Musings from the Merse
Saturday, September 30, 2006

So it finally happened. The image in the post below is of the exact moment that the scissors cut through the blue ribbon (to match the roof?) and the New Hall was opened in a physical sense. A few minutes later Major Trotter did his stuff again and declared the Hall officially open at the end of his speech from the top table. The other main speech was by the Chairman of the Hall Trustees and it was a pleasure for Huttonian who has sat through so many dreary stultifying speech ridden diplomat infested occasions to have people brief and to the point. And the food was of the usual high standard from the caterers based throughout the season at Paxton House. And as if Someone up there really approved of the whole occasion the sun shone brightly not only lighting up the roof but the great and the good of Hutton and environs who were privileged to be invited for this event.I apologise for some of the images of backs and profiles. I saw no sign of an official photographer or of the press. So if the Berwickshire would like one of my images they will find me very reasonable

One of our more elderly (ie older than Huttonian,much) villagers having asked if I had enjoyed myself said rather sharply that she was surprised to see me there.Why? I wonder. Surprised I was invited? Surprised I had turned up deserting a principled stand about something? The roof? The great wall of Hutton? But talking about principle, the Chairman of the Trustees in mentioning that there had been a bit of sotte voce agro about whom was invited and whom was not, went out of his way to assure those lucky enough to be there that they were on the list as having contributed something to the new hall-fund raising, function supporting, whatever.I am not sure that is the point, and I noticed amongst the inter alios a few characters who had not been involved in any way in the campaign for a new hall. A few who had gone no where near Hall functions and whom I had met for the first time today,others who had been dead against it. Grateful as I am to have been invited to a very well organised and good spirited occasion it should not have been beyond the wit of man (as also embracing woman) to have concocted an event open to all-sheep and goats alike.

Huttonian hates to say it but the opening (all invited) of the Paxton extended hall three years back might have made a model to imitate. But on this occasion, at least, the appropriate person was asked to do the honours.Even in the absence of HRH

Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
You saw it first here.

Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, Major Alexander Trotter, cuts the ribbon to open the Village Hall. Conceived 1998, Born 2006. Well done all concerned. Jim Sloan, Chairman of the Hall Committee is seen in attendance
  Hutton Hall. First image of interior

Hutton Hall
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This is what the inside of the hall looked like on 28 April . To day it will be filled (subject to Health and Safety regulations) with the excited invitees for the Grand Opening Ceremony. Place your order for next Thursday's Berwickshire to read all about it
Friday, September 29, 2006

Saturday will be a big day for Hutton. The biggest day for the Hutton Village Hall since 20th May 1931 when the previous building, on the same spot, demolished last year, was officially opened. Major Alexander Trotter, the Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire is doing the honours this time. In 1931 it was the then Lord Home of the Hirsel.

The May 1931 event was religious in tone. Psalms, Readings and hymns. Naturally enough as it was then designated as the Parish Church Hall and was a gift to the Parish from Sir William Burrell whose vast art collection is housed in Glasgow. He was then the owner of Hutton Castle. As a dowry, as it were, he presented the hall with a collection of heavily framed photographic reproductions of Old Masters which used to hang in the hall up to its demolition and are now back in Hutton Castle for safe keeping. I doubt if they will reside again in the new building as they would look out of place in brightly lit modern surroundings although you might put the Mona Lisa peering out of the circular window at the top of the front of the building to give a (false) lead to future seekers of the Holy Grail-see a previous post

At some stage the old hall lost its church label and became the secular village hall run by a trust for all the community. As the church tended to lose its position as the centre of gravity for the local people it made sense to have a village building for church goers and others alike. In 1931 Lord Home described ‘The Church Parish Hall’ as the right title because the church was part of the usual life of the community and ‘the Master’would bless all activities within it. Not so much now as then-except it is very much part of the death in the community-funerals still attracting big congregations.

In opening the building Lord Home also said that the 'hall would be the centre of the social life of the parish…hold meetings of a recreational and amusing character..centre of debate where interchange of opinion would be given.’ What a wonderful vision of future Community Council meeting.

He then waxed gloomily philosophical ‘we live today in a time of unparalleled difficulty and anxiety , not only in our own nation but throughout the world and the wisest cannot see any break in the clouds... Many must have asked themselves what the reason was for the breaking of the essential rule, which has put the whole world out of gear’
Nothing changed then? !931? Without a George Bush or the nice Mr Blair being even a gleam in their parents eyes. Major Trotter will have difficulty in following that in happy uncomplicated 2006 Perhaps he can echo Lord Home’s closing words
In the Hutton district it might be asked what people can do? But he reminded them that if they showed the example of doing right the rest of the County would take notice and so others would follow.

Now, there’s a thought

(PS What may have been in Lord Home's mind was the 2.80million unemployed after the great recession of 1929 and the agitations against the then Labour Government. In August 1931 there were a series of hunger marches organised by the Communist Party. But in Berwickshire?)
'Good Morning, Sir. I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...

'No mention (in the Berwickshire News coverage of the Paxton Onions) of Huttonian - does your bounty extend only to soft fruit?

writes a bloggee via the e-mail facility. Indeed there is an article in this week's Berwickshire on the results of the Paxton Onion Club's annual show where 12 trophies are awarded in a variety of categories from very large onions in 'stands' to very large single onions and the heaviest onion-presumably wheeled into the hall on a very large wheelbarrow to avoid the risk of hernia. (Harvested with a mechanical digger?)

To answer the bloggee's question. Huttonian may be (this year) a dab hand at soft fruit but I fear onions are beyond him. So even if he was a member of the highly elite Onion Club (and bear in mind it is Paxton we are talking about) I doubt if he could compete in the size stakes. I may be wrong but I doubt if these monsters are organically cultivated. Certainly the wife's crop are small and perfectly formed (and taste good which I doubt applies to the steroidically enhanced) but you could get well over 100 into the wheelbarrow-if we got 100 so if size matters, we would be non starters.

By the way a former Huttonian (now in Duns)-used to go to the local school and live in the Hutton Castle Barns area asks have we noticed a distinctly different accent in Hutton and Paxton speech? I don't think my ear is sharp enough for this even when digitally enhanced and whilst there is a hard core of old time Paxton folk, born and bred the same hardly applies to this village. So the Hutton lingua may be joining the red squirrel and the pub smoker on the path to extinction.
Thursday, September 28, 2006

According to a Paxtonian of sound mind and good eyesight a surveyor-or at least a bloke with a theolodite has recently been seen in Knowes Close field doing his thing peering through his eyepiece and polishing his glasses. Seems odd as the Local Plan for Paxton excludes further development. And this is no infill site but a field with a recent history of frustrated proposals for bricks and mortar.

The Price of freedom (from inappropriate development) is eternal vigilance.Verb Sap

No, Charitable of Coldstream, I doubt if he was looking for mushrooms.

