Musings from the Merse
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Weather great here but bad (ie the usual)forecast for Mull. I hope the touring caravanners know this and will change their plans. Once behind a caravan you might as well possess your soul in patience and enjoy the scenery unless you have a ferry to catch and then you sweat. Fortunately there ferry itself-a standard non HSS type never reaches the open sea so the crossing is likely to be smooth and the wife's equilibrium undisturbed.

45 minutes is hardly enough time for the rowdier element to get completely stocious but it wil be dangerous if they do. Mull has very few miles of road which is not single track-they even have an A Road which is single track with passing places so the unsober proceed at every one else's peril.

We may be able to report from the Island itself but I hae me doots.

At great public demand the rant now has a straightforward comment facility. The original comments to Huttonian is being retained for anyone who does not want their remarks to be published but if this is the case please say so.

55 tomatoes picked so we are all packed for Mull-not forgetting the African strength anti midge and instant death to insects cream

And yes Australia 58 for 4. I hope BBC LW can reach the Inner Hebrides.
Friday, August 26, 2005
We set off for wild Mull tomorrow and so there may be a weeks gap in the rant unless Huttonian can find a cyber cafe in Balamory-indeed Broadband may well have penetrated those parts as part of the policy to bring rural Scotland into the UK cyber community. So here is hoping. Mr Deakin's on line forecast not promising: Saturday and Sunday continous rain interspersed with heavy showers but low midge count. Monday and Tuesday continous midges with splls of obscured sunshine and the occasional shower.

As they say in these parts 'See you later' . If we are spared, of course
Sadly the Berwickshire letter column does not publish all the letters to the editor-one from a 'deaf and very penitent resident of Coldstream' complains about a recent 'musical experience' which he likened to the' awful guttural sound of someone being spectacularly and violently sick to the dying bellows of the Cretan Minotaur'. He claims the noise set his tomatoes back several weeks and drove the birds from his garden. He wonders if this was some awful revenge 'for some terrible wrong carried out on their ancestors by the Reivers' He begs for mercy and entreats that the so called 'scene on the Green' is not inflicted on the 'streamers again.

The source of the noise is not mentioned. I suspect tyro bagpiper? A bagpipe played badly is a noise from Hell. Played well, to my uneducated ear, is not much better. From Purgatory perhaps?

The elder granddaughter is at her August pre toddler Olympics Training camp. Here she is on the eventing horse.

This is the dressage(nappies) must be worn) stage

Under three olympic footer. Ms.Z on the dribble despite the undulations in the pitch

The race for the ball . Z takes evasive action as the Welsh Wizard rushes to intercept

And the Welsh defender is totally deceived by a simple manoeuvre but gets 7.65 from the 7 touch judges for artistry

But cricket net pracrice was a chore too far and the stumps make good material for the 'Still in Nappies Javelin event'

And if anyone doubts that Ms Z has enormous potential have a look at this
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Sheriff Kevin is back on his bench in Duns and has had to deal with a 'touch of summer madness' (says the Berwickshire) This was to do with a 22 year old student who created a disturbance in Eyemouth and challenged the police to arrest him-which 'they duly did' He was then rearrested after being released on the first charge of disturbing the peace and having forcibly demanded to get back into the station was as 'duly' arrested again. 'A touch of summer madness' claimed his brief and apparently the demon drink was a contributory factor. Sheriff Kevin, perhaps in a relaxed mood after his hols deferred sentence for six months 'for good behaviour'; presumably in a future tense rather than the immediate past.

The good sheriff also fined a Reston teenage £150 for acting in a 'racially aggravated manner' in Eyemouth. No other details so it may be that she had fallen out with her English boy friend? Or it could have been one of those Polish plumbers who are rumoured to be working in the Chirnside area but I have yet to meet any one who has actually seen such a person. Very welcome they will be in these parts where good plumbers are like golddust and by the time you can get one to call, the problem has either solved itself or the entire house has been washed away from a massively enlarged and long neglected leak. It may have been (suggests an occasional bloggee) that the foreign plumber (if it was he) misunderstood an urgent request from the young lady

As Shakespeare may have put it :

There was a young plumber of Dee,
Plumbing a girl by the sea.
Said the Girl 'Cease your plumbing
I can hear some one coming'
Said the Plumber, still plumbing, 'Its me!'
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The BBC was at it again last night with its terrorism by weather warning. Angry red maps and streaming blue rain driven along by 'damaging' gusts. In the event we had a bit of a breeze last night and some drizzle this morning; now bright warm sunshine. Mr Deakin is now confining the storm force winds to North West Scotland where no one lives and no one else cares.

We will be caring quite soon however-at least further south on the West Coast on the Isle of Mull. It is said to have two claims to international eminence: the wettest place in the UK and the most midges. It is also has as its capital Tobermory which under a skightly different name, Balamory,has a cult following amongst the younger set who watch the TV programme with avidity. Hopefully the fans will be back to school long before we join the rush to the local equivalent of Morrisons. We plan to spend a week there with the party including a pre-Balamory infant and hope that Mr D will be kind and give us at least one nearly dry day-either its rain or midges and with light rain (a soft day as the Irish say) both.

Scottish Schools around here reopened yesterday. Sadly Hutton did not. It is looking sad and empty and the village is even more deserted than ever. But activity is on hand with the building of a new village hall starting, it is rumoured, next month. The old hall is being demolished and the new one built on the same sight. Not quite like the Cork precedent:

(a) Resolved to build a new gaol
(b) Resolved to demolish old gaol
(c)) Resolved to use material from old gaol for new gaol
(d) Resolved to use old gaol until new gaol is ready (Proceedings of Cork Council circa 1874)

It is hoped to use the defunct school as a temporary Village Hall and Post Office during the building work. Otherwise no post office for a few months and I doubt if it will ever reopen given the attitude to supporting tiny non viable outposts by central management. We will see.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Today, uncelebrated in Hutton as far as I can tell, is the 700th Anniversary of the death of William Wallace aka Braveheart aka Mel Gibson. Much is made of the gruesome manner of his public execution-hanged, drawn and quartered (one quarter being subsequently displayed in Berwick, and since mislaid) But the victor of Stirling Bridge (no Not Bannockburn :Unsighted of Ullapool) was not above a bit of the grue himself as witness the following extract from the BBC's history website:

"11th September Wallace and Murray achieved a stunning victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The English left with 5,000 dead on the field, including their despised treasurer, Hugh Cressingham, whose flayed skin was taken as a trophy of victory and to make a belt for Wallace’s sword."

It may have been that this little display of triumphalism made the English a bit cross and was a factor in how they eventually decided to punish (in their eyes) a prime traitor who was no Ned Kelly type peasant revolutionary with an aussie accent but the son of a laird and a Knight of the Realm.
The wife is on her way south leaving Huttonian to his own devices for over 24 hours including an essential visit to Sir Morrisons and the battle with the caravanners who will not really thin out until after the Bank Holiday weekend. Tesco have planning permission to erect a super store but this wont spread the caravan load as the shop will be in Tweedmouth outside the normal operating, when hung over, range of the van people who are concentrated north of the town and can reach Morrisons on auto pilot. Now the Scottish schools are back Morrison's are spared some aggro but the aggressive parents remain in charge of the under fives. One harassed mother struggling with two toddlers and a huge trolley of Chips, Coca Cola, Beer, Pizza and other wholesome ingredients for today's dinner or tea was yelling at one of them' Just wait until we get home and you'll get a good hiding' I am not sure if this is still within the provisions recent child protection legislation but the irate parent did not seem to care too much-neither, apparently, did the elder toddler of indeterminate sex-blue trainers but a pink tee shirt whose juice stained tongue was in the permanently stuck out position.

