Musings from the Merse
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Mouse escapes? Two nights ago the wife announced that there was a wee mouse in the humane trap. We decided to leave it overnight with a bit of cheese and liberate it the next day into the Kirk Yaird. But next morning the trap was empty. Cheese gone and so had the mouse-amazing as this is the Colditz of mouse traps-no way out through the one way system. This really was the Meister Maus. Up to a point as it had gone a mere 6 inches and was comprehensively deaded in the ‘little nipper’ break-your-neck-in-a-jiffy next door. So that is 3 dead, 9* captured and one escaped briefly. And would you believe it this morning there is a tiny little mousling all snuggled up in the humane trap and was most reluctant to be set free. This time I took it for a very long walk so I hope we will not see it again.

*10 now.
Monday, November 29, 2004
The Norn Iron Bloggee has similar experiences to Huttonian with Supermarkets and I am endebted to him for the following saga

Mrs B Major is due tomorrow as usual for Sunday lunch, and one of the few remaining items required for its preparation was a fresh lemon.

Off I went down to the local Safeways to get the lemon, but the individual specimens were sorry looking beasts and the four pack of organic unwaxed seemed a good option at 59p.

The PPW had added a few other items to the list, of a single lemon, which made the basket of goods potentially unacceptable at the '9 items or less' express checkout. I left back the Bonio, a dog biscuit with a fresh baked aroma, that Klio simply adores and joined the lengthy mumbling and grumbling express queue.

My turn arrived and I placed my 'nine items or less' on the conveyor belt only to hear a hugely audible mutter from behind in words to the effect of 'that fella has four lemons'. I indicated that I also had a six pack of Whiskas fish selection in jelly, for Mogg, so that my tally was truly over the nine.

Upon returning home in a huff, the consoling PPW suggested that anybody attempting to buy a box of cornflakes via the 'express lane' should instantly be frog-marched from the store.

I only wanted a lemon and now have to explain to Klio why she didn't get a biscuit.

Sad in'it? But it could have happened here.

Farmer C is a man after Huttonian’s heart especially with his views on the appallingly dozey Scottish Borders Tourist Authority. He writes a trenchant letter and had one published in last Thursdays ‘Berwickshire’ under the eye catching title ‘Berwickshire Facing Meltdown’ He returns to the old theme of having been told by the SBTA (when trying to promote his Amazing Maize Maze) that we don’t need family attractions as families don’t holiday in the Borders. Thus the SBTA Website boasts ‘for those seeking tranquillity there are nine stately homes and gardens! ‘ And for those not seeking tranquillity ? Click on ‘Other Visitors’ Attractions’ with the result “Sorry, no records found” Plenty of tranquillity at the moment as all the 9 stately homes are closed for the winter. Mr C would like to get the Buzz back into Berwickshire(The Bee farm is just in Northumberland) Not as he says the ‘ buzz of angry residents trying to preserve the tranquillity of their senescent existence’ but a viable community with lots to do and a viable service infrastructure. Amen to that
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Huttonian was not in rant mode yesterday in the quiet sprogless house with only the capture of another mouse to report. It gave me a knowing look at the moment of its release in the Kirk yaird (Scots) as if to say ‘see yer later-I have half a slice of cheese to finish ‘ Trouble is it is difficult to be sure if you get the same critter a second time. The grandson, now in Oz, suggested cutting off a tail before letting the mouse go so as to get positive identification next time round. I dairsnt (Northumb) do this for fear of retaliation from the ALF and I am not sure I have the stomach for it any how. It could be a waste of effort as we might ensnare a visiting Manx mouse which are tailless naturally. Interestingly the little fellow from yesterday scampered off happily enough in the general direction of the Isle of Man so he may have gone for reinforcements-I feel a fit of scissor sharpening coming on. There are times when we must stand up and be counted and risk the ALF.
Friday, November 26, 2004
The proceedings of the Duns Sheriff Court reveal the changing ethnic nature of Eastern Berwickshire. Two cases this week: one involved a Latvian –crashing his car to avoid a rabbit but doing so without insurance-and the other a Portuguese driver under the influence of drink. Many Europeans are attracted to Duns to work in the Farne Salmon farm and Eyemouth is becoming an increasingly popular base for mostly Portuguese fishermen. Sadly they do not seem to bring a better class of crime-more exotic than the norm-with them. What they are doing is putting increasing strain on cheap housing stock in the area-can be up to 100 applications for Berwickshire Housing Associations rented housing and I fear we may see the start of local Xenophobia against ‘immigrants’ if local people are seen to being shut out of the affordable housing market.

Eyemouth youth gave Nazi salute to Police” covered the case of an Eyemouth teenager who did a Basil Fawlty type gesture to a police patrol car. Sentence was deferred ‘after the court heard he had changed his ways’ (in an unspecified manner) Finally Sheriff Kevin had to deal with ‘the antics’ of a Coldstream man who swore at police when they asked him to move from the middle of the road-he said he would stand there if he wanted. Fined £200. Perhaps this is the type of offence our Portuguese and Latvian guests should seek to emulate to gain local acceptability.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
The house is deadly quiet with the final grandchild gone. The first party arrived in OZ ok but not without drama. BA Edinburgh refused to allow the 5 month old girl to board as she had not got an Australian Visa-despite the fact that both parents are UK/OZ citizens and the 4 year old brother is also a dual national. Little Katy Beth has a British passport, born in Australia, and no one thought a visa necessary. BA relented after talking to OZ immigration but the same drama was re-enacted at Heathrow and that having been sorted out the Australians pounced at Sydney and took the whole party aside as if they were on some stop list. It may have been that the Sydney sniffer dogs got a whiff of KB’s nappy which may have got alarm bells ringing but it is the last thing you want after a 22 hour flight.

Here again, peace, love and harmony but storms could come up at Fish like intensity

The cousins could get on well but if Mr P (4) felt threatened he could lash out at Zoe (13 months) just because she was there. And happy cuddles could turn into strangulation
This is always a bad day thinking of the eldest daughter, two sprogs and senior son in law flying all day. The Qantas flight to Sydney via Singapore leaves Heathrow (last night) and gets to Sydney 22 hours later. Then the flight on to Canberra. And the ED, 2Xsprog previously had the drive to Edinburgh airport and flight to Heathrow to contend with. Talk about journeys from Hell.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Its like the end of Christmas-one daughter and two grandchildren en route to OZ and the youngest daughter and the third grandchild back to the Big Smoke shortly. Here is a rare picture of the 3 together in the back of a car-all still too young to back seat drive.
Ministers plan to let town and parish councils issue on-the-spot fines for vandalism, graffiti and dropping litter.

