Musings from the Merse
Monday, January 31, 2005

I wonder if Rowan Atkinson knows of the real Blackadder-the main family coming from the Merse and from the area through which the Blackadder (and Whiteadder) rivers flow. In Edrom church there is a memorial to a John Blackadderwhich if you click to enlarge is just about legible

Edrom Church of Blackadder fame with parts dating from the 12th Century. Sadly, and unusualy for the Merse the church was locked.

Edrom Arch. The only bit remaining of the original church. Built by the Bishop of Glascow. His name? Blackadder of course

Near Edrom is Dalerne House. Just to its left as you look at it is the ancient Dalerne Castle overlooking the Whiteadder Water. Who used to set forth from there. Yes, the Blackadders.
Not many people know that the Regent (and Chief Minister) of the Kingdom of Scotland lives in Duns and is a vociferous letter writer to the Berwickshire. His latest epistle points out that Berwick is still legally part of Scotland so there is no need to make an issue out of 'welcoming it back' So all who live in Berwick, north of the Tweed are apparently subject to the governance of the Kingdom of Scotland. It is nice to have nuts around and I don't think many people take the Regent too seriously. Except perhaps in the Ukraine. According to a previous letter the Regent's message on behalf of the Kingdom to the new Ukrainian PM congratulating the Orange Party on its election victory got headline treatment in the Ukrainian media delighted with the attention from such an important European power.

He is not alone in his parallel universe. The man in Galashiels from whom we bought our reconditioned piano left his card describing himself as the Consul of the Kingdom of France to Scotland. No doubt he is very welcome at the Court of St Duns.
The Hutton Think Tank will be in touch with the Regent to apprise His Royal Highness of the plans to set up an autonomous British Capital Authority in the Berwick area-perhaps he could be given some honorary position with in it. If only for a bit of light relief
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Sheriff Kevin of Duns had to deal with an unusual case of a drunken driver who wasn't but thought he might be. The defendant had driven to the cop shop in Coldstream to get advice about his 'domestic situation' involving an argument with his wife the previous evening when they had both drink taken-as the Irish out it. Acting on a tip off from the wife the Police breathalysed him but after he had told them that he had been given a lift to the Police Station as he himself suspected that he was over the limit and did not want to incriminate himself. . The test showed that he was actually below the limit! The Police then found his car next to the station with the engine still warm but he still insisted he had been given a lift so he was formally charged with 'failing to provide information about the driver'. He said in court that he continued to insist he had not driven his car even after the breath test was negative as he did not want to be charged with wasting police time. This had led to the window of the car being smashed by the police to get access as he did not want to admit he had the keys. He then had to drive back to Manchester, his home town, with a broken window.Not really his day. Sherrif K was sympathetic but felt obliged to award him three penalty points (For wasting Police time!). Tough and it is very odd why a Mancunian drove to Scotland to ask police advice about his matrimonial circumstances.
Saturday, January 29, 2005

OY! says Junior granddaughter, I may not be in the Australian squad for the 2024 Ashes but I can smile for OZ at least. Put me in the blog.

You had better include my brother who is pretending to caress me gently but is about to give my hair the most enormous tug as soon as Mum has turned her back. I just know it.

He has his uses does Pat the Builder. Irish labour is scarce around here so one puts up with whom one can get

No he is not going to let me out. He will just walk away chuckling. Men!

He did n't run away after all and I survived but please GET ME OUT OF Here.

Anyhow I am prettier than he is-even on a bad hair day.
This is Bird Watch Weekend when the twitchers are meant to count the number of birds in their gardens in a one hour period. The wife is in charge of this operation as Huttonian gets confused by the similarity of brown jobs-how to distinguish between sparrows and dunnocks for instance. The wife is proud of our giant spotted woodpecker so it has to be included if possible-thus the hour starts when it appears-no sign so far but we have already had 9 sparrows, 4 chaffinches and 4 starlings whom I suspect will be included post hoc even if it is not precisely within the witching hour. One erotic* so far-the resident Cock Pheasant has strutted his stuff. But no sign of the Wood Pigeon who is a late riser not interested in the early worm in face of the daily feast laid out on the 'patio' by the wife.

Rosie the cat may also be doing her own bird watch but with advancing age she is not the threat she once presented and prefers dozing beside the Raeburn dreaming of flying feathers long ago.

Stop Press The Woodpecker and the Pigeon have just arrived. We're on.

* Surely exotic? Blog-ed
Friday, January 28, 2005

The senior granddaughter is, as previously reported , training to be on the English Women's Cricket Squad for the 2024 Ashes series. Here she is on a run at the squad's HQ in Trent Park, North London. She managed half a mile without breaking sweat and without stopping talking-an important skill when 'sledging' the Aussies from second slip.

The junior team captain returns the training frisbee to the Chairman of Selectors. She already holds the under 18 month record of 9 feet into the wind. Mind you when she takes off her 4 track suits and duffle coat she can manage further than that.

The senior granddaughter practising for her day job with the national lottery team. She has just selected No 44 (the bonus jig) with her eyes closed which is an esential skill, apparently

No not the Merse-but N13, London. And unlike the Merse the lake is frozen. So much for the mild South East.
Huttonian is all for GNER regaining its franchise. It has a generally good record, serves the best mobile breakfast in Britain and generally (but not always) has the right type of train on track. But after to day I hae me doots* We were on our favourite 'service' as the train is invariably described in the on board announcements-the 3pm from Kings Cross-under 31/2 hours to Berwick. Spanking new carriage-obviously just out of the wrapping. Wonderful new loos. Clean mirror, bright lights, smart sliding door. But, as we found half way to York, no water. Busted flush, you might say-and the sparkling hand basin Gobi like in its aridity. Fortunately people's offerings were covered by people's paper but although the music had died the melody lingered on. Several passengers talked to the 'Customers Service Manager' but he neither could apparently do anything about it nor locked it to prevent further abuse. Of course all the toilets may have been on the blink and they wanted to spread it about a bit. The tea was nice so there was water somewhere.