Mind you it has been a wonderful year for them.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
  bird crap 2

bird crap 2
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
No I don't know what kind of fruit. Plums possibly. But with added Bird digestive juices it wil stick to anything. Roof, Neck (see below) and the wretched birds can even crap horizontally charging the windows at great speed and, apparently, flying backwards. A sort of projectile vomiting but from a different aperture. Clever, really
  Bird crap 1

Bird crap 1
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Its not the sea gulls that the good Burghers of Ber Wick should be worrying about but the fruit eating feathered friends infesting Castle Avenue, the 'Park Lane' of this northern metropolis where the well heeled shelter in great mansions behind high walls, two cars in the drive, two in the garage and two on the road. Its the two on the road which are irritating as the avenue is a back up overflow car park for Ber Wick station which is full of vehicles left by the week by Embra workers who seem to live up there all week blocking off the car park for the rest of us. I have noticed some tempting gaps near the station recently and tried one this morning. I returned after a brief visit to Embra to find the car covered with digested fruit. I looked up -no wonder ,the tree above was covered with undigested fruit. And as I got into the car a bit of the former landed neatly on my neck and ran done my back. How nice.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Spittal may not be the middle class watering place and spa it once was before the railway closed down thanks to Dr Beeching but it remains a pleasant if rather sleepy sea side village with a good beach and memories of Lowry. It used to have more dog pooh per square inch than anywhere else I knew but the recent anti crap campaign seems to be leaving its mark or rather not leaving a mark. Little old ladies clutch leads (attached to dogs) in one hand and black plastic bagsin the other before depositing them in the appropriate containers-not the dogs of course-their noisesome droppings. Hefty fines, threat of, seems to have focussed minds herabouts being much more expensive for a canine to crap on the sea front than for a human to relieve itself in Berwickshire-in a public toilet that is.

'Development' has seen the end of the old textile mill but the brick chimney, featuring in a number of Lowrie paintings has been saved, for the moment at any rate. Once the new bijou sea side mansions are up at half a mill a shot, down it will come for safety reasons.

The strand is as good as the one Lowry admired and painted but if you are looking for Northumberland's answer to Blackpool you may be disappointed. Very disappointed. One cafe, one snooker hall, a childrens playground, a non (mostly) bouncy castle and, er, thats it.

Lowry did not seem to mind the lack of 'amenities' Probably too busy watching where he put his feet
Councillor Crap?

Last week's Berwickshire which we missed in hard copy, it not being available in Palmers Green (although Le Monde was, strange sense of priorities?)carries the following letter from a prominent local councillor (if that is not an oxymoron. I have nothing against the man-yes, it is a man-but I would hope that local politicians should think a bit before inflicting this type of pretentious rubbish on the Merse. Yes you are intelligent enough to watch Channel 4 -takes more brains than Big Brother perhaps, yes you have read the Da Vinci Code and you have worked out it is fiction- but please spare your constituents half digested and not too well understood snippets about a version of Christian Zionism, and the post Armageddon state of the planet. All you are trying to say, isn't it, that you don't like George Bush, you don't like Tony Blair liking George Bush, so it is time that the latter went with or without Rapture.An 'end timer' if ever there was one-I think you feel. Would you not be better employed in more mundane local matters especially if you are seeking reelection next year? Or perhaps I am being a bit patronising myself. I am fairly confident Mr B does not read the Berwickshire, although perhaps he should. Next time please write to the Guardian.He may not read it either but he employs people who do. OH? The Guardian might not publish such a letter? Oh good.

- While on holiday this summer I at last found time to read the fiction of The Da Vinci Code.
Last Saturday evening I happened by chance on a two hour Channel 4 documentary The Doomsday Code presented by Tony Robinson. The difference was that the latter contained video evidence to demonstrate it was based on fact.
Tony took viewers to meet 'end timer's in the US, Israel and Uganda. Viewers heard an American end timer preaching 'The answer is not economics, the answer is not politics, the answer is getting back to the Bible'
Seems reasonable but American end timer' evangelists in Uganda were shown encouraging people to pray for the end of the world rather than helping them to improve the quality of their lives.
End timers believe in 'The Rapture'*. From a website called  'Rapture Christ'.I quote 'The major bible prophecy yet to be fulfilled is the rescue of Abraham's children from this Earth. Some people call this event 'The Rapture'. God will rescue/rapture us before people are forced to accept an implant referred in the Bible as 'the mark of the beast'
End timers believe the end of the world is near, when everyone will go either to heaven or to hell. From a web search on 'End timers' here is one quote 'America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven.'
The most disturbing claim in the programme was from a leading 'end timer' who said that Bush’s advisers were coming to them for advice.
That may or may not be true but ‘end timers’ welcome global warming and Bush has resolutely refused to lead any US action on global warming.
As end timers wish for the early destruction of the planet they encourage greater pollution. They are as much extremists as those in al-Qaeda, the difference being that they believe in Christ and their base is America.
www.channel4.com/believe is a website which enables anyone to find out more but as I have indicated Channel 4 is not alone in making these claims.
One American website claims 'End Timers Now Control Government - The Rapture Now Steers The Ship Of State'.
It is time to end our special relationship with the US because America appears to be on a Crusade.
It follows that it is time for Tony Blair to go since he has aligned himself with Bush. He should not be granted the dignity of choosing his time but should be forced out.
COUNCILLOR -----(Name withheld to ptotect the foolish)

The Hutton Think tank impressed by your worry about distorted Christian Evangelism and the dangers it might present to the Merse is suggesting that the pub in Paxton changes its name from 'THE CROSS' to 'THE MARK OF THE BEAST'

You never know, it might help.

*'Rupture' or 'Raptor' can be used withou altering the sense, if any-Blog-ed)
Monday, September 25, 2006

I am very grateful to a bloggee Mr S McNally for the image above of a grass snake seen at Wooler. Ihe enthusiasts at 'Snake in the Grass'-see original post below-will be grateful for confirmation by an eye witness of snakes in Scotland. This one is presumably an English Serpent but no doubt on its way to Scotland's favourite short break destination

"I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...You would like to hear about My wife and I spotting a Grass Snake
We spotted the grass snake on part of the Southern Upland Way about 1/2 mile heading west from Peas Bay, Shame we forgot the camera that weekend.
These are picture taken the weekend before spotting the an Adder basking in the sun during a walk in the College Valley near Wooler.
Sorry we have no pictures but there are grass snakes in Scotland
Best regards Stephen McNally"

This is apparently officially Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Latter true enough as we can't even begin to eat the pears fast enough-so Huttonian pears are available in the Post Office-hurry it is closing in an hour and they will be rotten by Thursday. But Mists are taken to the extreme. There has been fog for the last 5 nights and it seems to persist most of the day whilst the most of the rest of the UK basks in sunshine. It is also apparent that the mist brings out the worst in those few local drivers who venture out. The B road from Paxton House to the A1 is bad enough in bright sunny weather with drivers from the deepest Merse desperate to find a dual carriage way to take them away from the slow B-E class roads which make driving a pleasure for most of us; but not if you are a Toad and in a great hurry. The principle that these road hogs seem to follow is if you can't see an oncoming vehicle because of the mist, it ain't there.

