Musings from the Merse
Friday, March 31, 2006
Take Plastic. Please

Although to day marks a new beginning for recycling (and thus saving the Planet) in Hutton and Paxton it is not quite as comprehensively beneficial as Huttonian first thought. Until we checked the hit list for recyclable allowed in the transparent bag we had not realised how narrow a view is taken by the High Heid Yins of appropriate plastic. Only two types are apparently allowed-PET1* and HDPE 2 with their identical Marks of the Beast. This is a big blow for the denizens of the Old Manse, and no doubt, other environmentally anxious households. Our plastic residues are almost all Yoghurt containers from the lush organic meadows of Yeo Valley-a land where GM is a car manufacturer and where happy cows and their tinkling bells willingly give their all to produce proper organic natural yoghurt to satisfy the yearnings of a caring professional middle class (no amateur Middle Classes thankyou very much) eating healthily and careingly whilst reading the Grudian and longing for the carefree days. when St Cloth Kits was in his ascendancy. But horrors.! The yoghurt containers are MotB 5 and join marks 3-6 as not fit for
recycling in decent company. No doubt if you tried to include them they would be ripped out by the Environmental Hygenists (aka Rubbish Collectors, also aka Bin Men) and your shame would be exposed at the end of Kirk Lane.

We are meant to fill a transparent sack every week. We have 52. At this rate of the occasional vitamin pill container and mouth wash bottle (we hardly ever use cans/tins of anything) we will be lucky to meet our quota every 2 months. 46 plastic bags anyone?

*No Bloggee of Broughton PET 1 does not (r) not entitle you to dump one of your cats a week.

PS Yes it is quite interesting to observe what our neighbours do put into the see through bags.
I am quite happy not to blog about that with the right inducement
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Amazingly, despite riots, strikes and general anarchy the missing camera connection turned up from Paris. Strike one (no pun intended) for our French Cousins. Incroyable. So waiting world:
Immense Ejaculation by les Frogs-given the numbers involved in the orgy there must have been considerable self restraint exercised in some quarters. Another image shows the post coital frogs enjoying the spring-damp-air (click on image for full effect)
And in the middle of all this excitement a Partridge turnedup- a first for us. For ome reason it showed no interest in our Pear tree.
Word has at last come from the High Heid Yins* at Borders HQ-bring out your multicoloured (well, lilac and transparent) plastic bags-and if you live in Hutton do so this Friday and your contribution to a Greener World will be rewarded (perhaps in the next?) So we will have to remember- cardboard, brochures, catalogues, junk mail, magazines . Newspapers, office paper,telephone directories, Yellow Pages (enough recycling lists Blog-ed-fair enough but I am just reading what it says on the lilac Bag. Huttonian) ) Then the transparent bag-shorter list (watch it. Blog- ed) basically food cans (what has happened to the good old English 'Tin')? and plastic with the right kind of Masonic symbol. Any interested sociologist doing a Ph.D on the domestic habits of eastern borderers should be at the end of Kirk Lane by 9am tomorrow, lap top charged or pencil sharpened and he/she will have no problem in analysing the very visible contents of 6 households' bags of tin and plastic. Apparently the HHY have decreed only one bag of both kinds, per household per week. But as we have had our bags for over three weeks and no collection I suspect there will be many more than 12 bags au fin de la route (as the French Revelocopede instructions insist). What will the bin persons do about that. Soloman come to Judgement.

* Spellchecker suggests 'Yangs' for 'Yins'

Yin Yang,
Yin Yang,
Plastic Bag.

Yin Yang,
Yin Yang,
Plastic Bags,

We'll Take one
the other

(the song of the Environmental Hygenists with half a nod to the Goons)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Sadly Huttonian left his camera connection to the PC in Mareil Marly, France so bloggees are not able to enjoy pictures of the immense ejaculation taking up a large area of the pond produced by Les Frogs early yesterday am-nor can they admire the extraordinary sight of over 20 frogs' heads bobbing on the surface of the water (still attached to their bodies, I hasten to add) sniffing the Spring air and gurgling happily in chorus for a job well done. Fear not, when I am reunited with the missing yoke all will be seen in glorious technicolour. Also, as a bonus, the first daffodils in the Manse Garden enjoying the warmth of the south wall. Bet you can't wait -especially for the glistening gollups of Spawn.

Someone has mentioned the idea by a local farmer to build a mobile henhouse. They always used to be the rage in rural Norn Iron; a sort of cage on wheels that you move on when the fowl have scratched out all the grass. You then shove the cage on to somewhere else -fresh fields and postures new as the ladies of the night used to say when moved on by the Fuzz in some part of Hampstead Heath that is for ever Engerland. As it happens the Hutton Think Tank (Bits Bobs and bright ideas section) has been working on a hi tech version of the mobile Hen House ATPP (All Terrain Poultry Protector) which as a top speed of 3 mph (5 kph to the non decimal challenged) This has a sensor which can identify birds with suspected Avian Flu-whereupon the whole capsule (which can take up to 50 hens, normal size) is moved on at 3mph to a safe distance. Research has shown that enflued birds, presumably too groggy to fly, have a top speed of 2mph so the fowl are permanently protected from contamination. Sadly the prototype ATPP crashed into the Whiteadder after a passing dog had cocked its leg over one of the wheels. Dog Urine has a similar DNA to the Grippe Aviateur (as the French have it, as they do) and , we now know (some what belated;y) can engender speeds from a ATPP up to 5mph. Back to the drawing board for the HTT techies. . Draw a line and move on. etc.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
A former bloggee has asked for help with :
Did you ever find out anything about the Thompson's who lived in Hutton? They were Andrew Thompson & Isabella (Bella) Thompson (Nee Aitchison) Andrew died at Hutton in 1950. Isabella died at Melrose in 1976.My Grandfather Robert Jenkinson Aitchison (1906-1986) was a Farm Worker and worked at Ayton Law & for a while at Fishwick Mains. He died in the early 1980's. Unfortunately, my interest in Genealogy was not as strong then as it is now!!Shillinglaw is another name linked to my Grandfather. His Auntie Helen (Ellen) Shillinglaw nee Aitchison(1866-1941) lived for a while in the Hutton area. Her Husband James Shillinglaw was a Ploughman and theywere around the Hutton area.I have quite a few Greenlaw ancestors interred at Hutton Auld Kirk. Some of them are married into the HosickFamily

Any information will be passed onto the enquirer.

