Musings from the Merse
Thursday, September 30, 2004
This may be the big smoke but it is also the big wet. My nemisis Mr Fish knows that Huttonian is here. Chances of injury are high as Londoners in the rain walk head down gabbling into invisible cell phones with their umbrellas at the constant charge position regardless of other's limb or life. It will be good to be back in Hutton where the chances of a person to person collision are remote even down town.

There was a mysterious message from a well placed(if sometimes slightly muddled) source before our descent to the capital to the effect that the Local PLan Team were considering inserting a new provision making Village boundaries either fixed or fuzzy-the latter provision to allow 'flexibility' for develment. Apparently the Community Council can determine what is the rule for their area. The implications for Paxton especially are very significant in the face of the Laird's offer of land for social housing. And I would be very surprised if the generally impotent Community Council will be given such far reaching decision making powers. A decision which could have multi-million pounds consequences.

Back tomorrow GNER permitting. It was dead on time going South so the omens for a prompt return are not propitious.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
During Huttonian's absence in the Big Smoke the rant may go into hiatus mode-I doubt if the East India club expects its members to go on line-smoke signals, naval flags, semaphores and the steam telephone are more its style-as befitting an establishment whose phone number for years was WHI(tehall) 1000. So it will be two days of crowded tubes, no eye contact, the Big Issue and bacon and egg for Breakfast surrounded by recently awakened members reading the Telegraph and chomping thin toast and thick marmalade, visibly enraged by the latest outrage from New Labour. 'That blighter Blair' being the most restrained of comment. My father once made the novice's mistake of wishing an older Club denizen 'Good Morning, Sir' No reply but the OCD rang the ball and a steward (used to be called a club servant) appeared (perhaps he rubbed, rather than rang) OCH spoke: 'This young feller wants to talk about the weather. Or something'

I'll report on return. If I am spared.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
So its off to the Big Smoke for two days tomorrow. Not staying with the youngest daughter this time but in my rather pompous 'Gentleman's Club' with the mouthful of a title 'The East India, Devonshire, Eccentrics and Public Schools Club' It (as the East India) has always had its own premises but the other clubs in rented buildings were driven out by rising rentals and have amalgamated with the East India in St James Square. To taxi drivers-at least those who have 'the knowledge' it is known as The Curry and Rice. But pompous it is. Jackets and ties (ideally suits) at all times. Up to not too long ago women who are reluctantly let in as guests of members were obliged to wear skirts. A guest of mine, a young Jordanian was asked to remove her trousers on arrival and told to put on the club skirt which fortunately fitted her ok. I protested about this and asked how they would deal with Queen Noor of Jordan who always wears tailored trousers-'Oh She is different-she is ethnic' I was told but apparently my Jordanian friend was not ethnic enough.

That has now changed after pressure from myself and others and 'tailored trousers' are ok but jeans no. Gentlemen arriving tieless are lent the club tie and there are a variety of jackets for the sartorially incomplete. Also 'gentlemen' are not supposed to do business over a meal so briefcases are banned from the dining rooms and woe betide any one who produces a piece of paper at the table unless it is socially appropriate like a Playboy centrefold.

Most of the public rooms are 'Gentlemen only'-the ladies now have their own drawing room and wife of a member can now share a bedroom. In my father's time my mother was obliged to sleep elsewhere-'Gentlemen only' meant just that and it was some time before women were allowed in, wives or not, and then via a separate entrance from a back street. My mother was one of the first women allowed in as a guest and on meeting an elderly member on the stair case noticed he turned a choleric shade of purple and pushed past her muttering 'thin edge of the wedge' He may well have been the man who was found very dead in the Smoking Room in his favourite chair. He had a reputation amongst the staff of having a foul temper and no one wanted to disturb his post prandial nap.


3.87 year olds don't tke much amusing. What an advertisement for the Heatherslaw Light Railway.
Monday, September 27, 2004
An alert Bloggee across the Pond has drawn Huttonian' attention to the sad news item below. See a previous rant. It is now too late for an enterprising Safari Park developer to get hold of the animal as a start up for the Whiteadder Wild Life Reserve. It a pity that appropriate action was not taken earlier. At least the Hutton Panther may still be at large.

Wild boar Houdini killed on road

Wild boars were once native to ScotlandThe wild boar who escaped from a Borders abattoir 13 days ago has died in a road accident.
Lothian and Borders police said the pig, dubbed Houdini, was hit by a car near Galashiels just after 2000 BST on Saturday.
The boar was only a mile from the abattoir on Winston Road where he had fled from being slaughtered.
No-one was hurt in the accident on the B6374, although the car was slightly damaged.
Houdini gave slaughterhouse workers the slip at the Scottish Borders Abattoir earlier this month and was last spotted in woodland by anglers on the River Tweed.
Lothian and Borders Police had warned members of the public not to approach the 130lb escapee.
A spokesman said: " He was doing well to avoid capture, but unfortunately that is it. There will be no further inquiries."

Any flowers or messages of sympathy c/o Lothian and Borders Police. Houdini's next of kin have been informed. Coincidentally 'Pigg' and 'Trotter' are well known Border surnames*

* Whats that to do with anything? Blog ed.
The Today Programme carried an item about rural post offices doubling as police stations. With Post Mistresses (or Masters) being the first port of call for crime reports and even issuing gun licences with the second class stamps. Apparently this has happened in Scotland. Not in these parts it hasn't but it is an idea whose time may have come for Hutton. The snag being of course that crime would need to be confined to Mondays and Thursdays during opening hours (9-12-30) Also there is very little in the way of misdoings going on around here but the very presence of a part time nick might, just, attract the right kind of criminal and perhaps ease the pressure on Sheriff Kevin of Duns. Perhaps the Post Mistress could be issued with a smart Special Constable's uniform and be able to occasionally patrol the streets as a friendly police presence-always a reassuring sight to timid citizens.

The out housed poet in residence puts it:

"You're nicked"
the Post Mistress
securing the
pensioner's frail wrists
Sunday, September 26, 2004

There is a clever website where you can (at a cost) check your personal credit rating. But it can also give you a profile of your neighbourhood. Below is based on Huttonian's post code which is shared with most of the village

Rural older familiesThis postcode is typical of 1.16% of the UK population.
Housing Type:
The most common type of housing in this area is detached. These properties are mainly owned or tied rented and the amount of moving within this area is classed as being low.
In this area the most common social group is BC2. The levels of qualifications held by residents is average and of these residents an average proportion are directors. Households predominantly consist of older families and there are an average number of students in the area.
There is an above average number of investors who reside in this area. The financial risk associated with this post code is low. The number of Gold Card owners is high.
Other Information:
There is a very high level of car ownership in this area. The type of daily newspaper bought is typically a low readership one and the typical Sunday newspaper is of quality or popular type.


Financial Risk in this postcode

Based on Cameo financial risk, the ratio of good credit accounts and bad credit accounts across the area is as follows. A good credit account is one with payments made on time. A bad credit account is, or has been, in arrears.
1 bad account in every 19 accounts

Not bad. Big Brother thinks we are ok.We should collectively be a good risk.

Why don't you try this with your post code? Go to www.checkmyfile.com The post code check is FREE.

A bloggee who was impressed by Professor Harriet Archbold's 'fascinating insight' re Kubla Khan writes " It is also not generally known that Kubla's cousin Ghengis may have visited the Borders on a liaison visit to the Rievers. Ghengis was a sort of mediaevel Usama bin Laden and had heard of the Riever's reputation as good fighters. Apparently he wanted to recruit a few for his training camps in what is now Afghanistan. History is silent on how he got on but he is said to have enjoyed a family holiday in "Olde Paxton and environs" on a subsequent visit. Ghengis had a pet tiger ' Sher Khan' (later immortalised by Kipling in his political diatribe: 'The Just So Stories' ) He may have brought it with him on his jaunts to Europe-quarantine regulations were laxer then. Sadly Sher's only pup was run over in a traffic accident in Paris and although not killed was badly disabled-henceits subsequent nickname 'Sher Badluck' Huttonian cannot vouch for the accuracy of all this but passes it on as there is not much else going on this evening.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
A bloggee has enquired about Sheriff Kevin of Duns. Is he away? No sir. He is very much around and presiding over his court but seems to have only been involved in rather humdrum cases recently; hence the silence of the rants. Last week, according to the Berwickshire's ace court reporter he had to deal with a man who had caused a disturbance in the Social Services offices and refused to leave. Not surprisingly, he would have found this difficult as it as he was discovered by the police in a 'drunken stupor' Jailed one month. Alcholol also fuelled a row between a father and son over 'speaking loudly on the phone in the parental home in the early hours of the morning' The son struggled violently with his dad. Admonished. £150 fine imposed on a 26 year old for ' placing people in a state of fear by striking doors and windows' in a house in Coldstream. The young man was deeply ashamed having allowed drink to get the better of him following a row with his girl friend. Another man has been charged with extortion linked with threatening behaviour putting someone in a state of fear for 'demanding £450 for work carried out without' his victim's authority. The case will be heard next month.