Huttonian has already crawled in and out of Berwick to feed himself in the wife's absence in Embra-once again Sir Morrison's staff had taken advantage of the murk to park in all the available Mother and Children and Disabled (Badge only) slots. Mind you the Morrisonians all have badges so it may be ok. Safely back and with the fridge full of boilable eggs I can contemplate the fog bound garden with equanimity knowing that the last few tomatoes are well watered and the lingering pears picked up before they can rot where they fall-better to rot in the bowl in the comfort of the kitchen table.

If only Rosie the cat was a pear eater.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
  Making baguettes

Making baguettes
Originally uploaded by flo_overseas.
The French start cooking lessons at a very early age. M. P and Msle KB placing silver euros into Christmas baguettes
Well, the 2 hour plus bus journey from Newcastle on Tyne to Berwick after GNER had removed rails from the NCL to EDI leg was almost worth it. Thick fog and as the train is timetabled to stop at the metropolises of Morpeth and Alnmouth so did the bus have to follow suit. We had two passengers for Morpeth, one for Alnmouth and a healthy 5 for Berwick.

The fog proved irrelevant. The Bus had the latest in satellite navigation with a programmed in frosty voiced lady with a slight Midlands accent who took her cue from the stars. She in her turn had a controller in Hampshire(?) A real person who pressed the appropriate buttons (or clicked the right mouse) when she was appraised of our destination. Newcastle to Mor Peth (as the slim controller insisted on calling it) was a breeze. Clear frosty instructions and only one 'Do a U-turn when safe to do so. You are on the wrong route. U-turn now' when the Newcastle driver took a short cut known to him but not to Ms.Sat-Nav. But after Morpeth the driver was clearly in unknown territory; a southern Geordie he. The bossy lady came into her own and after several false attempts at Ann Mouth, Anne Myth, Alan Moth, Aynick she came up with Alnmouth and we found it through the fog with only one false start when the driver, misinterpreting the disembodied instructions, attempted to take his bus up a private drive in mistake for a D road. Fortunately the gate was closed and he could reverse back onto the right carriageway whilst Ms Sat-Nav screeched with rage and navigational frustration. How he knew he had reached the station I do not know. It was small, silent, dark and wet. It was also not connected to any hamlet. Alnmouth had been moved or abandoned.A Marie Celeste of rural station stops but the one passenger descended unprotesting so it must have been all right.

Berwick was more difficult. THe driver could not spell it and the Slim Controller claimed that no such place existed on her programme. The problem was that our driver, possibly a bit dyslexic,insisted on spelling out ' B Bravo, R Romeo, E Echo' whilst the remaining passengers screamed (well Huttonian actually) 'No-Bravo Echo, Romeo' 'But that's what I am saying'insisted the driver. But he wasn't.
'Do you know North Berwick?' asked the driver in desperation, looking for a point of reference to share with the slim controller, down his secure connection to darkest, but fog free, Hampshire. Fortunately she didn't as we might have been sent there.

At last she got it right Bravo, Echo Romeo, Whisky etc, mouse clicked, satellites engaged and of we went as the space stations twirled helpfully above us and little old ladies in second gear peering nervously out of their unsatnaved Foci held us up on those 'undualled' stretches of the A1 (which is most of it north of Alnmouth) whilst the frosty voiced lady encouraging insisted on 'Continue up the A1 for 19 miles'etc.

We arrived safely.(Berwick Station closed but lit up magnificently)

5 minutes early. A bit early for our taxi which was helping drunks home, car less-all lit up magnificently, no doubt

Bus to London next time possibly. If we have a day or two to spare.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Huttonian had to do it some time. GNERit on a Saturday when most of the rail is off the track. No trains between Newcastle and Ber Wick so a slow bus to China, via Ber Wick. And taxis are a scarce commodity between 9pm and midnight on Saturday as potential drunks wisely leave their cars at home. WE foolishly did that as we were to be away three nights and did not want to risk a hoody taking our vehicle apart despite all the spy cameras in the station car park. We might get a taxi after 12pm so it will be a late night after a long day.

And oh yes no restaurant car on GNER's finest (or indeed on any train) at the weekend

Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause
Friday, September 22, 2006
  Katy bucket bath

Katy bucket
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
THe French domiciled granddaughter enjoying a bath. It is said that the French are generally not into too frequent ablutions. Or it may be a shortage of water after the recent droughts. Anyhow Katy B had to resort to drastic measures to maintain a decent life style. Oh for proper inside plumbing a la les Anglais
Tthere is something very satisfying to be able to walk out of a London house at 8-15 am and join the stampede towards the station and not be going to work or even to the sation. Buy your Grudian , part with specie, amounting to about 1p a misprint on a good day amd then make your way back for grapefruit, yoghourt, toast and honey (sadly not Chain Bridge variety but Sir W Morrison's best all the way from the PRC earning air miles en route.) You go back against the flow: frantic people just too late for the 8.21, too hurried to use their mobiles, praying that the train will be late, eyes down cast, eye contact and you are doomed? Don't venture even a timid 'Good Morning' Much too early to startle people-you risk a snarl at best. You are invisible. They are invisible. Don't break the spell.

My father once made the mistake of saying good morning to a fellow (very ancient) member of his very stuffy London Club. He had just joined and knew no better. The old man rang for a steward and informed him frostily: 'This young man' (indicating my father with a twitch of an eyebrow) 'wishes to discuss the weather' So fearsome was the Oldest Members reputation that no one ever dared disturb him in his favourire chair when dozing or contemplating another glass of Port (Cockburn's 47 of course)

But the flies gave him away one day. Dead in his chair and had been for three days. Especially sad as:

the port was untouched.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
  Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace
Originally uploaded by ghost.dog.
When Huttonian was a part time Lunnoner he used to believe that Ally Pally was the centre of the known earth. Now he prefers the Hutton Village Hall and Merse sunsets to sullen and brooding evening skies over our capital. But still a lift of the heart when seeing the Palace on the right of the GNER train when nearing Kings Cross-and a warmer (?) lilt when its on the left as you return north.
For a Glascow starting train the 9.44 to Lunon did quite well and although it graduated after Berwick from 'slightly delayed' (4 minutes plus) to 'late running' (15 minutes) and thus rating 'any inconvenience regretted' we made such good time after Stevenage Kings Cross arrival was only slightly delayed (6 minutes) We had too many 'Train Crew Disabled Passenger Alarm activated'jingle jangles for complete peace of mind. Don't try and pin this on the disabled however as it was perfectly able people thinking they were trapped in the new fangled Dr Who automatic revolving door loos panicing and pressing the alarm if there was the slightest delay in making a break for freedom after pressing the stiff and unyielding 'open door' gadget. Fortunately only one of this type on our Mallard but obviously well used by the technically fearful.