* Scots for 'I am beginning to wonder if I am right after all'

What is the connection between this fine gate in London N13 and Paxton, The Merse? It was lovingly made by a distinguished Paxton joiner based on a photgraph of an ancient gate that used to hang at this house but rotted away. It was taken down to the Big Smoke and put in place and hopefully will last 100 years or so like its predecessor. Well done Joiner H-you will always have a place in the hearts of the passer bys of Palmers Green, including the Big Issue sellers.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Urban isolation. On Tuesday, on arrival at the Big Smoke, I found that the junior daughter had no working computer and both TVs on the blink. Last day ofTest Match-how to find out the score. In swinging Palmers Green both internet cafes out of contact (mouse stolen in one case)-and Library closed. Rang up a friend in Hutton-the only one who had any idea about Cricket. He could not help as was recording the final session and did not want to know the score. I was in turmoil until his daughter ring me secretly-dad snoozing and she volunteered to find the answer with the TV in silent mode. I told her about Ceefax Page 342-she read it but being a total non cricket nut could not understand the words and numbers on the screen-muttered something about 27 overs. I asked to switch to 341-the match description but she found it hard to fathom but I gathered England was in a desperate situation. I sweated for three hours until I kicked one of the TVs into life and found a news broadcast-phew! a brilliant draw-the series was ours and civilisation saved for a few more days at any rate.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
London is not all it is cracked up to be. Very cold compared to Hutton these last two days and it will be good to get back to the warmth of the Merse. And talk about isolation. A veryfrustrating day yesterday as I will report on my return. If I am spared.
Monday, January 24, 2005
There are times when it is a pleasant change to leave this peaceful spot and venture out to Big Smokes-crowded streets, jammed packed tubes, aggressive Big Issue sellers not withstanding. So we are off-GNER always permitting-crack of dawn tomorrow (Breakfast on the train is a big treat) to London, England for three days of grandparenting. That will be quite enough (not the grandparenting) with the crowded streets etc to allow us to return gratefully to another welcome spell of rural isolation; if I have a desperate need for a Big Issue I can always go to Ould Reekie and I have once seen a seller in Berwick itself. I thern bought his only copy which was two weeks out of date but as relevant to Berwick as it was on the day it was published.

If junior son in law has reconnected to the www we wil report further from the capital. 'He who is tired of London is tired of life' quoth Samuel Johnson. My feelings exactly by 3pm on Thursday. If I am spared
Damp, freezing, dark-and that is just the kitchen at 6am-breakfast on the train is fine but what sacrifices one makes for this elusive treat. Knowing GNER the restaurant car may well be withdrawn for 'technical reasons'. And then what? The junior son-in law's computers are both on the blink so the rnt my be silenced until Thursday so be patient until then

A lovely spot on Whiteadder water so close to the picuresque Edington Mill . Don't Turn round!

If you do this is the mess you see. The mill conversion into twee flats and the devastation of the once lovely riverside. Apartments available at £300 K. No need to rush they don't seem to bering snapped up all that fast. It is rumoured that they are now available for renting as the property market cools.

The conversion from above. From a mill into a factory?

Not far from the mill the local farmer who bitterly opposed the project seems to be doing his bit as custodian of the countryside. Fly tipping at its worst

Hows that for a genuine fairy(well troll perhaps) castle. Just up river from the mill. If developer Mr CG got his hands on it no doubt we would soon have a 5 star haunted hotel on our hands. This was once the home of the famous Burrell of the Burrell collection (now in Glasca)

Finally in this photo essay-Huton from the Mill side of the Whiteadder. If you click to enlarge you will see the Old Manse in all its glory.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
A bloggee asks if Sheriff Kevin of Duns is still functioning. Yes he is but obviously took his time to recover from the usual Scottish excesses of Hogmanay. His court is back insession and judging from the courts report in the Berwickshire crime in the county is back to its dull and uninspiring routine. Speeding (two motorists at over 100mph on Borders' roads!), careless driving, no insurance and a more unusual case of two teenage sisters who assaulted 'another woman' in a row over her boyfriend-a sort of love quadrilangle apparently. The case turned on whether one of the sisters realised that the bottle she threw (and struck) the woman was plastic (as she claimed to think) rather than glass (as it was) . No involvement in reported crime by guest workers (Portuguese) or asylum seekers (eastern European) thus temporaily stilling some of the less well informed speculation at the pub.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
A regular bloggee has commented on that LS of M, our postee and his refusal to lift mail from individual houses- a community service provided by all his predecessors. Apparently he quotes cases when postmen have been accused of nicking money from the outgoing mail after picking it up from individual customers. I wonder what relevance this has to real life? A mailman could be just as easilyaccused of the same offence when emptying the letter box into which we are now ordered to post our letters. And what a revealing attitude! Is that what he thinks might happen around here. No I fear it is a case of couldn't be bothered. A real Jobsworth as well as a LS of M. Pity for the old and infirm who now have to make the trek to the village post box-over half a mile in some cases-and if you have no car and can't manage that on foot-tough.
We sometimes seem to live dangerously in the Merse with the scourge of the Fish influencing our weather but at least we dont (seem to) have earthquakes. Unlike Killin from where the sister in law has sent the following message just received.

Just thought you would like to hear that we survived the earthquake. Registered 2.7 on the Richter Scale and the epicentre was 4 miles from here. Made a very loud bang and foxed everyone until the next morning (this morning) when we heard on Radio Scotland where and when it was.

No mention on the World News unless I missed it.

It is reminiscent of the famous headline which once won a competition as the world's most boring : Small Earthquake. No one hurt. Not Much Damage

But try telling that to the good people of Killin who poured out of their houses at 10.45 pm-in some alarm last night. The front page of the Killin News has been cleared -next edition due in a fortnight.