We are lucky around here to suffer from little crime. Although our local (but visiting) WPC told the Community Council of a number of thefts of agricultural equipment-but as far away as Duns. Nearer to home a local Big Hoose had a large sum of money stolen and a gang of youngsters is reporting to be targeting elderly people making one excuse or another to gain entry into their houses in order to loot and pillage But the village in question is remote enough not to make the local community feel too threatened. Strangers are very obvious here and most of them are intent on visiting the Kirk and adjacent grave yard in the search for relis who originated from around here. The only 'crime' connected with the church in our time was local youngsters getting into the church and horrors(! ) throwing pew cushions at the lights. As a result of this the church was kept locked for the duration of the school holidays.

Outside the Mill. The developer is obliged to refit the mill paddles as a condition for conversion into a house. Condition imposed by Historic Scotland

Hutton Mill-possible site of Kubla Khan's -decreed' Pleasure Dome' The present building is a conversion of the 19th Century Mill. Pleasure is now focussed on excellent fishing and observing the rearing of youing Pheasant chicks in preparation for ritual slaughter in season. The developer is under an obligation to replace the Mill wheel-the remains are in a bit of a mess so an expert in solving jig saw puzzles may be needed!
Friday, September 24, 2004

Inside the Mill which is now a self catering cottage for fisherfolk. The Mill machinery is preserved and in potential working order
KUBLA KHAN. A Hutton Man?

The Hutton Think Tank's outsourced Poet- in -Residence Professor Harriet Archbold also saw the reference to Kubla Khan at Eyemouth piece on the Berwickshire Website (she is out sourced considerably and does not normally see our local papers in hard copy).

She writes: Of course Coleridge never got to China but he must have visited the Borders on a short break vacation-indeed there is no conclusive evidence that he didn't. Looking at the context of then contemporary disquiet at Asylum seekers congregating in rural areas such as the Merse –including a number of Chinese cockle pickers in Eyemouth, Coleridge was doing is best to romanticise foreign people in order to reassure his compatriots that they presented no threat to the British way of life-indeed they could make a positive and beneficial contribution. 'Kubla Khan' thus represents an investment- bringing foreign building developer and 'Xanadu' is a coded reference to an exotic location almost certainly the Whiteadder Valley- Thus the poem could appropriately have started:'At Hutton Mill did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree' .'Alph the sacred river' is of course the Whiteadder which via the Tweed ran 'through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea' (an excellent description of the Whiteadder gorge below Hutton village-certainly 'measureless' is apt given the primitive nature of instrumentation in Coleridge's time. Sunless sea' is especially apposite-the Haar is no modern phenomenon as the poet found to his discomfort. And of course 'gardens bright with sinuous rills' can still be seen in both Hutton and Paxton. Moreover the river above Hutton Mill is accurately described as 'five miles meandering with mazy motion through wood and dale'etc. The clincher is the reference to Berwick itself: 'So twice five miles of fertile ground with walls and towers are girded round'. Again areas are imprecise but the reference is clear enough. Much of the rest of the poem is thought to be ale- induced gibberish as befits a poet who enjoyed the Borders' taverns but the mention of 'an Abyssinian maid with her dulcimer' brings us back to the immigrant theme as mentioned above. I could rabbit on endlessly but am inclined not to given the miserable pittance I get as an honorarium from the HTT..

As to what happened to the Pleasure Dome, contemporary records unearthed in the remains of an old loo at St Boswells indicate that planning permission was turned down by the Berwickshire Area Committee. No reason given but perhaps there was unease that this might be the start of ribbon development 'outwith an existing building group' along a river then charmingly undeveloped.

I hope that the Borders Tourist Board can make good use of yet another literary/historical connection to the area.
First it was King Arthur now it is Kubla Khan. The Berwickshire, obviously short of copy, features on its front page an item headed "Chinese Junk's film role at Eyemouth". There is a picture of a craft which, to my reasonably tutored eye, is more of an Arab Dhow than any kind of Junk, Chinese or otherwise. The caption claims that this boat has been used recently in a documentary film on "Khubilai"* Khan's failed invasion of Japan. A documentary, note,-so it must be seriously authentic stuff. I hope the point is made somewhere in the film that it was not surprising that KK failed with his invasion of Japan if he tried to go via Eyemouth. Logistically that would have been most unwise and why take on the Borderers as well as the Japanese? I'll look out for the programme when it is aired to find out the answer to this and some other questions which might strike the casual observer-but when? The Berwickshire is silent on this point.

* post modernist revisionist transliteration. Not quite the same ring as 'Kubla' It jars a bit; like finding Mumbai Duck on the menu of your average Chinese Restaurant
I must take my hat of to the Berwickshire as the paper has done justice to the Community Council Minutes-reproduced them in full and filling one quarter of a broadsheet page in three long columns. No trimming or censorship. The Laird's donation of land to the Berwickshire Housing Association for Affordable Housing is given the the treatment -referred to as being considered inappropriate by 'many people' and described as a possible Trojan Horse for a larger development project. The Borders Councillor, is also quoted as saying that this proposal will not help solve Paxton's drainage problems. In fairness the BHA plan is to build 4 houses on a ten house site with the rest of the site taken up with a sewerage plant.(What a pretty sight for a charming village?) But such a commodious installation for only 4 houses has, in itself, raised fears for a Trojan Horse approach to the whole field.

We will now have to see if this Community Council challenge will raise hackles/the temperature locally in a public kind of way or whether the battle will now go underground 'behind closed doors' within the entrails of the Planning Department. Last time there was a flurry over the local plan led to a pamphlet war, a virtually real petition in the pub and a lot of written protests to the Planners. People Power was successful on that occasion. But this time?

Incidentally at the very end of the minutes there is a reference to a member of the CC talking to a local farmer about moving a dumped car from a field (See previous rants and a photo or two) Last time names were given (as this time also) there were ructions and repercussions. Hopefully History will not repeat itself especially as the farmer in question could hardly be blamed for having a car abandoned on his property
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Thursday is of course the day that the Berwickshire News comes out. Together with its urban sister The Berwickshire Advertiser. The latter concentrates on the metropolis of Berwick upon Tweed and its twin across the Tweed: Tweedmouth. They carry stories in common but the purely rural items like the Community Council minutes of the various village communities are confined to the News . It is possible that Hutton and Paxton will feature today but there is no guarentee as there are so many councils jostling for paper space and H and P may be carried over until next week or even longer. It is also interesting to see how the minutes are edited-sometimes printed more or less in full down to the latest dog poo appeal (usually for less-its not like blood donors) and sometimes blue pencilled to make the whole report almost meaningless.
Also there is on occasion a hint of censorship. Local papers tend to be careful about not giving too much offence to people who matter (or who might be amongst the shareholders?) As bloggees will know, recently an editor of another Borders organ got the push for mocking local traditions.
So when Community Councils cross swords with the local establishment the details are not always mentioned in the paper's report.

I'll report further when the wife, on today's paper run, has returned with her booty.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
I may have got it wrong about the bear. The original bloggee has sent the following correction

"I'm afraid the bear shot was taken not far from Elephant and Bagel, which is on Nicholson Square, I think. My theory is that the bear is blind drunk, and passed out."

I now feel less sorry for the deprived child. It needs to acquire basic parenting skills. Still it would not have happened in Hutton unless the Bear managed to get flutered in The Cross Inn at Paxton and then hitched to Hutton to collapse there. Traffic is so light between the two villages that he might have waited all night for a car. Hopefully we can keep this type of riff raff out of the Merse.


This is the Heatherslaw light railway which runs along the River Till to Etal from Heatherslaw Mill. It would be marvellous if some enterprising developer could put in a similar line from Paxton to Hutton-perhaps along the Whiteadder? Or from the Pub to Hutton Village Hall. It would be a great help for eg drunken bears and as a tourist attraction. And much more fun than the present very intermittent bus.Hutton Think Tank have been commissioned to do a needs survey.