Now in Lunnon it is stinking hot. But at least Huttonian's book launch was a triumph. Sadly the publishers had only 60 copies of the tome for sale-they went in half an hour leaving aggrieved would be buyers frustrated and working their way through the wine at my expense.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Blog is off to southern parts early tomorrow (GNER always permitting) and posts until Sunday may be a bit erratic. Principal reason is the Huttonian book launch-see previous image a few days ago. Then back for an exciting 10 days in Hutton leading up to the Grand Opening and on travels again to Norn Iron. Small child images soon,Golfing ones later. A sample of what to expect is included-no golf visible in the picture of the Mountains of Mournes but that is something that will be put right early in October.

You have been warned
  Hutton Village Hall

Hutton Village Hall
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
So here we are. Ready and waiting for the Grand Opening at the end of September. Looking rather nice with the flowers in position and the bench back in front of it. Now is the time to take the bench from in front of the kirk with its uninterrupted view of he back of the war memorial and place it in front of the hall. The view is a good one
Monday, September 18, 2006

One of Huttonian's favourite walks in Scotland's favourite short break destination is from down town Hutton to Hutton Castle via the Lady's Walk along the top of the Great Whiteadder Gorge with stunning views of the Edington Mill development fortunately obscured by the trees in the summer and early autumn. To reach the Lady's Walk means about a mile or so along the Hutton-Hutton Castle Barns Expressway. Not to be tackled after heavy rain as the road can be a continuous chain of deep puddles and small lakes winding its way through sudden verges. Yesterday we surprised to find mystical symbols along the road. Ah, the Borders' Tourist People had placed signs for visitors pointing towards trees and other points of local interest especially important for townees confused by such a variety of greenery. Good idea But some of them did not seem to be indicating a tree or even a clump of killing nettles-just featureless pasture. Actually one arrow (if this is what it is) was indicating the presence of 'Fairly Big Business' a visiting Bull-possibly gay as he was ignoring a vast array of feminine talent. But surely bulls move from time to time so a fixed symbol was hardly appropriate in this case.

Or could it be the site of an orienteering event; part of next year's Jim Clarke Rally, early advertising for Christmas Trees; secret messages for people participating in a local Al Qaida training camp? Black Magic? Imaginations boggled.

But the real explanation may be even more exciting. It is a Scottish Borders Council puddle filling exercise. The Highheidyins in St Boswells have finally accepted local pleas to do something about the habitual flooding on this section of the Hutton and environs highway system.The arrows point to the worst puddles and the other symbols are other complicated instuction to the engineers to put matters right. Good on them, mate. We will be able to get to the castle without our long waders and in fairly small cars.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
  Flashers enclosure?

Flashers enclosure?
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This mysterious sign is below Berwick's Town Wall, well East of the Somerfield overflow car park. Trans Atlantic visitors were speculating as to its purpose. Perhaps a RV for flashers was one suggestion. In Colorado apparently indecent exposure is free. You need to click on this image to enlarge
  Berwick Railbridge

Berwick Railbridge
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The most visually pleasing of the three bridges which cross the Tweed at Berwick. This carries the expresses of GNER and the Virgin snails. No trains to day of either company. It is Rail off Track Sunday and buses are doing the Berwick to Newcastle section
  Toad on Road

Toad on Road
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
A long range Toad attempting to merge with its surroundings on the Hutton to Foulden Expressway. With the traffic flow of about 2 vehicles an hour it may have survived but of course a heavy tyre would assist in the merging process.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
  Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains
Originally uploaded by Start Creative.
This is a Virgin Train. It gives the impression of speed. This is misleading (see post immediately below) Its time keeping is impressive mainly due to its very leisurely time table for its very leisurely progress from SW to NE stopping at stations which Dr Beeching forgot to close as day becomes night and vice versa.
Very restful. Very environmentally friendly. But quicker by horse.
Dick Turpin only stopped riding from London to York when GNER got the rail franchise.
The war against something had its front line at Berwick station last night. Huttonian and the Wife were meeting a house guest off the 4pm from Kings Cross to the furtherest north. The passengers were locked into the train until the two waiting coppers had boarded Coach C to remove a suspect. Apparently he had refused to pay his fare when boarding at Newcastle and had abused the ticket inspector who had to retreat to Coach D until the fuzz arrived at the next station stop. That was GNER. The other house guest arriving on the three day multistop Virgin crawl from Plymout also reported police activity-two of them on the train for most of the journey. Perhaps they were on the wrong 'service' anticipating problems of non-payers at Newcastle but misread Virgin for GNER. Or perhaps they were being rewarded for long and faithfull policery with a free roamer ticket to see something of the known world outside Devon.

If they were not eligible for pensions by the time they left Plymouth they would certainly be entitled to threm (plus the Long Service Police Medal) by the time they got to Edinburgh, never mind Berwick.
Friday, September 15, 2006

PEOPLE in Berwickshire are being asked to be on the look-out for grass snakes in the area.
So runs the headline in the latest edition of the Berwickshire which has also carried the rather fierce image of this harmless reptile. THe story goes:

Officially grass snakes are resident only in England and Wales but it is believed they may have spread to Scotland and could be lurking in the Borders.
Froglife, a national charity concerned with the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, now wants to investigate this issue further.
During this summer it has been running a project funded by Scottish Natural Heritage called "Snakes in the Grass", asking people seeing a grass snake to contact them.
The grass snake is the largest of Britain's reptiles. Once widespread in England and Wales, they have become increasingly scarce in recent years.
There has been a number of anecdotal sightings of this harmless reptile Appeal for snake sightings
in the Scottish Borders in the past, but whether it actually occurs in Scotland remains an unanswered question.
If you live or walk in the Scottish Borders and have seen a grass snake in the last few months, please help Froglife solve this puzzle by getting in touch.
Keep your eyes open when you are out on warm mornings or afternoons in the last of the summer weather for a green snake with a yellow/white neck collar and dark bars down its side.
This snake is often found near water, so fishermen should keep their eyes peeled too!
To find out more visit Froglife's website at www.froglife.org where there is a "Snakes in the Grass" questionnaire that can be downloaded to record your sighting.
Alternatively you can call Froglife on 01733 558444 or email info @froglife.org for a questionnaire.

There are none in Huttonian's garden as far as we can discover. The grass around the pond is so lush a large python could easily be concealed and has become a bit of a no go area as has the furthest flower bed where lurks a monstrous wasps' nest. St Patrick successfully expelled all snakes from Ireland and St Andrew may have done the same for Scotland.

