real harm done.
Mr Fish's Clone: Mr Something McSomething is promising us (North East England and SE Scotland) really wet weather on a tropical scale. His dire warnings of floods similar to those endured by Noah and sons are reflected on the BBC Ceefax 'Weather Warning'(p405) but ITV Teletext is much more laid back claiming Berwick is to remain dry and cloudy. We shall see who is right-if we can see at all as the Merse is blanketed with an all envelloping Haar out of which our garden wall is barely visible. Mr S.Mc S could be correct. The Great Flood of '48 was a summer event submerging all buildings on the banks of the Whiteadder including Hutton Mill below us (well below us, thankfully) and sweeping away a couple of bridges across the Tweed. If repeated it could be bad news for the Edington Mill development up stream and across the Whiteadder from us. Here a Mill has been converted into 'luxury'apartments (£305,000 upwards) and associated new buildings erected on the flood plain despite local advice to the contrary. Hutton Mill itself has been restored and turned into a self catering fisherman's cottage-fish could be visiting rather too closely for comfort if Mr S is accurate.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
By Merse standards Mr Fish has sent us a stinking hot day. Even the Harvest mites are sheltering in the shade. We will seek some relief amongst the ice cream vans of theBerwickshire Show-avoiding the prize bulls and the axe throwers who will be following the Scottish Dancers-but 'not too closely ' as the leading dancer is reported to have said. This is the farmers day out and the Beer tent will do a roaring trade. Fortunately this is too near England to attract the telegraph pole tossers and other Highland exhibitionists. Photos later. If I am spared.

You don't have to be poshly dressed to be an equestrian judge. But it helps

Every time a coconut? Er. No. But to be fair to the C of the CC he had one fair and square but it moved not. Blutack?

The main event. Jumping. But there were more people in the Beer Tent than watching this event

Young Lassies sword dancing. Small girls large swords

Traditional ancient Fair scene-none but the brave deserve the fair.

Exclusive picture of chairman of Hutton and Paxton Community Council in action. He cleared all the stacked tins with one throw thus winning a valuable prize.

Axeman in action. Ancient Merse activity?
Friday, August 06, 2004
This week’s Berwickshire is disappointing in that Sheriff Kevin of Duns had a boring week dealing with some humdrum crimes-wife beating, drunken driving, assault –making nice peaceful Berwickshire sound like most other places. Only intriguing case was that of a ‘Portuguese man frightened girls’. Apparently this ‘worker’ approached 5 girls in Duns over a two month period ‘placing them in a state of fear’. Aged between 14 and 19 they were invited to accompany him to his flat-one with the ‘promise of a ring’. He was released on conditional bail pending a trial next October but arrested by immigration officers as he left the dock. Not his day.

More promising for future rants is the start of Coldstream Civic Week with the appointment of the 'Coldstreamer' , his 'right hand man' and 'left hand man'. This is the preliminary to the annual Flodden Field ritual when a number of horse people, led by the Coldstreamer, ride out to the battle field and return with the ceremonial sod to be added to the already large collection in Coldstream itself. A distinguished personality gives the 'Flodden Oration' which is always worth a read and will be carefully scanned by Huttonian for any evidence of ethnic bias.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Forth Homes the developers of the long running eyesore known as The Orchard have now decided to get on with the job of completing the job. There will be an enormous sigh of relief that after umpteen years, several false starts and a number of flown by night developers it will all be finished. Perhaps. Anyhow the FH publicity machine is in top gear. The community and many others are invited to a presentation of the final phase at Paxton House on Friday and to day's Berwickshire carries a wistful ad about the Launch of this luxury development of 3,4 and 5 bedroom houses. It portrays a caring young mum swinging her little lad (of Hutton Primary School age-hurrah) against the background of rolling green acres and a tiny bungalow with a red roof in the far distance-presumably representing Paxton the 'rural picturesque village' to quote from the launch invitation flyer. This also shows a map of the potential catchment area-Edinburgh to the north and Newcastle to the South. You can bet your last Euro that the bulk of the buyers for these 16 or so luxury homes will be from one or other of the two metropolises-£300,000 or so will seem like a dead give away compared to the sales tags on urban properties perused by the professional middle classes in ould reekie and geordie town.