By widespread public demand. KB in her Tuesday best.

Heartless folk those Edinburgh folk. A poor abandoned Teddy Bear in Rose Street photographed by a bloggee who was horrified by the sight. What is the story behind this callous act of betrayal?. Where is the child who loved his bear so much? Did some cruel adult snatch it from the childs loving grasp and hurl it towards the dust bin? Somewhere a child is sobbing its heart out and the bear is likely to be found a new home by the environmental hygenists in the dirty depth of a refuse truck snuggling up to dead takeaways and unrecyclable condoms. Sad. It would never happen in Hutton where Teddies are not just for Christmas. Sophisticated we may not be but kind to stuffed toys we are.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Wrecked by Mr Fish's flatulence? The former Hutton Think Tank HQ after a pre dawn raid by Fishwick Special Branch? Too dark to see what they were doing? No. It is an old silo near the newly developed bijou conversion of Edington Mill? It escaped the makeover attempts of the enterprising (if some what unimaginative developer) But why worry about imagination if the apartments conjured out of the old mill are retailing in the £290-£300K bracket. But what can be done with this?
Huttonian does not usually watch Children's TV but I found myself, somewhat inadvertently, doing so in company with the 3.84 year old-CBeebies as it happens. Postman Pat was quite gripping with a story line which could reflect life around here -not only does his round bear some resemblance to Hutton and Paxton-well more Paxton perhaps with the village green but he himself bears a remarkable resemblance to a well known local personalty-no not our own postie but to a distinguished long term resident. If any one can spot the likeness please use the comment facility. No prizes for the correct answer but be content with a great sense of achievement. Much more rewarding in this over materialistic age.
My scanning of the Berwickshire has not been too thorough recently and I am indebted to a regular bloggee for sight of an article from last week’s edition. It was in the farming supplement for some reason. The Newspaper is very interested in the activities of our laird who although he is an East Lothian MSP is a Berwickshire man. I have been selective in this rant and omitted some of his remarks of possible lesser interest but the whole piece is available in the paper for 16 September

Toughest Task Yet For MSP – 16/9/04 – Berwickshire News.

East Lothian Labour MSP John Home Robertson became the first backbench MSP to speak in the new Scottish Parliament chamber at Holyrood when it opened last week. He spoke at the beginning of a debate on the Scottish Executive’s legislative programme for the coming year.

Speaking of his relief at the parliament finally being completed, Mr Home Robertson said: “As convener of the Holyrood progress group, I have spent many hours and some pretty traumatic times at Holyrood as a building site during the past four years. Frankly, I think is has been almost the toughest task that I have had in 25 years in parliament. There were some difficult times and some infuriating problems but, when I see the place today and, above all, when I see the expressions on the faces of people experiencing Holyrood for the first time, I know that we were right to persevere.”

The MSP argued that the building was the finest building to be built in Scotland in the last hundred hears and said: “It is the forum for the future of the people of Scotland. It is the permanent home for a parliament that can make the investment at a time when the Executive has also been increasing spending of Scotland’s public services.”

On housing, Mr Home Robertson one again raised the issue of what he said was a critical shortage of affordable rented housing in areas like East Lothian. The MSP, who hopes to influence housing policy in his new role on the Scottish Parliament’s communities committee, said: “I am determined to do everything that I can to help councils such as East Lothian Council to tackle our local housing crisis. If that means raising difficult questions about the right to buy we should not shirk that responsibility. I was delighted to hear the First Minister say that attention needs to be given to the housing crisis in such areas.”

End of extract from Article.

Some local people are hoping that the Member for East Lothian confines the quest for more affordable housing to his constituency rather than nearer to home. But given his offer of free land to the Berwickshire Housing Association to build 4 ‘affordable houses’ in his home village of Paxton this seems unlikely. His stated intention is to provide cheap rented accommodation for people in the village who cannot afford to find housing near to home. Unfortunately being local does not score highly in the points system used by the BHA (and all such bodies UK wide) in their allocation of cheap housing and it is more likely that say, a needy Portuguese fisherman working from Eyemouth gets any Association house in Paxton than one of the sons of the village. So the Laird’s generosity may prove to be misplaced as far as the locals are concerned. I am not entirely sure what the Community Council said about all this last Wednesday as I was unavoidably absent but in the past (reflecting it is believed the popular view) they have opposed any further development of any sort in a village which has expanded mightily in the past few years-and with 18 more buildings going up in the Orchard over the next 24 months I suspect there is no change in the public mood.

If the Community Council Minutes appear in the Berwickshire this coming Thursday we may get an up to date view of Vox Pop. Otherwise they may soon be avilable on the Berwickshire Community Council Forum Website at www.bccforum.info Click on Communities and follow links to Minutes.
Monday, September 20, 2004
After a Mr Fish flatulated night-although we were spared the alarming storms and 'disruption' he vowed to inflict-I awoke convinced it was Tuesday. Tuesday is not very different from Monday in these parts, or indeed from any other day in peaceful drowsy Hutton. But Tuesday, unlike Monday or Wednesday or Friday is our turn for doing the newspaper run to Berwick on our own behalf and our neighbour's. And so off I went ignoring dire warnings of wet trees and broken branches (not a drop of wet for over 24 hours and hardly a fallen twig as it happened) as the rest of the house party decided to go to Ould Reekie to help amuse the 3.8 year old and (in the case of the wife) to add considerably to the dentist's cash flow. It was great to be able to make use of Safeways/Morrisons without having to brave the main shopping area crowded with caravanners with a weekend of frenetic debauchery behind them- I snatched the press from the kiosk and triumphantly arrived chez neighbour at a record early time. Sadly just missed him as he had left for the shops to pick up the papers as usual for a Monday. So we have carelessly contributed towards further unnecessary rain forest destruction he reluctant possessors of most of the Independents available in Berwick on any one day. AndI will have to repeat the process tomorrow assuming it is Tuesday. That is if I remember. I will soon be reduced to writing myself notes to remind me of the day when I awake. But if I forget to do that as well-what then?

Leave it to the wife, I think.

As it happens-considering what the smart Edinburgh folk think what happens in the borders-I was held up by a bevy of slow moving sheep on the road on the way to Duns-a main artery this, carrying as many as 20 cars an hour. And, just to make the townie sophisticate's point I overtook at least three horse people en route. So perhaps the image is a correct one after all and what is wrong with that? Will a flock of sheep and a trio of riders deter smart investors from putting their money here? Especially if it is agricultural investment they are after-Edinburgh would not be much use for that.

Alert Edinburghers visiting these rural parts will note that come September the Cock Pheasants are no longer seen around here. Matured and flown away? No. So where are they? Dead. Shot by fat, ill-fitting-tweed-clad visiting myopic southern stockbrokers? No-myopia and the automatic shot guns are not a winning combination. They have all been run over-many by visitors from Ould Reekie with their careless city ways. Although to be fair the CP is such a stupid bird it is difficult not to mow them down as they jump out in front of your wheels-Darwin would have had a word for it I am sure. The Hens are not so stupid and survive ok. But what do they do without the Cocks? Have a gay old time I reckon.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Apparently we have an identity crisis in the Borders. '1576 Advertising', a Spin agency which has Glenmorangie and Jenners (The Edinburgh Department Store) amongst it clients has been commissioned to come up with a 'modern Borders Brand' to attract investors and to market the region to visitors. The current Logo is a Reiver head which may not adequately convey the Borders of 2004. The Vice Chairman of Scottish Enterprise Borders states (according to the Berwickshire News) " There is still a belief that when people come over from Soutra (Southern Scotland's Golan Heights) into the Borders they will find us on horse and carts with sheep being driven along the roads" He claimed that Edinburgh folk had a very low awareness of what goes on in the Borders. But according to this gentleman creation of slogans (Borders: Scotland's favourite Short Break Destination? ) or Logos to replace the SBC's 'ubiquitous' Border Reiver' is not going to help our image problem. "This is not about new signs ....we need a common hymn sheet from which all local organisations can sing"

