Musings from the Merse
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Originally uploaded by gms.
Say what you like about Embra-Ould Reekie-but of all the capital cities of the UK it is the most dramatic in the city centre-at certainly the most pleasing when emerging from the train station. Compare and contrast with Victoria, Waterloo or especially King Cross. And Befast or Cardiff -non runners in the capital city stakes.

Not Huttonian's own work.Thankyou gms.

We were badly let down by GNER-wrong type of signals on track at Berwick-two hour delays going to Embra so we did the park-and-ride thing for the first time and it is strongly recommended.Not good for the environment taking a car to Newcraighall but very bad for the liver being stuck 4000 yards north of Berwick contemplating the notice which says 'Edinburgh 50 Miles' for about one hour 45 minutes; realising that Embra might well be on the moon or, more appropriately in these cases, Uranus. And in that mood I don't really mind how you pronounce it
  Village Hall mysterious message

Village Hall mysterious message
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
I was earnestly requested by a small delegation of bloggees, disguised as Guisers, not to blog on the Village Hall and to allow myself a 'cooling off' period of two to three years. Well it is cool enough tonight -2C forecast, and anyhow this is not about the village hall, qua village hall. But about this strange notice/instruction/clue painted on the road just off the new parking area. Bullnose 6X5 What can it mean? If it was an instruction to Bulldoze it would be a trifle premature-the hall only just having been built. But it is BullNose-quite plainly. And 6x5. Six paces West and five paces North? Dig using a Bull Nose and you have the Holy Grail?
Hutton Think Tank, cryptology section, are baffled so far, but then they usually are.

Any ideas to the usual dead letter box please. Correct postage for A4 envelopes would be appreciated.
Monday, October 30, 2006
  Dawyck notice of a sexual nature

Dawyck notice of a sexual nature
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
If only more of the human race on nudist beaches, Australian flashers and in the raunchier publications kept their sexual organs discreetly hidden -the better. This notice is in Dawyck Botanical Gardens, near Peebles. Click on image to read clearly

The Bank of Scotland believe in exclusive bank-ie excluding their customers from such mundane matters as being able to relephone their branch directly. You need first to call a 'central' number, (a call centre but in Glasgow, not Mumbai, for the moment, anyhow) one of those begining 0870 and then having explained your business to 4 different people low on Iron Bru you get put through to your local branch, or not, depending on how many rs there are in the month. A kind lady with a real Borders name took pity on us in the Hide Hill Branch and handed out her card with her Berwick branch number on it-no doubt breaking as many bank codes as GCHQ can manage on a normal working day-and so a daring and thoughtful act.

The wife needing to conduct some urgent Bonk of S business called this Berwick branch number this morning.A lady promptly responded. The wife stated business indicating a need to call on said branch asap. Kind lady said she could not give the wife the number of the Berwick branch, not policy you know, but would put her through immediately. Soothing music and three ads for the Halifax later the wife was in contact with a helpful female who said with an air of some surprise 'Haven't I just been talking to you?'

So when is a branch number not a branch number. Answer: when it is a call centre number. Either the lady was beamed, Scotty like (no pun intended) from Glasgow to Berwick (but it was a Berwick number) or else she, the Poobah of the bonking system, alternates on being a call centre employee and a Bank teller. WE should be told.

But we won't. Not policy you know.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Huttonian does not take the Glascow Sunday Herald. I like living in Scotland but there are times when it is pleasnt to read about some thing else. So I missed http://www.sundayherald.com/58802

Which a bloggee assures me is of local interest and relevant in way to some recent posts.

Judge for yourself. Me,I have 200 pages or so of whingeing in the Observer to get through first.

Huttonian was present at a conversation with a local farmer- a very pleasant man with good standing in the community. The nub of his remarks was that farmers could not get it right: Blamed for (a) mud on the roads (b) too many tractors on the road (C) agricultural sprays onto village gardens (d) wanting to build on their land etc etc. Can't win -damned if we do and damned if we dont

One might be tempted to say 'Guilty as charged'Hutton has been a sea of mud since Mr O started to lift his potatoes. Tractors can be a blooming nuisance especially when holding you up as you rush towards Sir Morrisons to buy one and get one free before they run out. Villagers have complained of chemical sprays coming their way as the wind changes and they have to dash inside in case it is Agent Orange and it might get into the Roses or blackcurrant bushes And of course building on green field sites is a major issue here and it is the farmers who own them. I have to confess a certain sympathy with (a) to (c) If you are getting your potatoes in a hurry it is difficult to do so without producing a habitat worthy of the Hippopotamus song* but you will get a clean road when the job is done-usually. Tractors have to go from Field A to Field B and they do drive slowly. Thank goodness for the safety of uncoming traffic, especially around that fearsome Fishwick corner-those lucky ones on their way back from Sir M's for example. AS for Agent Orange one has to assume that agricultural sprays are strictly controlled and are not hatmful to our roses or our interiors, anatomically speaking.

I part company with the Archers on (D) Farmers are the custodian of the countryside.Or should be. And the countryside should be kept for agriculture and for the protection of our environment. They should not be designated as building sites. I know it is hard to make money from farming and the easy response is, in these circumstances, to sell up and do something else. But of course it is not as simple as that. Farm more efficiently? Take advantage of subsidies on environmental strips?
Vote SNP? I don't know but concrete and brick is not the solution.

* Mud Mud Glorious Mud,
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood,
So lets lift the tatties
and the local old Batties
Can complain till the cows come home
(Which is not until next Spring)
Borders Song Book Flounders and Swan 1862.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
  Yoga Eastern style

Yoga Eastern style
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
I am grateful to a Kuwaiti friend for this image. He recommends extreme care in adopting this position, especially after a curry lunch. As can be seen from the next picture he has kindly sent me what he takes to be an English variation. Soixante Neuf without the need for a partner-or at least one in close proximity.
  Yoga North East style

Yoga North East style
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
I think my Kuwaiti friend is wrong if he believes that this is anything to do with sex in Britain.He may be referring to the Newcastle soixante neuf (from the Calmer Soutra)which is not to do with humpty pumpty but with bar etiquette: 63 pints and six packets of crisps. Curiously however the bottles are all unopened. So perhaps it is Geordie style Yoga? .
Friday, October 27, 2006
  Dr Who in Hutton

Village Hall steeple
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Hutton Think Tank were very excited when they first saw this image (about ten minutes ago) as they have been looking for their experimental three stage rocket for some time now fired in the general direction of Yer Anus (phonetic) some years ago. It bears a striking resemblance to the nose cone/ landing vehicle designed to carry the Merse's first Astronaut, but fortunately the flight was unmanned. Someone else has suggested that this is Dr Who's new (organic)time machine-environmentally friendly, and sponsored by the Green Party. Note the sliding doors and advanced probe/sub woofer.