Green rolling acres will not be much apparent inside the Orchard. 27 or so houses in a site originally destined for about half that number. You may be able to park your car and your friend's as long as not all houseowners have friends visiting at the same time. Thats about it as far as space is concerned. Cats will need to be swung cautiously and gripped half way up their tails.

I wonder if the launch will include a ceremonial sod cutting. If so someone will have to remove the thistles, the knot weed, the couch grass and other exotic vegetation before a sod can be accessed. Perhaps some Ws of MD will be unearthed. If a connection with Iraq can at last be established than that will be an electoral boost for the two Bs. But teams of arms inspectors will only again hold up this project so please no. I think most people despite the long opposition to the creeping over development of the site will only be too relieved that at last the nasty space is being filled to worry too much about the finished product. Come on Forth homes finish the job. If they walk away like their predecessors we can only hope for a speedy replacement. Fifth Homes perhaps? Could happen. Watch this site.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Outside it is all mist and murk with the drip, drip, drip of moisture as if Mr Fish is slowly wringing out his boxer shorts. W hat the Borderers call a smirr. Perfect weather for this month's pestilence- a plague undreamt of by the authors of Exodus. Harvest mites, thunder flies, wheat lice-take your pick. Thick clouds of them eager for every orifice, the more concealed the more to die for and eventually to die in. Gulping up with enormous appetite any quantity of anti-bug lotion and staying for more and then beaming up their cousins the midges to join the fun. And the borders midges are direct descendant's of the Rievers-viscous, unprincipled, opportunist, and out for blood. Yes its Hell out there. And who is going to pick the fruit before it rots on the bushes? It will have to be the wife as she has invested in a bug proof sort of spaceman's helmet with visor which at least protects the more northern orifices. But the equator remains a soft target. These critturs have no respec'.

And not even a Test Match to watch inside.

Yes Yes it is very beautiful. But I still prefer the tourist free Merse. This scene ignores the hundreds of caravans on one bank but does include 'pleasure' craft on the right. Pleasure often being motoring to the middle of Loch Tay, drinking too much, polluting the loch with empties and vomiting on the way back. Would not do for the Whiteadder.

The Dam near Ben Lawers. As seen from. Awaiting the Lancaster Dam Busters low level approach. They never showed to the obvious disappointment of a number of German tourists. The kind with no small talk and no eye contact.

YES Killin scenery is spectacular. Even Huttonian is forced to concede that this is really a long break destination. If you could enlarge this picture you could see the midges. As hungry as those in the Merse and even more of them
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Paxton House is our local Stately Home-A Palladian Mansion as the idiom goes. It is one of our few attractions which is given a real push by the Scottish Borders Tourist Board-unlike its near neighbour the Amazing Maize Maze.It is no longer the Laird's home-he made it over some years ago to a trust and now lives in an adjoining pad in the grounds. With a dominating position overlooking the Tweed it is a pleasant spot for a walk or a game of croquet. A short bit of its river frontage is one of only three places on the Tweed where salmon netting is allowed-the Tweed commissioners are very protective and many of the landowners prefer to keep the fishing rights to themselves or for visiting friends. Or as in the case of Hutton Mill Whiteadder stretch expensive commercial fishing-so much per rod per day. Paxton House is a retreat for the endangered Red Squirrel and a haven for large woolly beasts-cows or coos more usually associated with the Highlands. It is a good place for walkers but wheel chair users are cautiously discouraged with notices in the passive voice -presumably for insurance purposes in this sue -if -possible culture.