Alert Bloggees whose amusements include watching the Queen's opening of parliament will have noticed a neat little paragraph on proposed legislation as summarised above. Community Councils in Scotland equate to Parish Councils in England. So there is the prospect of the Hutton and Paxton CC being able to employ an enforecement officer with powers to impose on the spot fines for a whole range of nuisance offences including Dog Fouling (that is fouling by dogs not on them-that is not yet a crime) 'throwing fireworks, excessive 'night time noise' (snoring?) . This is not really a problem in this part of the Merse but it would be good to have the powers ready to hand in case it is- excessive night time noise involving the throwing of fireworks is surely just around the corner. It is unclear if the legislation will apply to Scotland. I suspect not so we may need to consider organising popular support for such measures to be introduced by the Scottish executive. So start marching soon
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The middle Grand Child-just over a year. Unusual combination in a little girl of bruiser and charmer

performance of a composition for mother and two cousins by a local composer
A glorious winter /late Autumnal day-Merse at its best. Mr Fish just a painful memory. So frustrating to be still Lurgified (Not the Flu) and confined to admiring the sunshine from the kitchen. And I can't escape the phone-I am not capable of letting it ring in case I am missing a new kitchen offer or a reduced double glazed garden. Or something. So I was trapped into a very long conversation with one of Huttonian's deep throats-and a well placed DT as well. He was cautiously optimistic that Hutton school would win its appeal with the Scottish Executive against its closure. One idea which is resurfacing, rather like a drowning man, for the nth time is making the School into a community centre, including a post office and the village hall. This would of course involve a an enlarged school to include facilities usuable by the Hall (which has just submitted another bid for funding). DT feels that with Chirmside School (where Hutton school's children are due to be sent) at 98% capacity that this might be a face saving formula for the Borders Educational Czars to accept to head off any more popular resentment.

I fear that nice 'tho' it would be if Hutton was'saved' this is a very long shot. From the lofty heights of the Scottish Executive Hutton will appear a tiny speck. And I am afraid that such a complicated scheme will not appear attractive to the Hieheidians in Ould Reekie if it is just to save, for the moment, a tiny school with a roll of 12. If Chirnside flatly refused to take the Hutton children, on top of some new pupils expected from a low cost housing scheme that might make it urgent to try a new approach but I don't think that is going to happen
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Greenlaw the 'ancient' capital of Berwickshire(ancien-in the French sense, as former*) is a dead dump at the best of times and it is not surprising that Greenlaw(yers?) feature frequently in the proceedings of Sherif Kevin's court in Duns (the present capital of Berwickshire) Often, as the case reported in last week's Berwickshire crime is drug lelated-a druggee crashed his car into his girlfriends house (she apparently is also a heroin addict) causing damage to the house and a satellite dish - a rather nasty 'domestic' but presumably brightening up the Greenlaw scene to some extent.

"Threw Eggs at House" is the sizeable headline covering the doings of 4 Coldstreamers on a presumably otherwise Greenlaw type evening: thefts from collection boxes as well as overegging a dwelling on thr Hirsel Estate. One man was apparently 'partly' acting out of boredom and another defence for another defendant was 'a classic case of my client being in the wrong place at the wrong time' He may have been wishing that he was in Greenlaw?Sherif K was unmoved and imposed fines and compensation payments-de-egging a house is valued at £87.

*Try and avoid pedentary and foreign words Ed-Blog
News from Norn Iron
The Belfast Bloggee, now appointed special (honorary-NB Mr B) correspondent has reported as follows:

'Belfast was rocked this morning, Sunday, by a series of explosions leading one to wonder whether the folks on the hill have failed in their quest for world peace. And indeed a landmark building in the city was the target and has been reduced to rubble.

It was a fairly hideous building anyway and will soon be replaced by a more aesthetically pleasing £300,000,000 glass and chrome 'retail and leisure' complex.

One of the victims of this part of our city's regeneration is the old Kitchen Bar, one of the oldest pubs in the city and the only surviving theatre bar. The bar counter extended the length of the entire premises to accommodate the rush of theatre go-ers during the intermissions. The theatres have long since disappeared, but the 'Kitchen' thrived offering some of the most unhealthy of eating options available all prepared by 'Ma Catney' on site.

The Kitchen will be relocated somewhere within the glass and chrome in its new guise as a 'Gastro Pub.' Whatever that might be.'

For security reasons the name and exact location of the building is not allowed to be revealed by the BB (in case it's destruction is claimed by Al Qaeda?)

The new NHS24 which has locally taken over from the former out-of- hours-system Bordoc is thought to be a poor thing compared to its predecessor. ButHuttonian was rather impressed-you need to get past the fierce door keeper a recorded Scottish female night club chucker outer who after saying 'thankyou for calling NHS24' in honeyed tones and then the voice drops menacely: 'All our consultants are incredidbly busy so unless you are on your way to the mortuary try again later' (or words to that effect) I perservered and told my story to a very switched on nurse(actual person) and within half an hour could see the only on duty GP in Berwickshire at Duns-11 miles away. OK I had the wife to drive me and it would have been more of a problem if I had to make my own way there. Even then the Knoll Hospital seemed deserted-as locked as the BBC studios in Downpatrick(previous bloggees will get the classical reference) and it tookperserverence to get in and then find the duty doctor. Not funny hammering at a bolted and barred door in minus 2 C but it worked
Saturday, November 20, 2004

Mr P was at last 4 yesterday-a birthday embrace with little sister was the usual ambivalent one-half love half strangle.
Its a rare event when Huttonian has to miss a rant but the non flu is so far ahead on points at the moment that the brain(?) is not in gear . Also we are so spaced out from the real world, including the Merse, that any blog will be away off target. Normal service awaited.
Thursday, November 18, 2004

'School closures spark war of words' is the headline on the Berwickshire News website (Huttonian has not been able to get the actual paper as is still confined to barracks with the non-flu.) It goes on