Message from the wife-train running late 'because of branches on the line in the Motherwell area' that's a new one and of little relevance as the train is now south of Newcastle? Anyhow it will be the excuse constantly trotted out as the caravan continues and any inconvenience caused, like missing a connection to Sydney, will be regretted.
Alert bloggees will recall how the rant was unearthed by Google when someone put in the string :Swinger in Stranraer called Bill. It is believed by one contact to refer to a rather desperate but comely lass who having arrived from Belfast on a cold, wet and windy night on the HSS Ferry and being too late (thanks to Mr Fish's weather in the Irish Sea) to find a hotel or onward transport was befriended in a down town bar by a guy who gave his name as Bill; He was very generous with his offer of a bed for the night and although lacking in the Full Scottish breakfast department was happy to share his sleeping facility with the comely castaway. Time passed as it does and she now finds that she is one father short two parents and is anxious to acquaint Bill with his paternal responsibilities. Sadly his phone number which he scribbled down on parting seems to be a digit short (and he appears to be ex directory anyway) and his e-mail mail box is constantly full. So the poor lass is very keen to get what help she can to find Dear Bill.

Blog-ed asks if my contact can vouch for the accuracy of this story. He can't but reckons it is a likely tale as any-so thank you Bill for your input and will try and look you up next time we are going to Norn Iron.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Question: What do the good folk of Berwick, Newcastle, Morpeth and Newcastle do on the morning after watching a BBC 2 Programme on Britain’s North East Coast?

Answer Go to Lindesfarne.

Question What if it is a miserable cold and wet day. Answer More go

And so it proved. (I took some English relis) Not a good idea despite slavishly following the advice given by the Hutton Think Tank’s publication:’ Two hours on Lindesfarne on a wet day in August':

Ignore out of town car park. Go to town centre. Fail to find parking place which does not have a triple yellow line. After 35 minutes return to car park. Park. Pay minimum fee of £2.Walk into town. Go for soothing cup of coffee and caramel shortbread in Lindesfarne’s only Café. Only instant coffee available after queuing for 20 minutes. Last Caramel Shortbread purchased by fat woman one ahead in queue. Go to Priory. Estimate length of wait 30 minutes. Buy guide book on Priory in that little shop that sells nothing except guidebooks and ice cream and whose last ice cream has just been purchased by the fat lady, aforementioned. Return to car park. Read guide book. Return to Hutton.

When I said that the Borders could not compete with the Highlands for scenery I had forgotten about the staggering cliffs and seascapes of St Abbs Head.These are the highest cliffs on the east coast of Great Britain.

And St Abbs itself must be one of the most spectacular seaside towns in Europe. A Mecca for divers. Very different from Killin

More cliffs. Hot and 2 miles from the nearest ice cream

A Divers Boat just off shore. Choppy, cold sea, queasy stomach, no thanks.

The Light House and the fog horn. St Ebba, the 6th Century Saint had her Kirk nearby.
Sunday, August 21, 2005

Looks nice in this weather but dangerous seas with lots of wrecks for divers to explore. Norway is a little way over the horizon.
Some people get to the rant by weird and wonderful routes-today a bloggee put into Google the search words ' swingers in stranraer called bill': try it for yourselves and 'Musings' is one of the choices you are faced with. (You will need to put the string in yourself after you have clicked on the url below)

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=swingers in stranraer named bill&meta=

I am afraid that the bloggee was probably disapointed with the contents of the rant he found (for January this year) -unless he (she) was looking for a fellow golfer in which case he may have been happy with stuff about the Royal County Down (PBUI) Any other kind of swinger will need to be found elsewhere. Sorry
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Another inescapable part of country life-the fund raising coffee morning. And for the first time (in 8 years) we are off to one of the best. The following images give the flavour as will the rich coffee cake we managed to buy before the masses assembled. Very similar to our Village Hall events-coffee, scones, sale of goodies and raffle but it is the setting of the garden and the post-Fish weather which made this event so memorable

What a setting for a Garden 'Coffee Morning' Just a pleasure to sit in the garden and scoff scones and shortbread. Quite a crowd there scattered amongst the shrubs and flowers.

The secret is to arrive early before all the goodies are gone-but we managed to acquire a coffee cake and some gingerbread. I felt guilty but not for long as it is all for a good cause.

The pond is an object of envy for Huttonian and they have toads. But then we haven't the time........

A bloggee has asked about the Huttonian pre Hutton house in Lunnon. Here it is. Bought with some difficulty (could not get a mortgage)in 1970 for £8200. Sold in 1997 for a bit more. Saw it recently and was pleased to see our roses and red currants still in place. And look a parking place outside-a rare sight in N10.

Just down the road from us was a bed sit at the top of no 23 . This was the lair of a mass murderer who killed several young men and being unable to bury their bodies in an area of land behind the building (guarded by a fierce donkey called Sebastian) chopped them up and boiled the pieces which he flushed down the loo. He was caught when he complained about the smell. Yes its much safer in Hutton despite our sewerage problems
Friday, August 19, 2005
Sheriff Kevin of Duns Court report is back on page 5 of the Berwickshire, but tanned and relaxed one assumes is still enjoying a spot of leave. Apart from a farmer crashing his car in fog and the usual drink driving cases the main item-meriting a wigging from his bench mate Sheriff Isobel McCall (and a £400 fine) is the case of a 'Village Fracas' involving a Greenlaw woman. Apparently she stuck out her leg in an attempt to trip up two girls in the village who had been involved in a 'dispute' with her daughter-and successfully 'hit' one of them whilst shouting and swearing. The girls' fathers came round' to 'remonstrate' with the angry mum and 'she had been drinking and there was a confrontationn' said the prosecuting fiscal. The police then turned up and the wheels of justice went into gear. 'My client snapped because of all the problems' said the defendant's brief. Sheriff Isobel urged amy upset parent not to get involved with their childrens problems in this way.