But others think change is necessary.So, the big question is: Could the Borders end up with a new logo and a new slogan? The Hutton Think Tank, at the fraction of the cost of employing 1576 Advertising is working on the case. One slogan being considered is 'The Borders-on the way there. And back' It has a nice ring to it and could be put to appropriate jingly musak. Or ' The Borders-land of empty roads; keep it that way' But that is a touch unfriendly. As for a logo How about a nice Smiley with a smart steel bonnet-thus combining the old Reiver historical connection with a 21st Century welcoming visage. Suggestions welcome. Self addressed envelope for replies please. HT2 is short of funds.
Saturday, September 18, 2004

So far so good but the credits are beginning to roll.
Conundrum. What to do with a rumbustious 3.82 year old on a Mr Fish Day? Too wet for the Amazing Maize Maze which any how is officially closed although it has not yet been seasonally adjusted. However 12 foot Maize is very very wet. The Sports Centre is crammed full of squealing kids-one more would not be a kindness to humanity. Ditto Conundrum Farm. The windup Hornby is beginning to pall. There is a limit to the number of videos he can be plonked in front of.
Indoor golf although absorbing is dangerous to life, limb, furniture and fittings. The elder granddaughter destroyed the only inside plane by pulling the wings, thoughtfully, lovingly and thoroughly to pieces. The garden is vey muddy and the pond dangerous. Any ideas via the comment e-mail thingee. Urgent. I have important tasks that require full concentration. Like watching theRyder Cup.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Another item re the Scottish Parliament-surely Europe's most expensive building. The local interest is the MSP for East Lothian connection. He is also the local Laird. The article is from The Scotsman

If Dewar was alive he would take blame, says McConnell HAMISH MACDONELL SCOTTISH POLITICAL EDITOR
DONALD Dewar would have accepted the blame for the mistakes made during the crucial early stages of the Holyrood project, Jack McConnell insisted yesterday. The First Minister told MSPs his predecessor would have "accepted responsibility" for the decisions he made as Scottish secretary and first minister before his death in 2000. Mr McConnell said Mr Dewar had been an honourable man and he added: "If Donald Dewar was here he would indeed have accepted responsibility, perhaps far more than he should have." The extent of Mr Dewar's culpability in the problems which have plagued the Holyrood project has been brought into sharp focus this week by the publication of Lord Fraser's report into the spiralling costs and delays to the parliament building. The Tory peer found that Mr Dewar was perfectly entitled to take the decision to choose the Holyrood site, to choose enrich Miralles as the architect and agree to a construction route which placed all the risk on the taxpayer. But Lord Fraser added that the former Scottish secretary had been wrong to take the decisions when it would have been "democratically correct" for him to have left these matters to MSPs. He also stressed that Mr Dewar's determination to get the building finished as soon as possible was based on the misguided fear that the Tories might win the 2001 election and repeal devolution, when there was not the slightest chance of this happening. These early decisions which shaped the Holyrood project, combined with the urgency Mr Dewar injected into the process, have been blamed by many for setting the parliament building on a downward spiral from which it has never recovered. David McLetchie, the Tory leader, raised this issue during First Minister's questions yesterday and demanded to know why ministers had failed to take responsibility for their actions. In a thinly-disguised reference to Mr Dewar, Mr McLetchie said ministers were ultimately to blame for taking "the crucial political decisions" on the site and the architect, for failing to ask the right questions of their civil servants and for continuing "to sign the blank cheques". He asked: "Will the First Minister therefore accept, given this litany of failure, the ministerial and collective responsibility of his party and his colleagues for these disastrous political decision?" Mr McConnell hit back, saying: "I think it is easy - I wouldn't go so far as to say cheap - it is easy to criticise someone who is not here to answer for themselves. But I think if Donald Dewar was here he would indeed have accepted responsibility, perhaps far more than he should have." He added that all four main political parties - Labour, the SNP, the Tories and the Lib Dems - had to accept their share of responsibility for the fiasco because all four parties had been on the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body - Holyrood's business team - since June 1999 when responsibility for the project passed from the former Scottish Office. Mr McConnell announced that he was prepared to accept his share of the blame and challenged his opponents to do likewise. "I am prepared to accept, have been all along, my share of that responsibility as an individual MSP," he said. "I accept fully my responsibility as First Minister to make sure this never happens again and to make sure Scotland can now move forward. "But Mr McLetchie, you and the Nationalists should accept your responsibilities. We were all involved in the decisions on this and we should all therefore learn the lessons from it." A spokeswoman for the Executive later tried to play down Mr McConnell's references to Mr Dewar, claiming the First Minister had been talking about "politicians generally". But this failed to deflect attention from Mr McConnell’s remarks because this is the first time - in public at least - that a senior Labour politician has appeared to lay any blame at Mr Dewar's door for the spiralling costs and delays which have bedeviled the project since its inception. However, party political members of the Holyrood Progress Group (HPG), who were heavily criticised by Lord Fraser, refused to follow Mr McConnell's advice and accept their share of the blame for any wrongdoing yesterday. Labour's John Home Robertson, the convener of the HPG, said he hoped it was time to move on from the Holyrood saga and said the only thing he would apologise for was ensuring that the more expensive Scottish, rather than the cheaper Portuguese, granite was used to clad the building. One of his colleagues, Linda Fabiani, from the SNP, claimed the Holyrood project was already heading for disaster before the MSPs took over. She said: "The report is quite clear that the failure of the Holyrood project flows from flawed decisions while the project was under the control of the Scottish Office. "Lord Fraser is entirely right to conclude that by the time the project transferred to the parliament the wheels were already off and the project was out of control." She added: "The report confirms what has long been known - that the parliament was misled into accepting a project that had been pre-disastered

I am sure that Mr HR is right in saying that it is time to move on from the Holyrood Saga. Huttonian respectfully suggests that it might also appropriate not to embark upon another saga-that of affordable housing in the wrong place and quite likely not for the right people. It would be most unfortunate if the local community is to be 'misled into accepting a project that had been 'pre-disastered' **To echo and to Mersifie * Ms Fabiani's memorable phrase.

* Mersifie is not a proper word. Blog Ed.

** How about 'predisastered' then? Blog sub-ed

Thursday, September 16, 2004
I knew I had a problem as soon as I saw her. Big, thick forearms, squat build, short cropped hair, jutting chin, leaning aggressively and heavily on her heavy duty trolley. Wherever I was in Safeways doing my three phone shop (I am allowed three calls on the mobile for guidance from the wife and other authority figures at home) there she was between me and my desired goodies. She hovered around the turkey breasts overhearing my call for precise instructions. The wife had added on a last minute request for digestive biscuits so she was there before me, trolley blocking the appropriate shelf. Ditto at the 'single cream' shelf and again at that corner of the veggies where the least popular organic items are concealed from the casual glance of the browsing passerby. I thought I should escape her at the '9 items' checkout but just as I was there I realised that I had at least 11, including the newspaper round for the neighbour and the middle daughter .

I rushed to the shortest queue, just beating a triumverate of VRAMs (Very retired ancient males) one of whom was in the opening stages of heart failure, so no contest really-to find I was immediately behind my tormenter-the VRAM's prevented retreat with their three trolleys forming a permanent road block behind me. She then proceeded to check out very very slowly, packing her bags with minute attention to detail, like items packaged together, fumbling for her purse, paying out in small coins, counted out one by one, lingering for some choice irrelevant comments (made to the check out lady) on the weather for the coming twelve months and moving out of my way only after a backwards glance of pure malice. I rushed past her in case she knew my car to block with her trolley leaving two of the three VRAMs administering to the third.

It was when I got home I found that in my fluster and irritation that I had managed to acquire all the newspapers except our own.
Huttonian failed to make the Community Council meeting last night but apparently there was no real discussion on the Laird's proposal for zoning for Affordable Housing. The feeling seemed to be ( from the body language of those present) that there is no change in the majority position in Paxton which is against any more significant development. Anyhow the sewerage system will not support more buildings and Scottish Water have not got the investment to upgrade a low priority area.