If I have an anecdotal sighting Froglife will be the first to know
Huttonian was glad to be on the north platform at Ber Wick upon Tweed at 1020 this morning to catch the 1025 to Embra. The southward platform was taken up with the Lunnon bound 1011 which had arrived acceptably late running (2 minutes)but had then stopped with its future intentions in doubt. Station staff were huddled around the one land line in apparent consultation with signal people further south-cell phone communications apparently not used in such circumstance. Passengers were standing uncertainly on the platform; in some cases one foot on the carriage step the other on terra firma watching the man with the whistle who was scratching his bum with it in a pensive sort of way. Doors remained unlocked and all eyes were trained south waiting for some kind of sign-thunder from the right perhaps. I asked a senior serge clad official what was going on. 'Haven't a clue. I am only the station manager' Were his words being echoed on the train by the traveling highheidyin? 'Customers will note we are still at Ber Wick. We haven't a clue why and I am only the Guard. Any inconvenience is regretted.In the absence of soothing music we will be sounding the disabled passenger alarm at regular intervals.'

WE headed north leaving them too it. They were not there when we returned 4 hours later so it can't have been all that late.


Only a brief visit to Ould Reekie. No mendicant pipers audible. Strike one. Rose street had three money collectors. The man with the wee dog (no combat jacket for climatic reasons-the dog that is) has transferred his pitch from Jenners to Rose Street. He has a new skill:the recorder. So he is promoted from mendicant to busker.He was suitably rewarded. Two others. A fit looking, well built, well dressed guy with a smart folding chair and an expensive rug and a large tin. He sings not neither does he smile. No words in his script. The tin was full. I felt no urge to add to his effortless income. Finally a wee scrawny fellow. Wrapped in a rug with a small tin. No music just a continuous whine soliciting 'change' not 'small' just 'change' Not a winning pitch. Tin empty. Passed by on the other side. Never back a loser.

I bought a Big Issue and returned to the Merse. Embra has its limitations.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
  Dhala Road Radfan 1964

Dhala Road Radfan 1864
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
No not Afghanistan 2006, or Iraq 2003 but Radfan, Western Aden Protectorate ,1964. taken by a younger Huttonian who was then a political officer in the British Adminstarion in Aden and its protectorates and was involved in a big military operation against insurgents in Radfan. Not relevant to the Merse? I suppose not but it is a way to draw attention to a book that I have co-authored and has just been published : 'Without Glory in Arabia. The British retreat from Aden. Not our most wonderful colonial episode but a stirring tale non the less.

This is the image on the cover and is inspired by a famous painting by David Sheppard (who did military scenes before he took to elephants) His painting was from the same spot. The soldiers are from the Federal Regular Army in whose support the British were fighting. Go on, read all about it.. Bridge Street Book shop or Mr Amazon will help you out.
  Young Pheasants amidst the nuts

Young Pheasants 1
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.

Down in the Jungle something stirs?

Well not quite. An exclusive image of a dawn raid by two young pheasants-the latest addition to the regulars at the Wife's Feather Friends Fly in Patio Community. We are not sure if these are Cocky and Ollie's off spring (in which case they seem to have seen off their parents) or refugees from Camp Bravo near Hutton Mill where several thousand pheasants are being bred in luxurous conditions. They take up a lot of room and consume much of the food meant for smaller bird. They have been warned that some of the food contains nuts-including in this case, the nuts themselves but so far no allergic reaction.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
  Bethlehem 'Security Wall'

Originally uploaded by Alan Pacetta.
Members of the University of the Third Age expressed interest in the Great (Security) Wall Of Israel which is part of a 700 kilometre or so (Hutton to Southampton) barrier-part wall/ part electric or barbed wire fence. So here it is shutting off Bethlehem from everywhere else. Rather dwarfs the former Berlin Wall and with only 30 (not always manned) gaps it makes life very difficult for thousands of Palestinians who have lost more than 8,000 acres of good land for the barrier itself and with much more acreage separated by the wall from the farmer who owns it and can no longer get to his fields or his olive groves.
Some stretches of the wall are so short of ways through that it is like driving from Hutton to Galashiels to get to the other side. A tad inconvenient if you are rushing to the nearest maternity hospital, for instance. Why blog about it I hear you cry.

Because it is there.

Thankyou Alan Pacetta
A bloggee from Ireland (Republic of) has called the Hutton Think Tank to task for the words on the Borders Souvenir Tea Towel referred to in the post immediately bellow. This is shameless plagiarism he/she claims-sure did we not have the Old Irish Blessings on Old Irish Linen when the Think Tank was just a wee sink? . In the interests of free speech I append the blessings in question

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

With the later compressed version:

"May the wind be always at your back and may you be in Heaven before the devil knows your dead"

Mind you in the New Ireland of the hard faced financiers and the Million Euro suburban dwellings fuelled by the Celtic Tiger Economy such souvenirs are not as common as they once were so hurry while stocks last. Me, I prefer the Borders version.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Coming back from Peebles and more precisely on the Earlton to Greenlaw Super Highway I could not help remembering the tea towel I saw somewhere with the Olde Borders 'B Road' Blessing inscribed on it: (something like this)

'May the Road rise with thee.
May the corners straighten afore thee
May the traffic be against thee
May the Caravans have stopped for tea.
May the Tractors be in fields.
May the Lorries be on the A1
And May ye be in the tavern
(with the mobile not on)
Before the wife knows you've gone'

Some rather poor imitations in Gaaelic Letters in Irish Souvenir Shops circa 1960s. But the Hutton Think Tank (Keep The 'B' in Berwickshire section) got there first.
Huttonian is off to the very peripheries of the Borders to talk on his favourite subject to the Tweeddale University of the Third Age (U3A) in Peebles. No not about the new wall in Kirk Lane but about the Middle East. I often wonder about the nomenclature and why the 'Third Age' In the Shakespearean sonnet Seven Ages, the Third Age is the Lover sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress'eyebrow'. I would have thought that this is not an appropriate description of U3A denizens. More likely the Sixth Age according to our Will:

The lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on his nose and pouch on side. His youthful hose well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, turning again towards childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound' Perhaps not although at the U3A in Eyemouth much of my talk was accompanied by 'pipes and whistles'as a member of the audience had turned up his digital hearing aid too high and lapsed into slumber.

So it must be another kind of Third Age: Childhood, Adulthood and decrepitude perhaps but again not really applicable. In my experience U3A members may tend towards being clad in 'youthful hose well saved'-flannels and sports jackets in many cases, including mine and lean shanks (if not shrunk) abound but there is nothing decrepit about the intellect and knowledge on parade. No one should try and get away with simplistic sermonising to such people. Try and you are going to get demolished in the Q and A session which follows talks. In Kelso-Three Abbeys U3A the most penetrating observations came from a man who appeared to be sound asleep throughout my presentation, awoke to grill me and then relapsed into apparent slumber during the business part of the meeting when members were being urged to renew subscriptions. A true Borderer.