The more prosiac insist that it is the old steeple which used to grace the roof of the old village hall and is now lying beside the new one, awaiting instructions.

You can't all be right.

A lot of people in this community put a lot of effort into ensuring that the Borders Local Plan, shaping our development for the next 8 years or so, is appropriate for our locality. We seem to have been successful in that we are spared new development in green field sites and will now have time to absorb such monstrosities as the 'Orchard' a nice name for a big mess. Yet we seem already to be under siege: a glance at the Public Notices in each Berwickshire will demonstrate the high proportion of applications which are in the liquid tones of planningspeak 'Potential Departure from Berwickshire Local Plan'. 4 in this week's paper alone. The latest applications are some distance from the ruralopolis of Hutton and Paxton but on going and potential barbarians are already within our gates, never mind at them. A stroll down the Fishwick Motorway (but beware of heavy traffic) towards the Tweed will show houses under construction more suited to Sunningdale than rural Berwickshire. And if the other nearby site is approved goodness knows what kind of erection will be constructed dominating the nearby and attractive traditional style farm cottages. The planning regulations emphasise the importance of a 'sense of place'-new buildings fitting into their natural surroundings. Sunningdale on the Tweed is hardly meets that criterion. And a very good example of how such development can be grossly inappropriate you need to go no further than Cardrona near Peebles. The Orchard at Paxton is an example of insensitive over development and if it was chickens rather than people being housed there the ALF might feel obliged to intervene. Its thus all the more important to keep the concrete mixers off Knowes Close.

The Guardians of the local plan are the members of the Berwickshire Area Committee.They have the authority to approve 'small' projects-up to about 10 houses, without reference to higher authority. So far they seem to have been quite tough (with the odd blatant abberation) on applications which clash with the provisions of the Local Plan. But for how long? The odd blatant abberation, and no prizes for guessing those around here, rather blunts our confidence in their ability (and willingness) at keeping the barbarians at bay. And every abberation adds to a body of precedent which becomes increasingly difficult to ignore

Eyes skinned for Trojan Horses. And keep those gates locked.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Under the headline

Modern day Border raiders! This week's Berwickshire features a claim by the local Scottish Nationalist Party Member of the Scottish Parliament that the new Reivers are those underpriveleged English from Northumbria who cross the Border, not to steal sheep or reduce the population of virgins (or Vice Versa) but to take advantage of Scottish health services.
"Evidence has emerged (says the Berwickshire)that people living in Northumberland are unhappy about the level of service they are receiving and regularly cross the Border to take advantage of a range of services"
A man from Cornhill said: "If anything goes wrong, we jump in the car and go up to the Borders General Hospital, near Melrose. The first thing you notice at a Scottish hospital is that you don't get threatened with wheel-clamping. You don't even have to pay for car parking."
Christine Grahame MSP claims the additional demand on services is disadvantaging Borderers at a time when the Council is looking to make hundreds of redundancies and the local health board is closing cottage hospitals as part of a massive efficiency drive. "I sympathise entirely with those who feel that the level of service in the North of England is poor but as things stand it is Borders taxpayers who will be effectively financing this modern day equivalent of the Border raids."
Ms Grahame says she plans to investigate further the extent of the cross Border raids and the impact on local services to determine the numbers involved. She added: "I have no difficulty with providing additional help to those in the North of England if we have surplus funds available in the health and council budgets, but time and again we are being told that no extra money is available. We need to ensure that Borderers and Scottish residents are given priority and that the burden on local services is not exacerbated and therefore we must look seriously at ways to curb these cross Border raids taking place or at least ensure that the services provided are not done so Scot-free." (to coin a phrase, presumably)

Euan Robson, Lib-Dem MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire quite rightly rubbishes this latest offering from the SNP,saying that sharing necessary services across the Border should be encouraged rather than frowned upon.
""The outburst from Christine Grahame, was both unfortunate and ignorant. There are many cross border links in health services that have existed for years and rightly so."This has been routine with reciprocal funding in place and ought to be encouraged to make the best use of all facilities in the interests of patients.
"A number of services: dentistry, some accident and emergency, physiotherapy and others are available in Berwick upon Tweed. Conversely, Northumbrians use Borders General Hospital and other facilities. (And Huttonian knows of a number of patients referred by local GPs to Warnbeck Hospital near Newcastle in raider ridden Northumberland)"To block off the border would disrupt patient care and convenience, would give some patients a second best option, would in some circumstances put lives at risk, would increase costs and artificially separate the medical needs of families whose members may live on either side of the border all in the name of petty, unrepresentative nationalism.""Petty unrepresentative nationalism" Nice ring. I wish I had said that!*

* You will, Huttonian, you will" (Blog-ed)

Huttonian has gleaned a little more about the fire next door during our absence which caused some alarm locally. Apparently a 'good neighbour' all the way from Foulden directly opposite us but on the other side of the mighty Whiteadder (a good three miles by road) seeing the blaze, drove over and was seen knocking on the door of the Old Manse to enquire if he could be of any help. Apparently he had lost a barn in a similar fire some time ago and knew to his cost how quickly a blaze can get out of control. Well thank you sir. Very much appreciated and when I find out who you are I will come and thank you personally.

As with another neighbour's chimney fire of three years ago two fire engines attended the outbreak. One from Duns. The other may have been from Berwick which beat the Duns apparatus to the chimney fire but only after Huttonian and the wife had contained and stifled the flames by stuffing wet coal sacks up the chimney. Perhaps both fire brigades make a habit of dealing with the same incident if it is otherwise a quiet afternoon.

I am glad to have missed all the excitement. A bit too close to home for comfort. Our hedge seems to have survived and the garden shed appears unscathed. No one took any photos which is a great loss to humanity and its history. As it happens only the nearest neighbours were seriously inconvenienced evacuating their cottage to escape the acrid fumes. I would have thought that an apology or an expression of concern might have been in order in their case but nothing has so far been forthcoming. And I wonder if the Fire Brigade(s) have submitted a bill. They presumably would do if they feel that the incident was avoidable and the result of carelessness.