Hope to see Sheriff Kevin back on the bench next week. In the meanwhile I trust he is heeding the health advice on page 4 to 'cover up and beat the burn' and avoid skin cancer during the (no longer current) heat wave.Apparently 123 Scots are diagnosed every week with skin cancer-the fastest rising cancer in the country. Our southern relis will hardly believe this and anyhow never remove their fleeces when up in the Borders. So no worries for then mate
Bloggees with indifferent A levels (if there are any of those) may wish to rush to Northampton Uni which still has vacancies for its ground breaking (or ground pawing?) course on Philosophy and Equine Studies. This aspect of Philosophy has a long and respectable track record going back to Roman times. The Emperor Caligula scored highly ( a 2.1) in the practicals at Rome University by making his horse Consul but there may be less avenues for similar quadruped advancement in these political correct times. Admittedly the Borders Tourist Board have made a Border Collie a roving Ambassador-perhaps one of the BTB officials has a degree in Plastic Doggie Bag Technology and Canine Studies (Offered by the Borders Institute of Rural Manipulation at Duddo) and is putting it to good use. If you are not into horses or Dogs you might like to consider Media Studies with Aspects of Ribbon Manufacturing being offered by the University of the Inner Isles near Oban. But hurry.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Hardly in the Merse these days with all our gadding about-highlands, lunnon and today Embra. Ould Reekie is Ould Steamie this morning-damp and warm. Very bad news for the cricket fans as there is a Test Match scheduled between Scotland and Australia. which is likely to be rained off. A pity as if ever there was a chance for the Saltires to hammer the Aussies this is it. Even without Yasir Arafat who is rumoured to have been shot by undercover security agents disguised as Mid Off and Mid On for apparently wearing two bulky sweaters and vaulting the the pavillion gate on his way to the crease. I suppose it is prudent not to accept a degree of risk in these dangerous times but the police have explained that the Pavillion was under surveillance at the time and as he left it 'behaving suspiciously' waving his 'bat in an offensive manner' they had a hard choice to make.

Anyhow there seems now little chance of Scotland emulating the Irish side of 1950 something which got the West Indies out for 25 at Sion Mills and won by 9 wickets. They wisely decided to stop at that point (the Windies wanted a second chance) and repaired to the Pub for A Hooley the likes of since has never been seen again. And if Bangladesh (and England) can beat the Strines it should be no problem for the Thistles. Come on Mr Deakin-stop the rain; we know you can do it.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Up to Embra for a second bite at the Festival. Not an easy task to find good stuff on the Fringe-if it is good, word gets around and its booked solid. If you reserve seats on a hunch or a whim weeks ahead it is often rubbish and empty which makes for a miserable afternoon/evening/early morning. Any how we are going to Monty Python in French-yes, in French-Cette Parrote n’est pas morte-elle dorme seulement-or words to that effect. (My french spell checker ne marche pas) Plus a Jazz Quartet which was almost sold out so it should be good. At least we have not been tempted by ‘The Puppetry of the Penis’ two young Aussies wriggling their encyclicals –apparently . It has had mixed reviews –‘The performers rise to the occasion’ was one. ‘Stretching a point’ was a less enthusiastic endorsement. ‘Shadow Boxing without your Boxers’ (Gay News) . Next year perhaps.

I will look out for the favourite mendicant and his wee dog to see how he is beating off the seasonal competition. Last time I saw him he was looking tanned and fit presumably as a result of his two weeks in Monte Carlo following the Make Poverty History March which slowly filed past his pitch. Anyhow I hope he does better than the aggressive Bagpipe Beggars who are taking time off from their usual activity of selling Big Issues at knife point.

It is hard for places like Hutton, or even swinging Paxton, to compete as tourist destinations in Scotland when they are faced with typical highland scenes like this -several Monroes visible from down town Killin. Hutton Hill is not on this scale

Another view towards the Tarmigan ridge on the approach to Ben Lawers. Lough Tay is to the right

There it is. Haven for fishermen, canoeists and not too many speedboats.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Mr I has responded to the counter attack-see previous rants if you are not terminally bored of the whole issue by now. Actually the whole question of the effect of incomers, mostly English in this case, on local rural communities,although hardly the issue on every one's mind at the moment is potentially divisive and I wonder at Mr I's motivation in raising it in the first place; advice to Editor of the Berwickshire: 'This correspondence should now cease-ed' Get back to less contentious topics like who owns Berwick upon Tweed and whether a giant TV screen should be erected in Hutton to allow huge crowds to follow the Fourth Test Match. Anyhow for the last time here is the letter from this weeks Berwickshire.

- My letter of July 28 was a factual attempt to foster understanding of the contrasting attitudes of local people on the one hand and those who have moved directly from an urban background on the other.The document I quoted from was based on research prior to 1980 in Orkney, but, if anything, migration from urban areas is accelerating rather than abating. Nor is this a purely Scottish phenomenon; in parts of, until quite recently, rural England, whole villages have been overwhelmed by urban sprawl and little is left of their once unique identity. On holiday in western Ireland the conversation of locals invariably turned to the influx of people from Dublin, the UK and Continental Europe who are buying up much of the property which comes onto the market and immediately setting out to replicate wherever it is they are in such a hurry to get away from.Nearer to home, here in Eastern Berwickshire, a development of over 100 houses is imminent at Chirnside; at Ayton the sewerage facility is being upgraded to cope with a similar number and I doubt if Scottish Water are putting in that kind of investment on chance, while here in Reston another 100+ development seems to be very much on the cards.As well as replacing green fields and hedges with paviour-blocks and brick walls those developments are bound to make a marked change on the social structure of the area.It is against that background that I wrote the previous letter, because I feel it is critically important that there is input into the debate from interested locals.In this respect I have been heartened by the messages of support I have had from long-time residents from a wide spread area and mentioning a wide variety of organisations. As one lady, from well furth of Reston put it: "We have always welcomed new members and their skills and experience is usually invaluable, however, the empire building and competitiveness is changing the whole relaxed attitude to our work for the worse."Of course there are some who feel that my letter was a tailor made personal attack on them. That is unfortunate. I am trying to tread as impartial a path as possible, while still putting the concerns of many into words. I have never heard of your correspondent (August 4) Bruce Maclachan before, but his personal attack and objection to the publication of a view that does not conform to his own is quite deplorable. For goodness sake let us keep this debate out of the gutter.To mention only one of the symptoms I know of, we already seem to have a situation where people do not think it is in the least inconvenient to travel into the teens of miles rather than use a shop, pub or post office where the "attitude" bugs them. If that kind of problem cannot be tackled now then what is it going to be like in a couple of year's time, when we have hundreds of urban migrants in the area rather than the trickle we have had to date? Do you really want to bring your children up where there are "them" and "us" communities, with little or no constructive dialogue between them and the tensions that causes?Yes, Berwickshire is beautiful, and a great place to live. But this problem of the two communities needs quiet and thoughtful work if we are going to keep it that way.IRVINE INGLIS,Reston.
You can see why poor old Borders is just a short break destination when you compare it to the beauty and variety of the Highlands. Killin is a magic place and despite its being a major tourist destination it remains unspoilt. There are the caravanners who are a nuisance on the roads but they are unobtrusive in the village unlike the lot who swamp Berwick. George the Taxi tells me that the caravan dwellers in Berwick and Hagerston Castle add 20,000 people to the local population-in Killin it is probably no more than 500. There is no Morrisons here just a bog standard coop and it seems mostly uncrowded and no need for a one basket only check out. And you can look people in the eye and say 'Hullo' with no fear of 'Who are you looking at Jimmy' And if some people are a bit dour it is that they are just hoping for it to rain as the know they will have to pay for nice weather some day and are hoping to get over with it quickly.
Monday, August 15, 2005
In Killin. Warm-pullover a mistake, fleece an obscenity. Midges flown north. Locals cautious'Glorious day' said we to an elderly native' So Far' he said peering into the azure sky for the hint of a downpour. Rather like the same comment made by a Wee Free worshipper to his Minister: 'Yes' was the reply 'We will pay for it' Every silver lining must have a cloud attached to it in that dour philosophy. Enjoyment is a sin; enjoyment on the Sabbath is a mortal one. 'Cheer up' it will be much worse, hopefully! 'But it is hard to be gloomy on a day like this but I suppose I must enter into the spirit of things and do my best.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
From the sublime to the mountainous. A brief pit stop in Hutton and off to the Highlands for a few days. Mist, midges and quite a decent Malt. Cold wise Killin is to Hutton what Hutton is to Hackney so at laest two pullovers and protective anti damp clothing. Will report fully.

