Musings from the Merse
Saturday, December 31, 2005
A good day to end the year on: slowly melting snow turning into mud with the odd very icy patch to catch the unwary. The Killin Two are on their way to join us and the Aussies : The Merse where men are men and the sheep are grey, muddy and disagreeable, ruminating away about possible changes to the Common Agricultural Policy and how this may effect them in 2006. Whatever the fine tuning it is mutton for them one way or the other.The scientific section of the Hutton Think Tank are sponsoring resaerch on feeding pregnant yews with Mint Sauce Supplement so as the wee lambs are born Aga ready; first lot due on stream by February so keep alert for Sir Morrison's announcements ending in 'Another reason for shopping in Tescos'

Tonight is Old Year's Night. Two miles away as the infected goose flies they will be enjoying New Year's Eve. Vomit levels roughly similar but look for traces of Newcastle Ale to the south of us and Famous Grouse in these parts-possibly laced with Iron Bru to take the harm away. Here it is then Hogmanay-no disrespect to swine intended and the cross borderers are stuck with boring old New Years Day. Spellchecker suggests 'Mess' for 'Merse' No doubt some one will clear it up eventually.
Friday, December 30, 2005

We woke up to the BBC bovver boys warning of more significant snow falls and more general disruption. So of course it started to rain as the temperature shot up to a dizzy 1.5c Huttonian had acquired a state of the art inflatable toboggan which needed a test run before the snow disappeared. At least enough snow remained to give the Aussies and the girl-next-door some sledging* (a sport at which the Australians excel especially on the cricket field*) and the postie failed to get his van up Kirk Lane thus showing that 'massive disruption' just about summed it up. Rarely do you see so many people outside the old pub in Hutton and with cars virtually non existent our own version of the Cresta Run was impressive and safe with speeds of up to nearly 5kph being reached. Miss KB (alpogies to the CB bloggee) is now thinking of entering the Tethered Down Hill event at the under two Winter Olympics.

*Avoid Technical Terms -Blogg ed
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Fishwick Special Branch are investigating a report that at the request of the US Consulate in Edinburgh terrorist suspects held in Hutton have been sent 'extraordinarly renditionally' to Paxton for possible torture by the regime there. It seems likely that this allegation is in fact a mistranslation of a recent news item carried by Al Jazeera. FSB's Arabic expert, responsible for monitoring foreign news reports is on a sabbatical at Basra College of Nuclear Technology and his stand in although fluent in the Gallic and Pushtu is not too proficient in Arabic. Until the latter returns from Hogmanay leave in the outer Hebrides it will not be possible to clarify the situation. A Paxton spokesman has in the meanwhile denied the existence of any detainees-two men seen very late at the Cross were apparently there willingly and was puzzled by the reference to a 'regime' We are all good citizens of Scotland except for a few English incomers who run the place' he is reported to have said but a 'regime' is not appropriate in this context- perhaps Al Jazeera meant a clique?'

Investigations continue.

Well the meteorological terrorists have got it right as far as Hutton and Paxton is concerned. Timing perfect between Christmas and Hogmanay as no one from our Council has bothered to grit the roads so getting to Paxton is a struggle never mind the real world as represented by Sir Morrisons in remote and virtually cut off Berwick. And the terrorists are rubbing salt into wounds(probably borrowed from Scottish Borders Council who have not put any on the roads, but to be fair may have used their stock on their turkeys ) by referring to driving conditions as being 'atrocious'-carefully not specifying where so they are certain to get it right someplace. Anyhow the garden is looking very seasonal and freezing fog is keeping the visibility down. The two images of the back garden were taken 4 hours apart so the snow has been prolific.

As we rant the Aussies are making their way back from north Welsh Wales -the first 250 miles should be ok; it is the last 5 which might be troublesome
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

As a PS to Christmas here are a few images of Killin on what the BBC described as a 'bright' Christmas. Quite apt except for Christmas day when freezing fog restricted visibilty to 50 metres.
Its really difficult for the Borders Tourist people, dog ambassadors and 'a and 'a to compete with this kind of landscape.
But we have a gentler beauty and what the copy writers like to call understated scenery .