Was it. I don't know. I was n't there.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Oh dear the Old Manse pond seems to have been a casualty of our absence in Norn Iron. No, we can't blame the fire next door. The exotic weed has suddenly taken over and most of the water has gone and is replaced with a green luxuriant mass of foliage. Good for a small lake in a rain forest but not for the arid Merse and especially during yet another dry spell. The pond-was a somethingth birthday present for the wife-a family dig and fill job (with a bit of help from Mr R's small digger)As you can see from the image there is still some water-having removed a few tons of exotics itis just visible but most has gone and this is going to be a boots on, gloves on, heave and hose job. Good thing there is no hose pipe ban in these parts. The frogs seem to have decamped for the duration and even Cocky the Pheasant is keeping his distance.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
  DSC01674, Belfast, Northern Ireland

DSC01674, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Originally uploaded by lyng883.
Just thought you might enjoy a snap of Belfast as we wait for Stena to pick us up and take us to Stranraer. As it happened there were no problems, boat on time, free wine in 'Stena Plus' up to standard and the murk and dreich of Stranraer as compared with the warm sun of Newcastle County Down just what we expected. As for the chill of the Old Manse after the snug cottage in Bath Lane I sometimes feel visiting relis are right. Two fleeces are about right. The village hall was quiet and deserted as we went past but no doubt it will soon be a blaze of light again. It seems a long time since its ceremonial opening.
Monday, October 23, 2006

Glorious sunshine; warm wind magnificent Mournes; great Golf. And it all ends when we go back to the Merse tomorrow, Stena permitting. From late Summer to dreich. Ah well there are many worse places to return to although I would prefer to sit out the winter, if there is one, in our snug wee cottage, sheltered from the wind, double glazing-well, partial-turf fires, than in an echoing old Manse, with the wind whistling and roaring-even louder outside the house. With a spare fleece in every room and a fire which warns the chimney and little else. Mind you our new wood burning stove may make the difference raising the temperature to a balmy 14 C whilst it sinks to 16 outside.

I leave golfing bloggees with my favourite golfing image. The fearsome drive from the 15th. Death to to right, gorse to the left with Stalker and the Alsatian lurking not too far away to gobble up the errant ball before it is even cold. This one went long and straight. And so to Duns (MPBUI)
Sunday, October 22, 2006

Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
According to AOL news Hackney, London, has been voted as the worst place to live in the UK. Mostly, apparently, due to high crime figures. A poll by Hutton ThinkT ank has identified Fishwick as the least popular Merse settlement. Not because of crime-the Fishwick Special Branch has a grip on that but because of the high density of traffic through the hamlet.

The image is not (repeat) not of Fishwick but of Hackney
  Glen River

Glen River
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
One of the many walks which you can make from Huttonian cottage is up Slieve Donard via the Glen River through Donard Park. Nothing quite like this in Hutton Parish. Two hours walking from here will take you to the cairn on the summit of Donard. Ten minutes the other way will take you home to a mug of tea an d a caramel shortbread. The choice is yours
  Glen River 2

Glen River 2
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This is up the Donard track just before the second bridge.
  Quarry View point

Quarry View point
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
Where the Granite trail from the Harbour meets the Quarry on Thomas Mountain there is this granite sign. If you click to magnify the image you will be able to see all the distant places of interest although some are at a great distance and only very occasionally visible and when they are it is just about to rain
  The view from Thomas Mountain

The view from Thomas Mountain
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
And this is what you can see from the quarry view point if it is not hissing down. But today was glorious. Click to enlarge and you will be able to see the Slieve Donard Hotel-sorry-Resort it now calls itself after its recent doubling in size and to its right the Royal County Down (PBUI) with inner Dundrum Bay behind. Not the kind of view we get in Hutton
Saturday, October 21, 2006
A bloggee has found this item on Yahoo and commented that this why she left Australia


Quake hits central west NSW

A magnitude four earthquake has been felt throughout New South Wales' central west.

There have been no reports of damage from the quake whose epicentre appears to have been around Wyangala, south of Orange.

Senior seismologist with Geoscience Australia, Phil Cummins, says it may turn out to have been larger than first thought.

"We estimate that it's magnitude four so far - that could be refined later," he said.

"That should really only be felt over about 50-kilometre radius, however this earthquake seems to have been felt over a wider radius, perhaps because it's deep, we're really not sure about that yet and it could be though that our magnitude estimate is a bit low."
There have been no reports of damage or injury but local resident John Baker says he certainly felt the impact.

"Well we all know there's no railway station at Trunkey, but it felt like there was a railway station [sic] coming through the pub and it just vibrated the whole pub and we thought, our publican's a pretty big bloke and we thought he'd stood up too quick but it was an earthquake," he said

Hutton Think Tank believes that this is this years most boring news story relegating into second place:


Do you Yahoo!?
Cars: Buy and sell, news, reviews, videos and more

Huttonian was aroused from a peaceful Saturday non-golfing activity-weeding-if you must know-by the snarl of supercharged engines on South Promenade. It reminded me of the cars going past Old Pub corner in Hutton during the Jim Clarke Rally. In fact it was not a race but cars leaving their assembly point in down town Newcastle heading south for wherever the action is to take place. Two red cars are pictured above. One coming towards me took scant notice of the 30mph limit past the Great Wall of China which surrounds the Police Station, the other one, seen opposite Bath Lane with the Huttonian Retreat clearly visible up the road, was advertising itself for sale and the driver appeared to be on his mobile, perhaps negotiating a deal or even talking to Jeremy Clarkson.

Talking of the Clarke Rally a couple of villagers have suggested that Hutton be given the miss next year having had the cars blocking off the village two years running. But I think the consensus is in favour of hosting the Whiteadder stage again in 07. It puts Hutton, briefly, on the map and provided three hours of rare entertainment. It could be that the organisers might compensate us with a small gift for all the noisy disruption on a Saturday afternoon. A bench perhaps for the spectators at Old Pub Corner, or free ear plugs all round.
Friday, October 20, 2006
New Borders Party launched is one of the headlines in the electronic Berwickshire out yesterday. In the absence of any good golfing stories at this end it is just worth publishing in full.If this new party is fully supportive of attempts to spare eastern Berwickshire the evils of over development,will show respect for the Local PLan and does not consist of landowners looking for a quick windfall in building over the countryside then Huttonian is all for it. We could do with a good new councillor from SBC to sit with our community council. So good luck to them.