"WAR of words has broken out following Scottish Borders Council's decision last week to close both Hutton and Burnmouth primary schools by June next year.
Scottish Executive approval will now be sought to close both schools - Hutton because of the distance pupils will have to travel to Chirnside school, and Burnmouth because the school's occupancy level is around 80%. Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Euan Robson, who is also deputy education minister, will not be involved in the final decision process if the Executive decides it needs to consider the school closures, leaving him free to continue to represent his constituents. Education minister Peter Peacock will make the final decision on whether the council has followed the proper procedure and considered relevant criteria in reaching their decision on the future of the two schools. The decision to close the two schools brings to six the number of primary schools closed by SBC this year. Councillors took the decision to close Hutton school because of the condition of the building, its falling school roll and lack of peer group socialisation. Reasons given for closing Burnmouth were concern whether the building could deliver the modern curriculum, opportunity for socialisation and the need to ensure a fair distribution of resources. Hutton School Action Group claim they are being denied leave to appeal and that the closure will not go to the Scottish Executive. However, both the Executive and SBC's director of education, Glenn Rodger, insist that the Executive will consider the closure of both Hutton and Burnmouth schools. The confusion seems to have arisen over the route the school bus would take from Hutton to Chirnside. In the case of school closures the shortest route to the receiving school has to be identified by the council. For Hutton pupils going to Chirnside the shortest route is via the Blue Stane Ford. However, it is not the route the bus would take as SBC want to avoid the ford, and when this was explained to the Executive they accepted that and agreed to consider the school closure. However, some Hutton parents believe that the council plan to use the shorter route to avoid seeking approval from the education minister. Aileen Orr, Chair of Hutton School Action Group said: "We were astonished to find the education department had altered the route to Chirnside through a dangerous ford. "We have no intentions of putting our children's lives in danger, and the SBC officials obviously thought they could ride roughshod over us, we intend to fight to the end on this." Scottish Borders Council education officials have described the claims as "ridiculous rumours". "Scottish Borders Council understands that parents are upset and very disappointed by the council decision but this claim by the Action Group is simply wrong," said Leona Bendall, SBC's education communications manager. "The facts are that in a conversation with the Scottish Executive on Friday morning to clarify the timescale for sending them the paperwork to enable them to consider the decision, education officials were asked what route has been used in deciding if the matter needed to be referred to the Minister. "The Act actually says that when measuring the distance for referral to Scottish Ministers, the distance should be by the shortest route to school. But in the case of Hutton the SE were informed that SBC had used the longer route to avoid a ford and this was accepted by the Scottish Executive. "Scottish Executive intends to consider this request, together with SBC's request to close Burnmouth school in due course - a decision on both schools can be expected in the New Year." Burnmouth parents are also under the impression that Thursday's decision was the end of the road for their campaign to keep the school open. Parents do not have a right to appeal directly to the Scottish Executive to overturn the council's decision the Executive, the Executive's role is to make sure the council went through the proper procedure. Caroline Clough, one of the parents at Burnmouth School who has campaigned to keep the school open said after the meeting: "We are very, very disappointed at the outcome. "Everyone has now just accepted the decision and we are trying to sort out what's best for the children." When the school closes in June 2005 the council intends to transfer the Burnmouth children to Eyemouth Primary School but Caroline believes that many of the children will not go there because parents are requesting places at Reston and Ayton primary schools instead. "We are going to try and meet up once a week to keep the continuity, but it will mean the end of Burnmouth Gala Day because it is based on the school." Burnmouth parents appear to be resigned to the fact that they have lost the battle to keep the school open and only one parent turned up for a meeting in the village, held on Monday, to discuss Thursday's decision.

It appears that the Burnmouth parents have thrown in the towel (if their roll has suddenly dropped to under 80% it may mean that they can't appeal anyhow-see earler info from an obviously pretty well informed source) But the Hutton SAG is going ahead with an appeal. More of this anon. Doubtless
Huttonian had to miss the Hutton ceremonial Luigi (but not flu) bound. To cheer me up the Belfast Bloggee has contributed the following snippet. In the not too recent past there were examples of Unionists dragging passerbys out of their cars and beating them severely fot not showing 'respek' to the two minutes silence. It was about that time anyone not standing up for the National Anthem at the end a of a public cinema perfomance remained seating at great risk to life and limb. As a student at Dublin Unversity in the late 1950s I could only attend a Rembrance Day Service at the Protestant Cathedral-I enjoyed the bus journey with my 2 campaign medals clinking together. Now that they are more mature about such things down South Rememberance events proliferate-probably 300,000 Irish citizens fought in the Second WAR and more in the Great War. There is an official campaign on at the present to forceHMG to pardon Irishmen shot for alleged cowardice or disobeying orders in the front line. Little was known about trauma., battlefield fatigue at that time and any hestitation to 'go over the top' was severely punished to preserve discipline amongst the rank and file-it was necessary 'pour encourager les autres'

"Remembrance Sunday services are normally conducted in a dignified manner, as befits the occasion, throughout Norn Iron. This year the opportunity was seized upon by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) to announce a complete cessation of violence. Just what this means is a bit of a mystery as the same UDA announced a ceasefire some 10 years ago. The definition of ceasefire can be a bit vague in this part of the jurisdiction as the UDA, along with other paramilitaries on both sides, continued with their campaigns of savage violence. Most of this was internal feuding where various brigadiers struggled to control the vast drug empires and many of the unlucky campaigners were murdered or fled to other shores.

On Sunday at the UDA controlled event, held in a staunchly Loyalist area outside Belfast city, a chap from the Ulster Political Reform Group (UPRG) announced to the assembled masses that there was to be a complete cessation of violence. The majority of the assembled masses were clad in paramilitary uniform complete with black berets, masks and dark glasses.

Following the speech, and at the end of the service, a colour party of masked men fired a volley into the air from their about to be decommissioned weapons."

Well done Mr B.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Huttonian has been asked by a bloggee to makesure that I am not adding to rumour and counter rumour-so:

On Saturday (13 November) Aileen Orr, on behalf of the Hutton
Parents Action Group, issued a press release claiming that they had been told by Leona Bendall that we are planning to re route their school bus to avoid having to secure Scottish Executive support for the closure. (SBC agreed on Thursday to seek Scottish Executive approval to close both Hutton and Burnmouth schools).
The press release is wrong on every single point.
Scottish Borders Council understands that parents are upset and very disappointed by the Council decision but this claim by the Action Group is simply wrong. We think it has arisen because of Chinese whispers and misunderstanding of the process.
Regrettably the Action Group did not seek to establish the truth of this rumour with either Scottish Borders Council or the Scottish Executive before issuing their statement.
The facts are that in a conversation with the Scottish Executive on Friday morning to clarify the timescale for sending them the paperwork to enable them to consider the decision. Education officials were asked what route has been used in deciding the matter needed to be referred to the Minister.
The Act actually says that when measuring the distance for referral to Scottish Ministers, the distance should be by the shortest route to school. But in the case of Hutton the SE were informed that SBC had used the longer route to avoid a ford. This was accepted by the Scottish Executive.
Scottish Borders Council had told parents from the very start of the process back in October 2003, that final approval from the Scottish Executive would be necessary. Scottish Executive intends to consider this request, together with SBC's request to close Burnmouth school in due course - a decision on both schools can be expected in the New Year.
Throughout this process, SBC has acted with absolute integrity and it is ridiculous to suggest that any Authority would take an approach or do anything that might put children in danger.
We have this afternoon (Sunday) informed Hutton school board of the truth behind this ridiculous rumour to avoid any unnecessary concerns.
ends ___________________________________ Page 1 of 1