One draw back of -3c is defrosting the car. Here you can see the houseparty adding to global warming and the late autumnal mist effect
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

One of our Christmas highlights was a visit to the youngest nephew seeing him in his capacity as a 'wild man of the woods' He is renovating and making habitable (by his standards anyhow) an old military look out post on the Scottish Coast south of Dundee. The provisions of the Official Secrets Act (1588) as revised 1944 prevents me from revealing its exact location. The accommodation adds a new dimension to the description 'basic' lacking a loo and a bathroom-lacking indeed running water except down the wall before Mr J repaired the roof.

However no problem as there is a perfectly good bath in the garden which is heated by firewood directly under it with a handy table for bath salts and beer(Click on image for details) Security considerations prohibit pictures of the very outside loo with MOD latest (1947) Field Latrine technology involving planks, entrenching tools and holes. For less serious business gorse bushes provide cover and some discomfort for the unwary.

The furniture is charmingly rustic and the world is kept in touch with via a wind up radio. An Idyll for a short break chill out; in my case twenty minutes would probably suffice if left to my own devices.

Monday, December 26, 2005
The BBC is at it again with its meteorogical terrorism. This time it is snow which is going to cause massive disruption. Although the main focus of destruction is said to be the South East-if only because it contains the most potential terrifees Scotland is getting an unfavourable mention as well. I suspect that most of the weather station employees are on holiday and have left fearsome forecasts on line so as (A) to cause maximum terror and (B) to have a good excuse for not coming in to work tomorrow-hence the focus on the SE. All over Scotland young and vulnerable families are packing desperate to set off out of danger two days early before the weather closes in completely-if they are heading for London they plan to go down the West Coast and hole up in sunny Birmingham until the South East is declared safe. In the SE itself young and vulnerable families and old vulnerable people are panic buying despite all shops being closed for Boxing Day. Candles are being dusted off and match boxes placed`in strategic places for the time that the power fails as `pylons collapse under tons of snow. All leave is cancelled and troops on standby have a choice of Baghdad or Basildon for emergency duty.

Its all lies of course and the BBC weather people are rolling on the floors of their opulent mansions in St Johns Wood roaring with laughter at all the distress they are causing to the young, the vulnerable and the elderly. They know well that sultry sunny weather is inevitable but forecasting that is no fun when with a click of a mouse you can terrify the y,v and e without fear of effective comeback. We Merseians are made of sterner stuff and you can't faze us with your southern fanciful imaginings.

Oh btw Huttonian ans the wife are returning from the Hielands a day earlier than planned.
Why on earth I hear you cry?

Because the forecast is so bad.

And you can't take any chances. Can you?
Saturday, December 24, 2005

A newish tradition-well ten years-is the politically aware Christmas Cake which is now a family institution and more durable than Scrub A Fairy, consequences, this is a ding but not of course the Queens Speech-that essential barrier to the premature opening of christmas presents. The PACC involves the middle 'IT' nephew in reluctant exile from Ould Reekie decorating the Christmas Cake in keeping with one of the burning issues of the hour: Racism, Terrorism, Millenium Bug or whatever else is attracting the fitful attention of Morningside Thinkers and the Medja. This year,Huttonian can reveal, is Gay Weddings- an issue not on everyone's list of priorities in the Merse although in East Kilbride, I am told, they talk of little else. Images will follow and in the mean while the topic may give a new lease of life to Scrub a Fairy.

But first words:
You are invited to Killin’s first gay wedding

In a clearing in the forest, The Love Which Dare Not Speak Its Name is finally shouting out loud. Once, innocent lesbians would be forced into the forest to whisper proclamations of love to each other in private. But in 2005, for the first time, they can become Ms. and Ms. together, without shame. Without threats of legal action. And with the minimum of religious picketing.
On the left (the fem side), you can see a woman excitedly using her mobile to give a running commentary on the service (“no, it’s rubbish…”). In the second row, an aging female biker gently revs her moped along with the singing (“It’s Raining Women” by The Weathergirls). Beside her, one of the token gay men throws open his arms in welcome at the coming gay dawn. His white jeans and carnation proclaim his homosexuality like a pink explosion. But behind him, an innocent little girl watches the service with interest. Who can say what is going on in her tiny, warped mind?
The service is conducted by Mary Christmas herself. Mary, of course, is the Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Santa, and was canonised by the Catholic Church in 1993. Her ferocious stare is often used to frighten children who are curious about homosexuality.
On the right (the butch side), you can see the two ex-partners of the bride. Should either of the brides drop out, they will surely step into the breach. Behind them, men in the traditional costume of the homosexual, the Stetson, the dungarees and the pink top, are preparing for the traditional line dance, which marks the ceremonies conclusion.