This is of course not the end of the matter. The proposal for Zoning is still on the table and the Local Plan is still a draft. THe BerwickshireHousing Association(BHA) have submitted a proposal to build 4 houses on a 14 house site as earmarked by the Laird-the rest of the site is apparently to be taken up with a self contained sewerage treatment plant for the 4 houses! Big tail for a very small dog. But it will be awy of getting around the sewage problem at some cost.
Wild boar at large after dash for freedom
By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent

The Borders features so infrequently in the National Press that it was quite a surprise to find this headline on page 9 of theTabloid 'Indy' the story is as follows:

15 September 2004
Somewhere among the woodland which surrounds the market town of Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, a fugitive lies in hiding unaware of the fuss his great escape from captivity has caused.
Following in the footsteps of the Tamworth Two pigs, a wild boar has made an attempt for freedom from a slaughterhouse. Known as Houdini for his death-defying escapade from the Scottish Borders Abattoir in the town's Winston Road, the boar spent most of yesterday dodging police and slaughtermen trying to recapture him among the bushes on the outskirts of the town.
The animal's fate now rests on either evading capture or engendering the sympathy of the general public.
In 1998, the Tamworth Two caused a media frenzy after they escaped from an abattoir in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
The public was advised by Lothian and Borders Police not to approach the latest escapee as experts warned that wild boar could be dangerous if cornered or frightened. (The Independent)

Devotees of this rant will remember the sightings of the Hutton panther earlier this year. Sadly since Dave the Paper gave up his dawn run there have been no further sightings reported to Huttonian. If anyone would have seen the Galashiels Wild Boar it would have been Dave-and Galashiels is not all that far from here-perhaps 3o miles on a good day. So a visit is on the cards.

I am not quite sure how this beast is going to engender the sympathy of the general public. Boars are not generally cuddly and will anyhow need to be cornered before any acquaintanceship can be struck up. But the police have stated that the creature is dangerous when cornered so that does not seem much of an option.

However here is a golden opportunity for the Borders Tourist Board to add an attraction to Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination and perhaps some enterprising Safari company could organise game drives-a panther and a wild boar are a good start for the Borders Wild Game reserve. "Wild Borders! A Boars Paradise!" would make good tourist copy but one would have to be careful with the spelling.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Wolves in the Highlands. But surely more appropriate in the wild and wooly Borders swarming already with panthers and Boar?
After its long hols the Community Council gets back to work One new issue is the question of out of hours medical cover now that the Bordoc arrangement is being abandoned with GPs no longer working overtime and their roles being filled by paramedics. . The other major topic is of course the local plan in the light of the local laird's offer to provide land in Paxton for four 'affordable' houses. An offer enthusiastically accepted by the Berwickshire Housing Association. This, to happen, will need an alteration to the draft local plan which has confined zoning for development in Paxton to the completion of the Orchard project. Faithful bloggees will be aware of the implications of all this from previous rants. Nuff said for the moment and reports will follow; if I am spared.

In the meanwhile it is a glorious Fish aberration of a day. Good for an outing en famille* Wall to wall sun.We amused the tiny ones yesterday at Conundrum Farm which is stocked with child friendly fauna including Guinea Pigs, giddy goats, flamboyant rabbits, exotic cattle and gadgets like toy tractors and earth movers. The earth moved for a Doe rabbit while we were as a baby was born during lunch. This surprised the management as the rabbits had been segregrated for some months to prevent such occurrences-however a tiny eyewitness (child of the house?) confirmed she had, some time ago, seen a buck rabbit tunnel out of its enclosure into the cage sinister* and had done its male duty-well it appears. It reminds me of my favourite headline from an Irish local newspaper reporting a hunting accident:' Father of ten shot dead. Mistaken for a Rabbit'

* You can't baffle me with long words-Blog ed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Final poetry offerings from the Katy Day Celebration. This time from the youngest daughter. Gentle fun is being poked at Katy's dad who insisted that 'God be kept out of it' as far as any ceremony was concerned.

There was a small baby from Fraser
Whose brother just loved to amaze her
But try as he might
To astonish or fright
He couldn’t do nothing to faze her.

Our cute little girl, Katie Beth,
Has an insatiable thirst for the bretht
The result is loud thunder
Coming up from down under
And her nappy’s a horrible meth.

Said Jon: We’ve no need for a deity
To add to Katy’s day’s gaiety
So it might seem a bit odd
To not invite God
But I think we’ll restrict this to laity.

‘Being omnipresent,’ said God, ‘I must say
I don’t think I can stay away.
But please don’t resent
The present I sent
Which arrived on the last day of May.’ #

# K was born on 31May (Poet's note)

Normal service will soon be resumed on the other issues of the day.*

*About time too. Blog ed.


Yes this is the last mention of Katy's Day. But Bloggees might like to see a mother, an aunt, the gurst of honour and the senior granddaughter. The aunt has the champagne.
Monday, September 13, 2004
The senior Uncle filed this poem as part of the welcome to his youngest grand niece. She, being part Australian, missed the more classical allusions but seemed to get the drift.

Katy Beth Hall
A Family Thing
A welcome dear cousin with your two letter nameKT
to use with e-mail or texting.
Visiting relations in your Scottish country hame.
We hope to achieve what you're expecting.
Katy, diminutive, means pur, comes from Greek Beth,
pledged to - or house of - God from Hebrew.
Now half round the world a well travelled week,
..We gather today from all over to see you.
We must make an effort for our ties to remain
and get to know each other as we should
and when you return we'll meet up again
Fiona, Jon, Patrick, Katy
and any future brood.

And the Wife-not to be outdone came up with:

my Grandmother Sang Me a Song but I Don’t Remember the Words
__ __ __ __

‘Don’t pick your nose’ she said
But her voice was kind, her manner not shaming.

I don’t remember the teaching but
From her I learnt to love
The closeness of family with roots deep in our place.

She taught me to knit.

Now, I am the grandmother.
What learning can I give?

Not love of place, I think
So scattered as we are,
But love of the connecting bonds that weave us close
A family belonging

In this family,
Know that you are loved, Katy Beth
Even if you pick your nose
And even if you never learn to knit.
The flatulence of Mr Fish continues at gale force level. Some of the relis have departed northwards but the younger and youngest generation remain. With such a cold wind and at such ferocity it is difficult to know how to entertain the very young ones. .33, .9 and 3.8 are not likely too find something to do in common. 3.8 is kept amused by the very old fashioned, wind up (0) Guage Hornby. But .9 could easily destroy the entire LMS (I said old fashioned) system, with the wrong type of baby on track so the layout is on a table out of reach of tiny grasping fingers.Trouble is that the table is really too small for even the meanest of Pre Dr Beaching layouts and the station and one curve hang precariously over the abyss with the inevitable consequences when the engine on full wind is at top speed. Two major disasters so far and the dead and wounded include the entire station staff so normal service is disrupted in a very realistic GNER up-to-date fashion. Only the squat controller remains on duty as a sole walking wounded but union rules do not permit overtime until the dispute on manning levels has been sorted. So avoid Hutton Halt for the moment and keep an eye on Teletext. As for the 3.8 he is just as happy watching Tommy the Tank Engine series on video.
The point of the Reli Rally was to take part in a ceremony welcoming the younger granddaughter to the wider family with due pomp and some circumstance. Poems were read and for the higher brows (5'7" and above) an unmasqued classical dialogue was performed. In this instance Huttonian was cast as a 5th Century BC Greek Politician.

Socratean Dialogue

SOCRATES: Greetings Huttonian. Do you bring news from Zeus? If so how does it apply to the candidate for Mount Olympus: Katy Beth? Or are you still over preoccupied with the Hutton Village Hall?

Huttonian: I'm glad you've asked me this question.This country has a long and proud tradition of embracing those from other cultures. There is no doubt in my mind that these people have contributed considerably to the culture of Mount Olympus for hundreds of years. However, the influx of applicants from less fortunate areas into the Mount has caused concern among its citizens for some time now, and the old system of patronage from selected Gods is unsustainable. So it is with this in mind that we are to turn Hutton Village Hall into a processing centre for those applying for asylum on Mount Olympus

SOCRATES: Should we not set her similar tasks to the Infant Hercules? Augean Stables clean up being particularly appropriate to a female child with a non domesticated Male parent. Zeus, as a Green God, I know is neurotically insistent on the use of biodegradable cleansing materials.

Huttonian: It's true that there has been some criticism from the far left about the hurdles being placed in the way of Olympian citizenship, and these being compared to the tasks of Hercules, but this is simply hysteria. These hurdles are quite necessary, because only the most agile of applicants would be able to travel in a city built for the Gods themselves. Naturally, the agility required to traverse hurdles is roughly equivalent to that required to walk down Mount Olympus' many streets.

SOCRATES: The Male parent is unnaturally obsessed with mammals. As I once said (450bc) ‘How many things I can do without’? How can the infant here present do without such unhealthy pursuits?

