Musings from the Merse
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
With some trepidation to Embra in view a of lack of confidence in Mr Bett's (an appropriate name for a weather tipster) forecast claiming lovely sunny weather for the Borders and Ould Reekie and a lot of the white stuff north and south of us. DISRUPTION screams Page 405 of Teletext. Venture out at your peril-safer stay inside with your virally challenged chickens. So I took a risk and the train. Some snow in Hutton but so far no where else.

GNER have reverted to their old style rolling stock. Stiff metal handles, semi automatic doors-semi in the sense that they only half open-not good for the large lady who took up at least four seats across the aisle-two with her bum and two with her knees and also half blocking the aisle to (enormous) boot. She made no move to get out at Waverley Street or perhaps she did but it didn't work. Rather like the Loos-as usual after York they are noisesome as they have not been flushed since the water ran out at Peterborough. Accumulated breakfasts all day have taken their toll by Berwick-fast food equals faster digestion according to a recent paper published by a boffin at the Hutton Think Tank's Analytical Research and Lifestyle Section. And, apparently, the motion of the train has an accelerating effect on other types of movement, bowel included. I won't spoil the ending, read it for yourself ' Let the Train ease the Strain' (HTT occasional papers. £65)

So up Princes Street-too cold a wind for Kilts so hopefully no mendicant piper. And if the favourite other mendicant is there, with his wee dog in its padded flap jacket fresh from being abused in Basra I will give them a long sympathetic glance, an encouraging smile and wish them a heartfelt 'Good Day' My specie, I fear, is needed for the Dental practicioner of Rose Street.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I think we mentioned the mud.
This is a drier bit-note Romans coming in both directions-but it was where the oxen had been that was really hard, or rather soft, going.

A change from the wall is the stunning village of Blanchland. Its like an early Victorian time capsule although the cars and touring cyclists were modern enough. The houses are all owned by a trust and then rented to carefully selected Guardian and the better sort of Telegraph readers who are not allowed to make any alterations on pain of expulsion. It looks like a film set and indeed as been the location for Jude the Obscure and a whole lot of (?obscure) films unknown to Huttonian which does not therefore exclude the possibity that they were Cult Block Busters. The Post Box is still functioning and is from the days when One Penny (1/2p in new speak) got your letter there next day, when there were three deliveries daily and Parcel Force was a rather unimpressive small water fall in Cumbria.

The Blogg had a marvelous week end in Northumbria-quite like this side of the Border but on a grander scale-and for all the attractions of the Merse, Hadrian's wall is not one of them. Huttonian and the wife decided to concentrate on one small strech of the Wall where it is besr preserved and where the scenery is spectacular. The image above shows the remains of a Roman fort-called Nick's Fort not because it was built by a Centurion Nickus Maximus but because it was sited in a nick in the hills-I am quoting the guide book -honestly. Some of the natural features on this bit are so daunting in themselves that the extra defence provided by the wall seems almost unnecessary. Another major problem facing the barbarians in any assault on the Pax Romana (in February anyhow) is the mud. It is horrendous sucking the boots of your feat -its fine on the wall itself -the Romans did that for us-but just to the north on the Pictish side its Somme like. And after rain (ie always) the steps created by the National Trust are quite lethal uneven, slippery and very steep. More images to follow idc.

The Hutton Think Tank (Drains and Archaeology Section) unearthed what they believed to be a Roman wall possibly contemporaneous to Hadrian's but much further north. Recent research has shown that this was an early bus shelter situated on the upper Hutton Paxton road. It is old but probably not Roman being constructed in about 1965. Excavations have unearthed some contemporary fag ends(Capstan and Senior Service) but no coins.
Friday, February 24, 2006
It is at least not dreich but it is very cold and windy with sleet forecast. We are about to set off to follow the ancient Pictish path to Hadrian's Wall which marked the northern extent of the settled Roman occupied Britain. They of course did penetrate further north-to the fringes of the Highlands and had a substantial presence in the Borders at Trimontium (Melrose) Hutton Think Tank (Media and Myths Dept.) have a theory that Hutton and Paxton were linked by a minor Roman road which runs dead straight for about i.v Roman Miles before turning abruptly into the old settlement of Paxtonus-probably a bog village in those days-the bog has gone although traces of it seem to have penetrated part of the area around the ancient Orchard-perhaps in Roman times a small vineyard. Huttonia Castra was the major village then but no sign of the castra exists unless Hutton Castle stands on the old site which guards the important River Flumen -now the Whiteadder.