No it is not. First we had to be at the aeroport Charles de Gaulle/Roissy, as it like to be called two hours a head of time. 243 Geordies and two Borderers. Ten minutes and one check in person to process this lot whilst 4 colleague's checked in 15 passengers for that new town : London/Luton. After threatening, sotto voce, murmurings from the 243 + 2 a second check in person was seconded to NCL from Lnd/Ltn -both hand picked as knowing no English so as the Geordies could not argue the toss. But could get their large items of hand luggage on, unchallenged meaningfully.

Stage two proceed through the less likely looking security check to air side. Easy Jet prides itself on silent announcements-no ding dongs (for which much thanks) but only one departure board which for some reason had a large area cordoned off around it so short sighted people could not actually get close enough to read the departure gate. But you have to-'If you are late we won't wait' is the EJ Mantra-no frills, no bullshit, no wait.

Stage three the Easy Jet Boarding -Methode Chaotique. No allocated seats. But you get a letter A-D for 'Boarding Priority' so the earlier you check in (if you can) the more choice of seats you have on the plane. And of course families with small children first (small being identified by the average Geordie, red haired aggressive pater familias as about 16, fat, forward and frumpy and very very anxious to be on board first. But of course EJ omits to mention the bus factor. We all get on at least three buses in the correct order which roar us across the tarmac to the waiting Orange conveyance parked a maximum of 200 yards away having done a circuit of the known world to get there. Then doors open and A-D and 'Families with small children' all join in an ugly rush under equal starters orders-the cognoscenti charging the rear steps, the dozey the front, and the genuinely really small children getting trampled in the rush. The 16 + frumpies do ok.

Stage four. Sit on plane whilst the crew pays for the fuel in used Bank of England recently released on the community via Securitas notes. Painstakingly counted into the palms of the Ground crew who admit to no English by the crew who boast of no French. The apologetic and increasingly apolectic captain called this 'The Paperwork' He complained that for some reason this refueling took 45 minutes rather than the usual twenty and he was going 'to make a report' Presumably there was a reason, but in French. So no comprendo, amigo. 'No Frills, No French, No credit cards, No Go' Airline. 'If we are late, you gotta wait. Mate'

And so the long evening wore on but at least we took off with no delay from Air traffic Control-roaring off like a Spitfire chasing Bandits at Angels One Five. Or perhaps Traffic Control were not consulted by Capitano Biggles DFC and three bars (all by now, dry)

Yes it is good to be back. And yes next time by train. There is something very satisfying about going to France from Waterloo, restores the proper order of things.
Monday, March 27, 2006

They Eat Horses, Don't They?

In Ber wick you have Sir Morrisons-a Paris you have Carrefours. 5 times as big and not a caravanner in sight. And none of those intrusive ding dongs advertising the latest modified rip off aka special offers. 'It makes sense to be slightly less overcharged in Morrisons' And what you don't have in Morrisons (but look at the small print on Spam carefully) is Viande de Cheval -horsemeat to the unwary. Not a big section but obviously popular at the week end as it was sold out this morning apart from a few Horse sausages-beware of the trots, as it were. Huttonian decided to pass.

We return to Newcastle (on Tyne) this evening en route to Hutton. So I shall end this little episode with a final two images of Mr P (controlling the traffic at the Site Batiment des enfants) amd Mmslle KB painting in the manner of Gauguin. Sorry CB bloggee but back to normal soon with the usual pictures of the Hutton Village Hall.
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Paris in the Spring. A cliche and there was very little Spring about today. Arch de Triomphe and Notre Dame were both looking very wintry.
But enough to enjoy the National History Museum and especially the rather weird Grand Galeries de l'Evolution. One huge room seemed to show a sort of French Noah's Arc but being French the two only rule was seemingly ignored with some animals going in in threes.
There was some blossom but no proper daffodils even 600 miles south of Hutton as the Exocet flies

The people featured show an interesting contrast between the naturally chic French and a family of obviously Anglo/Welsh/Aussie ethnicity.

The Mosque is now a restaurant combined with A Hammam-Moroccan (in this case) bath house. How agreeable it was to order KousKous in Arabic and be understood rather than in French and be ignored. Sorry for the rather partial picture of Notre Dame. There was just too much traffic to stop and get out without risking a Peugot up the back side.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
  Submarine Nautilius

Submarine Nautilius
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Open to the over 3s is the French Naval sumarine stranded by a very high tide and a navigational error by le Capitain Closeau in the 1950s. The torpedo tubes are loaded and pointing in the general direction of Londres. Actually the name is Argonaute not Nautilius.
  Citee des Sciences The Dome

Citee des Enfants
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This glistening dome is apparently a 400 seat interactive cinema
  Poisson Miserable

Poison Miserable
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Not joining in the fun was this rather miserable looking fish. His tank was near to the main restaurant at the Citee des Sciences-and the Specialite de Jour was 'poisson' which could explain his ill humour
  Playing with water

museum Mr P
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Citee des Enfants had something for every child. Water galore and rather ineffectual protective clothing
  A small weapon of mass destruction?