The simple pleasures of life. To walk around the head of a loch with keen bird watchers in tow and not have to stop and watch any birds. The sun is up, the mountains bright and snow free-hot coffee awaits our return. A cry 'Look a lesser mouldy younger striped arse Plopper' I don't have to. Bliss

The image reveals a bird less loch-seconds later a large flock of sparrows flew past honking. The twitchers said they were geese. I bow to superior knowledge

Friday, December 23, 2005
we thought we had made a good getaway from the Merse. No traffic, nice weather no road rage therefore. Presents safely delivered. Then horrors. Father Christmas-yes he exists had entrusted Huttonian with a special Stocking consignment for those of the younger generation still on his list. Because of Global Warming FC can't get North of Edinburgh and relies on his little helpers to do his work for him in those parts he cannot reach. As I speak I can see his goodies but only in my minds eye-they remain in Hutton on the front hall floor -125 miles as the Elves fly and there theywill remain until next week. Oh Deat. Tears and tantrums ahead I fear:36 is the new 6 and Santa's reputation is under threat. Never mind Huttonian's. Creative thinking is necesary. FC can't help-his Help Line is busy. I am on my own and it is Christmas Eve tomorrow
The weather looks kind; the aussies have departed for Welsh Wales and we are off to the Hielands as soon as the wife has done the washing up. I jest.

A Happy Christmas to all Bloggees everywhere.

Even if the odds are a bit against it. Nec Aspera Terrent as the Romans used to say.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Huttonian is sneaking in an extra post as there will not be much oppurtunity to blog from the Hielands given the other distractions and a very slow dial up speed. Something appropriately seasonal asks a bloggee. Seasonal, no problem; appropriate? You judge. I turn to an anthology of Verse published a few years ago containing poetry by British Diplomats and their families: 'Time to Kill Sparrows' A former Ambassador to Jordan produced the following ditty which is about as appropriate as you can get given what is still happening in the 'Holy Land'


From the East the star arrived
Dead on time. As predicted.
More than can be said for the Three Wise Men.

One: ten days late.
(He had been following the wrong star.)
The other two had inadequate
documentation and were held up at the bridge.
Flowing robes arousing suspicion.
gifts confiscated. Myrrh an illegal substance,
frankincense past its sell-by date,
and the rest thought to be probably stolen.

When they did arrive the star had long since left:
for Mecca, on another mission. There was no room
in any manger and all the cheaper inns were full.
Moreover no trace of their reservation at the King David Hotel.

Attempts to see the baby unsuccessful.
He could not be disturbed; his Press
Officer unavailable for comment.
Nor would Mary see them. “Security reasons” they were told.
(Apparently there had been threats)
The authorities were taking no chances.
So fed up and frustrated they took the first caravan home.

“Christmas in Bethlehem is much overrated”
they told their friends.

interested in reading how this slim volume was received by the critics might like to look at the New Stateman Review at http://www.dynomind.com/p/articles/mi_m0FQP/is_4439_128/ai_55166534#continue

Go on, indulge yourselves.

Partly due to inadequate management on the home front Huttonian had to brave Sir Morrisons** with three shopping days to Christmas and all that entails. It was even worse than I feared with the aisles packed with stationary traffic snarled up by large people exchanging Christmas greetings. 'All set for the Festivities?' brightly enquired one lady of a gnarled old countryman Barbour jacketed and wellie* booted. 'If I was' he snarled 'I wouldn't be wasting my something time in this something store. Would I?' At that moment my basket slightly bumped the backside of a very very old woman. 'So sorry' I said automatically. She turned, gave me a very hard look and then broke into convulsive cackles 'I didn't mind it at all' she screamed drowning even the Morrison Tannoy with its latest irresistible offer. I fled -difficult in that mass of bodies and some how seemed to come across the cackling one in every aisle. Each encounter, she chuckled-'She really fancies you' said the GOC , his good humour momentarily restored. I finally eluded her pursuit and hid my self in the basket only checkout. Suddenly I was nudged by some thing sharp and metallic and a voice in my ear said 'Would love to join you but I have a trolley' A final cackle, and she disappeared from my life.