Images to follow of Hadrian's wall and the colour tv -if we are spared.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Environmental Hygenists seem to have exercised great forbearance at the start of Operation Wheelie Bin as it appears that all rubbish left out was taken away-bin contents, black bags and every variety of the usual garbage-cardboard boxes, old sinks, garden chairs, somnolent grannies-the lot. I say 'seem' as Huttonian has to admit that to day was not the ideal time for a post rubbish safari. The weather is as foul as at any time at the height of the Fish era. Driving rain, dreich, blustery wind and a uniform grey sky which sets off the village hall roof very nicely. One hopes that it will all exhaust itself today as the Blog is off for a nice long weekend in the shadow (will require sun) of Hadrian's Wall in deepest Northumberland. An opulent B&B, evening meals provided, fires, warmth, and even, the brochure boasts Colour TV (an extra star for any B&B with black and white TV is being offered by the HTT, Tourist Section as a real retro attraction) Long walks along the Wall in the steps of the Xth Legion, pub lunches, fascinating museums, Gourmet dinners after long warm baths, a good book and Colour TV-if it really hisses down we can scrap the first three items and enjoy the rest. Especially the Colour TV. What on earth will they think of next?
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
WASTE DAY: new era for the Borders Le Noveau hi tech bin camion est arrive. And for the folk of Hutton and Paxton (and indeed as far into the far north west as Chirnside) Wednesday marked the dawn of the new age and black bins should have been wheelied out (by 7am) Despite the very complicated instructions-a sort of rocket scientist's handbook-confusion reigned as to what should be put out for the environmental hygenists to take. Bins only it said on page 5. The coloured and clear bin bags for recycling are not to be used until March when the notice of BBFr-C day will be given. Clear so far? But then a note of uncertainty creeps in with a reference to 'once the new collection service has officially started' Today with the black bins? Or 'in March' when the BBFr-C gets off the ground and into the lorry? So if it is hasn't started 'officially' is it still all right to put out extra rubbish with but not inside your black wheelie Bin?. Or does stricture 12c# apply:: Only the 'General Waste Bin will be touched and rubbish left beside it ignored: Only One General Waste Per Household We will see when the gentlemen have ridden by and by what has been left we will know them or rather know whether we have been 'officially started'

On my way back from Duns I passed every variety of refuse awaiting collection : General Waste Bin DSO, MC on his own. Bin Bags, black on their own. The General and his old bag together. Two sad garden chairs,Lilac bags of unknown content. Clear bags of all too evident content. Some with the right sort of recycling, others with bottles-not to be put in clear bags Stricture 234s. One person had put out the new sparkling GWB -lid open to reveal a pristine emptiness and with two neatly tied black bags stacked on either side.

I suspect we will all get the hang of it. Soon? I doubt it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
There are only a few drawbacks to living in the countryside-compared to the harsh lot of the urban dweller but one is very evident at this time of year compounded by the excesses of the BBC Weather people with their smart suits and highly polished leather shoes. I am assuming the footwear but I am not sure that I have ever seen that far south on a presenter. They could be wearing sneakers but if so they will not be muddy. Not unless threy were broadcasting from the studios of the HTT. Mud is the heavy motif of February in the sticks. 'Mud Mud Glorious mud nothing quite like it for getting all over the Kitchen floor' Flanders and Swann would have sung had they ever left Islington. The most active and streetwise African Hippo would not last a week in the Merse-not just the untropical dreich but the sheer volume of the Glut sucking you down with each step seeming to be your last. To get past the village hall is now a major exercise in mudmanship survival skills and I am sure future archaeologists will dredge up a skeleton or two-although as far as I know the work force has not reported a missing person as yet-and with only four of them you would think that an absentee would be noticed fairly quickly. Even lovely Hutton Hill towering over the northern approaches is not the pleasant walk it used to be-muddy and dungy-good for the long term soil's health, they say, but the combination is so glutinous that it can suck the wellies off your feet leaving you tip toeing and not through the daisies. To paraphrase that great Australian Cricket sledging song :

Ashes to Ashes,
Dust to Dust.
If the mud don't get you,
The Slurry must.

Images will follow but not for the timid. Urban bloggees stay where you are until the lambs are in the post gambol stage. Huttonian will advise you when it is safe to come out.
Monday, February 20, 2006

Originally uploaded by erase.
Mr P was omitted from the scenes of carnage at the Science Museum. Here he is demonstrating that in London, unlike Paris, it is possible to stand on a street without fear of immediate death.
The young lady from what the Goons used to call The Terror Stricken Service of the BBC positively drooled last night as she was arranging the weather for the week. Awful on Monday, terrible Tuesday, woeful Wednesday and then down hill winter Olympics like for the rest of the week. Cold, snow, hail (Hail was strongly emphasised) -the sort of conditions which would have prompted Captain Oates to have said' I am not going out for a very long time and certainly not until the hail has stopped'

Anyhow I must take my hat off to the Blether Centre-once I am safely inside of course. The intense young women indicated the rain starting mid morning in Berwickshire with one of those glittering stripey,village hall roof blue graphics poised threateningly over Duns. Mid morning in Duns is 10-30. I finished my golf at 10-20 (yes good round, thanks for asking only slightly spoiled by hearing the LMD at full volume 5 fairways away-he may have lost his last/only ball, it wasn't clear) Doing a chore for the wife in the market square I emerged ruffled but successful from the Coop. Something landed on my head. I looked up and a large hailstone bounced off my forehead. I looked at my watch.it was 10.30.
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Progress report on Village Hall. Progress on wall impressive despite the small work force. There is a sort of Oxbridge look to the structure with a Cambridge Roof and an Oxford container serving as shelter where the more sensitive of the workers can get away from Radio 1 if they so wish.
And with the Portaloo in a fetching shade of green there is colour coordination on site of the most tasteful sort. Best view is from the Hutton/ Paxton top road where rubber necking motorists can feast their eyes without fear of causing a major traffic jam.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
  Cousins collide

Cousins collide
Originally uploaded by erase.
In the resulting melee (French for free for all) only Ms ZK seems to be having fun. The two mindersseem a bit unfocused
  Zoe & Katy

Zoe & Katy
Originally uploaded by erase.
Sorry CB Bloggee but I couldn't resist this shot of Ms ZK about to propel Mmslle KB down the steps of the Science Museum-the latter looks a bit apprehensive-with good cause I fear and holding on to her hair (where is her French Bonnet) probably won't help