museum Katy 2
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Miss KB had plenty to occupy her intention including interesting experiments
  museum car 2

museum car 2
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Citee des Enfants featured a car which the under 5s could take to pieces. Only problem was that Mr P and Katy B both wanted to drive.
  museum Building site

museum Building site
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Inside Citee des Enfants within the citee des sciences Paris. A buildfing site for the 5s and under. All the gear and yellow helmets. Frenetic activity reminiscent of Hutton.
Friday, March 24, 2006

St Germaine en Laye is famous as the birthplace of Claude Debussy in 1860 or so.
Here he is reclining in one of the main squares. Also for Le Grand Trou-a multistorey underground car park which is at the same state of holeness as it was when we were here four months ago. It was a hole when the Hutton Village Hall was a hole but now HVH is now a great building whilst the car park remains just a hole. So does that say something about the working practices and abilities of the French builders as compared with the Scots? Perhaps the Gang of About Four who have been working so hard to put up the hall may like to comment?

But where the French score heavily against the other half of the Ould Alliance is with cheese and with fish. Especially fish of the more exotic variety-click on image for full impact. Huttonian has never seen sea urchins au naturelle ready to eat. Saw off the top like a boiled egg and eat it raw. The fishmonger said that the taste was 'tres fort' We took his word for it, drew a line under it and moved on.

A bloggee has commented on the la toilette francaise-negligible sales of soap for example. But with a massive intake of garlic and world record sales of perfume soap is hardly necessary for musk masking purposes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This is Chateau 'All in Mareil Marly, a little village now subsumed into Greater Paree.
It is in reach of acres of ancient forest where the daffodils are as about as far behind as they are in the Merse. Despite the attempts by the Academie Francaise to maintain the purity of the Gallic Tongue cross channel and cross Atlantic influences are all too evident as in 'Shopi'. The wife followed by Huttonian went out to buy a bagatelle ou deux at Shopi but had forgotten that even supermarkets in peri urban France enjoy lunch breaks from about 12-30 until 15-30. So empty handed and foot sore home cursing such third world practices.

The forest was however worth s trip=not only for the verdure but for the elegant Forester's House revealing an interesting Gallic attitude towards dogs. In France you do not beware them but pay attention to them. A healthy respect for the integrity and animal rights of man's best friend/ A refreshing attitude in a country which has systematically slaughtered most of its wild life.

Just to remind bloggees why we have risked all to cross La Manche. Mmslle KB and Monsr P. This is Katy in her pre-spring outfit and Mr P is shown diplayinh his latest engineering project- a very complicated machine
Great to be out of range of the BBC. At least of the blether centre. Yesterday the smart suited ones had promised lashing rain and huge winds for the Isle de France for today. And our Coeurs sank as we landed at Charles de Gaulle to be greeted with cold and wet, a typical Merse June day but today it is Spring at last -Paris in the Spring-hackneyed but marvellous. Frogs in the Ponds, Frogs in the streets, every where a frog frog. Vive La France.

Oh yes, on line BBC Weather is showing heavy rain for here. Get some one to look out of the window for goodness sake. A Bas Les Meteorologistes.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The frogs (in the pond on this side of the Pond) made an obvously well informed choice by refraining from spawning after their recent sing song. The pond is covered in ice this morning so we have nothing new to contribute to the BBC's Spawn and Lady bird map which shows the nearest areas of ejaculation in Newcastle on Tyne. One bunch of daffodils have actually flowered but they are of the early blooming variety-the main Daffs are still huddled into their winter coats but according to the Blether Centre Spring arrives on Saturday so we may have a good display of yellow on our return from Paris early next week. By that time we will all be bored by endless images of the new crop so Huttonian will try his hardest not to add to this aspect of visual overkill-leaving more room for equally endless grand sprog shots.

Report further from the Isle de France. Easy Jet always permitting.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Originally uploaded by erase.
By uploading this now it will save time when actually in Paris. I am indebted to the junior son-in law for this image-plenty more of Paris where it came from

The blog is off for a very long week end in Greater Paris-student demonstrations and general strikes always permitting. If all goes well the CB Bloggee will need to brace himself for cute images of the grand children-assuming that La Broadband Parisienne is functioning in a First World Country with Third World telecommunications.

I doubt if we shall see the frog (local ones) ejaculation in the pond before we go. Despite the great song and dance of two days ago les grenouilles seem to have wisely returned to renewed hibernation until the Blether Centre sends us the Spring due today. The image shows Freddie or it may have been Frederica coming up for a quick shufti-but sang not and subsided thankfully to the comfort of underwater waiting room. (Click on image to penetrate the camouflage)

According to a Guru from Kew Gardens ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4828896.stm bulb plants may be as much as 6 weeks later this year than last. Our Daffs started to open up late last week but have redonned their fleeces for the time being. Perhaps by the time we return from Paris they may have taken the plunge. Readers of the link will see a reference to the late Michael Fish MBE-late in a professional sense, of course. Retirement is obviously making him restive and eager to be back with the doom and gloom fraternity. For all our sakes Mr F, don't even think about it.
Monday, March 20, 2006
PS to the earlier post. Lecture duly delivered. Ovation acknowledged. Got chatting with two early Japanese tourists en route to Embra on GNER. They asked me about best sights. I told them. I suggested a side trip to the Borders. I asked them if they were looking forward to seeing traditional Scottish Musicians. They expressed ignorance of Pipers but after my explanation said they would give them their best shot. If they happened to be armed that is quite a thought.

I left them in Waverley Street Station looking longingly at the Departures Board. Edinburgh: Scotland's favourite short break destination?