So it is Paris for business and Peebles for pontification. I'll report further

If I am spared

Spellchecker suggests 'Twaddle' for 'Tweeddale' Could be spot on
Monday, September 11, 2006
  Berwick from GNER(or Virgin)

Berwick upon Tweed (not Alnmouth)
Originally uploaded by robbroccoli.
Thank you robbroccoli for this image of Berwick taken from 'the east coast train) We do not know if it a GNER or Virgin 'service' but if the former it may be 45 minutes late going south or next day going north.
And we are glad to know its not Alnmouth: 'Alnmouth is not your next station stop' the ever helpful Guard will have pointed out otherwise robborccoli may have been left in blissful ignorance, missing his station stop and having bitterly regretted the inconvenience caused. Mind you he may have thought the train stopped at Alnmouth, bought a ticket in that expectation and is now about to face a whacking great surcharge. I wonder how the story ended?
Verb Sap Don't travel southwards on GNER on Monday morning.And especially on trains that start from Embra. Huttonian used to advise would be travelers to always choose GNER starting from Edinburgh rather than a 'service' (A GNER oxymoron) from say Glasgow or Aberdeen as there was less scope for delay. But not on Mondays especially after a week end of disruption caused by railworks aimed at avoiding disruption but, not of course, at weekends. If you see what I mean. This morning the 1013 from Berwick conveying the wife to southern parts was repackaged as the 1100 from Berwick as the 0930 from Embra left at 1015 as the crew could not be found. A wrong kind of crew won't do so the right one had to be rounded up, no doubt over sleeping, exhausted from having to get up north over a largely trainless weekend-with buses, charabancs, and shoe leather laid on at various interim points where the tracks were temporally unlaid. But yet from Glascow and farly north Aberdeen the Trains, Virgin and GNER were rolling in 4 minutes early Why Embra is so difficult to reach in time was not explained by Team Leader reading out his list of excuses and inconveniences regretted.

Fortunately the wife's engagement is tomorrow. So she might keep it
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The Berwickshire reports that the 'VisitScotland' Area director responsible for marketing the Borders since 1998 is off to fresh fields and postures new. The Berwickshire credits the lady with many imaginative initiatives such as the 'Edinburgh Escape the City Campaign' Yeah lets go to Glasgow and get the hell out of Embra especially during the Festival. But did they go to the Borders? I think not. Then there was the 'Visiting Friends and Relatives campaign' Fine if you have Fs and Rs in the Borders. Most people don't given the small population around here. Flop? Probably.

Then there was the daft stunt to 'buy' Berwick and give it back to Scotland. Apparently this produced £1 million worth (how do you work that out)of press coverage. Did wonders for MacDonalds in Berwick but I doubt if many of the curious crossed into Berwickshire except to find a refuge for Big Mac wrappers. There was also the underlying assumption that without including Berwick in the Scottis Borders they were not worth visiting.

Then there was the 'Award Winning' Dog Friendly Destination Borders. Impact not recorded but I suppose if someone could count any increase in plastic coated dog pooh we might have something to go on. But no one to my knowledge noticed a dog buying a pint in the Cross or the Allanton Inn. Economic effect on the Borders: nil, or even less.

And It was this lady who apparently thought up the Borders Ambassadors Club-Huttonian is a self invited member of this distinguished body, But this seems to be a lot of nice geezers and geezeresses meeting in nice places telling each other how nice the Borders are. Impact on Tourism? Seejudgement above.

And it is implied in the article that it was our former director who marketed the brand: Borders: Scotland's leading short break destination. Good for 40 minutes on a very sunny day but only enroute to or from somewhere more exciting. Not a great accolade I would have thought.

Someone really needs to start again. Good luck to the 'strong and dynamic team' bequeathed by the outgoing director to tourist starved Scottish Borders. And for goodness sake abandon nationalism for common sense. Sell the Borders as a whole, both sides of the wild frontier make a much more inviting 'product'when put in the same check out basket.

It is not revealed where her destination is to be. A challenge hopefully?


Now the Basrawis might enjoy a really long break in Duns.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
  Ninewells Blackberry Path

Ninewells Blackberry Path
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The Merse may not have the grand mountains of the Hielands or the dusty charms of Embra but it does provide wonderful walks. This one is from the David Hume bridge on the Chirnside Duns trunkroad bringing you out at Nine Wells on the Chirnside Allanton expressway. Perhaps a former Oasis for Mersian Caravans during a previous bout of global warming. The path is bramble surrounded and blackberries drip into your hands.
  Nine Wells Whiteadder

Nine Wells Whiteadder
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The path to Nine Wells follows the Whiteadder as it ambles towards the confluence with the Blackadder and then down to the Tweed
  Nine Wells Hawthorn Tree

Nine Wells Hawthorn Tree
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Plenty of berries. Could mean a hard winter according to rural lore in many parts of the country. Probably as reliable a forecast as you can expect from the BBC blether centre even after the departure of the Fish
  Nine Wells Walk Blackberries

Nine Wells Walk
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
They look good on the bush. And even better on the plate
  Nine Wells Blackberry Harvest

Nine Wells Blackberry Harvest
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Virtue brings its own reward. 3 miles and several nettle stings later. Yes you noticed! There are cherries galore on a tree about 400 yards down the path. Dark and sweet.
Well known at this address

As long term bloggees will effortlessly recall, Huttonian spent much time and effort (not to mention specie) getting the go ahead from the Church of Scotland to change the name of this house from its meaningless nomenclature 'Antrim House' to what it was generally known as in Hutton: 'The Old Manse' The C of S as our 'Feu Superior' resisted this change as they felt that two buildings with Manse in their title might cause uncontrollable confusion, amounting to postal anarchy in a village made up of probably as many as 40 houses. More seriously the 'burdens' imposed upon us by our Feudal Masters enshrined in the building's deeds not only included a prohibition on gambling ( I bet you didn't know that) the sale of alcohol (the next one is on you. And the next) the holding of any kind of religious or spiritual gathering (Sorry Vicar can we talk in Kirk Lane) but also a blanket prohibition on having the mention of the word Manse in the name of the house. Deaf to our pleas 121 George Street had to give up the struggle when the Scottish Parliament swept away the old Feu (Feudal) land ownership system thus, in effect, giving us our freehold. Amid scenes of wild excitement we officially adopted ' The Old Manse' as our right and proper address. And this well over a year ago. We resisted the temptation to celebrate our emancipation with a wild Bingo Evening, bring a Nun and BYO (Buy Your Own on arrival) So we just drew a line and moved on. And distributed our new address to all our correspondents

It seems that after all that effort Manse in our address does not seem to be as widely understood as it deserves. The English seem particularity puzzled-not many manses south of the border apparently and we are flooded with mail-mostly junk-with a variety of variations on the Old Manse theme: Odd Manie, Old Maan, Ould Manig, Old Menses(every four weeks or so)Old Mensa (from the more intellectually gifted) to name but a few. But the most frequent stab at postal correctness which may or may not be an attempt at a character assessment of the male incumbent is

The Old Manic.