The wife has to admit that even her snowdrops do not quite measure up to those gracing the banks of the Whiteadder near Chirnside. One thing about the Borders we do not lack for good and lonely places to walk and even the roads are pleasant to amble along-in most cases never a car in sight.
I do make an exception for the Allanton Chirnside stretch during 'rush hour' School's out time. (10 cars every 15 minutes)There is no verge in places and one has that uneasy feeling that it would only take a white van man in a foul mood to miscalculate his cornering...... But no such danger on the road pictured above-the top road from Hutton to Paxton-not even a B road possibly a Z. There is the odd vehicle at times and from Huttonian's observation it is always going from Hutton forPaxton-and never seems to come back. Welcome to Paxton (pop: 202), The Village of No Return. What a slogan for the Scottish Borders Tourist People to market. Theirs at no extra expense
Friday, February 17, 2006
Shoo Fly Shoo

We have moaned frequently about the botheration caused by low flying aircraft but have felt unable to do much about it as ‘Defence of the Realm’ ‘ National Interest’ etc does warrant training for RAF pilots in this type of flying against the background of Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where the Queen’ enemies may pop up, e.g. Falklands, Provence. A nice RAF Liaison Officer once told the Community Council (before Huttonian’s time) that fighter aircraft were not allowed to fly under 300 feet and if you caught one at it just take the registration number and phone the RAF Help Line (Your call is important to us) to report the miscreant. I don’t know if you have ever tried doing this but even at 200 feet and 500 mph it is a challenge. Goodness knows I have so far failed to photograph one never mind read the small print en passant.

But now a ray of hope. The Berwickshire reports, under the headline ‘’Low Flying Speed Trap’, that the local (Westminster) MP has been monitoring a Police mobile ‘Skyguard’ radar device which has been tracking low flying aircraft to ensure that they were complying with regulations. Not speed one assumes, that is not the issue, but the height. This appears to be genuine ‘trap’ in that the pilots are unaware of where the mobile radar is cunningly located-so unlike motorists there is no nicely striped highly visible Box on post to warn Toad or Jehu to watch his speed. Sadly experiments by the Hutton Think Tank Techies to place aerial warning poles in place have not been successful and have been abandoned since a rare breed of Ewe was injured by being hit by the second stage firing mechanism of the rocket placing the warning box into orbit falling to earth. The box itself failed to stay in the Earth’s atmosphere as the third stage rocket was overpowered and is thought to be on its way to Uranus* where it may be (eventually) something of a puzzle to the Uranians and to space craft en route being asked to reduce their speed.

Anyhow to return to earth. I hope that the Police are in no danger if they continue with their entrapment manoeuvres. I say this because I read somewhere that when a similar sort of device locked on to a fighter aircraft in the Border some years ago the firing mechanisms on the plane were automatically activated (as was the practice in enforcing no fly zones in Iraq) and it was fortunate that a missile was not launched to hone in on hostile radar. I only hope the Boys in Blue are leaving their armament at home

* Careful pronounciation please.This is a family blog Blogg-ed
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Recycling Roadshow Comes to town says today's Berwickshire on its front page. This is to introduce Tout Berwickshire to the brave new dawn of kerb side recycling: coloured bags, wheelie bins and the home composter-the object of so much suspicion on the part of the anonymous bill sticker of old Hutton town. Our nearest road show is either Coldstream or Duns-we are not been honoured with a personal visit by the lean green team.

I checked the bus Shelter notice board for unsigned advisories-none to be found since a worthy citizen removed the cancer warning. It will be interesting to see if wheelie bins are to be treated as a public hazard by one of our concerned villagers. And what about the coloured refuse bags? We are all agog as to how the colour coding will work. I am sure someone will suggest that the colours are pastel shaded ( different subtle hues to distinguish repositories for paper, cardboard, plastic milk cartons and reusable nappies) and more striking shades for, er, not clashing with the Village Hall Roof. This would be useful as our local 'kerbside' collection for the denizens of Kirk Lane and environs is right beside the new hall. Think what wonders a coordinated colour scheme (if only on Wednesdays) would do for local property prices. I think we will not put the Old Manse on the market until this is in place.

We also await The Bottle Bank to open a branch in Hutton. Siting of this amenity is not going to be without controversy-you can bet your last empty jar of Marmite on that.

PS I had no sooner put the mouse down when the green gang hit village. Not to talk but to deliver. We have a black wheelie bin and two kinds of plastic bags-one sort of clear and silvery and the other a strident shade of Lilac. Won't go with the Hall roof. Won't go with anything. Watch the notice board.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
SPAT ON A COLD TIN ROOF-a partial clarification

Oops! Huttonian did not quite get it right over the anonymous notice in the Hutton bus shelter urging people to complain to the SBC planning department about the colour of the roof on the New Village Hall (NVH) According to an insider the colour of the walls and that of the roof have yet to be decided in conjunction with the planners. So it seems that the colour was not specified in the planning application-only that they would have to be approved before the planning process is finally completed. So I suppose there is no harm in views being solicited. But I still have objections to the whole anonymity business whether it is about colour of roofs or alleged dangers of compost. Its becoming a habit. If any one needs to be approached about colour schemes it should be the Hall Committee who are the clients in this project. At any rate if the final outcome is something like the Paxton Village Hall that will be very pleasing indeed. Should I put up an anonymous notice to that effect? Or better still one asking for no more anonymous notices.