Cognescenti claim that this is the best view of Hutton-from the Lairds Foot and Mouth relief works path. Hutton is not, many people tell me, an intrinsically attractive village and looks somewhat better from afar. But its home

By public demand. The saved Hutton BT phone box. The grass looks quite worn in front of the door so it may be more used than I have observed (once in 7 years)

People have asked for confirmation that the dumped car has gone from Farmer O's field. It has and here it used to be with Hutton Kirk, Old Manse etc in the background. Well done Community Councillor T for taking this matter up.
Friday, January 21, 2005
I wonder if we are not a bit hasty in assuming that our Borders crime figures (including TD15 outside Berwick itself) are more favourable than in the urban English bits of the same postcode. They don't seem to be. In Berwick's case the crime figures are well below the English Average.

In the Borders (see below) some of the offences are at or above the Scottish Average which admittedly may not be exactly the same as England but I doubt if there is much difference. In the table below the first figure is the Borders crime count, the second the Scottish average. You will note that we don't do well on sexual crime (and Lewdness!) above average in Fraud. 'Other dishonesty' is almost double the national average.But the figures for car crime including speeding are incredibly ( and I think this is the word) low. So a change in tactics sems necessary viz a viz insurance companies-use the Borders figures for car insurance (but will they believe our application-with high dishonesty markings?) and TD15 (Berwick) for everything else.

Serious Assault etc.
Other Violence
Rape & Attempted Rape
Sexual Assault
Lewd & Libidinous Practices
Other Indecency
Theft by opening lockfast places
Theft from a Motor Vehicle
Theft of Motor Vehicle
Other Theft
Other Dishonesty
Vandalism etc.
Crimes against Public Justice
Handling offensive weapons
Petty Assault
Breach Of The Peace
Other Misc. Offences
Dangerous & Careless Driving
Drunk Driving
Unlawful Use of Motor Vehicle
Vehicle Defect Offences
Other M V Offences
Police force
Lothian & Borders Police

All crime statistics above are per 10,000 population within your local authority area.

Worth thinking about.

BT get an earful over local phone books issue is a headline in to day's Berwickshire news and the story goes on:
"BERWICKSHIRE residents wanting to ring Berwick numbers will either have to hold on to their old phone books or dial directory enquiries because the new Borders directories currently being delivered do not have Berwick numbers listed any more. For years BT have recognised the cross-border nature of the area and listed most Berwickshire and north Northumberland numbers in both directories but in the 2005/06 directory they have excluded the majority of Berwick numbers from the Borders book, much to the annoyance of Berwickshire residents and a number of Berwick businesses, who depend on customers coming from Berwickshire. "Berwick is the main shopping town for us," said one Auchencrow resident, "but now we can't even find their numbers in the telephone book, its ridiculous." Even our own Tweeddale Press head office in Berwick has been left out of the Borders phone book, a situation described by managing director Stuart Birkett as "not very convenient to say the least". "There are a lot of people up in arms about it," agreed a Coldstream resident, who was even more frustrated when trying to contact BT about it and found he had to go through numerous automated recordings before finding out he would have to pay if he wanted a Northumberland directory with the Berwick numbers in it. BT say they have tried to cut out duplication in the new directories but no further explanation has so far been forthcoming. "There are endless problems with this but this is just ludicrous," said Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Euan Robson. "This is just gross incompetence. How on earth a telephone directory can be produced when the major economic focus of an area is excluded defeats me. "There is so much cross border contact there is a case for combining the Borders and Northumberland directories, when you look at the size of the Edinburgh directory compared to the Borders. "This isn't without precedent unfortunately - last year we had a problem with some people living west of Hawick being issued with south west Scotland directories. "I will be contacting BT immediately and the minister for Scottish Public Affairs and asking them to reprint it or I will refer the matter to the industry regulator OFCOM." Cross border confusion in the Berwick/Berwickshire area is nothing new. Three years ago Paxton, Hutton, Foulden, Mordington and Fishwick residents took BT to task when the only telephone directory they were given was the Northumberland book and they were told they would have to pay £10 for a Border directory. However, last summer Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council were eventually issued with a bundle of Borders books for councillors to deliver to residents wanting them. This time BT have recognised that these small settlements near the border are in fact in Scotland not England and included them in the new Border directory despite their Berwick dialling codes but as yet no 2005/06 Borders directories have been delivered in that area."

BT can't get it right as described above-many of our friends thought Huttonian was ex-directory as no one of his name was in the Borders Phone Book-but all the time there he was a large as life in Hutton found only in the Northumberland directory. Its the same with our TD15 postcode-it is assumed that TD 15 is in England as that is the Berwick code-no laughing matter as insurance companies apply urban rates of insurance premiums to the Berwickshire rural areas with their very low crime rates but share the TD 15 code area. The idea that we should be given our own code of TD16 has been rejected by the Post Office as too logical or something and they won't do it. We are purely (excluding Berwick) a rural area and with only a handful of subscribers so it is not in anyone's interest to keep us happy. Another drawback to the bucolic existence.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Third day in a week to Ould Reekie and I am beginning to feel like a native. After living in the bleek Merse Edinburgh has no climatic terrors for Huttonian. Especially after a neo-fish meteorogical attack which cause some collateral damage. A totally unforecasted assault on the North East partly caused our Raeburn cooker and oil fired central heating to shut down and one viscious gust smashed a large pane in a westward facing bedroom on the second floor. Not ours thank goodness but next door. We have working shutters but the wind whistling through the broken glass threatened to force them permenantly open so we had to keep them closed with the help of a stepladder and two heavy mattresses . The wife is now coping with all this destruction as I contemplate the pleasant task of keeping 70 students awake and receptive for an hour or so this afternoon. Such a nice prospect that I will generously donate to the Princes Street mendicant and his camaflaged jacketed wee dog-not a good tactic I think as the dog is so well concealed that well meaning passerbys might miss him completely-thus totally destroying the point of his presence. Yes 50 p well spent.