At least not 'Maniac'

But near enough.
Friday, September 08, 2006
  Sudanese Goat.

his favourite goate
Originally uploaded by David Haberlah.
Flickr, courtesy of David Haberiah has produced this nice image of a Sudanese goat and its/his/her owner. This should not be taken to have anything whatsoever to do with theAOL item immediately below. I just thought it would be nice to have a photo of a goat from the Sudan and some one who likes it in a thoroughly wholesome way
Being a slow dress down Friday (yellow t-shirt and torn trousers in the Old Manse) Huttonian was intrigued to have a bloggee send the following little item from AOL Unusually (for this bloggee) the story is not about Norn Iron but real foreign parts.

Arranged marriages my not have been unknown in the Borders in Olden tymes but I doubt that the Rievers went in for this sort of thing.And I don't want all those Welsh jokes being trotted (no pun intended) out

A Sudanese man caught having sex with a goat has been forced to take the animal as his "wife".The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he caught another man, Mr Tombe, having sex with the animal after hearing a "loud noise", the BBC reported.

"When I asked him 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up," Mr Alifi told a local newspaper.

A council of elders ordered Mr Tombe to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars (£38) and keep the goat.

"They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi said.

"As far as we know they are still together."

At least this little tale (again no pun intended) ends positively and ratber sweetly. And getting one's goat will for ever have an alternative meaning-in the Sudan at any rate.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Overheard in Post Office:

Person one : Have you got an invitation to the opening of the Village Hall?

Person Two Of course. I am on the Hall Committee.

Person One I was told my invitation was in the post

Person Two How long ago was that?

Person One Two Weeks.

Person Two Oh Dear. But there is going to be a party afterwards. Thats for everyone

Last Thursday's Berwickshire carried this item about an exhibition starting at Paxton House this weekend:

A BATTLE against blindness meant that Patrick Murphy's latest exhibition, 'New Horizons', almost never saw the light of day.

Last Christmas, Patrick faced every artist's worst nightmare when he suddenly lost his sight, due to illness. With his excellent reputation, ongoing commitments and a lifelong passion for painting, the outlook for this well known artist could hardly have seemed bleaker.
Patrick, however, is not the kind of man to back down in the face of a challenge. He turned a blind eye to pessimism and decided to fight for his sight.
This challenge makes the paintings that will shortly go on display at Paxton House even more extraordinary than their scope, immediacy and sheer evocative power suggest.
"I was determined that I would paint again," said Patrick, whose work over many years has earned him a wealth of admirers in the Scottish Borders, as well as further afield.
"I underwent two operations to restore my sight, but my regained vision was badly distorted. It was five months before I could work again."
In spite of eye surgery, it took a positive attitude and a great deal of perseverance for Patrick's artistic output to reach its previous standards.
"The greatest difficulty at first was that the brush kept landing on the paper half an inch from where I'd intended it to," he explained. "It took a lot of discipline and practice to train myself into seeing properly again.
"I guess you could say my art skipped a beat. But I set my restored sights on the upcoming exhibition at Paxton House and refused to entertain the idea that it wouldn't happen."
Patrick's hard work and willpower has more than paid off. Indeed, it is almost impossible to believe that the artist responsible for the 'New Horizons' exhibition was effectively blind less than a year ago.
His watercolours bring to vivid, perceptive life scenes from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, western Wales, France, Italy, Croatia and the Outer Hebrides.
Visitors will be treated to secluded courtyards, dynamic coastlines, Mediterranean sunshine, brooding Scottish skies and a vividly rich selection of other views, all executed with a fluent sense of time and place and with, well... with a truly gifted artistic eye.
Patrick, who has been a frequent and popular exhibitor at Paxton House for many years, said: "I'm really delighted that my first major exhibition since my return to painting will be here. I feel a special affinity with Paxton House, so this is the perfect place to celebrate my comeback. It's a special exhibition for me and I hope that visitors to Paxton House will enjoy it too."
l'New Horizons – Watercolours 2005 and 2006' will be on display at Paxton House from September 8-24. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm.
31 August 2006

We are the proud owners of a 'Murphy' bought at a charity event in Christ Church Duns two years ago. It is of the Whiteadder just below Hutton Mill Bridge on the Hutton/Foulden road. Not a great photograph (on the patio, with the glass on) but conveys the artist's style and attention to detail. The exhibition will be worth a visit
Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hutton is mostly inhabited by incomers of one vintage or another. Very few amongst us were born here. But it is not a long-range commuter stronghold-as say Paxton will become as the denizens of Kanes Close and the Orchard inherit the earth. As those of the community who are in paid employment work reasonably locally. Two or three are teleworkers,commuting to their own keyboards only. Not all are actively involved in village life-the societies are predominantly older folk and the workers away from the village are on the whole not the coffee evening/morning Village Hall habitués who have been the backbone supporters of money raising events for the new hall and very few recent incomers seem to bother with the church which in many rural communities is (still) at its heart. But attendance at services is not high and we are likely to lose the local incumbent within the next 12 months and be pastorally cared for from a village down the road but outwith the parish boundary.

I asked a not too recent newcomer, peripherally involved in local affairs what if anything he disliked about local life. Isolation? Lack of shops and other amenities townees take for granted? No Channel 5? None of the above apparently:

'Smell he said. 'Like today'

I focused my nose. Yes there was a smell. Slurry. Wafted on the wind and once in your nostrils it’s a bit like tomcat territory marking scent. Reluctant to escape. It is not an every day event, but more often at this time of year and after 9 years here I hardly notice it anymore. This guy, bucolically challenged, has been around much longer than I have and it still gets to him. He can only escape by leaving for work early; returning late and keeping all windows hermetically sealed. And praying for the wind to change. 'I did not move to the country to be stunk out' he said. But he has and must live with it. Or return to town.

It’s a bit like low flying aircraft. Very irritating when it happens but you put up with it for the greater good. For the sake of the Defence of the Realm (or bombing crack heads amongst the Taliban) in the case of the planes and for the sake of good crops with regard to the slurry. I said all this.

He was not convinced.

And sniffed disapprovingly.