Hutton Haiku # 34A

Oh Anonymous of Hutton.
Sign something, please!
If only a cheque
(attrib: Anon)

PS further correction. Roof is final as per approved specs-finish of outside walls will require planning ok and whether they are rendered and then painted will depend on money in the kitty.

I hope that this is now clear.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cockie the Pheasant and Ollie his bidie-near-by are suddenly aware that Spring, if not yet sprung is at the wind up stage and are suddenly very much 'around'

Ollie being a Hen Pheasant is rather drab which suits the weather whilst Cockie lights up the gloom with his splendid plumage as he struts his stuff. He also has some thing of star quality in his background. According to records recently released by the Paxton Records Office (PRO) under theThirty Minutes Rule he once starred in a promotion for a locally brewed Borders Whisky to be called 'Phrendly Pheasant' Despite the similarity to'Famous Grouse' it never caught on as a) it was obvious plagiarism b) Cockie although Grouse like, wasn't (c) Copy writers in the publicity material omitted the second 'h' ' and Phrendly Peasant upset the locals.

The other image is the neighbours chicken stock led by two handsome cockerel. They should enjoy life while they can as come the Avian Flu............

Huttonian has posted before about the great efforts we had to make to change the name of this house from the one it was given when it was sold by the Church of Scotland to what it is generally known by locally: The Old Manse-not to be confused with The Manse, the seat of the Minister in down town Hutton. We could only achieve this once the Church of Scotland abandoned its position as our Feu Superior as a result of legislation by the Scottish parliament reforming land ownership in Scotland which had barely changed since Wallace was a Scotsman (as opposed to an Australian imitator) The Feudal system lingered on in these parts and besides not being allowed to have the word 'Manse' as any part of our housename, we were prohibited from holding any kind of spiritual or religious meeting, gambling and selling alcohol which really spoiled plans for inviting wealthy Moonies around for a Grand National Week end for bets, bottles and drunken seances. Slightly more practically had we turned the house into an B and B we could have had problems in serving evening meals with wine and saying grace before dinner would have been a technical offence, one assumes. I have to confess that we have sold Pimms chez nous for a fund raising event but for that we did get a special licence but not from the CofS.

Anyhow we are now The Old Manse. Worries that the postman might get confused have proved generally unfounded although one or two letters intended for us have arrived at the Manse Proper. But at least fewer delivery men have returned depotwards with parcels undelivered having been told in the village that no one knew of an 'Antrim House' as this building was called for 20 plus years.

Manse is not a name widely known south of the Border. Which may explain why a a few recent letters from southern folk have arrived, as this morning, despite being addressed to 'The Old Manic' It is not clear if this is meant to be a name for the building or a description of one of its occupants-I must ask the Postie what he thinks. One to 'The Mange' was surely for Rosie the Cat.
Monday, February 13, 2006

The anonymous notice on the Hutton Bus Shelter advocating letters of protest about the bright blue roof on the new village hall has gone but in its place is another unsigned piece of paper warning people to place the newly distributed compost bins away from their houses as the fumes from them could cause cancer. What a start to the long awaited attempt by the Borders (Green) High Hied yins to do some thing about recycling and the environment generally! Can this be true? I hope not as Huttonian and the wife have been into compost (sometimes quite literally) for years and thought it was a Good Thing. I was much more dubious about the fumes from the Slurry and other agricultural support muck so common around these parts and not to mention the chemicals which seem to be liberally applied by our farmers-but compost? And how far is the safe distance from one's house? And what happens when the wind changes? I think we should be told. Anyhow Huttonian has e-mailed the Green people at the SBC and awaits their advice. And so dear Bloggees should you before you start putting out your black Daleks for removal to whence they came.

Any more anonymous stuff on the notice board and we will be in danger of life imitating art (or at least as portrayed by ITV1) Anyone who saw the dramatisation of Agatha Christies ' The Moving Finger' will know what I mean
Beguiled by the affable charms of the aptly named Elizabeth Showery (Sp? but thats what it sounds like) who despite having the same damp background as the late (in a career sense) Mr Fish presents the weather calmly, soberly and without Mr Fish's obvious relish in bringing bad news Huttonian decided to risk some golf. Ms Showery had given the Borders some unusually close attention last night and judging by the weather maps the virtual rain was not due to reach Duns until 10am this morning so with a 8-45 start and no holdups I had a fair chance of staying mostly dry. Sadly the fine tuning was not quite fine enough and the Scotch Mist (which is dreich but not quite so damp and nothing like so cold) turned into serious drizzle at 9.45. This was to the ill concealed pleasure of the Gnarled Old Greenkeeper who had set out ahead of me in his full wet weather regalia and the armour plated tractor. He had given me his usual cheery greeting and the local weather prospects in which 'pissing' amd 'down' were in close proximity. Fortunately I was only briefly detained by helping the LMD to find his ball in the rough just off my fairway-he was coming in the opposite direction having set off at about midnight presumably. He was, he said, very attached to the ball which he had brought recently, in 2003, and had' some life in it yet'. I found it and was impressed how happy it seemed with two big smiles in the cover at each end-but not so happy as the LMD who went on his way rejoicing. He certainly did not attempt to bore me with the latest secret of golf, for this vmt, but one good tip I am sure is to play a ball which can fly straight and with the minimum of aerodynamic deviation caused by huge craters on its battered surface.
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nature Red in Beak and Claw is today's theme as the woodpile went very quiet as a bird of prey materialised from nowhere. The wife got very excited and was convinced it was a young Merlin rather than the common or patio Sparrow Hawk and frantically thumbed through bird books in search of evidence. It was the second visit in two days having visited us yesterday to feast on a wee bird -a brown job, perhaps a Sparrow of a Dunnock. The Bird books say that Merlins are partial to a bit of Chaffinch but presumably would not turn away a Sparrow if peckish (no pun intended-blogg-ed)