For that relief much thanks

* Spellchecker suggests Willie for Wellie. That too one assumes

** Spell checker suggests 'nourishing' for 'Morrisons' Hmm.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Family Christmases used to be predictable, sometimes enjoyable and usually manageable. Stage One: The children still (nearly) believing in Father Christmas, the drunken giggles as Pater Familias sneaks into darkened bedrooms with the stockings full of unsuitable goodies, the battle to keep the major presents unopened under the Christmas Tree until 3.5 pm as the last strains of the National Anthem serenades a departing Queen. The early bed for overexcited children and the stuffed turkey for already overstuffed adults. Silly games: Consequences, Picture ditto, Scrub a fairy (better not ask) and bed with various degrees of fading consciousness

Stage two: as stage one but with hulking teenagers, lack of belief in FC but hysterical rage if no stockings on offer, pre Queen self denying ordinance, no early bed and all, including hulking teenagers joining in silly games including Scrub a Fairy (better not know) and even later retirement with a greater range of unconsciousness than Stage One.

Stage three: Junior family members, early twenties, some with partners, all expecting stockings, Father Christmas in bed long before intended recipients thus involving plastic bag hanging on door knobs at 5am, belching rtaher than giggles. Queen politely endured, ditto pre Dinner Grace, Red wine sunk like the Belgrano, silly games but resistance building from new comers, resistance also to helping with chores especially washing up and peeling potatoes, Scrub a Fairy (better remain Agnostic) barely accepted. Bed perhaps; unconsciousness inescapable.

Now of course a third generation of the expanded family has emerged and stage one should come into its own again? Alas No. Now the family with many diverse in-laws to gratify many have to play away. There may be foreign parts to visit the far flung; some houses are unfitted for mass invasions and accordingly the nuclear family disintegrates into the subtraction of its parts. Last year Huttonian and the Wife entertained but two other family members; this year in the Hielands we will sit down 7 to dinner. Two stockings possible, Silly Games uncertain, including Scrub a Fairy (so you don’t need to know). There will be some of the core elements of the Ghosts of Christmas Past; post prandial unconsciousness and the Queens Speech join death and taxes as part of the inescapable human condition.

And we will all help with the washing up.

I am endebted to the Belfast Bloggee for some images of the 'Picasso Crib' the brainchild of a family member. In contrast Huttonian can only offer shots of the Old Manse version which is in the back 'hall' and is very much home made in the best tradition of family Christmasses. The Hutton Crib can not compete in graphic splendour with Picasso but in our case the baby Jesus may have been left out in the cold but probably ok in his swaddling clothes (click images for detail) but I suspect is in much better shape than in the Picasso version where a broken neck seems to be his least serious injury.

PS The wife wishes it to be known (in her capacity as crib master) the baby Jesus is safe and well in the manger. The second infant wrapped in swaddling clothes is a decoy to confuse would be kidnappers and was anyhow left outside as there was no room for it in either the Inn or the manger

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Work now seems halted on the village hall for the duration of the festive(?) season. It remains a shell in a hole and Mr T and his men have gone off for a well earned rest. Huttonian met a bloke who was quizzing him about the hall having 'seen it on my way past' Difficult to do that actually given the fact that it is some 150 metres from the main road and not on the way to anywhere except the Old Manse conurbation and Mr R's pheasantry/mill/fishery. So he must have been interested enough to make a wee diversion. The following mini dialogue ensued:

Bloke : Does n't Mr Tand Co specialise in Agricultural Buildings?
Huttonian: Yes
Bloke : The Hall looks like a big cow shed?
H: Early days yet.
B: I Have seen the roof before.
H: Where?
B: On Edington Mill which Mr T and Co dismantled.
H: Your point being?
B.: Is this right for a village Hall. Agricultural Building with recycled roof?