If we are spared
GNER have been updating their on train announcements:

This is your train team leader. Owing to the total destruction of of Coaches A and B by the wrong type of Passenger Action your train is now running Fifteen-one five minutes late. Customers with reservations on these two coaches are asked to relocate else where. GNER wish to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Paradise is your next station stop. This train will terminate there. Remember when alighting to take all your personal possessions with you. The buffet car will close in five minutes for stock taking.

Have a good onward journey. Once again GNER wish to apologise for this slightly late running which was caused by the wrong kind of Passenger Action just outside Newcastle.

Zoe R in training for the infants Olympics-this is the under three 100 metre push chair dash.

Finish in sight and no real competition

Another event-stone throwing for the under threes. Tough competition from the Palestinian infant team probably

ZR holding a mock up of the Olympic Torch for the infant olympics
Friday, August 12, 2005
I reproduce much of a Berwickshire article on the annual commemoration of the Battle of Flodden because of its curiosity value to any bloggee who has little idea of what goes on in te Borders. Some people might find it curious that a modern generation might want to celebrate a bloody and shameful defeat in a battle fought 492 years ago-and a battle that the Borderers-if Scottish historians are to be believed did not play a very distinguished role. Anyhow here goes:''

A RECORD 314 horses made up the cavalcade to Flodden on Thursday, led by proud 2005 Coldstreamer Andrew Ford.
On Thursday morning in the town's Market Square, the 15th Earl of Home charged Andrew; "To lead the cavalcade assembled in Coldstream to Flodden Field, the site of the battle, to commemorate the dead of both nations. Also to cut a sod of turf from the field to carry it back to Coldstream to symbolise the actions of Abbess Hoppringle of Coldstream Abbey."Then with the burgh standard bearing both the Coldstreamer's colours and those of the Home family, Andrew and his cavalcade were led through the town by Coldstream Pipe Band and a contingent of Coldstream Guards, to make their way over Coldstream Bridge onto English soil and then on to Branxton Hill and Flodden where the 1513 battle between England and Scotland resulted in over 10,000 soldiers dead and a generation of Scottish nobles wiped out.

A strong breeze presented Andrew with quite a challenge as he galloped up Branxton Hill with the banner flying to the cheers of the crowd but he led the 300+ cavalcade admirably and both rider and burgh standard made it safely.Once the riders had reached the top of Branxton Hill the Flodden Day service was introduced by Presenting Coldstream chairman, Jim Leifer, and the large crowd assembled enjoyed a passionate oration given by Alistair Moffat, a keen historian and former chairman of Scottish Television. Kelso born Alistair's knowledge and passion for Borders history, plus his dramatic delivery held his audience spellbound as they relived the fateful September day through a soldier's eyes when the Scottish and English armies met at Flodden, with disastrous consequences for the Scottish troops."As a Borderer I feel the intensity of the atmosphere of this place, as a historian I have some sense of its fatal importance, how the terrible events of September 9, 1513 shaped what we have become," Alistair told his audience."Battlefields have an atmosphere, a stillness, perhaps a memory of fear, of ancient slaughter, of immense oppressive sadness. In a translation of a Gaelic phrase, it is possible at Flodden to hear the music of the thing as it happened."For Borderers history is a personal matter, something we intuit and feel as well as read or listen to. We are all part of it.Our view of war nowadays comes from pictures and commentary we see on television but Mr Moffat reminded his audience that 500 years ago it was very different."Formed up in four battles of battalions on each side, 52,000 men - a huge number - stared across this undulating landscape, knowing that they were about to fight toe-to-toe for their lives. Soon they would be close enough to see into the eyes of their enemies, close enough to smell the sweat and blood, close enough to feel the fear and panic."Medieval armies fought in ranks, packed dense, and usually their lords and captains led from the front, their standards snapping and fluttering in the breeze. Often the oldest men stood forward with the younger lads behind or beside them. Battles were fought in family groups."Gripping their pikes tight, endlessly checking their gear, fidgeting, staring across this little valley, brothers stood side by side, uncles told nephews to stand fast, cousins encouraged each other."Each man looked to his right, to his right hand man. And this habit is the origins of a long tradition in the Borders. Because most men are right handed, they carry a shield with the left and a weapon with their right. That means that when they raise a sword, an axe or a pike to strike, their right side is exposed. And so they looked to the man on their right to protect them with his shield. That is why Andrew Ford relies just a little more on Stuart Robison than he does on Richard Dickson."It is said that Flodden was a battle waited upon in silence, the usual barrage of insults and taunts were not exchanged between the Scots and English. Only the roar of artillery and the blast of trumpets broke the tense quiet."Lords Home and Huntly and their captains in the front rank will have seen it before and shouted over their shoulders to their men to stand fast and keep their courage. "Before the first drum sounded the advance of the battalion of Borderers and Highlanders, it is likely the Gaelic speaking clansmen did a unique thing. They began to recite their genealogy to remember who they were and it was why their chiefs had brought them to Flodden to fight."At first Flodden shaped to be a Scottish victory."But when the battalion led by the Earls of Errol, Crawford and Montrose and that of King James IV advanced, matters began to go against the Scots. They were badly disordered by the boggy ground and the stream at the bottom of the hill. Crucial momentum was lost, their 17 foot pikes became unwieldy and the English began to work their shorter bills and poleaxes to deadly effect."Even though King James's battalion pushed the English back 200 yards, he was quickly surrounded and the slaughter began."In medieval warfare men were rarely killed outright, or even quickly. When a heavy blow or a cutting stroke was taken, it was vital to stay upright and often men wounded in this way would charge the man opposite and like a wrestler or tired boxer, use him as a support. Many battles were a matter of who pushed, shoved and hacked the hardest."When a man was knocked down, the opposing ranks trampled over the top of him, cutting and kicking him as they went. Often it was the second or third rank who bludgeoned a man to death or unconsciousness.