After a bit and without turning its front towards us it flew off only to be replaced by a real genuine Sparrow Hawk. So the wife is now resigned to the' Merlin'' being a young Sparrow Hawk out on a training flight under loose parental supervision. I wonder what the other Borders' Bird Woman http://bordersbirds.blogspot.com/ thinks?
Saturday, February 11, 2006
We were warned to be at the Kirk thirty minutes early and it was sound advice as the (big) building was more or less full by the time the service began. A great send off for a very much loved local woman and most of this part of the Merse had come to say farewell. When one is used to a scattering of folk in this large building it is amazing to see how it can be filled probably approaching the normal congregations of the time that the church was built when the Parish had well over 1000 souls as compared with 350 or so now. Funerals have their own rhythm-the 20 minute service, the 400 yard walk behind the hearse to the graveyard and the 5oo yard walk back for tea and biscuits at the village hall-in this case Hutton School which is the temporary community centre until the new hall is opened, sparkingly blue roof and all. It is profitable to be there in good time and be at the back to have a good view of all the new arrivals-many I have never seen before and may not again-until the next big funeral of course. It may not have the excitement of a good Irish Wake -tea and biscuits hardly a substitute for cake and a drop of the hard stuff-but friendly and not too morbidly solemn. Somewhat irreverently a report about a funeral -obviously following a great Wake- from a Kerry (allegedly) local paper kept flashing across my mind;

'One of the mourners dropped dead at the graveside and this cast an air of gloom over the proceedings'
Friday, February 10, 2006


Oh Dear the old problem of disagreement over what the new Village Hall should like has somewhat belatedly raised its ugly head yet again. Huttonian’s attention has been drawn to an unsigned notice on the Hutton bus shelter inviting those who disapprove of the roof of the new hall to say so in writing to the Planning Department in Duns. The notice describes the new ‘bright blue’ roof as an eyesore in a historic area and suggests that an unprepossessing building could adversely effect property prices in Hutton.

I have a number of problems with this anonymous call to arms. First, it is anonymous although given the past record of discussions over the hall it is not too difficult to work out a short list of probable authors. Second. Why now? The colour of the roof has been all too apparent since well before Christmas. It has been fully in place since about 12 December.(See previous posts) Third: it is much too late. Detailed planning permission was approved yonks ago and the plans, including, presumably, a description of the roof, have been in the public domain even longer. Fourth: IMHO as the Texting fraternity might put it, the colour is acceptable- quite a pleasing contrast with the roof of an old cottage on one side and a very modern bungalow on the other. The blue is not all that bright (see image) except in exceptional meteorlogical conditions as, say, once in a Blue Moon. . Nor can I really understand how a building quite a distance from the main village can effect property prices with in it? (60 % of Huttonians live outside the village) If it is true that the roof material has been salvaged from Edington Mill (now turned into bijou apartments for well heeled refugees from Ould Reekie)- well, surely this represents a very imaginative and cost effective recycling of expensive material saving the donors and the people of Hutton a pretty penny or two. Huttonian has had his differences with the Hall Committee in the past but this is not one of them.

And another thing you really have to be eagle eyed to see the hall from the village and then the roof is not visible because of the angle. Even close up and from the buildings next door the roof is hardly intrusive.

Mrs Potential Buyer to Mr P B. ' Oh lets not buy this house we can nearly see the village hall from it' An unlikely story.

BTW note the walls-not really shooting up but getting there.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
A bloggee with some understanding of the Royal and Ancient way of life has asked if this kind of thing
happens at Duns
? No sir, I don't think so but it ought to happen at the Royal County Down (PBUI)
County Down (PBUI) from time to time to save it from visiting 'golfers' and their
weapons of mass destruction. On some Saturday and Sunday mornings the No 2 Course
is one vast crime scene. Read On

A colleague at work just passed this to me -

"A golf tournament was held up in Australia when an armed robber drove
onto the course in a stolen truck.

Golfers were stranded after police declared the sixth hole a crime
scene and refused to let players through."

PS - off to shoot myself for finding a golf-related story funny*

* Please don't Huttonian

Putting up images of snowdrops and Hellishborings was not a wise move. The Blether Centre has struck back with snow flurries and very cold north wind despite a firm undertaking from the nice young man in the sharp suit that there was no chance of snow north of York. Thankgoodness my regular golfing partner has gone south otherwise we might now be stuck in blizzard on the 13th at Duns.

So it was not too bad a divertion to assist the wife in a medium shop at Sir Morrisons. Thursday attracts a curious lot of marketeers there.The aisles were jammed packed with people who thought it would be streetwise to do their weekly shop on Thursday and thus avoid the mayhem of Friday. If I had a quid for all the old ladies I bumped into this morning with profuse mutual apologies I could afford to give up my day job. But, mark this, the checkouts were queueless. As we bore down on the exit strategy we found a choice of womanned queueless cash desks to service us. Even after light bandinage, methodical filling of the wife's huge shopping basket (a bag avoiding strategy) £50 cash back, fumbling to get cash, receipts back into purse, and goods back into trolley, a last cheery farewell we still had no one hard on our heels snatching plastic bags under our noses while our bodies were still warm, as it were.