SEVERAL hundred members of the public attended the launch meeting of a new political party, "The Borders Party", in the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels on Monday night.
The Borders Party has been formed to bring a new kind of politics to the Scottish Borders and to Scotland. "It will bring the voice of the people into the council chamber," said Borders Party chairman Nicholas Watson.
This was the first of a series of public meetings to be held across the Borders, following which a full raft of policies, putting the needs of the Borders first, will be drawn up before next May's Council elections.
The new party has grown from a combination of campaign groups, business people, community councillors and many others angered by the Local Plan which proposes, they say, "massive changes to the Borders without meaningful consultation".
Nicholas Watson said: "Not only is the central Tweed valley at risk: Duns and Peebles are seeing upheaval too, while places like Hawick and Jedburgh will suffer from more of their residents going to shop and work in Galashiels and beyond.
"Over-centralisation can be very damaging to a rural region. Development must be related to local needs and local employment."
The environment was a central theme at the party's public launch. "Borderers love their countryside and it attracts tourists and investors too. If we don't respect our environment we lose out all round," said vice-chairman Robin Wild.
"We will also be making the case for biofuels in place of wind farms. It's about finding the facts and seeing what's best for the Borders."
The Borders Party is not affiliated to any national party. "National politics have little place in local government," explained party secretary Jim Smith. "We must engage with local people and listen to what they have to say. It is no good forcing on communities what has already been decided elsewhere."
As an example of a politically-driven project whose real implications have not been thought through or made clear to the public, Mr Watson points to the railway and its potentially crippling cost to the Borders.
"The proposed scheme is not the return of the real Waverley Line, it can only serve a tiny part of the region, and it's not about helping the Borders," he said.
Founding member Violet Baillie is tired of negative comments about an ageing population. She added: "Quite apart from what they offer socially, older people bring with them a breadth of experience and interests, their money and their needs, all of which stimulate local employment.
"We are also blessed with strong, distinct communities in which people know and look out for each other. These are rare strengths and we must resist proposals which threaten them."
Following Monday's meeting in Galashiels further meetings are being planned in Duns, Hawick and Peebles.
The Borders Party will field candidates in all 11 new council wards and the introduction of a new voting system has given them high hopes.
Nicholas Watson led the successful Save Scott's Countryside campaign against a new commuter settlement on Walter Scott's land. "Two years ago while fighting to stop that one development we were surprised to be contacted by people from across the Borders worried about closing schools, bins and even bus services. Looking back it is clear they simply didn't know where to find a voice. Now we hope to be able to give them that voice."

Certainly having a councillor from a main political party (if the Tories can claim that description in Scotland) has not worked for us as well as we had hoped INHO. Not that this is entirely due to the larger political agenda. So time for change. Amen
Thursday, October 19, 2006

I brought over my antediluvian laptop (Windows 95BC) as it had suddenly lapsed into a coma, not to be revived as I had been told that Newcastle had a business which specialised in lap tops-something which is difficult to find in the Borders.It seemed that the problem was a fairly simple one -a new switch required but beyond my diy skills. The first two days over here the laptop centre was closed. On the third day, Friday, I took it in. A nice young lady in response to my enquiry said 'We close on Wednesdays' 'And Thursdays?' I asked. 'Wednesdays only' I did nor pursue this line of sterile enquiry and explained about the laptop. 'The techies are not in yet (it was quite early 1-30pm). 'Do you want to leave it?' I did' Your job number is 666' She giggled 'The Mark of the Beast' I did not make the obvious comment about repairs might be devilishly difficult but went on my way rejoicing.

That afternoon the young lady phoned.Apparently the laptop techie was away until Tuesday the following week (now this) and the PC expert 'could not touch it'. 'You won't forget the job number will you?' Another giggle. No I won't

Tuesday I was in the Republic. Wednesday, yes, closed as advertised. Today it being too wet for golf, a walk or even a mad dash to Mauds. I put on my complete wet weather gear, took my huge unbreakable Golfing Umbrella (made by Harland and Wolf) and braved the elements to the lap top centre. The giggling lady was away but a young techie looking man was on duty.I enquired about progress. Job number? '666' I said. 'The Mark of the Beast' He responded. Seriously. No hint of even a suppressed giggle, no smirk. 'I'll have a wee look' he said. He came back. 'My colleague has not been able to start on the job. But I'll have a wee go myself' 'But I thought only the lap top guy could do it'

'I am the lap top guy' He said.

'Give me call tomorrow' 'And don't forget it is job 666!'

'I won't' I said. 'that's the Mark of the Beast. How could I forget that?

'You'd be surprised' He said ' A lot of our customers do'
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Newcastle is a town of two halves. The Harbour and South Promenade with the Church of Ireland Church, the old open air sea Swimming Pool, the new indoor sea salt baths, the Police Service of Northern Ireland secure within its Great Granite Wall of China-the cop shop formerly known as the RUC. Few shops, no tack, smartly genteel in a sea side resort sort of way. Where Huttonian has his family cottage. Huttonian's formative years were spent in the Salt water pool which is now open only in July and August-like its smarter counterpart in the other half of Newcastle-busy, traffic infested, ugly and with many tacky shops and amusement arcades aimed at the day tripper from Belfast.Where the 'Joyland' Games Arcade with its pokies and other mechanical money gobbling devices is near the site of the old Savoy cinema with the Ritz just down the street.

With all its faults Newcastle services its clientele satisfactorily. The golfer has the best course in Ireland to enjoy; the walker has the Mournes, the island's most accessible and most spectacular mountain range rising dramatically from the sea. The day tripper can park his car, read his paper and enjoy his cone. The biker can drink the pubs dry and Kareaoke with the best of them. The young hoodie can make a generous contribution to the vast Saturday nights lakes of vomit.We crumblies can ignore it all in South Promenade and look forward to October. And we can ease our rheumy joints in the warm sea baths and dream of the Dead Sea.

And what would Mr Ferguson have made of it. A Granite plaque marks his feat of winning £100 for flying his home made plane a few hundred yards over the strand before the First World War. Pleased with this he then invented the Tractor and with his Canadian colleague, a Mr Massey went on to market it. Thats the way to do it as Mr.Punch used to say whacking his baby over the head with a truncheon in those Punch and Judy shows on the promenade-such charecter shaping events for the young Huttonian.
The Child Protection Act did for Mr Punch and his routine. The end of innocence, alas.
  Mournes from top of H&W crane

Mournes from top of H&W crane
Originally uploaded by cycling ezzy.
Looking through Flickr for new images of the M ournes I found this weird one apparently taken from over thirty miles away from the top of a Harland and Wolf dockyard crane. It makes the Mournes look positvely Alpine and the peaks are somewhat distorted. Perhaps this is the Harland and Wolf effect. This was the local boat yard that produced the Titanic-the unsinkable passenger liner that did just that having had the worse of an encounter with icebergs on her maiden voyage. Come to think of it the Mournes are looking a bit ice bergy in this image
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
  carlingford magic circle

carlingford magic circle
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
On our walk above Carlingford Lough (see post below) we came across this circle of stones on our path. Miles (well over 2) from anywhere (ie Carlingford Town) What can it be? A Magic Circle? A clue to the Holy Grail? A hint about the whereabouts of the IRA arms dumps? A Martian Flying Saucer landing site? Lepracaun Board Game? Answers please on a 50 Euro note to the usual PO Box. We also take sterling.