Huttonian: Should her application to Mount Olympus be successful, and should she befriend one of the lesser Gods, I'm quite sure he could entertain her for hours on end, by taking on the forms of her favourite animals. You should remember that Mount Olympus offers unrivalled views across the entire world, and as such, should she share her fathers interests, she will be ideally placed to do so. So I would argue that there is no need for her to avoid her fathers passion.

SOCRATES: I also said (432 BC)’ I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance’. That is before I met you. Oh Huttonian. Zeus knows that there must be final words of wisdom to be passed on to this young clinging and to her big brother Mr P. Speak on and then shut up.

Huttonian: I would urge both of them to try out the new system of voting, an initiative from my party which was completely unprecedented. It's just one of a number of policies which they should feel the benefit of, under Olympian rule, and of which we are justifiably proud. We're considering having some sort of sports-day to celibate, with athletes from around the world competing against each other. The top prize is citizenship of Mount Olympus itself. Second prize is ten packets of organic feta cheese.

SOCRATES: Thank you Wise Huttonian. Katy Beth hark well to our words, practice them until perfection and always use the 9 items or less checkout at the Mount Olympus Safeway’s. And have a good day.

The allusions to the village hall are purely classical and should be seen in that sense. Some of the original Greek nuance has been lost in translation.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Toys everywhere. Food all over the floor. Pain stakingly picked and processed black berries (with Apple) spilt. Two little baby girls squealing (rage? Fear? Delight?) One little boy finding them off with well placed pushes. 12 coming for lunch. Place in chaos. Dishwasher full. No time to run it before guests assemble. Mr Fish's flatulence roaring through the leaves. Heavy rain forecast.No peace anywhere. Magic
Saturday, September 11, 2004
As the house fills up the ranting may become spasmodic and unfocused. If not downright incoherent. 3 children under 4 (two under one) and all under foot takes some concentration. As I write the elder granddaughter is simultaneously eating an apple, rearranging the catalogues and exploring the wine rack. Now she can raise herself to her feet her horizons have widened vertically and the potential area for collateral damage dramatically expanded. Her two cousins arrive tonight and the gang of three will take some corralling. The younger GD is still in the stay plonked mode but her cousin has an amazing turn of speed over the ground in a manic bottom shuffle with one leg assisted overdrive. Once she learns to get at the computer she might as well start her own blog.
Friday, September 10, 2004
The Reli Rally is under starters orders. Trial run underway with arrival of senior granddaughter and youngest daughter. Middle daughter and No 2 son in law arrive today-GNER willing.Remaining grandchildren arrive tomorrow from Welsh Wales with senior daughter and son in law. Babies' great aunt and great uncle also due tomorrow. Child congestion condemns them to two nights in a local B&B. Final arrivals for the Sunday Ceremony are on that day in the shape of middle and junior nephews. They were offered mattresses for the night but have oddly opted to return to Ould Reekie instead.

Mr Fish is breathing wind and wet. Fleeces unmothballed and dusted. Electric heaters re-fused.
Electric blankets on setting 1. Kindling wood dried out and stocks of old fashioned Northumberland coal replenished. Relis have significant number of veggies in their ranks and at least two voracious carnivores. Middle ground sought and queries as to what is least objectionable for cvs e-mailed. So far Pumpkins 1 Peas 0. This scoreline could be distorted by introducing broccoli at half time.
Grab and Go (followed presumably by queue and pay) is one of the delights that Tweedsiders must get used to. Apparently this is an exciting enriching your life style feature of Tesco. And Tesco and Asda are apparently planning to enhance our environment with new stores in Tweedmouth. The Berwickshire is all enthused by this prospect of new supermarkets and so is Tesco which is going to come to the rescue of local people who ‘currently drive miles to do a main food shop’. This ignores the presence within city limits of Somerfields and the Coop and Safeway’s on the edge. But Tesco offers ‘stores that are appropriate to their environment’. So that is the difference. Asda is more modest “We compete with Tesco up and down the country and it is not unusual for them to follow us around”

The council is now doing a’ retail impact assessment report’. And well it might. How many supermarkets can the Berwick/Tweedmouth area support-especially when the caravan hordes depart for six months in October? And how about the little town centre shops in the face of this ‘convenience shopping’ As one shop keeper said to Huttonian crumpling up the Berwickshire as he spat out ‘ We will go down the US route with no more ‘down town’. No shops-just a town hall and trendy apartments’ And it will be another blow to the few remaining village shops which will be reduced to eking out a living on newspapers, sweets and packets of milk.

The Tesco Spokesman is called Mr Kitchener. A name to conjure with. I fully expect to say posters of his fine features (perhaps complete with a bristling handlebar moustache) pointing a commanding finger at the shrinking, shy, coy Burghers of Berwick and proclaiming ‘ Your Country needs us’

Next to the front page Tesco/Asda scoop, a small article mentions the arrest of a 42 year old Berwick man in Eyemouth after ‘he had apparently committed a breach of the peace’. Only the procurator fiscal knows the details of the alleged offence but I suspect he was protesting, perhaps in an inappropriate manner, about the coming future desecration of his town. I hope Sheriff Kevin of Duns will be merciful.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
I don't normally take the Scotsman -its a bit too, er, Scottish for the sort of news I am looking for-the Berwickshire is the local paper of choicer. But a bloggee has sent me the following article about our local Laird and the ongoing saga of the new (nearly completed at last) Scottish Parliment building.

Fraser Inquiry adding to the costs, says MSP HAMISH MACDONELL SCOTTISH POLITICAL EDITOR
LORD Fraser of Carmyllie yesterday reacted with incredulity when he was told that it was his own inquiry that was causing ongoing problems. John Home Robertson, the head of the Holyrood Progress Group used his appearance at the inquiry to criticise Lord Fraser for adding to the delays and increasing the cost of the project. The Labour MSP was treated with cold disbelief by both Lord Fraser and John Campbell QC, counsel to the inquiry, when he made his claims. Mr Home Robertson submitted a statement which claimed that the timing and conduct of the inquiry was having a "significant impact" on the project at this stage. He said: "Key members of the Holyrood Project Team and of the design, cost and construction teams are being required to devote a great deal of time to the preparation of evidence to the inquiry. This is giving rise to costs and delays." And he added: "The establishment of this inquiry became a major distraction for all concerned, with significant time and cost implications." Mr Home Robertson said he did not want to make "a big deal" out of his allegations but felt it was his duty to raise them, pointing out that Brian Stewart, the lead designer, had spent three months at the inquiry at the end of last year which left the project without one of its key leaders. Lord Fraser replied that Mr Stewart attended the inquiry on his own volition and his presence as a witness had only been required for half a day, the rest of the time he had simply come because he wanted to watch proceedings - something which was hardly Lord Fraser’s fault. Mr Campbell also told Mr Home Robertson that he would be very concerned if the inquiry was having a detrimental effect on the project and asked him to provide him with specific examples if that was the case. Mr Home Robertson did then appear to backtrack slightly on his claims, aware that both Lord Fraser nor Mr Campbell were angry and alarmed by the seriousness of his allegations and wanted him to back it with evidence. This blame game was a hallmark of Mr Home Robertson’s evidence yesterday. He managed to accuse a range of different people and organisations for the problems - except the Holyrood Progress Group which he leads. Mr Home Robertson blamed George Reid, the Presiding Officer, for his "political" move in capping the consultants’ fees which he claimed had affected relationships between the consultants. He also blamed Kirsty Wark’s production company Wark Clements for influencing a crucial meeting by filming it. Mr Home Robertson said: "The presence of that crew had a tendency to inspire grandstanding by some and reticence on the part of professionals." It was a combative performance by Mr Home Robertson but he did appear to antagonise Mr Campbell and Lord Fraser by insisting on several occasions that they were wrong. One of the most important developments in the last few years was the resignation of Alan Ezzi, the project director for just seven months, in 2001. Mr Home Robertson was instrumental in Mr Ezzi’s departure, having effectively made his job untenable by making it clear that the Progress Group had lost its faith in him. But Mr Ezzi was the last construction professional to be involved in a senior position on the project. His departure paved the way for the appointment of Sarah Davidson to become project manager, even though she had no background in construction. Mr Campbell suggested to Mr Home Robertson that his decision to help ease Mr Ezzi out of his job and replace him with somebody who had previously been a committee clerk was wrong, and had contributed to the problems. Mr Campbell said: "Is not the reality this: Alan Ezzi was taken on by the project manager with the job description, among other things, to try to effect some economies. "As soon as he did that, whether on a large scale or a small scale, he ran into architectural determinism - the architects protesting about the economies - which they felt were forced on them. "In the end the Holyrood Progress Group and the project manager took the side of the architects, gave way to the architects and sacked Alan Ezzi?" Mr Home Robertson denied this, claiming that the group did not agree with Mr Ezzi’s suggestions and had lost confidence and faith in him. End of article

A bloggee has commented that some people found the member for East Lothian 'combative'
during the local plan drama last year. Hopefully that is a problem which wil not need to be revisited again. But the auguries are not propitious.