The Berwickshire leads with the hoary old story of Berwick joining the Borders thus changing sides for the 14th time-from Scotland to England being in 1482. The advantage to the Borders is obvious-13,000 more tax payers but less apparent is the gain for Berwick. Spittall and Tweedmouth in the same conurbation would have to come too and they have never been part of Scotland so would hardly welcome such a retrograde step. No chance but the old chestnut will crop up from time to time when there is a dearth of real news.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Our environmental services can be a bit crass. Too idle to dispose of sawdust from a felled tree they decided to have a nice little fire in an 1853 grave. I am sure the late Mr Bell will not mind but his lovingly erected headstone will never be the same again. OK the graveyard is closed for new business (except the Laird's family plot) but still a bit of respick might come in handy.

Another shot. A waste of good kindling which could have been used more productively in the Old Manse

Visigoths return-no rapine, no pillage just vandalage
I have ranted a bit about rural isolation in the past-lack of shops, good public transport, mains gas, bad communications etc etc. Some good news: Broadband is to be available by the end of next month. We are 100 applicants short of the 150 needed for this service in a small exchange but rural communities are being subsidised by the Scottish Executive-strike one for Braveheart. On the negative side we have been chopped at the knees by our newish postie. The Old Manse was the village community postoffice for 6 years-5 of them in our time. When it moved to the Village Hall we continued to have our mail picked up as the incoming post was delivered. A sort of thankyou from the Royal Mail. But our latest postman-a long, dangling streak of unfriendliness(in strong contrast to all his predecessors) is now declining to pick up our outgoing mail from the bootbox at the back door. He had previously baulked at the placing of incoming mail in the kitchen -hence the use of the bootbox. He now puts the post in the box and studiously ignores the stamped outgoing letters 3" away. Can't do much about it as it is a favour and not a requirement. So it is down to the post box in the village like everyone else.

BT have relented and our one public phone box is to stay. Apparently the closure notice was a clerical error. Good -I have never actually seen it used for 4 or 5 years but it is symbol of a public service opposite the old pub which has been closed for 25 years and near to a Smiddy-unused for 50. It could be useful some time and is marvellously unvandalised

Hutton Haiku # 34s

I have a mobile.
I have a phone.
I don't need
a box.
But it looks so
as I pass.


No photo of the phone box but if you turned around here and walked towards the Kirk the phone box is about 40 yards on your left. No need to hurry as it is unoccupied.
The problem with the neo-fishes is the same problem as with the unlamented master. They build up huge weather scary systems promising massive disruption and, as often as not, nothing happens. But they have covered their ample backsides if, by some chance, they are right in their fearful prognostications *The Blizzards which apparently engulfed Glascow made a hasty retreat from Edinburgh.The sun shone all day; the students stayed awake, zephr like breezes gently cooled South Bridge Street. GNER could find no wrong type of anything but still managed to be ten minutes late in a 40 minute journey back to Berwick for no discernible reason. It had come dead on time from Aberdeen and the train crew denied seeing a snow flake never mind a blizzard. One enterprising lecturer cancelled his lecture as he 'was cut off in Fife' according to the notice on my lecture room door.I suspect he believed the neo-fishes and stayed in bed. How foolish he must be feeling. And I am feeling must virtuous. £22 for an hour lecture. Less £9-50 travel and £10 tax-profit £2.50. Thats the way to get seriously rich in academia.

* Can't baffle me with long words-blog-ed
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
quandary. Or as Big Jim F would put it 'conundrum'. To Scott or not to Scott? (or rather Oates to be historically accurate) Snowing hard in Ould Reekie and forecast for here-there are a few flakes already. GNER running but very strong winds promised by the neo-fish lot. I am due to lecture this pm but if I venture out 'I may be gone for a long time' Edinburgh is not the South Pole but I am reluctant to be trapped in hostile territory overnight. Decision time approaching with the 1142 (actually on time, allegedly) from Kings Cross. Oh dear.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Blogging can be dangerous and disagreeable. Witness the fate of Joe Gordon who lost his job at Waterstone's in Edinburgh because his rant was found by his employers and he had criticised them from time to time. Other employees have suffered the same fate for bringing disrepute onto their firms-another is apparently living dangerously as he works for Morrisons and has been critical of the company; but has survived. I fear ifHuttonian was working for that organisation he would have been given his cards long ago-oh come back Safeways-all is forgiven.* Huttonian has himself had his problems locally and there have been threats of legal action from an aggrieved party in respect of the 'old' blog. Huttonian has no employer apart from his part time ' honorary ' (ie virtually unpaid) position at the University of Edinburgh. The position in law is somewhat unclear but there have been no successful legal actions against Bloggers to date but it is generally accepted that bloggers have the usual right of freedom of expression. Mr Gordon (according to an 'expert' quoted the Hereald) has a right under the European Convention of Human Rights ' to respect for the privacy of his private life and correspondence' But it is not clear how far, legally, a blogger can go in damaging his employers reputation and interests.

Caution seems to be called for. Moderation and dullness rule ok.