"When it became clear that Flodden was lost, many Scots turned and ran for their lives. These were mostly the men in the rear. King James's battalion was so large that it had 20 ranks but those at the back were usually poorly armed and had no captains to lead them."When they saw the Scottish pikes going down in front of them and the beginning of a terrible slaughter, they scattered. Very few prisoners were taken at Flodden - only 400 - and very many died, perhaps more than 10,000 in total."Flodden resonates with us now - not because we are Scottish Borderers and were badly defeated. It was the scale of the slaughter which printed itself on a collective memory. So many died - a whole generation of Scottish aristocrats were virtually wiped out."Pondering the question why so many Borderers and Scots were fighting that dreadful day, Mr Moffat concluded: "The dismal truth is that they fought because they were forced to - by their lords and masters.* It was for them futile - as almost all wars are."We come here today not to celebrate an ancient glory but to remember a terrible defeat. And perhaps to strengthen our resolve never to see its awful like again."Once the Coldstreamer cut a sod of earth from Flodden Field he led the horses and riders back to the town, and they were once again met by a large enthusiastic crowd.The day's formal events drew to a close on the Tweed Green when Andrew, accompanied by his left and right hand men Richard Dickson and Stuart Robison laid the sod of earth from Flodden, on the site of the Abbey where Abbess Hoppringle brought back the bodies of the Scots noblemen who died at Flodden, to bury them on consecrated Scottish soil. "

If it was so futile I wonder why it is still so celebrated? Give the whole thing a decent burial and, as they say, move on.

* Questionable revisionism. The Borderers-on both sides, fought for loot. And many of those those on the Scottish side left at half time with their booty-apparently a major contibution to the defeat of King James army. I very much doubt if 16th century borderers would do anything for their Lords and Masters unless they felt that there was something in it for them

is the url for finding the rant in French. That is according to a French bloggee. If you have nothing better to do? And the links will go into French as well-chenk it out Disgruntled Commuter
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Huttonian could not resist this letter from today's Berwickshire -0n line version:

QUOTE, - On July 8, 2005, my wife and I were driving in Berwickshire. The time was roughly 23.20hrs when our car lit up with a light so intense I wondered what on earth could be generating such a beam.
It appeared on our left hand side radiating through the trees, the intense light dimmed to reveal a UFO, hovering around tree height, directly ahead of us, no more than 100 metres away.
As I stopped my vehicle the UFO moved off towards us, moving slow at a constant speed as it approached us. I thought it was strange the lack of any noise, but a dull drone could be heard when almost overhead.
Just then a vehicle’s lights appeared in my mirror so I moved off and pulled in only seconds later, to observe the UFO dip over the treeline (could the driver of that vehicle please contact me on 018907 52043, a single male driving north on the A1823 between 23.00-23.30).
After witnessing this phenomena my wife and I experienced health problems, including extreme fatigue and obvious eye trauma. A photograph was taken but unfortunately only shows three distant lights against a black backround.
We would appreciate it if anybody has experienced any kind of UFO phenomena to contact:TheBordersUFOs@aol.com.

So this ufo joins the other great local mysterious sightings including the elusive Hutton panther.
But I wonder, more prosiacally. if this can be the Laird's new all singing, all dancing, over head cable severing Harvester which plunged us into the dark ages a few days ago. (see previous rant and letter from the Laird on the village notice boards). Mind you the site is not near Paxton but it could be a close relation. THe gismo is big and the bright light could be a search light mechanism to ensure that when it has a mind to cut overhead cables it doesn't miss its target.
Hutton Think Tank is on the case.

Or is it still 1 April in the Merse?
Three days is usually enough in Lunnon in any one spell although it has its strong points:particurarly people, lots of them. Not a feature of Hutton especially with the school closed-you might see two humans at the same time but this is rare and never at a bus stop. London heaves in a way you might replicate in Berwick in the middle two weeks in August-but once the Scottish schools go back and the caravanners follow the swallows the town resorts to its useful peaceful crowd free lassitude.

Lunnon in August has severe drawbacks-the humidity, the heat and the palbable noise. The streetwise here avoid the sunny side of the street-in the Merse you actively seek it out removing the outer fleece as you do so. The only way in Hutton to get the Lunnon experience is to wait for a sunny day, go into the greenhouse, shut the door having had the hose on 'fine Scotch mist' setting for the last 30 minutes and singe along with the tomatoes.

And the noise-every window is open in smart suburbia and slightly less smart Palmers Green and a thousand radios, CD players, TVs blare forth-very occasionally muted by the discreet charm of BBC steam commentary on the current Test Match. Add that on to the traffic and the mating calls of the Big Issue vendors and the Hellish Hubbub of Dante's Inferno is an also ran.

And the light. There is no night in the Big Smoke. Is it a starry sky? What quarter of the Moon? Don't ask, don't know, can't tell. And the youngest daughters Eastern European neighbours keep a fierce security light on all night penetrating, effortlessly, two layers of curtains ensuring that even a burglar with cataracts and forgotten his spectacles can see exactly what she (a cat burglar?) is doing.

And so on. Comparisons are odourous. London is good for seventy two hours, tops.

A bloggee complains that the rants are obviously written in a hurry. You bet. With the wife prowling around like the Hosts of Midian with 27 e-mails unwritten and only one computer with a faster upload speed of 2400 bps functioning time is of the essence. No such problem today with the wife pillaging Brent Cross but new obstacles in the form of a non functioning Spell Checker as this lap top has an aggressive anti pop up device and is one of those non mouse operations which I have never really mastered. But a wonderful Broadband speed which enables the rant to be finished long before I have. And I have. For the moment
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Big Smoke is hot and humid. Sticky and smelly. GNER early despite 'having a slow freight train in front' after Berwick. Loos functioning and clean despite tfain being more or less full. I looked arround for the tense atmosphere at Kings X but apart from a few more pollis than usual and non stop security announcements all seemed much as before nor was the wife stopped and her large bag searched despite answering. the description of the token white granny who must be occasionally stopped so as to avoid accusations of racism Mind you we have yet to venture on the Tube-of that later if we continude t0 be spared.
Sad to leave the peaceful Merse on such a nice looking day and brace ourselves for the heat and dirt of Lunnon Town and the aggressive Big Issue vendors. GNER has been behaving well since they regained their franchise but the loos continue to give problems-usually out of water by York and blocked by Newcastle. But we are going south, the train starting in Embra so with a bit of luck all will be smelling like Roses when he board (or more likely GNER's own Air freshener, double strength deals with the midges as well)- a quick relief and then hold your water until sampling the facilities in N13. Can't wait. But will have tro.

Some one asked what are nights like in Hutton? The bloggee was not making a very personal enquiry about nocturnal activities (or so he said) but about what it looks like with the sun sunk. Dark one could glibly respond. But if you are wanting night skies undistorted by street lights and lit up housing this is the place. View from the patio at 10pm. Click on image for full effect
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Yes it is good to have Mr Deakin, with his sharp suit, kindly manner and acceptable ties in charge of our weather-a great contrast to the late Mr Fish (not 'late' as in deceased but late as in retirement, out of harms way) Take to day. Through drizzle to Duns at 7am(I have to admit that the forecast said 'Dry' No possibility of rain but I had faith) Ist Tee no rain. 18th Green no rain. Rain started in Duns Service Station after I had filled the tank making another Saudi rich. Rain stopped as I pulled out the shredding machine and just after I had finished and the wife had called out the magic word 'Coffee!' it started again. In Mr F's time it would have been blazing sunshine and high flying swallows until I had dragged out the heavy shredder from behind the boiler, maneuvered it into position, found the lead, attached the circuit breaker, checked the fuse, fastened on the extension bit, put on the ear mufflers, donned the heavy industrial gloves, the sun glasses and the Aussie Hat -and emptied the branches from the carrier to beside the shredder and then out the garden canvas carrier under the Shredder's shredding ejector and swish down would come the rain promising a choice of death by drowning or by electrocution-process in reverse, shredder away and out would come the sun and the danse macabre would go on its jolly way. Thankyou Mr Deakin.