H: More people in the Hutton parish area live in the countryside than in the village so an 'rural agricultural building', if that is what it is, is not inappropriate and the plans have the support of the community. As for the roof, if it really is from Edington Mill that seems a very sensible piece of money saving reuse of expensive materials'

The bloke was not satisfied and it all reminds me of similar remarks made about the proposed hall when there was an idea that it might be built in the field in front of the Kirk. Remarks about agricultural buildings were made then. And no doubt will be made again as work progresses. And it is not that the old building was the most beautiful erection in Berwickshire.
Monday, December 19, 2005
A bloggee whilst being nice about some aspects of the daily rant has suggested a slightly lighter hand on the Oz Brats saying that a bit too much of the doting grand dad stuff can 'grate'. * True they can grate even on the doters at times-like 5am- and relief is in sight as Christmas in the Highlands is going to be a child free zone as the Aussies go to Welsh Wales and shortly there after back to France. turning their considerable charm on to les moutons and les grenouilles. But actually the dotes fill a gap as there is precious little of general interest to occupy the blog at the moment as the dead hand of Christmas Present approaches. The village hall remains a hole with a lot of Mecano on top and the workers appear to have downed tools for the moment and the world is winding down as the season of mince pies, badly wrapped socks, ill chosen e-bay rejects, unwanted magazine subscriptions, permenant flatulence and the Queen's speech approaches. Its our turn for an away match this year so we are off to the Hielands but back to Hutton for Old Years Night and Hogmanay which one Scottish Bard remarked (not, the Jewish Laureate, Rabbi Burns but some one else) is like Christmas but with more vomit.

Roll on January the Second. Ba Humbug.

and Stop press

* 'What tosh. Those are the best bits'. comments a bloggee with, admittedly, a vested interest in paedosnaps.
Sunday, December 18, 2005

Aussie youngsters are quite used to exotic fauna and would have no problem in competing in 'I am a non celebrity brat -get me out of here'- a new series due soon on BBC9 in a joint version with ABC (OZ). Here we see pre shoot field trials near Dalkeith where two of the stars are getting toughened up in front of the cameras. Chongololo and chips is a delicacy in some parts but MsKB is not sure about bush tucker especially if it involves Pythons. Mr P was more enthusiastic about the Tarantula and even had a nibble of python
Reading such rants as Disgruntled Commuter (see link) Huttonian realises how fortunate we rural folk are with local transport. Even such as it is. This is a car bound society and with so few of us the roads remain deserted and hassle free-only going into Berwick we might be held up momentarily. The Hutton Think Tank :Culture, Media and Public Amenities centre has just unearthed this comment from a recently buried* poet-floret 1990s

Disgruntled Commuters?

There are no disgruntled commuters in
Hutton/Paxton peri urban areas.
Public Transport users, that is
No stress, no waiting, no glances
at watches, or pulling at lips,

Is this a triumph for joined up
Transport policy. Pure Prescottery?
New Labour is working?
Or is there some other reason?
Like an absence of Public Transport
for the good folk of our community?

No, we have Public Transport.
But no one uses it except for
one old lady with her library book
who needs to be careful not
to get trapped in Berwick
over night.

We used to have a commuter;
He was not disgruntled.
Just pissed off;
which he did with some difficultly
having missed
the last bus

* There is apparently no other evidence that he is dead Blog-ed

Saturday, December 17, 2005
This is a critical time in the run up to Christmas for canny folk around here. Christmas (which is taken more seriously than in many other parts of Scotland where Hogmanay is the big Festive Event) is on a Sunday and the moment is nearly upon us when a first class stamp will be necessary to get your card to whomsoever in time. This is a big moment given the financial penalty of missing 'last posting' and having to fork out lots of extra ps for the higher rate. In Hutton the decision is made easier by having a post office which opens only twice a week One can then calculate that next Monday there is a sporting chance that for 21p Auntie Meg's card will make it for the big day-but leave it to Thursday with only two days left before the world closes down-no way Jose. And even with the 30p variety its going to be a close call. In between if you are out of stamps it means a trek into Berwick, a visit to a heaving urban office with queuing down the pavement and all that associated aggro of joining the last minute rush with all those other foolish virgins( in old King James Biblical speak)

I remember having this debate with a Huttonian pensioner in those golden days when we had the local post office on our kitchen table. She had asked for a 2nd class stamp for a card on the 22nd of December. I said that in my professional opinion as PO owner and Part time post master that a First Class stamp might just give her a chance of getting the card there in time. ' A First Class stamp? To get my card there by Christmas? ' She said-'Ah-nae bother-next year will do' Indeed. And I am sure it will do equally well this season.