*Indeed. Has Mr Fish good grounds for complaint? Worried Blog - ed
A local bloggee has commented as follows

I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...Your expose on "Dog-poo" reminded me of the story of the Abyssinian Whippet:
A young man was going home one night after a night on the tiles and became urgently in need of "faecal relief". He squatted at the edge of the pavement but just as he completed his business a police van emerged round the corner. Being a mentally alert young man he, quick as a flash, grabbed a nearby dustbin and placed it over the offending motion.
The van stopped and two burly constables emerged; "Oi, Oi what's goin' on 'ere?" said the larger. The young man replied that he was the local dogtrapper and he had just caught an Abyssinian Whippet, repudedly the fastest dog on earth, which his department had been endeavouring to trap for over a year. he asked them to guard the dustbin whilst he went to get his nets and van.
After he'd been gone for over an hour the coppers were getting a bit cold and fed up, and the smaller one who played scrum half for the local rugby club, and fancied himself as a bit of a "dab hand" at anything, said " Look, when I say "now" you lift the bin and I'll grab the bloody thing and we'll shove it in the van and get the hell out of here for a cup of tea."
"NOW!" whoosh as he dived for the dog only to pick himself up with an enormous smear of foul smelling material in his hand.
" Ya beggar, the lad was right; it even had time to crap before it went!"

There is a moral here somewhere.

Sunday, January 16, 2005
A sobering thought. Huttonian and the wife celebrate their Ruby wedding today. 40 years is no big deal I suppose but we are slightly disappointed in getting no telegram from Prince Harry-Granny does the Golden weddings and the 100th birthdays. So it is off to a 'secret' lunch on the Tweed (by the Tweed actually, but with recent flooding.....) mostly in honour of another couple married on the same day and at the same time as us and whom we met as neighbours in Arabia Felix 48 years ago-with both wives being pregnant together there being little formal entertainment in that part of Arabia. Why stay together so long? Habit? Decrepitude? : 'Darling I am going to leave you' 'What?' 'DARLING I AM GOING to leave YOU.' 'What? I can't find my hearing aid? ' DARLING. OH never mind-too much hassle' We may do our own party later this year in more clement weather and nearer a centre of population to a place we can attract our young. If we continue to be spared.

Dawn in Hutton. Why go off to the Wadi Rum whenyou can get sunrises like this at home. Red Sky in the morning-Shepherds' warning goes the old saw. Wrong again. It was a lovely dayand the shepherds did not have to leave their cosy hearths to rescue weather battered lambs.
Huttonian has been a bit hard on the bloggee who commented that the blog was a load of shite. Looking at the timing of this intervention it is clearly linked to the rant on Dog Pooh. It is therefore entirely apposite. Thankyou.

You don't have to go to the Tweed to see if it has flooded. Just go to Spittal Beach to see the debris which has come down river and covers the beach for miles.

More of the debris swept down the Tweed after the recent severe flooding.

The beach looking north towards Tweedmouth-dog pooh less evident this far south
Saturday, January 15, 2005
A bloggee who is an attentive listener has asked about the fate of Farmer C’s application to build 4 houses (effectively 6 as the two he has planning permission for are yet to be constructed) The trouble about a community council in an isolated thinly populated area is that there is always the possibility of it being exposed to something approaching mob rule when discussing issues considered important by a local personality. Farmer C, twice rebuffed by the planners, is determined to get his way this time. He is popular locally, and in general people will tend to support development projects if they are pushed hard enough, are genuinely local but not actually next door. Farmer C can tend to be a trifle OTT with his assiduous lobbying and careful bombardment of his targets (in this case members of the CC) wit loads of dramatically and vividly written propaganda which would not disgrace the most colourful of estate agents.

At the meeting itself he had his claque of supporters including a couple of tenants and with most members of the public (20 plus-our community council regularily gets the biggest ‘audiences’ in Berwickshire) in voluble support of his scheme it would have been very difficult for any member of the council to oppose the idea in such a public forum. It was partly self inflicted intimidation as the chairman’s allowed the applicant to take part in such a meeting by responding to questions from the Councillors (not allowed at most other councils) and it might also have been more proper to ask Farmer C to have withdrawn during the discussion so as to avoid te possible embarrassment of a council member having to make critical comments to his face. Anyhow genuine support was expressed by the Council and it will now be up to the planners to have another look at the proposal and advice the Berwickshire Area
Friday, January 14, 2005
2nd day running to Ould Reekie. GNER train late because of burst water main at Peterborough, No tea in Tea Trolley (water lost in the burst?) Bought the Big Issue from the non-aggressive seller at top of Waverley Steps. He semed sad as it was his last one-perhaps he had no plans for the rest of the day. Gave 50p to the most deserving mendicant (the one with the dog in a flak jacket outside Jenners) The beggar snoozed on and only wakes for specie of £1 upwards but the dog's tail twitched thankfully. Raining so I bought an umbrella in the M and S sale. Sun came out as I left store. Lunch in a bookshop. I was enjoying my baguette when the very tall woman with tight jeans whom I had been covertly admiring in the queue approached my table to ask if the other chair was free. On my eager response that it was she smiled and moved on! Skin specialist was late. I had to sprint for return train. As I boarded it remembered where I had left the umbrella. Train stopped outside Dunbar for unspecified reasons and again just short of Berwick station. Wife just caught me in time (why was my mobile on?) to divert me to Safeways/Morrisons for one item. An irritating day.
Huttonian does not get many comments via the facility on the rant but here is a gem worth sharing:

Good Morning, Sir. I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...what a load of shite !!
nice and to the point.