Tomorrow to the big smoke for a spot of grand parenting and daughter cherishing. First visit since 7/7 and I am not relishing too close an acquaintanceship with London Transport. Lighting does not strike twice is a kindly thought but I am not too worried about lightning. More from Lunnon if I can get access to a computer Chez Z and , of course, if I am spared, he said with feeling
Back from a hot sunny day in Embra. Yes hot but not hot enough to melt the rails this time. First day of The Festival-tout Japan there and half of Dunbar. Huttonian and the wife turned out of our seats by an official after Dunbar as apparently our seats were reserved from there and the ancient couple booked on them were too terrified to tackle the wife and had to involve a uniformed member of the 'Train Team' to have us removed. Awkward as I was talking to Australia at the time (as one does after Dunbar station) and in the haste of our ejection dropped the Fringe tickers all over Coach C-luckily the wife was behind and retrieved the contents of the plastic bag that I was carrying upside down. Irritating-one assumes when boarding at Berwick that all reserved seats have been vacated further south and who would ever think of rerseving a place from Dunbar, for goodness sake.

Anyhow the Fringe was brilliant and once you escaped from Princes Street heaving with tout Japan and half of Dunbar the going was good on the sun drenched streets. I saw our favourite mendicant and his wee mongrel looking very natty in the their post make poverty history march glad rags-he was in his Scottish gear as was the wee dog. He had surrendered his usual pitch to one of those aggressive mendicant kilted pipers who play a quick tune and then milk the surrounding crowds who had only stopped because the pavement was blocked with other crowds trying to go in the opposite direction-both lots of people desperate to get out of earshot of the piper. The artist of last year was not around. He had an interesting technique:-give him a good handout and he will very sweetly play 'Will Ye no Come back again?' in gratitude. Ignore his outstretched pillow case and you will get the same refrain with the emphasis on the no and forget the question mark. He probably made his pile last year and is vacationing in foreign parts. Possibly Japan (or Dunbar)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Huttonian is not greatly into birds except those rather pretty ones which the wife feeds on the patio and occasionally get carried off by marauding kestrels. But a walk along the Tweed can throw up some attractive sights for the keen ornothologist. Good place is to turn east at the English Scottish Border on the south bank past Paxton House and head deeper into England. It was heartening to see so many Lapwing -said to be endangered and several unidentified floaters-the two geese may be a domestic variety out on an away day cheap return. Click the images to enlarge. Anyone who can identify the ducks, please keep it to themselves. I am interested but not that interested. Thanks.

A perfectly ordinary Tweed Shieling you would think (if it is still called 'shieling' just insidfe England) Complete with the usual bunker for fishing equipment, stun grenades, shaped charges and old copies of the Berwickshire

But Hutton Think Tank and Fishwick Special Branch analysts are puzzled. What is the tree house like structure to the left of the top of the roof? A look out for salmon coming upstream. No-blocked by ancient trees and no view at all. A command post? Possibly-it is after all just 50 yards inside England.

Here it is close up. No access to it at all unless you are Jane (or Tarzan) Perhaps Dr Who uses it a week end phone box. Suggestions please to Fishwick Special Branch, c/o Dead letter box, just above Chain Bridge, Scotland TD 15
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Well the cricket very nearly ended in tears before virtue, allied to a pathetic wimpishness, just triumphed. Attempts to persuade the wife to add an extra few words to her intercessions at Church in support of the English team church fell on deaf ears and this may help to explain the narrowness of the result.

I have just led a spontaneous demonstration in the street of Hutton rejoicing on this historic victory over the World Champions. As usual I was alone.

The electronic Berwickshire has now caught up with itself so Huttonian is able to share the text of the letter published last Thursday in response to Mr Inglis' 'provocative and grossly offensive' (quote-unquote) epistle about incomers to Berwickshire of the week before

SIR, ,-
As an ‘urban incomer’ or ’migrant’ of just two years standing and therefore having only recently been introduced into the lifestyle and ways of rural Berwickshire, am I alone in finding the letter submitted by your correspondent, Irvine Inglis, which was published last week under the title ‘New residents inexperienced in niceties of small communities’ - not only provocative but grossly offensive? Indeed, with its pernicious reference to ‘English backgrounds’ it could also be construed as having racist undertones into the bargain.I notice that Mr Inglis has used the rather clever ploy of hiding behind and quoting somebody else - in this case the medium of an academic - thus ensuring not only respectability for all the observations contained, but also ensuring that the descriptions used to illustrate the ‘urban incomers’ cannot be directly attributed to himself. However, be that as it may, we know what he is thinking and where he is coming from and it makes for some quite unpleasant reading.For Mr Inglis’s information I am Scottish and not English. I live in a small community to the west of Duns where my wife’s late father was one time minister of the parish. In my brief time here I have done my utmost to promote the interests of my neighbours and local business in a positive proactive light. I may well be using a more assertive, explicit style of communication to help them get their messages across. But happily, thus far I haven’t heard one word of complaint about the techniques I employ.What on earth is wrong with introducing new ideas and initiatives if the end result is going to be of benefit to everyone concerned in the community? Would Mr Inglis rather people remain thirled to the ‘aye been’ philosophy of the past? I rather think that not only does he do a great disservice to the ‘urban incomers’ but he is in danger of doing a distinct disservice to his fellow Borderers also, who must in a modern society welcome the challenges which lie ahead of us all.Incidentally, Mr Inglis might find it ironic that the chairperson of our local community council is an English woman who works tirelessly on behalf of all of us in the communities of Gavinton and Fogo.BRUCE MACLACHLAN,Iona Cottage,Gavinton

If Huttonian may be allowed his own ps it is merely to point out that several other community councils including our own dear Hutton and Paxton have incomer-indeed English chairmen. And two councils whose borders march together have the honour and distinction to be chaired by people from 'Gods Own County' Yorkshire which remains rather reluctantly in England. But not for long if the YLF has anything to do with it.
There are drawbacks in living in these necks of the marshes when great events of national importance are unfolding. Hutton lacks cricket enthusiasts. I was once asked by someone in Paxton about forming a local Hutton and Paxton team and had to report that present company excepted we were eleven players short of an, er, XI. So should I rush out into down town Hutton to seek out a kindred spirit to share today's good news from Edgbaston and to look forward to even better news tomorrow I am likely to draw a blank. Even with a packed pub at Paxton it is unlikely that the news that England need only to take two Australian wickets to win a famous victory will raise more than a polite eyebrow before the conversation returns to the Scottish Football season already well and drearily underway. Yet Scotland recently won the ICC cricket tournament, and is now the first amongst Cricket's minnows. An astounding feat and you would think that they would talk of little else at Fogo or Unsettlington. Even the appointment of a Borders Cricket development officer-page 124 in the Berwickshire has not even raised a yawn amongst the local cognoscenti who are utterly uncognoscent about many of the finer points of life and what can be finer than Australia 176 for 8 chasing 282? So I have to leave excited messages on reli's answer machines and scan the Australian press on line in the (vain) search of reports of mass suicides to burn off my excitement-silent triumph in an empty room is not very satisfactory although the wife, bless her, does her best to look pleased glancing over the knitting of indeterminate article no 25 for a grand child, towards channel 4 as yet another Australian batsman takes that long walk back to an early bath and a late tinnie.