So what were all the other shoppers doing? Just cruising to pass away another boring morning, armed reconnaissances for a real spree tomorrow-Friday-organised shop lifting on a massive scale, keeping warm? The choice is yours-and presumably theirs as well. There is a doctorate thesis to be written on the art of supermarketing: 'Marketing (Customer) management in the post modern society. The case of Morrisons, mayhem and the new Millenium.' Subtitled 'Thankyou for shopping at Sainsbury's' I am happy to offer myself as a primary source.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Greater Spotted Woodpecker was hammering away this morning-apparently a sure sign of spring. He may be a bit premature but given the gorgeous sunny day we are enjoying he may be right to be optimistic. The wife has asked for more publicity for her favourite pre-Spring growing things-she feels an earlier post did not do her snowdrops justice. According to an item I half heard from Woman's Hour when returning from golf at Duns those who have a deep love for Snowdrops are Galanthaphiles. I don't suppose many people know that. And she is especially pleased with the other growth pictured above but its name constantly eludes me-but no doubt cognescenti will identify it from the image. *

The VND was again in the car park as we finished our round. But he was silent. No noisy revelations about the secret of golf. It may have of course been the effect of the weather-and on returning home I met no cars on the previously congested roads around Lesbianwitches. Could there be a connection between glorious sunshine, VND's reticence and no traffic on the roads? The best brains in the Hutton Think Tank are looking into it. Their ongoing investigation into the correlation between slurry and rural smells is currently on hold as their olfactory specialist has a bad cold.

* Hellebore apparently
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Huttonian must really read the local rag more carefully. An important and rather ominous item carried in an Estate Agent's blurb about potential purchasers of land in the Borders-either side of the rabbit proof fence- willing to pay up to £5 Million for land 'with or without planning permission' Timing is interesting as our local plan has just been approved (subject to appeal) and we are all breathing collective sighs of relief that Hutton and Paxton seem to have avoided any further inappropriate large scale development. But a guy (or a doll) with 5 million smackers in his back pocket or her hand bag is a terrible temptation for land owners looking for banking a fast quid and leaving it to the purchaser to pursue the irksome business of planning permission. And there is a history of developers with lots of vision and ready cash getting their way with developments which on the logical face of it should be turned down by the powers that be-the high hiedians in St Boswells.

Another little straw was a rebuke by one local councillor on another asking the 'offender' to make up his mind (in essence) as to whether he is an elected representative serving the interests of his constituents or a representative of the National Farmers Union looking after fellow tillers of the soil. There is a lot of cosiness amongst the farming community in rural Berwickshire which is not necessariy a good thing for the rest of us especially when certain decision making bodies have the farmers heavily represented amongst their membership. In some instances the distinction between tillers of the soil and pillars of the community is a bit blurred.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Huttonian had completely missed a tiny item on the front page of the Berwickshire about three 11 year old boys 'from the local area' being reported notified to the 'Children's Reporter' following police enquiries into vandalism at Paxton Church last month when 'numerous stained glass windows, valued at £1200, were smashed' Not so long ago Hutton Kirk had its problems with children (it is surmised) throwing pew cushions at the aisle lights-fun rather than criminal damage-not much for kids to do round here it has to be said. But this is more serious. In a small community with not too many 11 year old boys around a very short list of various names is being banded around. How they were caught after nearly two weeks is a bit of a mystery-did one of them do the decent thing and blow his own whistle-or is it 'information received' ? At least it is nor a case for the good sheriff of Duns.
I am not sure what is happening on the local roads but at almost the exact same spot I had encountered the sensibly challenged jogger yesterday I had to stop to let 4 cars come past me coming from the opposite direction. 4 cars! I have been the 18 miles to Kelso on major roads (b with a capital B) and met no more than three vehicles. And immediately after the cars came a jogger. A different jogger, tallish,youngish and with a friendly wave. And still reeling from this fecundity of transport I had to give way at the Hutton Castle T junction to a rapidly moving Landrover-a proper one -not a butched up Discovery. It roared away from me but not before I noticed the Norn Iron number plate. Somewhere I have a circular from the Fishwick Special Branch urging citizens to be on the look out for terrorists from across the water. I duly reported the sighting to my contact at FSB who must remain anonymous. He said that with decommissioning, peace process, power sharing etc Irish number plates were off his stop, search, shoot, question list. Swarthy people with long black beards were now the target. I asked what about small emerald green clad, pointed hat wearing, sticking out ears, pixie featured people with wispy white beards? He said he would get back to me once he had booted up the main frame.

Incidentally the LMD was back in the Duns Golf Club carpark demonstrating the latest secret to better golf. Forget hips and concentrate on a whip lash action with your right hand half way down your down swing. I didn't wait to see yer man in action but I really admire his faith. A radical fundamentalist amongst golfers whose day will surely come.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
We don't get many loonies on our Borders' roads; we don't get all that many sane people either as they are normally deserted. Especially at 12 noon on a dreichy Sunday. But to day Huttonian on his way back from Duns on the a very quiet stretch of E class road in the 'Lesbian Witches' neighbourhood where there is only room for a narrow car and not too many passing places suddenly found the hill he was descending alive with the sound of something. First two elderly cyclists, standing on their pedals, red of face, puffed of cheek and gasping in pain. I happened to know them -they frequently tell me that they cycle for enjoyment. They were a distance from their normal habitat and had quite a lot of enjoyment left before a well deserved lunch (not dinner, being middle class incomers) My wave was not reciprocated-perhaps wisely as they were in an advanced state of wobble and both hands desperately needed.