The house has a romantic history and the picture gallery Ballroom is the venue for the Music Festival-see previous blogs. The Gallery is an outhoused part of the Scottish National Gallery and some of the paintings on show seem to be those they would not dare put on display in Edinburgh-ok for the hicks. They are so wall to ceiling that they are a kind of sombre wallpaper so perhaps the merits of the individual works of art don't matter too much. One large offering of an 18th C(?) lady with a revealing neckline may have been modeled on an ape rather than a human-the arms are unrealistically long according to an artist bloggee friend. Perhaps the struggling TB ridden garret dwelling artist could not afford to model from life and had to make do with a passing monkey-perhaps better not bring that possibility to the attention of the ALF.

The Tweed below Paxton House-Salmon netters operate from the area of the little 'beach' just visible on the left up river. That happy land on the other bank is England. Enough said.

They don't look half hot mum. This is the master coo on guard. These highly trained Weapons of Merse Destruction are programmed to seek out English Visitors and to lick them to.....

The 'steep gradient' did not appear on earlier notices thus bewildering potential users. It is still a bit indecisive. How about 'Wheel Chairs. Thus Far shal't thou go. And no further'. 'For your own safety'
Monday, August 02, 2004
According to my poshest diary today, 2 August, is a bank holiday in Scotland. Not in England. Nor Wales. But also in the Republic of Ireland. Passing through Callendar where the World Highland Games were cabering away all the banks were open. Why? It may be that they wanted to attract deposits from the spectators at the Highland Games in moments of boredom engendered by gents in skirts tossing telegraph posts around. Bbut the check out lady at the Antiques Road House, a few miles on, could cast little light. She said that Bank Holidays in Scotland were 'funny'. Certainly the traffic was funny-all heading south from Edinburgh, England wards, apparently desperate to escape the non-holiday.

Back in the Merse. Mr Fish, bless him, has sent light cloud. Much cooler than Killin although further South. So no excuse to avoid picking the over abundant soft fruit.

The Berwickshire reports the presence of a gang (as usual marauders from Northumbria) specialising in the theft of heavy plant and machinery. This is so serious that the local MSP has asked the police to set up a dedicated team to deal with this type of criminal activity. One would have thought that it would be quite difficult to steal such heavy equipment from around here where strangers are all to apparent and someone charging off on a 15 ton excavator is not likely to be mistaken for an innocent short break as possible tourist. How does this specialist thief operate? Presumably he has to steal a heavy vehicle first before he can carry off a slightly less heavy piece of machinery. The only target around here is Mr R's yard which is crammed with heavy equipment but any one attempting to break in and take away, even an unattended pogo stick, will stick out like the proverbial aching digit and be overpowered by the neighbourhood watch long before he even reaches the Kirk. Forget Hutton is my advice to any would be Geordie marauders. Easier pickings further South.

Responding to great demand here is a recent picture of the younger granddaughter. She has just been told that although she was born in OZ she is still entitled to a British passport and that a British golfer has just won the Women's Open beating an Aussie into a distant second place.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Phew! What a scorcher as the Sun once said. But in the Highlands 27C is obscene. We will gratefully return to the Haar of Hutton tomorrow. Heat plus midges is a challenge and may be Mr Fish introducing a change of tactics. This morning we went to the local Piscie church known as the Tin Tabernacle. Piscie in the morning RC in the afternoon. What would Mr Paisley make of that I wonder. To escape the heat we climbed someway up one of the local hills but at all of 1000 feet there was no noticeable change in the temperature. But it was too early for the midges. But not fun walking it has to be said.
On the way we went past the jawbone not of an ass but of a large sheep and the skull of a Red deer-had they succombed to the heat? We bravely ploughed on and were spared.

Heavy traffic presumably on the M9. West Indies crumbling fast and there will be little for us to do on our return Borderswards. Tomorrow is notionally a Bank Holiday in Scotland only. No perceptible difference to a week day. Prudent Frugal Scottish Folks don't go to the Bank on Mondays to spin out their cash reserves except perhaps in Shetland where 'frugal' means generous, even spendthrift. Look it up if you don't believe me. It will there spoil a good punch line about 'Frugal me! Frugal Me!' said the Maiden. And Sir Lancelot duly frugalled her. No, don't ask: Dim of Duns.
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