When I think of it I can't recall actually selling a first class stamp when I was managing the table-except, once, to the wife. Happy Days.
Friday, December 16, 2005

We were urged by the nice Mr Humphries of the Today Programme to send him photos of last night's moon as it was due to be at its highest point in the sky and it its brightest for 18 years. The first image taken through hazy cloud will probably not win the two weeks holiday in Paxton promised by Mr H but the second image indicative of either a flying saucer or other space craft descending towards the Merse is an an entirely different category. No,' doubting of Dunwich' it is not blurred-notice how sharp the old Elm Tree is in the foreground. This is Kosher and instead of going to Radio 4 it is now hot foot to the Fishwick Special Branch-Alien Spacecraft Section. (HT2 having no internet connection the image has been printed out, placed in a forked stick and entrusted to DHL. ) As we speak, as it were, search parties are scouring the area for little green men.
Hoping that the BBC Weather centre was still on its extended pre Christmas Hols and therefore not inclined to give the rest of us a hard time Huttonian snuck off to Duns Golf Course for a final round before being sucked into the festivities-serial washing up, table laying, snow clearing, last minute cards, parcel wrapping and watching the Queen's Speech. What looked nice and inviting from the comfort of a well heated Focus C-Max was not quite so pleasant on the first tee looking down the frosty fairway. The course was deserted and it was quickly apparent why. North wind 35 knots. Wind Chill factor -7C. Ambient Temperature: no. Sun: not yet. We Huttonians are men of iron and although brass would have been more appropriate in the circumstances so I struggled around running between shots and giving myself 75 foot putts to speed up the proceedings. The Cardiac 4 who play in most weathers were not in evidence nor were the Pringle clad couple of Wednesday fame. It was even too frigid for the gnarled old greenkeeper -weather beaten literally.

Smugly I returned to my car and I was heartened to see a male four ball emerge from their vehicles. Oh Heroic people-so Duns is not a load of fair weather wimps after all. I greeted the senior newcomer with a cheery comment about the quality of the climatic conditions and volunteered the information that I had enjoyed my round. He looked at me, looked at the sky, held up an experienced finger to the wind and said loudly to his companions something that sounded like 'Duck this for a lark' -difficult to be sure with the banshee howling of the wind. He then got back into his car and drove off with his friends in hot pursuit. Captain Oates would not have approved.
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bloggees struck by M'mselle KB's Gallic dress sense have asked for any evidence of press coverage in the Parisian fashion press. I am privileged to display two images from 'La Tres Petite Parisienne' The organ of the French 'Haute Couture pour le Bebe' organisation known in the Trade as 'Oui Oui'

Huttonian apologises to those bloggees who claim to been bored with the saga of the village hall but the idea is to maintain a visual record of the progress for future historians to mull over.
There are no images of the old-originally-'Parish Church Hall' donated to Hutton by Sir William Burrell in 1931. It was built on the site of 'The Butts' -an old archery field-and the present builders have found some traces of the old Butts cottage when digging the foundations. Anyhow here it is with the roof on-looks a bit like an agricultural building for the moment but no doubt will be very different in appearance when completed next spring. Future archaeologists may have fun with this site if ever a new building is necessary but hopefully nothing too valuable has been left behind. One hopes that any potentially harmful stuff like the asbestos roof tiles have been disposed of in accordance with the environmental guide lines The then Earl of Home of the Hirsel opened the building in 1931-we wonder who will be asked to do the honours this time round?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The young Aussie under 6 team are intent on taking the French on at their own game and have been training at a secret location in the Merse. Ms KB is showing talent at the under 2 (without minder) persuit. Mr P in the 'trainer wheels still attached 79 metre dash' tore through down town H****N (Name concealed for security reasons)
With the BBC Weather section on early Christmas holes Huttonian risked some golf at Duns this morning. This far North my usual early start is difficult and for once I got my timing wrong. As I drove into the carpark (8-35am) I noticed a couple on the first tee in matching winter outfits about to hit off. My plan was to play the First hole and then cut across to the 11th to play 8 holes in without fear of meeting anyone else. But when I reached the tee the couple -mid fifties and that probably went for their handicaps as well -were still contemplating which club to initiate the proceedings and were looking for the most elderly balls in their collection so as not to have to suffer mentally if they got lost. I though for a moment that they might offer to let me through-a vain hope-a glance and firmly turned backs. They then started their count down before launching their shuttles down the first fairway. After watching two air shots and a three sods of earth overtaking a barely moving ball moving gently towards the end of the tee-I gave up and set up the 18th fairway in reverse to get to the 11th Green. Wrong move-the couple thinking I was trying to cut in front of them to the first green were galvanised into precipitate action. Putting their self propelled golf trolleys into top gear and full speed they allowed themselves to be propelled up the first fairway holding on to their trolleys for dear life. So great was their determination to get there before the interloper they abandoned both balls obviously intending to make a fresh start on the second once they had seen Huttonian off.