It said it would rain, 100% claimed the neo-Fishes with their usual crash confidence- so we abandoned golf at Greenore in the Irish Republic and went to next door Carlingford instead. It is still surprising for one brought up in Norn Iron, UK to find oneself in the Republic without having apparently to cross the border. A Border which up to 10 years ago could be a real pain-with customs and military block houses and armed ambushes lurking in the ditches. Now suddenly the road signs are in Irish, the letter boxes green (ditto the wheelie bins) and the speed limit in kilometres per hour and there you are, in a foreign land.

Of course it didn't rain. But golf would have been difficult enough in the haar and County Louth version of Dreich (not a word used in the 26 counties) Carlingford-or what you could see of it in the murk is a pleasant little town around a castle visited by Good King John in 1210. A busy year for the monarch out of the country taking a rest from chasing Robin Hood as he was also in Dundrum, County Down visiting the castle there. The images above are an accurate depiction of how little you could see at noon on a warm October day.

As I half Norn Ironer I have to say how much friendlier the people south of the Border down Carlingford way come across as compared with their more dour cousins. There is a different atmosphere about the place-people will join in your conversation in the street uninvited and unresented. And only in the south could a waiter draw your attention to an 'ugly great chunk of chocolate pudding' on the menu making it immediately irrestible.

And delicious.

And subsequently regretted
  Greenore Co Louth

Greenore Co Louth
Originally uploaded by lassara.
We were planning a golf away day across the Border at Greenore-the course lies long the coast behind the harbour. But the weather forecast is appalling : continous rain with showers. So its to the pub at Carlingford for the duration. Guiness and Oysters. The hardships of life in the ex-colonies.
Monday, October 16, 2006
  Taking turns

Taking turns
Originally uploaded by flo_overseas.
A remarkable study of Mr P, ever the little gentleman, waiting his turn as Ms KB goes down a Parisian Slide. Mind you he may be waiting to give his trusting little sister a mighty great push. Now there is French manners for you
  Artist Montmartre

Artist Montmartre
Originally uploaded by flo_overseas.
The eldest daughter residente en France managed to capture this artist at work in Montmatre. A bit of a cliche perhaps as Montmarte is swarming with artists at work desperately hoping that some tourist will photograph them, put them on a blog and make them famous (and rich) Nice picture too and may contain the final key to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. What is this to do with the Merse.? Dunno.
Sunday, October 15, 2006

The week end Dundrum Car Boot sale is one of the more spectacular Norn Iron events bringing together traders, professional and amateur from all over the province.It is a nice little earner for the local catholic Church which owns the land including the Gaelic football pitch on and around which up to 500 cars display their wares. Everything is available at mostly very modest prices from the biggest selection of of videos you will ever see, ditto DVD's to, quite literally, the kitchen sink. Toys are a specialty and you can furnish a nursery (do people have nurseries any more) and have change from a used fiver. You can also probably buy used fivers-look out especially for the proceeds of the Norn Bank great £27 million robbery of a couple of years back. Those with Mr Gerry Adam's face on them are likely to be fake-but after the reintroduction of power sharing who knows? The pollis have taken an interest in the event from time to time tackling the illegally copied video and DVD sellers.

Huttonian particularly enjoyed the purveyor of pin ups-Cary Grant, the late Elvis P, quick and gone Beatles, Son of Man, Sacred Hearts His H the Pope. Anyone looking for HM the Queen, or the leader of the DUP would have been disappointed and it was clear to see where the stallholder was coming from, great dividewise. But judging from the image above trade was not brisk. But with a few pieces of Masonware,two videos of Tom and Jerry for grand children and ten mini doughnuts at a quid I had a good visit.

The Mournes were not visible in the Ulster Haar-but if they were this is what they would have looked like.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I am not sure what edition of the Berwickshire is now on its website. After two weeks a new edition has appeared. It may be last Thursdays (12th October) as the week before would surely have been dominated by the opening of the Hutton Village Hall.

Anyhow for someone who lives half a mile as the cow waddles from the Whiteadder one of the featured stories makes grim reading. Not that I am in the habit of either eating eels or swimming in the balmy waters of this river. I hope the young pheasants swarming all over the Hutton Mill industrial site have been advised to stay clear of the river and it is hardly good news for the fishermen who pay quite a hefty fee for fishing down stream from the mill.There is no mention as to how far down the river the contamination is to be found

BANNED chemical DDT has been found in eel tissue in a Berwickshire river.
Water watchdog SEPA found the chemical in the Whiteadder during routine monitoring even though DDT has been banned from use in the UK for 30 years.
A shocked environment expert this week warned that young children and pregnant women should not eat the eels - and said the chemical could also be present in salmon and trout.
"I would be cautious about eating those eels and although the DDT appears to be at a low level I would still say that pregnant women or young children should not be eating them," said Dr Richard Dixon, director of World Wildlife Fund Scotland.
"It is possible that it is in salmon and trout as well."
Children swim in parts of the river during the summer but a SEPA spokeswoman said this week that the concentrates in the water were so low that it was not possible to measure them.
"It was found in the eels because they stay in one place for a long time and it accumulates in their fat," she said.
The average total DDT concentration found in eel tissue from the Whiteadder Water was 0.491 mg/kg dry weight.
"These levels of DDT are not anticipated to pose any risk to wildlife eating eels from this area," said the SEPA spokeswoman.
However Dr Dixon said: "They will not kill you if you eat them but it is still potentially a problem as DDT interferes with the reproductive system.
"The body mistakes it for one of its own hormones so for a developing foetus and young children it can be a concern."
So called gender bending chemicals like DDT sends the wrong signals to the body.
Dr Dixon explained that the chemicals have been found to feminise fish. "Two well known examples of the gender bending effect are male fish which have become feminised and start to produce egg protein and dog whelks which have started to produce penises. There is obviously something pretty fundamental going wrong so we want to avoid eating it ourselves."
He added: "One of the things about DDT is that it not only persists for a long time but it also builds up in the food chain.
"It would be interesting to see if there were similar readings for salmon and trout although I would think they have chosen the eel because they stay in the same place in the river for long periods of time."
Dr Dixon said he was concerned that the DDT was there at all.
"It was banned in the 1970s and the fact that it is still turning up is pretty worrying and gives a lesson to us about the future," he said.
A spokesman for the Scottish Greens agreed.
"What is it doing turning up so long after it has been banned?" the spokesman asked. "It is incredible. It has been banned for donkey's years and why was it being used in the Borders in any case? The Borders is not known for having a big problem with malaria which is one of its principle uses."
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman also expressed surprise at the findings but said that as far as the council was aware there was no health risk.
"As far as we are aware there is no abstraction from the Whiteadder for drinking water and it has not been flagged up to us by SEPA as a problem," the spokesman said.
SEPA believes that the DDT found in the eels is a contamination legacy from historic use of the substance