I hope it wasn't anything I said.
So its off to Ould Reekie for the last time this lecture year-appropriately Huttonian's lecture is on the run up to the Iraq war which kicked off with Shock and Awe etc three years ago to the day. This is the one lecture of the series which you can guarantee that those students who are still turning up will not snooze-Iraq is still a very live and contentious issue amongst the young people of the Uni -perhaps contentious is not the right word -as I have yet to meet an undergraduate who is in favour of the war in the first place.

Huttonian's lectures have a common theme-they are all connected with my previous existences-as a soldier (Suez) Colonial type (Aden) and postings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait) Indeed I narrowly escaped being a guest of Mr Soddom Hussein as I should have been in Kuwait on 2 August 1990 when the boys from Baghdad decided to liberate their 19th Province but an unexpected posting to Africa got me out of harms way in the nick of time. Thus my use to the proper academics is as what they call in the trade 'A primary Source'-been there etc; and oh yes, I am very cheap-being only paid, after a fashion, for each lecture.
Not that proper Lecturers have bulging pockets. Indeed they are taking 'industrial action' another oxymoron surely, but as I am not a member of the union I am excused inaction. It will however be a bit hard on the students if their teachers refuse to mark their exam papers and refrain from assessing their performance.

After I have deducted my train fare, had my tax removed I am in pocket to the tune of 75p for each lecture. I may have to sit with the mendicants in Princes Street or borrow some Pipes. Of course I can't play but then neither can they and I am sure that the early Japanese tourists and other cognoscenti will fill my sporran with specie for just standing there and refraining from imitating the death throws of a moggie. Good work if you can still get it especially as pipers have been banned from the London Underground under recently passed anti-terrorism legislation
Sunday, March 19, 2006
70 miles to pick up the wife. Worth it in any money and I can now reconcentrate on my core activities-recycling, putting out the rubbish, firewatch and fire creation, washing up (breakfast and lunch only) and more cerebral duties. Golf. Good to be cooked for again as my menu was beginning to come round twice.

Newcastle is a nice wee 'International Airport' Clean, bright and quiet. No flight announcements. You have to read the arrival boards. This I did in search of Flt BA1332-LHR to NCL. I entered the airport with the flight due in in 30 minutes. All other impending arrivals had a guesstimate against the flight no. BA1332 was blank. It remained so for the full duration of a large Latte and a Bacon Buttie (decent grub too, btw) With 15 minutes to the ETA and no news I approached a BA helping lady. Asked why the flight was not notified, She laughed fetchingly and said 'We don't bother with the boards here, not all that reliable' She then tinkled her Key Board in E-minor, peered at her screen and announced that BA 1332 was on time.

It wasn't and the Board suddenly sprung into life : due 1410 (arrival should have been 1350-I have known worse) At 1400 I reached the domestic arrivals Comfort Zone. The Board had moved on to 'On Approach' At 1410 it still said 'on approach'. 1420 Ditto-it must be new environmental friendly fuel saving mode- gliding in silently. At 1440 the wife appeared through the arrival doors with her luggage rescued from the Magic Roundabout. As I hustled off to the short term carpark to save some change from a tenner I noticed the main Arrivals Board. Opposite Flt 1332 was the reassuring message

'On Approach'.

THe BA Help Person had a point.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
  Preparing to Spawn

Preparing to Spawn
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Mr B's friend. One of six singers in the pond. More of a contralto than a Basso Profundo but with a high rate of Vibrate.
  Frog 2

Frog 2
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This is Mr Big. Bass Vibrato extraordinary. On past form Frog sing preceded Frog Spawn by a day or two.
Huttonian took advantage of another mistake by the BBC weather pronostigaters to mow the North Lawn for the first time since October-by this time last year we had cut the grass three times already. Thinking as one does whilst struggling with the machine( I really must get a MSP2 player to shut out thought with Tom Jones, Jim Reeves etc-The long long grass of home would be aptly inspirational -the MP1 will not work outside Westminster's remit) it occurred to me that as they are always looking for new sports at the Commonwealth Games. Mower racing would make an excellent event-from the 100 metres dash to longer competitions. Our combined 'lawns' carries the mower about 5 miles allowing for a certain amount of duplication here and there. So it is not a sport for Wimps.At the games power would be allowed to propel the blades but not the wheels and the Scottish team with members of the Merse Mowers to the fore, used to very tough grass and soft ground, would surely corner the medals. Disabled Mowtheletes would be allowed the sit on variety. And there could be a Retro Mower event using the old fashioned push ones. Just a thought.

James Kerr in his seminal (no bad pun intended-read on) work 'The Reivers Book of sex toys for Frogs' suggests that mowing, in effect, is the Frog's vibrator. There may be some force in this theory as I noticed above the hum of the mower strange noises-deep vibrato coming from the pond and suddenly the reeds were alive with large dark frogs quivering with excitement and tummies (or other parts) rumbling musically. I only hope that the early mowing is not going to provoke them into a series of premature ejaculations-premature if the hard frosts return bur late compared with last year when the spawn appeared on 10 March. Incidentally the day after I had mowed the back lawn. Further research required Mr Kerr.
Friday, March 17, 2006

Yesterday snow-today the stumps are out for the beginning of the 06 season at the Old Manse Rectangular where cricket has been played since records began with one distinguished occupant of the Manse carrying his bat for 60 before retiring-12 more than the best his predecessor could manage. The Old Manse XI is lacking match practice and with the star silly mid off and forcing No 11 bat still in foreign parts the team is X short of a side. until the usual suspects can be rounded up. The left hand image is of the pitch from behind the bowlers arm and the other is the Third Umpires view from what would be the balcony if the Old Manse had one. The ground is in practice mode. Two more stumps at the Rutherford End and the bails will be ceremoniously added just before the first match against a Hutton Think Tank and Fishwick Special Branch combined side at date to be revealed only the preceding day for obvious security reasons.