I have identified the commentator and he is a person whose projects have strongly been supported by the rant. So I must have got that wrong. Time to change tack? Certainly not. He is a good bloke with good ideas so we will struggle on and the compliments will keep coming.
The Community Council spent more time than usual on Dog Fouling this evening-rather more than going through the motions as it were. It is becoming a big problem in Paxton-not so much in Hutton where we have a classier type of dog, naturally. One solution was suggested by our Borders Counsellor, Big Jim Conundrum F. Apparently the thing to do is to coat (he actually said sprinkle) errant dog pooh with peanut butter. It will then be gobbled up by the next passing canine. It will return home and be enthusiastically ill at both ends. Its owner will then go looking for the owner of the dog which passed the peanut butter flavoured turd and thus informal community policing will be launched-dog eating dog in a manner of speaking. This approach has worked well in the US and could take off here. You can get special peanut butter spreading devices which avoid the need to handle the dooings personally. Another thought was the appointment of a local dog control officer under the auspices of the Community Council. Some one broke into the Harry Lime theme during this discussion and there were the usual inappropriate puns about 'The Turd Man' but no volunteers for the job-reminiscent of the old ad 'Lady with small dog seeks post'
Thursday, January 13, 2005
What a change. Crisp sunny frosty windless morning. GNER allegedly on time after total disruption yesterday with wrong type of wind in air. So it is to Ould Reekie with its dog infested beggars, aggressive Big Issue sellers, persistent clipboard weilding opinion takers, opulent dentists and the delicious display only sandwiches in John Lewis to enjoy with cold cappuchino.
And then the Community Council (after a break of over two months) with the issue of Farmer C's six 'equestrian houses' to debate. They drive a coach and horses (well horses especially) through the structure plan, the draft local plan, Building in the Countryside policy and therefore stand a good chance of approval by the Berwickshire Area Committee. If Farmer C can get away with this then it will open the doors (floodgates?) for other landowners. Oops!
I am endebted to the Belfast Bloggee for the following:

Remember graffiti? It now provides the opportunity for the discerning shopper on the prowl for a bargain. Spotted on a 'Loyalist' wall outside Belfast:

For sale: Northern Bank £100.00 notes.....£40.00
Northern Bank £50.00 notes.......£20.00

Phone: *************

I have not shown the number in case every bloggee jumps on the bandwagon.

See previous rants for elucidation.


The newly designed Norn Bank £10 note. It is claimed that the IRA have more bank notes after the £22m robbery than the bank does-hence the new design.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Yes we survived the night and the Merse escaped the 120 mph winds of further north. My wind guage recorded gusts of about 65 mph and it was noisy enough for the wife and myself to abandon our south/west facing bedroom and camp in the 'milk'room off the kitchen on the north side of the old manse which was delightfully quiet. Norn Iron got another battering and we seem to have picked the one day that the Ferries were running for our crossing.

Tomorrow to Ould Reekie to reopen my lecturing season. 120 students promised and I hope that I will escape the sleepers of yesteryear. The Middle East is such a 'sexy' topic these days that the students tend to be enthusiastic about learning and 4pm is late enough for most hangovers to have dissipated. One student claims to have connections with Mossad and has already complained to the authorities that the tone of my colleague's lectures is too anti-Israeli thus rather breaking his cover. He may find me even a bit more unsympathetic to Sharon and co than he would like but as an Honorary Fellow I have no line manager and can say pretty much what I like. I also have a Middle Eastern royal amongst my class and she is likely to take exception to anything I say favourable about the Jewish state. So a no win situation. I will shortly be lecturing about her late uncle- a well loved Arab monarch. I did so in the presence of her brother two years ago and he grunted audibly every time I mentioned the late King-whether approvingly or otherwise I never found out. He repeated some of what he thought I had said in his exam paper and nearly failed. Grunting obviously had a bad effect on his other facilties so I hope for a more silent and attentive reception from his sister.

The rainbow is misleading. The storm was about to hit us hard. The shattered tree at the back was the victim of a previous near hurricane two years ago.

24 hours ago this path by the Tweed was well under water and a major flood warning posted. Now just passable
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
The Merse in the cold grey light of day is not as attractive as Couny Down in Norn Iron but it is home none the less. A bad start with BBC norn iron asking for a few well chosen words on Palestine at 7-10AM. A hard way to earn £80 and one is not too coherent at that time. At least I could pontificate from a warm kitchen rather than a draughty Radio car. I have not been flooded with calls of complaint-I wonder who listens at 7-10 am. I sometimes wonder who listens.

So now its back to soggy fields, flooded golf courses and attendance at the Community Council after a longish bronchial induced gap. Not to mention three lectures to the gilded youth of Edinburgh University coming up soon. We are also awaiting the Big Wind Mark 2-so far just the one slate down and not much evidence of tree damage. 100 mph winds threatened but hopefully North and West of here.

Hutton Haiku # 23 A

Back in the muddy
Merse after weeks
of Emerald
Thankyou Fish followers. A glorious day-calm sea-dry roads-no wind-warm(ish) sun. Landslip inHawick cleared before our arrival. Ferry two minutes late (not bad as it started off three minutes late) Club Class well worth the extra ten quid. Smoked salmon and white wine as the sea slipped quietly by at 50 mph. The usual deserted Borders Roads. Great to be back.

One sad note-or actually two. Our usual greasy spoon caff at Langholm mysteriously closed-apparently not yet recovered from the outside loos being demolished by a cross eyed and presumably (later) cross legged lorry driver. The next pit stop the Mosspaul hotel dark and silent so no tea and no carrot cake. So four hours without a cup of tea.

The BBC is promising 80mph mayhem tomorrow. But it may be losing its touch. We were promised blustery showers today but nary a drop of moisture and not even a tiny breeze. My all singing all dancing electronic windguage shows a windspeed of 87.5 mph during our absence. The guage on top of its aliminum pole is looking a bit battered and is at strange angle so it might not be in its right mind. Sort it out tomorrow, if I am spared.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Apparently we have found a hole in the weather. Bad last night and bad tomorrow and the Ferries are apparently running again. So here goes. Flooding in Scotland could yet be a problem although the roads are said to be ok. Meteorological terrorism rampant for tomorrow and Wednesday with more massive disruption lovingly and lingeringly forecast. The spirit of Mr Fish lives on. Hutton here we come (if we are spared)
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Two extra days in Norn Iron something of an unexpected bonus and we hope to get away tomorrow despite what Stena Line calls an 'Adverse' forecast. Floods are said to be subsiding in Scotland but with more heavy rain coming it could be a bit dicey especially as our main drag home the A75 is subject to a number of flood warnings.