In the circumstances that was a mistake
  Coldstream Pipe Band

Coldstream Pipe Band
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Flick.com records the number of views on each image (I have 278) in my 'album' This is the least viewed-no one has clicked on it? Why?
Are Borderers and other bloggees fed up with pictures of pipe bands-not a familiar sight in down town Hutton? Perhaps its mendicant pipers in Princes Street which has turned people off. You all seem to prefer unfinished bridges in Amman, Jordan. Curious
  Jordan Abdoun Bridge, Amman

Jordan Abdoun Bridge
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
this image is the most viewed ! A long way from the Merse. So I assume we have had a lot of hits from Jordanian bloggees.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
  Three Boys

Three Boys
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Three male cousins having escaped from Cousins Corner (see below) enjoy some raunchy stuff on the DVD player. Sadly C Beebies seem to have lost its grip for this rising generation. Honda ads versus Postman Pat, no contest. I am indebted to the middle nephew for these images.
  Killin Cousins

Killin Cousins
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The Great Aunt has a section of her house known as Cousins Corner. Two cousins in action in the arts and crafts sub section
  Great Wall of Hutton

Great Wall of Hutton
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Huttonian is reliably informed that some upset has been caused by comments about the inside of the new hall perimeter wall having cement blocks embedded into the attractive stonework-or vice versa.
Well there we are. Does it look a bit tacky or what? The comment facility is there for all to use so if any bloggee thinks we are being unduly critical feel free to say so-even if you are a member of the Hall Committee. In the meanwhile perhaps the V Vips at the opening can decently avert their eyes as they leave the hall-0r how about a couple of tubs of flowers or one of our under used benches-the one behind the War Memorial would hardly be missed
Back to (Hutton) School

Huttonian being in the Hielands last week missed the Berwickshire on Thursday and is indebted to the on line edition for that rara avis * a story about Hutton. Read on

School transport row brewing in Hutton

"HUTTON Primary School may have been closed for over a year now but the repercussions are still rumbling on and a group of parents who opted to send their children to Swinton Primary School instead of Chirnside, the school designated by the council to receive the Hutton pupils, continue to battle with Scottish Borders Council about travel arrangements for the three six year olds and two nine year olds going to Swinton.
The issue was first raised with Scottish Borders Council back in August last year as pupils prepared to start their new school and parents, Hutton and Paxton Community
Council and Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Euan Robson have all contacted the council about it.
Now South of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) is calling for a meeting with the council's director of education, Glenn Rodger, to speak on behalf of the parents, whom she describes as "banging their heads against a bureaucratic brick wall".
"Because they chose to send their children to Swinton when Hutton school closed they aren't getting any help with bus fares," said Ms Grahame.
"There is a bus that goes through both Paxton and Hutton, and those in Paxton are closer to Swinton than Chirnside but they aren't allowed to put the children on the
bus unless they pay.
"We now have the ridiculous situation where three cars are following the bus in the morning and coming back in the afternoon with these children.
"I just don't understand why the council has to be so rigid with the rules, there is some discretion to allow free transport."
Ms Grahame does not believe that allowing these five children to receive free transport to the school of their parents' choice after their local primary school was closed would set an unsustainable precedent, but Scottish Borders Council are adamant that it would.
"This was considered by Berwickshire Area Committee during the consultation process in February 2004 and one of the things that came across was that they didn't want to split the children up and that they should be sent to one school," said an SBC education department spokesperson.
"During the consultation not one parent expressed a wish for their children to go to Swinton so it wasn't part of the final package."
When the parents first approached the council about transport to Swinton school they met with the director of education who was clear paying transport costs would go against council policy and would set an unfair precedent.
However, he agreed to take to the matter back to the two councillors who hold the portfolio for education, the result being that they concluded that it was an "unsustainable precedent that the council could not afford."
"The public service bus has been re-routed through Paxton and Hutton to accommodate the children and our school transport officer assisted them with the times.
"It's council policy and why would we change policy? You either have a policy or you don't."
The council spokesperson also pointed out that parents of pupils at Burnmouth Primary School were in a similar position when their school closed at the same time but those that chose to send their children to an alternative primary school to Eyemouth did not ask for transport.
31 August 2006"

This is an old saga as the article makes clear. I fear that the problem is less to do with bureaucratic rules and matters of 'unsustainable' principle than with bruised feelings amongst the incumbents of education and life long learning in their bunkers in Newtown St Boswells. Harsh words were exchanged between the High Heidians in Ed. and Life Long Learning and the Save Our School Action Group fighting to keep Hutton school open. The former are in no mood to help out the parents of Hutton school children even in a way that would (a) be inexpensive and (b) help to heal wounds opened last year. So we are sticking to principal and unfair precedent until the former Hutton pupils are all safely at the University.

Go on, be a devil. Set a Fair Precedent, for a change.

*Is Paris Hilton a rara avis? (Blogg-ed)
Monday, September 04, 2006
  Moon-rise over Roman Ampitheatre, Amman

Moon-rise over Roman Ampitheatre, Amman
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
This is an unusual late evening image of the Roman Ampitheatre in Amman which was the scene of a terrorist attack on British and other tourists today. When Huttonian was in Amman in the mid 1990s it was a popular destination for visitors to the capital. Obviously the terrorist is doing his best to disrupt the tourist industry, so important to Jordan's economy-possibly in revenge for the killing of Zarqawi, a senior Jordanian thug(allegedly with links to Al Qaeda) who was killed in Iraq some months ago. One news report claimed that the assailant was also from Zarqa, a Jordanian town, north of Amman.
  Great Wall of Hutton

Great Wall 1
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Finished. Not quite up to the stature of the old wall but near enough And you can't see the breeze block from the lane (on the hall side of the wall)

Thanks Hall Committee (That wasn't very difficult, was it?)
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Better in Biggar

Peebles, the Borders Border Town confronting South Lanarkshire not only boasts a Hydro but also a town motto which unofficially translated runs 'Paris for Business; Peebles for Pleasure' THe Huttonian clan moving up from southern parts had buying a house in Peebles as a primary objective but were frustated by (a) a feeling that Peebles people came over as smugly self satisfied and, er, (b) that there were no houses for sale. So we thankfully came to Hutton. I went through Peebles twice today, to and from Glasgow Airport (the one in Prestwick, not the one in Glasgow)Being caught short after too much coffee I sought relief in the Biggar Public Loo-prominently situated beside the Corn Exchange, mid town. Having down the business I proferred specie to the female attendant guarding the imposing Loo entrance. She waved away the handfull of cash based on the prices charged in similar establishments in Melrose and Kelso.

'it's free' She said 'This is Lanarkshire' And smiling she added

'You'll be from the Borders'
Saturday, September 02, 2006
  Scone Palace

Scone Palace
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The Palace of Scone. Seat of the Mansfields aka the Murrays since just before the year dot. Even more imposing than Paxton House if you can believe that.
  Scone Moot House

Scone Moot House
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The Moot house on Boot hill at Scone Palace. If you enlarge the image you can see a replica of the Stone of Destiny in front of the Hall. Boot hill was formed by earth shaken off the boots of visiting notables attending the coronations of Scottish Kings and paying their respects to the Palace. Nothing to do with training of US Marines apparently
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