Yes, Sharp eyed of Surbiton, the heavy roller is inded needed to flatten out the winter bumps and the odd Mole hill, But is temporarily missing and may only be discovered when the groundsman has successfully mowed the North Pitch which is currently under very heavy grass and too soft for any serious pitch preparation work.
The BBC Blether Centre has retired licking its wounds and a glorious sunny day appeared from nowhere-like a dolt from the grey as they used to say in Lithuanian Marshes. Sadly Huttonian has had to abandon the Borders putting off the first mow of the pre Spring for an academically connected day in Ould Reekie. The sun up here has brought out of hibernation the first mendicant pipers of the season. What they have been doing during the long dark nights I am not sure but what they have not been doing is practising their repertoire. A wailing and a warbling as the moths escape from the pipes and even the early Japanese, usually suckers for cultural degradation, as long as it is exotic, and generous with their specie, risk death by suddenly crossing Princes Street to escape the banshees. When there are two pipers opposite each other on either side the e Js have a problem which they solve by either hiding in Jenners until the ordeal is over or waiting patiently 50 metres from the nearest piper and as soon as he is out of puff (mercifully soon after the long evenings of wall to wall ciggies) scuttle past, eyes averted cameras at the port. They will be back in August by which time the pipers will have mastered 'A Scottish Soldier (now an endangered species) 'The return of Mel Gibson to Bannockburn' (often requested by Aussie tourists) 'Farewell to the Franc' (a favourite lament with French visitors) and other compositions going back to the Gallic mists of time.

I am glad to report that yer man with his wee dog is looking well as is the cur. The fierce March sun is restoring his Mediterranian holiday tan and was at the receiving end of much specie donated by the unmusical Easterners. The dog is in his (I checked) early summer fatigues-surplus from Abu Ghuraib and withstood loving pats from the tourists with only the occasional sotte voce warning growl: 'Pat on head ok, pat on back watch it Jimmie, pat on bum Tora Tora Tora! '

Now off to Academe. If I am spared
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Radio 4 was waxing lyrical this morning -the Today team-about sightings of large cats -pumas for instance-throughout these islands and is looking for evidence that these creatures actually exist and are not figments of overheated imaginations. Foot prints have been found but no positive identifications made. Listeners are invited to send in hard evidence. Sadly our Panther hunter, Dave the Paper having abandoned his early morning newspaper delivery is no longer in a position to report furthe sightings to those he has already made. About two years ago he saw a panther (a bit 'bigger than a Labrador') and a local villager also saw one in the snow behind his house a few months previously-glowing black in the snow as he lyricised. No photos, no hard evidence. No glory on Today. Its a pity that Roan deer (or Bambis as D the P used to call them) don't count as exotic creatures of the wild. Dave had hard evidence of those since one committed suicide under his wheels leaving lots of hard evidence all over the body work of his Landrover. Any sightings to the Duty Officer, Fauna and Road Litter section, Hutton Think Tank, please.

Huttonian can only offer images of Ollie, the Hen Pheasant-rarely sighted these days She is being pursued passionately by Cockie but he has not yet been able to cement the union (if that is the right technical term) Ollie is a stickler for the proprieties-no Spring No Sex. Any advances before 21 March and its peck rather than pecker. In the meanwhile she is chasing her would be paramour away from the food centre. But no matter, he is off nuts-all he wants his his greens. But it could be a long wait.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
After the Nations Favourite Poems, Films, Comedians 'the Scotsman' (the paper not a bloke) has decided to launch a more parochial search for the Seven Wonders of Scotland.Its a good idea but perhaps of little interest to the Borderers who will not be able to muster enough votes to get a local sight on the short list although the Scottish half of the Chain Bridge, Farmer C's Amazing Maize Maze, the view from Hutton Hill and the mighty Whiteadder Gorge surely deserve a place in this 'pantheon of pure delight' (from 'It's a good day when you can see across the street' Willie Kerr's -The Border Ballads Revisited' pub Karinski and Korsikoff- Kiev 1956). I offer this thought to the Berwickshire-the Best Borders Sights/Sites Compilation. As a member of the Borderers Ambassadorial Corps I would hope that s[ponsorship will be forthcoming from our local tourism Czar.

THE Scotsman, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, has launched a public vote to find the SEVEN WONDERS OF SCOTLAND. It is a search to find the heartbeat of the nation, to discover those wonders - natural, manmade and cultural - which make Scotland what it is today.
From our shortlist of 30, we invite you to compile your own personal list of Seven Wonders. Which of our nation's treasures will you select? The
Black Cuillin or Ben Nevis? Iona or St Kilda? The Forth Bridge or Rosslyn Chapel? Golf or single malt whisky? It's a tough choice.
shortlisted 30 wonders will be "championed" in The Scotsman on Saturdays and Mondays over the coming weeks by public figures. They will argue why their choice MUST be a wonder of Scotland. Look out for Sir Alex Ferguson on the ships of Glasgow, Charles Kennedy on the Caledonian Canal and Elaine C Smith on the Scottish sense of humour.
How will you balance the remarkable variety of wonders and come up with a list of only seven? It's up to you - discuss it with family and friends or argue about it in the pub. Whatever the outcome, don't forget to cast your vote to make this a genuinely national choice.
Everyone who votes can take up an
18 months for 12 membership offer with the National Trust for Scotland - and will be entered into our Grand Prize Draw for a week-long luxury tour of Scotland, taking in each of the winning Seven Wonders.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Last of the Winter Whine?