All I can say that I got my gen from a senior source who had been directly in contact with the SBC educational dept-immediately after Thurdays meeting at St Boswells. This was before the Action Group statement

Next rant from Norn Iron. Its safer.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Huttonian's GP says that there is no flu yet in the borders. So I haven't got it. So that's alright then. Apparently it is a bronchial infection ....*

A very well placed source has revealed that after the decision on the closure of Hutton and Burnmouth there was a bit of attempted skullduggery by the educational authorities to frustrate any appeal procedure. Burnmouth has a statutory right of appeal to the Scottish Executive/Parliament as its school roll was above 75%-18 out a capacity of 2o in a single teacher school. Hutton, ditto, as it is more than 5 miles from the nearest alternative The Borders Educators poring over their high tech maps and satellite imagery find that Hutton to Chirnside is dog widdle short of 5 miles taking the Bluestone Ford route which cuts quite a corner off the regular C roads. The Ford is hard enough in a private car-but frequently impassable after heavy rain but no school bus could possible attempt it. If they try and push this they could be made to look a trifle foolish. AS for Burnmouth, apparently a pupil left last week so the magic 75% no longer applies for the moment-but this may be right technically but seems a shabby manouevre.

* further medical details excised for the common good. Ed Blog
Monday, November 15, 2004

See Mr B the BB's tale. I wonder if Norn Iron moggies absorb the influence of the environment. Its a good thing, perhaps that it (?) is not an OrangeCat. Or even Green. But from its angle it seems to be 'on' something-and I just don't mean the branch.
Mr B, The Belfast Bloggee, is obviously getting a bit irritated at all the attention being paid to undeserving mouses in Hutton. He has accordingly sent the folowing:

We (the PPW and I) extend our sympathy and understanding to Huttonian and company regarding the uninvited occupation by little furry things of the family pile. These beasties no longer make their presence obvious in this part of BT15 (North Belfast) due, partly I’m sure, to the abilities of Bagpuss, Smokey, Ouzo, Spike and Mogg.

This is Mogg, a small silver tabby. She is the best friend of Klio, a chocolate coloured Doberman roughly about the same size, appearance and intelligence as the average Moose.

Mogg is the most recent resident feline and the half sister (same mother, fathers unknown) of two previous residents, Spike & Ouzo. Both of the latter met their maker prematurely on the tarmac just outside. In their brief lives they “enjoyed” the company of two senior felines, Bagpuss and Smokey. Cats are notoriously fickle and will take up alternative residence on a whim but the senior felines choose to stay and lived out their entire lengthy lives in situ. Bagpuss was a one-eyed placid sort while toothless Smokey was intolerant, hugely irritable and would give any finger a serious gummy suck if she took the notion. The former slipped away while snoozing in the sun in the back garden and is buried in that very spot where there is now a vast rhubarb plantation. The latter choose Christmas Day for a more dramatic exit and Sam next door brought her in from his garden, an icy solid lump, her gums exposed.

All of the above, except Mogg and Klio, have their final resting places in the back garden along with various (domestic) mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, gold fish and a fire bellied newt, et al. Each has its own headstone and a personal memorial.

One of the mice Mostyn was a chap, who nonetheless produced thousands of Mostyn-ettes. Our major B minor gave the sort of explanation that bore closely to the cloning of Dolly the sheep.

Mogg is a ferocious hunter and will have a go at pretty much anything that moves. Her predecessors were fairly active in these pursuits in their heyday, but settled for a much quieter aspect in their twilight years, particularly Smokey whose gumminess did not lend much to hunting. Nevertheless, she did surprise the PPW and me by arriving at the back door with something closely resembling the wing of a pheasant. It was a bit odd, as pheasant do not normally wander about BT15, other than in what was previously the Marquis of Donegal’s estate a bit further north under the shadow of the Cavehill. The wing was spookily followed by the neatly severed head of a male mallard duck. Just how Smokey could accomplish this feat of precision engineering without the benefit of a single tooth was beyond us. It was the subject of much debate until we learned that a neighbour was of the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity and was performing autopsies in his back garden. Smokey was in the right place at the right time.

With mice not providing much amusement for Mogg, she will happily torture whatever creatures are available, and the most common victims are the frogs from our neighbour’s pond. Frogs are either very stupid or very clever and, depending on the mood that they are in, can be endless amusement for a fun seeking feline or just a waste of time and effort. They tend to play dead, lying on their backs with their legs supine despite rigorous curious prodding, and the bored feline usually wanders off. But, a nip in the right place can generate a blood curdling howl that must resemble closely to the wail of a Banshee. That is the signal that alerts the PPW or me to launch the frog rescue mission and all the necessary ancillary equipment to make this effective, a bucket.

Mogg used to watch with much mirth as we replaced the rescued frogs in the pond and then she would sit and wait for them to re-emerge and the process would start all over again.
There is a small brook in the grounds of nearby Belfast Castle, the ancestral home of the Marquis of Donegal, which is now heavily populated by rescue frogs"

Thankyou Mr B. We have quite enough in the way of killer moggies in our backyard without wanting to add to their number-the only cat which visits us is Rosie-old and slow and is off duty when snoozing by our Raeburn and not in a mood to go after mouses. Fortunately our frogs are much smarter than their norn iron cousins and our pond too impenetrable for even Mr B's feline friends.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Huttonian still confined to camp Lurgi bound. So beyond the capture and release of a little field mouse this morning there are no headlines. Sadly I missed the Poppy ceremony at the Hutton war memorial and the nice little ceremony of 'planting' the individual poppies from butonholes. So I could not judge if these were new ones or recycled.

Some news trickling in about the vote on the schools last Thursday. Burnmouth did better than Hutton and some of the Councillors who voted to keep Burnmouth open voted against Hutton. The Lib Dems voted in favour of both schools as a bloc but the Tories who had said in a schools debate in the Scottish Parliment that they were against shutting rural schools voted for closure with the noble exception of our local councillor Mr F. It is a shame that such an issue has become politicised at the Borders level.
Saturday, November 13, 2004

Two more this morning (Saturday) The amnesty appeal appears to be working. My slight worry is that having been released into the lush pastures of the Kirk YaIrd they may nevertheless sek to return to Huttonian Hall. The second moose is more coy but you can see the tail emerging from the reception centre to the left-he may of course still be filling in the pre release forms.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Although nothing much appears to be happening, numbers of concerned individuals have been talking, writing letters to the press and their political representatives and researching information on how we can oppose such a hugely inappropriate development on such an unsuitable site.Hopefully, when we have formed an action group on 10 November, and gained an insight into what skills and interests our supporters have, we will be able to focus and co-ordinate these efforts to much greater effect.