The reference to Malaria is intriguing. One hopes that this is nothing to do with the Hutton Think Tank's experiments on midge control.
Friday, October 13, 2006
  cottage garden

cottage garden
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
A bloggee has asked to see our garden in Norn Iron. Here it is. Small and perfectly formed and so easy to manage when compared with the vast acres of the Old Manse. The house in front-right of image-was bought by Huttonian's grandfather in 1921; the cottage was for the coach man. The big house was sold in the 1950s and we have kept the cottage. The old stable and coach house is now incorporated as kitchen and 'utility' room

Huttonian always imagined that Stalker and his Alsatian ball finder must camp out on the golf course-they are always around in a ceaseless quest for lost balls-or about to be lost ones in some cases. Perhaps they share a little bivouac in a friendly gorse bush-up with the lark and to bed with starlings.Not a bit of it. They have a nice bijou bungalow adjacent to the third tee on the Annesley Course and emerged this morning at exactly 8.45 am just as I was hitting a good long (straight) drive clearly visible on the fairway and therefore of no legitimate interest to the Alsatian or its minder. Legitimate? I wonder if it is legally ok to wander around a private course (of which I suspect you are not a member) hunting the recently mislaid property of golfers and then take possession for commercial gain. I know someone was recently sucessfully prosecuted for theft for doing just that on a golf course in England-admittedly over turned on appeal but he was a member, did not sell on the balls but used them himself.

I may be wronging Stalker. Perhaps he hands in his findings to a charity shop in Newcastle.But whatever his motives I would earnestly urge him to leave Huttonian alone. I do not like to be hovered around when I am faced with a choice of directing my Titleist 2 into a very thick clump of rain forest heather or a big prickly Gorse bush. If I lose my ball anywhere near the big dog, I will stay there all day if necessary until I find it. I will find every other ball within 50 yards and if I catch the dog in the middle of my gorse bush an I have my all singing all dancing all topping rescue Wedge in my hand, I cannot answer for the consequences. And when I have dealt with the dog I will take all the balls I have found and drop them very carefully into the deepest muddiest waters of the lake at the 17th putting them, like the IRA weaponry, beyond use. And beyond sale.

You have been warned. Better stay in your neat little bungalow until the master has passed. And if all else fails I'll come looking for balls in your long narrow garden. Its bang next to the course so it is reasonable to assume that there are lots of lost Titleists amongst your Roses. And how would you like that?

Btw the image is of the second fairway. Taken not far from the bungalow in question
Thursday, October 12, 2006

We quite rightly complain about inappropriate over development in the Borders. Paxton is an example. So is St.Boswells. But in Norn Iron the situation is much worse. The image above shows an overview of Newcastle, Co Down.(Enlarge if you can take it) Up to 40 years ago it was a pretty (well, fairly) little sea side town lining Dundrum Bay. Basically a long main street from the harbour to the Slieve Donard hotel with a shallow 'suburban' area stretching a few hundred yards inland at its thickest. The population remained constant at about 3,000 throughout my childhood and into my twenties. Most of what you see in the picture excluding the right hand bay side area was green and unbuilt. Now it is urban scrawl at its worst.

The other image is a shift to the North West. This is what remains of the 'green belt'and at the present rate of development will be gobbled up when all the 'infill' sites within the present town boundaries are exhausted. All that can save Newcastle and Castlwellan meeting in a muddle and mess of (often very low quality) new housing will be the establishment of the Mournes National Park. Newcastle is to be within the Park boundaries and some of the developers are fighting hard to exclude the town as a likely restraint on more overdevelopment and with the risk that higher building standards will be enforced for new dwellings within the park.

It is not as if the new houses are for local people on low incomes. They are generally top of the market pretentious villas and in many cases are second homes for the well heeled from Belfast and indeed from south of the border.And hopefully a Nationmal Park will limit the number of unsitely caravan parks. Probably 5 times as many as Berwick. Sir Morrisons would do well here but they have abandoned the old Safeways stores they took over with their merger. This is Tesco country.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
A bloggee has asked for the full text referred to in the comment on the post below

Blathering on blogs is un-Christian, an Evangelical church has warned.

"Blogging has become a socially accepted practice - just as are dating seriously too young, underage drinking and general misbehaving," notes the monthly of the Reformed Church of God, Ambassador Youth.

Blogging "often makes the blogger feel good or makes him feel as if his opinion counts - when it is mostly mindless blather!" notes Kevin D Denee.

"People will now do and say things that should only be done in private, or, frankly, should not be said or done at all," rues Denee.

"Propriety, decorum and decency are not elements considered on blogs. People simply blurt things out, without considering the contents or consequences."

The Church members dismisses the justification that blogging is theraputic. Almost half of bloggers say they blog as therapy - the most popular reason cited. (See The Hive Mind has spoken: "I Need Help!". But its mostly the mindlessness that bothers the author.

"Much of this is simply blathering on blogs - mindless words and idle communication. Blogs can be summed up as people talking about almost anything, but really nothing. There is no purpose to much of the contents - no direction."

This, we learn conflicts with the advise given in Proverbs 17:27-28, which tells us:

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of calm spirit.

Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

Fair enough.

Blogging is also dangerous because of its addictive quality, we're told.

"Is this article saying that every blog in the world is wrong? No, of course not! Again, there are some professionals and specialists who use blogs to serve a proper purpose."

"All that said, you can—and SHOULD—maintain friends the “old-fashioned” way, through actual personal contact, as well as letter writing, emailing or instant messaging".

So there you go.

Thanks to the Reverend G. Kewney for the link.

What do Bloggees think. Huttonian to hold his peace? Only then will I be considered perceptive.