For a variety of reasons Hutton did not go to the Big Smoke this morning but may later the week if the omens are propitious. More difficult to detemine this these days as access to the entrails of a duck requires the possession of one with the inevitable risk of aviator flu. Omens this am were certainly not propitious. Putative taxi driver terrorised by the BBC Blether Centre forecast for the Borders, reluctant to make the trek to Hutton accriss the frozen steppes-and at 8am he may have had a point; thick snow visibility no more than three Double Decker bus lenths or shorter than a standard football pitch. And the train I was due to catch never showed apparently having been lost somewhere between Glasca and Embra. By that time, and for other, lurgi connected reasons I had pulled the plug on today's trip.

Of course by 11am it was all different. Snow vanished as if it had never been-the images are of the weather map at 8-30 with very large, very pretty and very cold flakes descending. I have a feeling, not shared by the meteorologists that this may have been Winters last kick. If so it will still be the snowiest winter since, er, 04/05. And I got one run on the inflatable toboggan. So we can now stop whining about the past few months-the lateness of the daffodils, inability to weed the garden mow the lawn, find the garden gnomes. Soon enough we will be complaining about the spring: too many bloody daffodils, too much mowing, ditto weeding and why on earth do we want with those naff gnomes ( I hasten to add, not one of our complaints)

So enjoy these pictures while you can. It will be daffs on stilts soon enough
Monday, March 13, 2006
Huttonian mentioned in a previous post about black smoke emanating from somewhere not far from Paxton and connecting it with a news item on Tyne TV about an idea put forward by the British Asian Society to have funeral pyres in rural areas of North East England. A member of a traditional Hindu family was explaining how depressing the usual arrangements were at Crematoriums (Crematoria?) and how much more uplifting it would be to dispose of one's loved dear departed in some corner of a foreign field that is for ever Mumbai. A spokesman for the National Society for the further expansion of Crematoria (or something similar) not surprisingly objected to this possible competition from the Hindu community and expressed grave (no pun intended) reservations about environmental degradation, global warming effects on beef exports etc. He also thought that the local rural communities might object and mentioned how unpleasant the smell of burning flesh would be en plein air -crematoriums coped with this ok but was slightly defensive about the quality of the black smoke emanating from their chimneys-Newcastle Crematorium is vast and can frizzle a number of stiffs simultaneously at 15 minutes a go as queues build up. Certainly I can see the point about the depressing nature of the proceedings and I think if you have to burn, better to do so in a nice rural setting surrounded by leafy trees, singing birds and Dolly the Sheep.

If the good people of Northumberland want to keep their area pyre free, preferring instead, their traditional leafy bonfires and surplus tyres, that could be their loss. There may be a good business opportunity for Berwickshire and the wider Borders which already has facilities for 'natural burial' in a wood near Selkirk. Farmers struggling with shrinking subsidies could easily diversify into open air funerals followed by the ritualised bonfire in accordance with the appropriate rites. ' Local opposition and planning permission might be a problem but if the farming fraternity can get the planners to accept highly inappropriate mansions in pleasant rural situations getting the nod for a small corner of a large isolated field of dubious, allegedly, agricultural potential, should be a doddle. The pyre site will of course be at safe distance from the Big Hoose- but eventually adjacent to a nice little group of low cost housing approved by the self same planners as being ok-sited as they will be in a field no longer suitable for agricultural production because of the presence of an environmentally hazardous (but only to crops) funeral facility. And where low cost housing is the big battalions of developers with their middle class architecht designed four bedroomed boxes will quickly follow. Another desirable 'Living oppurtunity' with a name to commemorate its origins: Blue Smoke Meadows perhaps.

And as for the Hindu Pyre area it will of course be got rid of by 'popular demand and (belated)environmental considerations' as soon as the last bit of planning permision for the 250 boxes has been given. Blue Smoke is a nice name but not a nice sight. And as the man in the Berwick Taxi will comment: 'And a good thing too. I have nothing against these ethnic traditions but they have no place in the Borders. Nearer to (their) home thankyou very much.
Sunday, March 12, 2006

A second post today to mark an unusual amount of the white stuff in Hutton
Its not quite up to the Great Snow of 02-and as on that occasion there was no power for 7 days I hope that it is not repeated especially if the oil runs out. Nothing was moving in the Hutton main drag (that is not unusual at the best of times) and the only footprints were of your outside roving reporter.
The image of Hutton Hill field (ploughed ready for potatoes) should reveal (centre back) a nice shot of Hutton Hall and the nice Blue roof. Click to enlarge and see if it really is all that offensively ostentatious as some would have it. Picture from the road to the Kirk should give more idea.

And as for the birds they seem ok thanks to my constant ministrations-bird bath defrosted twice already. No sign of the Tory Grandee. When the going gets tough he does the going.
Oh Yes as the snow piles up and the south wind edges toward blizzard force a nice young BBC Blether Centre suit has just reassured the eastern Borderers not to worry as most of the snow is passing us by. Yeah Right. Back to the BBQ

The Met boys in suits have been promising us heavy snow so long without success that it has been a case of 'Yeah, right' and get out the BBQ set and the deck chairs. However the often threatened wolf is at the doorstep and the BBC blather centre Warning looks almost as dramatic on the ground as on Page 405.
Not too deep yet and not even enough to cover the foot length grass on our back 'lawn'
but traffic has already been brought to a complete stop in the front drive. I had to struggle out through the blizzard on the back 'patio' to feed the wife's feathered friends. It is galling to find Cocky, the biggest beast in the jungle (He looks more like a Tory Grandee every day) gobbling up the food intended for his smaller and more vulnerable cousins. But come the Aviator Flu, he'll get his.