Unremarkable perhaps but hot on their heels came a jogger. Three humanoids in fifty yards a Borders record, surely. Male, beautifully attired-Solomon in his glorious designer jogging suit could not compare to him. I waved-what a dangerous morning. He suddenly started waving both arms, grimacing and mouthing-I thought about stopping to ask if he was alright but decided against it in case he wasn't and it was infectious. Also he looked wild and possibly dangerous and I am afraid the politically incorrect epithet 'loony' crossed my mind, however unfairly. I drove down the hill he was ascending and noticing in my mirror that he was running strongly now waving one arm and shaking his fist, occasionally swinging around to observe my retreat.

If he should read this post-many apologies for any unintended slight. Loony is a medically imprecise term and no specific condition is implied. If you were angry because I was in a car and you were on feet and briefly an intruder in your space. Sorry. If you were angry at being overtaken on quite a steep hill by two doddery cyclists three times your age may I apologise on their behalf? No offence intended, I can safely assure you. If you were just angry for no good reason and want to take it out on the nearest person; please be very careful. If you ever make such gestures at one of our local boy racers I really can't answer for the consequences. Otherwise have a good day.
Saturday, February 04, 2006

As most of the country had murk it is pleasing to report that Hutton (and even possibly Paxton) had warm glorious sunshine. So much so I had an urge to cut the grass feet long in some places but (fortunately) after 50 tugs on the starter cord, the mower didn't. So I went and did a photo shoot ending with the Kirk which is really looking its best in its tropical glow. The container in front of the building is not the HQ of the Hutton Think Tank but an office for the workers building the new village hall-now due to be finished in June, it is reliably rumoured.
A regular ,ethnically border,r bloggee has commented on a previous rant as follows: Good Morning, Sir. I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...what a dreary world the Scottish patriot must live in. Dreary, f*cking dreary, as Mr Billy Connolly puts it.
Speaking as a Piper, Burns night is a big income generator and I am thankful for it, but speaking as a regular reader of Burns, it's a shame the boy only gets wheeled out once a year and then by the sort of dreary f*cker you profiled in your blog today.
You might also be interested to know that the torchlight demonstration planned for Coldstream has been postponed, because the first one was such a success. How very Coldstream. Do you build on the momentum gained? No, you call it a day, roll over and get your tummy tickled and, presumably, the Hospital closed. PC McPlod will be happy though, it's a fair walk up to the Hospital!

So more Burns events then? Hutton Think Tank: Ceremonial and Gaelic Mist Section will look into this.
The wife with Huttonian's mobile has departed for a long weekend to the Big Smoke leaving me in complete charge with the usual long list of jobs, chores and self administration. I thought I should seek some light relief by talking on the phone with the senior granddaughter whom the wife will be seeing later today. Ms ZT having greeted her grandfather with a snatch of song (a sort of Gan Dad theme music) and a loud 'boo!, instead of responding to my thoughts on today's events at Twickenham-(at 21/4 she should have something intelligent to say about the Welsh Front Row) was heard to shout to her mother 'Can you turn it off please'! Fancy treating her grandfather like an irritating TV programme. Ingrate or what?
Friday, February 03, 2006
The wife, occasionally allowed use of Huttonian's mobile is thinking of investing in a Something i-23562N with Quad band, Bluetooth, e-mail browser and organiser, built in mega pixel camera and video, 256 k dual colour screen, 512MB memory card, polyphonic ring tones Windows mobile 2003 with pocket outlook and Explorer, i-mode, Mp3 player* and a device for getting stones out of horses hooves.

As for communication with loved ones-take it a bit down the road and it is b*****r all use in the blackhole between o2 and o dear. But doubtless will work in SW Somalia. Have a nice trip.

* subsequently informed by a Hutton Think Tank technician about a newfeature available only in Scotland which is an MSP3 player. Wonderful sound quality but will only download bag pipe music and reports from the Scottish Parliament( and only works within Scotland)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The other kind of letter writer to the Berwickshire is the Angry Scot. With a large chip and an equally large inferiority complex looking for offence and evidence of anti Jock tendencies all over the place. I think Burns did rather well with a 40 minute (40 minutes for goodness sake) children’s Cookery programme (Haggis and chips?) on his Day. Shakespeare’s birthday is rarely marked by anyone never mind the BBC and not many English correspondents seem to reach for their quill and bottle of vitriol to protest at such an oversight. . And when our more militant Scottish cousins are enraged about being constantly kept in a state of grovel and subservience why do they only harp on about Burns and Wallace? There are other great northern Gaels: Baird of TV fame, the guy who invented Tarmac, Gordon Brown and most of the rest of the cabinet, the man who outed the Gordons, Eric Liddell, the Scottish Rugby side of 1954, David Steel, Duns Scotus, Philosopher Hume, Douglas - Home (pronounced Hume) Hutton (no relation) The names just keep coming. Anyhow here is the letter in question.Enjoy.