I don't know what happened at this meeting but it was called by a local group protesting at a very sizeable Wind Farm Project by Your Energy Ltd just across the border in England south of the Berwick Cornhill road. The opponents claim to be concerned not at wind turbines but at the scale proposed. 300 Foot monsters about 100 foot higher than those at Soutra in southern Scotland Also up to 25 are envisaged the biggest other project in north east England consisting of 4.

What is this to do with the Merse. Apparently they will be visible from Paxton-not from Hutton according to Dave the expaper. HTT are relaxed and point out that they might be a deterent to low flying aircraft

Those of you who do not want to be reassured by the developers blurb go to http://www.your-energy.co.uk/intro.html and to balance this also visit http://www.bordersphotography.co.uk/moorsydewindfarm.html

And those of you who don't give a cotton fibre thong await more on the mooses
Lurgi still in charge. Slightly relieved by two (domestic mice) walking in to Camp Humane overnight,obviously influenced by the video put out on Borders TV mouse news extra. One of them was cunning enough to flick over the Nipper trap without setting it off. We are trailing behind Honeysuckle-8 dead, no prisoners. If this proceeds smoothly it will be possible to call elections to establish a moderate mouse regime without fear of terrorism.

Hutton Haiku No 78;

Mouse after mice
Possible no voters by
No election.
S.Hussein never thought
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Bad news from St Boswells. Borders Councillors have voted to close both Hutton and Burnmouth schools with effect from the end of the next academic year-which in effect means at the end of this as many parents will probably vote with their feet and take their children off to Chirnside with its 25 plus classes. All is not, theoritically, lost as there is a right of appeal to the Scottish Executive but I would be astonished if this succeeds. Very sad. THe end of an era of good and happy schooling for the community's children and another village institution discarded. The economies of scale and rationalisation rule ok and the children and their families will have to live with it.
Was anyone in the Merse aware that there was an Irish Presidential Election recently? Certainly from the point of view of view of catching international attention the timing was not ideal. And of course theIrish President is very much a figure head, opening and shutting things and being gracious to all and sundry. Not in a position to send Irish troops to Iraq or even to Galway. I have received the following snippit from the Belfast Bloggee:

"Did the Irish Presidential election race provoke any interest? Perhaps, not because it wasn't an election at all. Unlike our Yankee cousins the present incumbent was re-elected because there was no opposition, other than Dana, the warbler-ess of Eurovision fame, who didn't secure enough support from basically anyone at all. So Mary McAleese, of BT15 extraction and the first Norn Ironer to hold the office of Irish President, will walk the red carpet again today.

Saves a lot of bother, doesn't it?"

Thankyou Mr B.
The Hutton Think Tank (HTT) have now completed their preliminary analysis of Merse Musings by Alex Buglas. Their initial main findings are as follows:

(a) Published in 1900 (search of internet-found it amongst a list of works from which Bagpipe tunes had been composed to go with a poem from that work)
(b) Mr B was an old fashioned Scottish ‘nationalist’ Loved Scotland and its culture but regarded himself as British. Does Mr Salmond think of himself as British HTT wonders in an aside:

You may sing about fair England,
Wi’ her roses fresh and rare
Or any other beauties
That may be centred there;
You may sing the praise of Ireland
Wi’er her shamrocks on the lea,
But It’s Scotland, bonnie Scotland,
Brave Scotland still for me.

Or in the venacular :

A’things Scotch for me, my boys
Nae matter where I gang,
And the Doric braid I like to hear
In a richt guid rattling sang’

There is some learned discussion by HTT about the absence of any Welsh reference (in the entire volume) Egypt, France and Spain figure later in another verse HTT made a tentative suggestion for an updated reference in this poem :
‘You may chant your love of Welsh men
And of their cuddly sheep

Of double lls in every word
Of dragons on the cheap'’

(c) Saw himself as a Borderer
but had no apparent special regard for Hutton or Paxton-to the extent of mentioning them anywhere. HTT hope to put this right in a revised ‘relevant’edition and to increase sales in the Merse. He wrote lyrically (how else being a poet?) about the Banks of the Eye and on that lovely spot where the Blackadder rolls by’ A new edition will include copious references to the Whiteadder, Hutton Castle Mill, the Cross inn, The Paxton Villager Green, the Hutton Village Hall and the Burrell collection.
(d) He loved his mother*

* That’s quite enough for the moment about Mr D. The piece on his mother, if that’s is who she was can await a later rant. Much later preferably. Ed.Blog
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Having been struck down with a Lurgi I am not in rant mode. Another example of rural isolation. I suspect country GP practices are last in line for such things as flu vaccine. A small stock ran out in late October and the first injections are not until the supplies come in on Friday. Other practices tell a similar tale. In the meanwhile half of Berwickshire seems to have had some kind of flu' or the other. Sadly I have had to cancel my talk to the Farmers Wives club planned last January. They were very kind about this saying that Plan B was to sit and have a natter-probably more enjoyable than my account of life in Forrin parts.

No more mouses. Nipper and humane had no work to do. It may be the Faluja syndrome-slip away and regroup elsewhere. Time will tell
Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I am endebted to an occasional bloggee for this stunning image of a Haar infested beach near Bamburgh Castle.

And here is the castle. Voted in 2002 as Britain's 2nd most most boring tourist attraction. Only Buckingham Palace just edged it out from last place. I don't know why-it has a stunning position and is like any one's fairy tale castle. It may be something to do with the dungeons being empty and the only screams from would be visitors contemplating the admission charges
It is worse than we thought: the hoose mouses have allies. This am we found a little field mouse in the humane trap. Obviously it had been on a reconnaissance patrol on behalf of a larger advance party. It is now in the Kirk yard and is quite likely to head back for another look. It knows it on to a good thing-a nice feed of cheese in snug surroundings and then gently returned to its operational HQ. They are smarter than their house bound cousins and know how to avoid the Death by Nipping mechanism. I think if we capture another one it will be displayed gagged, hooded and bound on Borders TV in the hope that its comrades get the message; sadly there are no reliable audience figures for mice viewing and probably not many watch it. Mind you the human viewing figures for Border TV are not very impressive either. The wife and I were once filmed as part of a series on incomers to the area. I have yet to meet anyone who actually saw it. Fortunately. 10 minutes of a couple sweeping leaves off thelawn and walking through a deserted village is hardly riveting viewing.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Sad news from Norn Iron. One of my former regular golfing partners has died of a heart attack -on the golf course. Tee last time I had played with him-my partner in a 4 ball-he had not played well. The day he collapsed and died he had decided to go out by himself to 'sharpen up his game' as he put it to another friend. Sadly despite prompt assistance from a couple of other players-one a doctor-it was too late to revive him.