We have had to run our fuel tank right down so as to allow the Tank Fundi to clean it out before it can be filled up again. We may have made a bit of a miscalculation about how long the remaining oil will last-low warning lights now flashing and the central heating has to stay off until we get a fill up so as to have a chance of keeping the Raeburn and the hot water going until a week tomorrow, the earliest that the relief convoy can get through. No heating, no Raeburn and it wont just be the Poobles who have no toes.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Well the Wife has left me.

Not for long fortunately and not for far-just Poland, in search of winter sunshine and to escape the washing up. This, and all the other chores falls to Huttonian who will also do a bit of escaping to the Big Smoke to fulfill his Borders Ambassadorial responsibilities and to see Ms Z (yes Bloggee of CB-more of those cute pictures gain) Before my southern foray (not for a couple of days yet) it was to Sir Morrisons to fill gaps in the cupboard space and to lay in essentials not necessarily recognised as such by the Wife: carrot cake, ten minutes Quichees (hence their name, I suppose) and politically correct crisps. To avoid the usual Saturday stampede I was there well before 9 but not soon enough to beat the SirM's 'keep them moving at all costs' week end policy of frantic music (Heavy Plastic I believe it is called) and freezing temperatures-the check out ladies were wisely wearing heavy mittens. Being early the check outs were too few for all those wise virgins (in a philosophical sense) who poured in in their hundreds to beat the rush. The basket and cash only checkout had a queue of 8 and it would have been quicker to have followed a solitary trolley at a checkout further north. But as I had a basket and cash in hand what could I do?

On the way back I noticed a pillar of black smoke south of Paxton. Was this the first of the Hindu burial pyres about to become a feature of the North East? Of this more anon.

If I am spared.

Spell checker suggests 'Nourishing' for 'Morrisons' and 'Siren' for SirM. Tesco,Sainsbury etc should have a word with Mr Bill Gates for apparent favouritism in the Supermarket wars? Although Sainsbury is 'Songbird' and Tescos 'teaches' Could be worse.

Friday, March 10, 2006
It must have been a slow news week for the Berwickshire when that respected organ has space for letters from well known, er, eccentrics. The self- styled Regent of Scotland has featured in previous posts as a bit of light (about 2.3kgs) entertainment but repetition is beginning to blunt the cutting edge of his satire. If that is what it is. I wonder how many Borderers give the proverbial about the present whereabouts of the real stone of Scone. Certainly those daring Nats who nicked the alleged stone from Westminster Abbey some years go must be feeling sick as that other cliche when they learn that what they liberated from foul Edward's thrall was no genuine article but a "lump of local Perthshire sandstone"*. Its enough to make the Hammer of the Scots to trek southwards "to think again"

SIR, - One of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is given in the King James Version of the Bible as "Thou Shalt not Steal".As far as the Kingdom of Scotland is concerned the stealing of the Kingdom of Scotland by the Kingdom of England in two stages, namely in 1603 and in 1707, in flagrant breach of the Treaty of Edinburgh/Northampton of 1329 between the the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce, and the then King of England, Edward III, was a flagrant breach of that commandment.It is stated in the preamble of that treaty that "the Kingdom of Scotland shall remain for ever separate in all respects from the Kingdom of England in its entirety, free and in peace...That treaty has never been abrogated by the Kingdom of Scotland which is thus under Scots law and under international law legally Scotland, the only Scotland, as much as it was when Robert the Bruce became King of Scots in 1306, exactly 700 years ago, crowned upon the true Stone of Destiny which is still in safe keeping until the Regent and Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland legally take over Scotland on behalf of the sovereign people of the Kingdom of Scotland.The stone Edward 1, King of England, stole in flagrant breach of that Commandment was a lump of local Perthshire sandstone fobbed off on him by the then Abbot of Scone. The true one will, of course, be restored to Scone in due course by the authorities of the Kingdom of Scotland. (Name withheld as a kindness)
(I thought the Stone of Scone was made from Perthshire Sandstone? What else? Blogg-ed)
PS Spell Checker suggests 'Nuts' for 'Nats' Enough Said?
The Borders Tourist people don't mess about. Today's post brought Huttonian his appointment to the membership of the Scottish Borders Ambassador's Club-a pile of informative brochures on what is still apparentlyScotland's favourite short break destination and a packet of pretty cards to which I am to append my name when handing them out to putative visitors to the region when I am experiencing one of my outwith moments. No sign, as yet, of my car pennant, personal ambassadorial standard, notification of my frais de representation ( money to maintain my position, in plain anglais) or my ambassadorial credentials signed by the local head of state. None the less I will embark upon my duties with enthusiasm. I am due to be in the Big Smoke next week and may as well start as I intend to continue by distributing some of the cards on my trip on WAGN from Kings Cross to the salubrities of Palmers Green. By handing one card to every occupant of coach c on the Finsbury Park to PG leg I will be able to spread the word about the glories of the Borders and impress my purpose by insisting on shaking hands with every passenger as I do so. For southern commuters, disgruntled or otherwise it will be a welcome change from buskers and the usual type of mendicant with snotty child in tow-and who knows I may ,after all, get a contribution or two towards my Frais-I'll bring a Borders Bonnet for any good will offerings, just in case.

Those of you who want to know more repair without delay to www.visitscottishborders.com and any messages of support or enquiries to Their Excellencies the Scottish Borders Ambassadors borderambassador@visitscotland.com
Thursday, March 09, 2006
After a 100% incorrect forecast yesterday (Rain confidently promised-sun arrived) Huttonian faced with more gloomy prognostications opted for golf at Duns after a long lay off because of genuinely bad conditions organised by the BBCWC. Leaving the house it was all beakerfulls of the warm south, Zephry breezes, sunlight peeping through lightening clouds. Duns was different- a bucketful of the damp West-not actually raining as far as one could see through clammy mist but a feel that rain was on its way.