Mind you it could all end in tears.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
A touch of Third World living visited Hutton and Paxton when the villages were plunged into darkness by an unannounced power cut. 'Plunged into Darkness' is a bit of an exaggeration as it was in the early afternoon and we did not notice the lack of electricity until I went to check England's progress at Edgbaston on Teletext. I was then urged by a neighbour to report the 'fault' to Scottish Power who did not seem to be taking the situation seriously having asked his wife if she was 'sure' that it wasn't a fuse, dearie. By the time I had got through 'your call is important to us' and 'thankyou for holding you are near the top of the queue' 200 times they seemed more switched on, if that is the right expression, and I was told that a 'fault team' were rushing to the scene. We went off to walk the wife and power was back on stream by the time we returned two hours later during which time three more Australian wickets had fallen in a satisfactory fashion.

We later heard that it was unfair to blame the poor local infrastructure, lack of investment, local corruption, World Bank indifference etc-one of the Lairds harvesting machines had severed a power line in a field next to Paxton. How SP did not know from their clever computers that there was a major problem, I have no idea but perhaps they did and had not told the nice young men who man the phones on the 'Customer Help Line'. Anyhow the Laird confessed all apologetically to the Friday nighters in the pub and all is well. The poor machine driver must have got a bit of a shock-metaphorically, fortunately and was presumably saved from harm by the earthing effect of those monster tyres they all seem to favour.

Huttonian was a member of this club for a couple of years but found it not a friendly place. This warning notice is therefore quite apt as some of the players are very wild and even worse on a golf course.
Friday, August 05, 2005

Gotcha! There you are Doubting of Doddington. I agree still not very impressive evidence for the Hague. But a start. And even at that height-6'7" Noisy.

Huttonian is still in quest of evidence of the harrassment by low flying aircraft which can make gardening in particular a distressing business. There were a lot around yesterday so I took the camera out whilst gooseberrying. Of cours none came until my coffee break when two screamed past virtually under the apple trees but by the time I had remembered that the camera was in Bush No 2 the pilots had landed and were into their pre lunch g and ts. Later I had my bum brushed by another which had sneaked up behind me from the front garden-caused me to spear my head on two large thorns and by the time I had extricated my self from the prickles (Bush no 3) and switched on the camera, found 'landscape' and 'sports' the plane was away towards home and a post prandial Port. (Taylors 47-these guys stint themselves not) The Plane can be found in the picture *if you magnify it enough but hardly evidence for a general court martial-Section 40 of the RAF act: 'in that he, or she more likely, did maliciously terrify and put into great fear, an innocent civilian going about her/his(more likely) lawful business by flying in a menacing manner a few feet above said civilians unprotected rear protusions in a manner appropriate in Northern Iraq or other hostile territory but quite offside in Her Brittanic Majesty's realm... etc etc etc.

The struggle continues.

* Honest, guv. It is there and is not a speck on the lens. Try harder. Blog-ed

A bloggee has asked for the full text of the letter from A Mr Inglis referred to previously in the rant. Huttonian is glad to oblige as the Berwickshire has just put it up on its website- a week late-perhaps by popular demand. In today's paper there is a very strong rebuttal by a fellow from Gavinton under the headline 'Offensive' letter does great disservice to the community' The writer, a recent 'migrant' he describes himself, a Scot, finds the anti-English comments -racist undertones-particularily unhelpful and there are some trenchant comments about welcoming new ideas and initiatves into local communities rather than having people 'thirled' to the 'Aye been'* philosophy of the past. I hope to put up the full text of this response when the Berwickshire catches up with itself. In the meanwhile here is the test of the originalletter in question:

SIR, - I came across this quote from a University of Aberdeen Publication recently and, while I'd be the first to admit there are some dissimilarities between Orkney Island communities and those in rural Berwickshire, I do think the gist of the piece has a lot of relevance for many of us as we welcome so many new residents who are quite inexperienced in the niceties of living in fragile, small communities.The paper is Urban Incomers and Rural Change: the Impact of Migrants from the City on Life in an Orkney Community, by Diana Forsythe, Sociologica Ruralis 1980, p. 287.."The majority (68%) of the urban migrants are English in background.....Most moved directly from urban centres. They invariably explain their move by asserting the superiority of rural over urban life [and] have no ties of kinship or marriage with any member of the community....""Orcadians share a distinctive style of public behaviour. Socialisation is in effect socialisation for independent but non-leadership behaviour. Islanders take pains not to draw attention to themselves, not to exert authority over other people in public, and not to overtly express conflict. Even when disagreeing with each other their speech is quiet.... The urban migrants on the other hand are used to a more assertive, explicit style of communication and to more formal methods of decision-making. Many of them react to the Orcadians' indirect style as inarticulate or even backward, and in response become even more directive themselves. The islanders respond to their directiveness with silent non-cooperation. Despite the incomers' desire to fit into the community, leadership qualities which may have stood them in good stead in an urban setting impede communication with the islanders. Since the incomers are insensitive to the islanders' indirect methods of social control, and the islanders resist the more direct methods of control practised by the urban migrants, a self-perpetuating gulf in communication divides the two groups, causing frustration and irritation on both sides....""One result of this struggle has been the replacement of consensus decision-making .....at general meetings.....""This conflict represents a direct confrontation between two ways of life;the personal orientation, informal control, and reliance on local standards [and family ties] characteristic of a small, face to face community, and the impersonal orientation, formal control, and standardised rules characteristic of urban life..."IRVINE INGLIS

* Rough translation : 'It has always been like that' Blog-ed
Thursday, August 04, 2005
It was not the best of days to be in Embra-there is a sort of freneticism on the streets in the week immediately before the Festival-street performers -uni-cyclists, escapologists, self-mutilators, contortionists and other weirdies honing up their skills before the great jamboree gets under way this coming week-end. Its the usual extract -the- Michael from the spectators patter, with the spectators all desperately enjoying themselves as if it is some how shameful not to be enthralled by the free Street Theatre-free, only, that is, if you manage to avoid the jangling donation tins which are constantly circulated by the entertainers' accomplices encouraging you with cries of 'come on folks show your appreciation' Native Scots and especially Embra people are adept at melting away two arms lengths ahead of the advancing tin and miraculously materialising three arms lengths behind it. The visitors mostly at this stage from the Far East including the 'first official tourists' from the PRC are less adept and are usually a bit over generous in their donations as they scrabble through their back packs, scrotum shielding money belts-Japan's answer to the Sporran-and plastic Mac (scottish assembled) pockets for unfamiliar specie. And I am not sure that I want to show much appreciation for the stomach turning contortions of people who can thrust one leg under a noisome armpit, the other around the back of a dirty neck and the arms halfway up some other part of a convoluted anatomy whilst keeping up an inane patter, usually in an Australian accent.