But no one will know.
Huttonian feels a bit cut off from the Merse in the absence of a functioning Berwickshire on line. The news items remain stuck in a time warp of two weeks ago but the letter columns (of no interest at all this wek)have been updated. Are the Berwickshire diaspora being deliberately deprived of news they need to know by the Highheidyins who control the information outlets. However I have heard that tucked away in its usual obscure place page 220 or so are the latest applications for planning permission-applications listed are there because they may be in breach of the newly formulated local plan or 'Building in the Countryside' regulations which some of our landowners seem to find so tedious and irksomely restrictive and are in many cases looking for a way around them: Private Gain in the name of General Good (rapid promotion that-overtaking the other martinet Major Greenfield-Site MC)-two of our Riders of the Acopalypse. Apparently there are three such applications listed this week in the Coldingham Area and we only have to look within in our own community boundaries to see similar attempts to brick over (and in very local case) to tar over more green bits. Some with very unpleasing results as any neighbour of the Orchard Development will surely testify. Paxton is the ugly face of inappropriate development in a small village. It could get a lot worse.

If we are not careful.

Mind you it is much worse in Norn Iron as Huttonian will report later.

If I am spared
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
  happy days

happy days
Originally uploaded by Jams O'Donnell.
Someone commenting on the photo of a shop in Newcastle has remarked :

' I remember buying a water pistol from Happy Days when I was a kid on a visit to Newcastle. One of the most charmingly tacky shops you could ever enter! Thanks for jogging my memory'.

Huttonian echoes the sentiment. Shops are still tacky on the whole. Happy Days is very closed (the chap leaning on the netting has a long wait)and no loss in my book. What I do miss is the Fountain where Miss Ogle sold the world' s most delicious fudge. She sold me some when I was 12, she sold me more wnen I was 52. She has gone.The shop is still there but has been closed for some 10 years. Yet gruesomely tacky shops like 'Heaven' still survive.
Monday, October 09, 2006
  Ballykinlar shooting range

Ballykinlar shooting range
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
In the Merse we have low flying aircraft-in Norn Iron, County Down , Dundrum Bay we enjoy the rattle of small arms fire-sometimes every day, all day. Across the entrance to the Bay lies Ballykinlar camp (where Huttonian was stationed some years back en route to Suez) This is usually the home of a British Infantry regiment from across the water and the training area and shooting range are in constant use. If you enlarge the image you can see the red flag flying-not a political statement but an indication that firing is in progress. You are supposed not to go past the notice (see post immediately below) when the flag is up-but I have never seen it down so I suspect not many people take much notice
  Life Firing Warning

ballykinlar sign
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
This is the notice warning you not to go past the post whilst live firing is being conducted by the army in Ballykinlar. Click on the image to read.
Apparently the Old Manse's garden had some thing of a close shave last Saturday when a fire in Mr R's yard next door got of control. The blaze which seem to have started from a simple bonfire lit for some reason in the teeth of a very strong westerly wind damaged trailers and other items in the yard and was heading towards our garden shed, green house and newly planted hedge in the south westerly corner of the garden. After some delay Duns' finest-the Fire Brigade brought the conflagration under control.It is still simmering 36 hours later-possibly kept going by having some other material added to the heart of the fire yesterday. (Might as well take advantage of it....what) Our nearest neighbours were forced to evacuate their cottages because of the black smoke and acrid fumes (Tyres I suspect). Reports indicate that the flames were confined to the yard side of the stone wall but some of our trees in the new hedge are likely to be singed and then apple trees may now be dripping with roasted fruit! Fortunately we had picked most of a monster crop before our departure to Norn Iron.

I wonder if the police had something to say about bonfires and strong winds.Will the Dinger Brigade submit a bill? A couple of years ago we had a smaller fire next door from burning tyres and that was unpleasant enough.

No photos. In the absence of Huttonian nobody thought to pull out a camera. Pity. I'll have to see if I can find appropriate images on Flickr to illustrate what might have been
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Huttonian takes the liberty of quoting from a fellow blogger-the Paper Shop Blog(http://www.hunnymonster.org.uk/)-in his weekly survey of the Berwickshire (Last Thursdays is not yet on line) He also displays the same images he kindly sent me and are a post or three below in this one.

Hutton Hall opened See Musings from the Merse for colour pictures - if you think my scans are bad, it's hard to make good scans from bad originals) after several years of hard work by the community to raise the necessary cash. Since the initial survey it's taken 8 years to come to fruition but finally it is open. Those bloggees living in sprawling metropolises like Duns and Kelso might not think of such a hall as important - in a village like Hutton where the school recently closed, the pub closed some time ago, a bus runs 3 or 4 times a day to Berwick at inconvenient times - this is a real focal point for the community. Well done to the people of Hutton & district for sticking at it. Pictures taken from the Berwickshire News.

So Hutton is really back on the map with a vengeance. Bus tours from elsewhere in the Borders to see the new hall can be expected. Perhaps someone could come up with one of those information panels with all the sights of Hutton pinpointed on a map (could be quite a small one) : The Kirk,the Bus stop and notice board, The Hall (with PO of course) The Butts, The Old Manse, the New Manse, the Old Pub, the Smiddy, the Road to Hutton Mill (What a film title that might make) The Pheasantry, The Fishery, Rutherford's Yard,Hutton Hill,the play ground, the abandoned caravan near the play ground(enough sights/sites Blogg-ed)

Hutton-Berwickshiree Favourite short break destination.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
  Bloody Bridge, Co Down

Bloody Bridge, Co Down
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The Bloody Bridge apparently unchanged since the massacre of 1641 (see post below) If you enlarge the image via flickr you will see strange helmeted figures lurking under the bridge. These are not the ghosts of Conn Magennis' men nor of his victims but a band of Yuff frolicking in the river

The alternative route up Slieve Donard, much favoured by the serious walkers-those with two poles each-starts from the Bloody Bridge carpark 3 miles south of Newcastle. The path in this image looks deceptively gentle and Slieve Donard (peak at top right) tantalisingly near. But the going gets rough and its a good two hours out of your life. The Bloody Bridge is so called after a massacre of Protestant prisoners in 1641 by a rebel leader Sir Conn Magennis who had news of the killing of some Catholic captives by a Protestant loyalist-and so the long century war on in a style to which Ireland got all too familiar. The old bridge is still intact (the main road crosses the new one)All very peaceful and no traces of gore remain to the disappointment of bus loads of Yuff who use the area for adventure training mostly involving wading up the Bloody Bridge River in wet suits and climbing hats-then having a good fag, a packet of crisps and a couple of lagers to recover after all that exertion.