If a trolley hadn't overturned on a mole hill I might not have won the race so comfortably-the roars of rage and expletives from the distaff golfer betrayed an expensive education but I think the wheel was fairly easily replaced -not sure about the battery which fell out and she seemed to have some trouble getting her contraption going again under its own power. The gent kept on clutching his chest-looking for soothing ciggiesI expect. By this time they realised that I was not trying to get to the first green before them but going elsewhere so for them the crisis was over.

Wwith the anticipation of a peaceful unhampered 8 holes in front of me I headed to the 11th tee. Alas. It was more than occupied by the 'Cardiac 4 ball' as I have heard them called by younger members. They must have started well before light. No way past them! Abort Abort

Oh well It was quite a nice walk on a pleasant wintry day and the bacon buttie in the club house was some consolation.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today is roof day at the Hutton Village Hall and Berwickshire's tallest crane is back in attendance. The Meccano technique is working well and it looks more straightforward than assembling an IKEA computer desk-actually most things are including rocket science; in the case of IKEA the same principles apply including everything that goes up must come down. No spectators this morning-perhaps the word of possible viewing fees has got around
Monday, December 12, 2005
An irregular bloggee has asked if I could republish a seasonal poem about Christmas Trees which she enjoyed last year-apparently she felt that her local garden centre was ripping customers off this year with very expensive firs-and she would love (she said) to have a tree that did the ripping as in this sad buit suitable tale

Christmas Tree

The man from the Garden Centre
loaded the overpriced tree
into the undersized car
with the sharpened stem
pointing forward

An emergency stop later
The bloke in the passenger seat
was neatly impaled as
the sharpened stem
took its revenge.

A dilemma for the woman.
Money back on the tree
bury the husband?
(“And what exactly
is the nature of your

Or keep him
(being seasonably chilly)
impaled by the tree
as an unusual support
No unsteady stone filled bucket
(once Rigor Mortis had
set in)

Quite a conversation piece.
Saving considerable hassle.
And perhaps

(Not an unimportant consideration
for the recently

Actually with a sudden arrival of unexpected children our plans to do without a tree this year have had to be abandoned but rather than play further havoc with the Snow Forest we have dug out our old plastic tree which is IKEA devilish to assemble but was neccesary in some foreign parts like Kuwait where any kind of tree was a small miracle. Once we have dusted it and removed the scorpions it will be indistinguishable from the real thing-in a dimly lit room at any rate and it does not shed needles.

A norn iron bloggee has just commented as follows: perhaps your "irregular" bloggee might consider some form of alternative therapy to help her with her unfortunate condition. We have the acquaintance of a white witch type person here, in Norn Iron, who is well known to you and may be able to assist in these matters. I'm sure that we could negotiate the usual discount.

Failing that, Safeways/Morrisons (now Asda) dispenses the usual prune extracts

An interesting comment coming from the Six Counties which has often been decribed as the 'anal retentive society'.