Mr Fish's Haar was swept away by 10am today but he has warned that filthy weather is on its way at the weekend. Not good news for the visiting relis and I suspect that fleeces will be much in evidence. Inside the house, that it.

Mr Fish's Haar at 9am and still soaking us at 11.15. If it clears by 7pm we might get a nice sunset. Yes all England and 98.9% of Scotland is in bright blazing sunshine. Time to emigrate? Again!
Circumstances obliged me to make an unscheduled and unwanted visit to Safeway’s /Morrison’s this morning. If you have to go, go early before stage 1 of the caravaners arrive. Stage One is the Walking Dead. This category consists of those who were very heavily hung over the previously evening and walk around In a post mortem comatose condition, leaning heavily on trolleys and smoking as furiously as a crematorium. Stage Two is the Walking Wounded. They are also hung over and in addition injured from last night’s brawls. Looking for revenge on the uncaring world they are aggressive and dangerous. Do not approach. Do not challenge at the 9 items check out. Avoid eye contact. And you will live.

The trouble about an early start was Mr Fish’s Haar. I could see the end of the bonnet but not much more.. But if evidence is needed that God is an Englishman it was provided by the sun bursting out in all its glory the moment I crossed the border and felt rather foolish taking off two fleeces in the S&M car park. Incidentally the Morrison approach to customer satisfaction is demonstrated by their policy of allowing, suggesting/ forcing at gun point the staff to park their (many) vehicles in the best slots-I did not know before how many employees are mothers with toddlers and/or disabled.

Shopping itself was a breeze-5 items and had a choice of all the check outs (that were personned) Back to Hutton and you can easily guess what happened when I crossed the border into Scotland. I could here Mr Fish whispering ‘Haar Haar’ all the rest of the way home.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Former bloggees will remember that the original rant caused some umbrage around here and was discontinued to be replaced by the current non controversial ruminations. Complaints are now more likely to be focused on the the lowered boredom threshold. But there you are. One member of the team, set up to fight the closure of Hutton School mentioned to an informant that she had taken exception to the acronym SAG for School Action Group referred to in the old Blog. It seemed highly inappropriate for a group of youngish ladies to be classified as such-if it was the WI Christmas calendar than that is a different piscine kettle. I am afraid that this had escaped Huttonian at the time so many apologies for any offence taken. However, it has to be said that the alternative, suggested by another member of the team: Save Our School Action Group SOSAG (soft G presumably) is not really much better. So eschew acronyms all together.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
The wife has left for the Big Smoke and I am now in charge for three days. I may avoid the 9 items checkout at Safeways/Morrisons as the wife has left me goodies-wholesome soups and processed garden fruits and the tomatoes are still pouring of the vine. Its quite a relief not to have to go to the supermarket. Mr M has made a bit of a mess of it. "23452 items reduced "screams the banner 'in store' Great. But what if you don't want any of them. Waste of effort really. And all that foreign fruit and veg individually wrapped in cling film to preserve its high colour until you scrape off the plastic and it ages before your very eyes. What's wrong with local produce? No evidence that we are in rural parts.

And where is the organic stuff? Tucked away in obscure corners so as nor to offend the gaze of the core customers hot and streaming in from the caravans which besiege Berwick more effectively than Braveheart and the Scottish Legions ever did.

So I don't need to leave home. I'll work my way through the fridge and the greenhouse. And for a special treat it is off to the Garden Centre for a few bags of the politically correct crisps and jars of Mr Robson's pure honey. All local produce including from that cattle farmer who advertises himself as 'Well Hung and Tender" And the meat is good too.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Rural Isolation is just not no phone boxes, no broadband, no shops, no pub, no mains gas, no traffic and few glimpses of human life-its also the botheration factor compounded by globalisation, or something. .

OIL When we arrived here we could bargain our way with a number of companies until we got oil at the cheapest price. But it has all changed. Why? We live up the end of a narrow lane with an awkward corner. As many people do in rural Berwickshire. It’s the country .See? No problem in the old days but now every Oil delivery business has gone over to the economies of scale. Big 8 wheel, articulated tankers replacing the small, highly manoeuvrable four wheelers of blessed memory. Company after company refused to deliver and even the one with whom we had a delivery- top- up –on- a- regular- basis -contract gave up, pleading health and safety, damage to vehicles etc etc as the pretext. We were stuck with one remaining firm, with a medium sized 6 wheeler who could just manage the lane and the tricky entrance to our drive. But the driver did not like it (Unlike his lorry he was graphically articulated) and bitterly complained of the hassle and especially of the effect on his truck’s paintwork from the copious, over hanging vegetation on either side of the lane. Even they abandoned us until we, at great expense, had the whole lane cleared of overhanging branches to a height of as much use to low flying aircraft as to the oil lorry. Our neighbour grumbled (but did not feel able to contribute to the cost of trimming his trees) and the company reluctantly returned to the awesome task of filling our tank but with the driver as surly as before.

Then relief! Mafeking all over again. The original supplier who also services our appliances-boiler and cooker-offered us a regular top up contract. The siege was lifted. We could turn up the Raeburn to the ‘quite hot’ mark without fear of consequences. However when their local commissar came out to recce the premises he advised us ‘sorry guv’ No can do. Lane too narrow and a new point –health and safety regulations prevented his drivers climbing over anything higher that a five foot wall to insert nozzle into the tank (One, I should mention, installed by the company!) One driver is suffering from two broken ribs from attempting to mount such an obstacle and anyhow all Lorries were now forbidden to carry ladders-in case the drivers were tempted to have a go. To say I made a fuss is like saying I don’t mind England losing to the Aussies. A letter to a very senior member of the company concerned about honouring contracts, the plight of the rural householder, the world, the flesh and the devil etc produced the goods. A tiny tanker was unmothballed and once a quarter it tootles down from Glasgow to fill our tank and our tenant’s. No complaints about the lane and none about the wall either as the driver found he could approach the tank from the back carrying the nozzle. We, for our part, have built a nice little flight of steps just for tanker drivers to make their task a pleasant one and to ensure that his quarterly jaunt to the Borders something to look forward to.

What a Palaver. That’s the country for you.
It is raining steadily in our back garden (and presumably in the front as well) as the rest of the UK apparently basks in a glorious Indian Summer. Mr Fish's weather map shows golden sun symbols for everywhere but around here where the sun is shown peeping coyly out from behind fluffy white clouds. The Hutton effect in reverse and another case of lies, damn lies, statistics, press briefings and weather forecasts. Something prompted me to access the BBC weather centre : www.bbc.co.uk/weather/wildguesses . There in all his glory is Mr Fish flanked by his 19 disciples all smiling happily. Another picture shows Mr F chuckling at the camera with his finger pointing at the weather map of the UK covered in downpours and hurricanes. A MBE well earned.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
This time next week we will be bursting with family. All the grandchildren, all the daughters, all the sons in law, two nephews (and a dog called Beer or Bea) , a sister in law and a brother in law. It is for a ceremonial welcome to the family for the younger granddaughter/youngest grandchild. So lots of domestic activity. Hopefully Mr Fish will not be a spoilsport and will provide an environment which will deter the ostentatious wearing of fleeces within the house. Most of the party stay on for an extra week so we will need to find excursions that please a 3.8 yr old Boy and a 11 month girl and a three month baby. Cricket or golf not really suitable for all nor is the light railway further south nor the 0 gauge Hornby on the dining room table. The grandson is not a problem ( a slug will keep him amused all day) nor is the elder g'daughter as she is perfectly happy tearing up pieces of paper under the table but to find something they can all do is more of a challenge. Ideas from experienced Bloggees welcome.