That course has taken its toll over the years. Two years ago another of my former partners died quite suddenly-not on the course but not long after playing. As a young 'juvenile' member I had a constant run in with three elderly golfers known by us irreverant youngsters as 'Quake, Shake and Quiver' Quake was a senior judge, Shake a distinguished surgeon who suffered from a severe hand tremor (Called, I think, St Vitus' dance) which, so it was said, disapeared when he was operating and Quiver had lost one arm and played very very badly with the other. Their combined ages was over 250 and they always played 18 holes on the no 2 course. Juvenilies were not allowed on the Championship course. This fearsome three ball never let any one however merited go past them and the only tactic was to creep up behind them, hit over their heads and then roar past to continue the round. A dangerous tactic as they were very angry at such treatment and used to complain to the course ranger or to the Club Captain. However we were saved by their poor eysight and were never positively identified. Another wheeze was to creep past at the 9th green where it was their habit to suspend play for a sandwich and a hipflask before tackling the 2nd 9.

Of these three, two died on the course. It was rumoured that the first death spoilt their game for the other two as he died early on in their round and they did not have the combined strength to carry him for the full 18 holes. But I suspect this was a bit of misplaced humour by callow youths such as myself. How I must have changed.
The wee timorous beasties next door are on the back foot. 5 dead and no prisoners but they still keep coming. Chez Huttonain there is a lull and either the gang leaders are accounted for or a Faluja type counter offensive is being secretly planned. The Local Council are not in to pest control as a service for domestic premises so our neighbour is calling in a private professional task force to deal with her remaining mouses. It will be interesting to see how these SMS (Special Mice Service) operators go about their business. Hope they will avoid poison or gas. Dying rodents have the habit of creeping off to inaccessible nooks and crannies to turn up their toes thus creating a fearful stink impossible to deal with-the music dies and the melody lingers on, as it were.
Guest Rant. Mr B from Norn Iron sad that the weblog has left the province has sent in the following tale : A Night Out in Belfast. In itself it is an indication how the Belfast night scene has changed since the Troubles.

"The Grand Opera House in Belfast city is justifiably referred to as our jewel in the crown. It is situated next to the most bombed hotel on the planet, the Belfast Europa, and both exist in what was previously known as “bomb alley”.

That was a long time ago and the folks on the hill have variously tried to bag the credit for it’s transformation into what is now known as the Golden Mile. The truth is that an enterprising Indian gentleman, Diljit Rani, spotted the potential and transformed the entire area almost single handed.

The GOH fell into some decline in the 60’s (in 1963, Luciano Pavarotti made his UK debut here as Pinkerton) and 70’s and became almost derelict. It was saved by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and restored to its former Victorian splendour.

The present pleasant wife and I greatly enjoy some posh nosh and a visit to the GOH on a fairly regular basis, but last night it was not to be.

It started badly when the booker at the posh nosh establishment, a vague South Afrikaneress, didn’t really seem to understand that I did indeed want to book a table. She was further confused when I asked, in a manner worthy of Michael Winner, for our usual table by the window. I relayed this to the PPW who looked a tad concerned and rightly so, because this set the agenda for the evening. Nevertheless, off we set, picking up Mrs B major on the way.

Mrs B major is a slight Hobbit sized septuagenarian lady with an enormous appetite and partial hearing in her right ear. The latter has been useful for voicing a contentious opinion in her presence without the fear of severe admonishment. But my aunt, her sister, advised me not to try this any more as there is now a device in that ear.

We arrived at the posh nosh spot, an upmarket and trendy art nouveau emporium, and the vague South Afrikaneress, blonde, led us away from our usual table at the window and up the stairs to a table in the middle of the floor of the upper dining room. Our usual waiter Robert, as thin as a rake and not overly gay in that camp sort of way, looked on in some puzzlement.

Mrs B major took exception to the musak, took out the device and declared that she had no appetite and would not be eating. The PPW and I had fallen for that one before only for Mrs B major to descend upon our plates and leave us hungry. On this occasion she did not eat but enjoyed a good slug of Lebanon’s best Hocha, leaving the PPW and me tired from shouting and with more posh nosh than we could consume.

Robert, sporting a rather fetching glittery lilac stud in his left ear, stopped for a chat and apologised to the PPW about our usual table saying that it had been reserved earlier. After our chat, he returned to say that he had glanced at the bookings and indeed our usual table had been booked. It didn’t help much that the booking was in our name and that the table had remained unoccupied throughout because we were upstairs looking down at it. We glared at the vague blond South Afrikaneress as we left.

We made our way down the golden mile towards the GOH and Mrs B major looked on in silent query as a gaggle of giggly girlies in shiny pink Stetson hats, and little else, spilled drunkenly onto the pavement. The PPW attempted to explain that this was a hen party, a sort of pre-nuptial celebration involving drinking lots of alarmingly coloured alcopops, making a lot of noise, being sick and falling over. Mrs B major declared that, in her day, the big event was celebrated by having a wedding breakfast.

We arrived at the GOH and climbed to the Grand Circle where we had procured the best and most expensive seats in the house. Our seats were occupied by fat Americans. They had found that their view of the stage was impeded by a pillar and, in a very Bush like way, arbitrarily invaded our territory. We firmly explained that that was precisely why we had paid the extra and, without a shot being fired, they abandoned their unlawful occupation. Koffee Annan would have been proud.

The curtain went up to reveal a sumptuous drawing room, the play was Blithe Spirit, and the pre-curtain mumbles started to wane. Then a mobile telephone sounded for a while and then stopped, the owner clearly realised her mistake and switched it off. It went off again amid much huffing and derisory mumblings from the audience. The owner didn’t switch off the wretched thing, but instead rose with it still ringing in her hand and made off, stage left disturbing everybody in the row on her way. Madame Arcati (Penelope Keith) didn’t bat an eye, bless. The mobile telephone person returned and, totally unfazed, disturbed everybody in the row and immediate environs in her efforts to return to her seat.

And then the sweetie papers started to rustle, and then the coughing. I am inclined to write to the GOH and suggest that they supply Fisherman’s Friends rather than Malteesers, wine gums and Pringles. The latter caused the PPW to swivel fully in her seat and glare in a very teacherly sort of way at the crunchers behind. She later declared that they weren’t Pringles at all, but those other thick ridged ones that gave off the volcanic munch.