In the middle of all this the rain started and the buses went on strike-some dispute coming to a head at the most inconvenient time imaginable for fare paying customers. Huttonian went off to be unstitched and the face did not fall off. He returns on Monday to see dance groups from Foreign Parts-inside and not out in the by then heavily infested streets. If he continues to be spared, of course.

It is not surprising that many Embra folk leave town for August replacing theParisiens who have left town for Embra. Any slight domestic inconvenience is partially compensated by letting out their accomodation at unbelievably high prices but then every cloud etc.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Its frighten the horses time again as Huttonian is off to Embra to have his face unstitched and all the accumulated gore removed by beautiful, gentle, Polish nurses. As long as my face does not fall off, or apart, I will be able to face the world again and actively support the wife's planet saving activities by returning to the Golf Course and the Tennis Court never mind the Gooseberry bush and the bramble patch. The journey up will be once more be an ordeal- ignore the curious stares (pity and disgust?) but if the Plastic Surgeon has really done his stuff the trip back will be glances of admiration and (disguised) lust from randy septuagenarians, distaff variety-although after 70 it is sometimes not easy to tell the difference.

More later, If I am spared

The trouble with gooseberries this year is that there are too many. This bush (one of about 12) has already been picked by Huttonian and The Wife but to little practical effect.

And the other problem is that friends and neighbours don't seem to be keen on helping us out by taking some. Strawberries: Yes, Raspberies: certainly, Black Currants Please but Gooseberries-well, er, we seem to have rather a lot of fruit this year. So any one who would like some contact Huttonian via the usual channels. First come, first served. Bring a carton.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
It is (sometimes) salutary to see ourselves as other see us, if only via comments on the clemency of our weather. If you pursue the link to Disgruntled Commuter -right hand side of this page and look at the comments on the most recent rant the words' Berwick upon-Tweed' will leap out on you from someone with a obvious soft spot, presumably on or near the posterior-hence the rough Tweed fixation referred to. You will also see remarks about the local bus service which to someone used to the sophisticated and effete London public transport must seem a bit of a waste of (moving) space. Up to a point Lord Cropper. You can say what you like about the No 32 Bus-and if you are on board you will be talking to yourself-but not intergrated it isn't. It is carefully timed to coincide with at least one train if (a) not necessarily the train you want(b) Not necessarily with a train going in the direction you want but, you can bet your last Scottish Pound Note that within 20 minutes of your bus entering the building site which has been BOT railway station for the last year or so, at least a train will arrive(and stop moreover) Thats Northern common sense and sophistication for you.
I am intrigued by the search words put into search engines and which unexpectedly find this rant. The latest is the string Trysting on the GNER-try it for yourself if you are at avery loose end. Google is almost omniscient but 'trysting' was a new one for this search engine. Do you mean 'Resting on GNER' it asked anxiously. Any how the would be tryster could only have Musings of last August to explore his/her fantasies and we may never know if wishes were fulfilled. 'I'll take GNER and ye'll take Virgin and I will be in Scotland afore thee' the modern romantic bard might write in an off moment. Certainly if it was a tryst that the poet/songwriter had in mind his thoughts would surely turn to Virgins, with everything pristine and opening and shutting effortlessly rather than the raddled roue GNER with its creaky drafty doors and the loos which only open effortlessly when you are ensconced on the seat, trousers hiding ankles and just out of reach of the handle as 4 Chinese Tourists in identical bile green plastic macs burst in in search of relief.

I hope that the middle daughter and husband are enjoying their return to Lunnon with a song in their heart and only a teeshirt on their back. South of The Border they will be free to shed the fleeces and pullovers and relax warmly in the opulence of GNER First Class special off peak week end service which permits you to use the First Class Carriages but not the First Class Waiting rooms at Berwick Station. A pity as Berwick's is, I am told, a sight worth dying for but has not actually been used since 02 when it was opened to the (First Class with proper fully paid up no Apex rubbish tickets) Public. Ironically they left as the weather was heading back to 'we will never see a summer like this again' temperatures. The rest of the week end was, frankly, dreich andthe middle daughters pithy comment in the visitors book: 'Freezing' was for once an understatement. To our traditional farewell, neo Burnsian 'Will ye no Come back again' I fear the response is likely to be 'not Fishing likely'. Not until we have traded in the Old Manse for a modern semi, with double glazing, Gas fired central heating, 15" insulation in the loft, low ceilings, tiny rooms, underfloor back up heating, draft excluders, cavity wall fibre fillings, heated swimming pool and in Surrey.
Monday, August 01, 2005
A bloggee has commented: ' It is all very well asking incomers (by which the letter writer in the Berwickshire to whom Huttonian referred, with his analogy of the Orkneys ,infers are the English townees) to be sensitive to attitudes and practices of the comunities within which they settle-how about asking the locals to be themselves sensitive to the needs, aspirations and activities of the incomers? And why does the letter writer feel that now is the time to unearth a twenty year old anthopoligical study which makes, frankly, racist assumptions. If the writer substituted 'Immigrant Muslim' for 'English' there would be hell to pay? Many of the positive things done in this area are done by incomers (yes, including the English) and especially in the Borders. More acceptance please all round. PS the incomers at Flodden were the Scots! ' Name an address withheld-Huttonian

This was Berwick's first Borders Green Festival. The images give the flavour. The car engine may look odd but it was a 'green' van (although owned by a white van man) as it was powered by used chip pan oil with bits of chips in it; engine starts on diesel and when warm, hey presto, flick an appropriate switch, and the cooking fat kicks in. (no I am not joking, this is Kosher even if the oil isn't)A teepee full of alternative therapies, a stall for natural burial where you can arrange to have yourself placed in a wicker basket coffin (you need to be dead first, ideally) and then buried under a tree in a wood in Selkirk. Lots of gen on wind power,biomass, solar energy etc; Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Make Poverty History, Amnesty International, AONB. Also a Pole Lather (see image) operating from a Yurt-Mongolia's answer to a Teepee. Also a lad with a snowy owl and his friend with a Jackal Buzzard. BOG (Borders Organic Gardens) were there as well-Mrs Huttonian has the only one of those in Hutton and Paxton-demonstrating composting. So was the Green Shop and this organisation has two fat powered vans, the idea is catching on apparently- a sales opportunity for the Little Chefs recycling their spent oil up and down the A1 as I doubt if Esso and Morrisons will ever install chip or vegetable fat pumps at their service stations.

A good time was being had by all and, yes, the veggie burgers were delicious.

T on the Green, Paxton, as advertised. Huttonian house party on parade at 1359 (T's 2-4pm) Weather relented, food bountiful and a good turn out with quite a few from 'Old Paxton' Hutton not so well represented, inevitably, despite the publicity given to the event by our Minister in the Kirk this morning.
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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