It is now very windy and wet. To much so for golf and walking is not an option with forest parks closed as too dangerous with downed and half downed trees. More stormy weather promised for Tuesday and Wednesday so if we don't get aweay tomorrow we could be here for some time.

Hope to rant from the Merse.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Trapped in Norn Iron! Ferries grounded and indeed one has run aground in Cairnryan harbour up the lough from Stranraer. Force 11 wind forecast for Irish sea and we certainly had a noisy night. The Scottish roads sound bad with several closed by floods and others by lorries being overturned. Hutton and Paxton also sound bad and the sewers in Kanes Close have once again been unable to cope with the very heavy rain. Anyhow we will shelter this week end and try again on Monday. We will now and go out and look for the alleged storm damage-'several trees uprooted' claims the BBC smugly. Pics to follow. If we are spared

As promised. Huge branch down on the Promenade. Lucky it was at about 2am and not midday!

YMCA cut off by tree fall. Several trees down in Donard Park. Force 11 wind is very destructive

Donard Park. 11am. A scary place for a midnight walk.

MrP will recognise the Donard River in spate at the Donard bridge. (4" rain apparently last night) Another tree down to right of river.

And a lot of snow on the Mournes.Commedagh 'the mountain of the watching' to the right. Slieve Donard is obscured by Thomas mountain.
Friday, January 07, 2005

Planning Norn Iron Style. This is a very old cottage in King Street-probably built in the 1820s. A developer will buy it and ask for planning permission to pull it down and put up a desirable family dwelling. It will be refused as this is listed. So he will hold on to it for two years as it crumbles (it already has a hole in the roof) When it is a public hazard he will get permission to pull it down and hey presto! up will come a spanking new family de luxe villa. Outlay £20,000. Building costs £40,000. Sale of snfdlv: £250,000. Profit? Yes. Aren't we lucky to have a much better planning system in the Borders? Aren't we?
The BBC is up to its old meteorological terrorism in the spirit of the unlamented Mr Fish-threatening all kind of disruption on the high seas today and tomorrow-Gales, severe gales, storm force winds, flooding (not a problem in the Irish sea) even snow in Scotland tomorrow-all delivered with Fish like relish and slobbering anticipation. So we might have a repeat of our outward journey when we set off tomorrow. And after that the long drive to Hutton with our favourite watering hole at Langholm closed on Saturday afternoons following the destruction of their loos by a careless lorry driver. I am not sure of the logic of the cause and effect but since the loo incident their opening hours have been reduced-perhaps some thing to do with how long the average customer can be expected to hold his/her water. So we shall press on to the wild and remote Mosspaul hotel in its splendid isolation on the windswept and desolate A7 welcoming intrepid travellers with gallons of tea and mountains of carrot cake. In these dark canyons there
is no real daylight before March so a stop at the Mosspaul is a real treat. And the loos are inside and warm and welcoming.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
A Native German speaker has been onto the German version of the blog and comments : the German translation which I think must take place in China by Chinese people or maybe India. But I am very glad to read that you are coming back very soon on the Highfinstation* and that you hope the wind burns through to the Merse. Since the wind carried you in a car from the golf course it must have been very comfortable, was it a Mercedes? I suspect that the trnslation is instananeous and mechanical with no human, even in Mumbai, involved. I have failed to find eqivalent French, Arabic or Japanese Googles but presumably they exist. (Stop press -see below)

The wind has today driven me away from the golf course-70mph and impossible to stand and swing a golf club at the same time. So boring indoor persuits appropriate to Twelth Night-taking down the cards and decorations and chopping up the Christmas tree so it fits into the Brown Bin-the compost one for garden rubbish; as opposed to the Blue Bin which is for dry recyclables-not glass and not envelopes. The Black bin is for everything else. So much more organised than the Merse which has no recycling programme and indeed no wheelie bins at all. Everything has to be taken into England for productive disposal.

* Possibly the HSS High Speed Ship-certainly nicer in German!

If you want it in French go to:http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=en&u=http://huttonian.blogspot.com/&prev=/search%3Fq%3DMusings%2Bfrom%2Bthe%2BMerse%26hl%3Dfr%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26sa%3DG

Or in 78 other languages:http://c.asselin.free.fr/french/googleworldwide.htm

Enough Languages: Bloged
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
If you go to http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=de&sl=en&u=http://huttonian.blogspot.com/&prev=/search%3Fq%3DMichael%2Britchie%2BDuns%26hl%3Dde%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8

You will find the entire blog in German. Why? I have no idea but apparently the German version of Google translates the websites into that language. And it reads very well-some how more authorative-Perhaps it is in other languages too-I must surf and find out. The wind is so strong today that even Huttonian is driven from the golf course and I hope it will blow itself out by Saturday when we HSS back to the Merse. Anyhow we might get some good storm pictures later to day.
Multi-use hall plan at Whitsome

Just seen this story in the Berwickshire on-line. This seems an excellent project and there may be a lesson for Hutton in it. No calls of 'sacrilege' about combining a church with a community centre as when it was suggested that the Church in Hutton might have a wider role than it enjoys at present. We are lucky in having such a fine building and it is a great shame that it is used so little. Churches should be at the heart of a community, not on the periphery. Perhaps Hutton might not support a shop but a post office with a few basic groceries might work and this could be included in any newhall or community centre. And then there is the old school-if the campaign to keep itopen fails there is another building going begging.