We had pre-ordered our interval drinks and battled through the chattering classes to reach them. As the crowds in the bar area started to drift back to their seats, it seemed an opportune moment to buy some water from the bar. It was quite hot in the theatre and the interval red plonk wasn’t really up to much. There were two persons behind the bar, both were female, one in red and the other tasteful in bar attendant’s uniform. The lady (the term is used only to distinguish the person from the male of the species) in red wasn’t really doing very much and the other was serving a patron. The lady in red looked in my direction and I indicated that I would like to buy some water. Just what she thought I said we will never know, but her response was worthy of Basil Fawlty at the peak of his powers. She continued to do nothing much other than fawn at a chap much younger, taller and slimmer that me. The smart attendant caught my look of slack jawed, dumbfounded shock and awe and served me with the water in a nice glass with ice and lemon. She passed on my comment to the lady in red that perhaps she might benefit from counselling or anger management therapy. This was met with quite a glare from the lady in red to whom I raised my glass of water in a toast.

Thankyou Mr B. Any other contributions will be most welcome from the bloggees.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
At last a mouse prisoner of war or rather a hostage-Mrs Meister Maus taken in the humane trap this morning. She was very calm about her predicament and ate a whole lump of cheese whilst awaiting release. We played with the idea of relaesing a video on Borders TV with our reasonable demands:
(a) All mice to be withdrawn from the house by 6.00 AM tomorrow
(b) Release of all human prisoners held by the Meister Maus Gang
(c) Undertaking of complete evacuation of the Merse, verified by a team of UN observers headed by Rosie the Cat. By Christmas.

In the end the Liberals in the local regime prevailed. Mrs MM was unconditionally released into the kirk yard.

I suspect we will see her again. And her husband is still at large.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mr P was wet but content. His cautious approach to such events is charecterised by the ear plugsalso useful for low flying aircraft which are the bane of the borders.

Guy Fawkesnight is no big deal in Scotland-more fireworks at Halloween. And it was raining. But the Hutton roving reporter caught a rocket at the point of ignition. The Bonfire was too wet to light.
Mice fighting back but not in our house where there is a lull. Next door our nearer tenant had to spend a night with her father as the mice were bold enough to get into her bed. They have been thumping around for some time in the roof space fornicating like mad and descending into the living room for a bit of R&R. She was tolerant enough not to kill the beasts but tried to keep them at bay with an electronic mouse repeller. This proved futile and the creatures actually seemed attracted by the device to the extent of crapping all over it. Its Zero tolerance now and in her absence a friend slept over and killed two of the tormentors with another version of the Little Nipper. So the inter house contest is on: Huttonian 2 Honeysuckle 2. We know Meister Maus is still about as he/she knocked the Little Nipper over with a skilful lunge without springing the trap. I have stuffed the Humane Trap ('Takes 20 mice at a time') with cheddar but left room for a mouse or two-20 may be a bit ambitous unless they have a Gaderene streak
We have fought a long battle in Eastern Berwickshire to change our postcode. The great metropoli of Hutton, Paxton and Foulden lie in TD15. The same post code as Berwick- upon- Tweed. It is in England and we in Scotland. This bothers Royal Mail or BT not a whit. Our address and phone number is found in the Northumberland phone book and it has taken 6 years to get it into the Borders one (still remaining in the Northumberland version as well) A letter from elsewhere in the known world gets to Hutton quicker if it bears the magic logo Berwick upon Tweed-put TD15 and Berwickshire and omit B-o-T it will go via Hawick, linger for two tea breaks and arrive 24 hours after a similar letter posted at the same time, in the same place but routed via Berwick.

More seriously for the poor in pocket our insurance policies are based on crime in Berwick itself. The fact that we live in a virtually crime free rural backwater makes not a p of difference. The post code is all. It has long been suggested that a new code be created TD16 which would take in the Scottish bits of TD15. But that is too difficult for Royal Mail. The latest snag is that when calling the new local NHS out of hours health line one is asked the post code. TD15 we say in H,P and F. Wrong number they triumphantly respond-call Northumberland, its their bag.
I am all for bowing to the inevitable and hauling up the Northumberland flag on my flagpole but that won’t help with the insurance and will only encourage more loud mouthed, horsey, braying, tweedy, Northumberland ladies calling with copies of the phone book on behalf of BT and asking me ‘Where Scotland starts’. And not believing my response. As happened the other day. I am a reluctant Scot at the best of times but faced with such ignorant arrogance I was a fired up as any other Brave heart and urged the ladies to heid south and 'think again'


The 3.93 year old has had quite a tough time away from his Oz home base and moving house on holiday three times. His mother has titled this image 'thoughtful'. Contemplating meltdown is another possibilty-his fuse is short when frustrated! Ideal Diplomatic Service material-but not the Australian one-it would be much too laid back for Mr P
Friday, November 05, 2004
Merse Musings?

Tis the brightest, the foremost, aye high in renown,
In this paper that comes from famed Berwick Town-
Like a breath o’ pure air o’er the sweet morning dews
Is a blink and a read of the Berwickshire News”

No, not one of Huttonian’s deathless verses but from a poem by a certain Alex Buglass from his collection: ‘Merse Musings’. Yes, Merse Musings and Huttonian thought he was safe from confusion and imitation with a rant called Musings from the Merse. The book turned up on an American website of rare books and arrived in Hutton this week. Published in Selkirk –undated but from its language and subject matter likely to be early last century. Some stirring martial stuff in an international setting:

Though wily Boers with their cunning craft,
By the British have been defeated
Yet British blood’s been profusely shed,
Ere the victory’s been completed


But Mr Buglass is a true Borderer, clearly unhappy away from his native hearth, and his poems wander via ‘Norham’s Castle walls’ and Polwarth’s Auld Kirkyaird to Coldingham and back to Swinton:

Oh! Let my Muse untiring be,
By poetic art inspired,
To sing the praise of Swinton Town,
And its beauties much admired.
For here my thoughts all fondly rest;
And here it shall be seen.
My greatest aim’s to praise that town,
And each beloved scene.

It’s a lengthy tome and the Hutton Think Tank, Cultural Section is scanning it for more local references*. Watch this rant.

* Please Exercise restraint. Neo Victorian poets can be quite sickly, sentimental and cloying. Ed.Blog


A bloggee has asked if the abandoned car is useable. Possible with some work. Good doors, 4 wheels, intact lights, grass entwined steering wheel-the latest green accessory-foliage filled gearbox.The windscreen wipers are ok and not much rust. Windscreen a bit opaique from a missile strikebut it could be worse. Perhaps Farmer O or Mr T of the Community Council might offer it on e-bay? Alternatively the Antique Roadshow might feature it as a curiosity. Its smart, its red and it raring to go. (With a bit of a push)
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Its good to back to a decent local newspaper after 3 weeks of Mourne Observer and Down Recorder. It is also good to be back to the nicer sorts of crime made familiar by the court reports on the Sheriff of Duns. Last week for example his offenders included egg throwers, men wrestling in a flower bed in Duns, a drunk and angry workman who punched a hotel window in Coldstream (rather than a human), vandalising beach huts in a productive kind of way in that the wooden shutters were used for firewood, and a Reston woman who has been driving for 25 years without a licence-she passed her driving test-‘nae bother’-but never got round to taking out a full licence. And one heart warming case of a reformed persistent offender, prone to acts of violence, who so impressed Sheriff Kevin with his efforts to reform himself that he was let off a serious sentence for assault in exchange for 100 hours community service. How different, how very different to the catalogue of heinous crimes recorded in the Norn Iron local press many of them springing from a deep rooted bigotry which is more or less unknown in this part of Scotland. Not of course in Glascow where Orange and Green is still a factor even having their own football teams: Celtic-Catholic and Green and Rangers : Protestant and Orange.