, - While I suspect thousands of Burns clubs and pro-Scottish clubs world-wide were recently celebrating the bard’s birthday in convivial company, we should raise our voices to applaud the efforts of BBC Scotland Television for helping us to commemorate the life of the man in appropriate fashion. They pulled out all the stops to make January 25 a memorable occasion.... I wish! A 40 minute cookery programme for children was all I could find to mark the date and make it special.It makes you wonder if somebody, or some body, in the corridors of power in Edinburgh would prefer it if the Scots didn’t get too acquainted with their culture and history; any increase of interest in that direction might have us thinking: “Hey, how is it that other small nations, without many of our advantages, aspire to run their own affairs while the Scots are happy to grovel and languish in subservience?”Who knows, under independence we might even have still had a steel industry, a coal industry, a ship-building industry and at least an opportunity to defend our dwindling, beleaguered fishing industry; and I doubt if we would have turned a blind eye to the piracy of 6,000 square miles of Scottish waters between Berwick and Arbroath.Burns was a patriot who did for Scotland with words what Wallace, Bruce, and countless others who went unsung, did with deeds.I wonder what they would make of the sorry plight Scotland finds herself in today.Mind you, we have a ‘patriot’ in Holyrood never averse to championing our cause whilst decked in a pinstripe kilt!Our First Minister claims Scotland is one of the greatest small countries in the world; I can’t help thinking that is the way he would like to keep it ... a small country!

Oh yes Did I not read that Britain’s largest war ship built in recent years has just been launched at the Govan (on the Clyde)ship yards. I doubt if that would have happened in an independent Scotland.
The nice Mr Deakin of the BBC Blether Centre thinking Huttonian was in Norn Iron has sent us a warm day-a balmy 2c. Taking advantage of this unexpected munificence I risked some solitary golf at Duns. At least it was solitary until a fast moving couple materialised from nowhere behind me and then parted company as they conventionally went up the second as I went on the 11th. This seemed to perturb them for some reason as when we were about 200 yards apart on diverging courses they started shouting and gesticulating in my general direction. Perhaps they thought I was a stranger and had gone off in the wrong way or perhaps they were selling something-anyhow I really could not be bothered to walk back 200 yards and find out what they wanted. Anyhow I had a good round with the ball going much further than usual on the frozen fairways and was suitably mellow by the time I returned to my car. This was blocked by the trolley of a very large, very noisy Dinger who was recounting to an audience of his fellow players the guts of the golf instruction that he had received yesterday from a visiting professional. 'I have the secret. You just stand up straight and swing from your hips and Bingo you are up there with Tiger Woods' I am summarising several minutes of diatribe and demonstration in a very strident shout. ' A B here since God knows when, I played golf still wet from my mothers milk and now I have the secret. Stand up straight and swing from the hips' His companions eyes glazed, noses dripping were cowed into sullen silence.

Having with some difficulty reversed the car, almost over his trolley, as he reluctantly moved it, banging on the while, I reparked where I could see the first tee. The VND having practiced swinging his hips and ending up his practice swing in Position A admiring the vision of his ball hurtling dead straight 300 yards down the fairway whilst Mr Woods murmured admiringly beside him. He placed a pristine ball on his tee and with a massive swing of his hips and a swish of his wmd give it his all. I instinctively looked down the fairway. Nae need to bother. The VND was in Position A, poised, watchful as the press corps clicked away. But so was the ball, neither shaken nor stirred it crouched on its tee where it had been so lovingly placed. Some one giggled, another member of the foursome suppressed a snort and the VND pronounced : 'That bloody pro was blankety blank useless . What a w*****r. And what a flipping ( obscenity rerouted) waste of flipping money'- No worse crime in the Borders than that.

They moved on eventually I noticed something on the tee box that looked familiar. It was one of my club head covers. I had not left it at home but dropped it on the first tee. So that was what the 200 yard range shouting was all about. Thankyou whoever you are-and I can give you one bit of golfing advice as a small recompense. Forget your flipping hips.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bloggees from foreign parts have asked (well, one has) about Berwick upon Tweed. Is it bigger than Hutton? Yes and than Paxton too? Pretty? Yes if you like lots of bridges and a vista of GNER and Virgin trains doing their thing. And ancient walls, old weapons of mass destruction aka cannons, and legions of sea gulls and large dozey Swans. The railway bridge with its many arches was the biggest and longest railway bridge on the known earth in 1847 when it carried comparatively light burdens. According to the sign on the bridge by the tow path it has not been 'significantly strengthened since' I am not sure, as a frequent voyager on GNER that we really want to know that. The Old Bridge, is, very. Built in the reign of James 1 of England (who was also James VI of Scotland-don't ask) in about 1610 it is the most down stream bridge of the three and connects Scottish looking Berwick with English looking Tweedmouth. In one image you can see Berwick on the north bank with its distinctive style of architecture.A mostly Georgian town. Some people feel that the Tweed should be the frontier between England and Scotland with Berwick being the gateway to Scotland. It has the feel of a frontier town and you tend to fumble for your passport at the Berwick end of the Bridges. The New Bridge from which some of these shots are taken is boring and not worth a photo. If you click on the image of the Railway Bridge you can see all three bridges.
  Drive 17th

Drive 17th
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.

No we are not in Norn Iron but if you thought you would escape the odd golfing image..tough. This was taken a year or so ago on the No 2 Annesley Course at the Royal County Down (PBUI)I have ranted before about this course and the damage done by the distaff golfers and muscle bound non golfing golfers on day trips with their weapons of mass destruction. Look at the state of the 17th tee-I rest my case.

Thought about playing at Duns today but not even a fanatic like Huttonian could really enjoy -6c and thick frost. If I could borrow the gnarled old greenkeeper's super heated tractor thing to go round in I might be tempted.

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