BTW the Amazing Maize Maze is seasonally adjusted-closed. Maize harvested. Farmer C says that the season was not good this year -Fish inspired weather and perhaps the novelty wearing off. Hopefully next season will be better and the Tourist Board may find the courage to give the enterprise some publicity-slightly more inspired than last years slogan aimed at self caterers: 'Stay an Extra Day' Hard advice really as most accommodation is booked from Saturday to Saturday and an extra day is therefore hard to conjure up. "On the Seventh Day The Lord rested from his labours and found it good. And then rested a further day to enjoy the local attractions" (SBTB Revised text)

And again. So perhaps amusing her will be no chore

The star of next week's ceremony
Saturday, September 04, 2004
We rural folk often complain that the city oriented people don't really appreciate the drawbacks of country life-its not all a bucolic idyll. Take Telephone Boxes-As BT are. BT have suddenly informed us that as every household has a land line and most (85%plus) at least one mobile phone then there is no point having phoneboxes. They propose therefore to remove many of them including a large number in Berwickshire where apparently they are making no money. A number of uneconomical ones are being retained for 'social' reasons -mostly, it seems, outside pubs. Yes lots of people have mobile phones and in lots of places in the remoter parts of the remote enough Borders there is no signal. The public phonebox at Ellenford is being removed -mobile phones are useless there. Hutton is spared (Paxton, yes outside the pub, is uneconomical but social) I have to say that in 7 years here I have only seen our magnificent phone box being used once but apparently it is not uneconomical-so who uses it I wonder and at what times.? (BT engineers lost and far from home?) But it obviously has a use in a village where the mobile phone signal is in fact ok. Its also a well lit up landmark at night casting light on quite a tricky junction.

Its the facile assumption that irritates us : country people must have mobile phones because townees do, so get rid of the one public facility which some tiny villages possess. And Mr BT it is just not true that everyone can afford to have a land line either. Anyhow we still have time to fight back as it is a 'consultation period' so aggrieved bloggees get on to the phone (if you have one) and let BT have your thoughts. If you can't phone e-mail*

* How? Ed Blog
Friday, September 03, 2004
Our energetic and helpful MSP (for Roxburgh and Berwickshire) has a weekly column in the Berwickshire with the rather unattractive title of Mound of Information. This week he recounts the highlights of his Berwickshire tour which included 'surgeries' in Paxton and Hutton. Paxton was mostly about local worries about planning and the Orchard project which given its long drawn out and distorted history might well be called Heap of Misinformation. In Hutton 'a delegation updated us on the campaign to save the school. It does seem sensible to consider its future together with that of the village hall. A new hall co-located with the school on land that is apparently available seems an option worth considering'

This is an elderly chestnut whose day may have gone and a slightly muddled one. The idea (and not a bad one) was that if the school was not only saved but upgraded to include a hall and other facilities (as was once agreed) it could well double as a community centre/village hall. This now seems an unlikely prospect as the most we can hope for is a stay of execution on closing the school at the end of 2005. I don't see the authorities forced to keep on a school against their better judgement also find the money (they claim 400,000) to bring it up to an acceptable standard on the scale originally proposed-especially as they seem determined to classify Hutton, indefinitely, as a single teacher school. With 12 on the roll at present and little prospect, in the foreseeable future, of it rising again to the magic figure of 20+ (for an extra teacher) I doubt if minds will be changed in Newtown St Boswells. And if our MSP is envisaging a new Hall incorporating a school on a new site then I don't see that as a starter with all the money that just isn't around. The reference to land that is apparently available may be to the offer by the MSP for East Lothian to provide some for an expanded village school-which is where we came in.

If you look carefully (click on picture to enlarge) you can just see the dumped car in the corner of Hutton Hill field. Avid bloggees will recall that at the last community council meeting someone objected to this 'eyesore'. Until the harvest the car was invisible from the village and only viewable from about 12 feet. Now it can be seen especially with a very powerful pair of binoculars.

Hutton Hall with the wheat harvested and the straw baling not yet underway. A dry early September may have saved the Borders Harvest unlike further south. But farmers say wet summer has reduced the quality.

A lick of paint makes all the difference to Hutton Hall. Thanks to a good neighbour. Still no news about a funding application to rebuild it on its present site.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
At least it is out in the open. Berwickshire's front page carries the headline 'Land needed for affordable housing' The story is about an offer from the East Lothian MSP Mr J John Home Robertson and his wife Catherine making a formal submission to the Scottish Borders Council offering land in Paxton for 'Affordable Housing'. With houses in Paxton now going for £200,000 young people are having to find houses elsewhere. They identify the appropriate site in the west of the village between Schoolers Row and the village hallwhich lies in one of their fields: Knowe's Close. This is of course one of the field(s) previously offered by Mr HR some time ago for possible development under the new Local Plan and which, as the result of considerable local opposition, was not shown as a development site in the plan as present drafted. AS the story points out the plan is still going through a consultation process and the HRs, plus a local architect and the Berwickshire Housing Association are 'all arguing the case for affordable rented housing to be built' The story does not mention that the BHA has in fact already investigated the feasibility of building on this field and identified a problem with drainage. Scottish Water has stated that the Paxton system is at full capacity and could not support further housing withou a major upgrade-for which they don't appear to have the money. BHA concedes that inadequate drainage infrastructure is a problem in the Borders and it can be confirmed as much by the residents of Kane's Close who have twice had flooding following heavy rain and with the system just not coping. What it will be like after the 14 new houses go up in the Orchard time will tell.

So here we go again. Old scars scratched and wounds likely to be reopened. The debate about how much development is appropriate or feasible for Paxton will now reopen-unless of course the planners stick to their guns.

It will also be interesting to see if the HRs will be formally notifying the local Community Council of their proposal. Huttonian understands that this is not the case at the moment.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Important meeting tonight in Duns between the planners and local community Councils. This is to discuss the draft local plan which will set the parameters for development in the Borders for the next decade. The draft at present is fine and reflects local concerns about the need not to overdevelop . But there are strong contrary pressures from developers (and from some landowners) to take advantage of a buoyant property market and build, build, build. One report suggests that house prices in this area are rising at 90% above the national average so there is big money to be made from people who need to be near the two major regional metropolises but can't afford city prices. One threat is presented by a recent report on housing in the countryside which seeks to 'relax' the fairly strict rules about building in rural areas outwith the present village boundaries. Another development is (reportedly) the offer from a local landowner to provide cheap land for what is known as 'Affordable Housing' -a slightly misleading description as lots of wealthy incomers seem to be able to afford quite pricey properties at sums often 50% over the asking price. Indeed the SBC has yet to come up with a definition of 'affordable housing' But to the Berwickshire Housing Association it means cheap (and sometimes rather nasty) properties to rent out to disadvantaged people who can't afford to compete for housing on the open market.

However deserving AH (or lets call it social-0r even sociable housing-little dwellings which get together for a good gossip when no one is looking?) it can be a Trojan horse for developers. A well meaning (or otherwise) land owner gives land for say 6 sociable houses in a large green field. Offer accepted-and then the same field is subsequently declared unsuitable for agriculture (as it has 6 chatty houses in it) and lo and behold the developers are falling over themselves to compete for a large project of Executive Homes at three hundred grand apiece. So if such an idea is a non starter under the local plan it could well be persued via Housing in the Countryside-in a flexible way of course. Far fetched? Watch this space
I have belatedly seen last weeks Berwickshire and once again Sheriff Kevin of Duns seems to attract the most bizarre cases seemingly out of character with the county we know and love. He fined a a Ministry of Defence Security Official £450 for shouting racial abuse at a man of 'African origin' and then dropped his trousers in front of the victim suggesting 'that he should leave the town'. This all took place in an unnamed 'Border town' . (Not Hutton you can be sure) The defence claimed that the accused was on holiday and had had 'far too much to drink'

The Hutton and Paxton 'Flower Show' gets excellent coverage-all red cards (first prizes) are listed by name and so the wife has two mentions albeit credited to her husband. So her apples and peas in the pod are the Gold Medal winners at these games. She is kicking herself for not displaying the 'peas in a saucer' -this would have earned another visit to the podium as there were no entries in this usually keenly contested catergory-actually her 6 pea pods was the only entry-I assume the competition stayed in their starting blocks out of fear of the inevitable outcome; some carpers are blaming the paucity of entries on Mr Fish's inclement August but this is I believe a feeble excuse. Those who dare wins is as appropriate to the Flower Show as to Romeo and Juliet Bravo, Scandavian Air Services or whatever.

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