Mouse no 2 found deceased in our 'nipper' trap this morning. A big one and hopefully the meister maus. The gang are still studiously avoiding the humane trap. They may of course be of a fanatical nature, sort of fundamental mice who prefer death to dishonour.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

If you look very carefully-ideally enlarge the image with a click, you might be able to see Hutton village snapped from the top end of the path, recently aforementioned. A JHR field or two lies between the path and the villagopolis-plentyof room for expansion in future years. It is now tiny compared to its neighbour Paxton but there is Zoning Development in the local plan for over 20 houses. Like many other 'wee villages' as the jargon has it Hutton has more houses outside the built up area as defined by the 30MPH limit (50 or so) than within it (40 0r so)

This is the start of the Hutton walk on JHR land funded out of Foot and Mouth recovery money. Built and planted by the HRs it is maintained (strimmed) by the Community Council. There is a history of conflict in the area over the lack of bridle paths in the Hutton and Paxton area. Only one path, suitable for horses (or permitted by landowners) is the ancient right of way at Lovers Loaning. The bridge collapsed making it unsuitable for people never mind quadrapeds but has just been reopened thanks to the efforts of the Community Council. Otherwise horsey folk are confined to the country roads. It was therefore very tempting to find a new off road facility and although firmly marked 'Footpath' there are a number of hoof impressions. Of course horses can't read so that explains why they have used this (underused) facility.
The pipe gnawing mice whose HQ is in our airing cupboard were given a choice last night-the 'humane' trap which is an ingenious tin box, easy to get into but impossible to exit or the 'touch and die with a single snap' killing machine. This morning one little furry rodent chose the latter and has now joined the great Mouse Heaven Community in the sky. Time will tell if this is the Meister Maus or just one of the family whose other members will now turn up snapped or trapped at regular intervals. The Brother in Law who has a medical background opines that it is better to kill rather than trap and release into the wild. Those who are released die a slow and lingering death in alien surroundings. Past experience shows that those who are set free within reasonable distance of the house find no problem in getting back in again or find an alternative domestic arrangement. Hutton is deserted but not to the extent of the Gobi so my conscience is clear on that score. As far as the pipes are concerned sudden death is the preferred option but I need to respect the wife's wishes by giving the mices an informed choice of exit strategy.

The car is still there on the edge of Hutton Hill. Someone suggested to me that it would be removed as a mark of celebration the day that the SNP win the Westminster seat-they now have a local candidate with connections to the field in question. That could happen next Spring but in the meanwhile the rightful owner might like to reclaim the car (Registration visible if you click on the picture) I am sure that the farmer will not mind at all. No squeak at the last Community Council meeting about 'eyesores' The car is only clearly visible from within the field at 10 metres so perhaps Farmer O wil not be badgered further

The effects of Global Warming on Hutton Hill.? This is November and there is massive amount of growth. Mr Fish sent a lot of precipitation but since he retired it has mostly stopped after the wettest October for many years. The Hutton effect whereby it traditionally gets less rain than its neighbours may be in decline.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
After a bad night caused by mices eating through one of our first floor plastic water pipes leading to Fish like conditions in the kitchen below I was not in a fit condition to do a professional shopping job in Safeways/Morrisons. But it is a pleasure to shop even in S/M in November and especially on a Tuesday. The goods are no better but the whole experience is more relaxed. Even the most hardy of caravanners have flown south taking their tattoos and bearded partners with them. The aisles are free flowing, the check outs queueless and with only the odd sad PRAM* wandering aimlessly hither and thither anxiously reading his way through the packaging liable to obstruct your passage. And as the store is so empty there is a good chance of running into people you know and having a peaceful chat without running the risk of being knocked over by one of the tattooed bearded stomachs barging its way to and from the cheap lager.

And now to renew the battle with the mice and their obsession with plastic fodder. The wife wants to go down the humane (catch them alive and over the garden wall) route whilst Huttonian favours the more drastic-short sharp fatal shock and the body over the garden wall method. The latter is more effective and kinder to the neighbours. Also kindly treated mouses tend to be grateful and scuttle back again after a short rural outing. You can also get an electronic mouse repeller-but that usually drives them from one set of vulnerable targets to another. One master mouse eat through our dishwasher plumbing twice on successive days. WE got him in the end-fatal shock- but it was an expensive experience.

* Prematurely Retired Adult Male

Monday, November 01, 2004
Crunch day for Hutton school is approaching. Very shortly (11th November)the Borders Councillors will meet to vote on the proposed closure of both Hutton and Burnmouth. Each school will be allowed a ten minute presentation to the Councillors and then the vote will be taken. Like the US Election it is felt that the matter could go either way-and indeed there is a possibility that one school could be saved and the other closed. Hutton if axed will be able to appeal to the Scottish Executive as there is no other primary school within 5 miles. The School Action Group has prepared individual letters to all the Councillors as a last gasp petition. The present school roll of 12 is a strong minus point but there are a significant number of pre school children in the area who could bump up numbers next year and the year after-the school roll has varied considerably over the past two decades-from under 11 to about 38. But the Border Education people are all for 'rationalisation' and the number crunchers favour the economy of scale so little schools like Hutton and Burnmouth are an irritation and an embarrassment to the accountants and the planners obsessed with their vision of 'a school for the future' For our parents the future is now and believe that their children are being well taught and would like a satisfactory status quo to be maintained as long as maybe.

As for an appeal to the Scottish Executive/ Parliament-I am not too optimistic. The Executive has handed down guide lines on schools which is not too dissimilar to those already allegedly being followed by the Borders. Buzzwords like Viability and Quality (by which they mean well equipped buildings) abound. And I also worry that a school which is saved by a political decision against the wishes of the local authorities will have considerable problems in working with people whose judgment has been questioned and overturned. Hutton school struggling on with no new investment will eventually be a worse deal for the children than having it closed. Fingers crossed for the 11th. There is not much else we can do.
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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