AN AMBITIOUS project to create a multi-use hall in Whitsome took a step forward last week when councillors agreed to a £1,000 grant towards a feasibility study.
The Whitsome Village Hall Management Committee want to create a new building to house a shop, post office and church as well as serving as a new village hall for the community. The project is likely to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds but initially the committee is looking to raise just £8,000 for the study. It sought £1,500 from Berwickshire Area Committee's share of the Community Support Fund which is allocated on a first come, first served basis but councillors were only able to approve £1,094 which was all there was remaining in the pot for this financial year. The rest of the money will be sourced from other grant-awarding bodies. Whitsome Village Hall Committee chairman Liz Walthew said: "This is great news. We have a long way to go but if we can get a really thorough study done then we will know whether or not what we have planned is feasible. "If we don't do this then we are at risk of having no community buildings left at all. The village hall is on its last legs and it would cost as much to repair as it would to build a new one. We also feel the church could be threatened with closure in the next ten years and the shop, which is in a portable cabin, is in a poor condition. "We have done some of our own fundraising and also applied to Awards for All which we are hopeful about. We applied to the Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland but it had unfortunately run out of money this year itself but it was very interested in the project." The feasibility study will assess the suitability of the site proposed and enable architects to draw up plans to suit local residents. The hall committee also plans to make the new building as sustainable as possible which will make it cheaper to run for the parish. Ideas include solar panels, a windmill and sourcing their own water supply from a disused borehole. Committee member Ian Jarvie added: "There is wholehearted support for this in the village. We had a meeting the other week when 50 people turned up and basically they were saying 'yes, please get on with it!' We also carried out a survey to see what people wanted. "The village hall is in a poor condition, as are the shop premises and the church. The way people are thinking right now is that we're likely to lose all three if we don't do something. They are also not that accessible for disabled people and both the hall and church are outside the village. What we're proposing is a new building on a central site which more people will be able to walk to."He continued: "The new hall being built at Foulden cost around £400,000 in total and I think we are probably looking at the same sum but it's impossible to say at this stage until we have the study done. "We will have to look at lottery funding obviously but I understand that it is hard to come by at the moment which is why we need to have all the ground work in place." Foulden Village Hall Committee was granted £300,000 from the lottery's Community Fund (now the Big Lottery Fund) in October last year, the largest amount ever received by a Berwickshire organisation and the most the fund can award. The money put them within reach of the £400,000 target to replace the hall and building work started earlier this year. The remainder of the money came from The Scottish Executive Local Capital Grants Scheme, The Robertson Trust, Scottish Borders Council Community Support Fund and Lloyds TSB as well as local fundraising. The new building will have more modern facilities and will meet new disability access requirements.
30 December 2004"
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
At last the holidays are over and we can all return to real life. Thoughts beginning to turn back to the Merse and all the old issues due to get a new airing in'05. A bloggee reports somewhat disturbing news from Houndwood(?) where apparently planning permission has been given for a new group of houses, contrary to the draft local plan and 'outwith an existing building block' This approval was against the advice of planning officials and by elected councillors on the Area Committee which has power to approve projects up to a certain size without resort to the full council. The houses were not 'affordable' ones but nevertheless the decision has ominous implications for Paxton and Knowes Close and will be good news for the indefatigable Farmer C who has a group of four houses up for approval in Fishwick. They were turned down before but the Houndwood precedent will be encouraging.

The Freedom of Information Act came into force on New Years Day. I am informed that the equally indefatigable Mrs O is seeking to use the provisions of the Act to support her campaign to have the decision to close Hutton School overturned. If she can show from the internal correspondence in the Education Dept that the question was not properly considered this would strengthen her hand in dealing with the Scottish Executive.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Yes too many photos I hear you cry. Sorry but there is precious little to rant about on a non-Bank holiday in Norn Iron with only the banks closed and everthing else open for the sales except Newcastle does not seem to go in for sales except for the very old fashioned 50s emporium which has very delicately reduced 'ladies undergarments'-whether in size or price is not clear. I could give you a shot by shot account of my mornings golf match in a 60/70 mph wind-rather a lot of shots so it could be a long account. Once again we had the Championship Course (PBUI) to ourselves but the hen run was packed. Apparently the inland courses are all closed because of the recent wet weather so every one is rushing to the sandy sea side courses. The Championship course is £100 for a round (off season!) and the Hen Run is £50 plus on a Bank Holiday so I hope people have got their moneys worth. One guy who is pleased is the stalker with his alsation ball finder-he will do very well given the strength of the wind, the wildness of the golfers and the thickness of the gorse.

And here are some more photos but from foreign parts!

Popular demand requests latest photos from sunny Oz-Mr P and KB enjoying a NSW Christmas

This is what passes for a Xmas dinner in Oz. Probably not as nasty as it looks.

Eaten and drunk too well-hangover looming.
Sunday, January 02, 2005

St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and who expelled snakes from the Island, amongst other good deeds is supposedly buried in the Grounds of Down Cathedral at Downpatrick. Certainly the grave looks kosher enough.

This is the blurb. Click on it to enlarge image and you will learn all you need to know about the late St P

Downpatrick is not just about dead saints. It has a magnificent river from the sea to the old town now a pondage and major birdery.

Some of the major birds and a couple of captains. Sorry can't help with species. Either brown jobs or not in my book
Safely in bed by 10-15 on Old Year's Night thus missing the usual crappy sentimental coverage of New Year on the box-at least it was 9-15 am in Sydney, Australia so the New Year had been seen in ok. Newcastle was very quiet-no fireworks so we were glad to miss the bangs in Kanes Close, Paxton and the usual Scandahooligan pyrotechnics around the corner in Hutton. I am sure Freud could have explained obsession with fireworks-something to do with the male orgasm and penile inadequacy, I shouldn't wonder. But this may not apply in all cases but it is interesting that Men usually let off the fireworks-and indeed light BBQs which is part of the same syndrome-light my fire or something. We seem also to have missed post Fish thunder and lightning in Hutton as well. Norn Iron has been more clement but gales and blizzards are forecast. A collective hangover locally allowed me to have the Golf Course (PBUI) entirely to myself this afternoon. Thank goodness for Hogmanay and the excesses which are expected, if not enjoyed.
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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