Golf was problematical. Usually a single player, with 'no standing' a sort of non person has the opportunity for seamless progress by playing the first hole and then cutting across to the 11th playing the last eight to complete a leisurely 9 holes. Not to day-the geriatic foursome in cold pursuit of the cardiac three was effectively gumming up the first nine. I had great hopes that the two ball who beat me to the first tee would also choose this route thus clearing my way from the 11th on. And I have to say I was looking forward to my escape eleventh wards as these two took 25 minutes to play the first hole-select a club put it back, select another, ditto. Discuss last nights tellie whilst selecting the first club again; gentle roll the ball a few yards greenwards. Start the whole process over again with the second shot-move the debate on to the prospects for the Scottish economy, fumble for a cigarette, lighter doesn't work, matches damp. Play second shot-and so the long day wore on. Until after four putts each they moved off the first green-horrors heading for the 11th tee. I was between the proverbial large stone and the other thing.

I killed some time with Lad One and Lad Two-the junior greenkeepers deputising for the Gnarled Old Countryman (GOC) still enjoying a (very) long weekend or just starting on one. Rain by 9.45 said one. Make that 9.40 said the other-youse better get past those two (unfair description deleted) or you will get soaked. I couldn't. People don't let single players past them around here. In the end driven to distraction by the slow earth moving proceedings in front of me I cut out two holes, got in front of the tortoise two and finished my round in a high state of dudgeon having missed out on two of my favourite holes. After a few soothing phone calls from the comfort of my car- I was aware of steady rain. A glance at the watch: 9.42-just after. I thought of the two... (unworthy epithet repressed) still well out on the course-no leaves on trees-no shelter-they were dressed for winter-furry fleeces easily soaked. Oh dear!

I know that we should always forgive our tormentors. Closure. Move on. I thought of the tiresome couple getting wetter and wetter. I smiled-with pity? No. With satisfaction? You bet. Sorry Archbishop Tutu.

It is lovely back in Hutton. No hint of rain. And yes BBCWC 'Well done'.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Suddenly the unfriendly blank wall of the new village hall has broken out in a smiley rash of new windows. It makes such a difference to the view from the E2134-Kirk Lane. It has been quite an interesting lesson in modern building techniques whereby you erect a blank wall and then knock bits out of it for the windows. As previously reported it will be the loos and the post office which will be on the E2134. It would be nice if the windows in the loos had one way glass so as you could admire the hustle and bustle of Kirk Lane whilst doing your business in decent privacy. This has its dangers. I think it was at Birmingham University in the 1960s when a new Female Halls of Residence had one way glass installed in the 'Ablutions Block' but the wrong way round. It was unnoticed by the girls for nearly six months but not by the male students who discovered a new exciting dimension to Bird Watching. Anyhow some spoilsports spilled the beans, alerted the Vice Chancellor (who would soon have been in danger of living up to his title) and two way frosted glass was hastily put in at enormous expense.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Huttonian is indebted to AOL news for this little item:

Scientists have discovered a family that walks on all fours – millions of years after its ancestors stood up and walked on two legs.
Evolutionary psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey, one of the scientists leading the research into the family, said: "This could be hugely important – a living example of how our ancestors walked before they became bipedal.
"As such, it might teach us so much about our distant past."

It may be a coincidence but the Hutton Think Tank (Anthropological and Brass Farthing research section) have recently published a previously classified file now released under the 30 day rule about a family not too far from here who had adopted quadrupedal approach over three generations. Apparently this was not so much genetical as 'prudently investigative' (in the jargon of the psychobabble of the period) development The Grandfather had lost a small coin and his family had been looking for it ever since. But with the onset of decimalisation the coin lost any value and the family members assumed a more carefree and upright posture.


There is very little drama about the border nowadays-many visitors are disappointed that the transition from England to Scotland and vice versa is so unremarkable. Where are the border posts, the demand for passports, the barbed wire, the dug in machine guns or even the lone Scottish Piper greeting the southerners with that most welcoming of refrains ' Will ye no go back again?' At the height of the tourist season there is indeed the occasional piper on the A68 south of Jedburgh where bus loads of trippers are forced off their coaches to admire the view and in some cases pay the piper. The view is worth it.

Less dramatic border scenes around here-the image is of an ancient track which runs down the wild frontier from near Paxton to the Whiteadder and the Tweed. Left hand side of the road is in England-hurrah! the right in Scotland -Boo*!. As the bover boys in their St George's Crossed tee shirts might have it. It seems a good place for an ambush amongst the crab apple trees and probably unchanged since Reiver times. On the busier roads such as the Berwick-Greenlaw one the border is graced with a sign 'England' Just that-watch it mate- although a few yards down the track it does actually say 'Welcome to Northumberland-England's Border County' The Scots are more cordially up front with a large 'Welcome to Scotland' And as in the Norn Iron/Republic of Ireland crossings the road quality changes. In our case the potholes and verge cavities are more noticeably third world on the English side en route from Berwick and I doubt if the Northumberland County Council is really aware that the road from the A1 signposted to obscure Scottish hamlets is their responsibility. Or care too much; if you want to leave civilised parts that's your problem, don't tell us about it.

Anyhow the second image of the Whiteadder at Edrington Mill would make a much better border crossing-gentle, snowdroppy bank, Scotland, towering forbidding cliff, Engerland. It however would mean moving the present border half a mile into Scotland-boo*! as the bbs, lagered and shaven skulls could put it

** Huttonian wishes to point out that these are bover boy sentiments not those of Huttonian. After being accused of anti Scottish prejudice in the Mail on Sunday and threatened with the race relations act by a well wisher locally he wishes to make this clear. After all some of his best friends are..... and so are many of his relations. Blogg-ed

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