Its a favourite walk for young couples wanting to get away into the mountains. Some one told me of accosting a pair heading for the hills. 'Are you going all the way?' he asked looking at the distant peaks. ' Hoy' said the bloke' Give us time. We have only known each other two weeks'
If there is anything worse than trial by the garrulous Four then it is ordeal by visiting Golfing Society. Fortunately the highheidyins at the Royal County Down(PBUI) are reluctant to allow Golfing Societies to play on the hallowed fairways of the No1 course so they are shunted off at a modest £20 a head onto the Annesley Course-aka the Ladies Course, aka the Hen Run. Although it is, despite such derogatory titles, a very good test of golf-more so than say Duns (MPBUI)Typical of these visitors was yesterdays excursion by the Bally Fekin (Sounds like) Golfing Society. Trousers into socks de rigeur,jazzy pullovers a must and a variety of slogan infested base ball caps. Shorts and T-shirts in the summer with well revealed builder's cleavage when putting but in October it is the long troos with the tucked in trouser bottoms and the sneakers. For that relief much thanks.

The only safe place to be on any fairway when the lads are out (and they areusuallyy male) is straight in front of them. Anywhere else, left, right and even slightly behind is dangerous. Balls come from the most unlikely directions. No shouts of 'Fore' or any other warnings as most of then have no idea where their shots arelikelyy to end up. Its a great day for the ball stalker and his Alsatian as the rounds are long enough without having to waste time looking for balls at £2 a go-society members will only use the mosprestigiousus ones-as hit by Mr Woods. And the damage they do. Great chunks of earth sometimes going further than the ball and huge craters in the bunkers which they don't bother to smooth down after their explosive works have finished, ball picked up, line drawn (indeed in the sand) and moved on. As indeed Huttonian has to the furthest corner of the No 1 Course-out of sight and most importantly

Out of range.
Friday, October 06, 2006
  Split Pike

Split Pike
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The designers of the Spike at the end of Post Modern Prom at Newcastle have saved considerable specie by leaving a neat cleavage in the erection through which pleasing glimpses of the sky are visible. I am still not sure what it is for
So here is the Berwickshire's account of the opening of the Hutton Village Hall. The accompanying photos are in the post immediately below. You will need to click on the image to read the text


The Berwickshire carries the opening of the Hutton Village Hall plus two photographs. For the benefit of the great Hutton diaspora-Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Roxbroughshire etc Huttonian is attempting to spread the word to those exiles who cannot lay their hands on our paper.The quality is not great and I am very grateful for a bloggee who scanned the cuttings and posted them in my direction.

As for an account of the proceedings I am not sure I can do better than referring bloggees to the Berwickshire website-but I won't today as the electronic Berwickshire is stuck in last week's time warp. In the meanwhile treat Huttonian's post of last week as the official version.His images are better as well.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
  18th Tee Championship course

18th Tee Championship course
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000.
The rain has stopped, the clouds cleared and the Gang of 4 aka the Garralous Four are having a late lunch. It is safe to drive off and enjoy the wild soliltude of a great links.And the blissful silence free of relentless chatter. I doubt if the Duns Cardiac Three could reach this point nor would I welcome them if they did. Dingers, stick to Duns, we say
There are days, believe it or not, that Huttonian almost hates playing golf on the Royal Co. Down (PBUI) Like this morning. With about 2" of rain falling on the first tee at 7am we had to cancel our regular sparrow burp match. By 11-30 the sun had come out and the wind dropped to a reasonable 60mph. So I went out for a quick few holes assuming that I would have the course to myself. Quick? Well up to a point. All went swimmingly (no pun intended) until I had three holes of a speedy 11 or so to finish. Then suddenly in front of me (they must have ben out t about 5am or late last night)loomed the garrulous 4.

These are Newcastle's answer to Duns' Cardiac Three. But (a) there are 25% more of them (b) they are much slower (c) the play the holes in the correct order. Once behind them there is no hope of escape and (d) they talk; endlessly. And this is not a trousers tucked into socks brigade. 'Let me pass yokels. I am a MEMBER' They are members-creme de la creme of Norn Iron society: direct descendants of William of Orange or if on the other side of the great divide-grandchildren of mediaeval Popes. They walk very very slowly. All will gather round the player in action and watch him-then reform as a gang of 4 and proceed on their purposeful crawl. They talk as they play;they talk when they are not playing; they take putts very very carefully and methodically. And when they miss, they take them again(having not been quite careful enough first, second or even third time round)They leave their trolleys between you and the green and then retrieve them very very slowly before going to the next tee. And you watch impotently, twitching with the desire to whistle a three wood up their fundamentals and watching the next shower hurtle towards you from the Mournes. You pray it doesn't materialise otherwise the Gang of Four will strip off their light sweaters and put on all their rain gear, galoshes, water proof pantaloons, purple anoraks and a change of base ball hat with its RCD crest. The shower over, back to the autumn collection all either in the middle of the fairway or on the green.

One of them slipped into a bunker at the 18th in trying an improbable shot which would have daunted Mr Woods. He fell on his ball and slightly bruised his backside judging from the verbal pyrotechnics wafting on the breeze. I laughed.What a way to finish! Finish? Premature I fear. The air and sea rescue from the depths of the sand trap meant another ten minutes delay and then off to lunch amidst much hilarity and back slapping.

My frustrated and pent up rage rocketed a five wood to within 15 feet of the pin. Did I sink it? Of course. Birdie three

Quite a good morning really.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Last time we were in Norn Iron Huttonian posted images of the Newcastle's splendid post modern promenade. There are now-six months later-two additions. One the Shiny Globe which reflects the world back to you-distorted but bright and shiny with humans reduced to one dimensional Lowry type figures. The other feature is the shiny topped mini pylon, modelled perhaps on the Skylon at the 1951 Festival of Britain and rather similar to an edifice in Dublin which the locals refer to as 'De Spoike' rather in the same way as the statute of Molly Molone, wheeling her barrow through streets brood and narrow is called 'The Tart with the Cart' What Dubliner would call our two fantasias I shudder to think.

The promenade is generally speaking a successful town enhancement. Our main street is not. It was therefore odd to find local politicians opposing an erection of a mobile phone booster mast in the street. Apparently it would detract from the magnificence of our 'fine' town drag. Would it? Judge for your selves. Its a horrid thoroughfare with yukky shop fronts some of them reflecting the takkiness of the goods within.

A Mobile Phone Mast. Tall and graceful. Or just tall.

Vast improvement is the thought that comes to mind
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