The temporary French grandchildren and the eldest daughter are making a surprise visit to the Merse. Ms KB was so pleased with the success of her Autumn ensemble in Paris that she insisted on displaying it in wintry Hutton.
Mr P although a bit blase about holes after extensive viewing of the monster, 5 level, underground car park in St Germaine en Laye is quite enthralled with what is happening in the village hall site in preparation of putting on the roof tomorrow. Here is making use of the spectator stone as other viewers rush to join in. At one time we had no less than three spectators. If they were charged, say 20 p a session (with a free portaloo visit thrown in-necessary in such brass monkey weather) that would soon mount up for buying some thing nice for the new hall-an inside toilet perhaps*

* This is planned already. Blog-ed
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Away from La Belle France the New Hutton Hall has done well in the 3 working days we were away. Serous business is now contemplated -witness the PortaLoo. Where the first workers' went' I have no idea and don't really like to ask. It is surely now worth while to put up a spectator stand and charge for the Loo-the only outside one remaining in the vicinity. Might be a nice little earner.

Can anyone tell the difference between this Friday Mrket in St Germaine -en- Laye and the Advent Street market held in Berwick -upon- Tweed? (note the symmetry of nomenclature) Apart from the fact that the French, a fanatically secular society, do not 'do' Christmas. (but Xmas trees, decorations and Father Noels flourish This is presumably not Berwick-the French can't spell flowers properly
Saturday, December 10, 2005

Yes the French do have a certain flair-especially the distaff side which can rub of on young Aussie/Welsh/Irish toddlers. Here Mamselle KB models her early winter outfit while her minders sort out the fan mail in the background.

It is good to report that France is well behind the Merse in at least one aspect of civilised life-autumn which is still in full swing across La Manche. Mr P makes his way through the forests around St Germaine en Laye. These woods are very striking.

And where France does lead us is over holes: the one in the middle of St Germaine could take the Hutton Village and up to twenty RouteMaster buses and the centre of down town Hutton to boot. The hole is well organised with a spectator view point and information bulletins up dates reporting on progress-Now there is a idea for the Hutton Hall committee
As Huttonian thought there was no realistic oppurtunity to rant from French France. The eldest daughters PC was not connected to the web and cyber cafes though plenty were not convenient of access so we were saved the incomprehensible francophone key boards.Arrival; at Paris CDG was greeted with a text message from the ED to say that she was snarled in gridlocked traffic and could we make our own way by rail right across the Isle De France from one end of the RER to the other at St Germaine –en-Laye. Psychologically we were not prepared for this daunting exercise in town craft. We had been looking forward to being magicked across town in a warm car,skillfully driven by la fille ainee; instead we had to navigate ourselves through alien territory, with only the Lonely Planet and a partial map of the network which I had fortuitously downloaded from the internet that very morning. The map on loan from the Hutton Think Tank-foreign parts section was not particularily useful with its unflattering(contemporary) references to General de Gaulle and illustrated maps with figures reprersenting flora and fauna and unhelpful comments super imposed such as ‘sic sont froggii’ –a statement of the bleeding obvious but not much use as a navigational tool. Thanks however to helful humans who invariably responded to my questions posed in impeccable French with replies in very poor English we muddled through. It all semed very familiar if for RER you read WAGN –even the passengers were as scruffy as their Anglais counterparts-the elegant and chic Frenchwomen of legend (against whom the HT2 map warned unwary travellers} were not in evidence. Like WAGN the train moved very gently and the station signs were as obscured. And like Wagn the announcements about whether or not you were on the right train were made after the last stop that it was possible to change your mind and get off to make the correct connection. Vive le Sport! It was I should add for Mersians, very different from the 32 Bus. Life in the Borders prepares you for many daunting tasks and potential problems but struggling across Paris by RER is not one of them.

Later on my way back I was killing time at Charles de Gaulle airport. The hand of French Culture lies heavy here. No way to access the BBC website-the only one which would not come up on the web; so no cricket score. Under instructions from the Academie Francaise Even the Easy Jet check in people refuse to let English past their lips for fear of cultural contamination which with a plane load of of Geordies heading home caused some problems! One of the later turned to a mate and said (expletives deleted) 'He.... doesn't....... even....... know if the....... Magpies have...... scored' or active participles to that effect
Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Suddenly in three hours yesterday the framework of the Village Hall started to take shape. This was after some days of enforced inactivity because of inclement weather and the hole remained just that. Now we can start to believe that it really will happen. By the time we return fromForeign parts they may even have a roof on
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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